Moments Out of Time 2018

Images, lines, gestures, moods from the year’s films

* At the movies, Roma: German slapstick on screen in deep distance, a pair of lovers in closeup silhouette in left of frame, gray ranks of anonymous filmgoers in between. The space is familiar, auspicious, yet somehow fraught. Camera does not move, but things come undone….
* “I felt like I was Jacob wrestling all night long with the angel, fighting in the grasp. Every sentence, every question, every response a mortal struggle. It was exhilarating.” Rev. Toller (Ethan Hawke), First Reformed…
* Leave No Trace
: the myriad intonations and valences Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie can get into “Dad”…
* Pirandellian rewrite: At the outset of The Other Side of the Wind—begun 1970, completed 2018—Peter Bogdanovich speaks with old-age voice….
* The Death of Stalin: body tumbling down stairs in background as Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale) makes his rounds…
* Hereditary: rooms that suggest dollhouse miniatures, and may be…
* Filial love in You Were Never Really Here: Joe’s honk honk honk mock hammering of Mom; Joaquin Phoenix and Judith Roberts
* The endless, obscuring, occasionally decapitating frames of civilization in Zama; maddening protocols and deflections…
* The Old Man and the Gun: Forrest/Robert Redford’s “yeah it’s for real” shrug after slipping note to bank teller…
* The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: the Wingless Thrush (Harry Melling) catching snowflakes in his mouth…
* Lisa (Regina Hall) almost falling asleep in the midday sun—Support the Girls…
* Widows: Dog in arms blinks as Veronica (Viola Davis) enters husband’s workshop….
* If Beale Street Could Talk: moving “furniture” in the loft…
* Bohemian Rhapsody: cats in window watching Freddie’s limo leave for the concert…
* Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) petting a rabbit while having her hair brushed—The Favourite…
* Michael Myers mask rising out of car trunk—Halloween…
* Border: yearning through windowglass—werewolves in love?…
* A Quiet Place: Creature that can’t see and one who can’t hear pass in the night….
* “Being dead” up on the roof, Roma…
* “Go for a cruise,” the horseman proposes, and his steed breaks into fluid glide, camera tracking right along. Brady Jandreau, The Rider

Brady Jandreau in ‘The Rider’

* “Shoot her before him and make sure he sees it.” Beria’s instructions for disposition of politically superfluous married couple—The Death of Stalin…
* Recurrently in First Reformed, the sound of footsteps on bare wooden floors. Such sense of place, community, ethos…
* Private Life punctiliousness: “The seltzer comes from one place, the syrup from somewhere else.”…
* Blake Lively to Anna Kendrick post-sudden-kiss, A Simple Favor: “You’re OK. You wanna order pizza?”…
* The Little Drummer Girl: in mid-interrogation, need 50p to turn lights on again…
* The Favourite: “Must the duck be here?”…
* Film freak: “I’m Marvin P. Fassbinder!” Jake Hannaford/John Huston: “Of course you are.” The Other Side of the Wind…
* Bad Times at the El Royale: Far across rainswept parking lot, Jon Hamm’s glasses reflect lightning….
* Small plane like a dragonfly over arctic waste, Hold the Dark
* November, an Estonian ghost story: flying skull carries cow over treetops…
* The reservoir and what might be in it—Burning…
* Dying man singing along to ambient music; his killer lying down beside him and joining in—You Were Never Really Here
* Hereditary: papers blowing out through backseat window just before … you know…
* Bird Box: Woman steps into blazing car and takes her seat….
* Les Affames/Ravenous: cow eating lawn along suburban street…
* Zama: squeak of native-operated wood fan behind ambiguous flirtation…
* Candles on railing of borrowed porch, Leave No Trace…
* BlacKkKlansman: Flip (Adam Driver) and other cops turning as they hear Ron (John David Washington) on the phone listing all the types of nonwhite Americans he hates…
* Motherhood is hard. “I am so sick of that face on your face!” Toni Collette, Hereditary…
* “So grandma only wanted their money, not me?” Could be, kid. Then again, what’s family anyway? Shoplifters…

