Friday, February 02, 2018


I made a mistake when  I looked over my shoulder/
Cromwell was right behind me, in the driving rain...

•  Well, I’m going for the Oscar gusto again this year. I've already discussed The Post, and will now treat Dunkirk, which I just saw. I said back in 2009, when Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight, that unlike many other A-list Hollywood moviemakers Nolan could at least shoot an action sequence so I could tell what the hell was going on. He's gotten even better since then, and Dunkirk is a great opportunity for him to show off. From the Brueghelian bombardment of big ships crowded with drowning, burning, and leaping soldiers, to the strafing of a small boat full of shushed, terrified child-soldiers, to balletic dogfights, Nolan can orchestrate mass movement and violence like nobody’s business. And he is beautifully abetted in all the craft details, especially Hoyte van Hoytema’s photography, which combines high contrast with judicious color saturation to give things a edge alternately dreamlike and nightmarish, and Hans Zimmer’s score, which underpins good old-fashioned orchestral pumping with machine sounds and postmodern shrieks to juice the tension. Though the technique is modern and even modernist, the intent is antique-heroic — most clearly seen in the rah-rah over the Little England flotilla and the stiff-upper-lipped British officer class, each beautifully represented, no coincidence, by British national treasures Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh. That’s well-earned in both history and the movie, but as an American I found it odd that there was absolutely no humor — even Noel Coward’s In Which We Serve had jokes. Still, if the unrelenting seriousness makes it hard to take Dunkirk to heart, it does increase the effect of the ending, in which filthy, bedraggled survivors awaken on the train home to windows suddenly filled with hay-brightened English sunlight. And though I do look forward to Gary Oldham’s Churchill, I can’t imagine I will be as moved by his rendition of the “Never Surrender” speech as I was by Fionn Whitehead reading it haltingly out of a newspaper on his way back home from hell.

•   On the Oscar theme, I should also mention Get Out: You've probably either seen it or heard enough about how great it is, so I don't have to go into how much I loved it. But I will say that one of the things I love about it is, though it's clearly about race, the central conceit is so powerful and expansive that, were it possible to show the film to people who had no experience or understanding of racism, they would still understand the terror, because it represents a fundamental anxiety: that of anyone entering a world that for whatever reason -- money, background, culture --  is so different from their own that they suspect and are quietly terrified by the prospect of psychic kidnapping and enslavement. Of course, even the slightest awareness of racism and its role in our national history inflames that anxiety considerably -- because it actually happened. This is not, as some morons have suggested, a politically evanescent phenomenon, but a real work of art based on the insanity of American life. 

•   OMG, here's another alleged "reader email" that God-botherer Rod Dreher is just passing along:
I’m a longtime (and recently wavering) atheist, but I have had a very devout evangelical friend of many decades. 
Suuuure you are/have.
He lives in Oregon. He couldn’t afford to send his daughter out of state for college. But he wanted her to go to college and experience the income and class benefits that had eluded him (as a GED holder) throughout his life. 
All this devout evangelical wanted was for his daughter to have the advantages he never had! But alas, to do so he had to send her to godless College, and though it was "the most milquetoast of the bunch from the political activism perspective," she had within a few months been brainwashed by Lesbo Hippies to "disavow her female gender." Perplexed pop's friend reports:
The pressure, he said, was too much, and from all angles—peers, instructors, campus organizations and media, etc. “Non-binary” was a taken-for-granted ontological reality, and to question it was bigotry. To fail to realize your own “non-binary-ness” was self-hatred rooted in bigotry.
Sure enough, by her junior year, she was a “non-identifying queer,” neither male nor female, and an activist. Their relationship is now essentially nonexistent, as she sees him to be a “Nazi"...
It's such a sad tale that I half expected it to end, "Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle. She died gender-fluid."

No comments:

Post a Comment