• I still enjoy the hell out of Alien: Covenant. It’s just such a ballsy, weird movie for a franchise entry, Fassbender is amazing, and the movie looks extremely nice. Also, while the philosophy isn’t blowing my mind, its being contextualized within this franchise is kind of compelling to me. There are so few blockbusters that take this kind of thing seriously, and as much as it’s flirting with camp, Covenant is taking it very seriously, too, and I dig it.

    But I get why people dislike it.

  • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

    I won’t lie to you about your chances… but you have my interest in what you watched.

    • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

      Mulholland Drive, David Lynch
      “Silencio.”

      Aside from the first season of Twin Peaks way back in college, this was my first Lynch; I forget who it was here who suggested that you watch all of TP as an intro to Lynch, but they were right, because this made a lot more sense the second time; specifically, I didn’t bother trying to put the whole thing together into a sensible picture and simply enjoyed each scene individually, letting myself feel a broad emotion rather than tracking exact cause-and-effect. That said, like TP, it has a central genre element mostly holding the whole thing together in terms of Rita’s mystery.

      What struck me when I watched it the first time was how it took a lot of made-for-tv movie elements and twisted them into something artful – the digital look, the stilted acting, the synths, the broad writing (the genius sound design is all Lynch though). What makes it work is that Lynch clearly isn’t compromising to anyone – I think of made-for-TV movies I saw where the female protagonist did her laundry, and immediately thought “ah, yes, that makes her more #relatable”, whereas Lynch inserts details because it advances the story he’s trying to tell. Even if I don’t click with Lynch (and thinking on it Fire Walk With Me is the only thing I’ve 100% clicked with), I deeply respect him as an artist.

      LOST, Season One, Episode Twenty, “The Greater Good”
      “You’ve never fired a gun before!”
      [Shannon fires the gun into the ground]

      “John Locke killed my brother. Will you do something about that?”

      Another solid episode with weak flashbacks. Sayid is much more interesting on the island than off; my first instinct was that this is solid evidence that morality is more interesting than explanations for it, but I suppose this episode explains nothing beyond why Sayid was on Oceanic 815. The best flashbacks so far solidify the morality of the players in some way – either showing what they’re walking away from, in the cases of Locke, Boone, or Michael, or adding in a new moral point, like Sawyer or Jin, or in rarer cases simply allow a profound clarity of morality, like Sun.

      In this case, the on-island drama says more about Sayid’s morality than the flashbacks ever could (we have some full-on politics going on and I couldn’t be more [revving intensifies] about it). Sayid has the precise mix of enough decency to let Locke live, but enough heroism (and distrust of Locke) to force the truth of the hatch out of him. Locke has basically destroyed every relationship on the island he has for the sake of his faith.

      Ownage: Shannon taking on Locke gives us a fucking cavalcade of ownage – Locke just stands there with his arms out like a boss, then when Sayid tries to get her to put the gun down Shannon pulls off the awesome moment above, and then of course Sayid takes her down.

      Australian Accent Accuracy level: Native speaker

      • hellgauge

        In what format did you see Mulholland Dr.? On the 4k restoration Blu-Ray I watched most recently, there was nothing about the aesthetic that said “made-for-tv digitial look”. Its origins as a TV series never crossed my mind while watching. I think I also associate the “stilted acting” and “broad writing” (quotation marks to indicate my slight ambivalence towards these even being the appropriate terms here) as more of a Lynch thing in general. Glad you liked it though, even if it didn’t quite click (for the record, it’s in my top 10 of all time).

        • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

          Out of the torrent of options available to me, I chose DVD quality. And those qualities are what I mean, and what made more sense when I saw Twin Peaks and FWWM and realised they were specific qualities he was shooting for and not things he was either forced to use or accidentally stumbled upon –
          which is another way of saying I agree they aren’t perfect terms to use, but definitely convey my initial unprepared-for-Lynch response.

          I also forgot to say that I covered my eyes through the Winkie’s scene. I will be happy to never see that damn thing again – once, I clicked on an interview with the woman who plays the creature and immediately screamed because they had a picture of it at the top.

          I think with auteurs like Lynch (or Tarantino), where the whole psychological effect involves getting into their very weird heads, you have three possible responses: complete acceptance, complete repulsion, or one foot in where you can appreciate the quality on display and even enjoy yourself while not feeling that gripping rightness that comes with complete acceptance; I felt terror and amusement and sympathy and arousal while never quite landing on that sense of rightness I feel watching a Tarantino flick. To put it simply, it’s not him, it’s me.

          • hellgauge

            I think I have those two auteurs reversed compared to you, though I have a couple of Tarantinos to re-watch before knowing for sure.

            The weird thing about it is that when seen re-mastered on Blu-Ray, the original Twin Peaks looks stunning. Way better than most TV today in fact. That’s the advantage of shooting on film, though it makes for a kind of weird feeling when you know that you’re watching something that looks better/very different from the only way it could be watched at the original time of release.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I’m watching the original series on Amazon currently, and watching HD (though sub-Blu ray) images of a show broadcast in SD creates an extra layer of immediacy somehow that works really well for the show (better than the other series I’ve watched this was, Star Trek TNG which for the most part is unharmed by the upgrade but is occasionally made distracting when corners are sharpened that were not meant to be seen clearly). Part of the extra layer that works for TP is an image with “modern” clarity applied to now outdated clothes and hairstyles, but styles that are applied in the moment rather than researched and approximated. There’s a strange immediacy to the time period, like when you see an especially clear historical photograph and realize everything at the time was just as real as it is now.

