• Fresno Bob

    The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is cursed when it comes to bluray/hi-def transfers.

    • Miller

      Yes, but this release comes with a free frogurt!

      • Drunk Napoleon

        That’s Good!

        • But the frogurt has been forced into the incorrect aspect ratio!

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Ooh, that’s Ugly.

    • Balthazar Bee

      I’ll be picking up the new release for the theatrical cut, but it’s a shame that no one seems capable of getting the transfer right. The previous MGM release had great detail, but it was so damned yellow, and I guess Kino tried to dial it back with…mixed results. Plus, the MGM disc was initially pressed without the original mono track, and those revisionist 5.1 gunshots are the shits.

  • Fresno Bob

    What did we watch last night?

    • Twin Peaks, The Return, Part 14 – this was a good one for many reasons, but especially Tammy’s facial expression as she reacted to Gordon talking about his Monica Belluci dream.

      Also, for more detail on my Sunday night viewing, my year of the month article has just been posted, too!

    • lgauge

      I watched the first of these last weekend and several of the others further back than last night, but surely that’s only mere details. What is time to us anyway?

      Bad Girls Go To Hell: A sleazy and surprisingly well put-together exploration of gender roles and sexual identity through the means of sexploitation.

      While there’s plenty more that could be said about the plot and themes of this, I think it’s safe to say that it has something to do with how women are trapped into bad cycles as long as their roles are constrained by men and patriarchal structures. How effective this is when expressed through a sexploitation lens is probably up to the individual viewer, but for me this worked really well. Especially the way it essentially obscures the issues in ways that speak to how both the people and the situations exist on a spectrum and how nothing is as straightforward and simple as we may wish to believe when human psychology enters the picture.

      Anyway, what really surprised me was how great the filmmaking was. Wishman makes studied use of framing and editing out of Hitchcock and handheld cinematography straight out of the Nouvelle Vague. Reading that this was her first time of many working with cinematographer C. Davis Smith, I can’t help but wonder if he might have been Wishman’s Raoul Coutard. Also, the ending is almost Kafkaesque in its nightmarish implications of repeated cycles and futility. Really hits the overall point home in a way both shocking and effective. In many ways a remarkable film.

      Glow, the whole first season: It’s nothing too noteworthy (me watching another season is probably dependent on being starved for something to watch), but I found it very watchable. Mostly thanks to the performances, the wrestling and the great period details (the costumes and music are to die for). Its approach to empowerment through bodily agency is interesting, though I’m not sure it manages this line of thought completely without stumbling.

      Margot at the Wedding: As with The Squid and the Whale, Baumbach here constructs another biting, uncomfortable and funny psychodrama about a well-to-do East Coast family and their issues. I don’t think it’s as good as his best efforts, but it certainly has a couple of really great performances from Kidman and Leigh and some great handheld cinematography by Savides. And whether as good as some of his others, it certainly keeps to a respectable level overall, with Baumbach’s dialogue and character work as strong as usual.

      Twin Peaks: The Return, Part 14: Oh shit, oh hell, oh my God. I just don’t know what to say. That was some crazy stuff. Probably my second favorite episode after Part 8. Hard to get into without spoiling anything, so I’ll just leave it there.

      French Cancan: A decent first half gives way to a great second half and a marvelous finish with some of the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t completely on board with the humor and upper class satire here, but the emotional plot thread that eventually develops was quite moving and the show itself at the end is so amazing that the rest doesn’t matter all that much. In this way, the film sort of resembles 42nd Street in how the plot leading up to the show, a plot that does take up a majority of the screen time, isn’t always that interesting, but when the show starts you don’t really care and at the end find yourself feeling very good about the film. Renoir’s mise-en-scène is of course strong throughout, but during the show it’s really something else. A true Technicolor marvel. Some really great central performances as well.

      • PCguy

        Make sure you get around to the Chesty Morgan films as well. DOUBLE AGENT 73 is one of Wishman’s masterpieces. There’s something about that one, as it relates to her entire filmography, that epitomizes her filmic obsession with looking at women. So much of the psychoanalytic influence on film criticism focuses on the camera as a Ghostbustersesque trap for its’ female subjects but Wishman’s films place their actors in an ironic intermediate realm.where it’s never clear if the actresses exist for the punter’s amusement or in opposition to them. The cardinal gag in DOUBLE AGENT 73 of the breast, amplified to antic fertility god proportions, functioning as the camera is one of the great Hitchcockian gags in all of cinema. It’s a brilliant nod to the screen winking back at the audience.

        Doris Wishman is the best. She’s so far ahead of her time and such a difficult filmmaker but when you start to dig her you can’t help but want to spread her gospel.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Community, Season One, Episode Twenty-One, “Contemporary American Poultry”
      “As far back as I remember, I always wanted to be in a mobster movie.”

