• Drunk Napoleon

    We like short shorts!
    – The Royal Teens, Short Shorts

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      The Wire, Season One, Episode Eleven, “The Hunt”
      The cops all perfectly sync up, with the same goal, all in respect of one of their own falling. In any other show, it would be typical; in this, it’s genuinely moving because it shakes off the cynicism of everyone, even Rawls. Of course, certain real life events have made it harder to enjoy seeing cops coming together to protect one of their own. I like that we never actually see Little Man all episode, just the people who have to deal with him on both sides.

      Breaking Bad, Season Two, Episode Three, “Bit By A Dead Bee”
      “I’m still here. I’m still me.”
      Mark this episode as Drunk Napoleon’s Official Mark Of When Breaking Bad Got Really Good. Walt’s teaming up with Tuco caused him to go to Mexico, which caused Hank to come to Mexico, which has had direct effects on Walt, Jesse, and Hank himself – Walt has to bullshit his way through a doctor, which he pulls off completely, Jesse is getting interrogated by Hank (and managing to hold up against him, no “chili powder” bravado), and Hank himself is getting accolades from his coworkers (no PTSD yet).

      When it comes to Walt, the Leone lingering catches both his rapid attempts to plan and his contemplation after the fact, as he mulls over what he thinks about what’s happens (as well as a painting, the purpose of which eludes me entirely). This time around, it’s clearer to me that he does genuinely love his family – see him catching Skyler and Walt Jr in the kitchen. Of all the Two Things BB attempted, nothing worked as well as Walt’s two motivations. Of course, his pride is just as important – we also catch Walt’s irritation that Hank stole his kill.

      (This is also the first time we see Walt channel his real feelings into a lie. Walt is method.)

      When it comes to Jesse, that Leone lingering catches his trauma. He’s already more hardened, once again bouncing of Badger as he takes his situation 100% seriously. He even commits to a hard dramatic decision, telling that guy he’ll pay him later.

      Tio is not a rat. For some reason every other time I thought he came in on his own volition. This time it was obvious that he was brought in by the cops.

      The opening has all the surreal fun of the flashforwards, but this time is something the story builds on rather than up to.

      • ZoeZ

        I knew you’d write up “The Hunt” today and thinking about that last night made me rewatch the first fifteen minutes or so just to remember how much I love Rawls here. The guy could spend the rest of the series kicking puppies in the face and I would probably still like him. His matter-of-fact authority (forcibly ordering all unnecessary personnel away from the crime scene), his competence (working out the exit route, turning the street signs), and his protective attentiveness to an obviously-in-shock McNulty despite his hatred of him… all great. It deepens him a lot by showing the skill underneath his bureaucratic function of keeping everything running without incident (and often without permanent solution) and by showing undergirding ethics.

        If McNulty can’t not be a cop in that he can’t not do the job, Rawls can’t not be a cop in that he can’t not belong to the institution, and here the brotherhood is more important than his hatred. He’d fit into Farmington well. Here’s your crossover episode, actually. Rawls takes over the Barn and:

        * mentors Danny
        * likes Claudette (until the thing with the DA), Lem, Tina, and Ronnie
        * tolerates Dutch, Julien, Billings, and Shane
        * hates Vic and post-DA scandal Claudette

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          One of the things The Wire did beautifully is make it clear that Rawls and Burrell are both higher ups who are incapable of doing anything daring or innovative (in short they’re fucking everything up for natural police) but also that they don’t have any real choice and there’s enormous pressure especially for Burrell because everybody’s obsessed with stats and numbers (in a lot of ways The Wire is a refutation of the belief, clearly disproven in the 2016 election, that human behavior can be quantified and made into data). I sympathize with McNulty and Lester as the anti-authoritarians of the cops but they also don’t have to deal with their headaches.

          • ZoeZ

            Yeah, I feel like one of the thesis statements of The Wire is “you can do good work, but good work will always be the exception.” And the higher up you go, paradoxically, the less power you have to actually do good work, because at the top, your good work is going to actually change things, and the institution/city as a whole can’t allow it.
            Daniels as a lieutenant can run multiple successful, professional details; once he goes higher up, he’s worth the trouble of blackmailing and controlling to the point where he can’t do that anymore, so he’s out the door.

