• Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Two, Episode Twenty-One, “?”
      “Your map was inexact.”
      “No kidding.”

      “I’m sorry I forgot the blankets.”

      I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong and handsome – the map did push the story forward and the characters did chase it, I just found the answers dissatisfying, which comes down to the kind of answers I wanted, which isn’t really the show’s fault. I’m trying to nail down exactly what it is I wanted, and I think it was that the ideas I loved didn’t get the nuance I think they deserved. What I love about The Shield and Mad Men is that it feels like, in each case, every idea was explored to its fullest extent – we see everything true about Peter Campbell, we see everything true about Shane Vendrell, in two totally opposite ways. Because of the ‘everything and the kitchen sink + this is all just a jumping off point for drama” approach, we don’t see everything true about the hatches, and while I can’t nail down exactly what we missed out on, I can feel that we missed out on something.

      (Ironically, my lesser interest in spiritual matters means I’m left completely satisfied about, say, the ghost shit)

      This episode has one of the all-time great dream sequence twists. It’s obvious from the moment we see Yemi that Eko is dreaming, which makes the twist that John is the one dreaming all the better, and works to plausibly push them both forward. The great thing about not just the mythology but the kind of mythology the show uses is that it allows the writers to push the story in the direction they want without it feeling like God’s hand is coming down.

      The show keeps pushing Sawyer’s desire to be bad, and he keeps yielding; this episode, Jack forces him to reveal where the guns are by asking for the heroin to let Libby die painlessly. Relatedly, I love how the heroin, brought in for Charlie’s story, keeps finding different uses, a strong depiction of the idea that once something’s in play it can take on a life of its own.

      Ownage: Eko headbutts John when he starts acting difficult.

      Australian Accent Accuracy Level: A few major obvious Americans and a few native speakers

      Cape Fear
      After a lifetime of the inner struggle between good and evil, Scorsese makes a straightforward thriller about the external struggle of good and evil, and this time his gift for sensation drives the campy melodrama of the situation. Even through the stylistic pastiche, Scorsese’s natural style comes through – mainly in the way people speak, with lots of repetition and stumbling – and so does his morality, in that the whole plot is kicked off by Sam Bowden doing something decent and having to pay for it for the rest of the film.

      Once again, the way the actors carry themselves is fascinating, in this case elevating the film rather than acting in lockstep with it. Obviously, Nick Nolte carries himself with the fundamental old-fashioned decency that the heroes of the films Scorsese draws on do; De Niro is the most interesting one, because he locks perfectly into the cartoony, ridiculous universe that Scorsese builds. The thing I find most fascinating about frequent actor-director collaborations is that, contrary to expectations, the actor will generally do something different every single time; being friends, the director presumably sees what the actor can do but doesn’t often get to do.

      I’ll be brutally honest, I don’t really enjoy this film beyond how it laid the groundwork for a top ten Simpsons episode.

      • Babalugats

        Cape Fear is one of only a few Scorsese films that doesn’t entirely work for me. Scorsese took over the project from Spielberg, and you can feel the conflict between the two. The suburban setting, and the way it’s positioned in the film, as a safe place violated by an outside force isn’t a natural fit for Scorsese. In Scorsese’s world the suburbs are where mobsters and thieves go to decay. The main difference though is the lack of moral nuance. Max Cody is inhuman in a way that no other Scorsese character is. More than his psychopaths, his killers, even Judas Iscariot gets a nuanced human portrayal. But Cady is the boogeyman, and the boogeyman just isn’t that interesting. I also think that being so accustomed to violence in his dramas, comedies, and character studies, when it came time to make a horror film he pushed it to cartoony extremes. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not a great one either, and I feel Spielberg would have been a better fit.

        The original is a stone cold classic, though. And it’s worth noting that even in a minor cameo Mitchem is the most menacing thing in the remake.

        • The remake feels more like De Palma than Scorsese to me (which is kinda fitting, given that the original owes a fair bit to Hitchcock). I prefer it to the original, but maybe just because I saw it first (or because I like cartoony extremes!)

          • Babalugats

            I’m definitely more of a quiet menace and slowly but relentlessly escalating tension guy myself.

            I think DePalma would have been a better fit for the material, too. Scorsese doesn’t fully commit to the genre elements. It’s a monster movie, but it’s also a domestic drama, and it doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. I think Spielberg would have delivered a solid crowd pleasing domestic thriller, and DePalma a darkly funny suburban horror film. But Scorsese feels between two worlds here, neither his best work, and they end up detracting from each other. Shutter Island serves as a corrective to this film; much more comfortable with its genre, and Scorsese strikes a better balance between modernism and homage.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Good points on De Palma. I don’t think I have to look any further than “Carrie,” to see how he handles a “suburban horror” milieu (the answer, of course, is quite well).

          • Son of Griff

            If I were programming a Scorsese retrospective, these would be the two that I’d pair together. The moral clash of the protagonists/antagonists are more fleshed out in the latter, but there is a similarity in genre and tone that isn’t often acknowledged.

