Source — Yelp




May your 2022 be a time of hope, fearlessness, truth-telling, health, grace, and peace.

And welcome to the third edition — and the first-ever New Year’s Day edition — of The Weekender: a weekly confection of notes, links, cinnamon, maple frosting, and bacon.

These posts are a miscellany of things I discovered, enjoyed, thought about, and wrote about over the course of the week — things I didn’t have opportunity to revise and develop into standalone posts. It’s ironic and sad, but the work of teaching writing full-time is a 60+-hours-per-week job, and one of the primary consequences of embracing this work is that, well, I don’t have the time necessary for writing and revising my own stuff. So… here’s what I could assemble this week that you might find interesting.

2022’s movie calendar is a cinephile’s dream…

Are you looking forward to the year of Tilda Swinton? She’s going to be everywhere at the movies in 2022. And that’s just one of the ways in which 2022 looks likely to be unforgettable, according to David Hudson’s extraordinary coming-attractions preview at Criterion.

Imagine you’re invited to a 2022 film festival, and you have time to choose only three movies. Which of these would you choose? (More details about each in the link below.)

– Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s TORI AND LOKITA “will tell the story of a young boy and an adolescent girl who have each traveled alone from Africa to Belgium, where they meet and team up to overcome the harsh conditions of their exile together.”

– Anna Rose Holmer’s GOD’S CREATURES, starring Emily Watson and Paul Mescal

– Rian Johnson’s KNIVES OUT 2, with Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Madelyn Cline, Jessica Henwick, and Ethan Hawke

– Wes Anderson’s sci-fi film ASTEROID CITY. “Swinton, the first to be cast, as well as Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Rupert Friend, Jeffrey Wright, and Liev Schreiber. Newcomers this time around include Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Hope Davis, Matt Dillon, and Maya Hawke.”

– George Miller’s THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton.

– David Fincher’s THE KILLER with Swinton and Michael Fassbender.

– Joshua Oppenheimer’s THE END, starring Swinton, Stephen Graham, and George MacKay.

– SNL’s Julio Torres directs Swinton in a film with Isabella Rossellini and RZA.

– Guillermo del Toro’s PINOCCHIO, starring Swinton as the Fairy with Turquoise Hair

ALSO in 2022:


– Scharader’s MASTER GARDENER, starring Joel Edgerton

– Spielberg’s THE FABLEMANS


– Linklater’s animated APOLLO 10 1/2

– Cronenberg reuinites with Viggo Mortenson for CRIMES OF THE FUTURE

– Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of WHITE NOISE

– Claire Denis directs La Binoche and TITANE’s Vincent London in FIRE

– Malick’s Jesus movie, THE WAY OF THE WIND, will probably, finally get here

– Jonathan Glazer’s ZONE OF INTEREST

– Dominik’s BLONDE … at long last!

– Bradley’s Corbet’s THE BRUTALIST, starring Joel Edgerton, Mark Rylance, Marion Cotillard, Sebastian Stan, and Vanessa Kirby

– Damien Chazelle’s BABYLON stars Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Li Jun Li, Katherine Waterston, Tobey Maguire, Jean Smart, Spike Jonze, Olivia Wilde, Flea, and Max Minghella.

– David O’Russell’s next, starring Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola—and Taylor Swift.

– Kelly Reichardt’s SHOWING UP, with Michelle Williams, Larry Fessenden, John Magaro (First Cow), Judd Hirsch, Maryann Plunkett, Heather Lawless, Amanda Plummer, James Le Gros, André Benjamin, and Hong Chau.

– Todd Field’s “Tár” with Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, and Mark Strong. Did you get that? TODD FIELD IS BACK!!!

– Jordan Peele’s NOPE, starring Daniel Kaluuya

– Ari Aster’s DISAPPOINTMENT BOULEVARD, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan, Parker Posey, Richard Kind, and Meryl Streep.

