The Resident Bitch Prepares for the MoFo 2010s Countdown

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Parasite (Gisaengchung) (Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
(Rewatch)

I remember when this first came out, I saw it pop up over and over again around MoFo - pretty much universally accompanied by four and five popcorn box ratings. But, for whatever reason, I never felt any desire to watch it. Then the awards season came and went and I still felt no desire. Finally, about a year and half ago, I gave it a shot but, despite having seen so much praise for it, I had no idea what it was about or what sort of movie it was.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of humor it contains and by the violence of its ending. It features some pretty strong performances and a really engaging story. I was impressed. I didn't love it, but I felt it held the promise of improving on rewatch. Now that the rewatch has happened, I have to say that promise was unfulfilled. I still like it, I still think it's a very good movie, but I still don't love it. Not even close. And because I don't love it, I will not be voting for it.






The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2018)
(Recommended by @cricket)

With the deadline to vote looming so near, I wasn't planning on cramming any more new watches in and was just going to focus on getting through my rewatch list and then put together my ballot, but last night I was in the mood for something different so I chose this based on it being described as a violent period piece.

The Nightingale tells the story of Clare and Irish convict sent to Australia and forced to work for a soldier who, along with two other soldiers, abuses her and commits a horrific act that leaves her with nothing. Seeking revenge, she enlists the help of an aboriginal guide to find and take out the men responsible.

Given its premise, you'd think that rooting for Clare would be a really easy task, but I swear this woman tries her very best to make that a difficult obstacle to hurdle. Between her too-long enduring racism and her cowardice when the time comes, I never fully invested in her and so when the men did finally receive their comeuppance, it was not as satisfying as it should've been. But the saving grace here, in more ways than one, is the character of the aborigine, Billy. He endures her stupidity and her hatefulness without ever really returning any of her abuse. By the end, of course, their relationship is one of mutual respect, but it's a long, slow process to get there and that kept me always a bit of an arm's length away. Still, I never got bored with it and - aside from that lack of connection - I have no real complaints. Perhaps if I ever watch it again my opinion will improve, but for now I think it's just pretty good.






The Burden (Min börda) (Niki Lindroth von Bahr, 2017)

I'm really not sure how to rate or review this one because there's so little to it in terms of story. I do really love the overall look of the film and at only like 13 minutes I certainly never got bored, but I did find some of the characters a little creepy looking (especially the monkeys, but I find monkeys kind of creepy in general) and I struggled with the musical aspect of it. These issues of course are really my issues and not the film's, but they did hinder my enjoyment of it just the same.




Between her too-long enduring racism and her cowardice when the time comes, I never fully invested in her and so when the men did finally receive their comeuppance, it was not as satisfying as it should've been.
Having just watched it, I think that this is a frustrating but realistic take on both elements.

Racism doesn't just go away overnight, and it's clear that her prejudices are borne out of stereotypes of the indigenous people, not personal experience. It also calls attention to the fact that people can be victims of power dynamics and also be the victimizers. Hawkins assumes that he can do what he wants to Clare, and Clare assumes that she can call Billy "boy". The difference is that when Billy's humanity is presented to Clare, she realizes what she is doing, while Hawkins just outright doesn't care about the harm he's doing.

I kind of liked that Clare wasn't a Mary Sue. She's flawed, and she's still in the raw aftermath of three different events (rape, death of her husband, death of her child) that on their own would be mind-rending, but all together are simply overwhelming. I read that the cast and crew did extensive research about the behavior of people who have suffered abuse or who are dealing with PTSD, and I think that shows in the final product.

I agree with you that the final revenge sequences are a bit of an anti-climax, but I also think that was intentional. Clare is driven---almost to her own death--by the chase, but what does she do once she catches the men? What is her purpose?

I hear what you're saying about those elements holding you at arm's length. For me, I liked them because it made the overall story feel more realistic. I was rooting for Clare and Billy.





