New on DVD and Blu-Ray

Guys, I kinda got nothing. It’s just a pretty shit week for home video releases, in catalog and especially new titles. There, all you’ve got are the final chapter in the Resident Evil series, the latest (and presumably final) chapter in the xXx series, and the endlessly-delayed, instantly-forgotten The Space Between Us. Older titles at least include Criterion’s release of Yasujiro Ozu’s surprisingly fart-filled comedy Good Morning (a big upgrade from their early, abominable-looking DVD of it), plus some okay offerings from Shout! Factory (including the rat-based duo Willard and Ben) and, yes, Twilight Time (including Reese Witherspoon’s debut, the lovely coming-of-age tale The Man in the Moon), but that’s about it (unless you’re hankering for a Blu-Ray of Vision Quest).

Ben (Shout Factory)
The Climber (Arrow)
Game of Death (Shout Factory)
Good Morning (Criterion)
The Man in the Moon (Twilight Time)
Return of the Dragon (Shout Factory)
The Space Between Us (Universal)
Vision Quest (Warner Archive Collection)
Who’ll Stop the Rain (Twilight Time)
Willard (Shout Factory)
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (Paramount)

  • Fresno Bob

    A fart-filled Ozu movie? Colour me interested!

  • Fresno Bob

    Okay laydays and joims, what did we watch last night?

    • Twin Peaks, season two, episodes 12 and 13. A curious pair – the first makes a compelling case for the goofy season two subplots, because it’s absolutely non-stop hilarious and great fun throughout. The return of Garland Briggs is also another strangely moving scene, and another one that ties nicely into The Secret History of Twin Peaks, which I seem to be reading at the perfect pace for it to add extra info to each episode as I watch. The second of these two episodes takes the same basic ingredients and fails to do much interesting with them at all, building to a spectacularly undercooked stand-off – the direction and writing on this episode is way below par, although at least the cast are still trying; Richard Beymer really throws himself 100% into Ben Horne’s civil war breakdown.

      • If I do say so myself, I think you’re underselling how dumb the Dead Dog Farm standoff actually is.

        • As you noted in that day’s article, the resolution to the standoff is incredibly lazy and makes no sense. But no scene that contains Denise Bryson is entirely wasted.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Breaking Bad, Season Three, Episode Four, “Green Light”
      Hooray, another dramatic cold open! Jesse charms a young woman at a gas station into trading meth for gas. Jolene Purdy plays the girl, and she’s perfectly cast and acted – she genuinely looks like a normal person just wandered into our noirish Westernish world, so it really feels like a dick move when Jesse talks her into taking his meth.

      Hilariously, Saul is trying to set up a class-action lawsuit over the plane crash when we run into him. Saul really is a great dramatic side-character, because he has exactly one motivation – money – and pursues it relentlessly and stylishly. He serves the same function as the individual Strike Team members do, acting as a pure articulation of one aspect of the protagonist’s morality.
      Walt is on a downward spiral. After fighting with Skyler over her fucking Ted, he tries to go fight Ted himself, and when that fails he tries coming onto Carmen, which just gets him fired. The things that make Cranston a great dramatic actor are the same things that make him a great comedic actor: total commitment to the character and a willingness to look weak or stupid.

      When Walt fucks up trying to fight Ted, Mike comes over and drags his ass to Saul, and Walt puts two and two together and realises Saul bugged his house. He physically attacks Saul and demands the bugs be removed, and as Mike takes the bugs out Walt keeps giving him shit, and Mike keeps cheerfully eating it just to piss him off back. I’ve seen people question why Mike is so beloved; if you can’t tell from that, I don’t know what to tell you.

      Walt and Jesse meet up as Walt is cleaning out his shit, and they end up debriefing. Jesse says essentially what I did last episode – all he has is cooking meth; he asks Walt to call Gus on his behalf. Walt switches from paternal and kind to deeply offended when he discovers this, insulting Jesse’s cook. We get a Weird Shot, from the angle of Jesse’s front wheel, but I think it really works – it shows Walt getting physically smaller and smaller, emphasising his patheticness, and lets us have the physical comedy of his stuff falling into view.

