• Drunk On EggNogpoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

      LOST, Season Three, Episode Ten, “Trisha Tanaka Is Dead”
      “Dude, Roger was on a beer run.”

      “Shut up… Red… Neck… Man!”
      “Touche.”

      I mentioned before about the lack of a strict tone within Lost; as if to prove me wrong, this episode has Hurley’s morality all over it, with all the frustration and triumph that goes with it. I’m thinking it’s only season three that has the tone problem, and only because the plot moves way too slow to feel much of anything; this episode has an entire journey, and it packs all the wonder, triumph, and community of seasons one and two into forty-odd minutes.

      I personally find the attitude Hurley takes in this episode obnoxious – it reminds me of The Secret, in that wanting something somehow magically makes it happen, and I find it verges on “I want it, therefore I deserve it”, which I find foul – but I can also see why it works. Doing something is usually more successful than doing nothing*; people like Hurley drive the world forward in a direction, and they need people like Jack (or in a pinch, Sawyer) to help them over the stumbling blocks.

      (Also within this episode, Sawyer teaches Jin some English, which also plays into community)

      Cheech Marin! I never really liked his place in the story; this was the final tipping point where the daddy issues stop being nuances on an idea and start being a failure of imagination. Seriously, you can imagine a psychic smoke monster but not a responsible father? That said, it’s not quite as bad as I remember in that Daddy Cheech is at least trying to reach out to his son.

      It should have been obvious to Hurley that the psychic was fake because she played the death card as something to be afraid of when it actually represents great change.

      Ownage: Hurley slaps Charlie to get him to stop moping.

      *Except in cases where it actually makes things worse, e.g. Breaking Bad

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Five, Episode Two, “The Gang Hits The Road”
      “Did you eat the stickers that are all over it?!”
      “Yeah, it was gross!”
      “OF COURSE IT’S GROSS, IT’S A STICKER!”
      “I eat stickers all the time, dude!”
      “Oh my god!”

      A classic Always Sunny plot in that it’s a road trip plot that fails to ever get off the ground due to the Gang’s stupidity. Dee smashing the jar of piss in Mac’s face is both a fantastic gross-out gag and a fantastic cruelty gag – “IS THAT PISS?”. Dennis and Charlie is a rare moment of the two of them being stupid together rather than Dennis mocking Charlie’s stupidity. The only character who doesn’t really get a chance to shine is Frank.

      Ownage: The hitchhiker stealing Dee’s car and dumping the Gang back at the bar.

      Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan
      “How much did you lift?”
      “270 pounds.”
      “Let’s put on more.”
      “Okay.”

      “You’d better not be jacking off to the Japanese comics, I swear to God.”

      Goes with Collateral and The Aviator in the canon of Films I Saw On TV As A Kid And Really Liked When I Revisited Them As An Adult. There’s a basic dramatic underpinning (motivated by two mysteries, one of which isn’t even suggested until the end), a solid formalism, and a sweet emotional core. This is a film about an extraordinary guy coming to accept and embrace his extraordinariness, and so all three elements come together perfectly; the long takes aren’t just showy filmmaking, they’re showing David both building up the courage to say things, and allowing things to land on his face. Between this, Pulp Fiction, and The Fifth Element, Bruce Willis’ greatest talent is making strange dialogue sound like the kind of thing he’d say; Willis is almost completely closed off to everyone at the start of the film, and I buy the idea that he’s kept himself from his abilities simply because he doesn’t like the idea of being ‘better’ than other people, which is also what fuels his heroism.

      Conversely, Samuel L Jackson leans right into the weirdness of his dialogue. Price is credible as someone who hasn’t had much contact with other human beings and definitely had a lot of time to himself to think; Jackson has a lot of experience making weird dialogue sound naturalistic, and he surpresses that urge here, fully embracing the woodenness; Elijah simply doesn’t realise how strange he sounds.

      (Robin Wright is also great; her dialogue comes off as something the character has rehearsed)

      I’ve seen people argue that the movie ends where the first act should end, with the hero embracing his powers; that reaction is a result of them being a fucking moron lacking human compassion being more interested in the genre for the genre’s sake (or for the ownage) than the human drama; it’s a case of looking for what you want out of a movie rather than what’s actually there.

      My favourite scene is the weightlifting scene, simply for packing so much sense of wonder into such a simple special effect.

      It’s hilarious to have basically gone straight from Always Sunny to this, considering both make a big deal about being set in Philadelphia.

      Ownage: exactly one piece, when David takes on the man in orange. This isn’t that kind of movie.

      • Roger Workman is one of the most unexpected and delightful recurring characters in the show.

      • Miller

        The pool scene in Unbreakable is goddamn terrifying.

      • The Ploughman

        It’s also pretty cool to see a film doing this kind of thing when comic book movies were barely a thing (and were definitely not yet a Thing).

        • Miller

          *jabs hot needle into Civil War’s blood, is immediately attacked*

        • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

          Actually, if you’re starved for comic book movies, I could see how the extended origin story might piss you off, but still.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I just moved to Philadelphia, so I’m now pretty close to that Italian Market in South Philadelphia.

        • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

          Go over there and barter me some wicker chairs.

    • The Commitments – given my misspent youth playing in bands and general fondness for Irish accents and humour, I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to see this one. I really enjoyed it, although the constant conflict between band members robs it of the hang-out vibe I generally like in getting-the-band-together movies. Lots of fun characters and good musical performances, though.

      The Crazies – I couldn’t get into this one at all for some reason. It’s a solid deadly-virus horror movie but it just didn’t click with me like the best Romero films.

      Kong: Skull Island – I wasn’t expecting too much from this beyond “decent Saturday night adventure flick” but I actually really loved it. The Apocalypse Now-lite visuals are really well done, I liked a lot of the characters (although John C. Reilly totally steals the film) and the cinematic-universe tie-in stuff was actually welcome for once, although possibly only because I like giant monsters a lot more than superheroes.

      Gremlins – Zach Galligan is currently touring the UK with this film, maybe because of the rumours that Gremlins 3 might be happening? Or he just fancied a paid holiday? Anyway, I enjoyed the film more than ever before and Zach gave one of the most energetic and fun Q&A sessions that I’ve attended – he’s a great storyteller, and gave super-detailed answers to all of the questions.

      Bojack Horseman, season 4, episodes 6 and 7 – the first of these didn’t quite click with me, I feel like the show has done far more inventive takes on the bleak, “Bojack hates himself” stuff, but the more high-concept second one (the one where Mr. Peanutbutter’s house sinks into the ground, due to fracking) was great.

      • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

        Any standout factoids from that Gremlins Q&A?

        • It was his enthusiastic delivery that made it such a pleasure really, but I did particularly like his story about Phoebe Cates’ monologue about why she doesn’t like Christmas. Apparently she spent weeks practicing it, only for the producers and studio execs to demand that it was cut because it’s so weird and dark and would “upset a lot of people”, but she was so heartbroken when Joe Dante told her it might not make it into the movie that he used his final cut privilege to ensure it stayed.

          Also Zach was apparently first choice for the role of Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties but turned it down to do Nothing Lasts Forever.

      • glorbes

        After 10+ viewings, I have come to love Kong: Skull Island, in much the same way that Winston comes to love Big Brother.

        • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

          It kicked your teeth in?

          • glorbes

            In a figurative sense, yes.

