115 Comments
Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

We came close to seeing this but... I dunno, I was bothered that Tár was a queer woman. I dunno, in reactionary times such as these, an artiste could have gotten more mileage and sent a better message with a straight male. Or, now that I think about, even a straight woman would have been better than a gay woman. Not saying a case can't be made that Tár is fine. Should add that I can't buy Blanchett being born in Staten Island in anything other than an SNL skit maybe.

Anyway: Explanations why I'm wrong welcome. (Note that I get the part about an exceptionally well done production but that's besides the point.)

But what do I know? I watched "In a Lonely Place" expecting a noir and it turned out to be a horror movie.

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It's not about sending a message, it's about telling a story.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Yeah, no, messages are for an audience to take as they please. Leaving it as a story told works for dumb genre entertainments. I mean, that reasoning is the classic defense of the oeuvre of Leni Riefenstahl. There, I can overlook the message but I’m also not going to deny its there. Great execution isn’t, can’t be a complete defense where odious stuff can be read into something.

Forgot to note that with effort, I could take it as a critique of the more conservative wing of feminism and, to a lesser degree, capitalist fame and fortune, but I’m sure any such thing is fully unintended.

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I get it. But you know what? I never liked Olympiad very much. To me it's just a music video. Triumph of the Will I haven't seen.

There are conservatives whose artistic works I admire but, as with any other kind of artist, it's because they put themselves at the service of the muse rather than that of the cause.

A partial exception is Birth of a Nation, which I'll have to write about someday.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Still, at the end of the day, messages can be taken whether intended or not.

And now you mention it, Birth of a Nation’s maybe due for what it’s highly unlikely to get: a subverting remake. Open on the White House screening of it while Europe’s enflamed… fast forward to post-WWI attacks on Blacks and the rise of the Klan as inspired by the film, then flashback to, well, the birth of *that* nation… I’d definitely watch that.

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(Gotta have room in there somewhere for William Monroe Trotter being salty to President Wilson by demanding his constitutional rights, and getting kicked out of the White House.)

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That’s CRT stuff. Is that even allowed here??

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Having just watched "Malcolm X" for the first time, I'd love to see Spike tackle that project.

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Copy that. It would be awesome.

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(Oscar Micheaux did a sort-of response in 1920, called "Within Our Gates.")

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Not to be too literal, but Triumph of the Will is pure gay military cosplay. Seen thru that lens it's a hoot. Don't know if Leni meant it that way tho.

I had a high school buddy whose father was on the gold medal basketball team at the 36 Olympics. The US beat Canada 19-8 on a clay court outdoors in the rain...he didn't have anything to say about the Nazis except for the crappy court.

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Checking with wiki kept me from mistaking the Olympic story for a MacArthur Park joke.

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Cannot say whether it’s true but Leni may have had a thing for male bodies.

Still, again, one views a work however one does.

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So off-topic, but I can't resist. 1936 Olympics! In my county, we just renamed a high school: Archie Williams High School. Archie Williams won a gold medal in the 1936 400 meter run. Being Black, he didn't get a handshake from Hitler (same as Jesse Owens), but he also noted that regular Germans didn't make him ride at the back of the bus.

Then he became a Tuskegee pilot and after 22 years in the Air Force, he retired and taught math and computer science for many years, including at the school that's now named for him. It was a good choice, replacing Sir Francis Drake.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archie_Williams

More on-topic: I think I have been convinced to see this movie. Thx, Roy.

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Wow. I lived a few blocks from Drake HS in the 60's before heading over the hill to Terra Linda (Trojans!). Had no idea the name changed.

2 marks for history!

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Yikes. Reread this and saw 'partial birth exception' with the attendant misapprehensions rampant...

I need to get my brain to the shop for its six month maintenance.

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Yikes!! I know the feeling.

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Why do you have to find a message or a critique? Why not come at it first as a story about human beings and judge it, if you must, in that context?

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Have is irrelevant. The story triggers that response. In this case asking not to be repelled by something repulsive to me is asking for something just wrong.