      Jesse goes to Saul directly and tells him to make a deal with “the guy”. Saul has already lost control of either Jesse or Walt. Mike takes the deal to Gus, only as a side part of updating him on the situation – Gus has no interest in working with a junkie and Mike knew that – and we learn that Gus won’t tell Walt about the cousins because he doesn’t believe fear to be an effective motivator. We discover what will make an effective motivator when Gus learns there’s trouble in paradise for Walt and Jesse, and makes the deal with Jesse, only to pay each of them half.

      Meanwhile, Hank is still struggling with his PTSD and is still spinning his wheels over going to El Paso. He takes the first lead on Heisenberg he finds, which leads him to the girl in the opening, which gives him the biggest clue yet: a lead on Jesse and Walt’s RV. In the process, he’s given an ultimatum: leave for El Paso now, or don’t go at all. He chooses not to go.

      Finally, Skyler gets exactly one scene to herself, where she fucks Ted again and they discuss life.

      The Wire, Season Two, Episode Nine, “Stray Rounds”
      Bodie’s really the MVP of this episode. The episode starts with him trying to take territory, only to get a child killed; Stringer chews him out, and tells him to dispose of the guns. His carelessness leads to the guns being discovered (the show wisely skips over the guns being found and straight to Bodie being shown them). He keeps his cool in the face of cops interrogating him; I feel like he’s been learning how this works at the same speed as us, so I feel a surge of pride when he keeps his mouth shut. I get the sense that, when Stringer talks to him afterwards, he’s pleased at seeing another professional.

      Speaking of Stringer, he’s dealing with a professional headache: despite having good territory, he has shit product and no muscle, and Avon refuses to deal with Proposition Joe, eventually calling in a man named Brother. Unlike other slow burns, this works for me – there are so many plots ongoing in The Wire that some will take a backseat for a while.

      We meet the District Commissioner, whose name I didn’t catch; he’s disgusted by the bleak pointlessness of the circle of life here.

      After all that time talking about how Jimmy only functions when doing detective work, he has one of the worst days ever, fucking up basically everything, up to and including letting prostitutes fuck him. The funniest part of the whole thing for me is the fact that he has to deal with the paperwork of it afterwards. Even sex is filtered through paperwork for police! We also get some more mention of his narrow fucking Irish ancestry

      Finally, Ziggy faces one more humiliation when his duck dies, and decides fuck it, he’s going to pull a heist.

      Personal Writing
      Was having trouble writing The Talleyrand Life, so I started churning out my fantasy drama short story, and that was MUCH easier. As much as I love consuming good literature, I can see where my tastes as a writer lie.

      • silverwheel

        Ah, yes, this episode marks our first appearance of Major Howard “Bunny” Colvin, who would become quite important in seasons 3 and 4.

        I’ve always loved season 2 of The Wire, but rewatching it gave added appreciation of the writing related to the Barksdale crew, particularly between Stringer and Avon. Stringer isn’t trying a power play in the sense that he’s looking to oust Avon, but he is attempting to be the one (temporarily) calling the shots through deception. He could have been straight-up with Avon, telling him “I know you don’t want to hear this, but we don’t have a product anybody wants, and no amount of muscle will fix that. If we don’t solve this, and soon, we could lose everything by the time you get home. This is the decision I have to make now to keep our organization afloat.” But he didn’t – he’s not willing to directly challenge Avon’s authority, but he is willing to try some deceitful shit to undermine his decisions. As of right now, Stringer is about to get way too cute and shady in his handling of Brother Mouzone; would he have tried this if he hadn’t already gotten away with killing D’Angelo?


      • Drunk Napoleon

        “You’re a grimy little pimp!”

      • “I know cooler heads should prevail, but am I the only one who wants to see how this turns out?” This may well be why Roger Sterling is my role model. (Also, love the way Don rushes to close the blinds.)

        • He’s my favorite character by a mile, and his growing self-awareness is good for him but less entertaining so far. I’m sure he’ll come back around.

          Also I loved how they both sucked at fighting.

