Naked and spectacular

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Cousins [2021] by Briar Grace-Smith and Ainsley Gardiner

 Entwines the very different lives of three Maori girls, cousins, through tumultuous decades, after one of them is taken from her family and raised in an orphanage.

A very moving and cinematic adaptation of Patricia Grace's novel, very effectively condensed into movie length while maintaining the scope and complexity of the multiple threads. The lives of these three women, though particular and intimate, effectively represents a larger story of a culture interrupted by colonialism but regaining its strength and groundedness. The interaction between the personal and the cultural, memory and the moment, are woven together with various events, spanning decades, creating a complex portrait revealing how the past, the present and the future interact with each other, how members of a family interact through space and time, in life and in death.  Though the performances were sometimes uneven, the editing and Terence Malick-like cinematography very skillfully conveyed a specific yet expansive spiritual and cultural journey through the entire lives of three compelling and tangible characters.


Raiders of the Lost Ark [1981] by Steven Spielberg

 American arrogance as entertainment product

Why is Indiana Jones the hero of this movie? He murders hundreds of people in order to steal valuable artefacts from poor countries. He's not even charming. He's just American. His intelligence is entirely unconvincing. His only apparent ability is determination, and of course miraculous amounts of luck. He is the hero cos John Williams's score makes a catchy noise when he takes action. Ford's performance is only grimace, brawn and hat.