• Conor Malcolm Crockford

    This reminds me to do a post tomorrow on a good horror short I just watched!

  • Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • lgauge

      Wonderstruck: An ultimately very sweet film most of all.

      Haynes gives himself the challenge of both dual, independent narratives and large sections of silence (no or almost no sounds except for the score). Initially, while doing admirably on the latter front, there is a lack of cohesion or gestalt in terms of the two storylines. The cutting back and forth is too abrupt, there is little rhyming or continuity in the images and tone. Luckily, this aspect starts to work much better as the film goes on. I’d say this is in keeping with the film as a whole, which is nothing too remarkable at first, but then slowly but surely builds into something quite (for lack of a less convenient word) wonderful. Without spoiling the specifics, the way the two storylines come together in the end is really sweet and moving and (if arguably predictable, at least in hindsight) cleverly executed. With all the silence, the film would be dead in the water without a good score and that’s exactly what we get. Burwell’s playful melodies evoke something akin to silent film scores (of the kind with more than just piano) yet with a clear impression of the modern, fitting the two timelines of the film very well. Also great is the cinematography, particularly in the black and white sections where, similarly to the score, there is a clear evocation of a past aesthetic without feeling like a cheap reproduction. There is one shot in particular that is absolutely among the most beautiful I’ve seen in any 2017 film: a side view of Rose in a bus (or tram) with the blazing lights of the big city at night seen through the window.

      On a thematic level, this is of course another one of Haynes’ visions of the past seeking to illuminate the present. While I’m sure one could easily go in other directions as well, the many museums and artifacts of the film coupled with the film’s literal recreations of the past makes me think of film as one of the great “museums”, both a museum of itself and of the world and society at large. Always curated with something very particular in mind, but also filled with a dynamism and emotion that is hard to find elsewhere. While more a small moment than anything with grander consequences for the film’s themes, there’s a really well observed incident where Rose (a deaf girl in 1927) observes banners announcing the arrival of sound cinema with a mix of terror and confusion. As much as many cinephiles lament the end of the silent era, that’s a very interesting perspective on the issue.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I feel like this really didn’t get marketed much at all.

        • lgauge

          The critical reaction was very mixed/muted (undeservedly so I think), which probably didn’t help either.

        • Jake Gittes

          It fell into a trap of being a PG-rated film starring children that’s arguably of primary interest to people who know who Todd Haynes is. Or at least the studio thought so, putting it in limited release where it promptly died. (The mixed reviews didn’t help any.)

          • lgauge

            Certainly it’s more a film for adults at least. Like, you could take your kids to it I guess (nothing objectionable happens), but it’s not really the kind of movie most kids are going to be into.

          • Babalugats

            I think Wonder also being a weepy kids movie for adults released at basically the same time, probably didn’t do it any favors. Like, I’ve read multiple reviews of both those movies and have just now realised they’re different films.

          • Miller

            The way to tell them apart is that “Wonder!” is what Brian Johnson yells at the beginning of the song and “Wonderstruck!” comes at the end.

        • Son of Griff

          TCM did several nights of programming dedicated to it, which probably isn’t really reaching the broadest audience.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Five, Episode Seven, “The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham”
      “I was angry. I was ob – I was obsessed.”
      “Look how far you’ve come.”

      “I’ll miss you, John. I really will.”

      A fucking landmark, iconic, whatever you want to call it episode. Though we don’t know it yet (and neither does Terry O’Quinn, more on that in a second), this is the true death of John Locke, and the first appearance of the Man In Black, aka UnLocke, aka Flocke, aka Smokey in his Locke disguise. I’m watching it with my ‘seen the whole series’ goggles on, trying to follow the plan. Smokey somehow gets Charles and/or Ben to bring Locke to the island, so that he can possess his body, use it to kill Jacob, and go in the Heart Of The Island (I do not trust my memory one bit on any of this).

      For all that I’ve been openly judgemental of Locke, the scene of his death hit me hard at eighteen, and in fact hit me harder now, because I’ve been there more often. Locke has always struck me as childlike, with the belief that there’s something inherently special about oneself being something I personally associate with childhood – the belief that people have an inherent quality about them that defines what happens to them (potentially, a fairly typical gifted child problem). I think it was still something weighing me down in 2009, something I believed but recognised as Wrong, and it was extremely cathartic to see someone take that belief to its logical conclusion, moreso when we discover that Locke did in fact die. Discovering his death was like having the needle, constantly switching between ‘Locke is awesome’ and ‘Locke is pathetic’, finally settle on ‘pathetic’.

      But the thing that’s interesting – and I find this is true with a lot of media from my teenage/early adult years, from Lost to Metal Gear Solid to Community – is that I then went out and did the exact same thing. I went through life assuming that my story would play out a certain way because I was Nice and Smart and Nerdy, and it blew up in my face, and I had to learn to let go of that thinking. I last watched Locke’s story from one end, and now I see it from the other. That’s why it hits me harder, because I can’t judge Locke as stronglyly and I can connect to his emotions even better. This furthers my belief that fiction only shows us what we want to see, and it also makes me wonder if we’re drawn to certain stories because they can act as thought experiments for things we’re thinking about but haven’t acted on yet. Or maybe fiction is something that happens inbetween actions.

      Terry O’Quinn was not told that he was no longer playing Locke, which I think is totally unfair on him – if anyone has earned the right to be trusted to play a character properly, it’s him.

      Best non-Locke character beat is Hurley acting blase at Locke until he realises he is in fact alive. Widmore references John’s philosophical name when he gives him another one. Speaking of Widmore, the war between him and Ben is clarified – I believe that Widmore is an agent of Smokey while distinctly remembering Ben is an agent of Jacob.

      Ownage: Ben kills John.