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Fair enough. There's entire genres to which we say "Thanks/No thanks" for one reason or another. Tho I should add my stock reality check: it's all just colored lights moving on a flat screen.

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Well, not being repelled by something repulsive is quite a bit different than seeing everything in the context of what you see as its messages or critiques.

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I guess it is possible to be repelled while not acting out repulsion.

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When I watched Tar, I never once felt that Lydia was representing queer women. I just felt that this particular woman was a jerk. I'm thinking that's progress. And if Tar was straight, you really couldn't have a sexual harrassment angle, could you?

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Well, of course, different people react differently. Sometimes, there’s, like, a single, correct reaction and sometimes.

In this case, everything I read made it clear Tár is an extremely repulsive person by my standards. So making such a person a gay woman doesn’t work for me. Me being me, I’d prefer a critique of the available fame and fortune and what’s needed to achieve it. It does not seem to be that that’s the movie that was made — and given the current era, it’s unlikely AF that such a movie would be backed.

Buuut… I don’t condemn a movie per sé for being a well done character study and nothing more. My initial question was whether what I sussed this one to be was in fact what it was.

But with all things art, by and by YMMV as a rule. Generally, no right/wrong, rather like/don’t like.

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Uhmm...

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To have cast the lead as a straight male would've totally changed the narrative because the way it's set now it's possible for her introspection. A straight male lead would have forced the narrative to stay completely on the surface, at the level of legality, of procedure -- ultimately it would have reduced the artwork the attitude about "cancelculture" that a viewer brought into it before watching it.

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I’m not so sure I’d necessarily agree. Or with the Tár we got, introspection and/or self-awareness may’ve been possible but is *that* the movie they made?

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Feb 28, 2023·edited Feb 28, 2023

I guess you'll just haveta bite the bullet and...ah, never mind...

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

In a Lonely Place is wonderful, whatever genre it is. I love that they didn't try to happy-ending it, and I'll watch any damn thing that's got Gloria Grahame in it. Have you seen Crossfire? She's great in that.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Yes, whatever the genre, it was very well done. As for Grahame, nothing she was in was as fantastic as her real life. In the case of In a Lonely Place, she did while married to the director and (allegedly 🥴) being intimate with his son from his prior marriage who later became her last husband.

Speaking of remakes, a mash up of the movie and Grahame’s life could be fun, a real roller coaster.

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Are you sure that wasn't a happy ending?

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In "reactionary times such as these," I think it's a good thing that an LGBTQ person can be shown as an interesting, complicated monster. I felt the same way about Killmonger in the "Black Panther" - finally, a great Black villain, with all the complexities of the best white villains that have always been the default. Acceptance in the culture of the "other" being able to transcend the easy stereotypes is just as important as simple representation, IMHO.

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Disagree more than I agree. I have minimal sympathy for the tragedy (albeit with a caveat?) for the story of a grossly ambitious, arguably sociopathic lesbian more so because it’s by and by grossly ambitious, predominately straight white men who’ve made the world shitty. I of course understand why they do but have issues nonetheless with others essentially copying them. But, of course, that’s on me.

As for Killmonger, on second viewing, I had trouble seeing him as a villain.

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Hmmm. "Whataboutism?"

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Well, sure. The fact that he was "woke" about how Black people in America have been treated, and how Wakanda, with all of its wealth and technology, never lifted a finger to help, makes him a complex character, probably the most interesting charaacter in the movie. But in the MCU, he's still a villain.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Thanks for another great review, I haven’t seen the film yet but it’s on my list. One interesting thing about the movie in terms of the “cancel culture” element is people’s responses don’t break as cleanly along the liberal/conservative divide as might be expected. Granted, some conservatives see Tar as a hero brought low by intersectional Gen-Z commissars, but frankly it’s normal for nuance to be invisible to conservatives, who don’t seem to be able to enjoy any art unless they can perceive The Message in big block letters. And if The Message isn’t clearly presented, they create one.