The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011)
(Rewatch)

The last time I wrote this movie up, I rated it a 4- but said it "slides a bit too frequently into melodrama and schmaltz." Having rewatched it again, I don't actually disagree with that statement but that melodrama and schmaltz really worked for me tonight. I've seen people describe it as "fluff" for its heavy reliance on humor and lament its use of the "Great White Hope" or white savior character, but I think both criticisms are a little bit harsh. I think the use of humor works to its advantage and that the lightness makes a great contrast to the suffering of its characters. As to Emma Stone's "savior" Skeeter? She's probably the least interesting person in the movie and I find her presence to be incidental at best. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are the stars of this show and they certainly shine. I've also seen complaints about how unrealistic it is to have characters in Aibileen and Minny's positions to act in the way that they do, but that's really an unfair thing to say. A story about two maids who just continue to quietly take the abuse of their employers isn't much of a story at all.




Having just watched it, I think that this is a frustrating but realistic take on both elements.

Racism doesn't just go away overnight, and it's clear that her prejudices are borne out of stereotypes of the indigenous people, not personal experience. It also calls attention to the fact that people can be victims of power dynamics and also be the victimizers. Hawkins assumes that he can do what he wants to Clare, and Clare assumes that she can call Billy "boy". The difference is that when Billy's humanity is presented to Clare, she realizes what she is doing, while Hawkins just outright doesn't care about the harm he's doing.
I agree with this, but I still think she takes too damn long to get there. I mean, just how many times does a person have to prove to you that they're a person before you believe them? I lost count of how many times it took for Clare to believe Billy.

I agree with you that the final revenge sequences are a bit of an anti-climax, but I also think that was intentional. Clare is driven---almost to her own death--by the chase, but what does she do once she catches the men? What is her purpose?
I get what you're saying, but it's not like Clare couldn't do what she'd come to do. She proved that when she caught the first guy (the one who, frustratingly, deserved it the least). It also irked me that she dragged Billy into this mess and then he was the one to clean it up and pay the price for it all. All of that is believable enough, and I like realism to a point, but if I'm going to root for a protagonist like Clare I really need more balance than what The Nightingale offers.



I agree with this, but I still think she takes too damn long to get there. I mean, just how many times does a person have to prove to you that they're a person before you believe them? I lost count of how many times it took for Clare to believe Billy.
Thomas Jefferson went his whole lifetime with people like Benjamin Banneker writing him letters and pleading/arguing that Black people should not be property and he was never swayed. I find it believable that it would take Clare two days to get it through her head that this person she'd stereotyped had the same kind of human experiences as her.

In fact, I think that a big part of her journey as a character is realizing the enormity of what is happening to Billy and his people. That if someone even lays eyes on him, they might kill him just because. That his family has been destroyed not because of one sociopath sadist, but because an entire country has made it their business to wipe them out. I think that in her shock and self-centered drive she can't see it at first, but she gets there. And at first she is so revenge-focused that she doesn't see him as a person, but more a means to an end.

I get what you're saying, but it's not like Clare couldn't do what she'd come to do. She proved that when she caught the first guy (the one who, frustratingly, deserved it the least). It also irked me that she dragged Billy into this mess and then he was the one to clean it up and pay the price for it all. All of that is believable enough, and I like realism to a point, but if I'm going to root for a protagonist like Clare I really need more balance than what The Nightingale offers.
I think that part of why she doesn't kill the men is that she's realizing what will happen to Billy if he's complicit in the murders, something the man from the couple at the end makes really explicit: "without you he won't survive". She begs him to leave, and it's something that I think deliberately parallels the way that she begged her husband not to confront Hawkins. She's already had one good man stand up for her and pay with his life, and she doesn't want the same thing for Billy. It would have been one thing out in the wild, but doing it in town is a different story.

I also think that Billy isn't just some bystander. He notes that Hawkins is "the worst one", and he's a potent representative of the army that has destroyed all of Billy's people and family. The army (and maybe even specifically Hawkins) have made Billy help them find indigenous people to kill and that weighs heavily on Billy's mind.

Like, I also wish that we'd seen Clare cut Hawkins throat ear to ear. But I think that Billy taking the final revenge--and reclaiming the indigenous ways that were stolen from him as a child--was satisfying.



