• Conor Malcolm Crockford

    I’ll watch this later but just a note that Little Otik is amazing and a satire of unconditional love taken to its most absurd end point.

  • “And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my boy, you might,
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
    But what did we watch last night?

    • The Red Turtle–Oh my word, y’all, go watch this. It’s the best animated movie I’ve seen in forever. Gorgeously drawn, flawlessly melded with computer effects, a story that’s the perfect combination between folk tale and ellipsis. I was riveted and nearly moved to tears.

      Also saw the most recent ep. of Better Call Saul–The further Mike’s story gets into the Breaking Bad universe (this Gus plot feels way more at home in that previous series than it does here), the less interested I am with it. I want to see Mike’s meticulous process, not cartel negotiations. The Jimmy story is keeping me guessing, though–any theories on what they accomplished at the end?

    • The Girl With All The Gifts, which I thought was excellent. Certainly one of the best zombie films I’ve seen in recent years. The dystopian setting and the nature of its underlying message reminded me a little of the recent Planet of the Apes films (I can’t help thinking of them as ‘bleakbusters’); while I love a good, messy, low-budget horror film, it’s really interesting to see one with a classy cast and some fancy FX once in a while, and this is a great example. There’s a lot to praise in this film but my favourite moments came from Glenn Close (playing a cold scientist who would probably be a one-dimensional monster in a lesser film) and the extremely impressive Sennia Nanua in the lead role of Melanie, a ‘second generation’ zombie, who craves flesh and blood but retains her human ability to think. Their relationship is fascinating, Close’s character supplying riddles for Melanie to test whether she really does still have her humanity. Melanie’s response to a question about Schrodinger’s Cat made me grin from ear to ear.

      This was accompanied by a Q&A with Mike Carey, the writer of the novel (and screenplay), and a reading from his new book, which is a sort of sidequel. Really interesting guy, happy to answer a lot of questions about his writing for comics, novels and films and how each presented new challenges.

      • Babalugats

        Oh man, bleakbuster. That’s brilliant. I’m going to use that so much.

      • lgauge

        Glad you liked it. I just don’t get why this didn’t get more attention. I wonder if the release was handled poorly or something.

        • I remember seeing the trailer and thinking how bizarre it was that I hadn’t seen it mentioned anywhere (promotion or word of mouth) up to that point. The cast is so strong, and it looks excellent, especially considering the fairly low budget – it just seems like it’d be so easy to give it a bit of a push and have a decent-sized hit. Very strange.

          • lgauge

            I remember seeing it mentioned in a few festival dispatches last fall, with something like a mixed-positive response, and then it came out in theaters here a month or so later and I just decided to go see it, ending up very pleased with the decision. I think it came out in the US a couple of months ago and there seemed to be zero push. A few reviews here and there, but otherwise no buzz. At least in terms of what was visible over the internet for someone in Europe.

          • I think to some extent I rely on US sources too much for film news and when something actually comes out in the UK first it can pass me by. I hope it finds a good audience when it’s available for home watching, anyway, and I’m very pleased I got a second chance to see it at the cinema!

          • lgauge

            Yeah, same. I do try to follow some Norwegian distributors and of course I read the news online (the number of releases here per week tend to be such that basically every movie gets a review on all the big news sites). Mostly though, I just compulsively check the “currently in theaters” and “upcoming releases” on my local cinema’s website.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      The Americans S02E12 & 13. Holy shit my blood pressure went straight up. I did find the blood-soaked confession to be kind of absurdly long considering the circumstances, but it’s a damn good twist- once again the show shows the horrific consequences of a “war” where human lives and experiences are used as chess pieces, and the final denouement of Elizabeth perhaps weighing another, more substantial pawn to Philip’s horror is bone-chilling. I’m gonna need a quick break from the show though just to make sure I don’t have a heart attack.

      Arrested Development – “Development Arrested”, S03E13. A pretty perfect finale all things considered, and that ending is so good in suggesting that, uh, maybe the show has been making a case against family as a chief motivation for existence the entire time that the fourth season may not have been necessary.

      • I like the fourth season quite a bit, but yes. It was absolutely unnecessary in the way that many premature series finales make the eventual revivals unnecessary. I don’t know why people are still crying for more Firefly–that show ended so definitively with Serenity that I can’t imagine where it would go from there and a revival could only be disastrous.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Henry Tranton Jr on the Dissolve Box made a point that a Terriers revival would be more interesting as it left everything so open.

          • Yeah. There are a few shows that would be good to revive. I think Pushing Daisies would work pretty well revived, if we consider the end of the finale a sort of trailer for what comes next.