          • Fresno Bob

            I am not a fan of the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary, but I AM a fan of Firth and Grant’s fight, because they clearly DO NOT know how to fight, and they look ridiculous (as we all would).

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Don rushing to close the blinds is my single favourite Don character beat. Of COURSE he’d think of covering up an outbreak of emotion like that.

          • “OF COURSE he/she would do that” is always the mark of a great character beat. It’s a single-moment version of Recognition, surprising and inevitable.

      • This, along with Pete falling down the stairs, are my favorite “Let’s punish Pete Campbell with physical humiliation” moments.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Pete falling on his ass marginally wins out for me for coming out of nowhere and being completely undeserved, unlike being punched which he was building to all his life.

          Also, I love the random shit people will spoiler for this show. [Character] falls on his ass wouldn’t be a spoiler on any other show.

          • I kinda feel like I should’ve hidden the face-punching as a spoiler. But I think who did it was much more surprising than it happening.

          • I almost wonder how much his fall was an on-set accident that they just kept in for obvious reasons.

            I love what’s considered spoilers, too. It’s a gigantic show built on small moments, so everything feels important. It kind of reminds me of just how cryptic the “Next week on Mad Men” promos were–it’s not the plot they were teasing; it was just a montage of little, incongruous moments.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I’d be very surprised if it was unplanned – aside from the fact that they were aggressively anti-improv, it feels too artfully staged.

            I think it’s funny in the other direction – because every single moment of it is equally important to the story, I went in spoilered for almost everything and yet don’t feel like I had an inferior experience because the big moments require so much context to fully understand.

          • Yeah, it’s unlikely that it wasn’t staged, given Mad Men productions. But I kind of hope it was an accident.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹
          • “There should be a whole separate show dedicated to what happens when those guys digest.” Clearly this guy hasn’t seen “Red in the Face.”

            “Can you imagine what the bathrooms are like at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce?” Thanks to “The Suitcase,” we don’t have to. They do sound like a haunted house–haunted by the ghosts of Anna Draper, poignant regrets, and whatever was left of Don Draper’s hamburger.

          • ZoeZ

            Pete’s fall is one of the comedic highs of the Second Golden Age, and I’d hate to get in the way of the joy of someone experiencing it for the first time. (That said, I’ve absolutely used it as a reaction gif.)

    • Fawlty Towers: The Psychiatrist – This is a companion piece to The Wedding Party, where a sex farce is built around Basil’s prudishness and repression. Only more so. For some reason, this is the longest episode of the series, 35 minutes, and I am not sure we needed 35 minutes of Basil being awful in every way possible. There were still a lot of funny bits, but it gets both increasingly uncomfortable and increasingly like a slightly classier episode of Three’s Company. Plus Basil’s utter fear and contempt for the title character is hard to stomach. The strongest part of the episode is not Cleese but Prunella Scales, being utterly reasonable in her anger and her reaction to her lout of a husband.

    • ZoeZ

      Veep, “Chicklet.” A weaker entry, which gave me plenty of time to be freshly distracted by how implausible it is that Ben and Kent are working for Jonah. I did like Mike trashing the stables and venting rage both genuine–“Pay me! Pay me, you bitch!”–and pathetic–“Why do I always wait so long to pee?”

      • Belated Comebacker

        For me, the biggest hurdle with “Veep” is the sense that they’re almost sort of coasting at this point. I look at “The Thick of It,” (which is a completely different animal, to be fair), and it’s hard to square the two shows at this point. Where “The Thick of It” had to keep morphing who it’s main character was due to behind-the-scenes drama, “Veep” remains (at least partially) fixated on Selina Meyer, despite the fact that she is out of office. Ideally, I would have loved it if they followed the new VP, but then again, with Julia-Louis Dreyfuss having as much clout as she does, I doubt that would ever happen.

      • Miller

        I’ve been bitching about Kent and Ben for a while now — not them as characters, they remain hilarious, but they are in such reduced and more disappointingly reactive roles. Them working for Jonah would actually be nice, right now they’re babysitting him and are now apparently being replaced by a hotter babysitter.

