Summary of “Jennifer Lawrence: the fascinating subversion of Hollywood’s sweetheart”

So proves Jennifer Lawrence’s laundry list of apparent provocations over the last two weeks, with unseemly acres of tweetage given over to the fact that she a) wore a dress outdoors; b) never finished watching Phantom Thread; and c) briskly rejected Bafta host Joanna Lumley’s claim that Lawrence is “The hottest actress on the planet”.
“More interested in women’s bodies than in their experiences,” scoffed Slate’s Inkoo Kang of the “Off the mark” film, while Uproxx’s Amy Nicholson defended what she saw as the film’s morally conscious perversity: “[It] refuses to let us leer at Jennifer Lawrence’s long legs without a jab of shame.
” Another sidebar of criticism questions Lawrence’s very autonomy in making the film to begin with, positing the actress as a kind of doll being bent into compromising positions by her male industry superiors.
“It’s hard not to think she is losing some battles here,” speculated Jonathan Dean for GQ, casting doubt on Lawrence’s repeated assertions in interviews that she chose to do the film as an act of self-empowerment, claiming control over her body and its exposure after a much-publicised leak of private nudes in 2014 left her feeling violated and powerless.
Has the sleek sleaze of Red Sparrow backfired on Lawrence’s feminist motivation for making it? You could argue the point either way, but it seems unconstructive to deny her full credit for consciously taking the risk to begin with – just as she did with last year’s aggressively polarising Mother!, her ex-boyfriend Darren Aronofsky’s baroquely metaphorical study of women cyclically tortured by the male creative ego.
Mother! is the gutsiest film she’s yet made, yet some of the film’s most virulent detractors described Lawrence as its victim – conflating the young actor with the brutally exploited ingenue she cannily played in it.
Lawrence’s social media rebuttal was curt: she chose the dress, she liked the dress, and if she wanted to be cold to look hot, that was entirely her prerogative.
If Lawrence’s contemporary and near-parallel in the music world is Taylor Swift, perhaps Red Sparrow is her showily abrasive Look What You Made Me Do. The old J-Law can’t come to the phone right now – she’s dead and loving it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Streaming Void”

The defining cult film of the twenty-first century is neither a mirror held up to nature or a hammer used to shape reality.
So what’s sadder: that it set the prototype for the twenty-first-century American cult film or that it might wind up being our last enduring cult hit?
Although the phrase “Cult film” wasn’t common until the seventies, the idea that movies and their stars could have cultish appeal dates back to the silent era.
In the essay “Film Cults,” from 1932, the critic Harry Alan Potamkin traces the phenomenon to French Charlie Chaplin fans in the 1910s.
Cultists’ holiest text, Danny Peary’s Cult Movies, does a solid job enumerating their most common attributes: “Atypical heroes and heroines; offbeat dialogue; surprising plot resolutions; highly original storylines; brave themes, often of a sexual or political nature; ‘definitive’ performances by stars who have cult status; the novel handling of popular but stale genres.” Rocky Horror, a retro sci-fi musical that chronicles a prudish young couple’s corruption at the hands of a genderqueer alien/mad scientist who is ultimately vanquished by his own servants, meets all of these criteria.
There are cult kiddie cartoons and cult porn flicks.
The cult of the objectively bad film is apolitical, derisive, and a touch sadistic.
Given the death of IRL counterculture, it is likely the last American cult film, in the Nietzschean sense as well as the literal one.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Rotten Tomatoes may have radically skewed the Oscars’ Best Picture race”

That’s where the best films end up – the movies too smart or creative to be fully appreciated by the broader Academy, and certainly not widely accepted enough to get into the Best Picture race.
Get Out and Lady Bird – which wouldn’t have received Best Picture nominations 10 years ago – weren’t merely the eighth or ninth films that got into the field; they’re both considered contenders to actually win Best Picture.
Like any major institutional shift, the growing number of offbeat Best Picture nominees comes from several interconnected factors: the nomination process for Best Picture has changed, and the Academy’s makeup has changed.
It makes great sense – why should a film be nominated for Best Picture if there isn’t a sizable faction of the Academy who think it’s actually the year’s best picture?
The Rotten Tomatoes scores for Best Picture nominees over the years seem to suggest that some kind of shift occurred in the early 2010s.
Rotten Tomatoes scores are the opposite of the new Best Picture nominating process – they measure consensus instead of passion.
With an average Tomato score of 92.9, this year’s Best Picture nominees have the second highest collective Tomato rating of any Best Picture crop this century.
Phantom Thread was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, but it couldn’t squeeze out a Best Original Screenplay nomination.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Annihilation and How the Movie Understands Depression”

