• Drunk Napoleon

    One of the little things I love about this movie is that, in terms of the protagonist’s relationships to their job, it’s completely unique in the Carpenter canon. MacReady, Laurie, and the hero of They Live are all variations on working-class schlubs who work purely to make a living, and Jack Burton is a schlub who tries to make himself out to be a mythical walk-the-earth wisdom dude, but Trent’s job isn’t working-class and it’s something he does entirely because he loves doing it. Naturally, he’s the Carpenter hero who gets one of the worst fates of any of them!

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      I have described my love of Sam Neill’s performance as “Fred MacMurray not understanding that he’s in a horror movie.”

  • Drunk Napoleon

    Anywho, what did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Deadwood, Season Two, Episode Three, “New Money”
      “Is the gist that I’m shit out of luck?”
      “Did they speak that way back then?”

      This is what I meant when I said that the highs keep getting higher and the lows lower. Al’s medical issues are, while very difficult to watch, an example of the show’s characters coming together to help one of their own. Even if they didn’t specifically care for him, Al is essential to the running of the camp, so they have to break down his door and help him, and once that happens, a line has been crossed that they can never go back on. Scattered throughout the episode are smaller variations on the same idea of community, with Charlie helping Jane, and Jane listening to Trixie complain semi-good-naturedly about Al (it occurred to me this episode that the reason I like Jane so much is that she’s basically an exceptionally drunk version of my sister, all crotchety and blunt and goodhearted).

      And then on the other hand, you have Wolcott. There’s nothing surprising about his worldview, he makes no surprising actions, and there’s no surprising history to him; he’s a generic TV psychopath, and all he has going for him is the beautiful dialogue and exceptional performance. There’s Cy, who takes a vaguely interesting idea and stretches it out too far – I think I’d like him a lot better if he actually collapsed in power. You have Joanie, who I like as a person but I don’t get the point of half the plots she ends up in.

      (Alma sits in the middle, showing a functionally fun growth in power; if all the ‘lesser’ plots were on her level I’d be happier)

      The Incredibles, Brad Bird
      Continuing my vaguely chronological trawl through old favourites, this film has a reputation as “good, but also conservative propaganda”, which is true to an extent, but it’s more sophisticated than it first appears. There is a certain Facebook Conservative attitude present*, and I absolutely believe if not Brad Bird then someone at Pixar buys into it, but it’s specifically and only present in Bob/Mr Incredible, and it’s part of his obsession with glory.

      The movie creates a distinction between success (as represented by superheroics), glory, and family. Bob genuinely wants all three things, Helen wants family, and Syndrome wants glory and only glory, and Bob’s journey is finding success by discarding glory for family (and it’s hard to ignore that the same drive to be exceptional is what drives Pixar to make such great movies).

      The dramatic structure of the film is both tighter, and more expanded, as we have six interlocking journeys that bounce off each other; most notable is Helen setting off the second act by setting off Bob’s tracker. The mixture of superhero tropes and cliche family shit is hilarious and occasionally suspenseful; I love Helen interrupting Bob trying to listen to a secret message, and my favourite sequence is the car ride to the robot at the end. I piss myself laughing at arguing over directions, and the kids being excited over the car crash is one of the most true-to-life things in the movie. The action sequences are built dramatically, and final fight sequence is a brilliant colliding Rube Goldberg machine of clever uses of powers to save the day.

      Minor points: but I also love the sense of history that hangs over the movie, especially in anything to do with Edna. it’s the exact sort of thing that sets off your imagination as you think over the relationship Edna must have built with Bob and Helen. Jason Lee is perfect as “typical Jason Lee bro character as a supervillain” (I think he nails the evil laugh). Pixar movies do not stunt cast; everyone is absolutely necessary for the part they play.

      This movie also has the most interesting spin on the Pixar cold open. Aside from the interviews that ironically contradict the characters’ later motivations, the setup of these people’s relationships, powers, and motivations is subtler.

      *Most infuriating in the whole “participation trophy” bullshit. I grew up under that participation trophy stuff, and let me tell you, kids know exactly what a participation trophy means; the issue isn’t that schools hold back “smart kids” for the sake of “dumb kids”, it’s that they don’t have the resources to help any kids so they have to be equally useless to everybody.

