• Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Six, Episode Seven, “Dr Linus”
      “You know, psychic, totally unreliable.”

      “You had me fooled with that sweater vest! Linus, you’re a real killer!”

      What a strange creature Ben is; of all things, he reminds me of a reoccurring thing on Dragon Ball Z where supervillains were defeated and end up superfluous to the plot, but hung around because they were too awesome to get rid of. LOST’s characterisation is warmer and more sophisticated than DBZ, so while he’s superfluous to the plot, he still gets a bit of closure to his story and is being primed for his end. He feels to me like all he’s been stripped of all his literary aspects for the pure dramatic creature underneath, and to an extent this is true of all the characters – Jack uses dynamite to get Richard to talk, and this is something he can only do because he’s really got nothing else to do other than find answers.

      The flashsideways show Ben getting to redeem himself in his next life, making the happier choices, and it’s delightful that Alt-Locke gets to set him off on this journey. Watching him scheme on a completely mundane level is hilarious, and he opens his flashsideways talking about some French dictator.

      In Miles news, he gets the money he originally set out for by robbing the diamonds from Nikki and Paulo’s graves, which is hilarious. It only took him three years and some time travel!

      Ownage: N/A

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Eleven, Episode One, “CharDee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo”
      “We have to be allowed to break them to speak in our natural accent to allow for maximum shame. SHAME SHAME SHAME!”

      “It was supposed to be four Fs. I didn’t realise how it would come off.”
      “Pretty sure you did.”

      This is a good extension of the original episode, twisting it further with, you know, twists. Andy’s eagerness is hilarious on its own and twice as funny when we discover he’s a ringer, and there’s a lot of rich character going on; Dennis carving a woman’s head hits a double note of him being a creepy serial killer AND too clever by half, Dee’s inability to fake a Philly accent is hilarious, and Frank raising his flag is the hardest I’ve ever laughed at this show. And of course, the Gang realising that Andy being a fraud lets them fully unleash their competitive sides is gutbusting. I also love the VHS tape as a Dorian Gray painting with the Gang; not only does its degradation and collection of moments match up with the Gang’s degradation, the fact that VHS has aged into obsolescence perfectly matches how the Gang resolutely doing the same thing they were in their twenties has left them unable to function in society at large.

      The Sopranos, Season One, Episode Nine, “Boca”
      “It’s a joke, for Christ’s sake, say why.”

      “Life keeps putting Prozac to the test.”

      This one mixes a lot of forward plot movement with an ethical conundrum, and while both lead to some neat moments, neither of those things particularly interests me in this show. Yesterday, Conor observed that the character’s lives feel mundane to them; that’s what the pleasure of the mob shit is, it’s the feeling of mundanity layered over a genre element. Having a forward moving plot works against that. Of course, we do get good things coming up between the plot; Tony and Junior’s two secrets banging up against each other is great, I love Tony spotting the guy wearing a hat in the restaurant (what is it with prestige TV and guys wearing hats they shouldn’t?) and having gangsters get out-threatened on a kid’s soccer field is hilarious, and more in line with what I get out of the show.

      (It’s funny how pleasuring women orally has shifted in the culture; I heard a guy say once that giving women head was the only time he felt like he was contributing to society)

      Tony completely botching the ‘suicidal gesture’ line was fucking hilarious.

      Zooming out, it occurs to me that I always have a lot of affection for characters who exist to Be Wrong and get shat on by the narrative (top example: Captain Darling on Blackadder), which makes me wonder if I’ll end up being really positive to late Sopranos.

      Interesting Todd Notes: He doesn’t like the episode that much, but he likes that the episode shows ‘the little evils’ people have to either choose or resist when the soccer coach turns down the mobster’s bribes. My interest in that part of the plot is more in understanding the mobster’s transactional attitude, as well as Pauli’s straightforward professionalism. I spotted my first wallflower comment, and of course it’s a fucking spoiler – hilariously, one that references the scene on which his Shield vs Sopranos scenic route essay is based.
      Ownage: Implied, but not acted upon.
      Biggest Laugh: “Nobody tells me anything.” “Did everyone just hear me tell my mother about the game?”

      • Miller

        “the fact that VHS has aged into obsolescence perfectly matches how the Gang resolutely doing the same thing they were in their twenties has left them unable to function in society at large.”

        *eyes VHS collection acquired during 20s nervously*

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “Great, I don’t go down there enough!”
        “That’s not what I hear…”

        Apparently eating pussy was kind of a no-no among mobsters for a long time, the idea being if you’ll eat that who knows what else you’ll do with your mouth (which is hilarious and nuts). I have no idea if that’s still the case.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I love Bobbi’s reaction to that. “How does that even translate?!”

      • Man, I am so lucky to have started writing about The Shield on the Sopranos boards. I absorbed a lot about making arguments with respect, and also how a lot of people simply have no clue what makes The Shield such an enduring classic. (The best is yet to come on this second point.)

        • Drunk Napoleon

          If you mean TVDW not liking the show because he had no idea how he was supposed to feel about Vic, I have seen that comment (it was linked in one of your essays).

          • Nope, something else. You’ll know it when you see it.

          • Actually, you might not–I went back and checked and about half the original thread seems to have been lost in the Kinjapocalypse, as tears in rain.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Wait, isn’t there a way to find the disqus thread for that particular page?

          • Probably. I’ll try and find it and reveal it to you once you get to the Kinjafied thread under discussion.

    • lgauge

      Like Father, Like Son: A near perfect classical drama*.

      This really gets a lot of mileage out of a simple premise (if one that’s complex in its implications) by examining carefully all the emotional ramifications that these events have on each character. What happens if after 6 years you find out that the hospital sent you home with the wrong child and you’re actually contemplating switching back in order to comply with outdated concepts of “blood” and biological determinism? Kore-eda approaches this with a very gentle touch, slowly unraveling a series of complicated knots to see if they can be tied together again in new ways. There are a lot of doublings and ironies in how various parts of the characters’ lives shape their responses (like: is the son unlike his father because they don’t share DNA or because the father is almost never home?). This is, again, explored carefully and subtly enough that we don’t feel like the questions are forced upon us, rather arriving more naturally in due course for the attentive viewer (like they do, or sometimes don’t ever, for the characters themselves). We also get an interesting dialectic between two different types of family life and, while one probably has the director’s favor over the other, there’s nuance on both sides. With the addition of a gentle, minimalist score and often evocatively constructed images, this is an altogether great film. One that, had I been in a slightly different emotional state while watching, would likely have had me in tears nearly from start to finish.

      *In the traditional sense of the word, not in the Solutian sense. Probably much closer to the literature side.

      • I just couldn’t get into this movie, mostly because I just couldn’t buy the central emotional premise–like, why is it so important that you share DNA with your son? He’s still your son if you’ve been raising him for six years.

        I think Hirokazu Kore-eda just isn’t for me. I didn’t particularly care for After the Storm either.

        • lgauge

          Part of the point is that he hasn’t really been raising him. He mostly seems to consider him an extension of himself, which then falters when he realizes the son literally isn’t an extension of himself. I can see not buying it though, or least having that leave you a bit cold.

