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A father and son’s fall movie guide

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • At the movies: Daniel Elihu Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Daniel Kramer and his son Eli, 16, visit the Amherst Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The pair will be doing a father/son fall movie guide for Hampshire Life. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • (from left) Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely) helps liberate the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) from his grumpiness in Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch from Illumination.Illumination and Universal Pictures

  • At right, Lucas Hedges, left, with Sunny Suljic.

  • This image released by A24 Films shows Sunny Suljic, left, and Na-kel Smith in a scene from "Mid90s." (Tobin Yelland/A24 Films via AP) Tobin Yelland

  • Via IMDb

  • Via IMDb

  • Via IMDb

  • Via IMDb

  • Via IMDb

  • Via IMDb

  • Images courtesy IMDb

  • Via IMDb



Friday, November 09, 2018

Our mission: see movies, review them together and share them with you. Our hope is that our shared enthusiasm — along with our different perspectives — might offer a unique take on films you’re considering going to see.

Our credentials: Daniel is a professor at Smith College, where he chairs Theatre and is a member of the Film and Media Studies program. He is a theatre director and occasional filmmaker, as well as Producing Artistic Director of Chester Theatre Company.

Eli Kramer is an 11th grader at Northampton High School. He has already made more movies than Daniel has.

We are father and son.

No, we did not want to call this story Kramer vs. Kramer.

For our first film, we went to see Mid90s, about a 13-year-old boy who starts hanging out with a group of older skateboarders.

We also looked ahead to films opening in the next month to think about what we were looking forward to. (Or not.)

Finally, the Gazette asked us to recommend some recent films now available for rental or streaming. We tried. Really, we tried.

Daniel Elihu Kramer: What did you expect going in from a Jonah Hill movie?

Eli Kramer: Not what we saw. The only thing I knew, beyond that it was Jonah Hill, was that we had checked Rotten Tomatoes and the movie has a higher critics score than audience score, which makes sense. It’s a better movie than it is enjoyable. It’s definitely a good movie on the whole, but I’m not sure whether I enjoyed it or not.

DK: I keep thinking about Superbad, the movie that made Jonah Hill famous. If a movie is made by a famous actor, you show up thinking, “Hey, here’s the movie made by that famous actor.”

EK: That is probably why most people are going to go to it. It’s probably why we went to it. But I don’t think it feels relevant while you’re watching it.

DK: I was thinking about all those Jonah Hill movies of guys around that age hanging out together. It feels like that’s where I know Jonah Hill from originally, from some version of that. And now he made a movie about a bunch of boys in their teens hanging out.

EK: I liked Sunny Suljic (who plays 13-year-old Stevie). He doesn’t have to do all that much, but he seems like a kid.

DK: I was struck by how happy he is when he’s having these new experiences. Even just his smile feels like a kid discovering something.

EK: His acting felt very real; he just seems like he is that kid. The whole movie has a documentary tone. Things happen but there’s no real plot, or at least no narrative arc.

DK: There’s more an accumulation of things that happen. But there isn’t some central question that drives the plot.

EK: I feel like that’s intentional.

DK: How much did it feel to you — as a teenage boy — like a bunch of teenage boys hanging out?

EK: I don’t know; I don’t skate. It’s a very specific culture that I don’t really know.

DK: I’m thinking more about the way they kill time together. There’s something about the hanging out that feels connected to the fact that a lot of them aren’t really actors. When I found out that the boys are skaters more than actors, I wasn’t surprised. They know how to hang out in that world. There’s that scene where Ray, the best skater in the group, sets up a board for Stevie, and Stevie gets to see somebody doing that work, and taking care of him by doing it. But we’re literally just watching Ray set the board up for him.

EK: I didn’t sit there thinking, “Wow, this acting isn’t that good.” When I’m talking to one of my friends, I’m not thinking, “Hmm, this seems like a deep, real person.” A lot of the movie felt real, like you were just watching it happen. If I’m talking to someone, I’m not thinking about that. You’re just with them.

