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Things are Changing Fast – And Other Things I Learned at a Night at the Movies

“Die, white boy,” said a loud voice behind me when one of the white characters, a good guy, was finally taken out. I won’t tell you which one, lest I be accused of a spoiler, but suffice it to say there are many different kinds of people in Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to the overnight success of the first film, The Purge. It was probably the most ethnically diverse cast I’ve seen in a while, a cast that mirrored the demographics of the audience I was sitting with. The minority in the house, no doubt about it, were the white people. This was in downtown Burbank, a smaller offshoot city near Los Angeles, otherwise known as that rolling mass of flat suburban wasteland: “the valley.” If you’re a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson you are already well acquainted with “the valley.” He romanticized it a bit. It is the part of the city where I now prefer to live, as I can’t tolerate the hipsters in Silverlake, the annoying yoga/organic/entitlement culture of the Westside (the worst drivers, the worst traffic), nor the tattooed posers in Hollywood. So the valley it is. NO one really wants to live here so it is nice and emptied out. You can Lebowski to your heart’s content here — shop for groceries in your bathrobe or tool around town in a beater car. No one notices status. No one cares if you have a back tattoo or not and no one is honking at you for cutting them off, flipping you the bird from the quiet airy confines of their hybrid Lexus. I would live in Malibu if I could afford it. Then again, they don’t want no Lebowskis in Malibu.

After another sweaty afternoon trying to beat the impossible (but dry) heat, my niece presented herself at my doorstep. A wisp of a 17-year-old who is always in the know about everything, who says things like “I’ll just Uber there and then Uber back. No big. It’s cheap AF.” My daughter, on the other hand, a much taller 16-year-old was busy sewing her cosplay outfit for Comic-Con next weekend and never says things like that because it would never occur to her that there was such a thing as Uber. They are as different as a hot cup of black coffee and a frosty glass of strawberry lemonade but they are as close as sisters. “Want to see The Purge,” the niece said, wherein Uber was invoked. But I’m not quite ready to surrender teenage girls to Uber so I agreed to take them. It didn’t occur to me until later, too much later, that this was Friday night we were talking about. Friday night at the most hotly sought-after ticket to a movie that teenagers wanted to see. I was a mom taking two teens to a movie on Friday night. I didn’t belong. It would be like seeing a farm animal in a supermarket. But I didn’t really want to sit in a baking apartment either. Besides, Uber? Really? I would drive them. I would do one last parental act on a couple of young women who have really outgrown this whole dynamic, which rips my heart in two. I have been taking my daughter to the movies since she was six months old. That’s what you do when you’re a parent. You take your kids to the movies.

As a blogger and sometime “critic,” though I hate the term because I am not one, I spend most of my movie going experiences amid other bloggers, industry types, critics and wanna be critics. They sit mostly silently. They rarely applaud anything. And they’re poker-faced, for the most part. Essentially in their collective effort to be “critical” of movies they have mostly robbed the fun out of the experience. This suits one well for a quiet movie like Boyhood, for instance. Who wants to sit there watching a movie like that with a guy who says things like “Die white boy” sitting behind you? But for a movie like The Purge: Anarchy or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes you want a big crowd of people for whom these movies were intended. And I can tell you, The Purge: Anarchy is not really a movie aimed at critics. Neither is Tammy, nor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (though the critics loved that one).

The biggest difference, probably, between my poker-faced familia and this Friday night movie crowd was the color of everyone’s skin. My crowd is probably 95% white. This crowd was easily 80% Hispanic. But it was a mix, to be sure, of many different ethnicities. I’d recently read the MPAA’s most recent movie going status report which show, as a Hispanics are the ethnic group most likely to buy movie tickets. I find this somewhat surprising, given that Hollywood doesn’t give Hispanics much of a mirror image of themselves. That is, if Hispanics think of themselves as a demographic. They probably don’t. They probably think of themselves as just plain old movie goers who like all of the big stars like Mark Wahlberg and Johnny Depp, whether they are Hispanic or not. One can’t be sure of anything where vast generalities are concerned. One can only speak about one’s own personal experience. As a woman I see very little in the way of good female characters. It depresses me.

What I do know is that I’ve been railing against the 14-year-old boy demographic for years — if they aren’t the biggest ticket buying group I have to rethink that. Moreover, I can’t be that Gran Torino crowing about Hispanics and their tastes at the movies. So I have to just shut about it all, I suppose. Either way, there we were, by far the minority in this audience. Teenagers were everywhere but there were also adults of many different ages, couples, date night and elderly. There were no babies, but there was an omnipresent armed security guard at the door.

