north

New on DVD and Blu-Ray

Usually this month’s-end weeks are pretty depressing, but this one is honest to god okay. Getting the bad out of the way first, this week sees the Blu-Ray debut of Rob Reiner’s North, because somebody asked for it (maybe even unironically), and also the release of James Ponsoldt’s The Circle, a terrible bit of internet alarmism which is a pretty big disappointment from the previously solid Ponsoldt, and Zach Braff’s Going in Style, which, as far as studio sell-outs go, is at least probably an improvement on Wish I Was Here. Moving past that, we have some fine new releases, including Nacho Vigalondo’s unusual take on the monster movie, Colossal, a no-bullshit (really good) monster movie in Shin Godzilla, Azazel Jacobs’ middle-aged rom-com (and another feather in A24’s increasingly stuffed hat), The Lovers, and two excellent HBO shows, Big Little Lies and the Pete Holmes vehicle Crashing. Catalog titles are less exciting, with the biggest highlight, the release of Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen, being slightly spoiled by it being a BD-R release. Otherwise, there’s Scream Factory continuing to work its way through every horror-adjacent film made in the last 50 years with a bells-and-whistles release of James Gunn’s Slither. And, uh, The Good Son. Sure.

Big Little Lies (HBO)
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Sony Choice Collection)
The Circle (Lionsgate)
Colossal (Universal)
Crashing: The Complete First Season (HBO)
The Devil’s Brigade (Kino)
Going in Style (Warner)
The Good Son (Kino)
The Lovers (Lionsgate)
North (Sony Choice Collection)
Shin Godzilla (FUNimation)
Sleight (Universal)
Slither (Shout Factory)
Wakefield (Shout Factory)

  • Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Community, Episode Eleven, “The Politics Of Human Sexuality”
      “Don’t worry kid, you’re going through a dry spell, in my experience they don’t last any longer that twelve, thirteen… years.”

      “What in the reverse-Porky’s is going on in here?”

      So, Annie helps set up Greendale’s STD fair, which kicks off two plots: her discomfort with penises being confronted, and Jeff trying to recover from a sexual dry spell. Annie turns to the other women for help, which is great – I love the expression Shirley and Britta share – and they agree to break into the Dean’s office to take a peek at the anatomically-correct dummy (once again, cutting the boilerplate – there’s no argument or discussion about doing that). It ends in Annie asserting her right to be repressed and uncomfortable, which I like – you get around to these things when you get around to them.

      Meanwhile, Jeff’s plot is simultaneously expected and twisty – at first glance, I’d assume this would be about Jeff learning to appreciate women as more than sexual conquests, and that is kinda what happens, but the fast dramatic movement means a few other things happen as well. I think that’s what makes it a great sitcom – it is the cliche, plus so much more*. Jeff has a conversation with the escort who observes how men change as they get older, and Jeff’s friendship with Pierce over their shared selfishness and the sadness of what that’s done to their lives.

      Finally, Troy discovers Abed is a better athlete than him and gets really competitive; after a whole episode of that, he concedes Abed is the better athlete, another step forward in his maturing.

      *This is a good description of many of my favourite genre works, regardless of how they’re written.

      Neon Genesis Evangelion, Episode Eleven, “The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still”
      Rewatching the show this time, I’m surprised by how episodic it is – not in the way that Law And Order freak o’ the week is, or in the Cowboy Bebop aesthetic o’ the week, but in the Mad Men way, where something just happens to grab our attention and a few different facts about different characters emerge, with the recurring element of Angel attacks. This episode’s premise is “What if the power went out before an Angel attacked?”, and we jump from place to place seeing the different characters dealing with it.

      It opens with the bridge crew of NERV doing their laundry and going into work, where they run into Professor Fuyutski, Commander Ikari’s second-in-command. I prefer to watch the English dub of the show, which is notorious for bad acting*, but I find a) the main tier actors are, once you get a few episodes in, as good as everything else about the show and b) the writing and direction are so good that the lesser actors add a charm point for me. The English dub had a particular problem where they were only dubbing two episodes at a time with no idea what was coming next, which lead to both a few acting choices that weren’t necessarily bad, just wrong in retrospect, as well as few cases of miscasting because they didn’t realise a character would become more important, which I think paid off really well with Fuyutski.

