I'm glad I finally found this gem again.
Xavier Dolan's best work by a mile.
Wow, this is a movie at war with itself. Gruesome and reactionary, from both sides of the political spectrum, but mostly from the right, I give it some props for keeping me off-balance most of the time and for a properly black comic ending.
I despised the ironic use of Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land, however. Fuck you, dudes.
I'm withholding final judgment (and an extra star) until I watch it again but for now I'd say it's worth watching because of its evident attempt to structure a film like a piece of music, with shifting tonal passages and broad movements. I'm still skeptical because it felt at times like just more elitist Sundance posturing, allowing coastal filmgoers to gawk at the awkward, young rubes.
Maybe it's both, I dunno. Whatever it is, it's interesting.
I could listen to Baldwin talk any day of the week so this filmed recording is a must-see for me, not least because it's invaluable to hear him reformulate and recode his core beliefs on-the-fly for the British-born or West-Indian immigrant attendees. Many of these folks push back against Baldwin and their responses range in tone from skeptical to uncomfortable to hostile.
But it's comedian Dick Gregory who's the revelation here for me, colloquially articulating in five minutes equally valuable lessons that are relevant for contemporary activists, particularly white ones: "We need cats that think black, regardless of how white you are."
Every Ryan Murphy project I've seen has at least tangentially asked the question, Is sincerity worth the bother? Even The Normal Heart.
His answer in most cases is: "Uh, kinda?"
So this muddled adaptation of a crappy, half-baked musical with one and a half memorable songs dovetails nicely with all of Murphy's ambivalence about just about everything.
Plus, of all the possible musicals to adapt, he chose this one? WTH? Why?
The lead lesbian is so obnoxiously cheery that I…
I like the idea of populist comedy but this gets a little preachy there toward the end. When Schulz isn't stiff, he's noticeably self-satisfied. I thought smug and presumptuous were both things we were supposed to be repudiating?
Finally, although there's a good message here. I'm just not sure Schulz is the best vehicle for it. Or the funniest.