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Nine, Episode Seven, “Flowers For Charlie”
      “You stupid science bitches couldn’t even make my friend more smarter.”
      “Hey, that’s right, these stupid scientist bitches couldn’t even make I more smarter!”

      Not a great episode; the Game Of Thrones writers end up producing amore conventional, less-forward-moving episode of the show (“Let me get this straight: you just realised you have two ears?”). It does, however, have the best Gay Mac joke, when Dennis plays romantic music and then casually and silently rebuffs Mac’s attempts to move in on him. The final scene is hysterical though – aside from the pull quote, Charlie Day’s Old Man Scientist routine had me in physical pain, I was laughing so hard.

      Also, as follow-up to my viewing of Office Space, I worked really hard today on a part of the job I do not care for even slightly, and I had “If I had a million dollars, I would do nothing. I would sit on my ass and do nothing,” running through my head.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        That’s one of my favorite Gay Mac jokes! I’m always sure that Dennis did that specifically to fuck with the poor guy.

        Brother as somebody who’s getting up way too early for an 8am-5 job and is barely being trained because the boss is pregnant/out a lot, and working in a fucking dental school, I sympathize. (I do get them bennies though.)

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Most of the time I shouldn’t complain (and don’t) because I usually work barely three hours a day. But on Thursdays, I have to do stuff that’s a) outside my skillset b) takes AT LEAST four hours c) drains the life from me the longer it takes and d) under a boss who seems to not comprehend a, b, or c, and in fact gets perkier and perkier the longer it goes (and when she does realise I’m losing my mind, she has absolutely no idea what to do about it).

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Nah I know what you mean, I shouldn’t complain, its just that the next three months with her gone will be really stressful/weird as I’ll have no idea what I’m doing, like, 50 percent of the time.

      • MAN, “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” just wrecks me, and it’s one of the rare Lost episodes that actually improves once you know how the rest of the series goes. Realizing that this is the way John Locke’s life ends is just crushing.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Smokey gets a fantastic line after the reveal, and I’m really looking forward to it.

          • “Indeed I have. And you have no, idea, what I’ve gone through to get here.” The sheer contempt he puts into that line is terrifying. It also bookends Jacob’s line from the beginning of the episode (and what is, at that point, the beginning of the story of the Island): “It only ends once. Everything before that. . .is progress.”

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Not the quote I’m thinking of, but that’s great too. I’m thinking of Smokey telling us John’s last thoughts, which really summarises his choices and what they got him.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Oh man, unrelated to anything, you said a while back that The Shield never explored a Ronnie/Dutch pairing, and it hit me recently that it’d basically play out like a way less emo version of season one of True Detective.

            “Does it say anything in that book about jumping to conclusions?”

          • “I’ll tell you about it sometime” would still be a line there. Actually, it works coming from either one of them.

    • The Boxer’s Omen – a Shaw Brothers horror film, and a strong contender for the strangest film I’ve ever seen. There’s a basic revenge plot (injured kickboxer asks his brother to seek vengeance) but the film is almost entirely disinterested in it (and the vengeance is concluded with about 40 minutes of the film still to go, amusingly). What it IS interested in is total cinematic madness. Levitating heads, incongruously cute bat puppets, a woman reborn from inside an alligator, killer caterpillars… all cut together with little regard for… well, anything. I think I prefer my Hong Kong weirdness with a little more structure to it, but I still really enjoyed the barrage of insane ideas this threw at me.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        That sounds like it gives Hausu a run for its money as Weirdest Film.

      • PCguy

        BOXER’S OMEN is one of the few bright spots in the end of the Shaw era and one of the better Taoist horror films that I’ve seen. Shaw was a lot like Hammer in that the studio’s decline opened up more opportunities to diverge from their typical formula but to often dismal and pornographic ends. BOXER’S OMEN does a great job of maximizing its’ special effects budget while moving away from the typical martial arts formula and anticipates the success of supernatural themed franchises like MR. VAMPIRE and CHINESE GHOST STORY that rose to prominence later in the 80’s. I love these Taoist films because there’s nothing like them anywhere else in cinema and it’s a cultural tradition that most Westerners are completely oblivious of.

        • The only comparable thing I’ve seen is The Seventh Curse, but that’s more like a traditional b-movie with weirdo trimmings. Mr. Vampire was a bit too goofy for my liking, which surprised me as I have a fairly high Goof Tolerance.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Finished Steamboat Bill Jr (More thoughts tomorrow) and rewatched a good chunk of Antiviral with a lady friend. The movie could definitely be much leaner but I really love the anti septic white and blacks of the corporate offices and the sci-fi logic of the premise – we take autographs and hair samples from celebrities, used cigarette butts, why wouldn’t we start harvesting meat? And God do I love Caleb Landry Jones. There’s something terribly wrong with him that makes him a great presence to watch (its those burning eyes and I think how he spits when he speaks). I’ll probably just watch the last five minutes for that final, vampiric shot.

    • The Post–A companion piece, of sorts, to Lincoln. If every 4-5 years Spielberg has to drop in and create a tightly scripted historical film stealthily (or not so stealthily, in The Post‘s case) about the state of the current executive branch, I’m cool with that as long as they’re this good–good enough, even, that I’m willing to forgive how both of these movies have ended on final scenes that are entirely too cutesy. I’m also a sucker for movies about journalists doing journalist things, and honestly, I could watch a whole movie that was just shots of the Washington Post typesetting process and people with leather patches on the elbows of their brown suits shuffling through paper archives. Luckily for everyone who doesn’t have my particular journalistic fetishes, The Post is all that plus electrifying plotting and dynamite actors chewing through some crackerjack dialogue.

