To Serve the Governed not the Governors in The Post

Could it be more a more timely moment than now for Hollywood to remind the public (and Washington) of the purpose of the free press?

The first hour of The Post is a rather hum-drum by the numbers affair about the lead up to the publication of the Pentagon Papers, first by the New York Times (who instantly get sued by the Nixon administration) and then by the Washington Post.  But hey, it’s Steven Spielberg directing…and Meryl Streep as the “I can’t believe I got into this mess but by golly am I gonna make something of myself by leading with my gut here!” owner of the titular Post…and Tom Hanks as chief editor Ben Bradlee (previously featured in All The President’s Men, to which this film cannily sets itself up as a prequel in the final moments)…and just look at all those TV stars in supporting roles (Carrie Coon!  Bob Odenkirk!  His comedy pal David Cross!  Bradley Whitford!).  So what the heck, the humming looks and sounds great, even if it’s all a bit dry.

But then, thanks to Spielberg’s midstream change of pacing (and the work of excellent editors), and John Williams’ score that hums like that of a great thriller, all of a sudden this little bit of “history we already knew” plays like a cracker-jack suspense flick as reporters feverishly try to meet the printing deadline working out of Bradlee’s drawing-room, and lawyers and whatnot weigh in on the implications of publishing the top-secret stuff. Continue reading

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The Spin’s Cinema Rewind: 2017

My Top Ten Films of 2017:

  1. Phantom Thread – d. Paul Thomas Anderson
  2. Wind River – d. Taylor Sheridan
  3. Dunkirk – d. Christopher Nolan
  4. Blade Runner 2049 – d. Denis Villeneuve
  5. Personal Shopper -d. Olivier Assayas
  6. Mudbound – d. Dee Rees
  7. The Beguiled – d. Sofia Coppola
  8. Get Out – d. Jordan Peele
  9. Wonder Woman – d. Patty Jenkins
  10. Lady Bird – d. Greta Gerwig

Honorable Mentions:

Notable Omissions (films I’ve yet to see that are showing up on a many Top Ten lists):

Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, I Tonya, The Post, All the Money in the World

Most Overrated:

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – d. Martin McDonagh
  • The Big Sickd. Michael Showalter

Worst Films of the Year:

Tell us what your pick was for Best Film of 2017.

What movies would make your Top Ten List?

Speak your mind and join the discussion by leaving a comment!

If you’re a fellow film blogger with your own awards, top ten list or 2016 wrap-up, share your links in the comment form.

I’m the Best One in Blade Runner 2049

“I’m the best one,” a coolly sinister replicant (Sylvia Hoeks) declares amidst haunting imagery of walking backwards into dark, surging water in Blade Runner 2049‘s chilling climax.

If one is to believe the declaration of a doctor (Carla Juri) who specializes in fabricating human memories for implantation into replicants earlier in the film… that there’s a little bit of the artist in each one…then one might draw the conclusion that replicant mentioned above is speaking for none other than director Denis Villeneuve.  He’s operating on a well-known (and much copied) property in this “30 years later” update of Ridley Scott’s classic neo-noir sci-fi…but he’s very much put his own stamp on it.  There’s also a bit of “killing your darlings” in his daring showmanship, symbolically murdering his forefather Scott along with his oft-compared contemporaries David Fincher and Christopher Nolan.  Yes, Denis…you are the best one.

But there’s more subtext (and context) than just “the mark of the artist” in Blade Runner 2049…there’s also philosophical pondering on artificial intelligence, slavery, and what it means to be human.  Meanwhile, on the surface, the film tick-tock’s through the motions of your traditional noir detective story. Continue reading

My Thoughts Will Never Be Final on Twin Peaks

When that final gut-curdling scream rang out on that oh-so-familiar street in front of that oh-so-familiar house in that oh-so-familiar town from our oh-so-familiar anti-heroine, just as I had after every other hour, I raced to my laptop to churn out my blog post without much thought. I was a bit flippant, and ill-tempered, as that newly settling frustration of Lynch pulling the rug out from under us (again) was just beginning to simmer, and in my post (and haste) I wrote off the whole series to that Lynchian trope of being caught in an endless loop of suffering from which you can never escape no matter how hard you try.  And I still basically stand by that assessment…but oh, Twin Peaks, you are both just that and so much more.  Much like life itself, you are a walking contradiction.  A mirror unto yourself.

Now I’ve had time to digest the finale and read all the wonderful (and eloquent and thoughtful) theories out there in the media and on fans’ feeds.  And I agree with them all.  Those theories are mirrors of my own thoughts.  Nothing I write about here hasn’t been thought of by someone else who already wrote it down (and probably more astutely conveyed). Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Two Hour Finale (Hours Seventeen and Eighteen)

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERS – These weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories. Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

TWO HOUR FINALE (HOURS SEVENTEEN & EIGHTEEN)

“Is it the story of the little girl who lived down the lane?”