        • It’s 100% my kind of blockbuster. Visually inventive, fast moving and full o’ monsters.

          • glorbes

            It actually has an interesting through line of the difference between the two groups and their experiences on the island. Conrad and company are exposed to the gentler aspects of Skull Island, or are more open to peacefully engaging with the environment. Packard’s group are viciously attacked, and also approach every new discovery with hostility. The two journeys reflect worldviews, and also SHAPE their perspective on the Island.

          • Nicely observed! That makes a lot of sense.

            I thought it did an excellent job of conveying a sense of wonder through the eyes of the more peaceful half of the crew. I didn’t know going into it that Kong wasn’t the only monster on the island and that made for some great moments.

      • Babalugats

        Kong: Skull Island is developing quite a following around here. It’s not a perfect film, but it knows what it is and the things it does well it does very well.

        • I think I’ve seen too many blockbusters recently that feel overstuffed; this one felt a bit more stripped back and just fun.

          • Babalugats

            It has well choreographed action that’s clearly, cleanly shot! Instead of just going bigger and bigger and bigger, the characters have goals and we can follow what and why they are fighting the way they are. And it’s a pretty movie, not some washed out pseudo documentary. Also, not to keep beating a dead horse, but this version of Kong is more likeable and heroic than the current version of Superman.

          • It really is a lovely movie to just look at. I really loved the shot when they first arrive at the island where one of the “helicopters” is actually an insect flying alongside that stops to land on a plant.

            And yeah, the big Kong battle at the end is very cleanly shot – much more my cup of tea than the average superhero “everything is exploding!” finale.

            And as a bonus, the credits sequence following John C. Reilly home was unexpectedly sweet (and made me tear up a bit)

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It helps that the director has been pretty open about its flaws and just seems happy to have made a fun monster movie.

      • Defense Against The Hark Arts

        Any highlights from the Gremlins Q&A? On a side note, I hope Gremlins 3 isn’t happening. Gremlins 2 was a great way to end a rare duology.

        • Yeah, I find it hard to get too excited about a third one.

          In addition to the highlights I listed above / below, there was a nice story about how he would go into Spielberg’s office to play on a Millipede arcade machine when he wasn’t required on set (e.g. when the animatronics were acting up), and apparently he got so addicted to it that once the film had wrapped, Spielberg had it shipped from LA to New York and it just turned up at Zach’s apartment one day with a note saying “keep playing!”

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Based on my experience hanging with musicians, the fractious vibe in The Commitments is exactly right.

        • Ha! Fair enough. All of my band experiences have been basically the opposite of The Commitments – having a great time offstage but can’t get it together when it comes to actually playing music.

      • pico

        Oh no, I love The Crazies, giant flaws and all. I think it’s the most complete statement of Romero’s belief that the institutions of civilization are inherently fragile – that they depend on a closed ecosystem and a very, very delicate balance – so the movie’s basically like watching someone drop a bowling ball into a field of dominoes. Not everything works, but I love it so much.

        • It may have just caught me in the wrong mood, but for some reason killer virus type movies quite often don’t click with me. I full-on hated Contagion.

          • pico

            You are far from alone in hating The Crazies. It’s definitely a patchwork that drives many people away.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “FIRE IS MY NEW GOD”

    • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

      The Gifted, Ep 1 & 2 – I have this recurring problem with the X-men franchise, where they keep telling us how awful it would be to have to register all the mutants–and then they keep showing us why any sane person would want all the mutants carefully tracked. It’s the same problem I mentioned with Firefly, where the Alliance is explained to us as a bunch of tools but then constantly shown to be necessary, given how everyone behaves outside of it. But the problem is much, much worse with the X-men, because they keep showing massive acts of murder, destruction and mayhem happening by accident, or even deliberately engineered by the “good” guys–to say nothing of the “bad” guys. Seriously, that ending to X2: if it seemed like a feel-good ending to you, just pick a cause you really, really disagree with, say, anti- or pro-abortion supporters, and just imagine them showing up in the Oval Office uninvited and unannounced with no clearer demand for the President than “we’ll be watching.” It’s a horrifying thought, and the exact opposite of how this is all supposed to work. (As a tangent on a tangent, I always thought that making the Jew/Holocaust-expies dangerous mutants, with tons of powers and occasionally only adolescent controls over those powers, was something of a misstep from square one in the fictional universe. All you’re showing everyone is that these “innocent victims” are super dangerous!)

      So, okay, this show kinda-sorta gets around that problem by doubling down on the horribleness, going so far as to show us a pretty pregnant mutant lady being kicked in the stomach, with some awful “let’s see how tough your mutie baby is!” line thrown in for good measure. Still, we liked it well enough, it’s got a lot of potential and it’s always nice to see Amy Acker. We’ll probably stick with it a bit.

      • Miller

        You are more charitable than I. Only watched the first episode but life is too short for shit this boring and stupid — I share your philosophical problems but the main offenses are dull characters I do not care about, with the exception of Sheepface Whinyteen, whom I would happily see tortured by Nazi bullies.

        EDIT: and the show also looks astonishingly cheap, in a bad way that pretends it is not cheap. Come on, either get some foam rubber and embrace your lack of budget or spend your money better.

        • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

          No lie, it got some mercy/sympathy points for being a pilot. The second episode did some Fun With Portals that was more fun than much of anything in the first episode, but otherwise, the Sentinel Services guy’s mini-exposition monologue had me going “yep, literally everyone else.” We’ll see if we keep with it or not.

          • Miller

            I give comedy pilots a fair amount of slack, they can adjust quicker to find what works (see the Parks and Rec discussion) and comedy is harder to pull off. Drama pilots should come with a story I want to follow and characters that I want to learn more about, this isn’t easy but it doesn’t have the alchemical x-factor of comedy — skilled people can do this with basic tools. You don’t do that, I’m not in board.

          • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

            The concept carries a degree of heft for me, because the flip side to my X-grinching above is that the movies never really seem to take the darkness as far as they might–and this is all super dark stuff. (Magneto’s early rampage in First Class comes close, at least.) I’ve also been hearing pretty good buzz about this. We’ll see what happens.

          • pico

            I kept through episode 4 or 5 and then stopped – it only keeps getting worse.

            On the bright side, the new Agents of SHIELD was fire.

          • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

            Ouch. Well, we’ll switch to watching that then! Season 4 finally delivered on that show’s potential…finally. If they hit the ground running, that’s probably enough for us to forget this exists.

          • pico

            It’s too bad, because I was rooting for The Gifted – there’s a potentially interesting show inside the concept of mutant refugees who have to limit their contact with the outside world – but the further along it goes, the more it fails at even the few things it was doing right out of the gate.

          • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

            I find it oddly validating that you were hoping for much the same thing I was hoping for: a setting and story that stressed the isolation, forcing conflict from people with wildly asymmetrical abilities and needs who have to live close together, and maybe mix in some good caper/thieving skullduggery. Even typing it out that way makes me want to hope for it to work again. Ahh well.

          • Miller

            Again, this is only with watching the pilot, but it gave off the unmistakable whiff of people who were more into the “RELEVANCE!” part of their story than their actual story (ooooh you mentioned the border wall! EDGY). Doing the mechanics of that kind of refugee story right would necessitate excluding the dipshit newcomers and their dopey parents.

