Abacus-16

New on DVD and Blu-Ray

This week is all about Good Time. An exercise in finding out how long an audience can hold their breaths for, it sees a career-best Robert Pattinson as a low-level criminal with enough sweaty charisma to convince numerous people (including his disabled brother) to ruin their lives with him in a series of incredible setpieces. It has a supporting cast full of great performances by reliable character actors (including a frighteningly immature Jennifer Jason Leigh) and even better performances by complete no-names, a style that vividly combines verite “realism” and an almost Refnian color palette, and, bar none, the best score of the year. So yes, you’ll have a good time watching Good Time.

Elsewhere, there’s Criterion’s release of Terry Gilliam’s debut, Jabberwocky, which even the most charitable will have to admit is not one of his better works, but perhaps the 4K spit-shine and extensive extras (including an essay by Our Lord Tobias) will help with that. Kino may actually own this week, however, with their releases of Fritz Lang’s silent work and the David O. Selznick-produced I’ll Be Seeing You and Since You Went Away. It helps that there’s really not much else competition in sought-after catalog titles this week, other than the Warner Archive Collection’s Blu-Ray of Dolores Claiborne (not quite just in time for the bump as a result of Gerald’s Game). New titles are barely better, with Universal giving us Eliza Hittman’s coming-of-age tale Beach Rats, and Lionsgate giving us the aforementioned Good Time, plus Luc Besson’s typically divisive sci-fi romp Valerian.

Beach Rats (Universal)
Birth of the Dragon (Universal)
Dolores Claiborne (Warner Archive Collection)
Fritz Lang: The Silent Films (Kino)
Good Time (Lionsgate)
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Lionsgate)
I’ll Be Seeing You (Kino)
Jabberwocky (Criterion)
Leap! (Lionsgate)
My Journey Through French Cinema (Cohen)
Since You Went Away (Kino)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Lionsgate)

  • Defense Against The Dark Arts

    Valerian and the City etc. is Luc Besson’s spiritual sequel to The Fifth Element. Like T5thE it’s visually stunning with an outrageous production design and a silly sense of humor, although there isn’t a weird McDonald’s commercial right in the middle of it. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne don’t have the greatest chemistry (in fact it seems as if they actively dislike each other) but if you can overlook that it’s a fun movie.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Three, Episode One, “A Tale Of Two Cities”
      “It’s pretty much about everything.”

      “How you doing?”
      “Swell. I requested that cage, but whatever.”

      Already, we have season three’s worst flaws on display, even if it’s not as bad as it’s going to get. Jack’s flashbacks are now completely superfluous, telling us something that even the least perceptive viewer has picked up. Worse, the island story has slowed right the fuck down; I thought the episode was going to end with that famous scene of Ben showing Jack the footage of the Red Sox winning the World Series, but not yet. There are really only two stories in this episode – Jack fights the Others and then chooses to yield, and Sawyer triumphing over a bear puzzle. One of those stories completely fails to earn its runtime, and the other is a joke.

      Where it does take a big step forward is in the mythology. The opening* shows us that the Others are living a comfortable upper-middle-class lifestyle, and while she never actually says what her job is, Juliet carries herself like a therapist instead of a doctor (like Ethan, who cameos) or a mystic (like Ms Clue). When eating breakfast with Ben (we now know his real name), he describes their group as ‘civilised’; our survivors have never looked grungier, filthier, or more savage than within this episode, and the Others treat them like children or wild animals that have to be pacified. It’s still not locking down into anything solid for me, though; the best I can do is a wishy-washy “the things one has to do to civilise” bullshit thing that I don’t really buy.

      This episode has Kate assuming Friendly wants to watch her shower, and he retorts “You’re not my type,” which fans interpreted as him being gay. M.C. Gainey heard about this, liked it, and incorporated it into his performance, and the writers eventually worked it into the story. It never really amounts to more than a quirk, but I like that story-of-the-story.

      *Generally speaking I vastly prefer the on-island flashbacks to filling in more parts of our characters’ backstories. Partially this is because it’s more relevant to the drama, but I also find something satisfying in seeing the same idea from different perspectives; there’s a video that collates every part of the plane crash into one video, 24-style, which gets across how emotionally satisfying the process is.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKcKtjrL5bc

      Book Club: Literally! The book they’re discussing is Carrie, by Stephen King.

      The Aviator
      “Stop showin’ ’em the bills.”
      “That would be illegal, Howard.”