Thomas Jefferson went his whole lifetime with people like Benjamin Banneker writing him letters and pleading/arguing that Black people should not be property and he was never swayed. I find it believable that it would take Clare two days to get it through her head that this person she'd stereotyped had the same kind of human experiences as her.
Did Banneker ever travel with Jefferson and pull him out of a river or did he just write some letters? I don't see how the two situations are really that comparable. It's one thing to be told by someone what they are and it's quite another to spend a bunch of time with someone one on one and see it for yourself. I also don't think there's any reason to draw out her nastiness towards him for as much of the runtime as the film did. So we'll have to agree to disagree on that.

I think that part of why she doesn't kill the men is that she's realizing what will happen to Billy if he's complicit in the murders, something the man from the couple at the end makes really explicit: "without you he won't survive". She begs him to leave, and it's something that I think deliberately parallels the way that she begged her husband not to confront Hawkins. She's already had one good man stand up for her and pay with his life, and she doesn't want the same thing for Billy. It would have been one thing out in the wild, but doing it in town is a different story.
But her cowardice first shows itself before they ever get to town. She endangers both herself and Billy by showing herself to Hawkins (ignoring Billy's advice yet again), having her gun pointed right at Hawkins, and not only not pulling the trigger, but turning to run and getting grazed by his bullet, then sending Billy to fetch the horse (the one he'd told her not to bring in the first place), which, of course, causes Billy to fall into Hawkins's clutches. That kind of idiocy, on top of her prejudice, makes it really hard to like her.



Did Banneker ever travel with Jefferson and pull him out of a river or did he just write some letters? I don't see how the two situations are really that comparable. It's one thing to be told by someone what they are and it's quite another to spend a bunch of time with someone one on one and see it for yourself. I also don't think there's any reason to draw out her nastiness towards him for as much of the runtime as the film did. So we'll have to agree to disagree on that.
Jefferson lived with many, many enslaved people and had several children with one of them. (And before that she cared for the daughter he had with his wife before being widowed). Their humanity would have been on display to him every day, and he saw Black people living free when he spend time in France (which is where he first met Hemings). I think that there are a lot of real world examples of people who come face to face with the humanity of another person or group and just don't come around to seeing them as people on their own level.

I understand why you think she should have been more grateful (especially after the river sequence you mention where she almost kills herself and the horse and he saves them both). I think her brain is a jumble of trauma and I understood why it took her a while to snap out of it a bit and see him as a person. But I won't deny that it's frustrating to watch!

But her cowardice first shows itself before they ever get to town. She endangers both herself and Billy by showing herself to Hawkins (ignoring Billy's advice yet again), having her gun pointed right at Hawkins, and not only not pulling the trigger, but turning to run and getting grazed by his bullet, then sending Billy to fetch the horse (the one he'd told her not to bring in the first place), which, of course, causes Billy to fall into Hawkins's clutches. That kind of idiocy, on top of her prejudice, makes it really hard to like her.
Another case where I agree it's frustrating and can understand why it would be off-putting. I can't really defend her per se, except to say that in an addled state of mind that's a mix of grief, anger, and PTSD, it's not always easy to do things the right way.

I'll be interested to see how I feel about the film on a second viewing. I was very swept up in the story when I watched it, so those bad decisions didn't register quite as strongly.



Anyway--always fun to get to compare interpretations/opinions with someone else who just watched a film.

I'll let you get back to your amazing movie sprint!





Rush (Ron Howard, 2013)
(Rewatch)

I never expected to like this movie. My mom and my brother were always big car racing fans (though being American, it was mostly Nascar they watched, not Formula 1) and have gone to many races together. After he moved out, my mom once foolishly decided to bring teenaged me to a car race. I was bored out of my mind and spent most of my time at the track reading a novel for a book report. So back in 2013, when she asked me to go to the theater with her to watch a car racing movie about some drivers I'd never heard of that starred that one blond Australian dude that everyone but me lusts over and the Nazi guy from Inglourious Basterds, I was not exactly thrilled, but I said yes anyway.