      “For the record, I don’t have an ego. My Facebook profile is a landscape.”

      This episode is one of the more singular Community episodes, with one plot rather than multiple stories that combine and split. The study group are sick of never getting chicken fingers, so on Jeff’s idea, they put Abed in the cafeteria kitchen; this leads to Abed being at the top of a mobster family and the episode into being a parody of Scorsese films, especially Goodfellas.

      Jeff has the most interesting part in the plot structurally – rather than multiple motivations giving him multiple possible paths, he has multiple reasons for chasing one action: he’s right that the chicken finger empire is corrupting the group, and the group are right that he’s jealous of Abed’s power. Abed, for his part, has to decide whether the stunning amount of power he wields is worth corrupting his friends, and we get another example of Community’s maturity (aesthetically and morally) when his attempt to teach his friends a lesson doesn’t actually work – it’s a conversation he has with Jeff that restores the world.

      Abed/Jeff has always been one of my favourite relationships on the show, and I think this scene really exposes why. Both are, at heart, emotionally needy men raised by television, with exactly the opposite strengths and weaknesses – Abed has high self-esteem but low empathy, and Jeff is exactly the other way around (low compassion not meaning low empathy). They each recognise the same need to connect, and respect the other’s skills; this episode ends with them literally making a deal to work together more often.

      Neon Genesis Evangelion, Episode Twenty-One, “He was aware that he was still a child.”
      This is a backstory episode! Commander Fuyutski is kidnapped and interrogated by SEELE, who are trying to get to the bottom of Gendo Ikari’s motivations. They believe the incident with Unit One has turned it into a living god, and are deeply offended by the idea of man creating gods. This is the episode that really delivers on making Fuyutski cool, because he’s completely cocky in the face of extreme danger, mocking SEELE right to their faces (sort of; to save money on animation SEELE is represented by big stone tablets). The first half of the episode is Fuyutski explaining how he met Yui and Gendo, and got pulled into NERV and the Instrumentality project.

      When Fuyutski was a professor, he was introduced to a young, promising student named Ikari… Yui Ikari. This is our first real introduction to her, and she’s almost sickeningly sweet, talking about her options: either corporate research, joining a research lab at a school, or getting married and having children (if she meets the right guy). If this were one of the first scenes in NGE, I’d think of her as a blank fantasy for the viewer to project onto, but at this point and this far in and presented this way, I can feel that fantasy there but there’s something uncanny and wrong about it.

      He then is introduced to Gendo… Rokubungi, another promising student. He’s been made Gendo’s adviser, but he actually first meets him when he has to bail the guy out for getting drunk and getting into a fight. I’ve said before that Gendo has a striking resemblance to Shinji; this effect is heightened in the flashback, because Gendo has neither grown his beard nor started to wear glasses. Fuyutski admits later that he didn’t like Gendo when he first met him, and Gendo openly says he’s more used to being hated than liked; when Yui and Gendo start dating, Fuyutski believes it’s because Gendo wants access to her family’s resources.

      And then Second Impact happens.

      It turns out Gendo was on Katsuragi’s team (Katsuragi being Misato’s dad) when Second Impact occurred, though he missed out on the impact itself. He meets up with Fuyutski, reveals he and Yui got married and had a son (and that he took Yui’s name), and that he’s part of a secret organisation called Gehirn related to Second Impact. Fuyutski sees the truth of Second Impact and the ‘giant of light’ is being suppressed in favour of the idea that a meteor strike caused it, and he confronts Gendo about this, so Gendo pulls him in, showing him the geofront, introducing him to Dr Ikagi (i.e. Ritsuko’s mother), and showing him the foetal stage of Unit Zero. This is the point where Professor Fuyutski joins Gendo’s mission.

      This is what I meant when I said, ages and ages ago, that Fuyutski’s nerdy nasally voice worked. He comes off slightly out of his depth in the early episodes, as if he’s an IT guy promoted beyond his competence; as this reveals, that’s almost exactly what happened.

      The next half jumps forward a few years and is told from the perspective of both Ritusko Ikagi and her mother; the majority of it is the two of them narrating letters to each other over montages. Ritsuko meets Misato, and takes an immediate liking to her until she spends a weekend banging her new boyfriend Kaji. Dr Ikagi’s letters back are usually more philosophical, at one point sadly reflecting on her piss-poor parenting.

      We see the few minutes before the accident that wiped Yui from the face of the Earth; ironically, she’d brought Shinji in to see her experimenting. The loss of Yui changes Gendo completely, and he begins the Human Instrumentality project (and begins sleeping with Dr Ikagi). He also begins taking care of “an acquaintance’s child” named Rei Ayanami; only Dr Ikagi (and us, now that we’ve seen her) sees the striking similarity to Yui.

