• Drunk Napoleon

    Paul Bartel, Mall Carpel

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      The Wire, Season One, Episode Twelve, “Cleaning Up”
      “This is not as much fun as I thought it would be.”
      Even McNulty’s recognition looks arrogant, and gets shut down by Daniels. I love it. Avon gets arrested, and it’s not dramatic or cool at all, it just kinda happens.

      The direction has been getting more complex over the first series, creating depth within in image and calmly, elegantly swooping the camera around. I love it.

      I believe that all stories are made up of four things: CHARACTER, PLOT, THEME, and MEDIUM. The Shield prioritises plot movement. Mad Men prioritises character development. The Wire prioritises theme – we don’t know McNulty as well as we do Don Draper, and he doesn’t act as hard or as fast as Vic Mackey. Instead, we see how he deals with the exact same question as everyone else in his own way – how to fit into the game. What we learn about characters is related to how they got into the game – we don’t hear about the childhood of the cops because it honestly doesn’t matter, as compared to the drug dealers who were born into the game.

      Breaking Bad, Season Two, Episode Four, “Down”
      You can tell Walt is a 50 year old man in 2008 because he doesn’t just text Jesse like a normal person.

      I can see how people would say Walt is a psychopath because he does have a genuine superficial charm that comes off as gross when you know he’s full of shit. If he had found some not-evil way of finding confidence, he could have been a genuinely great person. At the same time, he completely botches a lie – you don’t throw in extra details when you don’t need to, you fool!

      “Asset seizure” makes a lot more sense having seen The Wire and The Shield. The myth ties all these shows together.

      I would totally try one of Walt’s omlettes.

      First appearance of ‘Flynn’.

      Most of the time, strong empathy with a character makes it easier to follow them through awful decisions. In this case, it actually makes it even easier to judge Walt, seeing as how I can see any number of more effective ways out, let alone more moral ones. Jesse is in a more Vic-like position, genuinely having all his options cut off until stealing the RVis the only thing that makes sense (him visiting his old friend is fucking painful to watch). That said, it does make sense that Walt and Jesse would fight, and then make up at the end without a word. Walt practices being Heisenberg on Jesse.

      After comparing BB to Mad Men yesterday, I like the idea of seeing it in conversation with Deadwood too. Walt draws on the myth of men like Al to justify his actions to himself, but he’s more like Hearst.

      Oh yeah, and I finished that thing I was writing.
      Part One: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EQ_6OhfqEfqbP8CEM_6z4KrH9UjiLfcqR7bEty9uX1I/edit?usp=sharing
      Part Two: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tutzwSsEjzYr-fGhIiNs9kwGjxTm-Lg34YsUKaUiKfk/edit?usp=sharing
      Part Three: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aSx2vtnv4aMONTMwZox_RG6NG_2GOxCkV_CM9f95ne8/edit?usp=sharing
      Part Four: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_yns6tQrxIY1VuYsTH88RITz7VRZiRZaCOL0pNPSD94/edit?usp=sharing
      Last Part: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iO2dCOMPvsrz2uOrL8XORQ0FYSwwmAPZFofsKc8j4y0/edit?usp=sharing

      Whole Shebang In One File: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eukRxCtLUcNgek-b9eVxnYNxoBs3X6btOT93mOqyfQ0/edit?usp=sharing

      The Talleyrand Trial, Reflections
      So. Watching season two of Breaking Bad as I hit the finish line really put in perspective the conceptual issues of the story. Goodwin began the story with nothing – no connections, no friends, no family, and nothing to lose. This was fun as fuck to write, but meant that I spent the first third of the story building up connections and stuff for her to destroy over the story. This fed into the other problem – while I think I did pretty well keeping things dramatically moving, I was simply throwing one reaction to one action, when I could have escalated the tension by escalating the responses – not just one thing coming back on Goodwin, but four.

