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New on DVD and Blu-Ray

In literally any other week, the big release would undoubtedly be Criterion’s most mammoth undertaking yet, its set collecting 100 years worth of Olympic films, from more recent, glossy promo films to classics like Olympia and Visions of Eight. But this is not any other week, this is the week that Twin Peaks: The Return comes out on Blu-Ray. Whether it’s TV or a movie or somewhere in-between (please don’t argue about that in the comments, focus on more important arguments about, I dunno, the fucking different types of cheese or some shit), it’s one of the most incredible achievements of the year, and now it can be yours, complete with an extensive selection of behind-the-scenes documentaries.

Elsewhere this week, Olive finally gives us definitive special editions of Elaine May’s A New Leaf and Max Ophuls’ Letter from an Unknown Woman, Shout Factory gives us an uber-timely release of Silent Night, Deadly Night, Paramount releases the first five seasons of South Park in HD (and widescreen), and there are a few other hidden gems from the boutiques, including the Burt Lancaster war movie Go Tell the Spartans and Severin’s releases of two Amicus horror films.

100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912-2012 (Criterion)
2017 World Series Champions: Houston Astros (Shout Factory)
American Assassin (Lionsgate)
And Now the Screaming Starts (Severin)
Asylum (Severin)
Auntie Mame (Warner Archive Collection)
Code of Silence (Kino)
Despicable Me 3 (Universal)
Go Tell the Spartans (Scorpion)
Gook (Sony)
Jumanji (Sony)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Olive Signature Edition)
A New Leaf (Olive Signature Edition)
Silent Night, Deadly Night (Shout Factory)
South Park: The Complete First Season (Paramount)
South Park: The Complete Second Season (Paramount)
South Park: The Complete Third Season (Paramount)
South Park: The Complete Fourth Season (Paramount)
South Park: The Complete Fifth Season (Paramount)
Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series (Paramount)

  • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

      LOST, Season Three, Episode Eleven, “Enter 77”
      “Get bent, Hugo.”

      “Actually, I was just playing that silly chess game again. And now, I see why you didn’t want me to beat it.”
      “Meaning what?”
      [explosion]

      We’re finally back to some old-fashioned quality Lost, with an A-Team mission chasing the mythology and a cute community story back at the beach. Perhaps it’s only bad storytelling that lacks tone; Good Lost combines a sense of the uncanny (specifically, a world that clearly runs on rules but which we never really get to see in great depth) and a sense of community and friendship. I struggle to reach for a word to sum up the former aspect; it’s not quite a Pioneer story because our heroes are travelling through somewhere that other people have lived for a long time (ignore the fact that the literal pioneers did exactly that, I’m talking about a myth of discovery).

      In trying to find something to compare it to, I end up thinking of Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2; both of those have a sense of wonder and joy in discovery (ME2 especially has the world opening up more and more in the first half, and then being developed by Shepard’s choices in the second), while Lost has more of a sense of fear and confusion mixed in with the awe.

      The flashbacks just about manage to function for a change, as we get both a neat standalone story that feeds into Sayid’s morality, and the novelty of seeing him as a chef. There’s also the fact that Sayid’s guilt over his past has been recontextualised after Eko’s death. Meanwhile, Mikhail gives us a short lecture on the Dharma Initiative, and assures us that he wasn’t lying about its history even though he lied about his part in it. He explains that there were two groups, the DI and the Hostiles, and they were at war, and the Hostiles won and wiped out the DI, meaning that what we see are the magical Hostiles using the remnants of the DI’s equipment.

      I vaguely recall still holding out hope that there was a scifi/pseudoscientific explanation for what was happening, but I think this was the point where I’d accepted that the Others’ motivations were completely incoherent, and that they personally were magical. I can’t recall exactly when I’d accepted that the show was completely on the side of faith over science; it was definitely by season five.

      Meanwhile, John seems to be trying to live up to his faith by pushing a new button and following his instincts. Good for him.

      Ownage: Mikhail owns the shit out of Sayid and Kate with fucking martial arts, but Kate wins. Kate owns Miss Clue. Miss Clue gets Mikhail to kill her, which is boss. Hurley owns Sawyer at ping pong.

