8/10 Film is traditionally seen as a director’s art form – for better or worse – and one of the primary tensions of the Disney era has been watching more and more decisions get taken out of the director’s hands. In Marvel movies in particular, what cameras get used and post-production color grading decisions and frequently casting decisions are made at the corporate level, fight scenes are famously outsourced to second units. This is not an environment where directors can develop in or where art gets made, where decisions are getting taken out of their hands to be made with the bottom line in mind, and it’s had me worried about where the next generation of directors are going to come from. There are thriving submarkets of both haunted-house and more independent horror, and there’s always Oscarbate movies to look to, but all of those subsections are growing more uniform in their own ways.
Titane is a rough watch that I don’t know if I’m going to revisit,but I’m not going to ignore the answer to my own fears when it straps itself into a Cadillac and tries to run me over.
5/10The Many Saints of Newark opens with Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti in “The Sopranos,” narrating about what will happen in the future and spoiling one of the show’s best plot points for seemingly no reason. Many Saints is a competent enough film, but I would strongly advise against watching it for that reason alone unless you’ve already seen the entire show. It was made exclusively for “Sopranos” experts, anyhow, and never makes any attempt to exist as its own piece of media.
Newark, July 12, 1967- A black cab driver named John William Smith is arrested and beaten by Newark police, kicking off the 1967 Newark riots. Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odom Jr.), an associate of Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), joins the riots, and eventually flees the state to avoid a murder warrant. Moltisanti and the rest of the DiMeo crime family, including older characters who appear in “The Sopranos,” take advantage of the police’s increased focus on black Newarkers. Four years later, McBrayer returns and attempts to organize the remaining black community into a crime organization to rival the DiMeos, triggering a race war.
1/10Venom was fun enough to be enjoyable though its flaws. That kind of good will doesn’t last.
San Francisco- Freelance reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy, who also has a story credit) works with the FBI to find the lost victims of serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), because Kasady has decided that he and Brock are “kindred spirits” and he’ll speak to no one else. Kasady is found guilty of murder in a litany of unsolved disappearances thanks to Brock’s work, and the governor reinstates the death penalty in California specifically for his case. Visiting him as he’s about to be executed, Cummyeyes McGoo Venom (also voiced by Hardy), the alien symbiote that lives in Brock’s body, spawns into Kasady, creating Cummyeyes McGoo, Jr. Carnage (also voiced by Harrelson). The newly empowered Kasady breaks out and starts wreaking havoc in search of his long-lost love, Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris).
The amount of work I’d have to do to get all these reviews fully fleshed out before I have to leave for Venom: Let there be Carnage is gargantuan – love that word, so rarely get to use it in a sentence – and nobody went to see any of these movies anyway, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is still the no. 1 movie in the world somehow, so I’m going to cut myself some slack and just spit these out-
Malignant 4/10Malignant is a wet, sloppy mess of a movie, and I would never call it good, but it brings me joy.
The core ennui of being a ‘90s child is having to watch things disappear.
This is most easily tracked through technology. Within our childhoods, we watched playing outside with neighborhood kids, maybe one of whom had an N64, turn into a kaleidoscope of different gaming systems, most of them played in private, all major investments that needed to be upgraded every five years or so. These miraculous toys of the future, things we loved and grew up with that partially defined our social circles, became “obsolete” within the span of half of our lives, roadside attractions whooshing past backseat car windows as a technological race we knew nothing of sped onward. Mobile phones, monstrous things that could barely be held onto but still had to be considered luxury items because of how few could afford them, became sleek handheld flip phones we were given “for emergencies,” a major threshold for the American teenager comparable to what cars used to be that represented our first measure of privacy and critical dating tools, and they have since become glass sandwiches of varying size that are considered critical teaching tools with which we raise our own children with from birth. Computers and the internet went from science fiction to ubiquity seemingly overnight.
I was born in 1992, and having grown up through all this, I’ve always gravitated toward things that I can be comfortable will outlast me. These can be movies or classic literature and what they say about their time and place, news events that will go into history, or more often recently trying to directly seek out the spirit of a given place, that amalgamation of psychic energy that grows like a cancer anywhere people gather over time, but what underlies all of that is architecture. Architecture is the oldest form of mass media, of artistic expression that can affect an audience at scale. It defines the skyline, look and memory of a place, feeding and feeding from a city’s character, monoliths that inspire the art made in their shadows and can summon all the history of a place to mind with their single images.
9/11 was not just an attack on American soil, American people or the American psyche, but on American architecture. It was an attack of the American identity, on American engineering and artistry, on American permanence. What can anyone build now when titans such as these can be destroyed? What can I be sure will outlast me, what can a ‘90s child forever lost in time draw toward in a world where the twin towers are fallen?