• Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch this weekend?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Mad Men, Season Six
      “It’s the imagination of the consumer. They have no budget. They have no time limit. And if you can you get into that space, your ad can run all day.”

      I never managed to figure out how to work an observation on the show into my writing, and here the show does it beautifully on its own. The show suggests things that happened that we didn’t see, and things that will happen afterwards. It asks us to use our imaginations and fill in the gaps, and that’s what makes it feel so big (and conversely, what makes drama feel so small, cutting out everything unnecessary). I like to call it offscreen storytelling.

      When I went into work on Saturday, I was in a vile mood, and while it wasn’t caused by this season, I was certainly primed for it by Don’s vile morality. He’s doing whatever he wants and fuck the consequences. We learn more about his history, specifically that he was raped as a teenager, the last piece of the puzzle. Work and home have both stopped being fun for the characters, with nobody scoring much ownage at work, and what ownage they do score tends to get undermined. Even Ken is unhappy!

      (Bizarrely, I was craving a cigarette, despite never having smoked in my life and always finding it disgusting)

      But that’s where the season is supposed to be. This season comprises the entirety of act three, of Don trying to recreate his greatest hits, along with everyone else. Next season, Don will try to pull himself together and be a Good Person™, and that lands with more effect if Don is at his most disgusting just before it. Don, being an advertising man at heart, puts his confession into a pitch.

      There are a few recognition-like scenes this season. Dawn explains the workspace to her friend, and, y’know, when you put it like that. There’s also a scene where Joan’s friend confesses admiration for her and what she’s done.

      Peggy’s friendship with Stan is one of the few positive things holding this season up. The characters see and hear more about riots and sirens and shit like that.

      I watch Mad Men, and I feel like I’m with friends I’ve known for ten years, even though I watched the show the first time over the course of three months, and this time over the course of a week. I like that feeling.

      Mad Men, Season Seven
      “I’m sure you’d rather have it done in a barn in Farmington!”

      Coca Cola.”

      I felt like I aged ten years in a week watching this show, and it all slid off in that final montage.

      This season is divided into half, and whether by coincidence or design into two acts. Act four is Don sincerely trying to be a better person, cutting down on drinking, being honest, and doing as he’s told, and he’s finding it’s getting him what he really wants, repairing every single relationship he cares about. At the same time, everyone else is also chasing what they really wanted, openly and honestly, and finding it’s not entirely working out – Roger is having orgies, Joan is trying to chase business and failing, Betty’s trying to be a better mother and seeing it all go to shit. This act ends not with Don committing to an action, but allowing something to happen to him: the sale of SC&P to McCann-Erikson.

      This leads to the final act, in which Don is finally forced to consider the future by the fact that his present is completely taken care of. His whole life is spent moving forward (though not really), and he now has nowhere to move forward to. He’s gradually stripped of everything he found meaning in. First all his possessions, then his home, then his scheming abilities, then his status as an individual genius, his job, his car, his relationships, until he’s finally just an anonymous man in a therapy session (along the way he finally gets to confess to his worst crime). His whole life has never happened when he’s sitting and listening to Leonard.

      Don is simply going through the same thing every other character is – trying to figure out what it is they want to do. Like The Shield before it, Mad Men’s morality is rooted in what we inherently are driven, but it looks at it from the other direction. We aren’t driven by a desire for consequences; we’re simply driven, and insecurity is simply a distraction from that inner drive. Don is tormented by both guilt and a desire to be loved. When the former is lifted and the latter is revealed to be normal, he can allow himself to chase his true motivation: create advertising.

      He gets a lot of judgements in the final half-season, but none land as well as Betty simply stating the truth: him not being around for his children is normal. The final minute of the show takes the whole literary scheming “multiple ideas converging” concept and makes the entire show feed into a single Coca-Cola commercial.

      Neon Genesis Evangelion, Episode One, “Angel Attack”
      So, when nerds use the phrase “deconstruction”, they generally mean two things: the story takes genre elements and puts them in a real-world context, and the story asks “what does it mean that we like these stories?”. And they generally have one of four stories in mind: Watchmen, Metal Gear Solid, Game Of Thrones, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. What I find interesting is that all of these stories (except maybe Game Of Thrones) take genres that are at their best dramatic and at their worst formulaic and filters them through a literature context. One of the defining aspects of literature is that, for better or worse, it makes the audience feel smart – you see the connections between things, and you feel clever for seeing them; I can see how it would flatter a genre nerd’s preconceptions to have a story that’s good, makes them feel smart, and is a genre story.

      NGE is a deconstruction of the Giant Robot genre of anime, in which children are made pilots of giant robots in order to fight aliens, but despite that description it’s fairly accessible to people unfamiliar with the genre. Shinji Ikari, our boy hero, has been brought into Tokyo at the request of his father. As he’s waiting to get picked up, a giant monster attacks the city, and he’s rescued by a woman named Misato who delivers him to NERV headquarters. He’s shown a bigass robot called an Evangelion and told: get in the fucking robot and fight the alien.

      This episode is, like, 99% exposition, with Shinji’s choice to pilot the Eva being his only real significant choice; most of the rest of the episode is simply catching us up on the broad strokes of the world, and the sheer novelty is enough to feel exciting and fun. A small but significant chunk is dedicated to hinting at the deeper motivations and histories of the characters – Shinji is definitely wary of his father, and the reason why is implied through both significant exposition (they haven’t seen each other in three years) and flashbacks.

      Like Mad Men, this is a series happy to sit and contemplate; unlike Mad Men cuts and shots are deliberately fast and jarring, as if we’re shaken from our thoughts to get back to the matter at hand. The majority of the episode cuts between Shinji getting to NERV headquarters, and his father Gendo running NERV while the first Angel attacks the city, and this is done at a fast enough pace. The climax of the episode is the two threads coming together and Shinji confronting his father – he’s angry at being abandoned and will only pilot the Eva because he doesn’t want to see some girl get hurt.

      It’s actually pretty difficult to talk about this episode without spoilers, because so much of the real meat is in tiny moments that are meaningless but strange on first viewing. Misato casually commenting that she sees herself in Shinji; the Eva impossibly moving to protect Shinji; specific moments that Shinji’s father smiles. This is almost purely the surface level of the characters with very tiny, very specific cracks that catch our attention.

      The Matrix
      Returning to my vague sauntering through my childhood favourite movies, it turns out The Matrix is still awesome. I watched it at the age of nine on cable TV with absolutely no knowledge of what I was going into, which remains a perfect combination of film, viewer, and way of watching it*. The Matrix is a dramatic powerhouse peppered by the Wachowski’s dreamlike imagination; the movie came into my life right when I was beginning to develop a sense of story and continuity, and the extremely simple dramatic structure, the uncanny weirdness, and the shootouts and robots all combine into the exact kind of thing that would turn me into a film nerd.

