• As usual, almost none of the nominees interested me enough to spend theater prices on. But even though the hard R-rating of The Shape of Water deterred me – I am as ever prude enough to avoid sex scenes – I cannot help but be thrilled that Del Toro had his big moment. I love Hellboy and Pacific Rim and find Del Toro to be, even when I don’t love his stuff (Pan’s Labyrinth), an unique filmmaker and visionary.

    Never mind that as best as I can tell, the label of “science fiction” might very well apply to The Shape of Water. (Though from what else I know, it’s the sort of film that really defies labels.) This is the first time a straight sci-fi film has won, and only the second that SF or fantasy has won (Return of the King being the other). I doubt we are in the cusp of seeing more SF and fantasy get this level of respect. But it’s still nice that it can happen.

    • Jake Gittes

      There’s basically no actual sex in The Shape of Water, although the nudity is there and pretty frank. But the movie doesn’t really get into the, uh, mechanics of it all.

      I’d also argue that it’s largely/entirely on the side of fantasy, and I think GDT has said the same. Science fiction has yet to win.

      • PCguy

        I had no interest in THE SHAPE OF WATER because of that title. It sounds like something that’s far too sophisticated for someone uncouth like me. The only thing I knew about the film’s plot was the sex thing. So after finally seeing a clip from the movie I experienced an uncomfortable mental recalibration after realizing that the big sex scene did not depict a woman literally having sex with a fish.

        Does Del Toro go for the obvious joke? “The first time I had sex with a fish I was really nervous about the smell. He didn’t seem to mind though.”

        • Miller

          Actually, I just realized he went for an even more terrible joke: The fishman eats pussy.

        • The Ploughman

          Perhaps for those who have not experienced TSoW we should clarify – there are no actual fish fish in the film, and the sex is not explicit. It’s all cloaked in magical realism (including playing fast and loose with the physics of apartment bathrooms and water). Much like my guess about ET’s popularity, I think TSoW would be far less popular if the sex were of the realistic, sweaty, grunting variety.

          • Babalugats

            Three only part of the movie that got a visceral reaction from me is when she turned on that faucet and let the water dump on the floor. “No! That’s going to be much work to fix!”

          • The Ploughman

            I’ll totally own it as a hangup of mine, but I’ve never had sex so great that I would do lasting damage to my hardwood floors for it.

          • “sex…hard wood…”


          • Jake Gittes

            Not sex-related but the cat’s fate made me guffaw, not gonna lie. And I’m a major cat person.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            I think TSoW would be far less popular if the sex were of the realistic, sweaty, grunting variety.

            This might explain MacGruber‘s box office failure. (Well, for certain definitions of “realistic” that include “having sex with your dead wife’s ghost on her grave.”)

          • The Ploughman

            One of the jokes in Team America than I think gets a little misinterpreted is the ridiculous sex scene. Part of it is haha we’re making puppets do it, but it’s also a riff on sanitizing sex in movies. What if instead of candlelight and gently mushing bodies, a movie cut to our romantic leads just going at it like animals

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            This is pretty much what happens in MacGruber. Twice.

            (I’ve only seen the unrated version; I have no idea how much the theater cut changes these scenes.)

          • Whoa, was there sex in E.T.? Definitely missed that part.

          • The Ploughman

            Apparently it depends on who you ask around here.

          • Ha. I just saw the thread about this. Yummy.

          • PCguy

            In retrospect my mind probably shouldn’t have immediately jumped to The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.

    • Also horror won big with Get Out‘s Original Screenplay.

      • Miller

        The theme of last night for me, more than most, was Right Person, Wrong Movie – I would’ve preferred someone else in all the acting and directing categories but I’m glad the people who did win got recognized (especially Janney).

    • Miller

      I saw a preview for Pacific Rim 2 this weekend and the fact that del Toro has somehow come up with a way to consistently pay Guy Davis to create more Ogdru Hem for blockbuster movies is wonderful.

  • Babalugats

    What Did We Watch Last Night?

    • Babalugats

      The Shape of the Water – Instead of watching the Oscars I decided to b watch the movie that was going to win all of them. I thought it was fine. The creature work was fantastic, and Del Toro made a savvy decision making his romantic leads mute, but otherwise I was pretty underwhelmed. It’s hard to get swept up in the romance when we keep cutting back to the thriller plot, and the thriller never builds any kind of momentum. The fish man also has no personality to speak of (@ploughman:disqus described him as a pet that’s dtf, and I can’t top that) and that leaves the romance pretty shallow and uninvolving. I’d have rather have seen the movie where Michael Shannon is hunting this thing through the Amazon. I don’t begrudge it it’s Oscars though. It’s not a bad movie, and it’s definitely an oddball choice by Academy standards.

      American Made – The generically titled Tom Cruise Iran-Contra (sorta) movie. I liked this one a lot better. Sometimes I like movies because they’re experimenting with genre or tone or aesthetics. And sometimes I like movies because they’re a good story well told. Like I, Tonya this movie adopts a Scorsesen looseness without matching Scorsese’s energy or depth of character. But also like I, Tonya, the film is well performed and the story is compelling and the looseness keeps it from ever feeling too formulaic.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        It was genuinely fun to watch Cruise in a non-action guy role and using his old cocky attitude. He always does shockingly good work doing a parody of his movie personas.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        What is the deal with all the shit generic “American _____” titles of late? Does American Made really get more butts in the seats than, say, Cocaine Cowboy?

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          The movie should absolutely have been called Cocaine Cowboy, but at least thematically it fits way better than it did American Hustle.

    • Too cold to go outside, so… lots.

      Thelma – a slow-burn Norwegian thriller about a naive, repressed young woman who starts having seizures after moving away to university, which awakens dark family secrets. This is the first of Joachim Trier’s films that I’ve seen, and I was impressed – he keeps things tense and fascinating despite the slow pace, and knows just how to answer enough questions to make things satisfy, without needing to tie up every loose end. It reminded me a little of Raw, minus the body horror.

      The Piano in a Factory – a low-key Chinese comedy-drama about a divorced dad who decides to build a piano for his daughter. This had a similar “deadpan humour despite poverty” vibe to Aki Kaurismaki’s films, so obviously I liked it a lot. Gorgeous cinematography, too, and an interesting Russian-inspired soundtrack.

      Body Snatchers – Abel Ferrara’s attempt at updating the Body Snatchers story for the early 90s. Not quite as good as the first two films, but not that far off either; the FX are great, there are enough changes to the story for it to feel familiar but different (like a Body Snatcher!) and the lead actress is likable. If it had a better supporting cast and a slightly better ending I’d have happily held it up to the high standard of the 50s and 70s versions, but it’s a close third best and still a lot of fun.

      Nightbirds – a deeply strange British film from 1970, about two young drifters who fall into a toxic relationship and shut out the outside world. It has the grainy, low-key feel of those 60s kitchen-sink dramas but the acting is really stagey and over-the-top, which is a weird mix I could not get past, although for the first ten minutes or so I found it hilarious. That quickly wore off.

      Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Dane DeHaan is, frankly, the strangest casting decision I think I’ve ever encountered in my life (give or take Keanu in period dramas I guess) but I loved everything else about this, so I’m happy to ignore how creepy it gets every time he tries to play the romantic lead. Such thrilling action, beautiful world-building and scene-stealing supporting actors (Rihanna put tears in my eyes? Didn’t see that coming). Happy to be on board with this one after sadly failing to get past the flaws in Jupiter Ascending. Sci-fi flops forever!

