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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:02 am 
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It's a good question Brian and I appreciate you asking it.

It's a challenging one to answer because it relies on a lot nuance and the willingness of the people reading to hear you out all while knowing you will get flamed regardless of how fair or unfair the dragging may be. This is why I admire the people who write on these topics for a living so very much, it takes a lot of courage.

Lady Bird is a very white story, each and every character is white, the passions, interests, music, lifestyles, dress or in other words culture are all very much of White America. In that way it's closer to Manchester By the Sea than it is La La Land. I'd even go further and describe the film as a portrayal of Suburban White America as known on the campaign trail Real America as Lady Bird calls Sacramento 'the midwest of California'. Now inherently there is nothing wrong with this, these places exist and their stories certainly deserve to be told.

So then what's the problem right? Why am I and others made squeamish not by these films per se, but specifically the reaction to these films?

Well first off from Ghost World to Edge of Seventeen to Memoirs of a Wallflower to Me Earl and The Dying Girl to The Spectacular Now and to yes, Boyhood, the list of coming of age movies with white teenage leads of either gender is endless. Some are better than others, but is Lady Bird that much of a revelation or an outlier to the genre to where it's the first ever 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes? If you think the answer is yes then stop reading, but if your answer is no or 'you know I liked Lady Bird, but a 100% score?' keep reading.

I think the question you have to then ask is obvious, why? What is going on here?

I went on Rotten Tomatoes and clicked thru 5 of the 10 pages of critic responses. I'd say about 60-70% of the critics in the 5 pages have a picture and there wasn't a single minority in the bunch.

Does it prove anything? Not necessarily. Does it mean white people who like this movie or Lady Bird as a film is racist? Absolutely not.

Is it something worth pointing out and ask why that is? I say definitely.

I think it was important, however long winded it was to provide additional context before getting into the specifics of your question.

Almost every character in Lady Bird is white. The only one who is a person of color is adopted, he has face piercings ie meaning he's defaced his body, gets put down for it by Lady Bird and then takes his depressed white father's job. Where are the audience's sympathy going to be? Mine was certainly with the dad especially after he encouraged him. Maybe it's completely meaningless but there isn't a single character in the film who comes off poorly even when they should. I can almost see someone rushing to say what about the jerk boyfriend? Well this character was given probably the two smartest, most prescient lines describing the world he was living in at the time and has a father dying of cancer. Do you want to say the 'mean girl' character? Well she was in AP calculus, was super nice to Lady Bird, only turned on her after she was lied to and even then really wasn't that bad. Lady Bird's mom was a meanie? Well she was given redemption when she burst into tears. At every turn none of these characters are allowed to rest on the laurels of their misdeeds. Each and every character has a 'yeah but' way for the audience to understand them more positively. This aspect of the film I found to be almost pathological. Lady Bird herself is always the smartest person in the room, even when she dumbs herself down with the boyfriend she eventually rises to usurp him in the eyes of the audience. Whether the boyfriend cares or not doesn't matter for at this stage you are completely invested in Lady Bird, all out rooting for her. Earlier the line 'but do you like me?' again felt just as much for the audience to savour about themselves than for the mother it was said to.

In a sense I think films like Lady Bird are made up of magical white people and I don't think it's an accident this film is blowing people away at a time where the character or if you will, the goodness of White America is being questioned like never before.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:32 am 
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Well, thank you for the long response. This is kind of a random list of responses I had reading it.

First, I'll confess, I can't relate to caring all that much about an RT score. I literally haven't even visited the site in years before you gave me reason to tonight. I'll see Metacritic ratings since they're on films' IMDb pages, but even those are a mild curiosity at most. I'm curious at times about how people react to movies, so I can relate to your curiosity about the reaction to this one, but to me that's separate from the movies themselves, and you seem to be conflating your reaction to the film with a meta-reaction to the reaction by others. That doesn't seem entirely fair or even rational to me, and it's not surprising that you're getting pushback in response. I mean, if you didn't like it much, then you didn't like it much, but you've been pretty over the top in dragging it down for reasons that don't have much to do with the movie (though of course you've made more direct criticisms as well). And just for the record, I rolled my eyes just as hard as you at the story of Gerwig directing the scene in her prom dress, and I can't say I'm a big fan of her as an actor, either. But all that's tangential at best to what's on screen. It's all noise, easily tuned out.

