Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Film Review -- Winchester '73 (1950): Anthony Mann and James Stewart's First Partnership is an Interesting Commentary on Morality


A Grittier James Stewart?

“Hell, I don’t think the leading newspaper reviewers even go to see most of the Westerns. They send their second string assistants. And their supposed to be very nasty and very funny in their reviews. Well it’s a shame, because it makes it a crime to like a Western.”
— John Ford, 1964

Winchester ‘73 (1950) marks the first of nine films that James Stewart would make with director Anthony Mann. Of these films, five were Westerns and critics often discuss how Mann’s Westerns featured grimmer and more morally ambiguous characters than the roles James “Jimmy” Stewart was known for playing. For many, it’s hard to imagine Mr. Smith, Elwood P. Dowd, Alfred Kralik, or George Bailey as a narrowly focused avatar of vengeance or even as an amoral bounty hunter.

It’s less hard to imagine for fans of the Thin Man films. In After the Thin Man (1936), Stewart was cast specifically to play off of audience’s expectations of him being a nice guy. Instead, he portrays one of the best villains of that series. Cynics like me who ironically present the hot take that Mr. Smith is actually the villain of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and who genuinely believes that George Bailey isn’t a nice person at all, have a much easier time accepting Stewart in more morally ambiguous roles. The fact is that as likable as Stewart is in all of his roles, he’s a skilled actor who has long brought moral complexity to his characters.

I don’t think it is that Stewart is playing these darker, almost noir roles in some cases, that is what makes the Mann-Stewart Westerns stand out. I think what modern critics and audiences are responding to is that Stewart is playing a morally ambiguous character, in a Western. Westerns aren’t supposed to be sophisticated narratives after all. In the minds of many critics, they were merely “horse operas” that were devoid of real depth.

In a March 1964 Cosmopolitan interview with Bill Libby, director John Ford responded to these kinds of criticisms. He said, “The people who coined the awful term ‘horse opera’ are snobs. The critics are snobs. Now, I’m not one who hates all critics. There are many good ones and I pay attention to them and I’ve even acted on some of their suggestions. But most criticism has been destructive, full of inaccuracies, and generalizations. Hell, I don’t think the leading newspaper reviewers even go to see most of the Westerns. They send their second string assistants. And their supposed to be very nasty and very funny in their reviews. Well it’s a shame, because it makes it a crime to like a Western. Sure, there have been bad and dishonest Westerns. But, there have been bad and dishonest romantic stories, too, and war stories, and people don’t attack all romantic movies or war movies because of these. Each picture should be judged on its own merit. In general, Westerns have maintained as high a level as that of any other theme.”

Fans and scholars of Western films know that there have been many fine entries in the genre that go well beyond the stereotype. John Ford’s archetype establishing film Stagecoach (1939) has a number of complex characters incorporated into a very simple narrative. But Stagecoach, like Destry Rides Again (1939), came toward the end of the first wave of Westerns. Stagecoach attempted to exemplify what was great about those old Westerns and it succeeded. Destry Rides Again attempted to parody those earlier films. It too succeeded. But like the best parodies, it also ended up becoming one of the best exemplars of the genre and this is is one reason it helped inspire Blazing Saddles (1974).

Just as Stagecoach and Destry Rides Again marked the zenith of a prior era of Western films, Anthony Mann’s Winchester ‘73 marks the transition from the white hat/black hat era of heroes and villains into one influenced by the noir films that began to dominate the box office in the 40s and 50s.

I say that Winchester ‘73 marks a transition from the classic Western to something new because it is a film that incorporates numerous tropes from the older Westerns and then uses the symbolism attached with those tropes as cues that something a little different is going on in this particular film.

The first, and probably most iconic of those tropes, is the way that Winchester ‘73 uses the white hat/black hat dynamic as a way of introducing its audience to its anti-hero. When Lin (James Stewart) and his companion High Spade (Millard Mitchell) walk into town asking if anyone has seen a man called Dutch Henry Brown, Lin is wearing a white hat. It’s a white hat that is stained with sweat giving it an overall gray appearance. This is a good man who has been pushed to the limit and that has led him onto his quest for revenge. High Spade, his sidekick, is wearing a black hat. So too are Dutch Henry Brown and Marshal Wyatt Earp.