      The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – the Swedish 3hr TV version. Utterly harrowing at times, but I was really impressed by this overall. I’ve been a fan of Noomi Rapace for a while without actually seeing her in anything worthy of her obvious talent – she’s probably the best thing about this, but the story is gripping and I enjoyed Michael Nyquist’s detective work and the Swedish setting. Looking forward to checking out the rest of the trilogy.

      Tampopo – judging by the reactions of everyone else I know that has seen this, I thought this would be a surefire winner at the end of a hefty weekend of movie-watching, but to my surprise I didn’t click with it at all. The central story is charming, if slight, but the comedic diversions just didn’t sync up with my sense of humour at all. I didn’t hate it, but I definitely felt disappointed.

      • DJ JD

        Good lord was Gabrielle Anwar radiant in that Body Snatchers remake. Younger me had the worst screencrush on her for awhile there.

        Also, DeHaan and Rapace are both on my list of wildly talented workers who are still looking for the right project to break in the A-list. I haven’t seen Valerian yet, but I thought he was amazing in Chronicle. (That said, I’m not sure his DiCaprio-like looks and DiCaprio-like intensity is really helping his career.)

        • I liked him a lot in Chronicle, but he brings exactly the same creepy intensity to his swaggering, playboy space captain in Valerian and it makes no sense whatsoever. He tries his best, he’s just utterly wrong for the part.

          • DJ JD

            Wow. Yeah. I didn’t finish my own thought there, but I meant to say “DC-like looks and intensity but *not* necessarily the social ease or boyish confidence”, which would be a nice element to add for a part like that.

          • pico

            Felt so much like “What if Harrison Ford was played by a living Pepe the Frog” and it soured the whole movie. Which is a pity, because I liked most of it, especially that multi-dimensional chase scene.

          • I kind of went from “he is such a weird fit for this role” to “wait, is it maybe a good thing that he’s a weird fit for this role” to “…no”

      • Miller

        Body Snatchers is a lot of fun, lean and mean and like you say solid effects. Although the best part of the movie is simple as can be — the classroom scene.

        • I’d maybe go for the shock and awe of the “my naked, partially formed doppelganger just fell through the ceiling into the bath” scene but you make a compelling argument. That scene is creepy as hell, and that kid does some good face-acting to sell the creepiness.

          • pico

            Mine is, of course, “Where you gonna go?” Meg Tilly giving a horror moment for the ages.

            I wish the movie didn’t collapse in the last act, though.

          • She’s great post-replacement but I think it would have been even more effective if they’d actually given her much screen time beforehand. I like to care about a person before they get bodysnatched!

      • Hell yeah, Valerian. I unapologetically love this movie, if for nothing else that opening sequence alone. And the chase scene that takes place in two separate dimensions.

        • It is a great opening, and the whole movie is just bursting with ideas. They don’t all work, but there’ll be another one along in a minute. It’s basically the sci-fi version of one of those ten-punchlines-a-minute comedy films.

    • Oscars! – Hooray for Guillermo del Toro! Literally couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy! I was rooting for him or PTA for director.

      My ideal outcome would have been Get Out for BP, GdT/PTA for Director, Saoirse Ronan for Actress, and The Big Sick for screenplay. Spread the love around.

      Congrats to Oldman and Rockwell for winning for [does time travel] Moon and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy! [whistles past domestic abuse allegations against Oldman]

      Deakins finally got his Oscar, which feels both great and anti-climactic. He’s the best, and this is the capstone. The fact that he won for such a gorgeous movie that isn’t even his best work speaks loudly to how great he is.

      Oscar-Winner Kobe Bryant. That sounds weird. [whistles past rape allegations]

      How does Edgar Wright never win the sound awards?

      Kumail Nanjiani for next year’s host. PLEASE.

      • I have been trying very hard to not ignore Bryant’s past. I am not demanding we all sit in judgment when the courts didn’t. I just want people to remember than he might be a very rotten person when considering his career. And every time he gets a new accolade, we keep forgetting that.

        • I suspect people whose allegations came before last year will mostly be ignored. The effort to relitigate them probably isn’t there. As for Kobe, I was in high school when allegations surfaced, and I didn’t realize at the time it was about rape; I just thought he cheated on his wife.

      • Miller

        Heh, poor Nanjiani kept getting his lines stepped on by applause. But yeah, he’d make a great host.

        And I was waiting for someone to call out Bryant, but nope.

        • At the Independent Spirit Awards, he & EVG won best first screenplay, and he was so effortlessly funny. They were joking during their speech about what they changed for the movie. She said, “my dad never cheated on my mom,” and he blurted out “that we know of” to uncomfortable laughter. You could hear him mumble to her shocked expression, “I messed up already.”

    • DJ JD

      Predator 2 – Right, so, remember how I said it didn’t really take that much squinting to see the first one as Arnie’s psychotic break with reality following a brutal-but-conventional ambush that wiped out his platoon? Well, turns out it takes even less squinting to see this as a crazy-ex-girlfriend movie. I’m not really joking there, believe it or not: the predator’s choices don’t really make much sense through any other lens, even if I know full well they’re just cutting to the predator stalking Glover to remind us that there is in fact a predator in this movie. (This movie has structural issues, is what I’m saying here.)

      Anyway! We first meet Yelena Yandbasket when she’s cruising around the city and she spots a big strong cop with serious anger and impulse control issues. She likes bad boys, so she decides to help him out at his job without him knowing about it. But it’s like he just doesn’t even see her! So she starts following him around, watching his friends and generally stalking him. Things get more serious when she sees him talking to that King Willie bitch, who stole her haircut!!! so Willie’s got to go. Then her man’s creepy friend starts poking around her room trying to take her stuff so she kills him too–but she leaves the friend’s favorite necklace at his gravesite so he knows she cares. At this point, things get pretty silly – she stalks a female coworker of his but doesn’t kill her because she’s preggo and Yelena totally bonds with her over that – but long story short, her man brings a bunch of bros over and straight-up emotional attacks her, she fights back, someone loses an arm, yadda yadda yadda she dies and her family gives him a gift for killing her. What the hell you guys?!?

      Anyway, like I said my tone here is tongue-in-cheek but taken at face value, this movie is a mess. Everyone’s trying their best but this was just a very silly film. Also, Danny Glover is entirely miscast. There’s an awkward stiffness to him that works great for Murtaugh, but why he then needed a shot at Riggs I’ll never know.

      • Miller

        Now I sort of want you to watch Alien vs. Predator through the lens of a underdog sports movie, but no one should watch AvP.

        And yeah, Predator 2 is a mess but I like its super-janky city vibe, which I think is very much of its gang-fearing time.

        • DJ JD

          I’m certain we’ll watch Predators again; I’m less convinced about AvP. It might happen though, if only because we’ve been enjoying riffing on these. “Underdog sports movie”, you say…

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Black Panther – Some serious quibbles (bad CGI and messy action, some storytelling beats like T’Challa not meeting Killmonger til later in the movie) but this is just a damn good piece of entertainment and the best parts of it are the ones that veer from the Marvel formula, like the genuinely staggering, gorgeous production design (Hollywood please start making black films with Afro Futurist ideas and visuals please) and the sense of unity between all the characters. The best part of the screenplay I think is that all of the Wakandans are working for what they see as the best thing for their country, even Killmonger, it’s just that isn’t always the actual right thing to do, and that makes the movie fairly compelling.

