New on DVD and Blu-Ray

There is actually a whole bunch of good stuff out this week, so I’ll get started. New releases are ruled over by Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, which is indeed a lot of fun as a flashy, splashy action/musical extravaganza, although unfortunately it has not stuck with me like Wright’s other films have (it doesn’t help that it does not stick the landing). But I look forward to listening to the always entertaining Wright talk on the disc’s two audio commentaries, the biggest part of a large supplemental package that includes the (delightful) music video where Wright first used the germ of Baby Driver‘s central idea. The best new release, however, is Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, which just fucking rules. Compared to the hot, sleazy energy of Don Siegel’s original film, this is almost a dry comedy of manners for its first hour or so, with its school of abandoned Southern girls and women (including Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning) going crazy for the arrival of a Union soldier (Colin Farrell), whose true motives never become clear to them or us. Then it takes a wonderful turn into a more melodramatic, crazed version of The Virgin Suicides, with Coppola’s sensual lens used to capture some quite unexpected developments. And I think I can confirm, unless something blind-sides me in the winter movie season, that it has the best cinematography of the year, courtesy of The Grandmaster‘s Philippe Le Sourd. Sorry, Deakins.

Aside from those two, new titles also include Criterion releasing the singular Polish murderous-mermaid musical (try saying that three times fast) The Lure, and Warner Bros. releasing the final season of The Leftovers. Catalog titles provide plenty more riches, including another Warner release, of Michael Curtiz’s The Sea Wolf, and most prominently Criterion finally giving Orson Welles’ version of Othello the exhaustive release (with the two original cuts, not the Beatrice Welles 90s reedit, plus Filming ‘Othello’ and plenty of additional supplements) it deserves. There’s also the long-awaited disc release of Penelope Spheeris’s Dudes (with cinematography by Robert Richardson) from Shout! Factory, and Woody Allen’s hilarious debut Take the Money and Run finally gets an anamorphic release, let alone a high-definition one, although I don’t recommend holding your breath for it looking that good, considering the screenshots of it online look pretty fuzzy (goddamn you, Kino, Criterion had it and you took it away!). Hopefully Kino did better with their releases of Billy Wilder’s Avanti! and Mario Bava’s Kill, Baby… Kill!. And you won’t have to worry about Arrow doing right by A Fish Called Wanda, because they very much have, giving it a pristine new 4K restoration with a generous helping of supplements (its only fault is that it doesn’t come packaged with a replica dead dog, but whaddya gonna do). And then there’s our good pal Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose debut (and still best movie) Amores perros comes out from Lionsgate this week, albeit with a transfer that’s already controversial for how it removes the film’s bleach-bypass look. If only this is what AGI gets high-and-mighty about these days…

Amores Perros (Lionsgate)
Avanti! (Kino)
Baby Driver (Sony)
The Beguiled (Universal)
Blood Feast (Arrow)
Dreamgirls: Director’s Extended Edition (Paramount)
Dudes (Shout Factory)
A Fish Called Wanda (Arrow)
The Flamingo Kid (Kino)
The Green Slime (Warner)
The House (Warner)
Kill, Baby… Kill! (Kino)
The Leftovers: The Third and Final Season (Warner)
The Lure (Criterion)
Othello (Criterion)
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (Shout Factory)
The Sea Wolf (Warner)
Take the Money and Run (Kino)
Wish Upon (Broad Green)

  • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

    What was the movie and/or movies you watched with your eyes

    • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

      Chungking Express, Wong Kar-Wai
      Another movie I watched because Tarantino raved about it, and one that reminds me of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind in the way individual relationships stand in for the whole broad difficulties of relating to other people. The characters of CE are all poseurs, trying to create the impression that they’re quirky or archetypical, but Kar-Wai’s camera lingers on them so long that the facade breaks and their true humanity comes out, which is what makes them sympathetic – for example, Faye Wong’s character would be an outright Manic Pixie Dream Girl if we didn’t see how much anxiety powers every decision she makes.

      The way the city is presented reminds me of Collateral, and is often described the same way – sprawling, disconnected, lonely – and it just ends up reminding me why I love living in cities, making CE another fun world to visit and spend time in. I love the camerawork, so full of personality (which I suspect is one of the things that draws Quentin “standing up in front of the screen waving his hands” Tarantino to it); it feels distinct from The Shield in that it distances us from the characters – we see what they feel, but we don’t feel it with them. We’re not wrenched along with the characters, we’re studying them.

      Ownage: A surprising amount for an introspective romantic comedy about social anxiety, with Woman In Trenchcoat getting into two different shootouts and kidnapping a child. Indie comedies injecting genre tropes is pretty common (a good 90% of webcomics I read in the late aughts were basically “slice of life + wacky genre tropes”); here, it works because it’s very limited, sets off the introspection, and doesn’t break reality. Woman In Trenchcoat gunning down the white guy was the most awesome.

      Predator, John McTiernan

      “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
      “Oh… Okay.”

      Yes, I am aware how odd a double feature this was.

      The thing I find interesting about action films immediately pre-Die Hard is how hard the talented directors chafed against the idea of the immortal hero. The same as this, you have Robocop, which twisted the immortal hero for satirical purposes. Obviously, McTiernan would follow this up with a hero who is defined by his fragility, changing the game entirely, but here he has fun with throwing a seemingly invincible character against an even more invincible one.

      In terms of monster movies, the Predator stands out as a being that hasn’t just got a desire to kill, but a morality – it’s in it for ownage, so it doesn’t kill unarmed people and it doesn’t just mow the characters down. This makes it an empathetic figure if not a sympathetic one, and ties him in with the ownage-obsessed humans (nearly every bit of dialogue is a character attempting ownage).