            So you either get the elevation of mediocrity or the immediate compromise of talent.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Good example there for poor Daniels. I could imagine The Wire being more frustrating than something as Shakespearean as The Sopranos distinctly because The Wire suggests that no one is really going to win here or change the dynamics of a greater institution. The Sopranos is rooted in the individual as center of drama, where they can change any given situation whether through violence or demonstration of power, where The Wire is about the greater system as drama.

          • ZoeZ

            I’m spoiler-barring this to hide my shame–there’s a David Lodge novel with the party game Humiliation, where you name something in the canon you haven’t read and get points by how many other people have read it, and one guy says he hasn’t read Hamlet and he wins the game and loses his job, and I don’t want to be that guy–but I have only ever seen a handful of Sopranos episodes (I found David Chase’s comments about his work slightly off-putting) and you have reminded me that I need to fix that someday soon.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            The Sopranos might be my pick for greatest show over The Wire. They go back and forth and The Sopranos arguably has more lows than The Wire but it is truly high art. You also have two of the greatest performances in television/film/anything history in Gandolfini and Falco. Their scenes together spark fucking heat lightning.

          • The Sopranos is great, but it’s wears you down. There’s a line by Tony, describing how his mother, “wore his father away until he was a little nub of a man,” and that’s how I feel about the show. It’s ugly and often tries to rub your nose in that ugliness. I liked it, but watching it all over 2-3 months made me feel dirty. It’s highs are some of the best moments of TV, but there are rough patches and strange asides (it’s a weirder show that I was expecting). It also lacks the propulsiveness of other shows, content to wallow where others would decide (no surprise that its biggest offspring is Mad Men. It’s the most important show in the past 20y, maybe ever, but not the GOAT.

            This aside, I loved most of it, and I’ve no regrets about watching it all, and would recommend it.

            ETA: I might win Humiliation with E.T. Never seen it.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I’m sort of put off by The Sopranos because I know that it’s basically “Mad Men except without the relief of switching things up in season four”.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yeah I had to watch it in weekly sessions, maybe 2 episodes at a time, and then that was it because its such a vortex of despair and nastiness (albeit a funny, interesting one).

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Y’all probably know by now I’m on team Shield, but that was a relatively recent development in the last 5 years or so. I really liked The Sopranos, but I feel like it’s a show that, with time, seems to have less and less to say (“Tony and everyone in his orbit is a piece of shit who won’t change because it’s hard!”, over and over again for six seasons), and the more I dig into The Shield, the more depth I find.

            I currently have The Shield #1, with Deadwood and The Wire duking it out for #2, and The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men fighting behind them.

          • ZoeZ

            I currently go 1. The Shield, 2. Deadwood, 3. The Wire, 4. Rectify, with the fifth spot fluctuating depending on mood. I can see (4) moving around since it’s a new addition, but my relationship with (1) is committed and monogamous.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            The Shield really has ruined other dramas for me. Now I just don’t give a crap about fancy cinematography or “slow burns” or subtle metaphors or character studies… give me strong characters, put them in crisis, and show me what they do.

            I still have six episodes left in my Deadwood watch. I really need to pick that up, especially with the news about a certain TV show’s season three.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I’m slowly coming around to the idea that The Shield and Mad Menare a) the greatest examples of serious American television in exact opposite ways, and b) that they’ve both ruined other shows for me. If I want a character study, I want it like Mad Men; if I want a thriller, I want it like The Shield.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            (Give me time to figure out how The Wire fits in)

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            If you want a detailed sociological study with dozens of characters where people’s fates are as often determined by their station and by forces beyond their grasp as much as by their own actions…

          • Drunk Napoleon

            After watching my Wire episode for the day, I’d agree, and even simplify it to “If I want an expression of a single theme, I want it like The Wire.”

          • They’re the Karl Hungi of American television.

          • Roar Rory

            I found another person who loves Rectify as much as I do! The Shield is number one for me as well. It has ruined so many shows for me.

          • ZoeZ

            Yes, another Rectify fan!

            The Shield ruined a lot of other shows for me too–it made me a lot more attentive to what choices the characters are allowed to make and what happens when they do, especially.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            By ‘with time’, do you mean “As the show goes on longer, it runs out of things to say”, or “As I get older and revisit it, I find it not as deep as I used to”?

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            The latter. The show itself is largely quite well-made; it drags in parts when Chase pads it for the proverbial dump truck of money, but it finishes quite strongly.