      Also Michael B. Jordan is a fucking star. Coogler casting him as these angry orphans looking for a cause is never boring to me and as Killmonger he has swagger and charisma to burn.

      Corporate – Some hilarious satire of Chosen One cyberpunk sci fi series (cough Altered Carbon cough). The show has fun I think balancing between Matt’s pseudo-intellectual, all too relatable longing to get out of Hampton DeVille hell and Jake’s grumpy dickishness. “I found the cinematography so…cinematic.”

      Some Cheers! The “Will” episode is like a short story unto itself, the Cheers gang veering from compassion to greed when money is introduced. Great stuff.

      • Miller

        Jordan as Buckwheat in a dark Little Rascals reboot!

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Episodes Fourteen and Fifteen
      “What was that?”
      “Uh… Quack!”
      “Oh, it’s just a space duck.”

      “Did I just get hit by a bowl cut?”

      “And that is why I was considered the most beautiful, AND FERTILE, woman on my home planet. Before Freiza blew it up.”
      “He tends to do that. Also, hyuhuh.”

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Eleven, Episodes Nine and Ten, “The Gang Goes To Hell”
      “I had a diet cola mixer a while ago.”

      “You think thunder is God clapping?”

      “The amount of energy we’re using talking about whether or not we should recap, we might as well recap.”

      “We’ve cut our conflict resolution time in half. Four hours, that’s good.”


      “Let’s go be with the Gang.”

      I suppose these episodes are really a meditation on the Gang, first as individuals then as as a group, or to steal Ruck’s phrase, first we see how they can’t function in society, then how they can’t function together. With the former, Dennis is the most interesting, having now fully transformed into aging creep, partially because he’s now a good twenty years older than the women he’s hitting on, partly because he’s simply lost his game (“Well, that’s not supposed to happen.”). We also get a look into Mac’s spiritual side, where he basically feels guilty for the wrong things (also, love him dousing Frank’s cross in battery acid), and Dee’s absolute understanding of the implication. We also, of course, have the whole Gang jumping on God the same way they jump on jabroni and getting hot.

      The second episode, delving into some No Exit shit, is much more interesting. The Gang creates their own entirely imaginary social structure, based on their own misguided and half-assed understanding of what class is, and then proceed to destroy it. The solution to the “unknown time, unknown place” thing is cheating a little, but my expectations for this kind of thing are never high with this show.

      Also, Dennis does a dead-on impression of CCH Pounder, making this the second-best combination of Always Sunny and The Shield.

      Underworld USA, Samuel Fuller, recc’d by Babalaguts
      “He’s nice for a cop.”
      “For a what?”

      “Don’t tell me the end of a needle has a conscience.”

      Let me tell you, it’s nice to pick something basically at random that you know nothing about only to have it be exactly what you were in the mood for – in fact, this is exactly what I thought Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia would be like based on its title, a relentlessly bloodthirsty ownage-delivering machine of a film with a melodramatic edge. Tolly is a delightfully dangerous protagonist, almost completely nihilistic outside his revenge scheme; what makes him more fun is that he’s basically the only nihilist in the film. I’ve seen enough bad 50’s movies (even outside the context of MST3k) to recognise that he’s operating in what’s actually a fairly typical white hat/black hat gangster world, except Fuller is fairly indifferent to good and evil and just lets everything play out, or at least it feels that way to me.

      Realising why Cliff Robertson was familiar made me wonder what our current crop of A and B listers will be like when they’re old. What kind of parts will Brad Pitt be playing in ten or twenty years?

      I wonder what James Ellroy thought of Fuller, and vice versa.

      I really like the way this movie uses closeups, and I can’t quite nail down what it is that motivates them. I always like how different stories use them differently – David Fincher uses them like an underlining and as the fulcrum of his stories, Tarantino uses them like spice, The Shield uses them like verbs. They definitely contribute to an air of intensity.

      Ownage: Killing Gela was the best bit.

      The Sopranos, Season Two, Episode Thirteen, “Funhouse”
      “I can’t get off the boardwalk.”

      Hey, this is the first episode to obey the wallflower dream rule! I watch this show on my iPhone (I don’t care what you think, it’s extremely comfortable to watch it in bed), and hearing the trippy sound design through earphones made it twice as trippy. I’ve come to think of dreams the same way I think of TV shows; the details are less important than the overall emotional affect, and I often find my dreams are about things I’m repressing, so I use them to identify things that are bothering me. So obviously I’m going nuts for this episode, which basically says the same thing and has Tony finally acknowledge what he’s been ignoring for years; when we get to the boat, I was like ohhhhhh.

      The flipside of that is that I spent most of the climactic arrest sequence wondering if this was a dream too. I wonder if Tony was thinking the same thing; Melfi fought tooth and nail to get as far into his psyche as she has, and he just threw it all away at the last second.

      Christopher Outfit: Furio wears the strangest shirt I’ve ever seen.
      Interesting Todd Notes: Todd put a lot more significance on the ocean shots than I did. I often find myself asking “why are we following this specific character?”, and Todd makes a credible argument: Tony, of all these characters, is the closest to self-awareness.
      Ownage: Tony shoots Pauli in a dream, and does not wake up and apologise. Pussy gets whacked.
      Biggest Laugh: “My suit’s grown a beard!”

      Finally, I figured you guys would appreciate this moment of classical music ownage I learned about: http://www.classicfm.com/composers/beethoven/guides/daniel-steibelt/

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “Hey Puss – did she ever even exist?”

        There’s a chilling sense too that Tony knows subconsciously that he wouldn’t have caught and killed Pussy without his therapy – his growing self awareness makes him better at figuring out other people, and I think that’s partly why he rejects Melfi’s probing, because he just wants to be in his own bubble goddamn it (also her implication that Johnny Boy failed to protect him from Livia builds and builds through the rest of the series.)

        “The Gang Goes To Hell” feels like such a potential series finale that now I wonder where the ending actually will go.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Okay, I’ve been holding in this potential ending for Always Sunny for a while, and this seems like a good chance to bring it up: what if next season of Always Sunny is the last?

          We open with the Gang, minus Dennis and Charlie, talking crap about something. Charlie comes in, complaining about the Waitress hounding him over their baby. The Waitress follows him in, talking about the baby stuff, and each of the Gang contributes one action in a Rube Goldberg situation that leads to the death of the Waitress.

          Cut to title: “The Gang Goes Too Far”.

          What happens next is the final season of Always Sunny, a Shield-like escalation of events where everything the Gang have ever done comes back on them over the course of a season, with the Gang dragging Dennis back into their insane lives. Long story short, yet another series ends with a guy named Ronnie getting pinned for all their crimes, being dragged away by cops as he yells “God damn it!”

          • So basically we’re hoping it’s a season that’s direct-to-

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            See I think it’s gotta be Rickety Cricket at the end.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Absolutely, but I couldn’t not make the joke I did.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Lol this is fair. I could see Mac yelling “We were gonna run together!” to Dennis and him just shrugging evilly.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            I agree with Conor that it’s gotta be Rickety Cricket, but I was also thinking:

            Who’d be more excited about prison: Rickety Cricket, because at least there’s food and shelter… or would we finish with a cop cracking a joke about Mac getting raped in prison– pan to Mac with a slow smile on his face?

