Mudbound reviews

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Dec 23, 2017 1:42 pm

The Original BJ wrote:
Netflix really should be trying to push this into the Adapted Screenplay category. .



Or maybe not. This is the first potential Oscar movie I've seen this year, and it's so badly-written that I really had to force myself to watch it till the end. I kept hoping that something at some point would redeem it - I don't know, an even vaguely human emotion, or an even slightly unpredictable narrative turn, or, but this was asking too much, at least ONE character who'd develop in a different way from the way we first we see her or him on the screem. But no - characters have no subtext, so they don't develop, they just move according to the things the inept writers want them to do. I don't know if this is today the kind of movie American critics really find good (I haven't read the reviews), and if they do, I don't know if they are being honest or if they are just emotionally blackmailed by the anti-racist theme which this movie, self-important and full of improbably literary speeches in voice-over, is obviously so proud of. As for Mary J. Blige, her one-note and rather inexpressive acting isn't especially offensive, but I'm sure that a white actress would never be nominated for such a performance (and those who USED to be nominated for roles like this - loving, strong mothers - in the 30s or 40s were much better actresses).

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:20 pm

I guess I'm going to be the nay-sayer, or at least the guy who says half-empty rather than half-full. While I'll agree that there are nuanced moments, and I didn't dislike the film or anything, I found it a pretty musty piece of work. It felt like a movie from the 50s -- a saga of the Giant ilk, with surprisingly close to the same racial tones as Stevens' epic. The moment Garrett Hedlund was introduced to Mulligan, you knew without doubt they were going to end up in the sack together before the movie ended. The minute Hedlund struck up his friendship with Jason Mitchell, you knew it was going to end up bad for Mitchell (and you had a pretty good idea Jonathan Banks would be involved). Since these were pretty much the two over-riding story-lines, It was hard to be that appreciative of the (to be fair, reasonably many) tiny grace notes scattered throughout.

I just have a problem with films set in the past that try to get us worked up about mores that are no longer fully extant. Of course, I'm aware racism continues as a virulent problem in the country (internationally, actually), but there's no longer controversy over something as simple as whether an African-American should be able to use the same door as anyone else. Everyone in the audience knows that people stopping him are bad people doing bad things, which is dramatically not that interesting to me. (I felt same the same when I watched A Passage to India, and listened to people around me tsk righteously about how badly the Raj treated the natives. How easy it is to feel superior when the issue's been settled by history.) Yes, the relationships between Hedlund/Mitchell and Mulligan/Blige had interesting notes, but for me the film's signature character is Jonathan Banks' loathsome Pappy. Banks has shown himself, on the Vince Gilligan shows, to be able to find multiple colors inside nasty characters, but here he might as well be Simon Legree, and for me that gives the film a melodramatic tinge that makes it level out at mediocrity.

I will say, though I agree there was too much narration, I kind of liked the idea of hearing the multiple narrators' voices; it gave me the sense that this was a story seen through multiple eyes, something I'm not sure the film would have achieved without the narration.

As for Mary J. Blige: her best scene was her first one, turning away rather than watch her boy march off to war. She had a couple of other decent moments along the way, but the part didn't amount to all that much. She fits, of course, into a supporting actress template (stoic supportive mother) that's been around since Jane Darwell's Ma Joad, and I could see her sneaking onto a slate where the ballot needed filling out (like the year Jackie Weaver slipped in for Silver Linings). But for her to be getting recognized in place of fuller roles like those Holly Hunter or Octavia Spencer have had strikes me as strange, and I very much wonder if she'd be getting any of this notice were she not someone with whom critics/voters were familiar from another medium.

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:13 pm

I can totally see that hype translating into pre-season buzz for Blige, Tee. But now that people can actually see the performance for themselves, I’m really not getting how it’s being cited (now as a runner-up for LAFCA). It’s serviceable work but is now moving into overhyped territory. It’s not like a Harry Styles nomination was ever more than a think-piece on Vox or whatever. A vote for Blige now seems like a “vote by intertia” — blogger fantasy becoming fact.

I guess I really am resisting a nomination for her for Mudbound. It just seems unnecessary. There are a wealth of minority performances (as you pointed out below) if voters are really looking to combat #OscarsSoWhite.

Frankly, I was much more impressed by the man who played her husband in the film, Ron Morgan.
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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:47 pm

flipp525 wrote:I’m sort of baffled by the awards talk for Mary J. Blige. I mean, she’s perfectly fine: steely, determined, resolute, noble, etc. But I didn’t see much on display that was nomination-worthy. And actually I thought all of the other principals (Mulligan, Mitchell, Clarke, Hedlund in career-best work) offered stronger award showcases.


I haven't seen the movie yet, but it struck me Mary J. Blige got the bloggers excited for the same reason Harry Styles' appearance in Dunkirk did: fame. With maybe a touch of No-More-Oscars-So-Whte mixed in. (Though, oddly, supporting actress has the best mix of minority representation of any category this year, with Spencer, Haddish and Chau all seemingly more legit candidates than Blige.)

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:05 pm

This is a gorgeously shot movie, well constructed and nicely acted throughout. Yes, it’s novelistic roots are very apparent (and I agree with BJ that some of the voiceovers are not exactly doing a lot of work. Mary J. Blige’s is even repeated for some reason), but I was sufficiently engaged in the story to want to see it through.

I’m sort of baffled by the awards talk for Mary J. Blige. I mean, she’s perfectly fine: steely, determined, resolute, noble, etc. But I didn’t see much on display that was nomination-worthy. And actually I thought all of the other principals (Mulligan, Mitchell, Clarke, Hedlund in career-best work) offered stronger award showcases.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."



