• Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day) wins the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.

    • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

      Do they give a Nobel Prize for Attempted Literature?

      • (I tried to make a joke about a winner I don’t like, but so many are so obscure that I can’t.)

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        It’s a crowded field.

    • Crimson Pico

      That should read:

      Kazuo Ishiguro (The Saddest Music in the World) wins the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.

      • TIL Ishiguro wrote The Saddest Music in the World.

        • Crimson Pico

          Right? I feel this should be at the forefront of all of today’s encomia.

  • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

    What did we watch?

    • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

      LOST, Season One, Episode Sixteen, “… In Translation”
      “Why should I give my daughter to a man who sells out his dream so easily?”
      “Because she is my dream.”

      Thank god, we’re back to another great episode. This one marked the point where I was officially on the good ship Kwon, and never got off – they remain to this day one of my favourite couples in fiction, and I see now it’s because they dramatically earned their relationship. We talk all the time about things that could never be made today, and I don’t want to say this couldn’t be made today, but it’s unlikely people in general in 2017 would receive the redemption story of an abusive husband as well as I did/am.

      What sells me on mainly is that quite simple, deeply romantic bit of dialogue I put in the pull quote, and the fact that Jin’s actions are always rooted in that motivation. I can’t help but notice that Jin’s flashbacks have a dramatic structure, though cropping time rather than compressing it, skipping from action to consequence. It climaxes in Jin walking away from positive development rather than walking into it, as the others did; it’s clear this destroys him as much as her and will make it pay off more when he does choose Sun.

      Speaking of romance, the Sayid/Shannon one has been formalised. I see what clytie was getting at; it has a basic dramatic structure that makes it work, where Shannon has a bit of a complex over her intelligence, Sayid recognises that intelligence, and Boone does not (which is understandable from his perspective, though wrong). To me it’s more powerful as a step in Shannon’s development than in the romance itself.

      (There’s a disgusting heterosexual cuteness hanging over the whole thing, but that’s true of all the romances on this show that don’t involve Sawyer so I’ll let it slide)

      For once, there’s a reverse daddy-issues thing where Jin is an absent son rather than the other way around.

      The episode has an extremely effective mystery: someone burns Michael’s raft, character revelations happen – Michael blames Jin, which forces Sun to speak English to save him, and Locke initially blames the Others – and it’s resolved neatly, and even with a single line, when Locke says to Walt “Why did you burn the raft?” without any hint that was what he’d say.

      Hurley is visible in Jin’s flashback.

      The episode ends with a subversion of the whole “music montage ending” thing, when Hurley’s CD player runs out of batteries. Which is great, because I hate that as a storytelling device for TV. Write a real damn ending to your episode.

      Ownage count: Sawyer punches Jin for burning the raft. Jin beats the piss out of a guy to save him from an even worse fate. Michael punches Jin because of the boat, and Jin keeps taunting him like a boss.

      Horror Of Dracula, Terence Fisher
      I actually know more about Hammer Horror than I do their specific films – I find the idea of, essentially, a movie factory fascinating. @Son Of Griff mentioned yesterday that he believes auteur theory is best expressed under limited control and resources; I find it interesting how movie factories (and things like Motown, Marvel/DC, and to a lesser extent Saturday Night Live) end up supporting and nurturing young talents and setting them loose on the world. Generally these factories instill a sense of discipline in their talents (especially Motown), making them functional schools for their art.

      With the film specifically, it’s much simpler than Nosferatu and much better for it; the script is nothing but action, and its paced out so we can study the sets, costumes, and boobs – long scenes of people walking from one place to another. Peter Cushing is a badass motherfucker – methodical, rational, and intelligent, guided by emotion but not overwhelmed by it. The women are more visibly emotional but the men are, practically speaking, no better. The vampire’s weaknesses are laid out very quickly, so we can watch Van Helsing own with knowledge. Dracula is, despite first appearances, a creature of pure lust, completely given over to whatever emotion he’s feeling at the moment.

      Ownage: surprisingly, Van Helsing suddenly rocking up and taking out Lucy the vampire is more awesome than him taking out Dracula.

      • I also love the idea of Hammer Horror, but unlike most of the other companies who churned out horror on a budget, I’ve struggled to get into them. There’s a clunkiness to a lot of their films that makes them feel more dated to me than most of their peers (including earlier stuff). Cushing is always great though, no matter how I feel about the film he’s starring in.

        • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

          Cushing’s staggering charisma is incredible.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I really haven’t seen many Hammer movies but Peter Cushing is killer in this very little seen ’60s Burke & Hare retelling The Flesh & The Fiends (with Donald Pleasance as Hare!) He’s the doctor they sell the bodies to and he has a nice, underplayed scene near the end as he starts to understand his place in history.

