Mothers are infallible. They’re the safety net, the locus of belonging that makes everything else okay. This is the secret of childhood. The secret of growing up is learning that this isn’t true. The Florida Project (2017) is about a little girl named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) who learns this at way too young an age.
Oliver (Armie Hammer) is a god. If true, that would make Call Me by Your Name (2017) deliciously ironic, in that in his human form he’s a doctoral student of Greco-Roman culture. Also, it would be the first time Zeus admits to insecurity in his dalliances. Alas, such a hypothesis only finds supporting evidence in the camera’s gaze, originating in Elio’s (Timothée Chalamet) point of view. That point of view is what makes the film work, and we only get one scene in which Oliver is away from Elio and, looking at projector slides, pines for him.
If it weren’t for the orchestral soundtrack or the title cards, I wouldn’t’ve believed that Pandora’s Box (Die Büchse der Pandora 1929/2006/2014), seemingly so modern, was first released in 1929. The acting is of course slightly more expressive than the naturalism of today’s films, but it falls far short of the almost miming caricature of acting found in many silent films. Louise Brooks is perfect as Lulu, the free-spirited young woman whose radiant beauty and pursuit of happiness is a lightning rod for a series of unfortunate events, to the detriment of herself and the men around her—and one woman, Alice Roberts’s Countess Geschwitz, the first prominent lesbian role in film history.
Last Wednesday, I went with a friend to see the free (free!) first non-festival screening of The Disaster Artist (2017) in Taiwan. I’ve never seen a Taiwanese audience so involved with a film, so willing to openly react, especially to the scene where Tommy Wiseau (a perfect James Franco) fails to complete a scene in sixty-seven takes. And taken as a farcical tale, such a reaction is well-deserved. The problem is that these are real-life events; people actually listened to this guy and actually made that terrible film, The Room (2003). That’s not as innocuous as it sounds.