The Films of 2020

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2020

#51 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:12 pm

Peter-H wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 2:07 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:01 am
What bothers me most about this narrative, and it's something that has becoming glaringly clear with age, is its self-deprecation is a facade for wallowing in self-pity and egotistical attention to one's hardships and growth.
I think I know what you mean, what would you say are some other movies that do this?
Hmm I guess given my restrictions of "self-deprecation" there aren't a lot of good examples that immediately come to mind. Tiny Furniture, many mumblecores (especially some of the Swanbergs), and a case could be made for Marriage Story though I thought that one was fine. I know there are "better" examples that I can't think about offhand. You could probably throw in a good chunk of Apatow's catalog.

Though outside of that specific autobiographical catchman signifier- my issue is really with audience manipulation, and selling a character as pitiable rather than having it earned. I see this in the films of Ken Loach, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a frustrating one, and even a film I wanted to like, Fourteen, really descended into this "look at me" self-pity, as I wrote about more in depth upthread. Unfortunately, one of my last group-movie viewings pre-COVID was being forced to watch Tall Girl with a group of my girlfriend's friends, and all of these films more or less read like that one to me. I know it's a subjective line that allows a film to 'deserve' its empathy rather than tactfully drain its audience of it, but my point is that as I get older I find myself seeing through a lot of those films and detaching from the star-eyed romantic lens of these narratives, from Oscar-bait tearjerkers to dramedies that beg the audience to empathize so hard that the histrionics show. Part of the reason I hate Betty Blue so passionately is that I think that film does this while also taking swings at mental health and the opposite sex to fight for the deserved self-pity narrative, doing more harm than your typical of one of these films in the process- yet narcissistically blind to those consequences.

beamish14
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Re: The Films of 2020

#52 Post by beamish14 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 3:49 pm

Like Paul Feig, Apatow's movies completely repel me. I just detest their brands of humor, and both of them are glaringly terrible in
their capacities to make their works aesthetically interesting in any way or know how to judiciously edit material.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Films of 2020

#53 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:26 pm

Alice et le maire (Nicolas Pariser)
Anaïs Demoustier rather unexpectedly won the Cesar award for Best Actress for her perf as a philosophy grad student hired by a socialist mayor to reinvigorate him as an ideas person. The film works best when it plays out my own greatest personal horror, being thrown into a job you don't fully understand with expectations that aren't explained and no clarity as to what you should be doing. I've lived this film's first act, though perhaps not in specifics, and fallen upwards like Demoustier, so I found a kinship to her protag that likely would not be there for most viewers who haven't. I thought the film had a lot of ideas of its own that it could never really follow through on, and it feels a bit like a highlight reel for a season of television edited down to feature length with all the necessary sinews and connecting parts elided. Perhaps even more shocking than Demoustier's win is that Fabrice Luchini as the mayor wasn't even nommed-- this is an especially strong perf in how it contrasts with much of Luchini's usual instincts, and I enjoyed how unreadable he remained for much of the film. The movie is a mess, but he and Demoustier make it work, though I'm not sure Pariser really thought through the implications of the film's literary punchline...

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knives
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Re: The Films of 2020

#54 Post by knives » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:30 pm

Usually I'm not into your French recommendations, but that set up and your description of it sounds so much like my life that I'm for once super interested.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Films of 2020

#55 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 25, 2020 10:19 pm

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix for copyright infringement... because their version of Sherlock Holmes respects women (I was skeptical that it was clickbait too, but that’s actually in the complaint verbatim)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2020

#56 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:11 pm

Tommaso

I want to preface this by saying that I generally cannot stand Abel Ferrara’s cinema, but what he does in this film with equal measures chaotic (at times surreal) narrative style and rhythmic raw depictions of experience just hit all the right notes for me. We loiter in moments that are colored as banal yet emotional, whether sexual intercourse or a walk in the park. These are the truths of the mature self-actualized adult who finds depth and pain, and all of life's offerings, now in the ordinary.

Dafoe is magnetic, meditating on the mysteries of his experience, participating actively with enthusiasm, focusing on a task, accepting ennui, posturing toward existential crises, and considering how to manage his emotions. He practices the principles of his recovery imperfectly, saying one of the wisest statements I’ve heard in cinema very early on, yet struggling like the rest of us to practice the wisdom with ease: “If you’re only doing emotional things that you feel safe with, it’s for you. You’ve got to go beyond yourself… When we do things and forget about ourselves, and we’re just doing that action in a pure way, that’s when we get closer- in a pure way to experiencing the beauty of life.” This could be the definition of his Higher Power in AA. It wouldn't be far off from many others' definitions of "spiritually-fit," or "God-moments."