      The film is dramatically constructed, which has two effects: one, there’s an interesting bit of flavour in that you can see how the story would have gone if a Predator hadn’t rocked up, and two, it means that both Arnie and the Predator solve problems with their brains rather than simple brute force – there’s even foreshadowing to Arnie being the sole survivor when his team are massacring the outpost at the start, and he kicks it off with a clever plan rather than relying on his bigass guns like everyone else.

      Of all the post-Vietnam films I’ve ever seen, this one is my favourite, and I’m including Aliens in that. It’s the one that’s least rooted in Vietnam specifically, but is drenched in American anxiety over the conflict – the sense of righteous immortality being flipped over when someone even bigger, tougher, and better equipped suddenly comes along and murders the shit out you, forcing you to adapt; effectively flipping over Vietnam as a way to try and make sense of it. Normally I hate it when people try and say “this genre film is a specific metaphor for that” – The Thing is not about AIDs – but it works here for me, because it takes a very specifically 1987 America idea and makes it into a more universal point about hubris and ownage.

      McTiernan does a pretty good commentary – he’s not an auteur like Tarantino, Fincher, and Carpenter, he’s a competent professional who discusses the choices he made and clearly justifies them; of all these directors, he’s the one who can best articulate what it is a director does and how to be one – my favourite commentary moment being for this film, when he explains his toughest fight with executives was justifying paying for Carl Motherfuckin’ Weathers, so that he could improve Arnie’s performance.

      Ownage: It’s Predator. But my favourite is the Predator getting Mac alone and sniping the back of his head off.

      LOST, Season One, Episode Nineteen, “Do No Harm”
      “Boone didn’t die. He was murdered.”

      “I had no expectations. Hopes, no expectations.”

      Back for Locke’s first flashback episode, wallflower had him pegged as an atheist looking for something to believe in; that didn’t sound right for Locke but it definitely fits for Jack, and that really set in this episode. He fits that certain kind of atheist who believes in rationality and thus is totally shocked when he or others acts irrationally. The flashbacks are pretty weak after the main reveal in the first one, but the overall effect of selling us on Jack’s irrational drive works (he even gets off Locke’s catchphrase).

      Sun ends up stepping up as the actual rational voice this episode. I love that.

      It’s dramatically powerful, but I am more miffed that Boone died this runthrough, seeing all the places his character could have gone. Oh well.

      Biggest laugh of the episode is Jin silently telling Charlie he shouldn’t go over to Claire.

      Ownage: N/A

      • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

        I recall talking with you about “Predator” a few months back when I re-watched it, and particularly loved your notations on how McTiernan pivoted from “immortal 80s action hero’ (great term, that), to “workaday, everyman hero” that Bruce Willis nails in “Die Hard.”

        At the risk of treading over familiar terrain, would you dare group Indiana Jones in the “everyman workaday hero” category? Especially since “Raiders of the Lost Ark” came out in 1981, a full seven years prior to “Die Hard?”

        • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

          Absolutely. I always forget about that one. There’s also Kyle Reese in 1984’s The Terminator; I don’t think there weren’t any fragile action heroes before Die Hard, just that it just kept escalating and escalating until Die Hard and its popularity were the only natural reaction.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            See, the first “Terminator” is interesting, because you’ve got Ahnuld, who would later, of course, get to play hero, playing the villain, versus a far more average protagonist. So you could argue how it was a harbinger of things to come in the 80s action cinema, but that would probably be a silly argument.

            Also of note, “Predator” (as you also pointed out) managed to overcome the hurdle of Schwarzenegger’s machismo by pulling the antagonist from space. (Plus it makes sense that he would be as muscular as he is in this movie, because he’s a Special Forces soldier! Good luck getting away with that in, say, “Junior.”)

          • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

            I just realised it’s actually better to draw a comparison to films now. We’ve seen blockbuster movies increase in scope and scale to a truly ridiculous level, and while sometimes that scope and scale have paid off, generally it’s just been very silly; suddenly, Mad Max: Fury Road comes along and it very stripped down and intense, so of course it would catapult to megapopularity the way Die Hard did.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            Ooh, good one! Also, what helps “Mad Max: Fury Road” was having an industry veteran like George Miller in the saddle. Clearly, he knew exactly how much money he needed, and where to allocate all of it (and with a minimum of CGI-heavy stunts! How’s that for a backlash against overproduced Marvel/DC digital shenanigans?)

      • hellgauge

        Going to have to slightly disagree with you about Chungking Express and the characters. I connected pretty solidly with them and don’t remember feeling much like an observer. Though I’m wondering if it might be a more general phenomenon that if you don’t connect particularly with the characters of a film, but still really like, then you’re very likely to rationalize this apparent paradox as being due to the film having a more observational (as opposed to immersive) approach. Need more data to back up this very much “shooting from the hip” hypothesis though.

        • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

          I’m not saying I didn’t connect to the characters, but my raw emotional reactions were very much in the vein of someone observing – laughing at the characters (in a good way) rather than with them, and feeling glad for their triumphs and sad for their losses, and the fact that we were constantly learning new information about them and their worldviews (through devices like the voiceovers).

          • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

            I’m gonna be processing this for a while now because the film totally feels like a hangout story, right down to the way it’s shot, and I’m still figuring out why; I think of the camera being drawn to things other than what the characters are looking at, and having a personality and motivation independent of any of the characters.

      • I like Chungking Express a ton, but it very nearly brought me to the brink of hating “California Dreamin’.”

        • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

          It’s been stuck in my head all damn day.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’d say Jack is sort of a rough draft of Kevin from The Leftovers (a lot of The Leftovers feels to me like taking some of the ideas of Lost and obscuring them so no one feels owed any answers). Both Kevin and Nora believe on some level in rationality as a way to process the world, even if they don’t really say it out loud, but they’re both unstable and batshit and will never admit it. Jack is more in control but he has that mixture of self loathing and rage that fuel one another, so he sometimes seems shocked by his own behavior.

      • Thinking about the Predator having a morality kinda makes the movie’s title not make sense. “Predator” is an animal, acting on instinct. “Hunter” really is more appropriate, esp as much as they’ve expanded that’s race’s backstory. Predator applies more to the xenomorph, but Alien works just as well.

        Predator Alien vs Hunter just doesn’t flow, though.

    • The Room – Well, I finally watched the worst movie ever, but I have no idea what it actually was. Most of it was just boringly bad – stiff acting, poor writing, flat design & direction. But every time Johnny is on-screen, it just gets weird. Like Wiseau had never actually seen a person before, and was trying to mimic one after just emerging from the wilderness for the first time. I think asking if it’s good or bad just misses the point – it’s so singularly weird. The most frustrating part is that it’s clearly a passion project – Wiseau means every part of that movie. It’s 100% sincere, and so few people will ever say they completed their labor of love. I can’t knock it or make fun of it, but it isn’t good. So what the hell is it?

      • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

        This would be my reaction to “The Room” as well, I feel. It’s a movie that has entered the canon as “Really Bad,” but I don’t know if I’ll find it as insanely, delightfully awful as it’s been built up to be. So far, the only really off-kilter movie I’ve seen that’s lived up to its (relatively recent) adaptation was “The Book of Henry,” which at least didn’t have several years worth of “Worst Movie Ever” hype attached.

        • I’ll fully cop to not enjoying so-bad-its-good movies. Usually they bore me or piss me off – there’s too many good movies I want to see to enjoy watching a bad one. And that probably colors my viewing of The Room, but I still recommend watching it, if for nothing else than to see Wiseau in action. I’ve never seen anything like him. I wish it were shorter, though.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            I suspect we may be on the same plane in terms of not caring for so-bad-it’s-good movies. I have a friend who has wanted to show me “The Room,” but I’ve dodged that particular bullet as least once, opting instead for “The Happening.” (More like…the Dull-ening!) I would rather watch a good movie (or even a good B-movie), than dreck, as I learn far more, and can walk away satisfied. Kubrick I am not, and can only handle so many bad movies.

          • Defender Of The Dark Arts

            I watched The Room with the rifftrax commentary and I recommend you do the same. You get to actually see the bad movie, but you get some comedy in between the long boring stretches.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            That…sounds significantly more palatable. I may have to take up that particular option! (God knows it helped with “The Happening.”)

      • glorbes

        HI BABE

        It’s one hell of a movie. It has value, I think, for the reasons you outline. It is a passion project by a very strange person, and it is revealing as a bizarre, corrupted, and fascinating look into one person’s perception of the world.

        • Miller

          I am a big Pere Ubu fan and I love David Thomas’ description of their weirdo art-punk — we are what’s mainstream, it’s the rest of the world that is avant garde. Pere Ubu makes great art and Tommy Wiseau does not, but that sensibility is similar and it’s what makes The Room fascinating in its badness — this is what he sees as normal.

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        I highly recommend reading The Disaster Artist now (ahead of the movie adaptation) that goes behind the scenes and reveals the movie would have been even stranger without the interference of some very frustrated friends caught in Tommy’s orbit.

        • Seconded! It’s such a strange, funny, insightful book.

        • glorbes

          Thirded. Great read.

        • I wish it had been stranger! I would’ve liked it more.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            Oh, I mean stranger, like possibly not cognizable to human eyes. Wiseau’s friends were able to recalibrate the movie just enough to fall within the visible spectrum of cinematic language, but (fortunately) not enough to disguise the unique strangeness of its author.

        • Fourthed. Once you realize Wiseau wanted Johnny to be a vampire, it makes things a lot clearer.

      • I definitely have breast cancer.
        /end of story thread

      • Rucker and Cohlchez vs. Evil 🌹

        It’s exactly what you said it is– a passion project from someone who seems to have emerged into the world fully-formed and not only incapable of understanding filmmaking but also with only the vaguest notions of how human beings act and interact.

        I don’t think I would find it 10% as compelling if there was any sign of competence behind it, or any sign it’s a put-on. It’s what the film says about Tommy Wiseau that fascinates me as much as anything.

    • Die, Monster, Die!, which my brain keeps translating into “The, Monster, The!”. A fun 60s Lovecraft adaptation from AIP, clearly in the mould of the Corman Poe films. It has a LOT of people reluctantly walking down corridors in it, which would usually be a negative for me, but they’re really nice corridors! And the dialogue is amazing, full of terrible pseudo-science and the line “it’s like a zoo in hell”! Boris Karloff is great as ever and some of the FX are pleasingly gross – I had fun.

    • No movies of late. Did watch a Dick Van Dyke from the fifth season and one from the second season. It’s remarkable that you could pretty much watch the show in any order and aside from Richie getting taller and Carl Reiner playing Alan Brady more, there is no difference at all between the seasons and pretty much no continuity.

    • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

      Blade Runner 2049: It was fine.