    • Fresno Bob

      Buffy’s a chore, everyone. I’m almost at the end of season five, and I don’t give a shit about Glory, or most of the drama happening. There are bright moments, but I’m losing steam. I might take a break from the show for a while after this season.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        *Bob goes back to Buffy after three days*

        • Fresno Bob

          That’s my style.

        • Miller

          That’s cold, Jay!

      • ZoeZ

        I feel like the second season of Master of None is going to be a much classier and much more sophisticated redo of the period in my life where I repeatedly reread Eat Pray Love for some reason.

      • Season five was the beginning of the end in terms of Peak Buffy. The last two seasons have their moment – the musical episode, some of the stuff with newer characters – but if you stop after season five, you aren’t miss a lot.

    • Mars Five

      Dragnet Girl (Yasujiro Ozu, 1933). This started out very well, with an energetic mobster-and-his-molls storyline and beautiful compositions. The middle dragged, but everything came together in the end. Overall, a good but not great movie.

      This is the first silent Japanese movie (and the second Ozu) I’ve seen. Based on what I saw, I’d be happy to watch more silent Japanese cinema. Oh, and that Ozu guy, too.

      • Fresno Bob

        That Ozu guy knows a thing or two about making movies.

        • Belated Comebacker

          A good reminder for me to check out his work (sooner, rather than later)!

    • Nocturnal Animals–Beautifully shot, and in any given scene, there are loads of wonderfully images parading before us. But it’s a structural mess, and that hampers the film’s success to such a tremendous degree that it’s almost a failure in spite of its formal excellence.

      • Belated Comebacker

        I seem to recall our very own Julius Kassendorf making a similar statement. Which is probably where I draw my own personal line: I’m all for formalism, but I typically prefer it when it’s wedded to a solid story. The structural faults, for me, might be a bit much to overcome.

        • Yeah, it’s like, there’s a solid-ish B-movie story in Gyllenhaal’s novel, but Amy Adams’s “real life” story doesn’t work at all, so when the two are cross-cut, it’s hugely detrimental to the movie.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Let me guess: Cross-cutting probably saps the tension out of some of the B-movie scenes?

          • Yep. The intent is to imbue the Amy Adams scenes with some sense of urgency by juxtaposing it with the B-movie stuff, but it doesn’t work, primarily because the character work in the Amy Adams sections is thin.

          • The grindhouse story is so hilariously terrible too. The dialogue is just so poorly written and the plot is nothing but predictable. The Amy Adams story is so cold and brutal.

            I think this is a PoMo comedy and nobody wants to acknowledge that they’re laughing.

          • I want to think it’s funny, but I mostly just found it inert.

    • Belated Comebacker

      Not so much last night as this weekend, but for me, it was a near-midnight screening of King Kong vs. Godzilla, which should be considered a glorious B-movie, with all the bells and whistles! Those miniature sets were marvelous, even more so once they got blowed up real good. I’m curious if there’s a canon prior to this film, since King Kong isn’t exactly living on Skull Island here. Not that it matters, since he gets carried away fairly quickly in a supremely ridiculous fashion, of course. It’s a wooden raft laced with explosives, getting towed by a cargo freighter. Can’t beat that, I suppose. My one minor complaint? Having them cut away from the action just before you get too excited, with dull-as-dried-paint exposition scenes with a “UN News Anchor.” Bleh.

      Justified Season 4: I think one thread that always gets lost in the shuffle of this season is the relationship between FBI Agent Barkley and Nicky Augustine. Similar to the relationship between Raylan and Boyd, or Hot Rod Dunham and Alex Miller, here is a lawman who grew up with someone he was close to, before the two of them went their separate ways. Obviously Barkley isn’t around long enough to have this relationship develop further, especially since Barkley gets capped by Augustine, but it is an interesting dynamic, showing a path Raylan could be walking down, if he didn’t derive so much pleasure from being a dick to criminals.