– Robert Eggers’ THE NORTHMAN, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, Björk, and Ralph Ineson

– Alex Garland’s MEN, starring Jesse Buckley

– Luca Guadagnino’s BONES AND ALL, with Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Jessica Harper, Chloë Sevigny, Francesca Scorsese, and director David Gordon Green.

– Sarah Polley’s WOMEN TALKING, starring Frances McDormand, Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, and Jessie Buckley

– Steven Soderbergh’s KIMI, starring Zoë Kravitz

– Mia Hansen-Løve’s ONE FINE MORNING, starring Léa Seydoux

– Yorgos Lanthimos POOR THINGS, starring Emma Stone, Ramy Youssef, Willem Dafoe, Mark Ruffalo, Margaret Qualley, and Kathryn Hunter.

– Florian Zeller’s THE SON, with Hugh Jackman, Vanessa Kirby, Laura Dern, Zen McGrath, and Anthony Hopkins.

– Darren Aronofsky’s THE WHALE, starring Brendan Fraser, Samantha Morton and Hong Chau.

– Nicole Holofcener’s BETH & DON, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus

– Park Chan-wook’s DECISION TO LEAVE

– Ira Sachs’s PASSAGES with Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, and Adèle Exarchopoulos

– Josephine Decker’s THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE

– Olivier Assayas’s “reimagining of his 1996 feature IRMA VEP” with Alicia Vikander, Jeanne Balibar, Lars Eidinger, Vincent Lacoste, Hippolyte Girardot, Alex Descas, and Carrie Brownstein.

Luci Shaw’s new book should be an inspiration for anyone struggling to write during the pandemic

Last week, I wished a joyous, peaceful, epiphanic, 93rd birthday to my guardian angel: the poet and memoirist Luci N. Shaw.

How does she do it? How does she continue to produce whole volumes of poetry — seemingly every year! — during such demanding and difficult times? She is a role model, a mystery, and an inspiration to me.

I encourage you to pre-order Luci’s new book of poems Angels Everywhere today. You’ll find that Paraclete gave me the privilege and honor of offering a few words of praise by inviting me to share an endorsement there, as follows:

How many collections by Luci Shaw have, over so many decades, tuned the instruments of my imagination to receive the glory of God? I’ve lost count. She is, herself, angelic in how faithfully she visits us with urgent messages, celebratory anthems, visions that inspire awe.

In Angels Everywhere, Shaw is, as ever, eager to translate the testimonies of all things great and small, from the behemoth to a bud on a chestnut bough. Seizing upon searing encounters in nature that she calls “little revelations,” she opens occasions of transcendence. This latest treasury of work is composed in a spirit akin to the artistry of Mary Oliver, Jeanne Murray Walker, and Robert Siegel, and resonant with echoes of Gerard Manley Hopkins — oh! “a fresh cosmology.”

In making of her poetry a liturgy of prayer, I am blessed by her company. Her clear-eyed faith kindles within me a longing “to drink wind free as wine.”

Still working on my year-end lists for 2021, but… C’mon

I always argue that we shouldn’t make our Best Films of the Year list until the year is… you know… over.

And I’m having a dreadful time deciding which one of five great films I’m going to choose as my favorite of 2021. (And I’ve been reading about several more incredible 2021 releases that I need to see as soon as possible.)

But here’s what I want you to know: C’mon C’mon is a movie that is *radiant* with love.

What kind of art would I like to see much, much more of in the world? What kind of art do I believe can make a significant difference?

Art that is curious. Art that is attentive. Art that has eyes wide open, concave like a satellite dish for discerning beauty in the world. Art that listens. Art that is a document of the filmmaker’s search for something meaningful, a document of discoveries rather than a delivery of messages or a working out of agendas. Art that is unflinchingly truthful. Art that is at play with the mysteries of the world, improvisational rather than overly controlled. Art that loves human beings — all ages, colors, genders. Art that loves human creativity and God’s creativity.

In short, art that loves.

This kind of art.

Here are a few thoughts that crossed my mind while watching C’mon C’mon.

. . . . .

