Nomadland

Big Magilla
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Re: Nomadland

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Mar 25, 2021 10:39 pm

Reza wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:More like she couldn't be content settling but that doesn't mean she just should just keep running instead of resigning herself to her situation. Most people do at some point.


Well maybe if there is a sequel she will find herself resigning herself to her situation after discovering that running away was not the right option.

But until Zhao decides to make that sequel we need to accept that she wants to run instead of settling down :wink:

I'd much rather see sequels to Minari and Sound of Metal. :idea:

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Reza » Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:31 pm

Big Magilla wrote:More like she couldn't be content settling but that doesn't mean she just should just keep running instead of resigning herself to her situation. Most people do at some point.


Well maybe if there is a sequel she will find herself resigning herself to her situation after discovering that running away was not the right option.

But until Zhao decides to make that sequel we need to accept that she wants to run instead of settling down :wink:

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Mar 25, 2021 2:27 pm

dws1982 wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:At her time of life, security should be a more valuable commodity than freedom to roam for someone who lived in blissful domesticity for the greater part of her life.

This feels a lot like criticizing a movie because the main character made a choice that you wouldn't make and can't relate to.

No, I'm saying it doesn't make sense for the character. It made perfect sense for Swankie who had spent so much more of her life on the road to keep going until she couldn't go any further.

dws1982 wrote:I agree with Reza that her unresolved feelings around the death of her husband are the reason she can't settle, just like they're the reason she stayed in Empire after it was long dead, and I think this is clear in the text of the film.

More like she couldn't be content settling but that doesn't mean she just should just keep running instead of resigning herself to her situation. Most people do at some point.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 25, 2021 1:24 pm

Reza wrote
I agree with Reza that her unresolved feelings around the death of her husband are the reason she can't settle, just like they're the reason she stayed in Empire after it was long dead, and I think this is clear in the text of the film.

But her sister also says that she thinks she would've ended up running off somewhere anyway in her life. I think Fern contains multitudes.
"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." ~ FDR

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Re: Nomadland

Postby dws1982 » Thu Mar 25, 2021 1:04 pm

Big Magilla wrote:At her time of life, security should be a more valuable commodity than freedom to roam for someone who lived in blissful domesticity for the greater part of her life.

This feels a lot like criticizing a movie because the main character made a choice that you wouldn't make and can't relate to.

I agree with Reza that her unresolved feelings around the death of her husband are the reason she can't settle, just like they're the reason she stayed in Empire after it was long dead, and I think this is clear in the text of the film.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Mar 25, 2021 10:45 am

Reza wrote:She chooses a life on the road because I think she appreciates the spirit of the people she has met along the way and the independence it represents to her. If I remember correctly she was never close to her sister so settling down with her is not an option. And while she is comfortable and friendly with Strathairn, her memories of life with her late husband still overcome any similar life she may come to enjoy with this new man. Hence her choice of the road and being totally independent.

Not exactly. Her relationship with her sister wasn't good, but "any port in a storm" as the saying used to go - if she could go to the sister for money she could stand being around her until something else turned up, but it would have made for a lousy ending to the film. The offer from Stratharin and his son (played by Strathairn's real-life son) had no strings attached to it. They were friends, not lovers. She's an old lady, not some young, or even middle-aged aged woman with a lot to look forward to. At her time of life, security should be a more valuable commodity than freedom to roam for someone who lived in blissful domesticity for the greater part of her life.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Reza » Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:43 am

She chooses a life on the road because I think she appreciates the spirit of the people she has met along the way and the independence it represents to her. If I remember correctly she was never close to her sister so settling down with her is not an option. And while she is comfortable and friendly with Strathairn, her memories of life with her late husband still overcome any similar life she may come to enjoy with this new man. Hence her choice of the road and being totally independent.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Mar 25, 2021 4:09 am

I think my problem with Nomadland is that I just can't buy the ending.

Here is a woman who has always enjoyed the comforts of a home which were suddenly denied her. Forced to live a nomadic life at a time when she should be slowing down, she is given two chances to give it up - first with her sister, then with her friend (David Strathairn) with no strings attached. But what does she do, she goes back out on the road in her ramshackle RV with a literal can to shit in. Had she always been a nomad, like John Wayne in The Searchers or one with no other option like Tom Hanks in News of the World, it might have made sense but for someone in her circumstances, it just doesn't ring true. McDormand is good in the role, but she plays it as though she is invincible. Someone like Mary Kay Place who excels at playing women with an uncertain outlook on life might have given it a bit more believability.