        • If Cape Fear had been 90-100 min, it would be fantastic trash. Instead, it’s enjoyable but bloated. Though I love the scene where Cady is handcuffing the prostitute, and she’s totally into it at first.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Forgot Mitchum was in the original (probably because I haven’t seen it). Between this and “The Night of the Hunter,” he really did have a knack for playing creepy characters, huh? (To say nothing of his defining role for me as Eddie Coyle, which is so different).

          • Babalugats

            It’s not the majority opinion, but I actually think Mitchem is more frightening as Max Cody than as Reverend Harry Powell. The original Cape Fear is among the best thrillers of its era and I highly recommend it.

            I’m with you on Eddie Coyle as well. The man had layers.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Me and my dad were talking about Eddie Coyle, and my dad just went “Mitchum was such an underrated actor.”

        • Son of Griff

          CAPE FEAR is where Scorsese most fully embraces the sensibility of American studio filmmaking. His films through THE KING OF COMEDY feel more influenced, visually and thematically, from Post War European art house fare, with the Actor’s Studio influenced performances of Kazan and Ray serving as their American ingredient. I think he began moving towards the pacing and spectacle oriented mis-en-scene of studio films in the 80s, adding in a degree of personality through editing and thematic consistency. The action becomes more externally expressed than internally repressed.

      • Miller

        HEYDRUNKNAPOLEONYOUWANNASEEMYNEWCHAINSAWANDHOCKEYMASK?!!!!!

        • No one played by Robert deNiro could possibly be an evil man!

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          “Oh don’t worry, I can be…persuasive.”
          *smash cut*
          “Cmon, leave town!”
          “No.”
          “C’mon!”
          “No.”
          “I’ll be your frieeenndd!”
          “No.”
          “Awwww you’re mean!”

        • Drunk Napoleon

          “Surely there’s no harm in lying in a public street?”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’ve never been a huge Juliette Lewis fan except for one or two things (it might be more miscasting than her fault) but fuck the scene with her and DeNiro in the stage is the best thing she’s ever done. Obvious writing sure but she kills at playing scared, curious, a little turned on, nervous, and then hurt – in short a real teenager.

    • True Confession – a particularly nutty screwball comedy that revolves around the odd-couple marriage between an incredibly principled lawyer (Fred MacMurray) and a compulsive liar (Carole Lombard). He ends up defending her in court after she’s accused of murder and struggles to properly deny it because she’s having too much fun making up wild stories, and at some point John Barrymore gets involved playing some kind of deranged criminologist (who is obsessed with balloons). It’s a lot of fun, with my only real complaint being that the ending feels like a bit of an afterthought; I was holding out for a clever way to allow the main couple’s wildly incompatible world views to align somehow but it just settles for a mildly risque joke, and THE END.

      • Son of Griff

        Never heard of this, but it sounds terrific

        • It’s definitely worth a watch! I got it in a four-film set along with My Man Godfrey and Hands Across The Table and while it’s not as good as those two, it’s still great fun.

          (The fourth film in the set is Love Before Breakfast, which doesn’t look anywhere near the same level of quality, but I’ll probably check it out eventually)

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Murder On The Orient Express–The new one. I wanted a good, old-fashioned potboiler, and that’s pretty much what I got. There are nits to pick–mostly about the terrible, terrible CGI–but as mid-level entertainment, it was fine.

      • Belated Comebacker

        Any chance you saw the 1974 version? With this new one coming out, where Branagh takes center-stage as the lead (while directing), I was curious about how it compares to Lumet’s version, given how he was always more of an actor’s director.

        • And any chance you saw the Suchet version, which was at once really good and overwrought. (Toby Jones made a great victim.)

          • Belated Comebacker

            Nooooooooope, which I guess means I should add it to my list!

          • Jake Gittes

            Toby Jones is a fantastic glowering scumbag in that one. Jessica Chastain is excellent too, it was before her breakthrough but they knew what they were doing pitting her against Suchet in one-on-one dramatic scenes, even though I wasn’t a fan of having Poirot engaged in arguments about right and wrong.

          • I like that over the years, the Suchet series added a moral dimension to Poirot. But it was so ham-fisted in this one. (Will note that while the adaptation was good, I really don’t like the story much.)

        • Delmars Whiskers

          Sadly, no, I’ve still never seen the Lumet version, which I know at least used a real damned train.

    • Belated Comebacker

      The Florida Project: This movie hurts. Sean Baker lulls you in with episodic adventures centered around the very charismatic (and let’s face it, adorable) Moonee in her adventures down in Florida. The earlier parts of the movie have an almost Tom Sawyer-esque air to them (especially when she pulls in another kid to help clean up a mess she and her friends made). However, we gradually realize how fragile her living situation is, especially with her Mom, Hallee, on precipice of the social ladder, not even having a part-time job to help support her or her daughter. The ending definitely made me tear up, and was probably the most graceful way to end the movie.

      And from earlier, because I missed these posts from yesterday and the day before:

      Basic Instinct: A neat little precursor to “Gone Girl.” I saw the Narrator on Letterboxd talk about how a conversation between Catherine Tramell and “Elle’s” Michele, but I would have also enjoyed seeing Catherine chat with “Amazing” Amy. The neo-noir aspect is pretty fun, and, amazingly enough, Sharon Stone sketches out a convincing character who probably looked fairly flimsy on paper. So kudos to her for that, since Catherine is basically the femme-iest fatale ever. Don’t know if anyone cares about her sexuality anymore, but I understand why so many people were up in arms about her when the movie debuted, given where representation of LGBTQ characters were.