There were many lit-up cell phones and chatter before the movie started, but once it did the audience quieted down and became completely wrapped up in this violent but entertaining fantasy about the 1% and our government out on a night of purging, the one day a year people can commit any crime, “including murder” and get away with it. The purge is supposed to make you feel cleansed of your hatred so that the country can go on peacefully for the rest of the year. It is icky and subversive, very confrontational and seemed to scratch the itch this audience had — every time someone bad was bumped off the audience erupted in applause. They loved the lead dude: He’s got guns, he knows how to use them.

The Purge: Anarchy is a fun night at the movies for sure. If you’re going to shell out $15 clams for a movie it better deliver, that was what I got from this crowd. They would have a low tolerance threshold for a movie that didn’t deliver. The Purge: Anarchy has a good message, too. It is anti-purge, of course, as it should be, even if sometimes you start wondering what you would do in that instance. Would you kill? It also has a decidedly anti-gun message. It lampoons America’s fetish for guns and violence and absolutely saves its most vicious attacks for 1%. At one point it started to feel like the beginning of something — a kind of revolution of sorts. Could the people actually rise up? Would they? The people in our country who are most like to rise up are those who stockpile weapons in their bunkers for fear of the government taking their guns away.

The radical gap between the audience I saw this film with – aka the ticket buyers — and the cloistered, closed-off world of the critics I watched movies with at Cannes and will continue to watch movies with throughout the year is startling. I would urge more of those who write about movies to actually go to movies, with audiences, not just with handpicked snowflakes. I suspect, if more critics saw what audiences were like they would judge movies meant for those audiences (and not for critics) differently.

For so many of us, a movie like Transformers is the end of everything. It signals the utter breakdown of cinema as we know it. Would this crowd have sat still for any of the Best Picture nominees last year? I like to think they would have gotten very involved in 12 Years a Slave, if they’d gotten a chance to see it. But mostly what I got from them was this: these are middle-class, hard-working people who just want to go out and have a good time on Friday night, make a real night of it, with popcorn and soda — do you remember those days? I have to reach back pretty far but I do remember those days. That is how I grew up — in the theater, watching movies, making a night of it every Friday.

It isn’t that adults don’t go to the movies anymore. It’s that fewer and fewer white adults go to the movies, not nearly as many as other ethnic groups. And no, I can’t judge all of movie culture from one night at the movies but it was an eye-opener, to be sure, regarding some of the generalities I sling around on a daily basis. I will have to rethink a few things about where I think movies are headed.

Either way, Snowpiercer and The Purge: Anarchy, and even Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are all about one thing: the oppressed rising up. If I were part of the ruling class I might start to feel a little uncomfortable right about now.

As for the teens, both declared The Purge: Anarchy a good movie. They liked it as much, if not more, than the first one. They were embarrassed that they brought me along, I could tell. They did me one last favor, one last summer night, escaping the unbearable heat of the valley and disappearing into a forgotten world.

65 Comments on this Post

  1. The Fast and Furious movies are successful for some of the reasons mentioned above. They are very ethnically diverse as well and women have important roles in them. Anybody in the audience(regardless of race or gender) can find someone in the movie that they can relate to.

  2. Vincent

    “Die, white boy.” Not racist. If a white viewer hollered in a theatre, “die, black boy,” well … I think we all know what would happen and what would be written on this site.

  3. Bill W.

    You don’t have air conditioning in the Valley?

  4. Bill W.

    I live in the valley area as well, just next to Burbank in Glendale, and many of the residences here only have wall units rather than central AC (including mine). Even with 2 wall units on either side of the living room it still gets pretty damn warm here, and half the time I’m not trying to run them both all day and rack up an insane electrical bill. So yeah, sitting in “a baking apartment” is something I definitely can relate to.

  5. This article harkens back to your Cannes Diaries, opening up your soul and letting us journey with you as you take your daughter to the movies ‘one last time’. Loved reading it. Please write more like this.

  6. mileshigh

    Sasha, great advice about why movie writers should watch a movie with a paying audience. I poll for CinemaScore sometimes and worked at a theater for a few years. Both experience improved my film analysis. Interacting with an audience is a wake up call for sheltered press. BTW, the most ethnically diverse audience I have seen in a VERY long time was SON OF GOD. Ironically, I was in the minority as a white male watching a Jesus movie.