      “I’m a Tasmanian bastard, you absolute prick!”

      The one and only Scorsese film I saw before 2015, and even then for some reason I only ever caught the last hour and fifteen minutes of it on television; I still really liked it, and it remains one of my favourite Scorsese films. Structurally, it’s the same episodic life story of single profoundly flawed individual that he’s been doing since Raging Bull, but this time instead of a struggle between good and evil, it’s a struggle between ambition and mental illness. Someone (I got to start writing this shit down) linked to a list of sympathetic traits, one of which was ‘obsession’; I think ‘ambition’ is the better word, and it makes The Aviator a breezier, nicer movie than Scorsese’s other versions of this story. Howard isn’t a hedonist, a sadist, or a gloryhound; he just really wants to achieve great things and finds even all the money in the world isn’t enough to get it. This time, Scorsese’s sensations are driven by Howard’s mental illness, getting us completely in his head and getting us to feel his irritation, fear, and disgust, right up to the end – when Noah says Howard won’t like not knowing where the blood for his transfusions is coming from, it’s in equal parts hilarious and poignant.

      DiCaprio works fine as Howard, like a child that never had to grow up; the supporting cast are what make it extra-special. Adam Scott and John C Reilly are fun, but Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn is the standout. She risks being a cartoon but finds a real human warmth in Hepburn, and it makes her so much fun to hang out with. Katharine was better for Hughes than anyone, not in the sense that she took care of him but in that they challenged each other in wonderful ways and had potential to be so much more. When they break up, not only does he remove her from his life, he removes everything she represents and all her morality from his actions, which is partially what drives his downfall as he becomes too internal and too unwilling to escape his comfort zone.

      Also, Scorsese’s choice to limit the colours in the first third in imitation of movies of the time does not work for me at all.

      • I really enjoyed The Aviator, it’s one of the few examples of this kind of sprawling biopic that really work for me, mostly because Scorsese seems to be invested in all of it, whereas a lot of biographies you can tell the people involved are only interested in “the big dramatic bit” and the rest ends up feeling like filler (or maybe it’s just that Hughes had more “big dramatic bits” than most people!)

        I’m not always the biggest DiCaprio fan but I think he did a great job here in quite a tricky role.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Part of it, I think, is that Hughes is always doing</i< things. Just in Scorsese's filmography, Jake La Motta and Jesus both spend some of their time spinning in circles; if Howard isn't making movies, he's building planes; if he's not crashing his new plane, he's defending himself against the Senate hearing, and he does it all with an unstoppable passion, which makes him very easy to empathise with. So the other way of putting it is yes, he had a lot of "big dramatic bits" 😉

          • Haha, I love the image of Jesus just spinning aimlessly. I haven’t gotten around to Last Temptation of Christ yet but I’m going to be disappointed now if he isn’t dizzy for at least two-thirds of it.

            That court case and the tantalising glimpse of his monster-plane taking off was great.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            The Aviator has a far better approach than most biopics because it shows what Hughes accomplished up to that point and does so with fairly strong detail – we see what went into the planes and the films and the airlines so that his eventual seclusion (and offscreen total downfall) is profoundly tragic. This was a great man and a terrible one and an appreciation of sheer endeavor makes us horrified to watch him be destroyed by his demons.

          • The Ploughman

            “The way of the future. The way of the future. The way of the future…”

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            One of the best pieces of DiCaprio acting there (one of the things he does beautifully when Hughes gets caught on words is how his eyes light up and seem to outright scream).

      • glorbes

        I like The Aviator quite a bit. John C. Reilly as Noah Dietrich was fantastic, and it really shines with its supporting players.

        The crash sequence is, in my opinion, some of ILM’s best work. It was really cool that it was largely achieved with miniature effects, and that choice was a good one, especially since it’s superior to some of the other green screen work elsewhere in the film.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The Aviator’s one of my favorites too, up there with Mishima in great biopics. Like Catch Me If You Can of the same period its a director depicting an entire world that has been lost to myth and archives.

      • The Ploughman

        I think the list you’re thinking of is from The Story Solution by Eric Edson as reprinted on this blog here. Hughes is scraping together his required five here, and the less people like him the more he’s in danger of dropping to four.