Speaking of Wyatt Earp, Will Geer makes for one of the most unique versions of the character to hit the screen. Geer’s portrayal has an almost comedic quality to it and the Earp of Winchester ‘73 is not hero. He and his brother may be “the law” in Dodge, but they aren’t much of it and Earp seems more comfortable fraternizing with Dutch than he does with Lin. It’s a take on the character that is suggestive of the complexity of the real Wyatt Earp and that predicts more morally ambiguous portrayals of the character that will come later in Hour of the Gun (1967), Tombstone (1993), and Wyatt Earp (1994).

Winchester '73 (1950)

Earp is not a hero in any form in this film, a fact slightly surprising given that the film’s story credit is Stuart N. Lake and he was the major promoter of the Earp story. In Winchester ‘73, Earp is a catalyst of a sort, the shooting contest he runs is how Lin acquires the eponymous Winchester ‘73, but when that gun is stolen Earp plays no part in the attempts to regain the weapon or to uphold the laws that Dutch Henry Brown has broken. I won’t go into Dutch’s crimes here as those are a reveal worth discovering narratively. The film may be over 70 years old, but a review should be more than a synopsis.

While Dutch’s crimes are the inciting incident that lead Lin to Dodge City, it is Lin’s loss of the Winchester to Dutch that is the inciting for the audience. An incident that splits the narrative into two storylines that diverge and converge several times over the course of the film as the gun makes its way from one owner to another. This continual shifting of ownership of a perfect “1 of a 1,000” Winchester rifle allows the film to introduce an interesting array of characters, but it is the way it is done that is most facinating.

Because the Winchester moves from one owner to another, the film’s narrative flow feels less like a single story than it does a series of vignettes united by a single through arc. The through line is Lin’s quest for revenge as he pursues Dutch up and down the central United States, the foothills and plains that come prior to the Mountain West. This through line intersects with several vignettes where various characters encounter and acquire the Winchester rifle before it, like the One Ring finally finds its way into the hands of its true master.

Each of the vignettes of the film is a moral commentary on what it means to be a virtuous person in a lawless land. Who upholds the good when there is barely a society to enforce mores?

The first vignette is the gun shooting contest wherein the best shot in Dodge City will win the perfect rifle and the key focus for moral critique here are the Earps. Wyatt is morally suspect and Virgil is nigh incompetent. As Marshal of Dodge, one would expect Wyatt to enforce the law not just in Dodge, but in the surrounding area as well, but he has no real interest in that. He just wants to keep Dodge calm and he does that in a style that cozies up to the black hats. Once Lin is ambushed and the Dutch has stolen the gun, Lin’s pursuit becomes double pursuit. He wants both to get his revenge and to be made financially whole by the return of his weapon, but his driving focus is revenge. In Anthony Mann’s West, it is up to the individual to enforce the rules of justice (a trend that continues through all five Mann-Stewart Westerns).

Each of the vignettes that follow provide commentaries on the conflict between liberty and license, civilization and lawlessness. The first vignette focuses on avarice and gluttony and intoxication all of which lead to the loss of the weapon to a crooked gun trader. The second deals with economic exploitation and shows what happens when you don’t have law to defend contracts. You have bad faith actors like the gun trader who come to a bad end because the only guarantee of contracts being upheld in a lawless society is to kill those who violate them. This is followed by a really interesting analysis of marriage and family in the untamed West and Shelley Winters performance as a prospective frontier wife, and the cowardice and villainy of the man she had agreed to marry, could make up entire volumes.

Lin’s pursuit of Dutch leads him to come into contact with the aftermath of each of these small morality tales and he judges them as one would expect a moral man to do. He takes no joy in killing for necessity. He knows the costs of cowardice and advises forgiveness. But when his pursuit finally leads him to a place where he can have his revenge, when he re-encounters a Shelley Winters character who has succumbed to despair and is now accompanying a true villain, he is finally given the opportunity to release all of his rage. First he releases it on one of Dutch’s henchmen and finally gets to try and have revenge on Dutch himself, all while still trying to maintain a level of respect for civilization. He’s a white hat, to be sure, but he’s a white hat stained gray with the strain of moral conflict. Does he save someone or get revenge? Does he uphold the principles of law and order or does he focus on revenge?