          • I have The Wire as clear #1, The Shield as a comfortable #2, then Deadwood, Mad Men, Buffy, and The Sopranos, with other shows at least a lap down. My two personal favorites are Cowboy Bebop and The Prisoner, but I’ve no idea where they’d fit in this metaphor.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Not that I particularly want to bring up other texts in a very good discussion of “The Wire,” but your comment on how you either get the “elevation of mediocrity or the immediate compromise of talent” sounds very similar to “Heart of Darkness,” where the lead man for the Company’s Central Station is someone who, aside from being able to stay healthy in the tropical jungle of Africa, doesn’t really bring anything else to the table. Guess this theme’s been around for a while.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            One of the things that did make the US Office weirdly insightful til it got kind of implausible and Flanderized is the notion that Michael Scott was a genius salesman who got elevated to a position he doesn’t have the talent for.

          • Belated Comebacker

            This would make sense, and I wonder if this is the same theme that was in the original version? Never saw it, so I can’t say.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I don’t remember how Brent got promoted to manager in the UK version but right up until the end of the series he’s always teetering on being fired which makes sense (its also a naturally shorter sitcom in seasons).

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            The other thing about the UK version is that, according to Ricky Gervais, the documentary is a bit unfair to David Brent, deliberately picking his worst moments, but also, that Brent plays to the cameras a lot, and that without them around he’s generally more subdued and normal.

          • It’s so common that it has a name: The Peter Principle, where, “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

          • Belated Comebacker

            Heh. Who’s the poor bastard that got this principle named after him?

        • Drunk Napoleon

          There’s something so wonderful about the “I hate your guts, so you know I’m being honest when I say this isn’t your fault” scene, aside from Rawls managing to work the word ‘fuck’ into every other word. McNulty is genuinely in grief, and for all his iconoclasm, he needs people like Rawls to keep the ship running in a time of crisis.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I just rewatched that scene and McNulty’s genuine broken heart brought me to tears again. It’s not often you see men vulnerable in this genre in that way.

          • ZoeZ

            I find it oddly moving that even when Rawls arguably upbraids him for why he’s sad–“believe it or not, everything isn’t about you”–there’s no suggestion at all that he’s awkward around Jimmy’s vulnerability there or finds it off-putting. It could have been a “get a hold of yourself” speech, and it isn’t.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Before I started watching prestigious TV shows – distinct from Prestige TV in that most of what I’m describing here was made before Prestige TV was a thing – I had this vague preconception that they were all about straight white men being sad in a manly way; it’s been fun having that preconception shattered.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Thats a good book. One of the nice details is that where Chase and Weiner’s writing rooms are stressful and difficult, Alan Ball’s room for Six Feet Under is nurturing and friendly.

          • Drunk Napoleon


          • ZoeZ

            There is at least one thing Brett Martin says in this that makes me want to egg his house, but I will say that he does seem insightful about the shows he actually likes. (There’s also Alan Sepinwall’s The Revolution Was Televised.

          • I really like Sepinwall – I keep hoping my library gets TV: The Book soon.

            ETA: What inspires the house-egging?

          • ZoeZ

            This, basically: “[The Shield‘s] realism was the heightened realism of boys acting out a cop show in the backyard: sneaking up, crouched, on a suspect and gesturing a partner on with a drawn gun; getting shot and dying in elaborate slo mo; dramatically taking sunglasses on and off to make a point.”

            a) The Shield doesn’t use slow-mo
            b) The Shield is not fucking CSI: Miami

            It’s not criticism, it’s a dismissal founded on inaccuracies.

          • oh god that’s awful. where do I meet you with the eggs?

          • There was also a snarky (and to my eyes, classist) dismissal of Shawn Ryan for wearing (hang on to your monocle) T-shirts or even tank-tops in the writers’ room.

            I told you to hang on.

          • ZoeZ

            I personally only write while wearing an evening gown and pearls, and it’s all very respectable.

          • Wait, one can wear clothes while writing? First I’ve heard.

          • I actually don’t like this book. It’s way too invested in promoting the narrative of “brooding white anti-heroes saving television” and ignores the fact that there was arguably just as important and groundbreaking work being done in comedy, and arguably a decade earlier, too (and also with way more prominent female involvement). Also, I really don’t like the idea of Quality TV beginning with The Sopranos, which is another thing this book hardcore argues.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Yeah, this was a pretty great scene, one that has stuck with me, even when watching a film like “Collateral,” where I’m shocked that Vincent


          kills Mark Ruffalo’s cop. Obviously, he doesn’t expect to stay in L.A. long enough for the law to catch up to him, but it still plays as a shocker to me, given how much hay was made by the Barksdale Gang about not shooting a cop. One of the bigger no-no’s.