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Dennis does a dead-on impression of CCH Pounder, making this the second-best combination of Always Sunny and The Shield.


          It’s worth remembering, too, how much Dee (the great actress who creates all these hilarious characters) absolutely sucks at her Obama impression, immediately going to the most stereotypical-black-guy voice imaginable.

          I think one of my favorite little bits of “Funhouse” is that Tony and crew honor Pussy’s “not in the face” request, even though Pussy isn’t getting a funeral, open casket or otherwise.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “SO racist, Dee.” “That’s our president!” (looking back its uncannily easy to do an Obama impression too.)

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Look, here’s the thing. All you have to do… to have a passable Obama impression… is clip your words slightly… and take pauses at certain points in sentences.

      • We were talking about this: I found the remnants of the original comment thread, which is where I first got into it with some people over The Shield. There’s an early, now-deleted comment from TODDDDDDDD!!! where he ranks TV shows as 1. Deadwood 2. The Sopranos 3. The Wire 4. The Shield; he calls The Shield a step down but not a very big step down or some such.

        I knew the origin of the Eroica but not the full details. Thanks for that. (Come at the king, you best not miss.)

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Holy shit, one guy in that thread actually had the gall to say something owns more than The Shield.Like I get not liking The Shield as much as something else, but come on.

          I wonder if Arrested Development–another show with a perfectly executed, narrow view of the world–would have lost its way if it stayed on the air any longer.

          *looks at the camera like I’m on The Office*

          • This has been another installment of @disqus_wallflower:disqus Warned You.

      • ZoeZ

        When I need a mood boost, I think of Dennis’s CCH Pounder impression, which is truly one of the greatest works of our time.

        The character detail that the Gang thinks that all non-alcoholic beverages are “mixers” is terrific. And I have no business being genuinely touched by that ten seconds of transcendent peace among the Gang, but I am–and, since it’s immediately shattered by the their ruthless competition to stay alive, it’s even in-character.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It’s such great character detail that (as I remember) Frank goes down first, Dennis tells Dee he loves her and she doesn’t reciprocate (and I weirdly buy that Dennis loves her as much as he can love anybody), and that Charlie and Mac genuinely feel sentimental value there. These are terrible people who are bad for each other, but they’re also the only people they can really be around and also be themselves.

      • Son of Griff

        Re: Ellroy and Fuller

        I’ve discussed movies with the Demon Dog of American Literature, and I can assure you that Underworld U.S.A. is one of his favorites. In fact he calls his post L.A. Quartet trilogy Underworld U.S.A.

        Fuller returned the compliment, speaking of the author with great affection in his autobiography. Ellroy, Fuller and Curtis Hansen were also at a semi-private screening of White Dog that I attended shortly before the director’s passing , so I suspect they did enjoy each others company.

        As to the close-ups— I think their impact comes because Fuller used them out of a stylistic obligation rather than as a personal preference. They show up with a punchy unpredictability. In PARK ROW the producer clearly had them inserted post production by enlarging the frame of the master. They appear more like punctuation for the most part in his later films. While I like Joseph Biroc’s work on Underworld, Stanley Cortez’ mug shot style lighting of the leads faces in THE NAKED KISS leaves an unforgettable impact.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Damn, that’s awesome. I’ve been reading about Ellroy today, and went from never wanting to meet him to wishing he posted on here.

          “I’m the author of 16 books, masterpieces all; they precede all my future masterpieces.”

          • Son of Griff

            He’s just as opinionated but dials down the hyperbole in person. He isn’t as reactionary as he comes off as in interviews either, although his views run towards the conservative side. He’s also quite generous.

      • Son of Griff

        Just found out its Ellroy’s Birthday. Enjoy


        • Maybe, Norman MacLean-style, he can finally get to work on his promised magnum opus All Men Have More Hair Than Me.

          • Son of Griff


          • Fun fact: this was the original title for Blood Meridian. Actually, it was the original title for all of McCarthy’s work up to The Sunset Limited.

      • In other IASIP, Academy Award winning director Guillermo del Toro played Pappy McPoyle!


      • Babalugats

        I also saw Underworld World USA more or less at random and was floored by how good it was. The amorality of the story, the depth of the supporting cast, the wildly propulsive narrative, the truly deranged hero, the vividness of the style. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as blindly stumbling across a masterpiece. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. If you’re looking for another deep dive, I think you’ll find film noir + early gangster movies very rewarding.

        Here’s the conversation @SonofGriffenstein:disqus and I had, back when I first saw it.


      • “Funhouse” is such a great episode. And so fucking brutal. I’d rank it among the show’s top 5 episodes.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Of all the episodes, it’s the one that most strongly conveys the feeling of a lifetime (maybe even more than a lifetime) of choices coming down on a group of people, and makes the best story out of it.

    • 7 Days in Hell ‘cuz I needed a quick hit of comedy this weekend. Structurally, it resembles Monty Python’s “The Cycling Tour”–a short narrative with a lot of actually-not-that-loosely-connected gags on it. (If, like most modern comedies, they have to go for cheap dick jokes, at least they’re somewhat inspired cheap dick jokes.) The best aspect of this was the acting, ‘cuz everyone was clearly having a blast, and the more irredeemable their character the better: Michael Sheen and Lena Dunham get top honors here. Like the through-lined match itself, I kept wondering how this would end, and the solution to that problem was inventive and silly and just as stupid as its main characters. Let them fight!

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Michael Sheen as a pervy William F. Buckley – Bravo, sir.

        “Mummy! The queen beat me where the bruises wouldn’t show!”

        • Sheen just loves to go full crazy in his comic characters. God bless that man.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            See also Spoils of Babylon where he’s Wiig’s Laura Ingalls Wilder loving husband.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Michael Sheen as a pervy William F. Buckley

          You ever hear that early Chapo episode where they read from Ross Douthat’s memoir? William F. Buckley might have been a pervy William F. Buckley.

    • Star Trek: The Omega Glory – Tor.com’s resident Star Trek critic, novelist Keith RA DeCandido, gives this one a zero. Hard to argue with that unless you take into account a decent performance by Morgan Woodward as the wayward and broken Captain Tracy, or Kirk’s impassioned reading of the preamble of the constitution of the United States. The story stopped making sense quickly, reeks of Yellow Peril racism and the usual sexism, and then just gets incredibly stupid. A great example of why Gene Roddenberry, despite having created Trek, should have never been allowed to write for Trek. (And we are in the middle of a string of weird alternate Earths. The planet of the mobsters, the planet of the Nazis, the planet of the lost Constitution, and soon the planet of the Romans. Apes would be welcome now.)

      The Flash: Subject Nine – Not a bad episode, but basically just filling time along the way towards whatever it is that The Thinker is going to do, with a little time to create a painfully and unnecessarily short lived love interest for Ralph and a cute subplot with Harry Wells and the DA. Best described as a good argument for shorter seasons on The Flash and the other Arrowverse shows.

      Black Lightning: Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder – The episode titles are really kind of ponderous. The show is really kind of trudging along. Not much has happened the last three episodes, at least concerning Jeff Pierce. Fortunately, Anissa’s arc is moving along and finally collides with Jeff’s. But this was a weird one. Strangely, given that Freeland seems to be a northern city, there is a CSA monument that draws first protests, and then an incident that is entirely the tragedy at Charlottesville. Followed by Anissa’s first public appearance in costume, destroying the statue. While I completely approve of both a hero and a TV making this statement, it felt really forced and a bit trivial. But at the same time, BL’s greatest strength so far has been in opening addressing race issues. So I will cut the show some slack, even as I am hoping that the creators get a little more subtle.