    • Blade Runner. I hadn’t seen this in years, and have thought of it since my last viewing as a movie that’s superlative visually and aurally (the score might be my favorite of all time) but with a shrug-worthy, unsatisfyingly straightforward story and main protagonist. This time around, I felt more connection to the movie’s fatalistic tone – Deckard is given no choice but to hunt fugitive slaves who are set to die in the very near future anyway and who themselves are unable to get the one thing they want. Things that are a lot more thrilling and exciting – “things you people wouldn’t believe” – might be happening “off-world”, but won’t get to see that, we’re stuck here with these doomed people in this doomed place on their respective doomed quests. The movie emphasizes this feeling not just with the overbearing darkness and smoke and rain, but via constantly revisiting the same few locations – without seeing it in a while, it’s easy to forget just how closed-off and claustrophobic the world we actually see is.

      But then there’s Deckard, about whom my impression remains the same – Ford might have the face for noir but not the feel, the vibe I’ve got from him on this viewing was that of Indiana Jones slightly adjusted for a much bleaker setting and I found that hard to roll with. There’s the “love” between him and Rachael, which gets poignancy out of its own potentially doomed quality, but suffers from lack of screentime devoted to it on the one hand and Deckard’s no-way-to-get-around-it rapeyness on the other. There’s Roy suddenly running and jumping around in the climax like a deranged cop thriller villain and getting afflicted with a major case of heavy-handed symbolism, between the white dove and driving the nail into his hand. And there’s general slight but, to me, unmistakable tension between the film’s observational quality (again, doomed world and all that) and its chase-thriller story, the momentum is downplayed but I feel like there’s still more of it than there should be. On the whole I like the film more than I did before, but it’s still a strange, challenging one.

      And with that I’m off to see Blade Runner 2049.

      • hellgauge

        I think I had very similar thoughts on my recent revisit. I struggle with both the narrative and the characters, neither of which engage me like the fantastic visual storytelling and the score.

      • Defender Of The Dark Arts

        There’s so many versions of Blade Runner I can’t remember which one I’ve seen. I had the VHS, which I think may have been the special edition with out the voice over. Anyway, I’ve always liked flying cars.

      • glorbes

        I think Ford does okay in the role. He’s an awkward idiot, who is basically only good at his job because he doesn’t give up. His first interaction with Rachel in his apartment is that of a tone deaf doofus who doesn’t know how to talk to people (or replicants who think they’re people), and his attempt at intimacy is violent and unpleasant in the second instance. When he’s play-acting with Zhora, he can’t keep to one story, and his act falters and he nearly gets killed. Luck saves him. He’s a pathetic sack of shit, who happens to LOOK like Harrison Ford. To his credit, Ford never ever plays him as heroic.

        Actually, I just realized that I described Indiana Jones.

        • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

          I loved that joke about how most/all of the Indiana Jones movie villains would’ve ended up the same if he’d just sat at home and quietly read a book.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            Of course, I’m now curious if this theory would hold up to some of the earlier serials that Spielberg and Lucas used as inspiration for the character (thus continuing this noble tradition).

          • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

            I’ve definitely wondered that myself. The formula of “get him in over his head then get him back out again by the skin of his teeth” seems like it could easily have this problem.

        • That’s a compelling read on him. It’s possible that I’m assigning too much importance to the fact that the opening scenes (mostly via M. Emmet Walsh) establish him as “the best”, the professional who can do the job other professionals can’t, and I find it a movie’s fault when he strays from that image. It still doesn’t make me all that invested in him as a character, though.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            Part of what makes “John Wick” so amazing is how, yes, the character absolutely lives up to the feared reputation many of the characters whisper about. I imagine that’s got to be a tricky act to pull off since, as you note in “Blade Runner,” the movie has to 1) stick to that characterization, or 2) subvert it in some way that the audience can believe. If not, then you better be able to do 3)Make any opponent or obstacle he or she faces compelling enough that a viewer will buy it.

      • Dead Jerk Jerk Dead

        I agree that Ford was slightly off as Deckard. I get what he’s going for and I get what they were going for with him, but it’s one element of that film that didn’t entirely work for me.

    • Watched the new Bob’s Burgers and Last Man on Earth–One of the most static sitcoms out there paired with one of the most dynamic, they’re both still good. I’m not sure if I want Wiig’s character to be a complete villain (I loved her spotlight episode season so much), but I’m cool with changing settings, so why not an island? Bob’s Burgers is, of course, still damned enjoyable, although beside the shifting art styles (loved that), this seemed like a mid-tier-at-best episode.