      It all leads to the death of Dr Ikagi: after a casual conversation with Ritsuko, Dr Ikagi finds Rei running around, and Rei calls her “old hag” because she heard Gendo say it a few times. Dr Ikagi’s mind snaps, and she finds herself choking Rei to death, calling her “expendable!”; we go straight from there to the site of Dr Ikagi’s suicide.

      With all of this, I find myself thinking of Game Of Thrones, because both shows have the weight of a fictional history hanging over them. There are a few key differences though: firstly, characters within the story are chasing and learning about that history, giving it a forward momentum and factoring it into decisions moving forward; secondly, it’s only taking about twenty half-hour episodes to uncover the major events, not sixty hours; thirdly and perhaps most importantly, it’s the history of characters we know and love right now, in ‘our’ present. The only two characters form the flashbacks who are not still alive are Yui Ikari (whose presence and lack thereof has affected our protagonist deeply) and Dr Ikagi, and both have complex relationships and decisions that are still affecting our favourite people today.

      It also has the perfect example of what I mean by harmony and contrast: Gendo changing his surname to Yui’s when they get married, something which is as unusual in Japan as it is in the West, and it’s incredible to imagine the man we’ve been following around doing something like that. We try and put these puzzle pieces together in our head, and we just need a few more.

      The episode ends with one big stab of forward movement. Kaji rescues Fuyutski from SEELE, at the cost of his own life. He leaves a final message for Misato on her answering machine, who breaks down crying as she listens to it; Shinji, in his only proper appearance in the episode, sees this but doesn’t know what to do, so he does nothing, shutting himself in his room (another difference from GoT; a death doesn’t end a story, it pushes it forward).

      Steven Universe, Episode Twenty-One, “Monster Buddies”
      Hey, another one I liked! It even made me feel emotion! Steven and the Gems go on an adventure, and Steven and a monster end up bubbled back to the temple, which is where the Gems store the gemstones of monsters they fight (we’re twenty-one episodes in and only now getting a basic friggin’ element of the premise, good god now I’m angry again). Steven accidentally frees the monster, and it turns from a bigass monster into a tiny dog-sized monster. Steven, being Steven, tries to make friends with it, and ends up successful.

      He argues with the Gems about keeping the monster thing, and at first I rolled my eyes at yet another “Steven gets what he wants with no consequences” story, only for his decision to, uh, have consequences. Together, he and monsterdog get the Gems to a macguffin that would otherwise be inaccessible. Thanks to an accident, the Gems turn on monsterdog, and Steven defends him from them. He calms monsterdog down, and it ends up sacrificing itself to save him from certain death. Garnet comforts him by telling him his mother tried to do what he was doing, and he might be able to succeed where she failed.

      I don’t really have much to actually say; it’s just a complete shock that there was actual confrontation and learning and characters coming closer, and that I got a little teary-eyed when monsterdog sacrificed itself. Steven’s kindness actually mattered.

      The Matrix Reloaded
      Continuing my trawling through my favourite films as a kid, I’m stopping over an indefensibly bad film that I mostly still only like out of nostalgia. Somehow, it manages to be simultaneously overcooked and undercooked – individual scenes are stretched out beyond breaking point, at times turning to genuine gibberish, but concepts are brought up for a single scene and not given the development they deserve in either a dramatic or literary sense.

      There are many concepts floating through I would have liked to see get any development – Morpheus as a fanatic with a genuine reason to believe what he does, Link as the only normal one of the bunch, Neo as a messiah (his irritation with the Kid is my favourite undercooked concept – they could have had him as a stowaway, forcing himself on the plot and having Neo have to deal with him!). Let me tell you, I am totally gonna steal the morality of this story to use in a much better one.

      That famous Architect scene at the end was actually one of my favourite scenes as a kid, because I liked the idea that the One thing wasn’t Neo being particularly special, but rather that it was another part of the System; I’ve never been a fan of the Chosen One story because it always struck me as fascistic even before I knew what that word meant.

      • The Matrix Reloaded may not be a good film on many levels, but on my personal rating scale, which is based almost entirely on the amount of Hugo Weavings that appear onscreen, it ranks surprisingly high!

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I remain a vocal, solitary defender of the Burly Brawl.

          • The Ploughman

            I’m onboard with most of Reloaded, even if it never reaches the satisfying cohesion of the first (and bridges to the third, which indulges only the worst parts of the second). It has the best action sequences of the trilogy. I’d put the Burly Brawl third after the Merovingian fight and the lengthy highway scene. The highway scene also has the greatest single-line scene chewing of all time, courtesy Laurence Fishburne. “Then let us hope… I was wrong.”