The mixed response of a lot of liberals, a “where is the line” confusion and discomfort, is what I find a lot more interesting. Status and prestige, how it’s gained and lost, and who we readily give it to as well as how we decide when it has to be taken away, is a fantastic subject to explore.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

"...conservatives, who don’t seem to be able to enjoy any art unless they can perceive The Message in big block letters."

As someone not nearly as famous as he should be once wrote: "They have no idea what art is. The closest thing to it in their universe is propaganda, so they assume art is just a species of that."

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Sounds like our esteemed host, LOL. And unsurprisingly, various empirical studies have consistently found that people who support conservative policies have a very low tolerance for ambiguity of any kind. Things need to clearly be one thing or another thing and if they are not, conservatives become first confused/uncomfortable, and then angry.

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In my own defense, I sometimes push the narrative sideways a little when I lead the film club discussion (we rotate the lead role depending on whose nomination gets picked that month).

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Low tolerance for ambiguity, high tolerance for cognitive dissonance.

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Speaking of the cognitive dissonance, the latest not-a-story about how the DoE (that's Energy, not the one Rick Perry wanted to abolish) now thinks with "low confidence" the Coronavirus came from a lab-leak has retriggered all their "Chinese-engineered bioweapon" hysteria. Just also try to hold in your head at the same time that it's no worse than the flu or a cold. Guess those Chinese are not so good at the bioweapon engineering.

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Careful there, bud – you're over-ascribing cognitive ability.

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Great review. This one I'll see. I 'll see Cate Blanchett in anything. I enjoyed Nightmare Alley way more than I expected. Anyone seen Pinnochio?

You know the Academy Awards have gotten much smarter over the years. I mean, The Towering Inferno was nominated for Best Picture in 1974 . It was also the highest grossing picture in 1974. The Sting won best picture which was OK. it was a solid Hollywood movie.

TI was garbage.

Nothing like any of the candidates so far this year.

Seemingly related but not really - Orpheus, that most artiest of art films, was the number one grossing film in France in 1950.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

I assume Towering Inferno was nominated on the strength of its cast? Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, even Fred Astaire!

I checked, and Astaire was actually nominated for Best Supporting Actor, his only Oscar nomination (he got an honorary Oscar in 1950). Now that's a great trivia question: What's the only film Fred Astaire ever got an Oscar nomination for?

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I had a great time at The Towering Inferno. I think it was the last time I actually yelled at the screen. "Eat death, Dr. Kildare!"

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Ha!

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Hmmm...not sure about smarter. This year's nominations include the Top Gun and Avatar sequels, and NO nominations for "Nope," which seems particularly dumb to me.

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And Decision to Leave

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Ah, from the director of "Oldboy." Which I need to see.

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Especially “Nope” (for me, anyway). Jonathan Majors is all over my newsfeed, with breathless reporting of his performance in “Antman Quantum Entanglement Rodeo Clown”. The reportage tslks about his prior performances in “Lovecraft Country” and “Creed#867orwhatevs” but none that I read even mentioned “Nope”. It seems the whole of Hollywood decided to pretend it doesn’t exist.

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Love Jonathan (if you haven't seen it, check out "The Last Black Man in San Francisco"), but he wasn't in "Nope."

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

I'm a lesbo who came out in the era of the U-Haul joke. Maybe ISO (I'm so old) that it's not a thing anymore? It was a thing among my queer volleyball gang. Anyway, this is a brilliant review of a brilliant movie that, once it was over, I wanted to see it again. I didn't know what was going to happen when it happened. That almost never happens! I felt the same way when I watched Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to Her." I did, indeed, stay in the movie theatre to watch it again.

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My expert theater enthusiast friend said he wants to see it (and the Banshees) again because he knows he missed things throughout and feels the need to close the loop.

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I know I missed things, too!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Probably because I’m touring the tombs and temples of ancient Egypt, but the downfall of any self-important person brings to mind Ozymandias: “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.” Meanwhile, when is Marvel going to bring us Hathor, cow goddess and mother?

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Pull my finger. Ye Mighty and despair.