      The precise filmmaking adds a layer of determinism into the tone of the story, which is appropriate in a story that’s about a) computers and b) fate. It’s easy to believe in fate when everything seems to be unfolding in clockwork precision; it also makes the superpowers even more spectacular, because they happen in a space that’s so well-defined that it breaks the mind slightly when they happen.

      I can’t believe I’m still finding new ways of loving a movie I’ve watched almost my whole life. Looking at the characters as moral players, I can see another layer of why I thought the characters were so cool – obviously, there’s Morpheus, who is so dedicated to his role in the prophecy that he throws himself through a goddamned wall at an Agent to save Neo (his warmup scream before that is one of the emotional highs of the movie). On the same level is Trinity respecting Morpheus enough to leave him behind like he says and grabbing Neo, and just as powerful but in the reverse is Cypher casually breaking everyone’s personal boundaries when he reveals his plan. The dramatic purity of The Matrix means the weird moments aren’t just weird, but emotionally powerful.

      (Really, the third quarter of the movie lets Neo take a backseat to all the other characters and let them play out their motivations around him)

      The film’s dramatic structure also leaves it a lot of room to project meaning upon – obviously, redpillers have decided to use the film’s premise as a vehicle for misogyny, but I’ve also seen people use it as a metaphor for seeing patriarchal forces. It’s become fashionable lately to interpret it through a queer lens; while I don’t think it’s quote-unquote a queer film, let alone a trans film, I have been reading a queer morality into it lately. Neo is constantly choosing between a safe-but-uncomfortable life and a dangerous-but-satisfying life – think of the scene of him having to choose between a dank rainy street and a warm, comfortable car with a gun pointed at him. From this perspective, it’s a sad indictment of reality that the Wachowskis had their choice violently taken away from them.

      *If I’d been born in 1976, The Terminator probably would have had the same effect on me.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The Matrix in the context of the anti-globalization movement of the late 90s makes it a very political film (helooooooo, Rage Against The Machine song in the credits) and it supports a lot of different interpretations, queer or otherwise. What makes it all work is the structure and the demonstration of its ideas all in black leather and bullet time – Awesome Ideas + Spectacle and Style.

        Don embracing Leonard is just remarkable isn’t it? It’s a classic storytelling idea that should not work (Man at the end of his rope hears story that saves him) but it does – its all in the way Hamm and the actor playing Leonard sells it – Hamm standing up as if his legs do not work and he’s compelled to do this, Leonard sobbing, not really noticing anything around him anymore until they’re both absolutely overwhelmed by their empathy. Again, if there’s anything the series says is truly positive about the hippie counter-culture, its that it created a space where some people, even rich white guys, could talk about their feelings.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          We were discussing over at the Avocado how the film manages to survive falling out of the zeitgeist because, unlike many of its imitators and peers during the nu-metal phase, its clothes and style are actually unique. Even Neo’s mostly conventional suit is about 15 degrees away from a normal suit.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            At this point the characters must feel so out of time, not quite belonging in any particular epoch. They literally are in their own world.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Re: Mad Men, I think it is also in the writing. Not only has Don spent a lifetime trying to tell people what he wants, making it more poignant when he simply sits and listens to someone else, Leonard also uses the exact metaphor that would get Don’s attention.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            The fridge thing is great because it’s not elegant or perfected – Don would write something purple and lovely but Leonard’s dream is instead clumsy, but we and Don understand it instantly.

      • ZoeZ

        That line from Betty to Don is brutal, simple, and not even unkind, and it’s that combination that makes it work so well. It’s a nice touch that Mad Men makes room for forgiveness–a kind of graceful absolution from the laws of consequence–and, simultaneously, for the straightforward knowledge that some things can’t be undone or even denied. No matter what Don does now, he’ll never have really been there for his children, and there’s a weight to that.

        And then what makes the show fairly optimistic, all things considered, is that there’s always the possibility that that weight will grow to matter less.

        EDIT: Can’t believe I forgot this, but my obligatory Matrix note is that young me spent a certain amount of time trying to make an informal musical adaptation, oddly combined with West Side Story, about which the less said the better.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I think the thing that makes Mad Men work, and what connects it to The Shield is that for all Don and friends are awful people, and for all that other characters judge them, the show never actually does. Whatever will be, will be.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I have a lot of arguments with my friend who’s uber left and just hates guys (they’re agender) and my essential point to make is that being angry about everything and everybody is probably unhealthy because the universe isn’t moral so you’ll never be satisfied (of course I’m arguing from a view of privilege but I just don’t want my friend to be enraged and never be satisfied). This is also why they probably shouldn’t watch Mad Men.

      • Mad Men really does end on an upbeat note, and that feels so weird for a show about such likable, awful people. Don makes a lot of wrong decisions, but he’s not evil in the way Vic or Walt are.

        I can’t stand NGE. I was ok with the strangeness and liked how unique it was, even if it leaned too hard on some anime tropes I don’t like. But that last ep or two was so, so bad – it was something out of an entirely different show, one much worse than what came before.

        I think the trans reading of The Matrix is a lot more powerful given that both directors have transitioned since it release.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I absolutely, unabashedly love the final episodes, but we’ll get to that.

          • I’m now torn between rewatching it to better marshall my arguments and never sitting through it again.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Having seen a million arguments about NGE, I expect my response would be “Yeah, but that’s a good thing” 😉

          • I doubt I have anything new to add, anyway. I’ll just be that guy grumbling in the corner that you’re wrong.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          I don’t really like NGE either, but for reasons that are entirely unique and that I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about (or that anyone would believe me if I did).

          • I am intrigued, should you ever decide to reveal your reasons, but I understand if you’re hesitant.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Here’s a teaser: It involves drug addicts and kidnapping. I wrote a personal essay about it once (or more specifically, about what happened afterward) but I never published it anywhere. Again, it’s a story I feel like most would struggle to believe, or to not outright label me as crazy.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        It’s become fashionable lately to interpret it through a queer lens; while I don’t think it’s quote-unquote a queer film, let alone a trans film, I have been reading a queer morality into it lately.

        Well, I’m sure this is in part because of the Wachowskis’ own transitions, but also because the original script was rumored to be more explicit about the trans metaphors– Switch was originally going to be a different gender inside the Matrix than outside it, for example.

        From this perspective, it’s a sad indictment of reality that the Wachowskis had their choice violently taken away from them.

        What do you mean? Is there something I’m not aware of?

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Both of the Wachowskis were blackmailed into coming out publicly.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Oh, I didn’t know that. “How awful” feels insufficient.

    • clytie

      Friday: I was the last person on earth to watch La La Land. I’m firmly in the love it camp. Plus, that Ryan Gosling sure is dreamy.

      Saturday: I re-watched The Young Girls of Rochefort because I was thinking about the similarities between it and La La Land. Upon this re-watch, I noticed similarities between it at Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

      I always find that fascinating, how something takes elements from something
      else. Then that thing takes other elements, etc., etc. It reminded me of the
      discussion here about Christopher Nolan taking stuff from the films of Michael
      Mann.