Winchester '73 – Senses of Cinema

In Anthony Mann’s vision of the West, there is only one answer to that question. Revenge comes first, especially when it is vengeance guided in re-establishing moral order, only then will families be safe. Only then can civilization be built.

I highly recommend the film. It has some elements that date it, badly, but it is a morally complex Western with interesting characters. They aren’t quite as realistic as the characters in later Westerns will be, but this film marks a real transition from a more fairy tale Western to the more morally complex Westerns of Budd Boetticher (Seven Men from Now, Ride Lonesome), Sam Peckinpah (Ride the High Country, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid), and more recent directors.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Weekly Geekly Rundown for May 25, 2003: Role Playing Games, Comic Books, Film Reviews, and a Classic Film Recommendation


On the Independent Fantasy RPG Front

Jason Vey has long been a part of the OSR community. He was a part of the OSR community before there was an OSR community, back when it was people making house rules for Original D&D and trying to figure out how to use Chainmail as the combat system. Using Chainmail for combat was my first Substack post because I always attempt to be super topical. Over the years Vey has created a number of variant rules for Original D&D and has even released his own fantasy heartbreaker, a heartbreaker that was successful enough that Vey has built a community of fans and expanded his design efforts. I’m among those fans and not only did I purchase Spellcraft & Swordplay, his OSR fantasy heartbreaker, I backed his modern horror rpg Night Shift on Kickstarter (you can buy Night Shift at DriveThruRPG or at the Elf Lair Games website).

Vey is currently designing a new fantasy role playing game called Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age that includes an interesting setting and, in true Grognard fashion, allows players to use both of the rules sets he’s designed (O.R.C.S. and O.G.R.E.S.) each of which captures a slightly different feel of fantasy and both of which I enjoy. In an industry dominated by Hasbro, but which has plethora other options to choose from, I recommend checking out Vey’s game.

Sorry, No Math Video This Week

I will however be doing a video where I analyze the Ben Milton’s claim that B/X D&D uses a 5% increase in ability per level rule. That will have regression analysis in it, so if you like math that’s going to be the one for you.

Comic Book News

On the Fantasy Comic Beat

This July will see the release of The Hunger and the Dusk by writer G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy) and Chris Wildgoose (Batgirl: Rebirth, Batman: Nightwalker). It looks to be an interesting take on traditional fantasy conflicts where the two archetypical D&D style rivals, humans and orcs, must work together against a greater foe.

In a dying world, only humans and orcs remain, mortal enemies battling for territory and political advantage. But when a group of fearsome ancient humanoids known as the Vangol arrive from across the sea, the two struggling civilizations are forced into a fragile alliance to protect what they have built.

As a gesture of his commitment to the cause, the most powerful orc overlord, Troth Icemane, sends his beloved cousin, Tara, a high-ranking young healer, to fight alongside brash human commander Callum Battlechild and his company of warriors. With a crisis looming, the success of this unlikely pair’s partnership and the survival of their peoples will depend on their ability to unlearn a lifetime of antagonistic instincts toward one another…and rise above the sting of heartbreak.

Two Classic Marvel Series Getting New Omnibus Editions

Marvel recently announced that they would be publishing a ROM the Spaceknight Omnibus in January 2024 and a Micronauts Omnibus in April 2024 that will reprint the original series from the 1970s and 80s for a new audience. ROM has long been a personal favorite and the most recent Ant-Man film featured one character from the Micronauts. I wish that the film rights weren’t as complex as they are because I would have loved to have seen the full Micronauts team in Quantumania.

On another note, I think that Marvel would be well served to follow in the footsteps of DC Comics when it comes to Omnibus reprints. DC recently released Absolute Swamp Thing collecting Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s iconic version of the character. This collection was painstakingly recolored by José Villarrubia who is on a personal mission to color correct reprints of older comics to recapture the artistic intent in those older issues. If you look at the promo artwork for the upcoming Micronauts and ROM omnibus editions, you will see that they look extremely saturated. The colors are very bright. As Villarrubia has argued and demonstrated on hundreds of occasions, the art in the 70s comics was much more muted due to the newsprint used. The artists new the limitations of the medium, imagine that, and colored with intention that included that knowledge. I’m including one of Villarrubia’s many examples of how something should be colored below. You can see how subtle the older colors were and how they accentuated the line art in a way that is lost with the more saturated effect. I highly recommend buying the Wein/Wrightson Absolute Swamp Thing and I’ll be checking out his new series Dead Romans.