Secondly, I think even with that said, you're putting too much emphasis on the 100. You seem to admire Get Out, and you seem to think that it works in cultural opposition to a movie like Lady Bird, but that movie I see has a 99 RT score. Needless to say, there's essentially no difference between a 99 and 100 - you're giving an awful lot of weight to the 2 critics out of 292 who gave Get Out a negative review. It seems likely that by the time all is said and done, someone or multiple someones will weigh in against Lady Bird and your point here will be just about lost altogether.

Third, I see on Metacritic, which as I'm sure you know measures grades of enthusiasm instead of a simple good/bad, Lady Bird has a high but relatively unremarkable 94, a score generally attained by a few movies a year. So while the critical reaction is obviously overwhelmingly positive - no argument from me there - all things considered, I don't think it's quite as exceptional as you seem to think.

Fourth, I liked the film but I'm not quite so super-enamored of it. I have it currently fourth on my Dynamic Top 10, but I've missed a lot this year for various reasons and haven't seen much, and with so many films left to go for the year, I'll be surprised (and maybe even a tad disappointed) if it doesn't drop at least to the bottom half on that top 10. So in some ways I'm the right person for you to ask these questions to, because while I liked it, I don't treasure the thing and don't feel the need to get defensive about protecting it (I'm not pointing fingers at anyone in particular here, by the way).

Fifth, with that said, on to the movie itself ... I actually saw this as a positive:
Black Hat wrote:
Maybe it's completely meaningless but there isn't a single character in the film who comes off poorly even when they should. I can almost see someone rushing to say what about the jerk boyfriend? Well this character was given probably the two smartest, most prescient lines describing the world he was living in at the time and has a father dying of cancer. Do you want to say the 'mean girl' character? Well she was in AP calculus, was super nice to Lady Bird, only turned on her after she was lied to and even then really wasn't that bad. Lady Bird's mom was a meanie? Well she was given redemption when she burst into tears. At every turn none of these characters are allowed to rest on the laurels of their misdeeds. Each and every character has a 'yeah but' way for the audience to understand them more positively.

To me, this says generosity of spirit. I think it's a good thing that the filmmakers can find positive aspects of characters that are frankly kind of shitty a lot of the time. I can't relate to your desire to see them judged more harshly by the filmmakers. One of my pet peeves in movies, actually, is the feeling that characters are being set up as objects of hatred just for sport. The shrill, hateful mom is much more of a cliche than the loving but difficult mom. The dad who resents his son's success is much more cliched than the dad who can encourage his son even at his own expense. The rich "mean girl" is such a cliche that you identified her by that label, but it's less of a cliche to see her seem genuinely hurt and baffled by being lied to. At any rate, why do I want to see these characters being even shittier so that I can stay resentful towards them? I don't want to live my real life like that - and virtually no one is beyond redemption in real life anyway - so why would I insist on seeing it from a movie? I honestly think this is the first time that I've ever seen a movie's unwillingness to make the audience hate its characters used as a cudgel against it.

Sixth, and relatedly, I don't think that this generosity of spirit adds up to "idealization" at all. I don't think the movie shies away from how the mom hurts Lady Bird and vice versa. How is their relationship "idealized" just because it's not all awful all the time? The dad is depressed and his unemployment situation at the end of the movie looks as bleak as ever, where's the idealization in that? The mom tells Lady Bird that her wrinkled clothes could very well affect her dad's employment opportunities, which rings absolutely true, and is a line that cuts as deeply into class stratification and economic anxiety in this country as I've seen in a movie in a long time; if such petty concerns have such a large effect even on a relatively privileged family as this, the implication that it's even worse further down the economic ladder is impossible not to get. And where's the idealization in that? How are these "magical white people" as opposed to just plain "white people"? I'm frankly no closer to understanding this line of attack by you than I was before your post.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:46 am 
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There's a lot going in here that deserves consideration, but I do want to emphasize the point made above that the RT score doesn't have much meaning. When you're talking about a binary rating (good or bad), a film with a 100% RT score is simply a movie everyone agrees is better than average; it doesn't mean that anyone thinks it's great. I found the movie quite enjoyable (while also not thinking the characters were idealized in the least -- Lady Bird is often insufferable as a person, even though she's funny and compellingly performed -- and I consider that a strength of the film and not a weakness) and recommend it -- but I don't suspect it will land in my personal top 10 for the year (I already have six definitely above it and another six I liked roughly as much, and have many contenders yet to see). So my endorsement would count toward a 100% score, but that doesn't mean I or anyone else who approves of it would give it some "100 out of 100" rating.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:24 am 
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Greta Gerwig is on the WTF podcast today. Charming interview, even though Maron starts by asking a bunch of questions about The Meyerowitz Stories