  7. Philipp

    Another fine piece of writing. Your personal approach pulled me in once again.

    I don’t have a problem that movies like The Purge are made for the big crowd. But we’ll probably see this franchise continue as we saw that with Saw and Paranormal Activity. So it’s like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey pointed out in their opening monologue at the Globes: “This is Hollywood, so if something kind of works, they’ll just keep doing it until everyone hates it.”

    A good thing to do would be if the studios invest some of the money they earn from crowdpleasers or big tentpole movies in smaller, more challenging projects. But after reading Anne Thompson’s book I doubt that.

  8. Such an interesting piece, Sasha. I really appreciate your observations and how effortlessly you talk about them. I love when you write pieces like this. They’re beautiful.

  9. I saw this excellent “B movie” in a theater where whites were also the minority. There was no reaction like the “Die, white boy” in your audience. In fact some in the audience voiced disappointment. I wonder if there is slightly less division in NYC. Most in LA are in cars and different ethnic groups are not forced to interact as much as in NYC (Ex. the subway).

  10. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    There was no reaction like the “Die, white boy” in your audience. In fact some in the audience voiced disappointment. I wonder if there is slightly less division in NYC.

    Or it’s possible that the guy in Burbank is a unique individual and maybe he does not have a corresponding representative in every city across the country.

    (Although when I saw Django Unchained on Christmas Day two years ago, about 30 of these guys were in the audience. In fact the whole auditorium cheered like bloodthirsty hyenas when one of the southern women took a shotgun blast in the stomach so hard that it blew her right out of the foyer — and we had never seen her do any harm to anyone. In Tarantino’s world, she just needed to be brutally exterminated purely on the basis of her whiteness, and everyone thought that was fine and dandy. heck, that shit won an Oscar.)

  11. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Most in LA are in cars and different ethnic groups are not forced to interact as much as in NYC

    I spent a lot of time in LA, and I was hardly ever in a car, and all the very best interactions I had both those summers were with people of color, so I think this tidy theory doesn’t hold a lot of water.

    You say people of all ethic groups are “forced to interact” in NYC? Gosh that sounds really convivial.

  12. Richard B

    Nice write- up. I understand The Purge’ a purpose at the box office, but given the original concept it’s frustrating it didn’t strive for better.

  13. My goodness Ryan I was so not looking to argue of for such a snide response. I totally agree it could just be a random individual.

    As for being forced, I said people are forced. Not I am forced. I live in NYC because I love diversity. I wasn’t trying to have “a tidy theory”. It was just a post of some thoughts I had. You could have made your points without the snark.

  14. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    My fault. I totally misread your meaning. At first glance it seemed to me like you meant to say LA people are tucked away safely in their cars and therefore never have to come into contact with other ethic groups so that’s why movie audiences in LA are so divisive. Consequently LA people let it slip out that they want people of other races to die.

    Seemed like a really exreme message to take away from Sasha’s story of an isolated incident of someone blurting out a crude wisecrack as a joke.

    Your reply also seemed to say that, thanks to the NYC subway system, nobody ever gets murdered by anyone of another race in New York.

    I took what you said at face value — the same way you took “Die white boy” at face value. Maybe you and I both need to stop being so literal?

    Sasha has thoughts, you have thoughts, I have thoughts. I’d rather be accused of snark than to float theories that might hurt the feelings of LA residents.

    I base my opinions on my own experience, so I thought it was fair to point out that people in LA do get out of their cars and I know for a fact that people of all races do come face to face to with one another in LA.

    Sorry to make you mad, though, Karl. Why are we fighting? You’re white, I’m white. We should be best friends. :)

  15. Ok I need to add something. I shouldn’t let a response to my posting upset me so much but I’m sensitive. And the reaction and judgement of me is so off base. I wasn’t trying to make an “argument” or a thesis statement. I was just having my coffee and enjoying Sasha’s excellent article. What I wrote were only thoughts. I lived in LA for several years and remember less human interaction. Although that was many years ago and I’m sure there is more cultural crossover. I had the same experiences as Ryan had in that the majority of my interactions were of those who look different than me, but I still noticed more of a separation of races at that time (again a very long time ago). What hurt me most was Ryan’s assumption that I don’t like inteacting with other ethnic groups, especially after teaching English in Dominican Republic and having a mom whose last name is Torres (my ex-stepfather was Puerto Rican).

