The Power of the Dog (2021)
Rated R for cruelty, sexuality, nudity, violence, gore, and language. It's not like these moments are necessarily exploitative. It's just that it is a misery of a film and that's what it is going for. When a movie goes so out of its way to stress that the world is a terrible place, there's going to be a fair amount of adult content. R.
DIRECTOR: Jane Campion
SAY "BRONCO HENRY" ONE MORE TIME!
Okay, that was the gag that I kept shouting during the movie. I'll be honest, I didn't have many hopes for this movie. I know. It hits all the buttons it should and I love myself the modern Western. But I saw this and smelled Oscar bait all over it. You would think that someone who likes the Academy Awards so much would be cool with Oscar bait, but it just rubbed me the wrong way this time. So we saved it for later. Part of that came with the fact that it was on Netflix and that my mom could watch it separately. But that was probably just a justification for wanting to watch other things.
And when I watched the first half of this movie, I thought that my initial opinion of it was right. As pretty as the movie was and as solid as the performances were, I found myself nodding off. We had to take a break because it was just so slow and so bleak that I didn't even find myself enjoying it. I may have nodded off for thirty seconds before I confessed to my wife that I was tired. She, too, felt the same way. After all, we've seen these characters before. We've seen the broken human being like Phil and Benedict Cumberbatch play shades of Phil in other things. He's really good at it, which is probably why he's cast in this film. But it also makes it slightly less compelling. But the bigger point is that this trope was exploited so many times in so many other movies. After all, I thought I was watching Call Me By Your Name set in the Old West. And based on my hypocrisy with Licorice Pizza, you know how I feel about that.
But that's what makes The Power of the Dog so absolutely brilliant. Again, we're going into hardcore spoiler territory here, so beware. The fact that the last five minutes flipped the trope pretty hard is a level of genius that I was not ready for. The Power of the Dog's slowness forces its audience to reassure itself that this is one kind of movie when it is quite a different kind of film. Instead of being a gritty and bleak romance between horrible people, it is a condemnation of abuse hiding in plain sight. I mean, say what you will for slow pacing, the movie does actively telegraph the ending if you knew what to look for. We've reached a point in the conversation about boundaries and rights that we weren't able to talk about before. Toxicity regardless of excuse is still evil and that's The Power of the Dog.
Phil starts the film utterly unlikable. He's borderline evil. He enjoys torturing the weak and effeminate because he himself is a closeted gay man, groomed by a presumable toxic. That cyclical nature of relationships is teased throughout. But Phil also likes destroying things because they can be destroyed. When Phil burns the paper flower that Peter made, he did it just to make Peter sad. When he sees Rose start to break down, he does everything that he can to encourage that downward smile. His whistling makes something that Rose enjoys something poisonous to her. The notion of music drives her into an alcoholic tumult. Heck, there's a very real chance that the only reason that he gives Peter any positive attention is to drive Rose even more mad. Like many romantic stories, heteronormative or otherwise, has one of the protagonists undergo a moral change due to their encounter with the other. Phil, in his charade of seducing Peter, might actually show the glimmer of hope for a positive outcome. When he shows traits like Bronco Henry (SAY IT ONE MORE TIME!), there's an odd respect for this kid that he dismissed and it is implied that he develops real feelings, both emotional and sexual.
Campion uses Phil's dynamic characterization to tease that this is going to be an ongoing cycle of effeminate men embracing their evil natures to find love in people weaker than them. When we discover that there is something truly demented about Peter, it is haunting. Because the problem that Peter has isn't with Phil's attraction to him. This isn't a condemnation of being gay. This is a condemnation for the predator / prey relationship that Phil has started. I have to make comparisons to Bryan Singer or Kevin Spacey, whose public coming out was expected to be met with applause, but rather revealed a troubling behavior of selfish sexual acts towards minors. It's all there. Peter tells the story of how his father was an alcoholic until the end. We see that Rose has suffered, running a restaurant and abandoning her dreams for the sake of survival. It's heavily implied that Peter killed his father because it was assumed that he was weak. He kills Phil using his intellect. Because Peter is aware that strength is not one thing. He straight up tells Phil that he is strong and Phil can't possibly understand that. It's the murmuring of a child screaming at a tornado. But Peter is right. The slow almost erotic donning of gloves (which I'm trying to tie to Rose and the Native Americans who give her gloves, but I can't quite tie it together) shows his true nature and the fact that his actual personality is quite deviant.
This is what Promising Young Woman wanted to be. I'm so sorry to put so much weight on Promising Young Woman, but there was an expectation that wasn't quite met for me. There's a visceral image of castration in the film and, despite the fact that Phil complete the actual act, that metaphorical role falls to Peter, the one who doesn't fail and hurt himself in the process. It's a far more haunting moment in film when Peter is simply coiling the rope, gloved the entire time.
I compare The Power of the Dog to Arrival. Both movies, while watching them, I dismissed. They seemed like they were well-made, but kind of dull. But both movies carried something far heavier all the way through that was only revealed at the absolute last moment. As long and as slow as The Power of the Dog was, I wouldn't mind watching it knowing what I know. Campion ranges from teasing me with moments to full on slapping me in the face with the finale and it is masterful.
King Richard (2021)
PG-13, but they use their f-bomb and lots of n-bombs throughout the movie. There's some violence that is pretty brutal coupled with the idea that the protagonist might be a bit toxic, despite being shown as a heroic character. We thought that our kids could watch it. That was probably a bad choice. Let's say that there are elements that are bleaker than standard sports biopics. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Full disclosure: I don't love sports movies and I don't love biopics. There are exceptions to every rule, but I tend to go into these moves with more than a bit of trepidation. I want to hold them up to an insurmountable standard that might not be fair. I'm going to be especially hard on the film if the biopic deifies someone who might be more problematic than the film makes him out to be. Case in point, for a long time, my least favorite film was A Beautiful Mind. So King Richard was good, but it will never hit my memorable moments list.