        • thesplitsaber

          ‘* hates Vic and post-DA scandal Claudette’

          So Vic and Claudette team up to push him and his stats based approach out of the barn?

      • Belated Comebacker

        Did I miss the episode with Danny Trejo’s head on a tortoise? Or was that this one? Such a great, outlandish visual.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          That hasn’t happened yet.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        It would be pretty funny if Tio came to the cops voluntarily just to shit on their floor.

    • Mad Men, Season 4 – Just finished “The Suitcase”, which is right about the halfway point of the show. Of all the Prestige TV(™) out there, this reminds me most of Downton Abbey. Don is like Robert Crawley in that they are both men of esteem and privilege, with confident savoir faire, but sometimes show a progressive side (I imagine Don even considering Peggy’s opinion was taboo at most place). Both are surrounded by people of the previous generation,who are far more rigid (Roger & Burt vs the Dowager Countess). The youth are far more wilder and recognizing of social change (Pete favoring Kennedy over Nixon because of Elvis’s popularity was surprisingly insightful). And shows start on the cusp of societal upheaval. Mad Men is the better show, with a deeper bench and more nuance. And I’m liking it far more than I expected. But I didn’t expect to find them so similar.

      I do feel like I’m missing some of the subtext of the show, though. What are some good write-ups about it, explaining more of the literary details I’ve overlooked?

      Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend – Really good special, esp that he’s a rather sweet comedian. So many cultivate a misanthropic persona, but Birbiglia is just a nice guy. He swears, but not constantly, and it usually has more punch because of it. Best part is mocking a guy in the audience over “woman police” – Birbiglia was so polite while riffing on the guy’s sexism.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        If it helps at all having advertising and that quest for happiness discussed in the pilot in the back of your head is a really good bet for watching the series with an underlying theme in mind.

      • ZoeZ

        I’m sure this has been said a thousand times, but the Don/Peggy relationship is one of my favorites, across all TV: the warmth, the occasional prickliness, the mutual understanding, the shared intellectual passion, the rifts, all of it. “The Suitcase” is a phenomenal showcase for their very particular intimacy, and one of the best things Mad Men ever did.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          My absolute favourite thing in fiction is a pair of soulmates – not specifically romantic, just a pairing between two people who intuitively understand each other. Don/Peggy is one of my favourite examples, especially for how it fits into the show’s conception of identity as a compulsive motivation.

          • thesplitsaber

            ‘….it never happened. You wont believe how much it never happened.’

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Peggy is probably the only person in Don’s life who, after a certain point, is able to tell him what he doesn’t want to hear or will tell him off (one of my favorite bits is when she says “Well I’m not the one you’re mad at so SHUT UP!” And he does.)

        • I was shocked to see Don literally fighting over her with Duck. They’s a great pairing, and this ep shows why.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Just wait til you get to “The Strategy”.

          • thesplitsaber

            ‘I KILLED 25 MEN IN OKINAWA’
            ‘….ok, ok.’

        • thesplitsaber

          It took until my last rewatch to really appreciate that The Suitcase is basically a bottle episode of just Peggy and Don. Its kind of jarring given the vast ensemble feel of the preceding seasons/episodes, but i think its why it made such a strong impact.

          ‘The Oysters of Hercules! Which you with sword shall carve!’

      • Son of Griff

        Even though it is set at a later time period, I’ve always received a Fitzgerald-ian vibe from MAD MEN, and the alliterative similarity between Don Draper and Dick Diver (from “Tender is the Night) is probably not coincidental. There are specific literary and cinematic references in the show that create a Cold War U.S. imaginary universe that would make Calvino’s or Borges’ heads spin. It’s a show built for Wikipedia.

      • The AV Club’s Mad Men write-ups are fantastic, although being weekly reviews, they do miss some of the subtext of the show’s long-term game.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        I watched My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend last year– I think that’s the special it was, anyway. The ending just killed me.

    • Whirlpool – an Otto Preminger noir-tinged mystery about a troubled woman who latches onto a man who claims he can address her problems through hypnosis. Before she knows it, she’s the main suspect in a murder, and she can’t remember whether she did it or not. It’s pretty solid, if not spectacular, but Jose “father of Miguel” Ferrer is outstanding as the Sinister Hypnotist and there are some good surprises. Preminger is clearly trying to remind the audience how much they liked Laura at times, reuniting with Gene Tierney and prominently featuring the portrait of a dead woman, and it’s not quite up to that standard, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

      Plus two episodes of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, the Studio Ghibli co-produced TV series that has turned up on Amazon streaming. The animation is a computerised version of the Ghibli style that doesn’t look quite as nice and it’s more overtly targeted at children rather than “children of all ages”, but it’s very pretty in places and I liked the Yorkshire accents on the English dub.