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Five, Episode Nine, “Mac And Dennis Break Up”
      “Do not plug an open wound with trash.”

      “I do not like it with the skin, Dee, I’m not ALLOWED to eat it with the skin, I’M NOT ALLOWED!”

      A great one for showing the codependency of the group – Mac and Dennis, obviously, but also Charlie and Frank. What I think it shows is how each of them provide a structure for the other; Mac’s neediness means he’ll tolerate Dennis’ barbs, and as much as he gripes Dennis is more than happy to enable Mac’s obsessive control over his life (Frank and Charlie’s childlike willingness to get filthy needs no explanation). They all bring out the worst in each other but they also all tolerate the worst in each other. Also, this episode has my favourite iteration of Charlie: simply country lawyer, which in this episode emerges as a cat expert (it pairs well with my favourite iteration of Mac, the used car salesman). Charlie Day completely sells the homegrown expertise Charlie is trying to project, which only makes his absurd statements funnier (“Cats do not abide by the laws of nature, Dee.”).

      The Terminator, James Cameron
      “Come with me if you want to live.”

      “You’re terminated, fucker.”

      Next in my rewatch list is a James Cameron marathon, which I recall spluttered out because I couldn’t find True Lies and for some reason didn’t just skip it. I’m actually gonna go all the way with it this time, because Cameron really didn’t make all that many movies (I also did a JJ Abrams marathon that spluttered out because I got bored with it, and I’m not even bothering with that this time).

      I have this silly idea: what if, instead of ripping off aesthetic details from 80s movies, we ripped off the relentless cinematic storytelling? James Cameron is a fucking professional filmmaker, and he comes out of the gate with his purest film – not in terms of being stripped down, but in being his pure id unleashed with no concessions to emotion beyond what pushes the story forward. Every aspect of the film, from script to actor to framing to camera movement to cutting, all of it pushes forward one idea (contrast with Tarantino, who often one thing with music, one entirely different thing with the actor, and a third with the staging).
      Kyle Reese lays the groundwork for a particularly Cameronish idea and a particularly Cameronish acting challenge: a character having a vivid emotional reaction to exposition they themselves are delivering. Michael Biehn doesn’t just have to deliver exposition on the Terminator – he has to be terrified of it, so that we in turn are terrified by it too. Cameron doesn’t have the most complex view of psychology, but he understands emotion and cause-and-effect pretty well. In fact, Reese is the first example of what I think is Cameron engaging in a personal fantasy, in that he’s a character who knows much more than the people around him and finds himself frustrated by their stupidity.

      Of course, there’s also Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, and he plays his role perfectly by doing nothing. Something I picked up by acting in my own film was realising how much work the camera does for you; Cameron and Schwarzenegger understand this well enough to know that all he has to do is look in one direction and we’ll project the gears turning in his head.

      Ownage: It’s Terminator. But my favourite is the assault on the cop station.

      • clytie

        Amira’s story about her cat on LOST is one of the most powerful moments in the series for me.

        • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

          It’s intense as hell, and it’s something I find extremely morally compelling even before it’s framed in such an awesome way.

      • The brutality and low acting skills are unfortunate, but as a vision of the future and the relation between man and his destiny, the film is pushing the frontier of cinema as an art.

        Andrei Tarkovsky on The Terminator. Go figure.

      • “[W]hat if, instead of ripping off aesthetic details from 80s movies, we ripped off the relentless cinematic storytelling?” Son of Griff and I have pitched the idea that Kathryn Bigelow has built an entire aesthetic out of doing both.

        • I wonder if she got that in the divorce, too.

          • OH SHIT SON, looks like James Cameron just went up in a perfectly-timed ‘splosion with ramp-time closeup of a single object, capped off with a single indelible image of violence, ‘cuz you just administered a Bigelovian BURN there.

      • Miller

        “I have this silly idea: what if, instead of ripping off aesthetic details from 80s movies, we ripped off the relentless cinematic storytelling?”

        SECOND.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “Cats do not abide by the laws of nature, Dee.” While its an absurd statement he is fundamentally right.

        Dennis and Mac’s personalities with each other reverse more as the series goes on, with Dennis being more overtly controlling of Mac (size pills, the cult, etc) and Mac tolerating this because of his deep neediness and denial. Dennis’ entitlement though is so funny here though, especially how he just can’t leave Charlie and Dee alone for one second.

        • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

          It’s always consistent though, in that Mac is always motivated by neediness and Dennis is a sociopath.

          Also, Charlie’s exasperation with Dennis is one of the funniest things in the show. Great shot to have them talking with Dennis in the background watching.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Oh no totally, its just an interesting switch in power dynamics.

            Charlie mouthing “Really? WOW” is so good.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I love Dee’s sarcasm about Mac and Dennis. “It’s totally normal for two grown men in their thirties to need each other this badly.”

    • Christmas in Connecticut – this belongs to the slightly annoying subset of Christmas movies where they could literally be set at any other time and it wouldn’t make any difference at all, but I’ll let it off because it’s extremely charming and full of fun characters. I particularly enjoyed the scene-stealing Hungarian chef, flipping pancakes, butchering the English language and (of course) saving the day. I’d definitely still go for Remember the Night as the Great Barbara Stanwyck Christmas Movie, but I had a lot of fun with this one too.

    • The Train – Yeah, this was as good as y’all all said. Exciting and tense. Also of note is how casual the killing is. Nazi execute civilians without qualm, and the heroes are just as willing to kill Nazis. Also really showed how terrifying joining the resistance in any way must have been – swift execution would be a blessing if caught.

    • clytie

      4 episodes of Forensic Files I’m addicted!

    • B:TAS: Two-Face – This two-parter turns Harvey Dent, established before this as the DA and a friend of Bruce Wayne, into Two-Face. The origin mixes elements from the comics with new ideas, but the result is of course the same, a man who tragically loses everything and turns to crime and to blind chance. We get what’s basically an entertaining but slightly cheesy 40s melodrama with strong performances by Richard Moll (embarking at this time on a career doing voice work) and John Vernon.

      Ask Father – A standard issue Harold Lloyd short, which means 14 minutes of silly plot and great comedy.

      • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

        I’m pretty sure the Two-Face two-parter is embedded into my soul and defined Two-Face for me.

      • Miller

        That shot lit by lightning at the end of part 1 — holy shit.

        • Two-Face lends himself to that sort of thing. And as much as we all love The Dark Knight, Nolan wasn’t really interested in that kind of shot, was he?

          • Miller

            I don’t have a whole lot comics history with Batman and certainly didn’t at the time of the show, so it’s really interesting how much the Burton Batman and then BTAS cemented Expressionist Batman/Gotham in my mind as The Way It Should Be. Nolan does his own thing but he’s leaving stuff on the table.

          • Batman wasn’t expressionistic in the comics for a long while – most 80s Batman comics take place with a Gotham that could be any mid-sized American city – but once Burton arrived the artists really started doing more (and DC even hired Burton’s designer Anton Furst to help redesign the cityscape). Even though DC doesn’t use the Gothic skyline as much, I think most of us expect it now.

            As for Nolan, I think he was just too enamored of his Batman-in-the-real-world conceit. It made sense to be as far away from both Burton and Schumaker as possible, but maybe the next Batfilm will find a middle ground?

          • Miller

            The next Batfilm needs to show Batman and Robin scaling buildings by tilting the camera 90 degrees. And yes, I should’ve given Furst his due for the design.

          • Man with a robot arm

            There’s also a big influence from the Max Fleisher Superman shorts from the 40s.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “You’re talking to the wrong Harvey.” Some sweet ownage there.

    • jroberts548

      Pi. This is aggressively the product of 90s film school. Aranofsky directs a guy who’s obsessed with number theory as a way to understand the universe. Specifically, he wants to be able to predict stocks, but only as a way of understanding the universe.

      Apart from the obvious ways this is very 90s (the soundtrack, the obsession with showing strings of numbers like in The matrix (which this is definitely a prequel to)), it’s very 90s-ish in other ways. There’s a reference to Go as an unsolvable game of infinite complexity. I have some bad news – Go is solvable and now computers can decisively obliterate the best human players. Our protagonist is offered money and resources put his theories to work for an investment firm. He literally yells at them, “I’m trying to understand our world. I don’t deal with petty materialists like you.” He’s kidnapped by Hasidim, who believe his work can uncover the true name of God, as if math could do that. For all its surface paranoia, the movie is built on the assumption that reality is ordered and that math can expose that order. This optimism, especially about the economy, was endemic in the 90s, at least until the first dotcom bust.

