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PICKS OF THE MONTH

diskurso art magazine's

March 2021 Picks

Published March 31, 2021

Political cartoon

>1

ANG ALAMAT NG AYUDA!

WE have yet to to trace the cartoon to its artist or first posting on social media or elsewhere on the Internet, but, in the meantime, we salute the artwork's current viral presence on Facebook and Twitter for its wit. But, also, because this presence signifies this: it may be true that government-watching investigative journalism in the Philippines has largely been put on hold, but the expression of political beliefs has certainly not been lessened despite legal abuse threats against the same. This cartoon's belief, classic in its cynicism towards what it deems as an opaque system for government offices' use of public funds and loans, is loudly illustrated here, never mind that it also advertises a canned mackerel brand in the process.

Film

>2

Sentinelle

(Streaming release: 5 March 2021, Netflix)

THIS is a French B movie. It may not have the best of scripts for the rape and revenge film subgenre, but its inescapable relationship to our post-#MeToo time begs this question: should the rape and revenge film really fall under the exploitation film category, or is that library science habit already reeking of political and social conservatism akin to, say, a Fox News evaluation of things?
    Granted, in many countries vigilantism is a part of rightist lexicon, especially when it comes to illegal drugs or any popular problem like that that the Right has used for its political campaigns. But rightism is also synonymous with toxic masculinity, sexism, and privilege, so much so that vigilantism resorted to in the name of anti-rape missions might be identified more as a left-leaning trope than not. Is it any wonder, then, that Bombshell (2019) came out as very US Democrat despite that film's subject-victim's having been party to US Republican toxicities both before and after that subject's victimization?
    Now, it so happens that Julien Leclerq
's Sentinelle, which the director realized from a story and script written by him and Matthieu Serveau, also tackles the issue of abuse of diplomatic immunity as well as the question about the people who decide who should be tagged as the world's terrorists and who shouldn't. Which could have been "exploited" to more profound levels other than through the title merely (unfortunately it was not, at least not explicitly or obviously advertently).
    But implicitly, perhaps, it bares a few sociological values. For one, although the film is probably not quite as emotional a rape and revenge movie as 1976's Lipstick and Insiang were, it definitely updates the revenge methods of The Bride Wore Black (1968), this time via the body of a female (played by Olga Kurylenko) who's a top-of-her-class albeit traumatized veteran of Opération Chammal and is now wallowing in Nice as part of the city's counter-terrorist Opération Sentinelle. Of course not all rape victims can have such a sister with both the training and the willingness to sacrifice career for the attainment of justice, but what the story says is that it's about time women weaponize further their fight against the crime, given the furthered advantages the laws of nations have allowed the already-privileged inhabitants of this planet in relation to sexual assault felonies. Semantically, this is Lipstick and The Bride Wore Black times sixty!
    Because, yes, the film is decidedly left-leaning in its focus on rape/sexual assault as a product of privilege, here represented by a Russian tycoon of a malefactor who owns a villa in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. And the film's validation of vigilantism as a moral recourse is expressed through its claim that many members of both the National Police and the GIGN are either too inefficient or too corrupt to ever genuinely tackle the problem of rape in France.

Documentary film

>3

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal

(Release date: 17 March 2021, Netflix)

YOU have to hand it to American society's high regard for the actions of non-partisan and pro-people federal investigations, and the journalistic focus that accompanies these actions, and how this regard paves the way for breakthroughs such as the one that's portrayed in this Chris Smith documentary (aided by Matthew Modine's dramatization of Rick Singer's person).
    However, there's a context that needs to be highlighted in all that's coming out of this. It's that American education, along with education systems all over the world patterned from it, has been exposed here as totally elitist in a money- or power-based way. It should really be an embarrassment, if you can compare these systems to, say, Norway's.