            I also like the Architect scene and never quite understood why it’s disliked in a lot of corners. We’ve just been treated to over a half-hour of non-stop action, and this is the movie’s newest and most interesting idea. I think if we hadn’t paused for the Merovingian’s diatribe on the illusion of choice earlier it would have bothered fewer people.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            That line is down in my notes for lines I absolutely loved. The Wachowskis are a lot funnier than they’re given credit for, and it’s very very dry.

            Coming back to the Architect scene as an adult I see why people hated it – the poor Architect gets the most pretentious dialogue in the trilogy, what with all those variations on the word “therefore”. It also probably would have been taken better if it actually meant anything for the third film.

          • The Ploughman

            Yeah, Revolutions makes defending Reloaded more difficult because it confirms the criticism that the second film is a lot of hot air at the expense of the story. It didn’t have to be!

          • edibletalkingchairs .

            i prefer revolutions because of the robots.

          • DJ JD

            Honestly, I thought they had some very interesting ideas about the nature of human choice that they didn’t convey as effectively as they might’ve. I’ve wondered ever since if their need to totally blow our minds, man was at odds with the point that they wanted to make to a sharper degree than perhaps even they realized. That said, the whole movie is so blazingly ambitious that even judging it in hindsight feels slightly unfair of me.

            I think a lot of people dislike the Architect scene because they weren’t tracking his elevated vocabulary. I think that’s basically it. The movies are generally very good about only breaking through the “6th-grade-reading-level” ceiling when they absolutely had to–and then they go give us a character who clearly holds himself to be superior to Neo (and the audience), and uses all the big words to convey that.

          • This. The second and third Matrices had a great, devastating idea at the center that upended the first one, something that challenges our conception of “hero” and “character,” and it got smothered by the need to show off all their cool special effects.

          • Miller

            Still waiting for my “Jones is the protagonist” cut of Revolutions.

          • DJ JD

            Not solitary: it might have been cartoonish, but for what it was, it was awesome.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Doves, cry, etc.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Whoops, also:
        My Writing
        Finally so close to finishing this first god damned chapter. It’s clocking in at nearly 6,000 words so far – if I were trying to write a great story instead of a functional one, I would edit it right down, but I’m choosing to follow the story wherever it goes and redo cool concepts in later stories if I like them. What’s interesting is that after the initial wave of sheer inspiration ran out, I began drawing on other stories to try and push the story forward – not in terms of specific plot points, but in terms of structure and purpose. For example, the first story I drew from was a combo of Mass Effect 2 and Cowboy Bebop; I also drew one miniplot from Lovecraft’s descriptions of his process.

        At first this was simply a way to move the story forward and convey specific smaller ideas – the ME2/Bebop section was designed to get me to a specific scene that I had inspiration for – but time, analysis, and wallflower’s Jaspar Johns essay have given me a renewed perspective. At first, I was frustrated at my inability to control the story, but over time I grew to like the idea that the character is lost in this sea of story with me; wallflower’s essay has made me think of it as me experimenting with the story, testing and refining ideas and throwing out what doesn’t work, and having that feeling of experimentation injected into the story.

        (Come to think of it, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes experimentation as I fumbled my way through the early post-inspiration process.)

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The Architect scene is I think the best insight of the sequels, that it’s all another form of control and while Neo may be gifted, well, other people put into this position were too. I actually liked Reloaded (I haven’t watched it recently enough to decide if I was wrong) but Revolutions is a giant, stupid mess.

        • Fresno Bob

          A giant stupid mess with one amazing visual effects action setpiece.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Was that the climactic battle? I haven’t seen it since the theater because I was so crushed (I think that was the first movie I’d seen in a theater and really didn’t like).

          • Fresno Bob

            Nah, I’m talking about the dock battle with the mech suits and shit. I didn’t give a shit about anything happening, but it LOOKED amazing.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yeah I meant the mech suits, should’ve clarified (there are like two freaking battles in this movie).

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I’m gonna watch the third one tomorrow, but I’ll tell you now: they’re both giant stupid messes with cool concepts floating through them, but in totally different ways.

          • The Ploughman

            I rewatched Reloaded in the theater but never bothered to revisit Revolutions even on disc. I see it’s on Amazon. Maybe I should give it another whirl. In the theater it gave me a powerful headache.

          • I didn’t get around to watching the sequels at all until last year, and I think time has been kind to them (in a way) – although they’re definitely messy, I found it more interesting watching a couple of flawed, personal-feeling blockbusters after tiring of the committee-approved MCU et al.

            I’m with @disqus_s16c0Syk3X:disqus on the third one – it’s absolutely the weakest of the three but the big FX battle is incredible.