Addiction is part of Ferrara’s story, and the portrayal of the life of a man in recovery is very subjective to his autobiographical experience but also honest in its universality. Dafoe falls into pockets of resentment or self-indulgence, contests with marital difficulties and issues of powerlessness and domination. He doesn’t suggest the answers to life’s mysteries because he doesn’t have them, nor does he express a crisis in loud movements or theatrical exposition. An instant of dysregulation may not look much different than the look on a father’s face drifting off into space with his daughter in the park, because that’s reality- but Ferrara engages us in a holistic exercise that examines Dafoe and his exchanges with his milieu from every possible angle. The camera glances at body language, movements of characters across a physical space toward another, basks in the beauty of physical human bodies or inanimate spaces just as it does the blankness of things. Meaning becomes the subjective experience, and Ferrara refuses to color these for us. That’s not how life works.

That's not to say that the spiral into delusion doesn't become self-centered in the general sense, or propelled upon us. I'm sure this will draw parallels to the same conversations people love to have over the protagonist in Diary of a Country Priest's own questionable absorption with emulating Christ and looking for sympathy indirectly, but I think that misses the point- at least if left there in a state of viewer-judgment. One might criticize this film as self-obsessive but its self-pity is innately drawn from appropriate wells. The AA shares use the real lingo to deconstruct relationships on topic with the selfish side of the program, which isn’t a ‘bad’ thing. There is a truth in “keeping one’s side of the street clean” and focusing on the self rather than another’s flaws. That egocentricity is healthy, and directly contrasts the toxic masculinity that balks at self-awareness or professes narrow-minded answers. However, Dafoe does not practice a 'perfect program' or live his life harmoniously, just like anyone in or out of recovery, and his fallibility is marked by his own admitted obsessive thinking that "neurotic, dualistic, unrealistic way of thinking only gets us into trouble, but we do it all the time." He says this to himself, but cannot escape himself, and exhibits behavior that wallows in the only perspective we can default to: our own. This is such a subjective account that the stylized jumps in reality, just like the most docu-drama shots, are inherently created by Dafoe, and the filmmaker himself, based on his own neuroses rather than an offensive reality.

If anything, he is most critical of himself, and his impositions of control on others to get on his wavelength (whether his wife or a homeless man on the street), before reverting back to a meditative understanding of powerlessness, is a repetitive process most in recovery will be familiar with. There is a humility present in this introverted diary, which does not alleviate Ferrara/Dafoe of his character defects, but validates the skewed emotions he has while admitting their right-sized value of actual importance. But if he didn't descend into the self, that would be even more disingenuous and inauthentic, and would frankly be even more problematic in sugarcoating the ability to practice what one preaches- and that would be unfairly professing to be Christ. Feeling sorry for yourself and getting outside of yourself to empathize with others, rinse cycle repeat- that's the program. The greatest respect comes as he demonstrates his most intense regression later on, acknowledging that emotional sobriety is not linear like time sober. There is no 'right' and 'wrong' here, there just 'is'- and part of that is amends and going back to the base to contemplate one's actions, accept them, and turn around to commit to betterment and growth in this transient moment, just right now. Because tomorrow, who knows. Easier said than done, and near the end we sense that he may want to give up- but children and dancing are emblems of a higher power that can perhaps restore him to sanity- especially Ferrara's own, in real life.

The late-speech about anger and drawing energy from outside of the 'self' (yet still remaining self-focused), stated by who I imagine is his sponsor, addresses the video I've linked a few times here that summarizes the science behind will power pertaining to life broadly, but based in addiction studies. It also expands upon this idea to become one of the most beautiful truths in film history, finding a complicated web in simple terms. As a person I'm close to, who is a member of this same fellowship, always says: Come at every situation with love and compassion, and things will generally be okay. Ferrara is eerily speaking my language here and ultimately he surprised me the most by making a movie that undoes all the irritating attributes I find in the rest of his work, in committing to the exact opposite attitudes. Yet the fantasy he engages with at the end directly confronts his past cinematic explorations, repurposed as an externalization of his unmanageable emotions and defaults into self-pity, including an image of self-destruction that is equally self-aggrandizing related to Christ! "Egomaniac with an inferiority complex" as they say in the program. I don’t know if I’m ready to call this the greatest film ever made about the recovery aspect of addiction specifically, but if it’s not, it’s damn-near close. It's certainly a rare picture of the complex contradictory nature of humanity, which is a language everyone willing to self-reflect can speak.

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soundchaser
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Re: The Films of 2020

#57 Post by soundchaser » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:03 am

I don’t know if this counts as a “film” of this year, but I had to watch it so you have to hear about it.