      Sunday: The Killers: Live from Royal Albert Hall I know they get a lot of shit over at Ye Ole AV Club, but I fucking love The Killers. I’ve owned this on blu-ray for a while, but never got around to watching it before.

    • ZoeZ

      Bound (1996): Fun, sexy, and well-paced. (More queer crime movies, please, and more of them with unrated cuts, because damn.) This leans into simplicity and works its complications neatly by having the marks be just a little smarter and a little more unpredictable than Corky and Violet think. Points to John P. Ryan, too, for his slightly bemused dangerousness as Micky: “But I guess you didn’t hear me, because you were in the shower.” It’s that little beat in the middle that matters, the pause that says, “I understand how deliberate your explanation was.”

      Spider-Man: Homecoming: New Peter Parker is frankly adorable, and I would have watched a genuinely bad movie just for how charming this kid is, but this is genuinely good: funny and with a strong, believable emotional pull throughout. I like how this swerved around some of the cliches–when Peter ditches the party and misses the Academic Decathalon, people comment on it, but it’s not The Worst Thing Ever, How Could You so he can Stoically Suffer Under the Burdens of a Secret Identity. “That’s not a hug, I’m just grabbing the door for you. We’re not there yet.” “Pretty sure this guy’s a war criminal now, but whatever, I have to show this video, it’s required by the state.”

      Desk Set: For me to talk about Desk Set as part of the Year of the Month. So I can’t tell you anything about it now, it’s counter-productive.

      And a bunch more of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which continues to be appealingly dark.

      • clytie

        I think that Bound legitimately has one of the greatest scripts ever written.

        • It’s such a tight film with well drawn characters and motives. My favorite sequence is the elevator/stair end run with the phone call. Few sequences are that densely compact and slick.

          • clytie

            I love how their patsy isn’t an idiot like in so many noirs.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I watched Bound because it was one of my friend’s favourite movies ever, and that ended up making it more charming to me because I was like “this is totally the sort of thing she’d like”. The same is true of Fern Gully.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Jennifer Tilly’s line “What do you think I’m doing? I’m trying to seduce you” is one of my favorites maybe in any movie – the self awareness wrapped up in it makes it even sexier. So many layers upon layers of feminist commentary about noir and the usual inherent masculinity of that genre too. The final line washes its hands of the gender politics of the whole damn thing.

        • ZoeZ

          I love how that line works with the ongoing questions Corky has about whether or not Violet can be trusted–is she doing what she says she’s doing, is she reliable, is this all a plan?–and suggests the answer, because like Violet says, she knows who she is, and she knows what she’s doing and what she wants.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            The scene where Violet’s horrified by the beating in her apartment contributes to this too where you see that Violet isn’t working according to a script and isn’t happy with Caesar. The main difference between Bound and traditional noir is that the protagonists aren’t duplicitous with each other.

        • I’m so weird. When I saw Bound when I was 18, I figured most women could be that sexually forward with most people and everybody was fine with that. It also went along with my high school friends where the women were just as open about their desires as men. I thought it was sexy and hot. It’s only about later that I realized many women didn’t experience that type of acceptance. (Of course my being gay and closeted as a high schooler probably didn’t help fix the idea that men didn’t like sexually forward women).

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I tend to like forward women so I wish that was the case.

    • I went on holiday for a week, so the only film I’ve watched in the last ten days (!!??!) is Moana. It’s not perfect – some of the humour falls really flat, and the basic story is a little too generic in places – but the characters, songs and animation are all wonderful. While I was on holiday my second cousin Jessica, who is 6, was raving about this film and saying she wants to grow her hair so she’ll look like Moana, which is a better review than I can probably give. She didn’t mention the giant, singing Jemaine Clement crab though! For shame, small child!

      The short film on the blu-ray, Inner Workings, was also pretty good – lovely animation and incredibly catchy retro synth-music making up for the “oh great it’s another film about a bored middle-aged man stuck in an office job, you know, for kids” story.

      Oh, I guess I also watched the men’s Wimbledon final, which was incredibly disappointing.

      • But what about when Federer regenerated into the new Doctor? (Actually, Federer just keeps regenerating into Federer.)

        • I did probably enjoy that little 30-second reveal more than the actual match.

      • ZoeZ

        It’s gotten so that I can’t see Moana’s name without getting one of the songs stuck in my head for at least an hour, which is in some ways the mark of a quality Disney movie, all else aside.

        • If I ever reach the stage where I can hear the words “Frozen”, “Snow”, “Cold”, “Snowman”, “Ice” or any variant and not immediately start to hear “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”… I don’t know where I’m going with this. I love that song.

        • Defense Against The Dark Arts

          Don’t worry, I won’t mention any of the songs in the movie so they won’t get stuck in your head. No need to thank me. You’re welcome.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Lindsay Ellis’ video essay on Pocahantas and Moana being a stealth remake of it (and what it gets right/wrong this time around) just came out and is really good.

        • I’ve never actually seen Pocahontas! There’s a big Disney gap for me after Lion King up until (I think) Tangled.

          Edit: not quite right, I did see Bolt.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            You’re okay! There’s a good argument that it’s one of Disney’s bigger failures for all of its colorful beauty.

          • Yeah, I’m not falling over myself to see it. I think Lilo & Stitch and Emperor’s New Groove are the main two from that period I need to catch up with sometime soon.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Emperor’s New Groove is on Netflix still (I believe) and is my go to I Need Solid Escapist Laughter. It’s madcap, goofy fun. “He’ll be dead by dinner!” “Which is too bad, dessert’s gonna be delicious.”

          • It’s not on UK Netflix alas, but I think it used to be, so hopefully it’ll turn up again at some point. The clips I’ve seen look really fun.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            The movie was kind of an accident (the original was way more Disney-esque epic and the production history is intense) and it’s a shame Disney won’t really make any more outright lighthearted fare like this.

          • Yeah. I kind of wish Disney could separate their instincts for silly comedy from their desire for serious-minded prestige. There are so many good Disney movies kept from greatness because they just can’t commit to keeping a straight face (*coughcoughHunchbackcough*). If they could just funnel all their comedic energy into movies like Emperor’s New Groove and then have more “adult” stuff in other movies, I think that could be interesting and rewarding.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I see the kind of Shakespearean theater model they’re using (low comedy/high drama and tragedy) but the formula doesn’t work for every movie, y’all! I was watching the Ellis video and when I saw the Hunchback clips I just kept thinking “Man, if they cut the gargoyles/comedic stuff and just really stuck to the psychosexual drama it would’ve been amazing.” “Hellfire” is like Scott Walker levels of creepy and tormented.

          • Yeah. In theory, I don’t mind having the comedy/drama model. I just don’t think it works very well in practice with these movies, and the problem gets compounded the more serious the movie’s dramatic sections try to be. The mid-’90s were absolutely terrible in this regard. If I had executive privilege, I would have made The Lion King much more of a straight comedy and Mulan and Hunchback much more of straight dramas. Because as they are, the balance does not work very well at all in any of those films.

