Ah, the end of the year, where we’re spoiled for film. First up, Shoplifters finally opened here, and I adored it. I’m a sucker for a chosen family narrative, and this one is beautifully done, slowly expanding your heart for most of the picture & then stomping on it for the last half hour. Sakura Andô killed me. In, you know, a good way.
Also building me up and breaking me down, the gorgeous & pure If Beale Street Could Talk, which I don’t feel equipped to talk about, but also we’re not talking about it enough & more of you need to see it. It will lift you up.
Everyone I have told this to has laughed at me, but I wish Aquaman had been goofier. Which is not to say it wasn’t goofy, because it definitely was. But I wish it had been the goofball situation the nuance-free dundundun-heavy score wanted it to be. I wish it had been 45 minutes shorter, that Patrick Wilson had leant into the campy gay villain that role was meant to be, and that it had cut out all of the Game of Thrones nonsense that had armies I cared nothing about battling it out at the end. Also, I have no confidence that Live Action Gaston is really the one we want turning around a culture where the punishment for not being into an arranged marriage is death, but I guess we should be relieved he’s surrounded himself with a few smart ladies. PS Nicole Kidman forever.
Green Book is infuriating, a feel-good racist film designed completely to maintain white supremacy. The fictionalized retelling of an employer-employee relationship, it repeatedly centers the white character, leaving Dr. Shirley as a supporting (and mysterious) character in a film about his own tour. It’s a film where white people constantly explain black culture (both as it is and as they imagine it to be) to other white people and, even more insultingly, to Dr. Shirley himself (and in this case, in a way that is intended to be humorous. It is not.)
It’s a film that purports to show the finding of common ground, whatever that means, between the races, but only shows a racist white man deigning to form a relationship with an exceptional black man. It in no way indicates a change in Tony’s attitudes in relation to any black person other than Dr. Shirley, nor a change in his actions – such as when he threw away glasses which had been used by black workers – for any reasons other than financial. It allows white people to condemn the past and be comfortable in the present. It is nonsense.
Green Book is particularly insulting as a release in the same year as BlacKkKlansman, a film that also focused on a working relationship between a black man and a white man, where the white character also was confronted with the fragility of his relationship to whiteness, but where the violence was not left safely in the past, but was brought forward sharply with the inclusion of footage from August 2017 in Charlottesville. Please, see that instead.
Clearly the most important thing to note about Mary Poppins Returns is that they put Emily Mortimer in trousers as Jane, gave her a flat to herself & established her role as a labor organizer and then! Fucking Disney! Inflicted some goddamned compulsory heterosexuality on her. What the fuck. Whatever. The movie’s okay. Ben Whishaw is lovely as always, Emily Blunt puts a terrific spin on the title character, and I’m always happy to see Dick Van Dyke. It was the perfect movie to see with my aunt over the holidays and then promptly forget everything about it.
Finally, we saw a couple Chinese films: Airpocalypse (a movie about a psychologist who absorbs the power of a god and which argues that terrible air quality is the fault of a vengeful god) and Kill Mobile (a movie about a dinner party where it’s open season on everyone’s cell phones and which argues that straight people are not ok).
…and that is that! Thank you for joining me this year! My 2018 round-up should be up next week, so be sure to have all your library hold lists and streaming queues in order by then.