      Also finished Orange Is the New Black‘s fourth season–I’d say this is probably the strongest season of the show yet, or at least the most cohesive, although it’s still hamstrung by its shitty musical score and propensity for sitcommy comedy and broad characterizations (also, can Alex and Piper just fucking leave already?). Still, there are some great fucking moments in this season, and for all my griping about sitcomminess, I’d pay money to watch a sitcom about Caputo and Taystee as his secretary.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I only saw a few episodes of the first season of Orange and remember thinking “Well I like everyone else in this show but Piper is terrible.” I get that that’s intentional but everybody else was definitely more compelling.

        • Piper is EXTREMELY terrible, and it’s usually to the show’s detriment. This season, it gets a little better because we are supposed to have very little stake in what happens to her (and plus, the show really doubles down on how terrible she is with a storyline in which her privileged attitude ends up empowering some white supremacists), but still, her original role as an audience surrogate has long ago become obsolete, and the show hasn’t ever found a good use for her since.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        “That’s supposed to be leather patches on a tweed jacket! You’ve ruined a perfectly good jacket!”
        “Correction: two perfectly good jackets!”

      • The Ploughman

        I have a huge nostalgia for bustling newsrooms, even though I was never in one.

        • ME TOO. Honestly, that was probably my favorite part of Roger Ebert’s autobio as well–I just loved his stories about being at the Sun-Times in the ’60s/’70s.

          • The Ploughman

            Yes! I loved that too. And the descriptions of the reporters trying to outscoop each other.

            There’s a line in His Girl Friday that makes my heart melt every time, when Walter and Hildy have the scoop and their ready to publish, and Cary Grant says “And you’re just the person to write it!” He finds her writing skills important to the process! I feel like now the line would be “And let’s crap something out and get it on Twitter. We can update as we find the mistakes.”

          • I love that line, too. In fact, I love that movie in general, and mostly because it’s a movie that’s like 99 percent about journalists shouting at each other about journalist things.

            I know I’m only sort of romantic about it because I’ve never worked on a newspaper, but I just love this shit.

          • The Ploughman

            Newsroom stories would be a good deep dive to do sometime.

        • Miller

          Good energy in a newsroom is pretty awesome, but there is also a decent amount of screwing around (an open area makes this much easier to do than a cubicle farm).

          • I work in an open office, and my boss insists that it helps communication and collaboration. All it really means is that 1) we can shout dumb jokes back and forth more easily, 2) group bitch sessions are easier, and 3) the one guy who sings and drums at his desk is really annoying.

          • Miller

            A newsroom pretty much demands its occupants be on the internet all day, which is an excellent excuse for finding something amusing online and calling other people over to your desk to watch it.

            But the vibe really is great when it’s cooking. I was a freshman working at the college paper during the 2000 election and I remember leaving the office at 4 a.m. still on a high from the chaos of trying to figure out what the fuck was happening and turn it into a coherent story with everyone else, that addition has stuck with me.

          • My experience working for my college paper was that, if this is the future of print journalism, maybe it needs to die. I was an op-ed writer, not a regular journalist, but my being a stickler for details rubbed the editorial staff wrong. Turns out I was the only one who knew AP style, and a cowriter tried to accuse me of libel because I wrote something critical about a public figure she liked (I shut that shit down hard). I needed the money, so I kept writing, but man did I not get along with them at all.

          • The Ploughman

            I wasn’t in journalism in school, but the people I knew who were in it, uh, did not inspire confidence in the future of print journalism either. The thought that these might be the people sitting at home and filing stories while their potential mentors are let go explains a lot about the present to me.

          • But were they chain smokers? Did they have leather elbow patches on their tweed jackets?? Did they speak in loud, witty repartee???

          • The Ploughman

            One of them took up smoking Swisher Sweets. I don’t think I need to elaborate more.

          • Miller

            1. You got paid?!
            2. That sucks. College is a time to make mistakes in the field, I certainly made mine, but knowing libel vs. opinion is pretty basic.

          • 1. $25/col, 1col/wk, up to 600 words per col.
            2. What helped me was most of the other writers worked usual college jobs, but I had worked at an ad firm for 2y by then (hardly making me an expert, but more experienced than any of them). So I had zero patience for their amateur hour.

    • DJ JD

      Walk Hard – I love this movie so much. Sometimes I think to myself that I must be a basically joyless person because I dislike so many comedies, but then this or Hot Fuzz turn up in my queue and I’m just happy as a clam. I still use several quotes from this movie every so often, too:

      “What I need is for you to open your minds…and learn to play the fuckin’ theramin!”

      “Don’t you dare write a song right now Dewey Cox!”

      “He needs more blankets and he needs less blankets!”

      I could go on and on. I specifically like the music, too, even that overcooked monstrosity he writes right before he drops PCP and decides to be Zeus. Great film.

      That said…

      I have to admit that I’ve been waiting for little people to get some of that goodwill going around for several years now, and this movie rather sharply stumbles on the point. Okay, so it had “You Got To Love Your Negro Man,” which I thought was hilarious, and I’m generally all in favor of people being allowed to say whatever they want to say. I really liked the Dylan bit overall, too.

      But that song “Let Me Hold You, Little Man”… Thought experiment: replace “midget” with “n—er,” adjust the lyrics as needed and make it about black people. Would this fly today? Would this have flown ten years ago? Would this have flown forty years ago? I dearly love this movie but that part is a hard speedbump for me–and as my recent writing has shown, I’m hardly Captain Sensitive. I mostly felt embarrassed for everyone involved, and never moreso than when the Short Panthers were holding up their Short Power fist-signs while he sang about hoping for a remake of Wizard of Oz.

      Okay, got that off my chest. I really do love this movie otherwise, though.

      edit: Apparently I can’t use “pc rant” as a joke html tag without it actually trying to do something with it. I learn something new every day.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        “What do you think, George Harrison of the Beatles?”