          • I love that Yzma crosses the line when she disses Kronk’s spinach puffs. “That’s it. She’s goin’ down.”

          • Drunk Napoleon

            *cocks trident*

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “Uh, I’m a cow, can I go home?”

          • One of the greatest comedy beats in a film full of them. All in the delivery, which is “look I really want to come in Saturday to work on this project, but I’m a cow.”

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “I practically raised him!”
            “Yeah, you’d think he’d turn out better.”

          • Drunk Napoleon

            “I bet you weren’t expecting this!
            *hikes up dress*
            “Oh no!”
            *Yzma pulls out a knife*
            “Phew!”
            “Okay, okay.”

          • “Oh riiiiight. The poison. The poison for Kuzco. The poison chosen especially to kill Kuzco. Kuzco’s poison… That poison?”

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “You know, in my defense, your poisons all look alike. You might think about re-labeling some of them.”

          • One of my favorite throwaway bits in the movie is when he pours the poisoned drink into a potted cactus, and then a few shots later, the cactus is shaped like a llama.

          • Drunk Napoleon
          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Warburton’s clueless deadpan throughout the movie is gold. “He, uh, doesn’t want to talk to you.”

          • He’s my favorite Disney casting decision of the modern era. He’s perfect.

          • “You’re excused.”

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            It’s paid off even more by Yzma for some reason going with the logic (frankly the octopus guy has more of a case).

          • I dunno, at least an octopus can hold things. Cow hooves don’t have any way to grasp weapons.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            But he needs the water ASAP!

          • That’s fine, because they all jump in the water anyway!

          • “Why do we even have that lever??”

          • Drunk Napoleon

            “Let me guess. We’re headed for a waterfall?”
            “Yep.”
            “Big rocks at the bottom?”
            “Most likely.”
            “… Bring it on.”

          • “Yay, I’m a llama again!… wait…”

          • Those are both really good, esp. New Groove, which is such an off-beat movie for Disney. It’s closer to Looney Tunes than anything Disney has made.

          • clytie

            Emperor’s New Groove is terrific. One of my favorite Disney movies ever.

          • It’s beautifully animated and it has some great songs. But everything else about it, frankly, blows.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yeah I’ll go to bat for “Colors of the Wind” but it’s pretty bad – “Savages” is a numbheaded and arguably unconscionable song for making it seem like the Native Americans are also part of the problem (which makes NO sense).

          • OH MY GOSH. Fuck “Savages.” Like, sure, Native Americans killed Europeans. But they are not at all on equal footing with Europeans as far as death toll goes. What a stupid, ahistorical moment in a stupid, ahistorical movie.

            I get so pissed off thinking about Pocahontas, especially since all the Disney execs thought it was going to be some sort of prestige masterpiece. It makes the Disney people look like complete morons.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Right?! Yeah, the Native Americans are as bad as the Europeans who raped and butchered them and gave them fucking pox blankets. They really thought it was gonna be the masterpiece and Lion King would be less of a success. Are you NUTS

          • It’s been so long since I saw Pocahontas, and that Lindsay Ellis video brought back all sorts of bad memories. I forgot how sexualized Pocahontas was, and that behind-the-scenes quote about how this movie is a Serious Movie so of COURSE she has to be sexualized almost made me vomit.

          • I’m really not extremely hot on The Lion King either, but at least it’s not fucking stupid and offensive.

          • clytie

            It has Mel Gibson singing!

            That’s probably the best thing about it.

        • I just watched that this morning. I love her. It’s such a great video.

      • I think Moana is the best Disney musical since the ’90s. Unlike Frozen, it actually commits to being a real musical throughout, and even though it’s not perfect (that “tweeting” line…), it has probably the best exploration of identity in any Disney movie ever. Plus, its stable of songs is the strongest any Disney movie has had in forever.

        • Definitely agreed on it feeling the most like a real musical, and on the awfulness of the (completely unnecessary) tweeting line! It’s possibly the best full collection of songs, but I think Frozen has higher peaks – that said, I’ve seen Frozen a few times, so it’s not entirely fair to compare. They’re both really, really good though. I think I’m almost more excited about Disney animation than Pixar at this point.

          • I agree that Frozen had higher peaks (although there are a few moments near the end of Moana that give me chills), but Moana is a much more consistent movie. Agreed about Disney over Pixar at this point. I still love Pixar, but Disney is doing legitimately exciting stuff. Maybe I’m just a Lasseter fanboy.

          • He does seem to create magic wherever he goes!

            It’s a shame they’re both focusing on sequels in the near future, but regardless, it’s good times for animation.

          • Yeah, I’m depressed about the sequels, especially with Disney, which has usually relegated sequels to the direct-to-video market.

      • Miller

        Clement’s crab is a ton of fun but feels like it belongs in a different movie. But yeah, Moana is pretty great stuff overall, although I had interesting flashbacks to Terry Pratchett’s Nation while watching it.

        • I loved “Shiny,” but I see what you mean. Still, a crab-centric retread of the Flight of the Conchords “Bowie” episode was something I never knew I needed so badly.

        • It does feel like a little diversion into a different movie, but anything that provides more Jemaine is OK by me.

          Moana reminded me of quite a few things, but the main one was Zelda games, particularly Wind Waker. I don’t generally like it when a film plot feels video-gamey but I’m prepared to make an exception here because I only have happy memories of that game.

    • Silicon Valley, season one: Entourage for nerds.
      This isn’t as much of an insult as it sounds, because in its first season or two Entourage did what Silicon Valley did here: explore a subculture with its distinct personality types and find a lot of humor and detail there. Silicon Valley‘s acting and supporting cast are stronger, but both of them suffer from really predictable plotting, and “Will Richard save the company?” is Silicon Valley‘s version of “Will Vinnie do the movie?” Still, Thomas Middleditch’s modulated performance gives me the sense that this show will hold together better in the long run than Entourage.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        People do tend to forget that Entourage season one really wasn’t that bad.

        • What impressed me the most about early Entourage is how it dodged the two most obvious Hollywood-on-Hollywood cliches: Local Boy/Girl Makes It in the Big City and Rising Star Destroyed by Fame, How Sad. Making movies was just a job, and hardly the most interesting job in town. It’s no accident that Ari emerged as the most interesting character.

      • “Tip to tip efficiency” is probably the hardest I’ve laughed at a TV joke in years.

        • That scene sums up so much about Silicon Valley: it’s dead-on about nerds (when I say that we can mathematize and optimize absolutely anything, I know whereof I speak); it’s absolutely hilarious and impeccably performed (TJ Miller’s little moment when he figures out if varying girth matters–“aw shit. Yes”); and it’s completely obvious that it’s the setup for the Richard Figures It Out beat in the plot.

          • Right. The machinery of the show is always very transparent, but that never stops it from being really well-observed on a character and cultural level.

