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Entries categorized as “The Fourth Wall” 55 results

Kevin Fullam writesThe Fourth Wall: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Welcome to The Fourth Wall, CHIRP's e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the 2022 film Everything Everywhere All at Once.

This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.

Clarence:

By most measures, Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is an average person just trying to get by. Her laundromat business is a headache, her marriage to her beta-male husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) has lost its magic, and her relationship with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is strained to the breaking point.

But she can’t imagine how big her problems are going to get. One day while sitting in an IRS office trying to unravel a tax issue, her husband pops up out of nowhere and asks for her help to save the universe.

Actually, not her exact husband, but a different version of him from an alternate reality, and not just this universe, but the multiple universes that make up the totality of existence.

It turns out that Jobu Tupaki, an alternate version of Evelyn’s daughter, has gained enormous power and is in a really bad (as in, reality-erasing) mood, and this version of Evelyn is the only one who might be able to stop her from ending things for everyone.

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Share January 24, 2023 https://chrp.at/39RA Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: The Fourth Wall

Kevin Fullam writesThe Fourth Wall: The Spanish Prisoner

Welcome to The Fourth Wall, CHIRP's e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the 1997 film The Spanish Prisoner.

This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.

Kevin:

The Big Con. It's long been a favorite cinema staple of mine. You can't sleepwalk through Big Con films -- you gotta keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times, and definitely, absolutely trust no one. As an added bonus, the Everyman protagonists of these tales are usually in the dark as much as the audiences, making them the perfect proxy. We're attached at the hip and invested from the get-go.

In David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner, Joe Ross (Campbell Scott, whose muted temperament is the perfect fit for this sort of role) has created a "Process." Manifested as a notebook of charts and formulas, it's a classic MacGuffin -- we have no idea what it exactly involves, except that it's worth astronomical sums of money to the company which employs him... or to anyone else who winds up getting a hold of it.

While on the island of St. Estèphe to discuss the Process with company investors, Ross rubs elbows with new secretary Susan Ricci (Rebecca Pidgeon, Mamet's real-life wife) and wealthy traveler Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin), the latter of whom eases himself into Joe's world by giving him a package to "deliver to his sister in New York." Worried it might be something illegal, Joe opens the package -- which is revealed to be an innocuous 1930s book about tennis.

Right around this time, relations between Joe and his employers turn frosty, and he starts to fret about not receiving fair compensation. Jimmy (having reconnected in the Big Apple) suggests enlisting outside legal counsel. Can he trust him? What about Susan? And later there's an FBI team (headed by Ed O' Neill) involved in the case as well. But are they actually federal agents? Just when exactly does the con stop... or is it still going when the credits start rolling?

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Share October 19, 2022 https://chrp.at/39bb Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: The Fourth Wall

Kevin Fullam writesThe Fourth Wall: Nomadland

Welcome to The Fourth Wall, CHIRP's e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the 2020 Oscar-winning film Nomadland.

This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.

Kevin:

When you grow up with all the trappings of middle-class suburbia, it's hard to imagine a Shadow America out there, roaming the land. Poor neighborhoods? Sure. The homeless? Absolutely. But not three million transients (according to the BBC) who shuttle from town to town across our country, living out of their vehicles and subsisting on odd jobs along the way.

While you'd never describe these drifters as wealthy, they're largely not indigent either. And for the most part, their decisions to eschew the conventions of modern living don't seem to be born out of financial calamity. Theirs is a conscious lifestyle choice. Who are these people? What drives them? This is the backdrop of director Chloé Zhao's Nomadland, based on a 2017 novel of the same name by Jessica Bruder.

Like The Rider, Zhao's previous film, Nomadland might as well be cinéma vérité as it follows the life of Fern (Frances McDormand) while she travels the country in her rickety van. Outside of an intertitle which explains the collapse of her Nevada hometown following a mine closure, the exposition is minimal, and much of the film revolves around Fern's survival. Today's work might be at an Amazon distribution center, while next month's employer could be a state park. After that? Perhaps a gig as a line cook.

All the while, her van needs upkeep. Rinse. Repeat. Fern ain't the loquacious type, and her backstory is parceled out in dribs and drabs. Eventually you learn that she lost her husband right around the time when the town went under, which might account for her steely, detached disposition.

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Share May 5, 2022 https://chrp.at/3aLG Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: The Fourth Wall

Kevin Fullam writesThe Fourth Wall: After Yang

Welcome to The Fourth Wall, CHIRP's e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the 2021 film After Yang.

This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Bobby Evers.

________________________________________________________________

"Are you happy, Yang?"

-- "I don't know if that's the question for me."

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"Did he ever want to be human?"

-- "That's such a human thing to ask, isn't it? We always assume that other beings would want to be human. What's so great about being human?" 

________________________________________________________________

 

Kevin:

As the idea of artificial intelligence and androids comes closer to fruition, we seem to be shifting to a kinder, gentler species of robots in Hollywood, no?

The days of T-800s and renegade replicants are on the wane, while a growing number of today's celluloid "technos" -- whether they exist in the ether as in Her, or in corporeal form like the title character of After Yang -- no longer have designs on world domination. As Samantha of Her alludes to, well... what would be the point from a computer's point of view? It's far more likely that an autonomous AI would consider humans not worth the bother. What Yang and others of its ilk can offer us, however, is reflection on what it means to be human.

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Share April 29, 2022 https://chrp.at/39Vx Share on Facebook Tweet This!

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Kevin Fullam writesThe Fourth Wall: The Power of the Dog

Welcome to The Fourth Wall, CHIRP's e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the 2021 film The Power of the Dog.

This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.

Clarence Ewing:

In the opening scenes of Jane Campion’s 2021 Oscar-nominated film The Power of the Dog, the audience is treated to a familiar site in movie history: a good old-fashioned cattle drive. It’s 1925, and a group of herders leads a river of beef along the lonesome trail, nothing but blue skies and open scenery for miles. Not many Hollywood images get more American than that.

The group is led by two brothers, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemmons). Although the men under his command like and respect him, it’s obvious that Phil is a walking mix of tension and bile. If something annoys him, he’ll let that something know it, whether it’s his less-aggressive brother who he constantly insults and belittles, or the skinny, awkward-looking young man who serves the crew dinner one day at a hotel along the trail (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and who is the son of the establishment’s owner Rose (Kirsten Dunst).

Along the way, other names are mentioned: Old Lady and Old Gent Burbank. The Governor. Bronco Henry. The audience gets more details of these characters and how they relate to each other. Phil is a constant presence in everyone’s life, whether he’s physically there or not, and that fact drives the other characters’ actions and events forward.

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Share March 29, 2022 https://chrp.at/39NG Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: The Fourth Wall

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