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          “With meditation, there’s no limit to what we can…*looks into camera* imagine.”

          • Drunk Napoleon

            “Only two kinds of people know how to do that: Chinese people, and the King.”

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “Sometimes at night I ache for a man’s touch…and by that I mean a penis.”

        • DJ JD

          I can’t seem to find the entire quote with a quick Google search, but I loved the part where they’re talking about how the ’60s are an exciting and important time and Dewey’s talking about needing to reach out to those who are suffering–and when Darlene asks him, “Like your family?” he says, “No, not them…”

        • Man with a robot arm

          “You never once paid for drugs! Not once!”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The Short Power thing doesn’t hold up for me either, but I think the joke of “Little Man” is more on Cox for being hopelessly insensitive and condescending even when he’s trying to be uber political and “progressive”. But point taken.

        All the songs are for the most part amazing – they’re really funny AND they work as songs on their own. “Beautiful Ride” always makes me a little misty, I think because its so rooted in real emotions of regret and joy (“It’s about making a little music each day til you die” is just…lovely.) And John C. Reilly can truly sing.

        “Edith, I’ve told you before, I can’t build you a candy house, the sun will come out and the candy will melt!”

        • Miller

          Yeah, the joke is on Dewey trendhopping and doing so in a transparent and dopey way, and to a lesser extent on protest music itself, which is where the Short Power stuff comes in. I see the point about picking on these folks in 2008 but the tone works for me (the civil rights goal is remake of Oz? Clearly everyone involved here is goofy) and in the movie’s timeline, which clearly recognizes “real” rock events, Dewey beats Randy Newman to the punch by nearly a decade on the short people front.

          • DJ JD

            I get that, but they managed to work around his cluelessness towards black people with a lot more care, to stick with my point of comparison there.

      • Jake Gittes

        Walk Hard is one of the few really good mainstream Hollywood comedies to come out in all the years of Apatow domination. Because it’s a spoof with a rich yet specific target, and because it’s a period movie (and consequently has more going on in terms of style and production value), it demands to have more actual work put into it, which is to everyone’s benefit. It’s no coincidence that all its great jokes actually feel thought-through and, y’know, scripted. Same with the songs which as Conor said are for the most part absolutely on-point (and seriously Beautiful Ride is one of the greatest movie songs ever).

        • DJ JD

          It finds that balance of dead-serious-about-absurdity that ZAZ did so well in their prime, too. The cast is right dead on and they all get what the movie’s doing there, too: that song “Let’s Duet” managed to be dirty, silly, sweet, playful and volcanically sexual all at once instead of two or maybe three of those because Reilly and Fischer had the thing so dialed in.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          Excellent points, but I will say–and I love this movie as much as anybody–that there is still a bit of bloat to it. I think it’s maybe the determination to fit in every era of music and every biopic trope, but right around the Brian Wilson freakout segment, I start to wonder why it’s still going. It’s not the usual Apatow bloat since, as you say, it was actually scripted, and the theatrical cut is only 96 minutes, but it’s enough so it’s best watched in sections.

          • Miller

            Yeah, the story is Dewey trying to find peace but he has to succeed/fuck up in every rock genre first and that dynamic gets repetitive. But Reilly keeps everything going, the 70s talk show is the umpteenth variation on the theme but his self-loathing there is new and hard-to-watch funny.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “I have no fuckin’ sense of smell!”

    • Glorbes

      Dirk Gently is officially my least favourite show that I feel compelled to watch. The episode I watched last night was really boring and stupid, and the production values are aiming for charm, but it ends up just looking like shit. The actors are working really hard to sell the material but it defeated them all this episode. Two more episodes left.

      The Bob’s Burgers watch continues (how the hell did we get to seven seasons? It feels like this show just debuted). Anyway, Up-Skirt Kurt fails to score with Linda, and Mr. Fischoeder is such a delightful prick.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Elijah Wood deserves better.

        • He does. I watched the first episode out of a fondness for him, but it was a struggle to make it through even that one episode, I absolutely fucking hated it.

          • Glorbes

            My wife and I watched the first season. When the second season was added, it became something we both barely tolerate at the same time at the end of a long evening. How this show became that, I couldn’t tell you.

          • For the sake of your combined sanity, I hope they don’t make a third!

          • Glorbes

            This will be it. This season has been very slipshod and poor. We didn’t go back and watch the last two seasons of Buffy yet, so maybe I can get her back on that train so we can finish it up.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Naw, it was cancelled.

          • The Ploughman

            Gently. It became that… gently.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I was put off that show by both the revolting Americanisation of a classic and entirely unique British book (my mental picture of Dirk Gently is a disgusting ugly old guy and I love it), and by Max Power specifically, but I keep thinking “you know, maybe this’ll be an interesting alternative take on the same concepts”, so thanks for saving me from this.

        • Rosy Fingers

          Do you mean Max Landis? Because that presumptuous jerk only wishes he were named Max Power.

          • It’s one of the names he’s considering when he’s finally forced out of Hollywood, although he favours “Hercules Rockefeller” or “Handsome B. Wonderful”.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I find it funnier to call him Max Power. It’s the name that you mustn’t touch!

      • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is my favorite book series. On a desert island, I’d want the collected edition of all 5 novels to reread forever. Yet I think the Dirk Gently novels are boring.

        • I agree. I was so disappointed with Dirk Gently.

        • DJ JD

          I was waiting for someone else to say it first, but right there with you. I bought and read the first two and they’re still on my shelf out of my brand loyalty to the man…and yeah. What you said.