      LOST, Season One, Episode One, “Pilot, Part One”
      I’ve been wanting to revisit this for a while, and I figured while I’m trawling through old favourites, I might as well start with this, now, the same year I saw Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. I literally grew up with this show, with it first airing when I was thirteen and finishing when I was nineteen; it had as powerful an influence on my tastes and attitude as it did on television as a whole, both in terms of copying the show and in rejecting it. Certainly, it’s the earliest I can remember clearly articulating what I did and did not like about a show.

      Specifically, I remember quickly figuring out that, while the mythology was what drew me in (and the mythology was always totally fucking boss), it was the characters who I really cared about; I loved puzzling over the weird, uncanny details trying to put them together, and I’d definitely complain if it wasn’t there, but it was the characters who brought me back every single episode. I was one of those people who thought the ending was shit and proved the whole mystery thing was a total waste of fucking time, but I was at least soothed by the fact that the characters all got good endings that understood who they were. The flipside to that coin was creating within me a total impatience for stories that waste time. Part of my extremely positive reactions to The Shield and Mad Men were that both have a definite and clear sense of purpose to them (especially the former).

      The influence on television as a whole is harder for me to quantify; presumably, anyone born at least ten years before me can more easily articulate that. I think, though, that after the knockoffs wore off, it increased television’s overall ambition for mythology. Some shows double-down on the slow pacing out of details (usually, formula shows), and others speed it up; I think the negative reaction to the ending of the mothership show caused people to step up on the latter. There’s also a basic expectation now that characters have complicated backstories and explanations for their psychologies, even if it’s kind of half-assed.

      But I should probably talk about the episode. That opening is still goddamned amazing, immediately establishing the uncanny tone that drew me to the show and kept me in. A dog! A vodka bottle! A shoe! Screaming! What the fuck! And it all becomes clear when we see: a plane just crashed. And then Jack immediately establishes his character: he will save literally everyone who is within his eyesight. It’s a simple, dramatic, pulpy setup.

      (There’s even room for comedy – “Oh, you gotta be kidding me” and “Yeah! Good idea! You go find me a pen!”)

      From there, we get two things: the plane would have a transponder in the front, which is in the jungle, and there’s a bigass monster trampling around the jungle. The weirdness here acts to make the drama more dramatic; it’s now an active, difficult choice to go into the jungle. And when they do, they learn that help is not coming, which will affect their choices going ahead.

      Abrams uses some seriously long-assed lenses throughout the show; the effect is obvious in action scenes, where they increase the chaos (though he does an admirable job of letting us see what we need to, specifically what characters are thinking and feeling) and more abstract in talky scenes, where they frame the face very intensely and just make everyone look more like pulpy, ridiculously beautiful, probably smelly people.

      Jack also gets an incredible monologue when Kate patches him up, articulating his worldview perfectly and giving Kate a journey when she uses it to psyche herself up at the end. It’s a good thing to keep in mind when

      There’s the basis of my whole “when someone asks if you’re a god, you say YES!” rule in this episode. At that iconic moment when a guy gets sucked into the engine and it explodes, something that looks like smoke flies in and off exactly on the explosion; when Smokey is revealed, someone asked “Wait, is that what I think it is?”, and the producers said “No, that’s an animation error”. That was a stupid idea, especially considering it contradicts nothing.

      • Miller

        Much of the Randism in Incredibles comes from Dash, Syndrome and a disappointed/manipulated Bob, it’s not exactly a compelling argument. As for the participation trophy, Dash has a point insofar as he is being rewarded for existing when he damn well knows he could be rewarded for excelling* — it is selfish but that personal affront actually makes it more understandable than the faux philosophical hate boner people have for the “participation trophy.” But personal disappointment and lack of maturity in handling it is what can curdle into faux philosophical hate bonering, aka Syndrome.

        *and probably not even rewarded but just given the chance to excel — his utter joy when cutting lose during the island chase is great, he can finally use his abilities.

        • That chase moment where he really gets to go full speed is absolutely fantastic – I don’t remember seeing a better example of “superhero being wowed by their own abilities” in any other superhero film. And there are apparently quite a lot now!

          • Miller

            This is the one thing missing from Logan — a similar scene with Weapon XIII. “I have foot claws! Wow!” *MASS SLAUGHTER* I mean, there is a scene like that but it needs more wow!