Eric Andre’s stand-up special is one of the worst of its genre I’ve ever seen — fifty minutes of crass, cringeworthy jokes well over ten years old (“711 was an inside job”? Seriously?), easy “political” lines deliberately designed to get applause from the audience (“legalize everything” is neither a brave stance nor a particularly funny one!), and the screaming. Oh my God, the incoherent screaming that seems to end every bit as if it’s a punchline in and of itself.

Speaking of punchlines: hope you’ve done a lot of drugs, because Andre seems to think recounting all the times he got *really high, bro* is inherently hilarious. If that doesn’t do it for you, let him regale you with the story of having his asshole eaten out by his ex. Or make himself out to be the good guy in a situation where he makes a 3 AM booty call only to get into a conflict with his conquest’s new boyfriend? It’s just baffling to me that anyone could find that bit funny.

Now, I should come clean: I’m a little prudish when it comes to some of the subject matter here (just personally speaking), but I can appreciate a good Aristocrats-style joke when it’s well structured, cleverly delivered, or sufficiently entertaining in its own right. The material on display has none of that going for it. It’s unbearable. I’ve seen isolated bits of The Eric Andre Show that have made me chuckle, but stand-up is clearly not his forte.

It absolutely kills me that this special was filmed in New Orleans, because there’s so much to this city other than this shitgibbon’s insistence that it’s a terrible place to get cocaine. Oh, and he plays a Big Freedia song in the intro, so I expect a ton of transplants and/or tourists who think they know everything about New Orleans culture™️ will eat this up.

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domino harvey
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Re: The Films of 2020

#58 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:24 pm


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soundchaser
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Re: The Films of 2020

#59 Post by soundchaser » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:13 pm

Color me amazed to find that’s not common parlance.

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Reverend Drewcifer
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Re: The Films of 2020

#60 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:42 pm

The Ghost of Peter Sellers. Peter Medak never really set the world on fire, though to hear him speak about it, he was on the path to all-timer status before Peter Sellers roped him into Ghost in the Noonday Sun, after which Medak became gunshy and too insecure to reach the heights of The Ruling Class again. I don’t buy it. Medak had a short run of satiric British whats-its like The Ruling Class and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and was building a nice but very small career for himself. Sellers, meanwhile, had a debris field a mile long behind him, and his status as “the most bankable comedy star” according to Medak in his documentary necessitates multiple asterisks to qualify. That Medak was sold on filming at sea with no script, as well as a star capable of scorched-earth childishness, tells me that this director was - at best - not ready for primetime, and was at worst a marshmallow naïf with no idea how badly he was about to get roasted. Either way, Medak’s self-assessment in the documentary is pitiable, and his for-hire status in the years after his encounter with Sellers seems an inevitability no matter what damage Ghost in the Noonday Sun did to his self-confidence. At one point, Medak is remonstrating with Piers Haggard and Joseph McGrath. Imagine that: Medak in the company of the guys who made The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu and The Magic Christian, wondering what the hell went wrong.

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AidanKing
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Re: The Films of 2020

#61 Post by AidanKing » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:07 am

Thomas Clay (previously suspected to be 'Nothing' on this forum) has finally managed to get his new film 'Fanny Lye Deliver'd', on which he has apparently been working for several years, released, albeit only on streaming obviously. I think it actually looks rather interesting and the trailer seems to show a great deal of technical sophistication in the making in a very 1970s Brit-film sort of style. Unfortunately, it only looks as if it is going to get a DVD release with no Blu Ray: I suspect Nothing would have had something to say about that.

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Never Cursed
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Re: The Films of 2020

#62 Post by Never Cursed » Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:34 pm


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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2020

#63 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:54 pm

Nice, I didn't love Euphoria like you did, which I felt crumbled under itself by the halfway mark, but he showed a lot of potential when focusing on certain ideas and characterizations. I'd like to see him continue to tackle struggles with addiction like Ponsoldt did for a bit, given his own candid experience, which was by far the best part of the show in my eyes.

smccolgan
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Re: The Films of 2020

#64 Post by smccolgan » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:03 am

Palm Springs was pretty enjoyable, and I grinned at the inclusion of a Kate Bush song late in the film. Feel like there were bits that would have been a little more fun to experience with an audience, but COVID and all...

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Films of 2020

#65 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:15 am

smccolgan wrote:
Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:03 am
Palm Springs was pretty enjoyable, and I grinned at the inclusion of a Kate Bush song late in the film. Feel like there were bits that would have been a little more fun to experience with an audience, but COVID and all...
I dug this too: following up a lovely performance in the excellent standalone episode of Mythic Quest, Cristin Milioti stands out over even Samberg - and the film's rhythmic feature length montage vibe really clicked for me.

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