Author Topic: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (Read 2663 times)

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samsong

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2017, 04:00:51 PM »
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also, what hot button issue does it shoehorn? rape and murder? racism?

mostly the police brutality against african americans (is there ever a shot where that isn't alluded to--and it's alluded to a lot--where there isn't a black character conveniently present?) but it's the sum of all of these things not adding up to much that makes it feel disingenuous to me.  it's little more than set dressing and plot devices.  i'm still at a loss as to what anyone thinks this film is expressing.  also in what ways did you feel this film "didn't make things easy for characters or audiences"?  because part of the issue for me is that i felt it did the exact opposite of what you're suggesting.

it's stuck between wanting to be a darkly comical indictment of human foley and compassionate parable of the human condition.  i'm not saying these two things can't coexist, but that this movie doesn't pull it off.



Something Spanish

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2017, 09:00:05 PM »
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SPOILERS SPOILERAMA





sorry bud, i think it's only alluded to in the beginning when Rockwell first passes by the billboards. the only other time that comes to mind is that same character locking up McDormand's friend, but I wouldn't categorize that as brutality, more like racism out of need to intimidate McDormand. as a device it is used quite effectively, culminating in the reveal of the replacement sheriff, who moments later relieves Rockwell of his duty. it's such a minor point the in the totality of the film anyway.

and by not making things easy i'm referring to us easily being able to hate the Harrelson character because he's not pursuing the investigation, but his illness and warmth towards his family don't make it that simple, ditto for Rockwell's Dixon who turns out to be not as bad as originally perceived. also the man Rockwell confronts in the bar in the end could easily have been the killer, but a resolution isn't made simple. the main point of the movie is anger begetting further anger and how to let it go, shown in McDormand's rage transferred from one character to the next. i get your criticisms, but just had a different experience. agree that it's most definitely a parable.

samsong

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2017, 11:25:35 PM »
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spoilers

the first half of the movie constantly reminds us that sam rockwell tortured black people in custody.  racism really only enters the picture in the context of police officers/rockwell.  need some tension?  throw rockwell and a black person in a scene, that'll make things uncomfortable!  the fact that it comes across as slight in the context of the movie makes it that much more problematic for me.  it dips its toes in "controversial" topics and leaves it at that.

rockwell's gracenote arc is one of the more forced things ive seen in movies in quite some time.  i also found it pretty stupid that the townspeople would be so up in arms about the billboards but somehow there isn't much of a reaction to mildred assaulting dentists and children, or you know, lighting a police station on fire. (i know there's an "alibi", but cmon...) 

i didn't find anything particularly challenging about harrelson's performance.  any negative perception of his ineptitude as a sheriff stems entirely from mildred's vitriol and vengeful need for justice, and not actual negligence.  he also handles himself well around mildred, which only makes her antics that much more sociopathic and unsympathetic in a very simple, straightforward, uncomplicated way.  also why the fuck does he need to write in block letters not to look inside of his burlap headmask?  this was probably the most egregious example of the film's general tone deafness.  it picks strange spots to be cheeky or push for laughs amidst the darkness. 


end spoilers

i'm also still bewildered by how no one else seems to think that this movie is indebted to the coen bros.  i'd go so far as to say this is, in some ways, mcdonagh's love letter to fargo.  whatever.  at this point i've talked/thought about this movie more than i care to.  my distaste for it only deepens. 

Tictacbk

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2017, 03:52:30 AM »
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The Coen Brothers deal in much more straightforward crime. Sure it's still senseless, but it's a bit more digestible. They observe cold, often capitalist, murder filled houses of cards falling, from a safe and amusing distance. Three Bilbs has more sympathy for its characters. It doesn't feel like you're watching dominoes drop, it's more like you're just watching people deal with grief in any way they can. It's less structured and/or steeped in genre than a Coen brothers movie. In the simplest terms, it's just not fun in the same way a Coen bros movie is. It's still enjoyable and surprising, but I can't really imagine the Coen Bros making a movie about a teenager being raped and tortured.