      And while the “four drafts” approach was what I as a person needed to do to be able to write this story, I think it ended up hurting the story more than helping it. I recall reading about actors who talked about killing the energy of a scene by over-rehearsing it; I had put so much energy into the initial planning of the story that I ended up kinda coasting through the last draft, and I suspect that came across in the emotional affect. I’m actually okay with that – even if this wasn’t always a practice story for understanding the practicals of drama, there’s a joy in the crude feel of a first-timer’s story, e.g. El Mariachi.

      One of the interesting things about writing pure drama was that it was completely pointless even thinking about it when I didn’t have the story right in front of me to work on. When I tried to think about what I needed to do for the story, I would have to stop and write down the chain of events that came to me or I’d forget them; either I put my full attention on the story or I didn’t think about it at all. I’ve already started work on my literary counterpart to TT (in fact, I started writing down ideas back in February. It’s called The Talleyrand Life), and I’ve already found the exact opposite is true for that.

      I began writing this story on the 9th of October, 2016, and finished it on the 14th of April, 2017. That’s six months of work. Lest it seem like I’m being entirely critical of myself, the surge of pride and relief and joy I felt looking over my work is incomparable to anything I’ve felt before. This is the biggest and most ambitious story I’ve ever finished. Onward and upward!

      • ZoeZ

        Congratulations on finishing The Talleyrand Trial! As far as emotional effect goes, I was moved by Ford’s “I’m loyal,” and actually by that entire conversation. It was all a lot of fun, and the amount of action made it feel like a condensed novel (with continuing adventures!). And I’m grateful for your sharing of it throughout its development, because I feel like watching it develop has also been interesting to me on a writing nuts-and-bolts level. Very cool.

        Walt and Al: Another key difference for me is that Al is invested in community in a way that Walt isn’t. Al wants to rule, or, failing that, govern, or, failing that, prosper; Walt wants to win. (Walt could never tolerate a Bella Union, for one thing.) Ultimately, Al can exist in society in a way that Walt, as Heisenberg, just can’t, in part because he’s confident enough to know his own power without constantly demonstrating it while Walt is arrogant rather than assured. I agree that Al is the kind of man Walt gestures towards–someone who gets his hands dirty and who makes order out of amateurism and chaos, an acknowledged power even outside of his formal business–but has too many illusions to actually become.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Thank you! I’m glad my talking about it wasn’t just me talking to myself; the learning process is very fun. I found how far Ford was willing to go (and in the end post-recognition Goodwin) kind of horrifying at points. That whole conversation between Ford and Taylor was an attempt to get across the effect of Vic sitting in silence before confessing in The Shield according to the aesthetic rules I’d set myself – all prose, all action. It ended up being best done by a conversation between them, when they had literally nothing else they could do.

          When it comes to emotional affect, I was surprised how, in contrast to how something like Mad Men feels like book in the form of a TV show, TT feels like a TV show in the form of a prose story. I’m looking forward to trying out the literary plot structure next.

          Walt and Al: Agreed, 100%.

          • ZoeZ

            Oh, that “Possible Kill Screen” parallel is neat. And Taylor’s ultimate decision made me think of Kavanagh: giving moral priority to justice even at high personal cost and being at peace with that.

            And good luck with literary Talleyrand!

          • Drunk Napoleon

            It’s funny to me – TV is more often known as less subtle and sophisticated than prose, but because I chose third-person limited, I had to have my characters literally spell out what they thought to each other. If I’d gone first person or more internal, I could have had the character internally debating with themselves. I think what I have works really well, though.

            Hah, I hadn’t even thought of that! Mainly, Taylor developed as a counterpart to Goodwin and Ford. Neither of them would have made the same choice as her, and I don’t think Goodwin would have reacted how Ford did.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Like, if I wanted to describe Taylor’s morality in a snappy way, it’d be The Company Woman who strayed from the path. Ford is the Loyal Sidekick. Goodwin is the hardest, being the character I identified with the most.

      • The Ploughman

        Well, now I know exactly how many parts I’m behind in reading TT. Putting it on the weekend reading list.

        Congrats! There’s no bigger rush than that feeling of completion.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Thanks. I love writing, but there’s a real, specific pleasure in having written.