      Justified: A Murder of Crowes: Now this is a rock-solid season opener, one that kicks things off to a great start. Pity they couldn’t sustain it. Either way, this is still a great, self-contained episode, moving away (however temporarily) from Kentucky to romp around in two of Dutch’s favorite playgrounds: Detroit and Florida. What’s fascinating for me is how subtle they are about tweaking some of the design choices for this particular episode. Even the music, which always had that bluegrass/country feel, now shifts to a more swamp grass vibe, fitting nicely with the Crowes in their Everglades hideout. Not sure if they shot part of this on-location in Florida (probably not), but kudos to including an airboat. Michael Rapaport’s Daryl Crowe Jr. may not have an accurate accent, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work for me, a nice change-up from all of the Kentucky accents we’ve been hearing now for four seasons. Plus, Elvis Machado, much like Jean-Baptiste, is someone who’s in short supply for this season: A competent, dangerous villain who almost immediately gets taken out (though I suppose that’s par for the Justified–and Leonard world–by and large).

      • Fresno Bob

        The UN News Anchor crap in Kong Vs. Godzilla is the Americanized version. The original Japanese version has NONE of that, but it has never been released outside of Japan for home video. I think there are rights issues blocking Honda’s original version from being made available in North America.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Of course! Such a bummer that it’s stuck here in the U.S. version. My friend who selected the movie for screening probably would prefer the original version, but alas, no luck. (Also, I personally dislike dubbed movies. I actually find it more distracting when their lips aren’t matching the words).

      • Season 5 is my favorite, because more than any other it has that Elmore Leonard feeling. Having the Crowe family as a group antagonist pays off in a lot of ways, mainly by providing a great variety of criminal stupidity. I’m with you on Michael Rapaport; his performance is something that can be technically criticized but works in context. (The same could be said of Vince Vaughn in True Detective, and in the same way, what you think of this performance is the strongest predictor of what you think of the season.) Someone described Daryl Crowe Jr. as having, to use a great old-school term, “low cunning,” smart enough to scheme but too stupid to do it right, and Rapaport gives that vibe perfectly.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Yes to the Leonard vibe for Season 5. Nowhere does this come together for me more effectively than in the episode where Raylan teams up with DEA Agent Miller. When they storm Audrey’s, and riff on finding a “United Nations of Assholes,” it definitely feels like it was torn wholesale out of a Leonard book (“Mr. Paradise” has a very similar scene toward the end of the book, where all the baddies meet up in a house to figure out how to get themselves out of another fine mess). It also has Jay and (Silent) Roscoe Striking Back, in glorious fashion, what with the monologue about “King Lear.”

          • The virtue of the stupid antagonist is that they can genuinely throw the protagonist of their game–Mamet once said (telling the story of a drunk poker opponent) “you can neither bluff nor can you threaten someone who isn’t paying attention.” You can beat someone if you can figure out their strategy (the underlying theme of detective stories going back to Sir AC Doyle), but what do you do when there is no strategy to figure out? The stupid antagonists generally destroy themselves but they can cause a lot of damage on the way, and the protagonist often has to work harder to limit it.* The challenge in writing the stupid antagonist is to make them stupid in character, to have them make the specific mistakes they would make. Leonard excelled at this, and so does this season of Justified.

            *Any similarity between this description and the current Republican administration was intentional, and should be construed as all fuck.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Another interesting note about this season is how much of a bully Raylan comes off as, since he’s not up against a more competent (or monstrous) villain like in seasons past. As a result, it looks more like Raylan pushing around a bunch of lowlifes who are nowhere near as threatening as, say, Quarles or the Bennett clan was. If Raylan was little wiser, he probably could have just let the Crowes tear themselves apart, or left it to local or state law enforcement (but then, we wouldn’t have a season of “Justified.”)