      Chinese Zodiac: A pretty good (if not great) Jackie Chan movie. He’s part of an amoral ancient relic-thieving crew, who, naturally enough, has a change of heart. Obviously one never goes into a Chan movie expecting a deep story, so the theme in this one–the repatriation of artifacts that have been stolen by European/Western nations during the Age of Colonialism–is surprising, if not explored as much as I would’ve liked. Oh well, we still get this fantastic scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7wPERavDdo

      • Miller

        Hmm, sounds like Chinese Zodiac is a rough sequel to Drunken Master 2, which is about the theft of those artifacts in the first place.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Chan co-directed that one, it seems, so I can’t say I’m too surprised. Guess the idea stuck with him.

          • Babalugats

            It’s a running theme through a lot of his work.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Douglas also calls her butch girlfriend “Rocky” which made me wince (even if its kinda in character – the dude is a dick).

        • Belated Comebacker

          It’s funny, because Douglas initially pulled me in as a workaday normal homicide detective (him cracking jokes in front of the corpse at the beginning is very similar to scenes from “The Wire.” They’re so blasé about the body, that they have no problem joking about it to cope). Yet you’re right that as it continues on, he shows far more dickishness as the movie progresses. David Toschi he is not, which is understandable, since he’s the only one as crazy (maybe?) as she is.

    • Stranger Things: “The Lost Sister” aka “The One Everyone Was Upset About” – I knew only two things going in, that we would be meeting “Eight” and that it was a polarizing episode. The latter was definitely true in our home, with my wife enjoying it and me finding it cliched, poorly fleshed out, and unnecessary. I get why the Duffers decided to give Elle/Jane a standalong episode – she’s really been off to one side this season and deserves a lot better. (That Emmy nom for Millie Bobby Brown was and is totally deserved.) But this story really didn’t work for me. The guest cast was inferior to the regulars, the shift to “Chicago” made the show feel like a weaker episode of Orphan Black, and I would say that stripped its nostalgia backdrop, there is not a lot here. I will accept this might be needed to get Elle from where she was to where she needs to be. But this one was, for the most part, a mistake.

      • Belated Comebacker

        I was fine with an Eleven-centric episode, but, uh, this was not a good fit, for many reasons. For one, the set up an excellent cliffhanger in the last episode, so suddenly dumping us in this narrative detour kills their momentum. Not sure it would’ve solved all their problems, but if they had flipped the episode order, I would’ve been fine with it.

      • Miller

        Oh wow, bang on about the Orphan Blackish nature of Chicago. And yeah, the concept did not bug me as much as the execution, particularly the terrible, terrrible punk gang — the farm insults were just awful. I still feel like they were a horribly misconceived tribute to Grant Morrison characters.

      • jroberts548

        My wife and I literally, simultaneously blurted out “sestra!” when 11 and 8 meet and compare tattoos.

      • Man with a robot arm

        I found it clichéd as well. I did like the song choice of Bon Jovi’s Runaway. The way the concept/’narrative’ of the music video lined up with the show was pretty neat – A metaphor for adolescence, with a girl in a post-apocalyptic world who can shoot flames out of her eyes, meeting up with Road Warrior punks, while wishing her parents (Hopper) were out of her life.

    • Miller

      Always Sunny, The Gang Gets Whacked — Sunny has been around so long that it has commented on itself (The Gang Recycles Their Trash is only the most blatant example) but it also becomes ironic and amusing in the unintentional way only a lengthy show can. This is a solid two-parter anyway but fun to watch now for its rare vulnerable Dennis as a hoor (Frank as a violent pimp is a very natural fit, on the other hand), seeing him take so much abuse instead of give it out is fascinating. And this is also the (I believe) second appearance of Rickety Cricket — now homeless but still unaddicted and retaining all of his body parts, he tells the gang he’s gone through the worst part of his life. Cricket, you have no idea.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The joke of Cricket that is genius is how his personality degenerates along with his body to the point that by the most recent season he’s pretty used to all of this and even…chooses it. He’s the Gang’s Dorian Gray.

    • Nostalghia – Generally, I like Tarkovsky, but this one didn’t work for me. His lingering shots are much less compelling when they’re on the same indistinguishable gray building. And the text (I’m hesitant to call it dialogue) felt less engaging than usual. No one did anything but wander around. Though the final sequence, where the man tries to walk across the empty pool with the lit candle, made me hold my breath, and it felt like the most important thing in the world.

      • Aw… this is one of my favorites. The final shot is an all-timer for me, and the scene with walking the candle across the room is one of the most compelling metaphors for faith I’ve ever seen in a movie.

        • Why is this one of your favorites? I like AT, so I’m open to changing my mind on this.