          • I keep wanting to join the Dissolve Box, but I’m afraid it would just become another way for me to waste too much time on the internet, which was pretty much why I left the main group to begin with.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I left the main group myself actually. Just not enough concrete discussion anymore for me, lots of outrage over stuff.

          • It’s very much a hangout group punctuated by feverish excitement and the occasional outrage. I enjoyed spending time there, but yeah, the scarcity of concrete discussion (probably caused, in large part, by the Facebook format) made the opportunity cost of leaving pretty low.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I mean as one person said to me “I’m already facebook friends with a lot of people” so…eh. I like it here because its not too many people and you can actually talk about storytelling and philosophy.

          • Right. And there’s actual content being developed to respond to as well. That’s another issue with the FB thing–the commenting is unmoored from any film writing (unless someone posts a link to an article or something), so the depth of conversation is basically left at the mercy of whatever people post (lest I sound high and mighty, I’ll cop to writing most of my posts and comments there on a whim without much forethought). And given the FB formula, the posts with the most likes/comments get to the top of the feed, so it’s hard posting on obscure stuff and getting feedback.

          • Facebook’s discussion format seems to fall over completely as soon as a group has more than a handful of active members. I really enjoyed that group early on, especially the best-of-the-decade polls.

          • Those were a ton of fun (I’m glad you enjoyed them! I was the organizer, so you’re making me feel real good). They also focused the group on positivity, which it sometimes lacks–although there was that one time when the discussion over whether or not to count the Kill Bill films as one or two movies seemed to nearly tear the group in two.

            But yeah. Once we got upwards of a 1000 members, it got that AV Club problem of shouting into the wind. So many comments/posts.

          • Ah yes, of course you were! My viewing patterns were guided by those for months, and I watched a lot of classics that I’d been dragging my feet on for a long time. I definitely think they gave the group a little structure, I know there were more attempts to create central projects for people to focus on (year of the month, etc) but I think the numbers had gotten too high by that point.

          • Yeah. I think the “Year of the Month” projects were being started right around the time I left–I barely knew they were happening, since they kept getting lost in the shuffle.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I left I think like a week ago? It’s weird, like getting off a drug you weren’t addicted to but it was still consistent. I do have way way less notifications when I wake up, which is perfect.

          • Ha, I had turned off notifications for the group long before I left–they just got so intense in number. I did the same thing with the Dissolvitics and Dissolving Star Wars groups.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Same!! I tried Dissolvilitics and left pretty quickly – man a lot of people in the main group did not jive with my politics and it was noticeable.

          • I think that happened with a lot of people, as the Dissolving Capitalism and its subsequent low-key feud with Dissolvitics shows.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Heh I’m in that former group! The latter hates us apparently.

          • There’s a lot of griping about it, for sure. I’m not in Dissolving Capitalism (not for any animosity–I just didn’t want another subgroup), but my impression was that the feeling was mutual. There were a few crossover posts that seemed to unearth a lot of resentment on both sides.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yeah pretty much – I mean personally both sides have issues but yknow if you’re that angry about being critiqued at all for your politics because you’re convinced you’re on the good side, maybe there’s a problem.

          • Yeah. This is depressingly not just confined to just the subgroups. Political discourse in general suffers from this. Hell, I suffer from this.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            It was, I have to say, sad and kind of hilarious to see semi-film Facebook subgroups suffering from the same problems as political communities in real life.

          • The Ploughman

            That all sounds like the problem with modern discourse in a nutshell. Don’t agree with someone? Retreat to your own subgroup where you can sit around nodding at each other all day until someone steps out of line.

          • It’s such a difficult balance to walk. On the one hand, it’s important to critique ideas you think are wrong and important for your own stability to find voices you trust and believe in. On the other hand, you don’t want to isolate yourself in an echo chamber either.

          • The Ploughman

            It’s more of the lack of good faith in any kind of debate. It feels like – and I think to a certain degree it’s only a feeling because there’s probably plenty of spaces within and moreso outside the Internet – there’s not an interest in engaging somebody in a well-meaning exchange of ideas. And we’re all being taught that this is the way to go.

            Whenever I see somebody on twitter or somewhere talk about how progressives need to keep making their voices heard so they can “win,” I can’t help but think the ideas have merit but the goal of “winning” is ridiculous. At what point are we expecting to insult or shout down people who disagree so thoroughly that they throw their hands up and say “Whelp, it’s counter to my entire way of thinking, but guess we’ll do things your way.”