    Additionally, the case (and the film) exposes the fact that this elitism has actually been operating from a social illusion of prestige, operating among the middle class, the upper middle class, and the upper classes. This illusion's being an illusion is not only backed by the fact that a graduate from an Ivy League school cannot really guarantee his/her person's coming out into the world as one of its best, academically or even cognitively speaking. It's also backed by that other fact that says not everything is taught or can be learned from these schools. Don't be surprised if, for instance, many social science grads from these schools haven't heard of "direct democracy" of the Swiss sort yet. We weren't when a grad from Yale that we know couldn't seem to tell the difference between a totally corrupt existing government and one that would be less so.

    By the way, the film says Rick Singer also operated in the Philippines. Hmm.

    What are the takeaways from this film?
    Angie Han of FilmWeek (KPCC - NPR West) wrote in her review: "You come away feeling a little bit differently about not just the scandal itself, but the systems that gave rise to it."

    But Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admission, blurted out a pessimistic line near the end of the film when he said: "This scandal is not necessarily a reason for colleges to change their ways. Because it makes the colleges seem more exclusive and desirable than ever."
    Indeed, the film ends with this text: "The 'back door' remains open at many colleges, for those willing to pay."
    Now, sure, we know it'll be hard to change the wealthy's ways in regard to the aforementioned illusions of prestige, given how these self-imposed illusions influence their ambitions as well as their actions within their neighborhoods. But what must the rest of the world's population do who are trapped in this same kind of illusion-filled system? Here are some hints:
    "What are we doing to these kids by pounding them into the ground with 'top 25', 'top 10', 'top 5'? Because, ultimately, where you do go to school has little or no effect on what will happen to you in the future." - Barbara Kalmus, independent education consultant.
    "The United States has over 3,000 colleges. You have infinite choices." - Akil Bello, test prep expert.
    "Forget about USC. Go someplace else. You can get a great education almost any place if you want it." - Jon Reider, former Stanford admissions officer.

    Remember, the snobbishness of an Ivy League-like credentialism with its recurrent argumentum ad verecundiam pose will only lead to educational inflation, people. Even to rightist anti-intellectualism.

Late-night talk show segment, political satire piece, political deconstruction work

>4

Tucker Carlson: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

(YouTube upload date: 15 March 2021)

NOW that many of us may have already forgotten that damning video in 2019 by Dutch historian Rutger Bregman about Tucker Carlson, the Fox News talk show host and proponent of Trumpist American conservatism and other alt-rightist talk, here comes what might just be deemed as the thing that picked up from where Bregman left off, and this on mainstream TV! Comedian and political satirist John Oliver, in a segment in his late-night talk show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, virtually expanded on Bregman's views about Fox News and Carlson, committing 24+ minutes of his time to deconstructing the very persona and language of Carlson in a way that linguists and political pundits would envy for not having had the same privilege to do the same under that many number of TV minutes.

Music album, spoken word album

>5

For Those I Love

(Release date: 26 March 2021. Label: September. Genres: progressive house, spoken word)

CRACK Magazine: "Grief is a fickle monster, and on For Those I Love, (Donaghmede-based David Balfe, aka For Those I Love) captures the beast with a visceral clarity."
    
The Guardian: "A eulogy for a dead friend, David Balfe’s stirring debut combines lyrics on class, death and despair with clubland highs and hope."

    Dork: "With a pain at times so real that it can almost be touched, its smartest trick is turning it into something approaching euphoria with its mix of poetry and exhilarating dance beats."
    Uncut: "Like Dublin's answer to Mike Skinner or Burial, Dave Balfe relentlessly intones stories and reflections of urban life against a kaleidoscopic and sometimes claustrophobic electro background, speckled with found sounds and home recordings."

    Loud and Quiet: "Each track is unique and there’s not a bad song here. Conversations between mates, exclamations about the demise of punk and unique beats wind themselves around the listener’s mind until it is completely claimed, fertile ground for an outpouring of pain and love and the unfairness and bittersweetness of history."
    thefortyfive.com: "Balfe couldn’t have expected that his album would land in a year where all too many people around the world are trying to pick themselves up after unexpected loss, but it’s a record of great solidarity, proving that memory is so much more than headstones and regrets over things that weren’t said."