          • Yeah, I hear you. I just felt absolutely nothing for the main father character, whose head space I could not get into.

      • Rosy Fingers

        At first I thought you were talking about the Dudley Moore/Kirk Cameron body swap comedy and your opening sentence seemed a tad over-generous.

    • This week’s Flash. I am seeing a lot of dislike for the current season these days, and I will admit that the show has zero clue about how courtrooms or the legal system work. But I still find myself very intrigued by The Thinker’s plans and just what is going in with him and his wife. And Grant Gustin’s performance this season has been remarkably steady and mature without ever getting too dark. But don’t poke too hard at the plots, lest they come apart.

    • clytie

      Waco Ignore the middling reviews, this is so good.

      I watched the 3 most recent episodes of General Hospital, so I’m caught up again! I normally would wait to catch-up, but I heard that my favorite character had an epic scene in yesterday’s episode, so I stayed up and watched it on Hulu.

      Then I re-watched the Seinfeld episode “The Checks” because the actor that plays my fave on GH played the Karl Farbman obsessed “Desperado” aficionado in it.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d0c72e822dbafbc495dd5d1ea704cbe7952574c70d2a8d2c7c5291c85f411aa7.jpg

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I think that’s also the guy who plays Keith on Andy Richter Controls the Universe.

        • clytie

          That’s him. His name is James Patrick Stuart.

    • The Witch Who Came From The Sea – a 70s film that was enough of a horror film to find its way onto the Video Nasty list, but mostly succeeds as a dark and harrowing drama about a woman who has repressed memories of her childhood abuse for years, but finds them resurfacing in a wave of psychotic murders. It’s full of strangely poetic, strange dialogue, wonderfully odd supporting characters with familiar faces and psychedelic freak-out scenes, and Millie Perkins is pretty amazing in the lead role. It’s full of sympathy for its murderous protagonist, which is a tough balance to keep, but really pays off.

      The Wire, season 5, episodes 1 and 2 – the beginning of the end! Everyone is miserable. Those “New Day” buzzwords are still around but they’re now dripping with sarcasm. Scott Templeton is an arsehole, McNulty has fallen off the wagon, Bubbles is clean but heartbreakingly messed up and Dukie gets no respect on the corner. On the plus side, Clay Davis is STRESSED and Snoop is free to do murders again! Hooray! I think my favourite scenes in these opening episodes are the ones where Marlo unexpectedly meets Avon when he visits the prison – Avon effortlessly ruling his own incarceration is endlessly entertaining to me. Also I’d forgotten that Doug from Flight of the Conchords is in this season!

      • The Ploughman

        I like to think that is actually Doug and that if Kristen Schall could be brought around to cow him into doing the right thing, the paper could thrive again (albeit with daily pieces on Conchords albums).

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Terminator 2: Judgment Day – I asked this on Twitter but why wasn’t Robert Patrick in a David Lynch movie? He has this perfect mix here of uncanny and subtle that feels downright Lynchian. But who stood out here was Linda Hamilton, Sarah Connor beefed up af but also emotionally fraught and terrifying in her ability to do whatever she feels is needed.

      What I got out of a second viewing was just how good Cameron is at structure, clean plotting, and tapping into the collective unconscious. He’s not a genius with dialogue but he’s a total genius with the fundamentals of story, the hierarchy of needs that compels us forward: love, family, emotion, survival, all that good stuff. Only George Miller rivals him in an instinctual understanding of primal storytelling and fusing that with amazing action. And make no mistake the action is fucking incredible (that final chase wastes no shots, no cuts, all the actors are blocked well – it has a purity to it).

      Also what are Sarah and John gonna, like, do now that Judgment Day’s been averted? Turn themselves in? After all this is the last of the series and no other horrible or misbegotten sequels or reboots ever occurred. 😉

      • ZoeZ

        I will put in tentative support for The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the short-lived TV show. Tentative because I really liked it but 1) did not see all of it and 2) have inexcusably never seen anything else in the Terminator franchise.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I honestly forgot it existed and I did hear pretty good things.

          • Sarah Connor is played by Cercei Lannister, so the casting is at least on-point.

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            It was a good series, but the name doomed it. The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a mouth full.

    • ZoeZ

      Twin Peaks, “Rest in Pain” and “The One-Armed Man.” Lucy and Andy are revealed as a sometime couple, which makes so much sense; Cooper is considering picking up some Twin Peaks real estate; Audrey Horne leverages her father’s paternal regrets into a job at the perfume counter to continue trying to solve Laura’s murder and thus land the resident sexy FBI agent; Ben’s paying Leo for arson; Josie has more than enough sense to be afraid of her sister-in-law; Norma’s husband is getting out on parole…

      This show is eventful, both on a grand level and a personal level, and it’s on the latter that Lynch’s affection for soaps shows: everything is inherently gossipy, relationship-based, interconnected, dramatic not just on its own but also because it affects everything else. I like how it is, in fact, genuinely soapy. There’s no real condescension here, no sense that Lynch wants to “elevate” or “transcend” the genre, just that he wants to put his own spin on it. And he’s succeeding magnificently.

      Mythos: Cooper now knows that his dreams are definitively connected to Laura’s mother’s visions, and Truman accepts this without any real qualms because, it emerges, he’s used to Twin Peaks being the center of shifting manifestations of various powers. All of this ties into him actively choosing Cooper as a member of the community, recruiting him at least temporarily into the “book room boys” despite Ed’s reservations. Cooper, meanwhile, is reciprocating that by loving the town and letting his loyalty to it, and to Truman, trump and maybe even endanger his professional ties.

      Shelly’s behavior in this last episode didn’t quite ring true to me. We’ve seen how rightly terrified she is of Leo, but here she doesn’t even blink before handing the bloodied shirt over to Billy, even though it seems obviously possible that unless Billy’s plan gets Leo in prison for life, Leo will eventually take this out on her. And I’m starting to love Billy, but… I really don’t think he’s at the point of being able to plan that well.

      Also the pilot of AP Bio, in which Dennis Reynolds moves to Toledo and teaches high school students, though not so much “biology” as “how to catfish someone.”

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Cooper’s sincere love for Twin Peaks (town) is the most endearing part of an endearing personality.

        • It’s a town with many, many problems, but they serve good coffee.

          • ZoeZ

            And pie! And then there’s the sensation of the maple syrup–whack–colliding with the ham!

          • The Ploughman

            Between all that and the doughnuts, any kind of evil spirit can be read as a metaphor for heart disease.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          There’s no condescension there either, he just loves it so damn much.

      • The Ploughman

        Truman’s acceptance of the presence of an evil nexus with something only slightly more thoughtful than a shrug is an A+ moment in my book. You know what’s more interesting than watching characters debate the validity of the known premise of the show (ala Fringe)? Having them act on it. Better, yet them having already formed a secret club in response to it.

        • ZoeZ

          Yes. I also loved him pointing out that the club existed before this generation and will exist long after it–Cooper mentions that Twin Peaks is the rare town where people are still all tied to each other, and it’s also the rare town where people are all still (knowingly) tied to the past and to their obligations to the future.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I think you mean Bobby, not Billy.