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:41 pm 

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Brian C, I think you gave a very thoughtful post especially in regard to what I thought was the film's greatest virtue, the humanistic attitude it takes to a variety of characters. I am still wondering, Black Hat, what you mean by the boyfriend with the father dying of cancer having the "smartest, most prescient lines of dialogue". As I said in my initial post, and something Brian kind of backs up, what surprised me about this movie is how it didn't handle every character as a cliche, especially the priests and nuns who are almost always ridiculed in movies. But the second boyfriend seemed to me the only one in the movie who doesn't quite get the generosity treatment; I burst out laughing when he talked about soldiers dying in Iraq, then his interest in bartering, because at that point he really was every brainless young Marxist on campus and it seemed like Gerwig was going for him in a way Whit Stillman would.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:35 pm 
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I'm curious about the characterization of Lady Bird having no key characters of color. Did everyone forget the complex and beloved character Father Leviatch, who ran the drama club? Stephen Henderson is a black man.

One of the things I appreciated most about this film was its humanism. Each character has their flaws and foibles, and characters had their interpersonal conflicts, but the film was very generous to all of them (with the possible exception of Kyle, the young Marxist, as mentioned above.)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:39 pm 
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Brian C wrote:
I'm curious at times about how people react to movies, so I can relate to your curiosity about the reaction to this one, but to me that's separate from the movies themselves, and you seem to be conflating your reaction to the film with a meta-reaction to the reaction by others. That doesn't seem entirely fair or even rational to me, and it's not surprising that you're getting pushback in response. I mean, if you didn't like it much, then you didn't like it much, but you've been pretty over the top in dragging it down for reasons that don't have much to do with the movie (though of course you've made more direct criticisms as well).
I see a lot of overlap in these areas, but as we both have said not everybody agrees and receiving pushback on that is an expectation not surprise. I only took exception to accusations I wasn't talking about the film and instead focusing all my energy on personal animus towards Gerwig. I'm certainly not a fan, but I think I've attempted to contextualize the reasons for that within my discussion of Lady Bird. I'm glad to see you acknowledge that I have indeed made more direct criticisms.

Brian C wrote:
Secondly, I think even with that said, you're putting too much emphasis on the 100.
Like you and I imagine everyone else who posts here RT scores are meaningless to me. If anything these scores are a cause for skepticism. The emphasis on that story didn't come from me, it came from the media. The only reason I know about it is because my phone blew up with notifications from all kinds of news sources I follow, 'Lady Bird breaks Rotten Tomatoes record'. I wasn't even aware there was a record to be broken. The story went viral, become part of promotional campaign and been an interview topic as Gerwig makes the rounds. The record holder before this was Toy Story 2 and of all the films since then, this is the one which breaks the record? Lord knows we all are frustrated here by which films gain accolades, win awards and the like, but whether we care about it or not it does matter culturally so I think this is a fair question to ask.

Brian C wrote:
Fifth, with that said, on to the movie itself ... I actually saw this as a positive:
Black Hat wrote:
Maybe it's completely meaningless but there isn't a single character in the film who comes off poorly even when they should. I can almost see someone rushing to say what about the jerk boyfriend? Well this character was given probably the two smartest, most prescient lines describing the world he was living in at the time and has a father dying of cancer. Do you want to say the 'mean girl' character? Well she was in AP calculus, was super nice to Lady Bird, only turned on her after she was lied to and even then really wasn't that bad. Lady Bird's mom was a meanie? Well she was given redemption when she burst into tears. At every turn none of these characters are allowed to rest on the laurels of their misdeeds. Each and every character has a 'yeah but' way for the audience to understand them more positively.