          • Well, on a kind of shallow level, I think it’s probably his most beautifully shot movie, and a lot of that has to do with the architecture it captures (which is a little more uniform than, say, Stalker, but still captures this sense of otherworldly awe for me). On a deeper level, I think it’s probably his best execution of the idea of imbuing technically terrestrial actions (i.e. visiting Europe, walking across a drained pool) with mythic and theological portent, as if the supernatural were right on the brink of bursting from the seams of reality. There are scenes, especially toward the end of the movie, that feel just so tense to me in their methodical quiet, in the way that I imagine the Apostle John was trying to convey when he talks about there being silence in Heaven for half an hour when the Seventh Seal was broken–the feeling that something powerful is happening, something just a bit past the brink of human conception. I also think Domenico is the most interesting character Tarkovsky ever created.

            Dunno if any of that makes sense. I was just profoundly moved by the movie.

        • Babalugats

          That’s the only sequence I’ve seen from the film, and I was shocked at how powerful it was, even with zero context.

          • Man, just wait when it comes at the tale end of two hours of Tarkovsky slow-burn brilliance.

      • Man with a robot arm

        It can be a tough one. Unlike Stalker or Andrei Rublev I’ve only returned to it a few times over the years. It may be Tarkovsky’s most minimalist film. It all feels shot in the same square mile of ruins and stone buildings somewhere in Italy. The camera is slow. Instead of long intricate tracking shots that can be measured in feet, here they run long in time but the camera only moves a matter of inches. Gorchakov reflects all of this. He may be Tarkovsky’s most immobile protagonist. He dreams and drinks throughout barely getting any work done. He is static, shot standing still for much of the film, but when he finally acts and accomplishes his goal in the pool you can’t help but feel as exhausted as he is.

    • jroberts548

      Stranger Things, episode 7.

      I wonder to what extent people are blaming structural problems from the season overall on this one episode. Namely, the Duffers are more interested in world building and backstory than they are in the actual story, and this episode is the most extreme example of the show splitting up the group of kids from last season.

      I liked some of the episode’s ideas. Introducing 11 to her sisters could be interesting. But also it didn’t really go anywhere.

      Jeopardy, tournament of champions. You don’t really realize how obnoxious daily double hunting (skipping around the board instead of going top to bottom in the category) is until you watch all 3 contestants do it. At least Austin plays the game right, and was rewarded when his two opponents hunted down those daily doubles and got them wrong. #AustinForLife.

      Film adjacent:
      Finished The Iliad. Some observations
      – as with Gilgamesh, the fridging trope shows up when the hero’s male buddy dies.
      – there’s a lot that would be almost subversive or avant garde in a modern blockbuster epic movie. Like not taking sides, or giving every dead person a name, or ending before the war ends.
      – There does need to be a good film adaptation. The moment right before Hector’s death, when he’s been tricked by Athena, realizes it, and accepts his fate, would be great.
      – I was vaguely aware already, but man, the Greek gods are bunch of dicks.

      • Miller

        I’m fine with backing out of a Jeopardy! category if it’s clear that it’s a poor fit but yeah, the hunt and peck stuff is annoying. Run the table! Build up some cash to wager! I’m guessing the math favors the other approach though, at least if you truly DD (although even at the start of the round for both?).

        The idea of celestial, nearly omnipotent beings as total dicks is one that really needs to come back.

        • The doing random categories is not meant as DD hunting but is meant to throw off your opponents since they’ll have to change mental tracks faster than you. It also throws the audience off because they have to change tracks as well.

          • Miller

            I don’t watch Jeopardy! to be thrown off dammit, I watch for trivial superiority and Trebek being condescending to contestants, preferably via snooty accents.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Hard to imagine who might replace him if he ever leaves the show (or this plane of existence).

      • Stranger Things went somewhere…Chicago! (I don’t for a second think they filmed there, though. It’s a lot easier to maintain the illusion of someplace being rural Indiana than it is a specific city.)

        • jroberts548

          Rural Indiana is a small town south of Atlanta. This is probably a warehouse near the airport.

      • DJ JD

        I’ve often wondered how our fictional approach to violence would look if we were all far more acquainted with it on a personal level, like if our grudges were potentially-lethal affairs with neighbors, family members and former friends, if wars involved us killing people face-to-face with spears, or if we typically knew the animals personally that we killed and ate.

        I think about that when I read ancient stories of war and glory, because for all I know, I’m missing their emphasis, mood and subtext completely.

        • It’s strange to think how sanitized our lives are. We are so removed from death these days, and while it’s an enormous comfort to live so stably, I wonder how becoming more intimate with violent death again would change us. Would it be an improvement or a regression?

          The biggest thing I’ve ever killed was a bunch of bugs. I don’t even like killing rats.

          • Babalugats

            This is something I think about every time I hear somebody talking about how such-and-such story worked in simpler times, but the modern world is too dark and complicated…

            Like, Superman was fine during the great depression, second world war, and Holocaust, but how can audiences take the character seriously now that we live in dangerous and frightening times?

          • Miller

            To be fair, it wasn’t until the 1980s that a majority of Americans began wearing their underwear on the inside of their clothes, which was what really led to the grim and gritty era and no longer being able to relate to Superman.