        I quite enjoyed AP Bio myself. The pilot in particular had me screaming at the group rap attempt (and subversion) and the kids reading their various catfishing attempts.

        • ZoeZ

          I have done that Bobby/Billy thing about a dozen times now and I have no idea why. It’s going to drive me to Freudian analysis.

          I adored him shutting down the rap and then, yeah, the “P.S. I am a female demon.”

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            “Saxophones don’t belong in rap. Throw that in the trash.”

    • Risk–Laura Poitras’s voiceover commentary is interesting in theory, but in practice, it feels like a half-baked attempt to salvage a project that was falling apart as it was being filmed. It’s not a bad documentary, but it’s not going to tell you anything you didn’t know about Assange, and it could have been way more interesting on a metatextual level.

      Also rewatched the Seinfeld series finale for the first time in several years, and yikes, I know its reputation is not great anyway, but that was way worse than I remembered. It’s just so boring, and given that the episode right before it was a clip show, it’s such a cheap shot to make this episode half clip show itself.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I think the idea conceptually of the finale is genius but having not watched it in…geez a decade, I could see it being awful.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I find it interesting that fans of the show hate it and people who hate the show love the finale.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Maybe because they hate the characters and want to see them punished but thats all I can think of.

          • Rosy Fingers

            I hated the show at the time (it’s so self-satisfied) and hated the finale even more because, as Cornelius notes, it’s a boring clip show. What an unispiring way to go out. These days, I’m more neutral on the show, in that I can recognise that there was some good writing and Jason Alexander and Julie Louise Dreyfuss are pretty great at what they do.

        • It is interesting in concept. In execution, it’s just so boring and unfunny–the fact that it’s basically a parade of cameos/clips from better episodes doesn’t help.

          • Miller

            Bingo. It’s so flat.

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          The concept is interesting, but the characters simply weren’t nearly bad enough to warrant the kind of reaction they got, and the setup is rather absurd and nonsensical too. (Maybe the Gang on It’s Always Sunny deserves to go to prison, but the Seinfeld crew’s “crimes,” such as they were, were much pettier, and especially in the earlier days of the show still occasionally borne from some kind of good intention.)

    • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

      A Walk Among the Tombstones. A solid, no frills, hardboiled detective movie with Liam Nelson trying on a New Yawk accent (to varying degrees of success) as private detective Matthew Scudder. It’s always dark, it’s always raining and everyone speaks as if they just gargled with broken glass. It’s that kind of a movie. It suffers from something I like to call “onetoomanyendingsitis” (I didn’t say it was good, that’s just what I call it) I.E. the movie reaches a natural endpoint, then a twist is introduced that keeps the plot going and were there for another 20 minutes. That small nitpick aside, I enjoyed it.

      PS: It was jarring to see Chief Jim Hopper as a smiling psychopath.

      • Is this the one where Liam Neeson is obsessed with the millennium bug? If so, I enjoyed it too, and found that particular character quirk absolutely hilarious.

        • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

          He’s not obsessed with it, but it’s set during the lead up to Y2K and he’s bewildered why everyone is afraid of it. Looking back on it, I’m bewildered too.

          • Aha, yes that’s it. Such a weird period detail.

          • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

            It was an interesting problem. To save space instead of allocating four digits to display the year only two were used. Example: 1998 was shortened to 98. I believe then the “19” was concatenated to the front. Since it was set to automatically augment at the end of the year instead of 1999 becoming 2000 it would become 1900. Which would have ruined all of the accounts currently being used. Whether or not this would have lead to financial ruin is up for debate, but it is a fun little computer science conversation. Sorry if you knew all this I do like to ramble.

            Or they just didn’t need four digits. I forget which one.

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            I knew it had something to do with computers not recognizing a new century, but I wasn’t sure how that would lead to Armageddon and panic in the streets.

          • The Ploughman

            Media hype, most likely. It started from things like “bank accounts might have their interest calculations screwed up” and went to “planes will fall from the sky.” I can only guess the latter assumption was that commercial airliners would suddenly see they’ve traveled back to a time before they were invented and self-destruct to avoid a paradox.

            My future-father-in-law worked in computers at the time and talked up the Y2K problem to no end. When I pointed out everything seemed to go okay after the New Year, he said “That’s because we fixed it.” This was either superstition joining forces with technophobia or the most efficient IT accomplishment in history.

          • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

            Ohh I see a sequel to the Langoliers somewhere in that first paragraph!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            I think we all owe your father-in-law a debt of gratitude for his service. The IT professionals are the real heroes and yet where is their parade?

          • The Ploughman

            We wha–? Terry, is that you? I think we left a coat at your place at Christmas.

          • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

            The coat is mine now! Uh, I mean…Terry who?

      • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

        I do like it when a film follows the flow of the literary source that’s being adapted. Two such examples include: L.A. Confidential, and the 1st Jack Reacher film. The latter FEELS like a pulp action novel.

    • Babalugats

      Ricochet (1991) – This was one of those movies that was on tv all the time growing up, but that I never actually sat down and watched start to finish. After yesterday’s recommendation I decided to revisit it, and this is so much better than I remember. For one thing that guy getting gutted by a circular saw never made it to UPN. The plot is bonkers, but tightly paced, the character motivation is clear, and the stakes are high. Denzel is at the absolute peak of his magnetism here. Ice T, who still had some edge to him in 91, is always a nice addition to any cast. And I’ll never understand why the 80s and 90s thought John Lithgow was the ultimate badass, but this movie commits to the idea, and we’re all richer for it. I wish they still made movies like this.

      Russell Mulcahy directed this, Highlander, The Shadow… I think he might have been a genius.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Hungry Like The Wolf is a deeply fucked up video but as a piece of film-making its simply a masterpiece, full stop.

      • Razorback too! Hollywood should start giving him money again. I might start a petition.

        • Babalugats

          They have! He’s working on an Errol Flynn biopic and an action thriller called Zander

          • My most successful petition ever!

      • Son of Griff

        Never understood the nearly universal disdain for this one when it was released

      • Miller

        I’ve only seen Highlander in terms of Mulcahy but that is one of the more incompetent mainstream movies I’ve seen, the editing is atrocious and while Brown rules Lambert is terrible. It is very MTV-ish in the sense of what works for a four-minute video is stretched and repeated to fill a two-hour movie, which is not the same thing.

        • Boo! I loved Highlander as a kid and I still think it’s really entertaining now. Action montages set to Queen, Sean Connery claiming to be Spanish, an entire plot revolving around beheadings, the incomprehensible pain of the immortal watching everyone he loves age and die…

          Now, Highlander 2there’s an incompetent movie.

          • Miller

            Those first three are cool! I think Lambert nails incomprehensible if nothing else. But it’s all mashed together in a haphazard way.

          • Babalugats

            *also directed by Russell Mulcahy

          • Everybody makes mistakes!

      • Balthazar Bee

        As far as Lithgow as supervillain, you’re right about full commitment being the key. Come to think of it, we may owe the decision to cast Lithgow in Raising Cain to this role.

        • Babalugats

          Lithgow was De Palma’s go-to villain, already, so the influence probably runs the other way. But this has to be his most unhinged role.

