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December 28, 2019

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Oliver

My only complaint about 'Apollo 11' is that it should have been a half-hour longer! I'm sorry I missed the IMAX screenings.

Andrew David Del Monte

Glad to see Dead Don't Die and Asako I & II get some love, two of my favourites.

I'd be very, very interested in reading your thoughts on the weird Jennifer Carpenter sequence in Dragged. Also, I think Zahler should have just set that movie in Vancouver since they did basically nothing to disguise it. I enjoyed the film but find some of Zahler's dialogue annoying. Also, he may not be an actual racist, but he does seem to want people to wonder if he is an actual racist, and I don't see how that improves his films, really.

BTW, hope you publish another reading list this year! Thanks to this blog I started reading Robert Coover and Harry Mathews. Happy new year!

Bobby

I always look forward to posts here. Thanks for doing it!! A great breakdown of the year. Hopefully, we'll get a Best of Blu Ray of 2019? Thanks again, Glenn!

Kevin Oppegaard

First of all Glenn: I want to thank you for your jazz albums list - comments are closed but I wanted you to know that I subsequently purchased both the rediscovered Bill Evans at the top, and I love them.

I know it's way down on your list, but can you explain why everyone likes The Souvenir? I've watched it twice at home on blu-ray and I totally don't get it. It's badly shot and edited, both the leads are lifeless and the story is dull. But there it is as Sight & Sound's no. 1 film of 2019. Is it just me?

Glenn Kenny

Kevin, I don't know if it's just you but I enjoyed it. I thought the cinematography was low-key rather than poor and thought the editing was appropriate to the theme and story. What are you gonna do? No accounting for taste, as they say.

Andrew Del Monte

Hi there! I really disliked Joker but also find it a little confusing which movies you deride as offensive or amoral somehow, and which you don't. Long story short, I don't really understand how Dragged Across Concrete or Climax could be considered less offensive on the subject of race than Joker (even though I greatly prefer both movies). Re: Climax, I was definitely uncomfortable with how the black characters were depicted as violent, rapists or incestuous; and there was something suspicious about the way, as the film becomes more grotesque and disturbing, the extreme close-up shots of black bodies and faces were intended to amplify those qualities. Would be interested in hearing your thoughts, and hope my tone isn't taken as contentious in any way.

BTW, weird coincidence (?) which you might enjoy: the last shots of both Oscar nominated Jokers in their respective films were direct lifts from shots of De Niro in a Scorsese movie: the inverted shot of Ledger was taken from Cape Fear, and the shot of Phoenix being chased by orderlies was taken from King of Comedy when the security guards are chasing Rupert in the network offices. I guess I can’t say for sure if the shot in TDK was a conscious lift but in the case of Joker I think it’s obvious.

Glenn Kenny

Andrew:

OK, let me lay it out for you. In "Joker," the exasperation Fleck has toward his female, African-American social worker doesn't so much seem to have its roots in the Inefficiency of the System, given the waves of resentment Fleck/Phoenix aims directly at her. The bus sequence features Fleck finding reasons to be hostile to a conspicuously overweight African-American woman. Later, when he has a gun, he aims it at a television set that's showing the African-American dance team, the Nicholas Brothers. At the end of the movie, he murders an African American female doctor.

In "Climax" I did not notice that the close ups of the people of color were any more or less conspicuously grotesque than the close ups of anyone else, so you got me there. As for "Concrete," as I said in my review, yeah, Zahler is clearly trolling every now and again viz. race but not unforgivably. Given the fact that the movie ends with establishing its African-American protagonist as having more integrity and brains and resilience than anyone else in the movie is a salient point. If Zahler did that just to fool people into thinking he's not a white supremacist, he's doing white supremacist wrong.

There you have it. "Joker" is still and will always be garbage. Total garbage, not just racist garbage.

Andrew Del Monte

Fair enough. I guess to me the provocations of Joker don't seem much worse than Zahler's (especially in Brawl), but I guess everyone's bothered differently. These things are probably harder to swallow in a shit movie (topnotch cinematography notwithstanding).

Re: Climax, it was provocative enough on race for the (not extra sharp) guy I saw it with to comment that it captured "what was going on in France" where "the immigrants are tearing up the country." Personally I was just uncomfortable and put off, but again, we're all different. Anyway, thanks for the time.

George

"Mr. Kenny, your comments about 'Joker' indicate you are unfit to write about movies. Martin Scorsese needs to watch it so he can learn how to direct. The fact that 'Joker' got more Oscar nominations than 'The Irishman' shows that Todd Phillips is The Man." -- DC Fanboy/Incels everywhere

Seriously, I was amazed that sites devoted to nerd culture (comics, superhero movies) were filled with comments defending "Joker" weeks before it was released. As with "The Dark Knight," fans decided in advance -- without seeing it -- that this movie was a masterpiece.

Their most typical comment was that "the critics" were saying "Joker" would lead to mass murders in real life. Funny, I read many reviews and don't recall such a comment ...

George

The other trend I noticed on fan sites: accusing critics of being "subjective" and bringing opinions (gasp!) into their reviews.

Apparently, movie reviews are supposed to be "objective" and not include any opinions. Maybe just a plot synopsis, and a graf about the films's box office.

Of course, if you hail these movies as instant classics, there won't be any fan complaints. If you don't praise them, however, you're "not being open-minded."

Gordon Cameron

That unfortunate bugbear might have been brought in from fan responses to videogame journalism. Gamers are endlessly griping that a review is 'subjective' as if there were any other kind.

George

Another annoying fan trope: the idea that Joker is some obscure, low-budget indie/arthouse film that somehow was discovered by the public, made a billion dollars, and is now up for Oscars. A true underdog story!

Stephanie Zacharek wrote a Time column nailing that one. That and the way comic-book fans continue to portray themselves as an oppressed minority, even though Hollywood does everything it can to cater to their tastes.

I was a comic-book fan back when fans really WERE bullied misfits. But that time ended a couple of decades ago. Now that fans are driving the bus, I don't have much sympathy for their gripes.

Jon K

I've really been out of the loop movie-wise for the past year due to a hectic work situation, so I'm stoked to see this list. Seeing "Black Mother"listed so high piqued my interest since Criterion Channel is streaming it at the moment. Will give it (and others) a watch when I can find the time. Thanks, Glenn.

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