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Ha! My first hearing of that (when I was a kid), "Ye Mighty" sounded like "Ye Matey!", giving it a slightly menacing-yet-jaunty nautical slant.

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ARRR!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Hathor popped up in the Moon Knight series (which imho is excellent) tho sadly not as a cow.

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Endorse Moon Knight. I wasn't particularly interested, spouse talked me into it. Glad he did.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

What I saw is that she wound up in Hell, complete with an audience of demons to cheer on her torment. She did of course assault someone in front of a thousand people. But that idiot kid deserved everything she dished out to him. What's a moron like that doing at Juilliard in the first place?

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

This is the only film I saw in an actual cinema in 2022. I enjoyed it immensely, and am still processing it to a certain extent. But of all the reviews about "Tár," this one rang the truest to me. And I must confess that, as a professional accordionist, the notion that she started out as a young accordionist on Staten Island was just perfect.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

2 marks for that whole last sentence and the various phrases therein.

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Roy's readership contains multitudes. "Professional accordionist? Yeah, we got one of those, what of it?"

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Speaking as a vegetarian bicycle repairman, I consider this a 2-mark comment.

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We check ALL the boxes!

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You might (or might not!) have enjoyed “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” starring Daniel Radcliffe in the title role. It’s a silly bit of fluff, but highly entertaining if you’re kindly disposed towards Weird Al. I loved that the fictional W.A. character wins an award in a category called “perhaps not technically the best, but arguably the most famous accordion player in an extremely specific genre of music”.

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I really like Weird Al. He's a very fine satirist and pretty decent accordion player as well. Look forward to seeing the film sometime. Thanks.

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I saw one clip from the film – in which he has his "Wait a minute!" moment, with his chums sittin' around, essentially saying "Why not? Could work...".

Was pretty well done. Tightrope act – undue parody falling one way, deadly serious the other, and Dan'l sliding daintily along, toeing the line...

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At last, the "cancelculture" movie we need to see! The way you've described it, it sounds like the effects are focused directly on where the targeted figure feels they've been hurt: in the waves of admiration that bolster & magnify their egos. Just enough has changed & it's too much.

So we can see why the great and the famous all pile on in support or complain when these incidents come up, because their fame and self-worth is equally tenuous...

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

For your consideration: Dilbèrt, the story of a great artist brought down by racism (his own.)

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

And he probly thinks it's all the fault o'them folx with the melanin...

Oh, forgot the 2 marks for the accent grave.

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023

Just make sure to pronounce it correctly: Deelberrrrr... Try to roll your tongue, maybe wearing a beret would help?

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Hohnh hohnh hohnh!

Wait til you see me in my neck-less long-sleeved horizontal-striped cotton top! You will be forced to bow to my superior je ne sais quoi!

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

He could have just said nothing; instead, he chose to let his Confederate flag fly.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

He's guaranteed a gig on certain media should he decide he hasn't sunk quite far enough yet.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

"I used to be BIG! I was syndicated in a thousand newspapers!"

"Newspapers, what're those?"

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Oof.

The missus says that when she lived in Italy newspapers are what the pizzas were carried in.

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"I AM big. It's the pixels that got small."

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2 marks!

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023

Awaiting our host's column on the cancel culture crowd (i.e. Thomas Chatterton Williams and Conor Friersdorff) determining that Adams was not, in fact, cancelcultured, because he stepped over the imaginary line and did a really bad racism, or at least one that they found objectionable.

Remember: It's only real racism if it sounds like it comes from the KKK region of the South; otherwise, it's just sparkling free speech.

[EDIT] I hate it when someone beats me to the punch, but does it even better: https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/1629905977326596097?s=20

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My guess is that the response will just be embarrassed silence. "Can't we find a more sympathetic victim than this?"

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Agree. I saw the vid of Adams, and was struck by how smug and self-satisfied he was. His manner--the twinkling, the chuckling--said, "This isn't even controversial. We tried, with these people, but what did anyone expect?"

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Damn...