Shoplifters

* Roma: Seriously stressed Galaxie pulls into frame below Aztec entablature….
* All the good doctors in Moscow having been liquidated, how to get medical assistance for Stalin? Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) rationalizes: “If he recovers, then we got a good doctor, and if he doesn’t recover, then we didn’t, but he won’t know!” The Death of Stalin settles that….
* Night Eats the World: man contemplates suicide, nods off, accidentally discharges shotgun in his sleep….
* The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: creak of Leone windmill that isn’t there…
* Gray church, gray sky, gray dusk—First Reformed…
* The Old Man and the Gun: Forrest, horseback on hilltop, watching caravan of cop cars on road below…
* Torch-bearing riders spread into the night, The Favourite….
* Pact under red umbrella, If Beale Street Could Talk…
* “I can take fuckin’ up all day but I can’t take not trying”—Support the Girls values…
* The Sisters Brothers: riding through cemetery of discarded luggage on seashore…
* A scattering of rocks in a green graveyard: rough memorials for Border’s deformed dead…
* The Rider: Cat Clifford’s talking prayer by campfire…
* The food no one ever gets to eat in You Were Never Really Here, until someone does…
* “Kentucky Fried Chicken—in Kentucky! When’s that gonna happen?” Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) open to delight, Green Book…
* Llama kibitzes at dashing of Zama’s (Daniel Giménez Cacho) hopes…

Daniel Giménez Cacho in ‘Zama’

* Vigil in rain with two geese—Happy as Lazzaro…
*
The grandmother at the beach, setting about dying. The late Kirin Kiki, Shoplifters…
* John Carroll, Norman Foster, Tonio Selwart; shades tenderly at large in The Other Side of the Wind…
* Burning
: The bewitching Haemi (Jun Jong-seo) slips out of her shirt to dance in the warm light of a setting sun; two young men watch (Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun), curiously impassive….
* The towering blond distraction of Elizabeth Debicki, Widows…
* Kayli Carter’s misconstrued “OK,” Private Life. (Watch this young actress. And, to be sure, Thomasin McKenzie.)…
* The Favourite: Emma Stone’s imposing lexicon of sniffles, snorts, head wags…
* Zoe Kazan as Miss Longabaugh … Has Sarah Vowell seen The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?…
* Cabiria-like, the unsought power to balance on one foot: Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) at the martial arts field, Roma
* Night run through corn shocks, A Quiet Place…
* Leave No Trace: Truck driver (Art Hickman) who has to know he’s doing the right thing…
* The Armstrongs’ laughter at “kinda neat,” First Man…
* Touching the nose, A Star Is Born…
* Ants crawling over head as oblivious motorists drive past, Hereditary…
* Elder doctor pursued across white plaza, The Death of Stalin…
* Rooftop sleepwalk under full moon, November…
* The Quake: shattered skyscraper like a tyrannosaur profile…
* Nocturnal greeting from/to reindeer, Border…
* Cold Skin: mermen climbing down off lighthouse in first rays of sun…
* First Man: Pre-launch, bird flies past porthole….
* “You’re starting to harsh both of our mellows”—Sorry to Bother You…
* “You know you’ve missed me.” The return of Frank Underwood. Kevin Spacey on YouTube. OMG….
* Zama: coy menace of Vicuña Porto (Matheus Nachtergaele)…
* Ron’s karate-chop war dance in front of Records counter, BlacKkKlansman…
* The Old Man and the Gun: Tom Waits’s reminiscence about why he hates Christmas…
* Bad Times at the El Royale: Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and the right/wrong jukebox tune: “you’re just too good to be true”…
* The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: the Impresario (Liam Neeson) walking back from the gorge…
* “She died. Or maybe she didn’t die. Maybe she just moved back to the suburbs.“ Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) can’t be expected to remember everything. Can You Ever Forgive Me?…

Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’