    • Bunny & The Bull – I thought I’d rewatch Paul King’s first film, made before he STUNNED THE WORLD (or me, at least) by making two stone-cold masterpieces about a talking bear who loves marmalade. All the inventive visual styling of the Paddington films is already here, despite the tiny budget – it’s a road movie that takes in several European countries, but was entirely filmed in a studio in Nottingham, with the details filled in using lo-fi animation and creative set design. This gives us “travel by map”, stop-motion animals and action set inside snow globes, among other slightly Michel Gondry-esque wonders.

      King worked on The Mighty Boosh (as well as my all-time favourite Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) before moving into film, and the humour owes a lot to that series – i.e. it’s an extremely British mix of surreal and deadpan. The supporting cast features some familiar faces from those series, too – Richard Ayoade has a wonderful cameo as an incredibly dull museum guide, and Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding both show up in typically strange roles.

      It’s a really impressive directorial debut, mixing Withnail & I-style toxic friendship with existential melancholy (the whole thing is told in flashback by the now-agoraphobic, heartbroken protagonist) and animated surrealism.

      NaSoAlMo update: Recorded most of another song last night, and just did some vocals for it on my lunch break (!), so morale is high (despite spending most of yesterday listening to the new Baths album and muttering “we’re not worthy” to myself).

    • An Eastern Westerner – A fairly standard if entertaining Harold Lloyd short, with what would expect from him, lots of really great physical comedy.

      Beyond Stranger Things, episode one – As charming and perceptive as the young cast members are, this is pure fluff. I might as well be watching TruTalk.

      • glorbes

        I gave up on Beyond Stranger Things after 30 seconds.

        • Yeah, who is that guy?

          And I could probably find the same content in terms of interviews in a hundred places.

        • I hope that at least got you as far as the retro computer-graphic opening sequence, which was lovely enough that I don’t think I skipped it once despite watching every episode back to back because I value my time extremely highly.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Finished Mindhunter season one. I don’t think I’ll come back to the next season unless there’s a massive leap in quality and direction. Holden’s arc into arrogant prick was much too quick and should’ve been more gradual, all of the domestic subplots went nowhere (which was downright bizarre), and ultimately Mindhunter as a whole was just parroting the same vibes and themes of Zodiac to a degree that bothered me. One of the troubles Fincher seems to have on the small screen is that his auteurdom is fully transplanted, but the writers he works with cede all control to him when TV is ultimately a writer’s medium. There needs to be a balance here (and apparently Mindhunter’s head writer quit after struggles with Fincher).

      Always Sunny – Watching some episodes before it leaves Netflix (grr), so “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System” and “Gang Reignites The Rivalry”. Both still classics, especially the former and I love how everyone tries to imitate Dennis’ beta male sociopathy but fails miserably.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Mac’s Move In After Completion scheme is the part that cracks me up.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Same here. “…No, I give her a shoulder to cry on, then we hump.” (body motion)

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Oh! Also, Mac’s glasses and hipster look. The Gang’s attempts to look sophisticated make up my favourite runner.

      • Miller

        Bonus for DENNIS System — the show continues its streak of couples being appalling to each other by having Howerton’s wife play the clerk. But yeah, the show has a very funny mix of the Gang being able to scheme (the System in the first place, the twist in Rivalry) yet being unable to successfully follow a scheme for very long without disputing/”correcting” it, with terrible results (Mantis Toboggan!).

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          The dynamic firmly locked in place is how all of them are too selfish and unstable to simply follow through with a plan properly, which makes for great comedy.

          • Miller

            The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis is my favorite example of this, taking a terrible idea and constantly making it worse.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Good news is, pretty much all the good TV that’s leaving Netflix is going to Hulu.

    • Keith

      Octopussy- You can see where the Bond franchise really slowed down with Moore as the lead here. What’s amazing is that Die Another Day basically uses this same plot again, not coincidentally when the franchise slowed down with Bronson.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        If you would like to see Bond as a clown here’s your chance!

        I always understand WHY people like Moore movies (and I’ll admit that Moonraker for instance is fun) but aesthetically they bug the hell out of me. They’re what I don’t really want from Bond films: obnoxious, big absurdism and goofiness. I prefer the man cold and calculated, same with his films up to a point (I like Rosa Klebb killer shoes goofy, not beating up a dwarf locked in a suitcase goofy).

      • glorbes

        I watched Octopussy a million times when I was a kid. As a result, I can’t really hate it properly.

        • Keith

          For Your Eyes Only was that film for me. I’m still in love with Carole Bouquet because of it.