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Feb 27, 2023·edited Feb 27, 2023

Sorry Scott, no letter signed by Salman Rushdie and Noam Chomsky for you.

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Of course, there's no situation that can't be made worse with the addition of a little Musk:

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/27/business/elon-musk-dilbert.html

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The number of people on Twitter going "Did you watch the whole video? What did he say that was wrong?" is a bit...concerning. I know, it's Twitter, but still...

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I think that's a trick to get fair-minded liberals (and, as liberals, we must ALWAYS be fair, mustn't we?) to feed some clicks to a known racist. Which helps move him up in the algorithm.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

In Oscar Best Picture horse race news, it looks like EEAAO is a lock.

https://deadline.com/2023/02/everything-everywhere-all-at-once-sag-awards-records-a24-white-lotus-1235272658/

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Funny, I saw the first and last letters in your all-caps and thought the donkey movie had won.

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Oh, not this donkey, then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGE_TWz-ZLw

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Best Supporting Donkey vs. Best Male Lead Donkey

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Feb 28, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Old MacDonald gets his Oscar!

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To that, just found this:

https://aframe.oscars.org/news/post/eo-jerzy-skolimowski-ewa-piaskowska-interview

Apparently, the donkey is something of a prima donna...

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When you're a star, they let you do it.

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Love this line: "This is probably the first and only time Isabelle Huppert will play supporting to a donkey and have scenes cut so that he can shine more."

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Great review. I loved the movie, and thought the ending was hilarious, without knowing the backstory (thanks for the link to that). Blanchett is, of course, amazing, and should win the Oscar, although I would have no problem with Michelle Yeoh winning - her performance was equally amazing, and Blanchett, like Meryl Streep, will have plenty of chances to win another one (if that even matters in the scheme of things).

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Thanks! I was waiting for this one. I haven't seen it but my sister plays violin for the Cleveland Orchestra so I know a lot about asshole conductors, and my stepson saw it and was just wild about it.

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Nice review, thanks. I don’t read reviews if I know I’m going to see a movie, but I didn’t know I was going to see this one, so I was aware of the story arc and what some of the more prominent critics thought about it. I was put off by it being yet another story in which a powerful woman gets humiliated, which happens all too often in films, and one doesn’t have to go too deep to speculate why so many people get off on that oft-told tale.

But when I decided to see it, I let that go and let the story take me where it would. I thought the first act was great in how it gave the character so much space for us to get to know her with only a few hints of where the story would go. I liked the ambiguities surrounding the degree of her guilt and the actual severity of her crimes. Was it more that she didn’t understand power dynamics and how they could traumatize the one with no power in the relationship, or was she just a predator? That’s an interesting question in a lot of similar real life situations.

I read the end a bit differently. It reminded me of The Queen’s Gambit where just after winning the Russian invitational, Beth walked out into Moscow and found a game in the park. Conducting orchestras was just what she does, no matter the stakes.

Anyway, I thought that was the best among the nominees I’ve seen, and yours was an excellent review as well.

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Thanks. I agree the ambiguities are what make it. There is little *effective* difference as to whether she "didn't understand power dynamics" -- which, oddly enough, can be true even of power players when the game changes on them -- or was "just a predator." But to have those possibilities in your mind makes the difference between this and tabloid crap.

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Right, it doesn't make an effective difference to real-life victims, but it does make an effective difference to the drama and the quality of the storytelling. I often feel empathy for people who have a vast chasm between their self beliefs and their real world actions, but have no use for straight up predators, in life (always), or in art (most of the time).

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

Another review that makes me want to see a movie I didn't want to see. Those dialog snippets of Artists discussing Art ring true for me, the screenwriter knows how that game is played. And any movie that sparks discussion of this caliber has something to say.

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You have caused me to think I ought to inflict viewing this on myself. The subject interests me little but the way it is handled makes the difference. Brilliant review, sir.

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Feb 27, 2023Liked by Roy Edroso

You have caused me to think I ought to inflict viewing this on myself. The subject interests me little but the way it is handled makes the difference. Brilliant review, sir.

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I think you'll get it!

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