A Long Summer: Movie notes

A Long Summer: Movie notes August 11, 2016

In the order I saw them. Saving the best for last.

Hush: Home-invasion horror centering on a deaf woman. This is very suspenseful–really effective–and I loved that three of the four characters were noticeably, extremely quick-witted and resourceful. Absolutely worth watching if this is the sort of thing you like. Quite bloody. The ending has some degree of ambiguity; I’m choosing the grimmer interpretation because I think the movie has already given you plenty of reasons to consider even that version a real triumph for the heroine on both spiritual and practical grounds.

In the Loop: Yes, this is very fun, it’s foul-mouthed insult-based politicomedy with the rev from Rev. and you’ll enjoy it. I appreciated the decision to make the whole thing revolve around trying to stop a war but not ever showing us anything about casualties or death, or even really talking about it. Lesser movies would end with like an “explosions and baby corpses” montage. This one wanted to keep you trapped in its characters’ self-absorption. Much more respectful of the audience and, frankly, the subject matter.

Menace II Society: This is a phenomenal film. It’s much artsier than I expected: some color-drenched noir shadow scenes, unusually long screen blackouts, a strange disconnection between the lead’s (Tyrin Turner) natural and powerful on-screen performance and his detached, almost clunky voiceover. I thought that disconnect worked really well, creating a feeling of alienation, taking you into his estrangement from his own experience. And it made sense given how much of the movie is about how we create or reject narratives: You get from a movie exactly what you bring to it, whether it’s a security-camera tape of a murder or It’s a Wonderful Life.

Oh but so this is the story of a kid from Watts whose father was a gangster, who’s running with a bad crowd but still ambivalent about just how hard he wants to be. Major ’90s nostalgia for those big color-block jackets. It was a simpler time, when the crime narrative was “superpredators” instead of “mass shootings.”

No, this is a really heartfelt movie, moral but not preachy. Perfect balance of tragedy and classic my-rise-and-fall gangster tale. By the end there are so many guns of Damocles pointing at our hero that his fall is overdetermined. Taylor is phenomenal. A late cameo from Glenn Plummer as an imprisoned father is also stunning: He gets basically just one scene, with him and the kid he mentored and the girl he loved, and the connection between the two men, especially, is electric.

Notable things–the portrayal of the LAPD, the irrelevance/impotence of the black church, the early footage of the Watts riots (this movie definitely repeats the narrative I heard growing up about why the ’90s happened). There’s a subplot right out of Doing the Best I Can, where a man chooses to care for another man’s child; which is great, except for how he utterly abandons his own unborn child’s mother. Being responsible for a child you choose feels redemptive whereas being responsible for a child you didn’t choose just feels like being trapped.

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