CB Podcast Ep. 115 – “Hereditary” Review

The bros are back to bring you a Filmstruck First of the Month dedicated to Pride Month as they talk Wong Kar-Wai’s 1997 film “Happy Together” and Sam & Jake briefly defend “Solo” and talk about why they liked it. Then, they end with an in-depth review of one of the most disturbing horror films to be released in quite some time: “Hereditary”.

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  • Hosts: Josiah Wampfler, Sam Wampfler & Jacob Wampfler
  • Produced by Josiah Wampfler
  • A Cinema Bros Network Podcast
  • Theme Music by Josiah Wampfler. Film clips used under fair use. All rights belong to their respective copyright holders
  • Music clips used under fair use. All rights belong to their respective copyright holders.
  • Visit our website for show notes as well as articles covering film, television, video games, music & more!
  • Email us at cinemabrospod@gmail.com

“BPM” – A Vital Film About Love, Death and Political Action

By Josiah Wampfler

“[I]t is IMPORTANT AS HELL, especially right now, to see a film based on factual events featuring YOUNG PEOPLE literally fighting for their lives, fighting for all our lives honestly, against bigotry and bigoted bureaucratic policy (not to mention corporate greed).”

– Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight.

I decided to see the French film BPM off of this recommendation and, much like Jenkins, the film utterly destroyed me. The realistic ways it dealt with death, love and political action completely floored me. It is something I have really never seen before. Strangely enough, the best review quote that summed up many of my thoughts on the film was found in a mixed review from critic John Bleasdale. He writes, “[Director Robin] Campillo doesn’t edit for our comfort and we feel both the tragedy and the boredom of death.” And this is exactly what makes BPM so profound.

BPM is set in 1980s Paris during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The film revolves around an AIDS political action group called ACT UP PARIS who are fed up with how the government and pharmaceutical companies are ignoring marginalized people affected by the disease like drug users and the LGBTQ community. More specifically though, BPM is about two men (one who has AIDS and the other who doesn’t) who fall in love amidst this group.

This relationship is the driving force behind the film. Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart) contracted the disease when he was in his teens from a school teacher he had a relationship with. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) has had lovers he found out later were diagnosed, but he has been fortunate enough to remain negative. Sean has been intimately involved in the group for awhile when Nathan shows up and they hit it off almost immediately.

What makes BPM so wonderful and unique is how this relationship plays out. Sean and Nathan, despite having different statuses enjoy a loving relationship filled with safe sex. And despite the dark turn that inevitably comes for the two of them, BPM does not shy away from showing the utter joy they experience together, and that includes some explicit sex scenes that are tender but also as sexy as heterosexual sex scenes we’ve seen in film. The joy that is shown throughout the film gives these men their full humanity, refusing to reduce their stories to merely tragedy, but it also makes the pain that comes that much more devastating

Though the film is set in the 1980s, it could not be more relevant or vital for today. BPM painstakingly shows the hard work that political action requires. Much of the film takes place in a classroom where ACT UP PARIS meets, showing the members vigorously debating what actions to take. Most importantly, the film shows us both the value and difficulty of compromise. As Jenkins’ quote at the top of the page says, it is incredibly important for people right now to see the work that is required for political change. To see that work being done by queer folks is even better.

Bringing together all of these elements is some truly beautiful cinematography (One of the main reasons the classroom scenes feel so vibrant and kinetic) and incredible performances from the entire cast, but specifically Biscayart and Valois. The chemistry between these two men jumps off the screen and it is the work that they put in toward the end of the film that had me in full ugly cry mode. BPM is not an easy sit. It certainly takes its time showing us the lives of these characters (Both the tragedy and boredom are in there). But, it is a beautiful, raw story that needed to be told, especially now.

BPM is currently available to rent through Google Play, Amazon Video and iTunes.

