Suburbicon

New on DVD and Blu-Ray

There have been better weeks for home video, I’ll say that much. Not even catalog titles offer very much, mostly just Criterion’s upgrade of Louis Malle’s debut Elevator to the Gallows and Arrow’s release of the documentary Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno. New releases are maybe a little better, but still dire, with the best of the bunch being Tom of Finland, the biopic on the famous homoerotic artist, and the apparently solid fireman weepie Only the Brave, which seems to be a departure for the man who brought you the pretty conclusively unemotional Tron Legacy and Oblivion. But what I really want to talk about is Suburbicon. If George Clooney’s post-Good Night and Good Luck output had been disappointing before this, this one is outright disastrous on every level. It’s a Coen brothers-penned darkly comedic farce, except the whole thing is played so deadly straight that you need to squint to make out where the jokes are (if you can’t get a laugh out of paunchy Matt Damon escaping danger on a child’s bike, you’ve fucked up big-time). It’s an expose on suburban racism, except it forgets to give its black family even one dimension, showing them stoically reacting to hatred without more than twenty lines of dialogue between them (and most of those are for the kid; the mother maybe gets five, and the father gets absolutely none). And as a combination of those two things, it rises from bad to truly inexplicable, complete with maybe the worst, most insulting final shot in recent cinematic memory. Oscar Isaac is fun in it for about five minutes, and Glenn Fleshler is a great intimidating Coens fat man, but everybody else would be better off trying to erase this from their IMDb pages.

All I See Is You (Universal)
Angie (Kino)
A Bad Moms Christmas (Universal)
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (Warner)
Benji (Mill Creek)
Boys (Kino)
Elevator to the Gallows (Criterion)
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (Arrow)
LBJ (Sony)
Only the Brave (Sony)
Suburbicon (Paramount)
Taboo: Season One (Echo Bridge)
Tom of Finland (Kino)

  • Glorbes

    What Did We Watch With Our EYEBALLS!

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Six, Episode Five, “Lighthouse”
      “I just lied to a samurai!”

      “You have what it takes.”

      This is where we find Alt-Jack has a teenage son, and this ends up being the thing that really gives him both perspective on his dad, and the real chance to actually ‘defeat’ him – when Jack tells David he never wants him to feel the way Christian made him feel, it feels like a genuine breakthrough. The flashsideways give our characters the chance to apply what they’ve learned from the story in a practical way, and we get it now rather than at the actual end because otherwise it would be one long repetitive anticlimax.

      In that sense, I feel like we’re building towards some big practical application of or answer to the whole fate/free will thing, and how it ties into shitty dads. There’s a vague sense of the show having come to trust that there are people who know things we don’t, and we have to learn to be able to trust which ones are right and which aren’t. I feel like it’s extra difficult untangling what this show is ‘trying to say’ because it feels like the storyteller behind it all grew and learned as it went; I’ve no doubt that the writers of The Shield and Mad Men learned and grew too, but I never felt their presence in the story as strongly as here (in fact, both storytellers there learned to fade into the background of their characters as their shows went on).

      While a lot of character moments, journeys, episodes, and individual lines from this season stuck with me, for some reason the image that stuck with me the most from this season was the wheel inside the lighthouse this episode. The mirror Jack sees that lets him see his childhood home is fully sick, and I remember thinking at first that it would let Jack see into the flashsideways, which in retrospect was partly because the flashsideways in general and this episode in particular quietly make a thing about mirrors (Alt-Jack notices Our-Jack injuries in his mirror, and there’s a reference to Alice In Wonderland).

      Hurley and Jack find the caves from season one, partially to remind us of Adam and Eve (apparently the survivors just left them lying around the whole time they were there??? Ew. “Where’s my fucking jacket? Oh, here it is, lying by the pair of decaying old corpses we left lying around.”), partly to remind us that Jack saw Christian’s ghost, which we now know was Smokey.

      In mundane news, Miles and Hurley play noughts and crosses.