To me, this says generosity of spirit. I think it's a good thing that the filmmakers can find positive aspects of characters that are frankly kind of shitty a lot of the time. I can't relate to your desire to see them judged more harshly by the filmmakers. One of my pet peeves in movies, actually, is the feeling that characters are being set up as objects of hatred just for sport. The shrill, hateful mom is much more of a cliche than the loving but difficult mom. The dad who resents his son's success is much more cliched than the dad who can encourage his son even at his own expense. The rich "mean girl" is such a cliche that you identified her by that label, but it's less of a cliche to see her seem genuinely hurt and baffled by being lied to. At any rate, why do I want to see these characters being even shittier so that I can stay resentful towards them? I don't want to live my real life like that - and virtually no one is beyond redemption in real life anyway - so why would I insist on seeing it from a movie? I honestly think this is the first time that I've ever seen a movie's unwillingness to make the audience hate its characters used as a cudgel against it.
I don't disagree with you here, but everyone ends in too squeaky a clean place. Even the too cool for school boyfriend when she finally says I love Dave Matthews has nothing to say, he shrugs his shoulders and drops her off. That character always had something to say as does that kind of young male. I'm not saying I require films to be dark or cynical for me to like them, but I do much prefer films that have even a modicum of realism, a bit of balance.

Brian C wrote:
Sixth, and relatedly, I don't think that this generosity of spirit adds up to "idealization" at all. I don't think the movie shies away from how the mom hurts Lady Bird and vice versa. How is their relationship "idealized" just because it's not all awful all the time? The dad is depressed and his unemployment situation at the end of the movie looks as bleak as ever, where's the idealization in that? The mom tells Lady Bird that her wrinkled clothes could very well affect her dad's employment opportunities, which rings absolutely true, and is a line that cuts as deeply into class stratification and economic anxiety in this country as I've seen in a movie in a long time; if such petty concerns have such a large effect even on a relatively privileged family as this, the implication that it's even worse further down the economic ladder is impossible not to get. And where's the idealization in that? How are these "magical white people" as opposed to just plain "white people"? I'm frankly no closer to understanding this line of attack by you than I was before your post.
The class aspect of the film is accurate, but it is so far down the list of themes and even then is dealt with at such distance that you'd really have to be tuned into these issues to see it. If that ending didn't happen I'd agree about their relationship, but everything from the airport on to me was idealized for the sole purpose of leaving the audience feeling better. The dad is depressed, unemployed dealing with a terror for a wife and a teenage brat for a daughter and he never even shows a hint of dealing with all this with anything but amazing grace. Maybe he is truly that exceptional of a human being but when everyone from the nun to the dad to the best friend show themselves to be more extraordinary more benevolent than reputations of people like this or who are treated this way would suggest, it's too much. This is what I mean by 'magical white people'.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:55 pm 
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John Shade wrote:
Brian C, I think you gave a very thoughtful post especially in regard to what I thought was the film's greatest virtue, the humanistic attitude it takes to a variety of characters. I am still wondering, Black Hat, what you mean by the boyfriend with the father dying of cancer having the "smartest, most prescient lines of dialogue". As I said in my initial post, and something Brian kind of backs up, what surprised me about this movie is how it didn't handle every character as a cliche, especially the priests and nuns who are almost always ridiculed in movies. But the second boyfriend seemed to me the only one in the movie who doesn't quite get the generosity treatment; I burst out laughing when he talked about soldiers dying in Iraq, then his interest in bartering, because at that point he really was every brainless young Marxist on campus and it seemed like Gerwig was going for him in a way Whit Stillman would.
His correct insight about the Iraq war and spot on spiel about phones was what I referring to. Not many people around the country let alone any teenagers in the 'midwest of California' would have been saying things like that at the time.


DeprongMori wrote:
I'm curious about the characterization of Lady Bird having no key characters of color. Did everyone forget the complex and beloved character Father Leviatch, who ran the drama club? Stephen Henderson is a black man.
Good call, I totally forgot about him which given how much I have thought and spoken about this film is saying something. I wasn't particularly sure what the point of this character was outside of maybe showing what the mom does and setting up his football coach replacement. Again this person of color, like the brother, isn't treated as well as everybody else in that he isn't able to deal with his problems, he 'goes away'. Maybe these are coincidences, but it's not crazy to believe there's a psychology at play here.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:22 pm 

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I think the point of Father Leviatch's character is to show that priests are fallible human beings (maybe they seem less human to those around them), and perhaps for them loneliness and depression can be even worse. These characters are not the focal point of the movie, which in itself is kind of the point, teenagers tend to be too self-centered to really notice (or "pay attention" in the nun's terms) to these types.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:30 am 
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Black Hat wrote:
The class aspect of the film is accurate, but it is so far down the list of themes and even then is dealt with at such distance that you'd really have to be tuned into these issues to see it.

