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Entries in Texas (9)

Tuesday
Aug232016

1984: Paris, Texas

As part of our celebration of the year of the month, 1984, Lynn Lee revisits the winner of that year's Palme d'Or, Wim Wenders' Paris Texas.

While it may not quite have the status of an iconic movie, there’s much about Paris, Texas that feels iconic.  A hybrid of those two most iconically American genres, the Western and the road trip—directed, natch, by a German and starring two European actresses—it bears the distinctive features of both.  The long stretches of silence, only occasionally broken by snatches of spare Sam Shepard-scripted dialogue or, as often as not, monologue.  Ry Cooder’s haunting slide-guitar score, which seems to meld with the harsh, lonely, yet strangely sublime landscapes of Texas deserts, highways, and roadside motels.  The lighting, especially at dusk.  The weathered countenance of Harry Dean Stanton—how does it manage to be at once so stoic and so expressive?—and the exquisitely sculpted planes of Nastassja Kinski’s face, as they quiver and dissolve in the movie’s most emotionally wrenching scene. 

That last aspect is at once the film’s ace and its Achilles heel.  By the latter I don’t mean Kinski’s acting (I think she’s fantastic, shaky Texan accent aside) or the writing of that particular scene.  Rather, I mean the conception of her character, Jane, and Jane’s relationship to Stanton’s wanderer Travis, which culminates in that scene.  

If the first two thirds of Paris, Texas are about Travis’ reconnecting with his brother and young son as he slowly comes back to life, the last third is dominated by his efforts to find Jane...

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Tuesday
Aug182015

ICYMI 

Hello all. Nathaniel, returned home, back from vacation. You may not have even noticed that I'd gone but I was almost completely offline for the past 5 days. I was in Austin, TX to visit a friend I hadn't seen in a few years and we had a ton of fun. While travelling I read "The Devil in the White City" and y'all were right -it's absolutely gripping. It's also so dense with information and fascinating details that Leo & Marty may well have a tough time pulling it off. Especially if they make it a star vehicle since the book screams for more of an Altman Ensemble feel. 

On the trip home my friends and I discovered we were sharing the flight with Pearl (from RPDR) so the return to NYC felt even more glamorous than usual. This long weekend vacation was the last movie and computer free moment before The Season which, roughly speaking, consumes my entire life from mid-September to late-February each year. Thank you to Jose and Manuel for keeping the lights on while I was out and to Murtada, David, Kyle, Glenn, Sebastian, Amir, and Margaret who also pitched in.

Why not catch up on anything you missed this morning? I'll be doing the same. 

A Heaping Handful of Highlights
Chris Eigeman talks Metropolitan - This uniquely pleasurable 1990 indie just turned 25
100 Things I Love About Movies - off the top of my head
HBO LGBT: "Normal" - Manuel's great series is revealing that HBO has really been ahead of the curve
Bergman Kisses - a grand swooney journey through Ingrid Bergman's onscreen love life - she may be well be the greatest romantic heroine of the movies
Mr Robot and Humans - we started a new weekly TV discussion series with these two paranoid examples of our current communal disconnection. The series continues tonight with Masters of Sex
Smackdown 1995 - that's how we started the month and Smackdown 1954 is how we'll end it 
Disney's Upcoming Slate - Moana, Zootopia and more 

Meanwhile in Oscar Land
The forthcoming Oscar race is all starting to feel very real what with the releases of Hateful Eight's trailer, Germany's long list, Carol's teaser, and that image of Tom Hiddleston in a big hat...

Reviewed Recently
Fantastic Four (Tim), The Gift (Jose), Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Kyle), M:I - Rogue Nation (Tim), Ricki & The Flash (Nathaniel) and Woman in Gold (Nathaniel) 

Thursday
Feb122015

Would It Be Truly Terrible If 'Boyhood' Was in Fact About a Racist?

Roland Ruiz with Patty Arquette on the set of Boyhood (image via his Facebook page)Jose here. A recent article on Latino Rebels in which the author claims that Richard Linklater’s Boyhood contains the worst kind of racism has caused a bit of a stir. Grisel Y. Acosta uses the infamous gardener subplot, in which Patricia Arquette’s character unexpectedly turns around the life of the only non-white character (played by Ronald Ruiz) featured in the film, as his basis to explain that the film is racist both by omission (where are all the other Hispanic characters in a film set in Texas?) and also by depicting “the horrific ‘save me White person’ trope” that has been prevalent in American filmmaking since, well, always.

It’s a shame that the article turned up the week when Oscar voting ends, because now it will be dismissed as having an “agenda”, or being part of a “smear campaign”, when the truth is that, beyond silly movie awards, the piece only directs us to a conversation we should have been having since the movie came out.

As a Hispanic immigrant living in the United States, there is not a single week that goes by where someone hasn’t congratulated me for "bothering" to learn English “...and writing it so well”, assumed I was Mexican or Puerto Rican, or when I’m asked by a peer if I went to college, or have a random person ask me if I’m a doorman or a cab driver. I have learned to live with people’s assumptions because of my ethnicity, and I often brush them off, because race is not something that's easy to discuss in this country...

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Thursday
Dec182014

Boyhood Trophies. Nightcrawler Sweeps. Plus: A Bunch of Oscar Chart Updates

Pro Boyhood. Meh on Gone GirlAs you have undoubtedly heard by now even President Barack Obama has boarded the Boyhood train, declaring it the best of the year... that he has seen (it might surprise you to hear that presidents don't have a lot of time for moviegoing). FLOTUS, who helped hand out the Oscar for Best Picture to Argo if you'll recall, offers up no "Best" opinion to People Magazine but randomly shares that she didn't think Gone Girl was all that and preferred the book.

Where were we? Oh yes. Regional critics groups are feeling a tiny bit friskier than usual. No, they really are. Oh sure there is a lot of hive mind action happening (Boyhood, Arquette, J.K., Citizen Four etcetera) but it's not quite as lockstep as it has been in recent years.

Since we last spoke a few more cities have weighed in and it's semi-interesting at least to see a range of Best Actress choices (Reese & Rosamund) and how about San Diego's total unblinking obsession with Nightcrawler?

Lou Bloom must have given them the hard sell. Lou Bloom got that job. [More...]

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Monday
Dec152014

Critical Kudos Continue: Kansas, San Francisco, Dallas, OFCS

(We interrupt your Missi experience this morning to bring you more awards news. Missi returns this afternoon for two final posts.)

The Film Critic (a monolith) floats in his room this month contemplatively, aging rapidly before our eyes. A difficult choice faces him/her: Birdman or Boyhood? After the jump see which cities chose what and which categories they're allowing themselves to have a little fun with...

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Sunday
Dec152013

Film Critics Popping Out Awards All Over the Place

Another day, another ten film critics awards. This eventually slows down or we eventually tune it out whichever comes first. The tuning out happens mostly when we reach the "no new names" part which looks to have happened this very weekend. I'm guessing, for example, that San Diego's Shailene Woodley pick and Kansas' Michael Fassbender selection are the last "new" names in the acting categories we'll hear. People just can't tear themselves away from Leto & Blanchett even though there are many rich performances worth honoring. Chiwetel Ejiofor is getting there, too. Just about the only category in which there's little consensus is Supporting Actress but that has only three names for film critics: Lupita, Jennifer and June.

But let's march on to the prizes from San Fran, San Diego, Kansas and Houston...

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