          • hellgauge

            For me main virtue is that the show has such a strong visual construction, the colors especially, and this wouldn’t have been clear when watching a standard definition broadcast on the small, shitty TVs most people would have had in ’89 and ’90.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I saw the Winkie’s scene while very, very high and drunk and started screaming when I saw the creature. My friend laughed at my reaction but I was absolutely terrified.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I saw it on a VHS on a 12″ TV in the middle of the day in a dorm room and I still about had a heart attack.

          • That woman (Bonnie Aarons) is great btw.

            Did David instruct you to do different expressions on different takes?

            Oh, no. He had an idea of what he wanted. David was going over the facial expressions. I did a couple, and he’s sitting there with me, and he says, “No. Nothing like that at all.” And, ya know, David Lynch is really hot, and I’m looking at him all dreamy-eyed, and he says to me, “That’s it: the look, Bonnie!” So I get up and I do it behind the dumpster, and David says, “No, do what you did before.” And I said, “Well, it’s really easy when I do it with you, David.” So guess what? He did it with me. He stuck his head [out], and I came out and looked at him. So when I put out my head, I saw his face.

            So the bum was giving sex eyes?

            Love can kill, can’t it, baby?

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            This again confirms that Gordon Cole’s ease with women may just be autobiographical.

    • hellgauge

      Blade Runner 2049: Somehow both exactly what I want from visionary sci-fi and very flawed.

      Despite several moments that didn’t quite work and one entire scene that was very misguided (I’ll get back to it), I really enjoyed this as I was watching it. Easily one of the better sci-fi experiences in a while, certainly among modern efforts. Yet, those smaller things bugged me and as I started thinking about the film afterwards, more and more of it didn’t work for me in retrospect. The story is ultimately a bit pointless, certainly aspects of it are. What does Leto and Luv do other than drive a plot towards a stand-off that afterwards feels completely weightless? I mean, at least Luv actually does something. Leto just hangs out and gives some ominous speeches. His character could easily have been removed or merged with Luv. Also, the resolution just feels kind of empty. We’ve mostly followed K around, so why is the climax about Deckard meeting his daughter for the first time? Was his sacrifice really just about some only-hinted-at Android Revolution that was very suddenly introduced and then just left hanging as nothing but over-simplified character motivation?

      However, these are just minor screenplay nitpicks ultimately. Elements that make it good instead of great. What really bothered me is the film’s very obvious woman problem. A woman problem about as big as its pointless, nude mega-holograms. Aside from Wright’s captain, who is only slightly underdeveloped, none of the female characters here ever rise above single-minded motivations or severely outdated tropes. Ostensibly, Luv should be a compelling character, yet the hints that she might have motivations of her own (to the side of what Leto’s Wallace tells her to do) are never picked up on. So at the end of the day, she’s just a menacing killer femme-bot. Then we have the “devoted girlfriend” AI, who gets fridged the moment she shows signs of doing or “feeling” something interesting. Don’t get me started on the severely underutilized Mackenzie Davis as what one might call “hooker-bot with intentions of gold”, who, again, never gets much characterization beyond that. Though the worst sin with these latter two characters is the (pre-)sex scene that somehow manages to demean both of these already thinly sketched characters by taking a literal shell of a woman and projecting her onto another body. Somehow getting not only less than the sum of the parts, but less than either part to begin with. Maybe that’s trying to say something about disconnectedness and sex and relationships in a dystopic, over-digitized future, but all I saw was an uncomfortable indulgence into male fantasy.

      And then you have all the various uses of women’s bodies as decor littered about the various locations that at best seems like empty gestures at a message of “wow, they sure objectify women extra much in this future, huh?”. There are a few small exceptions here (e.g. the “daughter” does have some genuine characterization that isn’t even directly related to men or the plot, but she’s only on screen for a short while), but they don’t really make up for the rest. It seems to me this film would have been improved if there had barely been any women in it at all. There are also the issues about race that some have raised, in particular how a film that uses very thinly veiled racial metaphors for its subjugation of the andriods never actually addresses race in any tangible way, but I think I would have to see it again to really dive into that.

      Yet, all this aside, I still really enjoyed this while watching and, even as I poked holes in it later, I also recall the experience itself very fondly all the same. Villeneuve and Deakins and the rest of the crew create such an amazing world and constructs the visual storytelling in a way that proved irresistible to me. Even better, this time Johansson’s portentousness has been replaced by Zimmer doing his best Vangelis impression and that also helps a lot in terms of the score keeping the right mood. Watching this on a big screen with the sound blazing is such a thrill that despite myself I’m able to set aside (if not forgive) a lot of my grievances with the writing and say that I’m genuinely glad I saw this and (with certain aspects pre-compartmentalized) I’m sure I would enjoy seeing it again. It’s too bad it couldn’t have been better written though, because then we might have had a genuine modern classic on our hands.

      • glorbes

        Oh yes. This movie was 100% from a stunted male perspective. And it really does seem to be pointless, more a result of tone deafness to these characterizations. I am wrestling with letting this kind of thing impact my critical eye for a film (it’s a movie made from the perspective of the people making it, NOT from an attempt to align with my values), but it’s really really noticeable. Also, I very much agree with your assessment of its shortcomings in terms of the narrative.

        • hellgauge

          It’s not so much that I need a film to agree with my values, but when I can’t see any reason for it failing to do so I get impatient with it. I also think there’s a difference between this type of sexism (which I consider a failure of characterization more than something general about politics) and cases where characters and aesthetics are well conceived in principle, but still personally objectionable in some way.

          • glorbes

            Well said.