      More seriously, however, is the question of how effective this movie is in building on the the thematic elements from the first “Blade Runner.” At first, I assumed the twist/reveal would be how K was in fact a replicant, thus making text what the first film only alluded to as a possibility. Instead, having us consider him human, before considering him to be a replicant again, was effective for me, as I didn’t end up ahead of the second reveal.. As someone who’s mired in a Hammett novel, I appreciated the noir-like traditions of Gosling’s K following leads at the beginning of the movie, along with his relatively placid (almost…robotic) demeanor, fitting in with his “Drive” persona: lacking in emotion but willing to mete out brutal attacks on others when necessary.

      Also, Deakins did great work here, and I loved the imagery, some of which practically resembled McQuarrie concept art from “Star Wars” (that reception desk at Wallace Corp.!)

      Curious about how others feels about the lead up to war. I personally think it’s unnecessary, and moves too far over into Marvel Cinematic Universe territory. The whole fun of this movie is to mostly consider what makes us human, and whether it’s fair to slot others into boxes if there isn’t as much to distinguish us from them.

    • glorbes

      I watched two movies over the weekend.

      Godzilla Vs. Megalon – Not one of the best from the series, but it is the source of this classic GIF:

      Dracula AD 1972 – Thank God Peter Cushing was in this, giving it his all. Otherwise, we’d be left with three minutes of Christopher Lee and 90 minutes of insufferable idiots doing very little.

    • glorbes

      Oh yeah, and I watched the first three episodes of Star Trek Discovery. It’s aggressively okay, and I appreciate Star Trek being given the serialized treatment, but I can never seem to shake the feeling that anything after The Original Series is filling in gaps and mythology that don’t need filling, and the template is never as exciting or as aesthetically pleasing as the original. There’s potential for an enjoyable show, and I am going to give it a fair trial, because it’s starting a LOT stronger than most Trek shows.

      It’s lame that Michael has such a direct connection to Spock and his family though.

      • edibletalkingchairs .

        Feels like the other series could never fully justify themselves. That is something odd I’ve noticed about television sequels/spin-offs, the nature of being a spin-off brings with it a “yesterday’s left-over” type of feeling. Sort of feel the same way with Twin Peaks: The Return, although I’ve only seen five episodes (and it’s obviously on another level conceptually).

    • Miller

      Parks and Rec, “Pawnee Zoo” — good stuff for a bad mood. I’d forgotten how quickly they nailed Leslie’s character reworking from the get-go.

      Vice Principals, first three episodes of the first season — the poets will tell you that the two most beautiful words in the English language are “cellar door,” but the poets have never heard Walton Goggins say “fucked buttholes.” Hilarious and crass, the sight gag with the two teens in third episode had me wondering if I actually did just see that. Why did I sleep on this show for so long?

      The Defenders, first two episodes — ha ha Danny Rand is the fucking worst, what a turd of a character. Most of these people are annoying me, with Ritter’s Jessica Jones a significant exception, largely because she actually does shit. The plot structure goes back to Daredevil (and to a lesser extent Luke Cage) in having the good guys and bad guys essentially acting in different shows without any knowledge of each other and it is so. Fucking. Tedious. I will defer further criticism to a comment from the AV Club recaps, which sums it up better than I could:

      “The first episode was all kinds of ass.

      I’m a lawyer. Let’s eat a sandwich. I’m from Harlem. Hey, there’s that barber shop. I’m rich. Let’s sex now. I’m tipsy + strong. I’m an ex-girlfriend. Feeding birds. I’m sick. A ninja. Lots of shitty retro music.

      It was like all of the most boring B reel exposition retreaded from the originating series. Stuff we know. Stuff that was boring the FIRST time(s) around.

      I’m really getting depressed at the notion it might take until episode six just for Murdock to put on a goddamn scarf. Haven’t we been over this boring-ass will-he/won’t-he suit up hoo-hah? Fuck your hoodies, people. Suit up.

      Start punching, assholes! Jeebus.”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Goggins pronouncing “Gamby” like that is never unfunny.

    • Inland Empire–I think one of the things that’s helped David Lynch maintain such a devoted following is that as odd and experimental as his work tends to get, there’s usually a concrete narrative to be sussed out upon repeat viewings–in other words, viewed in a certain way, they’re puzzles. At least, until Inland Empire. I have no earthly idea what’s going on on a narrative level in this movie, and I doubt that repeat viewings will help clarify this; for all the talk of that “dreamlike” Lynchian atmosphere, Inland Empire may be the only film of his that’s completely untethered from from a grounding reality, its events progressing with the rhythm of a nightmare: the same actor plays an entirely different character in two consecutive scenes; a door in Poland opens in Hollywood; human figures contort into horrifying distortions; clips of incongruous music float in and out of the mix. Which is not to say that it’s a haphazard film in the least. All its scenes circle around iterations of similar themes of violence, filmmaking, identity, and ambition, and it’s almost as if Lynch is building a collage out of the tenuous logic of whatever narrative each moment gives us. The movie has the feel of something monstrous bursting through the barrier between subconscious and conscious, and as such, there’s an elemental power to the film’s cumulative effect, even if on a moment-by-moment basis it’s kind of ugly and baffling. Plus, Laura Dern deserves all the awards for her performance here. Come for her, if for nothing else.

      Also watched the new episodes of Superstore–If y’all aren’t watching this show, why not? It’s one of the best sitcoms on right now, and this is in a small golden age of network sitcoms.

      • glorbes

        Inland Empire is the type of movie that really pushes the envelope of watchability. It has that low rent early digital look that is genuinely off-putting, and yet once I started, I was pulled in and wanted to see how things developed. I am also really glad I watched this before I took on Twin Peaks: The Return, because it primed me for how that series eventually concluded.