          • Justified really brought out the two things Olyphant plays best: the self-confidence and the danger, the latter had been largely missing from his work since Go. Look at this shot from the season finale, pure psycho:

          • Belated Comebacker

            “I said you were gonna wish I shot you.” Oof. To quote Boyd Crowder: “You’ve got ice-cold water running through your veins!”*

            *Something I didn’t quite get to in my initial entry: How this is the Season where you start to lose interest in Boyd Crowder succeeding, as they slowly turn him into more of an enemy, less of a friend.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            I legit got mad when Raylan kept harassing Dewey Crowe even after he’d been ordered not to by the court. Dewey has enough problems with his snake of a cousin showing up in town, without Raylan making it worse.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          I enjoy both Rapaport and Vaughn’s performances; I think people who find them stilted or artificial don’t understand that both men are playing characters who are pretending to be something they’re not.

          • Exactly! It’s key in both seasons of both shows. True Detective is trickier on this point, because Vaughn and Pizzolatto don’t completely reveal what’s going on with him until his final scene, whereas in Justified the surname “Crowe” pretty much tells us who Daryl Jr. really is.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I wonder how season 5 of Justified would have played out if Edi Gathegi hadn’t decided he wanted out of the show.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Probably the same way he went out on, with a shotgun blast to the chest, albeit with a longer lead-up to the actual event.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            What I remember reading at the time is that Jean-Baptiste was supposed to be more of a consigliere to Darryl Jr., so I wonder if we would have seen him give more advice, keep him from his stupider schemes, maybe even get the best of Danny at some point.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Interesting. The only speculation I ever saw was that he might have made a play for the heroin or money after getting it out of Mexico.. Admittedly, this only comes from the talk on the comments pages of AV Club reviews of each episode, so I can’t really see the basis of it. Either way, great find on your part! That would certainly make more sense, given how Jean-Baptiste acts in the first episode of this season (and the first meeting in Boyd’s bar). Plus it is understandable as to why he joins the Crowes in the first place, as they move from Florida to Kentucky.

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      After much deliberation and consultation with my family I decided to watch the Michael Mann film The Last of the Mohicans, which is a movie I thought I had seen already. Turns out I was remembering the parody Ben Stiller did on The Ben Stiller Show in the early 90s. Anyway, back to the movie, its gorgeous to look at with cinematography by Dante Spinoti and the main theme is beautiful and is stuck in my head even as I’m typing this.

      Other observations: Kind of strange to see Daniel Day Lewis as an action hero. I thought the romance between Lewis and Madeline Stowe was kind of perfunctory. The battle scenes and Indian raids were great. Over all, I’m glad I finally watched it again for the first time.

    • I went to sensitivity training for how to deal with and diffuse hot button topics such as what to do if two AA women made it through the ticket taker, were seated in the cinema and asked to see their tickets, and afterwards made a big deal about racial profiling. The good information, for me, only came at the end. The first 2/3, which explored privilege and culture was basic it important for most people, but I was like, “I’m a queer lower-middle class mixed race Hispanic who just had a leadership role at a queer youth camp and a transgender film festival. Can I test out of this? I got more Twin Peaks to write about.”

    • Babalugats

      Urban Cowboy (1980) – You know how the first half of Deer Hunter is a very meticulously paced very detailed scene of a wedding, something to establish the characters and the mundane rhythm of their lives before it all gets upended by Vietnam? Urban Cowboy is like that, except instead of Vietnam in the second half, there’s another wedding.

      The main plot is John Travolta trying to win a mechanical bull riding competition, although he doesn’t start training until the hour-and-a-half mark. The 80s loved movies where people excel at ordinary unimpressive things. Movies where Sylvester Stallone is the world’s greatest arm wrestler, Patrick Swayze is the world’s greatest bouncer, or Tom Cruise is the world’s greatest bartender. If you’re going to make a Travolta bull riding movie, why not put him on a real bull?

