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"Chris, you are very gifted as a reviewer. Often I will read your words about a movie I wasn't particularly drawn to and be "well, gotta see that now, don't I?" -Carmen

"Not sure how I feel about this new movie trend of Creepy [Prestigious Actress]. This year alone gives us Creepy Isabelle Huppert, Creepy Lupita Nyong'o, and Creepy Octavia Spencer." - Brevity

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Entries in politics (315)

Friday
Mar222019

Review: Hotel Mumbai

by Jason Adams

What scares us -- the communal us -- shifts through time. The 70s gave us Vietnam allegories like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, while in the 80s Slasher Movies were all the rage as divorce numbers went up and women asserted their rights. Then there was so-called Torture Porn, which was all the rage while Bush & Cheney were throwing their waterboarding parties. So what now? It's hard not to see Grief as the theme of our current moment -- the great horror films of our age, films like The Babadook and Hereditary, are profound ruminations on a world that's already slipped through our fingers -- a madness so close its breath is hot on your throat, and a knowledge that its our own failures, our own shortcomings, that brought this all down upon us.

Hotel Mumbai is technically not a horror movie (look to Jordan Peele's Us, which Chris just reviewed, for this weekend's official entry in that genre) but it sure operates like one...

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Saturday
Mar162019

SLO Film Fest: Wolves, Sharks, and that "Delicate Balance" 

Nathaniel R reporting from the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

After a delightful trip back to 1969 iconography and disturbing peek back at 1933 fascism, the San Luis Obispo's 25th festival threw us directly into the immediate now with three engaging documentaries exploring very real, very urgent problems with our ecosystems, relationships with animal life, and the dehumanizing dangers of globalism and late stage capitalism. That may sound depressing, and it was to an extent, but all three films were suffused with enough passion and optimism to make their bitter pills easier to swallow.

The shortest and "lightest" of these with Collin Monda's hour-long documentary The Trouble With Wolves, which is locked but not quite finished (needing funds to complete its rights clearances and such). It's a surprisingly nuanced look at the success and aftershocks of a 1995 federal program to reintroduce gray wolves to the US via Yellowstone National Park.

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Friday
Mar152019

SLO Film Fest: Franchot & Fascism

by Nathaniel R

Walter Huston a fascist American president in "Gabriel Over the White House"

Those of us who live in big cities with dozens of theaters and access to films from around the world sometimes forget the need for communities of dedicated cinephiles elsewhere. Likeminded cinephiles are easy to find online and share obscure movie-watching with but IRL outside the biggest cities you often need a regional film festival to find them. Community, and not just of cinephiles, is what film festivals thrive on. The best regional festivals find ways to incorporate local groups and artists of multiple kinds. SLO Fest does that with local filmmakers of course and also local musicians like the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra. But sometimes local groups sponsor specific festival selections.

For instance we were completely puzzled at the inclusion of a 1933 movie we'd never heard of in a festival that mostly centers around new films, docs, and discoveries, so of course we scheduled it. We arrived to Gabriel Over the White House completely curious. We knew only that Franchot Tone was in it (you know about our Franchot Tone problem. Ahem) and that is usually enough. And here's where the regional community feeling comes in...

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Sunday
Mar102019

SXSW Review: "The Wall of Mexico" 

Abe Fried-Tanzer reporting from the SXSW Festival in Austin Texas

Of the many responses to Donald Trump that have come from the film community, nothing seems more overt a reference at the current moment than a film titled The Wall of Mexico. Yet our president doesn’t figure into the movie at all, and he’s not even referenced, explicitly or vaguely. Instead, the tables are turned and the wall referenced actually serves to protect a Mexican-American family from the uneducated Americans around them...

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Wednesday
Feb272019

Why Green Book's win made me cringe. (It's not what you think.)

By Lynn Lee

I heaved a heavy sigh the moment Green Book won best picture.  But not for the reasons many of the rest of you probably did.

No, my heart sank because, dear readers, I like Green Book.  Liked it when I saw it, still like it now after all the controversies that failed to derail its path to Oscar.  Liked it enough to cringe at the thought of how exponentially the animus it’s already generated would grow following its victory, and how quickly it would be added to lists of the Academy’s Worst Decisions Ever...

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Saturday
Feb162019

Another Academy Reversal. But We're Still Feeling Battered

We were offline last night (a break for computer strained eyeballs) so we're hours late delivering the news but good news is still good the next morning. Deadline scooped that the Academy has decided to reverse the decision to not present all categories live. This is a very happy turn of events but it's also left us feeling bruised and battered. Deadline's scoop reminds us that a large part of the problem -- a problem that's not going away any time soon -- is the way the media frames these issues. The media is essentially complicit in ABC's tactics at undermining the Oscars. For those who are looking closely at the situation it's become blindingly obvious that ABC is a toxic and abusive partner to The Academy, more concerned with pushing their own stars (like Jimmy Kimmel) and movies (more awards for Disney blockbusters plz -- hey how about a "popular Oscar"?) than perpetuating the brand of the Oscars themselves. And that brand, the Oscars, is the reason people tune in each year, not for any particular host or any particular movie.

ABC has strategically kept the Academy in panic mode with 'the sky is falling' style messaging about their lack of popularity (which is bollocks but facts are hard to see when you're in an abusive relationship). But the problem  becomes larger because the media continually helps them do it! Consider the way Mike Fleming Jr frames the piece (and he's hardly the first) in his article...

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Thursday
Feb142019

Doc Corner: Ranking the Best Documentary Short Subject Nominees from Least to Most Depressing

by Glenn Dunks

After doing this ranking system two years ago, we took 2017 off because – in a rarity for the Best Documentary Short Subject category – most of the nominees were actually not entirely miserable! This year the branch has gone back to films that make us feel deeply sad about the world in which we live. That’s not a bad thing since, if any category should be able to confront the inequalities, the traumas, the tragedies, the inhumanities of this world, then documentary short films are it.

This year’s nominees cover themes both familiar and yet distressingly contemporary: the refugee crisis, race, the rise of fascism and Nazism in mainstream politics, third world inequalities and death.They’re certainly not the happiest lot of film you’ll ever see. They do, however, make for a solid roster of nominees...

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