Sunday, December 10, 2017

Nightcap 12/10/17: Pieces from the last few weeks and a few of Randi's links

CityOfJoy_OfficialTrailer from Essence Road on Vimeo.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Nightcap but things have been hopping so I haven't been able to sit down and put one together. I have however been collecting little bits that were supposed to turn into big bits and now that there is a slight lull I'm going  to cover lot of topics in one post.
There has been a lot of questions about what do we do with all of the films and TV shows that feature sexual predators and other malcontents. Do we flush them and never look at them or do we do something else? Of course there is a question of lines, at what point are people persona non grata?

I've been asked by a bunch of friends what I thought we should do but I don’t have answers.

Film Twitter would have all the films of any offender burned and scattered to the wind. I find that impractical simply because if we do that then is a chance we’ll be wiping out the work of thousands of people over the decades who did nothing. Films from across the history of film will go the way of the wind (I mean what do you do with problem like Hitchcock or any film that involved a casting couch?).

While I despise predators I’m not going to instantly dismiss a film that is out because a bad man is in it or made it. I realized this when I was watching Baby Driver a couple weeks back and Kevin Spacey showed up. There was this momentary disconnect where I had to think if it was okay to see the film or not, and then I fell into the film and went with it. And I realized that I’m going to keep the art separate from the person. What exists exists and I’m just going to take the film on its own terms.

Of course if there is something about it that bothers me then I’ll take a pass on the film. For example the whole Louis CK nonsense makes his film an impossible watch. His creepy behavior is too close to his film.

This is not to condone the predator, rather its simply to state how I’m going to handle things-taking films on face value and then adjusting if real life crashes in to it.
More commentary on another Twitter furor- this time critics not of a group reviewing a film. It seems people are pissed at how white critics are writing about COCO since they are explaining the culture to the people whose culture is on screen. Additionally straight critics are taking brick bats for talking about CALL ME BY YOUR NAME as a gay classic. Can critics write about films highlighting groups they are not part of?

I know they can because I do, and others do as well. Most pointedly gay critics write about straight love stories and no one bats an eye.

I think the problem comes when people try to explain things about which they probably know nothing. I would never suggest to know what a great LGBT film was. On the other hand when films transcend a category to be universal I’m all there. I’ve reviewed dozens of films released by Wolfe Video which specialized in LGBT themed films and I have always tried to see the films as representations of the human experience. Love is universal and the emotion is what is important, who you love is irrelevant to the feeling. One of the best films of this year is --- which is about the return of a lost love. It’s a film that is so perfect and on target that the fact that the fact the central couple is gay is irrelevant. I felt everything that was going on on screen despite not being gay.

Critics need to profess less and look for the universal.

And Twitter needs to come out of their basements and grow the hell up and behave like adults who interact not backward children who never have seen another person
As the best of the year lists come in and the awards are handed out we have to ponder if the lists really are anything close to the best of the year or are they simply the best of what the writers really saw or are these the best of what the writers had placed in front of them because that’s what the PR people shoved in their face?

I think in large part it’s the result of the writers going with the PR people’s choices and rubber stamping them.

The reason I have brought this up was that there was a couple of online discussions I was following where people were wondering why best of the year list of most critics/writes all come up with the same films. It is because as I said above they allow themselves to be fed the same films. Part of this is the result of many outlets wanting just the big films covered because that will get tem hits, but also because many writers are too lazy to go outside the box.

If you are a regular reader of Unseen Films you’ll no doubt have noticed that we don’t really cover the big films unless they fall in a festival well before opening or we stagger into a public screening somewhere along the way after the films have opened. The reason for that is twofold, first I am not on some PR lists. There are reasons for that which I won’t get into but it means I don’t get everything shiny new movie thrust at me each week. The second part of the reason is that as much I would love to cover the big films, Unseen Films was set up to cover the underdogs and the underseen. The reputation for the site has been built on coverage of the small and independent films and it is with that we thrive. People come to us to see the small films not the big ones- after all everyone is reviewing those but no one is talking about the small ones.

This makes my end of the year lists and the Unseen Film Awards so different than the rest. It also makes the Unseen Film Awards decidedly not mainstream- even by inde film award standards. We don't follow lock step and if you look at the best of the year lists of the family you'll find some films on the list match the big critics but most are unique. We are rooting round in all film and not what is just put in front of us on any level.
And some random links from Randi and else where
Closing opening night
The Lost Kong film
Judi Dench raps
Haunted NYC
Kaboom cereal
What if Norbert Leo Butz were Hedwig?

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