          • Balthazar Bee

            Bah, how could I forget his turn in Blow Out?!

    • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

      The Death Cure dir. Wes Ball

      Love the other two, but oh my lord this did not click with me at all in the theater. The drama of the last two was second fiddle to the action sequences (of which Wes Ball excels at), and to be fair the few that show up here are quite good. Sadly though, the majority of the screen time is dedicated to sad piano music and expressionless kids looking at each other while sporting some pretty unconvincing dialog. NO MAZES AND (almost) NO RUNNING! Please give this guy something fun to direct again. Will rewatch out of dedication cause all evidence points to Wes Ball being the next Paul W.S. Anderson (which gets me excited! Monster Hunter anyone!), but even ole Paul had to get through some clunkers before he started focusing on what he does well.

      Founder dir. John Lee Hancock

      The ambiguity in which Ray Kroc gets characterized really helps to amp up this movie. The score is atrocious, filling in every second of this movie with cheap broad emotions when silence would have been better. Of course eventually Ray’s actions veer hard into villain territory, but then the film shifts focus to American Dream philosophy, and I’m sold.

      • Son of Griff

        It was nice to see John Lee Hancock get back into the ambiguities concerning genre (in this case, the biopic) that he explored in his breakthrough script, A PERFECT WORLD. His direction leans a bit too heavily towards 80s mythic, hence the score.

        • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

          Are his other movies (aside from the Blind Side which is just the worst) good for a watch? I too felt that his directing was a little too pedestrian, but those actors really shine under his guise. Even the nagging wife role who reproachfully engages in Kroc’s tricky tightrope selling practices just to get shoved to the side. Really wish they halved it between the McDonald brothers and Kroc however. Didn’t really care about the marriage strand even though it does allow Keaton to get some more morsels of complexity out of his performance.

          • Son of Griff

            I understand that his script for THE ALAMO was much more complex than the one ultimately chopped down and filmed. Since then he’s generally directed semi secularized “films of faith” type projects that feel disingenuous. I was surprised at how ambiguous THE FOUNDER was in regards to its depiction of the Kroc’s American Dream being achieved by somewhat underhanded means.

      • Rosy Fingers

        The other Maze Runner movies had their flaws but this last one was kind of baffling [VAGUE SPOILERS, I GUESS]. So many stupid decisions made and plot contrivances that don’t make sense. The events of the movie accomplish exactly nothing: the resolution is exactly what would have been the case at the beginning of the movie, except that they rescue one friend at the expense of another friend’s life.

        I guess you could say that they were partially responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the destruction of humanity’s last bastion of civilisation, flawed as it was. But maybe that makes the Gladers the bad guys?

        • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

          For real yo. Plots wise they could have thrown what ever stupid convince they wanted at me and i would have been fine if the running and the mazes were present. With the lack of action the only thing left to pay attention to was the acting and story, which were never the reason anyone saw these movies anyway.

    • I am now 400+ short films and 110 hours deep into the screening committee. If I were to put together a collection of my personal favorites, it would run about 11 hours. There are other good ones, but these are my creme de la creme. Some of these seem to be making it past other people, others seem to be stalling in committee (unfortunately).

      There’s seemingly no hard or fast rules in this committee except “try not to go over 20 minutes,” “don’t be anodyne” and “don’t send in shorts with high school production levels” (even those are compromised a little).

      Queer content-wise, it’s slimmer pickings than at Twist (obviously), and it’s harder to be edgy when you know you have like 3 hours max instead of trying to fill 20 hours, and when you know that half of your content is going to be shown to a broad audience. It’s definitely a weird space to navigate.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      The Mick, “The Church.” Alba’s hard-partying lifestyle nearly kills her, and so Mickey suggests she go to church instead of rehab. Alba really takes to it; Chip takes a shine to the hip young priest, who of course makes Mickey feel like she’s being judged (not that he is judging him; it’s just her conscience talking). Meanwhile, Ben decides he doesn’t believe in God, so Sabrina and Jimmy decide to rectify that– not because they believe, but because he’s too young to start subscribing to atheism. Hilarity ensues in the final setpiece.

      I rewatched some older stuff though it’s kind of a blur right now. I’ve been pretty sick all week and just spent most of the day sleeping or doped up on medication in front of reruns. (I seem to recall watching an episode of The Office, two of Parks and Rec, and one of Happy Endings.)

      Also watched segments from Bill Burr’s latest interview on Conan.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    While we’re at it, what have we been reading?

    • lgauge

      I read Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America a while back. Enjoyed some parts of it, but overall it didn’t do all that much for me. I feel like it either hasn’t aged well or I’m just not in the target demo (I usually enjoy American outsider literature, like the Beats and such, so the latter feels less likely though I guess it could just be a particular subgroup of the category I jive less with). The form is kind of interesting, but instead of having the (I assume) intended immersive cumulative effect, the many short (and somewhat unrelated) chapters just killed continuity and made for a jerky reading experience.

      • PCguy

        I read it last year and it does not hold up well. It reminds me of a criticism of [a famous painter] that I read recently which stated “All that is missing from this painting is a signature in the corner: [name], Age 8”.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon
      Being near seventy Pages in, I’m now far enough to have an Understanding of Mason and Dixon’s Characters; Pynchon’s habit of having them react in precisely opposite ways to the same Thing every time is basic but effective, and with that and their Banter developing it serves as a Basis for the Road Trip Riffing of the Plot. There’s Pleasure in how, even when the Meaning of Words is unclear, their Arrangement is beautiful enough to appreciate; the Banter is my favourite part of the story and where it comes most Alive for me, but M&D and I are just startign to come across Evil in the World, and it’s picking up Steam.

      LA Confidential, James Ellroy
      I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life when I no longer have the LA Quartet to look forward to before bed.

      • ZoeZ

        That’s easy. You’ll read the Underworld USA Trilogy. (It’s less consistent, but it has some remarkably high highs–American Tabloid is probably my favorite Ellroy.)

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Life is a series of James Ellroy books, followed by death.

      • Miller

        The LA Noir trilogy is worth a read just for the oddity of Ellroy in (then-contemporary) the 80s.

      • Dig Mickey Spillane. He’s a low-budget Ellroy. Same love of ownage, same tough-guy-isms, not as thematic or historical. Just a detective with a gun and a girl. If nothing else, he’s a palette cleanser between Ellroy novels.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          It’s less about the detectivisms or even the ownage and more about the relentless, unstoppable Plot. It’s ridiculous how much story Ellroy crams into this thing.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Damn those books are marvelous.

        • Son of Griff

          Arguably my 2 favorite novels of the 90s. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL probably altered the direction of my life more than any other book I’ve read as an adult.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Could you go further into that? I definitely felt a similar comprehension of it.

          • Son of Griff

            L.A. CONFIDENTIAL hit at a time when I became fascinated with understanding historical thinking more in literary terms than empirical ones. The book was not only a blast to read but validated my interests. which subsequently turned me onto a whole slew of of psycho-geographical historiography and fiction, much of it set in Los Angeles (London is probably the most represented in the genre, though). It’s also a book (and film) that I’ve subsequently been called upon to introduce and/or lecture about. One time I moderated a discussion with the man himself.

