Patron Pick – One True Thing

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

One True Thing (1998)
Written by Karen Croner
Directed by Carl Franklin

Movies like One True Thing weren’t on my radar in the late 1990s. I was a teenager, a year away from college, sheltered & homeschooled, working at my local public library and discovering all sorts of exciting niche things I would cultivate over the decades. So something like this movie wouldn’t have even been a blip for me. Instead, I was far more interested in exploring weird movies, inching my way towards becoming the art house snob I lived as during college. Now, at age 41, I appreciate this type of movie more, particularly in the face of its near extinction, as something you can see in a theater. The cineplexes are dominated by blockbuster incoherence, and streaming seems to be a flood of mediocrity devoid of soul. So while One True Thing sounds like a Lifetime movie in its description, the performances, mainly Meryl Streep’s (coming as no surprise to anyone), elevate the picture to something of note.

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Patron Pick – Sweet Smell of Success

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Written by Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman, and Alexander Mackendrick
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick

Possessing a title that drips with as much irony as grease seems to exude from its central character, Sweet Smell of Success is a bold reminder that America in the 1950s was not some picket fence, sunny side wonderland. It was the same festering sore before, and it remains a place where no one gets ahead because they have talent or have cultivated a skill. Nope, the only skill that counts is how well you can lie, cheat, and steal your way to the top. Success is defined as power, and you get that power with money. How do you get the money? Well, with power. See what a con job it is? Some gatekeepers sit on makeshift thrones, not in throne rooms but in nightclubs where they humor desperate politicians and desperate talent who want a kind word thrown their way in tomorrow’s paper. But what will they do for that bit of ego-boosting fluffery, hm? There seems to be no bottom.

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Patron Pick – The War of the Roses

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

The War of the Roses (1989)
Written by Michael J. Leeson
Directed by Danny DeVito

In the 1980s, a rather unconventional trio of actors paired together on three projects. These were Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, and Danny DeVito, starting with Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone in 1984 and continuing into its sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, in 1985. DeVito brought them all back together for this, his third directorial outing. Why did audiences seem to love these three together? They certainly have good chemistry together, and the conflict between them is very satisfying to watch. Turner & Douglas as a screen couple seems more traditional, but the addition of DeVito as a semi-antagonistic role in these pictures pushes it into a much more satisfying space. What does he bring to the table that makes it all feel complete?

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Patron Pick – House of Games

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

House of Games (1987)
Written by Jonathan Katz & David Mamet
Directed by David Mamet

“David Mamet is a controversial figure” is pretty much an understatement. I can’t claim I have ever known the writer and his work intimately. Like many people, I saw Glengarry Glen Ross. I remember a professor showing Oleanna in a college class. That’s about it. The other way I know Mamet is from his post-9/11 remarks. I get the sense he was never a well-balanced person, but in the wake of that terrorist attack, Mamet became much more vocal about his political beliefs. In 2008, he claimed to no longer be liberal and now a conservative. Mamet has also stated that Donald Trump was a “great president” and espouses all the views you might associate with someone like that. This was a long way of saying Mamet is an unhinged reactionary who is also a talented playwright.

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Patron Pick – The Spy Who Came In From the Cold

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. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965)
Written by Paul Dehn & Guy Trosper
Directed by Martin Ritt

One of the most destructive forces on the planet since World War II has been Western intelligence agencies. The CIA. MI6. These orgs have devoted themselves to an increasingly insane ideology that sees the upholding of a system that crushes the most vulnerable as “noble” and “good.” Regular people exist as pieces on a board, to be manipulated and moved about, with little regard for their lives. This espionage lifestyle has been glamorized in films, mostly the James Bond series, with fanboys thinking they too could be a dashing spy in a tuxedo bedding buxom women at every turn. The reality is much like what we find in a John LeCarre novel. The lives of spies are ones riddled with paranoia & alienation. When you master being a manipulator, how can you trust that other people aren’t doing the same to you?

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Patron Pick – Funny Pages

Make sure to reply to our poll for the podcast: Which is the best Alexander Payne movie?