      Mr. Monk and the Captain’s Wife – Another Monk-Stottelmeyer focused episode, which always seems to work.

      • Glorbes

        Roddenberry submitted his script for The Omega Glory to the Emmys for consideration of an award. It did not win.

        The man was an idiot.

    • Jake Gittes

      The Shape of Water. Guillermo del Toro sure likes his old movies. And Octavia Spencer sure can do a feature-length sassy black woman act.

      This left me really cold. It’s a movie that seems to view being a socially conscious fairy tale as an excuse to essentially create its own 2-hour safe space in which it can comfortably side with the oppressed and rail against the oppressors, while treating both as cardboard cutouts trapped in artificially designated roles and set towards a predetermined ending. So much here is just openly pandering, from Richard Jenkins’ subplot with the sexy pie dude (after the abrupt conclusion of which his homosexuality is instantly forgotten, having fulfilled its function), to Michael Shannon’s square-jawed all-american ’60s white man who’s a sadist, a sexual harasser, and someone who demands his wife be silent during sex (get it?), to the endless shoutouts to the magic of old movies in place of any sort of unforced magic of its own; that Del Toro, bless his heart, is obviously entirely sincere and uncynical about all of this hardly makes it any more involving.

      The Oscars – well, Best Picture came down to my two least favorite nominees in the end, which is probably just as well because it saved me from getting needlessly mad when the wrong movie won. Now at least Three Billboards will not be provoking instant anger from people until the end of time, and The Shape of Water will forever be known as that time we gave Best Picture to a fish fucking movie. “Remember Me”, Mark Bridges, Roger Deakins, Jordan Peele and James Ivory all won, and that could have been a lot worse, since only Ivory was locked going into the ceremony. And Frances McDormand seized her moment beautifully. Although my favorite bit was definitely when the orchestra started playing off one of the winners before stopping the instant he brought up his dead mother.

      • ZoeZ

        I will give Shannon’s character some points for depth for the sheer badassery of pulling his own infected fingers off–that’s commitment–but a thousand +1s to the weak conclusion of Richard Jenkins’s subplot.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          *Michael Shannon pulls infected fingers off* “Wait were we shooting a movie?”

        • Jake Gittes

          Shannon also does have a couple of brief scenes pointing to him having an internal crisis in the midst of all this, which was the closest the film got to having interesting character material. But then it just reverts back to treating him as a one-dimensional monster.

          @disqus_Pvn3kEV3Sl:disqus proposed a movie about Shannon’s character hunting the Amphibian Man in the Amazon, my pitch would be a movie about him going through a Don Draper-esque identity crisis in between having to deal with fishman creatures, nosy cleaners and hardass military superiors, made perhaps by the Coens in Hudsucker Proxy mode. (That way you can keep all the production design but breathe more unpredictable eccentricity and emotion in there.)

      • Miller

        Co-sign entirely on Shape as a movie but also its enjoyable status as the fishman-fucking BP.

        • Jake Gittes

          Between this and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives we’ve now had fish fucking movies win both the Oscar and the Palme d’Or.

          • Miller

            We could’ve had an Emmy too if those snobs had respected Mr. Show.

          • Son of Griff

            Somewhere, Troy McClure is smiling.

        • Really hope there’s a documentary on the inevitable Criterion release called Ima Fuck Me a Fish.

          • Miller

            “Life is precious, and God, and the Bible” – deleted scene dialogue for Michael Shannon’s character.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            “You are having my baby, and I am prideful and honorable of that.”

      • Babalugats

        Octavia Spencer really deserved better than this movie gave her.

        • pico

          ^ Evergreen comment.

    • ZoeZ

      Casting JonBenet: An unusual and thoughtful documentary. This could have been purely gimmicky–the whole set-up, the casting process for a JonBenet Ramsey TV movie that’s never going to be made, is a gimmick, and a good one–but it’s kept from that by its heart and its genuine polyphony. This is a movie about empathy, successful and unsuccessful. (It’s striking how none of the actors auditioning for John see him as guilty; the women, interestingly, are more willing to assume Patsy’s guilt and still assume–in the sense of stepping into–her humanity.)

      Game Night: Exactly as much fun as it needed to be, with grace points like the chemistry between Bateman and McAdams and a sharp understanding of comedy of manners. This is by no means essential, but I had a good time watching it. (“A three-for-one sale?
      How can that possibly be profitable for the Frito-Lay company?”)

      The Omen: A procedural about doing your due diligence before killing your son, and an effective one, well-grounded by Peck’s gravity and the eternal disconnect between Damien’s nanny’s smile and her eyes. And it has a good sense of tableau, from “Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you!” to the great scene of the baboons attacking the car.

    • The Snowman – “Her husband specifically asked for Inspector Hole.”

      That’s Inspector Harry Hole. Actually, he’s a detective, but they call him an inspector for…no reason. It’s a bad script. The director has gone on record saying that 15% of the script was unfilmed. But, characters seem to drop out, subplots existed to be red herrings, and nothing makes any sense. It’s never a good funny bad…Except when somebody mentions Harry’s last name.

      Author: The LeRoy Story – In the 90s, there was a gay teen prostitute with AIDS and an abusive past who became a literary phenomenon. He wrote memoir-style fiction about his truck stop prostitute mother and his staring of older male abusers. He was reclusive for years until he had to go on tv.

      Turns out, he was the work of Laura Albert, an overweight housemom with dark fantasies and insecurity issues. Maybe she had an abusive past of her own, but you can’t believe anything coming out of her mouth.

      Author is a 2 hour monologue where she fellates herself for being friends with all of these celebrities including Billy Corgan and Courtney Love. It’s as insufferable as it sounds.

      • DJ JD

        Aaaauugh I remember that woman! So she hasn’t grown any more sufferable with time? Ouch.

        • Nope. She spends the whole monologue looking like some old punker and she also makes weird pronouncements like “you couldn’t be a fat punk.” Two hours is a long time to be trapped in a room with her trying to hold court and not having any alternative views allowed.

      • ZoeZ

        I am undoubtedly proving something about Americans, but I always wish that name had just gotten altered slightly in translation. Come on, everybody, you know how hard it is not to laugh at that!

        • I may or may not have spent portions of the movie saying Hole as a call back to anytime somebody said Harry.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Even worse, the backstory in the American version is that the family name was shortened on Ellis Island from Holocaust.

    • jroberts548

      Caddyshack. This is not a good movie, and I don’t understand how it enjoys any sort of popularity. Plot-wise, it’s a huge mess, with multiple unrelated plotlines that don’t connect, conflicts that appear in only one scene and vanish, and character arcs that make no damn sense. I’m aware, thanks to A Futile and Stupid Gesture that there were significant behind-the-scenes problems, and it shows. This feels like it was cobbled together from a few different movies.

      Also, this is Bill Murray’s worst performance.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Caddyshack is indeed a mess, but Bill Murray is so goddamn funny here just rambling about how he’ll kill the gopher. I have to give Worst Murray to Space Jam.