      Non-film:
      Last Man on Earth. The last couple episodes at least have kinda gone off the rails. Here, Carol freaked out and started setting the 9 to 11 year old boy in their group up with her week old daughters. The characters are acting dumb. They’re floundering.

      Punisher. Through episode 6. I don’t really like that they’re doing the thing where the evil guys who work for the government are just criminals, so we’re not really all implicated in their crimes. The worst things the government does are mostly authorized by the government. It’s such a wide-spread trope, both in comics and in everything else, that I’m not holding it against the show, except insomuch as it looked like it might be honest.

      • Miller

        I haven’t seen Punisher yet but your critique mirrors mine of Winter Soldier. But I have issues in general with corruption in the Netflix shows (particularly Daredevil), I feel like it’s a device that is relied on as a way to provide relatively grounded villains but also as a way to justify the vigilantism the shows need to exist — if every cop is either stupid or crooked, than a guy in bulletproof underwear bashing criminals becomes more necessary. But it comes to feel like stacking the deck. The Punisher and Luke Cage are probably the best characters to face off against corruption — I can’t speak for Cage but the Ennis Punisher Max run deals with plenty of bad government shit and makes it work well — but I’m worried about fatigue at this point. And also — the Punisher mostly shoots the shit out of Mafia people, what’s wrong with just doing that for a while.

        • jroberts548

          Yeah, and I get why corruption makes sense narratively. It explains vigilantism without being radical.

          But the really evil CIA guys aren’t corrupt. They’re not torturing people and bombing weddings for unlawful gain. The really evil nypd guys aren’t on the take. They’re just ignoring violent crime while over-enforcing broken windows bullshit and murdering black people, but not for private gain.

          • Miller

            “It explains vigilantism without being radical.”

            That nails it.

        • Dingle Jells Jells Dingle

          That issue bugged me a great deal about Daredevil (which, I haven’t seen the second season.) It’s one thing to say the cops are all corrupt; it’s something else again for police sirens to mentally equate to incoming hit squads. It struck me as a type of moral handwave that both made DD necessary and let him off the hook for anything he (or anyone else) did to the cops, because look how bad they are!

          Also, I started typing this and then @jroberts548:disqus more or less put the subject to rest, but I typed it so I’m hitting Post anyway.

          • Miller

            “it’s something else again for police sirens to mentally equate to incoming hit squads.”

            A critically acclaimed movie this year uses that as a punchline and it lands with a lot of force. But it also has a stronger focus, Daredevil the show is very muddled.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Racking my brain for a movie that uses this as a punchline and am coming up empty. Any hints?

          • Get Out – the lights at the end look like the police, but it’s Chris’s TSA friend to save him (original ending was the police, and Chris went to jail).

        • pico

          100% agreed on the criminal aspect, but I appreciated that Punisher spent more time on looking at the effects of moral compromise not in the government (where, as you say, the deck is stacked) but on the soldiers who believe they signed up to do the right thing, and in some cases never question it until they get home and find themselves unequipped both to readjust to civilian life and to come to terms with what their service “meant” (what does it mean if your service/sacrifice was just a front for some criminal activity, after all?) I think the show gets some real mileage out of that particular focus, even if it sacrifices nuance re: the people running the MIC.

      • The Ploughman

        That’s a great take on Pi. I haven’t revisited it since the 90s, when my high school self was delighted with all the high-minded craziness.

        • jroberts548

          And it fits into all that 90s end of history shit. Like we had once and for all solved politics. Under Clinton, we had full employment (but no real wage growth), the Dow was great, there was a budget surplus, etc. We basically had solved the economy, or so we thought.

          • The Ploughman

            God it’s hard to face that the 90s were built on the sandy land.

          • jroberts548

            Yeah, it turns out welfare reform, cutting the capital gains tax, mass incarceration, banking deregulation, etc. wasn’t the key to ushering in a permanent liberal shangri-la. Who knew?

          • jroberts548

            By comparison, if pi reflects the background optimism of the 90s, mother! does the inverse in the 2010s.