So, although I liked the film, beautiful cinematography isn't enough for me to give a Best Picture prize. Best Director, OK, because it is well directed and it's about time another woman won, although there is another film by an Asian director that I liked a lot more and that's Minari, followed closely by Sound of Metal with Promising Young Woman, One Night in Miami and Judas and the Black Messiah also high on my list. I expect to see The Father tomorrow and Soul within a few days, after which I expect to come to some kind of a conclusion on the 14-month awards year as a whole.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Reza » Thu Mar 25, 2021 12:20 am

nightwingnova wrote:I still think there has to be a better choice. We're all depressed enough as it is.


On the contrary despite all the hardships on view I found the film very uplifting due to the perseverance of the characters. Amazing film about an unusual set of people perfectly capturing the beauty of these nomads and their surrounding countryside. Very poetic.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby gunnar » Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:57 pm

I think Nomadland is a good movie and I'm glad that I watched it, but I like Minari and Judas and the Black Messiah a lot more. I still have to watch the other nominees, but Judas is my favorite so far.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby nightwingnova » Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:15 pm

I still think there has to be a better choice. We're all depressed enough as it is.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby nightwingnova » Wed Mar 24, 2021 9:54 pm

Nomadland just won the PGA Award. More points as the Oscar favorite when there is no obvious competition.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 seems the most logical runner-up. If enough steam builds up, The Father is mainstream and socially-relevant enough.
Last edited by nightwingnova on Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby mlrg » Wed Mar 24, 2021 4:45 pm

Great write up Tee, as always.

I too was lucky enough to see this in a movie theater and I totally agree that a first viewing in a small screen would diminish his merits. It truly is a cinematic experience.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Mar 24, 2021 3:41 pm

14 months after my last time in a theatre (for Uncut Gems), I returned yesterday to see this. Quite surreal, being back in an environment familiar for nearly 30 years, but off-limits/dangerous this long stretch. Happily(?), the auditorium was sparsely filled, and my movie companion and I sat, per normal preference, in the fifth row, distant from possible infectees, experiencing the movie in peace.

Chloe Zhao's esthetic is miles away from my kind of movie -- I love narrative; she's almost categorically opposed to it. Beyond that, I favor the vividness of characters created from the imagination; she prefers people at life-scale, content with/even proud of their ordinariness. I could well have rebelled against the film (as I did with The Rider). But there's no denying that, within her realm, Zhao creates something impressive, verging on powerful. I have to say I'm hugely glad I saw this on a big screen; the visuals are without question the greatest strength of the film, and absorbing them at the overpowering level only possible in a theatre carried me a long way. Without them, the film's narrative shortcomings might have bored me senseless (as they did in The Rider, watched at home). Even as it is, I think of the film a bit the way I do United 93: I acknowledge it as some kind of singular achievement, but don't care if I never see another film like it.

It must be said that Sabin's take below is spectacularly on-target: this film isn't really about its subject matter or its central character; it's about Chloe Zhao's filmmaking talents. if you like/love this movie, it's because you're enthusiastic about it as a piece of her filmmaking. There's certainly something to be said about having a distinctive, all-your-own voice -- Altman and Malick, for two, are directors I'm not sure could direct a routine screenplay competently, but who've created hugely memorable films only they could have made. I'm not elevating Zhao to their class, but I will say she's got her own vision that's similarly divorced from mainstream movies, and it's worth celebrating on some level.

When I say the visuals are impressive, I don't mean simply in ravishing-beauty terms, like Days of Heaven or Blade Runner 2049. Nomadland certainly has its share of gorgeous shots -- about 2/3 of the movie seems to have been shot at Magic Hour, which any cinematographer knows is going to give you some frameable pictures. But it goes deeper than that. I had the sense that this film is largely a collaboration between Zhao and cinematographer Joshua James Richards -- that she relied on his framing and lighting to convey the film's many moods and subtexts to a far greater degree than anything the actors said or did. If I felt like I'd traveled a journey over the course of the two hours, it was largely through what I picked up in the silences and, especially, from the wordless shots of McDormand interacting with the various lands around her.

