The 90th Academy Awards: Always overblown, newly relevant

The Academy Awards felt as relevant and fresh as they could while yet maintaining all the cheese and slight odor of staleness that marks this large, ponderous institution. 

Achariya: Full disclosure, although I unreservedly love the red carpet of any Hollywood event, I haven’t watched the Academy Awards for years, in part because it felt like there was little point to watching Hollywood wank itself over movies that I generally find uninteresting. I’m a geek and like action/spy/fantasy/sci-fi/arthouse movies, and the stuff that tends to win is what garnered best actor last night, movies like Darkest Hour (which, ok, I kinda liked).

Jen: Even though I appreciate the fanfare and pageantry, the Oscars have become a thing I’m aware of rather than look forward to. I appreciate filmmakers and crews and such receiving much-deserved recognition because it usually results in more work for them and more creative control, but for me actually making time to sit down and watch is less a priority than knowing what’s nominated and what won.

Achariya: I watched the show last night because after the #MeToo movement pointed out all the flaws in the Hollywood system, I wanted to see how the Academy Awards producers would handle it. And in fact, they handled it subtly and well.

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Early to the Theater: a preview of Call Me By Your Name

I will make no bones about it: if you feel uncomfortable about bisexual male romance, and feel disturbed seeing adoration and longing played out in a messy, direct, and exploratory way, this movie is not for you. Props to director Luca Guadagnino, though, for not shying away from any part of it, not the messiness, nor the aching emotions of longing, loss, and culmination, nor the delicate difficulty of filming experience and inexperience in a way that will undoubtedly freak some people out.

 

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Patti Smith’s M Train: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing”

What really to got me, reading M Train, was the unreliability of the narrator. Smith writes about loneliness and being alone, but in a small paragraph also implies that her life doesn’t let her be alone at all, and that loneliness might even be something she has to fight for. There’s a small paragraph embedded in thousands of words of solitary cafe-sitting that describes a frenetic journeying around the world — but the book lingers over the lonely times. As the dream cowpoke says to her in the very first line of Smith’s book, “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.”

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In Theaters Thursday: Darkest Hour

After some thought, I realized the enormity of what was being shown and why I don’t get it. It’s because every English kid grows up hearing about this moment. – Jen

Jen and I had drastically different reactions to Gary Oldman’s Anglophilic Oscar-bait movie, Darkest Hour. For various excellent reasons, Jen had reservations about it. For various other reasons, I liked it. Because of that, we thought we’d split the review into two parts, and you can sort out for yourselves whether it’s worth spending money on. As always, we don’t hesitate to mention spoilers.

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