• Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Four, Episode
      “I’m not making any sense, am I?”
      “No.”
      “That’s probably because I’ve been dead for twelve years.”

      “But you’ll understand that there are consequences to being chosen soon enough.”

      It’s just struck me how weird this show is. Like, it’s obvious when a show is weird when you have the ghost of the protagonist’s father telling the deuteragonist to move an island, but even the day-to-day lives of these people are strange.

      The boaters/islanders plot gave way to the Ben/Widmore war, which has given way further to Jacob, but they’re all starting to coalesce. People talked about how strange Mad Men’s approach to serialisation was, but I grasp that easier than Lost. It’s interesting actually, because I’m never, uh, lost watching the show – I always know exactly what a character wants to do and how their actions will get what they want, but you ask me to sit down and explain the structure of this season and how each episode fits into it, I can’t, even though I know it works.

      John goes to see Jacob, and gets Christian and Claire. I’m fairly certain it’s the Man In Black posing as Jacob’s representative, but the fact that it’s inarguably John Terry makes it difficult, though in a pleasurable way. Terry’s really got the whole ‘self-aware washed-up asshole who’s surprisingly lacks bitterness about his situation’ thing nailed down, and regardless of who he’s playing, it brings a pleasing effect and tone.

      We see from John’s flashbacks that he’s always struggled with fitting into the right archetype – the nerd/jock thing, something I got sick of a very long time ago, actually works here because it just needs to get us through one scene to make that point. It ties in with John’s island drama too, because Ben gets to make that observation above as John chases his destiny. John’s journey is, in a twisted way, about the same thing as Mad Men – wanting to fit an image.

      Ownage: Keamy slits the doctor’s throat, then shoots the Captain. This, of course, confuses the timeline slightly; somehow Frank manages to get to the island at the end of the episode without warping through time.

      My Writing, building off what I learned from LOST
      This particular chapter has a recurring situation where the characters go somewhere to find a clue, and I chicken out of writing about where they go because I have so much trouble describing places. What I took from Lost was the idea of an Original Sin – that someone did an action, and that our heroes stumble into the consequences of it. My mistake up until now has been writing consequences first and trying to come up with something to tie it altogether; reversing it by starting with an action, writing out consequences for it, and saying “and THIS will catch the attention of our heroes, who will stumble in at THIS point” makes it a lot easier. Interestingly, this is true on both a macro level (I settled on “creation of the killbots” as a story-wide Original Sin) and micro (the killbots commit an action that spills out onto our heroes). As always, falling back on a moral decision as Original Sins made it easier.

      My conclusion from this was “don’t assume you’re a genius” until I realised there was a section in the story where the process of writing it felt, for the first time since I started this, like writing drama again. I’d set myself a few rules – here are two characters, one of whom has a strong sense of problem-solving and one of whom has a strong sense of people, they have a long history and they deeply love each other, and one of them is just drunk enough to give myself permission to write what I’d normally think too overwrought. When I wrote that part out, I found myself jumping around in time and letting the characters go almost organically, and it felt really alive again.

      John Wick, Chad Stahelski
      “What did he say?”
      “Enough.”

      I was in the mood for something that was a) light and breezy, b) full of action, c) under 100 minutes, and d) something I’d never seen before, and this managed to hit all those buttons plus many more – it’s almost like this movie was made for me. I knew going in that the movie was famed for its worldbuilding, and I was surprised to find it like a cross between John Carpenter and Michael Mann in that it combined familiar iconography (the Russian mob, clubs, etc) with a few very select and carefully placed offbeat choices (the coins, Management) to create a sense of professionals with professional ethics, but in a simplified and cartoony world.

      (This carries itself down to the acting – everyone moves and speaks very precisely)

      The ownage is palpable. Stahelski almost always has action (Wick pulling the trigger on his gun) and the consequence (a dude’s head blowing up) happening in the same frame, which gives it an extra kick; the few times he doesn’t, he’s usually holding on Wick instead of cutting away, which makes him look awe-inspiring. I also found it interesting how action-heavy the story is, not in terms of fighting but in terms of pushing the story forward in a physical action with the dialogue as stripped down as possible. I don’t think there’s a single moment of exposition in the entire film.

      The biggest delight was Clarke Peters unexpectedly rocking up. The saddest part was Clarke Peters dying without dishing out any ownage.

      Ownage: Wick shooting a guy while he’s rolling over Wick’s car is my favourite.

      • Glorbes

        I wish I was on board with John Wick like so many others. That movie exhausted its welcome for me after about a half hour.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Every time I thought I was getting bored with it, it ended up throwing something new and neat at me!

        • The Ploughman

          You were on board longer than me.

      • ZoeZ

        I am mildly unnerved by what you’re saying here about conceptualizing some kind of story-based original sin when you’re writing, because I in fact did exactly that, in exactly those terms, in my own writing over the weekend, and reconceived the character’s first person retrospective POV as that of someone looking for her original sin. Uncanny.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Great minds.

    • Pom Poko–Loved this. There are “flaws” here–the movie’s too long by a comfortable margin, and its environmental messaging feels more nostalgic than actually constructive. But it’s beautiful, wistful nostalgia, and that gets at the magic of this movie: none of the flaws really matter when the movie feels this strongly.

      The Portrait of a Lady–This certainly looks like a great movie, full of sumptuous costuming, exquisite framing, and artsy stylistic flourishes (such as the mystifying modern-day intro and the silent-movie-esque travel sequences). It’s the most lavish Campion movie I’ve seen, and good on her for that, even if there’s the niggling feeling in the back of my mind that maybe Campion went mad with power after the unqualified success of The Piano. But geeeeeez, everything to do with the narrative is awful. It’s boring and stilted and devoid of human emotion. While some of this could be attributed to the original Henry James novel (I haven’t read it), John Malkovich (whom I’m beginning to suspect is not a good actor) and his lifeless brood certainly cannot be.

      Brawl in Cell Block 99–Anyone who saw writer/director/composer S. Craig Zahler’s previous film, Bone Tomahawk, and its adaptation of the whole “unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps” Macbeth routine shouldn’t be surprised at the level of violence in this movie, but I’m still a little shocked. Some of this is the sound design (which goes out of its way to make sure we hear every bone break), but there’s no denying the stomach-churning visual immediacy of seeing a dude’s face scraped on on a concrete floor until all that’s left is a grinning skull. And it’s all done in immaculately staged practical effects. Whether this all makes the movie better or worse depends on your sensibilities, I suppose, and me, I’m inclined to like it, though only barely, and as it is, I do wish this movie were about thirty minutes shorter. As is, it’s paced like a B-movie trying to pass as an arthouse flick, and well, when we’re dealing with face-flaying, I think it’s best to throw off all pretension and cut right to the chase. There’s a lotta buildup here.

      Also watched a ton of Seinfeld‘s 9th season. This is better than I remembered–probably a step up from Season 8, though still a bit too wacky to be the show at its best.

      • Miller

        I initially did not mind Brawl’s buildup, it seemed like slowly gathering momentum and potential character work. That is squandered by weird story choices though. Although excellent call on the bone-breaking foley work, the first arm-snap got an audible yelp from me.

      • Jake Gittes

        It felt to me that was Brawl was going for was a sort of understated tragedy, intent on detailing every step of Vaughn’s journey to where he is at the end, the entire thing tracing back to one single decision he chose to make. I admire the idea, and enjoyed the time spent with some of the side characters, but I do think Bone Tomahawk utilized the same running time a lot better by being a talky hangout movie starring four people instead of one.

        • Right, I appreciate the methodical structure of the movie, but it takes a very long time getting there, and while I think it’s the right decision to make Vaughn’s character a quiet one, it would have been nice to fill the movie with something besides foreboding quiet.

        • Miller

          The outcome of a decision idea is interesting and is making me think of The Counselor, which is pretentious trash in a good way and is straightforward in its morality. Vaughan’s journey here does not have much weight or make much sense to me.

        • Babalugats

          The problem is that none of Vaughn’s decisions make any sense. Why would you assassinate your friends for the benefit of the police, and if you did that, why not take the plea deal? And ultimately the world is too cartoony for anything to play as tragedy. And Vaughn is too old. He’s a man who made his choices a long time ago, and has accepted that. The movie should have opened in prison.

          • Miller

            Why the hell does he betray those dudes? And his acceptance is potentially interesting (and I agree, it’s evident immediately) so the apparent plot to make his life increasingly miserable (which is I guess what is happening?) is dumb as rocks. It’s like scheming against the sea.

      • The Ploughman

        “John Malkovich (whom I’m beginning to suspect is not a good actor)…”

        Clear the room! There’s a bombshell being smuggled in here. Would it be fair to say he’s more a “performer” (in the vein of Jack Nicholson)? ‘Cause… ‘cause… Burn After Reading!

        • I think he works in certain contexts. But it’s a very narrow range of contexts, and lord, Portrait of a Lady is not one of them.

        • PCguy

          Not having seen more than a couple of his performances I took for granted Malkovich’s well-publicized greatness until I watched THE SHELTERING SKY last month. It’s a dreadful film guilty of discarding whatever meaning there was in the novel (which is supposed to be good–I haven’t read it) for pompous twaddle and empty but gorgeous Vittorio Storaro cinematography.