No photo description available.
Original on the Right, Villarrubia Middle, New Reprint Right from Villarrubia’s Facebook

Weekly Luke Y Thompson Review Cavalcade

Those of you who watched my first YouTube conversation video know that Luke Y Thompson is a critic and a friend. He’s been covering the geek beat for a long time and has some great insights and strong opinions. I plan on having him on my YouTube channel once a month for his insights and for the good conversation. It’s not often you can talk with someone about Truffaut, Freddy Krueger, and He-Man, but when you get the chance you take it (ed: We have not yet talked about any of those things on video). I’m including the video below and a rundown of his articles this week.

Classic Movie Recommendation

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

This week’s episode of Ted Lasso featured a clip from Nora Ephron’s highly endearing film You’ve Got Mail and it reminded me that I need to do a video review of it and one of the films that inspired it (separate reviews of course), The Shop Around the Corner.

In addition to my day job, and blogging for a hopefully growing audience, I am an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Boise State University. In typical “attempt to be cool” professorial fashion, and because I am obsessed with pop culture, I frequently make film and tv references in class. Unlike many professors though, I don’t limit myself to the films of my youth. I reference things the students are currently watching and I drop a lot of classic film references. I end every semester with an Ask Me Anything session with the students.

At the end of the fall semester, one student (who knew my favorite genre was Romantic Comedies) asked what my favorite Romantic Comedy was. After a brief rant, okay not so brief, about how we are in a downcycle of Romantic Comedies (there are some good ones, but we aren’t anywhere near a peak cycle in terms of innovation/heartstring pulling/humor), I said that I don’t have a favorite. Naturally the student pushed back and asked me to give a meaningful answer, to which I replied that I think The Shop Around the Corner is one of the best and most important Romantic Comedies ever made. Not only was it remade, by the same director, as In the Good Ol’ Summertime (also excellent), it served as the inspiration for You’ve Got Mail. It’s a compelling story on many levels and one that has layers of subtlety beyond the core romance if you are willing to look. It’s a film I watch every year at Christmas time, since it is a Christmas film…even more so than Die Hard.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Weekly Geekly Rundown for May 19, 2023


Knave 2e is Coming to Kickstarter! - by Ben Milton

Analysis as Loose as OSR Mechanics

TL;DR — Ben Milton’s math is off, but it doesn’t matter. His game is great and is as compatible as he says.

One of the things I really like about original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is how varied and loose the underlying mechanics are. While the basic mechanic of “roll a die and roll high” tends to rule the day, there is not a fixed algorithm dictating how powerful all characters are at any given level, nor what the proper mechanical balance of monsters should be at a given level.

AD&D characters varied in their basic abilities based on their role in a party (I’ll be doing an article on this kind of balance soon as a response to Geoff Englestein's recent articles on balance soon) and there was not an effort to make sure that every character was equally proficient with their primary mode of attack as there is today. Similarly, there wasn’t an underlying math determining what the AC/HP/Damage Per Round output a monster should do to provide an appropriate challenge for characters of a given level. 

This doesn’t mean that people weren’t thinking about things along those lines in early gaming. Don Turnbull’s classic MonsterMark articles in White Dwarf magazine are a perfect demonstration of one such attempt. It’s actually a very good attempt, and one that DMs can use to good effect. The key term here is “can use.” They are one way to turn the power level dial in AD&D.

“Turn the power level dial?” you ask. “What does that mean?”

As a part of the tremendously loose underlying mechanics of AD&D, the DM and players had a lot more latitude with regards to how they wanted to tune the power levels of their individual campaign. A DM and players could work together to determine whether they wanted PCs to be average Joes and Josephines wandering the world, talented adventurers, or Godlike legends destined to bring down the gods. And this was all possible from first level in the older edition.