    The Line of Best Fit: "His creation of such an overt sense of nostalgia, grief, loss and mourning, whilst also making time to make statements on social justice issues, is impressive."

    The Independent: "For Those I Love is as much a piece of history as it is a work of art.... A staggering album...."

    NME: "‘For Those I Love’ is not only an immaculate debut, but a beautiful record that speaks to anyone who’s ever loved and lost, anyone who might be mourning or just processing the days of youthful abandon, or perhaps those who need reminding that you can’t have shadows without the light."
    musicOMH: "Anchoring the album with his own painful history and never admitting defeat, Balfe has scripted an exhilarating album that contends with unimaginable loss whilst warmly celebrating persistence."

    Clash: "It’s a story of survival, a project remarkable in its completeness. ‘For Those I Love’ is a truly exquisite achievement in which the redemptive hope that love and friendship provide is never allowed to sink beneath the waters."
    Mojo: "Haunted and intimate, Balfe’s deep brogue ultimately salvages hope from the wreckage."

    The Irish Times: "Balfe throws himself into these songs wholeheartedly, teeth gritted as he runs the gamut of anger, pain, nostalgia and sadness. As a result, he has made not only a powerful record but a potentially important one."

    Gigwise: "Balfe’s wounded outpourings are all too seldom heard from male voices across society, and for that reason, this is an album that will rightly be remembered for years to come."

Music album

>6

Great Spans of Muddy Time

(Release date: 19 March 2021. Label: Tough Love. Genres: art pop, progressive pop)

BEATS Per Minute: "This is music of depression without ever giving into it; music of depression refusing to be depressive. Instead, it has its sights firmly marked on emerging from it, towards an inevitable, if perhaps grimly distant, return to normalcy and life anew."

    Clash: "This is a messy, distracted record for messy, distracted times. Its creator has produced something studiously imperfect, a cracked vase that’s beauty you can’t help but admire while still wishing you could see it perfect and whole."

    Loud and Quiet: "Great Spans jettisons reference for dizzying experience. Foraging further into the wilderness, (William Doyle) has uncovered a maximalist Lynchian heaven from the undergrowth."

    The Line of Best Fit: "In many ways, Muddy Time is William Doyle’s least accessible, most sonically oppressive collection to date, with no room for anything less than complete engagement, and utter focus. The ambient passages are ruthlessly short, as though shorn from a much more appealing, much more inviting whole, and most of the vocal tracks manage to be both exquisitely English and curiously other, as though they were summoned into being by a Replicant from Milton Keynes. Across the whole collection, Muddy Time is bewildering, gorgeous and riveting in equal measure, a grand collage of the finest moments of soft-focus thinking-person's rock from the past 50 years."

Music album

>7

Carnage

(Release date: 25 February 2021. Label: Goliath. Genres: art rock, chamber pop)

DIY: "A thrilling piece of work that sources a sweet spot between the unbound introspection of The Bad Seeds’ recent work and the furious fire lit beneath Grinderman and The Birthday Party."
    The Guardian: "(Nick Cave’s) rich writing and (Warren Ellis’s) dense sounds form a reliably potent picture of locked-down end times and the fantasy of redemption."
    Louder Than War
: "Brutal, beautiful and occasionally very funny."

    The Telegraph: "The thoughtful maestro of rock's new record is a vivid, brutal accounting of the human instinct for self-preservation in a crisis."

    Spectrum Culture: "Even when we can't escape tragedy, Cave sees us through."

    Consequence of Sound: "On Carnage, Cave and Ellis don’t tread any new paths ... But what Cave and Ellis have crafted with Carnage is a refreshing respite from chaos, a record that sits at the burning edge of dawn and anticipates destruction’s undoing."
    Sputnikmusic: "You can chalk Carnage up as anything from a zeitgeist experiment to a flawed masterpiece, but there’s something precious and compassionate at its heart that I honestly believe will make the world a better place in its own peculiar way, beyond the scope of critical evaluation."

