Aftersun, Poker Face, and Andrea Riseborough
Looking back and stumbling forward, plus why the 'To Leslie' Best Actress nomination is fine
On this week’s episode of Criticism Is Dead, we discuss Aftersun and Poker Face, a film and a series that use perspective to conceal and reveal pieces of the puzzle.
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04:44 The father-daughter drama Aftersun, available VOD, is a feat of subtle, naturalistic acting.
For a debut feature film, Aftersun is impressive. It revels in ambiguity, both thematically and technically, thanks to the creative choices when it comes to camerawork and editing. As mother-daughter heads, we appreciate this moving portrait of a girl and a father who loves her to tears. But, although a lot of things were working, not all of it quite gelled together for us emotionally. There’s something about it, whether it’s its tonality or pace or that artful ambiguity, that didn’t quite cohere or touch us as much as we both thought it would. But we might be alone in this: Plenty of other people loved this, and you might, too.
20:38 Poker Face, streaming on Peacock, is an utterly fun “howcatchem” procedural.
The “howcatchem” is an inversion of the “whodunnit”: a mystery that does not obscure who has done the crime, or how, but focuses on how the detective then figures out what happened. This is a good choice for Poker Face, both in terms of the state of the contemporary murder mystery viewer, as well as the state of Rian Johnson, whose Glass Onion left something to be desired when it came to whodunnit subversion. The resulting series is a delightful romp, brimming with eccentric characters and settings, intricate puzzle pieces, and some genuine warmth. If we compared the Knives Out films to Scooby-Doo, then this is even more Scooby-Doo, in the best way possible.
33:31 Plus, culture notes about Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination and what does (and does not) set it apart from other awards campaigns.
More on the Oscars:
We know you all saw this but just in case:
Props to Sally Rooney and Paul Mescal and Normal People (both versions) for pulling off this characterization and portrayal:
Yes, we are watching The Last of Us:
Bringing this back!!!!
That’s it for now. Thank you and see you next week!
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