      Fuyutski is supposed to be a wise, if occasionally grumpy old man, with his first scene here being complaining about the election and observing that the government is actually a sham and the whole system is run through the Magi computers that NERV uses. Later, upon realising that the power outage was sabotage, he and Gendo contemplate man’s own worst enemy being man. Conventionally, a character like this would be played by a guy with a gravelly, aged voice (and in fact, he’s played by such a guy in the remake movies), but here, his voice is more nasal – it’s less Edward James Olmos and more Brian O’Halloran. But I like that effect; because the writing is strong enough to make him look smart, it’s as if Fuyutski is an IT guy who somehow got promoted to technician for the apocalypse and had to learn what he was doing along the way, which actually fits with what we’ll learn about him.

      The episode has a fun structure, bouncing from scene to scene with one Gilligan cut after another (“Ah! Then I’ll be expecting good news.” “EMERGENCY ALERT!”). It’s funny and a way of showing how connected all these scenes are – between this and The Wire, I’m seeing the benefit in filmed literature to cutting between scenes slightly faster than you’d expect, coming back to finish scenes afterwards.

      Shinji, Rei, and Asuka all have to figure out how to get into NERV with no power, and they end up forming an id, ego, and superego unit, almost forming a functional human being together. As you might expect, Asuka keeps trying to take charge and finds her impulsiveness gets them lost; Rei knows the right way to go but doesn’t bother fighting and Shinji is too weak to try directing Asuka. When they do manage to get to the Evas and launch, we see how these exact same attitudes empower them in battle; Asuka quickly forms a plan that works, directing Rei to get their guns and Shinji to attack while she uses her own body to protect them.

      At one point, Shinji openly asks what the Angels actually are and why they attack, which Asuka dismisses; the episode ends with the three Eva kids sitting and looking over the city. Shinji looks at the stars, visible without any light pollution, and finds them beautiful. Asuka finds it disturbing with no lights and thus no people. Rei is cryptically philosophical, talking about how man fears darkness; Shinji takes this as an explanation for why the Angels attack.

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Eight, Episode Ten, “Reynolds Vs Reynolds: The Cereal Defense”
      I don’t have anything interesting to say about this episode, I just threw it on because I was bored, had nothing better to do, and this is one of my top favourite episodes of the show.

      “No one can prove they’re not donkey-brained except for him!”

      “Rock flag and eagle, right Charlie?”
      “He’s got a point.”
      “No he doesn’t.”

      “Oh you sons of bitches! I want to destroy everything you own!”

      “Did he say it was a race?”
      “No.”
      “Then why are they running?”
      “No idea.”

      You know what, actually, it is interesting to compare it withCommunity. Both are dramatically structured sitcoms that start with fairly straightforward extraverted American sitcom humour, then go in completely opposite directions with them. Both shows have their characters struggle between their personal ego and the good of the group; Community’s characters almost always end up being selfless and are open to change, Always Sunny’s characters almost always end up being selfish and almost never change.

      Steven Universe, Episode Ten, “Steven’s Lion”
      I’m starting to think that the mere act of asking “so what was the point of that?” is what pulls me out of the target audience here. On a magical adventure, Steven meets a non-murderous but still clearly wild magic lion; when the lion shows up at his door, he takes it as a sign of friendship and tries hanging out with it. It turns out the lion was after a thing the Gems took, in order to properly destroy it, and they destroy it together in a cool action sequence.

      The height of the wordplay here is obvious bad puns, which I resent as someone who loves intricate wordplay, of which bad puns are a small part of an overall diet.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Dammit, meant to share this too

        In A Heartbeat
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2REkk9SCRn0
        A short film, funded through Kickstarter, about a young boy hiding his crush on another boy, as expressed by his heart literally coming out of his chest and chasing his crush around. It’s very well-animated and cute as hell (the heart’s lovestruck expression slays me), but it doesn’t fucking count as “positive” fucking representation if they don’t FUCKING KISS..

      • One of my favorite gags is in this episode, where Annie finally sees the anatomically correct dummy, gasps a little, and asks, “Is that big?” Britta approvingly nods, Shirley frowns and says no, they look at each other shocked.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Hell you could say that Always Sunny is about how if people change that it’s almost always for the worst. Community is half full/Always Sunny is half empty (the truth is likely somewhere in between).