      • DJ JD

        This is one of those that had some high-enough highs to get some goodwill from me. Going from this, I never would’ve guessed Murray had the capacity for nuance and subtlety he would later show in Rushmore and beyond, but his line about receiving total transcendence when he dies, “so, y’know, I’ve got that going for me” still just slays me. I have to struggle not to steal it in day-to-day conversations when I think about it.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          “A-nother Cinderella story…”

        • pico

          Best line in the movie, by far. That said, I do wonder how’d it have played with a more subtly deadpan performance, like Murray in most other things, or like Tracey Walter in Repo Man. It’s like Murray didn’t yet have the confidence to underplay, which turned out to be his biggest strength.

      • Caddyshack is episodic as all hell, but that slapdash nature is great if you let go of your need for narrative coherence. It’s almost structured like a round robin standup routine.

        • jroberts548

          That’s a good point. I think if I just enjoyed the jokes more on a basic level, the structure wouldn’t bother me as much.

        • Miller

          The one person who holds things together in the comedic round robin is Ted Knight as the uber-Snob, he is brilliantly awful here.

      • The Ploughman

        Agreed on everything in the first paragraph.

      • Glorbes

        “The Dalai…Lama…himself.
        The flowing robes. The grace.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I really like the bit where Chevy Chase looks like he’s getting salt for his tequila shot but actually does a line of coke instead.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          “My father…*laughs cheerily* …hated you.”

      • Geez, yeah. Fuck Caddyshack.

    • Miller

      Breakdown and madness!

      Annihilation — still mulling this over, although if nothing else I appreciate the ending for swerving so hard into what it is (and aaahhhhhhh freaky movements!). I haven’t seen apparently obvious influence Stalker but one scene explicitly references another famous alien movie and I’ve been thinking on it — and more importantly, a story written as its sequel — as a way into Annihilation’s ideas on change. And the CSN song popping up throughout had me waiting for a different needle drop at the end: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d5ab8BOu4LE

      A Page Of Madness, with the Alloy Orchestra — a silent Japanese movie about people in an insane asylum from 1928 with live accompaniment (percussion, keys, clarinet). Japanese silents, including this one, usually had a live narrator in lieu of intertitles when they were originally screened but this screening did not, making the movie largely incomprehensible – there is a specific frustration to watching something where you can tell context exists but you are unable to grasp it, as opposed to straight surrealism or dream logic. But those exist here as well, bleeding into the narrative of a man trying to help his insane wife, so the movie refracts on itself in a way Annihilation alludes to but doesn’t hit on the same level. And formally the movie is gonzo – superimpositions, dissolves, quick cuts of increasing rhythm, upside down frames and outsized acting – to demonstrate its madness, the closest approximation I can think of is Clean, Shaven and that relies heavily on sound, this is all visual (though the Alloy Orchestra did a great job building off the screen to create their score). Trying to bridge the gulf between the mad and the sane is a two way street, delirious and confusing. Mulling this one over as well, it was a difficult watch, but I’m glad I saw it.

      • pico

        A Page of Madness is great: one of those movies I had to google the next morning to make sure I didn’t dream it.

        • Miller

          I wish I’d read up on it instead of coming in cold, that would’ve allowed me to appreciate how it is instead of wasting time trying to figure out what it is.

          Also, curious to hear your thoughts on Annihilation – you hated the end, right?

          • pico

            I did, yeah. I think I might put together a posting on Annihilation and the issue of adaptation overall, so I can have some time to sort out my own feelings about it. I know I’m in the minority on this, especially around here.

          • Miller

            Ah, I haven’t read the books (although I should, I liked City of Saints and Madmen) so the ending was its own thing for me.

          • pico

            Gotcha, though my feelings about the ending aren’t so much about the book, at least not per se. I loved the bear, which is not in the book, believe it or not. I need the larger essay to be able to articulate it, though. I think? I dunno. It might just come to down to: I didn’t like it.

    • The Ploughman

      For the first time in many years, I missed the Oscars because I had a day pass to the True/False Festival in nearby Columbia, Missouri. This is my second year going and it’s the best-organized festival by a damn sight. It’s somehow still fun and relaxed despite the crowds – and being part of a line 300+ deep hoping to get into a documentary at 9:30am on a Sunday is something special.

      Anyway, aside from a very good shorts program, and an excellent “secret screening” that I’ll save for another time, I saw…

      Three Identical Strangers – (coming to CNN Films) This is an extremely entertaining film that’s more entertaining the less you know going in. Suffice to say – in the 1980s three adopted teenagers from different households discover they’re triplets. Fun ensues. Then, complications, as circumstances are not quite what they seem. To its credit, the film doesn’t shrink from drawing conclusions about its larger questions from the evidence in the story. It’s not a revolutionary idea on the nature vs nurture question – and the more I think about it, the less comfortable I get with the treatment of one character for the sake of drawing conclusions – but it does add a dose of meaning to a national fluff piece from several years ago.

      The world is a stranger place than we can imagine.

      Shirkers – (coming to Netflix) Writer Sandi Tan was a precocious indie filmmaker in Singapore in the early 90s, a time in a country not known for its kindness to 19YO Tan’s brand of puck rock thinking. She and a few friends sink their money into making a film – kind of a mashup of Wes Anderson (before he was making movies!) and Blue Velvet – only to have her mentor disappear with all the footage. Twenty-five years later, it resurfaces and Tan takes a personal journey of memory and self-assessment as she presents footage from a place and era that has disappeared. Fans of movies about filmmakers, particularly zero-budget filmmakers, will enjoy this one more than most (attention: @Quinn the Eskimo).

      Crime + Punishment – (haven’t seen it picked up, but it’ll be available somewhere) An on-the-ground look over four years of the NYPD 12, who made secret recordings to gain evidence for a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for enforcing quotas despite laws prohibiting the practice. The lawsuit is still pending (“hanging by a thread”), but if the film can’t find catharsis, it’s more appropriate that way. Unsurprisingly, there’s more than one documentary available now following events on both sides of the thin blue line (The Force and Whose Streets? played last year’s festival) and this one matches in action and skill, giving a good view of the sacrifice these cops made (and are still making) when they choose to stand up to an organization that stiffly resists reform. There’s also some absolutely gorgeous drone footage of New York (showing each precinct where filming took place) that could just about be a film on its own.

      • Shirkers sounds great, I’m watchlisting the hell out of that.

      • Interesting to read this about the NYPD when this story is just breaking:
        Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs

        • The Ploughman

          This is not at all surprising having seen this film.

      • Son of Griff

        I’m now envious forf not living in the Mid West.

        • The Ploughman

          All this and affordable housing too.

          • Son of Griff

            Sold–See ya this summer!

          • The Ploughman

            I’ll get the grill going!

          • The Ploughman

            (Seriously, if anybody from here is ever the Kansas City area, hit me up)

          • Son of Griff

            That may happen. I’ll let you know.

    • Glorbes

      Elevator To the Gallows – This was an effortless watch. So cool, so smooth, looks great, amazing score. Just…ooof, man, it’s been a while since I watched something as stylish and groovy as this.

    • The Narrator

      Saturday Night Live: This started slightly worrisomely, and Charles Barkley seemed pretty stiff at first, but it did get better as it went along, rising to a B-/B. Sadly, that puts it in the very top tier for this terrible season.

      Blank Check with Griffin and David, Elle: The Verhoeven miniseries is concluded with a look at his most recent film with beloved guest Emily Yoshida, and after a patchy beginning, this is an enlightening, near-fat-free discussion of the film and the tightrope walk it manages to pull off. And there’s still room left for endless, hilariously awful French accents from everyone, plus a teaser at a How Did This Get Made crossover, with Paul Scheer coming over to talk about the Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines action-comedy Running Scared.