    Clash: "Constructed amid the dystopia of 2020, ‘CARNAGE’ instead stands as something unique, the sound of two vastly experienced musicians removing themselves from expectations, and constructing something both beautiful and visceral, tender and blood-thirsty, wholly terrifying and completely absorbing."

    The Observer: "The grief remains, but Cave’s hunger for retribution is back too, heightened at every turn by Ellis’s strings, on this wild, writerly masterpiece."

Music album

>8

Invisible Cities

(Release date: 26 February 2021. Label: Ninja Tune. Genres: modern classical, ambient)

ALLMUSIC: "A Winged Victory for the Sullen, the neo-classical duo consisting of Dustin O'Halloran and Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie, were commissioned to compose the score to a Leo Warner-directed multimedia stage production based on Italo Calvino's 1972 novel Invisible Cities. The 90-minute show premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July 2019, and was scheduled for a worldwide tour before COVID-19 derailed the plans. The duo released a 42-minute studio album of material drawn from the production, and the music easily stands out on its own, even without the choreography and high-res video projections. O'Halloran and Wiltzie have scored numerous films and dance pieces before, and as with previous AWVFTS efforts, they seem uninterested in following typical cinematic clichés with their work."
    The Line of Best Fit: "The score . . . continues the duo’s musical excursions developed in the last album, The Undivided Five, which was inspired by the paintings of Hilma af Klint."
    Record Collector: "It's firmly in post-rock ambient soundscape territory — sometimes a new dawn ('Every Solstice & Equinox'), sometimes a fresh threat ('The Dead Outnumber the Living'), but the dynamism on display (brass, strings, synth, chorus, drone) mirrors the production's multimedia blend of theatre, music, dance and architectural design."
    Clash: "This is an album where being a musical flaneur is possible. So, get comfortable and get lost in this dense, but strangely translucent world."

    musicOMH: "The likes of 'So That The City Can Begin To Exist' and 'The Divided City' stay closer to familiar territory, suspended piano chords gliding through the dense fog of the strings. The same applies on 'The Dead Outnumber The Living' which moves like orbiting satellites or ripples across vast, cold lakes. The recurring motifs in 'Only Strings And Their Supports Remain' show that while the title of the album relates to urban settings, in another sense they continue to conjure music well suited to arctic landscapes."

    Under the Radar: "Somewhat of a departure from the shimmering beauty of the layered, symphonic delights and the peaceful inner spaces of the rich ambient soundscapes this duo is known for, this dynamic assortment of instrumental compositions elicits a wide range of moods. But the intricacies are skillfully executed and ebb and flow in precise combination for a perfect soundtrack or as a stand-alone, demonstrative instrumental album."

    Spectrum Culture: "Like all the best scores, this one exists as an excellent work worth absorbing even outside of any visual context . . . while never really betraying the band’s Debussy-worshipping core."

    Pitchfork: "Calvino deployed heightened emotion with schematic rigor—most of (the Invisible Cities book’s Wikipedia page) is concerned with its intricate internal structure. (He was a member of Oulipo, some French authors who started trying to write literature with math in the 1960s.) In a different way, AWVFTS does the same thing."

Music album

>9

Dream Weapon

(Release date: 26 March 2021. Label: Relapse Records. Genres: progressive metal, experimental metal, math rock)

EXCLAIM!: "Meditations on humanity's impact on the Earth will remain prevalent as the world continues to navigate challenging times. . . . Dream Weapon is a transportive odyssey that casts humanity's end as an inevitable reality with an opportunity for renewal, and offers a space where listeners can reflect on what that might mean to them, or just lay back and enjoy the ride."

    Kerrang!: "In the second half of the ​’00s, Poughkeepsie, New York’s Genghis Tron dropped two of the most groundbreaking metal records of the decade, blending electronics and contorted guitar violence to staggering effect. . . . The easing back on aggression and sonic devastation might alienate some of their long term fans, but atmospherically speaking it still feels like Genghis Tron, and it’s attention-grabbing from start to finish. . . . Genghis Tron Version 2.0 makes for one of the most exciting returns to action in recent years, and with Dream Weapon they have only cemented their enviable legacy."