The rules as written provided dials that could be used to accomplish this. The first of these dials was the method you used for rolling stats. You could do everything from rolling 3d6 in order, which would tend to give you average characters, to the system in Unearthed Arcana which guaranteed very high stats in your class’s key statistics. The basic probabilities in AD&D didn’t assume player characters had good statistics and the benefits for them tended to be in the 2nd or 3rd standard deviation of a normal 3d6 distribution. This allowed for the higher statistics to have wildly different bonuses that were often affected by which class the character played (+4 hit points per level for Fighters of high Constitution for example or +3 to hit and +6 to damage for a Fighter with 18/00 Strength). The basic game didn’t assume you had good stats. It assumed your stats were average, but you could tune your game (without house rules or cheating) to allow for higher stats and thus different scales of game play.

Similarly, since there was no limit to magic item slots in AD&D. A DM might tell you that you couldn’t have a golf bag filled with a magical sword for each kind of challenge because you could only “attune” to a limited number of powerful items. You didn’t need to attune at all. Outside of some classes limiting the total number of items you could have, the level of magic in the game was entirely a negotiation between players and DMs. Besides, the Paladin’s limit on the number of magic items the character could use is meaningless when you realize just how OP a Paladin with a “holy blade” is in a game. Magic items could turn PCs into superheroes that were outside the normal expectations of a different scale of game and this was all down to the players and DM and the game they wanted to play.

Modern D&D is much more rigid. From the moment you start with the “Standard Array” of stats that ensures that you have either at +4 or +5 in your main attack, you know that there is a backed in power level that requires house ruling and the creation of new rules to bring about. AD&D offered rules for various power levels and you could choose to use them or not. Modern D&D has an assumed power level and its hard coded into all encounters, so changing it requires more work because that assumed power level is more stable and less swingy than AD&D. In an AD&D campaign, characters will vary wildly in capabilities and most players of that style of game doesn’t bother most players. Modern D&D characters are more equal.

This is neither a good nor a bad thing. All these games are good, but they are different. Which after a long digression brings me to Ben Milton of The Questing Beast’s recent video about the underlying mechanics of his Old School adjacent game KNAVE (he’s running a Kickstarter for the 2nd edition and I’m a backer at the Completely All-in level). In the video, he answers a question about how his game where there are no classes and where ability scores range from 0 to 10 instead of 3-18 (or -3/-2 to +3/4 if you only look at bonuses) can be compatible AD&D and D&D. His answer is “The 5% Rule” which he explains in the video below.

Ben’s claim is that in AD&D and D&D characters “on average” got 5% better at attacks and saving throws every level. But is this true? It’s certainly true of more recent editions of the game, but is it true of the early ones?

Ben begins his conversation by saying that “he’s done the math” and that if you compare the saving throws and attacks of the average character at first level to the average character at tenth level their rolls are about +9 (+45%) better. He states that the worst saving throw on average for a first level character is about a 16 (25%) (his starting difficulty). Let’s gave a look. I’ve taken the saving throws for first level characters, as well as the THAC0 (To Hit AC Zero) from every base class and listed them in both d20 and percent likelihood below.

So, what’s the worst saving throw? That would be the Fighter’s 5% chance of saving against a breath weapon. BTW, do you see how terrible the first level Fighter is at saving? Man. They suck, but at least they are better at hitting opponents in combat at first level right? Oh, they aren’t? Crap. As for the average, you can see from the charts above that the average worst saving throw is Breath weapons which have an average save of 17 (I rounded down .25 and rounded up .5 and higher for these numbers) which is a 20% chance of success.

If you look at the “Class Average” column, that’s the average saving throw for that class where the “Save Average” row is the average save value for that category for all classes. This makes the Class Average/Save Average column the average overall for the average by class value and that comes in at 30%. Ben’s not off by much, but he’s off by a lot “by class” and it’s a pretty large range of difference. Ben’s system is classless, so using the average of averages is fine but it does mean that Ben is adhering closer to the modern stable dial than the older wild dial.

So he’s both incorrect and close on his statement that the average worst save is 25%. It is for all classes except Fighters. Since his game claims to be a bridging of OSR and Modern games, this is right in line with what he wants to do. But what about that 5% increase claim? The one that he uses both a claim that the average best save is 75% at tenth level and that combat rolls also demonstrate this?

