• Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Five, Episode Three, “Jughead”
      “We just walked over a fresh grave.”
      “What?”
      “Four US soldiers, dead just under a month. Three of them were shot. One died of radiation poisoning.”
      “Miles, hey, hey. Did any of them happen to mention what year it was?”

      “Enlightened, my ass.”

      We have another flash opening, this time a flashback showing that Desmond and Penny had a kid. I have no idea how intentional this repeated “begin with a flash and then move onto the drama” structure is; it’s less rigid than it appears.
      I seriously don’t remember half the Desmond stuff here, to the point that i thought I’d somehow missed an episode until the time traveller stuff came back (which I very vividly remember). But I dearly love it now, because it feels like a post-adventure-happy-ending story; Desmond got his family, but the adventure is still going.

      I’ve noted before that Locke wanders in and out of his community’s story, and it happens within goddamned act breaks this time; within 24 hours, I predict Locke will be entering or exiting the group twice in every act. Within 36 hours, every two minutes. And in 48 hours? God help us all.

      Ownage: Dan stands up to Richard, and it’s totally boss. Baby Charles Widmore breaks a guy’s fucking neck out of loyalty to the Dharma Initiative.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Rome, Up to Episode 10. The whole Triumph scene is a masterpiece of television, from the best-ever percussive score to the genius (and budget saving) choice of filming part of it using a crowd’s eye view so we experience the same sense of awe and disorientation. Alan Taylor is just a damn good TV director (but not really a great film one which is a shame).

      Titus bashing this poor lovesick kid’s brains out is horrific and genuinely challenging in a way I like – this is a likeable man whose appetites I can understand but he has no impulse control, no ability to solve his problems without violence or fucking, and that leads to people getting hurt every single time.

      Everything’s ramping up here even if I wish the time jumps weren’t as quick – they’re pretty disorienting and not always as well-handled as I’d like (look at how LA Confidential and Zodiac uses montage and time-laspe photography to communicate.)

      • Miller

        How great is Ray Stevenson? It’s similar to Quintus in Spartacus – Titus’ directness makes him fun and awesome, until it leads him to do something like this, and Stevenson makes all of these actions consistent.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Ray Stevenson is awesome and I’m kind of pissed no one’s truly used his charisma and sense of fun as well since (not that he isn’t enjoyable in the Thor movies I guess).

          • Miller

            He does good work as the Punisher in War Zone but that kind of stoic role isn’t playing to all of his strengths.

    • The Wire, season 2, episodes 5 and 6 – aha! This marks the point where Season 2 goes from “nah, this will never live up to the first one” to “YES, YES IT WILL”. Basically everything that goes on in these two hours is brilliant, but the absolute highlights are Omar on the witness stand (the moment when he turns Levy’s final question back on him is just astonishing), D’Angelo’s prison book club (basically everything to do with D’Angelo in these episodes is heartbreaking and magnificent), Drunk Bunk (and Hungover Bunk), Undercover Herc, McNulty seducing a mannequin, Greggs’ wife tagging along for their strip club investigation and the introduction of Cheese.

      Lowlight: RIP D’Angelo 🙁

      • Drunk Napoleon

        “[incoherent mumbling] pussy, now you’re gonna take my shoes [incoherent mumbling].”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Omar absolutely owning Levy COULD be a smug, goofy moment, but Michael K. Williams plays it so matter of fact and like its just how it is, no debate to be had. Also Kostroff really sells after the trial how struck dumb Levy is by all of this and how he never, ever loses (though he pulls the right move in just packing up his briefcase and getting the fuck out of there).

        • The tone is absolutely perfect throughout. I feel like for a little while there it reaches some kind of Dramatic Pinnacle where I almost forgot I was even watching a TV show.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            This will happen a lot in The Wire.

        • Miller

          Kostroff is a That Guy who pops up all over the place but he will always be Levy to me. He’s such a great character and you’re right, he never loses because out of everyone on the show (save maybe the Greek) he understands and plays the game the best.

          • The biggest villains on the show are the Greek, Levy, and Clay Davis. They aren’t the most murderous or sadistic, but they prop up the systems that rot the city from the inside out.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            One of Simon’s best and bleakest observations is that all of them come close to loss or ruin but are propped up by somebody or other, even the most well-meaning.

          • Miller

            The show is smart not to go to Levy too often — the Greek is countered by our more “honorable” crooks and Davis is balanced by other politicians (particularly early Carcetti) who are trying to do good, but Levy doesn’t really have any decent defense attorney counterparts, does he? And there’s no one on the show who is wrongly or inaccurately accused of anything either, Levy is always defending terrible people. On those terms it’s a really damning and unfair portrayal of a crucial part of our justice system.