Music album

>10

As Days Get Dark

(Release date: 5 March 2021. Label: Rock Action. Genres: slowcore, indietronica)

SPECTRUM Culture: "Scotland’s greatest exporters of sadcore return after a 16-year break-up with an irresistibly strong and delightfully maudlin comeback album that stands tall as one of their greatest works yet."
    
musicOMH: "As Days Get Dark is a remarkable return, a new Arab Strap that updates, deepens and re-energises their sound."
    Gigwise: "It begs you to dive into its murky waters headfirst and peer at what lays beneath this puddle of gloom, and see the album for what it really is: a triumphant and true return to self."
    NME: "With lyrics that encompass the reality of ageing with all its wisdom and regrets, and with music that employs the deftness of touch that can only come with long-term honing, Arab Strap have delivered their defining record."
    
Beats Per Minute: "They sound so comfortable together on As Days Get Dark that the album is an endorsement for reunions only occurring when there is true renewal of purpose and vision."

    Clash: "Maturity doesn’t mean mediocrity. It’s turned their focus widescreen, though the beady eye doesn’t spare its glee for the gory details. It’s just bigger, in every way. Musically, texturally, lyrically."

    PopMatters: "Arab Strap's comeback album 'As Days Get Dark' stirs fond memories while making a quantum leap forward."

    Louder Than War: "It’s a deeply immersive album from beginning to end; like a good book, it’s almost impossible to put As Days Get Dark down once you’ve started."

DVD and Blu-ray disc film release

>11

News of the World

(First theatrical release: 25 Dec 2020. Streaming release: 15 Jan 2021. DVD/Blu-ray release: 23 Mar 2021)

MARK Kermode of The Observer and The Guardian: "'I ain’t never heard of newsreading as a business before.' So says a wide-eyed Fred Hechinger in writer-director Paul Greengrass’s visually expansive yet oddly intimate adaptation of Paulette Jiles’s 2016 novel – a hybrid western that comes on like The Searchers or True Grit bizarrely crossed with Broadcast News. The setting might be post-civil war north Texas, but there’s no mistaking the modern-day parallels as Tom Hanks travels the land, dramatically reading down-to-earth stories from a selection of newspapers and journals....
    "... Yet this show is almost stolen from Hanks by young German actor Helena Zengel, a mesmerising screen presence who made such an impact in Nora Fingscheidt’s System Crasher, and who here confirms herself as a star in the making....
    "...even with the lockdown-enforced strictures of a Netflix-only UK release, (News of the World) still strikes a timely chord, thanks to an empathic script co-written by Lion screenwriter Luke Davies, which inventively addresses the contemporary spectre of truth versus 'alternative facts', alongside issues of racism, exploitation, and newsreading as storytelling....
    "...I found this a rewarding and entertaining drama, heavy with the weight of the past, yet buoyed up by the possibilities of the future."
    David Bax of battleshippretension.com: "News of the World survives its own shortcomings by reminding us that that it's only one of countless similarly tiny but important parts of the solution."

    Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat of spiritualityandpractice.com: "Western about the healing power of storytelling and kindness as a spiritual practice."

Music album

>12

For Those That Wish to Exist

(Release date: 26 February 2021. Label: Epitaph. Genres: metalcore, alternative metal)

UPSETMAGAZINE.COM: "If ‘Holy Hell’ was Architects shining a spotlight on their story so far, ‘For Those That Wish To Exist’ is their magnum opus. This is the sound of Architects once again ascending the ladder on their journey to becoming the scene leaders of British heavy metal."

    Dork: "Cohesive, coherent and demanding of us an explanation, ‘For Those…’ shall not relent until wrongs have been righted, and being this righteous never sounded so good."
    DIY: "The bleaker things get, the stronger they emerge."