Immediately after the film ended, my wife told me all about the real King Richard. Not the King of Shakespeare, but the father of Venus and Serena Williams. While the movie lightly touched on this, Richard Williams had a large family before marrying Brandy. They would eventually divorce and he would marry a woman practically the same age as Venus. Now, is anyone perfect? No. The real world is messy and ugly and I've done things that I'm not proud of. But the problem is, Richard's morality and philosophy are at the center of this film. These actions tie to the central themes of the film. One of the key concepts behind the movie is the question of Richard's motivation. The neighbor who calls the police on Richard does so because he thinks that he is too hard on the girls to be successful. Rick Macci, in his frustration, accuses Richard of being a media hound, doing interviews to bolster his own profile. Even Richard himself jokes that he found out how much a tennis superstar makes, which is why he had two girls. But the movie keeps returning the focus to the notion that Richard had a plan that incorporated all of the fears and frustrations into it, leading to the game of tennis being changed forever.
But keeping in mind that Richard's real life history, maybe there is something about worshipping at the temple of Richard. I saw the same thing in The Blind Side, another one of those movies that hit my least-favorites list. In the film, the White family is accused of taking a large Black teenager to win football games for Ole Miss. The film takes this notion of accusation and shows how strong that White couple is for fighting these charges. But there's a very real chance that is exactly what they did. It feels kind of gross that you find this kid who is super good at football and make him play for your alma mater. I know what the detractors from my suspicions would say, but I just don't necessarily buy it. In the same manner, I get the vibe that King Richard just kept wanting more money and more notoriety and he was going to use his daughters to do that. Now, this is a very real man. I don't know much about sports, let alone what the real Venus and Serena Williams think about this guy. But the film kind of raises questions that it probably didn't want raised.
Not to say that King Richard in itself is a bad movie. It has some really good stuff going on in it. Like I mentioned with the sheer glut of biopics that the Academy Awards embraced this year, it seems like biopics are opportunities for actors to win Academy Awards. I will say, Will Smith nailed it. He absolutely crushes in this film and I think a lot of this is strategy on his part. It's really odd --and slightly uncomfortable --to make a movie about the success of the Williams sisters while giving all of the credit to the male. But it is because of RIchard's eccentricities that make the movie really worth watching. We know that Richard is right. That dramatic irony, knowing the futures of Venus and Serena Williams, allows us to bond with this character who keeps his cards very close to the vest. Smith takes this part about a dude who essentially has almost no resources and stresses how commitment, perseverance, and gusto make him the idea coach.
But Richard is often cringeworthy as get out. He butts into coaching beyond his abilities, which again stresses my point that it might be about Richard. He turns down what seem to be perfectly good contracts for "the good of the girls", but then seems to take the parallel ones. The film keeps writing these moments off as wise decisions on his part. However, because he goes right when you expect left, that's what makes it a compelling character. He's flawed, sure. But his flaws are somehow endearing, despite the fact that I would cut people like Richard out of my life in a heartbeat. It's because Richard is empathetic that we give him a little bit of lee-way that we wouldn't want to give in our own lives. We get the goal: get his family out of poverty and a bad neighborhood. He verbalizes it often as mega-superstardom. But in the immediate, we know that he will do anything for his family's safety. Maybe that's why it becomes significantly less endearing when he's in Florida at Macci's tennis camp. When he's there, the immediate threat of rape and murder are gone. It becomes about the sport. And that's where you lose me.
What's odd is the shift that the movie takes early on. The first quarter of the movie stresses how important that both Venus and Serena are to the family and to tennis. But the movie really gets taken over by Venus. There's that burden that falls on the biopic about when reality doesn't follow the rules of traditional storytelling. I will say that the film does its best to course-correct when this plotline gets dropped, especially in the final chat between Richard and Serena. But considering that the foundation of the film is a father's obsession with not molding one, but two tennis superstars, the Serena story does kind of take a back seat.
As I mentioned, there's a lot to like. The movie gets remarkably heartwarming. It makes tennis kind of interesting, even though that element was my least favorite. But if this movie was embraced as a work of fiction, I think I might have enjoyed it more. I don't know why the truth of a biopic tends to ruin things for me but it does.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)
PG-13 for some language and some pretty crass sexual stuff at times. I also should probably mention that this movie really toes the lines between blasphemy and respect. It does show a particular form of Christianity as absolutely nuts. If you wanted to look at this movie as a "point and laugh" movie, you absolutely could. But in the weirdest way possible, there's something still respectful about faith in the light of the events. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter
Is it just me, or is Michael Showalter becoming a really impressive director? In my head, the guys from The State always made fun, underground films. When I think of The State, I think of David Wain as the ur-director in the midst of them. But between The Big Sick and The Eyes of Tammy Faye, perhaps it's Michael Showalter who can provide a bigger range of types of movies. While I absolutely adored The Big Sick, The Eyes of Tammy Faye might be the greatest thing he has made...and I'm a huge fan of Wet Hot American Summer.
I have often discounted movies that only really get attention from the Academy in the Best Actress category, especially if the actress is playing a real person. Often, it's a showcase to allow the leading lady show off the amazing impersonation of a real person. I'm talking mostly about Judy here. The movie tends to be weaker, but the performance is something to talk about. But even with Judy, the weakness of the film stopped me from investing in the performance. I know, I know. Renee Zellweger got the Academy Award for that performance. But The Eyes of Tammy Faye really has it all. It's a great film that kind of does something very different for me: It makes me kind of respect Tammy Faye Bakker.
I remember Tammy Faye Bakker. She was the punchline on all of the late night shows. She was what was wrong with Big Christianity. Jim Bakker wasn't anything to me, but I remember that Tammy Faye Bakker was so plastered with insane makeup that she was considered kind of a joke by mainstream society. Couple that with the fact that she would sing these over the top Christian ballads and even as a child I knew who she was. But I had always dismissed her. When Jim Bakker went off the rails amongst scandals, it was almost this odd confirmation that this branch of televangelism was a scam. Now, I'm not going to go to a place that pastes Tammy Faye Bakker as a hero. She's not a hero. But she's in no way a villain in this story and she does some things that are downright impressive. The only thing that she can be criticized for his her complete ignorance to how the world works.
I'm going to quote Smallville and Aladdin, loosely. The season one finale of Smallville had Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor say something along the lines of "It's either the world views me as sinister or as incompetent" and he'd rather be seen as evil. Tammy Faye never really got to that level of self-awareness. Like Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, it's shocking how Tammy Faye Bakker didn't know how money worked, especially considering that she came from poverty. There's the story from the Bible about having the faith the size of a mustard seed. It's a spiritual teaching that really bothers me a lot, in both good and bad ways. The idea behind it is that it shouldn't take a lot of faith in God to change the way basic things work. God is so powerful and he's able to make so much change with even the smallest amount of belief that Christians, by all intents and purposes, shouldn't question when absolutely insane things happen around them. Tammy Faye Bakker, according to the film, was a person who absolutely, without-a-doubt, believed that God was all-powerful and loved her. She was mostly uneducated, but she was charismatic and devoted to her faith.
