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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Posted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:27 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
KNIVES OUT (2019) - A masterpiece of an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit, written and directed by Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi, Looper, Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Breaking Bad). It's knife-sharp, funny, and full of surprises. The standout performance comes from Daniel Craig, in full Hercule Poirot mode as consulting detective Benoit Blanc.

The terrific ensemble cast also features Ana De Armas, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Riki Lindhome. And yes, that's just a cast list, but what else is there to say? In a television mystery you might have one big-name guest star, and you'd know immediately who did it. This is the sort of mystery that packs the cast with familiar faces who all get their moments, or just get what's coming to them.

It's a brilliantly complex script full of clever little touches, some of which are easy to miss on first viewing, and all of which pay off. You're so busy being entertained that you don't realize that important information is being conveyed. While the film feels old-fashioned, it also makes passing reference to very current Trump-era politics, in a way that ends up being crucial to how we perceive the characters.

Telling a story like this in 2019 is going to bring up a lot of issues about class, wealth and privilege in America, and it's a better film for making that the driving threat and subtext for all the characters, even if it might hit too close to home for some viewers.

"Knives Out" is another film from Rian Johnson which both subverts expectations and delivers exactly what it sets out to achieve. It's more proof that he's always ten steps ahead of his audience, and a decade ahead of his critics. It's a witty tribute to the classics of the mystery genre which delivers as a mystery in its own right. It's a film where a coffee cup gets the last word. And it's one of the best movies of the year.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 3:23 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
BOMBSHELL - As with last year's Vice (from Adam McKay), this film by Jay Roach about the sexual assault allegations against Fox News head honcho Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) leaves me wondering who this film is for, exactly. Fox viewers will dismiss it as liberal propaganda, while left-wing viewers have to watch a weirdly humanized and sympathetic portrayal of Fox's heavy hitters.

Turning Fox news' toxic culture into a girl-power narrative is almost criminally irresponsible. I wonder whether the filmmakers believed their spin at all, or were just afraid of offending anyone alive enough to sue.

It's fine, and you won't regret seeing it, but it's also an argument against making a film like this, set in such recent history. It empathizes with real people who don't deserve it, and makes them less interesting in the process.

To an extent, the film ignores Fox's propaganda culture and portrays this as just another sexual harassment case, as if it should be surprising that Ailes was like this. Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly. She's good but clearly doing a vocal impersonation. In reality Kelly only spoke out privately. Here she doubts the allegations and acts like a detective trying to find out the truth. There's moments where Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and other Fox staffers seem vocally feminist, something at odds with Fox's entire culture, and certainly at odds with Kelly's TV persona. It's weird to humanize such an openly racist and toxic TV star (the film shows her rant about Santa Claus and Jesus being white, in passing as a Youtube clip) who headlined such an openly racist and toxic TV network. Who asked for this, exactly?

This is a film where everyone seems shocked, shocked, that sexism and sexual harassment is happening at the sexism factory called FOX News, and where they're not afraid to have real conversations about it, rather than thinking first of their own careers. It's less realistic than most Disney films.

Nicole Kidman is believable enough as Gretchen Carlson, who sued Ailes. There are eerily accurate takes on Fox staff like Bill O'Reilly, and Richard Kind attempts Rudy Giuliani. Margot Robbie plays a (fictional) young hire who Ailes harasses, and who has a complicated rendez-vous with Kate McKinnon. She's affecting in what isn't the lead role, and is probably the best part of the film, partly because her character is fictional (and thus not a real-life racist that the film is presenting as heroic), and partly because her character doesn't accept Megyn Kelly as a hero (or Rupert Murdoch, or Kate McKinnon's character). The camera loves Robbie, but at least one scene feels exploitative under the circumstances.

The film does get into the pressure on FOX News' women to look and dress a certain way, reproducing that itself with a parade of recognizable actresses doing a whole lot of nothing.

The same subject matter was covered this year in Showtime's "The Loudest Voice," with Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts, Sienna Miller and Seth MacFarlane. Roger Ailes died in 2017, and writers jumped to cover the assault allegations the minute he was no longer alive to sue.

But Rupert Murdoch is still alive, and gets a weirdly positive portrayal. Let's be clear- Fox News is arguably the greatest monster of our time, and those associated with it know exactly what they are and what they're doing. To portray those involved as relatably human, and Fox as just another TV network, whitewashes a fascist organization that has poisoned our culture. The film, in passing, references Murdoch as having some control over the Trump campaign but ignores Trump's history of sexual misconduct, except where it pertains to a Twitter feud with Kelly. The film barely makes any value judgements about Trump at all by the end.

To portray the truth in this film would be seen as propaganda. The protagonist of a feature film can't just be a villain, thinking more of their own career than of anyone else. If the film was nothing but harsh toward the people of Fox, the filmmakers would get sued. But that's who these people were, and are. They protected and worked within a toxic, misogynist and racist environment. They showed no empathy for others. There's so much that's deliberate that this film portrays as accidental or surprising to them.

It becomes propaganda in its own way. Bombshell is a film that wants to portray the truth, but only to a point. So who is this movie for, exactly? Its heart is almost in the right place, but there's a little too much BS in Bombshell.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Posted: Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:23 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
I was ... concerned about the #CatsMovie after the first trailer, but judging from audience reactions it looks like they really stuck the landing and created something deeply upsetting, which is - let's face it - exactly what you f*ckers deserve.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:17 pm
by filmfan94

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:33 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
Finally! With the original ending. An early MST3K choice, this Saul Bass film imitates 2001: A Space Odyssey, except it's about an ant colony in the desert. It would be better remembered today if the psychedelic original ending had been included, but someone got cold feet and cut it, leaving the film feeling incomplete. The film is a slow burn but there's a lot to like about it. ... ed-edition