      This episode makes the Wire-like move of turning Claire into Rousseau. On the one hand, it’s more natural here because it makes sense that this would all happen considering both Claire and Smokey; on the other hand, it doesn’t have the heft The Wire’s passing of the torch did beyond ‘oh would you look at that’.

      Ownage: Claire shoves an axe into the tummy stomach crap factory of an Other.

      The Sopranos, Season One, Episode Seven, “Down Neck”
      “You only remember what you wanna remember!”

      “Don’t start talking to me about legitimate business.”

      I’m gonna say it first: even as the quality fluctuates, so far The Sopranos always feels essential. That said, this was a particularly good episode, and like “College” it centers itself around a single incident in Tony’s past that has a vague connection to an incident in his present. This is, as far as I know, the first of many major flashbacks. JohnnyBoy Soprano feels so much bigger and broader than the characters in the present; no wonder this man casts a shadow. I find myself wondering if this story could have been more effectively conveyed by a monologue (certainly, Tony seems different talking about it, more open and alive), but then we’d lose that presence.

      Something I find interesting about this show is how little Tony fits the voice of it. Don is just as introspective and just as refined as Mad Men, with the difference being that Don isn’t as warm and emotionally open as the show. The Sopranos is close to MM, especially in terms of introspection and detail (not so much with the human warmth, though that’s not entirely a bad thing), but Tony is more cunning than introspective and tends to act before thinking. Perhaps what evolves into loathing begins as simple emotional distance. I do appreciate the effort going into writing someone very different from both the writer and the intended audience; I can identify with Don’s introversion while seeing very little of myself in Tony (if anything, Tony is to my father what The Sopranos is to Mad Men). It’s rare to get this particular kind of fictional intimacy with someone that has Tony’s personality.

      What’s interesting to me about Tony (and again, this reminds me of my father) is that his positive qualities as a father don’t so much cancel out his negative qualities as they simply exist side-by-side; he’s a loving parent who showers his kids with affection and a blundering asshole who can’t express what his kids need to hear and a potentially cancerous element that infects everyone around him with his crimes. The same is true for Carmela, who is becoming more sympathetic as it becomes clearer that she genuinely wants the best for her family. The same is not true for Livia, who gradually reveals her own toxic influence that she’s passed down to Tony.

      Christopher opens the episode in a construction hat, and it turns out just putting him in wacky outfits is hilarious.

      Interesting Todd Notes: Mad Men is the most direct descendent of this show, and yet is one of the few major ones that doesn’t follow the ‘major shit happens in the second-last episode with the final being a comedown’ structure. I didn’t know that JohnnyBoy was accurate about how the casino business would make him rich, and so presumably he died in bitterness.
      Ownage: Young Tony watches his father whack the shit out of some guy.
      Biggest Laugh: “She’s a degenerate gambler.”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        This is a really good insight – Tony doesn’t necessarily fit into his own show and that dynamic makes it really stand out. Vic fits the style of The Shield (high octane, tense, thoroughly in the world), Don is Mad Men (detached, beautiful, pained), Tony is not The Sopranos. The show holds a distance from him.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          A thing I enjoy doing is spotting the connections between the way the writer tells the story and the way the protagonist acts in their job – I don’t think Mad Men is literally about the way TV shows are made, but I definitely think Weiner let some of his skills transfer, and others before me have noted that when Shawn Ryan described himself as a “shark, always moving forward”, he’s also describing Vic. It’s a lot harder to spot the connections between Tony and David Chase, at least right now.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            It’s funny because Chase is pretty similar to Tony in a few different ways – he has discussed his depression and visiting a therapist (which inspired much of the series – apparently therapists adore The Sopranos because it is extremely accurate about psychiatry), his mother was awful, and Alan Sepinwall has pointed out the connections between Chase as showrunner and Tony as boss. I think the primary difference is that Chase seems extremely thoughtful and Tony is impulsive.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            As far as being connected to Chase’s own life, I believe the jumping-off point for the show for him was how his relationship with his own mother was similar to Tony and Livia’s. (And boy, there’s a lot to unpack about that detail.) Also, I just saw that @conormalcolmcrockford:disqus posted more or less the same thing.