So when the world around her started to get better as she prayed, she had the faith that I sometimes wish that I had. She saw God responding to prayers and didn't question it. She grew more and more wealthy for doing things that shouldn't be paying that much. She met a guy who preached the notion of prosperity gospels, much like Joel Olsteen is doing today. In a book that stresses the value of simplicity and poverty, Jim Bakker was able to cherry pick ideas that not only justified a lavish lifestyle, but encouraged people to fight for economic success. And she believed it. She believed it because her faith was so precious to her and she fell in love with a guy whose job it was to be charismatic. If I jump back to that Lex Luthor quote, she was never evil. She just didn't know any better. This seemed natural and real. Her life changed when she found her faith, so much so that she urinated herself. Then she isolated herself in a world where faith was the norm and faith brought her happiness. Yeah, I can see where this all came from.
Yeah, that life of luxury thing was no good for Tammy Faye. But her faith the size of a mustard seed was so important to the point where she actually garnered my respect. There's an element to her where she loved being on TV. The film doesn't even try covering that up. She actively says that she wanted to be on TV. Okay, but she also didn't want to be bullied...ever. I didn't know any of this stuff, by the way. The fact that she was bullied about her faith as a child made it all that much more precious. So when her faith centered around the notion that God was love, it only made sense that it reached out to everyone. There's something that always gets a little frustrating about my faith that seems almost against my very nature. The more intellectual my faith gets, the less it feels real. My faith life and my prayer life are things I feel. Yeah, I'm going into very dodgy beliefs when it comes to Catholicism, so I'm going to tread lightly. When I pray and try talking to God, as frustrating as it gets, very little of it gets into the the intellectual stuff that I know about the Church. To me, God is love and that is such a foundation to what I believe that I can't help but admire Tammy Faye Bakker. She came across as this gay advocate, which she absolutely was. But what she actually says in the film shouldn't be all that revolutionary. She talks about loving a guy who was diagnosed HIV positive during a time when an epidemic was destroying a community. She maintained this message of love when the most powerful people in televangelism were vocally shouting fire and brimstone. It's remarkably touching.
It's a lot. The movie doesn't necessarily scream that Tammy Faye was a perfect person. She's an intensely flawed person who had an affair which she was driven to. Okay. She had a very spoiled life and was willfully sheltered. But she also wanted to do good. There's never a moment that makes her seem evil. She comes across dumb but sympathetic. And a lot of that comes down to Jessica Chastain's performance. I tend to be a little weary of biopics. They seem like vehicles for Academy Awards. But Chastain is unrecognizable in this role. It must be hell trying to give a sympathetic performance when the film forces her to act like Betty Boop the entire time. (The film's words, not mine.) Yet, she pulls it off. A lot of that goes to makeup, but the other end of that goes to commitment. Chastain is so committed to giving a nuanced performance and it really really really works. It's such a great job that I'm thinking she might get it.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a far more complex biopic than I was ready for. Considering that Showalter made, I thought it was going to be going after low-hanging fruit. Instead, this is a well-crafted and nuanced piece about a woman who wanted to be good and accidentally hurt a lot of people. It's really well done.
Licorice Pizza (2021)
Rated R for a pretty good reason. I mean, the movie hovers over the idea of statutory rape for the entire time. There's a lot of sexual content, but very little of it is on camera. There's language throughout, coupled with vice galore. While there is no nudity or honest violence, it does definitely feel like an R-rated movie.
DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson
Okay, I now realize that I pretended to like Phantom Thread more than I did. It's stuff like Licorice Pizza that makes me re-fall in love with Paul Thomas Anderson. But part of coming to this realization is this continual return to the fact that I'm a hypocrite and that I apparently lack all integrity. See, Paul Thomas Anderson never hides the central problem of the film. (I did read an article right before this saying that racism is the film's biggest problem, but I'll try to get to that later.) This is a story from the first minute to the last about the inappropriateness of a relationship. Gary is 15 but looks 21. Alana is 26, but looks 22. Anderson never forgets to remind us that this relationship can't be. It's central to the story. It's what creates tension for the entire film. But why am I so in love with Licorice Pizza when I'm so against Call Me By Your Name?
This is me being super vulnerable. I hated Call Me By Your Name. When every single one of my students preached the glory of that movie, I railed against the fact that it was not about the homosexual element, but the pedophilia element. If this is the case, why am I so gung-ho about Licorice Pizza? On the surface, I had to questions whether or not I had some deep rooted biases that I thought I had eliminated by this point. But I think the idea behind it is that Licorice Pizza is one of the most unromantic romance films ever. Everything in this screams that Alana and Gary getting together is the worst idea ever. While the film may end with them running off into the sunset, it has a lot in common with The Graduate. A lot of people see the ending of The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman making a dramatic display in a church to run off with Mrs. Robinson and say that is super romantic. But the bus sequence concluding the film screams that this was a dumb idea to its core and that love doesn't work that way. In a way, Anderson gives the same message. Instead of copying The Graduate, he allows us to come to the reality of the situation before that moment. By the time that Alana and Gary get together, we are all on the same page about the fact that Gary is toxic as heck and that Alana deserves better.
Really, Gary only becomes Alana's real consideration when she views how selfish the real world is. Sure, there's a very uncomfortable amount of flirting through the movie, especially when Gary achieves a certain amount of success. But we know that it's a terrible idea in those moments. It's why Alana and Gary's relationship changes its dynamics so many times. Despite starting as a flirtation on Gary's part, it quickly evolves / devolves into a brother / sister thing and, even more so, a mother / son thing. They spiral into this toxic place. But the film is a criticism of all relationships and how even adults are just children. From this perspective, I probably have to criticize Alana's choice to end up with Gary because that's an oversimplified version of relationships. However, look at the other potential suitors in the film. Alana, in an attempt to claw her way out of her arrested development, discovers that she is just being used by a man who wants power. Matthew verbally says his disgust for men and how they're abusive. Similarly, Jack Holden seems to have an interest in Alana, but he literally throws her off the bike doing a childish stunt, a return to the nostalgia of his youth. Gary, from those perspectives, who has had multiple jobs and, despite his toxic male behaviors, seems the most put together.