        • Drunk Napoleon

          It’s weird that Always Sunny doesn’t feel downbeat or unpleasant to watch, though.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Totally – Always Sunny is dark but that’s not the same as depressing. One of the things that helps is that even if the gang are essentially trapped in hell, they rarely grasp that reality.

    • Twin Peaks, The Return, Part 12 – not as electrifying as last week, but the scene in which Albert interrupts Gordon entertaining a French woman was absolute comedy gold, Sarah’s scenes were wonderfully disturbing, and there was plenty of other good stuff in the first 40 minutes or so. It seemed to run out of steam towards the end though, despite delivering something a lot of fans have undoubtedly been waiting for – I’ll wait for further episodes before passing full judgement!

      I also did another blast through recently released trailers. Nothing particularly caught my eye until I stumbled across the new Netflix film in which Noomi Rapace plays septuplets, which… I have no idea how that is a thing that actually exists, but I’m very happy that it does.

      • thesplitsaber

        How much Audrey Horne has there been on the show? I havent really heard anything about Sherilynn Fenn being on it yet.

        • I’ll spoiler this just in case anyone should stumble by that doesn’t want to know…

          This was her first appearance, in one fairly lengthy but fairly antagonistic scene. I would assume she’ll get a reasonable amount of screen time in the remaining 6hrs but assuming anything in New Twin Peaks makes an ass out of you and WOW BOB WOW

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Who Am I This Time?–One of Jonathan Demme’s best and least-known films, adapted from a Kurt Vonnegut story. Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon play two amateur actors slowly and awkwardly falling in love, and it’s great to see Walken really portray a character in all his complexity, instead of self-consciously doing his usual weirdo act. As you’d expect from Demme, there’s a real generous spirit here, a feeling of community and mutual respect, between Walken and Susan Sarandon, but also among everyone in the small town in which they live. And it has a great part for Robert Ridgely!

      • clytie

        I’ve been meaning to watch that ever since I saw that it was available on Amazon Prime.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          I actually watched it on VHS!

        • Son of Griff

          Don’t miss it. It’s quite lovely

      • thesplitsaber

        ‘and it’s great to see Walken really portray a character in all his complexity, instead of self-consciously doing his usual weirdo act. ‘

        So he did that in more than just The Dead Zone? Good to know.

    • clytie

      This may come as a shock, but I watched an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.This one featured Daniel Dae Kim in a reenactment.

      I also watched the latest episodeof Game of Thrones and the last two parts of Big Little Lies. Big Little Lies was good overall, but kinda reminded me of a grown-up Crossroads.

      Non-TV related, I continued reading What the Dead Know, which
      although I didn’t mention it before, started reading last week.

    • CineGain

      Seconds-Cached up with this gem before it’s disappearance on the Criterion Channel. What I thought was going to be intentional disturbing become more melancholic as the film progress. You get the emptiness of life that this middle-aged man is going through, with the benefit of being “reborn” through a younger model in the form of Rock Hudson. The mudsling sequence notwithstanding, this film feels very modern, both in it’s cynical depiction of the American Dream, with a slice of existentialism that felt very European, going along with the New-Wavish stylization.

      • silverwheel

        I find it funny to imagine that a similar fate happened to John Randolph in real life after his one and only turn as Frank Costanza. He comes back in to the production office full of ideas as to what he’d like to do differently the next time around, and they all smile and humor him before strapping him down on a stretcher and wheeling him away, never to be seen again.

      • Fresno Bob

        The whole time I was watching it, I felt like it was a spiritual precursor to David Fincher’s The Game. I’d eat my hat of Fincher wasn’t referencing it on some deeper, thematic level.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        A great movie, and one of my main takeaways was that Rock Hudson was a first-rate actor on the rare occasions he was cast in a worthwhile project.

    • Balthazar Bee

      Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: What a strange, frustrating little movie this is. I’d love to know who thought this would be a good project for Eastwood (besides, presumably, the man himself), because it either needed a script tear down or someone with a much lighter touch. I’d love to see a more info-dump approach to the material — Edgar Wright or Oliver Stone or David Fincher — which might keep the audience breathless enough to dodge questions about where it’s all going.