          • I respect ideological integrity in an abstract sense, but I can’t help feel that a misguided sense of integrity is at least partially to blame for this. Everything is “all or nothing,” which is such a counterproductive way to look at issues. Yes, ideally you get everything you think is right, but isn’t it better to compromise for a half-measure than to completely refuse any progress at all?

          • lgauge

            For that reason I never joined. Also, you know, any excuse to actually reduce the amount of groups and time spent doing useless shit is, as one says, good.

      • Well, now you can kick back and relax with the next few seasons of The Americans, ‘cuz it’s not like they increase the intensity from here on out. This reads like sarcasm, but it’s the truth–you just watched the high point of the series and the big problem has been a continual refusal to escalate from there.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Darn it I respect your opinion quite a lot but I WANT you to be wrong about this.

          • The Ploughman

            There’s a bit of a bombshell at the end of season 3 – and some good character development that leads up to it. But, yeah, I’m really hoping the show remembers how it finished S1-2 when it goes into the home stretch next season (I’ve kinda lost hope for this season).

          • Me too–I will take an exciting drama over being right any day of the week, with spicy mustard. There were three times in the back half of the fourth season where I yelled STOP PROVING MY POINT at the screen, and it sounds like season five has just kept going. Even TODDDDDDDDD!!! has been noticing the failure to move forward.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Fuck…I mean…should I keep watching?

          • Oh my yes. There’s still a shit-ton of great acting to be found and the occasional great scene, if not great follow-through. And as ever YMMV. Looking at opinions other than mine, something I’ve noticed is that people are asking the exact same questions about characters in season five that you were asking in season two. ZoeZ called it great writing and great acting in the service of stasis.

          • The Ploughman

            jroberts only just now is getting a little tired of marking time and I think his opinion more closely resemble the majority than the Grumpy American-Watchers Club here. I’d venture to say we’d be less angry if the quality and potential weren’t still evident.

          • Ain’t it the truth. It’s not the bad that hurts the most, it’s the coulda-been-great.

          • Son of Griff

            For the record, these complaints don’t bother me as much when you watch it on a streaming or DVD basis. It’s a darker and moodier show as it proceeds, but the suspense is more muted. I think that’s what they are going for, though.

    • glorbes

      Finished that episode of Buffy. It didn’t get any better when the troll with the hammer showed up. I think the problem was the editing. And the directing. Anyway, it was by far the worst episode of Buffy thus far (for me).

      I also Finished Salem’s Lot.

      The TV movie is a weird beast.

      It allows for a much longer run time in which to tell a multilayered story with more time for character development, but it ALSO has a more modest budget than a theatrical studio film. It ALSO has to adhere to a rigid time slot format, which can either truncate a story, or allow for tangents to pad out the rune time. Like most things forced to conform to broadcast television standards, there are so many compromises built into the final product before anything begins that it’s a miracle anything good gets made.

      Salem’s Lot is a product of all of these compromises, and it shows. But it still manages to be largely entertaining and have some genuine horror movie scares.

      It clocks in at three hours, and much of that run time is spent with the characters of the titular small town. They’re reacting to the arrival of a new shopkeeper and his unseen master, known as Barlow. Eventually, things start going south and the death toll starts racking up. The hero of the story is David Soul, who is perhaps just slightly past his seventies prime, but manages to be surprisingly likable. I can’t say he really feels of a same piece with the rest of the film, but he’s the audience surrogate and he’s an active protagonist when the story needs him to be.

      There are certainly a lot of fatty scenes in this thing, and characters that don’t really go anywhere, but by the last hour, when Barlow makes his first chilling appearance, the film starts to show off Tobe Hooper’s horror movie chops and his affinity for disgusting home interiors that fill you with dread.

      King famously telegraphed Bram Stoker’s Dracula for Salem’s Lot, and you can see all of that here. If you’ve seen Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu, or the Murnau original, you will recognize much of the story structure and incidents that happen in this film adaptation. That’s okay: it’s a classic Vampire tale, told with much more competence and craft than the typical TV movie of the era (or any era). I suspect that if it were trimmed for theatrical release, it would be a tighter and much more effective film, but as is it is more than enjoyable, if not spectacular.

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      Shutter Island. This movie kind of gets lost when talking about Scorsese’s filmography, maybe because it’s so obviously a genre film in the same vein as Cape Fear. Although, comparing the two it’s not as good as Cape Fear. To use a baseball anology if Cape Fear is a triple, Shutter Island is a sliding double.

      • The Ploughman

        I’ve always thought Shutter Island would have blown everyone away had it been made about a decade earlier. It has a similar ending and vibe to some films from the late 90s/early 2000s and it’s a much better film than most of them. But by the time we discover the truth, my reaction was “Ah, that old chestnut.”

