ROUND UP September 4-14, 2018

Hello readers! Enjoy brand-new reviews for Moviejawn, the Young Folks, and the Humble Arts Foundation blog!
"Where Castle’s take on a dystopian America shines brightest, and comes across as most original, is in three areas: the emphasis on the natural landscape of a country that has destroyed and polluted itself beyond belief; the unmistakable nationalism and forced patriotism that is at the root of the new America—not the “United States,” but very purposefully “America;” and the mental effects of dictatorial reconditioning and teaching of false history that every dystopian dictatorship requires in order to keep the citizens compliant and unquestioning. The outside world is lost to war and violence, they are told, but the Board loves and protects true, patriotic Americans by constructing the walls and keeping any danger away from them. In the absence of all traces of traditionally-organized religion, the Board is the recipient of all blessings and prayers, which is reflected even in the characters’ speech patterns. The daily propaganda television broadcasts spell out the importance of loyalty and fealty to the board in terms that might ring true for people who remember television during the Iraq War: patriotism, patriotism, and more patriotism. The use of “citizen” also makes it clear that in the America of the The Seclusion, the Board is almost fetishistically concerned with who belongs, and who doesn’t."
"There are individually-installed works that shine wonderfully as discrete objects. Jill Krementz’s portrait of Eudora Welty, placed in a corner of the gallery space, is beautiful and haunting. The writer is presented in profile at her desk, almost in silhouette, in front of blindingly bright open windows. While the lack of detail given to Eudora herself might make this image seem remote, a peek at the lower foreground of the photo reveals what appears to be a bed frame and rumpled, pale sheets, as if Krementz is sitting on Welty’s bed with her camera. Of course, the lack of information given in Face to Face about Krementz, and how she would have the opportunity to photograph Welty, means that interpreting the positioning of Krementz as the viewer sitting in Welty’s bed is pure speculation. Edward Steichen’s photograph of Alphonse Mucha, as I mentioned before, is brilliantly rendered and sensitive, while Thomas Carabasi abstracts and refracts Lamont Steptoe in a truly thrilling way."
"When you’re in high school, a combination of myopia and self-pity makes you think you’re the victim of every interaction that doesn’t go your own way, the sympathetic protagonist surrounded by jerks who just don’t understand you. In Sierra Burgess is a Loser, we get to see this self-mythologizing shattered in a much more timely and resounding way, decades before the invites for the reunion get mailed out. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily a lesson that’s borne out in Netflix’s update of Cyrano de Bergerac, here recast as an ultimately unpleasant tale of high school mistaken identities and drawn-out catfishing. Despite an honest, tender lead performance from Shannon Purser, too many elements of Sierra Burgess leave such an unpleasant taste in the mouth. “Do you ever feel sometimes like the world is conspiring against you?” Sierra asks in one key scene. No, but the writing and tone in this film certainly have, because you manage to end your story feeling like you’re still a victim of anything other than your own selfishness."

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