And I was treated to what would instantly - and, more importantly, consistently - become one of my very favorite movies. Even as someone who really couldn't care less about racing, the on-the-track sequences get my heart racing and those horrific crashes are absolutely terrifying. The film is flashy and exciting, but that's not why I love it. I love it for the story. I love it for the human side of things and both Hemsworth and, especially, Brühl give really solid performances and every time I watch this movie I am firmly invested in their rivalry and their friendship. I worry for them. I cheer for them. I cry for them. And their story will absolutely be somewhere on my ballot.




But the movie is character driven, so the status quo is about the characters. And all of the actors do a great job with that aspect, so that we perfectly understand the dynamics between them and understand how their relationships evolve over the course of the film. I like that in this movie some of the characters don't have preexisting relationships. That's how the real world works. Not everyone has a history with one another.
That's not the point I've been making though; I don't automatically have a problem with it if some of the characters in Fury Road don't have pre-existing relationships with each other, anymore than I do with something like Speed for doing the same thing; the problem, however, is that Joe, Furiosa, and the "wives" all do have pre-existing relationships, which I felt the film oddly fast-forwarded past in order to skip ahead to the action, when I would've been even more invested in that action if the film had established or developed the characters just a bit more, you know?





The Immigrant (James Gray, 2013)
(Rewatch)

I've seen this movie a handful of times since its release and each time I come away with a feeling of frustration. The film itself is gorgeous. The costumes of the vaudeville/burlesque performances are all really beautiful and the cinematography and lighting is such that the film takes a very dirty, very seedy setting and gives it a certain glow that makes it really strikingly beautiful. The film also features a very talented cast and some very fine performances, but where my frustration originates is in the character of Ewa, played by Marion Cotillard. Try as I might, I cannot for the life of me understand the motivations of Bruno and Emil to act the way they do and risk as much as they do for her. Yes, Ewa is a physically very attractive woman, but she's also very cold and withdrawn. Now don't get me wrong, Cotillard plays her well and it's understandable for a woman in her position to behave as she does - but it doesn't make for a very alluring character or one that seems worthy of that kind of dedication.

That inability to understand her effect on these men and the coldness of her character itself also keeps me from fully investing in her story and thus from really enjoying the movie as a whole. I will say though that movie has never bored me and there is still enough here that I do like for me to give it a positive rating, though it's probably really more like a 3.25 for me than a 3.5.




Rush is so solid.

My favorite sequence is when Bruhl is out on a date (or something?). He's in the car with a woman and a guy and maybe another woman in the backseat. They keep goading him to show what he's got and then he finally does. You see his amazing control of the car and how attractive she finds that control, and how unusual it is for him to let loose that way.



Rush is so solid.

My favorite sequence is when Bruhl is out on a date (or something?). He's in the car with a woman and a guy and maybe another woman in the backseat. They keep goading him to show what he's got and then he finally does. You see his amazing control of the car and how attractive she finds that control, and how unusual it is for him to let loose that way.
You have the details wrong, but yeah that's one of my favorite scenes too. Such a good movie.



You have the details wrong, but yeah that's one of my favorite scenes too. Such a good movie.
Not surprising--it's been a while. My main memory is of the way that the woman looks at him and the look of focus on his face. Someone doing something that in any other hands would be incredibly dangerous and reckless, but with him is a demonstration of mastery of a craft.





The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)
(Rewatch)

This is Tarantino through and through. Lots of colorful characters, lots of colorful language, lots of tension, and a whole lotta violence. Throw in a big heavy dose of that badass motherf***er Samuel L. Jackson (and a riotously funny story about his warm black dingus) and you have got one hell of an entertaining ride, even if it is a bit overlong.






The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (Ari Aster, 2011)
(Rewatch)

I first watched this in 2019 after it came up in a conversation with a friend of mine. Despite that conversation, I didn't really know what to expect but figured at only half an hour in length I might as well give it a shot. The result of the initial watch was really just kind of a feeling of shock, maybe? Though it is satire, I don't recall finding it funny at all - probably because I was a bit too horrified to laugh.

Tonight's watch was a little different. Tonight, this time knowing what I was getting into, I laughed quite a bit at the absurdity of it all but was still a little horrified by its twisted premise. I am going to downgrade its rating a bit though because it definitely loses something on rewatch and I probably won't be seeing it a third time.