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Matt Mentions: The Current State of Cinema

It’s less.

And by less I mean quantity not quality. Quality films are still consistently being created by some of the medium’s greatest auteurs. The quantity is down though. Quantity of great films, quantity is low for the budget of great films, and attendance is low.

We have our “event” films or as Scorsese and Coppola like to call them “theme park rides” and that’s fine. These films push the limitations of technical achievement for a unique experience that utilizes the bombastic capabilities of modern sound and modern screen. They make bank. Film has never been more profitable simply because of these movies.

In the early 2000s/late 90s studios created branches of their companies that sought out independent film. They’d finance obscure projects by filmmakers with credibility, but mostly they bought films at festivals and produced them. Often they’d hype up their quality (reviews, awards campaigns, etc.)

That’s still happening and independent films are cinema. Spotlight, Boyhood, Birdman, Parasite, The Lighthouse so many unique films that utilize ambitious storytelling techniques come out every year. One of the biggest ones of this year will undoubtedly be The Irishman.

Is cinema dying?

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Matt Mentions: The Consequences of #BoJackHorseman

Nothing juxtaposes chaotic slapstick with crippling depression like BoJack Horseman. The animated series from Netflix has aged like fine wine – each season feeling more compact, more mature, more strained while still digging to deeper lows and climbing to higher highs. Basically, it gets funnier and funnier and sadder and sadder.

SPOILERS for BOJACK HORSEMAN S6 (Episodes 1-8)

The first 8 episodes of season 6 were a trip though. Maintaining the chaotic nature of Hollywoo these episodes deliver gags at the highest caliber. We begin observing the growth of each character.

BoJack as he grows from rehab, Diane as she finds her passion, Mr. Peanutbutter while he addresses an unfamiliar guilt, and Princess Carolyn as she learns to become a mother, and Todd as he finds a job and searches for his asexual partner.

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Matt Mentions: The emotionally and physically demanding performances of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in #TheLighthouse

To all my friends and family who have dealt with me stanning for Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse this past month… well… you’re going to have to deal with it a bit longer.

When I’m asked about my thoughts I immediately skew my attention right past the technical excellence (SD, 35mm, b&w looks amazing!), and right toward the incredible performances of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.

The superlatives I often use mirror that of my tweet when I saw it at #FantasticFest last month: physically and emotionally demanding.

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Top 10 of #FantasticFest 2019

What a trip. There’s a certain familial feeling to this festival. It was great talking movies (using extreme geek language) to other writers, filmmakers etc.

Discussing in depth what and why these films made us feel the way they did. It was amazing. Here’s my Top 10 of the festival:

  1. Parasite
  2. Jallikattu
  3. The Lighthouse
  4. The True Adventures of Wolfboy
  5. Ride Your Wave
  6. Dogs Don’t Wear Pants
  7. Color Out of Space
  8. Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro
  9. Dolemite is My Name
  10. Fractured

Honorable Mentions
Wyrm
In the Shadow of the Moon
The Lodge
Jojo Rabbit
The Death of Dick Long

#FantasticFest Day 7 Reactions – #Parasite and Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro

Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro (★★★)

What a well-directed documentary. It’s focused and objective with Vampiro and its other characters. Great camerawork throughout and they chose the right times to have people mic’d up. A big part of a character-documentary is gathering the archive photos, videos, the talking heads. But where many docs fail is the storytelling in post-production. What could’ve been an artificial character doc is something that has enough humanity and self-destruction to make you weep. What a film.

Parasite (★★★★)

Yes! I haven’t given a film four stars in so long, but Parasite absolutely deserves it and more. The commentary on class in South Korea is prevalent, a lot of us are aware of the struggles of ordinary people, but here it is illustrated and juxtaposed in an almost Hitchcock-ian way. It makes you question the very functionality of our world, our societies. All while being wildy entertaining and shocking in the process. I’ll have this film stuck in my head for sometime.

#FantasticFest Day 7 Reactions – #DogsDontWearPants, Wyrm, The True Adventures of Wolfboy, and Knives & Skin

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (★★★1/2)

There’s a reason this film won the festival. The encore screening was shown in 3 jam-packed theaters based on word-of-mouth. It’s more than what it looks like – a foreign dominatrix movie. It’s a love story that tackles themes of grief, intimacy, and sexuality. A barometer in how I measure a film’s worth has always been on its ability to show me a new perspective on something – this film did just that.

Wyrm (★★1/2)

“Wyrm” was on the path to being one of my favorite films of the festival. It’s hysterical, and I laughed harder in this film than any other film I saw at Fantastic Fest. The concept is so unique and creativity, but it lost me after the midpoint. It’s a dramedy, so it has the grueling task of balancing those two genres. It shifts to full drama in the third act and there’s a significant imbalance that hinders the film. It’s so charming and the characters are so likable, that it almost gets away with it.

The True Adventures of Wolfboy (★★★1/2)

What an adventure. Instead of taking the “we’re all equal” route to external differences the film goes with “we are all unique” and celebrates these differences through a comic framework. It’s beautifully done with massive set-pieces. For something that feels so fantastical, it remains grounded in harsh realties. I fucking loved it. It gave me goosebumps and it’s the closest I’ve got to crying in a film since I was a child.

Knives & Skin (★)

A lot of people left this moving comparing it to “Twin Peaks.” I haven’t seen “Twin Peaks” so I’m not sure how the homage holds up. It’s not what you’d think. It’s poorly shot and edited, but on purpose? There are so many “so bad, it’s good” moments that had me laughing, but in between those moments I was just bored and agitated by the aggressive use of dissolves.

#FantasticFest Day 6 Reactions – #TheWave and Memory: Origins of Alien

Memory: Origins of Alien (★★1/2)

A must-see documentary for any aspiring film fans. Much like the “Phil Tippet” documentary these films bring me back to a time, before my time really, when creatures and worlds were created, before the digital movement. I’ve always had a theory that the creatures we creatively imagine actually exist in other dimensions – they are hints, clues for what else is out there. The only thing that held me back from loving “Memory” was that I had studied these origins in film school years ago. If it were my first time hearing about where these ideas came from; I’d be floored.

The Wave (★★)

Extra points for ambition. “The Wave” is an original story that utilizes some gorgeous imagery. Justin Long acts his heart out – and he’s good! I was entertained throughout the short duration, but was left feeling empty after the fact. It’s an intriguing story with intriguing ideas that I wished explored those ideas with more depth.