        • DJ JD

          Same. I thought its portentous tone hurt it in that regard, too, since the movie practically screams Get ready to have your mind totally blown from the opening credits on. I’m like @conormalcolmcrockford:disqus ; I still can’t decide if I liked it or if it was black-hole-collapsing-in-on-itself of a story like that Identity film with John Cusack. (Which, once the central conceit is established, there’s literally no reason to care about these characters. They might as well be jive-talking gerbils or asteroids in non-Euclidean orbits for all the difference it makes to the “real” plot.)

          • The Ploughman

            Hahaha – jive-talking gerbils and asteroids would be way more sympathetic than the characters of Identity.

            Yeah, I thought the tone served the film, but it also made it look like Scorsese had never seen Identity or High Tension or Gothikia or Fight Club or even Adaptation.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Scorsese: “Gothika? What is that a Brooklyn movie?”

          • The Ploughman

            For the record, I envy anybody unaware of High Tension.

          • DJ JD

            …or Sixth Sense, which I consider a solid entry on the list, myself. Yeah, exactly.

            Identity: sheesh, if that’s your plot, why not kick it up a notch or eight? A bottle-episode murder-mystery is only interesting in and of itself if the rules matter, and there wasn’t nearly enough there to hang together without the rules running at peak efficiency and mercilessness. (On that note, I did wonder what Rob Zombie might’ve done with it after I saw Devil’s Rejects.)

          • The Ploughman

            The Sixth Sense (and The Others) also fall in that popular early 2000s trend of “It was [x] all along!” (TSS more or less invented it). This begat the sub-subgenre of They were the same person the whole time! which was predicted and pre-lampooned in Adaptation.

            Identity never had enough faith in its audience that they would be able to follow without obvious clues leading to a long monologue about “what’s really going on.” Erg.

          • glorbes

            For the record, I would watch a movie about jive-talking gerbils.

        • Defense Against The Dark Arts

          I had read the book several years before the movie came out so I knew what was coming. I mainly wanted to see it for Scorsese’s technical brilliance.

          • The Ploughman

            And he delivers! The sequence with tide and the stairs – I learned more about what Hitchcock was doing from that sequence than many of Hitchcock’s films.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I still can’t decide if Shutter Island’s twist is brilliant or just contrived. It might be time for a rewatch.

        • Babalugats

          It’s dumb, but then the second part of the ending is DiCaprio faking his relapse? makes up for it. I found the movie improved on rewatch, where I could just kind of ignore the plot.

          • Son of Griff

            I think the plot is secondary to the effect of its filmmaking technique, but it definitely gets in the way of the audience becoming completely absorbed into the movie. I love its ambition and complexity, but I can live with criticism that it doesn’t completely hit its marks.

        • Both. Like Fight Club, it’s a much better movie when you know what’s coming, and realize that Scorsese makes the entire movie feel like the dream sequences. (That’s the giveaway, not any anagram-type stuff–what @sonofgriff:disqus called the “evidentiary paradigm.”) @disqus_Pvn3kEV3Sl:disqus’ point is really well taken; I thinkTeddy is definitely faking his relapsebecause Scorseseshifts to a completely straightforward filming style in the final scene to indicate he has come out of his dream.One of the last great X-Files episodes, “Field Trip” (Mulder and Scully trapped inside layers of hallucinations), did this too.

          • The Ploughman

            Scorsese’s ability to modulate style in SI proves it to be on a level above most any of the other examples for comparison. It’s just the last-to-market aspect that keeps it out of the canon.

          • Babalugats

            I think Teddy is faking his relapse because a literal relapse is less interesting. But I think the style shift mainly functions to separate us from Teddy’s perspective. Throughout the movie we, like Teddy, were unsure of the reality of the world we inhabited. Now we’re watching from Dr Mark Ruffalo’s perspective and we have a concrete perception of reality, but Teddy is a mystery to us. I think even if we read the relapse as genuine, the important thing is that Teddy prefers the delusion to facing his guilt. This ties in nicely with what @sonofgriff:disqus was saying in regards to the violence of that era and the Hollywood myth-making that surrounded it.

      • Babalugats

        Scorsese can be divided up into three categories. His essential masterpieces; Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Wolf Of Wallstreet. His semi-anonymous mainstream work; Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, The Color Of Money, Casino, Age Of Innocence, Kundun, The Aviator, Hugo. And his weird stuff; New York, New York, King Of Comedy, After Hours, The Last Temptation Of Christ, Cape Fear, Bring Out The Dead, Gangs Of New York, Shutter Island Everybody focuses on the first group, and it’s understandable, but the other two are interesting too. If he were three separate filmmakers, all three would be considered masters.