          • Miller

            I think the second loses steam but is still a decent read and the first is outright great and even more amazing, an Adams novel with excellent plotting. It’s less manic than Hitchhiker books but the absurdism is still strong.

          • Rosy Fingers

            I thoroughly enjoy the books, particularly the first one. It’s there in the eponymous title, yes, but I love just how gently the protagonist approaches the work of hard boiled detection. I think they’re books where, if you get on its level it’s wonderful, but I can see how it could just seem like there’s not much there.

    • The Ploughman

      The Commuter – @Babalugats really undersold how ridiculous this plot is. $100K if you can find “the passenger that doesn’t belong.” Fine. But if you’ve gone through the trouble to stalk, wiretap, and have three assassins tail Liam Neeson’s family, why bother with the financial reward? Or for that matter, if you can track and reward or punish his every move, why not find the person yourself?

      And perhaps most importantly, if you murder a witness in front of a dozen more witnesses, not to mention an army of police, doesn’t that kind of defeat the point of the whole enterprise?

      Good one-Take fight scene. That was as advertised. Agreed, best of 2018!

      • DJ JD

        Your spoiler reminded me of why Misty Knight lost me so hard, so fast on Luke Cage: they show the mortally-wounded gangster who hit the weapons sale texting his boss from the scene of the crime, phone still on and in his hand when he died, and then poor Simone Missick has to frown pensively while she SUPER DETECTIVES that a robbery went bad here. It’s a weapons sale where everyone’s dead, the money’s missing, a dead third party is laying there with his phone on and in his hand that he just used to text the guy who ordered the hit–and you SUPER DETECTIVEd that a third party hit it? Zounds, how do you do it?!?

        Sorry for tangents; I’m still amazed that they meant for us to take that scene seriously.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Oh my god Misty Knight is such a badly handled character and it pissed me off so much.

          • DJ JD

            I mentioned being “embarrassed” below; I still vividly remember feeling embarrassed for Missick several times during LC. The scene I mentioned there and the part where she just keeps sticking her fingers in the holes of his shirt and puzzling over them like they were quantum mechanics on a gradeschool chalkboard were two particularly painful scenes.

      • Babalugats

        Well they needed that box, too. But it does seem that once the conspiracy has gotten that large there must be a simpler way to pull this off. I was cracking up at the end when Liam Neeson just goes home. “I guess everything that happened here is pretty self explanatory.”

        Favorite twist: Patrick Wilson set him up because he thought he could use the money.

        • The Ploughman

          It’s like a Rube Goldberg conspiracy set up to identify a person, kill a person and steal something off a person. Three of the steps to execute this plan involve identifying a person, killing a person, and stealing something off a person (I can’t imagine boosting the bag would have been harder than taking Neeson’s phone). Every single plot point is so mind-bendingly illogical it’s hilarious. It’s like watching a five-year-old caught in a lie who decides to double-down on his story.

          My favorite: Neeson’s debrief with Farmiga at the end, where the film has to add one more huh? moment. So, she has the control to orchestrate the witness being on the train without knowing who she is? Yet she outsources the hit to an uninvolved friend of an acquaintance? Also love how the official witness-listeners get their moment to walk up to the witness at the end and ask “What did you see?” Like nobody bothers to find out what a witness knows (or asks them to make a backup of their harddrives) until the moment of the meeting, like a Gatekeeper and Keymaster situation. It’s the kind of movie that invites going on and on.

    • Hudsucker Proxy – I used my snow day yesterday to watch the only Coen I hadn’t seen, and it was fine. I laughed a bunch, but didn’t think it was that great. When I called it a “misfire” on The Dissolve FB, people came out saying how much they loved it. I guess every Coen has its defenders*, which is a testament to how good they are.

      The Faux-screwball tone is what got me. Tim Robbins was great as a wide-eyed child, looking at everything with wonder, but JJL felt like a bad Katherine Hepburn imitation (Bruce Campbell can chew as much scenery as he wants with that magnificent chin).

      I tried to rank their films, now that I’ve seen them all, and it’s tough – they’re all good, or at least interesting, in their own way. Plus most of them would be graded an A or B, so calling some the “worst” distorts how good they are.

      *I like The Ladykillers.

      • Loved Hudsucker when it came out. Was not so thrilled on a rewatch.

        And dear lord, there is a Magical Negro. As ever, the Coens struggle with race.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          Because I love Hudsucker, I try to convince myself that the Magical Negro is a knowing, satirical use of a hackneyed trope…but I’m probably being too kind.

          • It’s far from the worst use of the trope, but it’s still gonna bother me. Along with JJL’s performance, and some pacing issues.

          • Son of Griff

            Pacing and a weakly written third act lower it for me. This feels like a movie that suffered numerous production problems

          • Miller

            I lean toward knowing as well (and it helps that he has a supernatural counterpart) but yeah, not great and made worse by his relative isolation as a black dude in Coen movies.

          • The Ploughman

            He’s kind of the Magical Negro in a nutshell – nothing wrong with the character in isolation, something wrong on a macro level.

      • Jake Gittes

        I absolutely adore Hudsucker (might be top 5 Coens for me in all honesty) and JJL in it, and I concede that the latter may well be due to ignorance – I’m not yet so familiar with the classic screwballs that I can point to any specific actress or actresses she is either successfully or unsuccessfully imitating. Taking it as simply a JJL spin on a general archetype, I find it delightful.

        • I said Hepburn, but it’s really Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday, where she’s a hardnosed reporter sparring with Cary Grant. I’m not a big screwball comedy fan, which is probably why many of the jokes fell flat for me.