          • DJ JD

            I have a few mini-monologues on the point. One of them is called “Animal Sacrifice In Ancient Religions Isn’t Really That Creepy Because They Were On A First-Name Basis With Their Meat.” Short version is that when I was in high school, my folks decided that we needed to raise, kill, store and cook our own meat as a growing experience, so we got some wretched chickens (illegal in city limits, no less!), grew ’em up, stuck ’em in cut-off denim pantlegs we called “The Cones Of Obedience,” cut off their heads, plucked ’em, cut ’em up, froze ’em and ate ’em. This only happened once: the birds were awful and we all hated every second of it. But I did learn that it’s super easy to feel like something larger, something numinous is happening when you take an animal’s life to feed your own. It’s a horrible feeling, but it’s also…I don’t quite know how to describe it. When C.S. Lewis talked about “the smell of holiness” and he meant blood and fire and death, I nodded. I’m no vegetarian, even now, but as crazy at it seemed at the time I’m still thankful for the experience.

            (Also, I did strap on a gun to go kill a guy once, but that’s as close as I’ve ever come to that. The Sheriff got there first, which was probably best for all involved.)

            edit: that Lewis bit is from Till We Have Faces.

          • The Lady Wallflower’s closest childhood friend grew up on a farm and always made it a point to tell her the name of whatever animal they were serving. Made her more of a carnivore, not less. Probably my version of this comes with whiskey: with wine you taste the grape, with whiskey you taste the dirt, the blood and bone and shit of the race. It’s no accident that the best ones come from the Celtic cultures, where ownage was a part of identity and therefore part of the soil.

            If there’s a larger point here, it’s that the world becomes a better place when you participate in it, and that means participating in the bad stuff too. That’s part of you, even if you don’t want to see it; and it’s often art, ritual, and religion that puts us in touch with it.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Suffering breeds growth.

          • Or: God alone gets the power to create without also destroying. We don’t.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Hannibal has made me more interested in the philosophy of meat eating and its moral implications even if its hard to explain that to others. My stepdad and I had a good discussion about that pretty recently (he hunted and killed his own meat as a poor Midwestern kid, then stopped when he accidentally injured himself. Nevertheless he feels disgusted with himself for still eating it even though he believes eating meat packaged and sanitized like this feels wrong.)

          • There’s a tactile relation that we’ve lost with the world around us, esp as more and more technology acts as intermediaries. While I’ve never killed any significant animal, I have buried most of my pets, and I mean that literally – I’ve dug their graves, lowered them in the ground, and covered them back with earth. That’s about as final as final can get, at least for this suburbanite.

            I personally have no problem with animal sacrifices so long as meat is acceptable. It’s the suffering that bothers me more than the killing. I love fried chicken, but I could never visit a factory farm.

            I’ve stabbed a guy once. Glancing blow, but drew blood, and he knew never to lay hands on me again.

          • There’s probably a general principle here: extending your reach means losing your touch.

          • We’re seeing this play out with social media and smart phones. The studies of kids’ mental health these days is alarming, how they’re always online with each other, but feeling more alienated than ever. I’m glad I grew up when I did – we’re the last generation to remember a pre-digital childhood.

          • DJ JD

            Yeah, and it’s tricky in some ways. Like you said, it’s an enormous comfort–but it’s also a point of disconnect, and it can easily be a barrier to empathy. I can’t go so far as to say it’s a “bad” thing –
            the morality of those conversations often rests on shaky foundations – I but I don’t at all judge my parents for making the choice they did, either.

            Would you be willing to share the hows and/or whys of the stabbing?

          • Freshman year of high school. I’m the shortest kid in class – as an adult, I’m only 5’3, 110lbs. Also the smartest kid by a wide margin. So naturally I was the target for bullies (being a smartass didn’t help me, ether). It hurt, but it was just words. Then one of them shoved me in physics class. Nope. It happened again the next day, only this time there was a pair of dissecting scissors by me. So I grabbed them and swung, catching the edge of his arm. He went to the teacher, in tears, bleeding, and she looked him dead in the eye and said, “I’ve seen how you treated him all year. If you do one thing to get him in trouble, I’ll do everything I can to get you thrown of school. Go clean your arm.”

            They still made fun of me the rest of high school, but never again touched me.

            (Can I ask why you grabbed your gun?)

          • DJ JD

            Ohh man sometimes you just get thankful for an authority figure with an actual sense of justice. Glad to hear that that didn’t explode in a hellish display of drama and insanity for you. Bullies suck.

            I was also in high school; I was a senior and my dad was up on our (undeveloped) land outside of a small town in SW Colorado when he two-way radio’d us that someone was shooting at him. We called the sheriff but they didn’t know the land and my dad was literally hiding behind a rock while someone shot at him, so finally we got the sheriff on the same two-way radio channel my dad was on, I got one of my dad’s revolvers and my mother drove me up there. (If that sounds insane, unmarked mountain trails are something else; we knew the land well and had no idea where the sheriff actually was. They were talking to us constantly on the two-way but we couldn’t make heads or tails of their description of their location; turns out, they’d missed a turn and ended up on a DNR reserve. So, yeah, unmarked mountain trails are something else.) They eventually got their bearings enough to get close enough to hear the gunfire, and they caught the guy just as we were driving on to the property; I was probably less than five minutes away from him when they caught him. I’d already decided that I wasn’t going up there to talk, and looking back on it my mom was probably egging me on in that direction too.