          It’s Malkovich’s performance that takes the film from an overlong travelogue into an ordeal of pretentiousness at maximum emotional volume. His character is supposed to be a tortured artist who embarks upon an imperialist African expedition to find some sort of reconciliation with his semi-estranged wife but Malkovich chooses to amplify all the characters negative characteristics until he’s just a caricature with that horrible histrionic nasal voice of his and these effete boarding school mannerisms. Then, in the climax of the first act, there’s this scene where we see him finally consummate the complicated relationship he has with his wife on top of a cliff overlooking endless miles of alien Sahara desert. Because it’s from Bertolucci the sophisticated “European art-film” audiences are supposed to be able to stomach a realistically shot love scene. But Malkovich climbs on top of Debra Winger and he’s just fucking her right in the red dirt through the hole in his khakis and the entire time he’s breathlessly whinging nonsensical pseudo-philosophical psychobabble about the nature of the universe vs. the metaphorical closeness of the firmament in an arid environment viz. the reason she has to go to his friends for sex is because he’s too busy being a genius and stuck in a do loop trying to subvert his own bourgeois mores for some ineffable higher purpose. When the scene ends Debra Winger pulls down her dress and they look at each other for a minute and I’m sure everyone in the audience was as disgusted as I was. His playing tries to tamp down this burning passion with ineffectual languor and his whole role in the film ends up going no where. If this were Hamlet he’d probably spend the better part of half an hour supplicating before the Ghost.

          Like the rest of the film, you can squint and see that Bertolucci is trying to get at something poignant he took from the novel. But Malkovich intensifies the character’s upper-middle class nervousness with a reedy electricity that his acting career frequently embodies. Even when his character dies, which is necessary to set up the film’s gross and racist final act, he can’t die like a normal actor would. It’s this endless cycle of him lying in delirium, now charged with the importance of delivering an unintelligible cosmic message, then lying motionless with the beautiful light playing with his angular features like a diminutive Art Deco statue. All throughout this interminable mess Debra Winger is running around wringing her hands and trying to play to an actor who is giving her nothing to work with. Fuck you, just die already. I’ve already been watching for 2 hours and the movie isn’t near done with.

          • Whatever virtues The Sheltering Sky has got beaten stupid by Ian Holm’s and Judy Davis’ portrayals of Paul and Jane Bowles a couple years later in Naked Lunch–they were funnier, sexier, and did more interacting with the world around them. Bertolucci was too compulsively pretty a director to render Bowles’ world; Cronenberg doesn’t have that problem. Plus, y’know, bugs and typewriters and bugwriters, the important shit.

          • The Ploughman

            Any defense I’d make of the guy as an actor wouldn’t be as thorough as that. I also had him filed under “always solid or better.” It’s interesting to be shaken out of complacency at times. I’ll have fresh eyes next time I see him, for sure.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        He’s an amazing Biff in Death of a Salesman. He absolutely destroys the climax.

        • Who is?

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Malkovich.

          • The Ploughman

            [lounge singer’s sonorous voice] “Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich…”

            If the other example I’m coming up with is Being John Malkovich, I fear I enjoy his self-parody as much or more as his performances (third place: that SNL where he reads The Night Before Christmas to a group of children and reminds them that all life on earth will die someday).

          • He’s great at self parody.

      • Babalugats

        Brawl is paced like one of those 77 minute long grindhouse movies that really only has one scene and the rest is just filler to try and puff it up to feature length. Except it’s two and half hours long. At least with Bone Tomahawk you can say westerns are supposed to be slow. This one is just inept.

        • At least Brawl has two scenes of note.

          • Babalugats

            The action is very good. For as much as a disliked the movie, those scenes all work really well.

    • The Wire, season 1, episodes 6 to 13 – possibly even better than I remembered. Just superb on every level. Every subplot and character is fascinating and it builds up so masterfully. We (accidentally) split the episodes into just the right blocks to make the big “officer down!” cliffhanger the last episode of Saturday night, which was pretty cool. Think I’m going to stick with films this week and plunge into season 2 at the weekend, if the temptation doesn’t get too great… which it might.

      Star Wars: The Last Jedi – I’m not sure I’d call this the best Star Wars film, because there are a few really clunky bits (hello Yoda) and a couple of weirdly lazy bits of storytelling, but it’s the first one I’ve ever felt fully emotionally drawn in by, and I think that might be enough to call it my favourite. Either way, I thought it was great fun, and definitely a step up from The Force Awakens (which I already really liked). Favourite non-movie-related moment from the screening: a child loudly saying “wake up Dad, the film’s starting!” after the seemingly endless selection of mediocre trailers.

      Charade – I’ve been learning the music from this in my piano lessons, which was the push I needed to finally pull the DVD off my shelf, find out that it was the worst quality DVD ever made, and watch it via streaming instead. Really fun film – I’ve had mixed results with films from this era, the 60s seems to be the worst era for slack pacing for me, but Charade is a happy exception. It barely stops to breathe once the action is underway, and Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant have decent chemistry. Oh, and the music is great – I love films that have one central theme that is reimagined in different ways (it’s an upbeat opening theme, a romantic ballad, a fairground waltz…)

      • Drunk Napoleon

        How amazing and perfectly pitched is that scene of Rawls slapping some sense into McNulty? He betrays neither his rageboner for McNulty, nor his natural poh-lice brotherhood attitude.

        • Great scene. I’m paraphrasing, but I love that line – “the guy telling you this hates your guts, so you know it must be true”. I love how the Wire is full of characters who show a different side to themself when it matters the most.

        • ZoeZ

          “Believe it or not, everything’s not about you.”

          That was the speech where I tipped over into loving Rawls, and then I continued to adore him for the rest of the series: he’s completely himself. Even when the blink-and-you-miss-it scene of him in the gay bar reveals that he’s technically not himself at times, he still comes across that way: if ever there was a guy to toss around homophobic barbs at work and then go relax at a gay bar in his off-hours and feel zero internal conflict about that, it’s Rawls.

          • Miller

            Bingo on Rawls never being false even as he’s a huge dick. The other great example of that in the bullpen is Landsman, who is status quo personified, even his bulk suggests an unwillingness to move, but is cheerful and uncomplicated in his less-than-admirable behavior.

          • The Ploughman

            And then as the season go on, we get to see him in situations where he’s getting owned and there’s no sense of character karma, just another side he shows when he’s not the king in the room. God damn this show is great.

      • Jake Gittes

        I thought The Last Jedi earned [spoiler], and Johnson knew how to write him just right. His little “True burden of all Masters” speech is a casually insightful bit of wisdom that’s exactly in the spirit of Star Wars as a whole and this film in particular.

        • That whole scene just felt entirely out of place to me, but maybe just because it reminded me of the bits of the original trilogy that I’ve never liked (see also: any scene with C3P0, apart from the one where somebody tells him to shut up)

      • The Ploughman

        Based on comment trends, I move to replace High Noon with Charade on all GOAT lists.

        • Enthusiastically seconded!

        • Miller

          “Do not forsake me, Audrey Hepburn…”

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        A puppet am I? So confused I am.

      • Babalugats

        worst quality DVD ever made

        The dark side of public domain.

        • I think I might have to take a photo of the DVD “menu” before I throw it away. It’s a true thing of beauty.

    • Babalugats

      Dogville – Doesn’t hold a candle to Dog City.

      You know, if you built some sets and did a bit of location scouting this story could probably make a halfway decent movie. Although it would probably work better as a short than a feature. And at it’s best it’ll only ever be a slower, stiffer, shallower version of mother!.

      The acting is fantastic, John Hurt’s work as the narrator holds the whole film together even though the movie only really needs about a quarter of it, and Kidman gets an excellent bit of ownage at the end. But it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is an incredible waste of everyone’s time and talents. And as an “indictment of America”, it’s laughable.

      I can just imagine all those hicks in middle America, sinking into their barcaloungers after a long day in the cornfields and the coal mines, turning on the latest 3 hour long experimental art film from Denmark’s enfant terrible, shocked to find in it’s obtuse allegory an indictment of their very way of life. “Why this is just like when that beautiful Australian girl visited our town”, they’ll say, “and we chained her up in the old mill, and the whole town turned her into a sex slave, too. Just like in the movie.” And they’ll puff on their corn cob pipes, and finish off their Budweisers and their Big Macs, and they’ll… reject capitalism, I guess? Burn the country to the ground? Shake their fists impotently at that high faulting foreigner who knows them so well?

      Not that the film never comes close to hitting bone. A few of the times when Nicole Kidman is getting raped, her rapisits tell her to keep quiet because the police are nearby, and if she makes noise, they’ll find her. That’s a pretty sharp little jab. These are the only scenes where the conceit of the film ever adds anything. The lack of walls means that these scenes take place in the open, with the other characters mulling around the rest of the stage. Almost gets to the way that communities ignore abuses that are committed under the thinnest veneer of secrecy. This seems accidental on Von Trier’s part, though, since a few scenes later the town’s children are ringing the church bell announcing every time Kidman gets raped. Kidman gets raped a lot in this movie.

      This is basically the way the film operates. Everything in the presentation is reminding you that the story isn’t “real,” while the content of that story is an always escalating gauntlet of cruelties. The presentation robs the content of any emotional impact, while the grotesque nature of the story makes the formal experiment uninteresting and in poor taste. The acting is very good, although none of the characters have anything resembling a real human psychology. And I have to admit that despite the length, or anything compelling to fill that length, the film held my attention. I give it three stars, putting it more or less on par with all those forgettable historical melodramas that actually used sets and props and whatnot.

      Von Trier has proven that you don’t need sets to make a movie, although you probably still need them to make a good one.

      Pit Stop (1969) – From the great Jack Hill. I’ve been looking for this movie forever, and it just popped up on Amazon, and it’s way better than I expected.