          • An overworked public defender would’ve been a wonderful addition, you’ve made me realize.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Levy doesn’t really have any decent defense attorney counterparts, does he?

            Nope. Ronnie Pearlman is the closest thing, but she’s a prosecutor trying to do right. (I suppose it makes sense that in a world of criminals, scrupulous defense attorneys are hard to come by.)

            And even Pearlman can get on Levy’s level; see season 5. “I’ll still get out two years before you.”

          • The Ploughman

            But you forget the greatest villain of all, the only one unworthy of forgiveness: Scott Templeton.

          • Miller

            Hahahaha that’s right! McCarthy was so good at playing his essential weaseliness.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            All three also survive the story completely unharmed, with nobody replacing them the way Bubbles, Avon, or McNulty are replaced.

      • Miller

        You mean lowlight: Cheese. Man, FUCK Cheese.

        • I bet YOU’RE no fun on Pizza Night.

          • Miller

            Oh man, I am fucking Darkseid himself if Pizza Night is marred by Hawaiian bullshit.

    • Bhammer100

      First half of Parks and Rec season 4.

      “Look, I don’t like to throw around the word ‘butthead’ often. If you call everyone a butthead, it kind of loses its impact. But I can say without hesitation that Tom is being a real dick.

      Yep. Still good. I’m really liking the election story. And there were some great little stories – Leslie and Ron take a group of kids camping, Leslie trying to prove she was born in Pawnee, The Resonabilists, Pawnee’s cult, declares Zorp is coming to destroy the world, Leslie goes on trial, Andy and April try to cross things off Andy’s bucket list. We even meet Ron’s first ex-wife, who was fine, but I think I would rather spend more time with Tammmy II. I didn’t care at all for Entertainment 720 and I hope it is over (although the way that story ended was kind of sweet. Tom is still my least favorite character, but I totally want him to end up with Lucy.)

      • I love the Tammy episodes, and how much Ron’s personality changes when he’s with them.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        It helps that Natalie Morales is a really appealing comedic actress (wish she’d had more to do on The Grinder).

        I’ve totally fantasized about collecting all my money and gleefully seeing it all at once (but usually I throw it around).

        • Look up The Middleman – she plays an art student who’s drafted into a secret organization that fights “exotic problems.” Goofy superhero show, and she’s both funny & a badass in it.

      • Miller

        The first half is much superior to the second half, where the campaign takes over. The End Of The World and its argument for pleasure is one of my favorite episodes.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I think “Meet N’ Greet” was the first Parks episode I had active distaste for, awkward season 1 missteps aside. I just thought Tom went way too far in his selfish behavior at way too high stakes and stuck by his decisions for way too long and was given redemption way too easily. (For fuck’s sake, he wouldn’t even get out of the hot tub.)

    • Delmars Whiskers

      State Fair–The only Rodgers & Hammerstein project written directly for the screen, this 1945 musical is…nice. Though it’s set in Iowa, some of the characters inexplicably have Pepperidge Fahms Remembahs accents, and its portrayal of Des Moines as a haven for city slickers, con men and sophisticates is hilarious. The score is fairly anonymous, though It Might As Well Be Spring is one of the best songs R & H ever wrote, but the Technicolor is gorgeous, the cast is fun and, surprisingly, it makes it as clear as a wholesome mid-forties family movie can that both the son and daughter of this idealized farm family manage to get laid during their time in the Big City.

    • mr_apollo

      XTC: This Is Pop I consider myself one of their biggest fans so I was stupidly happy to see footage and hear stories that were new to me. Glad to see no bitchy backstabbing comments, sad to see no interviews with Barry Andrews or Richard Branson (who was game enough to appear in one of their music videos).

      The Misfits John Huston directs, Arthur Miller writes, Gable, Monroe, Wallach, Clift and Thelma Ritter act. Huston and Miller’s interests and aesthetic are fairly different than mine so I focused on the interesting choices made by the actors.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Gable is startlingly dark in this.

        • mr_apollo

          Yes, and it works really well. He has a smiled pasted to his face in the first half so that he almost looks like a ventriloquist dummy or a cartoon version of Gable. It’s very effective when he drops it in the second half.