-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:08 am

Shortly after tax reform passed, I decided to do something slightly more cheerful and watch 'Mudbound.' During the first ten minutes, I found myself thinking "This is going to be a depressing slog." Ninety more minutes in, I thought it was a depressing slog, but I was invested and wanted to know where it was going. After it finishes setting up its world through voice-over and stunning visuals, 'Mudbound' settles into its relationships between its principle characters in engaging, if not unexpected ways.

BJ is right. Everybody has their own view of race dictated by their gender, military experiences, etc, and its depiction of three dimensional characters certainly owes tremendous credit to Rachel Morrison's gorgeous cinematography as well as actors who have read the book and clearly understand who these people are. I think Dee Rees and her co-writer Virgil Williams do successfully transplant Hillary Jordan's book into a cinematic experience, and they understand that while racism and hate is taught it's also bred through economic impotence. Henry (Jason Clarke, who is increasingly becoming one of my favorite characters actors) is duped when he buys this farm and feels powerless. So, he acts like a man in the only way he knows how to reassert himself. He doesn't come across as a terrible man, but one detail says it all: the combination to his safe is the date of the Confederate victory at Richmond.

I'll give it one more credit as well. It's rare that a film will start at the end of the story and loop back around, and I will have forgotten by the time we return. That absolutely happened with 'Mudbound.' But it's a terribly bleak climax and everything that follows isn't really capable of steering into a different tone, no matter how much Mary J. Blige's credit song wants to. There's a lot to appreciate, but I can't say I was totally won over. Rachel Morrison's cinematography is the MVP. Although don't totally understand how she can win over Roger Deakins' work for 'Blade Runner 2049,' she does some very innovative use of depth of focus that give this historical film and an immediacy. If used correctly, depth of focus can be used to compensate for limited production design. There's one handheld (I believe) shot in particular that says with me of Clark, Hedlund, and Mulligan carrying a coffin. She starts at the back with Mulligan and moves up the line, grabbing each actor in tight focus as she goes. I'm probably not describing it well, but this is just an example of the strong work that fills the film.
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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:05 pm

The Original BJ wrote
She blends into the ensemble perfectly well -- I honestly didn't realize/remember it was her until halfway through the movie -- but she doesn't have among the showiest parts in the movie. I doubt she contends for major award nominations. (Except maybe in the Original Song category, for the end credits track.)

Copy.
I really don't have a handle on any of the supporting races this year.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:04 pm

Sabin wrote:
The Original BJ wrote
The Blige/Mulligan relationship seems to stem directly from the way both women are treated by their husbands, as if the limitations imposed on both because of gender allow them to bridge the racial divide, and the Hedlund/Mitchell bond of course grows out of the fact that they're the only two veterans in town, and thus understand each other in ways that the members of their own family (and race) cannot.

How is Mary J. Blige in the film?


She blends into the ensemble perfectly well -- I honestly didn't realize/remember it was her until halfway through the movie -- but she doesn't have among the showiest parts in the movie. I doubt she contends for major award nominations. (Except maybe in the Original Song category, for the end credits track.)

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Re: Mudbound reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:36 pm

The Original BJ wrote
The Blige/Mulligan relationship seems to stem directly from the way both women are treated by their husbands, as if the limitations imposed on both because of gender allow them to bridge the racial divide, and the Hedlund/Mitchell bond of course grows out of the fact that they're the only two veterans in town, and thus understand each other in ways that the members of their own family (and race) cannot.

How is Mary J. Blige in the film?
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Mudbound reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:27 pm

Mudbound is clearly an adaptation of a novel, because you can see a lot of the seams that often come with such transfers. For starters, there is way too much voiceover -- my "show not tell" flag was on high alert almost immediately, and I questioned if some of the information revealed during voiceover even added very much at all. I also think there's a lot of plot elements stuffed into one movie -- again, something that can often plague literary adaptations trying to cram too much into two hours. (At one point, there's a voiceover mention about a character who died, and I thought -- WHO? I was supposed to be caring about THAT character?) As a result, I can't say that I thought the movie had the strongest narrative through-line from beginning to end.

All of that said, I still think there is much to like about Mudbound. The character dynamics, in particular, are quite compelling, as the members of the two central families (one black, one white) connect with each other in surprising ways. The Blige/Mulligan relationship seems to stem directly from the way both women are treated by their husbands, as if the limitations imposed on both because of gender allow them to bridge the racial divide, and the Hedlund/Mitchell bond of course grows out of the fact that they're the only two veterans in town, and thus understand each other in ways that the members of their own family (and race) cannot.

I also thought the movie did a pretty impressive job of delineating the very specific attitude each character has toward the opposite race. The four major white characters (Mulligan, Clarke, Hedlund, and Banks) each treat the characters of color in a different way, and the three major black characters (Mitchell, Morgan, and Blige) respond to whiteness in similarly unique fashion. That's a pretty nuanced approach to race relations for one movie, and also one that's specifically attuned to the 1940s era in which the film is set -- an era in which blacks were gaining in autonomy, but one in which the battles of the civil rights era were still a ways off.

All of this builds to a climax that's obviously moving, with a message that is certainly bleak -- despite the best efforts of the more well-meaning white characters, hate is a powerful force, and to some extent the better among us will always be trying to reverse that damage. But there is also hope that we can overcome as well -- the last shot is clearly designed to be a tear-jerker, and I can't deny it totally put me away.

Netflix really should be trying to push this into the Adapted Screenplay category. (And by all accounts, they are -- Netflix, along with Amazon and Focus -- are the studios that have most been on top of early screenings and campaign events this year, so it's clear they want to play with the big boys in the Oscar game.) But something has to fill those screenplay slots that isn't Call Me By Your Name, and this strikes me as the kind of thoughtful period drama that could very well place, assuming voters just don't decide to blackball Netflix completely.


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