          • NewsRadio ruined a lot of us for classic sitcoms the same way The Shield ruined us for drama–I can see the opportunities Silicon Valley has for perfection, and how it misses them. The moment when they kick the door of Richard’s room down is almost perfect, but it has one beat too many. You shouldn’t show them at the door, you just have them say “where’s Richard?” and then cut to Richard in the room with the headphones on. It’s a small thing, but it’s the difference between good and great, and NewsRadio was great.

          • Miller

            To me the obvious setup for Richard Figures It Out functions as parody — fuck yes, we are going to make our epiphany based in jerking off. Later seasons get away from this but here it is a loving embrace of vulgarity and sitcom mechanics at the same time.

          • Ah yes, I do love that embrace of vulgarity, e.g. horse fucking.

    • Fresno Bob

      Brain Damage – Aylmer/Elmer is quite the little scamp, isn’t he? More disgusting body horror from Frank Henenlotter, with a great plot hook and some disgusting gags. Also, having a surprise cameo confirms that this is in fact part of the same cinematic universe as Henenlotter’s other films.

      Tropic Thunder – This may have suffered from being built up in my expectations, because I found it overlong and only intermittently funny. Also, I know people love Tom Cruise’s performance in this, but he’s still Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise, but in a fat suit and bald wig. And perhaps it’s part of the joke, but I had zero investment in any of the characters, so what I was left with was the gags. It reminded me of my reaction to Paul Feig’s Spy, where lots of superficially amusing bits are being thrown at you to gloss over the fact that the characters are a bundle of impulses and extended punchlines sketched into a formulaic character arc.

      • I watched Tropic Thunder fairly soon after it was released, with fairly low expectations, and still found it overlong and only intermittently funny. I sometimes think I should give it another go, but…. ehhh

        • Fresno Bob

          Whenever I have a reaction to a movie like this with an overwhelmingly positive reputation, I always feel like I MUST be missing something (see: John Wick) or doing it wrong. But my reaction is my reaction, and it’s all subjective. With Tropic Thunder, it feels like they’re about halfway towards realizing the true potential of the premise, but didn’t have the courage to go as far as they should have. You can feel the compromises hindering it, or the egos of the people in the film (Ben Stiller in particular feels like he’s softballing himself BIG TIME) having a negative impact.

      • Miller

        Aylmer! Love the little guy’s ditty. I fell asleep watching Tropic Thunder (after enjoying the shit out of its fake previews though) and have meant to give it another shot but that’s a great and concerning comparison to Spy’s lack of bones.

      • Tropic Thunder is like a lot of really, really popular comedies in that there are one or two extremely inspired bits tucked inside a movie that is only mildly entertaining as a whole. The good parts of Tropic Thunder are so good, though, that it carries me through the rest of the movie pretty easily.

      • Babalugats

        It’s nice to see Aylmer finding a home among the Solute commentariat. He’s such a natural fit. 40% sophisticated dick joke and 60% pure ownage.

        https://youtu.be/FOMHGiu4y-4

        • Fresno Bob

          He’s one of us.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        My brother once suggested Tropic Thunder would have made more sense with McConaughey as the action star and Stiller as the sleazy agent (which is a part he excels at, as per some of his 90s work– think his NewsRadio guest appearance, for example). But it seems like Stiller has had some itch to play the Action Hero he never got to be– think also of his “Tom Crooze” bits, where he plays Tom Cruise’s stuntman (who has even changed his name to better fill the role).

    • Spider-Man: Homecoming, starring the Barely Adequate Spider-Man! As much as I liked Tom Holland as Peter Parker and loved Michael Keaton as the MCU’s first truly compelling and believable villain, the film was sort of a dud. Not bad, just very flawed. The high school fell flat (Peter’s classmates weren’t characters to the degree that they didn’t even have last names!). Spidey’s often painful ineptitude, while believable (and completely Tony Stark’s fault), doesn’t match the standard take on the self-made and self-taught hero and left me wanting the previous versions in the films. The NYC of the movie was not quite right – no one from Queens says we are from Queens; we say the name of our neighborhood instead. All these little things and a rather dull first hour didn’t ruin the film, especially since the parts with Peter and Toomes and the section of the film where Peter was happily stripped of all that unecessary StarkTech were quite good. But overall, this was yet another disposable MCU film and another underwhelming Spidey film. As unpopular as this take is, I STILL prefer Andrew Garfield in the costume and his chemistry with Emma Stone (even if Holland is a better Peter) to both this and the Raimi films. And the best adaptation by far is the 2008-09 animated series.

      Dodgers-Marlins – Good game, but the current Dodgers broadcasters are really, really not worthy of filling Vin Scully’s shoes/

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      It Follows, which I have literally no issues with (welllll I thought the score could be a bit much) but I didn’t hold it as close to my heart as I expected – I won’t love it like I did The Witch. Still totally worth watching and I absolutely loved the photography, like Monroe’s body under the water, as if separated from her head entirely. That’s indie horror done right, combining low budget lo-fi beauty with eerie creepiness.

      Baby Driver Rewatch! My friend really liked it though we agreed after that we need like one scene with Debra showing her home life or why she’d go so far with him (despite him being Ansel Elgort). One thing I picked up on was more of his performance, especially how he plays Baby when he’s uncomfortable, his body language going stiff and seemingly incapable of moving. It’s fine work.

      Also watched more of The Grinder, and I like how we’re now in more of a thoroughly plotted mode, making it even more of a direct parody/homage. I agree with whoever said that the Dad is a dick though and displays too much favoritism.

      • ZoeZ

        Here’s your complimentary hat as you join the “Dean and Stew’s Dad is a Dick” club. The only membership dues are annoyance and screen-yelling.

        One of the low-budget eeriness bits of It Follows that works well for me, despite it having nothing to do with the actual horror, is how disconnected the movie is in time: it’s appropriate for its dreamy logic that the characters both watch VHS tapes and read off sophisticated clamshell e-readers. It gives it a kind of free-floating applicability to whenever your teenage years were, and the weirdness of it seems consistent with the blurred timeline of actual memory. It’s an internal film, and that aspect helps intensify that.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It very much works for the modern era where people are used to listening to all different eras of music, watching different films, and using 70s technology because they’re cheaper. There’s kind of a Vaporwave vibe here to the sense of using older aesthetics and ideas and them contributing to a general, weird haze.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Also I’m still sad this got cancelled because I feel like a second season would’ve improved the dad a lot, as writers rooms tend to do with characters (see Jess on New Girl).

    • jroberts548

      Große Pointe Blank. Is there a stupid fan theory about this being a prequel to John Wick?

      It’s a pretty good movie. It’s never completely sure whether it’s a dark comedy or a rom com with hit man elements, and leaning into the former would have helped. There’s also at least one scene missing, resulting in a weird jump in the story. But otherwise it’s pretty good. I like Cusack’s and Driver’s performances.