    • lgauge

      The Shape of Water: Stays in the shallows.

      I suppose it says something about 2017 in movies that the movie with the most (and most obvious) gestures towards a kind of classical Academy love (I can’t exactly use the word “bait” for this film without being arrested by the Too Apropos Police) is the one about a woman falling in love with a fish man. While some might find that inspiring, I find it a bit sad. Rather than an idiosyncratic film with a certain mainstream appeal, this is a boring mainstream (I’ll keep “middlebrow” in check for now) prestige film in a fish man costume. It looks good, but also garish and polished to the point of overworked. It has “good” acting, but in the most familiar and Oscar friendly ways possible, with plenty of Scenes and shallowly explored hardships thrown in for good measure. Its #inspirational message might have survived if it wasn’t for the way the film sprinkles in other oppressed groups as set dressing and talking points, for no discernible reason other than to create some kind of “band of outsiders” strike team where everyone can feel included even as nothing is dealt with. You can maybe, maybe argue that there’s some meat to the role of the gay best friend neighbor, but his sexuality sure doesn’t provide much other than a sideplot the film really doesn’t care much about. Spencer isn’t afforded much more than worn out “black woman sidekick” tropes as the film does the absolute bare minimum to recognize what her struggles might be at this time and this place. But she gets some zingers and fun one-liner reactions. So it’s all good of course.

      There really is very little the film engages with beyond the most shallow of ways, whether related to its setting or its characters. It’s clear that del Toro really wanted to tell the core story here and I think that’s fine. The problem is that the film as it is seems like one of the biggest examples lately of the need to kill ones darlings or to at least gets these kinds of homages and love letters out of one’s system early. Because it’s so easy to lose perspective and critical judgement when you want to put your dream on the screen. Del Toro loves this fish man and all he represents, but that’s just not enough. There’s so little in this film that actually feels like a modern day filmmaker going back into the past to actually do something. Nothing that happens that geniuenly surprises or subverts a modern viewer. Nothing really that would have felt challenging or daring after (say) 1970. We revisit, but to what end? Early in a career there is a certain charm involved in this kind of nostalgia, but once you develop your style and start making films like a more careful and wise director, it just doesn’t work anymore. You can see visions of del Toro in the film’s more grotesque moments and in certain above average irreverent turns, but the rest has an unexpected prestige-y sheen that feels almost dishonest.

      I could dive deeper into all the more specific things I don’t think works, for instance the flatness of the screenplay, the overbearing aesthetic conception or even the overly cutesy score, but I’m not going to waste my breath (sorry, couldn’t help myself). The many requests for more fish fucking I’ve seen on social media and elsewhere are symptomatic of the film’s problems, but hardly expresses the depth of the issues (or lack thereof). I suspect this film will win many a heart and many an Oscar, but every crowd pleasing moment left a sour taste in my mouth. Better luck next time, Guillermo.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Before I finish reading this: The Too Apropos-po.

        • lgauge

          Or just TAP.

      • ZoeZ

        I loved The Shape of Water‘s pulpy, fairy tale grandiosity, but would still agree with all of this. The past is an aesthetic here rather than a rich setting, these “outsiders” are an emotional trope with no actual development of the variation between their experiences of loneliness and difference (except that everyone has to help the protagonist–and I would especially double down on the thinness of Spencer’s part), the characterization is simple to the point of being cartoonish.

        I think this will be one of those cases where if you don’t find the film nonetheless gripping and iconic–and I do, recognizing all of the above faults but forgiving them for moments of fully-committed grandness or uncommon joy–there’s not much there for you, because its buttons are all emotional buttons that it either hits or doesn’t, without much compensation if they’re missed.