But it is gross. Gary has moments of maturity. They're highlighted in the closing jump cuts to previous parts of the movie. His running has been for Alana. But Gary also handles any kind of rejection as offense. When Alana sets firm boundaries, he keeps pushing until she feels disgusted with him. While played for laughs, when Alana shows him her breasts, he wants more. She leaves angrily, knowing that Gary will always want more and more because he's fundamentally unsatisfied with a platonic relationship. He lights up a cigarette and drives off with a car that he has no right driving because he's trying to show dominance in the most caustic way imaginable. Yeah, there's something about the two of them kissing that ends the film that seems like the cap on a story, but that story doesn't have a happy ending. It simply has the result of a relationship.
And that's where I think the difference is between Call Me By Your Name and Licorice Pizza lies. Call Me By Your Name indulges in the forbidden nature of underage love and then romanticizes it. Licorice Pizza uses the taboo of underage love to create distance between the characters by keeping them apart. Like a good TV show, it knows that getting the two characters together is death to the drama. I don't think that Anderson wanted to make a movie about people's reactions to an inappropriate relationship. He was making a movie about something that can't and shouldn't be. By putting them together earlier, it would have been something very different. It would have been about the romance versus the interaction and the distance that the two of them went.
I don't think that I have an appropriate voice to make a strong call on the racist elements in the film. For those not in the know, there's a running gag of a buffoon out of the early '70s. Anderson mocks the racist attitudes of White Americans when it comes to treating Asians with respect. He plays up the concept of the exotic Orient. Very much like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's, he does the accent when speaking to his wives. It's very funny and it does point more at the ignorance of White America than anything. But I'm also in the camp that I don't want people to be offended for something that isn't necessarily authentic. Paul Thomas Anderson is a White dude. He's a guy who has a mother-in-law of Asian descent, but that's a little bit of a stretch. While I find the joke extremely funny, I can easily see the offense that comes from a joke like that.
But I have to say that I absolutely loved this movie. I mean, it's really funny. But more than anything, especially in the light of There Will Be Blood or Phantom Thread, Licorice Pizza reminds me that Paul Thomas Anderson, besides being a visual genius, is a fun director. This movie made me laugh and cheer more than any movie I've seen for the Academy Awards up to this point. Honestly, at this point, it's my frontrunner. It's a gorgeous movie that has a gross premise at the center of it. Maybe something comes from the culture of women acting as predators is something that is something more acceptable cinematically, but it's still pretty darned gross. I know. I seem to be really toeing a line here, but I dug it so much, despite my overly moralistic attitude towards storytelling.
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)
Rated R for violence and general creepiness. I'm going to throw my wife under the bus for this one, despite the fact that she was mostly right. This is partially the first R rated movie my nearly ten year old saw. (She only watched about a third of it, so take that into account.) My wife wanted to watch it and we questioned "How bad can it get?" While I think the R-rating might be a bit much, it would be a very intense PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Joel Coen
I'm writing this as my students take a test on Hamlet. You might think I'm mentioning this as a fun co-in-kee-dink, but it actually ties into one of my main thoughts about the movie. See, The Tragedy of Macbeth is less than two hours long. We're studying the full, unabridged Hamlet. Even the kids who are into it are in the camp of "It's a smidge long." Besides the fact that it is R-rated and I could never show this movie in my Catholic school, despite the fact that it is a fairly faithful adaptation of Macbeth, I don't know if I'd want to because it is so abridged.
Listen, there's something absolutely beautiful about the fact that this is a condensed version of Macbeth. As a huge Shakespeare nerd, I love when we get new versions of things that I had already absorbed. But I get it. Sometimes, I'm just not in the mood to sit through a really long Shakespeare play. An hour-forty-two is a pretty great length. And I'm going to go after the Bard with this comment: some scenes are not necessary. While teaching Act II, scene i of Hamlet, I have to apologize. None of that scene comes into play for the rest of the story. It's not even great character development because we get who Polonius is before and after that moment. It does nothing but remind us that Laertes exists, which is silly because we just saw him a few scenes before that. When I was in Macbeth, I have to imagine that there were scenes that were totally unnecessary to the story as a whole.
But this leads me to an interesting argument: Maybe Shakespeare plays need to be aggressively long. I'm going to state that I adored The Tragedy of Macbeth for the performances and the imagery. Like, it crushes. Absolutely crushes. I get why Denzel Washington is up for Best Actor because it's the best thing he's done for a long time and he's a pretty great actor. (My wife found his performance okay. Mr. Washington, if you are reading this, my wife is wrong and be my friend.) But the one thing that we don't really get from a full length version of Macbeth is the slow transition into corruption. We don't get a lot of time to know the good man that Macbeth starts as and how ambition transitions him into a madman. Instead, we get the vibe of power corrupting being such an important moment. I always liked Macbeth because it is complex. Considering that this is a story that is so hinged around the idea of fate, there's something aggressively human about Macbeth's choices and how he deserves his own downfall. It's not like this movie fails to grasp that. It's just not as nuanced as a full length version of the story would be.
But then again, it would be boring. Again, I love the stage production. But what Joel Coen does with this movie is create a story where the visuals and the performances are so tightly crafted that it becomes a near perfect adaptation of this idea. Getting a smaller runtime is almost an appropriate sacrifice to the film as a greater whole. Yeah, we don't get that slow decent into evil. But what we do gain is something that is far more important: we get a Shakespearean play that isn't boring. I'm sure many of my students would disagree if I showed it to them, but I'm right and they're wrong.
The film's messages on fate are really interesting. Part of me is going to analyze the original play because the film and the play are inseparable. I teach lots of stories about fate for a guy who doesn't really believe in fate. But I find fate to be so interesting. Why Macbeth works is that we know that literal fates come to the protagonist telling him what will happen. But we get mad at the eponymous character for ensuring that fate plays out against him. We know that none of the events of the story would really transpire without an insight to the future, but it still feels right to judge Macbeth for doing what he did. I'm going to go into Lady Macbeth in a second because Frances McDormand slays. But we have these moments of two people just jumping into these awful futures for success. Now that the Hamlet test is over, my students are talking about how second semester senior year doesn't matter. They're very grade-centric and now that grades have less of an impact on their futures, they've gone full-blown senioritis. But that's Macbeth in a nutshell. Given access to success, he abandons all pretense of what he believes in and sells his soul. Like how my students abandoned the pretense of education in itself, they are willing to do anything for status.