    • Body Bags – an extremely fun horror anthology from John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper, which has that infectious “we just cast all our friends and had fun!” vibe to it, especially in the two Carpenter segments and the wraparound (which he hosts, telling horrible morbid jokes in corpse make-up). The cast is ridiculous – Wes Craven and Sam Raimi turn up in the first segment (a stylish slasher set at a gas station), the extremely funny second segment stars Stacy Keach as a man who gets experimental hair restoration treatment along with Sheena Easton, David Warner and Debbie Harry (!) and the final segment gives us Mark Hamill and Twiggy (!!) as a couple dealing with the sinister aftermath of his eyeball replacement surgery, which is suggested by (of course!) Dr. Roger Corman.

      The eyeball one is Tobe Hooper’s contribution and it’s a LOT nastier than the Carpenter ones – while it’s still pretty good, it feels a little out of sync with the pure entertainment of the first two, but that’s my only mild criticism really. This is immediately one of my favourite anthologies! Plus, as a bonus, it’s from our year of the month.

      I also watched the making-of featurette on the blu-ray which is good fun, and notable for a moment where Carpenter, briefly forgetting Sam Raimi’s name, just calls him “Spiderman”.

      • glorbes

        I know I saw this when I was ten or eleven years old, and that I liked it a lot. I should probably track it down.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          If the Shout! Factory app/channel works in your area of the world, both it and the commentary are available for free (w a few commercial interruptions).

      • Miller

        Ahahahaha, I hope Raimi called him “Escape From LA” in return.

    • The Slumber Party Massacre–Nearly every review I’ve found of this movie talks about the way it makes a virtue out of the typical slasher movie fake-out cliches, and that’s absolutely true; the jump scare has never been so perfected as when this movie lampoons its essential silliness and twists it into a metaphor for the violation of women’s bodies through non-violent means (before the actual violent violation, of course). This is not a horror comedy, exactly, but it’s very funny. The fake-out gags, sure, but there is a lot of the reverse, too, where we know something very bad is happening while the characters remain almost comically ignorant of it–in particular, one scene involving a refrigerator that seems to have heavily influenced the early main-character-clueless-of-horror-in-front-of-his-face goings of Shaun of the Dead. Even with all this genre subversion, the movie still hews a little closer to slasher tropes than I’d like–we’re still dealing with scantily clad women being cut up, and while this is written/directed by women, which is a relief, I still wonder if this plays too much into the hand of the genre pitfalls. Regardless, mild trepidation aside, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

      Body Snatchers–When I was in elementary school, we lived on an Air Force base. My mom wanted to grow a vegetable garden, so she, my siblings, and I planted one with the help of my grandfather. It all went well enough until one day, we got a knock on the door. It was an officer telling us that we couldn’t have a garden because the soil was filled with toxic chemicals that would get into the vegetables. So we had to destroy the plants. I say all this to explain why Body Snatchers, the third film adaptation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, now relocated to a military base, resonated with me, perhaps even more than the revered 1978 version. My experiences on the Air Force Base were largely positive, but there’s no denying the vague disquietude of living in a location where everyone dresses alike, where toxic waste resides in the soil beneath your feet, where armed guards and cement barriers greet you each time you leave and return, and where, in a heartbeat, you could be caught and quarantined within the small confines of the base (as actually happened on 9/11/01). It’s not hard to imagine my warm childhood memories twisted into horror like that on display in this film. I’m a little iffy on some of the stuff that happens toward the film’s end, but in general, it’s a fantastic iteration on the Invasion evolutionary chain.

      Also watched a lecture by Emily Short about the future of Interactive Fiction. I can’t remember if we’ve talked about this here before, but… does anyone else here play IF?

      • Slumber Party Massacre is really fun. I’ve heard good things about the sequels, too (which are also both written and directed by women).

        I dipped into IF a few years ago and played some of the most acclaimed ones at that point, and it was interesting but never quite clicked with me. I keep meaning to check back and see what has happened since, though.

        • I’d be interested in checking out the sequels if I could find them. If nothing else, we desperately need more female-written/directed horror, and it’s cool to see a whole franchise with that.

          I don’t know when you were checking into IF, but it’s changed significantly in the past few years–it’s not nearly so focused on exclusively text-based games, and in general, the Z interpreter isn’t quite the dominant platform that it once was. There have also been some notable commercial endeavors, too. I haven’t really been able to keep up with the genre very well recently (I used to play almost all the games that won the major XYZZY awards), but what I’ve seen is pretty exciting/strange.

          • There’s a Scream Factory blu-ray that has both sequels – it hovers forever above my impulse buy price range though.

            It was probably at least ten years ago that I last really checked in so I’m sure there have been massive developments! Any particular recommendations?

          • Like I said, I haven’t kept up with a ton of new games, but Andrew Plotkins’s Hadean Lands is flat-out brilliant. There was a Slate article a while back that compared it to Joyce, and I don’t think that’s far off.

          • I definitely remember enjoying some of his earlier stuff (until I got frustrated and gave up etc etc) so I shall check that out for sure – cheers!

          • I’d say he an Emily Short are the two honest-to-goodness geniuses working in IF.

      • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

        IF is one of those things I wish I liked more than I do.

        • I’m not nearly smart enough for it–some of the games require some mensa-level shit that I’m not even close to being capable of. But I love getting lost in the games.

          • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

            Absolutely. I’m just terrible at the puzzle games – I actually wish there were more along the lines of Telltale Adventure games and Mass Effect style storytelling.

            (That said, one of the ones I loved the most was the Hithchhiker’s Guide adaptation, which is almost impossible)

          • That one’s hilarious. I’ve never been able to get very far into it, but I love it so much.

