Category Archives: FAQ Movie Reviews

Viewer’s Guide to The Book of Mormon, FAQ

Q: Oh my heck. Am I ready for this?
A: Yes your heck! You are so ready for this. Here, have a latte. That’ll fortify your spirits.

Q: But isn’t it all singing and dancing Mormon missionaries?
A: Yes yes yes! And so much more!

Q: All right, all right. I’m ready. Tell me who among us should see this show.
A: Everyone! Absolutely everyone, all over the land. By which I mean everyone except Mom, due to extremely naughty words and extremely naughty deeds, all enacted with extremely naughty, gleeful abandon. I’m thinking in particular of the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, which includes a marvelous scarlet Lucifer and giant dancing Starbucks cups. (How’s that latte? Sinfully rich? Wickedly energizing?)

Q: Luci-who?… What on earth are you singing?
A: “Salt–a-Lake–a-Ci–ty, where life is–n’t shit–ty…”

Q: Jesus.
A: Yes, him too! But this is Jesus like you’ve never seen him. He marches around in a glowing white robe, clearly having a terrific time. He tells one of our heroes to quit being such a dick, and he inspires another hero to man up and grow a pair.

Q: He can’t say stuff like that!
A: Hello, he’s Jesus! He can say whatever he wants! And he obviously relishes the potent imagery of male genitalia. (Get it? Potent imagery?)

Q: For pity’s sake. Is nothing sacred?
A: It’s all sacred! This show pulls off the ultimate religious feat: it suspends judgment. It sets aside both approval and disapproval, and instead celebrates human weirdness by singing and dancing and swearing like a sailor. Most of all, it is just so fucking funny!!

Q: And evidently its potty-mouth vocabulary is contagious. Well isn’t it time for one of your diatribes about liminal zones or the numinosum or similar?
A: I’ll do better than a diatribe. I’ll bear my ex-Mormon testimony that this show is doing God’s work here on earth, and I am not even kidding. The story is all about myth-making and the collision of myths; it engages in myth-making of its own; and it allows myth to be spiritual and silly, both at once. Did I mention that the villagers teach the missionaries about metaphor, and about not taking scripture literally? I literally felt dizzy with joy.

Q: …Okey-dokey. That was the last of my latte. We’re done here, yes?
A: Yes, as soon as I send a great big MWAH to Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and every single player in every single cast and crew, for channeling such affectionate and rambunctious Trickster energy. They’re culture heroes, one and all. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but Viva la Book of Mormon!

Viewer’s Guide to La Belle et la Bête (1946), FAQ

Q: Sorry, no French movies. I’ve had bad experiences with French movies.
A: Relax, it’s Beauty and the Beast. You love Beauty and the Beast.

Q: In black and white? From the olden days when there was no such thing as CGI?
A: Yes, when there were such things as imagination and Jean Cocteau. Besides, the world didn’t magically become a magical place with the advent of modern film technology. Did Shakespeare’s vision rely on computers? Charlotte Brontë’s?

Q: I know the story. It’s about seeing with the eyes of love, check. Why watch it again?
A: Oh I don’t know, maybe because IT’S AWESOME! Plus this version has its own delicious details, trust me. And it’s not just about seeing with the eyes of love. It’s also about embracing enchantment, and having the courage to live your own life, and —

Q: Yes, but —
A: But what? Why are you being so difficult about this?

Q: It’s a romance. Romance is not the stuff of serious minds.
A: Wha — serious minds? Seriously?? Whence this drivel? Shall we discuss what Shakespeare and Brontë did with the tropes of romance? Didn’t they have serious minds? And didn’t their serious minds know how to relax and have fun too? Wait a second — are you afraid of what people will think if you talk about a romance? If so, you really need to watch this movie. You’ll see what happens when you care too much about what people think. You lose the key to the treasure house.

Q: I’m not afraid of what people think!
A: Prove it. Put the disc in the computer and press play. Right now. NOW!

Q: Fine! Geez! Bossy Bessie… Wow, that is a hairy beast.
A: He’s a heads-up for the uninitiated, an advance memorandum that men can be disconcertingly furred. Like, all over.

Q: By that logic, men have claws too.
A: Or, claws can be illusory and cause illusory fear, when actually things are fine and wonderful.

Q: Is it illusory that the Beast holds Belle hostage?
A: It’s an image. Think of the Beast as the outer self, wounded and distorted by life in the world, and Belle as the inner self, the incorruptible soul. The outer self (Beast) mistakenly keeps the inner self (Belle) prisoner at first because it knows it needs the inner self to survive. Meanwhile the inner self is shocked by what the outer self has become but learns that the two of them are the same — Belle discovers her own beastliness as well as the Beast’s beauty. And then, Houston, we have the inner union! Yin and yang, heart and mind, light and shadow, together at last, glory glory all day long.

Q: Shhh, please! These subtitles are not going to read themselves.
A: (But it’s also a romance and love conquers all.)

Q: Did you see that? The Beast just called Belle “strange.” Isn’t he supposed to call her the sun in his heaven, or some such? Are you sure this thing is a romance?
A: “You are a strange girl, Belle,” he says, “a strange girl indeed.” Translation: she’s authentic, she’s her true self, she doesn’t conform. He sees who she is and that’s who he loves. What’s more romantic than that? Come on, admit it, you love this movie.

Q: I admit nothing. And I still say it’s about seeing with the eyes of love, check.
A: You’re absolutely right. It’s all about seeing with the eyes of love. Check.

Viewer’s Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild, FAQ

Q: Wow, was that movie as good as I think it was?
A: Wait until tomorrow morning. You’ll love it even more.

Q: But I’m not sure it made much sense…
A: That’s why it’s so great! At every turn it says, “No, my dear, you may not take this literally. You must feel your way into any meaning that might or might not be here.”

Q: What are you talking about?
A: The movie’s impossibilities confuse your linear, logical, analytical mind just enough that it quiets down, making space for other faculties, such as imagination, courage, love, beauty–things that make no sense and yet make life worth living.

Q: Still, all that fuss for a bit of fried crocodile?
A: You could pretend the fried crocodile is an elixir brought back from the underworld. You could pretend it’s unevolved reptilian energy transformed into a substance humans can digest to fuel the soul’s evolution. You could pretend it’s something else. And you could pretend it’s fried crocodile, all at the same time.

Q: Ok, but was that woman Hushpuppy’s mother or not? She couldn’t be, because, come on, what are the odds? On the other hand, how could she not be?
A: Exactly! It’s one of the movie’s many mysteries that stand in for The Mystery. Criminy, it’s enough to restore your faith in film. That does it, I’ve got to go watch it again.