          • The Ploughman

            Hmm… I always like an excuse to think about mother! some more.

      • pico

        For all its surface paranoia, the movie is built on the assumption that reality is ordered and that math can expose that order.

        It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I thought the film ultimately takes the opposite tack: that it’s either not ordered, or that we’re not capable of exposing it, thus the collapse at the end. It sort of builds on a centuries-long tradition of intertwining mathematics, theology, and metaphysics – from Kabbalah to Cantor’s Absolute Infinite – and ultimately exhausts itself without finding any answers.

        Granted, again, I haven’t seen this in over a decade (and Aronofsky’s subsequent work has made me doubt he approaches this material with any real depth), so…

        • This is closest to my reading of π: the idea (that you also get in Cantor, Gödel, Kubrick, etc.) that any pursuit of a universal order ends up destroying itself, whether in the form of the diagonal proof, HAL, or a drill to the head.

          • pico

            Personally, I like the Borges solution: any statement complete enough to be correct is isometric with the problem itself, i.e. the map of the world that is identical to the world, and thus useless as a map.

        • jroberts548

          Maybe? Aronofsky ends up being ambiguous, which he does.

          But the scene after he drills into his own skull falls back to an earlier dialogue about the computer becoming cosmically aware when a crash is imminent, suggesting that he really was into something, even if it drove him mad. Either way, the background optimism of the end of history is part of the fabric of the film.

          • pico

            That’s a fair point. I should probably re-watch this at some point.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Oh, geez, is that Sunday’s Last Man on Earth? I didn’t realize anything new aired on FOX on Sunday.

        I wanted to like that show so much but it’s been floundering for a long time. They haven’t nearly enough committed to what makes the premise interesting, instead often just having wacky mixups and situations caused by characters acting in a manner that can best be described as “stupid even by bad sitcom standards.”

    • The Ploughman

      Didn’t watch a film but attended a panel discussing the rise of assault accusations in the film world. Panelists included an actress, a city film commissioner, a women’s studies professor and a rep from a women’s shelter. It’s always good to get in a room like this if you get a chance. Smart people talking calmly about something important. Weren’t any fireworks or huge revelations, but considering the turnout on a Monday night, it’s good to know this is on more minds than just mine.

        • The Ploughman

          Fascinating, and it speaks to a couple things discussed at the panel I was at and makes this kind of a microcosm of the moment. First off, other people (DeNiro and Rosenthal, presumably Levinson off camera) watching it play out in silence, with nobody willing to push harder on Hoffman but nobody jumping to his defense either, probably trying to sort out their own feelings on the subject under a lot of scrutiny. Secondly, Hoffman, like many of the accused, is clearly somebody who has not had to justify himself very often.

          Finally, good on Oliver for not shying away from the elephant in the room, but he stumbles in one key moment, when Hoffman asks “What response do you want?” and Oliver doesn’t have a good response at the ready. A panelist last night talked about the difference between a moment and movement (this is something you will hear if you go to more than one social issue panel) and I feel like this could be a key to breaking open the moment. What’s the response we seek from guys like Hoffman, who obviously remembers at least some of what he’s been accused of and thinks some version of “it was another time” is a sufficient defense? Or maybe there’s no relevant response, and the focus should be entirely on redemption of the system, a process that will inevitably leave behind casualties?

          • pico

            Also really dispiriting the way Hoffman falls back on the kinds of arguments that should be dismissed outright, like, If this is true why did she wait 40 years? Good on Oliver for pushing.

          • The Ploughman

            Yeah. He speaks like someone who isn’t used to be questioned.

        • clytie

          Oliver made sexist remarks directed at Dr. Jill Stein, so people really shouldn’t be holding him up as some feminist hero.

    • Miller

      Season 5 Offices — the one where Dwight sets the office on fire. Maybe too long and ugh we have more Jim/Pam bullshit, but the opening scene of chaos is great and it’s actually surpassed later by the CPR dummy scene’s escalation, which goes from predictable to pleasingly predictable (people singing to Staying Alive) to increasingly wild to holy shit Dwight is wearing the dummy’s face like Michael Myers — the reveal on that nails the funny/scary line. Jeffrey Blitz, who apparently also directed Spellbound, does some great stuff here.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I remember that one! Michael begging Stanley not to die because ‘Barack is president!” is so brutally funny.