      The movie feels like it belongs to two different eras of filmmaking. It has to be one of the last movies to use black and white as the cheap alternative to color. The protagonist is a greaser type, more in common with Brando’s Wild One than the protagonists of Easy Rider or Vanishing Point. And the cars are older model stock cars, big boxy hotrods instead of the lean muscle cars that were already starting to dominate the genre. The movie has the look and texture of a 50s/early-60s genre film. The sort of thing Sam Fuller was making. But Jack Hill was fully formed by now, and the film moves and flows like a 70s exploitation film. With all the roughness and weirdness that that implies.

      The story proper follows a street racer, arrested in the first scene, bailed out in the second, and recruited to figure 8 stock car racing in the third. This sort of racing is one of those insane institutions that you can’t understand how it ever existed and also can’t understand how it never became the world’s dominant form of entertainment. Hill depicts it, using mostly footage of real races, as being about 10% racing and 90% pileup. The setup here is nothing original, there’s a rival and a girl, a shot at the big-time and an always present specter of death. But despite the fast pace, and the simple clean visual style, everyone is much more complex than they need to be. And the film’s take on it’s protagonist was surprisingly, and satisfyingly, dark. I’ll pay Hill the highest compliment I have, and say that I was surprised when the movie stopped because I thought there was another hour left. The ending is a kick in the teeth, but it gets there quickly.

      NFL Football – That Sean Payton sure knows how to keep the audience engaged.

      • Pit Stop was way better than I expected, too. Killer soundtrack, and I love Sid Haig.

      • ZoeZ

        And the best burn award goes to that passage on middle America’s prospective reaction to Von Trier. There definitely comes a point at which making something extreme to Say Something means losing the sense of what you’re saying, and I think Dogville not only reaches that point but, from what you’re saying, pole-vaults over it.

        • Babalugats

          The thing is I don’t think Von Trier actually has anything to say. At least nothing more complex than “people suck.” All the other movies I brought up explore uniquely American cruelties. Weather it’s the suicidal culture of figure 8 racing, the blind bigotries of Easy Rider, the violent senseless conflict between law and rebellion, or even Dog City’s meditation on trying to be a good shepherd in a bad world.

          https://youtu.be/xdzDjoNZ7u0

          They all say something specific about their subject matter. But Dogville has no specificity, and so it also can have no insights. It’s an empty stage.

        • The Ploughman

          I saw Dogville as the fifth film programmed in a very full day at a festival, which is like running a marathon after four other races. I read later that the early audience reaction to the violence at the end played into von Trier’s ideas of Americans and violence. If his idea is that we have a positive response to a rape survivor supervising the machine-gunning of a fake baby after 3 hours of tedium then, sure, point Lars.

          I would agree with your overall assessment in that I don’t like the movie or agree with anything it’s doing, and yet might recommend it on the basis of discussion alone.

      • Re: your critique of Dogville‘s American deconstruction–I find this true of so many arthouse movies who are attempting to make broad social points; like, unless you’re willing to work in an unrepentantly populist/mainstream mode, you’re going to have to concede that your movie’s audience is going to be a small, self-selecting and probably left-leaning group of like-minded individuals who already know basic commentary. on society’s ills.

      • Son of Griff

        Thanks for the notification of PIT STOP

    • Glorbes

      Watched The Force Awakens with my mom and my five year old (we did a sleepover at his Grammy’s house). I like that movie. Also, once the kiddo was in bed, my mom and I watched Key Largo, which I just adore.

      Also, last night, my buddies and I watched The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, a notorious flop from the fifties in which Dr. Seuss wrote the screenplay and designed the look of the film. The sets were amazing, but this was a premise that would make a great short, stretched to feature length and loaded with inertly directed song and dance numbers. It’s a wonderful oddity with a few nightmarish touches, and while I can see how it developed a cult following, I also can’t say it was a very good movie, aside from the technical aspects of the production.

    • ZoeZ

      Personal Shopper: If there is an award for “most terrifying string of text messages,” it goes to this movie without question, and it’s also a terrific use of technology to not just make use of the phone but also of airplane mode. The sense of dream breaking into horror breaking into dream is expertly done here, and my theory would be that I-have-connections-with-German-Vogue guy kills Maureen and that the movie after that unseen hotel room encounter is her wandering through the world before passing on, her connections imaginary and elusive, until she accepts that what she’s been seeing and sensing all along is herself, not her brother.

      Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: It probably helped that I went into this with low expectations, but I’m with our Nerd: this is solidly entertaining. While it doesn’t really rise above the workmanlike, it has a decent sense of craftsmanship and care, and feels like the work of people genuinely invested in what they were doing. I’ll also give it a lot of points for taking the most obvious joke–beautiful teenaged girl in Jack Black’s body!–and giving that character the best and most moving character development.

      High Noon: And this was probably hurt that I went into it with high expectations. This felt… limp to me, with a moral dilemma that gets kneecapped by both muddiness (how bad is Frank Miller, exactly? A lot of people seem to not mind the idea of him coming back) and over-simplicity (it’s patently obvious from the beginning that Will is right and that everyone else is either misguided, evil, or cowardly). Also, that song deserves to be iconic, but I did not deserve to have to listen to it every two minutes of the film. Show some restraint.

      More of The Mick. Best part: a seven year-old sitting through an all-day marathon of Clockwork Orange/The Fly/The Exorcist/House of a Thousand Corpses and then nonchalantly removing a stiletto heel from a man’s eyeball.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        The overuse of the song in High Noon does pay off when the music cuts out entirely at the climax.

      • I like High Noon a lot, but I cannot stand “Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin.”

        • ZoeZ

          I can only assume that leads to a very conflicted relationship with the movie itself, since they never stop playing it. /foams at the mouth with wrath

          I honestly think the over-repetition of it probably hurt my reception of the movie as a whole.

          • It definitely makes my relationship conflicted, ha.

            Credit where credit is due, though–not many movies at the time were doing that sort of thing, making a motif out of a vocal track, and it wouldn’t really become standard practice until The Graduate (another movie that suffers from overrepetition of a song).

        • Miller

          But the song is telling you not to forsake it, dammit!

        • What are your thoughts on Chungking Express and “California Dreaming”?

          • It tests my patience, though as with High Noon, I like the movie overall.

          • Agreed. I like California Dreaming quite a bit, but I have my limits dammit.

          • The Narrator

            “The ‘In’ Crowd” in Irrational Man works fine, though, right?

            *is booed loudly and lustily*

          • I honestly don’t remember “The ‘In’ Crowd” being in Irrational Man, so yeah, I’d say so, if it’s fled my mind so effectively.

          • The Narrator

            Ha, that probably remains my main takeaway from that film. Wonder Wheel tries to do the same thing with “Coney Island Washboard” and it doesn’t work nearly as well.

          • I think I usually tune out the music in Woody Allen movies, because it’s rarely notable beyond mood-setting. I mean, there are exceptions (“Cheek to Cheek,” e.g.), but overall, it just never makes much of an impression on me.

      • Babalugats

        I like that take on Personal Shopper

        • pico

          Me, too. I don’t know if I agree, but I’m now mulling over certain scenes in an entirely different way, which is what great films do.

      • Miller

        Will’s wife bagging on him and telling him not to do his job is the worst, it’d be lame enough as is but with everyone else in town also chickenshitting all over the place it’s especially egregious. I don’t know if it’s real or apocryphal that this movie pissed off Howard Hawks so much that he made Rio Bravo but it makes sense to me.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        High Noon is indeed really boring and limp to me as well but yeah, I get that song stuck in my head all the time and I love it.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Hah, I’ve been really enjoying The Mick. It could just be a show that coasts on Kaitlin Olson’s gifts, but it really does rise above that. In particular, they nailed the casting– all the leads are terrific.

    • lgauge

      There Will Be Blood: Suffers from extreme hype, but while I found the overall text (especially its themes of foundational capitalism and religion, masculinity and family) to be just fine, it is no doubt a gorgeously crafted film. The opening steals generously from the Dawn of Man sequence of 2001, but any annoyance with that quickly wears off as the story gets going. Can’t be bothered to say much more about this heavily discussed film, but I’d be remiss not to note the many stunning frames and movements conjured up by Anderson and Elswit, the wonderful and tense score by Greenwood and of course the towering (if maybe, at least in the final scene, just a little too big) performance by Day-Lewis. It’s good, but it’s not my favorite Anderson.

      Chain Letters (Mark Rappaport): Now this is a strange one. I was kind of ready to write this off as an unsuccessful curiosity, but then in the second half it got queer and more interesting. It’s definitely a frustrating experience, with the writing and acting going back and forth between overtly cheesy and just incompetently cheesy. The whole thing is some weird mix between Americanized French oddball film (like if Resnais made After Hours, but not nearly as good as that sounds), sex-less porno, b-grade queer film and half-baked paranoid thriller. I genuinely don’t know where to file this. I sort of like it, but also had some serious issues with it. It’s good at times, but also seemingly very bad. This is my first encounter with Rappaport, who’s mainly acclaimed for documentaries and though his overall pedigree makes me wonder if I missed something crucial, it’s hard not to think “good try I guess, but it was probably smart of you to try something else”. Would recommend with caution.

