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Thread: Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)

  1. #1
    White Tiger Field Stay Puft's Avatar
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    Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)

    NOMADLAND
    Dir. Chloé Zhao



    IMDb page
    Giving up in 2020. Who cares.

    maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (Sky Hopinka) ***˝
    Without Remorse (Stefano Sollima) *˝
    The Marksman (Robert Lorenz) **
    Beckett (Ferdinando Cito Filomarino) *˝
    Night Hunter (David Raymond) *

  2. #2
    White Tiger Field Stay Puft's Avatar
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    Pretty damn good, but like with the Herzog doc, there seems to be a consensus forming that I can't help but push back against. In this case, I'm reading a lot of reviews saying Zhao has surpassed her earlier efforts, creating a more successful blend of fact and fiction, etc. But... I don't actually buy it. It's a different movie from the earlier ones in that it started with a book, and Frances McDormand as a producer, and eventually ended up with two professional, Hollywood actors placed in the middle of this setting. It lacks the alchemic magic of The Rider, as McDormand and Strathairn stand out against the backdrop, so to speak, and the subsequent narrative that they've built around McDormand's character, Fern, feels too thin compared to the other stories swirling around her. Basically, I think she works as a conduit for engaging with the people and the places she visits, but the movie is less interesting when it's just her and Strathairn, at which point it's often reduced to just another indie feature with big talent, sad music, and the same bag of montage filmmaking tricks to transition from scene to scene (it's a road movie with familiar rhythms).

    It's incredibly moving, all the same, and even if I do think that central plot thread is too thin to sustain as much runtime as it does, the movie as a whole is still quite effective; the grief as metaphor for the death of the American Dream packs a severe punch. It's like the concept of America itself has come full circle, from pioneers on the frontier to nomads scattered down the road, the towns having been torn down, the project itself having been finally laid to rest, with the giant Amazon logo on a warehouse, looming in the distance, marking the grave.
    Giving up in 2020. Who cares.

    maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (Sky Hopinka) ***˝
    Without Remorse (Stefano Sollima) *˝
    The Marksman (Robert Lorenz) **
    Beckett (Ferdinando Cito Filomarino) *˝
    Night Hunter (David Raymond) *

  3. #3
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    This movie is the definition of "wandering spirit" in both its main character, its thematic and loose narrative, and just about everyone we see.

    And it works. While Strathairn's subplot teeters around being something predictable, the movie focuses on the warmth of human connection, while not entirely necessary need for it either.

    Ludovico Einaudi's piano score just hits all the right notes.

    Lovely movie.

    No Time to Die - ** 1/2
    Black Widow - *
    Nobody - ***


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  4. #4
    Remember the dead DFA1979's Avatar
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    I loved The Rider so I really want to see this.
    Blog!

    I really don't care anymore
    About all the Jim-Jim's in this town
    And all the politicians makin' crazy sounds
    And everybody puttin' everybody else down
    And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds

  5. #5
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    This movie is the definition of "wandering spirit" in both its main character, its thematic and loose narrative, and just about everyone we see.

    And it works. While Strathairn's subplot teeters around being something predictable, the movie focuses on the warmth of human connection, while not entirely necessary need for it either.

    Ludovico Einaudi's piano score just hits all the right notes.

    Lovely movie.
    I'm going against this with a second viewing.

    It gets a bit trite, and I never get the sense that this is an experience that Fern or her nomadic friends actually enjoy or are making the most out of. In the book, the main character is aiming to build an "earthship" and couldn't imagine going back to a life of consistency. While forced into this life, it ended up being the best thing to happen to her. In this movie's case, I never really get that sense.

    The human connection certainly prevails in its moments throughout.

    No Time to Die - ** 1/2
    Black Widow - *
    Nobody - ***


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  6. #6
    Body Double Rico's Avatar
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    This is one boring movie.

  7. #7
    Zhao's upcoming MCU movie remains a bewitching prospect even after this slight gesture toward the mainstream. If you enjoyed The Rider, you'll be glad to find another cast of largely non-professional actors (aside from the McDormand and Strathairn, who are fittingly naturalistic) along with plenty of gorgeous shots of vast American landscapes and cinematography reminiscent of Malick's Days of Heaven. Fern drifts untied to any one place or person, and so too does the film meander freely from one episodic bit to the next; it's a narrative rhythm that at first threatens you to push the snooze button, but that's before one character after another begins to reveal themselves in all their world-weary, astoundingly authentic glory (shout out to Fern's sister, the honkytonk pianist and, obviously, Swankie). The score is nice enough as long as it sticks to the piano only, but adding the strings is too obvious a ploy to bring us to tears -- as if Swankie's bird monologue needed any extra help -- and butts awkwardly against the film's otherwise stoic tone. (Speaking of butts, negative points for the well-above-average amount of bodily fluid.)
    Last edited by Idioteque Stalker; 02-28-2021 at 04:28 AM.

  8. #8
    Quote Quoting Stay Puft (view post)
    Basically, I think she works as a conduit for engaging with the people and the places she visits, but the movie is less interesting when it's just her and Strathairn, at which point it's often reduced to just another indie feature with big talent, sad music, and the same bag of montage filmmaking tricks to transition from scene to scene (it's a road movie with familiar rhythms).
    This is the movie's fatal flaw, I think, and makes it reek of horseshit to me.

    Another is that Fran never has a problem she can't immediately solve. I get the feeling that nobody involved in the production ever had a toothache or missed a meal (to paraphrase Bukowski), the way the movie imagines itinerant poverty as a lifestyle choice.

    The Hollywood characters too often feel false, and the scenarios arounds them are sitcom level stupid (oh noes! broken dishes! oh wow! a new baby!). Another huge part of the movie functions as a travelogue, as McDormand walks across beautiful landscapes and well known tourist destinations. Meanwhile an overly maudlin soundtrack continually pushes big emotion that's no on-screen.

    So I'm confused as to why Zhao has received so much press a great director, or why this movie is talked about as an Oscar contender. I shouldn't be, given the state of the industry and the state of criticism, and the complete lack of imagination running through both of them ... but still: wtf?

  9. #9
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Is Fern the least interesting character in this?

    No Time to Die - ** 1/2
    Black Widow - *
    Nobody - ***


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  10. #10
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Ezee E (view post)
    Is Fern the least interesting character in this?
    In a way, yes. She works as a mirror for the other characters - but that wasn't really a problem for me.

    It's a decent indie drama but it's being hyped way out of proportion, I guess because of McDormand's starring performance. It doesn't cover any new ground or offer any novel perspective and I even agree with Irish that its depiction of poverty as something that can always be overcome with a little help from your friends is more Hollywood than Zhao probably intends it to be.
    Last edited by Grouchy; 04-15-2021 at 02:36 PM.

  11. #11
    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    This is the movie's fatal flaw, I think, and makes it reek of horseshit to me.

    Another is that Fran never has a problem she can't immediately solve. I get the feeling that nobody involved in the production ever had a toothache or missed a meal (to paraphrase Bukowski), the way the movie imagines itinerant poverty as a lifestyle choice.
    "Vandwelling" is a lifestyle choice for some people, though.

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