    • The Ploughman

      The Visit – I am now a Syamalan completist (other than The Last Airbender, which I think even he would forgive me for skipping). If his new (and very unworthy) goal is to make exploitation films with decent production values, and his new motif is insensitive portrayals of the mentally ill, then he at last succeeds on both accounts. This one glides past being a bad film and into the much better category of “good enough you wish it were better.” In a genre as played out as the “found footage” horror film, Shyamalan finds ways to keep it fresh, including an innovative scene that cross cuts in an effective way not possible in a traditional film format. Plus, I can’t think of another instance of the camera being used by the ghostie. Unfortunately, this scene is cut way too short, and I continue to think that Shyamalan doesn’t understand where the strengths are in his material. I don’t think Jason Blum is the guy to find those strengths, but a thing least he gave a home for Shyamalan to demonstrate he’s still got the moves (Split notwithstanding).

      • I like The Visit, and I think a gigantic part of that is the amateur cinematic ambitions of the main character. It’s really sweet and frequently funny how she talks about mis-en-scene and stuff.

        • The Ploughman

          That’s another Shyamalanism that should be mentioned – heavy lifting by kid actors. And as usual they pull it off great. They’re funny and real, even if they’re not always given particularly real dialog. The rap over the end credits after a sweet ending sends us out on just the right tone.

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        Since it’s release in 2010 doctors have been prescribing The Last Airbender as the cure for insomnia.

        • The Ploughman

          That’s what finally made me decide I didn’t need to see it. It’s not just bad, it’s boring.

          • pico

            Just watch the opening scene, if you haven’t already. I compared to an extraterrestrial’s version of a film: everything is just slightly off, from the camera to the dialogue to the feeling that the actors learned their lines phonetically. It’s so off-putting, you almost can’t believe it’s a real thing. It’s like watching the Attack of the Clones exchange about sand, for two hours.

            Also, this is the only action sequence you need to see. Behold the mighty Earthbenders! http://0.media.dorkly.cvcdn.com/23/83/a4d949998abe0cb808a44e104fdc2316.gif

          • Rosy Fingers

            Wow. It’s so slow.

          • pico

            It’s like, well, no wonder they were all captured. You’d be better off just running up and punching someone.

            Also: in the show, the penal colony is pointedly on a metal ship because, duh, earth. But I guess if your prisoners can only (slowly) levitate pebbles at you, it’s not really a threat.

    • Lucky [2017]–Which I was not prepared to be a revision of the emotional landscapes of The Straight Story. It’s an imperfect Straight Story, and the dialogue is way too fond of being on-the-nose thematically (Pet store lady: “Would you like to give this dog a permanent home?” Lucky, squinting into the wind, “Nothing’s permanent”). But Lynch plays a great supporting role, a mid-film dream sequence comes out of nowhere and is absolutely stunning, and of course Harry Dean Stanton gives what will surely become one of the canonical final artistic statements alongside Bowie’s Blackstar and Richard Farnsworth’s The Straight Story performance. Basically, there’s a lot of mediocrity in this movie, but there’s also a ton of greatness, too.

      The X-Files, “My Struggle III”–“You impregnated her??” “With science! Alien science!”

      • Jake Gittes

        Tom Skerritt’s scene is, uh, straight out of The Straight Story in particular, and probably the highlight for me.

        • Yes! There are a ton of nods to that movie, and every time, it’s a highlight. I would be shocked if the writers of Lucky didn’t have it in mind.

    • Star Trek: A Piece of the Action. This one is silly. And makes little sense (a dozen mob bosses run the world? It must be a very small world). And Spock trying to be in character as a fake mobster ends up TOO out of character. But it’s a fun hour that revels in the cliches of Chicago Mob antics, and gives Shatner a lot of chances to ham it up effectively. Plus it gave us fizzbin.

      • We just watched that one, too! I kept wondering what other planets would look like if different books had been left behind. Except on Tuesdays.

      • Balthazar Bee

        The only thing I really remember is Shatner’s absolutely gonzo attempt at mob patois, which (to my ears) ends up sounding more like a very ugly Quebecois accent.

    • PCguy

      I watched POLICE ACADEMY 7: MISSION TO MOSCOW mainly because Steve Guttenberg was not in it. Surprisingly, it’s an actual theatrical film where they flew everyone out to get some shots in Red Square and not the low-budget direct to video release that this garbage deserves. Much glasnost, few indefinite articles.

      • Miller

        Are you sure you obtained the right movie? My understanding was Mission to Moscow was a film that watched YOU.

      • Rosy Fingers

        Huh, I never would have though that, of all things, too much Guttenberg would be a Police Academy problem. More of a Tackleberry fan, huh?

