Saturday, January 6, 2018

Film Review: I, Tonya

Tonya Harding should be remembered solely as one of the great American figure skaters, the first American woman to land a triple axel in competition. The reason she is not remembered that way is because men are swine.

Her mother, monstrous as she may be, worked hard as a waitress to fund her skate lessons and uses half her lines warning her daughter about men. In the film, we see her watching her daughter's Olympic performance on the diner TV. Her male boss doesn't give a shit, shouting her name to get her back to work. Because men are swine.

Tonya married a man who increasingly abused her the more successful she became, because men are swine.

Her husband's best friend Shawn, a man, ruined her career by indulging in a megalomaniacal plot to assault Nancy Kerrigan. Because men are swine.

The hitman Shawn hired to assault Kerrigan accepted money to injure a woman and potentially ruin her career, because men are swine. He didn't even do it right, because men are idiots.

The tabloid reporter, played by Bobby Cannavale, harasses Tonya Harding and even feigns having her car towed to get her outside for a picture because men are swine.

The film, written and directed by men, is a black comedy masterpiece, surprisingly moving, and career-high cinema showpieces for Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, showing that, perhaps, every once in a while, #NotAllMen.  But the male characters in the film, who ruin a hard-working woman's life, are obviously the type of person now running the United States -- egomaniac idiot abusers -- who were elected by white men who didn't like the ambitious woman. The pigs have been winning, and too many women have been unjustly punished and villainized, their perspectives left unexplored.

oh look fucking Shawn and Jeff run the fucking world

I, Tonya is a great movie about a horrible incident that happened for one reason: men. If truth exists, and I think it does, this proudly postmodern film at least tells this one: Men are swine. Impeach them.

Livia in I, Claudius, like Janney's LaVona, know the world is shit because Men are Swine

Four stars out of Five ****

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Film Review: Call Me By Your Name

If Milk is a proudly gay movie, Call Me By Your Name is, like archetype-inverting Brokeback Mountain, a decidedly queer one, which is something a bit different. This is not only because the two men flirt and even have sex with women as well as each other, or because of its skepticism of marriage, or because it is set in a semi-fantastical realm outside the political struggle for gay rights, but because the characters are always reading. In fact, if we take queer to mean, in part, against the mainstream, in today's illiterate society all the reading in this film is almost queerer than the sex between two men.

This is a same sex romance the gay-label rejecting writer Gore Vidal might have appreciated, as it is set in Italy, drenched in the classical past, and in love with words. And whatever you think of Vidal's viewpoint, this film's simple and emotionally shattering earnestness surpasses Vidal’s inherent bitterness about love and discovers far more painful truths.  This movie, about intimacy, openness, the sensual blossoming of youth and the ever-encroaching numbness of modern adulthood, is sentimental in the most earned and expensive sense, and when it aims for the deepest recesses of the heart, as it does during Michael  Stuhlbarg’s devastating father to son monologue, it does not miss.

Armie Hammer, a classical statue come to life, is handsome as ever in his latest “star-making” role, shimmering but still outshone, this time by co-star Timothée Chalamet, who delivers a performance the Oscars were created to honor. The final moments, in which Chalamet both bears the full emotional weight of the film and causes us, simply by staring into the camera, to feel it with him, is the most moving ending of a film romance in recent memory.  

Five Stars *****