            Turns out, it had been a wildly drunk poacher who “claimed” (I have doubts) that he didn’t know what he was shooting at, he was just hungry. We had an awful lot of problems with trespassers on that land; people like to think that if there’s no house or dog, the land is theirs to do with as they see fit, and we had problems from littering to theft and vandalism to cases minor assault from mountain bikers and the like when we suggested we’d call the police. Anyway, Dad said he was yelling at him but the guy was maybe 40-50 yards away and shooting like an idiot; he probably was telling the truth when he said he didn’t hear anything. But then again, he was so drunk that the sheriff said when they approached him with weapons drawn, he laughed and fell over. Yay humans.

            TL; DR: When I was in high school my mom drove me to a gunfight.

          • I’m glad it’s relatively benign. I was expecting something more like, “So my sister’s husband kept beating her, so me & the guys…”

          • DJ JD

            Ugh! I didn’t even think of that. No, nothing like that. The thought makes me think I shouldn’t bring it up without at least a cursory description in the future, though, because yeah, that seems like a way more likely scenario at a glance.

            Actually, I tend to tell that story cautiously, because so many of my anti-gun-control friends just glom on to it as a platonic-ideal argument against gun control, and I personally don’t actually support that reading of it. This was a highly unusual set of circumstances in a place far, far removed from where most people live, myself included these days. It’s such an outlier of events in so many ways that I sort of laugh when I think about it now.

          • Son of Griff

            I had a similar experience as you did, and I was amazed that nothing happened to me as a result from a disciplinary angle. Privately, the teacher called my folks and felt glad that I stood up for myself, although he couldn’t condone it to me directly

        • Someone back at the AV Club (‘memba that place?) noted that the great directors and actors of ownage had some experience of combat, blue-collar work, basically something outside of film school. There’s a weight and brutality to their work that you just don’t get with contemporary filmmakers.

          I also think that you can make a fundamental division with philosophers between those who expected to grow old and those who didn’t.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Something that I think about a lot, and that affected my views on violence: when I was a teenager, I read about a study of the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The researchers had gotten two groups of kids; the first were a group of mostly white, mostly middle-class suburban kids; they typically had both a deep dive into games in general and a sophisticated understanding of the video game violence debate, and could/would loudly articulate a defense of it – in other words, kids like me. The second were a group of mostly black, mostly poor inner city kids, who weren’t quote-unquote ‘gamers’, generally distrusted the (mostly white) researchers, and weren’t as intense about games; in other words, kids like the protagonist of GTA:SA

          When asked if they’d let their younger siblings play the game, the first group said no, because kids that young hadn’t developed a sense of reality or fiction to know violence was wrong. But the second group said yes, because they grew up around violence and could quite easily tell that the game was an unrealistic cartoon, and what they really thought was weird was the part of the game where the black protagonist could buy up so much property.

          Since then I’ve been less worried about fictional violence and more worried about where it’s coming from, and who it’s directed at.

          • Another principle: if your big concern is representations of violence, count yourself lucky in this world.

          • DJ JD

            Man, that cuts close, doesn’t it? I’m not a fan of many of the cultural critics of video games, but that is still not a perspective I leap to when I think about it. Thanks for posting that. I might try to go looking for that study later and see if it’s still around.

      • There’s a miniseries called Helen of Troy that is a garbage interpretation of Homer but an entertaining sword-and-sandal epic.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I read once about how different the morality of the Greeks is compared to ours is cemented by how Achilles going out and killing a bunch more people after moping and…not doing that is meant to be a heroic moment for his character, where for us killing people is the real problem.

        • aristeia – Ancient Greek for “ownage”

          “Achilles avenges his friend’s death with a moment of aristeia.”

      • pico

        I think the inherent problem with adaptations of the Iliad is twofold: 1) it’s really hard to do the gods in a coherent way, especially for modern audiences, and 2) it’s a giant blood-n-guts epic whose emotional climax is a hushed, intimate meeting between an weeping old man and a bitter soldier, and who’s the last director who could really handle both ends of that?

        • Babalugats

          George Miller?

        • jroberts548

          John Ford or Akira Kurosawa would have fucking crushed it.

      • MorganHunter

        As a classics graduate student, let me just say it’s awesome to find someone who also loves the Iliad! I too would love to see a film adaptation–but any faithful one would have to be rated NC-17 for violence, with all the eyeballs being speared and whatnot…

        (I don’t want to be presumptuous, but if you’re in the mood for more classical literature I’d really recommend the Lattimore translation of the Oresteia…)

    • Johnny Guitar–Look, there’s no arguing that “Johnny Guitar” is a baller title for a movie. But you know it; I know it; the poster even knows it: this movie belongs to the magnificent Joan Crawford as Vienna, not the titular guitarist (who, despite some romantic subplots, is almost a secondary character). Crawford’s is a powerful performance, deep with subtext and nuance, and thematically, her character is a striking icon to the ways that women must grasp and claw their way forward if they are to make any progress against the hoards of angry men who scream at any change to their society. The movie softballs the gender dynamic, I’d say, by having a woman lead this band of villains (as if our heroine couldn’t have faced off against just men), but only a little–Emma, our chief villain, is a truly nasty creation who serves as a very watchable (and detestable) foil to Vienna, regardless of the way that she serves perhaps as too much of a feminine counterpoint to Vienna.