With this film, I can say without a doubt that, in the absence of Daniel Day-Lewis, Joaquin Phoenix is my favorite actor working today. And this is my favorite of all of his performances.

. . . . .

Rarely do I see a film after which I sit there until after the credits have rolled, not wanting to leave the theater. Rarely do I find myself thinking, “I want to give the world experiences like this one.”

. . . . .

What is going on with black-and-white films in 2021? Passing. Belfast. The Tragedy of Macbeth. C’mon C’mon. I don’t understand the trend… but I am loving it.

. . . . .

More film scores by the Dessners, please.

. . . . .

Mike Mills is slowly and steadily rising toward the top of my list of favorite American filmmakers. I love his passion for stories of multi-generational families. I love his passion for cherishing the possibility of love in a context that the movies so commonly treated with cynicism. Seeing the world through his eyes is always a healing experience for me.

. . . . .

“My function is to make whoever sees my films aware of his need to love and to give his love, and aware that beauty is summoning him.” – Andrei Tarkovsky

C’mon C’mon makes me aware of my need to give love and my need to receive love. It also makes me aware that beauty is summoning me. It’s one of the most loving movies I’ve seen in recent memory.

It is now available streaming for a rental price that’s less than the cost of two typical movie tickets. Ideally, you saw this during its very brief theatrical run. If not, watch it on the biggest screen you can. It will move you.

Azor is one of the year’s quietest and most unsettling surprises

“Imagine if Graham Greene rewrote Apocalypse Now….” – Nick James, Sight and Sound.


I’d have to look back a long way to find a film that gave me this particular buzz of “Wow — finally, a movie for adults who enjoy thinking.” The tension in this film is exquisitely cultivated. It’s particularly scary because it feels so true to life, refusing to ever provide expository dialogue or dumb things down to explain itself.

[Image from the MUBI trailer for Azor.]
This movie made me feel ignorant in a way that I’ve come to find thrilling: It made me want to learn more about situations, politics, vocations, and paradigms I now little to nothing about, but that I know are more important and more influential than 99% of what makes headlines. I don’t know much (okay, anything) about the power games at the highest echelons of the Swiss banking world, or how they influence ongoing colonialist oppression and corruption in regions I’ve never studied or visited. (I know, for example, embarrassingly little about the history — or the present, for that matter — of Buenos Aires.)

But this movie made me want to understand its social-political quandaries, even as it threw fuel on the fires of my existential dread about an encroaching age of unprecedented tribulation in a world terrorized by “beasts” (to borrow this film’s term). Imagine Michael Mann directing his subtlest, quietest film about a criminal underworld, with a script by Cormac McCarthy, and you’re in the ballpark. The films I thought about most were The Counselor and No Country for Old Men. This is probably the scariest movie of 2021, partly because I believe its warnings and revelations are True.

[Image from the MUBI trailer for Azor.]
It’s also one of those rare and powerful films that exemplifies the “less is more” principle, one that is almost always true in cinema.

And Fabrizio Rongione is fantastic.

Licorice Pizza is a high-spirited story of growing up in a world of fraudulent show business

My relationship with every PTA film changes over time. I’m usually enchanted or awestruck from the start, and then my admiration deepens into rewarding endeavors of interpretation. But not always. I admire Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice, but I don’t particularly enjoy them the way I do Phantom Thread or find anything personally resonant in them as I do with Magnolia.

My relationship with Licorice Pizza is off to a rocky start.

I admired a great deal about it as it played: production design, performances, surprises.

[Image from the MGM trailer.]
But, unlike Punch-drunk Love and Phantom Thread, the other two PTA romances, both of which I’ve fallen madly in love with, this movie — in its jarringly episodic nature, in its rough and grimy aesthetic, and in its web of alarming and exploitative relationships — I can’t say I ever settled into enjoying this one. I wasn’t enchanted; I was on edge and often aggravated. It has some fantastic sequences. It’s glowing with passion, full of scenarios that could only have been inspired by personal experiences. And it’s a circus of “Spot the allusion!’ and “Note the influence!” (you’ll probably think of Robert Altman films, Taxi Driver, Almost Famous, Rushmore, The Graduate, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, and PTA’s own previous films). But I was so often annoyed by the characters that I found myself checking my watch at the 90-minute mark and a little itchy to get out of town.