I always have this idea in my mind that The Tragedy of Macbeth is about Lady Macbeth is more important than the male Macbeth. In this version, I have less of that going on. I get that Lady Macbeth is potentially more ruthless than her husband, but it definitely feels like a collaboration when it comes to murder. She is always on board, but I find it interesting when she yells at her husband for not leaving the knife in the proper spot. It leads to her madness and eventual suicide, but it's Macbeth who has the distance to go. Lady Macbeth wears her need for career and success on her sleeve. That's what makes it so haunting when her body is found on the bottom of the stairs. It's the notion that there's a line in the sand that no one can see. Because Lady Macbeth is so far gone to start with as a character, that line is crossed quickly. Maybe a lot of the cuts came to the Lady Macbeth character in this version because I don't feel like McDormand had a ton of time to get the character there in a nuanced way. But she's such a powerhouse of an actress that I almost didn't care. She's a tank and I loved it.
So there might not be a perfect version of this film. If you shorten it, it takes away from nuance. If you do the full thing, it can get a little much. But when looking at The Tragedy of Macbeth, everything works for what it is. It's a strong version of the movie that is haunting while maintaining the supernatural themes woven within.
PG-13. This might be the first PG-13 that I've ever seen with "Strong Sexual Content" given by the MPAA. While we do see the parents have sex, they are completely clothed during this sequence and it's almost played for a laugh with how absurd it is. There's some language, but because it is in ASL, it has to be read often to be understood. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Sian Heder
Okay, I'm going to make some enemies here. CODA is a good movie that is totally watchable. Academy Award good? More like, "Good for a movie that goes directly to a streaming service." There's a lot here that feels like a Netflix original movie of the week. Sure, it was Apple TV+ that actually picked it up, but the effect is the same. There's a lot of feel-goodery happening in this movie and I don't know why my broken heart doesn't believe that feel-goodery belongs with the Academy Awards. But that's because I'm cynical. I might be a broken person, but that's how I feel.
But I have to divorce myself from the Academy Awards. After all, if I was writing about CODA, I would write about how optimistic the film is. I might lean towards the fact that it is pretty forgettable, but that doesn't change the fact that there's a decent quality family movie underneath. Because that's what is happening here. My loudest points with the movie are going to be complaints, despite the fact that I overall kind of liked the movie. The biggest problem I have about preaching this movie is that it isn't a subtle film in the least. It is a movie that wears its message loud and proud. It's about family and the roles we are forced to take based on our genetic lottery. It's about making choices for others and realizing that people can't be what we always want them to be. It's about singing and passion and all of those things that we've seen in other films, most notably Mr. Holland's Opus. If I wax poetic about those things, I'm sure I'd have some readers screaming, "No, duh. We got that." The goal of an artist is to effectively communicate themes and try to change the world. From that perspective, the movie does its job. It's never a personal message that is meant to be discovered on one's own. That's what makes it not exactly stick to the ribs. But that's okay.
But the issues I have with the story is that it falls under the problems that it knows it has. (That sentence got away from me.) I'm so sorry to Eugenio Derbez, but Mr. Villalobos really detracts from the story as a whole. (That sounds so hurtful. It's not because of him. It's because of the script.) Early in the appearance of Mr. V, he states that "This is not like Glee" or something like that. By that, he means that music and singing is a very gradual practice that involves listening and learning to listen. It's about developing muscles, breathing, and confidence. It rarely is about raw talent. But then the movie instantly proceeds to have every kid in that class show off a wealth of talent with very little practice. Of course, Mr. V gets frustrated with them at every opportunity. But he's this teacher who skates by on sass. He says one thing and everyone instantly gets better. This is clearly a room of professional singers pretending to not be as amazing as they are. Their jumps in quality are hilarious. Now, this seems to be a nitpicky thing, but it is something that detracts from the story because it is wildly underbaked.
At the heart of CODA is a story about a girl being torn between her family, whom she loves and empathizes with. She knows that she is necessary to their survival and that they can do anything given the proper support. She's also being pulled to her passion for music by being given a deadline for an audition. The consequence of her actions is that she isn't doing either job very well, especially considering that she's clearly in love with the boy she's meant to do a duet with. But the story also really wants to stress that she's an amateur with natural talent. It's this element that is raw and underdeveloped. While we get this compelling story of these deaf fishermen taking on those who would take advantage of them, this is contrasted with a sassy teacher who just doesn't have patience for his pupil's reality. I'm writing from the perspective of a teacher right now. Mr. Villalobos knows about her family's difficulties. He knows what Ruby is going through and doesn't care. It is the teacher's job to care for the whole person. Instead, it becomes the Mr. Villalobos show. His obsession for his time is the center of his attention. From a script / director's perspective, I'm sure the story was that he would do anything, even treat Ruby bootcamp style, to get her into Berklee School of Music. But what actually comes across is a teacher who is acting as a diva who has the world at his fingertips. His house is gorgeous. He as a family that takes care of themselves. Ruby comes across as far more mature than Mr. V and that's not the point of the movie.
It's like the Glee thing just ran a highlighter over the issues with the film. Mr. V has an inappropriate relationship with his student. The world of music is far more fantasy musical than reality because everyone else at the Berklee audition is equally if not more talented than Ruby. The judges are extremely forgiving of Ruby's scattered and borderline lazy audition. There are just all of these moments that seem like they are tailored for a fantasy ending that feels a bit forced. The movie also kind of ignores the glaring issue with the story: Ruby needs to take care of the family. There's some implication that Leo's girlfriend can serve the role that Ruby did, but that's gotta be down the line and shouldn't be a burden on her. So while it's a feel good movie, it doesn't really feel grounded. It feels Netflixy and Hollywoody at the same time. There's something distant between the real emotions of the scene and what is actually being portrayed.