        • That standard-definition digital is the sort of seemingly terrible creative decision (like the intentionally bad SFX in The Return) that Lynch somehow turns into a huge asset. I don’t know how he does it.

          But yeah. There is so much Inland Empire in The Return, and I’m glad I got to it, too, even if it’s after watching The Return.

          Incidentally, have you watched Lynch’s Rabbits shorts?

          • glorbes

            Nope, I haven’t. Guess I should.

          • Yeah, me neither. I’m wondering if there’s a good way to see them.

          • Peter Deming said in an interview that Lynch remained enamored with those DSLR cameras enough that he was interested in shooting The Return that way too, except the VFX artists wouldn’t be able to work with that kind of footage and Showtime requests all its shows to be shot in 4K. Much as I love Lynch I’m glad he got shot down on that one.

          • Me too. The Return looked amazing.

      • Inland Empire became a grueling watch at a certain point but it’s stuck in my mind like no other film I’ve seen this year, and I regularly find myself thinking of diving into it again. I think Lynch himself called it an experiment he wouldn’t want to repeat (specifically regarding writing it as it was shooting), and certainly his works into which he went with a finished script are a lot easier to take in, but I think on rewatch it might be easier to appreciate the ways he disrupted his own usual creative process, creating a journey that’s really unlike anything and has an undeniable artistic purity to it. (Now I’m starting to sound like the AV Club commenter who’d always roll out a few wildly gushing paragraphs about the movie whenever someone mentioned it.) It helps that it has an amazingly cathartic ending, with the one-two punch of “Polish Poem” and “Sinnerman”. Looking back at it, it felt like wandering in the dark woods for three hours, never knowing what you’d experience next and whether you were gonna find your way out at all, only to finally come across a warm, brightly lit house where everyone hugs you and congratulates you on making it through.

        • That ending was amazing. Also: that “Loco-Motion” sequence was just damn delightful and completely out of nowhere.

    • Defender Of The Dark Arts

      An American Werewolf In London. Not my first viewing, but watching it this time it dawned on me just how frequently David McNaughton is naked in this movie. So if you’re into cool make-up effects and pale, white man-ass, check it out.

      • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

        “…watching it this time it dawned on me just how frequently David McNaughton is naked in this movie.”

        Well…it is a werewolf movie, after all. (Probably my favorite version of this kind of story too).

        • Landis really doesn’t shy away from the full real nudity unlike most movies about male werewolves, many of which tastefully crop the lower half or have the change burst through clothes.

        • Defender Of The Dark Arts

          It’s definitely the funniest werewolf movie. (Sorry Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too).

    • jroberts548

      Ghosted, episode 2. This would benefit from tighter writing or more improv. Robinson and Scott are great just riffing together, but everything with the bureau is kind of a slog.

      The gifted, episode 2. They found a really neat, visually interesting way of using blink’s power and showing her distress. I’m enjoying this show so far.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Blade Runner 2049 – Watched it Friday in Edinburgh. The more I thought about it the more I liked it even as some of the plot holes became a little clearer. A beautiful movie that curiously stands on its own in quality and even goes a little deeper into the questions that existential sci-fi noir posed. Do actions mean anything if they’re programmed and really, does programming matter if our actions have meaning to us? What is the difference between birth and manufacturing? Is sex physical or ontological? And on and on. But of course I’m also here for the autistic, alienated, beautiful, horrific world, the photography, the thousand natural heartaches of this future universe, the look on K’s face as he is reminded again that Joi is a program (Gosling and de Arnas are pretty devastating throughout). This deserved more viewers this weekend, much more.

      • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

        I’m going to lob this one up again, because I’m curious here: Any thoughts on the latent talk of “war” towards the end? I certainly was appreciative of how underplayed this tenet was, since you risk ending up in space opera/spectacle when you have rumblings of that kind of thing. Fortunately, they elided that with more immediate plot concerns, and, depending on how this movie does in the weeks ahead, we may not even need to worry about a potential War! sequel.

        • Honestly that entire scene felt like it came from a different movie, and it was almost like the movie itself agreed because it was never mentioned again and the actual ending is in complete contrast to all the “revolution” talk with how low-key and character-based it is. I’m not sure how to take that and if it was needed at all. It certainly comes across as a plot thread to be picked up in a potential sequel, except the movie is so insistent to be its own complete thing in other respects that it ends up feeling out of place.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            Yes! That’s what I was thinking! I appreciated how it was underplayed, but also would have preferred it if they didn’t bring it up. Part of the fun of this (now) franchise is that it’s all about the mood, the philosophical queries about what separates humans from replicants, and whether that’s a moot point to begin with. Throwing that in just creates a black-and-white situation that I don’t really care for. (If I wanted that, I’d watch the first two “Terminator” films).

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I thought that one of the implications here was that where Madame Joshi saw the melting of barriers between replicant and human as a “war”, the replicant army saw it as a revolution, a breakthrough. I also liked that all of this sociopolitical change is all in the background and while it’s not happening right now exactly its certainly coming. But yeah, I’m not really interested in a Blade Runner film all about conflict and resolution like that, and I doubt they’d make one anyway. This is a series rooted in questions that can’t be answered and any solutions are going to end in an ellipsis.

    • edibletalkingchairs .

      American Assassin:
      Maze Runner kid gets buff for the role, but I’m not sure if the casting works. To be fair, none of the performances in this movie are great, with Keaton doing the best. Everybody runs out of steam by the end, with the director seeming the most exhausted. The performances try for ambiguity (cause this is a spy movie kinda), but land in the realm of confused. The alt-masculinity of our lead is one of the most disappointing red herrings I’ve experienced in recent memory, with something close to Blue Ruin turns out to be knock-off John Wick.