The film centers on Lena, a steely yet clearly fractured biologist and professor with a past tenure in the Army, where she met her husband, Kane.
He’s withdrawn, changed in ways that frighten Lena even if she can’t discern exactly why.
After most of the team has been brutally killed, Josie and Lena get a moment of reprieve, looking out at the beautiful wildlife surrounding the home that became both their refuge and hell.
Josie’s acceptance of death further invites questions about how we heal from traumas and the possibility of becoming whole, which Lena’s arc perhaps gives answers to.
Lena, in many ways, is a culmination of what the other characters represent: a longing for death, an angry, self-destructive quality, the feeling that her body is no longer her own, and a curious embrace of sorrow and understanding of how it has reworked her.
The most affecting moment comes later, as Lena becomes embroiled in struggle with a shimmering, faceless creature that mirrors her movements, at one point literally being crushed by it.
I’ve gone back and forth between reading the scene as proving that this Lena isn’t the Lena we were introduced to at the beginning, and believing that it’s still her, just unnaturally changed by her time in Area X. This is partly due to Portman’s stellar performance as Lena.
As I think about Annihilation, I keep coming back to that ending – Lena being crushed by the physical embodiment of her self-destructive nature and depression, yet somehow escaping – at least a part of her has.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Annihilation & The Horrors of Change – FILM CRIT HULK! HULK BLOG!”

This film is a haunting reflection on the horrors of change.
For once I’ll take a proper second to again commend Garland and his team for this, because this film has some of the most intense and haunting imagery that I can remember in recent film.
Change is so scary because on of the hardest things to do in the world is actually change.
Note how the birth / death imagery is freaking everywhere in the film.
As the final burning images spurred out in the film, I was shaking.
For all the topics of toxic change in this film are not mere concepts or things I hope I never do.
For the film confronts the parts of myself that lied, that feared, that brought me to the heart of my own personal battle with annihilation.
Which brings us to the very ending of the film, one we could get lost in some kind of argument over if we still thought movies were puzzles: is her story a lie? Was her alien doppelgänger the one who really get out? Is it just trying to give us a nonsensical horror scare? Yeah, those questions don’t matter because Garland isn’t playing a game, creating a puzzle, or trying to jerk you around.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Reckoning”

“Joe’s mentors were the white, colonial Australians,” Bob says.
Though Robin never took to Joe, Bob liked him well enough.
In 1985, Bob and Robin returned to the highlands to make a new film about Joe Leahy.
Joe’s son Jim Leahy is there, and he’s the last to speak, not to Bob but to the highlanders.
It’s striking how much the scene resembles so many from Bob’s films, when Joe would lecture the highlanders about investing, about bisnis and responsibility.
One afternoon, Bob and Joe hike down the long drive from Joe’s house to the field where Joe used to dry his coffee.
Bob is intrigued by this-Joe certainly did not seem like a religious man 25 years ago-and he takes the opportunity to ask Joe why he turned to Christianity.
Bob pushes again, and Joe digresses into a meandering analogy about Moses wandering the desert.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Did the Oscars Blow Its Big Bet?”