        I like Shutter Island a lot more than Cape Fear. Part of that is that I have a hard time separating my reaction to the new Cape Fear from the original. But, I also think that DeNiro comes off more silly than creepy at times, and that the film feels a little unfocused. Scorsese came to the project late, and you can feel the push/pull between him and Spielberg in the bones of the thing. And I think it ends up a little muddled, especially tonally.

        Shutter Island has a pretty awful twist, but if you can get past that it’s got a great sense of tension, paranoia, and unreality to it. And Dicaprio has a complicated and interesting psychology that I find more compelling than anything in Cape Fear. I think it’s one of the more underrated films of its era.

        • Whoa, Hugo semi-anonymous? Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore? Age of Innocence? These are like cornerstone Scorsese for me.

          • John Bruni

            Alice is one of my favorite films by Scorsese.

          • Babalugats

            By semi-anonymous I don’t mean bad. I mean movies that your casual movie fan would be surprised to hear was Scorsese. I guess Casino doesn’t fit then. More mainstream movies that seem like they would do well at the oscars. Stuff that you could watch with your aunt. A little less violent or vulgar or bleak than you might expect.

            I could definitely do some shuffling around.

          • I guess. I still feel like those all have an indelible Scorsese fingerprint.

          • Babalugats

            Yeah, you’re right. I’m going to change it.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I don’t disagree with putting them together, but I definitely disagree with the ‘semi-anonymous’ label. Maybe ‘offbeat’ or ‘variant’ Scorsese – The Aviator feels like “Goodfellas with a mentally ill protagonist” for example

          • Babalugats

            Off beat is too close to weird. Maybe semi-commercial? Kundun doesn’t really fit. Semi-respectable? Stuff that would still have been good if Mike Nichols took over just before filming?

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I think the thing here is that the movies in that category apply Scorsese logic to generally unScorsese topics.

          • Babalugats

            I think it’s whether Scorsese took a step towards his more commercial instincts or his more experimental ones. I like his Dalai Lama and Jesus movies about equally. Kundun is a very respectful, restrained movie with a steady pace that lets the cinematography tell the story in a way that is unusual for Scorsese. The Last Temptation Of Christ is rough and wild, full of intentionally jarring anachronisms that aggressively challenges the audience. They’re both movies where Scorsese is tackling genres that are uncommon for him, but one is him adopting a different style (still filtered through who he is as a filmmaker) and one is him pushing his own style to its breaking point.

            I guess I’d say, which movies feel like he was bouncing ideas off Spielberg and which movies feel like he was bouncing ideas off DePalma?

        • Defense Against The Dark Arts

          Reading through that list of Scorsese movies I’ve seen them all except for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Kundun. The latter really doesn’t interest me, but the former might be worth a watch.

          • Son of Griff

            If KUNDUN was a silent film with just the Philip Glass score undulating beneath the images it would be ranked much higher in the Scorsese canon. Maybe even at #1.

        • Son of Griff

          I tend to divide Scorsese’s style into different categories: The Italian art house/American genre by way of Elia Kazan jazz fusion that describes most of his earlier movies, hyperbolic pure genre films, and historical period pieces, many of which bleed into each other at some points. Scorsese’s career has been built on an ingrained notion that films shouldn’t be classified into taste hierarchies, but his interests and techniques have shown an increasing interest in the aesthetics of studio filmmaking as he’s grown older and has become viewed as an elder statesmen among American auteurs.

          @wallflower’s Soundtracking piece gives some good insight as to SHUTTER ISLAND is going for. It’s using a multi-layered stacking of film noir and genre approaches with a common element in German romanticism to ruminate on the most violent era of the 20th Century. It’s not quite like anything that Scorsese has done before, but it falls within the vein of his 21st Century features.

    • Fawlty Towers: Gourmet Night – A tiny bit iffy in how it handles the chef’s crush on Manuel (thought it could have been easily a crush on Polly and still ended up in the same place). But overall a rather witty episode that is the first instance of the series uniting the four main characters in a common cause, which makes for a different vibe than Basil vs the world. But we also get a bit of that in Basil’s classic assault on his car with a branch. Cleese does pointless, fruitless anger better than anyone.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Okay, I just got home from the first night of Stranger With My Face International Film Festival! Tonight’s film was XX, an anthology horror film where each short was directed by women, preceded by the world premiere of the local short film Blood Sisters.