    • clytie

      I’ve previously mentioned my love of the extremely short-lived TV series EZ Streets. Every so often, I do a search on it. I saw someone put it on YouTube last month and re-watched the first 3 episodes last night.

      I also found an interview with series creator Paul Haggis ( which is really fantastic! I emailed David Bushman to ask him what was cut from the interview, since it said, “The following interview is edited for length.” After assuring me that just chitchat that had nothing to do with the show was cut out, we talked about the show.

      He asked me if I had written something he found online about Veronica Mars. When I confirmed that I had, he told me that I’m a “terrific writer.” Woo!

    • Found footage never disappoints including these two videos juxtaposed.

    • Crimson Pico

      Honestly the best thing I’ve watched in the last 24 hours is on youtube: David Poland interviewing Willem Dafoe. Cringe comedy at its best. Poland comes in with a bunch of terrible leading questions, and Dafoe is just not having it. Highlights: he asks why Dafoe chose a muted film like The Florida Project instead of his trademark wild-eyed Dafoe Thing (“If you think that, you don’t know my movies well enough.”) and later apologizes for asking a question about Spider Man (“You shouldn’t [apologize]. I like that movie.”) The first is especially oof-worthy because Poland doesn’t pick up on Dafoe’s early cues and keeps pressing, like, he can’t imagine that Dafoe doesn’t see his career in the same way he does.

      Is Poland always this bad? (This is the first video of his I’ve watched.)

      • I watched a whole bunch of his interviews an awards season or two ago, and found him mostly quite good actually. My sense of secondhand embarrassment is strong but my only really problem with Poland was that familiar interviewer tendency to ask a question and then immediately start suggesting possible answers. Much of the time he got really good, relaxed conversations going. I remember his interviews with Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Emma Stone, and Rick Linklater and his usual collaborators (Delpy, Hawke, Patricia Arquette) as highlights.

        • Crimson Pico

          Okay. Must have just been an off-interview (he was really insistent that Dafoe see himself as a scenery-chewer who made a surprising choice to play The Florida Project low-key, and when he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he kept asking it. Yeesh.)

    • Rucker and Cohlchez vs. Evil 🌹

      Vice Principals, “Think Change.” See my profile for the review.

      Curb Your Enthusiasm, “The Pickle Gambit.” A pretty good episode with a lot of classic feel– and a delight to see Jim Rash on TV again– although I have to wonder why Larry didn’t just wear a different disguise, or no disguise at all, when he went back to the hotel the final time. And oh, boy, we had some rumblings that the Cheryl/Ted thing might be happening after the premiere, and I can’t wait to see how that develops.

      The Last Man on Earth, season 4, episode 2. Love having Chris Elliott around. Feel like they kinda blew by his experience pretty quickly. I had a lot to drink before watching TV last night so don’t take my word as gospel on anything.

      Ghosted, season 1, episode 2. Better, though I feel like there’s still a lot of coasting on the performances of Adam Scott and Craig Robinson.

  • hellgauge

    I’m not sure whether this qualifies as a hot take or if it’s actually a really boring opinion, but I’m still going to maintain that any year featuring a Malick/Lubezki collaboration will not have another film claiming the title of “best cinematography”.

    • Spooky Narrator Man

      I shamefully still have not seen Song to Song, but I am definitely willing to go along with this.

    • Song to Song looks mighty nice, but I think I prefer the stylization of The Beguiled and Blade Runner 2049 better.

  • Scorsese wrote up a good, typically passionate little piece on mother!, Rotten Tomatoes, CinemaScores (he’s having none of that nonsense) and the general tendency to take adventurous movies down:

    • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

      “Only a true, passionate filmmaker could have made this picture, which I’m still experiencing weeks after I saw it.”

    • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

      “This actually became a news story—mother! had been “slapped” with the “dreaded” Cinemascore F rating, a terrible distinction that it shares with pictures directed by Robert Altman, Jane Campion, William Friedkin and Steven Soderbergh.”

      Now I’m curious to see what those movies were, and, of course, applaud Paramount for leaning into the F rating “mother!” received with their latest marketing push. As Scorsese so articulately argued, as I feel: I’d rather have a divisive movie than a bland one.

      • The Friedkin one is Bug and I think the Soderbergh one is Solaris, bizarrely. Looks like the Campion and Altman ones are In the Cut and Doctor T and the Women, respectively.

        • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

          I suppose that Friedkin one shouldn’t surprise me. The Soderbergh one, on the other hand, is odd since, if anything, he made it more palatable to viewing audiences, as opposed to Tarkovsky’s (far more methodically slow) classic.

          • I haven’t seen the Soderbergh but it was still a wide Thanksgiving release starring Clooney just a year after Ocean’s Eleven, and probably marketed to appear much more mainstream than it was, since there was a budget to make back. Misleading marketing is one thing that unites a lot of films with terrible CinemaScores, and on that front I’m actually willing to cut audiences a little slack, even if it’s unfortunate that the response on the part of many is knee-jerk rage and refusal to engage with the work that’s in front of them. It’s a pretty dispiriting situation at its core, really.

          • I did wonder if it was a “wait, this isn’t Ocean’s Eleven in Space, let’s trash the place!” scenario.

          • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

            I’m imagining it going down exactly like a Simpsons joke.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            From what I remember of the marketing the trailers didn’t really tell you anything about what the movie actually was, playing up the romance, so people were just like “Wait, what?”

