[What Did Jaci Think? Early February]

I spent most of the over-long runtime of Hostiles thinking about why this story was being told in the first place, and even more so, why it was being told from this perspective. I think about this a lot, but this year I’m going to start talking about it more, so beware.

After a cold open of a brutal attack on a white pioneer family which leaves only the mother alive (the always-terrific Rosamund Pike), we’re introduced to Christian Bale’s Captain Blocker. He’s being charged with the task of escorting Chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) and his family home to Montana after seven years in prison for the crime of … I have no idea, actually, so I assume it’s for being Native American. Blocker doesn’t want the job, but he takes it, and he hates it, and he doesn’t open up exactly but he does sort of begin to understand that maybe he might be a little wrong but only a very little and…

I hate it. I don’t want another damned story about a racist white dude who gets to redeem himself and get the girl and (if timed correctly, which this wasn’t, thank god) the Oscar nomination. I would have much preferred even to have watched this exact story, but from the perspective of Chief Yellow Hawk. I’m over *~complex~* racist white guys. I want the Native actor to get the complex role for a change. I mean, just think about that story for a minute: you’re the chief, you and your family are stolen and taken far away from your home, then you’re locked up, unable to save them, for seven years? And then this too-old-for-this-shit jerk takes you home (only because you’re dying, btw) and treats you like you’re nothing and likely worse than nothing.

Surviving that with your humanity intact is much more interesting than inflicting it. Continue reading “[What Did Jaci Think? Early February]”

[What Did Jaci Think? Late January]

It took me three tries to see Darkest Hour because I was just not motivated, and honestly, I can’t think of a reason why any of you need to see it, unless you are also Oscar completists with MoviePass. I always felt like I was watching prosthetics act, with an occasional flash of Gary Oldman behind them.

It’s a film built around the goal of getting Oldman an Oscar, & that’s not enough for me.

The high point was any scene with Kristin Scott Thomas (obviously); the low point was the irritating, fabricated Underground sequence.

Upon reflection, I only care for Joe Wright when he works with women (this is maybe like how I only dig Edgar Wright when he works with Simon Pegg). But really. I love Atonement, Hanna, and Anna Karenina, and I have a begrudging appreciation of his Pride & Prejudice, high praise from anyone who saw the Ehle/Firth miniseries at a formative age.

Well, now I’ve got that sorted.

Next up, Proud Mary, which I really wanted to love but didn’t, damn it. It’s a film that can’t figure out what it wants to be – an assassin flick or a family drama – and I needed it to pick one. And let’s be honest: I wanted the assassin movie. It’s clearly a passion project for Taraji P. Henson, & I do still love her and the idea of this character, but they both deserved better than the poorly directed, lit, written, & scored movie that they got.

Regardless, I’m happy to have thrown my dollars at it, though, because you know what? White dudes get to make bad action movies all the time and then keep on making big movies. I’m 100% going to be part of the demand for black lady action movies.

Continue reading “[What Did Jaci Think? Late January]”

[What Did Jaci Think? Early January]

Welcome to my 2018 experiment, What Did Jaci Think?, a biweekly series of quick film reactions, mostly because Twitter is a terrific distribution medium but terrible for retrieval.

The first half of January was dominated by the 9th annual Nordic Lights Film Festival, where I saw 13 of the 14 programmed films. Of particular note there: The Other Side of Hope, Borg vs McEnroe, and a strong shorts package. (The 14th film was The Square, a pretty divisive picture which I saw in the fall and dug a lot, though it’s not as tight as Östlund’s previous work, Force Majeure.)

The Other Side of Hope is allegedly the final film from director Aki Kaurismäki, but I hope that’s not true. Hope is a refugee story, delicately funny and sad, and despite the current subject matter, it feels like a film that’s been recently discovered, not recently made. It appears to be coming to the Criterion Collection this year, so look out for it there.

Continue reading “[What Did Jaci Think? Early January]”

[#lastweekslove: December]

I’m honestly impressed I finished this. Nobody cares but me, but I am going to go back and add text for these.

Time to bring on the December loves!

Week 49, Miao Miao

Caught up! For now. #lastweekslove

A post shared by jaye (@jacicita) on

More loves after the jump!
Continue reading “[#lastweekslove: December]”

[2017 Film Wrap-Up]

Total: 275 (full list)
Revival: 70
SIFF: 80 (20-odd more than usual, thanks to the once-in-a-lifetime 3P)
Free: 104
…total cost: $619.50, or $2.25 a film

Wrap-ups for previous years live under the year-end tag, & if a film is linked here, it’s probably to the Instagram post I wrote on it for my #lastweekslove project.

Films of my heart: Call Me By Your Name, Columbus, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water.

And of course: BPM, Get Out, Colossal, The Wedding Plan, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, Novitiate, Mudbound, A Ghost Story, Personal Shopper, The Big Sick, Menashe

More after the jump!  Continue reading “[2017 Film Wrap-Up]”

[On almost walking out of Detroit]

So. Detroit.

I almost walked out near the end of the hour-long torture scene because I knew there was almost an hour left of the film and I didn’t know how for how much longer it would be that brutal.

I regret not leaving. I regret watching it in the first place. I should have stayed in the lobby with my library book like I did when we showed Stonewall and also that movie where Seth Rogen plays a hot dog.

The largest portion of the movie is devoted to reveling in the time in the Algiers Motel – the beatings, the murders, the ongoing mental anguish – in a way that verges on pornographic. “Look at this; isn’t it terrible?” the movie says, and yes of course it is and it’s obviously powerfully constructed, but the movie doesn’t care to say anything else about it. Just “look at this thing in the past and be horrified.”

Samira Wiley has a cameo role as the desk clerk, and as the movie progressed I thought again about her character’s death on Orange is the New Black. Some of the same questions are raised by Detroit, “who is this story for?” being the primary one, and the answer once again being “white people who somehow don’t get it yet” and – spoiler – they’re not seeing this movie anyway.

Detroit is also like OITNB with its excessive humanizing of white men. It is very concerned with excusing white people from responsibility, particularly near the end where a survivor encounters a white cop who asks, “Who could do this to someone?”, as well as a scene where Poulter’s ringleader cop is specifically called out as racist. I did not for a second believe either of those interactions. In fact, I audibly groaned at the first one.

By arguing “Not All Cops”, the film excuses the inherent violence of a system of policing born from slavery that continues to murder black people consequence-free today.

Telling this story, especially tied as it is to the 50th anniversary of the incident, gives white audiences – the audience it was made for – a pass, allowing them to compartmentalize this story as the past. But it’s obviously not the past. There’s even a throwaway scene of a small girl being mistaken for a sniper & shot at. The film doesn’t care enough to tell us what happens to her, but children are still being shot in their homes and on their playgrounds and in their streets, so I still care.

This was all unfortunately more or less expected. So why did I see it? The cast, mostly. And thus as I sat there, I thought about all of the different stories about black lives we could be watching instead. This story, the story of black men murdered and white men freed is a story we see all the time, still. If you don’t get it, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know how to argue that white people should care except, ironically, through more stories. But the stories need to be the wide-ranging, complex stories mediocre white men get all the time, and not yet another story about the destruction of black bodies.

And finally, yes, these stories can still be told by white people. One of my favorite films of last year, The Fits, is a story about black girls directed by a white woman. It was a film that taught me things about gender, about growing up, about existing in a group, about a particular community of young black girls.

Detroit taught me nothing.