          • I haven’t caught up with Logan yet, but I’ve been led to understand the ENTIRE FILM is full of relentless joy at how there are absolutely no downsides to superherodom. Can’t wait for some more of that classic X-Men humour!

          • HypercubeVillain

            At the end, [Beloved Character] dies…
            …of laughter!

        • The whole Randian reading of The Incredibles shows how little energy people put into trying to understand genuinely conservative perspectives; they don’t go much farther than “this is not progressive, therefore it’s bad.” The Incredibles isn’t Randian, it just has no interest in “all men are created equal,” which, since, y’know, superheroes, makes one whole hell of a lot of sense.

          • Miller

            I think the movie doesn’t quite pull off its take on equality/responsibility/excellence (the race at the end is a bit weird) but complete consistency is more useful for philosophical arguments than it is for movies and I’d rather watch The Incredibles as a movie. And I’m realizing now that it is still by far the most most cogent examination of superheroes in the “real world” on film, the stylization assists its setup and the movie somehow never overbalances on either superheroics or “reality” unlike the Captain America movies or other Marvel or DC stuff.

          • Yes to all of this. It’s far closer to Watchmen than Zack Snyder’s take on the material.

          • Babalugats

            To me the -er objectionable part of Objectivism isn’t the idea that different people have different levels of skill and therefore different practictical value for society, or even the idea that the government needs to get out of the way and let the great men great up the country (which is an issue of policy that I support and oppose based on the specific situation and the details of its actual implementation, not something I consider a moral issue). No, the objectionable part of the ideology is that altruism is evil in and of itself. The Incredibles are inherently altruistic. The film is conservative, arguably libertarian, but it’s not objectivist.

            The other thing is that all superhero movies (arguably all action movies) are conservative if not outright reactionary. The genre is about good guys and bad guys, about enforcing the law, and about solving problems through violence. Most of these films follow wealthy, handsome, straight, white, men who posses an intrinsic moral superiority that puts them above the law and justifies their use of often brutal means to impose social order. The Incredible explores this political outlook in an honest way, where most films in the genre try to hide behind dog whistles and signifiers. The problem is that most people’s politics don’t go much deeper than the signifiers.

      • At its best, Lost used the mythology in the classic sense of plot: as a means to force the revelation of character. With a plot so dense, this meant a lot of exposition and explanation, but when it worked, holy fuck did it ever work.

        That opening is pure uncut J. J. Abrams and you see it again and again: either structure the story (here, Star Trek, The Force Awakens, arguably Super 8) or jump forward in it (Alias, Mission: Impossible 3) to throw us right into the middle of the action with no explanation and let the actors and characters hook us. And again, does it ever work here.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I’m tooling about with using dramatic structure as scaffolding for literary purposes, and it looks like Lost will serve as a decent model for that.

          One of the really great things about that opener, too, is that literally the entire show hinges on it as much as, say, The Shield hinges on the opening scene of Vic chasing a criminal, except with Lost we go backwards to see how we get there as well as forwards.

          • Lost is a great model, for good and bad, and what went wrong is a lesson from The Shield: don’t make things too complicated, because every element you introduce interacts with every other element and pretty soon it’s going to become impossible to deal with, much less answer, all the questions raised. I knew the final season of Lost was in trouble right away when it started introducing new characters.

          • Yeah, I’m generally a defender of the ending of Lost, but there should be a rule somewhere that forbids long-running television series from introducing new characters in its final season. Looking at you, too, Buffy

          • thesplitsaber

            Counter Point- Laurie Holden in The Shield.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Laurie Holden’s the exception that proves the rule – Vic had burned literally every single one of his bridges by that point, so it’s logical that he would turn to an outsider who would otherwise be a one-off investigator he’d barely talk to on any other day.

    • Woman on the Run – an absolutely stunning female-led noir with incredible dialogue, a mass of incredibly cynical characters (even for noir – I haven’t seen one this joyously nasty since Detour) and, as if that weren’t enough, it also has a cute dog! And it’s less than 80 minutes long!! I loved pretty much everything about this – gorgeous shadowy cinematography, an over-the-top finale at a funfair (including clever use of a rollercoaster), great San Francisco locations, a doctor who barks the line “X PLUS Y EQUALS DANGER”. Curiously, this also had a thematic link to the film I watched the previous night, The Town, but needless to say this one pulled it off better.