          • Son of Griff

            Absolutely. Whether or not Cinemascore or Rotten Tomatoes serves its readers is one thing, but it is not really designed for the advancement of auteur driven projects. I think a more independent film oriented review aggregate site, with viewer contributions made by those audiences, might work.

          • I don’t think that would have helped mother!. Even among my indie-film-loving friends, that movie was divisive.

          • Son of Griff

            The response to MOTHER was aggravated, I believe, by a kind of mini-backlash to the generally obscurantist autueurism of American Independent Cinema, a tendency that stems from an inherent contentiousness in a culture that likes to debate about the nature of movies. In many circles those discussions have become more acrimonious, and MOTHER, for a variety of reasons, is taking a hit for this.

          • Hm. You may be right about that.

          • Son of Griff

            When a movie is sold for assuming that I’ll like it for being artsy and weird, I get defensive, and I subsequently become more critical on something than I probably should be. I’ll eventually see MOTHER out of an auteurial obligation, but Aranofsky’s obsessions. while undeniably well presented for the most part, don’t necessarily align with mine.

          • CineGain

            While the site collects reviews mainly out of the major publications, Metacritic is the closest to a aggregate site where they judged the review based on the writing. Not perfect but still preferable over the either-or approach of Rotten Tomatoes.

        • CineGain

          The dismissal of mother! seems reminiscent of any big-stared headed movie that was more artsy then multiplex-folder. Eyes Wide Shut, which earned a D-, seems like a reasonable comparison in terms of the divisiveness between mainstream audiences and cinephiles.

          • Scorsese also ranked EWS the fourth-best film of the 1990s. Critical bellwether?


          • Love that classic Scorsese pick of a film from 1986 as his #1 film of the 90s. SCORSESE CARES NOT FOR YOUR RULES.

          • To be fair, it wasn’t available in the US until the 90s and Scorsese had to praise it somewhere!

            It’s reminiscent of the movies that cycle festivals for a year, but are delayed by a year or three…what year can we put them in our best of list?

          • Son of Griff

            My best of the 2000s list had two 1999 movies on them (CROUPIER and AUDITION) that didn’t hit the States until 2001

          • I’d argue for year of commercial US release if that year was recent or is current, and the year of original premiere if we’re going back a couple decades or more.

          • Half of each year’s “best” movies don’t get released here until the following year anyway due to Awards Season Madness so I curse release dates and time-based lists and all their trimmings.

          • Seriously, I think it was practically March before I Am Not Your Negro made it to Seattle.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            Yeah, a cinephile would grant it a solid C+!

            (I am fine with EWS, just less sure of it as a masterpiece on par with Kubrick’s best)

          • To be fair, EWS was divisive among cinephiles when it came out.

            I should mention that This rating is an appropriate measure of EWS’s marketing as Eyes Wide Shut was marketed to the audience through a false rumor marketing blitz promising Tom and Nicole having dirty raunchy kinky sex with nipple clamps and bondage. Accompanied by the NC-17 rating and news of posthumous censorship to get an R-rating, this made audiences want a down and dirty raunch fest in the veins of Basic Instinct.

            When it was considerably less than that, there were a lot of disappointed audiences.

          • Son of Griff

            Kubrick had a big hand in the marketing and promotion of his films, and he probably could have done a better job at re-adjusting the audience’s perception of EWS than Warner’s did.

          • I just remember the huge backlash from almost everybody as salacious expectations were demolished only to be replaced by talking, anxiety, and paranoia.

          • Son of Griff

            I saw it as a dark comedy of manners, which didn’t seem too far out of the Kubrick ball park. That would be a hard sell for Warners, which had difficulty in promoting all sorts of non-blockbuster product at that time (i.e. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL), without the director’s input. That said, it probably had less universal appeal than any other Kubrick film anyway.

          • CineGain

            The audience measure of these business has absolutely nothing to do with the art of cinema and everything to do with commerce. With Kubrick passing, the Warners had difficult in selling the film as anything other then the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman erotic romp that was hyped through the tabloids of the time. If Warner tried to sell EWS as a expensive art picture starting the biggest star couple, it would’ve made slightly less then the misleading campaign. Without the assistance of Kubrick Warner Bros. were in a catch-22 situation.

          • I’m only blaming Warner for being completely misleading. There were 100 ways to market a movie about a famous couple almost breaking up that might have set up good word of mouth.

            1999 was still in the era when movies could have legs for months if they captured the audience’s attentions.

            In all honesty, it probably plays better now, post-Crazy Tom, than it did then when Cruise was culturally only getting a slight side eye.

        • John Bruni

          Doctor T and the Women is not very good, really. Nowhere near the top echelon of Altman films, such as McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, California Split, 3 Women.

          • CineGain

            I highly doubt that multiplex audiences were disliking Doctor T because it doesn’t live up to predecessor Altman films.

          • It was terrible on all levels to all audiences. It’s one of the few Fs that was earned.

          • Son of Griff

            to be fair, I don’t believe it was interesting to either the general audience or the art house.

        • Son of Griff

          I genuinely like IN THE CUT

          • I don’t think I’d ever heard of it, so that F CinemaScore has at least brought it to my attention!

          • Son of Griff

            It’s an artsy meditation on the archetypes of the 90s erotic thriller, marketed as a straight up erotic thriller, which was already passe by the time it was released. Audiences were free to pile abuse on it for any reason imaginable. It’s generally been accused of killing Meg Ryan’s career, and stalling Jane Campion’s for quite a while.

          • Bug and Killing Them Softly, which was also blessed with an F, are big favorites of mine.

          • Son of Griff

            Haven’t seen BUG, but I really enjoyed KTS a lot too.