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      The Post – at long last, Spielberg gets to switch back into his Minority Report-style paranoid noir mode, and the results are magnificent. For an awards-season film, this is beautifully strange and unexpected on every level, from its confrontational assertions about LBJ and Kennedy’s extension of the Vietnam War to its gorgeously off-kilter atmosphere (there’s an entire convo between Bob Odenkirk and Matthew Rhys filmed through a warped reflection on a phone booth, and it’s phenomenal) to the way the film ends on a sequel hook for a sequel that already exists. The only predictable part is that Streep and Hanks kill it, which they do. I’m not sure whether to be happy that Spielberg’s back in business or sad that he has to do Ready Player One after this, but either way I’m still glad this film exists.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Wait, why didn’t anyone tell me Bob Odenkirk was in this?

        • The Narrator

          If nobody told you that, I assume you also weren’t told that David Cross in it too.

        • Amblin just felt it was easier to release a list of everyone not in the movie. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t notice Odenkirk wasn’t on it.

    • Rosy Fingers

      Paddington 2 – genial and sweet like the first one, but definitely some diminishing returns at play here. There are a few visual set pieces that are just stunning, as when Paddington imagines himself into a pop-up book and the constructed paper city dis- and re-assembles itself around him. But Hugh Grant is not the villain that Nicole Kidman was. And there’s a bit much humour mined from male prisoners behaving in queer-coded ways. Still, it’s a pretty good kids confection.

      • mr_apollo

        “some diminishing returns at play here”

        Darn.

        • Rosy Fingers

          I wouldn’t let that discourage you if you enjoyed the first one. Maybe it was just my mood. The first one was such an unexpected delight and it’s hard to replicate that surprise.

    • jroberts548

      Like half of the most recent episode of Fox’s The Gifted. Their Apple TV app is almost completely useless.

      I more or less like the show, and it’s getting better, but they also are under using Acker and Dillahunt, two actors that I’ve liked for a long time. (Just did the math – I’ve had a celebrity crush on Acker for slightly more than half my life.) Both the strength and weakness of comic book storytelling is the willingness to get weird. Let Acker and Dillahunt get weird. Rescue them from the family soap and cbs procedural the characters are inexplicably trapped in.

    • pico

      Genuine thrill at where The Good Place has decided to go, based on the end of last night’s ep. This show is burning through plot faster than anything in recent memory, but when you get that exhilarating rush of “Oh, we’re doing this now?”, it’s hard to complain.

  • Miller

    Futurama’s gender politics are not great but I do love Amazon Women In The Mood for plunging full-bore into silliness and having a lot of fun with sci-fi tropes (always a strength of the show) as a vehicle for the feminist stuff.

    • The good fundamentals make up for its inability to dunk, yes.

      • Miller

        The dudes utterly at the mercy of their captors and yet continuing to crack on them and be immediately beaten for doing so always makes me crack up.

        • “Amazon Women in the Mood” has one of the best audio commentaries in Futurama (which puts it in the running for best audio commentary, worldwide) and the creators are really aware of that point. Also, they deservedly praise the shit out of Bea Arthur’s performance.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          That’s what really makes it work– it’s hard to say the show is “siding” with the jokes when the characters making them are so rampagingly stupid and lacking in self-preservation.

    • The Ploughman

      “And then the large women again!”

    • “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised.”

      • Genevieve


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      • Judith


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    • “Scaroused” has worked its way into my regular vocabulary.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      I was considering bringing that up as a counterpart.

      “I fat.”
      “No, you look good. Tonk fat.”

  • The Ploughman

    Let’s treat ourselves to a Friday Question:

    A mob has gathered in the streets. You have a projector, decent sound system and a large blank side of a building. What do you put on to whip them into a frenzy? What do you put on to calm them back down?

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      For a frenzy, Doom Generation or Repo Man (it says a lot about me that the “frenzy” comes faster than anything), for calming, the Buddhist film Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall…and Spring.

    • Michael Collins for the frenzy-whipping (how do you not want to smash imperialists after watching that?) and The Big Lebowski for the calm. (We’re assuming in the latter case that I have access to refrigerated trucks full of vodka, Kahlua, and cream half and half.)

    • Jake Gittes
    • The Ploughman

      Activist documentary Whose Streets? should get the blood pumping. Then we can settle down with Ken Burns’ Baseball.

      • Miller

        Settle down: Baseball
        Rile up: Jazz, particularly the last episodes. MARSALIIIIIIIIIIIS!

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          *Smashes a beer bottle open*

          • Miller

            FUSION IS LEGIT AND I WILL CUT MOTHERFUCKERS WHO SAY OTHERWISE

          • Balthazar Bee

            You drink free if I’m nearby, Miller.

          • Miller

            Fuck yeah Agharta. Electric Miles owns, I can listen to Live/Evil forever.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            A jazz fusion trio plays at the bar I work most Thursdays. They’re legit. And god, does the time pass easier having good live music to listen to for 2 1/2 hours.