    I just have to remember posting on the internet can result in reactionary post (me included). Sorry for all this but I need to PURGE my feelings before my 2nd viewing of Boyhood. I will continue to be a loyal listener to the podcast and reader of site. I’ll just be more more careful about posting as I don’t want to be misunderstood and my skin is too thin (when it comes to this). I think it would have hurt less if it wasn’t coming from Ryan who I have enjoyed listening to and reading articles in the past. Ok PURGED

  16. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I apologize for coming on so strong. I was going to email you to say I was sorry, but it’s better to do it right here in the open.

    I’m Sorry. I bristled up at the suggestion that LA people are culturally more inclined to violence between the races and the freeway system might be to blame.

    But you were only making a casual observation, Karl. I see that now. I was wrong. I didn’t recognize you because you don’t comment often on the main site here.

    Friends?

  17. Ok just read your response Ryan. How do you know I’m white? That last sentence of yours was so bitchy. Congrats

  18. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Karl, I encourage you to say I’m bitchy or any other insult you want to throw at me, ok? Keep doing that till you think you’ve evened the score between us and then perhaps we can reach the Purge Utopia we’re both striving to attain.

  19. You certainly win on the personal insults. Don’t worry.

  20. ubourgeois

    I’m struggling with determining the point of this piece. People who aren’t white watch movies? Some movies have primarily commercial goals? Teenagers like movies, just like they have for decades? Which one of these is a revelation? Like I’m glad you had a wonderful learning experience here but I don’t understand why this is a grand conclusion.

  21. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I’m struggling with determining the point of this piece. People who aren’t white watch movies?

    You might not be struggling so hard if you would read more carefully. Trust me, please believe me, I swear to you that we all know people who aren’t white watch movies. (Do you honestly think Sasha didn’t know that, or are you just trying extra hard to pretend that you think Sasha is an idiot? I’m not buying it.)

    If you have time to stop jumping to absurd and mean-spirited conclusions, you should go back and read that paragraph more closely:

    Sasha is only surprised to see that “the MPAA’s most recent movie-going status report shows that Hispanics are the ethnic group most likely to buy movie tickets.”

    Was this common knowledge? Is this a factoid that everyone except me and Sasha has known for months? Because I was surprised too. It’s not a big thing, and it’s a NEW thing, in fact it’s a very recent development, but it is a thing.

    The thing is this (and it’s actually a bit tricky express accurately): There’s a high percentage of Hispanic moviegoers in the Hispanic community. Higher than the percentage of white moviegoers in the white community, higher than the percentage of black moviegoers in the black community, etc.

    That fact surprised Sasha when she read it this week — and I’m not ashamed to admit that it surprised me too, when I read it 2 days ago.

    Interesting. I wouldn’t call it a “revelation,” ubourgeois, but if it tickles you to use that word so you can frame it to make us look like idiots, then go right ahead, enjoy your fun. Fun to ride a high horse, isn’t it? Go right ahead.

    If you knew this fact all along then it’s sort of cruel of you to lord it over the rest of us imbeciles, but I understand that you were just waiting for us to reveal how stupid we all are so then you could come along and look like a genius. I envy the sense of self-satisfaction this must be giving you right now.

  22. I told you you were a snob. :P

    I didn’t see this one and I’ll probably wait until video although I like the premise and Frank Grillo very much. I’m just not able to get to movies as often this year. I thought the premise of the first was great but then by the end it devolved into a “there’s someone in the house” movie.

    I’ve pointed out before how the action movies like the ones Stallone and Schwarzenegger have been making the past few years (don’t see Sabotage) have really diverse casts. It’s the hoity toity crap you usually go to that doesn’t have any ethnic people in it. So when you’re complaining about the state of movies, you’re complaining about the state of “Oscar movies” and what’s worse is as an Oscar blogger, you’re actually one of the people picking them.

  23. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    “…what’s worse is as an Oscar blogger, you’re actually one of the people picking them.”

    to play Devil’s Advocate (which in many ways is an synonym for “Oscar blogger”) in order to do conscientious Oscar coverage we have to be realistic about what we know to be true of the Academy. We also have a large number of readers who rely on years of Oscar experience to guide people to plausible Oscar outcomes. (I fail in that regard all time, like last year when I wouldn’t let go of Fruitvale Station and Inside Llewyn Davis, which were my own personal pipe dreams but had no connection to Oscar reality). Lastly, we know by now that Oscar advocacy can only go so far. A certain (diminishing) slice of Oscar voters do seem to need to be spoonfed a playlist of Oscar screeners, but they pretty much refuse, resist and reject anything anyone tries to force down their throats.