>13

Public interest advertising outdoor media campaign

Video of one of the outdoor ads in Terre des Hommes' It's time to change perspective outdoor media campaign. The campaign was created with Acne, Italy

Terre des Hommes' It's time to change perspective outdoor media ad campaign

(Launched 8 March 2021 by Acne ad agency, Milan, Italy)

ON behalf of Terre des Hommes, the press release from ACNE ad agency, Milan, states:
    "
On International Women's Day – 8 March – Terre des Hommes presents in Italy the first mini outdoor campaign that invites citizens to look at the monuments in their cities from a different point of view: the female one, relaunching a petition to build a statue dedicated to girls who have been victims of violence.

    "Just look around: in Milan, as in most of Italy, almost every statue is dedicated to a male figure. And yet, history is full of women who deserve their own monument. Terre des Hommes brings out a new perspective, literally: 3 installations, 3 special billboards placed in 3 squares in Milan that allow the viewer - thanks to perspective - to visually 'replace' the current statues with a female alternative."

>14

Film, young adult fiction work

Moxie

(Streaming release: 3 March 2021, Netflix)

RICHARD Propes of TheIndependentCritic.com: "Moxie may not be the revolutionary film it was born to be, but it's still a strong directorial effort from (Amy Poehler)."

    Tom Meek on Cambridge Day: "Based on Jennifer Mathieu's popular YA novel, this sprightly yet deeply dark tale about racism and sexism...is an empowering victory lap for young women who feel marginalized."

    Brad Newsome of The Sydney Morning Herald: "Well-attuned to the blind spots and sanctimony of the well-meaning, it's a worthwhile thought- and conversation-starter for anyone with teenagers."

    Robert Levin on Newsday: "The movie takes Vivian and her fellow students seriously, rather than making the easy mistake of regarding them from a distance."

    Mark Kermode on The Independent: "A film that manages to address the spectre of bullying, harassment and rape with a sturdy spirit of defiance, humour and, most importantly, collective optimism."

    Sarah Ward of concreteplayground.com: "Always as impassioned about its tale and as angry about the way the world treats anyone who isn't a white male as it is engaging and hopeful."

    Ashley Lara on thespool.net: "Moxie is a fun revolutionary take on the high school movie, even if it takes a while to find its footing."

    Asia Frey on Lagniappe: "'Moxie' is definitely on a soapbox, but it's my soapbox, so I loved it... Even the film's shortcomings led to some good discussion at my house, and I just unabashedly enjoyed watching it with my teenage daughter."

Interview and concert

>15

the saved video of the livestream

Adrianne Lenker - Performance & Interview (Live on KEXP at Home)

(Livestream recorded 11 December 2020; saved file uploaded 2 March 2021 by KEXP)

FINALLY the saved video file has been uploaded to YouTube.
    We're happy to share this livestream file's upload because the online interview part of it, done by DJ Morgan of KEXP of Seattle last 11 December, leads us to, among other interesting stories, valuable backgrounders on Adrianne Lenker's excruciating but good-company albums from last year, songs and instrumentals. It also leads us to some nifty ars poetic philosophies behind Lenker's songwriting and particularly to some oral notes from her about the lyrics to the four songs from songs that she chose for the livestream, namely "anything," "zombie girl," half return," and "forwards beckon rebound." It's quite helpful that the auto-generated subtitles of the video get it almost perfectly.
    Lenker's telling of the rich stories behind these lyrics would come before and/or after every song performance. And while the interview is happening with the singer-songwriter placed in Tucson, Arizona, the concert portion of the livestream consists of pre-recorded performance videos shot when the sun was setting in Joshua Tree National Park, California.
    Against all the electronic walls of sound in our time, many of which have pretty agreeable reasons to rightfully continue to exist, folk music is being revived once again by the marketing departments of American record companies through such notable artists as Brandi Carlile, Conor Oberst, Fleet Foxes, Laura Marling, and Lenker, among a few more. In a new century where there's been so much noise about returning to old ways with nature, there can be no better vehicle for the same message in music than through acoustic folk, even when it has to recurrently come with bits of lo-fi sound collage as happens in Lenker's 2020 albums.