    • Today’s dilemma: in Tom and Jerry’s A Night Before Christmas, Jerry taunts Tim under the mistletoe and Tom plants a solid kiss on Jerry distracting him from his chase. Is this gay? There’s not even a pretense of posing as a woman like Bugs Bunny does. The bit starts at 4:30.

      https://vimeo.com/28338743

      • Defense Against The Hark Arts

        I don’t know if it’s gay or not, but it sure is hot.

    • Belated Comebacker

      Not really an accounting of what I saw last night, so much as what I’ve seen over the past few days:

      Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: An unpleasant, odious little movie that aims to provoke the audience in an attempt to say something “controversial,” (the controversial part being, of course, that humans suck). McDonagh throws around all the top-shelf curse words the same way a pre-teen might, to show off his knowledge. Everything is played to 11, and yet we’re supposed to walk away assuming that redemption can exist, which acts as a cheap sentiment following everything else we saw.

      Murder on the Orient Express (2017): I dunno, guys. Maybe I’ve gone soft in my movie tastes, or maybe it’s the fact that I saw this movie with only 5 hours of sleep in me, or maybe it comes down to the fact that I’ve never seen a previous adaptation of this one before, but I thought it was fine. The mustache is ridiculous, but I enjoy these sorts of process-type films, where Poirot is leafing through documents before something clicks, and we race along with him to the next discovery. Not too bad.

      • glorbes

        I love how we must couch our enjoyment of things in so many excuses. Like, I enjoyed Justice League, but I think it was because of the gas leak in the theatre. Or perhaps it was that traumatic brain injury I sustained on the way to the 7:30 showing.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Well, look. I went online to see what the critics thought of this, and a lot of them lambasted the movie, not seeing why it had to be made, and for wasting a lot of the cast. Just thought I’d square up my thoughts with what they were saying. I guess my naivety with the life and times of Hercule Poirot worked in my favor (another plus: he didn’t turn into an action hero, which would’ve been obnoxious).

          • glorbes

            My point is that I do the exact same thing.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Oh, I kind of suspected that. Apologies if I came off as too defensive in my reply.

          • glorbes

            No worries.

      • clytie

        I’ve seen comments insisting that Three Billboards movie is “radical” and “feminist,” but it just sounds gross to me.

        • Belated Comebacker

          I will say that France McDormand has a character, which is great. Wish the other female characters had more to do, though. So in that regard it’s a little tricky to say it’s completely “feminist,” when McDormand is the only one that is not used as a crutch or comic counterpoint.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Nothing too major as I just finished unpacking and moving, but I’ve been watching a surprisingly strong series on the history of Philadelphia called Philadelphia: The Great Experiment using the usual awkward reenactments and talking heads (but local ones who know their shit). Its a good primer on the city’s utopian foundations and subsequent inability and need to live up to those ideas, which feels like America in microcosm.

      I also watched half of Mechanic Resurrection on TV. Holy freaking god it was bad. No Jason Statham you can’t swim under a goddamn yacht and live man. No. I appreciate that these movies aren’t meant to be all that good but…woof. It just felt so awkward. At least Tommy Lee Jones looked like he was enjoying himself.

    • pico

      Lady Bird – I wish I loved this as much as our Narrator, but it’s plenty charming and I hope Ronan and Metcalf go on to win All The Awards, which they’ll deserve. A few minor demerits (there’s a fat best friend and a snooty popular girl, so you know exactly where those plotlines are going as soon as the characters are revealed, also I didn’t like Chalamet in this at all), but overall I’d say this is one of the most pleasant movie experiences I had this year. Plus Metcalf is awfully close to my own mother, and the details on Catholic school are often uncomfortably precise.

      Four episodes in to The Good Place and goddamn this is good television. Very rare for a tv show – particularly a comedy – to come out of the gate so fully-formed.

      • Festive Narrator Man

        The Solute

        I wish I loved this as much as our Narrator

        • pico

          I honestly would have been happy watching the two actresses drive around central California for 90 minutes.

