OFCC Podcast: Episode 15 – BLADE RUNNER 2049, BATTLE OF THE SEXES, & More (PODCAST)

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Episode 15: Replicating The Future and The Past

For this edition of The OFCC Podcast, available on iTunes, our roundtable of critics from the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle return after a month off from podcasting to discuss the latest in movies for early October 2017.

You can also stream Episode 15 by clicking here.

On this episode, the critics include:

DISCUSSIONS
 Blade Runner 2049 (starting at 1:20)
Battle of the Sexes (at 20:40)

HOT TAKES
– American Made (at 38:46)
– Kingsman: The Golden Circle (at 40:10)
– Stronger (at 43:12)

Click here to subscribe through iTunes, and look for the October 14, 2017 episode.

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The Gospel According To Rick Deckard (ANALYSIS) (SPOILERS)

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Is Deckard really a replicant?

Despite my perception that Blade Runner 2049 cleared that issue up once and for all – with an obvious answer of “No” – apparently it’s still an open question, according to some of the filmmakers involved.

That’s a shame, because declaring Deckard human is what gives this whole universe spiritual meaning.

First, just the facts. The case should’ve been closed with the trailer, quite frankly. Why? Because we see an old Deckard, and replicants don’t age. Sure, fans may have been wondering if 2049 would reveal that this replicant could age, but that twist wouldn’t make any sense. It would actually defy logic. Replicants were made to be slaves, after all, and what’s the purpose of an aging slave?

The only reason this was ever debated to begin with is because, long ago, original director Ridley Scott posited quite firmly that, so far as he was concerned, Deckard was a replicant. Meanwhile, screenwriter Hampton Fancher (for both Blade Runner films) has always and resolutely stated that Deckard is, without a doubt, human. Harrison Ford has prescribed to Fancher’s view as well.

But movie geeks will never be able to set aside a fascinating nerd mystery that lingers in pop culture lore, and the Deckard/Replicant question has become an all-timer for fans of the cult classic.

I’ve always felt that “Deckard as replicant” made him a less interesting character, and the story’s themes less compelling. Once you get past what a nifty little plot twist that would be, having two replicants go on the run together (after falling for each other) is, well, pretty boring. Of course that’s what two replicants would do because that’s what replicants do! They flee for their lives.

What’s more interesting is for a human and a replicant to choose to cross that species divide, particularly between “Creator” and “Creation”. The implications, themes, and ideas are much more complex and riveting.

When I saw Blade Runner 2049, it seemed to embrace and double-down on the potential of those implications. To me, the confirmation of Deckard’s humanity was pretty simple:

Deckard impregnated Rachel.

I mean, what more do you need? Human semen mysteriously (miraculously?) found fertile soil in a replicant womb. Unless, of course, we’re to suppose that Replicants have organic semen, too, not just artificial, the kind that can create life.

Nothing in the film substantiates this, which makes it harder to buy into, plus it’d be far less miraculous. Indeed, it would be literal science. Impressive, sure, and even revolutionary, but not truly miraculous. And this movie stressed in no uncertain terms that what happened here was a miracle.

Now lets take this even further, to how it all played out in the story and some of the religious symbolism going on.

The primary reason their child was so valuable was because it was a hybrid child, both human and replicant. A first of its kind (as opposed to just another replicant that happened to be conceived, not made). Their child was a new creation, not a common one created by new means.

Which finally leads us to the symbolism: their child is a Christ figure.

Sure, it’s a daughter in this case, Ana, not a son, despite being deceptively suggested for most of the movie that it was K (well played, Denis). And here’s why the Christ figure is more intriguing, even beyond the narrative Messianic possibilities.

Christ had two natures, equal parts God and man. His father was God and his mother was human. Same thing here. Deckard (“Creator”) and Rachel (“Creation”) gave birth to a child of two equal natures. This was the miracle alluded to in the opening scene, a miracle that inextricably united Creator and Creation.

The ultimate purpose of this union? To reconcile the two, so that Creator and Creation would be one. Salvation itself is at stake.

Consider these words by St. John Kronstadt, on the Incarnation of Christ:

  • “The incarnation is not only an act of love but an act of salvation. Jesus Christ, by uniting man and God in his own person, reopened for man the path to union with God.”