      • Son of Griff

        Caught the restoration of this last year and was completely awed by it. Can’t believe that it was for all purposes forgotten for so long.

        • I’d heard it was a good one, but it exceeded my expectations at every turn. Especially the dialogue, though. No character is too small or insignificant to deliver some wonderfully bitter line…

    • Miller

      Archer — Krieger can only get so erect!

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “I call him Fisto Roboto. Sssh sssh shhh, and the best part is he’s learning.”

    • Fresno Bob

      Started 30 Rock Season Seven. My age is catching up with me. I can’t seem to stay awake past 10PM, and it’s really cutting into my movie watching time.

      • Son of Griff

        My problem, too

    • Big Little Lies. The tone of this was something special, and it made me think of Alexander Payne’s Sideways, which takes place just to the south of this. Payne couldn’t help taking a wacky romp through wine country and layering melancholy all over it; in the same way, David E. Kelley just can’t stop himself from wackiness, trick photography, and crrrrrrrrazy characters, usually female, in adapting a story of abuse, rape, social ostracism, revenge, and a genetic sense of evil. And in both cases, it totally works; the tone of Big Little Lies could be called rollicking dread. The first episode makes it seem like a Patricia Highsmith story, where the arrival of Shailene Woodley and her son leads to complications and that leads to further complications and seven episodes later, dead body. By episode three, though, it’s much more all-over-the-place, and it feels like anybody could end up dead, killed by anybody else.

      It’s messy–it could have come in at six episodes or even five–but that messiness and the way it jumps between characters and between events that may or may not have happened helps its tone. And just everyone acts the living shit out of this, with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman both as revelations. (This was my first time seeing Woodley, and she’s in their league.) Witherspoon starts as caricature and keeps dropping masks and revealing more of herself and losing more certainty in the process, and its heartbreaking. Kidman has blown me away before (The Portrait of a Lady, The Hours, Eyes Wide Shut) but it’s always been with an aristocratic reserve–with that posture, I couldn’t see her do anything else. Here, she lets that go and plays defenseless and it’s incredibly touching. (Her scenes with Robin Wiegert as a therapist are amazing, nearly static, with Wiegert also on her level. No huge breakdowns here, no “it’s not your fault,” just someone coming to realize the truth right in front of her.) Everyone else is just as good, and I especially like the idea of Adam Scott as a constant threat.

      Although the end is somewhat telegraphed (there’s a detail in the first or second episode that narrows the dead body to two people), it’s done as well as possible and keeps with everything that came before it. I read Woodley’s reaction not as realizing Skarsgård is literally her rapist, but that he’s essentially a rapist–he sees not what he did to her but what he’s been doing to Kidman. (I dunno about this, because she said she’d know him if she heard him, and I have to go back and see if they ever met.) And you gotta love that Zoë Kravitz, who’s been the closest thing to an anchor for the whole series, gets to well and truly own thatmotherfucker.

      • Babalugats

        Witherspoon, Dern, Kidman are all so good here. Everyone working at or near their career best. Hollywood really hasn’t done right by any of them.

      • thesplitsaber

        ‘Adam Scott as a constant threat.’

        He did a weird indie drama called The Vicious Kind where he did a great job of somone having a manic insomnia induced breakdown. After seeing that i think he has real potential as a dramatic actor thats untapped.

        ‘And just everyone acts the living shit out of this, with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman both as revelations.’

        Did you see Wild? (the same combination of director Witherspoon and Dern) Reese really showed up for that one. Also i dont care what Fincher says she would have been AMAZING as Amy Dunne.

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      The Pledge (2001). Jack Nicholson is a recently-retired detective who makes a promise (or an oath, if you will) to the parents of a young murder victim that he will find her killer. That set up makes it sound like it could be just another generic thriller/mystery, but the performance by Nicholson and the direction by Sean Penn elevate it to another level. Also the movie looks amazing. I guess I’ll go ahead and contradict myself and say I’m ok with the down-beat ending.

      • The Ploughman

        I remember very little about this movie except the last shot of the main character and something about it has carried with me the past 15 years.

        • Defense Against The Dark Arts

          That last shot is very effective. Someone driving by just sees a crazy, old man muttering to himself but we know there’s a story behind the madness.

      • Miller

        That movie is ripe for rediscovery — Nicholson is sort of a cliche now and Penn is a joke, but they made something unpretentious and unsparing here.