      • Miller

        Unfortunately, Johnny Guitar’s failure at the box office doomed plans for the Western Stringed Instrument Cinematic Universe, halting production on Billy Zither and shelving all prints of Cool Hand Lute.

        • DJ JD

          You just know someone’s career suffered for that; they had big plans later on:
          Harp’s War
          Ultraviola
          Lyre Lyre

          At least Captain Corelli’s Mandolin still got made after a bunch of studio-mandated reshoots and edits, but I can’t think it captured the original intent of the film. (Also, I deliberately left A History of Violins off the list because that’s just stupid.)

          • They could finally make the crossover film Schindler’s Liszt.

        • A+

      • pico

        Johnny Guitar is also, I think, by far, the weirdest-looking Western. Like, it was made in a petri dish by an alien who had only had Westerns described to him but never seen one in person. I love how transparently artificial everything looks, and yeah, the two women leads barely need Hayden in the movie at all.

        • Yeah, definitely. The painted backdrops stand out, almost as if they were supposed to look fake on purpose.

          • Son of Griff

            The artificiality of the production design (and non-source lighting) in a lot of 50s color Westerns is kind of a stylistic tic that more modern viewers have to get their heads around. Some of my students and a family member can’t get into them because of that JOHNNY GUITAR and RANCHO NOTORIOUS are the most blatant examples of this trend, and I’m sure that these were deliberate creative choices considering the design background of their directors. They are both “dominatrix” Westerns as well, emphasizing women who dominate and control the male leads, which makes me wonder if the whimsy of the facades and vibrant color coding wasn’t coincidental.

            Even great Westerns can be lackadaisical in terms of interior lighting and stage design. The opening bar scene in RIO BRAVO boasts a copy of a painting behind the bar that hung literally in every Mexican restaurant I ever ate in as a kid in Southern California in the 60s and 70s.

    • Over the weekend, I watched Dogville. Look, I know Lars Von Trier is one of the Directors caught in the wave of sexual harassment reveals (Björk said he harassed the hell out of her during Dancer with the Dark), and Dogville is supposed to be his thinly veiled reaction or apologia to his working relationship with Björk. But, good god, there’s nothing more soothing for having a very nice work environment where you’re a contractor limited to 40 hours to do the work of a position that has been budgeted for two salaried (read: they can work OT) employees. Dogville GETS me. Burn it all down!!!

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      War for the Planet of the Apes. These Apes movies are fine. They’re professionally made and the effects are stunning. I’m just not the audience for them. I don’t have any connection to the original Apes movies. I wonder what die hard fans of the series think about these?

      • I don’t know if I’m die-hard, but I’ve seen all the original Apes movies. I really dig the new trilogy, but they have definitely sanded off a lot of the weirder/kookier/interesting parts of the original series. The commitment to ostensible realism is probably the only way these movies could have been successful in the modern blockbuster context, but I do miss the heightened camp of the originals.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          To me, that commitment to realism is the limitation of the new series. The goofier aspects of the originals allowed for more humor and, at times, a relaxed hang-out vibe, which made the darker shades (especially the surprisingly wrenching ending of Escape and the we-are-the-future ending of Conquest) stand out in stark relief. The current Apes series has been dour from the get-go, which is fine, but not very much fun.

          • Defense Against The Dark Arts

            Agree. I imagine it would be like rebooting Police Academy and removing all the jokes…so kind of like the original Police Academy.

            ETA: I think it’s about time the makers of Police Academy were taken down a peg.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            You joke, but one of the most baffling things about the first Police Academy movie is that it was directed by Hugh Wilson, creator of one of the greatest multi-camera sitcoms of all time, WKRP In Cincinnati. His TV work is pretty consistently solid (he also created Frank’s Place), but movie-wise, his work has been mostly dire, with Police Academy actually one of his better efforts. (I am kind of fond of Guarding Tess, so there’s that.)

          • Defense Against The Dark Arts

            Browsing his filmography I see has directed The First Wives Club (which I’ve never seen, but I guess was a hit) and Blast from the Past (which I have seen and my wife loves). Sometimes the sensibility that works on TV doesn’t translate well to film. For example: Les Charles and Glen Charles, of Cheers fame, who have written several movies that went nowhere.

        • Defense Against The Dark Arts

          If they’re going to make a 4th entry in this new series I would like it to be set in the distant future and have it connect to the older Apes movies. Let’s have an actual planet of Apes instead of a small band of Apes versus a small band of human survivors.

          • YES! With mutants, please.