Zhao also deserves credit for her use of the many amateurs in the cast. They don't seem like actors, but they also don't quite feel like interviewees in a documentary. For me, Zhao has created a netherworld, where I believed in these people as part of this particular environment, and didn't give that much thought to whether they were professionals or not; I simply accepted them as authentic. In a way, it's variation on Beatty's use of the witnesses in Reds -- though Zhao's esthetic is otherwise quite different from Beatty's.

As for the central actress -- having agreed with Sabin so strongly on Zhao's achievement, I have to disagree with his contention that McDormand (and Strathairn) throw the film out of balance. The potential for such a thing to happen is clearly there -- the old Firesign Theatre line "stories of honest working people, told by rich Hollywood stars" pops to mind. But I found myself thinking, throughout, that McDormand was maybe the one prominent Hollywood actress who wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb in this environment. This is partly because of her cultivated reputation as gnarly maverick -- she's the lady who shows up at the Oscars in something light-years from a evening gown. But it's also her lack of actress-y vanity. When a lot of actresses do the de-glam, it's almost more ostentatious than wearing heavy make-up: they're making sure you see how they've sacrificed their beauty for this effort. McDormand just seems like someone who doesn't have time to throw on make-up, and doesn't really care what you think of her for it. This feels like the performance perhaps closest to her natural self...but maybe that's not the case, Maybe I underrate her as an actress; maybe she's just uniquely capable of making this seem like her slipping into a role so comfortably and easily.

Having said all this in praise, let me return to first principles: this is totally not my kind of movie. The determinedly oblique approach to any kind of drama irked me, even while I admired the consistency of the approach. This is a movie whose dramatic high-point involves someone dropping a box of plates -- and even that is brushed off quickly. I could imagine a different version of the film, where contradictions are heightened, themes are emphasized. And it's possible such a film would be far more banal, less inspired. But it might also engage its audience more deeply.

Which leads to the ultimate banal question: is this movie going to win best picture? Would it in a more "normal" year? To the second question, I'd say it's easy to imagine, in a fuller release schedule, the film doing no better in awards contention than The Florida Project, with which it shares aesthetic characteristics. But you never know. Alfonso Cuaron won best director just year before last for a film that was similarly short on narrative but strong on "filmmaking". Nomadland doesn't seem like the kind of movie that would win best picture...but, over the years, I've seen other films that seemed too off-the-beam for such a consensus award that won anyway (Annie Hall back in the day, The Deer Hunter, and, more recently, No Country for Old Men and The Hurt Locker). On the other hand, there've been other films about which I was similarly doubtful that, after initially bright prospects, fell short at some point -- notable Boyhood, and, for best picture, Roma. Tonight's PGA will give us a strong clue. If Nomadland wins there, it will feel like it's passed a hurdle and, though it won't feel in-the-bank till the moment the last envelope is opened, it will be more likely than not to be this weird year's winner. But if something else (Minari, Promising Young Woman, Trial of the Chicago 7) triumphs, a sense of "this is a critics' movie, not an Oscar movie" might kick in, and cause some other film to rise to the surface.

Bottom line for me: Nomadland wouldn't be my number one choice this year -- I like Promising Young Woman and Judas & the Black Messiah better, with Minari still unseen -- but I like it enough that I wouldn't lament its winning in any serious way.

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Re: Nomadland

Postby nightwingnova » Mon Mar 01, 2021 8:26 pm

I wish there was another mainstream film that Hollywood can rally around this awards season. Nomadland doesn't seem to have any competition.

Nomadland is so depressing. It's not quite the "next American frontier" movie that's been advertised.

There's grit and some optimism, but it's hard to see how the "nomads" live and not be depressed in these very tough times.

A lot of it plays like a docudrama as the nonactors relay the details of their lives. Frances McDormand evokes warmth and empathy towards the bare environs and her fellow tough travelers. David Strathairn doesn't have much to do. It's annoying that some had been touting him for best featured actor.

There isn't much of a story and narrative either, but then the nomads' lives can be very routine.

I question whether the Academy will choose it. But they may, and depress many of their viewers who will then go out and see it. Not the most exciting material.


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