Great rivalries compel sports. These professional games are designed to extract the fiercest competition, pin the most talented participants against one another and put on display their remarkable ambition for supremacy. In the states, we have a particular affinity for the underdog, but there is also the dynasty and the inverse of the underdog, the fall of the favorite. Oftentimes in film, the sports heroes face off against something more systematic. In Invictus and Remember the Titans, the teams were agents against social injustices. Rocky never had a real rival; those films were more anthological, concerned with the determination and integrity of an individual who must overcome several diverse foes. A rivalry emerges when that opposition is tightened in scope from the macro for the micro. Mano a mano.
Author Kyle Burton
Well, Dr. Lector isn’t looking over his shoulder just yet. NBC’s shameless double dip into the maximum security criminal-fresh fed dynamic reimagines the chess master-informant iconography of Silence of the Lambs, the inspiration for the underwatched spring drama Hannibal. The cell isn’t grungy, the fed isn’t obsessed, the sociopath isn’t eating people (is that a midseason twist I smell cooking?). Rather, the reds and yellows and blues nudge up against garishness—certainly right out of a comic book. FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) bluntly and repeatedly reassures her husband of her family-first priorities. And the only thing Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) chews on is unctuous line after smug laugh.
What it might be to lose a child. How to endure it? When might the passage of time finally recommence? What are the answers after, say, a year, two? Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners takes place over a single week. It feels much, much longer. As a father’s desperation fogs and then subsumes his judgment, and a cop’s dedication contorts his professionalism into an emotional trap, months seem to have passed since we last saw the abducted girls. There is no mercy in the relatively few days over which the story spans. Every lost moment, every gone hour marks significant declines in the odds missing children are found alive.
No film is easy to make. Some productions may progress more smoothly or enjoyably than others, but an easily made film is a film that has little chance to thrive. How, then, to take into account these difficulties, whatever they may be for a given film? Does a film succeed despite or in spite of these obstacles?—were they hardships typical of film, or were they something greater, something larger that reaches into filmmaking but is not of it?
For almost an hour we don’t see the beast. There are whispers and rejections of it. We see one of its cousins, strung up from the caudal fin like a prize winning bass — though, this trophy is supposedly engorged within by a young boy. The monster is developed through suggestion — a section of dock rearing up in the water; garish yellow barrels burrowing wakes into the Atlantic; that protruding dorsal fin that might as well be Death’s scythe. It is, like the trailer says, “as if God created the devil, and gave him jaws.” As the stories go, this is the only way Steven Spielberg would agree to adapt Peter Benchley’s bestseller.
Warner Bros. unmasked the next caped crusader last night, apparently finding a way to write casting poetry. The first live-action iteration of Batman kicked off as a fifteen-part serial in 1943. Lewis G. Wilson played the Bat, and, in addition to the barbs about the innovative places he hid fudge (see: his utility belt), critics grumbled about the unhidden Boston accent. Lo and behold, a Southie will suit up for the 2015 release. Ben Affleck will be Bruce Wayne.
The biggest challenge in compiling this list proved to be clarifying, for my purposes, what exactly I was ranking. The pool of movies featuring either A) a narrative about technology or B) a film littered with tech is staggering. Is it about technology or the environment? And so on. After many, many adjustments, I stuck to films whose narratives were inseparable from the technology they featured. From there, as is always the case, it’s a matter of give and take.
There are films so much more about the pieces than the sum that when you find your instinct is to first decrypt and reassemble, you also find the film is thumbing its nose at you. Somewhere after the midway point, I found myself beginning to articulate my curbed fascination with Leos Carax’s Holy Motors. Namely, that Denis Lavant was astonishing. But as I watched, I found that the impressiveness of his performance, like the film, was mostly aesthetic, physical. And just as I began to think that, Carax and Lavant hit me with five minutes of uncontextualized, isolated emotion—emotion with a depth many films wish they could build to over their entire duration. This is what Holy Motors does. Almost a series of vignettes, if you find yourself growing tired of the film’s act, don’t worry, it’ll shift completely in just a moment, as if anticipating the skepticism.
I’m sorry, this is my fault. As a movie devotee, I keep tabs on future film landscapes. I considered taking this HitFix list Here plugging dates into my Google calendar. I still might. All of the note-keeping builds anticipation. Expectations for critics tend to come from different places than mass audiences, but we’re certainly not without them. So again, this is a little bit my fault. But Neill, you wrote and directed District 9, so this is a little bit your fault too.
The Mississippi River undulates toward us, the surprisingly lush Arkansas banks directing us, against this current, to infinite open water. Dawn’s fog has yet lifted. It tints this narrows the blue of ghosts. Mud is a film of the unwritten, of how any number of things and tales can intersect one’s trajectory and how the well-willed do not diverge. They simply come to the opening. Jeff Nichols, in his third film, following 2007’s served-notice Shotgun Stories and 2011’s excellent Take Shelter, once again unspools a South smarter and more gracious than the versions of any other filmmaker today.