Written by Rafael Yglesias
Directed by Peter Weir
You wouldn’t be blamed for never having heard of this film. While Green Card was a quiet hit and Weir’s next picture, The Truman Show would prove a massive hit, Fearless is mostly forgotten. It wasn’t lost in a sea of better films. In October 1993, some box office hits were Demolition Man, Cool Runnings, or The Good Son. I would attribute the film’s lack of audience to the fact that Weir dives headfirst into some of the most significant themes of his career, mainly life, death, and human existence. It’s heavy stuff, and Weir handles it so well. You can honestly see him being drawn to more existential material between this and The Truman Show.
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Green Card (1991)
Written & Directed by Peter Weir
“Romantic comedy” is not a film genre necessarily associated with Peter Weir. He certainly has romance in his pictures (see The Year of Living Dangerously, Witness), but this particular style of movie just isn’t what you would expect from him. This is one of the few films that Weir both wrote and directed on his own, and it appears to have been inspired by French actor Gerard Depardieu. Weir wanted to bring Depardieu to an English-speaking audience after the actor was already renowned in popular French cinema. The leading male role in Green Card was explicitly written for the performer, but it didn’t propel him to immense fame in the States. It would be received with a mixed reception by the critics, seen mainly as light fare.
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The White Lotus Season 1 (HBO)
Written & Directed by Mike White
In British popular media, there is a regular focus on class as a means of societal division. You see this in programs like Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey. In America, we often substitute race or gender for the same purpose. The White Lotus is an interesting anomaly as it takes that framework and combines it with a somewhat outdated American television series format, the procedural vacation show (Love Boat, Fantasy Island). The result is a series that doesn’t feel like anything else on television at the moment, and that’s quite refreshing. It’s no surprise this comes from Mike White, the showrunner behind another magnificent HBO series, Enlightened. Once again, he presents a story that doesn’t follow the structures and narrative we might expect from such a show.
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Written & Directed by Ninja Thyberg
The adult film industry and sex work, in general, have become propelled into the mainstream in the United States in a way that hasn’t been witnessed since the early-mid 1970s. With platforms like PornHub, these videos are easily accessible at home on a myriad of devices. OnlyFans has empowered many young people to take back their labor by profiting from sex work instead of other forms of physical labor. They are enriched as a result of both a Puritanical culture that seems to only experience sex in extremes of complete sin or hedonism rather than just a part of life & a stratified class structure that leaves some with enough disposable income to pay others for videos or perceived personalized performances. Nothing about this is entirely new; it’s more the delivery of sex that has changed. Decades ago, you might have gone to a peep show to watch a person undress, and now you just go to a website. Swedish director Ninja Thyberg has set her debut feature film in the American adult film industry and explores how this business operates.
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Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 4 (2022)
Reprints Superman #16-22, Adventures of Superman #439-444, Action Comics #598-600, Superman Annual #2
Written by John Byrne, Paul Kupperberg, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern
Art by John Byrne, Ty Templeton, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, Ross Andru, Curt Swan, Mike Mignola, John Statema, Ron Frenz
So it seems this will be the last volume in The Man of Steel collections which makes sense. These issues mark John Byrne’s final contributions to the Post-Crisis Superman, and the series title comes from his mini-series that rebooted the origins and supporting cast of the character. Volume Four manages to reintroduce some more elements from Superman’s mythos, updated for the 1980s. On reflection, this does not seem like a radical reimagining as it may have when the issues were first published. It’s very evident that Byrne is a fan of the Silver Age Superman but also wants to modernize the icon per his directive from DC Comics. This is also the first volume of reprints where Marv Wolfman was gone from Adventures of Superman, and thus Byrne was writing all three Superman titles monthly, plus penciling two of them.
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In December, I got an email notification related to my old Livejournal. If you are too young to know what that is, Livejournal was a blogging platform that was super popular in the 2000s and saw a decline in the 2010s. It was bought out by a Russian company, and if you were to visit it now, that is highly apparent. From around 2003 to 2008, I had three different accounts. Through this email notification, I was reminded of one of them and was able to get access to them again. It was quite a trip down memory lane back to college and post-grad days, an insight into what was going on in my head at the time.
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This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.
Red Rocket (2021)
Written by Chris Bergoch and Sean Baker
Directed by Sean Baker
Sean Baker’s filmmaking career has been centered on people working on the margins of society. Tangerine followed two transgender sex workers through a day in their life while The Florida Project, while told from young Moonie’s perspective, featured the challenges her mother, a sex worker, faced in Orlando. Red Rocket continues this trend but with a male sex worker. While Baker has always presented characters who challenge us to like them in certain moments, none of them have been as challenging to wrestle with as Mikey. Filmed during COVID, the director pulls this picture off without a hitch, delivering a searing image of America in the last few years of decline.
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The Worst Person in the World (2021)
Written by Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier
Directed by Joachim Trier
Every generation of people sees themselves as terribly unique from their predecessors. However, there’s something about the Millennial generation where things really did switch from the preconceived notions of what life should be. They were told to work towards the same ends as their parents and grandparents without acknowledging that since the 1970s, neoliberalism had radically restructured almost every facet of society so that these goals were markedly harder to accomplish. The term “failure to launch” seems apt for Millennials, unable to become the adults they want/are expected to be yet certainly too old to be children any longer. The future has become this vast gray unknowable space, so how can you plan for a life in such a landscape?
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Dead Poets Society (1989)
Written by Tom Schulman
Directed by Peter Weir
Dead Poets Society was undoubtedly a box office success and garnered much positive acclaim from critics. In college in the early 2000s, I met several people who loved this movie, especially fellow English majors. You might love this movie. I didn’t watch it for the first time until around 2006, and so this was only my second watch, but…this is such a cheesy ass movie, not in a good or charming way. I was astonished that Weir would direct this, and he was working towards making Green Card when Jeffrey Katzenberg reached out to him about Dead Poets Society. I find the movie to be some of the worst examples of maudlin shallow sentiment and a film that began Robin Williams’ path down, making ridiculous pseudo inspirational tripe.
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The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Written by Paul Schrader
Directed by Peter Weir
Peter Weir was going to make a movie of Paul Theroux’s novel. Weir bought the film rights as soon as it was published in 1981 and was in pre-production when he was sidetracked with Witness. Unlike Witness, a side project for Weir, which gained massive critical and audience acclaim, The Mosquito Coast is considered a box office failure. Even critics were unsure what to make of this very different, bleak film. Harrison Ford was cast completely against type, one of the movie’s most interesting elements. But apparently, moviegoers and critics wanted something less abrasive, so Weir was dealt the first of several blows in the middle part of his career.
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