      The other part of the story is a relationship drama. Travolta picks up a girl, and on their first date hauls off and slugs her, for no god damned reason. When she tries to leave, he chases her down in his truck, grabs her, throws her to the ground, and wrestles her into his truck even though she’s clearly scared and fighting back against him. Then he proposes and they get married. The marriage goes about as well as you’d expect, Travolta is possessive, controlling, petty, jealous, and physically and emotionally abusive. They both work (until he loses his job) but he expects her to wait on him hand and foot, and blames her for all the problems in his life. When they go out he always needs to be the center of attention, and he’s a persistent embarrassment to her. He also cheats on her, in front of her, to make her jealous. At first this doesn’t feel like a flaw. The 70s had plenty of bleak grimy character studies about self destructive assholes tearing apart their own lives, and in this case the acting is strong and the atmosphere is authentic. But slowly you begin to realize that this isn’t a bleak grimy character study, it’s a romance! Soon the two (tragically) break up and both (tragically) find partners better suited to them, but don’t worry, they’re destined for each other. The movie makes no attempt to redeem Travolta’s character, although the woman does sneak into his house and clean it, demonstrating that she’s ready to be a good and proper wife. Instead it reconciles the relationship by revealing that the other guy is even worse than Travolta (he’d never hit her hard enough to leave a bruise, the prince) and by having Travolta win a mechanical bull riding competition, narrowly, on style points.

      I’ve also started watching Black Mirror. It’s alright, but I can’t shake the feeling that Rod Serling could have made the same point, better, in half the time.

      • Miller

        Your first paragraph is hilarious in its dry humor. And yet it is subsequently undercut by the ridiculous assumption that being the best bouncer in the world is somehow not a worthy achievement, or the correlating postulation that Road House is not the peak of cinema.

        • Babalugats

          Not a criticism, just an observation.

          There was a time when you could walk into a movie pitch, open with, “so he’s a world famous bouncer…” and leave with a duffle bag full of hundred dollar bills.

    • The Narrator

      The Virgin Suicides: Sofia Coppola has made nothing but great movies so far, so it’s almost kind of a shame that she’s yet to quite match the heights of this, which perfectly presents her hazy, pop-saturated take on alienation on her first time out of the gate.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Nothing last night, but I left out something from my weekend roundup: Kingpin, which believe it or not I’d never seen before. A perfect movie for a lazy Saturday afternoon after work once again required me to attend an event where I would be drinking earlier than I would under my own volition. Anyway, the movie holds up quite well, with good performances (Harrelson in particular) and some classic Farrelly zaniness. (The hand in the ball is one of my favorite visual gags I’ve seen recently.)

      It’s a little weird to see Randy Quaid in this role after everything he’s been through. Of course, it would be a little weird to see Cousin Eddie as a naive young Amish man anyway. He acquits himself well, though. (Also, I kept calling him “Jeff Daniels” because I’m pretty sure the Farrellys just re-used the Dumb and Dumber wig.)

      Also, I suspect Ernie McCracken might be the on-screen role closest to what Bill Murray actually is like in real life.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Oh, and lest I forget, I laughed out loud when I realized True Detective had referenced a memorable scene from this movie.

      • Miller

        Great call on Murray/McCracken. I will take mid and late 90s Murray, the Murray of this and Mad Dog and Glory and What About Bob and even The Man Who Knew Too Little over the more revered late period, Jarmusch and Anderson Murray, his comedy has curdled into something meaner or more destructive than the sad sack stuff that came later and it’s funny as shit. Kingpin in general is a gem of 90s comedy, much like Outside Providence it has some rough genre strokes that the Farrellys have a great deal of fun (and not a small portion of despair/anger) doodling around.

      • The Ploughman

        In all memories I have of that movie, I’ve supplanted Randy Quaid with Jeff Daniels. We may have found a new Mandala Effect.

  • Every time I hear Vision Quest mentioned, I assume it’ll be some kind of low-budget 80s sci-fi trash about futuristic androids blasting each other with Cyclops-esque eye-beams – i.e. something I would Definitely Like. Then I look it up, realise it’s a coming-of-age drama featuring songs by Madonna, and promptly forget its existence… until the cycle begins anew.

    • Vision Quest is about Matthew Modine losing 20 lbs. But, all I can think of is the Archer episode where everybody gets trapped in the elevator.

    • Fresno Bob

      I think I mix it up with Dreamscape starring Dennis Quaid.

      • Good old Dreamscape, actually being full of sci-fi nonsense. Not like that bloody Vision Quest!

    • clytie

      I also thought that Vision Quest was a sci-fi movie! I was finally informed that it wasn’t when Todd in the Shadows covered it as part of his series on Madonna movies.