    • Festive Narrator Man

      The Shield, “What Power Is” and “Strays”: Finally, after two years, I made it to the David Mamet episode. Not to give “What Power Is” the short shrift, with the Aceveda sections deserving particular praise (I lovelovelove the Persona-esque close-ups on Aceveda and Juan in the interrogation room). But onto “Strays”, which amusingly sticks to the house style that Mamet would not be caught dead doing in a movie, but with some interesting variation (@disqus_q0V1eOVhLV:disqus said in the review comments that the Dutch-Clark Gregg scenes are stiller than the norm for The Shield, and I also noticed a much stronger use of negative space in them). And how about those fucking Dutch-Gregg scenes; they’re like “Dragonchasers” restaged as a prolonged anticlimax, and the dialogue is fantastic (I refuse to believe “What if the next guy reads the street signs?” isn’t a Mamet contribution). And then that ending, which I can safely say I did not see coming (in fact, I briefly thought it was going to be a semi-heartwarming little button, which it. was. not.).

      I also finally got back to work on my piece on 20th Century Women, which has now ballooned to over 4000 words despite maybe not even being half-done, so look out for the doorstop hopefully by the end of the year.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Much like Kleavon who emerges later in the series Greggs’ character is a monster who is comfortable with his monstrosity. Its a great touch that he tells his wife to forget about him and marry someone else.

      • Mamet also brought in a bunch of his own actors on this, Gregg and Rebecca Pidgeon being only the most prominent.

      • Defense Against The Hark Arts

        There’s an interview with Gretta Gerwig on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. You’re welcome.

        • Festive Narrator Man

          I already UNLOCKED THE GATES and listened to that episode yesterday. It was a great listen, although I was disappointed I didn’t get to learn who Gerwig’s guys were, nor if Tracy Letts was once on-stage and decided to just do a jazz set.

          • Defense Against The Hark Arts

            Stamps.com enter the promo code WTF!

          • Rosy Fingers

            Does she have any Lorne Michaels stories?

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Stranger Things 2, episodes 6 and 7. These merit separate discussion, so I’m going to discuss them separately.

      Episode 6: I’d call this the best episode of the season so far. The plot has kicked into gear, and we see several threads of it in a race against the clock; it’s also nice how they interact. (See Jonathan and Nancy returning to the Byers home, not knowing what’s been going on with Will, Joyce, and the others the last few days.) While I did guess the final twist as a possibility, it was still nicely set up and plausible that the characters wouldn’t see it coming. (The key tip was that Will has his realization when he sees the soldier’s weapon.) Nice touches I liked: Dr. Owens turning out perhaps not to be the bad guy everyone who has seen Aliens assumed he would be; he in fact might be the only one on the Hawkins Lab team with any concern for the human cost in this case. I liked Hopper’s message for El; it makes it both more poignant and ties into the rest of the story that it falls on deaf ears. Also, Brett Gelman absolutely killed me. His performance was definitely a bit affected, but I totally bought it as the way Murray himself would be affected– and his needling of Jonathan and Nancy had me howling, because I can both appreciate the awkwardness of youth and am pretty certain I would do the exact same thing in Murray’s situation. The only scene that didn’t really work was Max’s revelation that Billy’s just, as TV Tropes might say, a Jerk With a Heart of Jerk, because Billy sucks and if there’s not any deeper meaning or message to his character other than “We liked Joe Keery so much we decided to give Steve more depth than ’80s Bully’ so we needed another 80s Bully,” it’s not going to work for me. Oh, speaking of Steve, we got the excellent Steve/Dustin teamup I didn’t know we needed. My favorite touch: After Dustin is angry about seeing Max with Lucas, Steve congratulates him on taking his “not caring” advice to heart. Steve might be the cool teenager, but he’s still just a teenager; Dustin clearly cares, or he wouldn’t be angry at all.