  24. Uborgeois I think one of the points of the article is that those that write about film are in the insular bubble of the screening room. Sadly the writers of film criticism do not reflect the diversity of the United States. They seem to be majority male and white (with some exceptions ; Sasha thankfully being one of them). I imagine Sasha sees a lot of films with these film critics and her experience seeing a movie with a paying audience was thus an eye opener.

    Latinos making up the majority of filmgoers does not surprise me, as I’ve observed this going to the movies over the years. When I have been invited to critics screenings by friends, this has not been the case. It’s understandable to see why some might be surprised. Hollywood is slowly trying to target this demographic more with film like Paranormal Activity – The Marked Ones.

    In any case I thought it was a great write up by Sasha. I’m very happy that Snowpiercer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and surprisingly now The Purge : Anarchy has given some interesting insights on how film can mirror the reality of the oppressed in films that are also entertaining (albeit in a dark way).

  25. Nope. Sorry. Last year was the proof in the pudding. It was supposed to be such a great year with so many choices that it was supposed to be the most unpredictable Oscar in years. And in the end they lined up like sheep and did exactly what they were told. You guys should take that knowledge and push for whatever you want. You want to dump all the movies that only have white people in them, then don’t talk them up. You want DotPotA to win, start now and don’t stop. I’m serious. I 100% believe it’s the Oscar pundits choosing for them. They don’t know or care. Pick what you want and tell them they have no choice in the matter. At this point, I’m assuming BOYHOOD is the Oscar winner next year. If you guys change your minds in September, then it’ll be whatever that movie is. It’s up to you.

  26. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    “Latinos making up the majority of filmgoers does not surprise me

    It should surprise you though, because it’s not true. Not true at all. I don’t want to squabble anymore, Karl, but Latinos Do Not make up the majority of filmakers. Latinos represent only 20% of American moviegoers.

    That’s why I tried to say: The wording is tricky, but words do have meaning. The MPPA report says this:

    “Hispanics are more likely than any other ethnic group to go to movies”

    I rephrased that fact another way in my own words: “There’s a high percentage of Hispanic moviegoers within the Hispanic community. Higher than the percentage of white moviegoers within the white community, higher than the percentage of black moviegoers within the black community, etc.

    The part in italics is important. Let’s look at a math example. Say maybe 90% of all Latino Americans go to the movies. (Not true, that’s absurd, but let’s go nuts and say so anyway). And then let’s say only 20% of Caucasians go to the movies. (Absurdly low ball.)

    But Hispanic/Latino Americans represent only 17% of the US population.
    There are 50 million Latinos in America… 95% of 50 mil = 45 million Latino Americans.
    There are 300 million Caucasians in America… 20% of 200 mil = 60 million White Americans.

    See how the math works? But it’s still absolutely true and factually correct to say “Hispanics are more likely to be moviegoers that any other ethnic group”

    I used extreme disparity in movie-going habits in that example in order to make the point more strongly, but here are the actual factual figures:

    59% of American moviegoers are White
    20% of American moviegoers are Latino.
    13% of American moviegoers are Black.
    8% of American moviegoers are something other than White, Latino or Black.

    Here’s the MPAA chart. It’s not mysterious or complicated.

    As a GROUP, Hispanic Americans over-perform as moviegoers relative to their numbers in the general population.
    As a GROUP, White Americans under-perform as moviegoers relative to their numbers in the general population.

    But in real numbers, 3x as many white people go to the movies as Latino Americans.
    1/3 the number of Latino Americans go to the movies as White Americans.

    We’re not arguing, ok Karl? I’m just clarifying what Sasha wrote, quoting verbatim what the MPAA says, and illustrating in as many ways I can think of to convey what the actual numbers show. Because it’s easy to be misled or get confused by the tricky wording.

  27. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    One more thing, I sincerely believe that the MPAA report was carefully worded to convey this reality: Latino/Hispanic moviegoers are a growing force at the box-office. Year after year, the percentage of White moviegoers is in decline, and the percentage of Latino moviegoers is on the rise.