      • I skipped most of the cameo cameos in my retrospective because they were too slight (and I didn’t want to watch Die Another Day again).

  • Son of Griff

    GOOD MORNING is unique, as our own @johnbruni:disqus recently mentioned, for making the television set, as opposed to the medium that flows through it, a domestic antagonist in a low key family drama.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      You’ve reminded me of that shot in All That Heaven Allows where the television the protagonist gets is a harbinger of doom.

    • Hey, two weeks in a row–Heat does that too! “But you do not get to watch–MY–TELEVISION!” And then, having served its purpose, Hanna just mercilessly disposes of said TV. (Fun fact: this was another detail that Mann lifted from cop Chuck Adamson’s life.) With @tristannankervis:disqus’s comment, we have another Triple Feature on our hands.

      • Son of Griff

        One of my favorite seminars that got nothing but stares from my students dealt with how television sets reconfigured, and re-engendered, domesticity in terms of space, functions, and time. All three films mentioned here are far more interested in using the device to invoke changing character dynamics within the drama as opposed to ruminating on the role of media in society. I think its also worthy to note that all three directors are highly distinctive in how they integrate setting and scene, and the television.

        Barry Levinson’s AVALON is the only American movie that I can think of that uses the spacial reconfigurations of TV as a recurring motif in such an antagonistic way, while also using it as a marker of time in a broader historical context.

      • Son of Griff

        I enjoy about Hanna’s TV is that its a wandering signifier of his domestic restlessness, and its random perambulations around wife’s ex-husband’s dead tech, postmodernist, bull shit house doesn’t give two fucks for the feng shui of the place. It underscores the fact that HEAT is basically a Sam Peckinpah Western told in the language of 70s film noir.

      • silverwheel

        Speaking of televisions in Heat, does anyone else get a chuckle at Van Zant’s comically small tv? I have a hard time believing that any rich guy who likes watching hockey would ever put up with a tv that small in such an opulent condo. 🙂

      • Balthazar Bee

        Typically late, but wanted to mention: One of the great joys of seeing Crime Story so many years later is recognizing familiar character beats and flourishes that show up elsewhere in Mann’s oeuvre. To wit, that TV bit is duplicated almost verbatim sometime during the first season. Like, it’s eerie.

        Moreover, it’s arguably more effective, because the controlled fury of Dennis Farina is positively terrifying, and destroying such an expensive appliance (and specifically a TV) in such a way in 1963 just has more raw and symbolic power; Pacino can be terrifying, but he was definitely moving towards comedy in some of the film’s confrontations (especially that one).

        Having said that, I will never, ever get tired of watching him grab Henry Rollins’ face before throwing him through a screen door.

    • Miller

      Um, if you want television as a domestic antagonist in family drama, there is really only one film for you:

  • Fresno Bob

    With Twin Peaks coming back, and the name Russ Tamblyn bouncing around the Internet again, I was trying desperately to place what else I knew him from aside from playing Dr. Jacoby. I mean, I know he was in a lot of older films, but his face and name was striking closer to home than usual. And then it hit me: Holy Shit, he was in Honda’s War of the Gargantuas!

    As I watch more movies and get older at the same time, I find this is happening to me constantly. The combination of greater exposure coupled with failing memory and crowded mind means I watch all of these movies with this constant sense of half-recognition. When these AHA! moments happen, it is extremely satisfying. Any “hiding in plain sight” performances stick out to you in this regard, where it took you ages to make the mental connection that that actor was ALSO in that other thing?

  • Son of Griff

    WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN is a fascinating post Vietnam crime drama with great performances by Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld (a great candidate for @gillianwren’s series), Michael Moriarty, and a chilling turn by Richard Masur. Check it out. It’s low key at the start but gets very intense by the middle.

    • John Bruni

      Based on the novel, Dog Soldiers, by Robert Stone, an underrated Am. writer. The end of the film simply cannot match the phantasmagoria of Stone’s writing in full imaginative flight, but I agree that Nolte and Weld are a good fit for the doomed drug runners.