      Doctor Who, finished last season. The last two episodes had good moments, but weren’t very good overall. This is basically how I feel about last season as a whole. Doctor Who is best when it’s Twilight Zone with a recurring cast, and worst when it gets bogged down in its own mythology. So it also suffers when there are too many two-parters. A right hour-long episode about a space ship falling into a black hole where the top of the ship is basically frozen in time and the bottom isn’t should be my jam. But then it also gets swamped with cybermen and the master, etc., and it just kinda turns into a jumble.

      My one reservation about the new doctor being a woman is whether that means more stories about the doctor’s mythology. We’ll probably get three two-partners next season about why he regenerated into a she.

      Wimbledon. It was exciting watching Federer cement his GOAT status, but not exciting watching Cilic be unable to play. Likewise, watching Venus collapse and drop 9 straight games was disappointing.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Gross Point Blank is sitting in the DVD bin at my local supermarket, and I keep meaning to pick it up because it seems like exactly my sort of thing.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It’s so fun. Dan Ackroyd’s every line reading is a delight.

        • clytie

          I recommend it. It’s one of the few films that I’ve own on both DVD and VHS.

      • Miller

        Heh, a friend has tried to get me into Doctor Who on multiple occasions and I have a similar reaction – there is some cool sci-fi here that is ruined by this manic asshole who keeps popping up. Blink is a near-masterpiece and it’s no coincidence said asshole is barely in it. Not my kind of whimsy, I guess.

        • jroberts548

          Ha! I even like the manic asshole.

          But stories with a manic asshole protagonist (or where the protagonist is friends with the manic asshole) are less interesting than ones about why I should find the manic asshole interesting.

          • Miller

            Oh, that distinction is dead on. The show keeps trying to tell me how interesting and conflicted and blergh the Doctor is and I just do not give a shit — I remember watching this great episode in WWII where people’s faces are turning into gas masks, it’s a creepy concept that leans into the cheap effects and makes them work really well, and the body horror eventually becomes some god damn emotional moment for a fucking goon.

      • jroberts548

        I just noticed that my phone changed “Grosse” to “Große.” Sometime last fall it started autocorrecting some English words to German. It even sometimes prompts the duck emoji if I’m typing a word that starts with “ent-.”

        • OK, this wasn’t covered in Rise of the Machines but that’s clearly what’s going on. Probably some Toby Jones-embedded-in-the-consciousness-of-all-computers-Winter Soldier-type deal.

    • Magical Mystery Tour–This isn’t quite as bad as its reputation suggests, but it’s really not very good either. I can see what The Beatles were going for, and I would love a psychedelic, absurdist comedy from them that actually worked. But outside the musical sequences, this is kind of a dud, although I did get a kick out of the gibberish-speaking cops.

      A Quiet Passion–Probably my favorite Terence Davies movie yet. It’s so beautiful and well-observed, even if a few of the poems are a bit on-the-nose.

    • CineGain

      OJ: Made in America-A sprawling documentary that tackles so many subjects without the gesture of ever loosing focus on the central tragic story of OJ and his life. The remarkable thing about OJ persona was how post-racial in his approach to be accepted into predominately white society, while ignoring the needs of the community he was raised in. The trial, rightfully or wrongfully, was centered on race, it changed OJ perception of who he was and what his trial meant to African-Americans, even if we came to understand that it took fame and privilege to get off the hook. The presence of Los Angeles helps articulate the themes of racial disparity in America, as we all know the corruption of the LAPD. If I were to point out flaws in this doc the last half-hour of OJ life wasn’t as riveting as what came before it. Overall, one of the most important films/series about race in America in recent years.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      The Thick of It, Series 4, episodes 1-2. I didn’t talk about Series 3, episodes 5-8 on Friday in the way I meant to, so, really quick: Some of the best episodes of the series there. Particularly brilliant was the episode where Nicola Murray and Peter Mannion go on a radio debate, each in their own turn screwing it up; their staff on hand is no better at fixing the problems (and we get the great moment of Malcolm and Stewart, their respective party’s spin doctors, deciding that, hey, neither of these two MPs is particularly worth going out of their way to save).

      Episodes 7 and 8 make for a great double feature, as Malcolm faces his first real existential threat in Steve Fleming, whose psychopathy is more unnerving because he tries to repress it and mask it with joviality– give me Malcolm, who makes it pretty evident five seconds after meeting him what kind of a psycho he is, over Steve, who might repress it until he one day snaps and kills a family of four. Anyway, great stuff watching Malcolm try to save himself after it’s already too late, then come back with a Hail Mary play to get himself back in the good graces of the PM– only in time for the PM to call an election that will essentially disband his government. (It’s never explicitly stated, but Malcolm and everyone he works with are clearly Labour, and Peter Mannion and crew are the Tories.) Also, great to see Julius Nicholson return– of course he’s been Lorded– and great to see Malcolm once again manipulate him to get what he wants, and great to see Julius somehow still be surprised by this.

      All this gives way to series four, which aired in 2012 (series 3 was 2009), and reflects the actual changes in government; the Tories are now heading a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, and Labour is the opposition party. Episode 1 gives us Mannion at DoSAC, fumbling his way through a tech presentation the way we might have expected Hugh Abbott to do, and also pissing off his younger LibDem counterpart, Fergus, who actually came up with the idea that Mannion fumbles. Episode 2 heads over to the opposition, where Nicola Murray has almost inexplicably been elected Leader of the Opposition. (I say “almost” because it’s based on Ed Miliband’s actual ascension to the position on the fourth ballot, narrowly edging out his brother David, who had slightly outpaced Ed on the first three ballots but was unable to attain a majority on any of them.) Malcolm is already trying to sabotage Murray (“Quiet Batpeople”), and I almost believe him when he says he’s genuinely concerned about getting Labour back in power and doesn’t think Murray is the person fit to lead the party there. Olly, on the other hand, seems to just hop onto whatever strategy will preserve his own career. Murray is never presented as a bad person, but she’s always in over her head in dealing with the media and such; Malcolm is definitely using that against her. We’ll see where it goes.

      Now that we have a new Doctor Who and Peter Capaldi is available again, I really want a season five of this show– I mean, just in the last two years we have the rise of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party, the failed attempts to oust him, Brexit, and the snap election. So much material to work with.

      Game of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 1, “Dragonstone.” After re-watching the season six finale (which may, for my money, be the best episode of the series), we were rarin’ to go with last night’s premiere. The great cold open was a little unusual at first, but I figured out the twist about five seconds before it was revealed, which is always a good feeling. Other than that, this episode is mostly– say it with me– table-setting, although I can’t complain about that. (It’s a season premiere; of course we need to know where everybody is now and what they’ll get up to in the episodes to come.) Cersei sees enemies everywhere and she can’t possibly take them on all at once. Euron Greyjoy might help with that, but he might also be a wild-eyed psycho promising more than he can deliver. Team Targaryen has, at long last, come to Westeros; they settle at Dragonstone, the old Targaryen seat of power before it was given to Stannis Baratheon after Robert’s Rebellion. Jon and Sansa have some disagreements on how to handle some of the houses of the North, and they both make good points! Sam gets a montage that starts out gross but eventually, through the magic of editing and repetition, becomes hilarious. (Part of me wants to believe the writers said, “What haven’t we shown yet on screen? How can we top ourselves?” And the answer, of course, is “Poop.”) The Hound gets some great scenes as he starts to reconcile with his past misdeeds as well as confront his fear of fire. Ed Sheeran makes a cameo for some reason.

      Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 10. One of the most “standard” and least eventful episodes of the series, which is slightly disappointing, but still with some good moments in there. Albert and Constance having dinner together was everything I wanted after their moment last episode. Gordon’s vision of Laura was one of the more startling moments of the episode; Albert and Tammy also discover some information that pulls us closer to putting the pieces together. Lots of men being terrible to women this episode, most of all Richard Horne, who seems just about as pure evil as Evil Coop does, but substantially more impulsive and stupid. Chad remains a dipshit whose death most viewers will probably openly cheer, if it ever comes. Candie was hilarious. And someone in the AV Club comments made a joke I can’t un-think, expecting Tom Sizemore to approach Jim Belushi and the actor who plays his brother in the show whose name I don’t know and asking them to “split me open like a coconut.” Anyway, this is a show I try not to complain about, because it feels like we’re fully getting Lynch’s vision, but damn, I want more supernatural stuff! Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that Naomi Watts was incredible, and the Janey-E / Dougie sex scene one of the funniest I’ve ever seen.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’d really like to see a Corbyn analogue on The Thick Of It, especially Malcolm being stymied by a guy who doesn’t quite act like other politicians and regularly quotes Shelley.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Yeah, Corbyn is so unlike the Blairites who dominated Labour for TTOI‘s run, it would add an entirely new dynamic to the series. I’m particularly curious as to whether Malcolm would buy into the “Corbyn is unelectable / will drive the party into the ground” talk from Blair and his ilk, and join the effort to undermine him, before realizing that, nope, Corbyn and his platform actually inspire voters, and coming around to him.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            A show centered around the slow re-emergence of the left as Tucker realizes whats happening (while no one else does and are clueless centrist gits) would be hilarious.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Yeah, and it would also really be the best way to answer one of the questions that’s sort of been hanging over the whole series (assuming it hasn’t been answered in these next four episodes): Is Malcolm really an idealist who believes in his mission to keep Labour in power so they can help people, or is he more concerned about his own power? (Then again, if he jumps on the Corbyn bandwagon early because he sees where the tide is turning, that wouldn’t necessarily answer the question.)

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Ed Sheeran makes a cameo for some reason.

        Apparently the “some reason” amounts to “Maisie Williams is a big fan of Ed Sheeran.”

    • pico79

      Rebekah Del Rio >>>>> Ed Sheeran

      Also: 45 Years, which took me by surprise. I thought most of the film was very much an excellent but kinda unexceptional art film, one of those pieces where not much happens but you look for emotional depth in tiny nuance, in fragments of dialogue, in ellipses, etc. It does that well, and I like all of those things! What I didn’t expect was that the last shot would gut me completely, like “sit around the dark room afterwards not wanting to move”-level gutting. Wow.

  • Defense Against The Dark Arts

    Filmmakers like Neil Breen or James Nguyen of Birdemic fame are interesting cases. Their intent and their talent are so far apart. It’s like someone wanting to be a painter and not knowing what paint is or how brushes work.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Birdemic is one of the terrible films I saw in the wake of discovering The Room, and it mostly reminded me that The Room is sui generis. Anyone can make a bad film; making a bad film that’s clearly an auteur project, with seemingly every decision being a misstep in the exact same way, while also being deeply personal, is something very few people can do.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Similarly Glen Or Glenda is a terrible film but it is a terrible film that only Ed Wood could make. As Ebert said Wood made the best movies he possibly could with the budgets and “talent” he had (his dialogue is so warped it stumbles into uncanny territory).

      • Yeah. Birdemic is part of that sad category of films that aren’t interesting bad films but just merely bad bad films.

        • HypercubeVillain

          If nothing else, it’s made me more grateful for the basic technical competency I take for granted in other films. It was practically a learning experience.

          • I know. Especially with the sound mixing. That’s really something you don’t miss until it’s gone!

  • Miller

    Because I don’t see it elsewhere on the site — RIP (please) George Romero. Martin, Creepshow and of course the Deads, as everyone says he essentially created a genre. And while Night and Dawn get the most acclaim, I think Day might be best (and also hold Land in high regard, much higher than most). Night is about how people can be terrible, especially in the face of the inexplicable and terrifying, it is a nightmare. Dawn begins to suggest that our works are terrible, or at least inconsequential and pointless. Day says we deserve to be eaten. It is ugly and angry and nihilist in a way other zombie movies don’t dare to be, I love it. And while that has to be walked back a bit in order to have more movies, the change from nihilism to cynicism in Land is a lot of fun, class warfare at its goriest. Thanks for all of this Mr. Romero.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      What a brilliant filmmaker and his satire was really tailor-made for me in high school as I was finding out that horror could have auteurs and dynamic directors with something to say about the world at large. It’s a bummer that Night of the Living Dead isn’t copyrighted as Romero never saw much cash off of it, but then it’s weirdly appropriate – it’s an egalitarian movie now, available to everybody to be scared and unsettled.

      • Balthazar Bee

        Oh, and apparently it is getting a Criterion release, though it’s not among the leaked October titles.

        • clytie

          What is getting released in October?

          • Balthazar Bee

            These aren’t confirmed yet, but it looks like…

            Barry Lyndon

            Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

            Personal Shopper

            Vampyr

            The Lure

            It seems Amazon put up pre-order pages a bit prematurely. Couple of head-scratchers though, eh? Who’s going to buy FWWM when it already comes with the complete series on bluray? (Me, probably.) And will BL get a 1.66:1 transfer?

    • Day is second only to Threads in its utter nihilism, in its sense of a world coming to a final and unavoidable and (like you said) deserved end. It’s cool that he made more zombie movies, but Night/Dawn/Day is a perfect trilogy.

      • Miller

        I still need to see Threads but Day differs (I believe) in a significant way — nuclear apocalypse is clearly Our Fault but zombies are at worst a space virus we got with our exploratory tech, there is no reason or judgment in their appearance and that makes our failure in Day all the nastier.

    • Fresno Bob

      Thank you, Miller. Romero is a movie hero of mine. His death hits mighty hard.

      • Miller

        77 is too short but what a great run he had.

    • I know everyone says “Rest in Peace,” but wouldn’t it be kinda awesome if he didn’t, and instead rose from the dead as a zombie to continue to thrill and frighten people the world over?

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “I mean, I was supposed to be dead, but uh, fuck it I wanna finish that zombie movie and make some more dark satires. Just have to eat some brains sometimes.”

    • Balthazar Bee

      Not going to read too much into this, but by sheer coincidence last night I threw on Dawn for the first time in quite a while. It was a film I played to death on laser disc, and therefore haven’t revisited too often, despite loving the hell out of it. I think it’s the sense of immediacy he creates that draws me in.