      • Miller

        Ha, that typo posits an insane world where Bond meets Death Wish but it is somehow boring.

        • Keith

          Whoops. And yes I would watch a Bond/Death Wish mashup.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Octopussy isn’t quite as extreme as Moonraker in this regard, but it’s another Bond picture that almost seems like it was directed by committee. Some scenes are relatively serious, some scenes play like straight-up parody, some of it is overblown, some of it plays like an actual spy movie. Moore’s next Bond, A View To A Kill, is a much worse movie, but it is at least tonally consistent.

    • The Ploughman

      Cameraperson wherein we see the abilities and limits of the moving image through discarded footage from several documentaries all shot by cinematographer Kirsten Johnson who directs this film. As someone who has had to comb through a fair share of documentary footage at times, I adored this concept and was intermittently excited by the execution. There’s an early sequence that cuts between shots where the camera follows a subject – a fairly standard documentary move that quickly contrasts the environments and people she’s witnessed. I wish there had been a bit more sequences like this.

      My main criticism is that while the idea of juxtaposing vastly different parts of the world and people in them with no obvious connection other than the eyes we’re perceiving them through is ripe with potential, but the film too often compartmentalizes the scenes by keeping their context specific. There’s a sequence of spaces filmed where horrors have taken place – sites of massacres, executions and terrorist attacks. Without this knowledge, they’re just images of spaces. This is insightful, but the film also knows we need context for that concept to scan, so each shot has a titles giving the location and description of the tragedy. Now we’re reading as much as seeing. I’m not sure how to solve this need for context versus need for less distractions, but as it is the idea comes out half-baked. We’re often similarly guided by titles (and, more interestingly, asides with the directors and subjects) but these often override the connections with the scenes before and after in favor of clarifying what’s in front of us right now.

      Still, the film is another imaginative way of blowing up the myth of the objective camera (more on this later today). With the inclusion of shots of Johnson’s children and aging parents, this is a camera with a rich outside life. If I was looking for more of an experiment in editing even after the opening title clearly states this is a memoir, that’s my problem. Definitely worth another look.

    • Miller

      Fifth season Offices — this is really where Carrell starts carrying the show, his chewing out of Wallace is great and I will always love his hatred of Toby (the “GOD, NO!” reaction to his return is priceless). And the background characters are doing fun stuff too, Oscar and Andy bro-ing it up is indeed delightful and the ongoing hell of Ryan/Kelly is car crash humor at its best — Daryl’s happy exit of the relationship is gold and Novak’s thousand-yard stare when he finds out is even better. It’s too bad that in the middle of all this is the ongoing crushing of Pam’s spirit, Fischer and Krascinski are still doing good work but this turn didn’t sit well with me at the time and plays even lamer now.

    • [pretty much just copied from my Letterboxd review]
      When the Wind Blows–Last summer, I had a dream that we nuked North Korea, and I woke up weeping. The image I remember is bodies upon bodies lined up in a field under white sheets, as we apparently counted the dead. And though I didn’t hear it in the dream, I’m sure as those lost lives were columned out like so much harvested grain, somewhere our government was telling us that the act was a necessary and meaningful act of foreign policy. The great lie (or at least one of them) of the modern age, that nuclear war is anything but one of humanity’s incontrovertible evils. Enter When the Wind Blows, a Grave of the Fireflies for provincial Britain, only instead of children we have an aging farm couple–an important distinction: they’ve a lifetime of government propaganda and stiff-upper-lip-isms to brainwash them, even as they die slowly and agonizingly of radiation poisoning. It’s horribly funny, horribly sad, and just plain horrible, watching these poor idiots waste away contemplating meaningless “proper procedure” drivel about whether or not their fallout shelter should have peanut butter. But the movie, alongside Dr. Strangelove as the bitterest of screams against the nuclear age, is clear: there is no procedure, only the smell of the purest act of nihilism there is. It smells like roast beef.

      Also (on a MUCH lighter note) watched the most recent Bob’s Burgers, which is of course amazing. When has a Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving episode been anything but great?

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I haven’t seen the movie, but I did read the book, and the characters reminded me way too much of grandparents, which made it worse.

        • Ooof. That’s rough. I haven’t read the book, but the movie was very powerful (though they didn’t remind me of anyone I knew). Apparently Raymond Briggs based the couple on his own parents, which is just brutal.