      Episode 7. I don’t know why the Internet hated this episode– or rather, I suppose I do, but those things didn’t cause me to hate it. Stalling out the season momentum at a cliffhanger for a detour kinda sucks, but it’s much worse in a show airing weekly than one dropped all at once. Where I really understand the complaints are in the portrayal of Kali’s crew, by and large a collection of obvious stereotypes with one trait (and as Emily L. Stephens wrote, they apparently decide to hole up in an abandoned graffiti factory). It’s broad and obvious, but then, I’m a huge fan of Shadowrun and similar urban-cyberpunk-crime ethos games, and in video games like that the characters and settings are almost always portrayed in broad strokes. So I felt right at home. Now, the argument that we really didn’t learn anything new about El (or, that is, Jane; we’ll see if that sticks back in Hawkins), or that this plays more like a backdoor pilot for a spinoff, I can understand. But as far as El making a decision, it works, and we’ll see how that decision plays into the final (what I think are) two episodes.

    • Rosy Fingers

      The Big Picture (1989). A Christopher Guest movie of which I was previously unaware, notable perhaps for having little to no improvisation. It’s a fairly standard Hollywood satire: Heartland boy has dreams, falls in with Hollywood weirdos, is corrupted, integrity falls prey to studio machinations. But it’s well paced and pretty damn funny. Its veers into silliness are sometimes jarring but I prefer that to not veering into silliness.

      Best parts:
      It opens on a student film awards night with hilarious variations on incompetence (the inept dolly zoom!) and pretension. My favourite was the avant-garde claptrap of “Afterbirth of a Notion.”

      Martin Short as a hustling agent: YESSS! He’s like an alien.

      Fran Drescher: YESSS!

      In party scenes they keep cutting to extras with insane amounts of bronzer.

      There’s a nice element in that the women characters are positioned as cliches – femme fatale and girl next door – but when the main guy tries to pin them down in that role they aren’t really in his narrative at all. They’re already living their own lives and not waiting for him to realise them. His ultimate redemption moment comes when he shrugs off the Hollywood machine and goes into creative partnership with his lady friend from film school.

      “A lot of theatres don’t show black and white anymore. They don’t have the projectors. The projectors are in colour.”

      “I’m into ham radio performance art now.”

  • glorbes

    I will buy The Return. It may take me a while to screw up the courage to re-watch it, but I will…and I need to own it.

    • Drunk On EggNogpoleon

      I still need to watch it as an 18 hour movie, and watching it via the Blu-Ray will weigh less on my data.

    • I’ve been thinking the same thing. Watching it week-by-week I was super-excited to be able to rewatch at a quicker pace, but after that finale… brrr. It’s going to take me a little while.

  • Letter from an Unknown Woman is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. I hope one of the UK labels picks that up, so I don’t have to Import it from an Unknown Website.

  • The Ploughman

    And Now the Screaming Starts is a title that jumps out at me for some reason.

  • And another accused rapist is ousted:
    https://twitter.com/CBSNews/status/938060406102417409

  • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

    And speaking of Twin Peaks: The Return, four women have accused Robert Knepper of sexual harassment. I’m not sure I’m prepared to live in the world where Jim Belushi is the good Mitchum brother (or the good anything, really).

    • Festive Narrator Man

      C’mon man, the Belushaissance is upon us! Show Me a Hero, Twin Peaks, that poorly-received Woody Allen movie, he’s got the world on a string!

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        There’s gotta be a better word for it than that.

        • The Belushitivity
          According to Jim, the Era
          Unloose the Belush

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            “According to Jim, the Era” is far too ridiculous for me not to like.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        He’s also surprisingly good in Thief.

  • BurgundySuit

    Year of the Month update!

    Here’s some of your possible topics:
    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1964/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_in_music
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_in_literature

    And here’s who’s covering them!
    NO DATE: clytie: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
    Dec 6th: scb0212: The Up Series
    Dec 7th: Belated Comebacker: A Hard Day’s Night
    Dec 8th: Gillianren: The Three Lives of Thomasina
    Dec 9th: John Bruni: The Red Desert
    Dec 11th: Son of Griff: Marnie
    Dec 12th: Mr. Apollo: The Special Friendship
    Dec 15th: Anthony Pizzo: Mary Poppins
    Dec 16th: Burgundysuit: Chartbusting!
    Dec 17th: Conor Malcolm Crockford: Band of Outsiders
    Dec 18th: Joseph Finn: Viva Las Vegas
    Dec 19th: Pico: Kwaidan
    Dec 23rd: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: The Naked Kiss
    Dec 25th: BurgundySuit: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    Dec 28th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Woman in the Dunes
    Dec 29th: Clytie: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg