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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Patron Pick – Blow Out

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 own thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Blow Out (1981)
Written & Directed by Brian De Palma

In 1966, Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni wrote & directed Blow-Up, a mystery film about a fashion photographer who believes he may have caught a crime on film while shooting in a park. When director Brian De Palma was working on Dressed to Kill, he started to think about reframing Antonioni’s film around sound rather than images. By late 1980, De Palma was shooting Blow Out in his hometown of Philadelphia, working alongside many recurring collaborators. The result is a film made in the vein of dozens of 1970s political thrillers, wrapped up in the post-Watergate paranoia that has fueled Americans’ minds ever since. 

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Patron Pick – Syndromes and a Century

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.

Syndromes and a Century (2006)
Written & Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

I’m still not sure how I feel about the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. This is the second of his films I’ve ever watched, the previous being Memoria. I don’t dislike his movies; it’s more a matter of adjusting expectations of pace & tone. Weerasethakul’s work is so calm and slow-burning that it can often feel like nothing is happening. However, what he’s doing is using that stillness to communicate ideas about how we live our lives. Weerasethakul wants his audience to become more contemplative, to absorb the details we often gloss over as we rush through life. That’s made very apparent in this picture’s tone and mirrored structure.

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Patron Pick – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (1988)

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 Bekah Lindstrom.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (1988)
Written by C.S. Lewis & Alan Seymour
Directed by Marilyn Fox

I remember having the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia read aloud to me around seven or eight. It was my first introduction to C.S. Lewis’ series and immediately piqued my interest. A couple years later, this British television mini-series aired on PBS’ Wonderworks, a children’s anthology, and I was pulled in right away. While it doesn’t compare to the lavish production values of 1980s blockbusters, it did make me feel like I was passing into another world. Narnia felt very real and honestly very frightening. The series does not hold back on some terrifying imagery for a little kid. Many years passed before I rewatched it and what I found was that, while very faithful to the book, it does not hold up from an adult perspective.

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Patron Pick – Good On Paper

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 Bekah Lindstrom.

Good on Paper (2021)
Written by Iliza Shlesinger
Directed by Kimmy Gatewood

I want to welcome Bekah as our newest patron even though her first pick was…this movie. I can’t say I’ve ever listened to much of stand-up Iliza Shlesinger’s comedy, so I felt neutral about her going into this viewing. In the last decade, I’ve shifted to listening to podcasts hosted by comedians more than listening to their stand-up, so unless someone appears as a guest on one of those, I don’t really know much about their comedic perspective. Good on Paper opens with Ilza playing a version of herself doing stand-up. I found myself chuckling at the bit, a bit of deception as the film would probably have been better as just a comedy special. Instead, we get a tonal mess in its place.

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Patron Pick – Tracktown

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.

Tracktown (2016)
Written & Directed by Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher

The Olympics-to-movies track is not one populated with much success. You need only look at the quality of Gymkata (starring gymnast Kurt Thomas) or Can’t Stop the Music (starring track star Caitlyn Jenner) to see how dubious these pictures can be. In a recent pre-Oscars interview, when asked about what movies he’s watched recently, director Paul Thomas Anderson namedropped Tracktown as one he’d watched and liked. Intriguing, yes? I have to wonder how closely Mr. Anderson was paying attention to the film as it played on his television because there is something so off about Tracktown.

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Patron Pick – Bad Day at Black Rock

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.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Written by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman
Directed by John Sturges

The frenzy of war often brings the greatest evil out of people. Humans have a penchant for looking for an Other to blame for their ills and the sins of the world. We don’t have to go too far back in our history to find an endless parade of atrocities and hate crimes perpetrated on these Others. The murders and savagery never quell the sense of discontent in the perpetrators, instead planting a ball of guilt in their stomach that festers & boils. How foolishly we target individuals rather than the systems in the place that create war and strife. Easier to kill an innocent person who doesn’t look like you or speaks a different language than work for solidarity to overcome the wrong we all feel. Bad Day at Black Rock is a modern folktale about justice being visited on people guilty of such crimes.

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Patron Pick – Red Rocket

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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Patron Pick – The World of Us

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to 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.

The World of Us (2016)
Written & Directed by Yoon Ga-eun

South Korean cinema consistently surprises me with how well-made it is. It shouldn’t because I’ve been seeking out and watching Korean films for around 14 years. Because movies are so dominated by American-made fare, it’s easy to forget how excellent other cultures are at producing films. The World of Us was a movie that was nowhere near my radar until suggested by Matt as his Patron Pick for December 2021. I did a little research before watching it, and it’s a film cited by Bong Joon-ho when asked about contemporary movies from his country that he recommends. I had no real idea what to expect but knew this would likely be another fantastic picture.

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Patron Pick – The Game

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to 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.

The Game (1997)
Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris
Directed by David Fincher

David Fincher is a director I highly respect, but I wouldn’t say I love all his movies. I was lukewarm on Benjamin Button; Mank was good but only stood out because of the emaciated year 2020 was, and Alien 3 is flawed but interesting. I count Zodiac as one of my favorite pictures of all time, and Gone Girl is also a masterpiece. The Game has always been a strange one to me, made in the period between Seven and Fight Club; it is such an odd movie with a unique story. It certainly feels like a Fincher movie from the cinematography and lighting, but it never solidifies a consistent tone. Matt picked this as his Patron selection for November, and it allowed me to revisit the second David Fincher film I ever saw.

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