    • Fresno Bob

      Godzilla Raids Again (1955) – the maligned first sequel to Godzilla. This was my first re-watch of it, and while the drama and the characterizations fall flat (and Takashi Shimura delivers what can best be described as a cameo under duress as Professor Yamane), it’s the very first instance of a two kaiju battle in these films, and despite some wonky technical issues involving frame rate, the monster action is actually pretty great. It also has a grand finale involving fighter planes, an avalanche, and Godzilla. I like the idea of the main characters being these survey pilots for a fishing company, as they are more layman-type guys doing a job, and it’s a different perspective. Sadly, the writing and comedic banter is less than stellar. Still, it’s a mostly serious minded Godzilla film, and while I like the goofy sequels that emphasize the technical effects and spectacle, this one feels like an attempt to keep the tone of the first film intact, albeit a failed one.

      • I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but I’m glad I was aware of its reputation before watching as it’s obviously no match for the original. I remember thinking how excited I was to plough through more kaiju films if a mediocre one was still this much fun, but I think I’ve only seen Rodan and Mothra since. I need to get back on that!

        • Fresno Bob

          It’s a daunting objective. 30+ Godzilla films and counting! I still need to see Varan the Unbelievable and The Mysterians (non-Godzilla, but from Toho and both involve Tsuburaya and/or Honda). If I could recommend one of the Showa movies to check out next, I’d say the top of the list should be Godzilla Vs. Mothra (aka Godzilla Vs. The Thing). It’s my favourite of the first wave. If you dig groovy weirdness, Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster (aka Godzilla Vs. Hedorah) is borderline avant garde, and totally for the drug-addled hippy in all of us.

          • It is, and I’m sure attempting to watch them mostly chronologically is entirely pointless! Especially since I’ve seen the recent reboot and I’ll hopefully be seeing Shin Godzilla in a couple of weeks. But I still feel the need to roughly see the older ones in order for some reason. This is probably what has led to me slowing down, as next up is King Kong vs Godzilla which nobody really seems to like very much.

          • Fresno Bob

            I like it. Get your hands on the Japanese cut if you can. It’s stupid, but at least it doesn’t have the horrible American inserts that add a layer of completely unnecessary exposition. I think that movie is a load of goofy fun.

          • Ah yes, good tip! I nearly fell into that trap with Rodan.

          • Fresno Bob

            I still need to watch the Japanese cut of Rodan. I own it, but I bought it after borrowing the American dub from the library and watching that.

          • To be honest that’s probably my least favourite of the kaiju films I’ve seen so far, just because the human characters are all generic military types rather than the slightly goofy average folks caught up in the other stories (which I love!), but it looks absolutely amazing and I loved the unexpectedly melancholy ending.

          • Fresno Bob

            Also, the Heisei films follow something of a chronological order, and have continuity and some recurring characters. I’d recommend watching those ones in order. But the Showa and Millennium films (with the exception of two of them – Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Tokyo SOS, which are a two part set), can be watched in no particular order.

    • Miller

      WHAS Reunion, last two episodes — funny stuff, especially the gonzo fight, but ultimately a little too slack and slight, it’s the weakest of the three shows/films. But it renewed my appreciation for Chris Meloni, who is an amazingly intense and physical actor.

      • I love how full-on the action scenes are. I’d love to see David Wain take on one of those action comedies that Paul Feig seems to have cornered the market on, because he seems to understand funny fight scenes a lot better.

        • Miller

          Oh, great call.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          The Falcon/Meloni fight is really taut, funny, and genuinely exciting – there’s so much business and much of it is in one or two shots.

    • DJ JD

      Including the weekend since I was out of town yesterday (stupid work!)

      Breaking Bad – S3 E 6-8, wherein Walt meets, likes and breaks up with Gale, Hank comes dangerously close to unravelling everything and then has his arc unexpectedly close and Mr. Fring makes a power play or two. More SPOILERy than usual.

      Hank’s arc was amazing. The character has been something of a human battering ram the whole show, not a subtle adversary but an unshakable and pitiless one, and I never understood what he and his wife were doing together. And then in two intense episodes we get his clear emotional connection with his wife and a moral core that – on this show – qualifies as astonishing: not just to stand up for his principles, but to change everything in his life because it turns out, he had the self-awareness to register who he was becoming, and the moral core to make the change. My wife said, “He’s the anti-Walt!”

      …And then the Brothers Salamancas find him, and…dang. I don’t think I’ve experienced as intense a three-minute stretch of television in recent memory. I actually felt my breathing get shorter and more clipped, just watching it. I mean, structurally the show more or less sent him off, right? And the Brothers were clearly about as dangerous a couple of characters as the show has ever offered. They gave every cue that they could kill him off if they wanted to, and the results were… I’m using the word wallflower used, but that was badass. Not superhuman, not unbelievable, just a deeply, deeply tough person fighting for his life against two very capable murderers. Dang.

      Everything else pales next to it, which is almost a shame because there was an awful lot I liked about stuff in the sidelines, especially the neat mini-arc with Gale. I was surprised at how uncomfortable the breakup scene with Gale was, and I found myself wondering a lot about the character. Anyway, good stuff.