    • hellgauge

      Motforestilling (Remonstrance, Erik Løchen, 1972): I didn’t know Norwegians made films like this. Ostensibly another film about a film, this starts as a typically self-conscious meta-effort with a lot of the usual trappings of that particular subgenre. However, it manages to be charming enough that one goes along with the eye-winking and it soon enough becomes clear that the ambition level is a bit higher than one might initially fear. The first clue to this is that the film that’s being made is itself a kind of meta-project, where free form methods are used to explore ideas about what a film can be. Again, if this was the end of it, you would probably think the film was a cute commentary on filmmaking in the increasingly radical milieus of the 60s and 70s, but there’s more to it than that. Like any good film about making a film (or more generally, films about creating art of some kind) the lines increasingly start to blur between filmic reality and filmic fiction. What is the camera seeing? Whose eye is it? When a character thinks or talks about something seemingly outside of the film being made and then we suddenly see these things played out, was it really part of the inner film all along or are we stepping outside the bounds that we imagined to be there around the narrative? Real actions start to mimic those in the film (or do they?), but which way is the arrow of cause and effect pointing? Maybe both ways? Neither? Most impressively among the structures this film extracts from its being about making a film, is that the common non-sequentiality of shooting a film means that the outer film’s narrative becomes similarly fractured and non-linear; the editing in many ways becoming increasingly frantic. As paranoia starts to take hold, the blurring of reality becomes so prominent as to put into question the very foundations upon which the narrative is built.

      Slowly but surely throughout the film, there eventually emerges a meditation on the practice of filmmaking as a stand-in for understanding the world; a metaphysical quasi-radical, almost postmodern, praxis. Radical acts within the inner film leads to radical conversations that seem to be outside and then radical acts that seem to be outside, but the very nature of the film’s collapsing reality means that again we cannot know which causes which or if there is even a separation. The increasing fog of paranoia also means a constant suspicion of all these things.

      For most of the film, despite the non-linear structure and leapfrog editing, you always have a sense of the larger story. You have a good idea about where you started, you have a good idea about where you are and at least some notion of how you got from A to B. In the film’s final act, all this subtly vanishes. Suddenly it’s like the past is lost. You suddenly are in some place, with a vague idea about what’s happening, but no idea how you got there. It is very dreamlike in how foggy non-immediate details are and in the sudden jumps between different points in the “story”. Eventually, the whole prior purpose seems swallowed up by paranoia and “the project” abandoned in favor of more base desires, but the result is a fever dream of freedom and fulfillment that morphs into Pyrrhic victory.

      With its group of people using art (here film) as a tool for interpretation and as a means for a practice of ideas that seem very in line with ’68 ideals, before becoming more shapeless, intangible and subjective, Out 1 certainly comes to mind as a point of partial comparison. Though obviously this is a very different beast and I have some serious doubts that Løchen could possibly have seen that film before making this one. Rather, these ideas were obviously floating around a bit post ’68 and some kernels can also be found in the late mid-to-late 60s work of Godard (which he is more likely to have seen). The collapsing and blending of realities with regards to the inner and outer narrative, makes it tempting to recall scenes from the recent Clouds of Sils Maria, though here the blending is even harder to parse and is visualized more strongly.

      What I find most impressive overall is Løchen’s maturity in handling this very 60s New Wave-y setting and formal toolbox. It seems very clear to me that in the decade following his debut (and only other) feature film (which I haven’t seen sadly, but I understand it to be a more familiar brand of formally experimental New Wave style film, certainly nothing to frown at in ’59) he learned all the right lessons in terms of understanding that these formal innovations and inwards gazing narratives and themes ultimately need a strong grounding in a larger scope. That’s a wisdom that it seems to have taken his French contemporaries like Godard and Rivette about the same amount of time to realize (in Godard’s case already in the late 60s if charitable and not until the 80s if uncharitable).

      In general, I find myself amazed that a Norwegian filmmaker actually made this film. It’s so much more continental than anything else we have accomplished, or at least so much better and mature than the others who have tried the same thing. It may be that I am overrating this film slightly due to my sheer joy at seeing something like this from a Norwegian filmmaker. Though the amount of material I have managed to squeeze out of it (having not really mentioned much about its overall visual qualities or some of the fine acting and dialogue) without spending all that much time thinking about it, suggests to me otherwise. There are a few nitpicks to be sure, a few throwaway scenes, a handling of female characters that is not particularly bad, but also not very inspired, and there is perhaps not the magnetic pull and overpowering thrills of an undisputed masterpiece.Yet, I would say this is just about the best film I have seen to come out of Norway (maybe tied for first place with Blom’s The Ice Palace) and it instills in me an increased enthusiasm to seek out more of the many blindspots that still remain for me in the history of Norwegian cinema.