          • Yeah, I remember the puzzles being pretty fierce. I also remember lacking the self control not to look up the answers after a couple of attempts, thereby ruining the experience for myself. Stupid internet.

          • Yeah, I’ve had a lot of trouble with that as an adult. When I was growing up, we had dial-up internet, and I very seldom went on the web, so it was a lot easier to have self-control. But now that I have a constant internet connection right there… it’s a struggle.

          • I have zero problems with using walkthroughs & player’s guides for gaming. I play them for fun & to relax, and beating my head on a wall to solve a puzzle is neither. I’m in FFVI right now, and it’s a wonderful experience, but without a guide, I’ve have given up long ago. I don’t even try puzzle games because the point is to solve them on your own.

          • Yeah, if the game gives you enough enjoyment outside of the puzzle then that’s totally reasonable.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I’ve always been the opposite – I’ll stare at a puzzle and beat my head against the wall for whatever time it takes (to a certain point). I recall many a pre-Internet hour wandering around Myst islands or trying to combine every random goddam thing in my King’s Quest inventory to find a breakthrough. I’m certainly not arguing that this is better or healthier, but oh that feeling when you finally get the answer and move forward – brain orgasm.

          • Oh, I understand just how satisfying that is, for everything to click into place. And I’ve played many puzzles and enjoyed them. But when it starts having diminishing returns, when it’s no longer fun, I drop it. Maybe revisit it once I’ve cooled off if I’m enjoying it overall.

      • Miller

        Body Snatchers is great and the reveal of the kids’ drawings at the school is an all-time “oh SHIT” moment, not just for what it means about the invasion (this is mostly confirmation for the viewer at this point) but as a visualization of the alien nature of the invasion.

        • YES. That was an awesome moment, especially because it takes a long time before you realize what you’re supposed to be getting out of the scene. And then it hits you.

    • The Rick and Morty ep with szechuan sauce – My office works with local McDonald’s franchises/co-ops, so we’ve been hearing some of the internal dialogue over the szechuan sauce debacle, which meant I had to explain R&M to my co-workers and show them clips from the show. Before, they thought the McD protestors were stupid; they they think they’re fucking insane.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        That’s the strange part, where I like joking about szechuan sauce and yelling “I want that szechuan sauce Morty!” because Rick’s passion is ridiculous…but holy shit people actually made a joke real and that’s nuts.

      • Miller

        There’s an argument that McDonalds should have known better than trying to harness and monetize a fandom it did not remotely understand, which I can respect — down with corporate co-opting! Doesn’t mean you be a dick to the people on the ground.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          McDonalds not having enough sauce was so freaking stupid.

    • Cennywise The Ploughn

      The Exterminating Angel I hadn’t caught up to the latest Next Picture Show episodes and this was as good an excuse as any to revisit. This movie belongs to a select group of films with Groundhog Day and Soylent Green where the concept is so indelible that the execution is almost irrelevant. Like Groundhog Day the back-of-the-cover summary for EA can be invoked in any number of situations, even if Buñuel had something specific in mind making it.

      This time around I kept the characters more as abstractions in my mind and assigned them various analogs irl (members of certain American political parties, for instance). But the characters’ awareness of their situation felt strange in this context and I wondered if the analogy only works on history in hindsight or on immediate, first person moments. Makes me think about moments of realiazation from my own life where I know the party’s over and yet can’t bring myself to leave. It’s this kind of flexibility in the premise that rescues the film from being a specific condemnation of a specific group of people.

      • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

        You can’t spend your first paragraph talking about the premise of the movie and then not actually say what the premise is!

        “But Napoleon, you’re on the internet, and could easily look it up in the time it took you to write this sentence!”

        Nevertheless!

        • Dinner guests overstay their welcome. Bourgeois hilarity ensues.

          • glorbes

            That’s…one way of putting it. I actually think it is reminiscent of a Stephen King short story, filtered through Bunuel.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          Upper class guests find themselves somehow unable to leave a dinner party. Like, unable to leave for days and days. Hilariously, the magic kinda stops there (until they start hallucinating) and they have to find means of getting food and water and putting up with each other.

        • #FOMO

          • psst. . .I think you wanted to post your (depressingly on-point) Stop Being Creeps update in News, not Reviews, unless this is a larger Kassendorfesque point that creepiness isn’t even news anymore.

          • Thanks. Though…at this point…*sigh*

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            3/4 stars: An unbelievable premise is kept afloat by several welcome cameos, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Rosanna Arquette – why don’t we see more hearty roles like this for these actresses? But the real revelation here is Weinstein as a power-mad sexual predator brought low by a hounding press. This is what Oscars are made of, people. Stop Being Creeps opened nationwide this past weekend and its popularity almost guarantees a new cinematic universe, with rumors about a follow up helmed by Ben Affleck already starting–

            Wait, this was a news article? That’s just all kinds of fucked up.

          • Alongside the wacky Strangelovian satire of Donald Trump: Reality President!, it feels kinda redundant though. Let me just look at the news, which I haven’t done for a year now. . .

      • glorbes

        Love that movie, and I ALSO just listened to the NPS podcast about it!

      • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

        Definitely need to try and watch this sometime. To date, the only film of his I’ve watched so far is “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeois.” I loved it, but then other movies came up, and I forgot to check back in with him.

      • Man with a robot arm

        I thought EA and Ben Wheatley’s High Rise would make a good double feature.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          I keep mixing that title up with Tower Heist.

    • About half of Eegah, one of MST3K’s better classic outings. There were a lot of things I remembered from the riffs and sketches without remembering the film. I consider that a blessing.