          • pico

            Oh gawwwwwd that’s a pet peeve of mine: I get that the family is centered as our “surrogate” characters, allowing us to learn more about the compound at the same time they do, but it doesn’t make a lick of sense that the refugees themselves would center them, too, to the point that mom is basically contradicting the leadership and reorganizing the community within, like, hours of being there. I’d have kicked all their asses to the curb. It makes the whole concept feel weightless, like the compound has no depth or history (it has neither). Everything that matters is ultimately about this one, frankly inconsequential family and how the community bends to their demands.

            I’d compare it unfavorably to OITNB in that regard. A lot of people were bothered by how much Piper and her awful family (except for Cal – Cal is great) were centered in season one, but at least the whole arc is about how she basically has little-to-no significance and nobody in there cares what she thinks. As the show progresses, she fades more and more into the background, as she should.

            The Gifted is like if the OITNB folks really thought Piper should run the show.

          • Miller

            And what’s super annoying is that we have already Fake Nightcrawler Lady for our new-to-the-group surrogate, why the fuck do we need these people? Well, so we can watch their struggle to accept and deal and blah blah fucking blah. People actually accepting and dealing, that is what is interesting to watch. (Plus the kids are goobers.)

    • Bhammer100

      Parks and Recreation: Season 1

      From what I understand, Parks and Rec is a fantastic show, but its first season, like the first season of The Office, is the show trying to find its voice. But right now, this feels a lot like The Office. Now I love The Office, but I can’t wait to see this show find its own voice.

      Couple of things –

      I had just assumed Chris Pratt and Rashida Jones were part of the office. But I guess not.

      I don’t care for Aziz Ansari’s character. I get that he is supposed to be a dick, but he feels a lot like B.J. Novak’s character from the Office, whom I also didn’t care for that much.

      Boy, it sure is weird seeing Chris Pratt as this shlubby character after seeing Pratt get ripped and become a star after Guardians of the Galaxy.

      • Miller

        The Office vibe was intentional and discarded at the beginning of the second season with the revamp of Leslie. I’d say the voice is maybe half there in the first season.

        • The Ploughman

          Retooling Leslie from ditzy sprite to ridiculously positive go-getter was a great move. Luckily, Ron Swanson came perfectly formed.

          • Miller

            I think just as important was taking the “Leslie has a crush on Mark” plot out back and shooting it – it was a cliched idea to begin with and even worse for those two characters. So much was freed up by recognizing that sucked and moving on.

          • The Ploughman

            Yeah, few shows would be given the opportunity to try again like this (I saw a review that demanded its cancellation after one episode) and they made the most of it.

          • Miller

            The first episode has comedy pilot problems but like I said above, there’s clearly good stuff there that can be enhanced and comedies are better-equipped to do that. And it also has the first public forum, which is what convinced me that these people did their homework on the local government front and that the show was definitely worth sticking with.

      • The funniest thing about the final season of Parks and Recreations was seeing Andy Dwyer with Peter Quill’s physique.

        • The Ploughman

          I also like the half-explanation thrown in that Andy’s gotten so buff because he cut beer out of his diet. “How much beer were you drinking?”

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            “Ha! I know, right?”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Tom gets a lot funnier (especially once they lean into him having a well-concealed heart) but he always kinda has that problem in the series. He’s not a person I’d want to hang out with unlike Ben (Ben is basically who my future brother in law is).

        • Miller

          Oh shit dude if he tries to do calzones for the wedding get the hell out of there.

    • NoelZ

      Thor: Ragnarok: I can see flaws–its tone is a little messy, the backstory doesn’t entirely make sense, etc.–but none of those change the fact that I found this an absolutely delightful experience and was never bored for a minute. I also approve of the recalibration of Loki’s character, even with the handwaving that goes with it, because that’s acceptable for comic books: continuity matters less than character traits, and here his are in line with this previous movies even as they’re being redirected to more heroic purposes. It is, however, unacceptable that Cate Blanchett didn’t get to murder more people.

      • Miller

        Regarding SPOILER:

        The movie makes a very tiny feint toward the problem with Loki’s recalibration at the end and it is not insignificant — I enjoyed the shit out of Loki in this but he did murder a ton of people on Earth and taking him back there as a non-prisoner is probably not cool. This is where everything being connected could be a trip-up, I suppose.

        • NoelZ

          “Hey, remember that guy we promised to imprison? He’s now one of my chief advisers. Hope that’s cool.”

          There so many planets, Thor. Just pick another one.

    • Crisis on Earth-X – The Arrowverse ambitiously dispensed with the usual division between its shows (even having a distinct logo and theme) and making one long action film spread out over two nights. For the most part, this melding of ongoing plots from the four shows (with one interpersonal relationship from each in the spotlight) worked very well. The action was great, if a bit too special-effects-y, the interactions between the various heroes was fun, there was tragedy and joy, and a lot of the goofball humor that informs Flash and Legends. It really came close to being a great superhero film

      Except for the Nazis. The use of an alternate Nazi-conquered timeline failed in almost every way possible. For the most part, the Nazis were cartoon villains. The bad guys with speaking parts were sort of implausible (aside from Reverse Flash, who was basically the same villain we’ve seen for the last four years). The regular characters on the show reacted with expected revulsion, but one of the two Jewish characters we have took a long while remind us she’s Jewish and the other (the one who we were told has rabbinic ordination for some reason) never brings it up. (In general, in fact, Jews being the prime victims of the Nazis is barely touched on.) And there is a scene where several heroes are dumped in a concentration camp, still in costume and surrounded by people dressed like real people in a real camp. None of this works for me.

      And to top it off, everyone is so surprised there are even Nazis anywhere. Because there are clearly no Nazis left, and they have to come from another timeline. I know the Arrowverse is the not the real world – the president there is a Michelle Obama lookalike – but the tone-deafness of the writers to how Nazis are not gone and forgotten really bothers me. Had this been a story of a dark timeline where some familiar faces are evil, I would have been a lot happier. Instead, we get just enough of a mess that I couldn’t love this the way I wanted to.

      PS: Andrew Kreisberg’s name is still on this. Not a fun thing, either, though that will end soon.

      The Adventures of Tintin – Given the surfeit of talent that worked on this, and given the love for it that some have, I was really surprised how fluffy and instantly forgettable this is. It’s a decent way to spend two hours, and it’s probably a good movie for family night. And it looks interesting. But it never rises very far about decent, and using mo-cap instead of actual actors doesn’t really add anything that Spielberg doesn’t already do.

      Star Trek: Discovery, episode 4 (which has a long and pointless title for some reason) – I still don’t care much for this dark vision of Trek only ten years before Kirk. But at least there was some really Trek-like stuff here, some actual science and some actual looking for peaceful solutions. And Doug Jones really does a good job. (So does Jason Isaacs, but Capt. Lorca is insufferable.) The rest is okay, but would be better if it were either not Trek or set after Voyager.

      • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

        Does Reverse Flash moonwalk at high speed?

      • I had similar thoughts on Tintin after watching, but for some reason it has stuck with me more than I expected and I’m actually quite keen to revisit it now. Although it’s entirely possible that I’ll just find it completely fine again and forget it for another couple of years.

    • Defense Against The Hark Arts

      Close Encounters of the Third Kind. My history with the different versions of this movie is long and not very interesting, so to make a long story short (but equally as uninteresting) my first exposure was to the VHS “Special Edition” (where we see the inside of the mother ship). When I would happen to catch it on TV it was the Theatrical Release (without the look inside the mother ship), last night I watched the bluray Director’s Cut, which as far as I can tell is a hybrid between the Special Edition and the Theatrical release (no peek inside the mother ship). Anyway, no matter what version we’re talking about it’s still a great movie.