        • (probably repeating myself from when I rewatched this a couple of weeks ago but…)

          I was worried it wouldn’t hold up for me now that I have caught up with a lot of the big screwball classics, but I loved it every bit as much. It’s probably top 5 for me too. I think the main thing I love about it is that it’s not “the Coens do screwball”, or at least not JUST that, because they’re throwing in Frank Capra-esque magical realism, forboding Metropolis-style architecture and the slightly grotesque humour that Sam Raimi brings to the mix.

          • Jake Gittes

            Yeah it strikes a great balance between throwing everything at the wall and still being disciplined in the usual Coen way.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        My version of this is Miller’s Crossing where I don’t think its THAT good, I’m sorry.

        • I need to rewatch it, but it’s probably in my bottom half for them, too.

        • Miller’s Crossing and No Country For Old Men for me. Although I’m eternally hopeful they’ll both join the top tier for me at some point.

          • The Ploughman

            Reminder that Mike D’Angelo’s Coen Bros Career View article is there, and it has something for everybody to disagree with.

            https://thedissolve.com/features/career-view/478-in-the-films-of-joel-and-ethan-coen-its-a-hard-wor/

          • Jake Gittes

            He also wrote a piece elaborating on his love of The Man Who Wasn’t There recently that made me really want to rewatch it.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I need to rewatch that one too.

          • That’s the one where I feel like I missed the most after watching it.

          • Son of Griff

            That might be considered their VERTIGO in a dozen years.

          • Heh, my only contribution to the comments was to mildly defend Gambit. Stay classy, me.

          • The Ploughman

            I didn’t even think about that… looks like I was still lurking at that point. Can’t imagine I wouldn’t have spouted off some opinion on the Coens. Reading my old comments can be like looking at old school pictures.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            No Country took a bit to click but now I think its brilliant.

        • Miller

          Hey, what was one of the best movies of 2017? GET OUT.

        • Jake Gittes

          Mine’s Barton Fink.

          • Son of Griff

            There are a series of Coen films where a lack of movement on the part of the protagonist gets on my nerves, and Barton is the biggest offender for me. That’s too bad because the rest of the film really impresses me.

          • Jake Gittes

            There’s that, and overall it strikes me as either over- or undercooked, depending on what you look at – e.g. the rat-a-tat dialogue given to Shalhoub and Lerner comes off like a self-conscious impression, and the movie is too clearly controlled even in its final stretch when it feels like it should be heading into full-on truly dangerously unhinged delirium on the level of Lynch or Polanski’s Apartment trilogy. I also find the ways it craps on Barton (deservedly or not) just a little too obvious and unrewarding. It’s an accomplished movie that’s always just a few degrees off of where I want it to be, and that gets me frustrated rather than involved. But I still feel compelled to revisit it every two or three years, so there’s that. And the very ending is genuinely lovely and fascinating.

          • Son of Griff

            It’s the movie where their interests in literary tropes and history begin to merge, but thy hadn’t quite got the style down yet. I sensed that FARGO was a filmmaking reboot after the lukewarm reception to HUDSUCKER, and their work became more complex and thematically emboldened after that, but you see their ambition reflected in BARTON FINK more than in their first 3 films.

          • Miller

            Heh, Polanski apparently loved it, he headed the jury that gave it the top three sweep in Cannes. I’m a big fan too, but I also love the crapping on Barton.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Mine is Burn After Reading.

        • Son of Griff

          MILLER’S CROSSING hits all my happy buttons in terms of screenplay and direction. I’d still place it at number 3 in terms of quality and preference. In light of how the Coen’s have expanded their style and developed a more creatively relaxed working style with actors, MILLER’s shortcomings are a bit more apparent. Byrne and Hardin don’t generate as much sullen charisma as they think, and the interjections of broad comedy aren’t as seamlessly integrated into the films tone. It is also too much of an homage.spoof to work independently of its genre conventions.. However, I love the twisty plot and the tragic epiphany at the end.

        • pico

          I keep trying with Miller’s Crossing, I really do. I revisit it from time to time. Everything that’s happening on screen should be right up my alley, but I just can’t seem to click with it. It’s clearly well done. It leaves no impression on me afterward.

          Then again I’ll shout Barton Fink to the rafters as their best and most accomplished film – obvs. a controversial choice in this group! – which is what makes discussing the Coens so much fun.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I LOVE Barton Fink.

          • pico

            Whaddaya need, a roadmap?

          • Miller

            “Pico! You gotta like Miller’s Crossing! Look into your heart!”
            “What heart?”

      • Miller

        Ladykillers fans unite! Hudsucker is bottom-tier Coens for me as well, which still makes it a fun and enjoyable movie. You know, for kids! But I do think there’s something more to it as well, I’d need to rewatch but the last time I saw it I honed in on the movie’s tomfoolery with time – there are multiple flat circles at play, and the Hudsucker company’s motto of The Future Is Now is circular in its own right and can be optimistic (look when the movie begins/ends – and hey, circular structure! Maybe Norville goes to see Llewyn Davis in a few years) or ominous (possible escaped Nazi scientist’s line about entropy during the newsreel). And it gives the Coens space to play with sets, direct performances and screw with the camera in outsize ways that they’ve generally moved away from, although Hail Caesar! has a similar sense of giddiness.

        • I like The Ladykillers, too! It has probably my favorite Tom Hanks performance of the first decade of the 2000s (with a possible exception of Catch Me If You Can).

          • There’s dozens of us! Dozens!

          • I think Ladykillers is just OK, but I love Tom Hanks in it and I really hope he works with the Coens again sometime.

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        I like The Ladykillers too. The soundtrack is great and that cat really cracks me up.

        • Son of Griff

          Not their best but again, not their worst either. It’s best seen as a companion to OH. BROTHER

          • What do you think is their worst, then?