Something Spanish

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2017, 01:48:07 PM »
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the townsfolk don't know Mildred set the fire, only Dinklage and later Rockwell really knew, and her action was retaliation for her billboards going up in flames. they townsfolk are upset with the billboards clearly because they're more sympathetic to the sheriff. Mildred has to resort to these extremes since there is no other venue available to vindicate her anguish. McDonagh did a good in never letting us forget her torment, the sadness of her loss the hovers over the film.


one of the most touching scenes is Rockwell reading the letter left for him, the first glimpse we get of him having this other good side. but you can tell from his racist mom who he still lives with that beneath all the instilled bigotry he was raised with lies another person.




a lot of what happens is not very believable, clearly it's a movie and a parable at that, but like i said in the context it's very easy to go along with. and even after seeing it a second time last week didn't detect any trail of coen bros.

samsong

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2017, 05:41:52 AM »
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maybe a third time and you'll see it.

maybe you can accept that mildred is somehow above suspicion for the firebombing of the police station (dinklage says she was with him the whole time... checks out, moving along!  :yabbse-rolleyes:) but it's an inconsistency that only really occurs whenever mildred acts out in anger.  it becomes a comedic set piece and there are no consequences, and not for lack of circumstances in which she would or should suffer consequences.  it's lazy, bad storytelling.

as for mcdonagh conveying her grief... how?  because she breaks down every now and then?  because she's volatile but vulnerable?  because she talks to deer?  the flashback of her last interaction with her daughter didn't exactly suggest that she was any different before the incident.  once a cunt, always a cunt.  but she was in an abusive relationship, so sympathy points to counter the hard-to-take stuff, right?  speaking of which, why is there no concern expressed directly to the new girlfriend about that?  i get that she's her newer, younger, tighter replacement and there's probably ill will, but to the point where she just lets her be her stupid self and doesn't warn her at every opportunity that she's with a woman-beating maniac?  again, cunt!  also did john hawkes suddenly learn not to beat up women?  these things can be swept under the rug as true-to-life human inconsistencies, but the film's pretty tidy and weirdly consistent about the way it treats caricature and verisimilitude.  clearly it worked for you and that's fine, but i think a lot of it seems predicated on your being on its emotional wavelength and overlooking some pretty glaring technical errors in the writing.  or maybe i view them all as errors because it left me out in the cold.  either way there seems to be this sense on your end that i missed something, and i can assure you, i didn't.  i just didn't like the movie. 

the only moving and remotely convincing bit of rockwell's preposterous redemption narrative is the scene in the hospital with caleb landry jones.

Something Spanish

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2017, 05:46:17 PM »
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maybe a third time and you'll see it.

once a cunt, always a cunt. 

hey man, cunts have feelings too.

Drenk

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2018, 08:01:47 PM »
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SPOILERS

I thought the movie was clumsy. But also kind of effective. I want to talk about the main criticism about it these days: the idea that it gives redemption to Dixon. I believed what I read. I thought it would be true. And at some point in the movie, I thought it was. And then the last ten minutes happened. That? A redemption? At the end, Mildred and Dixon succumb to their worst instincts. I suppose that the "discourse" around Mildred transformed her into a badass woman, almost a super-hero...? Well, she is and...she isn't...She acts out of anger and despair. The fact that she isn't in conflict with the sheriff is a great idea. Did she need these billboards? Not really. Kind of. She isn't dumb and she knows there's probably nothing to do. Nothing to do except paying for billboards, expressing her pain, her yearning for someone to answer her question: who raped my daughter while she was dying?

Dixon is violent. He's racist. He's still racist and he's still violent at the end. Mildred is still despaired and angry. Their union is, I thought, heartbreaking in a special way—I absolutely don't forgive Dixon for his racism or anything. Do I have some empathy for the anger? Yes. Yes. My main issue with Dixon is in the beginning of the movie, when he's supposed to be funny while everyone around him can't stop to speak about how he's beating black people: that's not good. I guess the movie does try to convey empathy for Dixon. He does try to do better, but then he fails. He's who he is.

Their finale failure was, in a way, beautiful, too. Like that moment of peace before you jump into the river, I guess.

Hey. What's the point of all this? Let's go. Let's end this.

(But that was a clumsy movie.)
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samsong

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2018, 08:12:42 PM »
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someone at slant magazine summed it up pretty well for me.