      • Miller

        “Shallowly explored?” “Dive deeper?” The Apropos-Po are still coming for your ass.

        • lgauge

          Yeah, but some offenses only incur a fine.

      • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

        Here’s my theory on the inclusion of Richard Jenkins’ character: Aside from his sexuality making him an outsider at the time, his infatuation with the lunch counter clerk showed that he believed he had found someone like himself to connect with and when it turned out the clerk wasn’t gay (but also a racist asshole to boot) it made him all the more resolute to help Sally pursue this seemingly bizarre romance with the fish man. In the end, though, it wasn’t all that bizzare because rather than being a woman falling in love with a fishman it was a fishwoman falling in love with a fishman. She had found someone like herself to fall in love with.

        • lgauge

          I actually wasn’t sure if we were supposed to interpret the end as “fish woman all along” or if the creature’s magic god powers gave her gills.

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            I think there are hints for the former, but the latter makes sense too.

          • The Ploughman

            There’s always the third interpretation:
            Richard Jenkins is embellishing at that point.

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            I never thought of that. If I do see it a second time I will listen more closely to Jenkins’ narration.

      • Glorbes

        I stopped trusting the hyperbolic praise that del Toro receives several movies ago. He’s just not for me, I don’t think. He SHOULD be for me, but there is always something missing, especially from his English language movies.

        • lgauge

          I loved Pan’s Labyrinth and quite liked Crimson Peak, but this felt very different to me.

          • Glorbes

            Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone are my favourites. And my expectations were properly tempered to get something out of Crimson Peak. Everything else is very “meh”.

        • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

          I’m a big fan of the Hellboy movies.

        • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

          I like him when his nerd instincts go for broke, but am otherwise indifferent to his other films.

    • Groundhog Day – squeezed a billionth viewing of this in before a long weekend away with family. Still love it.

      War for the Planet of the Apes – I enjoyed this, but it didn’t quite have the same impact as Dawn. Whether that’s due to quality or just expectations I’m not sure, but it’s still a solid conclusion to a very good, incredibly bleak trilogy, and I like how this prequel series has followed its own moody path rather than going down the familiar blockbuster path of “more star power, more frantic pacing”. Also “Bad Ape” talks exactly like my two year old nephew, which was entertaining.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I haven’t seen War yet but I love Dawn a lot and deeply admire the Ape prequels for taking risks with tone and message that most blockbusters simply will not. I ended up just weeping at the end of Dawn.

        • They could easily have been another set of shallow FX spectacles but they really committed to the thoughtful end of the Ape Spectrum.

          War gets a bit too hung up on “hey we’re making a war movie! let’s reference all the other war movies!” but it still has a lot of powerful and fascinating stuff in it.

        • Glorbes

          War largely sticks the landing, and keeps everything grounded in character. But as vomas says, it’s dripping with war movie nods that somewhat lessen the impact. But it’s still quite good, and the pace is very deliberate.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      EYEBALL MAN EYEBALL MAN

      Nothing too major except Cheers – the Carla/Diane episode where they try to work out their differences is justttt the right combination of sweet and hysterically funny, especially Shelley Long singing “People” like this isn’t a weird thing to do (Nick and Jess in retrospect are clearly based directly on this combination of bookish weirdo/prole dummy). Especially loved Sam being terrified that they’ll destroy the bar. “I don’t have life insurance!!! All I have is this place!”

      But the episode I adored fiercely was Sam losing the bottle cap that he kept as a token to make sure he never drank. The final two minutes are so genuine and so dramatic and its a testament to Long and Danson’s gifts as actors, Diane trying to help him and silently panicking, Sam’s kind of terrifying solemnity – until that magnificent turn that’s funny and deeply touching. Sam Simon wrote this one and I am shocked, shocked that he would combine dark drama and comedy so elegantly. 😉

      Also watched Lindsay Ellis’ superb video essay on Bright, world building, and plot, and how much Bright is symptomatic of Hollywood’s inability to understand systemic racism and structural problems (and how other fantasy works do and don’t).

      • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

        Apropos of nothing, but I read “The Celluloid Window” and I really enjoyed it. Killer nostalgia is such a great idea (I wish I had come up with it).

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Thank you!!! I’m in the middle of revisions, then to find somebody who’d want to publish this giant story.

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            This is a good resource of short fiction markets: http://www.ralan.com/m.pay.htm

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yes, I heard about this one but forgot to bookmark it. I’ll put it on the list.

    • ZoeZ

      Twin Peaks, “The Pilot/Northwest Passage.” I am going into this show almost entirely ignorant–I’ve seen other Lynch works, but when it comes to this specific one, I know cherry pie, unusual nighttime soap, high critical reputation, Who Killed Laura Palmer?, and something-something evil, and that’s all. I’m going to try to remain that unspoiled, which has me thinking about all the outside factors that can shape our reactions. For example, knowing that this is Lynch primes me to interpret acting as stylized or deliberately estranging whereas I might otherwise call it stilted; I trust him to be deliberate. Our first-time encounters aren’t just shaped by knowledge of story events but also by more general discussions of tone and character interpretation.

      I like going into this so fresh that I don’t know if, say, the show has a rocky stretch or that a certain character is widely hated. It’s rare and refreshing to encounter a classic almost entirely on its own terms.

      So with all that being said, I was entranced and unnerved by this. The beautiful young dead girl has become a cliche, but it’s one that still works for me for a variety of reasons, and Laura Palmer is an excellent example why–on one side, there shouldn’t be any suspects because she was widely beloved, on the other side, you have two boyfriends, including one with a temper and such an irritating disposition that I have trouble imagining anyone voluntarily spending time with him. Friends, openness, cheeriness; erratic behavior and a safety deposit box full of secrets. To a much milder extent, that contrast is true for the town, too, where everything is shiny on the surface and less functional beneath, from affairs to marital unhappiness to lies told to Norwegian investors. But it never feels cheap, like an “I’m going to blow the lid off small town life” expose, because there’s a kindness here both in how the characters interact with each other and in how the show interacts with them, giving them their dignity and their grand stage.

      So far, the best example of that is Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan with a particularly and peculiarly beautiful wide-eyed intensity, polite, kind, driven, and focused on details–of both the case and of life–that other people wouldn’t notice or care about. His enjoyment of things and his interest in precision in describing them is both good comedy and an authentic-feeling look at someone who experiences the world in a very different, and somehow more alive, way.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        You ever seen the Kroll Show sketch Dead Girl Town? It is brutally funny.

        Laura Palmer can feel like the ultimate young dead girl but the series and film does so much to humanize her. Early on I think there’s a danger in fetishizing her but unlike True Detective (a show I do like!) TP delves into who Laura actually was, what got her to a point where she could be killed, what she meant to the town, and it portrays collective grief in a way only The Sweet Hereafter rivals.

      • Ooh! This is exciting, and I’m impressed that you’ve managed to remain unspoiled.

        I find Bobby’s “irritating disposition” completely hilarious for some reason, I love the amount of swagger he puts into all of his annoying actions.

        It’s well worth reading The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer between season one and two for some more (heartbreaking) character detail that I think is more-or-less canon? Twin Peaks has a lot of confusing depth.

        • ZoeZ

          Bobby is entertaining to the point that he reminds me of Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer throwing a tantrum.

          I will have to track down the diary!

          • Haha yes, that’s exactly it!

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I liked Bobby more as the series went on and by The Return he’s clearly a good man at ease with himself.

      • lgauge

        I’m subscribing hard to this newsletter. So many things I can’t wait for you to encounter.

      • The Ploughman

        I’m almost through the original series myself and had a similar lack of exposure when I started. Looking forward to your thoughts.