Rated PG-13, but there is an f-bomb in there. Apparently, PG-13 movies are allowed two, but that's entirely anecdotal and I refuse to look up if that's true. Because the movie is from a child's perspective, a lot of the movie has an innocent tone with a more sinister setting. It's kind of To Kill a Mockingbird in that respect. There is violence all due to cultural hatred and there is some real darkness in the movie. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
I do love Oscar season. Sure, it gets really overwhelming to write as much as I now decided that I have to, but I get to watch movies with a certain standard. I kept seeing Belfast show up on the live nominations and I realized that I hadn't even heard of this one, despite the fact that it had earned so many accolades. With my class, we watched the trailer and it looked charming. Because I don't want to spiral, I will say that the trailer is horribly misleading in terms of tone. It looks like this vibrant story in the midst of religious tension. Really, the movie is mostly about the religious tension with some sweet parts peppered through it.
I went to Ireland in high school. I stayed with an Irish family. Heck, I even had a professor who talked ad nauseum about Sinn Fein, despite the fact that it had nothing to do with the class. There's something that's always been a little bit removed for me when it came to the conflict between the Irish and the Catholics in Northern Ireland. You'd think that someone who has a history degree would be able to give you the play-by-plays, but I don't really have that knowledge. But I also didn't know that Kenneth Branagh grew up in this era. This is one of those semi-autobiographical movies. Everything in the film screams verisimilitude. The weird thing? I don't associate this kind of movie with Kenneth Branagh. Heck, I don't know what I associate with Kenneth Branagh.
Part of me will always think of him as the Shakespeare guy. After all, that's what brought him to the public consciousness. But then he also started to be this director for hire. When I saw his name attached to films like Thor or Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, I started putting him in his own category. Now, I don't know what to think of him. So seeing a movie that is intensely personal and vulnerable, it's something new. I mean, I approve. I'm always going to be a fan of vulnerability. And this movie is entirely vulnerable. I made the comparison to To Kill a Mockingbird and that is such a great choice on my part. Guys, I'm really smart. Like, really smart. You guys should admire me. The film of To Kill a Mockingbird plays up the monochromatic elements of film, despite being made in an era where Technicolor ruled. But also, the idea that the protagonist, Buddy, has a direct correlation with Scout.
Oh geez. Oh geez, I just cracked this thing open. I should be writing this to get published beyond Weebly. Buddy v. Scout? Both child protagonists exist in the shadow of their own nicknames. Despite being avatars for the author's childhood, these names represent the universality of the story. Yeah, I never grew up in war torn Belfast. But Buddy is the human experience. He's in this place where his problems seem to be the biggest issues in the world. (Realize, this entire paragraph is a comparison of Buddy to Scout. Just to save time, assume that Scout does the same thing.) Buddy and Scout (see, I already broke my own rule) are obsessed with what people at school think. They are both intellectuals who are still wildly ignorant of the bizarre circumstances of their places in history. Older siblings are there to juxtapose the reality of the situation to the childlike blindness that surrounds them. But most importantly, these are two children who view their place in history through the eyes of a father who comes across as someone who can do no wrong.
But it is in the differences between To Kill a Mockingbird and Belfast that we build the difference of character. Buddy has a mother in his life. Not only does he have a mother in his life, but he actually is quite close to his mother and his grandparents. His father, while being a noble character, comes across as a deeply flawed parent. He's still great. He's no Dad from Bluey, but he is a formative person in Buddy's life. But Dad represents something that is desperately needed in this: practicality. During the past four years' turmoil, I think that we got pretty close to civil war. I had the conversation with my wife that, if things got bad, would we be willing to leave America. I took the position that Dad did in Belfast. He's of the opinion that survival and well being is the most important thing. My wife took the same perspective as Mom: home is so much more important than address. Mom is deeply attached to Belfast in the movie. She understands that the world doesn't look well on the Irish. It's a thing that may seem absurd, considering that the Irish in America seem to be simply part of the White establishment. But Mom embraces the rich cultural heritage of her home, despite this very invasive threat the the world.
And at the center of that threat is Buddy, who is growing up in violence. Because the story is bildungsroman, everything that happens in this movie becomes a foundation for who Buddy / Branagh is going to be. He views movies and television as shaping moments, using the politics of Star Trek and the integrity of High Noon to shape the goodness and evil of the world around him. But Mom also sees the temptations that a boy his age faces. Foolishness looks very different when neighbor is killing neighbor. There's a scene where Buddy shoplifts a Turkish Delight from the local store. It's treated with humor. But Buddy is also thrown in a situation where the act of theft is the same, but the scale of the action is horrifying. Buddy, during a riot, is pressured to steal something, so he steals some dish cleaner for his mother. Thinking that he is doing a good act (and learning that Turkish Delight helps no one), he brags to his mother about his good deed. But it is in this action that Buddy sees the horror of humanity. He sees that violence is ultimately about power and that people are desperate to show that they are in control of the world around them. It's heartbreaking and terrifying.
You know? Finding that tie to To Kill a Mockingbird made me like the movie more. I don't know if the Van Morrison stuff works as well as the movie thinks it does, but the movie does have this deep message about the role of hatred in a microcosm. Yeah, we understand that this is happening all over Northern Ireland, but we only get to view this violence from Buddy's street. It's kind of a huge step for Kenneth Branagh. He's a very talented dude, but I like that he kind of took it to the next level.
R for showing graphic portrayals of an eating disorder, a mental breakdown, cruelty, and language. It's a very uncomfortable movie to watch, as it was intended. It has a very A24 vibe, despite the fact that it was released by Neon if I'm not mistaken. So realize that the tone is pretty adult. R.
DIRECTOR: Pablo Larrain
It begins! I'm going to be writing about Academy Award nominees for the near future. I'm going to be overwhelmed, both happy and stressed out. So my first active watch for the Academy Awards is...um...Spencer? Okay, it looked pretty good. After all, I'm a big fan of The Crown so it would only make sense that I would really dig another story about Diana's trauma with the Royal Family. Boy, um...I wasn't right about that. This is not a good place to start.
Some behind the scenes notes: I lost Internet for the whole day yesterday. The ideas I was setting up are now gone from my memory, so we'll see how this plays out. But I do remember my biggest takeaway from this movie. I really have to believe that this movie was meant to make Diana look sympathetic. I mean, just culturally, that is what makes sense. I can't imagine someone going into the story of the Princess of Wales thinking that they are going to make her look like an absolute monster. But the scope and crux of this movie is that it is about three days in the life of Diana: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day. It's a cool concept that actively ruins the movie. I mean, I want to toss a lot on this on Kristen Stewart (Remind me to get back to this later.) But there's something so screwed up about making this movie about three consecutive days. Because what happens --and this is important --is that this becomes a movie about mental illness and not the person.