          • The Ploughman

            Can’t emphasize enough: loving the process is important. I know a lot of people who would love to “have written” or “have made” something, but the journey getting there has no appeal for them. There’s nothing wrong with that (I love to “have eaten” but I’m not a chef), but it’s easy to forget that having the thing is just a step in a much larger process.

            If I backdate this post, do you think it will reach 20-year-old me?

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Yeah, I understand completely – I’ve tried all kinds of creative outlets, and while I like drawing and playing guitar (and romanticise the idea of being both an artist and a guitar player), it doesn’t have that “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing” feel that writing has.

          • ZoeZ

            There’s a very particular high to hitting the exact groove where the story is coming to me naturally and I’m pleased with the prose, and like all addicts, I’m fine with spending the rest of my life chasing that feeling.

      • The Ploughman

        Oh, and also: the idea that The Wire prioritizes theme makes a lot of sense to me, maybe because I’m a “theme overall” proponent and The Wire is my GOAT candidate of choice. Although as you’ve pointed out before, The Wire does a great job of balancing a lot of things, and I’d say those four pillars are also balanced well by putting everything in service of theme. There’s no flashbacks. There’s no dream sequences. There’s twists, but never of the “camera pulls back to reveal… The Real Villain!!” variety. Just straightforward people doing their job the best they can, and how everybody doing that within a system creates a mess that fucks it up for everybody.

        • ZoeZ

          You’re reminding me of one of my favorite lines from The Wire–and it’s fitting that it’s a thematic line–McNulty’s tearing down of Ronnie (The Solute acknowledges multiple Ronnies) for her participation in a system that lets guys like Levy continue to thrive: “Everybody stays friends, everybody gets paid, and everybody’s got a fucking future.”

          • The Ploughman

            It’s also what makes it such a “grownup” show. In a regular cop show, Gotta Get the Bad Guy is all the motivation you need. In The Wire, Wanna Live a Reasonably Comfortable Life is a competing motivation.

          • One of the things I didn’t appreciate until my second time through The Shield is that, for all the Gotta Get the Bad Guying going on, it was always treated as a move in a larger game. Claudette, Dutch, Vic, Shane, Danni, Julien, and Aceveda all Gotta Get the Bad Guys from different impulses, with different means, and for different ends.

          • The Ploughman

            I swear, The Shield is next in line once I have another series put to bed.

          • It’ll be here when you get to it, and I always respond to comments 😏

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Like I said way before, I think the reason The Wire tops so many people’s Top TV lists is how it balances so many things so well, having something for everybody while still having a singular purpose. The dramatic decisions and character beats are all in service of explaining the game.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        “Asset seizure” makes a lot more sense having seen The Wire and The Shield. The myth ties all these shows together.

        Ahh, if only it were a myth.

    • I saw an ultra-local film premiere called Danger Diva starring local all-female hard rock band Thunderpussy (not to be confused with Alabama Thunderpussy). Danger Diva is a sci-fi movie limited by budget and imagination. At times, it was an extremely inspired cyberpunk movie. At other times, it was rather mundane. It’s the near future, and people are installing chip implants into their body. The lead singer of the in-movie Thunderpussy auditions for the role of an upper-class opera diva in a concert put on by the technocrati, and is forcefully installed with a voice enhancing trachea chip that enhances her voice with digital modulations to reach new heights of ecstasy. But, she can also sing really loud and break shit with her voice (think Lego Willie in Lego Indiana and the Temple of Doom).

      And then comes in the Being John Malkovich plot where her boss is dying but wants to live forever. And, so they develop a chip where he can implant his brain inside the body of a baby. Except the baby has to be his child, because genetic code or something.

      The movie feels like a 30-40 minute short that got stretched out to feature length. It’s not bad, especially for a hyper-local film. But, some more imaginative cinematography and color finishing could have really helped the movie a lot. Plus, it is a grab bag of sci-fi concepts. Still, it doesn’t suck (which is more than I can say for some of the wide releases). And it’s occasionally a lot of fun, especially when it has some original ideas (the boss is also cultivating a cult of implant-slaves who eat grass like cows and speak in binary).