    • The Ploughman

      Carnival of Souls – Wanted to share some classic movie time with the Ploughgirl so we perused Kanopy and she decided she wanted to try something “creepy.” There’s slim pickings for a 6YO in that category but this was a good selection – not very long, not very complicated, and relies on mostly atmosphere and few relatively gentle ghostie jump scares. In the meantime I was happy to discover it was a better movie than I remembered. It still has its clunky moments – many come right in a row at the end during the final “scares,” unfortunately – but it’s well-framed and imaginatively edited. Harvey’s European influences are evident but not pretentious. And he looks perfectly ghoulish as lead ghostie! Next step up is probably Poletergeist, but it will probably be a while before that step.

      After Earth – Thanks to my new and unhealthy addiction to past series of the Blank Check podcast, I find myself filling in a couple holes in the M. Night Shyamalan filmography. I didn’t super hate this one like The Happening. I liked the theme, however obvious (father remotely guiding his son through trials but son must ultimately win the day for himself) but the premise and execution – meh. It’s the cheapest-looking film on whatever is the minimum Will Smith budget to boot.

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        I thought After Earth was an average sci-fi movie, but because it was made by Shyamalan, one of Geek-Internet’s favorite whipping boys, the outsized negative reaction was disproportionate to the actual quality of the movie. This happens with Michael Bay, Zack Snyder and perennial favorite George Lucas. I’m not saying that a majority of the criticism isn’t warranted, but there’s something of a distasteful pile-on effect that happens.

        • The Ploughman

          It gets off on a really bad foot, with its jammed-in prologue establishing the only three rules that makeup this universe. Then it never really does anything to get out of that rut, plus it’s dour as hell, so if you’re inclined to doggy-pile, it doesn’t resist very strongly. Needed a 90s-style Will Smith closing credits theme rap. (“Ha-ha! Ha-ha! / Gonna take our ship just you and me / Gonna see how bad future Earth can be”)

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            That rap is a thing of beauty. I miss the Willenium.

      • Babalugats

        Although I’d never want to go back, there was something to say for the era when movies for adults still had to be suitable for kids. It’s good for a kid to have to stretch to grasp a movie, or you know, any kind of story. I grew up on Hitchcock and Bogart and there’s a lot of room to grow in those films. You get older, and you slowly discover more and more layers of subtext. And that era of horror is really well suited for a young audience. It’s very open to your imagination. That’s probably the best age to go through Universal Horror.

        • The Ploughman

          Ooh, Universal Horror is a great idea. We did King Kong a little while ago, but that’s hard sit with some racial issues.

          Usually wishes for the days before every “serious” film had to be R-rated are kinda prudish but I appreciate it more as a parent. Something like Double Indemnity had every bit as much complexity as any modern thriller and all I have to explain is, uh, why an obscure insurance clause would cause two people to conspire to murder. Carnival of Souls does have a creep with bad designs on our leading lady, but it could be easily understood that he’s a bad guy because he won’t leave her alone after she asks him to go without getting into anything more mature than that.

    • clytie

      Friday: I continued watching Riverdale.

      Saturday: The Lifetime original movie A Tale of Two Coreys. It was as amazing as it sounds. The best part was when fake Haim asked fake Feldman, “How much ass are you getting?”

      The second best part: when Feldman screamed at his agent, “I was in one of the biggest independent films of the Nineties!” and his agent replied, “The voice of a turtle puppet doesn’t count.”

      I also watched the follow-up interview with Feldman.

      Sunday: As I do every Sunday, I watched Sunday Morning. The highlight was an interview with Greta Gerwig, Later I called my mom and she watched it too and it turned her into a Greta Gerwig superfan.

      Hallmark showed the original movie A Taste of Romance which I watched because it stars James Patrick Stuart who plays my current fave soap opera character. The movie was cute and he’s handsome and charming. Two thumbs up!

      The Golden Globe Awards until Kyle MacLachlan lost. Boring and tiresome. Worst of all: the dresses were so dull.

    • The Narrator

      I, Tonya: This was marketed as a brash comedy, and it is that, but this has stuck with me much more as a pretty viscerally disturbing depiction of abuse both physical and psychological (I don’t get the complaints that that stuff is played for laughs, as the otherwise pretty energetic audience I saw this was with stone-quiet besides a few bits of shock when that stuff went down). In particular, I thought Allison Janney was going to do the Melisa Leo-in-The Fighter thing of being the wacky, brassy mother, but her stone-faced mistreatment of her daughter is not played for laughs at all (her final scene with Margot Robbie is brutal) and she’s pretty terrifying in this (Sebastian Stan is also terrifying playing Jeff Gillooly as bizarrely sedate when he’s not throwing his wife against mirrors). I would probably love this on that level if it wasn’t for the direction, which struck me as far too manic in its Scorsese aping (the rapid Steadicam-in on action is used like it’s going out of style), and most of the “super sounds of the 70s”-esque soundtrack, which often feels either tacked-on or too on-the-nose (the big exception being the A+ use of “The Chain”). But Margot Robbie kills it, and the movie as a whole works enough to overcome its problems.

      Flesh + Blood: Man, I was expecting Paul Verhoeven to take some time to fully develop the style in his American films, but this is fully-formed, in that it’s just as fucked-up as anything he’s made since. This is a medieval epic that wallows in the absolute depravity of the time, from the plague and the “treatment” thereof to the, uh, rape (the treatment and aftermath of that reminded me a lot of Elle, albeit in a cruder form in a movie that’s not totally about that).

      Blank Check with Griffin and David: Flesh + Blood: I was expecting a Loveless-level of not talking about the movie here, but this was actually a pretty stimulating conversation on it and Verhoeven’s career at large, with a generous helping of delirious tangents. Hearing Ben made so angry by this movie was an unexpected treat too.

      The Golden Globes: God willing, Three Billboards will be subject to enough backlash to not repeat at Best Picture or Screenplay at the Oscars (or the Academy just independently votes different than those easily-bribed goons at the Hollywood Foreign Press), not because I don’t like it but because I don’t want to fucking go through this song and dance again (and also Lady Bird 4EVA). Other than that, it was very Golden Globesy for the wrong double-performance in a limited series to win Best Actor, and also this:

      https://twitter.com/siIkysheets/status/950193363650662400

      • No matter how much controversy 3 Billboards generates, I’ll be content with an Oscar for Sam Rockwell. It’ll make up for Moon.

      • clytie

        ” and most of the “super sounds of the 70s”-esque soundtrack, which often feels either tacked-on or too on-the-nose”

        They really missed an opportunity to use cheesy 80s and 90s music. Hey filmmakers-the 70s weren’t the only decade with bad music!

        • Son of Griff

          Amen, sister

      • Miller

        Holy dog turds, you weren’t joking about Three Billboards? Christ. Well, if nothing else that cleaning up at the MeToo Golden Globes should generate several reams of dissertations on intersectionality…

        • The Narrator

          The stated message of the night seemed to be quite at odds with what actually won, between that and Oldman and Franco (plus Franco bringing Wiseau on stage).

    • Miller

      Violence!

      Goon 2: Last Of The Enforcers – standard sequel level of being about 60-70 percent as good as the original, which is a near-classic. Scott and Schreiber are still a lot of fun, Jay Baruchel’s direction is right out of Apatow school.

      Bills vs. Jaguars – watched with a friend who told me he had just seen The Disaster Artist but hadn’t watched The Room. In its astonishing incompetence and obliviousness, combined with brief instances of tossing a football around, this game was easily The Room’s equal. Appalling.

      Brawl In Cell Block 99 – S. Craig Zahler is a pretentious fraud. The violence here is quite good, as is Vaughn doling it out (and even the movie’s general ugliness works as cinematography) but the story and plotting are not simple but nonsensical. Like Bone Tomahawk, genre is used as an excuse for violence and there is nothing wrong with that per se but at least put some thought into the story, or if you don’t care, tell a shorter one. There was a lot of Peckinpah talk last week and this movie’s ownage is so empty in comparison. I preferred this to Tomahawk but Zahler needs a co-writer to pull his head out of his ass.

      • The Narrator

        Lucky for you, Zahler’s next movie is *checks notes* a movie about police brutality where the police are played by Vaughn and Mel Gibson, which he wrote himself.

        • Miller

          Blergh. And that could reactionary garbage and I’d still be OK with that if there was an actual story there.

        • clytie

          Is it wrong that I’m just pleased that Mel is getting work?

      • Bills-Jaguars should be put in lead canisters and shot into the Sun.

        • Miller

          I don’t think I’ve seen a game where the announcers were so openly contemptuous of what they were watching. And rightfully so.

      • Literally fell asleep watching Bills v. Jaguars: Dawn of the Dead. Putting two teams of zombies against each other would have been somewhat more interesting but no more energetic.

        • Miller

          A team of zombies would have successfully run down the last minute of clock in the half instead of going three and out in 15 seconds.

      • Babalugats

        He needs a co-writer and an editor and a cinematographer and…

        • Miller

          Ha! I enjoyed your diatribe after watching this but I did find the cinematography, what there was of it, to be very effective here, much better than Bone Tomahawk at least.

    • Jake Gittes

      Lucky – a worthy final starring role for Harry Dean Stanton, who is both unassuming and iconic here in the way only he could be. Only real issue is that this is a movie about a cranky 90-year-old atheist that decides he has some growth to demonstrate, and that element is slightly exasperating, although to be fair it also leads to at least one genuinely amazing scene. Directed by John Carroll Lynch, this would already have plenty of resonance as a love letter from one first-rate character actor to another, but what makes it a real pleasure is that it’s a full-on celebration of character actors, period – Stanton is always in focus, but Ron Livingston, Beth Grant, Ed Begley Jr., Barry Shabaka Henley, and Tom Skerritt (whom I didn’t recognize until the final credits informed me that was him) all turn up and get their time to shine. Then there’s David Lynch, and while there’s no way to forget who you’re watching in his case, he’s a comforting and enjoyable enough presence in his own way that I don’t feel like griping. Additional kudos to the other Lynch for not exactly following the template of a typical character-based American indie – I mean, it is basically that, but carries a quiet, offhand eccentricity that feels its own.