      I’ve heard interviews with Spielberg where he has said that he would like to be remembered for E.T. and Schindler’s List but I would argue that CET3K is the quintesential Spielberg movie. It has the heart, humor and child-like wonder that he is known for, without any of the syrupy sentimentality that he is also known for. The John Williams score is great (just try to get those five tones out of your head) and something that really affected me this time was the performance by Cary Guffey as Barry. Maybe it’s because I have a child around his age, but everything he said during the Devil’s Tower sequence at the end brought a lump to my throat.

      So in short, run don’t walk to the theater and demand to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind. When the person working there tells you that it’s a 40 year old movie and it’s not playing in the theater anymore, storm away in a huff, buy the bluray and watch it at home.

      • Son of Griff

        CE3K shares with JAWS a theme of men returning to the romance of adventure lost once one (male) passes through childhood. As I was in my early teens when these came out they resonated with me, After E.T. He began to rip apart this mythology, and has pretty much chosen to abandon it.

        • Defense Against The Hark Arts

          Maybe having a child changed his outlook. I have heard him say he wouldn’t have had Roy leave his family behind if he had made the movie today.

          • Son of Griff

            I think that a big “family values” shift in the 80s was a big change in his outlook as well.

      • pico

        My favorite Spielberg.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Rankin/Bass Christmas specials!

      Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer–A really weird invented mythology (The Island Of Misfit Toys, King Moonracer, whatever) help pad out this chilling portrait of straight-up prejudice. Ignored, hated, outright reviled due to an accident of birth, poor Rudolph is rejected even by his own family, doomed to wander icy wastelands in search of…something. Everything works out, mostly by accident. Also, Santa apparently has the authority to outright cancel Christmas, which…okay?

      Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town–A more ambitious production than Rudolph, but much cheaper looking, with spastic movements suggesting all the characters have pinched nerves. A seemingly blasphemous supernatural angle is introduced with the addition of The Winter Warlock (delightfully voiced by Keenan Wynn), but Mickey Rooney’s Santa is such a smug asshole you’ll want to never stop punching him. I watched the syndicated version, which thankfully omits the creepy Be Prepared To Pay song, a supposedly joyous number in which Santa informs children that “If you sit on my lap today/ A kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay.”

      The Year Without A Santa Claus–People remember this one thanks to Snow Miser and Heat Miser, two of the goofiest characters in the history of TV animation. But the show surrounding them is deathly dull, and Mickey Rooney is back as Santa, not as smug but still overbearing.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Santa is such a JERK in the Rudolph special.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          Yeah, but at least unlike the song, Santa actually apologizes and accepts Rudolph before he needs his help.

    • Jake Gittes

      Kedi – Awwwwwww: The Movie, and it would have been a much-needed gift to humanity even if it really had been nothing but 80 minutes of professionally shot cute cat footage. What makes it a worthwhile documentary, though, is its attention towards people – after all, cats wouldn’t be the phenomenon they are if we weren’t there to feel that way about them, and the movie assembles people of various ages and backgrounds for whom cats range from creatures they feel have the same traits as humans, to Earth’s very own aliens, to an actual gift from God. The movie finds beauty in this diversity of attitudes, all of which are equally sincere and valid; all the while, the cats remain just as independent and mysterious and beautiful as ever. The feel-good movie of the year.

      Mudbound – one of the most fascinately structured movies of the year, swaying between different character’s POVs (and occasionally abandoning them for long stretches) for its entire first half before ever finding its central story. Miraculously, this doesn’t come across as another awkward adaptation of a (presumably) more expansive novel. What helps, I think, is that the movie is careful to establish every character’s essence before letting them temporarily fade into the background, which then makes their reappearance properly effective; the most terribly impactful use of this strategy is when we catch only glimpses of Jonathan Banks’ Pappy in the company of random unnamed people throughout, and then the climax just drops the bomb that of course he’s been hanging out with the goddamn Ku Klux Klan. Not everything worked for me – Hedlund’s character, despite his best efforts, feels a bit too thinly-drawn in his lovable swagger, Jason Mitchell’s time in Germany could have used a good deal more screentime, and while I sympathize with the lack of budget, the war scenes here betray it so obviously as to become just awkward and distracting. But Hedlund and Mitchell bring real life to their relationship (I unexpectedly teared up at their first scene in the car), which is the most important thing here. MVP of the cast: Rob Morgan’s voice.

      The Foreigner – another film with unexpected structure that, for me, ended up being more engaging because of it, a latter-day Jackie Chan/Pierce Brosnan vehicle that turns out to be an unexpectedly chilly, Le Carre-esque thriller. Neither main character is very sympathetic – Chan, in his single-minded pursuit of justice, doesn’t take much time to start waging his own tiny-scale acts of terror, while Brosnan, reuniting with Martin Campbell, plays his character as pretty much the opposite of his smooth and in-control Bond. There’s little warmth to be found, and the movie is fairly cynical and brutal – innocent people will die because of games of politicians that they themselves cannot control, relationships are insincere and will be betrayed, some random SWAT guys will have no problem torturing an unarmed woman for information and then casually shooting her, in the end the system hangs over everyone, etc. – but it’s too action- and story-oriented to wallow in any of it. People have pointed out that Chan’s character, for all his determination, doesn’t really influence the main story in any way up until the end, but whether or not that’s intentional, it kind of worked for me, and there’s a certain irony that the one thing he really accomplishes that no one else could have, he accomplishes with a smartphone, not ass-kicking. Terrific score by Cliff Martinez, too.

      • Yes! I loved Kedi so, so much.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Kedi was the first movie in I don’t know how long to inspire a second theatrical viewing. At a time when I needed it, it kind of helped restore my faith in humanity. Plus, you know, kitties!

      • Miller

        Hahahaha, Kedi and The Foreigner are one divergent double bill. But agreed on the pleasures of both, warm and expansive vs. chilly and severe. And I think Chan’s terrorizing of Brosnan absolutely distracts him from picking up on things and playing the game as well as he should.

        • Jake Gittes

          That’s a good point.

      • pico

        Completely agree on Mudbound: if it weren’t for that middle section of Hedlund and Mitchell forming their strange friendship, it’d be a perfectly well-made if unexceptional period/issue drama. But they have real charisma together (and I think Mitchell’s performance really elevates the material, as well – I admit I broke down at his final scene), and it lends so much depth and warmth to the material that’s otherwise somewhat thin. That so much of the awards attention is focused on Mary J is something I genuinely don’t get.

    • Coco–It’s way too easy to expect every Pixar feature to be a landmark in narrative animation, even a few years out from Inside Out (the last of their features to qualify, I don’t think it’s too controversial to say), and then be disappointed when they don’t deliver that. But increasingly over the past ten years, the studio has instead contented itself with creating technically dazzling but narratively simple movies. And as it’s turned out, Pixar is very very good at creating this sort of modest feature. I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of this, especially in an era where every Disney animated feature has like a thousand narrative inconsistencies and mainstream blockbusters have like ten thousand–it’s increasingly rare to see these sort of narratively coherent works of film fiction on a large-budget scale, so when Pixar gives us something like Coco, a movie whose ambitions are about as modest as any Pixar movie’s have been since Cars 2, that’s still something to celebrate. It isn’t a surprising movie, but it is a colorful one; a gorgeously designed one; a technically breathtaking one (these are perhaps the best computer-animated human models in film history); a tender one–one whose emotional through line comes honestly and organically out of every visual and storytelling beat that precedes it. There isn’t a false note in the film, and if that means that it’s simply a Very Good movie executed to perfection, in lieu of a Great movie, then oh well; at least we got a very good movie.