      But, the concert was really cool, especially if you like the old-fashioned driving hard rock. Think AC/DC-era rock and roll. They did covers like Search and Destroy. I’m not as well versed on music, but I did grow up on that music and it sounded really great.

      • I spent most of the free time crafting a form letter and I got a couple of people signed up from yesterday. But, I also had meetings from 3-8pm and then the screening/concert. It was a good time. I still haven’t gone to bed yet, but I will get back to the sign ups when I wake up.

    • Babalugats

      Ninotchka (1939) – An unfortunate product of a doomed culture.

      The Train (1964) – This is one of my Uncle’s favorite movies. Every 3 or 4 months, my cousin will ask me, “Have you ever seen The Train?” I say I haven’t, and he says, “It’s not that good.” So I’ve long had a conception of this movie as a well regarded classic that’s aged poorly. Everyone here was quite a bit more enthusiastic about it so I decided to finally knock it off my list. Well, y’all was right, The Train is a tense and propulsive action thriller with interesting and nuanced moral underpinnings and a compelling movie-star performance at its center.

      These movies made interesting companions, both about France during the rise and fall (respectively) of fascism and released on opposite sides of World War II. The Train is about the long term threat that that Nazis posed to French culture even in defeat and about the importance and cost of preserving that culture. Ninotchka is that culture. A celebration of everything worth preserving, knowing damn well how how fragile the future was.

      • Son of Griff

        THE TRAIN seems to be the consensus favorite movie of everyone of the commentariat (and a few of the Soluters as well). If we were to collectively program a Solute film retrospective there would have to be a screening of it.

        • ZoeZ

          If we were to collectively program a Solute film retrospective

          That’s got to be a future Taco Break, right?

          • The Ploughman

            And no, we’re not just showing the last season of The Shield.

          • ZoeZ

            I’ll be reasonable: we don’t have to show the whole season, just the last six-to-eight episodes.

          • thesplitsaber

            I think you can get away with showing the Pilot as a short film haha

      • Miller

        I think we can project our belief in cultural preservation onto The Train — even when it was made in the 60s, the threat of Nazism was over and most of non-Soviet Europe had hauled themselves out of the rubble, right? Preservation was successful, which makes it easier to be the right thing to do. But the movie itself exists minute by minute and places art up against life in that context. I don’t think it’s anti-art by any means or even ambiguous in whether it is worth saving, but it is clear about the cost and how culture is lives as well as art.

        • Babalugats

          The ending is so great. The crates of paintings and the bodies strewn across the landscape, the Nazi comes out to give his speech and Lancaster doesn’t respond. Doesn’t even acknowledge it, almost doesn’t even hear it. Just looks around and decides, dispassionately, that this man doesn’t need to be alive. Lancaster doesn’t give a fuck about art, it only has value to him because his friends were willing to die for it. But because they were willing to die for it, so is he, and that is the culture and that is why it will never belong to men like Waldheim.

        • glorbes

          Wallflower (as always) made a stark, clarifying statement about how the movie treats sacrifice. Labiche enlists the help of his men, and they choose to do the job. They know the risks, and they put their lives on the line. The Nazis use humans against their will to guard the train, and Labiche will not kill those people. The difference is clear between Lancaster’s character and Schofield’s character, and what they do and how much value they put in life. There is a fundamental, moral difference in how lives are put on the line.

    • It’s the beginning of the end of my Trek@50 Season One rewatch, as the season finale aired on 4/13/67. And clearly, back then the idea of a big finale hadn’t occurred to anyone in TV, since “Operation: Annihilate” is pretty much a standard issue (if entertaining) episode. Only halfway through, but finding it holds up as well as most of the first season does. With the exception of the dreary “Miri,” even the worst clunkers have there moments. The acting is usually strong, the production values are good to great, and the pacing is perfect for a prime time drama of its time. I look forward to resuming the rewatch in fall 2017, for a second season with more clinkers and a few classics.