      Shaun the Sheep assorted episodes from season 3. It’s cliche to talk about someone inheriting the mantle of “proper successor to Looney Tunes” but Shaun and company are giving it a real try. They’ve gone a lot sillier and broader than where they started, which bums me out in theory–except that the episode where they find the spraypaint cans with the cartoonish real-world effects delivered on the idea so completely that I can’t be sad about this. Very, very good work here. I’m surprised I don’t hear about this more; I only came across it because my 4-year-old loves them.

      • The Ploughman

        Having kids also introduced me to Shaun the Sheep which is great! Why it took me so long to find an Aarman product I don’t know, but particularly the first season is right up there with Wallace and Gromit.

      • The construction of that scene in “One Minute” is just perfection; MacLaren (or, as Stu Willis pointed out, the editors’) manipulation of time, from going too slowly as the Cousins approach to going too fast as the ax closes in, is precise in a way that almost all contemporary “action” directors have forgotten. This is the full discussion of it, but only read the first part ‘cuz the next two scenes are from seasons four and five-part-two.

        • DJ JD

          Thank you kindly! I’ll return to that when I finish the show, but I read the first part. I didn’t register much of what you said there as I was watching it; good stuff. I loved that final bird’s-eye view, with the full parking lot populated only by the dead and dying.

          • Breaking Bad can get overly and annoyingly stylized but there is some goddamn amazing stuff there, and that scene is some Walter Hill/Kathryn Bigelow-level work in its precision and mastery of pacing and point-of-view. The style is overt and invisible all at once.

          • DJ JD

            I loved the detail that the brain matter on the lens was an accident, because that was an amazing exclamation point to everything that had just happened.

      • Miller

        Excellent take on Hank, Hank and Marie and the end of One Minute. Badass almost doesn’t cut it — one of the Cousins tries to be badass at the end and pays for it, Hank is competence and survival without frills.

        • DJ JD

          Well said! I think that’s actually what made it stand out as “badass” to me: not Michael Bay’s badass (“Bayesian Badassery: the probability that explosions are badass because previous explosions have been badass”?) but Michael Mann’s. You said it: no frills, just survive–and the guy who went for the embellishment is the one who paid for it.

    • Two season four Simpsons, Homer’s Triple Bypass and The Brother from the Same Planet. I kind of chose these randomly, but having spent the weekend dealing with my wife needing time in the hospital (for an infection and nothing more serious, thankfully), it was a strangely coincidental choice of the former. Because “bed goes up” was invoked more than once by us. Both are great, but only Homer’s Triple Bypass is an utter classic.

      • Miller

        “You’re a dull boy, Billy” is one of the show’s great throwaway lines, I’ve become less depressed that those don’t exist anymore and more impressed that they were casually thrown out there, nuggets of pure gold dispensed with no fanfare, for so long.

        • The show has devolved into a joke machine, and the sort that seems determined to end every joke with a Fozzie Bear “funny!” ear-waggle. Fozzie is should never be your comedic role model.

          • Balthazar Bee

            Yeah, I think the best example of the show’s slide in this regard can be found in the closing moments of the tenth season’s “Kidney Trouble” episode.

            Homer says, “I have everything I need right here,” as he embraces his family, and we see him grabbing at Bart’s kidney, sizing it up. “That’s the joke,” as McBain would say.

            But it subsequently gets hammered into the ground. “Dad — you’re tickling me!” says Bart. Hammer one.

            “Yes…tickling,” Homer replies in a sinister fashion. Hammer two.

            Cut to Bart’s worried reaction. Hammer three.

            It’s funny to think that “Brother from the Same Planet” was apparently not well thought of among the show’s writers and producers (specifically Jim Brooks). Rumour has it that they’d screen the episode for new writers and say, “Don’t make an episode like this,” like it was some kind of embarrassment.

            How the mighty have fallen.

          • And that was the TENTH season, which still have a lot of good moments, and a few really good episodes.

            The hosts of the Worst Episode Ever Simpsons podcast created an “extra beat alarm” for all the times jokes went on too long (and that don’t become funny again like the Sideshow Bob rake gag). They stopped us the alarm idea because it was just happening too often.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      The Long Good Friday – Loved this movie quite a lot, especially in terms of it being a story of someone who believes in singular solutions (utter violence) to a problem when it’s entirely the wrong approach. If as we’ve discussed crime films tend to be about moralities in conflict then here is free market capitalism versus naked ideology, and the final shot suggests the former can’t ever comprehend the latter. Hoskin’s face is stunning, like an animal losing every option available. Helen Mirren is wonderful is well and unlike almost any other female character in the genre, supportive and intelligent. I could’ve watched a whole film about their relationship.