      Season premiere of The Flash – About what I expect by now: fun, good acting, and a total inability to tie up things from the previous season without fixing everything. Good setup for the new season, though.

    • Miller

      Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight — still a hoot and a half, a great cast of character actors (Dick Miller! Thomas Haden Church! CCH Pounder! Bill Sadler!) hack their way through some delightfully gooshy practical effects. Jada Pinkett (before Smith) does nice work as the second protagonist (a female black ex-con, don’t see that every day) but the movie belongs to Billy Zane’s demon, pitched somewhere between the performative suavity of Elvis and the manic glee of Ace Ventura. Billy Zane rules.

      Vice Principals, fourth episode of first season — an overt victory leads to lots of complications. Up until now I was fine with Brown being tormented by awful people in a wacky world, but this opens her up and gives her equivalent depth to Gamby, and now I am conflicted. Which is a good thing! As opposed to the AV Club reviews, which have some excellent comments (many from folks here) but are pretty horseshit on their own, the apotheosis of SIMMMMMMMMSing of criticism.

      • The change in what you could call the AV Club’s house style of criticism made it almost necessary for them to not get Jody Hill, who really only makes movies and TV about despicable people, never more successfully than in Vice Principals. Back in the day, you had Phipps, Tobias, and Rabin getting into a good, tricky conversation about Observe and Report and Rabin writing some good week-by-week pieces on Eastbound and Down, but that’s not gonna happen now.

        • Miller

          John Teti did some fine work on late-period Mad Men (plenty of bad people there) too, and it was predicated on engaging with the show. The reviews here are engaging mostly with outside perceptions of characters rather than how they act in the damn show — the review here went off about white guys being resistant to change and that being symbolized by the spirit week traditions (OK, worth noting), and ignored the black character embracing those traditions and their meaner edge as a way to build herself back up. Nuance!

          • Hill (and Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green) are still working with a universe of self-serving people in Vice Principals, but they’re playing at a level of complexity and subtlety that they haven’t done before. One key difference: Gamby is the first protagonist they’ve done who isn’t the most extreme person on the show/film. Russell keeps going farther than Gamby would, and a lot of the comic tension comes from Gamby having to deal with that.

            That review, oi. This is my case against prestige television right there–prestige shows are made for critics, for people who analyze the characters in terms of [cultural issue that’s currently popular] rather than empathize with them, and that’s some prestige reviewing the AVC has got going now. Team Hill creates empathy with the worst people, so of course the AVC not only won’t get that, they most likely consider themselves good people for not getting it.

      • glorbes

        Dick Miller you say?

        • Miller

          A drunk and horny Dick Miller! He actually has one outstanding bit of acting, where he’s selling his soul and knows it and knows what he’s getting in return is fake anyway but … eh, oh well.

    • glorbes

      Blade Runner 2049 – I….okay?

      SPOILERS AHOY

      The original Blade Runner isn’t a perfect movie. But it’s a movie that I love, with a performance from Rutger Hauer that anchors and lends a great deal of pathos and soul to an existential tale. The story is simple, but it layers meaning and hints at a larger world in tantalizing ways. It benefits from being made in 1982, and the analog effects go a long way towards lending weight and making an impression. It still looks amazing, and in some ways, can never be topped because of what it achieved.

      But the weakest part of that film was the “romance” between Deckard and Rachel. I like the idea, but it has never connected for me. Roy Batty is the emotional anchor for me, not the half-assed courtship between Ford and Young, who are incapable of selling that relationship for whatever reason. Also, the story is simple, but it’s a two hour movie with a layered universe. It works for all of the reasons, and yet it has a dramatic sinkhole in the middle that I have chosen to forgive for the wonder and majesty of the rest of the film.

      Blade Runner 2049 chooses that weak link on which to build its story. The story of the new film is just as simple as the original, but it stretches it to nearly three hours. This allows for some extended, moody sequences that I enjoy. It also allows for nifty gadgets, elaborate information retrieval systems that tickle this librarian’s heart, and all manner of wonderfully realized details ideas in segments. But having Deckard and Rachel’s relationship as a love for the ages that produces the seed of humanity’s doom or evolution basically reproduces the sinkhole from the first film, but makes it the central mystery and driving force to the whole film. I didn’t buy it. What it boils down to in terms of narrative is that Agent K is uncovering the mystery of the parentage of a born replicant, and then must find that child. All sides want the child for various reasons. But there is no momentum to the story. No tension. And barely any interest. The world from the first film is broadened and expanded, and I enjoyed the ruined vistas. I appreciated the artistry, the subtle revelation of details, and the look and feel of everything. I just found it was a whole lot of niceness in the service of a tepid story, told with a tone of empty profundity.

      Gosling is a master of non-acting. He’s good at it. His arc is meticulously built up. But the switcheroo is grafted early on, and the film feels compelled to remind the audience of these details in an awkward fashion. Whenever this movie has a chance for a gut-punch turn, it never seems capable of delivering it. You might feel a twinge here and there, but the cumulative effect for me was “that was really fucking long, and I barely cared about anything happening”. It updates and adapts the coolness and style of the original film, and it’s brave in its pacing, but goddamnit if your movie is three hours long, you need to have drama and you need to care about investing your audience. And you can’t assume an air of sparseness and subtlety, then have clumsy reminders of scenes to make the realizations explicit when it’s already clear.