      • Rosy Fingers

        When the Wind Blows was possibly my most read book as a child, having read it something like thirty or forty times when I was about 7,8,9. I could track the the nuclear theme, although not the cultural context of post-war Britain, but never found it particularly upsetting. I think I was already a nihilist even then. It’s comforting though to be with those nattering old duffers as the ultimate end approaches. Your point about the government propaganda and stiff-upper-lips are totally true; but still it’s nice in a way, to die the way one lives, in conversation with your partner, in banality.

        The book’s artworkk and layout is wonderful. All these pages dense with mundane conversation, just a couple bickering about their daily business, often 21 panels to a single page so you’re with them through every humdrum action. Rich warm colours – oranges, reds, yellows and browns. And then BAM: you turn the page and theres a single, stark, black and blue image across a double page spread. War is coming. The visual hit is visceral.
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7733fa316cfbd2cd43dc857d419b03f3d5aa0a3fde76d9d39da85cc16ddee7b4.jpg

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Man, I have some nihilistic and offbeat moral tendencies, but I’m totally impressed that a) it was your childhood favourite and b) that you found a measure of comfort in fucking When The Fucking Wind Fucking Blows.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Tell you what, though. I absolutely hated Fungus the Bogeyman. That one made me sad.

        • Wow, that image is replicated in the movie almost exactly. I wonder how much more they completely replicated. I need to read this book.

          I, too, am shocked that you found any comfort in this story. I get what you mean, but… all the same, they’re dying as collateral damage of a completely absurd and pointless combat method. I don’t think I can get over that.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Even then I knew it was melancholic. I just found the couple to be chaming in their way and that reaction has stayed with me. Certainly if I’d come to it as an adult, full of anger at the evil fuckery of governmental cruelty, like I did with Dr Strangelove, I probably would have registered it differently and responded more to the deep well of irony and rage that powers the story.

    • clytie

      General Hospital. One Jason has gotten territorial because he feels that the other Jason is trying to steal “his” life, when really it was that Jason’s life to begin with.

      I love soaps!

    • Bhammer100

      Murder on the Orient Express

      I liked this. And I’m happy that it is getting a sequel because I would totally watch another movie with Branagh as Poirot. The interesting thing about Agatha Christie’s novel is how unexciting it is. The story takes place in one location and is, quite literally, people sitting around and talking. The tension comes not from action, but from the wonderfully complex mystery Christie weaves. Now I get where there were some action set-pieces included but they didn’t always work for me. Some of them felt like they were there because we had several moments with people just talking so we need to spice things up a bit. I don’t know if modern audiences would go for a straight mystery adaption with little action. Anyway, it is a beautiful movie and I thought everyone was great in the movie. Like I said, I liked Branagh’s Poirot even if it seems he played up Poirot’s eccentricities a little too much. And there are a few moments where it seemed like Branagh wanted so badly to break out in a Shakespearean monologue about justice or violence.

      I also started season 2 of Braquo which I am liking a lot so far (only three episodes in). I liked the first season, but as a whole, it didn’t quite come together as a whole for me. Thinking about it, a lot of things just felt random.

    • Jake Gittes

      Perfect Blue, my first Satoshi Kon and I think my first anime that’s not Ghibli, Mamoru Hosoda, or Ghost in the Shell. Some clumsy setting up early on – we understand that the main character is a “pop idol” because other characters say it about 20 times, and also there’s at best 50-60 people present at her concert, which is presumably all that the animators could afford to show technically, but it still stands out. Once the story kicked in, though, I really enjoyed how the movie employed the generally pleasant, comforting anime look already familiar to me for the purpose of suspense and creepiness, and all the escalating mind-fuckery was excellent. I’d have to see it again to figure out just how much sense it makes in the light of the final twist, but I also suspect it’s not as important as the extent to which the movie ultimately makes you question the reality of what you’re seeing at every turn. At a certain point it practically becomes Inland Empire with less than half the runtime and made a decade earlier.

      Deconstructing Harry, my first Allen made in between 1987 and 2008. Which means I don’t really have an idea of where exactly he was as an artist, but clearly he was more than willing to make and star in a movie about an artist as a self-absorbed piece of shit; problem is, his writing, in its constant straining for clever lines, itself feels so self-absorbed and pandering to his audience that the portrayal of Harry manages to come across as narcissistic even while it’s being (self-)critical… Perhaps it would make more sense to just say that Woody Allen in person annoys me. Thankfully he’s far from the only person onscreen here, and he still comes up with terrific isolated moments every now and then; the out-of-focus gag involving Robin Williams is glorious (would be even more so if it weren’t brought back in the end) and the Hell scene is not something I ever expected to see in a Woody Allen movie. And if I ever doubted before that Judy Davis is a goddess, I never will now.