DVD and Blu-ray disc release

>16

Pinocchio

(First theatrical release: 19 December 2019, Italy. Select 2020 theatrical releases: 15 May, Taiwan; 7 August, UK; 17 September, Saudi Arabia; 1 October, Singapore; 22 October, Thailand; 25 December, USA and Canada. Streaming release: 23 February 2021. DVD releases: 16 October 2020, German edition; 2 March 2021, US and international edition)

THIS started streaming on 24 February (Philippine time). But we're more happy about the fact that it is now out on DVD/Blu-ray this month, for it's definitely a classic in the sense that it's worth repeated re-watches as a 2020s iteration of the Pinocchio character. Not only because it's a treatment that has stayed close to Carlo Collodi's quasi-didactic version but also because it has bonnily brought out that version as a disturbing yet enjoyable moving person, thanks to director Matteo Garrone's able visualizations, for our time of advanced cinematic technology and advanced stages of moral crises.
    Heavily aided though Garrone was by his and Massimo Ceccherini's introspective screenplay for a concise outcome of the project, kudos as well to the actors, notably Federico Ielapi as Pinocchio, Roberto Benigni as Geppetto, and Alida Baldari Calabria as the bambina La Fata Turchina (Lady with Turquoise Hair), for completing the dark delight of the film's hidden allegory.
    Before we paraphrase what we're trying to say here, let us just first quote some thoughts from a few reviews of this work:
    Sean P. Means of moviecricket.net: "The visuals are inventive . . ."
    Charlotte O'Sullivan of London Evening Standard: "Right from the start, Garrone's Pinocchio seems like a real boy, which makes it even more disturbing, and delightful, when the wood becomes flesh."
    John Bleasdale of Sight & Sound: "A beautiful and cleverly-crafted piece which manages to be a faithful return to Collodi's original tale and very much the director's own take."
    Joseph Walsh of Time Out: "The result is a bizarre fairytale extravaganza, and Garonne should be credited for the thoughtful way he has brought his vision to life."
    Nick Hasted of The Arts Desk: "Garrone's steady eye for the bizarre and ironic ensures an engrossing spectacle to spark children's imaginations in a world adults will wearily vouch for."
    Dan Lybarger of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: "Garrone's take is darker than Uncle Walt's, but like Disney, he imbues his take with a reliable sense of wonder. As a result, Pinocchio's path away from being a literal blockhead is delightful."
    So, you see, it's a repeated DVD-watch of the work that would allow us to be more nosy towards the details that have worked fully for the success of the film's narrative ironies, its being both delightful and disturbing, as we said above, details which should include the achievements of Dimitri Capuani's production design, Massimo Cantini Parrini's costume design, Nicolai Brüel's cinematography, Dalia Colli and Mark Coulier's makeup and prosthetic makeup, Francesco Pegoretti's hair design, Theo Demiris and Rodolfo Migliari's visual effects, Dario Marianelli's music score, Maricetta Lombardo's sound team's work, and Marco Spoletini's editing.
    In the era of post-Trump and still-China-influenced global politics still flailing the magnet of the two superpowers' horseshoe strength all over the world through their "versions of the truth," it's good to know there's a film reminding us of how the devil can still be seen in the details and how end products can't ever lie, this through a rally for knowledge to go with our respective good nature. In the midst of all the anti-intellectual deceptions from the confidence tricksters of the fascist right (whether of the anti-China or the China-sponsored kind), we are easy prey for the antifa-fearing sets of parties who motor today's lies, for they are armed with the gaslighting art of their populist-empowered conscripted ignorant (they who "live as puppets" and "die as puppets"). It is these useful idiots, these donkeys of the right with sponges for minds, who continue to unwittingly punish themselves like Pinocchio and frustrate all relief to the already-desperate Geppettos of the world.