      • Miller

        “one whose emotional through line comes honestly and organically out of every visual and storytelling beat that precedes it”

        This is something that has begun nagging me about Pixar, the stories feel more hermetic than complete, everything in its place for maximum effect. And you know it. I haven’t seen Coco though.

        • Hm… I hadn’t ever thought of it that way. You’d like them to be shaggier? I always appreciate Pixar’s storytelling coherency.

          • Miller

            It is a hard thing to explain, let alone justify. Most animated family films aren’t in the business of ambiguity, I am not expecting Pixar to make a Triplets of Belleville (although if they want to try…). It’s just that nothing feels extraneous in Pixar. This is a huge cheat because it’s one of my favorite scenes in movies period, let alone animated ones, but I can’t see Pixar putting out something like Chihiro’s train ride in Spirited Away, a thing that is part of the tale being told but not grounded in anything like story beats.

          • The Ploughman

            This is something that’s been percolating in me (a big Pixar fan) as far back as Wall-E, and started to distract me with Up. Pixar’s tight storytelling was always the big feature for me (Finding Nemo perhaps being the pinnacle for me). But at least with Up, I started recognizing the imagination and “leave no piece behind” storytelling from more of a distance (after the first ten minutes anyway…). Maybe they just raised the bar so high out of the gate that it’s inevitable that there’s only so much further to push it – and maybe it’s that they’re pushing in much the same direction that makes it feel like they’re not growing as much. I think the Brad Bird films stand out because they argue about surprising things (“being special puts you outside normal society,” “greatness can come from anywhere”), instead of platitudes that we expect going in (“family is good,” “I should be my own person”).

            This warrants further examination…

          • Miller

            Ooh, I like “leave no piece behind” as a description of their philosophy. And yes, Bird does knottier things, and I think he is better at hitting beats than fussing over them. Think of Violet and Dash in The Incredibles — there is going to be a point where they have to use their powers to save the day, it’s the story we’re in. But the way that happens — Dash’s joyous, uh, dash across the water, Violet stepping up after her harrowing failure — the thrill of these is the moment, not the process.

            A non-Pixar example, from one of the best-written movies of the past 20 years (David Mamet said so!): in Galaxy Quest, it is obvious from the first usage that “By Grabthar’s Hammer” will come into play again, and obvious in a more emotional context. That obviousness does nothing to take away from the power of the moment when it happens because of what it means to the story and the people, as opposed to it being part of a schematic.

          • I think I see what you mean. Their storytelling, even in their best movies, is very very rarely surprising, and it nearly always adheres to standard screenwriting conventions in terms of structure and incident.

    • Miller

      Babe: Pig In The City — at the sadly soon-ending History Of Violence over at TOS I said that this is the Fury Road of talking animal movies and a rewatch confirmed. Crazy chase scenes, a strong female co-lead, absolutely gorgeous production and integration of effects harnessed to a tale of determined liberation. This movie owns.

      The Gifted, pilot — laaaaaaaaaaaaaaame.

      Bullet In The Head — not good as 48 Hrs revisited, Stallone has an appealing weary roughness but co-lead Sung Kang is a whiny wiener and the casual racism is just tired. But as no-frills action, pretty good — Hill stages some nicely physical fights and many people indeed take head bullets, and the purely functional script clocks in at 90 minutes with no bullshit (the bad guys do not even explain their plan beyond “we are evil developers” and that is nearly verbatim). A throwback that could’ve been better but isn’t bad for what it is.

      Various Season 2 and Season 7 Simpsons — went on a binge and had a blast. Bart Sells His Soul remains a top 5 episode, and Donald Sutherland in Lisa The Iconoclast is probably a top 10 guest, he inhabits his careworn caretaker and gives his readings little pauses and run-ons that aren’t part of the dialogue but add so much to the show.

      • History of Violence is ending?? That’s a bummer!

        • Miller

          It’s almost over chronologically, so that unfortunately makes sense, but I would love to see Tom stick around and work on a similar series.

          • Yeah, the bummer is that the site likely won’t make room for another feature like that.

          • Rosy Fingers

            I enjoy the Soundtracks of our Lives feature and O’Neil seems to be trying to keep the deep-dive essay tradition going with his newish feature The College Try, but since there can be breaks of up to three months between them, what’s the point? That’s like, one worthwhile article a month, at best.

            I used to love the Podmass feature because I listen to podcasts up to five hours a day and that was the only place online to have a general discussion. What am I meant to do now? Go to Reddit?!?

          • Miller

            Soundtracks has been a great new addition (do Clerks already!). But yeah, it’s getting thin on the ground.

          • Rosy Fingers

            I’m waiting for one on The Lost Boys soundtrack. Or at least The Crow.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Once A History Of Violence has concluded, there may be no more reason to even stop by the AVC. Noel Murray’s most recent A Very Special Episode was the last entry in that series, probably my favorite recurring feature in the history of the site, and I can just learn from IV and Dowd’s Twitter feeds when they have new reviews. But hey, maybe if I need to know what the Kinja Deal Of The Day is, I’ll pop in…

        • Miller

          Wait, what? A Very Special Episode ended? Fuck that, Noel’s writing there has been consistently superb and it’s exactly the kind of pop culture writing you don’t get elsewhere. God dammit. What a fucking waste that site is becoming.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            He confirmed it on Twitter, but I have no idea if it was his idea or not. Considering how they dumped My World Of Flops, I have my suspicions…

          • Miller

            Even in its heyday it wasn’t often a big draw (although it could get a lot of comments) but it was excellent criticism and Noel is a freelancer, it can’t be that big a line item on the budget. What bullshit.

          • clytie

            But, hey, that’ll leave more room for articles about fast food and Donald Trump!

          • Delmars Whiskers

            They’ve officially spun the fast food crap into a new site–The Takeout, and dear God, I can’t roll my eyes enough over that–but since all Gizmodic sites cross-post on the AVC, it’s like it never left.

          • Miller

            But are The Takeout’s takes hot?

        • I stop there to read Savage Love. It’s available elsewhere, but it’s always the first hit when I search for it. Damn you, Google algorithm!

    • The Ploughman

      Big Sonia When she was 17, Sonia Warshawski was captured from her home in Poland and taken to a concentration camp with her mother. Now, in the present, Sonia is a delightful, doting octogenarian owner of a tailor shop in a dying shopping mall. Her granddaughter made this documentary, following her as she speaks at area schools about her past, and suddenly must deal with the present, as the mall closes and she is given notice to vacate the store she’s maintained for thirty years.

      There are many moments of loving moments of caricature (she has a distinct personal style and some specific thoughts on the preparation of her famous gefilte fish). But the film always returns to new revelations about her experiences in the camps. This bothered me for a while, that the film seemed to be getting itself stuck in the past, until I realized this was by design. These memories are never not there for Sonia, even while she inspires teenagers and prisoners alike, every day when she pulls into her illegal parking space and pulls a suitcase into a ghostly, empty mall. The memories are illustrated in motion graphics that keep the pace moving and the score, if a bit much, is executed reasonably well. As importantly, a surprising burst of emotion from the director’s father (Sonia’s oldest son) speaks to the continuing cost of the Holocaust.

