2017 Movies: Call Me By Your Name and Get Out

Hello! It looks as though 93 (!!) people visited my post on Lady Bird and Downsizing, while a smaller amount visited the one about The Disaster Artist and I, Tonya, which is a shame since that one is the one I liked better of the two I wrote so far. Alas. These are super informal, though, so anyone reading them is slightly thrilling for me in away. Here's two more:

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (contains spoilers)
I knew little about this movie before watching it, except that a few people I know had seen it and enjoyed it, and that it made them cry, or that they had read or were reading the book it was based on. I knew it was about gay characters and set in the recent past. Ian Carlos Crawford pointed out to me prior to my seeing it that it's hard to imagine a happy ending when you have LGBT characters in an earlier time period. This adds a certain sort of tension to a film like this, which is otherwise understated in a beautiful way. Set in the Italian countryside, focused on a professor and his family and a visiting student who the professor's son falls for, the movie is lush with scenery and quiet moments where the actors' emotions are better on display for us than dialogue might do justice to. When they do speak of their feelings, then, it feels monumental, important, the most important thing in the world--and this is why this movie so closely and truly illustrates what it feels like to be in your late teens and have a serious crush (and forbidden, in this case) on someone. Did you ever, growing up, have a crush on someone? You will relate then, to Elio, the main character. The love and eroticism that this film captures is so well done, it's hard to say much more about it than that. I don't know much about LGBT rights or movements in Italy in the 1980s, but the film features an out gay couple and (this is where the spoilers are apparent) an understanding father, who may or may not himself have had a relationship like Oliver and Elio's in the past, or perhaps longed for one. The main characters' acting (Timothée Chalamet as Elio and Armie Hammer as Oliver) is stunning--I believe in their characters, I feel for their characters, and the whole time want nothing more than a happy ending for them. That being said, the devastating ending I feared (violence, death, disease) is replaced for me with a lesser devastating ending that still devastates in its own capacity--the final scene of Elio, crying into the fireplace, is memorable and heartbreaking, and the director knew exactly what he was doing when he rolled the credits over this rather than cutting to black.
FAVE THINGS: the dancing scenes, the love-making scenes, the total under-stated nature and pace of this thing, the way it seems so realistic even though it's a film.
DECENT PROFESH REVIEW COMMENTS: "Call Me by Your Name is, among other things, an exercise in polyglottery," a New Yorker review says, noting the films many languages but also bringing to mind the code-switching that the main characters must perform, and also referencing the film's title, which represents the film's ultimate eroticism. This paragraph in David Sims' Atlantic review is worthwhile--I almost agree:
"It’s also a story of queer love that isn’t tinged with horror or tragedy, a gay romance about a genuine attachment. At the same time, Call Me by Your Name doesn’t attempt to sanitize itself as a bland, “universal” film in hopes of appealing to a wider audience. It’s both intensely erotic and intensely contained, acknowledging the very private lives gay men were forced to lead in the early 1980s, when the film is set. As a result, in Call Me by Your Name,virtually every bit of physical contact is crucial and electrifying."
.....but then, if you read the film in the way I do, the ending is in a way a tragedy, though a quieter one than the other possibilities for these characters during the time they live in--and, realistically, gay men today, especially in a variety of countries where governments punish homosexuality with prison, violence, even death. The understated nature of the film, its intensity, these moments that are set in the 80s here are still the way many must live today.

GET OUT (contains spoilers)
I always tell people I can't watch horror films for the following reasons. Firstly, they scare me--but that's a shrug--yeah, Kim, they are supposed to be scary--but then, I get mad at myself for being scared. So not only am I scared, I am also pissed off, and usually grumble during a horror movie, "I hate this movie," a lot. I at first was afraid that Get Out was a horror flick, but I was assured it was more of a "Psychological Thriller," so I opened all the blinds in the early afternoon, let the sun pour in, and put this flick on. What I loved about this film was how a viewer's "figuring out" of what was going on was basically on pace with the main character's figuring out of what was going on. It's not entirely from Daniel Kaluuya's excellent portrayal of Chris Washington's point of view, but sticks close enough to him for a majority of the film that his discovery's are your discoveries. The audience also briefly follows his friend Rod, who is not staying in the countryside with Chris, who is an African American, and Chris's girlfriend, who is white, and her family. Their races play an essential role in the film's plot and its surprises--and it's succession of further surprises. Who Chris--and therefore, who the audience-- believes to be "in" on the plot twists is constantly shifting, to the point where even in the film's climax(es?), when you might want to believe certain people are on certain sides, you are figuring out who they really are inside. What keeps this film from being over-done is the simplicity of the sort-of science-fictiony parts of it. Had there been a clear explanation of the science behind how to input someone's brain/thoughts/minds into someone else's body, while still having both host and interloper sharing that space in a way, the film would have lost me. But the simple "for the host" film that explains that this was "achieved" plus the brief time we see the actual physical set-up of the process were enough to let me know that in the world the film has concocted, this sort of whacky, fucked up science was possible. As an audience, you are with Chris but also rooting for Chris, scared when he is scared, horrified when he is horrified, and revenged when he is revenged. There gore/violence he commits against the girlfriend's family seem just in the face of their longtime practice of racist sci-fi body-snatching. Because horror isn't really my thing, I didn't think I would love this film, but I was surprised at how much it captivated, frightened, and, well, thrilled me.
FAVE THINGS: Daniel Kaluuya's detective skills being on the same level as mine as the audience, I think, was my favorite thing overall about the way this film unfolds; its understated but then suddenly obvious commentary on the existence of contemporary racism yet still finds moments to insert dark humor and remain artistic;  the score!
DECENT PROFESH REVIEW COMMENTS: This New Yorker review hits the nail on the head here: "Get Out feels like it would have been impossible five minutes ago"-- again, the way it combines cinematic genres is seamless, the way it engages with contemporary racism is fresh, and its popularity when it debuted is unprecedented but at the same time logical. This Variety review reminded me of two tense moments that show the way the film understands its audience and time period, "But there’s something telling in the underlying anxiety that Peele’s script exploits, from the opening scene (in which an uneasy black man walking alone in a predominately white suburb recalls the fate of Trayvon Martin) to the last, when the arrival of a police car suggests a near-certain turn for the worse." Maybe it is, in fact, a horror film in that it reflects the horrors of contemporary racism and shows they for what they are in both obvious and subtle moments--horrors.


1) Call Me By Your Name
2) I, Tonya;

3) The Disaster Artist

4) Lady Bird
5) Get Out

6) Downsizing


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