            On a more personal note, Ellroy’s writing bonded me with my closest friends during the 1990s, so I associate him with a particularly nice time in my life. Partly due to these associations he’s the only figure of a celebrity status who I’ve gotten to know on a somewhat more than informal basis. He’s also a central figure in a rather fun story when I was dating my now wife that I don’t have the power to convey here. The result: We named one of our cats Ellroy.

            Apropos for this conversation, Ellroy and Patrick O’Brien are my favorite literary figures who I discovered post college. What connects them is how they use language to not just represent a period, but shape an unique attitude towards the past through style that seems congruent with the time.

          • White Jazz did something like that for me, although The Book of J holds the #1 spot in my life-altering-book list.

          • Son of Griff

            Need to get on the Book of J. fast–It seems like ground zero for much of the stuff that has shaped my tastes.

          • That’s the one I’m most curious to see you write about. What about it made it so impactful for you?

          • Ima New Modes for Old Truths this thing, but for now: J gave me my understanding of God as much as The Last Temptation of Christ gave me my understanding of Jesus, a God I could believe in. It’s not a just or wise God but a ferociously creative God, with so much energy that He constantly contradicts himself, and yet can learn and grow. It is the purest hubris to imagine that the Creator is good or just or rational or any other human quality. The one thing I know on this is that the Creator is creative.

            Even more than that, J got me to understand that this kind of God is within all of us. (Those who claim modesty as a fucking virtue do not see themselves as possessed by God.) That’s the primary, primal act in J–Yahweh infusing clay with his spirit–and we live it out every day, with our insane and lethal capacity for creativity that Yahweh gave us and both loves us and will destroy us for. Harold Bloom (who, again, did his best work ever in the commentary here) cites Gerhard von Rad on the key idea: “[J] did not regard God as anthropomorphic, rather she regarded man as theomorphic.”

            There’s more, of course, but hopefully that gives you some idea.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Is there a book you’d recommend on the virtues of ego or strong individuality?

          • Ayn Rand.

            #trollface

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yeah yeah yeah!! Not THAT kind of bullshit.

          • Jim Miller’s The Passion of Michel Foucault, which is a bio/analysis of the man that tries to take the perspective of his writings, especially his late writings, when he was most concerned with the idea of the-self-as-self-constructed.

      • Son of Griff

        Introducing yourself to both of those books at the same time makes me envious.

    • clytie

      Byron. Lots and lots of Byron.

    • Even Dogs in the WIld, the 2015 installment in the long running Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin. Though at this point, Rebus is retired and sharing the spotlight with former protege Siobhan Clarke and with Malcolm Fox, who was the star of two novels intended to be their own series. Like most of the later books, there are multiple crimes and different tracks to the story, and character is as important as plot. Rankin sometimes gets a bit wordy these days, and I think he’s writing the books as if a miniseries in in the outing, even though the Rebus TV show ended a decade ago. But worth reading for fans of the series.

      The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore. Even wonder how modern Russia got that way? Learning about the autocrats, emperors, and tyrants of the past and their vast excesses helps. A very colorful book that only comes up short in barely talking about the lives of the millions of serfs who were the underclass to the Tsars.

      • Son of Griff

        Big fan of the Rebus series, but I’ve fallen a bit behind. I’m putting this one on my list.

    • ZoeZ

      Currently, Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher. It feels a little too self-conscious in some parts–it’s hard to do a good The Way We Live Now story–but it’s growing on me.

      Recently, a lot of good suspense novels. A friend recommended Dick Francis to me, so I’ve read a couple of his lately (Flying Finish and Odds Against) and found them delightful in an old-fashioned kind of way–they have the appeal of old Hollywood movies that are going to give you a little bit of everything for your money, with some thrills, tight plotting, special background (horse racing), a little bit of romance, etc. I envy the plotting and keep trying to figure out how they’re constructed, which is also fun from a technical POV.

      And I’m starting as an occasional mystery/suspense reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, so I can now get galley copies. I kicked that off with Megan Abbott’s excellent, dark Give Me Your Hand. Abbott is one of my favorite writers, so it was a very fortuitous start.

      • The Ploughman

        Ooh, congrats on the gig. That sounds like fun.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        That sounds excellent!

      • clytie

        I love Abbott! That sounds like a great job.

        • ZoeZ

          She is amazing! I got to meet her once and we chatted briefly about Lifetime true crime movies while she signed my copy of Queenpin.

      • Miller

        Congratulations on the new gig!

    • Miller

      Continuing my Earthsea re-read. Tehanu is a dark, dark book – predecessor Tombs of Atuan was literally dark, with characters wandering caves and the lead imprisoned by a specific system of ignorance, but here she is older and wiser and still constrained by everyday blinkeredness and cruelty that doesn’t require ritual to define its presence. Some people just take and sometimes that is allowed by how we choose to live. The book changes the direction of the series and Tales From Earthsea sometimes feels like a project based around that new direction, fleshing out the world’s past in light of where it has gone – the feminist themes feel more overt – but the stories are still good.

    • Parable of the Sower – I finished this while eating in a restaurant, and it took every ounce of will not to lose it at my table. One of the most hopeful and inspiring books I’ve read, but dammit does it work to earn that ending. Amazingly, there’s no cheap sentiment. It’s clear-eyed and unsparing, but never cynical or fatalistic. I don’t know why I never got around to Butler until now, but I feel like it filled something that’s been missing.

      Also, the so-called “Big 3” of SF are Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, but the more SF I read, the less they deserve that title. Maybe for when they wrote, they were ahead of the game, but the New Wave and later just blows them out the water.

      The Gourmands’ Way – I don’t cook, but I enjoy reading about food, and this book is a look at how six Americans (Julia Child, M.F.K. Fisher, Alexis Lichine, A.J. Liebling, Richard Olney, and Alice B. Toklas) helped spread French cuisine back to the US after WWII. Child dominates much of the story so far, with her outsized personality, but Olney is my favorite. He has a deep knowledge of French cuisine, but enjoys a quieter life with simpler food instead of the haute cuisine the others celebrated. It’s a Kill-Your-Idols book, with the author not sparing anyone from their faults, either.

      The Colour of Magic – Not Pratchett’s best, but everyone starts somewhere. Death as cruel has lots of potential, but I’m glad we got the humanist instead.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I still need to read more of the Big Three but it does feel like Dick, Moorecock, Ballard, and LeGuin among others really went further and bleaker in their pursuits.

        • While I do like them, they feel so old and stale compared to what came later. Hell, even some of their contemporaries were doing more exciting things – The Stars My Destination came out in 1957 and was doing New Wave before the New Wave was a thing.

          • Miller

            I like a good slab of literary fiction and all but the energy of Stars should shame most writers who think they are telling a story. That book is insane.

      • Miller

        Hell yes Octavia Butler, I referenced LeGuin’s Tehanu below and it has some Butlerish feel to it. Sower is great and disturbingly feels entirely of the current moment, the sequel Parable of Thea Talents is also excellent but does not stay with the hopefulness of Sower.