"three billboards outside ebbing, missouri is 'about' racism, sexism, police violence, and small-town corruption in roughly the same way a game of chess is about the problems of feudalism."

Drenk

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2018, 08:18:45 PM »
+3
Yes, but is the movie pretending to be a profound exploration of these topics? Or are we giving the responsibility to the movie to be about that because of the current political discourse? Can't a movie have a racist cop as a main character without being about police violence?

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samsong

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2018, 08:43:10 PM »
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sure but art isn't made in a vacuum and context will always be relevant, if not integral to analysis.  as far as its empty topicality is concerned, i think there are too many things that hit on current events that makes it impossible not to assess it with those things in mind.  it's too deliberate and conspicuous to be incidental. 

Can't a movie have a racist cop as a main character without being about police violence?

i guess, but why else make a movie about a racist cop? 

Drenk

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2018, 09:00:24 PM »
+1
I agree with what you said, but I see more and more criticism discussing movies in a weird way, as if they were failing to be The Relevant Movie of our Time, and I don't think Billboards is trying to be about our Time—it could have taken place in the eighties.


SPOILERS

Dixon is not the main character. At the end of the movie, Mildred, whose violence is supposed to be righteous, becomes as low as Dixon—or, at least, is tempted since we don't know what they'll do, if they'll murder the guy or not. The movie pretend to give some sort of redemption to Dixon, but it never redeems him of anything! It's not because he wants to be better at his job that he's less racist or violent! The movie never forgets that Dixon is racist. Do we need a scene explaining to us how bad it is to be racist...?

At the end, the movie shows people who act violently, criminally, out of what they think is righteous but is more selfishness and despair, and that's where Dixon enters the picture.

This movie is both clumsy and more subtle than most people think.

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jenkins

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2018, 09:31:44 PM »
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when this won the Golden Globe i thought of that-Crash, which is a movie that can be seen from another perspective as well, like Ebert mentioned back then. i mentioned Ebert, okay. Drenk i support your endeavor and believe you're proposing a broadened perspective, leading this movie to its redemption within me. i think you're proposing a devaluation of the movie's heightened qualities, an examination of its core, i think "selfish despair" is within reason and a brave thing to mention.

so what happens for me is time. you can't control what a movie does to you when it's just between you and the movie. although later you can take it a little less personal, that's what i always see and experience. i like when people bond through bad life experience and decide to make terrible life choices, but not when it's this dramatic. the heavy dramatics are going to come to mean less to everyone as far as this movie is concerned.

Drenk

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2018, 07:56:03 PM »
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SPOILERS


Yes, I'm in the weird position where I think this movie is a mess but I can't see how it can be seen as a redemption story for Dixon, I can't. "Oh, that racist cop wants to be a good guy now, but he's not: what an outrageous redemption arc!"

Mostly, I read people demanding the movie to be about the consequences of police brutality. I think this is a dangerous trend. And being righteously angry at this movie in particular is ironic...

Look at this Slate title: "The Weinstein moment needs a better female vengeance story than Three Billboards." Ok. The Weinstein moment doesn't need anything but men not abusing their power anymore to harass women. And Mildred is wrong. She's not the hero of the Weinstein moment. What the fuck? Does it show an incapacity to see a protagonist failing as a human being? Do people think they're supposed to be on her side at the end?

I don't like the movie, but I really like that ending, I guess.

My issue is not with how dramatic it is, but how the cartoonish nature of the characters seems forced and is often not funny at all. And the flashback scene with the daughter should have been cut. The scene with the deer made me cringe, but I was asking at that point to care about her grief. Woody Harrelson's wife doesn't only look like she could be his daughter, but her makeup is ridiculous, she looks like she's about to do a shooting for Vogue in every scene! And the scenes with his family were sentimental in an artificial way. It didn't work for me.

You don't really enter the world of these characters the way you entered the world of In Bruges—a movie I love—which was funnier and, maybe because it was funnier, also sadder. There's not much atmosphere in Three Billboards.
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jenkins

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Re: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2018, 08:16:07 PM »
+1
i'm finding your conversational style calming and nurturing.

i think people expect a certain amount of character change to occur within a narrative. that's not so outrageous to expect. but i think you're doing a fine job of presenting a fuller perspective.

 

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