      Blood Sisters is about two women who start the film performing a blood ritual – and the fact that they are mysteriously locked in together ends up being the least of their problems. It’s a solid dramatic engine as these two women kind of realise they hate each other a little. Like all Australian films, the specific dynamic and tone resonate with me, helped by the naturalistic-as-hell performances even through the Whedon-esque sensibility (Buffy is name-dropped by the characters).

      (I ended up in conversation with three of the filmmakers, and was delighted to find myself fourth-wheeling them by asking a question and watching them flow together)

      XX is composed of four films, connected by a tissue of surreal animated segments.

      The Box, directed by Jovanka Vuckovic. A woman is travelling on a subway with her two children, when a creepy man shows her son what’s in his strange box. From then on, he refuses to eat, and as he talks to each other member of his family, they refuse to eat as well, until the whole thing descends into a nightmare.

      I liked this film to start, but it kind of went off the rails. It’s a posed, sculpted film, where everything is in a very specific place and the camera moves very specifically, which makes the domestic nature very creepy; unfortunately, the first half is too slow and the second half abandons what reality we had.

      The Birthday Party, directed by Annie Clark. A woman wakes up on her daughter’s birthday to find her husband has committed suicide, and works to hide his body form her daughter for as long as possible. I didn’t care for this film – the direction was weak and unsubtle, and leaned way too hard on the soundtrack. That said, the punchline to the story was almost worth the price of admission.

      Don’t Fall, directed by Roxanne Benjamin. Four backpackers drive an RV into Native American territory, only for one of them to be absorbed by the area and turned into a creature that stalks and kills the rest. My favourite film of the bunch, a fuck-off awesome werewolfish story with all the dramatic relentlessness of Green Room. It also has a short early scene establishing the two women are a couple – in a Q&A, Benjamin made it clear this was a specific thing she wanted where two women could be a couple and it not be a thing, although personally I think she had slightly too light a touch here because I thought I was just reading into things until she said.

      Her Only Living Son, directed by Karyn Kasuma. A fairly creative spin on the “woman gives birth to Satan’s son” subgenre, focusing on the relationship between the woman and her boy. Not as relentless as The Invitation, but the more I chew on it the more it grows on me. It very much reminds me of Split, with the same stylised dialogue (though closer to reality) and the same formalist style (though not nearly as tight).

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Forgot to say about Don’t Fall: Stephen King once said the problem with writing horror is that if you tell the audience there’s a gigantic bug behind the door, and then show it to them, they’ll feel a sense of relief – it was only a seven foot tall bug when they were expecting a nine foot tall bug. Don’t Fall doesn’t have that problem – everytime it set up a scare, whatever I imagined, the movie was worse.

        Also, Breaking Bad, Season Two, Episode Eleven, “Mandala”
        Once again, we get a great teaser that the rest of the story flows out of – Combo gets killed by some kid. Walt, fresh off deciding to take a surgery with no though – he’s clearly used to having to stick around – is eager to keep going, but Jesse wants to pull back. Saul acts as a mediator and a broker, providing Walt and Jesse with contacts that means they don’t have to be on the street.

        Walt is embarrassed about his ambition still, not looking anyone in the eye when he talks about what he wants. Jesse is even more traumatised, being drawn into heroin by Jane as a way to deal with his pain (after trying to get her out of the house so he can smoke meth – he won’t hurt her, but he’ll let her hurt him). We get a big neat subjective sequence that shows us all the fun of heroin.

        Walt is offended when his contact won’t meet with him, and deliberately provokes him into coming out – which fails. Gus only makes his presence known when Walt puts two and two together and forces his hand. They have a negotiation where Heisenberg comes out, but much quieter and subtler. For his part, Gus gives Walt absolutely nothing.

        Skyler’s plot has a small thing where she finally acts on her suspicions and figures out Ted is crooked. She refuses to turn Ted in, but she also can’t quit, and rather than feeling backed in by her choices, it feels more like running in circles.

        We finally get a big Shieldian sequence, where Walt has to get the meth to the right place right the fuck now, and Jesse taking heroin has made him completely useless, forcing Walt to kick down his door. As he gets the meth, he gets a message – Skyler has gone into labour, and he’s forced to choose, his daughter or meth. It’s kind of a beautiful moment actually, when Walt sees the text message, selling us on the idea that this is a real moral choice that hurts him.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Unlike the moral choice Walt makes this episode, I was with him on this one– sure, you want to be there for the birth of your child, but it’s not like the kid is going to remember, and you have exactly one chance to make the deal that could set up said child for life– it certainly seems like making the delivery (as opposed to, uh, making the delivery) is the pragmatic choice, and doesn’t require committing any new monstrously evil act.