DK: But what you expect from acting is that it’s getting you all that information.

EK: Whereas real people don’t. Mostly a group of teenage boys is not going to give you that information.

DK: Maybe what we expect from this kind of movie is actually pretty fake. All the time we’re thinking “Look what he’s going through,” and “Look what this one’s experiencing,” and that’s not what normally happens in real life.

Ray is actually interesting because he has lines where he’s asked to do more. For instance, he has that speech to Stevie about thinking of what other people are experiencing or going through. And at one level, Na-Kel Smith, who plays Ray, did it fine, but it worked better than fine.

EK: Because he felt real. Because that’s how a teenage boy is.

DK: What about the language and name-calling in the movie?

EK: I don’t get offended by things people say in movies. And the way it first comes up makes it clear what the movie thinks. I feel like that’s one of the few judgments the movie actually makes.

DK: That’s a good point, especially because there’s a whole lot of other behavior the movie doesn’t judge.

EK: For the most part the movie just gives you what’s happening without judging it, which can be part of why it’s so off-putting sometimes. Because you’re used to some moral or some stance or at least some angle on what’s happening.

DK: I think it added to this idea that the camera is just observing.

EK: It felt more like a documentary. Or a document more than a documentary. Just a straight document. Like you’re watching raw footage.

DK: So, here’s a question we should answer—

EK: Should somebody go see it?

DK: It seems like that’s part of our job.

EK: You should, if you’re up for kind of an off-putting, unusual, somewhat dark and depressing coming-of-age movie. It never gets quite as uplifting as most coming-of-age movies are. Would you recommend it?

DK: I would. But if you want to go relax, I wouldn’t recommend it.

EK: Nothing about this movie is relaxing. It’s certainly not comfortable.

DK: I would recommend it because I feel it will stay in my head. I feel like I got to know Stevie a little bit, and that I was glad I got to know him a little bit.

I think the movie is really good at the details of how a group of kids hangs out — the slipping around of who’s tightest with whom. All that stuff about how friendships work is what the movie is best at.

UPCOMING RELEASES:

THE GRINCH

EK: Is there an hour and a half worth of content in that story? No. They’ve tried that before — with Jim Carrey. It’s not an offensive idea, there’s just no real reason for it to exist.

GREEN BOOK

EK: Mahershala Ali is amazing.

DK: And Viggo Mortenson is a very good actor.

EK: I haven’t seen that story before or anything really like it based on the trailer. It feels like it’s not the same “these two people from different backgrounds, or of different race, etc. become friends” story. I hope that’s true — I hope it is surprising.

CREED II

EK: Honestly, Creed was a good movie. Since Creed, Michael B. Jordan is now a household name. He wasn’t a star, and now he certainly is. Creed and especially Black Panther made him a star. It’s funny how the villain role made him as much a featured part of the publicity for Black Panther as Chadwick Boseman. Creed was a legitimately more interesting movie than it had to be.

DK: Even though it essentially lifted the Rocky plot.

EK: I’m curious to see where they go from there.

THE FAVOURITE

EK: I’ve seen trailers for that for a few months, but I’m just confused. What is it? I don’t even know why it’s more baffling than other trailers, but it is.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS

EK: Let’s be honest, I’m not going to end up seeing it, even though I know that Emily Blunt’s good.

DK: I feel like I won’t see it either.

MOVIES TO RENT OR STREAM:

LEAVE NO TRACE

DK: This was terrific. It’s directed by Debra Granik, who also made Winter’s Bone. Ben Foster is so good as a father who’s been raising his daughter in the woods on the edge of Portland, Oregon. The authorities find them, and the rest of the movie is their attempts to figure out how and where they can live. Thomasin McKenzie as the daughter does great work, and each community they find themselves in is beautifully observed.

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

EK: It was good. It was weird.

DK: What else?

EK: Nope. I’m done. You can only get a sixteen year old to talk about movies for so long. <sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>