      • Miller

        This has been covered before! . And yeah, Bug is great and Killing Them Softly’s pros outweigh its main dopey con.

        • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

          I read Higgins’ source text for that movie, and by God, the man does not disappoint. It can be a little intimidating at first, having to read paragraph upon paragraph of a single character’s story, but when you find that groove, there’s nothing better.

          • Miller

            Higgins is awesome. If you haven’t read them, I’d strongly recommend The Digger’s Game, which is roughly contemporary with Cogan’s Trade, and the underrated sequel The Patriot Game from a decade or so later. Great dialogue, a story of a Las Vegas bender gone bad in Digger is fucking hilarious, and dark stories that play as mirrors of each other by the end.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            “As a Las Vegas bender gone bad…”

            But isn’t that just “The Hangover?”

            Joking aside, I’ll probably get to this eventually. Especially since you’re the one who got me to read the fantastic “The Ax.”

          • Miller

            Heh, the crux of the Vegas bit is the Digger describing a hideous hangover — there is a bit of drunken braggadocio of the “I got SO FUCKED UP” variety but it is mostly a catalogue of how his aging body is failing and outright revolting against him here and it has, shall we say, a certain resonance. And glad you dug The Ax, what a great and bleak book that also gets more resonance the older one gets.

    • Son of Griff

      I have little love for Cinemascore, which only reinforces a mass mentality on the part of the audience seeking taste re-assurance in the form of popular consensus.

      My experiences in using Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic as a rubric for programming a film club leads me to a different conclusion than the one Scorsese reaches. I find that scores for more formally ambitious films skew higher than those that most please our audience, whose tastes run more to the PBS school of social naturalist drama and light comedy. You know, the stuff Julius Kassendorf hates. The relatively high number of people who feel the need to at least pretend to have a background in film history and aesthetics on these sights still tends to privilege narrative innovention that large sections of a more critically selective audience aren’t familiar with. We have gotten great audience responses to films with the average scores in the 50s, and even one with a RT score of 8.

      The big problem is how, in a midst of the most radical restructuring of distribution since the 1940s, we finance adventurous filmmaking that is not driven primarily for audience satisfaction. I think that there is enormous potential in digital and downloading, but the marketing and platforms for such product needs greater coordination.

      • At SIFF, they have a group of full series people who see up to 150 movies in under two months. Most of these are older retirees, as to be expected. My tastes do not jive with theirs. They have a tendency to favor light “dark” comedy with bon mots and a pleasant ending. Or dramas that aren’t too dramatic. That’s why movies like The Hippopotamus, an effete “dark” comedy about the bourgeois sold out huge theaters while other experimental films struggled to find an audience.

  • jroberts548

    Not related to anything, but among the many disturbing aspects of the Harvey Weinstein story, how fucking useless is SAG? Yeah, the power dynamic is obviously tilted against individual actresses, but what’s the point of the actors even having a union if SAG and big actors are gonna stick up for producers who exploit, harass, and rape actresses? It’s fucked up.

  • Apparently, the Christmas movie Better Watch Out is getting a VOD release well in advance of its December Christmas release. I wrote a full noncommittal review in SIFF dispatches.

    I also heard the director is hot gay bear, and…Jesus. The guy is unf. His Instagram is small but tasty. It doesn’t make his movie any better or worse, but I felt like I should mention this previously unknown fact because promoting gay directors is good even if the movie is mixed.

    • Yeah it got released in theaters and on VOD on Friday.

      • Did it get an NY/LA run as well?

        • No idea. According to Box Office Mojo it played in 25 theaters this weekend (where it predictably made almost nothing because of a day-and-date VOD release). Mike D’Angelo keeps track of NYC commercial releases on his site and he doesn’t have the movie listed under October 6.

          • I also didn’t know it was in theaters without advertising. It just sort of got dumped. I wouldn’t have known it was coming out without the podcast which hinted at the bear thing and then I found his Instagram.

          • It does seem like these smaller but acclaimed genre offerings are routinely being made a disservice with the way they’re released. Brawl in Cell Block 99 also apparently got released in theaters this weekend (one week before its VOD release) and didn’t even get its grosses reported. Same deal with Bone Tomahawk two years ago and I’m sure there’s a bunch of others.

          • Looking at Well Go USA’s page, I think they’re only in theaters for one week to get reviews in random papers. Consider their movie A Taxi Driver, which got released in only 41 theaters but still made $1.5m. They pulled it after the one week release, despite an extremely promising per theater. (Though, I wonder how many thought they were seeing a re-release of Taxi Driver).

          • Better Watch Out also seems to be an outlier for them since they mainly specialize in Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese and South Korean films, and given that they very rarely expand beyond 30-40 theaters even despite high per theater averages, I’d speculate that they have a certain audience and know exactly where to find that audience. Perhaps they decided to just quietly dump an indie horror comedy because it’s not in their wheelhouse.

          • I lied and misread the page. They do only put them in 41 theaters but they do stay in theaters for a few weeks.


            I think I remember seeing Train to Busan on a poster at Seattle’s Downtown AMC. And they have a steady string of Asian language (maybe Chinese only?) films that might have included Train to Busan. Maybe Well Go has a weird rental/distro deal with very specific Chinese heavy markets. It’s kind of like the Bellevue Cinemark having a steady string of Bollywood movies (the Bollywood ones are usually more expensive than the English language films for whatever reason).

          • A Taxi Driver is Korean too, as is The Wailing. They seem to be focusing on Asian-language films the same way Yash Raj and FIP are on Indian films, which similarly often bring solid grosses without expanding into wider release.