98% of this movie is Kristen Stewart with her eyes glassy, crying about how miserable her life is. Now, there's me, who has watched The Crown. There's me, who remembers the life of Princess Diana and all of the good she accomplished in the world. The story of Princess Diana, like Britney to many, is the story of how celebrity and toxicity martyred a woman who was already dealing with mental illness. But to tell that story, we needed something to juxtapose against the spiral. There wasn't that moment of Diana in the sun. We have these snippets of Diana with her children, putting on a brave face for the sake of her family, but even that was pretty darned depressing. Diana's life was tragic because she was so bright and so energetic before she was brought down by the Royal Family.
As part of that, there are moments of passive aggressiveness towards Diana on behalf of the Royal Family, especially Charles. But her reactions seem completely overblown compared to the slights that go her way. Now, those in the know understand that Diana has already been injured time and time again by this point in the timeline. We know that she deserves to have her breakdown because everything she does is under scrutiny. But this is a film with specific rules. What the movie presents to us is what the audience is supposed to take away. Because Diana enters moment one, almost completely unhinged, the reactions of the Royal Family seem almost appropriate. Diana doesn't come across as someone who has just done the Road to Calvary. She comes across as a spoiled brat with an eating disorder who wants the attention of the most powerful people in Europe. She almost seems spiteful of someone having more attention than her. Anytime someone gives her what appears to be a reasonable request, she breaks down into tears and throws a huge fit. We know these requests aren't minor if you look at history, but the movie doesn't stress that.
I did like the Anne Boleyn stuff though. It's absolutely absurd that Diana would simply find a book on Anne Boleyn sitting in her chambers, considering that the story of Anne Boleyn is a reminder about the toxicity of the monarchy. But as a historical embellishment, it is super fun. Having Anne Boleyn insert herself to these scenarios kind of makes Princess Diana a Willy Loman type character. She hovers above the events like a specter, tainting the events of the story. Because she is constantly there, there are these cool moments of foreshadowing, knowing that the monarchy will drive Diana to her death; if not directly, then remotely. Also, it just looks so cool. Because most people can't complain about the look of Spencer. But for me, most of the design choices are either fine or misses. I don't know if the pearl necklace being eaten and gagged on during dinner is as effective as the movie wants it to be. But Anne Boleyn simply appearing places worked practically every time. It's really good and I applaud that kind of stuff.
What I ultimately took away from Spencer was that this was an acting vehicle for Kristen Stewart to get an Academy Award, an award she very well may get for this movie despite not really showing range. It's very similar to what I saw with Renee Zellweger and Judy. Both movies are deeply flawed where the lead actress gets to emote the heck out of that part. There are no small moments in the film. Everything is done in a state of heightened emotion and that doesn't necessarily make for good storytelling so much as showing off how intense an actress can get. I'm sorry, but I really didn't care for this movie because it was just crying for two hours. Diana was more than glassy eyes and shouting at people about injustices. There needed to be levels and we never got those levels.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2021)
PG for kids getting picked on. Also, one of the kids breaks his arm, which can be gross if you really think about it. I mean, it's pretty innocent. The protagonist isn't great. There's some disobeying of parents that is kind of encouraged. But the movie doesn't really have anything that could be considered morally reprehensible. PG
DIRECTOR: Swinton O. Scott
It's not for me. I just need to repeat that. It's not for me, it's not for me, it's just not for me. I know that I write about everything that is technically a film, but it is so hard to write about stuff like this. I would like to say that I just discovered that this movie was only 58 minutes. I mean, I don't feel that obliged to write a whole long essay for a movie that is only 58 minutes. For sure, I thought this movie was at least an hour-and-a-half. I had to confirm on multiple websites that it was only 58 minutes. Like, how? How is this movie only 58 minutes? Maybe the movie was rougher than I thought because I have the theory that anything 72 and under gets points for shortness.
When I showed my film class this trailer, thinking they'd lose their collective minds, I was met with violent disappointment. They instantly thought that this was a betrayal to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid that they all knew and loved. Being on the outside of a fandom is a weird thing. You know that there's passion behind the fandom, but it's not your thing. As a kid, I held no allegiance to Transformers or Masters of the Universe, so I view those franchises as "other." But seeing that trailer, I got the vibe that this movie would be far closer to the books than the live action films. After all, these were 3D renderings of Jeff Kinney's drawings, so how could it go wrong? (I mean, I don't want to evoke South Park 64, but that's a good way to derail my train of thought.)
But then the opening credits came up and I saw that Jeff Kinney himself wrote this script. I imagine that the fine folks at Disney+ thought that they had two target markets for an animated film of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: kids like my kid (who is 7 and just discovering Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and high schoolers, who viewed Diary of a Wimpy Kid as the first first real piece of nostalgia that they would get. But high schoolers are very specific viewing subgroup. Like hardcore nerds, as seen with the JJ Abrams Star Wars and Star Trek, high schoolers see new attempts to revitalize an old franchise as an offense. Myself, I really like the new Star Wars and Star Trek stuff, even if it is not the original thing. So I came back at them with this "Jeff Kinney" stuff. Maybe knowing that this might actually be the authentic intended version of their childhood book series might turn some heads. It didn't. Mind you, these are the same kids who are adamant that black-and-white films will forever be boring, even if black-and-white was an active choice.
I had a rough middle school experience, but I didn't know that there was such a push to stress how rough middle school was. (In all earnestness, grade school was way worse, but whatever.) Perhaps there is a need to make middle school more important than it is. After all, middle school kids feel older, despite the fact that they are aggressively children. High schoolers want stories about adults and elementary school students want tales about middle school. Ignoring this need seems a bit dismissive on my part, but I just never really understood the obsession with middle school. If anything, this seemed to be the most forgettable time in my life. It's this idea behind romanticizing these small tales. Part of it comes from the confusion of puberty. Kinney touches on that, juxtaposing the scrawny, amorphous design of Greg to those kids who are actively shaving. But movies like Diary of a Wimpy Kid are extensions (albeit pale extensions) of the bildungsroman tales of the '80s. If The Goonies was more family friendly, it might have more in common with Wimpy Kid than I care to admit.