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. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Funny Pages (2022)
Written & Directed by Owen Kline

The United States is a grimy, skeevy place. It’s often easy for people who live in dense urban environs to mock those in “red states” when climate collapse strikes and causes devastation. They dunk on people who are ruled over by neo-fascist political figures yet fail to realize the whole damn thing is coming down on top of everybody. You wouldn’t think such an insight would be found in a New York/Hollywood nepotism baby but America is full of surprises. Owen Kline, the son of actors Kevin Kline & Phoebe Cates, makes his feature film debut as writer-director of this picture. Much like the dirtbag Left (see Chapo Trap House, Cumtown, etc.) I feel conflicted as to how much I trust these privileged motherfuckers but for now we’ll give them a pass, just keep your eyes on them. Kline appears to be forging the love child of Terry Zwigoff & The Safdie Brothers and it sort of works.

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Patron Pick – The Mountain

Don’t forget to respond to our poll about your most anticipated Fall film release.

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. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

The Mountain (2019)
Written & Directed by Rick Alverson

Rick Alverson has very little interest in entertaining you. In fact, he has no interest in it. To a lot of people, that would be shocking. Don’t movies exist to entertain? Well, some of them do. Art can serve several purposes, but Western audiences have clearly pigeonholed movies into escapism. Alverson sees movies as a form of confrontation. You are confronted with visuals and sound along with the story. All these elements working in concert can create discomfort in the viewer if arranged correctly. Alverson accomplished this previously in his more notable work, The Comedy and (ironically enough) Entertainment. But I think The Mountain is his most accessible of these three, more narratively driven but still steeped in themes of alienation & anger that characters do not know how to express.

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Patron Pick – Iron Man 3

Don’t forget to respond to our poll about your most anticipated Fall film release.

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. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Written by Shane Black & Drew Pearce
Directed by Shane Black

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an all-encompassing behemoth at this point, and its existence marks a transformation of corporate-owned media. It’s hard to remember individual films with such a glut of content filling up cineplexes and streaming platforms, but some movies in the mix aren’t absolute formulaic dreck. Once upon a time, Marvel was a little less cohesive, which was a good thing. Not every film needs to provide plot points & Easter eggs for future films and long-running storylines. In this space, it was possible to hand a movie over to Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys) and let him do what he wanted, with an emphasis on superhero-ing things. It was likely seen as less in the shadow of the first Avengers movie, but Iron Man 3 is a very solid, entertaining flick.

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Patron Pick – Solaris (1972)

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. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Solaris (1972)
Written by Fridrikh Gorenstein & Andrei Tarkovsky
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Science fiction is a label attributed to a pretty diverse genre of fiction. In recent years, the move to rebrand it as “speculative fiction” has been made but has not gotten much headway in mainstream culture. “Speculative” is a much better way to describe this genre’s full breadth. In Western cinema, the emphasis is often on technological innovation, which makes sense given the very industrial, consumptive capitalist mindset. Things will set us free; items we can purchase and/or upgrade are the path to salvation. Look at how, amid a global climate collapse, we are offered ludicrous technological solutions like dimming the sun artificially rather than simply developing systems that will help us consume fewer fossil fuels. Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky also saw this in Western science fiction and sought to make cinema that captured the metaphysical and philosophical strains, asking big questions about existence and reality.

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Patron Pick – Eagle vs. Shark

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. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

Eagle vs. Shark (2007)
Written & Directed by Taika Waititi

I do not like Taika Waititi. Let me clarify. I don’t like what Waititi’s work has become; the worst aspects of his pre-Thor: Ragnarok work have just been amplified and played up, and it has diminished for me what might have otherwise been a fairly notable filmmaking career. I think Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople are the best pieces of his work. In terms of his producing/supporting other artists, Reservation Dogs is fantastic. But that’s about it as far as I’m concerned. Eagle vs. Shark might be one of the best examples of Waititi wasting his talent, and we will certainly get into it.

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