      I know a lot of people talk about zombies in the mall and the attendant social commentary, and while that’s interesting, the journey to the mall is among my favourite forty-five minutes in all of horror cinema, because Romero just throws you into the deep end of apocalyptic chaos and says, “See what happens, Larry?” — moreover, so much of it is institutional chaos, with the zombies serving as little more than a catalyst. He also does this very well in The Crazies.

      Yeah, hard to pick a favourite among those first three (though I also like Land), but it’s been particularly satisfying to see Day‘s critical reputation get a massive boost in the last ten or fifteen years. I know it was GAR’s favourite (along with…Survival…murmur…) and the initial negative response really seemed to hurt his feelings. I believe he affectionately referred to the kind of people who preferred it as “those ghouls”.

      Over at the IMDb comment boards (speaking of RIP) I remember one poster equating Day of the Dead to comfort food, claiming that it would always put them in a good mood when they were feeling down. I didn’t understand that at the time, but maybe there’s something reassuring about looking at a worst-case scenario head-on. Because y’all are correct that it’s a double order of Grimmy McNihilism. (The original screenplay is a much grander vision, and well worth tracking down for a read, but part of me is glad the film’s budget got slashed, and we ended up trapped in that damned bunker.)

      • pico79

        My favorite part of Dawn is just watching the television studio fall apart on air. You see how quickly everything crumbles, and as a synecdoche for what’s happening outside, a it’s wildly effective sequence.

      • Miller

        The claustrophobia of the bunker is really something, no soporific mall stuff here. Rhodes is a terrible human being but he is a great kind of human to live there (and his last lines remain the greatest in all zombiedom, with the possible exception of REDACTED toward the end of Shawn of the Dead).

        • Balthazar Bee

          Ah, Rhodes. Was there ever a man more misunderstood? 😉

          Someone once noted that GAR had this tendency to put sensible ideas in the mouths of characters who are absolutely repugnant, and he certainly qualifies (with Cooper being the original).

          Actor Joe Pilato was another person disappointed by the movie’s reception, having been singled out for hamming it up. But that’s exactly the kind of over-the-top malevolence that the film needs — especially in light of the final payoff you mentioned.

          • Miller

            That’s a great point about idea and character. Rhodes is terrible but he’s not always wrong and he weirdly is the right man for this time.

    • Son of Griff

      Romero’s reconfiguration of Zombie mythologythrough the initial Dead trilogy is probably the most significant contribution to pop culture in the last 50 years. That MARTIN and KNIGHTRIDERS, are deeply personal takes on mythology with a pungent lack of sentimentality only makes his work more powerful.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I really need to see Knightriders, I might check if its on YouTube.

        • The Ploughman

          I think it’s on the Shout! Factory app.

    • pico79

      Hard for me to overstate how much Romero has colored my worldview, especially The Crazies and Martin. I fully acknowledge The Crazies isn’t his best film, but it’s maybe the only horror film I’ve ever seen that shows the step-by-step process of how capital-C Civilization falls apart in the face of a real disaster. We watch an ostensibly well-oiled machine collapse, and it’s like an avalanche that only picks up speed as it progresses. It’s horror focused not on character or plot but on the fragility of institutions (I also thought the PTSD angle was riveting: can you tell a “Crazy” from someone with deep and recurring trauma?)

      Similarly, there are so few class-focused horror films that Martin really stands out. The way it blends late 70s malaise with industrial decline, hopelessness with gritty realism, is still pretty much unmatched in the genre. And then the layers of immigrant assimilation, conspicuous consumption, sexual pathologies, generational shifts in religious observances, etc. etc… There’s just so much to unpack in the movie. I waver between this and Dawn as my favorite film of his, but it’s hard to argue his contribution wasn’t enormous, and behind the scenes, such a gregarious and interesting person in interviews, etc.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Really glad I got to rewatch Martin and write about it before he died, it’s a really special, strange horror film less about actually scaring you then creating a deep sadness.

        • pico79

          Oh lord Edgar Wright wrote what he seems to think is a loving tribute to Romero, but it ends with a sense that Romero thought he was completely forgotten by the end, and now I’m just wrecked.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            At least he had a sense of humor about it! But yeah I hope he knew on some level that his work was if not financially successful then beloved.

          • Miller

            I really hope that email was just black humor from a guy who has been known to engage in it from time to time. I think someone who has made multiple movies about the human race coming to an end has a fairly jaded take on monuments.

  • Fresno Bob

    In light of my son’s recent watching of Jaws, and the dearth of Shark-related play items in my house, after an exhaustive search I found my family’s stand-in for the world famous Monster Fish: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe294c16f59bb806fb5449c109a778844ed666f42a8c0a4f5654234904b223d4.jpg

    I guess I’m no longer the only Bruce in my household.

    • Babalugats

      You’re going to need a bigger mug.

      • Fresno Bob

        I needed something in the foreground to give it some scale! (That’s the second time I’ve made that reference today).

  • Babalugats

    Questions -Yesterday’s Dissolve On piece linked to the question; “Why do all movies cost the same to see?” This is something I’ve been asking for a long time. If you have a movie that cost $200 million to produce and another $200 million to market, and all the showtimes are selling out; and you’ve got a movie that cost $5 million to produce and $5 million to advertise, and it’s playing in empty theaters; why don’t you adjust your prices?

    What other changes would you like to see on business side of movie making and distribution?

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Bring this entire thing screaming to the ground, to quote Ron Swanson. But seriously, lets start cutting big actor pay in half. There’s no reason Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s involvement should make Daddy’s Home cost 70 million dollars.

      • Babalugats

        Eh I don’t know. It’s not like that money’s going to get redistributed to the grunts. And you don’t have a movie without Ferrell and Wahlberg. Hell, you barely have a movie with them. If we’re slashing wages I’d rather do it at the executive level.

        On the other hand, capping wages would probably end the franchise era over night. I’m with you comrade.

      • Son of Griff

        True, but many actors take lower salaries for indie films and, as we recently discovered, to achieve gender equity. To be brief, movie pricing on demand would spread the wealth between “art” films and mainstream, populist fair more equitably.

      • Miller

        Speaking of Ron Swanson, art and sports make me downright Randian. Any attempt to cap or limit market value for a performer, whether a quarterback or comedian, is communist nonsense. Shortchanged the owners, not the talent.

    • The Ploughman

      I’d like to see a resurgence of the “dollar” theater (which, even in my time climbed far north of a dollar). There are fewer theaters showing films after their major release is done and most of the titles those theaters have are already out on disc.

      • Babalugats

        There’s a dollar show by me. Which actually costs $1.50, and it’s always doing great business. I saw Nightcrawler with a full audience. I saw Men Who Stare At Goats in a packed theater. George Clooney hasn’t even see Men Who Stare At Goats in a packed theater. Audiences are a lot more adventurous than they’re given credit for, but not at $15 a ticket.

        • The Ploughman

          Another good argument for sliding scale ticket pricing.