          • Miller

            That sounds awesome. Although now I sort of want to go there and pay them to play a super-wanky What’s New Pussycat 15 times in a row…

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            As the band leader openly says, “We will play any song you want, no questions asked, if you write it on a $50 bill and put it in the tip jar.”

    • Balthazar Bee

      I’ve been intensively homeschooling myself in ZMF’s dark arts over the past few weeks and, in short, he weren’t lying about the ownage of Crank 2, particularly the last fifteen minutes or so. In related news…I now kind of like that song by REO Speedwagon.

      That’d probably whip ’em up pretty good.

      To calm the hoard I’d suggest My Dinner with Andre, a movie that gets mocked for its premise by people who’ve never seen it. But you put that son of a bitch on and those same people can’t tear their eyes away.

      • CineGain

        If you want to get inside the psyche of ZMF, someone complied a list of films that are deemed NOT OPTIONAL by the master of ownage!

        https://letterboxd.com/westofthedial/list/not-optional-a-list-of-zodiac-motherfucker/

        • Balthazar Bee

          Hey, thanks! Apparently I’ve got some catching up to do before some very stable genius recognizes the organic changes in his brain aren’t going to stop and decides to push his big button.

          Oh, of course Best Seller would be on there.

          • CineGain

            Don’t worry, our very tremendous and stable genius is, like, really smart. He’s got the best ideas, the best ideas, believe me. His brain is working very very fine.

          • Balthazar Bee

            On the bright side, he’s opened my eyes about the phrase “believe me,” which I can no longer divorce from the huckster carnival sideshow style in which he employs it.

          • CineGain

            When the history books are written fifty years from now, if we are not clouding up in bunkers, the syntax of Trump will be traced back to the dawn of social media and a dose of dementia. The demise of civilization.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      Nothing creates a frenzy better than John Woo, especially Hard Boiled. As for the calming process, I’d suggest Logan Lucky, one of the most pleasant heist movies ever made.

    • mr_apollo

      Salt of the Earth or Harlan County USA to whip them up. Maybe some late Stan Brakhage or Baraka to calm them down.

    • jroberts548

      1. Battleship Potemkin, but with the soundtrack to Mad Max: Fury Road. It probably won’t sync up but whatevs.

      Or John Wick, but with red army choir instead of the regular sound track.

      2. I won’t do anything to calm them back down.

  • Miller

    Ownage alert: The final column in Tom Breihan’s excellent A History Of Violence is up over at Mom’s Place: https://www.avclub.com/we-wrap-up-our-history-of-action-films-with-2017-s-very-1821654925 . As lots of people are noting, this is one of the few things that feels like it’s part of classic AV Club in focus and style, the good news is Tom is going to do a superhero movie column next.

  • BurgundySuit

    Year of the Month update (from an idea by Elizabeth Lerner)!

    Here’s some of your possible topics:
    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1928/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_in_literature
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_in_music
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_in_art

    And here’s what we’ve already got on the docket!
    NO DATE: Son of Griff: Show People

    Jan 12th: Gillianren: Steamboat Willie
    Jan 15th: Joseph Finn: All Quiet on the Western Front
    Jan 20th: Conor Malcolm Crockford: Steamboat Bill Jr.
    Jan 28th: The Ploughman: The Circus
    Jan 30th: Miller: Decline and Fall
    Jan 31st: ZoeZ: Ashenden

    And coming in February, we’ll be moving on to 1983!

    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1983/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_in_literature
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_in_music

    NO DATE: Wallflower: Soundtracking – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

    Feb 6th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: King of Comedy
    Feb 8th: Gillianren: Will Lee (Mr. Hooper)
    Feb 20th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Local Hero
    Feb 28th: BurgundySuit: Chartbusting!

    • Balthazar Bee

      May I call Psycho II for the 19th, Mr. Suit?

      • BurgundySuit

        Yes you may!

  • David Nicolas

    Oh man, I am fucking Darkseid himself if Pizza Night is marred by Hawaiian bullshit.

  • Jaden Schafer

    Kostroff is a That Guy who pops up all over the place but he will always be Levy to me. He’s such a great character and you’re right, he never loses because out of everyone on the show (save maybe the Greek) he understands and plays the game the best.

  • With each Futurama “movie” I saw less and less of them. So Bender’s Game and this one I’ve only seen parts of. And it’s weird because I’ve always been a big Fry/Leela shipper and this one finally tackles the fallout from Bender’s Big Score. Nothing really holds up compared to the first four seasons.