      The film puts a smile on your face while showing the way horrors of the past will invade even the happiest times of your life and resonate through the following generations.

      Sing This Oscar-nominated short showcases international cinema at its aw hell I can’t lie. It was the one with singing pigs and crap. I don’t even have a good commentary from the Ploughchildren because they watched most of it in silence, like me (one line from the 6YO, while the pig is pulling something off a grocery store shelf: “She didn’t even look at the price!” Welcome to life on a budget, kid.)

      What a strange rush-job of a movie, like somebody intercepted a memo that Disney was making something called Zootopia and didn’t read any further than the first line. Characters pile on subplots that never intersect – rarely does anyone speak to each other except through the main characters. Then these subplots barely have endings. More than once very few characters construct insanely elaborate contraptions and spaces literally overnight. I’m not going to be the guy applying real-world logic to a movie where a llama threatens a koala with foreclosure. But the movie doesn’t offer an internal logic.

      And yet as rushed as it is, it’s not as cynical as I had feared (this was a gift from the Grandplough that has been shelved for several months). After teasing us with over an hour of five-second clips from popular songs, there’s back-to-back performances of four full songs and the film gets something like momentum. Had I stopped watching twenty minutes earlier I would ended up with nothing but irritation. As it is, I now have a desire to watch The Muppets.

    • clytie

      Friday: I recently got a new channel called Pop shows that day’s episode of The Young and the Restless at night, so I watched it. Plus, a bunch of episodes of Forensic Files.

      Saturday:
      Also, I’m trying to watch 31 movies this month, so I will no longer be the laughing stock of The Solute, so I watched Get Out. While I liked it, I didn’t go as crazy over it as most people have. They used the blandness of Allison Williams well.

      The Bodyguard I remember seeing this as a kid and really liking it. As a kid, I watched a LOT of music (and dance!) movies, and I still have a fondness for them, but this is not a good movie. It’s barely even a movie. At one point they actually show a music video and it’s revealed that it’s just Costner watching it. Whitney really did have a great voice though.

      Sunday:
      Split I don’t get the critical acclaim. This movie bored me to tears.

      • The Ploughman

        Split seems to have benefitted from lowered expectations for Shyamalan. I still demand Unbreakable, or at least Signs-level quality!

    • I’ve got a couple doozies lined up.

      But, in Television: One Mississippi is so damned good. Especially S2, this show is so humane and witty and it knows who its friends and targets are.

      American Horror Story: Roanoke – This is, effectively, a redux of Murder House, after having learned how to tell a season long story. Kind of. This is my second favorite season after Hotel but before Asylum.

    • A Talking Banana!?!

      The B-Side: Elsa Dorfmann’s Portrait Photography – Errol Morris is too good a filmmaker to make an uninteresting film, and there’s certainly a lot to dig about this, but I couldn’t help but keep wondering why he chose to focus on this person, who’s very enjoyable to be around, don’t get me wrong. To summarize my mixed feelings on this: a very sweet, little movie that I’ll probably never think about again.

      Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – Definitely a step-up from Seven Psychopaths, a movie I actually did enjoy. Maybe not quite In Bruges-level brilliant, but I’d say they’re in the same ballpark. I’ve noticed some criticism pertaining to a certain arc that occurs in the third act. I don’t know if I agree with that criticism, but I can see where it comes from. Otherwise, McDormand is brilliant (really everyone here is) and this will probably end up being one of my favorites of 2017.

      Wild Wild West – Uh, yeah, this movie sucks.

      • Miller

        Regarding that arc — it feels fraudulent to bend that way when the bend is shown and the origin is not. Especially with the racial dynamics in play — Rockwell is a racist prick who we are told tortured a black guy, but the black woman he imprisons on bullshit charges is a prop, out of sight out of mind, and the one dude we actually see him kick the shit out of is a white guy. His racism is a Bad Thing that is not lived in, and therefore easier for him to turn around on and us to root for his turning. McDonagh is an extremely talented writer but he’s in over his head here.

    • Festive Narrator Man

      Lady Bird: Third time, still fucking amazing and warm and something I could watch on a loop for the rest of my life. I still don’t cry at movies, but I came close this time when I realized thus ends much the same way as 20th Century Women (with mother and child reunited briefly on the wide-open California road). Also, I finally noticed Tracy Letts politely bobbing his head to “Hand in My Pocket” until the second Lady Bird offers an opening for a joke at its expense.

      Saturday Night Live: This seems to be getting pretty good reactions elsewhere, but I didn’t like this episode very much at all. It felt like a pretty weird missed opportunity at every turn (exemplified by one sketch putting Ronan in a high school environment and giving her pink hair and a green army jacket, and not having her play Lady Bird). But it’s all forgiven for the requisite bit of Kyle Mooney-Beck Bennett weirdness, featuring an appearance by none other than Greta Gerwig, who has a fantastic 80s perm and gets to deliver the immortal line “As you all know, Lindsay turned out to be a ghost”.

      The Shield, “Slipknot”: This is not really an episode to make witty remarks about, so I’ll only say that it was great and that it was nice to see Paul Benjamin from Do the Right Thing pop up. And I’m finally on the same disc as the David Mamet-directed episode, one of the reasons I started watching the show in the first place two years ago.

      Blank Check with Griffin and David, Lost in Space: The second sibling episode, with David’s brother Joey this time, and if it’s not quite up to the masterwork that is the Devil Wears Prada ep, it’s still a really enjoyable look at the failings of this movie on almost every conceivable level. And also the filmography of Roger Michell, for some reason.

    • pico

      Call Me By Your Name, or: everyone needs Michael Stuhlbarg as a father. Stuhlbarg is great, of course, doing a late-period Robin Williams without the affect, but the star of the movie – and definitely the best performance I’ve seen all year – is Timothée Chalamet, and I’ll be rooting for him come awards season. He effortlessly pivots from arrogant teen who acts older than he is to wounded child, and it’s really, really invigorating (especially the closing credits scene). Also, languorous movies like this are my kryptonite, so all-in-all a pleasant two hours.

      That said, it wasn’t quite the life-changing experience I’d hoped for given the reviews, and Armie Hammer still leaves me cold. He has the movie-star looks the role calls for, but he’s a bit stiff in his line-readings (particularly in the movie’s pivotal but most confounding scene, at a WWI monument). When the Inevitable Parting happens, it was sad enough, but – well, the Inevitable Parting in Weekend reduced me to a messy puddle of tears, so it’s not like I’m naturally cold to this thing. Eh, well.

      Music, of course, is top-notch. I better f’n see Sufjan Stevens on that Oscar stage next year for “Mystery of Love” – funny, since he’s never even managed a Grammy nomination, despite heaps of critical plaudits over the years.

      • Festive Narrator Man

        I’m weirdly very excited for both Chalamet and Sufjan in this movie, despite the fact that I’ve seen Chalamet in two movies (only one of which I remember him in at all) and have not listened to any Sufjan beyond what I’ve heard of “Mystery of Love” from the trailer and David Ehrlich’s video countdown.