    If Latino Americans already represent the 2nd largest group of moviegoers (with only 17% of population) then oh my god, think of the clout Latino moviegoers will have in 30 years when Latinos are expected to become the majority in the overall population of the USA.

    The MPAA sees this coming and they have phrased their report in such a way that it specifically highlights the importance of Latino moviegoers.

    So please, Karl, I hope you don’t think I’m trying to resist facing this reality. Sasha knows that my very first gay partner was Mexican-American and we were together for over 5 years. Romantically, I’ve never had a white partner in my life.

    I’m not some repulsive white supremacy guy, alright? Heck, I welcome our future Latino overlords :) The steady decline of the overbearing power of white dominance in this country will be the best thing that happened to America since the advent of Blu-rays.

  28. I didn’t take it as arguing. The wording is tricky. Thanks for clarifying.

  29. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Last year was the proof in the pudding. It was supposed to be such a great year with so many choices that it was supposed to be the most unpredictable Oscar in years. And in the end they lined up like sheep and did exactly what they were told. You guys should take that knowledge and push for whatever you want.

    I pushed for exactly what I wanted last year and for once what I wanted is what we got. It would’ve been a travesty if 12 Years a Slave had not won Best Picture. That’s what we wanted here at AD and that’s what happened. I like to hope it would have happened whether we pushed so hard or not, but it’s flattering to think we had some influence.

    You want DotPotA to win, start now and don’t stop. I’m serious

    You lost me, Antoinette… DotPotA?

    You want to dump all the movies that only have white people in them…

    um, whoa. We can’t do that. What would that leave us with? The Bronze people of Exodus: Gods and Kings?

  30. Al Robinson

    I’m guessing she means “fill in the black here _________ movie.”

  31. Al Robinson

    Geez, I misspelled blank as black.

  32. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    You lost me, Antoinette… DotPotA?

    oh wait, I get it now: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

    I’m guessing she means “fill in the black here _________

    um… well, that’s one way to ensure diversity…

    :)

  33. Al Robinson

    Ah, yes, that makes more sense.

  34. Al Robinson

    See, now that’s a great joke. I walked right into that one. Ha ha! :-)

  35. Bryce Forestieri

    Congrats, Ryan. You’ve just shown off your chops to teach at the blockhead kinder garden. #patience
    I am a Latino and feel offended.

  36. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I’ve said something that bothered you, Bryce? Which thing(s)? I can explain myself all night if I need to :)

  37. Bryce Forestieri

    Ha none at all. You know me better than that :)
    Just genuinely marveling at your explanatory prowess.
    I never saw no tricky wording…

  38. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    ah, ok, whew. I should let my shields down.

    If I haven’t offended you yet, stand by and see what happens. Who knows what I might say next!

  39. Bryce Forestieri

    I’m only touchy in equal measure about Friedkin’s BOYS IN THE BAND and Cuaron’s GRAVITY, but we’ve had those scrimmages.

  40. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I’ve nearly forgotten whatever used to bother me about those two movies. You helped talked me away from the ledge and anyway I found all kinds of new movies to be petulant about.

  41. Bryce Forestieri

    I think it went something like this, let me frame it a la Strindberg

    Ryan: I love GRAVITY, but I have a few minor quibbles with it

    Bryce: That’s fucking unacceptable

    Fun times :)

    Oh one more thing

    ENEMY>1000x>PRISONERS

    Check it out, everyone.

    I also saw I, ORIGINS, it’s sci-fi and the big revelation is that the protagonist Ian-something will, at some point, marry Frances Ha, of this I’m sure, and the New Age will conclude, off-screen.

  42. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    (I’ll tell you what though, Bryce, I thought a lot about The Boys in the band when I was watching A Normal Heart, and I really do think I’ve come around to your way of seeing things. A Normal Heart was sometimes uncomfortable too, but there’s never any doubt that it’s a genuine reflection of it’s own time and place. Some of the attitudes might make me wince but they’re undeniably the real deal, right?

    The same goes for The Boys in the Band. It’s not right of me to assess those two stage plays through the filter of today’s mentality. I want to watch The Boys in the Band again now. I plan to study the special features on the DVD and listen to Friedkin’s commentary track. I’m going to approach it as a document of its era and try to discard my own flawed assumption that it’s a relic. It’s not a relic. It’s an important artifact.

