27 posts categorized "Magical Realism"

March 10, 2024

POOR THINGS

Welcome!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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ColeSmithey.comWhen I met Yorgos Lanthimos at the Fox Searchlight party for his film "The Favourite," I told him that I thought that film fell short of being as bawdy as it should have been, that he needed to lean into being much bawdier with his movies. Yorgos seems to have followed my advice.

Working from a novel by Scottish novelist Alasdair Gray, and with artistic input from the film's lead actress Emma Stone, Yorgos Lanthimos presents a captivating journey of self-discovery that necessarily involves sex, lots and lots of sex.

Oh how refreshing to see characters fucking, rather than shooting each other.

ColeSmithey.com

"Poor Things" coincides with Emerld Fennell's "Saltburn" in confronting Hollywood's gun-happy format with something considerably more grounded, namely the sex urge that drives people, and the social curiosity that comes along with it.

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Rapturous in its outrageous designs, "Poor Things" is a wonder to behold and a balm for the soul.

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Emma Stone is fearless. Willem Dafoe is exquisite, as he always is. Mark Ruffalo provides the comic timing.

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Brilliant social satire arrives in spades with a movie that you may want to watch a few times, for obvious reasons.

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The not-so-obvious reasons are good too.

Rated R. 141 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

October 29, 2023

FIRST REFORMED — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

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ColeSmithey.comHow refreshing it is to be reminded of the mortal shocks that valid Cinema can deliver. When audiences first saw “Taxi Driver” (written by Paul Schrader) they couldn’t wait to talk about it.

It was an experience they had to get off their chests. Audiences were confused but intuitively informed by “Taxi Driver’s” dire provocation.

Here was a film that captured the fall out of the Viet Nam War in a stark portrayal of a [racist] veteran’s psychological, and existential, crisis in the midst of an American culture shock.

ColeSmithey.com

For all of its mis-readings by audiences who also misunderstood Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” or Paul Verhoeven’s “Starship Troopers” (both ingenious filmic satires), “Taxi Driver” remains a cinematic touchstone that refuses to submit to the ravages of time. So too will “First Reformed” stand as a bellwether film for the ages.

ColeSmithey.com

Culture shock plays a role here too. As Paul Schrader did with “Taxi Driver,” he transplants God’s lonely man of Thomas Wolf’s indispensable essay into the modern world. However, this time it is not Manhattan’s urban cesspool that ignites the mind and body of our searching protagonist, but rather a perfect storm of globalized political, corporate, and religious corruption that infects Ernst Toller, a war vet (military Chaplin) turned small-town minister.

ColeSmithey.com

Missing are any visual trappings and sexy locations that would distract from Schrader’s formally composed character study. Small-town America is the hotbed environment where a toxic chemical dumping ground releases vapors of social unrest and rage. This film’s formal compositions seethe with restrained silence and nostalgic dignity.

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Although Schrader retains the voice-over narration approach he effectively utilized in “Taxi Driver,” this time he puts a diary in our protagonist’s hand. Ethan Hawke’s Reverend Ernst Toller (named after the Jewish German left-wing playwright exiled by the Nazis) is the not-so glorified caretaker of the First Reformed Church in a fictitious town in upstate New York. Sick with an internal disease for which he refuses to seek medical care, Toller sets out to keep a handwritten journal that he will “shred and burn” at the end of one year. Empty whiskey bottles pile up in his weekly trash. Ethan Hawke’s performance is exquisitely transparent.   

ColeSmithey.com

Having lost his son to the Iraq War that he insisted his boy enlist, against his wife’s wishes, Toller squandered his marriage. His salvation came from Reverend Joel Jeffers (Cedric Kyles), the leader of a large institutional church that guards its corporate funding with a vengeance. The church will soon celebrate its 250th anniversary at a “re-consecration” event to be held in the well-preserved “souvenir shop” church that Toller oversees.  

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Reverend Toller embraces the challenge of faith brought to him by Mary Mensana (Amanda Seyfried), a pregnant newlywed who has recently moved to the area with her ecological activist husband Michael (Philip Ettinger).

Michael doesn’t believe Mary should give birth to their 20-week old fetus due to the impending dire effects of climate change that will ravage human life in the coming years and decades.

ColeSmithey.com

What follows is a concise thesis on how Christian ideology is co-opted by corrupt forces, and how the religion’s “washed in the blood of the lamb” imagery feeds into radicalizing those who are most committed to its precepts.

Far from the “thriller” genre that some are attempting to pigeonhole “First Reformed” into, the film is a transcendent drama built on a rigorous filmic foundation.

ColeSmithey.com

There are two sequences of romantic affection in the film. Each one arrives as a dangerous if not outright radical act.

How and why is it that we the audience can be so provoked by something as natural as a kiss when the violence that we see or expect to witness seems more inevitable, if not natural?

ColeSmithey.com

As Thomas Wolf pointed out in his essay, Christ’s primary teaching was that “loneliness could be destroyed forever by the life of love.” You don’t have to be religious to see the truth in that, but you should see “First Reformed” a couple of times to understand how Paul Schrader shows you what connects us in the kingdom of heaven that we all possess and share. Is "First Reformed" a perfect film? Yes, yes it is. 

ColeSmithey.com

Rated R. 113 mins.

5 StarsTHE BLOOD OF DRACULATHE BLOOD OF DRACULA Screen Shot 2023-10-29 at 1.24.18 PM THE BLOOD OF DRACULA THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
Dramatist and LA GRANDE BOUFFE (THE BIG FEAST) regular Phil Holt returns to the podcast to discuss PAUL SCHRADER'S FIRST REFORMED over a glass of BUNKER'S BROWN ALE.

Bon appétit!

ColeSmithey.com

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

October 24, 2023

THE LIGHTHOUSE — SHOCKTOBER!

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.comWelcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comColeSmithey.com

ColeSmithey.comA stone-cold masterpiece.

"The Lighthouse" would make a great Broadway play.

You heard it here first.

Inestimable performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe ramp up with excruciating suspense and terror.

You will squirm in your seat.

Just don't wet yourself. 

ColeSmithey.com

Co-writer/director Robert Eggers conjures up all sort of fetish hay lurking in the troubled minds of two lonely lighthouse keepers on a New England island in 1890's America.

ColeSmithey.com

Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr's influence is all over this lush black and white film. You can't avoid falling under its woeful spell of looming horror.

ColeSmithey.com

A harsh game of master/servant plays out on a mythical level as a metaphor for how men relate in subtle and not-so-subtle games of oneupmanship.

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Brinksmanship.

Fucking hell.

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Hold on tight; the worst is yet to come.

 Rated R. 109 mins. 

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“ COLE MONSTERCozy Cole

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