        • pico

          This may be a weird thing to confess to, but he’s the only singer I’ve seen multiple times in concert, so this feels like a long-overdue break into the mainstream(ish).

          • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

            Related to nothing, but I actually went to college with him and it’s still pretty weird to see him be this Great Big Name. He was a super nice guy back then, but slightly distant and on his own wavelength, in news that will surprise absolutely nobody.

          • pico

            Ha! I first got into him because I was in grad school on the other end of the state when Michigan came out, and yeah, given how small and specific that album is, this is not the career trajectory I would have expected.

          • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

            That’s probably about my brother and my reaction, too. He and my brother both spent quite a bit of time in the school’s recording lab, but the way it was described to me, I expected one of those indie burnout stories that are interesting and listenable, but ultimately forgotten. (You know, like that band he was in back then, Marzuki.)

      • Jake Gittes

        Chalamet indeed kills it. The one scene here that reduced me to a messy puddle of tears was the peach scene – where I first cried from laughter, and then just cried (with the help of Chalamet who also first breaks down in that moment). Hammer also worked for me, always at a slight remove because the movie aligns us so closely with Elio, but not so far that it becomes a problem. He also has some great occasional humanizing moments, like when he gently mocks Elio in the peach scene (“I see you’ve moved on to plants already”) – in the novel (which it doesn’t sound like you’ve read; I very much recommend it) those words are part of Elio’s internal monologue, but the script wisely gives them to Oliver to use as a punchline. (Speaking of the script and awards, I’m already eagerly anticipating James Ivory to become the oldest winner in any competitive category).

        As for the Inevitable Parting, I think it derives its power from understatement – in the end, it’s just a thing that has to happen, and it does, with no more emphasis placed on it than necessary; the messy-puddle-of-tears moments come when Elio has to process it later.

        I’ve never heard Sufjan’s music before and funnily enough his songs are the only thing here I could have lived without, I recall them being more blunt and obvious than the film around them and Chalamet’s final moment would have worked even better with different music. Great use of ’80s pop, though, and I’m happy to have been introduced to this:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYUyDjVCRU

        • pico

          JG, we’re doomed to have opposite reactions to so many things! It’s likely my least favorite Ravel piece (outside of Bolero), and I thought it was way overused!

          • Jake Gittes

            Hey man I’m still uneducated in so many of these things. This is the first Ravel I ever heard in my life! Gimme some time to catch up and then we’ll see. Up until this point I think we’ve been doing pretty good.

            Never heard of Wings before either and wow I wouldn’t have expected that description. Into the ever-growing to-read list it goes.

          • pico

            Nah, you’re pretty damned well educated: на вкус и цвет and all that. You’re talking to someone who’s never read a Faulkner novel or listened all the way through to a Mahler symphony – we all have our gaps. And I’m like, what, ten years older than you? so I have fewer excuses.

            The Russian text of Wings is here, and there’s a serviceable English translation by Hugh Aplin that came out in 2007. Kuzmin was a popular man-about-town in late Imperial Russia (and very openly gay, at that), but the book only made it past the censors because of institutional collapse during the ’05 revolution. There were a whole bunch of well-known, openly queer writers during that era (including folks still widely read, like Esenin and Tsvetaeva) – a history largely erased from popular consciousness.

          • Jake Gittes

            Well, I’m 24. And definitely enough of a film freak to neglect just about all other arts and their history. I’ll be all right but frustration gets felt occasionally.

          • pico

            Ugh. More than ten years. Thanks a lot. (*grumbles all the way to the social security office*) (I turn 38 in … a few hours.)

          • Jake Gittes

            Maybe you could change your username to pico97 or something. Project a more youthful image, be hip with all the kids.

            In all seriousness I kinda already feel the same way about people who are students right now so I understand. Hope you aren’t planning on hanging up your discussing-things-on-the-Internet gloves anytime soon, though.

          • pico

            Nah, they’ll have to pry my arthritic fingers off the keyboard, I think.

          • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

            Happy birthday!

          • pico

            Thank you!

          • Jake Gittes

            Happy 38th!

          • pico

            Большое спасибо!

          • “You’re talking to someone who’s never. . .listened all the way through to a Mahler symphony.” Well, I don’t think he ever wrote all the way through any of them, why would you listen all the way through? (BOOM! You just got de@disqus_wallflower:disqused, Gustav!) (I kid because I love.)

          • pico

            I was hoping for a “Mahler? I barely know her!” but yours is much better.

    • CineGain

      One False Move-An absolute gem in neo-noir cinema. Franklin shoots this in a simple but effective manner of capturing the scenery of the story. More credits should go out to Billy Bob Thornton and other co-screenwriter who managed to give enough dimensions to archetypical characters that adds a layer of pathos to the film. The cast was mainly solid, though it’s to not single out Bill Paxton, who’s hick cop is giving more complexity then the dismissive route normal for film.

      Daisy Miller-Caught this film before leaving off Filmstruck. I can’t tell if Bogdanovich was ill-suited for the project, or that casting Cybill Shepherd in the role and time period was conceivable to make sense of the picture. Either way, a misfire.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Pretty much just football this weekend, whether it was college conference championship games or the NFL.

    • Man with a robot arm

      Images – This was Robert Altman’s follow-up to McCabe and Mrs. Miller. It’s a small and tightly focused film, not as relaxed or with the improv of its predecessor. It doesn’t seem to be remembered as much as McCabe, or Altman’s larger canvas pictures, like Nashville or The Player. It lacks a few of Altman’s hallmarks he had established by now, like the overlapping dialog, but there are plenty of zooms, and his use of reflective surfaces is here. Susannah York acts the hell out of her role as a woman having a schizophrenic break. She’s amazing, but I didn’t really get why her character was going through her break. That would have drawn me in more to really care about her. Still, it’s a bit of a hidden gem in Altman’s filmography. The Rene Auberjonois quotient is high in this one. He has a prominent role as York’s husband so it’s at least good. This would make a good double feature with 3 Women as it plays with identity and sanity like that film.

  • Question of the Day: Gremlins has put me in a festive mood, so can I get some Christmas movie recommendations (outside of the obvious canon greats)?

    I’ll throw out Remember the Night, an odd-couple 40s romantic comedy with Barbara Stanwyck as a shoplifter and Fred MacMurray as the district attorney trying to make sure she stays out of trouble over the Christmas period. It’s funny, sweet and has plenty of festive charm, and both leads are on top form.

    (I’ve never done one of these before, hello)

    • Jake Gittes

      Eyes Wide Shut, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Feel the Magic of Christmas Again.

      The Dead is an obligatory viewing for me somewhere late in December or early in January, though “festive” probably isn’t the best word for it. This year I might make The Hudsucker Proxy another one.

      From the same year as Remember the Night (which I wholeheartedly agree with you on), there’s Lubitsch’s wonderful The Shop Around the Corner.

      • Ah yes, I always forget about Eyes Wide Shut being set at Christmas! That might be the push I need to finally get around to watching it.

        Definitely agreed on The Shop Around the Corner!

      • Son of Griff

        SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is one of mt favoritew

    • Iron Man 3, because I like that movie. (PS: Civil War haters, come over to Avocado and back me up.)

      Better yet, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, because it’s an even better example of “Shane Black loves Christmas.”

      • Jake Gittes

        Throw in The Long Kiss Goodnight in there too.

      • I remember liking the Christmas stuff in the first Lethal Weapon, too.