    • Balthazar Bee

      Cop Car: Continuing my tour through ZMF’s NOT OPTIONAL list.

      SPOILERS: It owns.

      Hot take: Kevin Bacon is an underappreciated actor.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I was just watching a scene of him in Super and he’s just awesome there. Perfect sleaze.

        • Balthazar Bee

          My favourite roles of his occupy a strange space where the viewer isn’t quite sure how to feel about him until the very end (and even beyond). But he’s also great in somewhat thankless roles, like the cop in Mystic River. Or getting speared by Mrs. Voorhees.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            He has that in Super as well where this is a horrible human being but he’s also fundamentally right about Frank’s delusion.

      • Miller

        He totally holds down Mystic River among the histrionics and is widely considered to have the best Masshole accent to boot.

      • The Ploughman

        His reaction to finding the car gone is worth the price of admission alone.

        • Balthazar Bee

          And those long takes of his muscle-shirted, mustached ass hauling it desperately across the grassy plains.

          Both that and his discovery moment occur in the first twenty minutes and are great examples of the kind of goodwill a film can generate by not being limply expository, instead opting to embrace the headlong pursuit of ownage.

          The kids in the film are great too, but I did have some problems with the way they were written. Some of things they said and did just seemed a bit too young-ish for the actors.

      • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

        He is quite solid in most of the things i see him in. Even in that one tv show about a cult of killers who are all dating each other. It’s not a good show.

        • Balthazar Bee

          I’d heard terrible things; now that I know the premise though, it sounds almost bad enough to be entertaining.

          • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

            To an extent. It’s one of those shows that holds true too its premise before devolving into a never ending rotating door of relationship problems. Cough Cough Dexter Cough Cough. 1st season is enjoyably trashy if you can DIG IT!

    • Miller

      Season Three Wires — Mrs. Miller observed that Daniels is now having all of his domestic disputes while shirtless. HBO gives the people what they want! McNulty is such a fucking prick, showing no remorse for how he fucks people. This is the Silicon Valley season of the show, everyone is trying to break free of structure and “innovate,” obviously Stringer going legit or Bunny creating Hamsterdam but also the cops jumping on the Comstat train and Carcetti pushing back on the mayor, but while SV has consequence spill out from innovation, The Wire just as frequently has the structure being innovated push back. And here McNulty is given an innovation in the Major Crimes unit and the show is smart enough to see that he’ll still screw with this if given enough leeway – he is reminding me of my own behavior in similar situations, it’s not pleasant.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        This season is McNulty’s definite breaking point and I like how he’s not hitting bottom exactly as much as realizing his patterns of behavior aren’t working and that the rest of the world’s moving beyond his bullshit. McNulty’s what I would be if I was less passive/more active but its easy to see how actively pushing back against the bullshit can wreck you. You have the moral high ground but nothing else to speak of.

        • Miller

          We’re coming to the point where he realizes his charm does not work on a Terry and she’s using him like he uses others, it will be fun to watch. You’re a fuckboy, McNutty!

    • The Ploughman

      Good Time – One if the hazards of watching intensely through end-of-the-year wrap up is seeing films in a different light than if I had encountered them earlier in the year. Film Comment chose this as their best film of the year and, well, I’ve always known FC looks for slightly different things in cinema than I do, but not usually in this direction. It’s a well-paced thriller, blowing us right past (even reveling in) the fact that our protagonist is a jerk and a fool and his whole quest is tearing apart worlds around him. A fair amount of ink has been spilled wondering if this is ignorant of or deliberately satirizing white privilege (at least three of the lives intruded upon during our hero’s dubious plan are immigrants or the offspring thereof) and the fact that the film doesn’t betray any awareness of this being a thing can be submitted as eveidence either way.

      The action and craft speaks for itself. The emotional current is present and how effective it is at hitting your particular feels will vary. To hang with this guy (Robert Pattinson is great here, by the way) it’s best to strap in for the ride and not worrying about how much of his bluster is serious.