    • glorbes

      I watched Rogue One at home. As a movie fan, I can see its flaws. As a Star Wars fan, I am the opposite of immune to its charms. The final act of the film is essentially a movie version of playing with action figures, and imagining spectacular moments that would have been impossible with previous technology. It aims to please on the most basic level, through sheer spectacle. Whether it’s a battle with Imperial Walkers, Star Destroyers smashing into each other, or Darth Vader being a badass, it’s a movie that is made of ultimate fan moments. The character work feels a bit flat in the early going, but once the final mission starts playing out, it pays some dividends and has actual effecting moments.

      • ZoeZ

        I thought Jyn and Cassian embracing as the blast moved towards them over the water was poignant, as well as a nice way of retroactively deepening the series’s portrayal of the destruction of Alderaan, which is 90% shrug. By putting us on the ground for an earlier version of the same event–and making nice use of some good old-fashioned apocalyptic imagery–the movie adds a little more pathos to the original.

      • thesplitsaber

        Also shout out to Ben Mendehlson who does a better job with one villain than TFA did with 3.

    • CineGain

      The Blob-It baffles me that some producer could place Steve McQueen in a teenager role and have the audience buy the performance. The whole “teenager” cast reeks of desperation that has yet to cease in many contemporary Hollywood productions. The film is still an enjoyable cheesefest that has mixture of blending the adolescent delinquent genre with Cold War era Sci-Fi/horror, just suspense the belief you are watching adults role-playing teens.
      Equinox-Part of the Jack H. Harris double feature on Criterion Channel, this independent film doesn’t quite managed up any real enthusiastic response form me. Which is to say this was duller then what you want when your hungover late at night, and you are in the mood for b-movie playfulness.

  • Son of Griff

    The concept of the “male gaze” to be deeply problematic, in that it fundamentally speaks past the manner in which women participated in the making of the public sphere in which the movies emerged. The semiotic codes than construct the protagonist centered subjectivity of traditional cinematic style has always applied to both genders, largely determined expected audience for the type of film being viewed. In other words, the style Mulvey describes applied to “men’s” and “women’s” pictures alike. The scopophilic pleasures of the watcher are not restricted to men only.

    On the other hand, it has provided a needed tool for criticism that allows audiences to engage with the movies through their own experience of gender and sexual orientation. I suspect that Bartel and many of his compatriots in 70s independent cinema were acutely aware that sexuality was a prism by which they experienced Hollywood movies differently than the studios and mainstream critics and historians intended. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bartel had read feminist criticism, but his early work, at the very least, displays an intuitive grasp of the fluidity of desire that can be unleashed by the cinematic apparatus.

    • I think your first point is half correct. Even in women’s pictures, many of them were made by men (most important) and a sizable portion of them involved an active male object of desire trying to woo a woman who is, herself, trying to be wooed. Exceptions obviously existed, but the mainstream cinema had mainly constructed the codes of looking in both Mens and Women’s pictures. The pre-1965 genre where it really becomes complicated is the noir with its femme fatales, who are actively looking and watching and navigating a sea of male crime.

      And, while I disagree with many of Laura Mulvey’s more sex-negative leanings, she did make a great point about who is telling the stories and how those story creators have set the framework for reinforcing existing gender constructs. There are echoes of Mulvey’s work in the racial and sexual observations of James Baldwin the racial criticisms of white people telling black stories and the various queer criticisms of such work as Blue is the Warmest Color. It’s about how the voices making the film has a strong influence over the content of the film and the storytelling methods used within the film. Which ties in Fursonas and The Lost City of Z, and also includes how Curtis Harrington’s weirdness led him to craft Whats the Matter With Helen as thinly veiled high camp.

      That being said, The Neon Demon is a crash course in the participation of the women behind the camera. Similar to Bartel’s Private Parts, it frequently acts as a scopophilic film about photographers and models. But, its intent is to challenge the passivity of the model through their invitation of watching. The models watch each other, and they invite the watching. But, their role is similar to Madeline in Vertigo. They invite people’s looking at them and they’re always checking to see if people are watching them. It’s an interesting and complicated take.

