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I'm not especially fond of A-holes, and I read somewhere that truth is the best propaganda: I'm sure I got the message wrong, but it's worked alright for me.
I'd like to thank my mom and dad for
making me possible.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
You know how you know that you are watching a play, film or show? Maybe 7 minutes out of this whole movie felt acty. The performances were so natural. That was the thing. We all know or are these people. Affleck was without affect. At first I thought his character was an aspie, but the subtly integrated flashbacks keep the revelations coming until you realize how fantastic one's perception of one's daytoday acquaintanceship may be. Williams was in it for about 10 -15 minutes, but she was a flawless diamond. She concentrated a week's worth of intensity into that quarter-hour.
Blue collar grief, and a lead character whose PTSD doesn't let manners get in the way of common sense. A handyman finds out that his brother has died, so he must return to his hometown to make arrangements and figure out his nephew's welfare. Flashbacks from his former life, throughout the film, starting on the road to and in Manchester, explain his present life and alienation. The shock of finding himself with a strapping 16 year old orphan on his hands forces him to start coming to terms with his life and past actions. His struggles (wrangling a horny teen with 2 girlfriends, executing his bro's estate without a clue as to...) are totally believable, and the jokes are the funny moments we've all shared with friends, sober or stoned, mourning or rejoicing.
Saw it tonight at the Director's Guild Theater. Lonergan spoke and answered questions afterwards.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Consider it a benchmark...
for all Science Fiction films. My father took me to see this film when I was 13. I came away from the theater with two impressions. Firstly, how kind of the theater owners to provide seats for very large people (they were actually love seats for couples, I guess,) and secondly, WHAT A FREAKIN' AWESOME MOVIE!!! Like the first couple of seasons of CSI, it presumed that its audience actually paid attention to and retained the information disseminated in HS science class. If not, the film was sure to spark curiosity and a desire to learn more. That was my case. I'm not a scientist or engineer or anything as highly technical as all that, but this film made me interested enough to pay attention to cause and effect in everything around me, physically and philosophically. And that has improved my skills as an artisan and teacher. I recently watched it for the second time in my life and was pleasantly surprised to see a progressively multicultural, mixed gender cast. At the time of its release that did not faze me, having grown up in the neighborhood immediately surrounding Columbia University (Southwest Harlem) in the '60s; but having been awash in the mostly androcentric /caucacentric films spewing out of "H'wood" for at least the past 2 decades, I was slightly jarred by the difference, and dismayed at my surprise.
But enough about its effect on me. Andromeda Strain relies not upon flash-bang or histrionics to keep its viewers in their seats, but on quiet, intelligent suspense. The premise (a satellite returns to earth carrying something that instantly kills all life forms in the vicinity and must be immediately contained, studied and if necessary, destroyed) is possible, and the protagonists (scientists and military personnel) are not uber-beautiful, heroic demigods, but real people such as we may know in our actual day to day lives. They are all played by very fine actors, not stars too bright to look at directly, and I especially appreciated the role played by the late Ms Reid- that of a sceptical wisecracking microbiologist with a bent for "insubordination". The characterizations here are not distinctly black and white; in fact, there is no concrete "enemy" but an organism which, as David Wayne's character mentions, may or may not have intended the resultant effect- much like the first European visitors to the New World, carrying diseases, like measles, to whom the indigenous populations had no immunities. Robert Wise and Nelson Gidding have accomplished what seems to be an impossible task for the majority of directors and screenwriters- bringing an original story(by M. Crichton) to the screen without bowdlerizing it, or amputating information perhaps tangential but ultimately necessary to the whole picture. Boris Leven, William Tuntke and Ruby Levitt created an atmosphere on par with "2001..." , my other fave "vintage" SciFi film. I do recommend this film to anyone who doesn't mind being prodded to think at the same time as being entertained.
Yes, I realize that this is a 40+ year old film, but while the technology may be rather outdated, the actors' characterizations are not. Technology does change. People haven't.
PS Any girl/woman who has cut herself shaving would want one of those Xenon defoliator thingy(s). Sure beats the crap out of the torture device with the coils.