      • Golly, Deconstructing Harry is such a bitter pill. It’s got great stuff in it, but I have no interest in revisiting.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Between 1987 and 2008…Wait, so you haven’t seen Husbands And Wives? Geez, get on that, man. One of the best films of the nineties, and oh dear Lord, the subtext…

        • The Narrator

          Funny that you jump to that and not Crimes and Misdemeanors, although I agree with you (I’ll also put in a word for Everyone Says I Love You, which is pure cinematic delight).

          • Delmars Whiskers

            Heh, those were the other two I would have mentioned (also Bullets Over Broadway), but Husbands And Wives is essential viewing in part because Allen has acquired the reputation of making films glorifying older man/younger woman relationships, and this movie…well, it does pretty much the exact opposite of that.

          • Jake Gittes

            Actually I only just remembered that I have in fact seen Bullets Over Broadway. That was years ago, though, and I can’t say it really stayed with me.

            All the other movies you and @disqus_7AOfmTpErb:disqus brought up are definitely on my list.

          • No love for Sweet and Lowdown? or Vicky Cristina Barcelona? Those are two of my favs from the era in question.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            I should recommend Celebrity just for Branagh’s work, easily one of the worst performances ever given by a professional actor.

          • That is my least-favorite Woody Allen movie. I can’t stand it, and he’s particularly awful.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            It also has a cameo from Donald Trump.

          • Yes, that’s a particularly unpleasant surprise. I haven’t watched it since Donald Trump became Donald Trump, President, and I likely won’t. I’d like to think that it was his presence along that corrupted the film.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Also, Husbands and Wives was the subject of maybe the best sketch The Ben Stiller Show ever did. (No mean feat, and I say that knowing everyone is reminiscing about the “Manson” sketch right now.)

          • Ha, yes. That skit is amazing.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            “She’s not one of us! She’s alive!”
            “Exactly! She’s ALIVE! She grabs my bolts when we do it!”

      • The Narrator

        So, you like his movies except for the nervous fella who’s always in them?

        • Jake Gittes

          Exactement. I heard that line a long time ago but didn’t realize how true it was/would be in my case. I do like him in Hannah and Her Sisters, at least, and there’s hope for other exceptions considering how much I have yet to see.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I like this movie though I completely understand why other people do not.

    • The Narrator

      Last Flag Flying: This has some pretty thoughtful things to say about patriotism and what “supporting the troops” really means. But unfortunately, Linklater can’t quite get the movie around those thoughts to work like it should, and this feels like a loose collection of scenes (some of which are very very good, a couple of which are very strained, and many of which are somewhere in the middle) more than a totally cohesive movie. The biggest problem is with Bryan Cranston, who’s giving way too much here in an otherwise pretty mournful, quiet movie (too many potentially powerful scenes are rudely interrupted when he throws out some filthy one-liner), especially when his scene partners, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell, are far better locked into the tone (Carell in particular is heartbreaking here, and this is easily his best dramatic performance). I put this in the “at least you tried” column with Fast Food Nation, near the bottom of the Linklater oeuvre.

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      Home for the Holidays. One of a select few movies centered around Thanksgiving, which is surprising considering all of the family drama inherent in the holiday. It’s a comedy/drama that i imagine some will find grating, but I enjoyed it. Robert Downey Jr. is like a live-action Tasmanian Devil, Holly Hunter is the Holly Hunteriest and Jodie Foster should direct more movies.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      I didn’t watch anything last night aside from a few scattered moments of Monday Night Football, mostly to see if Julio Jones would have the sort of terrible game that would allow me to stretch my fantasy winning streak to six games (he did not). Instead, I bring you a post I started writing last Thursday and never finished. What did Ruck watch Wednesday night?

      Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “The Venue.” Eh, it’s all right. The Vulture returns, and it’s always a pleasure to see Maria Thayer back on my TV. Terry needing to be liked was pretty funny, specifically in the ways Holt called him out and needled him over it.