      It’s a bold and airy movie. It works in many ways. It pushed the right buttons in some respects. But it fails to distinguish itself enough from the original to make it feel necessary. Contrast this with Star Wars, which is propulsive, empty spectacle for the most part. The adventure is the point. The spectacle is the point. I can’t help but feel that Blade Runner 2049 is trying for the same profound thematic elements of the original, but I am left wondering and questioning my love for the original. Then I remember Roy Batty, and I remember why I love Ridley Scott’s film. And I can’t find that sort of strength, that spine, that anchor in this new Blade Runner. I’ll appreciate what it does right. I will probably watch it again some time. I may even re-evaluate it. But this is my first impression.

    • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

      I didn’t watch anything because I try to hate fun in all its forms these days, but I still read a couple articles I enjoyed. The Economist did a piece a few years back that I just now discovered about how Breaking Bad is a fine primer on business, which, I can’t tell if they have a clever take on the show, or just missed the point completely. And one of the AVoCADo folks reposted an article he’d written about Basil Dearden’s Victim a couple years ago, which I didn’t even know existed but now want to watch.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      In Berlin so didn’t watch much (half of the Mad Men season 5 premiere which I’ll have more thoughts on tomorrow) but I just read The Fade Out: Act Two and loved it – Brubaker and Philips (whose art is equally pulpy and sinister) just nail this despairing tone caught between Day of the Locust and Ellroy, and its a must read for those interested in blacklist Hollywood. Dashiell Hammett among others makes a cameo here.

    • Man with a robot arm

      I suppose today it could be hard for some to feel empathy for Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man after he peeps through a 6 ft. telescope and sees the romantic interest in the film for the first time. After going down to her shop and buying a cane with a silver wolf’s head he proceeds to badger? harass? the shop owner to go out on a date. She finally relents. There are other phallic symbols than those mentioned including rifles, along with bear traps. It all shades the dual nature of man metaphor with an insatiable sexual aggressiveness, turning Larry into the lust filled wolf in those Tex Avery cartoons. Larry Talbot is also a wealthy white male who pretty much gets away with murdering Bela Lugosi’s gypsy. If you can look past this LC plays Larry so affably and sympathetically, if a bit dim, you can’t help but root for him. It’s a fleet and tightly plotted film running around 80 minutes. The cinematography, atmosphere and shadows predate Val Lewton by a year or two. Jack Pierce’s make-up holds up well too.

    • Spooky Narrator Man

      Blood Simple: This is maybe becoming one of the Coens movies I’ve seen the most, and I fucking love it.

      The Humbling: Al Pacino is a washed-up, suicidal stage actor who starts losing his mind as begins a relationship with a young lesbian played by Greta Gerwig. That sounds like a completely risible piece of shit (especially factoring in this was directed by the way-past-his-prime Barry Levinson), so it’s a minor miracle that this movie ends up being pretty good. It sure as hell ain’t flawless (a subplot involving Gerwig’s trans ex is… unfortunate), but it’s decently funny (and there’s a great bit of comedy with Pacino trying to have a conversation while zonked out on horse tranquilizers), surprisingly formally inventive, and willing to call its main character on his bullshit. And it helps most of all that Pacino is really good in this, putting away the hambone theatrics for the most part (although I could have done without him shouting “SHANE! COME BACK, SHANE!” at Gerwig at the end), and he and Gerwig have a great double-team. This would make an interesting companion piece to Birdman too hey stop booing please.

      The Shield, “Blood and Water”: Yawn, another tight, great episode of this show. When are you gonna start sucking, show?

      • I need to give Blood Simple another shot. When I first saw it, my impression was that it was a dry run for stuff the Coens would do much better later on.

        • I liked Blood Simple one whole hell of a lot when I saw it, ‘cuz that was 1985 and the Coens hadn’t done anything else yet. It still holds up.

          • It was one of the last Coens I saw, so maybe that was my problem. I still enjoyed it, but it’s down near the bottom of their filmography for me.

          • Pretty much everything else they’ve done is better, but I’m OK with that because like most artists, they weren’t the Coens yet. They were still figuring out what they’d do. And being a Stanley Kubrick fan and all, I ain’t gonna criticize the first works of anyone.

          • I kinda like Fear and Desire, although it’s definitely not as good as Blood Simple.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            It’s the last of the Coens I saw but I actually liked its simple, punchy runtime and easy plot throughline. This is a genre picture pure and simple, less than 90 minutes long like it should be.

        • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

          Maybe it would help if you watch some James M. Cain adaptations beforehand? I know they’ve mentioned him as an influence. It’s just surprising to me how easily their script syncs up with, say, “Double Indemnity” or “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” Crafty, those two are, in replicating some excellent hard-boiled crime fiction writers.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “Copilot” is the one totally unnecessary episode of the series and the key is “unnecessary”, not even really bad.

      • There’s actually some not-so-much-sucking as not-as-awesome-as-it-should-be in season three, largely because they went to 15 episodes. They anticipated more plots then they would actually use, and after this Team Shawn Ryan never went past the 13-episode limit. One more demonstration of how much they understood the subtractive nature of drama: if it doesn’t move things forward, throw it out.

      • glorbes

        Blood Simple is, indeed, awesome.

    • glorbes

      Blade Runner 2049 – I….okay?

      SPOILERS AHOY

      The original Blade Runner isn’t a perfect movie. But it’s a movie that I love, with a performance from Rutger Hauer that anchors and lends a great deal of pathos and soul to an existential tale. The story is simple, but it layers meaning and hints at a larger world in tantalizing ways. It benefits from being m ade in 1982, and the analog effects go a long way towards lending weight and making an impression. It still looks amazing, and in some ways, can never be topped because of what it achieved.