      • ZoeZ

        Fuck yeah, Octavia Butler. And I love the New Wave. Le Guin’s short stories are some of my favorite science fiction of all time, and then you have Tiptree and Delany…

        • Dhalgren is on my list of “books I want to read for the challenge but am too wary to actually start.”

          • ZoeZ

            I am also too wary for Dhalgren, despite really liking Delany. I got along very well with Aye, and Gomorrah and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, at least.

          • I’m listening to an educational series on utopian & dystopian literature, and the last ep was the heterotopia in Trouble on Triton, which sounds wonderfully bizarre.

          • pico

            Dhalgren is more bark than bite, for what it’s worth: especially once you get past the opening scene (which is deliberately obtuse). It’s just long and, to be honest, in need of an editor. What works works really well, though: its best scenes are like something out of a David Lynch fever dream.

      • I especially like Asimov and Clarke, but yeah, sci-fi has gotten significantly more complex, literary, and self-reflexive since their heydays, mostly for the better.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Terminator 2: Judgment Day – I asked this on Twitter but why wasn’t Robert Patrick in a David Lynch movie? He has this perfect mix here of uncanny and subtle that feels downright Lynchian. But who stood out here was Linda Hamilton, Sarah Connor beefed up af but also emotionally fraught and terrifying in her ability to do whatever she feels is needed.

      What I got out of a second viewing was just how good Cameron is at structure, clean plotting, and tapping into the collective unconscious. He’s not a genius with dialogue but he’s a total genius with the fundamentals of story, the hierarchy of needs that compels us forward: love, family, emotion, survival, all that good stuff. Only George Miller rivals him in an instinctual understanding of primal storytelling and fusing that with amazing action. And make no mistake the action is fucking incredible (that final chase wastes no shots, no cuts, all the actors are blocked well – it has a purity to it).

      Also what are Sarah and John gonna, like, do now that Judgment Day’s been averted? Turn themselves in? After all this is the last of the series and no other horrible or misbegotten sequels or reboots ever occurred. 😉

    • The Ploughman

      The Martian Chronicles – discovered an old copy on a shelf and seemed appropriate what with Space Car and all.

      • Miller

        Ambrose Bierce in “The Exiles” may be my favorite fictional depiction of a real person.

      • pico

        I don’t think there’s a collection that inspires so much extreme ambivalence in me. It has some of my very favorite stories ever and some I hate more than anything. It’s a helluva trip, reading start-to-finish.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Master and Commander, as some of you know. Absolutely love it even if I understand approximately half of the vocabulary. Maturin and Aubrey feel like aspects of my own personality, an exuberance for the world tempered by a lack of grace as well as an antipathy towards the collective and preference for ideas (Maturin’s whole speech on his turn away from commonality is basically where I am politically these days even if I’m still functionally a leftist). O’Brien found a way to express his own feelings on the push and pull between action and reflection in two characters who nevertheless don’t feel like silly metaphors.

      • DJ JD

        Those were the first books that got me really thinking about how much insight showing another time period’s sense of humor requires. Those books are extraordinary.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          It’s absolutely uncanny how much he simply places you in another world, the same kind of creative thinking as any good sci-fi or fantasy writer.

        • Miller

          A pun on the level of “lesser of two weevils” is timeless!

          • DJ JD

            And the whole thing with the bear skin…

      • Miller

        Maturin certainly has an antipathy toward the collective, but is willing to be a tool of a larger order for his own ends. And Jack is obviously more than a tool, he’s a proponent – what is a ship but a collective, and a supremely hierarchical one at that, harnessed to one goal? And yet that collective requires constant balancing. You’re dead on about O’Brian looks at all this stuff in a way that is part of the story, though, it is never forced. And the exuberance toward the world, the exploration and reveling in what is found and experienced, is wonderful.

    • Just finished La Belle Sauvage, the first book in Philip Pullman’s follow-up trilogy to His Dark Materials. It’s a fun adventure story with some interesting folk magic stuff just thrown in for the hell of it near the end (which I dug), but the book is undercut by trying to tie itself into the original trilogy without actually deepening any of those connections and actually fucking up a few of them (the Asriel character is all wrong, e.g.). The result is a book that’s not committed enough to continuity to be a good prequel but also too committed to it to work completely as a standalone. I’ll read the other two when they come out, though, since they’re supposed to be years in the future and hopefully will avoid some of the pitfalls this book fell into.

      I also just started reading Scott Pilgrim for the first time. Finished book 1 last night. Enjoying it.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Scott Pilgrim is just wonderful, especially as it starts examining the shittier aspects of Scott’s personality.

        • Yeah, I think if I hadn’t already seen the movie and knew where this goes, I might be kind of irritated at how much of a tool Scott is. But I’m looking forward to the other books.

      • The Ploughman

        I loved The Golden Compass to pieces, but the other two books really let me down (especially the endless mess that was The Amber Spyglass). Is this worthwhile given my response to His Dark Materials?

        • This book is not nearly so obsessed with mythology as any of the HDM books are; it’s pretty much an adventure story set in the same world, although like I said, it does this irritating thing where it kind of half-heartedly wants to be a prequel to The Golden Compass without really committing to doing anything interesting with that premise. If any of that sounds interesting to you, then go for it! It’s not bad, and if you’re primarily interested in spending more time in this universe, then it’ll probably be fun to you on that level.

          That said, I like both The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass to varying degrees, so maybe I’m not reliable.

      • Miller

        I like the idea of more books in the HDM world but the prequelitis sounds worrisome. Tell me though – are there ARMORED FUCKING POLAR BEARS?

        • Alas, there are none (and this was, tbh, a problem with the final two HDM books as well). There is a crazy, baby-stealing fairy and a dude with a three-legged hyena for a daemon, though, which is pretty neat.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Three-legged hyena dude was genuinely unnerving.

          • DEFINITELY. The book really gets a lot of mileage out of him, and for a relatively “fun” adventure story, he takes the plot in some extremely dark directions.

    • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

      The Dark Tower by Stephen King
      Love this so far. Verges on incoherent at points, like what the fuck was up with the eagle and Roland in that flashback, but otherwise its a cool slice of dark fantasy.

      The Fury by John Farris
      Cool little thriller with TONS of detail and big words that makes me thank god for the dictionary built into my kindle. Adapted by De Palma into a movie, its about as strange as the film is, but it is interesting to see what John Farris does with the screenplay adaption of his own book.

      • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

        The second book in the series, The Drawing of the Three, is where The Dark Tower books started to click for me.

        • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

          I’ve heard that most people don’t consider the first book to be all that good. I do see a lot of the elements that validate that criticism, the silliness in which King characterizing abnormal feats of dexterity, some of the ‘traps’ left by The Man in Black or cool in concept but ridiculous in execution, and in general the characterization of many of the side characters, but it does not bother me. Nice to know it just gets better.

    • PCguy

      A vintage 75 cent paperback entitled God’s Smuggler about some dude steadily transporting carloads of illicit Bibles into the USSR to save the grateful heathens who live there. A book with this much social impact takes 3 authors to create: a husband and wife team and an anonymous guy named “Brother Andrew” who is also the protagonist and, as I’ve increasingly come to suspect, is entirely fictional.