Film

>17

The Father

(Streaming release: 25 March 2021, Prime Video)

WE will never be able to get into the shoes of someone suffering from dementia as observers. But in The Father, French director Florian Zeller turns his play Le Père, with British playwright-screenwriter Christopher Hampton helping him with the script, into something that brings to the screen those elements of cinematic storytelling that may just have provided the world, finally, a convincing moving illustration of how it might actually feel to have dementia. This with the help of Anthony Hopkins' and Olivia Colman's expectedly superb-as-usual lead-acting, of course.

    It's true that the acting performances own a large percentage of the compound of craftsmanship that carries this play-into-film project through.
    Dominic Griffin in
The Armchair Auteur: "The film is a gripping look at aging and dementia, featuring top notch performances and impressive craft."

    Particularly on Hopkins' performance Matthew Monagle of The Austin Chronicle wrote: "It is a credit to the performance that we are never entirely sure how much Anthony understands at any given moment. The line between righteous indignation and self-preservation has been completely blurred."
    On Colman's, Anita Katz of San Francisco Examiner penned: "In the potentially dreary role of a devoted daughter dealing with a parent experiencing one of human physiology's saddest realities, Colman helps make the movie an unsentimental heartbreaker."

    But, definitely, Zeller has also masterfully delivered to the people facing their respective home screens this year the insight of his stage play.

    MaryAnn Johanson of flickfilosopher.com writes: "A deeply compassionate, deeply unnerving portrait of a man suffering from dementia and losing his grip on reality. The empathy machine of cinema has rarely been put to such uncomfortably intimate use."

Music album

>18

DEACON

(Release date: 26 March 2021. Label: Secretly Canadian. Genres: alternative R&B, art pop)

DORK: "‘DEACON’ deftly highlights serpentwithfeet’s growth as an artist, and its honesty and warmth mean it’s destined to be one of the most important albums of 2021."
    
Entertainment Weekly: "Where Soil embraced the discord of romantic entanglements, Deacon, its follow-up, is a celebration of the opposite: the comfort, light, and assurance that swells from deep connection."

    thefortyfive.com: "Where ‘soil’ shouldered heavy production and even heavier emotion, ‘Deacon’ strips away layers of hurt, pain, and hate, and only love and happiness remain."
    Paste
: "Where serpent mourned fizzling loves on soil and debut EP blisters, here, he hails the simple glories and everyday little moments of thriving Black queer romances."

    Slant Magazine: "The artist scales back the divine aspirations and melodramatic tendencies, resulting in his most secular work to date."

    The Independent: "In the universally accepting, technicolour world DEACON creates, serpent is free to love and to just be. It may well serve as inspiration for others to do the same."
    Consequence of Sound: "Serpent uses the album as a way to turn blessings upon his friends, and his beloved and admired ones, and the result is a series of love stories, addresses, and snapshots that show how it is not in love’s nature to consider confinement."
    
NME: "Album two softens the more uneasy edges of the Baltimore artist's earlier releases and celebrates Black gay love – with blissful results."

    Gigwise: "DEACON is a record manifesting warmth. A record full of love. It is practically impossible not to love it."

Music album

>19

Smiling with No Teeth

(Release date: 5 March 2021. Label: House Anxiety, Ourness. Genres: neo-soul, alternative R&B, experimental hip hop)

THE Line of Best Fit: "(Ghanaian-born and Canberra-based music artist Genesis Owusu’s) debut offering not only manages to deftly balance style with substance, but does so with a jubilance that gives as much reason to curl up your own most toothy grin."
    The Arts Desk
: "Smiling With No Teeth brings to mind an overdose of references, but the musical magpie-ism is more Prince than pastiche."
    DIY: "Like Gorillaz, Outkast or even The Weeknd before him, he plays well with dark and sinister, throwing theatrical voice in a musical hall of mirrors with real versatility."

    NME: "With ‘Smiling With No Teeth’, Genesis Owusu has delivered a riveting album that underscores the power of self-knowledge, perspective and art – one that should be cranked loud."