Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Films That I Saw: June 2020
Half of 2020 is almost over yet it does feel like a world is coming to an end with more than 10 million cases and over half a million have died in this pandemic as here in the U.S., we have 2.6 million cases and more than 127,000 have died. Amidst all of this chaos including the fact that a man was killed in Atlanta by cops at a Wendy’s parking lot is further proof that the world is going to shit. Especially as I’m now thinking about my father who died exactly one year ago today as I’m starting to think it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. If the cancer didn’t kill him, the idea of not watching sports and not really going anywhere as well as not hang out with friends and such would kill him. Plus, I’d think he’d be extremely appalled by the culture in general with people wanting to cancel certain people, pieces of art, and all of these things as it would just suck the life out of him. It hurts and it also pisses me off as I began to understand that some of the things my dad said about all of this political correctness and what is and isn’t offensive was right.
Now I may not have rated a film like Gone with the Wind highly amongst the many films I had seen but putting a disclaimer in the film I don’t think helps. It’s just making things worse while I’m really upset that Mike Henry has been forced by this culture to step down in voicing Cleveland Brown of Family Guy. I never watched the show but I enjoyed its spin-off The Cleveland Show as I was aware that Henry was white and he was voicing African-American characters but I had no problem with it. It’s not just these things that are going on that is just making my eyes roll but there’s also the world of professional wrestling as it relates to a lot of sexual assault/harassment incidents in Britain and in some promotions in the U.S. that are just horrendous. Realizing that Joey Ryan, who is famous for oiling himself and being involved in intergender matches as well as getting his opponents to touch his dick for a stupid comedy move, is really one of the sleaziest people ever and I can’t watch him anymore.
This month has been a really trying time for professional wrestling as AEW has at least managed to do a good job in handling the pandemic with wrestlers being tested frequently although two of them in Q.T. Marshall and current AEW world champion Jon Moxley both came into contact with those with COVID-19 as they both sat out in order to not affect anyone else. The latter unfortunately is married to WWE interviewer Renee Young who has been tested positive for COVID though it’s good to know she’s doing fine as I hope she leaves WWE for good. The way WWE has handled the pandemic has been horrendous. You have a multi-billion dollar company that had a lot of resources to handle this but they prefer to try and sell the idea that they’re an essential business in Florida and they put smiles in people’s faces. Having several of your employees tested positive for COVID while not doing much to bring actual tests makes them look like assholes. AEW and New Japan at least put their resources to make sure their wrestlers are OK as the latter company have done a hell of a lot more to make sure their employees are safe with some stars and executives in New Japan at least made the decision to make pay cuts to help themselves. WWE however is proof that they don’t give a fuck about anyone as long as they can money and be seen as leaders of sports entertainment.
In the month of June 2020, I saw a total of 24 films in 12 first-timers and 12 re-watches with only one first-timer being directed by a woman as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. The highlight of the month has definitely been my Blind Spot choice in Satyajit Ray’s The Big City. Here are my top 5 first-timers that I saw for June 2020:
3. The Housemaid
5. Be Water
3 Brothers: Radio Raheem, Eric Garner, and George Floyd
Spike Lee is right now the voice in American cinema that people need more than ever as he just uses footage from his own film Do the Right Thing and video footage of what happened to both Eric Garner and George Floyd. It shows how little things have changed since 1989 and so on as it’s just 3 minutes of uncompromising truth. Lee has used this time during the pandemic to be really creative as well as just telling it like it is and based on what I’ve seen so far in his new film Da 5 Bloods, it is clear that Lee hasn’t just got his mojo back but is now becoming this elder statesman in cinema that is embarking on a new phase in his career where there is nothing that’s going to stop him.
This was an OK action film about an Uber driver who has to accompany a detective who had just gotten laser-eye surgery to go after a drug dealer who killed his partner months before. It’s got some funny moments and some nice action though the story doesn’t have enough depth to keep things interest despite the performances of Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani as well as a nice cameo from Karen Gillan as Bautista’s partner in the film’s opening minutes. Other than that, it is just a typical mismatched buddy film that had some laughs but not enough to be a total recommendation but it’s not a total dud.
This documentary that was shown on Turner Classic Movies about a famous hotel suite where Sam Peckinpah lived in a small town in Montana is really more about his daughter trying to get know the father she didn’t know much about aside from scattered memories. It showcases the world that Peckinpah lived in during his times of exile from the world of film but also commentary about his complicated legacy as a filmmaker from locals and various film historians. It’s something fans of Peckinpah should seek out as it does feature this nice intimate story of a woman trying to learn about her father.
Vadim Mister Cool
Another documentary film about a filmmaker shown on Turner Classic Movies is about Roger Vadim who was considered the idea of cool in the 1950s and 1960s beginning with And God Created Woman that made Brigitte Bardot an international icon. It’s a film told largely through archival audio and video footage with comments from those who knew him. It is a fascinating documentary that also explore the director’s decline in the 70s and 80s until his marriage to actress Marie-Christine Barrault in 1990 where his 1990s TV films showcased a new direction that reflected his happy life until his passing in February of 2000.
From 30 to 30 is a new episode as it focuses on the life and influence of Bruce Lee. Told largely through audio interviews with those who knew him including his daughter Shannon reading her father’s letters. The film focuses on not just Lee’s influence in the world of martial arts but also some of the prejudice he endured as an Asian-American including the culture of how Asians were depicted in the 20th Century before and during Lee’s arrival to the world of entertainment. It is definitely one of the best films that 30 for 30 has created as it also show some insight into Lee’s philosophy as a man and what he wanted to do for the world including his children that includes a brief tidbit on his late son Brandon.