        • Balthazar Bee

          Totally agree. The people and places all feel completely lived-in and authentic, and if the resolution reads like a kinda sorta cheat on paper, the final moments redeem it.

          I also think Eckhart and Del Toro deliver what might be the most disturbing cop interrogation scene in history.

      • clytie

        I think that The Pledge is the strongest of Penn’s directorial efforts.

        • Defense Against The Dark Arts

          I agree. Into the Wild is another strong contender.

    • The Narrator

      Blue Steel: I’ve heard complaints about this movie losing its way as it goes along, but I honestly really like the descent into pure nightmare logic, backed up by Ron Silver shoving three full ham sandwiches into his mouth at a time and the same gorgeous aesthetics (namely cinematography and music) Bigelow used on Near Dark.

      Strange Days: Now this is what I’m fuckin’ talking about. I was convinced I was watching an unheralded masterpiece for like sixth-sevenths of this movie’s running time, but if the end is a little too shaky for me to make that call, this movie still owns an almost irresponsible amount, and I’m angry more people don’t talk about it or at least didn’t tell me how fucking awesome it is. Maybe my favorite Bigelow so far (only Zero Dark Thirty gives it competition), and definitely her best directing job; if all she did was the opening scene of this, she’d deserve the Oscar.

      • (more or less copied and pasted from the CZ): Strange Days is like Point Break in that it has a lot of insanely great sequences and performances, but unlike the former, it doesn’t go all in on–whatever it is. The plot is too standard, about ooo! Technology! and finding the Good White Cops who will save us from the Bad White Cops, without the full-blown crazy of Point Break (or even Blue Steel) or the Gothic madness of Near Dark. Also, there is far too little Angela Bassett kicking ass (the movie should have been entirely from her perspective, a professional trying to deal with Ralph Fiennes’ junkie asshole) and far too much (i.e., any) Juliette Lewis singing PJ Harvey. You can feel the sensibilities of James Cameron and Bigelow clashing here–Cameron is much too straightforward in his thrills for where Bigelow goes.

        • thesplitsaber

          ‘I was convinced I was watching an unheralded masterpiece for like sixth-sevenths of this movie’s running time,but if the end is a little too shaky for me to make that call ‘

          Yeah when your whole movie hinges on Tom Sizemore in a bad Meatloaf whig you probably could have used one more editing pass on the screenplay. One of the rarely used cinema trends it has i love is those black and white freeze fram stills over the actors closing credits.

          ‘far too much (i.e., any) Juliette Lewis singing PJ Harvey.’

          One of those rare occurences where peanut butter and chocolate do not go well together haha.

    • Son of Griff

      WE WERE STRANGERS– John Garfield, under the direction of John Huston, leads a bunch of Cuban revolutionaries in an attempt to assassinate the government by tunneling under a cemetery and setting off a bomb. Can’t go wrong with that premise. It boasts of a lot of very Popular Front humanism, and its fairly miraculous that it got made in 1949.

    • PCguy

      TIME TABLE (1956)

      A jazzy push-pull rhythm makes this one watchable despite its low budget nature. The film starts off with a tightly syncopated and eminently plotted heist scene. A doctor (Wesley Addy in a piece of perfect casting) on a train ride is summoned to care for a sick passenger. Needing some medicine from his checked luggage he is admitted to the baggage car and, after holding up the guards and disabling them with jabs from a hypo, he produces a pair of explosives from his doctor’s bag and meticulously blows the door off the train’s safe. After the train makes a late night detour the doctor, his accomplice, and half a million dollars in small bills are whisked away in a stolen ambulance and by the time the train conductor finds out hours later about the heist the crooks have vanished without a trace.

      The film then shifts into a neutral procedural tone as two investigators muddle over a seemingly unsolvable crime only to lurch violently back into gear when, after a fight with his terribly put upon wife, it’s revealed that the lead man on the case is also the mastermind of the crime and plans to abscond to Mexico with the doctor’s wife. It’s a well executed tonal shift that turns the movie around on its’ head and anticipates the film’s finale in a grim noiry Tijuana locale. Workmanlike direction and cinematography neither adds nor detracts from the movies pace but the limited means are redeemed by fine performances by relatively unknown character actors like the aforementioned Addy, a young Jack Klugman, and Alan “Fred Flintstone” Reed who gets a meaty bit as a garrulous flunky tasked with covering up the getaway. He’s only familiar with the inspector in his above the law position and when the insurance man braces him about his role in the heist he breaks down. After confessing he agrees to testify in court upon which the bad guy pulls out his pistol and gives it to him. “That’s what I wanted to know”, the insurance inspector sneers as he commits the murder. It’s always the human element that disrupts the timing of the caper in this sort of oldschool heist movie.