Hmm. I thought it was one of the most dominant and important aspects of the film. It anchors Lady Bird's persona and drives a significant portion of the film's plot.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:30 am 
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All the Best People wrote:
Black Hat wrote:
The class aspect of the film is accurate, but it is so far down the list of themes and even then is dealt with at such distance that you'd really have to be tuned into these issues to see it.

Hmm. I thought it was one of the most dominant and important aspects of the film. It anchors Lady Bird's persona and drives a significant portion of the film's plot.

Yeah, if I think back to this film, I absolutely think about issues of class. Was right out front.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:47 am 

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I am not reading, but am skimming, Black Hat posts because s/he just seems to have an agenda to stir up trouble. And is WAY underthinking this flick! The mfunk quote about class issues essentially disqualifies any of BH's ramblings, because that is EASILY the foremost issue covered in the film.

LB is very much a perspective film. People or other issues that Ronan doesn't care about are not generally going to occur. She is in almost every scene. One of the few where she is absent (or not implicitly referenced) is the one between her mother and the black teacher, which frankly seemed extraneous/gratuitous to me, although still very touching. Are black kids going to try to join the theatre group. Not if they are doing one of Sondheim's whitest musicals (redundant). That seems to be one of the film's many implicit points. I have no idea what the demographics of Sacramento are, but keep in mind that LB is going to a religious school not for religious reasons, but for avoidance reasons, which could include racial avoidance. It is an insult to Gerwig to think that these issues were not on her mind.

The RT score interests me only insofar as I can easily envisage a negative review of this film. And I think the publicity surrounding it may only encourage some late-coming blogger to try to wreck it. Ultimately, it is just an interesting fact, but of no relevance.

I've already pointed out the HUGE number of issues this short screenplay covers. But almost all of them ring true to me. As an NYC resident and lover of this town, I also appreciate the final scene. I too wanted to escape a suburban upbringing, like a gazillion other people. But leaving that atmosphere has its own perils. You can call that a cliche if you want. To me it is just one more aspect of LB that rings true, and renders it a superior film to the artier but utterly unreal films that are now getting the dreaded Oscar consideration. Yes, Get Out, I am Calling You By Your Name.

P.S. That WTF podcast was excruciatingly dumb. I just lasted a few minutes.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:55 pm 
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All the Best People wrote:
Hmm. I thought it was one of the most dominant and important aspects of the film. It anchors Lady Bird's persona and drives a significant portion of the film's plot.
Does it really? I think one of the things the film does very well which I loathe, leading me earlier to call it disingenuous and manipulative, is how it entirely exists in a field of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a very powerful tool because it not only can overwhelm your senses but you can also project so much of your own memories on to it whether they actually apply or not. Gerwig's nostalgia for the Dave Matthews song which when you read the lyrics would be a classic example of this.

Ok she's ashamed to tell one girl where she lives, but is that about her house or what or rather who she believes her friend to be? I think when the friend finds out the truth and is appalled to find out LB lied, without care for where she lives, undercuts this argument. If anything what drives the movie and LB's persona is how unappreciative she was of how well she had it. She keeps running away from her identity but is that coming from class issues? Or is it coming from her best friend not being pretty or popular and her mom being hard on her? She lived in not a mansion but it still was a nice house where she did have her own room full of stuff. She could afford to buy a prom dress with her mom and had parents who figured out a way to afford to send her to college in New York. Did Lady Bird miss out to anything due to her class status? Whatever was there about class is once again undercut in the flashback finale where there's nothing about those flashes that indicates how hard she had it. All of it seemed pretty standard images of middle class suburbia.

Look I don't know dick about living in suburbia, but if Lady Bird is a depiction of suburban class struggle I totally see why people would move out there when they have kids.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:23 pm 
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Both this and Frances Ha have a very American take on class, meaning it's about the overextended elastic bubble of the middle class. They're about the gap between the "lower middle class" and "upper middle class," terms we use because most people don't want to define themselves as "working-class" or "rich" (though rising income inequality and the financial crisis have done a lot to foster renewed class consciousness). This is not Marxist or revolutionary, but it is a form of social stratification in which resources and opportunities are unevenly distributed to the higher class.

Money worries underlie nearly every argument Lady Bird has with her mother, and the mom constantly uses the costs of raising LB as a weapon against her. Indeed, the core conflict of the film is about whether the family can afford to send Lady Bird out of state (they can, but only by undertaking substantial debt). All the sequences where the two are shopping (including for the prom dress) are at secondhand stores. Their favorite weekend activity is to go to open houses for real estate they can't afford. LB tells the rich friend she lives in what she previously called her "dream house," and the rich friend refers to the neighborhood of that house as where their "starter home" was.