      Fresh Off the Boat, “The Day After Thanksgiving.” Grandma Huang focused-episodes are always good, although seeing George Takei return was a bit awkward. My favorite little heartwarming moment was Jenny (Grandma, if you’re not following) admitting how much she enjoys doing nails with Jessica, since there’s not much “girl time” in a house with three boys and Louis. Jessica: “But you never even look at me!” Jenny: “I only keep an eye on my enemies.”

      Black-ish, “First and Last.” In which Diane gets her first period (which I think is handled pretty well and sensitively, though not being a woman I’m not in the best place to guess), and in which Andre finally realizes that Junior is surpassing him physically, so he takes some advice from Pops about psychological warfare (which, hilariously, entails acting like he cares about and is proud of Junior). Good episode.

      The Mick, “The Matriarch.” We met the kids’ horrible maternal grandmother, Tippy, and her convalescent husband, the Colonel, in season one; now the Pemberton gang attends the Colonel’s mother’s 100th birthday party. The kids’ great-grandmother mistakes Mickey for an old friend of hers (complete with Chip as Dippy, her son who was kicked in the head by a mule and became a moron, as they would have called it in those days). This results in Mickey getting invited to stay with her, and the family taking full advantage, which leads to Mickey pushing her to live life to the fullest. (Which has unfortunate results– uh, don’t smoke near an oxygen tank, kids).

      Unfortunately, the big twist in the episode was repeatedly spoiled in the previews for the sake of a shock gag. (That said, it happened so late in the episode that I’d almost forgotten about it by the time it did.) The twist to the finale, though, shaking up the premise once again, was not spoiled, and that should be fun to deal with.

      Also, Sabrina isn’t usually my type (too skinny, too mean, still in high school), but, uh, Sofia Black-D’elia (who is 25 and not in high school) sure is making the budding dominatrix/sadist in Sabrina work.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Also, I was wrong. I forgot I watched Sunday’s Bob’s Burgers last night. Thanksgiving episodes are always a highlight of the show, and this Teddy-centric one was no exception. Although I am disappointed that the tease of meeting Teddy’s family was never paid off.

  • Good Time kicks so much ass. It was my movie of the year for a good long while.

    • Belated Comebacker

      Don’t know if it’s my movie of the year (a position that is currently being competed for between “The Florida Project” and “Get Out,”) but I am struck by how all of my favorite movies from the summer have been crime films. This one, plus “Logan Lucky,” and, of course, “Baby Driver,” despite my issues with that last one.

      • Miller

        I need to see this — I’ve had a running idea in my head for some time about the threads connecting the roughly contemporary crime/con films American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street and Gimme The Loot, and after seeing Baby Driver and Logan Lucky and reading up on Good Time, I’m wondering if there’s another trifecta with a heist focus out there. (So far, Baby Driver is in the American Hustle slot, which is not a good slot to be in.)

        • Belated Comebacker

          I am interested in your thoughts on the first three contemporary crime films in your modern American crime trilogy. Having seen “Wolf of Wall Street,” and “American Hustle,” I take it that focused more on cons, whereas these more recent examples are heists?*

          *D’oh. Re-read your comment, which makes it clear to me. Oh well, still fun to compare notes here, though I might stipulate that “Baby Driver” at least doesn’t have a 20-something J. Law pretending to be a middle aged housewife, which should count for something.

          • Miller

            Yeah, the con and more particularly the American love of the hustle itself. A con is a trick but the hustle is a dance (and Donald Westlake’s Dancing Aztecs, a book about hustlers and folks on the make that makes liberal use of the actual Hustle, is an important text here) — we appreciate the effort and skill involved in the latter in a potentially participatory way and can aspire to it and mythologize it, while the con is mostly appreciated. Loot is a classic tale of a “good” hustle, people bending the law with panache and because they need to, Wolf is a dark look at what a hustle actually involves and the blood it leaves behind, and Hustle is an attempt at merging the two but hits the worst of both worlds — asshole hustlers we’re still expected to feel sympathy for, people who call the tune for the dance and whine about paying the piper. So of course it was the most lauded of the three…

    • Balthazar Bee

      If Christmas cake weren’t so damned disgusting, I’d be sending one to The Narrator this year for recommending Good Time. What a profound and thrilling experience.

  • Delmars Whiskers

    I refuse to have a Kinja account, so I can’t praise it over there, but over at the AVC, Will Harris has a Random Roles with Bruce Dern, and it’s pretty damned delightful.