      But the weakest part of that film was the “romance” between Deckard and Rachel. I like the idea, but it has never connected for me. Roy Batty is the emotional anchor for me, not the half-assed courtship between Ford and Young, who are incapable of selling that relationship for whatever reason. Also, the story is simple, but it’s a two hour movie with a layered universe. It works for all of the reasons, and yet it has a dramatic sinkhole in the middle that I have chosen to forgive for the wonder and majesty of the rest of the film.

      Blade Runner 2049 chooses that weak link on which to build its story. The story of the new film is just as simple as the original, but it stretches it to nearly three hours. This allows for some extended, moody sequences that I enjoy. It also allows for nifty gadgets, elaborate information retrieval systems that tickle this librarian’s heart, and all manner of wonderfully realized details ideas in segments. But having Deckard and Rachel’s relationship as a love for the ages that produces the seed of humanity’s doom or evolution basically reproduces the sinkhole from the first film, but makes it the central mystery and driving force to the whole film. I didn’t buy it. What it boils down to in terms of narrative is that Agent K is uncovering the mystery of the parentage of a born replicant, and then must find that child. All sides want the child for various reasons. But there is no momentum to the story. No tension. And barely any interest. The world from the first film is broadened and expanded, and I enjoyed the ruined vistas. I appreciated the artistry, the subtle revelation of details, and the look and feel of everything. I just found it was a whole lot of niceness in the service of a tepid story, told with a tone of empty profundity.

      Gosling is a master of non-acting. He’s good at it. His arc is meticulously built up. But the switcheroo is grafted early on, and the film feels compelled to remind the audience of these details in an awkward fashion. Whenever this movie has a chance for a gut-punch turn, it never seems capable of delivering it. You might feel a twinge here and there, but the cumulative effect for me was “that was really fucking long, and I barely cared about anything happening”. It updates and adapts the coolness and style of the original film, and it’s brave in its pacing, but goddamnit if your movie is three hours long, you need to have drama and you need to care about investing your audience. And you can’t assume an air of sparseness and subtlety, then have clumsy reminders of scenes to make the realizations explicit when it’s already clear.

      It’s a bold and airy movie. It works in many ways. It pushed the right buttons in some respects. But it fails to distinguish itself enough from the original to make it feel necessary. Contrast this with Star Wars, which is propulsive, empty spectacle for the most part. The adventure is the point. The spectacle is the point. I can’t help but feel that Blade Runner 2049 is trying for the same profound thematic elements of the original, but I am left wondering and questioning my love for the original. Then I remember Roy Batty, and I remember why I love Ridley Scott’s film. And I can’t find that sort of strength, that spine, that anchor in this new Blade Runner. I’ll appreciate what it does right. I will probably watch it again some time. I may even re-evaluate it. But this is my first impression.

    • Blackish – This was the season premiere that I wanted. If they had let Blackish premiere this episode one week earlier than last week’s and then had the time sensitive Columbus Day episode, I’d have not been as “sheesh, Blackish, way to welcome us back” last week.

      The Driller Killer – I appreciated this darkly humorous flophouse movie about a through the teeth asshole killing bums, a low-rent American Psycho years before American Psycho. Ferrara’s gritty direction is gloriously over the top and silly. Totally worth watching.

    • PCguy

      ALIEN PREDATORS aka. THE FALLING (lol) (1985)

      By coincidence this was one of the films I watched last night. It’s well towards the bottom on the scale of ALIEN ripoffs but there was something in its’ ineptness that created an A-effect for me. The film-making here is flawed on a fundamental level. There are long stretches of time where there is no exposition or movement and absolutely nothing important happens. For example: the characters decide to go eat lunch. The silent waitress takes their order then delivers the food while they talk about nothing for a while. Then another character shows up and tells a strange story of an encounter he had with the townspeople only to be interrupted by an overlong shot of the waitress whose hair is now standing on end and is bleeding from the nose. There’s a bit of a Twin Peaks vibe here in the story of a trio of kids trapped in a town where the inhabitants are murderous and bizarre. It somehow manages, for me at least, to be effective in oscillating between mundane nothing and extreme gore.

      Not to say that you should watch this movie however. Several sources on the Internet say that the producer of this film quit the business after trying to deal with the filmmakers ineptitude and the veracity of this information is all on the screen. They must have set out simply trying to rip off ALIEN but ended up with a bunch of film about a saccharine trio of kids on a PG road trip. The resulting movie smashes the two concepts together with no idea how to handle the tonal shift and the result is an experience as jerky as teaching someone how to drive stick shift. It constantly breaks your immersion and reminds you that you’re sitting there watching a bad film.

      The loser in this formula is the leading actress. She had a brief career in show biz but it’s clear from her first scene that this is just a girl that they pulled out of a mall somewhere. Every single scene she has is played at maximum intensity and her default mode is a benign cheerfulness that makes Shirley Temple seem dour by comparison. Then she is the butt of an off-color joke and she goes into overdrive in the opposite direction screaming and flailing her limbs in an attempt to portray absolute soul crushing rage. I’m sure she’s a nice enough woman that can look back at this movie as a brief dalliance of youth but with all the flaws the film has it’s impressive that her performance is the most tonally grating aspect.

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford

    Like @disqus_taofypGdX6:disqus I really like Alien: Covenant on its own, gleefully anti-humanist terms even if I recognize its flaws. There’s a reason this movie inspired a bunch of weirdo film analysis and part of it is that its infused with a Romanticism and gothic camp that lends itself to serious discussion. Its more a movie to experience to pick apart: the destruction of the engineers that is like a disaster movie from another dimension, the silly but genuinely terrifying birth of the first alien, and Michael Fassbender’s GLORIOUS Vincent Price-esque, homoerotic performance as a Miltonic God creating his own inhuman image. Tell me you didn’t cackle when he says “I’ll tuck in the children…”

    • Miller

      I still need to see this but the anti-humanist vibe of Prometheus still sticks with me (as do its negatory approaches to common goddamn sense, but oh well). The first four Aliens examine Weyland-Yutani and corporate evil well, I’m fine with these moving into a broader realm of gods and men and xenomorphs and robots locking themselves into cycles of destruction, it almost argues for a decent corporate strategist to come in and streamline some sense into this despairing universe.