      Far from Heaven (second viewing) – really loved this a couple years ago, not quite as much this time. It is of course gorgeous and more importantly very incisive in showing how exactly its characters are all trapped by their respective repressions and/or prejudices, resulting in no major relationship left standing by the end. But even despite the movie announcing itself as an old-fashioned melodrama, things like all the straightforward racism from the side characters or the bullying scene with Dennis Haysbert’s daughter don’t come across as any more than incredibly easy bids for the audience’s sympathy and/or disgust, and Dennis Quaid’s “I met someone I love” turn near the end is severely underdeveloped – it might have worked if he’d never been a point-of-view character earlier, but he had, so this just feels like Haynes needed the story to go in a certain direction and took the quickest shortcut he could find. Still damn good on the whole, especially the Moore-Haysbert relationship, but not the near-masterwork I thought it was. Wanted to just cry along with Moore at some point – there sure as hell were plenty of opportunities – but never did.

      Carol (second viewing) – was glad to find that this largely holds up, and given my feeling that this, Safe and Mildred Pierce (in no particular order) are Haynes’ best works, I might put forward an argument that he’s at his greatest when he doesn’t mimic, homage, or play around, but chooses a particular style that can’t be immediately traced back to something else and simply commits to it. The slow-burn flirtation between Mara and Blanchett remains exquisite, the ending still perhaps the most casually thrilling in recent memory.

      The Pirate (third viewing) – depths of emotion, romantic longings, unfulfilled dreams! It’s the end of the holiday week that turned out to be unexpectedly Judy Garland-heavy for me (in addition to rewatching A Star Is Born on the 30th and being steamrolled all over again by it, I also finally listened to her Carnegie Hall album the next day, and, what do you know, found myself listening to it again on every day since), which brought with it a certain amount of melancholy, so I thought I’d cinematically propel myself into the new year with the most purely joyous, weirdest and kinkiest movie she ever made. And, well, yeah, this is basically my comfort food. Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Hell yes on The Pirate. Maybe Garland’s best performance, but kudos especially to Kelly and Minnelli for their insistence that The Nicholas Brothers share the screen with Kelly, and Minnelli for casting so many black faces among the extras–neither of these were business as usual for MGM in the forties, and it’s reassuring to know the people who made this wonderful movie were also decent human beings.

        • Jake Gittes

          And goddamn do the Nicholas brothers make Kelly KEEP UP with them in their big scene. I will never not be amazed watching that.

          Can’t go there re: Garland if only because A Star Is Born exists, but I do wish she got to play more stuff like this, fiery and uninhibited. “Mack the Black” and her realization of what Kelly is up to (and subsequent hell-hath-no-fury ownage of him) are so, so good and so fucking fun.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            I really like the dazed, neurotic quality Garland projects in the early scenes–possibly because she was at a personal low point during filming–that almost feels like she wandered in off the set of a noir.

        • Son of Griff

          Check out Minnelli’s black cast CABIN IN THE SKY if you haven’t done so. It weaves a lot of motifs from independent African American cinema, such as Spencer William’s BLOOD OF JESUS, into a glossy MGM aesthetic. While a curiosity, it is also mostly entertaining.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            For a product of its era, Cabin In The Sky is surprisingly free of cringe-inducing material, especially compared to something like Green Pastures. Minnelli knew Ethel Waters and Lena Horne well, so there may have been a higher than usual level of trust.

          • Son of Griff

            It generously embraces the exuberance of negritude without underscoring the racial divide between what it shows and whites identity, as otherwise seen in blackface minstrelsy or in the pastoral fantasias of Green Pastures or Hallelujah!. It exhibits a notion that black culture is interwoven in the American cultural fabric, as opposed to something outside of it.

      • Son of Griff

        The three Hayne’s films you mention are my favorites, in that his style in those is not built on mimicry. Of the more mannered films FAR FROM HEAVEN works the best for me, largely because it has a strong enough story that is in direct conversation with the 50s dramas that it emulates.

        • Jake Gittes

          We’re on the same page then. Far from Heaven would be my #4 too, then the music biopics. I still need to see Poison though.

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        Let’s get the “Well actually Carol is a Christmas movie” meme going.

        • If, in the near future, cable channels show a trifecta of A Christmas Story, Die Hard, and Carol every Christmas Eve the world would be a measurably better place.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            TBS, get on that.

        • Jake Gittes

          I’m a simple man. All I really need from my movies is Rooney Mara in a Santa hat, and this movie has that.

        • The Narrator

          I’m going all in on “Mistress America is a Thanksgiving movie”, myself.

    • Star Trek Discovery – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum: This hour of American TV fails to do a single thing well, from the pretentious Latin title to the moronic A plot and the pointless B plot to the forced romance. After a slow incline upward in quality, we are back to where we were. And, given the spoiler I think I saw for last night’s episode, the worst might be yet to come. We are in Enterprise territory right now in terms of quality. Sigh.

      The Good Place – Leap to Faith: If you accept the big twist at the start of the episode, everything else flows perfectly. Frankly, I have my issues with the twist, but it’s hard to argue with the rest of it.

      • Glorbes

        I gave up on Discovery after 4 episodes. It’s just too boring.

      • pico

        Even though The Good Place is likely my favorite thing on television right now, we were wondering if the reason it burns through plot so quickly is that the edifice it’s built on could collapse at any minute. “Leap to Faith” was a good example of that: as soon as you start picking at that opening twist, it raises more questions than it answers.

    • This week, I found out that the shorts list I was operating on didn’t actually include everything. The list I’m using STILL doesn’t include everything, but is now 475 hours long. To wit, if we ran a 24/7 shorts program, we wouldn’t run out of original content for three weeks.

      Again, I’m reasserting my wishes for people to keep their festival-oriented shorts content to under 20 minutes. And, by festival oriented, I mean not actually destined for HBO or PBS as a 30 minute news special. Real thread.

      • I also feel like noting that I wrote to TODDDDDD and asked for advice as a minority writer. I submitted my articles on God’s Own Country, The Unbearable Whiteness of A Ghost Story, and The Final Girl of Get Out (amongst others). He was like “you can write. If you wanted to transition to this full time…” which is a real compliment. He also said I need to bring readers along for the ride, so to speak. That my writing tends to feel like I’m talking to people who have seen the movie rather than helping them think about how the experience is going to go. Which, totally guilty. I need to be better about that in future writings.

        Obviously, between this new job (which probably pays more than a film critic, and I’m living in expensive Seattle so it’s needed) and the screening committee consuming every waking minute that’s not spent playing FFVI (aka FFIII on SNES Classic), I don’t even have time to watch feature length movies anymore. But, it’s really nice knowing I have that option. And, if I can get ahead of myself in the screening committee, I promise to come back. But, watching 10-15 hours of shorts a week and writing about them is time consuming y’all.

        Still, that’s proof that this website is for people to practice their writing and get further along in their development. I wrote in it every day and you can see my writing improve (and regress and improve and regress). To all writers on here, just keep writing.

        • About thirty years from now, the Solute is gonna be seen as the Bloomsbury Group of the 21st century for its incubation of young talent. Watch it happen, everybody.

          • lgauge

            And the rest of us can say “I was also there!”

          • “. . .this was, of course, before her consciousness was uploaded and she became known as the Ownagematic 3000.”
            “Tell me more!”
            “Back then, Nankervisland was simply called ‘Australia’. . .”

          • The Ploughman

            I’d like to see a Mary & Percy Shelly / Bram Stocker thing where a Lovefest or Year of the Month somehow sprouts multiple classic monster stories.

    • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

      The Clone Wars 2D Animated series Vol. 1 and 2. The animation was cool, it had a looser, more stylized look to the characters than the 3D animated series. It answered a few questions I had about the minute details of that era of Star Wars, like why do the Padawns have those braids and what exactly are the Jedi Trials?

      The episodes we’re only 5 minutes long which I enjoyed. As I get older it seems my attention span is getting shorter. When I was a younger man I remember watching all 3 Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVDs in one day. Now it seems I can’t even…there are some birds in the bird feeder.

    • jroberts548

      I haven’t done one of these in a while. Of note:

      Dunkirk. Having three separate, non-contemporary timelines gave the movie a little bit of a puzzle box vibe that was a little tonally inconsistent with the movie as a whole. It was otherwise really good.

      Re-watched Wonder Woman with family. The weightlessness of the action and effects sequences stood out even more watching it at home. But after reading how a lot of people really loved the crossing the trench scene, I could also see the appeal of it as power fantasy for people who have waited too long for superhero movies with women leads.

      Also, I have a gross cold this weekend so I re-watched Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. Every time Green Goblin was on the screen, I thought to myself “that’s a very stable genius.”

      Non-film:
      Riverdale, season 1. I was encouraged to watch this by the Dissolve’s Charles Bramesco’s tweets calling the show Hot Archie Who Fucks. We went through the first season in about a week. It’s a fun teen soap. It made me feel old, as I’m closer in age to Ms Gundy than to the young leads.

      It’s pretty well shot. Nice use of color, plenty of moody establishing shots. The plotting is a little dubious at points.