* Eighth Grade: Dorky father (Josh Hamilton) wants to “say one thing.” She (Elsie Fisher): “Dad, this is more than one thing.” He: “It’s a chunk of things.”…
* “Same thing that’s wrong with you isn’t wrong with me”—Leave No Trace….
* Dog running out to chase truck, Les Affames/Ravenous. Life goes on, even in zombie apocalypse.
* The Favourite: hand job disquisition on realpolitik…
* Avengers: Infinity War: Dr. Strange saying douchebag…
* Brotherhood of the toothbrush—The Sisters Brothers…
* In Support the Girls, stormin’ Cubby (James LeGros) popped in stomach. Did not see that coming….
* Hold the Dark: Offered soup, sorely wounded Slone (Alexander Skarsgard) asks, “What kind?”…
* President Pierce’s accommodation to change, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
* Park Chan-wook’s red and green rooms, The Little Drummer Girl…
*
What rough beast sinks into the depths with its tender burden—You Were Never Really Here
* A Star Is Born: Ally’s final, hieratic closeup; Lady Gaga indeed…
* Wig? No wig? Sharon (Regina King) calculates her best approach in Puerto Rico. If Beale Street Could Talk
* “Has anybody got a Swiss Army knife?”—First Man…
* Somewhere Don Gabriel Figueroa smiles: in Roma, thundercloud light on cactus as mommy drives her family home from vacation….
* Schrader’s use of the classical 1.33:1 format in First Reformed: initially startling; effective at setting the tone of austerity; then disconcerting as, what, the whole film is going to be in this shape? Yes, and rightly so….

First Reformed

* Hulk towering darkly above parkway, bisecting Scope frame—You Were Never Really Here…
* Cliff fall without end—Happy as Lazzaro…
* Zama: ambush by red-painted phantoms amid the long grass…
* Outlaw King: apples rolling in the road under horses’ hooves…
* Molly Shannon murdering roast turkey, Private Life…
* Daniel Kaluuya, stone cold malevolence in Widows…
* “First time?” The Ballad of Buster Scruggs…
* Hereditary: house swallowed in night, silver tree trunks shining above…
* Atavistic thrill of that music coming on as Michael Meyers once again walks the streets of Haddonfield—but there’s still only one Halloween
* Border: smelling smartphone…
* Cellphone call among tombstones, First Reformed…
* Kid in hospital to fellow survivor of 22 July: “Cigarettes would be nice … except I don’t smoke.”…
* Hold the Dark: Vernon reclaiming cigarette from windowsill after killing rapist…
* Erramentari: torment by chick pea…
* Apostle: the silhouettes around “the purification”…
* Car painted pink by neon sign, Bad Times at the El Royale…
* Suicide in white lake amid white trees, November…
* Sarah (Golshifteh Farahani) appears to have won approval of zombie Alfred (a new frontier for Denis Lavant)—Night Eats the World….
* The Death of Stalin: breathtaking precision of comedic ensemble…
* Unsettling, unexpectedly heartbreaking memento mori: in The Favourite, Olivia Colman’s final closeup, the Queen’s voice the slurry growl of a stroke victim…
* “Cut” (The Other Side of the Wind). “Shantih Shantih Shantih” (Roma). Things Netflix didn’t want you bothered by…
* Apollo 1 mission: the two shots of the cockpit hatch—First Man…
* Ferocity of the Cheeon shootout, Hold the Dark (Julian Black Antelope as Cheeon)…
* Emily Blunt cocking a pump shotgun, A Quiet Place…

Emily Blunt and Millicent Simmonds in ‘A Quiet Place’

* Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Parting after dinner, the shy dynamics of Lee (Melissa McCarthy) and Anna (Dolly Wells) wordlessly wondering what this might lead to…
* Burning: The cat with no name has one….
* Queen passing offstage, leaving the screen to the vast crowd. Bohemian Rhapsody…
* You Were Never Really Here: suicide skip on the check. “Have a nice day.”…
* Profile, pirogue, endless carpet of green—Zama…
* Seahorse frond, Leave No Trace…
* “Whistle for him when you walk away, please”—The Rider….
* The Death of Stalin: furtive glances of the next men in line who suddenly, inexplicably, just avoided getting executed…
* The Ballad of Buster Scruggs reaches its destination, the prairie precursor of the Hotel Earle….
* Roma’s transcendent final shot. Stay for the last plane….

RTJ wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Kathleen Murphy to this year’s edition.

Copyright © 2019 Richard T. Jameson

Relive past “Moments” at Parallax View here…

Thomasin McKenzie and Ben Foster in ‘Leave No Trace’