Xavier Dolan

My Home Has No Heart: Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World”

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the end of the worldA ball bearing drops onto its track, the little sphere rolling smoothly held between metal wires, its path never too crooked, never uneven, never too wide or narrow. Marbles need support, but otherwise, they seem like little else but totems used to set things off in motion, as the grander design of the path reveals the intricate workings of something like a Rube Goldberg Machine. For me, it was a letter, or an invoice, rather, that arrived a year after my father’s death and a few weeks after my first semester in college, on Christmas Eve. Seated in the living room, before the enormous television that acted as the only string that could keep my mother, my sister, and me together in any semblance. The string between the three of us had been taut since his death – a combination of emotional abuse, physical abuse, pathological lying, betrayal, and manipulation had been the things to cause the relationships to unravel without control. I avoided leaving my room whenever I was home, lest any threads deteriorate beyond fixing. But, as always, returning home sent me into a fury and depression. My skin crawled when I knew I had to be at home. My mother and I were rarely not at each other’s throats, a simple question to either of us (“What do you want for dinner?”) enough to send us down a spiraling, dizzying path to a shouting match. This letter was the catalyst, the climax taking place the next morning when my sister placed her hands around my throat and, in an effort to get her off of me, I smashed a coffee cup on her head. Merry Christmas to us.

Being in the midst of an argument with a loved one, a family member especially, is like seeing red. Everything disappears – your sense of space, time, the language you use. They’re either volcanic eruptions, building up, or when a flame touches the sulfur tip of a match: an overwhelming burst, a spectacle.

If Xavier Dolan knows anything, he knows that he likes spectacle. His most recent film, It’s Only the End of the World, returns to family dysfunction on a slightly larger scale; where his previous films concerned two or three characters at most, giving the works a focus and a balance, his newest jumps around between the four family members of Louis, a gay prodigal son returning home after a 12 year absence, with the intent of telling his family that he is dying. He is the ball bearing, the marble, and domino, and yet he is not unaffected by the events that follow his homecoming. He must contend with his younger sister, Suzanne (Lea Seydoux), who always wished to know him; his smothering mother Martine (Nathalie Baye); his petty and volatile older brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel); and Antoine’s perceptive and compassionate wife, Catherine (Marion Cotillard). Before long, madness ensues. Read the rest of this entry »

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If I Had My Way: 2016 Awards

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I’m also reminded of the time I was once invited to play fantasy football. It was with some friends, including Kevin Ketchum and Bryan King, and someone had tweeted that it was going to be “film critics vs film fans”. In my naiveté, I thought that suggested that we would be picking actual film critics and film people to play football against one another. I was imagining Richard Roeper and Peter Travers being pummeled and thinking it would be “warm and likeable” to experience. Signing up to begin playing was kind of how I imagine the shoot for The Revenant to be, if I am to believe the press tour. Arduous, stressful, dirty, and bloody. (I gave myself a papercut.) But, in the spirit of making fantasy picks for things that are as foreign to me as heterosexuality, and also an awards show I just suffered through, here are my ideal picks for awards things. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking: On the Objectification of Male Bodies

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chris-prattIt is becoming slightly more popular, of late, to talk about the idea of the objectification of men. In Out Magazine, Kit Harrington, of Games of Thrones fame, spoke on this, saying, “I found it unfair, really, some of the stuff I read [in response to being labeled a sex symbol],” he says. “I was making a point, which was that I think young men do get objectified, do get sexualized unnecessarily. As a person who is definitely in that category, as a young leading man in this world, I feel I have a unique voice to talk about that. I was making a point to sort of say, ‘It just needs to be highlighted.’ With every photo shoot I ever go to, I’m told to take off my shirt, and I don’t.” Conversely, Chris Pratt, whose transformation from the oafish dude on Parks and Recreation to the charismatic leading man of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, argued that, in the name of equality, “it’s important to even things out. Not objectify women less, but objectify men just as often as we objectify women.” But, here’s the thing; I don’t think men can be objectified. By heterosexual audiences at least. Read the rest of this entry »

The Masochist List: Everything from 2014

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Another year gone and another several hundred films watched. And, as per usual, with much effort I made my goal of watching at least 365 in the year. But this, I think, will be the last time I do it. I think I’ve done it for three years, and this will be the last one. My actual New Year’s Resolution (yes, yes, I know it’s late January) will be to watch movies at my own pace without some self-imposed quote or anything. To really enjoy it. (Also, get to some TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch; I’ve been exploring Mad Men lately.) Anyways, here are all the new-to-me movies I watched in 2014, complete with arbitrary grades. (Links are provided if I wrote about the film.) If you want to see my favorites of those from 2014, check them out here. Read the rest of this entry »

My 14 Favorite Films of 2014

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2014 in filmAs I said in another list, this year was slightly different, not only in that I wrote a heck of a lot more, but also in that I just saw more, at least as far as new releases went. My journey to making these lists was a fun one. Finals were already happening and I thought, oh, I have a couple of weeks to finish the seven or so lists I had to make, I have plenty of time. And then I realized I had just over a week. So I crammed in as many 2014 films as I could, and voila!

So, here it is, folks, my final, locked in list of my favorite 14 films that I saw in 2014 (I’m not worrying about US release date or anything, just counting what I saw.)

You can also find my ranked 2014 list on Letterboxd, my top 20 performances at Under the Radar, some capsules I contributed to Under the Radar’s best films of 2014, and to Sound on Sight (my individual ballot here), and my favorite musical moments in film from 2014. And, also, my superlative year in film. And also, my complete list of all the new releases I saw in 2014. Yes, I made a lot of lists this year.

Thanks for taking this cinematic journey with me! I hope 2015 to be as fruitful and fun! Have a safe and very Happy New Year, folks! Read the rest of this entry »

Writer’s Regret: My Favorite Articles from 2014

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My writing really took off this year, for which I thank so many people (Justine Smith, Sam Fragoso, Austin Trunick, Scott Beggs, Jill Blake, Peter Knegt, et al.). I’m very excited for the year to come.

In the meantime, here are some things that I wrote that I didn’t hate.  Read the rest of this entry »