      • This reminds me that I meant to check out Ice Palace but have not done so. My apologies to Norway!

        Do you know a good place to find Norwegian films that aren’t easily available internationally, by the way? There’s one Bent Hamer film that I’d love to see to finish off his filmography but I can never find it anywhere. It was called ‘En Dag til I Solen’, known as ‘Water Easy Reach’ elsewhere apparently.

        • hellgauge

          Sadly no. Usually, if these films even exist on disc, they don’t have subtitles. I don’t think The Ice Palace has ever been released on DVD (there was some talk of a restoration a couple of years ago, but I haven’t heard anything since), but I think Motforestilling does have a release (with subtitles even). In general, the best bet in many cases is most likely pirated copies (or youtube) with fan subs, as much as I hate to say it.

          We’re a small country and officially there isn’t a lot of funding for these kinds of efforts I think. Part of the problem is obviously that the films aren’t known because they are unavailable (outside of repertory screenings) and because they aren’t known there is less motivation for restorations.

          • Thanks. I’m not actually sure which languages are spoken in this particular film (clips online have some English and Spanish) but I’m sure I’d need subtitles anyway. I eventually managed to see his other early film, Eggs, thanks to a combination of somebody on Letterboxd and fan-subs, so I will hold out hope!

            Incidentally, the last time I visited Norway I blind-bought two DVDs purely because they were the ones that definitely had English subtitles (Nord and House of Fools) and they both turned out to be pretty good! I should go on more holidays.

          • hellgauge

            Nord is pretty good. It even has its opening scenes set in my hometown!

        • hellgauge

          There seems to be a subtitled DVD of En dag til i solen, but it’s definitely long out of print. Makes it very difficult to find a copy outside Norway.

          • hellgauge

            They have it at my local library actually. You’ll just have to drop by and I can borrow it on your behalf. 😉

          • Heh! Good old libraries. If I’m ever in the area…

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        I’m automatically turned off to a film whose thesis can be boiled completely down to “metaphor for filmmaking/filmmakers/film culture,” so it’s always a delight when a film that has those themes reaches deeper.

        • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

          Soooooo…do you have any interest in heist movies which could function as a stand-in for movie-making, or would that be an exception? (For me, I think the “Ocean’s” trilogy, “Logan Lucky,” and to a slightly lesser extent, “Inception” work well for me because they aren’t just about making movies, but about the pleasures of the characters, the set pieces, or the world they take place in.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I thought about Inception specifically when posting that, and I like that one and 2/3 of the Ocean’s trilogy (haven’t made it LL yet, on the list). I think to narrow to the type of film lgauge brings up here, I’m trying to think of films that literally depict filmmakers and filmmaking but reach beyond “it’s hard to be a filmmaker/artist,” like Day for Night.

          • Departed Hunchback (errrr…)

            Ooh, yeah, that…isn’t always great, and can typically seem overly onanistic towards people creating (which is why I love “Barton Fink.” As @ZoeZDean:disqus and @disqus_hde7I14XwM:disqus have noted, the Coens have no patience for the statement “Day for Night” makes, and proceeds to tear down individuals who use that maxim.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            Barton Fink is a great example!

    • Defender Of The Dark Arts

      Wish Upon. It’s basically the story of “The Monkey’s Paw” if “The Monkey’s Paw” was stupid garbage. After this and Wolves at the Door, John R. Leonetti can go fuck himself. Yeah I said it. All you John R. Leonetti-heads, come at me.

      • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

        I believe they’re called Leonettizens.

        • Defender Of The Dark Arts

          All two of them. Leonetti himself and his wife. His kids aren’t fans.

    • jroberts548

      Black-ish. The Roots had an animated cameo in a schoolhouse rock parody that was fantastic. The rest of the musical numbers wereHamilton inspired, and just okay. Dre’s miscomfort with how comfortable he is and his efforts to be blacker are a great vein for this show to mine.

      Brooklyn 99. I really enjoyed Meadows’ performance as Peralta’s new friend / cannibal. My only reservation about this prison two parter is that it intrudes on the unreality of the show. Prison wardens and guards are evil. Prison is a dehumanizing experience. Prison is useless for rehabilitation. The heroes of the show send people there, and then we all have a laugh.

      Ghosted. The cast shows promise, but the pilot is mostly exposition and needs more jokes.