        You’ve reminded me that I always meant to see if Shane Black has actually given a reason for why he likes setting his movies at Christmas so much. He has, and it’s quite thoughtful and interesting:

        Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives. I tend to think also that it just informs as a backdrop. The first time I noticed it was Three Days of the Condor, the Sydney Pollack film, where Christmas in the background adds this really odd, chilling counterpoint to the espionage plot. I also think that Christmas is just a thing of beauty, especially as it applies to places like Los Angeles, where it’s not so obvious, and you have to dig for it, like little nuggets. One night, on Christmas Eve, I walked past a Mexican lunch wagon serving tacos, and I saw this little string, and on it was a little broken plastic figurine, with a light bulb inside it, of the Virgin Mary. And I thought, that’s just a little hidden piece of magic. You know, all around the city are little slices, little icons of Christmas, that are as effective and beautiful in and of themselves as any 40-foot Christmas tree on the lawn of the White House. So that, in a lot of words, is the answer.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      I know it’s not everyone’s cup of Spielberg, but 1941 is my annual Christmas tradition.

      • thesplitsaber

        I liked that in the recent Spielberg documentary he said he basically made 1941 because he wanted to ‘blow shit up’.

    • Miller

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i7gIpuIVE3k

      Oh I’m sorry, you said outside of the canon.

      • The first Silent Night, Deadly Night is very much part of my personal Christmas canon! It’s one of my favourite slashers. Nothing in it is quite as wonderful as this clip though.

        • Babalugats

          I will take every opportunity to recommend Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. The greatest bad movie ever made. It seems like tree filmmakers had never seen a movie, or meet a human being before, and yet the movie is engaging and fun and plenty of moments sort of work.

          You know how the first Silent Night, Deadly Night is a sleazy slasher, but then it’s suddenly interrupted by the opening credits to a sitcom starring these same characters, before going back to an even sleazier slasher movie? That’s how every single decision feels in Part 2.

          The 4th and 5th films are pretty good, too. No more than horror filler, but if you’re looking for Christmas themed horror movies they do the job.

          • I’m going to have to “run the series” at some point. The sequels don’t seem that easy to get hold of here for some reason, but I’m sure they can be obtained with a little effort.

          • Babalugats

            Really? A bunch of decades old direct to video sequels to an already obscure slasher film are hard to find? England sure is a funny a place. I managed to get all four sequels on a single double sided dvd out of $5 bargain bin (a Christmas miracle!) so best of luck. The second film has enough of a following that it should be possible to steal it, not that I’d ever advocate that sort of thing.

          • That really is the true definition of a Christmas miracle. Krampus smiled on you that day!

          • Miller

            The best part of 2 is how utterly shameless they are in reusing 1’s footage, to the point of just running the credits of 1 again at the end because of how much they steal. Outstanding.

            And while I can’t speak for 4, 5 is pretty good in a weird psychosexual Mickey Rooney way. It’s loveable for the opposite reason of 2 — it is clearly an entirely different movie just grafted to the Silent Night Deadly Night franchise.

    • Son of Griff

      Sticking with Sturges MIRACLE AT MORGAN’S CREEK is one of my favorites, and ends with a nativity parody that borders on blasphemous. It also has two of my favorite fake newspaper headlines.

      TANGERINE should also become a holiday perennial. I’ve also taken to watching THE APARTMENT.

      • I’ve had Miracle of Morgan’s Creek on my watchlist for a while, but didn’t realise it had Christmas content! This is good news.

    • Catch Me If You Can isn’t very overt about this, but I rewatched it recently and was surprised that it’s basically a Christmas movie.

    • This is an annual tradition:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a6WAzstGmA

    • clytie

      Go, While You Were Sleeping, Lethal Weapon, The Ref, LA Confidential.

      • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

        LA Confidential! Good call.

      • I didn’t know While You Were Sleeping was set at Christmas! I hear it also has good cats.

        • clytie

          There’s a scene involving a Christmas stocking that always makes me tear up.

    • Defense Against The Hark Arts

      Continuing with the Barbara Stanwyck connection, I would recommend Christmas in Connecticut

      • Not the made-for-TV remake, inexplicably directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger!?

        (Serious reply: Definitely watching this one this year. It’s hard to go wrong with Stanwyck)

        • Defense Against The Hark Arts

          Noooooo stay far away from that one. The only Christmas Schwarzenegger movie that i would recommend is the number 1 smash hit, holiday classic Jingle All the Way

    • clytie

      For more straight-up Christmas movies (at first I thought you wanted movies that weren’t obviously Christmas movies), the Lifetime original movies, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever and The Real Saint Nick.

      Ignore the bad reviews, Grumpy cat is a star! Having Aubrey Plaza voice her may be the most inspired casting ever, and the movie has a lot of fun playing with holiday movie tropes.

      The Real Saint Nick is about a shrink with some questionable professional ethics who falls in love with a patient who thinks that he’s the real Santa Claus. He’s also really hot and has ripped abs. Everyone involved really sells the movie though.

    • I’m kind of pissed that my favorite Christmas movie stars Kevin Spacey.

      • clytie

        Same.

        • Like, for years, I had heard rumors of his homosexuality and predilection for younger guys, but I hadn’t heard pedo nor assaulter.

          • clytie

            I’d heard the rumors, but wanted to believe that they were the result of homophobia rather than facts.

      • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

        Fred Claus?

      • thesplitsaber

        The Ref?

    • PCguy

      I’ll second the recommendation for CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. I end up watching that movie on TCM every year. Another favorite of mine, curiously also a movie about a woman whose holiday love life is interrupted by an intrusive and overbearing elderly gay man, is THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER. Monty Woolley does his best to steal every scene from Bette Davis and, while his performance is infinitely too outrageous to have technical merit, the antic script makes a good attempt to try and keep up. Like CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT it’s good holiday fun from the Golden Age of cinema.

      I’d also highly recommend INVASION U.S.A. for peak Reaganite jingoism from Golan & Globus and the best Christmas shootout ever committed to celluloid. It’s my favorite action movie not titled ROADHOUSE.

      • Interesting! Never heard of that one, but as a fan of outrageous performances in golden-age cinema, it sounds like a hit!

      • Miller

        Holy shit! I was trying to remember The Man Who Came To Dinner when I first saw vomas’ request, I saw it on TCM a few years ago but forgot the name. It is a bit broad but the script’s escalating insanity is a lot of fun.

    • pico

      Dunno why this never makes lists of Christmas movies, but it’s very explicitly set during the holiday (lots of gift-giving, office Christmas parties, people in Santa suits, etc.). Heck, one of the main threads is about a Christmas gift that turns out to be a terrorist bomb (maybe): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I24K8BfV840

    • thesplitsaber

      ’40s romantic comedy with Barbara Stanwyck as a shoplifter and Fred MacMurray’

      wait wait wait theres a christmas rom com reuniting the leads of DOUBLE INDEMNITY?? hahah

      • As if that’s not weird enough, they also made a Western together… in 3D!?

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046095

      • Jake Gittes

        It was the other way around – Remember the Night is from 1940, Double Indemnity from 1944 – though of course just about everyone sees the latter first. Regardless, yeah, it’s a lot of fun to watch them together in such a different movie. Someday I’d love to show these two movies in a row to people who’ve never seen either.

    • Bhammer100

      The people over at What the Flick recently reviewed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and called it a James Bond Christmas movie.