I saw the now-imprisoned (on charges of “propaganda against the regime”) Iranian director’s quiet hit No Bears at the Roxie a couple weeks ago, and would recommend it to anyone. Starring Panahi himself as … an Iranian director in trouble with the government. The film is very much concerned with filmmaking, but the meta-ness of it all doesn’t get in the way of Panahi’s touching, funny, despairing characterizations of the villagers around him. A very moving and human film.
Noah Baumbach’s new adaptation of Don Delillo’s White Noise is streaming on netflix. I’d been looking forward to it for a long time, and it more than lived up to my expectations.
A classic absurdist study of the postmodern moment, brilliantly rendered. The distinctive Delillo dialog style is a treat for fans and maybe an acquired taste. The film does some things even better than the book – the overlapping cacaphony of family chatter, for example. I think the adaptation makes some of the limitations of the source material more apparent, as well: the scene where Jack and Murray give simultaneous circling, grandstanding lectures on Elvis and Hitler’s relationships with their mothers was always silly, but watching it play out on film is extra unconvincing.
I loved the end credits, which interperet a supermarket through dance. A really beautiful blend of conventional pop dancing and stoned mysticism.
I, too, have now seen Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. I agree with Esquire that it’s a “Perfect Film for the Age of Elon Musk” – it captures the mood, channeling its characters out of the anti-tech sentiment with spooky accuracy. It’s a movie about seeing through the ego of the haves to see what they have not got: a clue. I laughed a lot. I cringed a lot. I was not moved.
The cultural commentary is pleasant and agreeable, comfy, not going to sway or shock anyone. Daniel Craig is brilliant again; the plot hinges on his thick “Southern Hokum,” and his ability to turn that off while still selling you on his Southern Gentility. We first meet him in the bathtub, where he’s been since the start of Covid lockdown, trying – and failing – to play Among Us with some concerned friends. It was extremely evocative of the time, for me. Edward Norton gives us his best Dirtbag CEO, Dave Bautista his veiniest Men’s Rights Twitch streamer, Kate Hudson her ditsiest fashion influencer. It’s funny and dumb. Janelle Monae (!) has her biggest and best role yet (in this medium, anyway) and is the emotional heart of the film.
Amsterdam (2022, David O. Russel, streaming on HBO) is a big, starry, saggy romp through the sad and scary aftermath of World War I. “A lot of this really happened,” the film declares in the opening moments; in the end we are treated to a side-by-side of Robert De Niro (as the fictional General Dillenbeck) and the real life General Smedley Butler, reading his infamous testimony on the Business Plot, in which he alleges that a shadowy group of wealthy industrialist fascists wanted to stage a coup appointing him the military dictator of the United States.
It was fun. The film seems to think of itself as addressing Important Themes, and to be afraid of doing so with any subtlety. This makes it kind of painful to watch. I was particularly irritated by a couple of voiceovers that seemed only to restate what we just watched, in case you didn’t get it. I just now realized that Disney made this movie, which makes perfect sense in retrospect.