      • lgauge

        This is still my favorite of 2017 for all the reasons you mention (I subscribe to the “intentionally about white privilege” read, which, not that it matters that much, I’m sure I’ve heard the directors say was indeed the case in a Q&A) and many others (like the great score).

        • The Ploughman

          What maybe makes it work is that the racial statement is it’s only present in the casting (i.e. – never directly commented on). I think my struggle was it took me some reflection to interpret his expression at the end. I wonder if I’d have had a better first impression if I had caught on to what must have happened in the time jump between the last two scenes.

      • Miller

        I loved it and the question of intent in regards to privilege (like lgauge, I also believe it is intentional) is sort of besides the point – it is action that matters, actions Connie makes and other people react to, and the results of those actions and reactions is plain as day.

      • John Bruni

        My take on Good Time regarding the issue of white privilege: http://www.the-solute.com/the-year-in-review-imagining-the-political/

        • The Ploughman

          Thanks for pointing me back to this. I’ve been planning to revisit it as I catch up with the films mentioned.

      • Balthazar Bee

        I basically agree with this, though the hair dye scene is pretty funny in light of the discussions about privilege — sure, he’s disguising himself, but it’s also like he’s giving himself an extra layer of protective whiteness.

    • A Talking Banana!?!

      The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) – Pretty, plainly, definitely bad, but not quite the trainwreck everyone seems to be saying it is. It’s watchable enough, just insanely generic and suffers more than a little from not knowing what tone it wants to go with. Although I’m still not sure how I feel about how it tries to tie itself to the other films.

      • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

        This is the second movie in a row that wasn’t supposed to be a Cloverfield movie until JJ Abrams and company magically turned it into one. I think we should all prepare ourselves that Episode IX will be the Resistance teaming up with the First Order to defeat the Cloverfield monster.

        • The rancor was a baby Cloverfield all along!

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            It all makes sense now…

        • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

          Star Wars Episode IX: Return of the Clover

    • jroberts548

      TV: SNL, from a week ago with SNL.

      Two great illustrations of hypernormalized world: 1.) Bringing Ferrell back to remind us that Bush was actually awful. He started two wars we’re still in, yet people now think he’s better than Trump. Trump’s awful, so maybe Bush is better, but only in the way that cancer might be better than Ebola. If we were honest about how awful the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are, maybe we’d stop pretending that Bush is good now?

      2. There was a joke about the Bush stock market vs the Trump stock market, which was already dated watching SNL eight days later.

      Anyway, I enjoyed the episode. Will is a pro.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I made a Cracker Barrel/Crate & Barrel mix up with my lady friend and she immediately showed that sketch to me.

        “What has two thumbs and created ISIS? This guy.”

      • John Bruni

        During the reign of W, we lost the great cultural center of New Orleans, which may still be relatively worse than anything Trump has done, yet. And W lowered the bar for being a leader, which allowed Trump to be taken seriously, running against a woman who was practically overqualified for the job.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Dubya made America so, so much worse. The amount of horrible shit they did is actually not talked about ENOUGH.

        • jroberts548

          “Overqualified” is maybe not the right word, in light of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            I’ve always disliked the way Clinton’s candidacy was framed in terms of expertise or qualifications, for several reasons:

            1)It plays into a point I believe you made in your post about Hypernormalisation, the emphasis on managerialism in politics over achieving outcomes or a vision of a better world, which is what leaves people depressed and disaffected about politics. People are motivated by candidates who promise or propose to make their lives better, not by who’s got the best CV.
            2)The argument of “qualified” seems to involve a Sorkin-esque rattling off of resumé items and other credentials that doesn’t really, as you have done, interrogate what she actually did in those positions and whether or not it was successful, effective, or in line with the vision of America voters wanted.

