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Family matters on film

This week’s new releases include Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, A Quiet Passion, and more

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: We are family!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: We are family!

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

That’s a sentiment attributed to the redoubtable Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which is a book, but it was also a movie, so I think it’s okay to mention it here. And I mention it because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is at least the third film this year to put it on the stand.

Movie

Quiet Passion **

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Terence Davies’s slow and sumptuous A Quiet Passion turns the famously reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (played mostly and hauntedly by Cynthia Nixon) into an unenthusiastic but unshakable martyr for her sex. It’s not that she doesn’t want the piety and domesticity expected of women in her place and time; it’s that she can’t bear the “expected” part — not even when it’s God doing the expecting. This fierce bid for freedom becomes its own sort of prison, as she is gradually forced by her own disappointment to withdraw from the world of conventional humanity. At least she creates some immortal verse along the way — it shows up in voiceover from time to time, apropos and unobtrusive. Against her, Davies sets the vivacious and lovely Vryling Buffam, who understands and approves Emily’s cause but refuses to share her fate. Beside her, a loving sister who shares her fate but does not understand. And above her, a stern father who seems surprised to have raised a daughter who shares his wit, spirit, and self-possession. The rich imagery and controlled composition seem alternately to highlight Dickinson’s unfettered art and to mock her sadly fettered life.

Find showtimes

First you had The Lego Batman Movie, with its end-credits proclamation that “Friends are family” — not exactly a contradiction, but it’s definitely a dramatic twist on the original. Then the Furious franchise returned to remind us that Vin Diesel may finally have [SPOILER] a wife and kid, but he already had a family. Made of friends. And this week, GoGV2 actually includes the line “We’re not friends — we’re family” in the midst of its Bad Dad storylines.

Family is there at the start of the documentary Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, providing a painful formative influence on the future celebrity chef. Mom liked to party and didn’t pay much attention to little Jeremiah, so guess who became the attention-happy chef-owner of Stars, a restaurant remembered as much for its party atmosphere as its food? And it’s there throughout the Emily Dickinson biopic A Quiet Passion — not surprising, since she never left her childhood home — providing the poet with her fundamental and primary experience of humanity. Sort of the way it works for most folks.

While Tower and Passion deal mostly with parents, The Dinner is about the kids. As in, “What are you willing to do in order to give them a future?” Just like last week’s Graduation! Scott liked The Dinner okay, though not as much as I liked Graduation, I’m guessing. The two-star rating contains worlds of difference.

Speaking of two-star ratings and kids, The Transfiguration gives us a teenage black vampire-wannabe, which sounds a little weird. And speaking of weird, Scott really liked David Lynch: The Art Life.

Unreviewed, alas, is the urban-planning history doc Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: We are family!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: We are family!

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

That’s a sentiment attributed to the redoubtable Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which is a book, but it was also a movie, so I think it’s okay to mention it here. And I mention it because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is at least the third film this year to put it on the stand.

Movie

Quiet Passion **

thumbnail

Terence Davies’s slow and sumptuous A Quiet Passion turns the famously reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (played mostly and hauntedly by Cynthia Nixon) into an unenthusiastic but unshakable martyr for her sex. It’s not that she doesn’t want the piety and domesticity expected of women in her place and time; it’s that she can’t bear the “expected” part — not even when it’s God doing the expecting. This fierce bid for freedom becomes its own sort of prison, as she is gradually forced by her own disappointment to withdraw from the world of conventional humanity. At least she creates some immortal verse along the way — it shows up in voiceover from time to time, apropos and unobtrusive. Against her, Davies sets the vivacious and lovely Vryling Buffam, who understands and approves Emily’s cause but refuses to share her fate. Beside her, a loving sister who shares her fate but does not understand. And above her, a stern father who seems surprised to have raised a daughter who shares his wit, spirit, and self-possession. The rich imagery and controlled composition seem alternately to highlight Dickinson’s unfettered art and to mock her sadly fettered life.

Find showtimes

First you had The Lego Batman Movie, with its end-credits proclamation that “Friends are family” — not exactly a contradiction, but it’s definitely a dramatic twist on the original. Then the Furious franchise returned to remind us that Vin Diesel may finally have [SPOILER] a wife and kid, but he already had a family. Made of friends. And this week, GoGV2 actually includes the line “We’re not friends — we’re family” in the midst of its Bad Dad storylines.

Family is there at the start of the documentary Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, providing a painful formative influence on the future celebrity chef. Mom liked to party and didn’t pay much attention to little Jeremiah, so guess who became the attention-happy chef-owner of Stars, a restaurant remembered as much for its party atmosphere as its food? And it’s there throughout the Emily Dickinson biopic A Quiet Passion — not surprising, since she never left her childhood home — providing the poet with her fundamental and primary experience of humanity. Sort of the way it works for most folks.

While Tower and Passion deal mostly with parents, The Dinner is about the kids. As in, “What are you willing to do in order to give them a future?” Just like last week’s Graduation! Scott liked The Dinner okay, though not as much as I liked Graduation, I’m guessing. The two-star rating contains worlds of difference.

Speaking of two-star ratings and kids, The Transfiguration gives us a teenage black vampire-wannabe, which sounds a little weird. And speaking of weird, Scott really liked David Lynch: The Art Life.

Unreviewed, alas, is the urban-planning history doc Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.

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