      Random Black Books, Always Sunny – Bernard the misanthrope bookstore owner and Manny the uber competent employee is one of my favorite comedic dynamics in sitcoms, especially because Manny is absurd but never insulted by anyone but Bernard; like Abed he’s a funny character but he’s genuinely helpful and gifted, and Black Books doesn’t lose sight of his talents.

      Rick and Morty – Damn. As much as the superhero stuff is semi-conventional satire of the egotism and selfishness of heroism, Drunk Rick playing Saw is just genius, as is Gillian Jacobs going totally nihilist evil.

      Game of Thrones – I’ll admit that the suspending disbelief with this show is starting to push it but watching the pieces come together in unpredictable ways is really fun, especially Gendry coming back, Tyrion meeting with Jaime. The King in the North maaaayyyy be fucked though. At least Littlefinger is finally doing something though.

      • Fresno Bob

        Seconded on the love for Long Good Friday.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It’s pretty marvelous.

      • Kelly Reilly’s character in the second season of True Detective has a lot of Mirren’s Victoria in here, and the eight-episode time frame provided time for that extended look into her and Vince Vaughn’s relationship. It was also pretty cool and unexpected there, and Reilly got two great beats of ownage.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I could see Piccolato being a fan of Long Good Friday, especially how it’s a crime story that’s not passionately interested in crime.

      • Hoskins was such an amazing actor. Mirren still is, but this is one of the few films I’ve seen with her in her youth, and she was radiant back then. (Still is radiant, but not in the same way.)

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          She exudes canny, aristocratic elegance and intelligence. In Excalibur that comes off as otherworldly but here it’s rooted in wearing multiple faces and knowing how to hide her true feelings.

    • Babalugats

      Kong: Skull Island – This was great. It’s under two hours, the cast is loaded, and the creature design is really cool. I especially liked the giant crab spiders with the bamboo legs, it’s little touches like that that make a monster memorable. My only complaint is that this Skull Island is a little sparsely populated compared to its older siblings. But the monsters we do see get a lot of screen time and the fights were all well staged and fun. Vogt-Roberts has a strong sense of scale, and everything looks and feels appropriately giant. The cast is way too good for this movie and do their best to salvage a pretty terrible script. John C Reilly ought to be in everything. The dialogue waffles between endearingly goofy, “That’s Kong, he’s king around here.” to the painful, “I’ve photographed enough mass graves to know one when I see one.” Brie Larson, when we get off this monster island, we’re going to have a talk. Stylistically the movie borrows from a bunch of other filmmakers, (Leone, Coppola, Refn…) without really understanding why those styles are effective. There’s no rhythm to the film, and although it’s not an ugly movie, it’s visually tacky. But that’s all part of the charm. This is a true B-movie, that makes some gestures towards big important themes but really just wants to watch Kong bash some lizards real good. And Kong does. He bashes them lizards real good.

      I also finished Young Pope. Has anybody else watched this show? This is one of the best religious works I’ve ever seen, and I’m very interested to hear some other perspectives on it. This has to be the most visually dynamic show ever made. And Jude Law deserves a TV Oscar for his work here, which is one of the best performances the medium has produced. It’s still a difficult show to recommend, with its wild approach to a sensitive subject matter, its purposefully inconsistent tone that will shift from broad juvenile humor to dry discussions of theology on a dime, its general absurdism, and its lack of any real plot momentum. The show is structured as a series of stacked arguments, with new information recontextualizing everything that came before. It’s similar to Fight Club, except instead of a single twist, there’s one in nearly every episode. That means there’s no way to discuss the series without heavy spoilers, so be warned. The story follows at times, a liberal pope facing a corrupt establishment, a reactionary pope held back by a corrupt but liberal establishment, an atheist pope trying to destroy the church, an exploration of what true faith in the full scope of God and the infallibility of the pope would look like, an exploration of human frailty, and finally what it would take for a divine being to relate to that frailty. But the true twist to the show is it’s deep sincerity. Each character has their own moral outlook, and the show doesn’t play favorites. The mystic is allowed to exist right next to the strictly rational. The unpleasant aspects of hardline, and even mainstream, Catholicism are addressed, but the show never questions the importance and sincerity of anyone’s faith. It’s an absolutely fascinating program.

      And finally, the atomic episode of Twin Peaks. If Lynch wants to quit this show and make an anthology series of avant garde horror shorts, it would be alright with me.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I loved the Young Pope. It’s a mix of high camp and total, aching sincerity, especially in the final episode. It’s a rare example of an “anti hero” show where the anti-hero genuinely changes in response to his holding of power and arguably for the better. It is quite bizarre though in its gleeful flouting of traditional storytelling.