          • Defense Against The Dark Arts

            Everything’s better with mutants except–ironically–several of the X-Men movies.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I really like the new ones (just a casual Apes fan) but I find them deeply moving.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      A bunch of Party Down at my friend’s house I was staying at. God I forgot how funny and poignant this show is. “Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh” is one of the best sitcom episodes of the century, by turns demented and fucking hilarious (Roman having to praise Ricky’s terrible, graphically violent script is so funny – the joke in and of itself that even a Russian mobster has a screenplay is great). But it’s all the little moments of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, like Ron hosting the catering for his own high school reunion and not understanding how sad this is, or Henry’s quiet dying inside every time someone recognizes him as the “Are we having fun yet?!” guy, that are so sad and bittersweet. More than anything Party Down is about the division in America between the perceived winners and losers, economically and socially, and how the losers have to stand by as the asshole winners get to do pretty much anything.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I loved that after Roman gave Ricky some bullshit praise about his script, Ricky asks him, “So, the syntax is okay?”

        Kyle Bornheimer has a couple of great moments in the high school reunion, episode, too.

        MARK: Did you see that guy Donnie? What a loser.
        RON: Yeah, right? It’s just sad.
        MARK: I mean… the guy thinks he’s impressing everyone by catering his own high school reunion. It’s pathetic!
        RON: …That’s not Donnie, that’s Ron.
        MARK: *sees name tag* Oh. …I, uh… *shrugs, walks past*

        MELINDA: You didn’t tell me you had a wife!
        MARK: Well, would you have fucked me if I told you I was married?
        *silence*
        MARK: Good to see you, Melinda.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          His awfulness is something to behold.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      The Last Man on Earth, “Double Cheeseburger.” Actually a pretty funny episode, between the absurd ease with which Carol gives birth, and Todd’s attempt to cover with Melissa for wanting to spend time with the babies. (“You’re covered in baby powder.” “That’s… cocaine. Yep, I was doing cocaine with the guys all day. I’m going to bed now, I don’t want to talk about this.” “Hah, okay, Scarface.”) January Jones doesn’t get enough credit for her ability to sell gently-teasing incredulity with a small change in vocal tone.

      Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Namaste.” “Larry is rated a 1-star Uber passenger” is one of those delightfully obvious touches that’s fun to see in action. And of course Larry is the kind of person who refuses to say “namaste” at the end of a yoga class, and gets banned from coming back. (And of course Leon would pick up the yoga instructor and turn Larry’s house into a fuck sauna.) Really enjoyed Lauren Graham as a woman Susie set Larry up with despite all of Susie’s warnings to her, as well as Larry’s solutions for getting out of a fender-bender and out of blurting out “You’re black!” to Jeff’s mechanic.

  • Jake Gittes

    Everyone talks about the ending, and it is great, but the opening is almost equally wonderful – you get that slow tracking shot of a wall, accompanied by what sounds like a military chant, and it might fit your possible preconceived (perhaps subconscious) expectation of this being a slow opaque foreign arthouse movie, and then a woman in a nightclub suddenly lip-syncs the kiss that opens that Tarkan song (which I hadn’t heard for over 10 years when I first saw the film, but it was everywhere during a few years of my childhood) and bursts out laughing. I felt an electrical jolt going through my body. It’s playful touches like these, among other things, that make Denis stand out. That opening scene also does a great job conveying Galoup’s isolation and repression with zero words spoken, as he approaches another woman and she half-resists, half-ignores him, while the other soldiers have no such problems. It’s already a tiny story told just in body language.

    Your last sentence is not 100% clear but I assume you’re talking about the possibility of hating her every other movie, not that you’ve actually seen and hate her every other movie? Anyway, Trouble Every Day didn’t do it for me either, but I quite liked Chocolat (so far it’s my second favorite, behind this), No Fear No Die, US Go Home and Friday Night. Have yet to see anything post-2002 though.

    • There’s also a lot of playfully objectifying touches. I think there was a grab of a knife on a kitchen table where a boxer-clad crotch is just behind the hand. Or the shirts which are held together with two side straps.

      I generally don’t like Denis, and I was told that I should have started with this one as a gateway. And they were right. It means I may have to revisit some of the ones I haven’t quite liked, but not Trouble Every Day which I’ve seen multiple times.

    • John Bruni

      I recommend White Material (2009) and 35 Shots of Rum (2008).

      • Jake Gittes

        Thanks. I’ll almost certainly catch up with everything I haven’t seen in the lead-up to release of her new work, which should be soon since Bright Sunshine In has already done festivals and then she’s got that sci-fi movie with Pattinson on deck.

        • Helen


          Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
          On tuesday I got a great New Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
          !da174d:
          ➽➽
          ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleNewNetJobsIncOpportunities/earn/hourly ★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫:::::!da174luuuuuaxc

  • Son of Griff

    I have a great quote from Denis that I’ve cited here on several occasions, but I’m going to save it for my MARNIE review.

  • glorbes

    OMG Criterion are releasing Night of the Living Dead in February. I am SO excited!

    • The Ploughman

      Not to sidetrack from this news, but is this glorbes, father of three I am addressing? How is everybody?

      • glorbes

        Doing well! Baby was a third boy, who sleeps a lot but not all at once, and usually screams when he’s awake. So, you know, a newborn baby. Mom is recovering very well. But Jesus, three kids is busy.

        • The Ploughman

          Glad to hear it. Best of luck going forward.