      From the back cover: “You made blind eyes see. Now, I pray, make seeing eyes blind. Do not let the guards see those things You do not want them to see.” There have been some close calls but, so far, God has been pretty ace on his part. I’m guessing that the ending is going to involve the fall of Communism.

      On another note, can anyone recommend a good book on Peckinpah? I saw MAJOR DUNDEE last night and I’m thinking that I need to delve a little deeper here. A while back I read a couple chapters of some book in the local school library but they’ve since put away half their books and I’m sure I couldn’t find it again.

      • Son of Griff

        Garner Simmons PECKINPAH: A PORTRAIT IN MONTAGE, Paul Seydor’s PECKINPAH: THE WESTERN FILMS (RECONSIDERED) and David Weddles IF THEY MOVE, KILL’EM comprise the cannon. All three, along with Nick Redmond, have contributed commentary tracks to practically all of Peckinpah’s features. Outside of that, whoever did the commentary for Criterion’s STRAW DOGS (Steven Prince, perhaps) does a bang up job of analyzing it.

        • PCguy

          Thanks I’ll check those out. I’m not usually big on commentary tracks but Prince is one of my favorite film writers and I haven’t seen that one since I first started watching film seriously. Plus the Blu-Ray has an interview with Linda Williams who I also like. I actually invoked her name yesterday when I was yelling at someone about that horrible article on teaching pornography in the Times.

          • I’ve seen lots of praise for that article – what didn’t you like about it?

          • Son of Griff

            I don’t know if they carried it over onto the blu-ray, but I assume that they did. Williams is an inspired choice for an interview on this.

            Also check out Pauline Kael’s article “The Nihilist Poetry of Sam Peckinpah”, my favorite thing she ever wrote.

          • Is that the Killer Elite review? If it is, I heartily second it. “He’s crowing in The Killer Elite, saying ‘No matter what you do to me, look at how I can make a movie.’ The bedeviled bastard’s got a right to crow.”

          • Son of Griff

            That’s the one. While I hardly second her opinion of that film her assessment of Peckinpah’s career up to that point is probably the best ever written while he was actively working.

          • PCguy

            “In the moments before violence explodes, Peckinpah’s work is at its most subtly theatrical: he savors the feeling of power as he ticks off the seconds before the supressed rage will take form.”

            That’s what I love so much about the party scene in THE WILD BUNCH. The distance between the moment where you know everything has gone bad and the moment where the violence starts.

            Plus she starts off the piece by stating “Peckinpah likes to say that he’s a good whore who goes where he’s kicked. The truth is he’s a very bad whore”. That’s hilarious and I get it. You can see even in an early work like MAJOR DUNDEE or The Rifleman that this is a deeply oppositional artist who is going to push the boundries of what is allowable no matter how far they are set.

            The Kael piece is over at
            http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=1976-01-12#folio=070 but you’ll need a
            subscription to get past the paywall. It is great and a reminder that I should get on there and read more of her writing.

          • Son of Griff

            The pause between the moment that incites the final shootout and the battle itself, with the shock and delight associated with the realization that “Holy Fucking Shit–THAT just happened!’ is one of the most glorious epiphanies in cinema.

          • In The Killer Elite, Peckinpah takes a few tenths of a second before Robert Duvall shoots the man he and James Caan are supposed to protect, using a cut to show him sighting in, and I’m pretty sure my heart actually stopped for those moments. It’s beyond theatrical, it’s musical, the precise manipulation of time and how we sense it.

    • pico

      A couple of hundred pages into Journey to the West, which is shaping up to be my least favorite of the Great Chinese Classics so far. It’s fine – I mean, you have monsters and monkeys and mayhem – but it’s also super-dense with religious incantations and alchemic allegories and stuff that would be completely inscrutable without the 100-page introduction and copious notes in the back. I’ll keep reading (this translation is four volumes, so it’ll take me a while), but so far it hasn’t hooked me like Water Margin or Story of the Stone, both of which were incredible. That said, I can see why Journey is the most well-known: if you slice out some individual stories, like Stephen Chow did with his quasi-adaptation, it’s a rollicking good time.

      Also working my way through “lighter” stuff: an Alice Munro collection (finished), Percival Everett’s Erasure (finished), and Louise Erdrich’s Plague of Doves (100 pages in).

    • I just finished a local book called The PReP Diaries from local Seattle author Evan J Peterson.

      It’s a short, light, intimate, memoir about growing up gay under the HIV sex=death cloud and then, briefly, about how PReP changed those structures. One one hand, yes, this is a book commercial for Truvada. But, if you have skepticism about its effectiveness or about the idea that all gay men are now chained to big pharma and are required to take drugs, even if they’re not sick, you’ll not find much here to change your mind.

      On the other hand, and more interestingly for me, it’s also about the sociological impacts HIV and the enforced puritanical mindset that HIV = death has put on a whole generation of gay kids.

      Granted, there are some reservations: the main source of new infections is currently poor AA and Latino men, either through DL sex or needle exchange; this is written from the POV of a privileged middle class white guy speaking, primarily, to other privileged middle class white dudes. (By privileged, I mean they have a greater access to ongoing health insurance to help pay for the pills, they have greater access to doctors and friends and family willing to talk about gay stuff without fearing social or religious repercussions, etc) But, it is a deathly accurate guide to the effects of being indoctrinated with the idea that sex can kill you.

      I may not agree with everything in the book, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t relate to much of it. His book is warm and familiar; like a series of entertaining blog posts on a common theme.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      Just finished The Crying of Lot 49, and GODDAMN that ending killed me, in part because I expected it to happen. Pynchon pretty much tells you how the story is going to turn out as soon as he spends about a tenth of the book on The Courier’s Tragedy (which, on a side note, is so detailed and period-accurate that it could probably pass for a real Jacobean tragedy) – there are never going to be answers, just incoherent theories that we cling to in the midst of cultural revolution. It’s a strangely relevant book in the post-InfoWars era, and it’s one of the few books I’ve read that runs the entire emotional gamut from hilarious to suspenseful to heartbreaking. This might be one of my new favorite books.

      Up next: probably either Blood Meridian or Wuthering Heights, although The Sirens of Titan and Invisible Man are also options. (I also want to finish White Jazz, which I’m about 1/4th of the way through, but I left my copy in Chicago and I am kicking myself over it.)

      • I’d say Sirens of Titan is a breeze – blow through that, then tackle Blood Meridian. It’s a monstrous book in many senses of the word.

      • pico

        Not a common opinion, maybe, but Sirens of Titan is my favorite Vonnegut (it’s either that or Slaughterhouse, but those are the clear top 2).

        • I think SOT is ligher KV, but at the end, when Rumfoord is separated from his dog, that just hurt.

          • pico

            Lighter, maybe, but I also find it less self-indulgent (although to be fair, that’s one of the things most people like about KV, so it’s just a personal preference on my end.) I find the whole back third just devastating: he finds this tone of sustained melancholy, loneliness, and wonder (?) that I don’t think he always pulls off in later books. The passage of time, the irreversibility of it all, hits me pretty hard.

