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Capsule

What is a Woman? (2022)

Most large publications have avoided reviewing What is a Woman?, and with good reason: It is very clearly a piece of hate-fomenting and fearmongering propaganda against transgender people.

I’m not sure why I watched it (rest assured I found a way to view it without putting a penny in its creators’ pockets), but since I did, I have the choice between ignoring it or condemning it. I’m not going to write a full review of it or put it on the site’s front page, but I do want to notate that it is the worst and most angering film I’ve seen all year. It fails to achieve any rhetorical goals. It is not intellectually curious. It does not raise thought-provoking points. It simply rehashes hate speech and misinformation we’ve seen a million times. This is no Riefenstahl situation where there’s cinematic genius leveraged by a hateful political mission. It’s just a bad film, a YouTube video essay with a budget. No more sophisticated than that.

There are challenging, complicated questions to answer in a world where definitions and perceptions of gender are rapidly changing. And there are affirming ways to ask and answer these questions without dehumanizing trans and nonbinary people. This so-called documentary is not interested in doing so. It just provides an echo-chamber to make it easier for bigots to stay bigoted; and, worse, people who might genuinely want to understand these concepts better to avoid confronting their own biases and prejudices.

Don’t make the mistake I did and give it any of your spare time or brainwaves.

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Capsule Legacy

The Dancing Pig (1907)

The Dancing Pig is a goofy little early film capturing a vaudeville-type stage dance — except one of the dancers is in an elaborate pig costume. I’m not enough of an early cinema history buff to declare this best costume ever filmed up to this point, but it’s gotta be up there — especially the cursed-looking teeth and tongue.

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Capsule Legacy

Machete (Grindhouse Trailer) (2007)

I haven’t seen Grindhouse, but my understanding is that it works as more than the sum of its parts, crafting a fantasy B-movie universe to dive into.

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Capsule Legacy

The Muppet Christmas Carol

My tired 4 year old insisted we watch this, even though Christmas was almost two weeks ago. I love the movie, and it’s short, so why not?

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Capsule Legacy

Frozen Fever (2015)

Mostly harmless but bland to the point of brain rot.

A C-tier Lopez song, lots of rehashed/remixed gags and shots from the original Frozen, and a plot you’d expect to see in the third season of a sitcom. (Why does Elsa start acting drunk when she gets a cold?)

The booger snow monsters could have been fun-weird but are just boring-weird.

The only thing I unreservedly like is Elsa’s new green dress, which should probably show you the storytelling sophistication we’re dealing with here.


April 2022 update:

My four-year-old daughter specifically requested we watch this again. I try not to force my opinions on her, so I obliged without comment. But I asked her why.

“The snowgies are weird,” she said.

“And that’s good?” I asked.

“Yes. I like it when they’re weird. I wish I had Elsa’s powers so I could do weird things with it,” she said.

I was so proud. I’m gonna need to put together an age-organized curriculum of weird movies to keep her on this train.

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Capsule Legacy

Far From the Tree (2021)

As expressive as the raccoons are…

As compelling as the visual allegory is and how much I vibe with parenting stories like this…

As much as I love seeing new hand-drawn animation projects with clear budget and love and artistry behind them…

The stuttery effect of the character animation absolutely ruined my pleasure watching this. I truly cannot understand what artistic effect they were trying to achieve, because it distracted me the entire time.

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Capsule Legacy

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

It’s great for all the reasons you remember: Seuss’s verses are wonderful and whimsical; Jones’ animation is colorful and playful (the faces!); Karloff is perfect as the narrator and Grinch; Ravenscroft’s baritone insults are a hoot; and the warm holiday ending is a great payoff on a fun reverse-Santa story.

I’ll probably be watching this every winter for the rest of my life.

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Capsule Legacy

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

I watched this with my daughters, and it helped me rediscover the fear and romance and hope for redemption baked into the story. The script, characters, and music are all so timeless and perfect.

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Capsule Legacy Podcast Rating

Summertime (1955)

The screenplay is unfortunately quite a bit prosaic. None of the characterization is strong enough for us to really buy into the romance or Hepburn’s self-discovery.

But the footage of Venice in over-saturated Technicolor? Holy moley. I fell in love with the city all over again. Lean captures it with an intoxicating, almost delirious, beauty. *swooning, nostalgic sigh*

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Capsule Legacy Podcast Rating

Boogie Nights (1997)

Perhaps a bit too generous towards its characters and indulgent in its runtime, but goddamn what a movie. The acting, the extended flowing shots, the use of sound (firecrackers!), the sprawling ensemble… this is cinema at its most robust and vibrant, and I’m here for it.