  43. Al Robinson

    Ryan, I think you also hadn’t like Gravity because you didn’t like George Clooney photobombing the first 30 – 40 minutes. :-)

  44. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Enemy is to Prisoners as Upstream Color is to Primer. (and I like all 4 of those). But you know what I mean. Enemy and Upstream Color are next-level existential brain ticklers.

  45. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    ok ok stop reminding me that Danny Ocean was in Gravity.

    (in all seriousness, it was Craig Kennedy who called The Ghost of Clooney Past a ‘photobomb’. That scene was actually one of my very favorite parts of the screenplay. It made a lot of psychological sense to me).

    ===
    There must be some way to get this discussion back on topic, back to what Sasha is writing about. Maybe if I shut up for a few hours.

  46. Al Robinson

    Ok. ;-)

    BTW, I have never minded his mindless chatter in that movie. But, it could be because I like his voice.

  47. Al Robinson

    Oh yeah. That’s right, it was Craig. Whoops. :-)

    Yeah, that opening scene is just spectacular. Of course, I think the whole movie is spectacular.

  48. Al Robinson

    I’ll be quiet too. ;-)

  49. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    his mindless chatter in that movie.

    It was wrong for me to ever characterize it in those terms. It’s not like 2001: A Space Odyssey isn’t loaded with banal conversations. It’s a time-honored way to make characters relatable and to lull us into a hypnotic false sense of security.

    Nothing can compare with the mindless chatter of CNN speculating around-the-clock about airline disasters.

  50. Bryce Forestieri

    Ryan, I’ve never listened to the commentary. I bet he addresses many things he came to grapple with afterwards, Friedkin I mean. I love his control over movement especially during the most chaotic bits; at the same time he seems at his most unrestrained. I’m sure he talks about style/formal decisions, but what else? the whole thing is so contained I have no idea how it lends itself to a feature-length commentary. I’ll seek it out.

    At another level we can legitimately question whether either film is a successful ‘adaptation’ or not, but yeah.

  51. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    we can legitimately question whether either film is a successful ‘adaptation’

    as with A Normal Heart, I feel like I’m standing on squishy ground to question an adaptation when the original author is involved.

  52. Bryce Forestieri

    “I feel like I’m standing on squishy ground to question an adaptation when the original author is involved.”

    That’s true, and to me all the notorious directorial choices in NORMAL HEART are justified when I think about them as visceral substitutes of the theater’s immediacy. I’m thinking the saturated colors (the milk spilling), the horror-like score and camera movements (beach sequence), and the decision to have the exchanges be loud, unadulterated and prolonged, but unlike Polanski in CARNAGE, often in wide long takes (loud exchanges).

  53. Bryce, I just watched Enemy on Saturday and I FUCKING loved it! I posted on Facebook this morning “Enemy is like Hitchcock married Kafka and had an affair with a clarinet.” And I’m sure everyone else has said the exact same thing. I wasn’t always satisfied with the movie but my god did I love it. That shot of “Daniel” hunched over on his motorcycle, just observing, would be in my top 10 or 20 shots of that year. I also watched half of Under the Skin last night. I’ll finish the rest of it tonight. Talk about being floored and creeped out…I think using multiple GoPro cameras on real people gave the movie an ultra verite style, which isn’t seen too often in this sort of genre unless it’s “found footage” which this was not. Between the music in Enemy and the music in Under the Skin (those hard strings) my weekend was incredibly creepy. And Upstream Color! That quickly became one of my favorites. If I want my brain to explode I should watch all three of those movies one evening :)

    I am way…way too enthusiastic for a Monday morning.

  54. Sorry, *Anthony, not Daniel

  55. Mikhail Shurygin
  56. Mikael

    Great piece

  57. joeyhegele

    “Although when I saw Django Unchained on Christmas Day two years ago, about 30 of these guys were in the audience. In fact the whole auditorium cheered like bloodthirsty hyenas when one of the southern women took a shotgun blast in the stomach so hard that it blew her right out of the foyer — and we had never seen her do any harm to anyone. In Tarantino’s world, she just needed to be brutally exterminated purely on the basis of her whiteness, and everyone thought that was fine and dandy. heck, that shit won an Oscar.”
    –Ryan Adams

    To think, the Academy thought that putrid piece of shit screenplay deserved an Oscar over Zero Dark Thirty, Moonrise Kingdom, or Amour, or un-nominated screenplays like The Master, Rust and Bone, or a number of others.