Another Blade Runner film could approach Ana in the same way, reopening for replicant the path to union with humanity.

In the event of another sequel (unlikely, given the low box office), this could serve as a fascinating basis, not just for the “Replicant Uprising” alluded to in 2049 but to actually have a Christ figure confound both its followers and enemies by pursuing love, peace, and forgiveness, not retribution or an earthly throne.

This would be infinitely more interesting, and challenging, than a simple “battle”, and given the philosophical depth that the first two films were driven by I’d trust that a third movie could do well by this possibility.

And in terms of the characters, they could bring K back (either not having died, or rebooting him) to serve as a John the Baptist figure for Ana Deckard’s messiah. Plus, we’d be given another Chosen One that’s female rather than male. Our pop culture could use more of those so that Rey isn’t all by her lonesome.

With Villeneuve, Fancher, and Scott guiding it all, I’d trust that this Chosen One would be as much about actual ideas and virtues and not restricted to just an iconic template for an action narrative.

That said: if it all ends here, there’s something really poetic about the final shot being of Deckard seeing his daughter for the first time. That was a moving, poignant grace note to end on.

But there’s truly great potential for so much more.

 

BBC Unveils “100 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” List

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The BBC is starting to make this an annual event.

Exactly one year ago, the UK’s flagship media network announced their list of “The 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century” (so far). Now they’ve followed that up by unveiling their choices for “The 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time“.

The decision to go for Comedy was made by BBC Culture after they saw how few films from the genre actually landed on their 21st Century list.

This year, they asked 253 film critics (118 women and 135 men) from 52 countries across six continents to compile their own personal Top 10 Lists for the best comedies of all time.

Averaging those choices out, the BBC ended up with its Top 100.

Interesting stats:

  • The most represented directors are:
    • Rob Reiner – 4 films
    • Charlie Chaplin – 4 films (none in Top 10)
    • Ernst Lubitsch – 4 films (none in Top 10)
    • Woody Allen – 3 films
    • Jacques Tati – 3 films
    • David Zucker – 3 films
    • Buster Keaton – 3 films
    • Howard Hawks – 3 films (highest at #14)
    • Preston Sturges – 3 films (highest at #19)
    • Mel Brooks – 3 films (highest at #20)
    • John Landis – 3 films (highest at #47)
  • Only 1 woman made the list: Amy Heckerling, for 1995’s Clueless (#34)
  • 26 directors accounted for 64 films. Or, roughly, for 2/3 of the list. That’s domination by a small, elite group.
  • The actors who appear most:
    • Bill Murray – 6 times
    • Cary Grant – 5 times
    • Charlie Chaplin, Christopher Guest – 4 times

So here they are, in ascending order, The 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time:

100. (tie) The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982)
100. The Ladies Man (Jerry Lewis, 1961)
99. The Jerk (Carl Reiner, 1979)
98. The Hangover (Todd Phillips, 2009)
97. The Music Box (James Parrott, 1932)
96. Born Yesterday (George Cukor, 1950)
95. Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)
94. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
93. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Trey Parker, 1999)
92. The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962)
91. What’s Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972)
90. A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)
89. Daisies (Vera Chytilová, 1966)
88. Zoolander (Ben Stiller, 2001)
87. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953)
86. Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)
85. Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)
84. Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996)
83. Safety Last! (Fred C Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1923)
82. Top Secret! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, 1984)
81. There’s Something About Mary (Bobby and Peter Farrelly, 1998)
80. Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)
79. The Dinner Game (Francis Veber, 1998)
78. The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987)
77. Divorce Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1961)
76. Design for Living (Ernst Lubitsch, 1933)
75. The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges, 1942)
74. Trading Places (John Landis, 1983)
73. The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 1963)
72. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (David Zucker, 1988)
71. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
70. In the Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009)
69. Love and Death (Woody Allen, 1975)
68. Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)
67. Sons of the Desert (William A Seiter, 1933)
66. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007)
65. Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980)
64. Step Brothers (Adam McKay, 2008)
63. Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra, 1944)
62. What We Do in the Shadows (Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, 2014)
61. Team America: World Police (Trey Parker, 2004)
60. Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
59. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
58. Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983)
57. Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004)
56. Broadcast News (James L Brooks, 1987)
55. Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2000)
54. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
53. The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980)
52. My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936)
51. Seven Chances (Buster Keaton, 1925)
50. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988)
49. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Buñuel, 1972)
48. Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)
47. Animal House (John Landis, 1978)
46. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
45. Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli, 1958)
44. Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
43. M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970)
42. The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)
41. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Larry Charles, 2006)
40. The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967)
39. A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood and Edmund Goulding, 1935)
38. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)
37. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
36. A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton and John Cleese, 1988)
35. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
34. Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)
33. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004)
32. Raising Arizona (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1987)
31. Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982)
30. Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (Jacques Tati, 1953)
29. When Harry Met Sally… (Rob Reiner, 1989)
28. It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)
27. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
26. Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 1958)
25. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
24. Withnail and I (Bruce Robinson, 1987)
23. The Party (Blake Edwards, 1968)
22. Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974)
21. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
20. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974)
19. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
18. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
17. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
16. The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
15. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975)
14. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
13. To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
12. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
11. The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998)
10. The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)
9. This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
8. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
7. Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, 1980)
6. Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
5. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
4. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
3. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
2. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
1. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