          • Son of Griff

            INTOLERABLE CRUELTY really doesn’t have the depth of their best work, and feels to sour to work as an homage. The only two others that don’t work for me are THE LADYKILLERS and THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, but I’d chalk those up as honorable failures. I have issues with the lead character arcs in BARTON FINK and A SERIOUS MAN but the issues that those films address are more intriguing, and while INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS also has those faults, Isaac manages to create a character whose prickliness seems genuine, and his sense of loss seems like a palpable rationale for the circularity of the drama. Thornton does the same with less in THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE.

          • My least favorite Coen is actually [glances around] True Grit. I have the fewest thoughts about it and was the least involved while watching it.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            Because of their soundtracks? Yeah, they’re both great. If nothing else the Coen brothers movies have great songs in them.

      • Son of Griff

        HUDSUCKER strikes me as a misfire, but it is not their weakest of their failures.

    • About half way through Inside Man. Believe it or not, this is my first Spike Lee joint, and I am finding it generally enjoyable if rough at spots. Far too soon to judge the film as a whole, since I need to see just how it plays out. But this is, if nothing else, a great snapshot of NYC in 2006 the way that The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three is a snapshot of the city in 1973. Lee captured not just the sense of post-9/11 anxiety and the emergence of a militarized NYPD, but also the utter and total dominance of money in Manhattan. It’s fun if a bit disconcerted to have two crime films serve as evidence of how many NYC has changed. At the same time, the New Yorkers are almost the same. (The biggest difference between the films, and the eras? In Pelham 1-2-3, there is maybe one pretty woman and zero handsome men. It was a gloriously homely film. Here, everyone is handsome and gorgeous, with the partial exception of Dafoe. Walter Matthau would never be a leading man today. As evidenced by the remake of 1-2-3 with…Denzel Washington!)

      • Miller

        Great point about the change from homely to handsome (and poor Robert Shaw, a man with some edge to his handsomeness, is no Clive Owen). I do think Lee’s film strives for a variety of faces that many mainstream flicks do not, maybe they’re at a base level of good-looking but there are lots of differences in how they look.

      • Son of Griff

        The Pelham remake has to really work at making Washington look marginally ordinary. as @disqus_wallflower:disqus said a few months back, and as you reiterate here, Inside Man is the real remake of the 70s train heist drama.

      • Lee specifically called the setting of Inside Man “a post-post-9/11 world.” 25th Hour is post-9/11, all raw shock and hurt; Inside Man is the new normal, where a Sikh keeps getting abused but also gets the perfect zinger from Denzel for whining about it. (Fun fact: he improvised that, and Lee said that he wanted to hold on Denzel longer but Lee laughed so loud he ruined the shot. Another, arguably still fun fact: I laughed at least as loud as Lee on that moment, but no one else in the theater did. It was San Diego, whattaya gonna do?)

        • Son of Griff

          New York does not translate at all in many quarters in San Diego. The stoniness in which I’ve seen films made by Noah Baumbach and Ira Sachs received here is really disheartening.

          • On the other hand, Southern California audiences cheered the dog with the keys in the first Pirates of the Caribbean, and no one else gets it.

    • Babalugats

      Walker (1987) – “Clearly this is no ordinary asshole”

      This movie is either a masterpiece or a mess, and I’m not sure which. It’s certainly unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. It’s a polemic take on a historical drama that folds in techniques of parody and spoof without ever really being funny. It’s at its goofiest and most absurd when it’s also at its most ruthless and angry. It feels a bit like Sam Peckinpah directing Blazing Saddles.

      It’s disparate tones and disregard of even a veneer of historical accuracy is a pretty clear influence on Tarantino’s historical epics. But where those films are first and foremost entertainments, Walker is an exercise in discomfort. It’s absolutely shredding any sense of romance, or dignity, or nobility of the past. Or the present. Or the future. Ed Harris is excellent as the embodiment of a few centuries of American foreign policy. Self important, corrupt, incompetent, arrogant, destructive. He talks in short bits of pseudo-profundity, prepackaged for the quote books, and behaves like a Great Man in a Great Story, even as he surrounded by nothing but chaos and ruin. He has a magnetism to him, a calm and a confidence that gives him the sense of a man who knows something no one else does, but in truth he just really is that dumb. Fuck your leaders, and fuck your history, and fuck your country. This is as angry a movie as I’ve ever seen, but it has a fatalism to it, too. This isn’t a call for revolution, it’s the ugly knowing face of doom.

      The score by Joe Strummer is incredible. It keeps the movie woozy and unbalanced, but also gives it an immediacy that’s often lacking in historical dramas. And the burning of Granada is as powerful a scene as anything from Apocalypse Now. This movie doesn’t blink, and it’s hamfisted political message just keeps getting more and more relevant.

      I’m leaning towards masterpiece.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “Sam Peckinpah directing Blazing Saddles” *runs towards library*

        • Babalugats

          Did I mention it’s directed by Alex “Repo Man” Cox?

          I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it, I think you’ll really like it.

    • Maurice – What an airless passionless pile of boredom this one is. It’s about how hard it was to be gay in 1900s England, featuring two guys who fuck as college youths and then spend the next decade trying to quit each other. The actors are stiff in all of the wrong places and, for two people to have a burning passion for each other that breaks legal and moral boundaries, Hugh Grant and Maurice have less chemistry than Madonna and Willem Dafoe, Sean Penn or Warren Beatty. But, at least there’s frontal male nudity (unlike Call Me By Your Name). This is a movie for boring and respectable gays.

      There is one brief scene of interest. After trying to hypnotize himself straight at the hands of Ben Kingsley, Maurice is seduced by a wayward stableboy climbing through his window in the dead of night in a scene reminiscent of Dracula going after Mina Harker. That was actually witty and fun.