      • lgauge

        Riverdale gets a lot better in the second season. Though I liked Season 1, once the delight at the concept and execution wore off it didn’t quite feel like essential viewing. Season 2 really does.

        • Miller

          How much better does it get? I’m stalled about halfway through season one, there are good parts but I’m annoyed by Betty and frequently driven into a frothing rage by Archie himself, who seems to have this main character focus despite being an utter pud – why the fuck his mewling pap is given any amount of air time in competition or god forbid collaboration with the actually interesting Pussycats music is infuriating.

          • lgauge

            Archie and Betty are certainly given more dramatic material in the second season, though hard to say whether you’d find them less annoying. If you’re not into the show’s overall vibe, I’m not sure the improvements will be enough, but who knows. I guess you could try skipping ahead to the penultimate episode, which is more plot heavy (the finale is mostly denouements, explanations and then a hook for the next season), and try proceeding from there.

          • Miller

            The Tween Peaks vibe is fine (and Betty seems to have room to grow), it just seems folded around this black hole at the center who only feels like he’s there because of comic history.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      I started a new job today so I won’t comment here *quite* as much, but Sleepaway Camp is a movie that makes star ratings look like a ridiculous metric of judgement. This film is fucked up and terrible and hilarious and disgusting (so many sexualized children and bad gender tropes) and entertaining and holds one remarkably disturbing, terrifying final shot. It truly frightened me.

      • pico

        Congrats on the new gig!

      • The Ploughman

        Congrats on the new job but more importantly congrats on your entry into the world after having seen Sleepaway Camp. I, too, saw it without knowing what I was getting into, figuring it for a typical dead teenager camp film. It, uh, is not typical. For sure. I recommend follow-up with the Dissolve review (Scott Tobias writes it, I think?) and the discussion in the comments and spoiler space.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        A trans woman friend of mine held a lecture once on trans representation in film, and her take on this film was “look, it’s complicated”.

    • pico

      Star Wars: The Last Jedi: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      Also a pretty dull ep. of Black Mirror (“Arkangel”) and a pretty good episode of SHIELD (the most recent).

    • Rosy Fingers

      The Lure (Córki dancingu) – I don’t recall where I saw this recommended, maybe on this very website, but I’m glad I did. A crazy, electropop musical fairy tale from Poland featuring copius debauchery, throat-ripping and other fun times. Tonally jarring and thoroughly weird, to the extent where I wasn’t sure which elements were culturally specific to Poland and which were just plain odd. But it didn’t matter. I enjoyed it.

      I Am Not a Serial Killer – an indie fantasy thriller featuring Christopher Lloyd as a menace, which is my preferred mode for Lloyd. In some ways this felt like a throwback to mid-nineties indie filmmaking, with the smalltown USA setting, single factory on the edge of town, ever-present water tower on the skyline… Or maybe it was just the film grain. The fantastical elements were visually stunning, with great use of expressionistic shadow, and the visuals in general were beautiful. It moved along at a compelling pace. All in all, a nice surprise: just a really well made indie film.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      The House by the Cemetery – my roommate has been getting into Italian horror lately, so we decided to start the new semester with some Fulci. I’m happy with the decision, honestly – the slow burn (well, as close to a slow burn as a movie loaded with innard-filled mannequins, inept bat stabbings, and astonishingly unconvincing toddler dubbing can be) nature of this movie doesn’t hit me quite as much as the utterly gonzo 100-MPH-descent-into-hell that is The Beyond, but it’s hard to deny Fulci’s gift for atmosphere and tension, and that hatchet scene is more than worth the price of rental.

      Also, hello! Again. For the umpteenth time. Been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been kind of occupied lately with my college schedule and various film-related things, but now that it’s lightened up and I’ve started to miss this place, I’m back. Hopefully I didn’t miss too much.

      • pico

        Welcome back! Everything has changed and nothing has changed, like everything on the internet.

      • Miller

        There are so many possibilities contained within the phrase “inept bat stabbings” (are the bats the instruments of stabbing? Are they themselves inept?) that I beg you not to narrow this down.

        • Quinn the Eskimo

          Nothing I can say could prepare you for the scene itself. It is quite definitely something.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    What have we been reading?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Finished The Big Nowhere by James “His Boy” Ellroy. Holy shit. Danny Upshaw’s death is the hardest a fictional death has hit me since Lem’s death, because I really thought the guy was gonna make it. Mal was almost as bad, though at least he got a more badass and dignified death. I didn’t expect to like Buzz as much as I ended up doing, with it mainly coming from his reaction to Danny’s death, bringing a cop’s sense of brotherhood even though he wasn’t really a cop anymore.

      The final two chapters very much reminded me of The Black Dahlia (which even gets namedropped), but I had a harder time spotting what Ellroy made up and what was based on fact; the first book had some serious and unpleasant tonal swings between the factual stuff (which had a sense of dignity even though the horror) and the stuff he’d clearly made up, which felt tackier and more sensationalistic. This book solved the problem by being pretty much entirely tacky and sensationalistic, and was much better for it.

      I cannot wait to read LA Confidential and White Jazz, especially after seeing Conor rave about the latter on Facebook; this refined the good parts of The Black Dahlia while still clearly having a way to go.

      • ZoeZ

        White Jazz is my favorite of the Quartet, and it’s the perfect bridge of the large-scale history of the Underworld USA Trilogy, the moment where iconic characters from the Quartet achieve status prominent enough and legendary enough that they tip over into feeling like landmark figures the unstable protagonist has to exist around.

        The Big Nowhere is terrific, though, for all the reasons you mentioned, plus Dudley’s first appearance is amazing.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Dudley almost feels too big and too iconic for the world he’s in.

          • L. A. Confidential feels a lot like Ellroy jumping the scale (in historical breadth, in the number and iconography of the characters, in complexity of plot, pretty much everything) to get it all on the level of Dudley Smith.

          • Son of Griff

            Dudley is the monstrous fun house mirror personification of Parker’s philosophy of policing as reflected in Jack Webb’s “The Badge”. If the years of the L.A. Quartet books come up in the Year of the Month I’ll link my Powerpoint on L.A. Confidential for your perusal.

      • Miller

        Nowhere is probably my personal favorite of the LA Quartet, even as I recognize that Confidential is better, and Danny Upshaw is a huge reason why. He and Buzz are great contrasts, one entirely comfortable in his crapulence and the other torn apart by what he won’t recognize. And I don’t see Mal’s death as badass at all, just horribly sad – he fails to save his adopted son and then is murdered by another young man he thinks he can rescue. He operates people and is damn good at it, but is undone when it’s on him to act.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Re spoiler: better to have owned and lost than never to have owned at all.

      • Son of Griff

        THE BIG NOWHERE is made up primarily of fictional events based on real incidents. The labor strike referred to occurred in 1946 at Warner’s instead of what is implied as RKO in 1952, for example. The Mickey Cohen material, while made up, fits the actual timeline. L.A.CONFIDENTIAL and WHITE JAZZ are more like THE BLACK DAHLIA in terms of mixing specific events with fictional composites. Both also create darkly romantic phantasmagoria’s of Parker’s politically pragmatic reformation of the L.A.P.D.

        Ellroy’s novels post L.A. Quartet are more grounded in the historical record. THE BLACK DAHLIA does a fantastic job of integrating the progress of the actual investigation into the narrative up to a point.

    • I’m not-very-far into Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec, as covered in an article here by Pico recently. I’m enjoying it very much, and the short chapters are an excellent fit for my seriously out-of-shape reading muscles. I neglected it over the weekend due to Wire-binging but I’m looking forward to diving in again later.

      • The Ploughman

        I misread that as “wine-binging” at first. Adjusting the intervention banner accordingly.

        • I got through a LOT of pie and coffee while watching Twin Peaks last year, if I follow a similar path with The Wire then we’re definitely in intervention town.

      • pico

        I couldn’t be happier!

        (Even if you end up not liking it. I’m just happy it’s circulating.)

        Thank you for taking a chance on a favorite of mine!

        • I’ve just finished Part One and I’m very much enjoying it so far, so thank you for bringing it to my attention!

    • Reading The Idiot, by Elif Batuman–A very dry novel about a girl’s first year as a Harvard undergraduate. It’s maybe a bit too dry, although there are some very funny depictions of academia and the protagonist’s deadpan not taking its bullshit.

    • lgauge

      Collections of translated articles from Cahiers du Cinéma in the 50s and 60s, because everything has to be about movies with me I guess.

      • PCguy

        Rereading the Cahiers Manifesto sounds like an interesting excercize for 2018. I bet I have a completely different take on it now then I did was in school bwa ha.

        • lgauge

          It’s interesting for many reasons. First and foremost just getting a sense of what their ideas really were, not just the cliff notes version that gets thrown around whenever someone speaks of the Nouvelle Vague. Secondly, it’s at times interesting to see how their ideas changed between merely writing about film and then beginning to make them. And of course it’s nice to read their various takes; some good, some bad. I recently read a really vintage hot take called “In Defense of Violence” (by Michel Mourlet), which is somewhere between proto vulgar auterism and fascism. That one is, as you can imagine, mostly really bad, but certainly fascinating.

    • ZoeZ

      Ruth Rendell’s The Best Man to Die. The Inspector Wexford books have become comfort reading for me lately, with everything smoothly written and complexly characterized and the pleasures of deduction and restraint intact in a world that has more raggedness than, say, Christie’s.