          • clytie

            I’d agree and would also add that for all the touting of her “qualifications” and “accomplishments,” they’re not very impressive. The only elected office she ever held was Junior Senator for 8 years, where her “accomplishments” include voting for the Iraq War Resolution, co-sponsoring a bill to ban flag-burning, AND introducing the Family Entertainment Protection Act, which tried to do to video games what Tipper Gore tried to do to that evil rock ‘n roll.

            Her 4 years as Secretary of State was filled with even worse decisions.

            Fuck that bitch.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Glad other people are discovering Hypernormalisation— while I’ve got a few quibbles with it, it certainly does document the artificiality of our current world systems and the seeming irrelevance of truth in our times.

    • Wise Blood – Disappointed with how little I liked this. The novel is fantastic, but the episodic style of the novel didn’t translate well without FOC’s prose. I also don’t think the grotesqueness needed was really there. Maybe I imagine the novel more off-kilter than it really is, but the only parts I really enjoyed were the flashbacks to the preacher (Huston has a great voice for this), which were a few degrees away from reality.

    • clytie

      3 episodes of General Hospital. I’m completely caught up with the show now! That never happens. I’ll be behind again in a couple of hours because I’ll be at works when the next episode airs, but for one brief moment I’m caught up.

    • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

      Ator, The Fighting Eagle dir. Joe D’Amato

      Well………….
      Didn’t leave the same pop culture stamp as Conan, but there is a cute bear side kick who does almost nothing. Sad this is the same man who did wonders with ENDGAME! which is the best named movie of all time. It’s just a buff Fabio type walking around being hit on by the ladies, and being otherwise useless until he kills a giant immobile spider. Which is immobile because it is a giant puppet. Unless you’ve put it upon yourself to watch all the Italian knock-off cinema (MY QUEEEEEEEEEEEEST) then skip this.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      The Good Place, “Somewhere Else.” The season 2 finale really delivers with the latest twist; the episode is a great showcase for Kristen Bell, too, as well as a strong commentary on how hard it is to actually be good. Don’t want to spoil more than that. “Here we go.”

      A.P. Bio, the first two episodes. NBC dropped a sneak preview of the pilot on the 1st, and has made the first three episodes available for streaming. I didn’t get the tepid review the AV Club gave it; I thought each episode gave us a few screamingly funny moments. Glenn Howerton and Patton Oswalt are both just right for the roles; Oswalt is perfectly put-upon, and Howerton, of course, nails being indifferent, self-obsessed, and vengeful. (You can differentiate Jack Griffin from Dennis Reynolds because Jack hasn’t tried to have sex with any of the teenagers.) The extended cast is great, too, from the Greek chorus of female teachers whose attitude indicates that Jack isn’t the only one who treats his job with that level of disregard, to the guest stars that show up in the second episode as possibly recurring characters? (Paula Pell! Niecy Nash! Uh… Pryce from Better Call Saul!) I’ll watch the third one tonight, but as of now I’d certainly recommend this.

      Superstore, “Groundhog Day.” See my Avocado review, even if it is mostly just a recap.

  • Miller

    Listen here Mill Creek, if you were able to cough up the cash to release Benji then surely you can put out the other movies in that series: https://film.avclub.com/one-well-trained-dog-is-all-the-dirt-cheap-benji-movies-1798282824

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      I feel *love*, all around, and I dig it…

      I fucking loved Benji as a kid and I don’t want to revisit it in case it was awful.

      • Miller

        Vadim’s hilarious write-up makes a solid case for awful. But yeah, I thought Benji ruled when I was young.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          *Sees Movie about dog protagonist falling in love with other dog and playing with children*

          7 year old me: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY QUARTER

          • Miller

            “Whaddya say Barton? Orphan or dog?”
            “…a dog that’s also an orphan?”
            “GENIUS!”

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford
    • The Narrator

      I admit I haven’t listened to any Frank Ocean, but him out-of-nowhere dropping that 20th Century Women reference makes me want to become his biggest fan.

    • pico

      One of Frank Ocean’s favorite films is The Master???

      *swoon*