  • I think this might be my favourite Carpenter film (disclaimer: they probably all need revisiting. Except Ghosts of Mars) which is quite impressive, as the thing I love most about his films tends to be the awesome synth score and the atmosphere that they bring, and this one swaps that out for music I would describe as “bad”.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      I would also advise skipping over Elvis.

      • That’s one of the ones I haven’t gotten to yet but I’m keen to see it once, for completeness and for Kurt. I really like some of the more maligned Carpenter films (that aren’t Ghosts of Mars) so I figure it’s worth giving everything a shot, at least.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          It’s the one and only of his films where I cannot grasp what the point of most of it was. I don’t care for Prince Of Darkness, but I see what he was trying to do; Starman tries too hard in places to be a Heartwarming Hollywood Flick; Elvis has the same problem of a lot of bad biopics in that it hits a lot of stations of Elvis’ life but fails to have an emotional journey.

          • I was slightly disappointed by Prince of Darkness, but I watched it on a shitty DVD that had hard-coded subtitles so it definitely deserves another shot (unlike any company that releases DVDs with hard-coded subtitles).

            Memoirs of an Invisible Man and The Ward were the two maligned ones that I really enjoyed, although in the case of the latter that’s with a disclaimer that it really doesn’t feel like a Carpenter film at all so I can see why so many people were disappointed with it.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            PoD is one of those love-it-or-hate-it movies, so I’d definitely give it another shot – I find the philosophy incoherent and the scary bits the most terrifying that Carpenter has ever done, which makes it really, really hard to watch for me.

        • Fresno Bob

          It’s like Walk Hard, but it isn’t a comedy, and it’s…kind of boring. You can tell that it’s being handled by a good director, as some of the shots are well above the usual TV movie level hack, but it’s mainly just Biopic Trope: The Movie. Russell IS very pretty in it though, what with his fake eyelashes and whatnot.

      • Miller

        Some enterprising YouTuber has to have created an Elvis edit that swaps out all the King’s music with throbbing, insistent Carpenter synths, right?

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Okay, I’m not going to claim Ghosts Of Mars is a good movie, but, I mean…you can kind of see how it could have been. Sure, the script is just Carpenter’s umpteenth rehash of Rio Bravo, but it’s a clever enough variation, the cast is game, the settings are impressive. It’s just…off. It reminds me a lot of late period Woody Allen movies where everything is in place, but the blocking and framing are rudimentary and the cast seems under-rehearsed and the whole thing feels like unintentional self-parody. So I guess what I’m saying is, yeah, it’s bad, but at least it feels like a Carpenter picture.

      • The cast is mostly great – I’m not sure Natasha Henstridge was actually conscious during filming, but everyone else has a decent go. The whole atmosphere of it is a bit depressing though, there’s just a total lack of energy and it feels like somebody behind the scenes just didn’t care enough. I went into it with very low expectations but still found it an absolutely miserable experience. Fight scenes full of limp kicks that knock people down, terrible CGI, awful dialogue.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          I don’t think the dialogue is bad so much as badly delivered; it’s standard B movie stuff, but that’s true of a lot of Carpenter screenplays. It could work like gangbusters, though, if the cast brought any enthusiasm to it, but for whatever reason, they don’t. It feels like a table read, and nobody has seen the script beforehand. And yes, the terrible staging–again, it almost feels like we’re watching rehearsals instead of a finished film. Escape From LA and Vampires had some sloppiness to them, but nothing like this.

          • Yeah, you can see a decline in Escape from LA and Vampires but the quality level goes off a cliff for Ghosts of Mars. I remember there being an extra feature on the DVD where Carpenter geeks out over the various metal legends he’s recruited for the score and (even though I don’t even like metal, or the soundtrack) that bonus feature was more fun to watch than the film, just because it had some enthusiasm and energy to it.