      Fresh off reading the book, it feels studied and staged, and the liberties and condensed-for-clarity moments make the film feel as phony as the James Wan-variety of “Based on a TRUE STORY” schlockers. I guess Eastwood’s being laid back, striving for the no-hurry Southern charm of the book, but a parade of eccentric characters doesn’t necessarily a compelling movie make.

      You’ve got slack-faced Cusack wandering through Savannah doing his wet blanket fish-out-of-water Yankee thing, looking pretty embarrassed in the shoehorned romantic scenes, and all but checking his watch in the last half hour. And who can blame him? The sumbitch is 155 minutes!

      Elsewhere, Kevin Spacey is charming, smug, inscrutable — in other words, Kevin Spacey — but also mustachioed! Seeing Jude “Pius XIII” Law show up briefly is a treat too. The real joy is Chablis Deveau playing herself to the hilt. She really seems to be the only person having any fun at all, and whenever on screen she serves as a useful reminder that “fun” is the one thing that is lacking here. That, or drama. Just give me two hours of Chablis crashing debutante balls and I won’t complain.

      I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by this during its initial theatrical run, but I thought maybe it was one of those adaptations that plays better for those who’ve read the book. In fact, the opposite is true. The late Richard Schickel called The Rookie the nadir of Clint’s career; well I know The Rookie; I’ve hooted and hollered and clapped at The Rookie many times over the years; Midnight, you are no Rookie.

      • edibletalkingchairs .

        Half of Eastwood movies seem to be an odd concoction.

        • thesplitsaber

          He needed to stay away from anything remotely comic. @bal@balthazarbee:disqus mentioned The Rookie and thats one of 3 or 4 different movies where Clint should have just made as grim Dirty Harry sequels instead of trying to make them lighter comedy vehicles.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Game of Thrones – This season is going super quick and I’m digging the pacing. Lady Oleanna’s final scene is perfect – it’s two characters who recognize one another and their tragedies.

      The Shield – S04E11 & 12. Goddamn. “You’re not a cop. You never were.” One of the things that neither Vic or Aceveda would ever acknowledge is that this statement applies to both of them, much like Antwon is a criminal posing as a leader. Aceveda is someone who, at the end of the day, is out for himself. He cares to a certain degree but when the chips are down and revenge is required he will opt for vengeance, not the justice the others adhere to. He and Army both make the same decision with the key difference being that Army knows he’s guilty and is leaving with reason.

      There’s so much in Rawlings’ season arc – she’s, I think, ultimately wrong, but her tragedy is that she will not compromise and that she puts some trust into someone who cannot reciprocate that. The Shield is in part about alliances and community and how all of that can fall apart when one person slips away from that model of thinking.

      Ownage moments: Dutch ready to at least try and fuck Vic up.
      Holy shit: That, uh, explosion.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        One of my favorite title drops for the series.

        *KABOOM*
        “Holy shit! That’s C-4!”
        ♪ JUST ANOTHER DAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY ♪

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Is he actually saying “Just another Day?” I always hear it as “YEAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH”

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            That is in fact what he’s saying, and the title of the song. It’s one of those great mysteries that everyone seems to have their own interpretation of, until they find out what it really is.

        • I, for one, was darned sick of having to choose between complex character studies and seeing people awesomely blow themselves up, and was happy when The Shield transcended that obsolete dichotomy.

      • That moment with Dutch is just so perfect for Jay Karnes as an actor–it’s like Dutch is suddenly disgusted with himself for always fronting with Vic, always playing the sneering-intellectual card, and he just says to himself “fuck it, let’s just throw down.” Karnes can somehow play levels to Dutch that he’s not aware of.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I almost cheered. Chiklis also does some amazing reaction work where Vic does his equivalent of a double take. He’s a little awed that Dutch had that in him.

          • And it’s afterwards that Dutch is able to be honest with Corrine. This being The Shield, there will be consequences for the rest of the series as to how the relationships change here–you’ll see one of those changes in the next episode.

          • The Ploughman

            Wait, as soon as I see a comment is about The Shield I stop reading to avoid spoilers (this also gives me back about six hours of productivity per week). But am I to understand that two characters share the same (rather uncommon) names with two characters in Soap? Is The Shield a stealth sequel to Soap?