Like the entire Return in a microcosm (or condensed into a little golden orb, if you will), the final two hours of Lynch’s maddening opus contained a few moments of satisfying fanatic brilliance buried in deliberately obtuse dream logic. Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Hour Sixteen

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERS – These weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories. Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR SIXTEEN

“You are awake. Finally.”

THIS IS THE EPISODE. I repeat. THIS IS THE EPISODE. We’ve all been waiting for.

After taking Richard Horne to the bogus coordinates provided by Jefferies last hour and using the boy (whom he later refers to as…DUN DUN DUN…my son) as bait leading to a most electrifying (and satisfying) destruction of said bad seed, Bad Cooper texts Diane, leading her to remember the coordinates to the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station (now confirmed as the place to be) and a horrifying confession to Gordon, Albert, and Tammy that reveals Diane to have been…DUN DUN DUN…manufactured. Lynch films these scenes like a jolt, all simultaneously brooding, revved up, and gasp-inducing. Laura Dern, in particular, delivers an astounding performance, rivaling her interview scenes from Inland Empire, but sped up for maximum effect. The pace here, after 15 laborious hours of meandering metaphysical and nostalgic nonsense (interspersed with the occasional atomic-level horror show) is a breath of fresh air that sooths while grabbing you by the throat.

Whoa, baby, but Lynch and Frost were just getting warmed up! Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Hour Fifteen

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERS – These weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories. Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR FIFTEEN

“The Wind is Moaning”

Hour fifteen opens with one of the most gloriously hopeful moments in the history of the series. Nadine, perky and shovel-wielding, marches down to Big Ed’s Gas Farm and in the most blissfully delusional yet definitively zen way possible…releases Ed to be with Norma. Blindsided by the possibility, Big Ed lumbers eagerly down to the Double RR…but Norma has to speak to Franchise Walter first. Ed, along with the audience, thinking Norma is going to slip through his fingers, sits there stoically dumbfounded. Meanwhile, Norma, in a twist of fate, announces to Wayne she wants him to buy out her share of the franchises so she can go back to just managing the Double RR and be with family. All the while, Lynch is playing a gut wrenching blues-rock song, echoing Big Ed’s fathomless deep heartbreak, his camera focused on the emotionally and physically weathered face of the ultimate sad-sack…but then…her hand…his shoulder…they turn to each other…he proposes…she says YES!!!!…they kiss…and the camera pans to clouds clearing to a clear blue sky. Clear, simple, hopeful, visual symbolism. A brief moment of brilliant joy in this world of truck drivers. Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Hour Fourteen

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERS – These weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories. Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR FOURTEEN

“It’s all coming together now…” was what I couldn’t help but think during this shocking hour that made walking in the woods in the broad daylight scary as hell, and one bold woman who’s had enough takes a violent stand against the scum of the earth. The three major plotlines (Buckhorn, Vegas, and Twin Peaks) finally started to converge in cogent ways in the revelatory fourteenth hour. Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Hour Thirteen

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERS – These weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories. Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR THIRTEEN

“Everybody’s worst nightmare…”

While the Dougie and Bad Coop plotlines were advanced somewhat (Mr. Todd’s nefarious dealings were revealed through a weeping Tom Sizemore after he couldn’t bring himself to let Dougie drink the coffee he had poisoned…while Bad Coop had an epic arm wrestling match that lead to a man face-punched to death and henchman Ray finally biting the dust)…the rest of Hour Thirteen played on the “It’s happening again…and again…and again…” theme. Continue reading

Twin Peaks – The Return: Hour Twelve

Twin Peaks – The Return: Complete Hour by Hour Guide

NOTE TO READERS – These weekly posts are meant to recap what happened (SPOILERS AHEAD) and provide conversation starters for fans to comment and share theories. Do not read if you have not watched this week’s hour(s) yet.

HOUR TWELVE

“This week on Invitation to Love – The Return…”

Some of the most delightful meta-moments in the first incarnation of Twin Peaks were the tremendously ridiculous snippets from the soap opera show-within-a-show, Invitation to Love. Each week a Twin Peaks character would take a pause during their own overly complicated day to try to catch up with the soapy theatrics, and we the viewers were treated to over-the-top dialogue about who was sleeping with who and who was plotting to kill who, a whirlwind of melodramatic trash where over-acting actors rambled on about people we had never seen or cared about – all, kinda ironic, in the context of the actual soap opera, Twin Peaks, we had become addicted to.

Not surprisingly, one of the major complaints about Twin Peaks – The Return has been the absence of those juicy (and often hilarious) soap opera plot-lines…but here in Hour Twelve, Frost and Lynch redefine meta by delivering the long-awaited return of Audrey Horne… Continue reading