      The Mayor The cast shows promise, but the pilot is mostly exposition and needs more jokes.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’ve avoided Brooklyn 99 in part because aside from Barney Miller I don’t really want a cheery sitcom about cops.

        • It’s a fun show, but occasionally, it makes small gestures toward serious social commentary, which almost ruins it–it’s one thing if you’re doing this fantasyland version of policing, but once you start bringing in real-world issues, it pops that bubble. Thankfully, the show doesn’t do this very often.

        • jroberts548

          I think I’ve mentioned before here that I should hate B99, but as long as they act like it’s any other workplace, I can ignore my politics and enjoy the show. But when they let the real world intrude, the show suffers. I really hated the episode where Terry is profiled for the same reasons.

          It’s like the episode of Cheers where Sam becomes a drunk again, or the small handful of episodes where the script highlights how depressed and pathetic Norm is. Cheers is a show about broken people who live in a bar. It stops being funny if they call attention to that fact. It’s like if a magician said “there’s nothing up my sleeve, but really there is. It’s right here, I’ve just cleverly concealed it. Now watch me pull this thing out of my sleeve.”

    • The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T – I think it was somebody from around these parts who piqued my interest in this bizarre 50s musical, written by Dr. Seuss and boasting some of the most vividly strange production and costume design I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to see why it was a flop at the time (file it under “how do you market something that isn’t like anything else?”) but I’m glad it has found a cult following, because it’s amazing. I loved the characters and their strange little dreamworld, and the songs are catchy too.

      The Haunted House – I wanted to watch something for Buster Keaton’s birthday and this short seemed suitably Octobery. It’s not one of his absolute best – the first half is too straightforwardly slapstick, revolving almost entirely around a spilled pot of glue – but there are some great moments, and it keeps getting better as it goes on, peaking with a glorious fantasy sequence as our trusty hero flirts with heaven and hell after being whacked on the head.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        The Dungeon Song in Dr. T has got to be the strangest thing to find its way into a mainstream 50s movie.

        • Performed by an unblinking, hooded, oiled up elevator operator. You know, for kids!

    • Crimson Pico

      I continue to disappoint my fellow Soluters by really, really hating I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. I tried, folks, I really did. I went in with a lot of goodwill. I couldn’t stand the lead or the voiceover, which is a stumbling block, since she’s the only person on screen for about 90 percent of the movie. Oof. I get why people might enjoy the atmosphere, but it just didn’t work for me. Like The Blackcoat’s Daughter I felt there was so much less than meets the eye, but I at least enjoyed some of what TBD was trying to do in the end. My disappointing 2017 continues apace.

      • It’s a crazily divisive movie even among big cinephiles I think. I remember under Dowd’s (largely positive) AVC review everyone was just ripping into it, and there were like three people for whom it really worked. Personally the only part I didn’t care for were the flashbacks/backstory, but otherwise I thought it was gorgeously creepy in its use of space, sound and dialogue. The scene with the telephone cord early on made me as giddy as a schoolgirl, and I was totally on board for the chillier, quieter horror that followed.

        • Crimson Pico

          Saw it with two other friends who are much more genre aficionados than I am, and we joked afterwards that it was on paper “my” kind of movie (slow and artsy) and the kind of thing they usually hate, but they enjoyed it and I didn’t. It’s so weird: this should have been right up my alley, but it’s one of those things where the alchemy just felt off so nothing worked for me.

  • Really interesting stuff. My local horror festival is showing Rift in a couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ll be sure to report back on the rest of the programme.

  • Crimson Pico

    For what it’s worth, television is miles ahead of film as far as queer horror goes. Hard to overestimate the impact of True Blood over the years, but between Ryan Murphy’ queer horror fantasias and MTV’s various shirtless teens slash werewolves and such, it’s much much easier to find this sort of thing on the small screen.

    Of the queer-coded horror films, I think my favorite is Fright Night: the two dapper men who move in next door are opening an antique store, after all. The romantic lead won’t sleep with his girlfriend. Half the cast is gay. It’s so great.

    We’ve chatted about this before, but Bruce LaBruce has mostly left me cold, with the exception of Otto: or, Up with Dead People, which hit me hard at the end.

    • To be fair, some of Hannibal’s queerness is also due to Bryan Fuller, who started his career with Dead Like Me before moving on to Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, the pilot for The Munsters reboot Mockingbird Lane, and American Gods.

      Mancini, whom I love, tends to work in queer styles but few of his projects have ever had explicitly queer characters.

  • So Harvey Weinstein just got a whole lot of sexual harassment accusations thrown at him. I’m sure it surprises nobody.