          • It is now. (I remember Corrine on Soap but not Dutch.) This calls for a rewatch and extensive theorizing, sez I.

          • thesplitsaber

            I love that you can see his face shift from ‘Im gonna fight Dutch???’ to ‘Im gonna fight Dutch.’

        • thesplitsaber

          ‘it’s like Dutch is suddenly disgusted with himself’

          Self realisation and acceptance is Dutch’s arc on the show. We start with him falling off a cliff post divorce, but by this point hes starting to crawl his way out.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Oh my God, how hard did Olenna own the last scene? For someone whose death is imminent and unavoidable, that was a killer way to make sure she went out on her own terms, and while striking one last blow that can’t be countered. They should teach that scene in classes on ownage, and Jaime’s expression on what knowing you just got owned looks like.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It was so great. My favorite part was her genuine pity for Jamie, who just can’t stop her. “Oh you fool, she’ll be the end of you.” Up to the ending reveal, both of them understand one another too well to hate each other. That last line is a little pathetic and yet its also a great twist of the knife (and Jamie didn’t even realize there was one in his back).

      • Drunk Napoleon

        “Two of our own are dead!”

        One of the three individual spectacularly well-written lines that I can think of offhand from the show, every word chosen for maximum, devastating impact. You’re coming up on the second, with Rawling’s second-last scene where she locks in the Strike Team’s fate with four words: “I wish I wasn’t.”

        (Wallflower wrote a whole essay about the third line)

    • edibletalkingchairs .

      Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

      Good 1st half, bad 2nd half.

      Exterminating Angel

      This movie is weird.

      Terminator 5

      I sort of dig this movie.

      Free Fire

      Wheatley’s interests are at odds with his strengths. The Rorschach test that is Kill List and A Field in England is where its at, but with this and High-Rise I don’t think he knows what to do with the people in his movies. He needs more external forces in his movies to move stuff along.

      Spiderman Homecoming

      Its k.

      Doctor Strange

      Platonic ideal for a marvel movie with only small hints of the larger universe. Unlike Homecoming which would only be half a movie with the MCU removed.

      • thesplitsaber

        Im really interested in re watching Dr Strange. I think it might end up being the cult hit of the MCU.

        • edibletalkingchairs .

          I was pleasantly surprised having written it off the first go around.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Rick and Morty, “Rickmancing the Stone.” Really strong premiere that wasn’t quite as inventive or heartfelt as the very best episodes of the series, but still hit a lot of the highlights of what make the show great– the visuals, the audacious and inventive plotting leading to deeper human truths, scenes both horrifying and hilarious. Oh, and it looks like we’re all systems go for Summer having an even bigger role this year, which so far seems like a good choice.

  • BurgundySuit

    Happy first day of August! This month’s Year of the Month (based on an idea from Elizabeth Lerner) is 1985, so sign up and get crackin’! Possible books here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_in_literature Movies here: https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1985/ And music here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_in_music

    August 1st: Wallflower: Soundtracking: The Falcon and the Snowman
    August 2nd: Babalugats: The Year in Jackie Chan
    August 4th: scb 0212: Clue
    August 10th: Drunk Napoleon: Back to the Future
    August 14th: Balthazar Bee: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
    August 15th: Wallflower: Into the Night
    August 16th: clytie: Smooth Talk
    August 17th: BurgundySuit: Best of the Hot 100
    August 18th: BurgundySuit: Worst of the Hot 100
    August 21st: Miller: Hard Rock Zombies
    August 27th: Bhammer: Ran
    August 28th: ZoeZ: Lonesome Dove
    August 30th: the split saber: Red Sonja/Ladyhawke/Legend
    Tentative: Vomas: Summer Rental
    Tentative: The Ploughman: Ender’s Game

  • Fresno Bob

    Shin Godzilla awwwww yeaahhhhhh….pre-ordered that baby as soon as it was available to do so.

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford

    Slither is so good.

  • silverwheel

    I hated this week’s dvd and Blu-ray releases. Hated hated hated hated hated them. Hated them. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of them. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like them. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by them.

  • probably been mentioned a zillion times by others – but the original Going In Style (directed by Martin Brest) is a really terrific film.