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“Jojo Rabbit”, Your Knife Is Calling

Jojo Rabbit!

Near the end of the war when the Fatherland began running low on father figures, you had to make do with what was rationed to you.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Jojo Rabbit One of the Year’s Best Films!

That doesn’t mean much to anyone outside my own head, but it’s fun to type and just stare at it for a while. What if I said things and they mattered? Pretty cool daydream, right? Sometimes it’s comforting to traipse around in a world of pure imagination, until you’re forced to look at it from another angle and recognize when you’re wallowing in nonsense.

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“Parasite”: Scenes from the Class Struggle in South Korea

Parasite!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Truth is in the ear of the believer.

From Bong Joon-Ho, the director of The Host, Snowpiercer, and Okja, a movie with a name like Parasite implies sooner or later there’ll be a monster and bloodletting and bigger, badder, wilder, all-out, off-the-wall, jaw-dropping pandemonium, because moviegoers expect escalation. Several words in that sentence come true and thus is the prophecy fulfilled, but with Joon-Ho it’s best never to think we can expect the unexpected. What most of us think of as “unexpected” is actually very expected because we think along a select number of unconsciously rigid tracks. We clench Occam’s Razor between our fingers and use it to sketch our predictions, drawn from among the most common forms of what average storytellers consider “unexpected” rather than unimaginable forms of unexpected. Preconceptions are a drag even when we think we don’t have any.

Parasite tinkers with quite a few of them. Among the most common and beloved in many a Hollywood tales of late: “Poor = good. Rich = bad.” As us-vs.-them conformist mentalities go, “rich vs. poor” has become among the most exploited. If that’s among your favorite simplistic conflicts, I’m pretty sure Hustlers is still playing in a multiplex near you. Go have fun!

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“The Lighthouse”: Did’st Thou See the Great White Light?

The Lighthouse!

Normally I feel like using a movie poster as a review’s lead image is taking the easy way out, but I find this one utterly mesmerizing and can’t let it go.

It’s that time of year again, when studios release all their film-festival acquisitions in the final quarter of the year in hopes of gaining some awards-based prestige as aesthetic compensation for their previous nine month’s worth of amusement-park spectacles and cheap crowd-pleasing fare. Truly indie companies and corporate-equivalent farm teams alike rush to compete for the same two or three backrooms at every multiplex — those screens snuggled in the way, way back of the building with like smaller screens, 20-30 seats, and the distinct feeling that you could probably get away with murder in there and no employee would ever notice. In the summer those screens are usually reserved for Marvel movies going on their twentieth week in release.

Many markets aren’t large enough to offer that much accommodation to tinier, pluckier cinematic gems. For the past decade Indianapolis has had one (1) theater more diligently dedicated above all the rest to showcasing the rare, the quirky, and the severely underfunded. Naturally it’s on the most affluent side of town far from our little hovel, but from time to time I’m happy to put in the mileage to trek up there. Plans are afoot to literally triple Indy’s art-house options by the end of 2020, which will be awesome if they come to pass. For now, there’s just the one. Sometimes the other, larger theaters pitch in, but nowhere nearly as consistently.

Speaking of truly singular things: that brings us to The Lighthouse, the new film from writer/director Robert Eggers. His feature-film debut, 2015’s The Witch, was a lovingly crafted artisanal piece that relished its archaic speech patterns, throwback cinematography, precipitous descents into the bottomless pits of human sin, endings that give the audience nightmares for weeks, and mean-spirited animals. To that extent his sophomore exploit The Lighthouse feels familiar, a summary rejection of how today’s movies are “supposed” to be made in favor of exploring roads rarely taken anymore, using methods they probably don’t teach in film school anymore, and with the most disturbing demeanor conceivable.

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MCC Live-Tweeting: That Final Trailer for “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker”

Threepio!

Threepio jacked in Matrix-style, trying to be among the first 300 to see the new trailer and get misty-eyed.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last spring my wife and I had the sincere pleasure of watching the first full-length trailer Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in its premiere airing at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, surrounded by thousands of fellow fans:

The crowd watched as one. We cheered as one. We whooped and hollered as one. Together we held our breath in the seconds before the subtitle was revealed to the entire world at that very moment after years of speculation. Together we got it. Tens of thousands of voices cried out in Chicago with the interjections and expletives of their choosing. To say nothing of the reactions of the Viewers at Home.

Whether the setting is a state-of-the-art theater or an extra-large flea market, there’s something about a geek harmonic convergence that convention showrunner fiat and any number of internet trolls can’t blast away.

There was no convention to attend for the new trailer’s premiere tonight during Monday Night Football halftime, unless you count the game itself. I doubt they showed the trailer live at the stadium, but who knows. No, for this event I was at home at the same time as millions of other viewers, online and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. It wasn’t nearly the same kind of experience as the previous trailer, especially since I was trying to watch Black Lightning when it finally premiered around 9:50 pm EDT, give or take a few minutes, right in the middle of a key development with the Pierce family.

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“Downton Abbey”: For Fans and Country

Downton Abbey!

Perhaps a bit smaller than stately Wayne Manor, but it’ll have to do.

We thought we’d seen the last of our favorite early-20th-century British property owners, their splendidly ornate possessions, their struggle to maintain their lifestyle even as all their peers fail in droves, and the working-class employees who were more like us. Even though the series finale brought closure and a happy ending — without the doom and gloom that traumatized us in earlier years, no less — leave it to writer/creator Julian Fellowes to confound those expectations and serve one last course of fan service for Anglophiles.

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“Joker”: The Day the Clown Cried and People Died

Joker!

Toys and statues now available on Etsy and eBay! For other versions, check your local comic shops, big-box stores, Barnes & Noble toy sections, or good ol’ Amazon! Buy Joker stuff wherever you shop, work or bank!

Every review of Todd Phillips’ controversial Joker that I’ve read so far — and I’ve read several, none of them by youngsters who love DC Comics unconditionally, but not all of them scathing — has name-checked Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver because, per their consensus, the homage is so derivative that it’s practically an attempted reboot of both, or possibly the conclusion to the trilogy they never were.

I haven’t watched Taxi Driver in over twenty years, and I’ve yet to see The King of Comedy, which wasn’t available on any of my streaming-service subscriptions as of a week before release. Aside from noting how hard I snickered at an obvious, neutered copycat of the famous “You talkin’ to me?” scene, that means I can’t simply spend 1500 words deriding its Scorsese allusions scene by scene, and will instead have to come up with my own words and thoughts, as opposed to typing a derivative homage to all those other reviews. IF it turns out like that anyway, don’t blame me. It’s everyone else’s fault but mine.

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