The absence of Christopher Nolan’s Batman film and Pixar’s WALL-E in favor of perfunctory Weinstein machine prestige fare like The Reader forced Ganis and the Academy’s hand.
What had been assured in decades past, specifically from the heady late ’80s on, was that the film that took home the big prize was almost always a hit with audiences.
Since the Academy’s expansion, the number of films to cross that arbitrary red line has dipped to just two in eight races - The King’s Speech in 2010 and Argo in 2012.
In all, about 300 films qualified for awards in 2008, so roughly one out of every 30 films will now become a best picture nominee.
While broadening the reach of the awards - a best picture nomination now becomes a bit easier for documentaries, animated films and foreign-language films, for instance - it may also dilute the value of a nomination somewhat.
The first 10 nominees represented a diverse collection that featured powerhouse auteurs, international sci-fi upstarts, a Pixar movie, two Oscar-friendly character studies with movie-star turns, admired art-house films, and, for the first time in history, a film directed by a person of color.
“If the populist film is really good technically, artistically and performance-wise, then it could get in,” a high-ranking public relations executive and Academy member told the L.A. Times’ Nicole Sperling and Amy Kaufman.
Ultimately, the expanded nominee pool benefits films like Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour - admired fringe contenders - not the kind of audience-drawing, red-meat entertainment that the Academy initially envisioned.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Black Panther review: the grown-up Marvel movie we’ve been waiting for”

Black Panther picks up in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, where audiences were first introduced to Chadwick Boseman’s Prince T’Challa and his superhero alter ego Black Panther.
Boseman plays him as quiet and thoughtful, ready to leap into action as Black Panther when the moment requires it, but more often, he’s happy to patiently wait and take the more measured approach.
Letitia Wright nearly steals the movie outright as T’Challa’s little sister Shuri, a tech genius who keeps busy being the most sarcastic person in the room, but also spends her time building new weapons and armor for Black Panther.
It may be a common complaint that most Marvel bad guys are just the same kind of megalomaniacal madman aiming for the same world-ending goals, but Black Panther breaks away in that regard.
Given the way Black Panther embraces diversity, and given how heavily the Wakandan culture itself plays a role, it would be almost negligent for the film to not address current issues of race and economic disparity in some fashion.
The film isn’t perfect: in some action scenes, Black Panther’s suit looks more computer-generated than realistic, and the hand-to-hand combat sequences can come off more chaotic than compelling.
With Black Panther, Coogler doesn’t try to distinguish himself by making a sillier movie than his predecessors did.
Given what a glorious, inspiring film it is, it’s easy to wonder why Marvel waited so damn long.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Snubs, Surprises, and a Staring Contest: The Academy Awards Nominations”

Phantom Thread’s six nominations, including shockers for Best Picture and Best Director, was the loudest possible indicator of a shift in how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes.
Just four of 32 experts at the predictive awards site Gold Derby tapped Phantom Thread for a Best Picture nomination and not a single one predicted Anderson.
It’s an unlikely Academy movie and proof that there is still a great unknowable in the Oscars, a chance for the truly strange.
The oldest, born just one week prior, is Faces Places director Agnès Varda, whose film was named among the five Best Documentary entries.
Hell, Kobe Bryant became the first NBA player to be nominated, for his short film, Dear Basketball.
The nine films nominated for Best Picture combined to earn more than $566 million in the United States-less than Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s domestic box office.
During her four-year reign as Academy president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs added more than 1,500 new members to the organization, widening the scope, including more women, minorities, and international members than ever before.
For director Barry Jenkins and the dozens of people who made that film, that Oscars must have felt like a dream.

The orginal article.

Summary of “”Phantom Thread” Is the Best Food Movie in Ages”

When it comes to the dramatic core of the film, the romantic struggle of Reynolds and Alma, “Phantom Thread” isn’t a movie about fashion any more than “American Psycho” is a movie about banking.
In a brief scene early in the film, Reynolds’s cook offhandedly tells Alma that her employer hates his mushrooms cooked in anything more than a whisper of butter.
It’s yet another illustration of the suffocating precision of his desires, which Alma, if she wants to be with Reynolds, must learn to accommodate.
As a dress designer, Reynolds can effortlessly take charge of Alma’s body.
He pauses, ominously: “If I choose to.” But, in the realm of food, Alma sees a chance to seize the advantage.
Alma has elbowed her way into cooking Reynolds a special meal for his birthday-he does not like surprises, Cyril tries to warn her, but she is undeterred.
Alma’s voice-over fills the film, low and hypnotic with her steady love and determination.
It comes at the very end of the movie, when Alma makes Reynolds a mushroom omelette in the kitchen of their country home.

The orginal article.