            It’s such a shame. I’d love a GOOD “Pam Grier and Jason Statham in space” movie so much…

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I’ve heard Escape From LA was the last time Carpenter had fun on a movie set.

          • I wonder if he specifically stopped having fun during that surfing scene…

          • Delmars Whiskers

            Vampires feels very much like a movie made by somebody who’s not enjoying himself.

          • Fresno Bob

            Vampires is terrible. That’s the last film of his I watched in its entirety upon release. I gave up after that one. The man has enough good films already, so he can rest on his laurels and make music and collect producer cheques all he wants as far as I;m concerned. I’d rather he do that then keep on making joyless garbage like Vampires.

          • Balthazar Bee

            In all fairness, apparently his budget was halved immediately prior to shooting, and he had to cut a bunch of set pieces and completely overhaul the script on the fly.

            I still like it for James Woods’ verbose misanthropy and Daniel Baldwin’s compulsion to cauterize wounds with anything he can find.

            Some nice photography, a few memorable cues on the score, and a couple of decent action moments — but there’s no question that this is Carpenter’s western slash horror thang at its pulpiest.

            Well…until Ghosts of Mars, which (surprise!) I also kinda like.

          • Fresno Bob

            I wish I had more fun watching it.

          • Son of Griff

            I attended a Q&A with Carpenter about a decade ago and, in talking about moviemaking in general, he really seemed over it. There was a genuine sense of fatigue settled in there.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            He said on his WTF episode that he just didn’t have any more ideas and was happy to hang out, make music, play with his grandkids.

          • Son of Griff

            At the screening Q&A he added that the (2005-ish) current modes of production and distribution for the films he wanted to make did not allow for the independence he had during the more creative period of his career. I suspect that the primary reason was creative exhaustion

  • CineGain
    • Fresno Bob

      Well, I won’t give him a second chance.

    • Yeah, the Dissolve FB group exploded over this, both with equating substance abuse with sexual assault & letting Devin work anonymously for them.

      • Fresno Bob


    • Delmars Whiskers

      Nathan Rabin can barely get a paying gig but Faraci gets a second chance. What a world.

      • CineGain

        This is the same world in which Donald Trump is our president. Not obutfletching that a Faraci can secure a gig with a giant movie theater chain.

    • HypercubeVillain

      Speaking as someone who kept up with Faraci’s work in earnest for a few years (since before BMD’s name change), NO NO NO NO NO. He was awful even before the assault came to light, and I wish I’d realized it sooner.

      He regularly picked petty fights with commenters and went beyond enforcing basic moderation to creating an atmosphere where you’d have to walk on eggshells lest he take something personally and lash out. He tried to justify his frequent punching down by saying he simply didn’t believe in the concept of punching down.

      On the rare occasion he’d apologize for something on Twitter, he couldn’t just stop there; he’d follow it up with something like “See? I actually apologize for things sometimes, contrary to popular belief” or “Rather than letting this mea culpa be, let me take this inopportune time to point out how everyone makes mistakes to take attention from mine” (paraphrased)

      And this of course is just a portion of the stuff he’s pulled that I was able to witness. Over time, I came to feel betrayed just by being a reader of his, and I can’t begin to imagine how his actual targets felt. His abrasiveness and insensitivity still shows up in his male colleagues’ writing at BMD every now and then; we don’t need any more writers like him and we don’t need any more him. What he did before news of the assault broke should’ve been enough for him to lose his position, & the fact that it isn’t enough to keep him out is a insult to abuse and assault victims everywhere.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Faraci is one of those guys who, even when you agree with him, makes you feel uncomfortable and kind of dirty. And you’re right about how his persona still infects BMD; it’s a potentially fun site that’s just a little too pleased with itself.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Yeah, why the hell is THIS guy the one you’re willing to go to bat for at the risk of your reputation? He’s shitty and abrasive and the worst kind of retrograde sexist. There’s nothing he does that you couldn’t easily find a hundred people to do better.

      • exorcissy72

        And the thing is once Meredith Borders took over BMD it become a MUCH better site all around.

        I liked Faraci’s writing, but his elitist gate keeping nerd attitude and OBVIOUS anger issues were annoying as shit.

  • Son of Griff


    This is for all, but this review of LAURA by Megan Abbott made me think of @ZoeZ in particular. Absolutely nails it.