        • Babalugats

          It’s a redemption story, where instead of finding redemption through suffering, Jude Law is forgiven first and finds redemption by choosing to do good. Without any big gestures, or making amends. Just quietly tries to be a better person. For something that is the foundation of Christian philosophy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that story before. And I loved the show’s surrealism. It felt like being in touch with the spiritual world. And like searching for meaning in what is most likely meaningless. And also just enjoying the beauty and strangeness of creation.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            One thing that I think is great is how the series is about the potential for Grace and decency and then finding your way to that. Lenny is reaching for those things all of the time, which makes him more complicated than some kind of “Tony Soprano is the Pope” situation.

          • Babalugats

            And the other characters are reaching for the same thing in very different ways. And because it’s set in the Vatican, all these characters have spent a lifetime studying, considering, and philosophizing about these issues. So everyone’s acting from a very solid self-aware moral standing, and yet none of them have escaped their own human weaknesses. I also like the inconsistency of the characters. They’ve got conflicting motivations and different things win out at different times. It’s very true to life in a way that is rare in fiction.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Me to my grandmother when my dumb uncle was dissing it: “Don’t, don’t listen to him, it’s great!”

      • Fresno Bob

        I’ve watched Kong Skull Island so many times in the past month that I now have developed this weird, locked-in affection for it. My kids love it SO MUCH, and I can’t help but get into it on their level. It’s not that my earlier comments about it have been reversed, but I now understand how its appeal transforms when you aren’t a stupid grown-up that has seen too many movies. It’s a pure monster movie, and its pace and simplicity are kind of perfect.

        • Babalugats

          It’s honest schlock. It’s got a big dumb heart and an obvious enthusiasm for what it’s doing, and it’s hard not to get swept up by it.

        • edibletalkingchairs .

          and it always looks fantastic

  • Miller

    Way to bury the lede — Shakes the Clown!

    • The Ploughman

      I say this as a fan of Goldthwaith’s films: Shakes the Clown is not very good.

      • Miller

        But it exists, and that is the important thing.

  • BurgundySuit

    Year of the Month (from an idea by Elizabeth Lerner) continues!
    Possible books here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_in_literature Movies here: https://letterboxd.com/hfilums/year/1985/ And music here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_in_music

    August 16th: clytie: Smooth Talk
    August 17th: BurgundySuit: Best of the Hot 100
    August 18th: BurgundySuit: Worst of the Hot 100
    August 19th: John Bruni: Neil Young’s Old Ways
    August 20th: Son of Griff: The Breakfast Club
    August 21st: Miller: Hard Rock Zombies
    August 22nd: Wallflower: Into the Night
    August 24th: The Ploughman: Ender’s Game
    August 25th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Tampopo
    August 27th: Bhammer: Ran
    August 28th: ZoeZ: Lonesome Dove
    August 29th: Lgauge: Hail Mary

    • lgauge

      That’s a lowercase “l” by the way.

      More importantly: Do you have any preferred format for these pieces? Like, should they be more like impersonal reviews, pieces of writing about the film, our personal take, or can we just do as we please?

      Also, how should we deliver the piece to you?

      • BurgundySuit

        Do as you please! And when you’re done, just email it to me at scottsm0 at sewanee dot edu.

    • Bhammer100

      If we want to include pictures in our article, how do you want us to do it? Should we just insert the pictures into the document where we want them? I ask because I’m a good 75 to 80 percent done with my article and I already have 2000 words (apparently there is a lot to talk about with Ran). I would kind of like to break up this giant wall of text.

      • BurgundySuit

        Just send them along with the article – you can indicate in the text where the pictures go too if you’d like.

  • Defense Against The Dark Arts

    Alien: Covenant was okay I guess. It’s really a sequel to Prometheus, a movie I saw in 2012 but couldn’t remember a damn thing that happened in it. Since I’m complaining I’ll say I’m getting kind of bored with watching various space ship crews get picked off one by one.

    • Fresno Bob

      I was not a fan of Covenant.

    • Bhammer100

      Part of my problem with Prometheus and Alien:Covenant is Ridley Scott seems completely invested in telling a story I have little interest in. I don’t care where the aliens come from. I went to see Covenant with a friend and he thought it was fantastic. I didn’t say anything but I was thinking No, Alien and Aliens are fantastic. This was just alright. Michael Fassbender is amazing in the movie. And it is absolutely gorgeous. But it felt like it didn’t really know what it wanted to be – did it want to be a Prometheus sequel or did it want to be an Alien prequel? It ended up being this weird mishmash of both.

      • Defense Against The Dark Arts

        The idea of the Architects seeding life on different worlds is an interesting one, but the way they’re used in both movies is an after thought. Just make a movie about the Architects and forget the disposable space ship crew.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      I liked Covenant but it played to a lot of my favorite themes in fiction and I loved it’s weird, creepy ambition.

    • edibletalkingchairs .

      that is why i watch movies