The home itself is a good example of this. It's fine but small and old (see the wood paneling, the pink coral sink, the faded paint, how the computer desk is in the living room), especially compared to all the other homes we see (save Jane, who lives in an apartment). The family is doing fine, but they're at the low end of the school social strata.

And yes, people move to the suburbs because property is usually considerably cheaper and the cost of living much lower than in the major cities, thus they can afford a higher quality of living even if they don't make that much money. Suburbs are boring as fuck and often segregated, but they're mostly safe and cheap that's why the plurality of Americans live there.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:40 am 
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Black Hat wrote:
All the Best People wrote:
Hmm. I thought it was one of the most dominant and important aspects of the film. It anchors Lady Bird's persona and drives a significant portion of the film's plot.
Does it really? I think one of the things the film does very well which I loathe, leading me earlier to call it disingenuous and manipulative, is how it entirely exists in a field of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a very powerful tool because it not only can overwhelm your senses but you can also project so much of your own memories on to it whether they actually apply or not. Gerwig's nostalgia for the Dave Matthews song which when you read the lyrics would be a classic example of this.

Ok she's ashamed to tell one girl where she lives, but is that about her house or what or rather who she believes her friend to be? I think when the friend finds out the truth and is appalled to find out LB lied, without care for where she lives, undercuts this argument. If anything what drives the movie and LB's persona is how unappreciative she was of how well she had it. She keeps running away from her identity but is that coming from class issues? Or is it coming from her best friend not being pretty or popular and her mom being hard on her? She lived in not a mansion but it still was a nice house where she did have her own room full of stuff. She could afford to buy a prom dress with her mom and had parents who figured out a way to afford to send her to college in New York. Did Lady Bird miss out to anything due to her class status? Whatever was there about class is once again undercut in the flashback finale where there's nothing about those flashes that indicates how hard she had it. All of it seemed pretty standard images of middle class suburbia.

Look I don't know dick about living in suburbia, but if Lady Bird is a depiction of suburban class struggle I totally see why people would move out there when they have kids.

Yes, it does, really. The whole point is that she has shame over her relatively meager circumstances and fakes it to her rich classmate. The fact that the classmate doesn't really care about the class but does care about the lie undercuts Lady Bird's views about what is really important, eventually bringing her back to understanding both with her initial best friend and initially with her mother.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:41 am 
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Shrew's comment is on-point and well-observed.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:53 pm 

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John Shade wrote:
I think the point of Father Leviatch's character is to show that priests are fallible human beings (maybe they seem less human to those around them), and perhaps for them loneliness and depression can be even worse. These characters are not the focal point of the movie, which in itself is kind of the point, teenagers tend to be too self-centered to really notice (or "pay attention" in the nun's terms) to these types.


I think the scene with the priest is also supposed to build up the mother's character. I saw Lady Bird with my Mom a couple of weeks ago, and she pointed out how Lady Bird's mother is consistently shown as empathetic and generous to everyone except for Lady Bird. In addition to counseling the priest, early in the film she's shown bringing in a gift for her co-worker in celebration of his new baby. In another scene, Lady Bird's brother's girlfriend (another prominent non-white character, iirc) emphasizes how generous the mother was in letting the girlfriend move into the family's house after her parents kicked her out.

My Mom was actually really bothered by the mother's character; she thought that the portrayal went beyond the tough, no-nonsense mother with a heart of gold archetype that a lot of reviews were playing up to being borderline emotionally abusive towards her daughter. She was particularly bothered by the scene where the mother refuses to see Lady Bird off at the airport. The mother directs all of her anger at Lady Bird while apparently having completely forgiven the father, despite the fact that he assisted Lady Bird in applying to East Coast colleges and helped keep it a secret. I'm not entirely sure what Greta Gerwig intended the takeaway to be on their relationship, but I think there's at least an undercurrent suggesting that the family is more dysfunctional then it appears at first glance (the mother even states that her own mother was alcoholic and abusive, which gives her a bit of a Freudian excuse for her strained relationship with Lady Bird).