      The Oscars: A pretty boring show on the whole, with no real surprises in any category (other than Faces Places losing Best Documentary so the Academy could stick it to the Russians).

      Things I liked:
      – Jordan Peele winning, so we must now call him Academy Award winner The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop.

      – The cut after Peele won from Greta looking so happy for him (the whole night, she looked happier to be losing than most people look when they’re winning) and Martin McDonagh obviously stewing in contempt.

      – James Ivory winning, his really touching acceptance speech, and the dope-ass Timothee Chalamet illustration on his shirt.

      – DEAKINS!!!!!!

      – Greta and Laura Dern joining hands, and Greta being actually flustered by Dern congratulating her. They’re both in Noah Baumbach’s next movie, and if they don’t get a scene together, I may have to agree with his detractors for once.

      – Haddish/Rudolph, which suggests that Paul Thomas Anderson’s next movie will be even better than I previously thought. Speaking of…

      Phantom Thread winning Costume Design, which lead into…

      – The Jet Ski bit, which is probably a best-case scenario for the kind of elaborate running bits that have taken over the ceremony recently. The punchline of Mark Bridges in a life vest with Helen Mirren was legitimately wonderful.

      Things I didn’t like:
      – Them tempering the awesomeness of Sufjan Stevens performing at the Oscars by cutting the song so short that he might as well not have performed it at all. Still, he and St. Vincent did appear on the Oscars, and he apparently mouthed “Thank you, Jesus” when he lost, which is the most Sufjan thing he could possibly say in that moment.

      – The post-Time’s Up Oscars rewarding Kobe Bryant.

      – Gary Oldman winning. Although there was some comedy in all the other actors’ clips being nuanced work next to Oldman bellowing like a pitbull made human by genie magic.

      – Really, all of the acting wins, although I’ll accept McDormand’s win solely for her acceptance speech.

      – The movie theater bit, although it was better than last year’s interminable bus-people bit solely for the image of Armie Hammer with the hot-dog cannon.

      • The Narrator

        And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the greatest Shape of Water tweet with y’all:


      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The description of Oldman’s Churchill is gold, sir, gold.

      • Miller

        The jet ski bit was cute (hooray for Johnny and Price Is Right music!) but the theater bit was garbage. And really, fuck these bits – you can’t play people offstage during their moment of triumph if you’re going to use that time for garbage schtick. The final jet ski image was indeed comical but it came at the expense of every non del Toro person who won the biggest award of the night, that short stocky bald guy (a producer?) was not having it and looked ready to sock Kimmel in the jaw, I wouldn’t have blamed him.

        • Jake Gittes

          It feels like every year they’re desperately trying and failing to one-up Ellen’s pizza and selfie bits. This ceremony was somehow as long as last year’s, they just don’t learn. Although I suspect the ratings did hit a new low.

      • I appreciated this not at all doctored image of Sufjan leaving his house.


      • Jake Gittes

        Forgot about James Ivory’s shirt, major props for that indeed.

      • Kobe continues to get the most incredible free ride. I have to admit that for a long time, I also let him off the hook because I misinterpreted “charges dropped” and “settled out of court” with “innocent of the charges,” so it’s not entirely surprising others do. And the sports world has really not changed its tune in the least about athletes and sex crimes (even as it somehow finds a way to be both sexist and racist in how it treats criminal acts overall). But that doesn’t excuse anyone from at least understanding that there is strong evidence against Kobe, and that at the very least we should stop idolizing him.


        Worth noting, BTW, that in searching for that link, I found a lot of articles at least reminding the world of the accusations during the run-up to the Oscars. There were no such articles when his numbers were retired. As far as Hollywood has to go, the sports world and the associated media outlets have an even longer journey.

        (Also, not that it matters much, but no one I trust who saw all five films though Dear Basketball was any good. Did he win entirely on his celebrity? Dear lord, I hope not.)

        • The Ploughman

          I sometimes feel like Academy voters have a subconscious tendency to think that a vote for a celebrity will move them closer to that person.

        • Miller

          If it was another player I’d have my doubts but a Laker? Of course he won because of celebrity and the LA-heavy body knowing who he is.

      • Any word about the next Blank Check miniseries?

        • The Narrator

          It’ll be James L. Brooks.

          • What an odd choice. Only six films – maybe that suits Griffin’s tight schedule – but I never thought of him as a blank check director.

            Or really a director at all. He’s a TV talent first to me.

    • Man with a robot arm

      Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye –The titles of many Italian thrillers (idk, does anyone agree on what a giallo is?) are better than the actual films and this isn’t much different. It’s a bit of an Agatha Christie mystery in the style of a Hammer film. Guests at a Gothic mansion are mysteriously popping up dead, a beautiful ingénue is at the center of the story. Are the deaths due to a freaky cat showing up at the scene of the deaths, the mysterious orangutan running around, or one of the assorted dysfunctional and creepy characters? It has all the hallmarks of these types of films – the straight razor as the preferred murder weapon, the killer’s POV, chilling music building to crescendo at the slightest reveal or twist, more red herrings than a canning factory, extreme close-ups on gore, thick blood, and the priest-who-isn’t-a-real-priest as the killer, always a good bet for the murderer in these films.

      • Jake Gittes

        Broadly a giallo is exactly this kind of a mystery/serial killer thriller, but not supernatural.

    • A Talking Banana!?!

      Black Panther (2018) – Saw this last weekend actually. I liked it, but apparently not nearly as much as everyone else. I realize the MCU formula is one that works for a lot of people, but this didn’t really subvert it as much as I think I was expecting it to (why I thought this I cannot remember). I’m probably making this out to be as if I didn’t enjoy it, but I did, and I can appreciate what this movie means to a lot of people.

      The 39 Steps (1935) – For whatever reason broke this up over three consecutive nights, which is stupid because it’s only 86 minutes. Still, incredibly enjoyable and gives me hope that this Hitchcock character has a healthy career ahead of him.

      I’ll Do Anything (1994) – At times bland, at other times very weird. Highlights include Nick Nolte’s wig in the first ten minutes and the little girl saying “Don’t do that again” after Nolte tries to scare her in order to get her to cry on cue.

      The 90th Academy Awards – I don’t know, everything I assumed was going to win did win. I enjoyed it, but not so much that I don’t regret studying more for my Spanish Midterm.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The reason I’m not really planning on watch Infinity Wars is I just think it’ll be the most Formula-ey of the Marvel Formula films.

      • I am at about the same place as you on Black Panther (though two weeks later, it’s diminished further in my mind).

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      I haven’t posted one of these in a while, so I can’t cover everything, but a few things I wanted to highlight…

      It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “The Gang Desperately Tries to Win an Award.” Lots to highlight here, but I feel it bears repeating how funny the sequence that starts with the lady trying to order a drink from Mac and ends with Dee’s horrendously timed punchline is. (The next scene, the will-they-won’t-they, is the showier one, but this one deserves mention too.) Also, Charlie’s song is legitimately good.

      Had to follow that with “The Gang Misses the Boat”, because they make a great throughline re: the Gang’s inability to fit in or be liked or accepted by the outside world. Also: “I’m Mac! Used to be a party boy, looking to get back into that scene…”

      Watched a bunch of American Dad, some of which I’d seen, some of which I didn’t remember seeing. Includes the terrific “Lost in Space” episode.

