Lighter than the other Comedies and Proverbs I've seen, but so effortlessly charming as to nearly inspire cheers with its final color-coded situation of lovers. Rohmer's direction is, as ever, subtle but evocative, from the tight, stifled shots of Blanche's white-walled, columned apartment to the sudden drift of natural freedom as she and her friend's on-again, off-again boyfriend realize their feelings for each other. Where THE GREEN RAY pushed introversion to a terrifying extreme and PAULINE AT THE BEACH collapsed under the weight of its own tangled romances, BOYFRIENDS AND GIRLFRIENDS is so utterly good-natured that the warmth that was under the others all along is made yet clearer. Lovely.
Really hoped to see something fresh in this, but God what a slog. I do appreciate its ending of white American guilt being shot down, though, especially revisiting it in the wake of ZDT's similar but preciously vague and slightly empathetic variant of the same action. But again, longest damn 90 minutes of your life.
Too modern and self-aware by half, but I like how it points out the unethical, exploitative treatment that often goes along with science, especially in past breakthroughs. A film from Jean-Martin Charcot's perspective would be awash in quasi-feminism as he strove to make women's mental illness a legitimized condition and not a subject for a witch hunt. From his patient's POV, though, his academic demonstrations are tribunals of their own, and he is willing to use her to advance his own research and to get funding.
I've only just gotten into TNG and sporadically watched TOS, so I'm not a die-hard at all, but this is so far from what Star Trek is it is truly repulsive. "I thought we were explorers," Scotty protests right around the time I thought the same thing, but the idealism of Gene Roddenberry is unfashionable, so instead we get slick cynicism and an utter lack of consequences. To begin the film with a casual violation of the Prime Directive that invites a punishment that lasts all of three minutes is an insult; what is the point of Pike trying to teach Kirk about respect if Abrams and his trifecta of the worst screenwriters in Hollywood intend to let him off as just a can-do maverick? Then again, the character arcs themselves are rote repeats of the last film, to the point that if it wasn't for all the shoehorned references to events of the reboot I'd have assumed they were restarting yet again.
Star Trek is by no means a work of perfection. Roddenberry's idealism very often crossed into simpering naïveté, and his desire to put women and POC on television was often hampered by network restrictions and plan reductive writing. But this Uhura is more reductive than the original, having hissy fits over her relationship with Spock when she isn't covering her mouth in weakening shock. John Cho gets so little to do he makes Takei's underwritten Sulu look like a fourth lead. Add to it a whitewashed villain and the future Roddenberry thought would show an end to petty human conflict looks more exclusionary than it did when he was running a show before the end of fucking segregation.
Obvious in-jokes take the place of an engagement with Trek's history, a frenetic and incomprehensible directorial style is somehow so much worse when things calm down and you can see for seconds at a time just how clumsy Abrams is, and an offensive incorporation of 9/11 do not critique and expand Roddenberry's vision so much as jettison it. I would spit in Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof's faces if they were in the vicinity when the veterans' dedication flashed at the end of this exploitative, clumsy, self-serious and deeply stupid film. I've been entertained by Abrams before, albeit in a wispy, cotton-candy way that has charmed on the first bite and then just started to melt my teeth as I keep chewing. But this repels on the first go, a despicable wretch of a movie that trades a franchise's awkward, stumbling move toward a better tomorrow for a cheap, artless approximation of the now. They ought to be ashamed.
Props to Quinto for livening up a character written so stiffly that Vulcan logic threatens to become mannequin display, and to Cumberbatch for adding a booming chill to bog-standard villain lines. Also, seeing Pain and Gain and this so close to each other reminds me: when did Peter Weller and Ed Harris start to look alike?
Watching Gray's films from most recent to oldest, I see a curious trend: each new film becomes more polished and the social and human scale expands (even Two Lovers, his smallest film, has a vastness underneath its intimacy), yet the work gets more operatic in reverse. Little Odessa is aesthetically rawer than any of Gray's other films, yet it aims for the rafters of classical epics, playing its small story of Russian-Jewish heritage and sins of the father for Visconti/Coppola/Cimino-level universality (there's even a direct crib from Heaven's Gate involving a gunshot through a sheet). Subsequent Gray films gradually reverse this dynamic, putting forward an epic, modern frame disrupted by the personal, improvisational character work. A few additional tics grate—the dying mother here is somehow less fleshed-out than the never-seen, long-deceased mother of We Own the Night, to say nothing at all of Isabella Rossellini's character in Two Lovers—but this is still a mighty impressive debut, impressive not merely for its lofty ambitions but for how often it comes so close to meeting them.