“Moonlight” is the Most Obvious Choice For Best Picture in Years. Here’s Why:

By Josiah Wampfler

Moonlight is a masterpiece. It is a film about subject matter that is (unfortunately) quite unique in the current film landscape. It is a beautifully crafted film with music, cinematography, editing and performances that push the medium forward. And it also shares an interesting connection to Casablanca in that both are based on unproduced stage plays (In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue for Moonlight and Everybody Comes to Rick’s for Casablanca). Just like Casablanca has for years, Moonlight is a film that will inspire the next generation of filmmakers – and likely a much more diverse set of filmmakers at that. Plus, Casablanca was also considered the underdog going into Oscars night when it ended up winning both Best Director and Picture. Moonlight should do the same, not because of any comparison to the other films, but because it is the obvious choice. You only get a masterpiece like Moonlight maybe a couple times a decade. Casablanca was one of those films. Now is the time to give Moonlight the same recognition.

Many have already written “Why Moonlight Should Win Best Picture” articles. My personal hero, Mark Duplass, wrote a beautiful piece saying, “The film is important because it is a beautiful, sweet, open love letter to the core human values that connect us all.” He also wrote that it was the type of film he has been trying to make his entire life, a sentiment I share with him as Moonlight has personally inspired me in my pursuit of filmmaking.

Moonlight is a film that features almost an entirely black cast. Mahershala Ali, who plays Juan in the film, is also Muslim. And it is a film that tackles issues such as drug addiction, poverty and sexual identity in such empathetic and nuanced ways. This is not a film that we would normally see at the Oscars. In fact, it is a film that never usually would have been made at all. But, it was, and now it will be in front of millions of viewers because of its nominations and the profound importance of that should not be missed.

It is no secret that we currently have an administration in the White House that is scaring communities of color, Muslims and the LGBTQ community with its actions and words. Because of the rhetoric coming out of the oval office, the very existence of many of these people has become political. We have political debates over these labels and categories of human beings happening right now and Moonlight sits in a very interesting place among it all.

The one scene in Moonlight that has stuck with me months after first seeing it is the moment when our main character, the youngest Chiron (Alex Hibbard), asks his surrogate guardians, Juan and Teresa (Janelle Monae) what a “faggot” is. Juan’s response is not only something I’ve never seen from a drug dealer character in a film, it is profoundly empathetic and true. Juan simply states that a “faggot is something used to make gay people feel bad.”

What a simple, beautiful statement to a young boy struggling to figure out why people are screaming this word at him. And when Chiron asks Juan how he will know if he is gay, Juan says, “You don’t have to know right now, you feel me?”

With this one statement, Juan says so much. These labels that we put on people – gay, transgender, queer, faggot, Muslim, etc. – are not the essence of who people actually are. “You don’t have to know if you are gay right now,” says, to me, that these things are personal. No matter what the world says, these are private things. Whether that be your sexual identity, your religion, your gender or even your race, these things do not define you and what you do with these concepts is your private decision to make.

You don’t have to know if you are gay, because why should it matter to anyone else? It is your identity. No matter what the Mike Pence’s of the world want to say about gay or transgender people, their identity is a private matter and, in short, it is none of their god damn business. No matter what the Donald Trump’s of the world want to say about the Islamic faith, millions of Muslims around the world have made a private choice to follow the tenets of Islam peacefully. Their faith is their own and it is none of Trump’s damn business.

Moonlight is a film that is about identity and that is what I find so universal about it. Even if you are not gay, black, poor or have not experienced anything like the events contained within the film, the message of finding one’s identity is something I think we can all connect with. And as we sit with these characters that may be far different from ourselves and watch them as they chase their identity – something we all are also trying to do – we can empathize with them, we can feel their struggles and we can come to know the things that actually do bring us together as human beings. All of this other stuff, the labels we attach to people and the divisions they cause, mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. What means something is connecting to the humanity of others.

This is why Moonlight should win Best Picture. It is not only a technically impressive film, but an emotionally impressive one as well. It should win because it is masterpiece, it should win because of the importance of a win, and, most of all, Moonlight should win best picture because it brings the best out of us as viewers as we cry, love, smile and hurt with other human beings that may be far different from us. That is the power of cinema and it is what makes Moonlight such a powerful and deserving film.