    • I guess I was well beyond bored by the time we got to that line. I thought Fassbender was cheap and dull, but I generally find him to be a torturously ponderous and humorless actor (12 Year A Slave, Shame)…the only movie I’ve genuinely liked with him was Scott’s The Counselor, which had a wicked sense of humor with Fassbender playing the dull straight man at the center of a bunch of insane characters.

      By the time we got to that line in A:C, I was already expecting the twist (plot holes be damned) after we didn’t get to finish the robot fight. If Scott was going for camp, it just felt like Scott was trying too hard to hint at camp instead of just letting himself be camp, a tone better accomplished by Alien: Resurrection.

      • Fassbender is pretty loose and fun in Song to Song of all movies, possibly because Malick’s improvisational style forces him to more or less create a character on the spot and try and hold the audience’s attention. It somehow works although I wouldn’t recommend the movie to anyone who isn’t already a hardcore Malick devotee.

        No love for Lt. Archie Hicox though?

        • He’s fine in one of the few scenes that actually worked in that movie. But I wouldn’t call his performance a masterpiece of humor. QT can sometimes pull a “good enough” performance from an actor and construct around it.

      • Fassbender strikes me as a pretty good actor but you’re right about him in The Counselor, where he doesn’t even get a name. Again, that’s a novel in film form, and the Counselor is kind of a placeholder, like Tom Cruise’s Bill Harford in Eyes Wide Shut. He’s there so everyone else can do stuff around him; like Ruben Blades sez late in the movie, he made his one fatal decision a long time ago, really before the movie started.

        • It was the perfect role for Fassbender who should have gotten his Oscar nominations for it.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          His best performance for me is either Shame or Hunger, I think because he matches these notes of either detachment or total conviction. Shame in particular is wrenching.

          • Perhaps the secret is to have him only work in movies that are one-word emotions. He would have been great in Happiness.

          • Don’t you be giving Hollywood any suggestions. I do not want to do Adventures in Remakes: Happiness.

      • Oh, and I genuinely enjoyed Alien Resurrection more than Covenant, when it tackles some of the same “god” issues of human creation and bitches about the insufferability of humanity with a far more insane sense of humor. It even has Call unplugging the Bible to jack into the ship’s mainframe.

        • glorbes

          Resurrection is definitely superior to Covenant. I thought Covenant was boring and lame, and Resurrection was weird as hell, and kind of terrible, but also entertaining and looked really cool. It had an oddball sensibility that was incongruous with the obviously very large budget it had.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Fair enough, I like Fassbender a lot as an actor but also the movie pretty much hit all my triggers as an iconoclast who loves Paradise Lost and Romantic allusions, so I was naturally willing to go along with it’s weirdness.

  • We now have the only tag on The Solute that will have Alien: Covenant and Clerks filed under it.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      And both movies have a Walter.

  • glorbes

    I think Disqus ate my Blade Runner review.

    • Cennywise The Ploughn

      I have it (sans spoiler tags) in my email alerts. I can copy/paste it here if you like.

      • glorbes

        sure! thanks man.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          ETS: Everything.

          • glorbes

            You have taken full responsibility for my words by reposting them.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I’m sure they’re on point. I’ll tip my hat your way when they take the Internet by storm and I’m invited on Good Morning America to walk the public through them.

          • glorbes

            Thanks a bunch. It got marked as spam by a disgruntled fan, I bet 😉

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            Warner Bros spends a fortune on interns flagging ambivalent disqus reviews.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          Feel free to copy/paste it back and I’ll delete my repost. Together we can beat disqus!

          • glorbes

            You can delete it now.

          • glorbes

            You know what’s funny? It’s gone again. I am conceding defeat.

          • I saw the comment! But it’s nowhere to be found. Nobody marked it as spam. Nobody deleted it. The comment isn’t showing up in the deleted archives from Disqus. It’s just…gone.

          • glorbes

            Someone is messing with me. I mean, I wasn’t crazy about the movie, but I also wasn’t inflammatory in my comments. It’s a great mystery. Maybe I was being to “real.”

          • glorbes

            Oh it’s back! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes!

          • I found it and re-approved it. It’s back now.

            I’m beginning to question the reality of this entire comment board. It’s almost like a story by

            DRAMATIC CHORD

            Philip K. Dick! My God, he’s shafting us for all the Dick jokes! We’re all gonna get blown. . .away.

          • glorbes

            All this build-up…I’m having a good ol’ case of the flop-sweats.

          • Where was it? Granted I’m on mobile right now, but I totally didn’t see it.

          • If you go to disqus.com/home there should be a tab for The Solute–click on “Manage” and then “Community.” (No idea if this works on mobile.) The comment ended up in the spam folder.

          • Huh. I didn’t check the spam folder because normally Disqus notifies me if a comment gets marked as spam.

  • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

    Another fun thing about “Alien” is how, much like John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” every character does what is most logical in order to contain or fight the monster. The problem, of course, is that in the case of the former film, they are being undermined by Holm’s character, and they don’t realize that until it’s too late to do anything about it. (Plus the alien continually transforming and changing the rules of engagement hurts them too). Great write-up, Julius.