But that also kind of bums me out. Look, I love that my kid loved the movie and I adore the fact that he actively gets obsessed over the books. That's absolutely rad and I celebrate the heck out of that. But there's something aggressively corporate about these stories. Instead of writing about nostalgia, these stories give me the vibe of pandering. We know that Kinney must sleep on a mountain of money. Stuff like "The Cheese Touch" doesn't necessarily feel universal, but rather fodder for pre-teen humor. Heck, I can't imagine a time when I said "cheese" more, thinking it was hilarious, than in middle school (a time, I've established, I have little memory of). While I like the dynamic between Greg and Rowley, especially when they touch on themes of growing out of each other, there's nothing really earnest going on there. I don't feel like Kinney is pulling from something real. Instead, they act as plot devices and comedy. Greg is desperate for any kind of healthy attention. He goes to a new school, which terrifies him. He eventually is infected with the cheese touch. Everything he does makes him feel like he's on the outside.
But instead, Greg simply becomes another Charlie Brown. As much as his life is a bit of a bummer, none of it really affects him on the grand scale. I think talking about the fear of growing up is fundamentally important. But I can't imagine someone who would be Greg's avatar in reality would take it on the chin like Greg does. There's no real sadness. Bullying is kind of just a thing. Adults are stupid and everyone is dumb. Where is the moment where real catharsis happens. Yeah, Greg learns to appreciate Rowley way more than he did previously, but I don't know if that's enough of a move to justify a film...
...even if it is only 58 minutes.
TV-Y7 for being just a bit too scary to show to my three-year-old, despite the fact that she watched it through protests of "This is too scary, Daddy." Yeah, I might be a bad dad. But the older two kids were really into it. They love Hilda, so a Hilda movie is right up their alley. If you really want to split hairs, technically the eponymous character is nude throughout, but that's just because she's a troll. There's no traditional nudity, however.
DIRECTOR: Andy Coyle
Oh man, they just released the list of Oscar nominated short films for 2022. I need to make sure I have no backlog of movies because there's going to be a glut of posts before the Oscars actually happen. Man, I love this time of year so much, but part of me just gets so overwhelmed during this time. That's okay. I'm just wondering when I'm going to finish the movies that I had already started. Oh, to have my problems.
I thought that I knew the Hilda mythos. It's one of those Netflix shows that I straight up get excited to watch with my kids. They aren't allowed to watch new episodes without me. But I'll admit, my attention is always pulled somewhere else while watching this kind of stuff. That's the problem with having a kitchen that overlooks the living room: you always feel the need to do the dishes when Hilda is on. I'm pretty sure that's embroidered on a pillow somewhere. But I thought that, for sure, that if Hilda had a movie (as it clearly did), it would be something that a general audience could get behind. You know? Welcome new viewers and whatnot? Nope, this is straight up a deep cut mythology film that apparently takes place after the season two finale, which I clearly knew nothing about and don't remember to save my life. Maybe my kids broke the rules and watched it without me. That sounds like them, the little rascals. But it is hard sometimes watching a movie when you don't remember the deep cut canon going on in a show. I eventually figured out a lot of it, but season two must have been a heck of a cliffhanger to make Hilda a troll at the end of the season.
But that doesn't mean that Hilda and the Mountain Troll had nothing to offer me. It just means that it will kind of serve as something like X-Files: Fight the Future did and provide entertainment in a limited fashion. After all, Hilda --the show and the film --are both gorgeous. Mimicking the style of the graphic novels, these examples of minimalist art coupled with the twee and enthusiastic fantasy world of Hilda is just the best. I don't know if the filmmakers were trying to convince anyone that Hilda an the Mountain King was anything more than simply an extended episode with grander consequences than a traditional episode. The art style doesn't really change. It simply screams out that Trollsberg is going to be destroyed if Hilda doesn't fix the problem with her friends. That's kind of the thing that The Simpsons Movie did, only The Simpsons Movie looks drastically different than a standard Simpsons episode up to that point.
But I'm glad that the people behind Hilda don't exactly rest on their laurels. There is a pretty motif of the role of parenthood in the film. I don't know if this is a common thing or not --I really do have to think about it --but the movie talks about the nature of appropriate parental sacrifice. Tylla (I think I have the right name based on IMDb) gives over her child, Baba, to the humans as a changeling. Knowing that the troll world is toxic, she knows that her child would do far better behind the walls of Trollberg than they would in the mountain. To do this, she must swap Baba with Hilda, making Hilda a prisoner in the mountain. Like Beauty and the Beast, there's an element of silver lining to Hilda being a troll. She experiences freedom like she's never done before. She's granted superpowers, which seem like a lot of fun. But unlike Beauty and the Beast, Hilda doesn't lose sight of the fact that she's a bird in a gilded cage. She doesn't hate Trylla (boy, will my face be red if I have the wrong name), but she never fails to call her out on the irresponsibility and immorality of this action.
If I had to be the most Englishy English teacher ever and was forced to read themes behind this, I could see this movie potentially being partially anti-refugee. You know I couldn't handle that. I would rip into you like I would anti-vaxxers, but it seems like the folks at Hilda Inc (a company that I have just coined) are aware of the potential message and head that idea off at the pass. The end goes large and in-charge with the notion that there are good trolls and that there are bad trolls like there are good and bad people. The notion of the trolls being allowed to enter Trollberg bothers some people, despite the fact that many people in the city view the integration of the trolls as a positive thing. It would have been really easy for this movie to take the easy path and make this simply an action adventure for the Hilda crew. After all, it is action and fantasy heavy. But folding in that theme, while not necessarily the focus of the film, does elevate it beyond the simple episodic stuff that could be seen on Netflix streaming TV shows. I don't know if it is crafted necessarily as well as theatrical release, but it does the job pretty well.
But watching this reminds me why I don't write about TV, despite the temptation to do so. (I often consider writing about every piece of pop culture I absorb, despite the fact that I already feel burnout about movies.) TV stuff is hard. While the film has an arc, because the film doesn't stand on its own, it is hard to look at the character changes in the protagonists. The heroes of the story must fundamentally stay the way they are. It's not like they aren't flawed. It's just that those flaws are far more innocent and must remain so if the show is to keep going in the format it's built for. It's why Bart Simpson is fundamentally Bart from season one to present, despite having a cinematic film stuck in there.
TV shows are fun. I guess that Hilda and the Mountain King has more in common with TV than movies, but that didn't meant that it was bad. It was just something different that was really difficult to write about.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.