Certainly, the best THAC0 increase is +8 (+40%) which comes from the Fighter. Everyone else is lagging pretty far behind by tenth level though. Similarly on the saving throws, only one saving throw is at 75% and that’s the Cleric's save versus Poison/Paralysis and given Rasputin and all the times PCs are likely to fight undead like Ghouls these are artifacts of the role. The “average” increase is only 20%. That’s the increase in the average of averages for the classes. Similarly, the best save doesn’t actually increase by that much either. What we have here is that the difference between the average worst save (excluding Fighters) at first level and the average best save at tenth level is 50%. How much does the average worst save typically increase? It goes from ~ 25% to ~ 40%, an increase of only ~ 15%.

What’s more is that it varies based on which saving throw we are talking about and which class. I don’t want to go into a class by class breakdown, but you can see the differences pretty clearly. The same is true for combat ability, which follows a similar path. It varies wildly based on class.

So…Ben was WRONG in the particulars of his “doing the math” and that makes his claim that KNAVE is compatible with AD&D and D&D completely off base right?

Nope. Remember that long digression at the beginning regarding the dials of play and how there were various inputs that could be tuned (stats, ancestry, magic items, etc.) at will to create a particular level of play? Ben’s game, while it is rooted in a more conceptually modern consistent 5% increase per level, is perfectly achievable with those dials and AD&D/D&D were created with that dial as an assumption. Ben’s game is perfectly compatible with the older game. It’s also a unique game on its own that you should check out. I recommend backing the new 2nd edition, since he makes some significant changes to the first edition but the first edition is great too.

Action Figures from My 2nd Favorite Adaptation of The Tempest

Like any geek, and I geek out about a lot of topics, I get annoyed when people who get paid to write about a things I love write something that pushes one of my buttons. One of those buttons is when people compare (as David Weiner did for The Hollywood Reporter) the Disney film The Black Hole to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I get it, they both take place on vessels (one a submarine and the other a space ship), but other than that they don’t have much in common. The Black Hole is far closer to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Dr. Hans Reinhardt, with his frightening companion Maximillian (Caliban/Ariel in one), has far more in common with Prospero than Nemo.

I probably wouldn’t mind so much when these comparisons are made, if they also mentioned The Tempest or Forbidden Planet (my favorite adaptation of The Tempest). I would concede that the screenplay is a high concept mashup and move on completely satisfied. But it bothers me when authors use the words “tempestuous” and “maelstrom” in the same story where they make no mention of Shakespeare.

Grumpiness aside, the folks over at Super 7 have decided that they want to turn my frown upside down and are releasing a set of the three robots featured in the haunting Disney science fiction film. I’m particularly excited about Maximillian. He haunted my dreams for years. The packaging and the action figures look great and I’ve preordered them.

Classic Movie Recommendation

I watch a ton of films and consider myself to be a cineaste, but there are still a ton of films I need to see and I keep trying to fill the gaps as I can. This week I filled a pretty major gap when I watched Terrence Malick’s (1978) visual masterpiece Days of Heaven. The film shares a lot of stylistic qualities with Malick’s earlier (1973) film Badlands, but it has a more solid moral core. To be sure, it is not a story about highly moral characters but it is a tragedy about believable characters you can forgive for their immoral actions because they are trapped in a world view. Oh, and because they end up having to answer for their moral failings. It’s still a quintessentially 70s film, so it has an absurdist ending, but it left me liking the people more…even those I don’t like.


Days of Heaven is a visual treat. There is so much craft in how the film is shot. The viewer goes from one mind blowing Andrew Wyeth influenced shot to another, but each is also given enough time to burn their way into your brain. The story is slow paced, but is a good commentary on perceptions of class in a way that would make it a nice match for a double feature with In Cold Blood.

DAYS OF HEAVEN - American Cinematheque

The acting is solid throughout and every actor is visually captured with the same care as the geography, that care includes long shots that require the expression of deep emotion. It’s a challenge that all the actors meet well.

The real treat of the film though is the sound design and editing. The use of sound in Days of Heaven gives it such a deep sense of verisimilitude that I was in awe of how brave many of the choices in the mix were. Trust me. I’m saying the sound design is the real triumph in a film that is a mind blowing visual masterpiece. That means it does some really brave and skilled things with the sound design and editing and those sound choices help reinforce several plot points, including the film’s tragic turn.