      • Son of Griff

        My take on Mulvey’s essay is that she wanted to primarily expose the phallocentric assumptions in semiotic theory as it was practiced at the time. Her attempts at re-interpreting films, such as VERTIGO, were intended to reframe arguments made by poststructuralist critics like Christian Metz, who applied Lacanian mirror theory to film grammar without addressing the role that gender played within it.

        Maybe I’m being over technical, but my understanding of the gaze, in a cinematic sense, has always been related to the manner in which the narrative shifts from the viewer watching events on screen unfold objectively to a more subjective point of view; the moments when the audience begins to perceive space through the eyes of a character and the moments when that perspective is withdrawn. The theory was designed to explain how imaginary signifiers appear to be “real” through fetishistic objectification. I’m intrigued by the discussion (and this response) that you provoked in these essays this past week. I’m just not sure that we’re on the same wavelength in terminology.

        • Mulvey put a very important point, perhaps the most crucial of the essay, at the goddamned end of her essay in the section marked “Summary.”

          There are three different looks associated with cinema: that of the camera as it records the pro-filmic event, that of the audience as it watches the final product, and that of the characters at each other within the screen illusion. The conventions of narrative cinema deny the first two and subordinate them to the third, the conscious aim being always to eliminate intrusive camera presence and prevent a distancing awareness of the audience

          So, yes, you are correct. The gaze is how the audience’s point of view is meant to be replaced by the gaze of the character. But, Mulvey’s essay is also about how the gaze always creates the dichotomy of an image and a looker, the passive and the active, the subordinate and the dominant. In section 3, she discusses how women are most frequently made into an “image” while men are usually bequeathed the honor of being the “bearer of the look.” In turn, she discusses how the creation of the image is an act of the gaze itself by naming “the camera” as a bearer of the look. Many critics, especially in the post-auteur-theory landscape, directly link the camera and the director as being one and the same, suggesting they are bearers of the same look. And, especially when the essay was written, men were usually the bearer of that look through the mechanics of Hollywood creation.

          The separation of the camera and the character comes into highlight within the context that she discusses the cinema of Sternberg, suggesting that Dietrich’s erotic heights come at times when there is no male protagonist for the audience to be subjugated to. In a way, the camera is a stand in of the director (as are other shadowy figures who defy audience identification), thus gendering the camera as male.* Later she suggests Hitchcock uses certain male characters to stand-in for himself, which allows the Hitchcock camera and the male protagonist to frequently possess the same gaze, making it far easier to supplant the audience’s gaze of the screen. i.e. Because we see through Scotty’s or Jefferies’ eyes, we become one with Scotty or Jefferies.

          Much of her argument was about the transference of the look, and identification of the in-screen look, but also about the creation of the look and how the person behind the camera was also doing as much looking as the people on the other side of the screen.

          *However, I believe that she’s wrong here, in that she suggests that Dietrich is not subject to an active gaze and that the gaze of the in-movie audience is one “with” the theater audience, but the reality is that the in-movie audience frequently takes pleasure and ego cues from the cutaways from that frequently male in-movie audience.

  • jroberts548

    Not related to anything: I love TCM’s Easter programming. They will be airing Harvey and The Night of the Lepus at night on Easter Saturday. They’ll also be airing the silent, 1925 Ben Hit Sunday night, which I haven’t seen but should at least be interesting as piece of film history.

  • The Ploughman

    Lunch Links
    “Better late than never” edition.

    The Lottery (1969) dir. Larry Yust

    “The following is fiction.” So says the opening titles, in case there’s any confusion.

    https://vimeo.com/65266252

    There’s something so primal in the simplicity of Shirley Jackson’s infamous 1948 short story. The first I ever heard of it was as a child, listening to a half-remembered summary by a Sunday School teacher: a town gathers, draws slips of paper, one woman draws a black dot and is stoned to death by the rest of the town. “The Lottery” makes a Twilight Zone plot look labyrinthine in comparison.

    Something in this simple beginning, middle and end haunts. There’s something so obvious about it, like you’ve heard about this before, that it creeps past the mind’s catalog of stories and gets recorded alongside faded memories of real events. We’re horrified that an event so absurd and so obviously wrong could register as anything to be taken seriously by our own heads, and I think it’s this subconscious rejection that keeps “The Lottery” alive in the popular consciousness.

    Any power this adaptation has can be attributed to the short it’s based on. It does a decent job of staying out of the way and keeping the low-key build to the horror, only distracting with a fondness, typical of the era, for the new-fangled zoom lens. It’s celebrated as the debut of Ed Begley, Jr and I would also fondly point out ubiquitous Western character actor William Fawcett as the Old Man.

    All the short does is give a specific look to the small town of the story. While there’s logistical reasons for keeping the story to a small community, it also taps into the somewhat contradictory association of small towns with both strictly regulated old-tyme traditions and animal behavior. Would we view a Lottery story taking place in a large urban area with more skepticism?

    • pico79

      Even though it was probably for budget reasons, the lack of any score really helps sell the creepiness of it, too.

      • The Ploughman

        It kind of succeeds in spite of itself in a lot of ways, doesn’t it? I haven’t seen any other adaptations, but I would guess the longer ones would lose some of the power of simplicity.

        • pico79

          Yeah, the “normalcy” of the thing is what makes it most convincing. If I happened on this midway through on television one night, I might think it were an old documentary or something, and folk are behaving stiffly because they’re not used to a camera being shoved in their faces.

  • Babalugats

    Questions – Since we’re in the midst of a number of major religious holidays this week, if figured I’d ask; What is your favorite blasphemous moment in film or television?

    • Babalugats

      Mine is, perhaps unsurprisingly, from Cool Hand Luke. When Luke learns of his mother’s death he takes a guitar and plays Plastic Jesus. The song is cynical and funny and personal, something that feels connected to the woman and to their relationship. It reflects both his desire for salvation and his innate scepticism of religion. The movie as whole has a complicated take on religion. Luke is a clear Christ allegory, but also attacks religion right along with every other corrupt system of authority and appears to be on the atheistic side of agnostic.

      Also, I like the song.

    • After Jesus tells Judas to betray him in The Last Temptation of Christ:
      Judas: If it was the other way around, could you do this to me?
      Jesus: No. I’m not strong enough. That’s why God gave me the easy job.
      Since I think of blasphemy as telling the truth that dogma conceals, that moment easily wins. It also leaves me in tears.

      • We read “Three Versions of Judas” in my high school lit class, and man, were some people pissed off.

    • pico79

      I’m a sucker for the ambivalent blasphemy: the thing that’s somehow both blasphemous and serious about the faith underlying it? So much of Kevin Smith’s Dogma. So much of the Coens’ Hail Caesar. It’s what twelve years of Catholic school got me, basically.

      • Babalugats

        Squint! Squint against the grandeur!

        • thesplitsaber

          they should just play that out take real for Clooneys eventual In Memoriam

      • Somewhere Smith sez that Dogma is about his two great loves: God and dick jokes. There’s a distinction between serious and sincere, and Smith is wired so that he can’t be serious while being sincere, which is another way of saying blasphemous.

      • The Ploughman

        [Divine presence to be shot]

    • The Ploughman

      The one that jumps to mind is George Carlin’s unveiling of “Buddy Christ” in Dogma. The statue is tipped into the realm of blasphemy, but it shows how close to the line Christian marketing was getting already, where the iconography of Jesus (already of debated value) was being rendered meaningless in an effort to make it “accessible.”

    • thesplitsaber

      ‘God cares for these….mortals?’
      ‘He died for their sins!’
      ‘Then that will be his undoing…’

  • clytie

    I saw about 70% of Private Parts on late night TV when I was 15. I’ve been meaning to watch the rest ever since.

    • The Ploughman

      When I saw 70% of private parts on late night when I was 15, it was because I was trying to watch the scrambled channels.

      • clytie

        “You’re only a REAL 80s kid if you did this!”