      • Miller

        “Airless, passionless pile of boredom” *runs toward Landmark Cinemas*

      • The Ploughman

        “stiff in all of the wrong places” Heh.

      • CineGain

        So, can we classify this film was intended for elderly grandmothers who want to look progressive by watching a gay film, only in a respectable and dry Merchant Ivory manner?

    • PCguy

      I saw LIPS OF BLOOD (1975) which takes the prize for the most oneiric film I’ve seen in 2018. Writer/actor Jean-Loup Phillipe wanders through this picture in a daze intermittently aided by four beautiful young female vampires. Jean Rollin may not be a sophisticated filmmaker but his movies are entirely unique and immediately recognizable.

    • Rosy Fingers

      Monkey Shines – This movie promised monkeys and it sure delivered. After a very brief (like, 5 minute) set up, it’s monkey, monkey, monkey. This is the story of a fellow who becomes quadraplegically wheelchair-bound and aquires a helper monkey. Said monkey becomes malevolent. Hijinks ensue.

      It was kind of hard to appreciate this movie on some level, because I’ve seen it spoofed already on The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle and so on. But still VERY enjoyable.

      • Miller

        I need to see this again, I saw it in a marathon and mostly remember the scene where the dude gets paralyzed as being unintentionally hilarious. But that monkey sure does kill people.

        • Rosy Fingers

          I took the silliness of paralysation scene as being intentional because it was so quick and made me and the kid laugh a lot, but maybe not. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen another George Romero movie so I’m not certain what level of irony he’s working on. Certainly the movie as a whole seemed to have a light, self-knowing tone… But again, who knows? It was the eighties and there was a lot of unintentially silly filmmaking happening at the time.

  • I enjoyed Holy Moly, and that’s a solid short-film twist. The quick editing style bugged me a little, but otherwise it was really well done. I see that the director has done a bunch of music videos since (including some for artists I really like) – will have to keep an eye out for him. He’s made one feature, Mudjackin’, that I’d be tempted to check out on the basis of this short (it’s also on Vimeo).

    • The Ploughman

      I’m not always a fan of quick edits, but I love the jump cuts here because they’re always made with intention and timed to interrupt a train of thought, like our main character’s attention keeps wondering, even when he’s being given important information (the best is his reaction shot after the life coach jump cuts into his personal space mid-sentence).

      The best of Mudjackin’ is as inventive and entertaining as the rest of his oeuvre, but I would recommend one of his other shorts, Brad Cuts Lose as a follow-up. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

      • Miller

        SPOILERS

        Given the focus on sleep at the beginning, the disorienting jump cuts (and the lack of subtlety, from the six-shooter to the target’s photo, none of which lends itself to a pro job) had me wondering if this was all going to be a dream. Which I would not have minded but the ending we got is better – it is very much the kind of thing you can best get away with in short fiction, whether in film or books, and it’s fun to see someone take advantage of that.

        • DJ JD

          AS ABOVE, SO BELOW: TO ACCOMPLISH THE MIRACLES OF TH’ SPOILERS

          I was thinking the same thing, that this is some sort of sleep-related break with reality (if not literally “all just a dream.”) Ploughman’s right, though; I did not see that twist coming! Of all the details they put in there, the fact that he was basically already a stalker might be my favorite: his hapless schlubbiness (exact right word choice in the review) encouraged empathy but then he definitely had a darker side to him that he was letting out.

          I was a bit disoriented by the introduction of the life-coach, since she seemed like a being from another world when she first entered, but wow, what an ending.

      • DJ JD

        I know I already posted about this, but this has been growing on me as I’ve thought about it. You’re right, the whole short really does point towards that ending, but you have to keep up with it (or, erm, rewatch it) to see how it all hangs together. And the ending itself: “I’m surrounded by beautiful women and I’m about to REDACTED tomorrow sooo, you know…” He could say anything here, and it still works. He could say “help me?” or “warn the Pope?” or “I just want you to know I love you” or anything at all. Those last two words really do retroactively set the tone of the whole thing. It’s a fun short and thanks for sharing it.

        I REDACTED that there because I really don’t care to find out if my work’s text scanners are watching for that phrase. Them or the NSA, really. Either one.

        • The Ploughman

          Good thing you did, if for no other reason than attracting strange Googlers (a la Julius’s Baby Boss review).

        • Miller

          Bingo on the last two words – the movie is a study of impotence and here at the moment of power he’s not only being manipulated, he can’t even own his action without the context of trying to control/engage someone he can’t.

  • 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 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

    Feb 1st: BurgundySuit: The Final Cut
    Feb 2nd: Babalugats: Zack
    Feb 3rd: Joseph Finn: WarGames
    Feb 6th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: King of Comedy
    Feb 8th: Gillianren: Will Lee (Mr. Hooper)
    Feb 12th: BurgundySuit: El Sur
    Feb 13th: Wallflower: Soundtracking – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
    Feb 15th: John Bruni: Trouble in Paradise
    Feb 16th: Conor Malcolm Crockford: Videodrome
    Feb 19th: Balthazar Bee: Psycho II
    Feb 20th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Local Hero
    Feb 27th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: L’Argent/Trading Places
    Feb 28th: BurgundySuit: Chartbusting!

  • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

    And that is why I have never ordered those male enhancement pills they advertise on TV. I order all my male enhancement pills online. Much safer that way.

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  • scott wang

    Piper is EXTREMELY terrible, and it’s usually to the show’s detriment. This season, it gets a little better because we are supposed to have very little stake in what happens to her (and plus, the show really doubles down on how terrible she is with a storyline in which her privileged attitude ends up empowering some white supremacists), but still, her original role as an audience surrogate has long ago become obsolete, and the show hasn’t ever found a good use for her since

  • erin bennett

    I LOVE Barton Fink.