Another thing that stuck out to me is that the ending is fairly unresolved. The letter suggests that Lady Bird has grown to appreciate her parents and her hometown, but the lead-up to the letter is a party where she lies about where she's from and drinks herself sick in order to fit in. It suggests that Lady Bird has carried over some of the issues she had in high school over to college. It also seems likely that her positive reflections on Sacramento are only possible because of her distance from it. I don't think the movie suggests that if she returned home all of her problems with her family or her self-consciousness about her class-status would suddenly disappear.

Anyway, I would say that I liked this film more than I loved it, in part because I like coming-of-age movies with a bit of a stronger "personality", like Welcome to the Dollhouse, for example. That being said, I don't think this is the sort of simple, ultimately feel good movie that BlackHat is accusing it of being, and I don't think its less realistic because it doesn't approach growing up from a particularly caustic viewpoint.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:16 am 
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All the Best People wrote:
Shrew's comment is on-point and well-observed.
Yes. I very much enjoyed reading it and have a much better grasp of what people mean when they talk 'class' vis a vis this film, thanks for your insight Shrew.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:12 pm 
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DeprongMori wrote:
I'm curious about the characterization of Lady Bird having no key characters of color. Did everyone forget the complex and beloved character Father Leviatch, who ran the drama club? Stephen Henderson is a black man.
Or the brother.

mfunk9786 wrote:
This was... pretty good. It was not, however, treading in territory that hasn’t been done better dozens of times. Gerwig is a very clever writer, but in making this screenplay distinctive from Frances Ha and Mistress America by removing nearly all of the acid that made those films so compulsively enjoyable (and the latter one of the best of this decade), she’s managed to take a step forward that also feels like a step back. While I can definitely see it as a sort-of prequel to Frances Ha, this material is much more commercial than either of those aforementioned films, and there will surely be a wave of nostalgia that gets people my age to the theater (I graduated high school in 2004, the titular character graduates in 2003). But it is also neutered and rote in some ways that makes it feel like a much less snappy rewrite of Juno (sans pregnancy). Yes, the one-liners and embarrassing instant slang concoctions from that film haven’t aged well, but at least there is something interesting and kinetic and serpentine going on there to pair with a relatively standard teenage coming-of-age story. Lady Bird, despite some excellent performances (Laurie Metcalf and Lucas Hedges are particular standouts) and touching moments, never manages to be more than a well-observed straight line.
Though I dislike the Baumbach films I more or less agree entirely with this. While many of the film's best moments are inferior to their sources (Clueless and the first boyfriend especially stands out in this regard), the exact way Gerwig makes them collide is very satisfactory. The sense of class as represented through Sacramento's upper class Catholic community (that really can't be emphasized enough for the makeup of the film) is impressive, though like everyone else it is Metcalf that has me rooting for the film. It's not just her interactions with Ronan that work, but also her few scenes with Letts that give a full sense of this family. Her acting at the airport might just be the best emotional acting of the year. Though the writing of the character helped a lot as well as highlighted by the letters which I could only catch a glimpse of, but where effective all the same.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Am I right for assuming that Henderson's character is fired from the school after a suicide attempt?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:30 pm 
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knives wrote:
Though the writing of the character helped a lot as well as highlighted by the letters which I could only catch a glimpse of, but where effective all the same.

One of the more emotional moments of the film for me (which I adored on the whole) was seeing the first letter for the brief time it was on-screen and realizing that Metcalf was given the same backstory as Annette Bening's character in 20th Century Women.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 6:53 am 

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knives wrote:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Am I right for assuming that Henderson's character is fired from the school after a suicide attempt?


[Reveal] Spoiler:
I never even thought there was a suicide attempt...I also don't think he was "fired"; he's a priest who probably took a leave of absence.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:46 pm 
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It's an over rated bad TV movie.
We suffer 3 or 4 bad German tv movies each Saturday and Sunday in two TV channels.
This film is even worse. boring Cliché after cliché after stupid cliché.

Beach Rats is an excellent poetic film made by a woman that nobody has awarded.

A question: why guys are shocked because a girl shakes hand? I didn't understand that.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:43 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:48 am
I just saw this film as well (thank you awards screener), and maybe my hopes were a bit too high because of all the hype but I was left a tad underwhelmed. The film felt perfunctory at times, and seemed to me less of a fully formed Oscar worthy effort than a very promising first film . I think Metcalf's performance is the heart of this, and I hope she goes away with the Oscar for her work. I will be looking forward to Gerwig's future directorial efforts, because it is obvious she has a great future in that regard. But this film wouldn't be my pick for the top of the year. That belongs to Mudbound.


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