In these trying of times, comedians often find a way to say something but also make us laugh but Dave Chappelle did something much bigger and grander. A 27-minute film for Netflix is a Joke YouTube page has Chappelle talking to a small audience about George Floyd and the state of the world. There are some funny moments but Chappelle doesn’t hold back into what needed to be said. He talks about the shit that is the year 2020 as well as the lack of response from African-American celebrities as he states like anyone gives a fuck about what they think. He also goes off on African-American conservative commentator Candace Owens as he gives that cunt words that are beyond insulting and for the right reasons. While it’s great to see Chappelle doing bits, his social commentary is what the world needs as his uncompromising words is exactly the kind of things that Richard Pryor and George Carlin would be proud of.
Crazy Rich Asians
I saw this film on scattered bits for about a year on HBO as it’s a film my mom likes a lot as she’s always into films about Asian culture. While I don’t think it’s as great as some say it is, it is a film that does have value in its exploration of social classes and how it play into the world of rich Asians in Singapore. The story may not be original but the characters at least are interesting and engaging as the performances of Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and Michelle Yeoh are incredible. Especially as they manage to provide some laughs and heartfelt moments as it’s just a nice film to watch and relax while not taking anything seriously.
Top 10 Re-watches
1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
2. Crimson Peak
3. The Terminator
4. Ad Astra
5. Lady and the Tramp
7. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
8. The Running Man
9. That Thing You Do!
Well, that is it for June 2020 and half of this awful fucking year. In July, I will focus largely on films from Samuel Fuller, John Ford, and other American films including recent movies as well as Da 5 Bloods. Speaking of Ford, my next Blind Spot will be The Grapes of Wrath as I want to try to explore some of the finer aspects of what America was as it’s now become a fucking laughing stock around the world. I know I’m approaching my 20th anniversary of becoming a critic on July 5th but I don’t have anything planned and probably won’t do anything at all as I’d rather focus on watching films and writing about them. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off and hoping everyone stays safe and fight the power.
© thevoid99 2020
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Hey Flores, how are you? I've been reading some of your other posts, I like this one, a retrospective of films you saw in the first half of 2020, your comments on the Peckinpah documentary in particular intrigued me (he has some great pictures to his credit...I've actually been thinking of doing a list on top 10 Warren Oates films).
I agree with you about the furor surrounding Gone With the Wind, it's one of the 20th century's greatest and most beloved films. Hattie McDaniel, always a great actress, was the first black woman to ever win an Oscar for her part in the movie (beating Olivia de Havilland) and Vivien Leigh's stellar turn as Scarlett is one of the greatest film performances ever (second only to her part as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire)...Gone With the Wind is art and, like all art, should not be censored. It's also history and, like all history, it should not be altered to satisfy some revisionist agenda. Let's use some common sense here.
On Taste of Cinema there is a new list featuring the films of Olivia de Havilland but the author (Manuel Caneri) issues a disclaimer in his opening statement saying that he is omitting Gone With the Wind from his list because "so much has already been said about it," for which I called him out for being disingenuous (I've *never* seen a movie list that left out the most popular title for such an absurd reason). I left a comment at the bottom of the de Havilland list and I'm fully prepared to defend everything I said but it's not an exciting list so maybe no one will ever notice it.
Also, Steve, I know from your writings that these are rough times for you. Your dad is gone, your nephew is driving you crazy ha, and the world seems to have gone bonkers. I'm Hispanic (like you?) and my father recently died as well, so I can somewhat relate to your frustrations. Despite what the scary and sensational news headlines might have you believe, everything will be fine, these flare ups are not new, historically they are cyclical (every new generation thinks they are the first to be outraged); fifty years ago we were in Vietnam and there were riots and terrorism occurring around the world; fifty years prior to that we were in the first decades of the 20th century and enormous changes in industry, art and society were leading toward WW I. Fifty years before that we were in the midst of events that took us into the Civil War. And so on...
People (and opportunists) today are so focused on themselves that they can't see the forest for the trees, do you know what I mean? It's all about perspective. The world and mankind are continually evolving but those changes are naturally incremental and people get impatient and it's sometimes difficult to see the whole picture. That's why history and art are important, they are a record of our time here on earth in order that future generations can learn from our mistakes and accomplishments so they can continue to move forward.
Steve, I had to laugh when you said that if your dad was alive today he would be going crazy from it all. I've thought the same thing about my own father, I don't know if he could have dealt with the quarantine or the elimination of sporting events, etc. ha.
I'm glad to have found your work online, you are a unique voice. Keep up the good work.
@Paula-Gracias for reading my blog. A lot of what you're saying is smacked on. Even as we're now having to censor certain films because they don't meet new standards is just bullshit. Next thing you know, we'll have to complain about this and that and it becomes endless to the point of stupidity.
Yes, countries like China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, N. Korea and Iran censor their artists so we need to beware of that possibility here in America, we have more civil rights and liberties than any country in the world.
I noticed that you like such music groups as the Flaming Lips, Joy Division + New Order, etc...me too. Do you like Twenty One Pilots? What's your favorite New Order?
One other thing, we were commenting on the scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in True Romance... I remembered another equally cool scene, this time in Trier's Nymphomaniac; Uma Thurman's appearance as Mrs. K, it's pretty good don't you think?
@Paula-I'm not into today's music at all and I hate 21 Pilots, I think they're fucking shit.
The first half of Nymphomaniac is great but it does meander during its second half despite some interesting moments.
Thank you for the feedback, I was just curious, I'm with you on the other performers - Bowie, NIN, New Order, Pink Floyd, etc. - I like pretty much anything depending on my mood, from opera to contemporary pop.
I agree that Nymphomaniac has its lulls, certainly due to its length, I only meant to refer to the scene with Uma Thurman.
Again, I appreciate your different blogs. You are very ambitious, creative and cool. Take care of yourself.
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