          • It really is heartbreaking at the end. There’s a tone that I love in fiction, a mix of melancholy and acceptance, that I just love, and SOT nails it at the end (it’s the same tone the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series ends on).

          • pico

            Yes! An almost “at peace with resignation.” Tricky to pull off, massively effective when it works.

      • Son of Griff

        LOT 49 seems particularly prescient in how it feels that electronic transmissions of information overwhelm and complicate our ability to tell historical truth from fiction. I wrote an undergraduate thesis on this that I need to re-do at some point. Glad you liked it. It greatly upset me (in a good way) when I first read it.

    • Rosy Fingers

      Will Self’s short story anthology Liver – four stories in which a character’s liver is the narrative driver. It’s a re-read for me, but it’s been long enough that I can remember the basic plots of each story (well, three of them) while the details are lost to me so I can enjoy them anew. Self’s facility with language and purposefully disorienting vocabulary choices are a constant pleasure. I enjoy just wallowing in the sentences. The prose is arch and grotesque, which suits me fine. Just some good misanthropic fun.

  • lgauge

    I’m quite fond of The Cinephiliacs and, for a somewhat more casual approach, Filmspotting. I tend to mostly listen to podcasts, especially those with long episodes, while traveling. So that does limit the number I can keep up with.

  • I have kind of lost patience with Blank Check. Producer Ben etc needs to start editing the show more. Sometimes they really do a great job with things. Just not always.

    The one other movie podcast I listen to is Mousterpiece Cinema, which is currently hosted by City Weekly critic Scott Renshaw and freelance critic/show creator Josh Spiegel. The show, for those nor familiar with it, reviews any movie released by Disney or its affiliates (provided that the affiliate was owned by Disney at the time, though they have done bonus episodes about Star Wars Iron Man, etc.) Since Renshaw came on last year, the program has found new life – Gabe Bucsko was good but I could tell he was getting worn out. It’s a great mix of review of current films, Disney classics, and utter obscurities. And they often have great guests, like pretty much everyone from The Dissolve, and Griffin Newman (who restrains himself admirably on other people’s shows).

    If you want to sample the show, I recommend their installment on Thor: Ragnarok or Coco.

  • Miller

    “if straight-man Sims doesn’t quite always regain control, his semi-faux frustration at least adds to the bit”

    SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMS!
    *pours one out for the TV Classic Seinfeld reviews/comments*

  • Babalugats

    My favorite movie podcasts are The Flop House, which is in my estimation, the best bad-movie podcast. A lot funnier, and a lot more positive than some of the other options.

    And The Projection Booth, which draws from a really interesting set of films, and I think is the gold standard for in-depth analysis. Be warned, the episodes are very long, but they usually feature a few interviews and are easy to break up into smaller chunks.

    I also listen to Filmspotting which coincidentally just covered our Year of the Month. https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2018/2/1/666-top-5-films-of-1983-videodrome

    • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

      I like The Flop House too. The easygoing chemistry between Dan, Stuart and Elliot is very fun to listen to. Plus Dan read 2 of my letters from listeners letters and I’ll always be grateful for that.

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford

    I’m a big fan of We Hate Movies which might be mentioned below by someone else – they’re laugh out loud, ridiculously funny, and while they despise many of the bad movies covered (though they call certain ones Hangover Movies), they clearly love movies as a whole and have good taste. Its basically four friends doing impressions and trying to crack you up.

    • ZoeZ

      I love We Hate Movies–I’ll let you all know if my Listener Request Month suggestion gets picked!–and would enthusiastically second all of this. I’ll never stop using one of their lines from The Happening episode to rag on the tendency for scripts to just cut to a character delivering a punchline and everyone laughing: “I’m a screenwriter who can’t think of a single joke!”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’d absolutely watch their Fat Spies movie.

    • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

      The Entourage Movie episode is essential listening. That thing is too hilarious. Happy Chris Cabin returned.

  • Thanks man. Interstellar was a lot of fun to do, ‘cuz I got into a recurring theme of the podcast: the difference between what makes music good-on-its-own and good-in-a-movie; that score was one of the best examples where the filmmaker can take weaknesses and flip them into strengths. Another one on this theme was the Gattaca/Sideways podcast, where I took one score that was “good music/didn’t work in film” and another one with those terms reversed.

    I listen to How Did This Get Made? a lot less now, but damn there are some classics in there, usually when they most directly answer that question. The podcasts on The Room, Birdemic, and especially Punisher: War Zone (Lexi Alexander owns all our asses) are straight-up classics, and the Sleepaway Camp podcast is one of their best ones where they’re all just straight-up confused.

    • The Ploughman

      I love Mantzoukis whenever he’s on Comedy Bang-Bang, so I’ve been thinking I should take some more time with that one.

    • Rosy Fingers

      I’ve really trailed off How Did This Get Made because it all started seeming very samey but there have been some wonderful moments. A personal Highlight was the episode about Crocodile Dundee 3: Dundee in Los Angeles (I cannot recall that film’s exact title). One of the film’s two writers is the guest and he is brutally honest about it being a terrible film, and about Paul Hogan being a terrible person. It’s scathing and wonderful.

  • Belated Comebacker

    Just going to jump in here real quick to say, “Black Men Can’t Jump In Hollywood,” is another superb movie podcast, that features fun in-jokes, a la “Blank Check,” in addition to really eye-opening discussions on African-American representation in the film world. Go check it out.

    Okay, that’s all from me. Back to my hiatus!

  • markus

    Damn those books are marvelous.

  • Rosy Fingers

    I listen to The Next Picture Show and enjoy that very much whether or not I have seen the film they’re discussing. Tasha is great. And by way of that one I’ve only just started listening to The Dissolve Podcast – I missed it at the time because, even though I was an avid Dissolve reader, I always assumed the podcast would be amateurish, but there are interesting debates and discussions. It’s a shame that there’s a finite amount of episodes. I’m about halfway through and don’t want it to end.

    I also dip into Doug Loves Movies regularly. It’s repetitive but I’m a sucker for the movie trivia and games. I just fast forward to the guests arriving and the start of movie discussion. It’s just fun to hear funny people argue about movies. And Samm Levine is a treasure.

    • The Ploughman

      The Dissolve Podcast had everything I wanted in a movie podcast. They used new releases as a discussion point for the primary segment but didn’t need spoilers – in fact you didn’t even have to have an interest in the film at hand because the discussion usually focused putting some aspect of it in context of larger trends. The second segment was more freeform and could be an elaboration on an article (same as Film Comment does a lot) or an interview. And the games is the part I wish they’d bring back the most (they did a segment on the live episode of Next Picture Show but it didn’t have the preparation behind it that made TD ones so fun.

      • 30 Seconds to Sell was the best, enthusiasm on a deadline.

        • The Ploughman

          The segments spoke to a particular kind of film nerd, the one who loves just that bit of structure to play within. Like forming a trivia team or, say, signing up to submit an essay to a comments forum.

        • Rosy Fingers

          I love how woefully unprepared they usually are for the 30 second bell, like nobody thinks to take a practice run for time.