For more interesting info about this list, check out these links:

STAGE TO SCREEN: 5 Great Adaptations

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Converting plays to the screen is a tradition as old as the movies.

Here are four lesser-known adaptations worth seeking out, plus a landmark fifth that still sets the standard for what a stage-to-screen adaptation should be, all in my featured article from the 2017 “Fall Performing Arts Issue” of The Tulsa Voice.

Click here to read Stage To Screen: Five Great Adaptations.

OFCC Podcast: Episode 12 – DUNKIRK, DARK TOWER, DETROIT, BIG SICK, APES FINALE, & More (PODCAST)

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Episode 12: Wars From The Past, On the Streets, the Sci-Fi Future, and Other Dimensions

For this edition of The OFCC Podcast, available on iTunes, our roundtable of critics from the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle return after a month off from podcasting to discuss the latest in movies for July and early August 2017.

You can also stream Episode 12 by clicking here.

On this episode, the critics include:

NEW RELEASES
 The Dark Tower (starting at 1:10)
Detroit (at 13:00)
Dunkirk (at 28:44)
War for the Planet of the Apes (at 45:36)
The Big Sick (at 55:28)
A Ghost Story (at 1:03:30)
– Landline (at 1:10:22)

And brief thoughts on:
– Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (at 1:16:00)
– Maudie (at 1:20:50)
– Atomic Blonde (at 1:23:28)

Click here to subscribe through iTunes, and look for the August 11, 2017 episode.

OFCC Podcast: Episode 11 – SPIDER-MAN, BABY DRIVER, OKJA, BEGUILED, & More (PODCAST)

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Episode 11: We Can Be Heroes, Not Just For One Age

For this edition of The OFCC Podcast, available on iTunes, a roundtable of critics from the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle discuss the latest in movies for early July 2017.

You can also stream Episode 11 by clicking here.

On this episode, the critics include:

NEW RELEASES
 Spider-Man: Homecoming (starting at 1:03)
Baby Driver (at 22:58)
The Beguiled (at 36:06)
Okja (at 48:53)
The Hero (at 1:03:43)
– Despicable Me 3 (at 1:14:43)

Click here to subscribe through iTunes, and look for the July 7, 2017 episode.

OFCC Podcast: Episode 10 – TRANSFORMERS 5, CARS 3, BOOK OF HENRY, Han Solo Shakeup, & More (PODCAST)

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Episode 10: Deceptibomb, Cars Tune-Up, and Disturbances In The Force

For this edition of The OFCC Podcast, available on iTunes, a roundtable of critics from the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle discuss the latest in movies for late June 2017.

You can also stream Episode 10 by clicking here.

On this episode, the critics include:

NEW RELEASES
 Transformers: The Last Knight (starting at 2:20))
Cars 3 (2017) (at 15:30)
The Book of Henry (at 24:33)
Han Solo Movie Director Shakeup – Discussion (at 44:33)
Beatriz at Dinner (at 1:00:22)
Paris Can Wait (at 1:15:00)

Articles referenced:

Click here to subscribe through iTunes, and look for the June 23, 2017 episode.