Pop Style Opinionfest: “Passing,” “The Green Knight,” and Respecting the Source Material

Posted on November 12, 2021

We got all chatty for this week’s podcast and did a bit of a deep dive on two of our favorite films of the year. But don’t worry, we didn’t spoil a thing, we swear. First up, Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing, starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga

 

 

 

Adapted from the celebrated 1929 novel of the same name by Nella Larsen, Passing tells the story of two Black women, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga), who can “pass” as white but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance in late 1920s New York. After a chance encounter reunites the former childhood friends one summer afternoon, Irene reluctantly allows Clare into her home, where she ingratiates herself to Irene’s husband (André Holland) and family, and soon her larger social circle as well. As their lives become more deeply intertwined, Irene finds her once-steady existence upended by Clare, and Passing becomes a riveting examination of obsession, repression and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.

 

This film is gorgeously evocative and subtly nuanced in a way that assumes you don’t need to have grownup emotions explained to you. Negga and Thompson give delicately threaded performances that circle around each other warily, unpacking themes of race, class, womanhood and queerness. We go into some of the themes and directorial choices and focus on a few specific scenes to point out how Hall has staked her claim as a confident and thoughtful director.

 

 

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Quite simply Tom’s favorite film of 2021, hands down. Lorenzo’s not far behind in his praise. A stunningly gorgeous, dreamlike, borderline nonsensical 14th Century poem brought to life in all its weirdness and archaic morality. If Malgosia Turzanska’s so-beautiful-we-could-weep costume design doesn’t win an Oscar, then what are Oscar costume designs for? Again, we dive into some of the themes and inspirations and laud director Lowery for not trying to make a poem into an action film.

 

 


 

All that chatty-chat and no spoilers, we swear! Plus a few more thoughts on the trailers for And Just Like That and Being the Ricardos. Thanks for listening, kittens!

 

[Photo Credit: Netflix, Eric Zachanowich/A24 – Video Credit: Netflix/YouTube, a24/YouTube]

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