Every relationship in this movie is fractured by an imbalance of power — Alana (Alaina Haim) is too old for Gary (Cooper Hoffman), Jerry Frick (John Michael Higgins) is disrespectful to his wives, Wachs (Bennie Safdie) has to confine his lover to save face with voters. And then there’s the way a movie star (Sean Penn) can so easily exploit a lonely and uncertain young woman’s longing for affirmation.

[Image from the MGM trailer.]
Everyone is faking expertise in something — Alana fakes her skills and spoken languages in talent interviews, Jerry Frick fakes speaking Japanese, Gary fakes knowing how to to drive, Jon Peters (Bradley Cooper) is just a complete and total fake, etc.

So I find it strange that any critic would single out a particular character or relationship dynamic as inappropriate or singularly cringey. Everything about this world is unfortunate and inappropriate and more than a little cringey. It’s a hall of mirrors, this web of relationships; that appalling Frick and his Japanese wife (either one) are Gary and Alana… are Joel Wachs and Matthew. Fakery and abuse seems to be the standard in this context of 1973 showbiz. Everyone’s being mistreated, and those doing the mistreating are obviously buffoons (at best) or monsters (at worst). Sex has become so toxic in this context that the story focuses instead on the idea that a love affair can flourish without it — and, in some cases, might only exist so long as they abstain.

Perhaps the title, beyond its direct inspiration (the record store glimpsed in Fast Times, is a reference to two things that shouldn’t go together and yet it will work for one or two people out there. Have you ever had a relationship in which there is a certain and singular sexual tension, and you both know you’re a little bit in love, but you also know that it can only exist in that state, and any “step” would cause a stumble and a fall? There’s something like that happening here. Gary and Alana can’t bear the thought of anyone else becoming the other’s confidant and intimate, and they’re jealous to see each other with anybody else, but they also know that they’d better remain more platonic than erotic together. I get that.

[Image from the MGM trailer.]
And in that context, if a 15-year-old boy and a 25-year-old young woman discover some kind of inexplicable connection or chemistry — it’s not Harold & Maude, but it works for them (even if Gary’s as surprised by it as Alana is unsettled by it) — maybe we should be more inclined to hope that they can develop some kind of helpful and meaningful relationship in the madness, rather than just have an attack of age-gap cooties. Gary’s idealism and irrepressible industriousness are strangely appealing to the bored and insecure young Alana, and Alana’s proximity and availability and loneliness make her an appealing prospect for Gary’s eager attention-seeking.

And so, the enterprising boy and the affirmation-seeking girl need each other — that can’t be too hard to understand. No, it’s not a healthy relationship — they’re dishonest with each other, disrespectful, selfish, unfaithful, and often downright mean. I’m not inspired by either of them. But maybe this isn’t a story about inspirational figures or swoon-worthy love stories. Maybe it’s about growing up in a chaotic and cruel world and lunging for whatever kind of relationship drug is going to bring out a better version of you and save you from the types of relationship drugs that are sure to wreck you. Maybe it’s about how, when all avenues that the world offers us prove to be fraudulent and dehumanizing, we have to dream up a place of our own to figure things out. In that sense, there might be a little Moonrise Kingdom happening here, too.

Unlike Sam and Suzie in Moonrise Kingdom, Alana and Gary aren’t a couple whose company I enjoy, and I won’t be eager to revisit them. But they make me hope they can find a way through seasons of awkwardness, misfortune, hormonal chaos, and a sorry dearth of options. They need each other, and I’m glad they have each other. But I do hope they find better tomorrows. To borrow a line from Rowlf the Dog — “I hope that somethin’ better comes along.” For both of them.