    • DJ JD

      Agents of SHIELD – This arc is the best the show’s ever been, by a mile. The acting’s never been better, the characters have never been sharper, it’s amazing. I rarely get this hyped about much of anything any more, but wow. The line, “My son isn’t a good man, he’s a great man!” was the perfect line. (Another thing I only say very rarely.) I mean, exactly perfect: for the moment, for the character, for the current scene tone, for the arc’s tone, for everything that had happened up to that point. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to nail it all down so precisely, but wow.

      I’ve gushed here about de Caestecker and Dalton’s work this season, but last night I was noticing how well this arc has toyed with Gregg’s unassuming presence. (“I got a bit squirrely there.”) Great, great stuff, much better than I thought the show was capable of.

      • pico79

        Can you imagine if the show had been this good from the launch? It’s too bad so many people bailed (including me – I had to be dragged back in around season 3).

        • DJ JD

          It’s always had this weird balance for me between stupid to the point of unintentional comedy (like the whole “whoopsy lost a whole aircraft carrier off the paperwork here” arc from season two) and deeply satisfying awesomeness. But this arc has been a whole new level for them. This is the first time in a while I’ve felt like those fans who say stuff like “you have to give it a few seasons before it gets really good,” which, I remember thinking my friends who obsessed over Babylon Five were crazy back in the day.

    • The Narrator

      Bamboozled: I cannot sit here and tell you that this movie does not have flaws. I also cannot tell you that it didn’t shake me to my core. And Spike Lee even directly predicts The Roots (here playing the minstrel show backing band “the Alabama Porch Monkeys”) being the designated black friends of Jimmy Fallon, who did blackface on SNL the same goddamn year this movie came out.

      Shallow Grave: I watched Trainspotting on Monday, and this is another bit of disturbing, highly-stylized fun from that team.

      • glorbes

        Shallow Grave is great! Eccleston and MacGregor before anyone knew or cared about who they were, and they’re both terrific in it.

      • pico79

        The scene involving the opening night of the minstrel show and the audience reactions is my favorite thing Spike Lee has ever done. Holy cow is it tense, and funny, and sad, and thoughtful, and angry, and and and and…

    • jroberts548

      The Americans. This week’s episode felt almost like a season premiere, as if the first half of the season had been a character-based mini-season around a wheat mission that didn’t really move the overall plot, and now we have a new season that’s picking up a lot of loose threads and pulling on them. The first season was a jog to first base after getting hit, now they are aggressively turning at second, I hope.

      iZombie. I love it when genre shows take full advantage of the ridiculousness of their premise.

      Last Man on Earth. So, they’ve already established that the virus is still around, even though the only hosts are immune. And they’ve established that immunity isn’t genetic. I do not see this going well.

      • The Ploughman

        You’ve got me hoping again…

      • “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies,” said possibly the only guy who took longer to get to the point than The Americans.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      24 Hour Party People – it’s always fascinating to me when a movie manages to aesthetically replicate the feelings that come with a certain kind of music, so this film’s appropriation of post-punk’s jangly self-deprecating irreverence is nothing short of a perfect match for me. As always, Coogan is utterly hysterical, and the fantastic lineup of supporting actors (Andy Serkis! Simon Pegg! Sean Harris as Ian Curtis!) doesn’t hurt. I’m not sure where to go next with Winterbottom, but I’m definitely intrigued now.

      (Also, hello everyone! Been a while, hasn’t it? My recent college schedule has unfortunately kept me from participating in discussions on this site, but I should be able to drop in more now that I’ve been released for the summer.)

      • The Ploughman

        [Ev’rybody jumps for joy]

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Well, last few nights, since I haven’t posted in a while…

      Great News, Pilot. I’m obviously a little too out of the loop on new TV these days, because I didn’t even know this existed until someone made a comment about it in an open thread. NBC seems to be hastily running the first season out the door, which I hope is not a sign for its future prospects at the network. The show was created and is ran by longtime 30 Rock (and then Mindy Project) writer Tracey Wigfield, and lists 30 Rock creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock among its EPs. It certainly has the 30 Rock / Kimmy Schmidt sensibility of zaniness (even spotted some clearly reused joke constructions) and is a lot of fun, at least so far in the pilot. Oh, it stars Briga Heelan as a news producer, Andrea Martin as her mother who gets an internship at the same network, and includes among the rest of its leading cast John Michael Higgins’ take on the blowhard anchor, which was fun, but I suspect he can go even bigger with it and still make it work. Anyway, would recommend.

      Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Moo-Moo.” Feels a little strange to have a workplace comedy about fun cool cops try to take on real issues of policing, but all in all it worked pretty well. Some real talk between Terry and Holt, and Jake and Amy’s issues babysitting Terry’s kids, make it happen. Oh, and shout-outs to Scully for the cake-for-dinner idea and to Woke Hitchcock.

      • The Ploughman

        I also caught the Great News pilot. The fact that they didn’t touch Horatio Sanz’s potential yet suggests a show that could grow on me.

  • I haven’t seen his “Jabberwocky,” but I should–Švankmajer is one of my favorite stop-motion artists and probably the only one I know who employs the medium to such consistently otherworldly results. “Dimensions of Dialogue” is one of the best shorts ever.

    • The Ploughman

      Agreed. The hard part was choosing which short, since a fair number of his are available online. I originally wanted to feature “Food” here (“Jabberwocky” is thematically a little too near the link from a couple weeks ago), but then I remembered the stop-motion penis in that one and, well, I’m trying to stay relatively SFW. Not sure where the line is, but it’s somewhere before stop-motion penis.

      • Ha! The Švankmajer short I’m most familiar with (the brilliant Darkness / Light / Darkness) also has a stop-motion penis. I’m oddly happy to find out that he made multiple stop-motion penis films.

        • The Ploughman

          They’re super easy to make out of clay, like snakes.

  • DJ JD

    I did indeed start laughing at the cat, although I laughed hardest on the one where he was clearly on the track and then took an ill-advised turn. I thought that would be the end of the gag, actually. I also laughed at the blocks making the ship rock on the waves.

    This film had me wondering what term preceded “uncanny valley” to describe the discomfort it elicits in the viewer, because whatever it was, these always give me that feeling. Sheesh, something about just the wardrobe running around the forest at the beginning gave me the willies.

  • Son of Griff

    I was thinking about programming CONSPIRATORS OF PLEASURE for a potential hypothetical film fest on urban perambulations.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      So urban travel basically? Maybe like Manhattan or Pi, Enemy.

      • Son of Griff

        I was thinking of something about the relationship between the camera, human subjects and urban space; things like CONSPIRATORS, BERLIN, SYMPHONY OF A CITY, MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, LA RONDE, THE TRIAL, RUSSIAN ARK, VICTORIA, and half of everything directed by Linklater. Also some Lumiere and Edison shorts that use the “phantom ride”.

        • The Ploughman

          Warhol’s Empire?

          • Son of Griff

            !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • The Ploughman

            Not sure how to read this, so an appropriately Warholian response.

          • Son of Griff

            Sorry for the ambiguity. I meant to convey that its a great idea.

          • The Ploughman

            That’s what I guessed, but I never assume the response to a suggestion to watch Empire is going to be “great idea!”

          • Son of Griff

            You see one frame, you’ve seen it all.

        • pico79

          You could do a great essay on Man With a Movie Camera and Russian Ark alone as a sociological double feature: the heady, optimistic urbanism of the Russian 1920s (We are building things! They are amazing!) against the pessimistic nostalgia of the Russian 2000s (We built great things a long time ago! Don’t look outside the window!)

        • Powaqqatsi too–alone among the trilogy,
          the whole thing is at ground level,
          from an observer walking with everyone,
          and it gets some amazing compositions and angles of the “New Cities in Ancient Lands.”
          (Koyaanisqatsi occasionally does this but the overall perspective is more omniscient, and don’t get me started on Naqoyqatsi.)

  • pico79

    Fun fact! The Czech title references two separate stories: Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” and Vítězslav Nezval’s “Elfin Annie and Straw Hubert.” That complicates interpretations that hew to Carroll alone based on the English title, though not too much (Nezval’s work is a surrealist fairy tale, too). But he clearly wants us to consider both works, and unfortunately one of them is completely unavailable in English.

    If the name Nezval looks familiar to you, that’s because he was also the author of the very Carroll-inspired Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, source material for the famous Jaromil Jireš film. Nezval was a brilliant artist across the board, but almost entirely untranslated.

    • The Ploughman

      Great to know! I wondered because I was unaware of the original title until I was putting this together and a cursory Google search didn’t turn up the answer. The main issue I have with the English title is its overlap with the Terry Gilliam film.

      • pico79

        I was hoping to give you a more in-depth comment, but I can’t find the text of the Nezval anywhere online in English or Czech – but I did find it in Russian, so I may give it a read later. Instead of Nezval’s title, Švankmajer gives us something like “Straw Hubert’s tiny clothes”, which seems like a pretty key image in the film.