  58. Bryce Forestieri

    You guys like UPSTREAM COLOR a whole lot about me. I consider ENEMY a return to form for Villeneuve.

    Kane, have you had the opportunity to see some of his previous films? INCENDIES made quite a splash internationally and deservedly so, but his previous effort POLYTECHNIQUE was just as brilliant; a balanced yet gut-wrenching observation which -unlike anything by Greengrass- successfully adapts the docu-vocabulary to cinematic recreations. Top-notch camera work.

  59. Joeyhegele, although I am a fan of Django Unchained, it never deserved that Oscar for writing. If Django Unchained and Flight were taken out and The Master and Looper were put in, I’d say that is the strongest lineup of original screenplay nominees in some time. Of the nominated, I’d give it to Zero Dark Thirty. Overall, The Master all the way.

    Bryce, sadly I am not well versed in Villeneuve-ese. I only saw Prisoners, which I liked until part of the final act. Other than that and Enemy I haven’t seen any of his other films but I will make a note to watch them, especially after the way you described Polytechnique. Love or hate Prisoners and Enemy, he seems to be a master of creating a tense atmosphere.

  60. Im sorry, but its been weeks since the awardsdaily 2008 movie discussion. Is the podcast happening soon? Foaming at the mouth :)

  61. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    We recorded a podcast 2 days ago, John. Sasha was working on editing it today, so it should be online very shortly!

  62. Bailey

    Sasha, I like what you said about critics reevaluating the way they evaluate movies. There have been many movies I’ve enjoyed even if it’s just to shut my brain off and relax for 90 or so minutes. I had a great college professor who would describe writings as baked potatoes or French fries. Amy Hempel, Joyce Carol Oates, Flannery O’Connor = baked potatoes. John Grisham, Janet Evanovich = French fries. One has some substance and nourishment, the other is fun and enjoyable but quickly processed. I’m the type who, when asked what a movie was about, will delve into the important themes and symbols versus merely relaying the plot, but we all need some popcorn and soda every now and then.

    And Ryan, I’m white AND gay. So we’re besties, right? Even if you did yell at me on Twitter once. ;)

  63. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    And Ryan, I’m white AND gay. So we’re besties, right? Even if you did yell at me on Twitter once

    Bailey, of course we’re besties. We mutually follow each other other on twitter… (I don’t ever remember “yelling” at you. I think you’re imagining that)… (I remember you asked me a month ago what books I was reading but I was out socializing when I saw that tweet and I didn’t respond right away, and then a couple of days later I couldn’t find your tweet again to reply)… (That bothered me! I felt bad that I forgot to answer your question. So see? See how I think about you?)… (anyway, I was following you on Twitter even BEFORE I knew you were white and gay).

  64. “We recorded a podcast 2 days ago, John. Sasha was working on editing it today, so it should be online very shortly!”

    Finally after scrolling through 60+ comments, something I can get excited about.

    Nice article though Sasha. A personal perspective of a visit to the cinema, and noticing how things have changed.

    But why are cinema demographics causing such a stir on here of late?

  1. […] (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); “Die, white boy,” said a loud voice behind me when one of the white characters, a good guy, was finally taken out. I won’t tell you which one, lest I be accused of a spoiler, but suffice it to say there are many different kinds of people in Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to the overnight success of the first film, The Purge. It was probably the most ethnically diverse cast I’ve seen in a while, a cast that mirrored the demographics of the audience I was sitting with. The minority in the house, no doubt about it, were the white people. This was in downtown Burbank, a smaller offshoot city near Los Angeles, otherwise known as that rolling mass of flat suburban wasteland: “the valley.” If you’re a fan of Paul Thomas Anderson you are already well acquainted with “the valley.” He romanticized it a bit. It is the part of the city where I now prefer to live, as I can’t tolerate the hipsters in Silverlake, the annoying yoga/organic/entitlement culture of the Westside (the worst drivers, the worst traffic), nor the tattooed posers in Hollywood. So the valley it is. NO one really wants to live here so it is nice and emptied out. You can Lebowski to your heart’s content here — shop for groceries in your bathrobe or tool around town in a beater car. No one notices status. No one cares if you have a back tattoo or not and no one is honking at you for cutting them off, flipping you the bird from the quiet airy confines of their hybrid Lexus. I would live in Malibu if I could afford it. Then again, they don’t want no Lebowskis in Malibu. Read full article […]

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