      Kicked off the new year by rereading S. M. Hulse’s Black River, a lovely novel about fiddle music and fraught moral suspense, sort of like what you would get if you crossed Marilynne Robinson with Daniel Woodrell, and therefore very much the kind of thing I like.

      Audiobook: Leviathan Wakes, the first book of The Expanse. I feel the worldbuilding is a little stronger than the characterization, but I’m still liking this so far.

      • The TV adaptation of the Inspector Wexford books used the town where I grew up to fill-in for its actual, fictional town. Which is kinda cool, but not cool enough that I’ve actually, you know, watched any of them.

        • ZoeZ

          That is at least cooler than the one pop culture mention I’ve found of the town where I grew up, which is that it’s where Trashcan Man in The Stand received electroshock therapy. To be fair, that probably accurately represents things.

        • Son of Griff

          The Drive-in where I saw many of @gillianren’s Disney features when I was a kid got a shout out in A SCANNER DARKLY, and a custom car paint shop in my old hometown got mentioned in INHERENT VICE. A rather acclaimed Orange County based novel written by a graduate from my high schooll totaly ripped off a story that my econ teacher used to tell his class when he was bored.

    • clytie

      The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by
      Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. I’m not very far into it, but it’s about the case of
      Ricky Langley, who murdered a young neighbor, and how Marzano-Lesnevich saw herself in him and her own life in his.

    • The Ploughman

      Continuing my Errol Morris deep dive with his book A Wilderness if Error. @clytie-like true crime with Morris’s desire to keep after the big truths. Interesting to hear his voice in a different medium.

      • Son of Griff

        I find it to be an interesting account of the writer’s failure to adequately exonerate his subject (Jeffrey MacDonald) while finding much amiss in his trial and subsequent treatment by journalists. Even if given the time to examine the case in WORMWOOD like detail, I don’t know if the project could be thematically and narratively satisfying on film.

    • Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – Realized I’d never read it, so correcting that error. Death continues to be my favorite character in the Discworld. HO HO HO.

    • This Is Your Brain on Parasites: an interesting if rather surface-level look at the effect that parasites and evolutionary psychology have on animal and human behavior. Lots of ideas are raised about how much outside factors alter us, but there is not a ton of solid proof for most things yet. Still, it is a good idea to never handle kitty litter.

      Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life by Robert Dallek: the renowned presidential biographer – his work on JFK is excellent, and his two books on LBJ are good and can hold you over until Robert Caro finishes the last volume of his epic work – turns his eye to FDR. And as usual, he brings a liberal PoV combined with a skill for letting the record speak for itself most of the time. His FDR is at once someone he admires and someone he is not afraid to criticize. This is not totally balanced, but it’s close enough to satisfy me. And Eleanor gets a lot of screen time, as she should.

    • Miller

      Currently on The Farthest Shore after re-reading the first two books of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea cycle. I’d forgotten how dark and despairing this book is (and how it points the way toward the latter three books in the cycle despite at the time being the capper of a trilogy) – LeGuin does not fuck around in depiction of an unbalanced world.

      • Son of Griff

        I need to re-read these. I have advocated LeGuin being assigned in AP English classes since college.

        • Miller

          Really, it’s ridiculous she’s not part of the curriculum.

      • Rosy Fingers

        Question: is the latter trilogy worth reading? I’m very enamoured of the original trilogy but have avoided the follow-ups for fear of disappointment.

        • Miller

          So I first read the entire cycle a few years ago, entirely ignorant of the controversies, specifically around Tehanu. My experience is that the second trilogy is very much worth reading but it, and again Tehanu in particular, very pointedly interrogates the first trilogy (and as I am realizing now, drawing out things that were there but submerged). I’d definitely recommend it but go in expecting some harsh revisiting. And LeGuin is an honest an exacting writer, so her examination of her characters’ flaws is also an examination of her own.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Huh. I wasn’t even aware of any controversy until now. My fear was more that a follow up trilogy would be a tired retread rather than a harsh self-examination. I’m intrigued now.

          • Miller

            It’s definitely not a tired retread! From what I understand, a lot of the brouhaha stemmed from Tehanu coming nearly two decades later, when no one was really expecting a new chapter to a concluded series, combined with the book’s feminist focus and criticism of its world and characters that many people had fond memories of. Imagine Last Jedi came out in 1997 instead of Phantom Menace, maybe.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Sold. I’m going to seek these books out. Haven’t seen The Last Jedi but the rest of your pitch does the trick.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      For reasons I can’t comprehend, a dog-eared paperback of the Jaws 2 novelization was sitting on a break room table at work. For reasons I am even less able to understand, I read it. It was…slightly better than you’d think? I guess?

      • Miller

        Unless it has a pointless yet erotic-for-a-12-year-old sex scene with Brody’s wife, no sale.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          I was eleven when I read the original novel, and my sister literally tore those pages out before she loaned me her copy.

          • Miller

            Blasphemy! The kind of philistinism that would deny a reader the pages of vaginal reconstructive surgery in The Godfather!

      • Rosy Fingers

        I adore novelizations and will never hesitate to read one, no matter how terrible the prose. The best thing is when you get a novelization that, because it’s timed to be released concurrently with the movie, is based on an earlier, redundant version of the script. The Ghostbusters novelization contains all these scenes where two homeless guys are always hanging around the action and commenting on what’s going on. Kinda like Stadtler & Waldorf in the Muppets. These scenes were wisely excised from the finished movie.

        • Jake Gittes

          A good version of that is the Revenge of the Sith novelization, which not only incorporates subplots excised from the movie and makes them work but also expands on everything else to really nail that epic tragedy feel the film is going for, while minimizing the various issues the story suffers from onscreen.

        • The Ploughman

          My other favorite feature of novelizations is the writer’s apparent obligation to assign inner monologue to comment on scripted actions. I neglected to put it in my own section, but I also finished the novelization of My Little Pony: The Movie with the Ploughgirl. You would not believe the inner turmoil Fluttershy experienced.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          Two of my favorite novelizations were written by Earl Mac Rauch, from his own screenplays: New York, New York, apparently in the form he originally intended before Scorsese and Mardik Martin rewrote it, and Buckaroo Banzai, written in the wonderfully purple prose of thirties pulp, and frequently referencing earlier BB adventures. They’re good enough to make me wonder why Rauch never became the superstar screenwriter Buckaroo Banzai seemingly promised,

      • Son of Griff

        I read the ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA novelization in the summer of 1984 because, until the limited release of Leone’s cut later that year, it was the only way to get a sense of the original structure of the picture in the U.S. What makes the appearance of a novelization strange is that the film is actually based on a book to begin with, which was not re=printed to coincide with the film’s release.

    • On the bus and at happy hours, I’m currently perusing Vanishing New York, a sort of bitchy book about this guy who moved to New York in the early 90s only to watch the punks and artists get forced out by gentrification.

      You can just ditto that book to Seattle and San Francisco.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Amazon keeps recommending that one to me. I suspect I’d like it. I haven’t been to NYC in a decade and a half, and even then, it seemed like Giuliani had sucked the soul out of it.

        • I should note that this is a very self-centric book. He admits as much in the opening. But, his main focus is on Manhattan and he ignores the Bronx and Brooklyn as they’re not really his people of yore.

    • Man with a robot arm

      My Favorite Thing Is Monsters – Apparently this was drawn using one of those four colored Bic pens. The artwork is dense with detail. A murder mystery and the-world-as-seen-through-a-child’s-eyes story. Dark and funny.

    • Jake Gittes

      A Star Is Born: The Making of the 1954 Movie and its 1983 Restoration – hard to imagine a more fascinatingly exhaustive account of any film’s history, Ronald Haver patiently and clearly lays out just how many balls were in the air at all times and how tragically easy it was for the wind to change direction and result in the careless butchering of the finished film after months upon months of hard work and an enormously successful premiere; particularly infuriating is that Jack Warner even had the master negative cut, even though there was absolutely no reason to. Following that, Haver’s painstaking efforts to find and restore the missing parts read with almost an Indiana Jones-level tension (yet with little to no self-aggrandizement), and his detailing of the restoration’s eventual premiere got me properly choked up in the end.

      An intriguing thread left hanging is the story of how, immediately after that premiere, an overzealous contact of Haver’s had the FBI raid the house of a guy he knew had the “Lose That Long Face” sequence in its original form (the guy had denied it, leaving Haver to reconstruct the scene out of cut footage) – with that in mind, it’s no surprise to read the various rumblings about film collectors being unwilling to come forward with whatever they’ve preserved over decades, but it also gives more hope that an uncut, original A Star Is Born may yet exist and will eventually turn up.

      • Son of Griff

        A STAR IS BORN is the best of a particular type of grandiose studio blockbuster of its era, and Haver played a big role in revising its reputation.

        • Jake Gittes

          I feel like I’ve been taking for granted just how non-dated it feels, not just in its sober-minded view of showbiz but technically as well – there’s a confidence to its pacing and storytelling that I wouldn’t readily associate with ’50s blockbusters, especially 3-hour behemoths. The performances help a lot, but what really impresses me after rewatching the movie and reading the book is how well Cukor understood and used color and CinemaScope, especially given that the latter was basically forced on him in the last minute.

          • Son of Griff

            I broke my cherry on this at the L.A. premiere of the restoration with Haver doing the introduction. Seeing it on the big (80 foot) screen, with its color and meticulous widescreen framing, was among the most mind blowing movie experiences that I ever had.