      Before we had The Office‘s Take Your Daughter to Work Day episode, we had NewsRadio‘s “Kids.” (Okay, we also had Arrested Development‘s “Not Without My Daughter”, but it’s not really the same kind of sitcom.)

      Also, there were new episodes of Superstore, The Mick, and Fresh Off the Boat that I’ve watched since then. New episode of A.P. Bio as well, in addition to the three that already dropped before the official premiere. I really liked this one, where Jack goes to war with the Student Council president. Plus the premiere of Good Girls, which seems pretty good so far and has some potential to be classic tragedy (or at least Breaking Bad but with ladies, and maybe funnier, and on network).

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The Gang’s response to Mac giving the Russian party girl angel dust to look like he’s straight is just the right of mix of pitiful and hilarious. “Aw buddy, you don’t have to…” “Jee-sus Christ, dude.”

  • E.T. finally won best picture. *sigh*

    • The Ploughman

      I’m going to go out on limb and say that if ET would have had sex in that movie, it would not be as popular.

      • I would have agreed until I saw the popularity of The Shape Of Water!

      • I just naturally assumed that on ETs planet, that glowing finger thing WAS sex.

        • DJ JD

          vomas, you’re one of my favorite posters on the internet but I want you to know that you’re a monster.

          • As if you never made a joke about ET fingering that kid.

          • DJ JD

            I honestly didn’t! I really thought I was all world-wise and everything, and yet it never once occurred to me. I suppose the fact that I haven’t seen ET in like twenty years is probably part of the problem, though.

          • The Ploughman

            Like, a bad monster, or the fuckably romantic kind?

          • DJ JD

            I was thinking like the kind that seems fuckably romantic but then when it comes time to do the dirty, he leaves a pile of eggs on the floor and then walks out the door because he figures you’ve got it from there.

          • Sir, I am commissioning you to write my biography.

          • DJ JD

            Well I mean it’s about halfway done right now sooo.

        • Glorbes


  • Lots of Shape of Water hate around here. I don’t get it. I loved it.

    But then again, I’m a visuals/production design guy more so than characterization, and I do concede that the characters are thin in that movie. But they’re kind of great for what the movie needs them for.

    • Babalugats

      I didn’t hate it, even though it didn’t really work for me. As much as I don’t want it too, it’s hard not to let it’s success shape the way I talk about it. If this were a flop, or some overlooked oddity, I would probably be talking about the great creature work and production design, and the way that this is Del Toro’s most functional film since Pan’s Labyrinth. In the context of the best films of the year, the characters were a little thin, and I never felt invested in the romance. I would still call it a good movie. I liked it a little less than The Lure and a little more than Okja.

      • pico

        Same. I’d say I liked it just fine – it was pleasant! even for a movie with grotesquely rotting fingers – but it’d probably be one of the Del Toro films I’m least likely to go back to, or even remember down the road. I’m happy for him, I just wish it were for a movie I felt more passionately about.

        • The Ploughman

          I don’t know what the shape of water is, but the temperature sure seems to be lukewarm!

          But, yeah, sames. It doesn’t help that while I’m not sure there were any guaranteed classics (maybe Get Out), this was a pretty strong group of nominees in my opinion. I wouldn’t have a problem if it won instead of The Artist in that year’s list.

          • pico

            Agreed. I think for sure Get Out has instant classic status: heck, “the sunken place” might as well be in the dictionary already. I think Phantom Thread will surely stick around as one of PTA’s crown jewels, even if the audience is small. Maybe Dunkirk, too, which I haven’t seen, but it sounds like the kind of movie people will keep talking about for its formal qualities. The others, I’m not so sure about (that’s a not a judgment of their quality, just the tendency of certain kinds of films to fade over time), and may depend on whether they find “their audience” as they come to streaming/cable. Like, I can easily see Lady Bird becoming one of those “youth touchstone” films in the long run, but it didn’t really enough of an audience in theaters to guarantee that yet.

          • Babalugats

            Yeah, I didn’t have any strong feelings, positive or negative, about any of the films; aside from an instinctive dislike of The Darkest Hour, a film I haven’t seen made by people I like.

      • Oh, I liked this way more than The Lure. And I think I may have liked Crimson Peak more than this, too, though the two are neck-and-neck for Del Toro’s best post-Pan’s Labyrinth for me. But I do get the critiques of the characters, because they certainly are thin.

        • Babalugats

          I felt Crimson Peak was a movie that coasted on it’s genre expectations and didn’t put the work in to establish the central relationship or the mystery. I also thought it was miscast in a few key roles. I loved the design of the house, but I didn’t think the narrative worked at all.

          With The Shape of the Water i thought everything was functional and that the acting was strong. I just didn’t have much of an emotional connection to the film.

          The Lure is almost an inverse of The Shape of the Water. Where the latter is earnestly romantic, beautifully composed, and weird in content but traditionalist in structure; The Lure is cynical, rough, and deeply, even off puttingly, bizarre. You’re probably right about which one is the better film, but I know which one has my heart.

          • pico

            Have you revisited Crimson Peak at all? I liked it at the time, and now it’s just a smidgen behind Pan’s as my favorite Del Toro. The movie has done nothing but improve for me with every re-watch.

          • Babalugats

            I’ve only seen it once. I was very disappointed. I’m usually cooler on Del Toro than most, but I had high expectations for that one and I liked the production design and pretty much nothing else. Del Toro is a director I want to like a lot more than I do. He seems like a genuinely good guy, and I like the stuff he’s interested in, and I always like parts of his movies, but Pan’s Labyrinth is the only one I really love. I just can’t seem to get on his wavelength.

          • pico

            Oh, I totally get that. That’s 100% how I feel about Pacific Rim and now Shape of Water. I’m just surprised at how much more each revisit of Crimson Peak has further endeared the movie to me, in a way that hasn’t really happened with his others (apart from Pan’s.) I mean, I enjoy some of the others – even Mimic! – but those are the two that have become indispensable for me.

          • Again, I think my love of production design trumps the narrative shortfalls (although I don’t think the narrative was as thin as Shape of Water). I mean, it’s a mansion that’s fucking bleeding from the walls! There’s got to be a lot of dicey character work to make me dislike a movie with that.

          • Babalugats

            You make a good point.

    • Miller

      It’s just terrible, there is a shit ton of water but they never tell you the god damn shape. What a tease.

    • Miller

      And more seriously – you remember that scene where Shannon is questioning everyone after Fishman escapes and he’s a huge dick to Sally Hawkins, and Hawkins responds to his dickery by conspicuously signing “fuck you” to him? It’s a righteous moment of emotional release that is incredibly stupid in the context of the story – maybe don’t bait the raging asshole when you have stolen his fishman – and it sort of sums up the movie’s flaws for me. Del Toro works big and with his heart on his sleeve in general and that’s cool, that’s how we get “TODAY WE ARE CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE!”, but here it makes a message instead of a movie.

      • I get that. It’s definitely a message movie, but 1) I’m cool with the message, and 2) There’s a lot of movie in this message movie–the sets, the acting, the score, the “I love movies, let’s just throw in a bunch of shit that shows how much I love movies” stuff. I dunno. I found it all incredibly endearing.

        • Miller

          This is sort of how I feel about Be Kind Rewind, so I get you.