    • clytie

      Dammit! I planned on never visiting AVC again, but now I have to.

      Fun fact: Bruce Dern is a distance runner. He’s ran ultras and competed in the Senior Games, formerly the Senior Olympics.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Dern was my first favorite actor when I was a kid, mostly because of Silent Running, and I was excited when he was on The Dick Cavett Show, but it seemed like he spent the whole damned show talking about running. (I probably don’t remember that completely accurately, because I was like six and I expected him to talk about Silent Running exclusively.)

        • clytie

          I don’t know if you have it, but there’s a channel called Decades, which shows reruns of The Dick Cavett Show. Now I’m going to watch for that episode because I love hearing people talking about running.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            He also made a movie about running, On The Edge.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Shit, I’ll have to go back. Dern is a fascinating guy (also the one casting of the ’74 Gatsby that completely works).

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Disappointed that there’s no mention of King Of Marvin Gardens, but it’s great to see Posse get a bit of love.

    • Jake Gittes

      Yeah it does not disappoint. Dern really is a treasure and I hope he never stops working. I don’t know what I like best between Bette Davis in Gunsmoke, Hitchcock calling himself a whore, and naked Judy Garland in Mickey Rooney’s wallet. I’m also a bit shocked to hear that not only did Tarantino not have a final cut on Django Unchained, but Weinstein actually cut stuff from it.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        I also love Tarantino getting emotional when Dern mentions Max Julien. And Scott Tobias would no doubt love the discussion of Diggstown.

      • Miller

        Said in the interview’s comments and saying it here (mainly for the benefit of Julius): “The boy who made the fish movie” should now and forever be the introductory appellation for Stephen Spielberg.

    • Miller

      Hey, thanks for highlighting this. I check the site in the morning but they frequently do not update it when I’ve looked at it (the midnight Central turnover for the next day’s big features seems pretty much dead) and it’s very likely I would’ve missed this otherwise, it’s no longer out front and not even tagged. Infuriating. But a joy of an interview.

  • Delmars Whiskers

    If you’ve sworn off the post-Kinja AVC and ever wonder how bad it may have gotten in your absence, good news! The Newswire story about former SNL staffers who have written a letter of support for Al Franken is everything wrong with the site in handy bite-size form. From Danette Chavez’s gossipy tone in the story itself (“it’s worth noting, though, that no one from the current cast is on the list,” which isn’t worth noting at all since none of them have, you know, worked with Franken as a writer/performer) to the holier-than-thou tone of the comments (which basically boil down to “This is as bad as Roy Moore!” “No, it isn’t!” “Yes, it is!”), the whole thing is a perfect example of what nobody could ever conceivably want in a pop culture website.

    • Belated Comebacker

      I enjoy your “Pro vs. Con” dispatches, directly from the dark heart of Kinja-fied AV Club!

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Thanks, though I kinda wish I could cut this particular cord. The film coverage from Dowd and IV remains first-rate (when it can be found, buried beneath cross-postings from other Gizmodic sites and assorted Deals Of The Day) and sometimes Will Harris or Noel Murray still show up…but even aside from the incessant Trump coverage, the very best of what remains is a faint echo of better things from long ago.

        • Jake Gittes

          I’m starting to wish Dowd, IV, D’Angelo, Hassenger, etc. would just run off and (somehow) found their own Dissolve, even if it were doomed to an eventual fate we all know. Anything’s better than this.

          • Miller

            I just went off on a rant about this in the Dern RR comments, but look at what a prize Will Harris landed and then look how shoddily it is treated. What the fuck is even the point. I just read today Univision is shopping a stake in its online stuff, I’m sure that will only improve things.

        • Belated Comebacker

          The Trump coverage is uniquely odd to me, since, uh, other websites cover him better than a pop culture website, which mostly reposts stuff for their “Newswire.”

          Agreed on the loss of solid critical coverage of arts-related affairs. I dipped my toe into their reviews of “Mindhunter,” and found it to be abysmal. Fortunately, Scott Tobias was doing stellar work on that series for Vulture, with episodic recaps that really dug into why I enjoyed the show so much.

          So even if the infrastructure is gone, the writers persist.

    • CineGain

      The self-righteous political bent of AVC has diminished the once joyful pop culture coverage of the site. Even with agreeing to the politics I don’t need to know how much of a douchebag Donald Trump is, no matter his statue of pop culture icon.