    • jroberts548

      I haven’t done one of these in a while. Of note:

      Dunkirk. Having three separate, non-contemporary timelines gave the movie a little bit of a puzzle box vibe that was a little tonally inconsistent with the movie as a whole. It was otherwise really good.

      Re-watched Wonder Woman with family. The weightlessness of the action and effects sequences stood out even more watching it at home. But after reading how a lot of people really loved the crossing the trench scene, I could also see the appeal of it as power fantasy for people who have waited too long for superhero movies with women leads.

      Also, I have a gross cold this weekend so I re-watched Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. Every time Green Goblin was on the screen, I thought to myself “that’s a very stable genius.”

      Non-film:
      Riverdale, season 1. I was encouraged to watch this by the Dissolve’s Charles Bramesco’s tweets calling the show Hot Archie Who Fucks. We went through the first season in about a week. It’s a fun teen soap. It made me feel old, as I’m closer in age to Ms Gundy than to the young leads.

      It’s pretty well shot. Nice use of color, plenty of moody establishing shots. The plotting is a little dubious at points.

    • Son of Griff

      CRIME AND PUNISHMENT- This is the AP English book of the year, apparently, and although I’m re-reading this (first time since high school) for work purposes it is a dynamic book in handling point of view and realism. On the other hand, the assignments that the classes are focusing on are really boring, focusing on imagery, symbolism, etc. We Saluters need to focus on the real virtues of this book, such as ownage.

      • That book was one of my favorites because there was so much moping and ownage. It was like Poor Hamlet.

      • The murder scene has some Ellroy-level description (not for nothing do Joyce Carol Oates and myself call him the American Dostoevsky) and maybe the most effective jump scare I have ever seen in print.

        • Son of Griff

          The murder scene has some Edgar Allen Poe level of suspense and cruelty, mixed with an unflinching, Ellroyesque description of what it takes to kill someone with a hatchet. The first person omniscient voice keeps putting the reader off guard as well. As David Milch says, dynamic protagonists spin against the way they drive, and Raskalnokov is a goddamn spin out on an icy mountain road. I can’t wait to revisit the interrogation scenes, which has the best ownage in Dostoyevsky’s fiction, as I recall.

          • The interrogation is literally Shield-level ownage, with Porfiry dropping the bomb that he’s always known Raskolnikov was the killler.

      • Miller

        I would excise symbolism entirely from English curricula, it always leads to good books being analyzed tediously and bad books being chosen for the ease in which their symbolism can be dissected. Just awful. Reading should be fun, goddammit, not the dullest codebreaking in the world.

        • Son of Griff

          As someone who had the misfortune of being assigned ETHAN FROMME for honors English I entirely concur. The best lit class I had in college was on Dostoyevsky, which was taught by a guy who had no patience for English major tropes and who held office hours in a nearby Irish pup in which gallons of Guinness was consumed. The reason for this was that he was living in his office.

          Only Russian literature majors read it, but check out THE RAW YOUTH. It is an absolute riot.

          • Miller

            Nice, thanks for the rec! And I’m almost interested to re-read Ethan Frome because it could not possibly be as bad as I remember, but that was the most hated book in my high school. Thuddingly obvious and for so short a novel surprisingly difficult to get through.

    • pico

      Just finished two: The Peach Blossom Fan, an 17th century play by Kong Shangren, worthy of comparisons to Shakespeare in scope and effect; and John Christopher’s 1956 apocalypse The Death of Grass, which is not Shakespeare, but still very good on its own terms. Finished the latter last night, so I’m trying to decide which chunk of my queue to knock out next…

    • Rosy Fingers

      I started reading The Disney Version which is a book from that mid-20th Century movement towards identifying pop culture as a subject worthy of sociological study – a precursor to cultural studies. It’s basically a hatchet job on Walt Disney. And that’s fine; the dismantling of corporate mythology is an important part of that era’s thinking, but there’s a bit too much armchair psychoanalysis of Disney’s childhood. I mostly gave up because of the staid prose. Probably I should skip forward to when the films are actually being made.

      So I moved on to Dave Eggers’ What is the What which I found in the library’s free ‘withdrawn’ bin. Eggers is relaying the story of a South Sudanese boy, Achak Deng, who lived through the Sudanese civil war and trekked on foot across his country to wind up in refugee camps and, ultimately, America. It’s based on a series of interviews Eggers had with Deng, although it incorporates various novelistic techniques in the telling – which, that’s Eggers for you. For me, it was more informative than anything else, although it remained fairly compelling even through the repetition of harrowing experiences which had the potential to become desensitising.

      Finally, I’m reading Tom Holt’s A Better Mousetrap which is another withdrawn library book. I’ve not heard of Holt before but it seems like it’s basically sub-Pratchett humourous fantasy. I’m about halfway through and having trouble keeping track of the characters because they all have boring names like Dennis or Colin. The two main women characters are named Emily and Amelia and I keep forgetting which is which.

      • Son of Griff

        THE DISNEY VERSION is a pretty apt example of liberalism’s anxiety over the influence of corporate mass culture. It’s the most systematic cultural critique that Richard Schickel ever wrote, and a somewhat interesting jeremiad from a critic whose views became more conservative over the years.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      I just started The Crying of Lot 49 after months of simultaneously being fascinated by and afraid of it, and GOOD GOD is this one exceeding my expectations. Pynchon’s narrative is such a wild stew of tangents, micro-narratives, and genre flip-flops that it seems to hold together by sheer density alone, and his sharp writing doesn’t hurt the material any (I pretty much knew I was in love when I hit the passage about Mucho’s fascination with his customers’ cars). It’s utterly riveting and hilarious so far, and I think I adore it.

      • Quinn the Eskimo

        Addendum that I can’t believe I forgot: finished Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest! This might be the ur-example of “something Quinn desperately wishes he had written” – it’s hard-boiled, politically charged, funny as hell, filled with amazing character names, and generally just top-notch.

      • One of the pleasures of the ongoing Pynchon conversation was discovering that Lot 49 was a. . .["you were going to say 'a lot better' weren't you?" "I was in trouble like three words into that sentence"] way better than I remembered.

        • Quinn the Eskimo

          Absolutely! Part of my fear of starting it came from me being convinced that it was uber-dense and impenetrable. Now that I’ve accepted that that’s the point of the book, it reads so much better, especially since Pynchon has such a great eye for screwball comedy. Even something like the first exchange between Oedipa and Roseman wouldn’t sound out of place in a Hawks movie, which delights me endlessly. Plus its vision of an America retreating into conspiracy and unreality in the wake of social upheaval seems disturbingly familiar and relevant. (I might have also chosen it as supplemental and/or inspirational material for a script, so there’s that.)

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I started rereading Mason & Dixon, and I’m not sure whether it’s easier to read because I’ve started writing notes in the margins, because I own the book and thus don’t have the pressure of reading it fast enough, or because of wallflower and avathoir’s discussions giving me a grounding to work with.

          • Quinn the Eskimo

            I’ll need to put more Pynchon on my reading list after this – up next, I have Blood Meridian, The Sirens of Titan, and Wuthering Heights, albeit maybe not in that order.

          • “Hi, I’m here for @qjtba:disqus’s next-three-novels party.”
            “Are you some kind of immortal archetype?”
            “Uh. . .”
            “Get lost.”

      • Son of Griff

        This was the book that got me into Pynchon. The quest narrative structure provides enough forward momentum so that the digressions seem to come back to the plot. This will ultimately seem very modern, because the story, as it turns out, won’t resolve itself in a traditional manner. INHERENT VICE and BLEEDING EDGE build on this formula, but the others are more panoramic in scope and digressive in their plethora of narratives. If you want to go onto something a bit more on the shaggy dog side, try VINELAND

  • Things I like about Bender’s Game: the name. A nice tip of the hat to a great book that isn’t that widely known even now (and for the moment I will ignore what a turd Orson Scott Card is).

    Things I don’t like: pretty much everything else. This probably is why I have never sought any of the Comedy Central run of the show.

    • The Ploughman

      Considering Bender doesn’t have an especially central role in this (or Bender’s Big Score for that matter), I suspect they came up with the title first. I was disappointed when it didn’t turn out to be an Ender’s Game parody.

      Only about two of the Comedy Central episodes are this dire. Most are about the same level as the other movies, and two or three rise into the ranks of the best.

      • I think I liked nearly every Comedy Central episode more than the movies, but I seem to have been unusually irritated by the movies, especially Bender’s Big Score which represents the absolute low point of the series for me.

        I may well be suppressing the worst of the CC episodes, however. I know there were at least a couple of stinkers. Definitely a few of my favourites came from those later episodes though, and I’m glad it came back.

        • The Ploughman

          The “Susan Boil” episode the article mentions is the absolute nadir, a episode full of ideas that never should have left the writer’s room, and I’m surprised were introduced at all.

          • I think I’ve mostly expunged that one from my memory, probably for the best.

      • I didn’t care much for Bender’s Big Score (another misnamed movie), so this only reinforces my decision to consider the original run complete unto itself.

        Though one of the few CC episodes I saw was The Late Philip J. Fry, and I think that one comes close to being a classic.

        • The Ploughman

          That’s probably my favorite, and the final episode comes pretty close. I’m a big fan of the Saturday morning cartoon one, though I’m not sure that’s a popular opinion.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      I’m thinking of following these reviews up with a review of season five, and listing the NOT OPTIONAL episodes, the OPTIONAL episodes, and the GOOD GOD DO NOT SUBJECT YOURSELF TO THIS SHIT episodes.

  • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

    Your series on the Futurama movies is really making me want to watch the Futurama movies again.