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Entries in The New Classics (17)

Tuesday
Jun 25 2019

The New Classics - The Hurt Locker

Michael Cusumanohere to look back on one of the few classics about the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of its release.

Scene: The Daisy Chain Bomb
When Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker hit theaters in the Summer of 2009 it was sold as an all-thrills,zero-politics experience.Here,the ads promised,was a film that wasn't going to go allValley of Elahon you with ponderous anti-war messages.The trio of soldiers that make up the film's central bomb disposal unit never discuss politics.They defuse the bombs,they don't get to hung up on why they are there in the first place.At no point do any of them sigh during a low moment and wonder,"Man,I don't even know what we're doing here..."

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Tuesday
Jun 18 2019

The New Classics - 20th Century Women

Michael Cusumanohere to thank you for making this post part of your own personal Mike Mills film today.I'm honored.

image via "books in movies"

To watch a Mike Mills movie is to continually ask,"Why don't more people make movies with this much freedom?"

His films deploy everything from news clips to rotating narrators to archival footage from a century ago.The screenplay will jump backwards in time,skimming through the characters' biographies,or forwards to glimpse the details of their death.The focus can zoom in to the most granular details or out to encompass the entire cosmos.I doubt he will ever make a film that doesn't include a shot of the stars.At least I hope he doesn't...

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Tuesday
Jun 11 2019

The New Classics - Blue Ruin

Michael Cusumanohere to nominate aNew Classicthat doesn't get discussed much around these parts.

Scene: Self-surgery
Nolan's Batman trilogy is supposed to be the grounded version of the Bruce Wayne mythology,but really,that movie arrived eight years later in the form of Jeremy Saulnier'sBlue Ruin.

Like Bruce Wayne,Blue Ruin's Dwight Evans (played memorably by Macon Blair) finds himself unable to process the murder of his parents.Unlike the Caped Crusader however,the trauma doesn't set him on the path to becoming a crime-fighting ninja,so much as it leaves him a haunted vagrant who survives by trash-picking down by the boardwalk.When he embarks on a spree of vigilante retribution,Dwight has no lofty ideas about the betterment of society.It's more of an indirect suicide attempt...

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Tuesday
Jun 04 2019

The New Classics - Happy-Go-Lucky

Michael Cusumanohere to discuss a scene I find myself thinking about all the time.

Scene: Scott's meltdown
When you pause to consider how mundane the actual events of Mike Leigh's films usually are,it's funny to think how many moments from them lodge permanently in the memory.Barely a weekend goes by that I don't see some kind of world-ending cataclysm portrayed in expansively budgeted detail and what does my brain return to over and over again?Lesley Manville inAnother Yearretreating to her glass of white wine or David Thewlis inNakedstalking a security guard through the dark to harangue him about the meaning of life.

The famous Mike Leigh technique of crafting screenplays from extensive improvisations yields scenes that unfold with the convinction of real life...

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Tuesday
May 28 2019

The New Classics - Y Tu Mama Tambien

Michael Cusumanohere to add a title that is near and dear to my heart to theNew Classicspantheon

Scene: Epilogue
The Narrator in coming-of-age stories most often represents a grown-up version of the protagonist.ThinkThe SandlotorA Christmas Story,or the quintessential example,The Wonder Years,voices looking back,awash in nostalgia.In Alfonso Cuarón'sY Tu Mamá Tambiénnot only is the narrator not a character,but the voice is indifferent,even coldly clinical in its omniscience,as likely to note the fate of a passing group of wild pigs as to reveal the deepest secrets of the protagonists.

We get used to the voice as a welcome companion throughout the film.Its flat,objective viewpoint is a welcome respite from the main trio's frequent emotional upheavals.Little do we realize we are being set up for the emotional gut punch of the film's epilogue...

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Tuesday
May 21 2019

The New Classics - Collateral

Michael Cusumanohere to take us back to the Summer of 2004 for the latest film to join the ranks ofThe New Classics.

Scene: Jazz Club
WhileCollateralhas both feet down in the realistic,that trademark Michael Mann style is just intoxicating enough to make my mind wander to the mystical.I can't help but view Mann's thriller as a modern retelling of Bergman'sThe Seventh Seal.Tom Cruise's Vincent is the Grim Reaper and Jamie Foxx's Max is von Sydow's knight,granted a temporary reprieve because he has piqued Death's interest...

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