    • glorbes

      A couple of episodes of Buffy, one of which had Faith and Buffy switch bodies. This should have been a slam dunk, but it was merely just okay. Gellar did a great job being Faith, but you can tell they worked around Dushku, who had a fraction of the screen time. And despite Gellar’s great performance, I didn’t fully buy into the partial redemption arc, even though I can see precisely HOW it was supposed to work (being in Buffy’s body means having support, friends, and love).

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Angel uses Faith directly following this episode and I think they do a much better job with that (also Dushku’s way better).

    • jroberts548

      iZombie, the first two episodes of the current season. I was a little worried that the events of season 2 would alter the status quo too drastically, but that hasn’t happened yet. We still have a procedural with serial elements, though the serial elements are becoming more important. In that regard, the show is a lot like Angel at this point, which means soon the show will add a super talented actor that the fans will hate, and then the zombie apocalypse will happen.

      Until that happens, I’m content to enjoy the little things. Liv and Major on dad brain and teenage girl brain was hilarious. The only missed opportunity would’ve been liv looking in a mirror and telling herself she’s not leaving the house like that.

      The Americans. With only one season left after this, they’re really pushing hard on the risk that Phillip defects. They haven’t been hammering it as much because he’s just gotten less screen time, but they’ve also provided enough foreshadowing such that we should not surprised if Henry ends up getting them caught.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        A bold opinion!

        • jroberts548

          Haha. I fixed it.

    • ZoeZ

      Cat People won the night’s viewing slot by a whisker on account of its brevity, but the others are still on the docket. Great dreamlike vibe (surely some parts of this went into It Follows, between the footsteps behind Jane Randolph and then the swimming pool scene), especially when the cat-like woman greets Irena as a sister.

      After the talk yesterday about the remakes, there was a part here that made me think about how I’d remake this, and it’s where Irena bristles at a mention of Alice and then tearfully tells Oliver to make sure she’s never angry or jealous. There’s a great, emotionally claustrophobic movie to be made about a marriage between two people who are very much in love where one of them will nonetheless turn monstrous at any real friction and so has to be kept flawlessly happy. Sort of a cross between this movie and “It’s a Good Life.”

      • Woo! Brevity!

        I definitely recommend following it up with the sequel if at all possible, it’s a fascinating switch in genre that retains the dreaminess but uses it to tell a sort of ghost story from a child’s perspective, retaining the main characters from Cat People but going off in a totally different direction.

        • ZoeZ

          Extremely possible: the copy I checked out has the sequel on the same disc. So I will watch that very soon, because this is intriguing.

      • I love the lesbian code readings of Cat People. They make the movie even more fun.

      • Son of Griff

        I can’t wait for you to get to THE WILD BUNCH.

    • Just some television. Last week’s Blackish was a relatively solid episode about growing up and the changing nature of parent-kid relations. Last week’s Big Bang Theory was about assholes.

      Some old episode of Speechless, a show about a family with a son who had CP, was the weirdest kind of kids glove entertainment; it felt kind. Especially surrounded by Modern Family’s and The Goldbergs’ sabotaging each other and other people. Two mean shows book ending a “nice” show makes the “nice” show even more intolerable. It also felt like Driver and the guy who used to play Crepke on TBBT had a preening cautiousness to their acting around the guy with CP. Meh.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Modern Family is a mean show posing as a nice show (though the cast is pretty great).

        • And last night’s rerun was pretty mean in all three subplots (Latina mom tormenting son with pranks, redheaded gay guy confronting parents over childhood mistreatment, chubbier gay guy confronting an iPad recording lady by imitating a blind date).

    • The Narrator

      Baghead: A really enjoyable relationship dramedy that plays with and pokes at mumblecore and horror tropes (the latter most obviously, but the first gets maybe the more vicious spoof, with the opening screening of a ludicrous microbudget drama entitled We’re All Naked, whose director responds to a question about improvisation by saying something real close to “Life is improvised, man”). I’d add that Greta Gerwig is really charming, but that’s constant for all Gerwig films.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Is Baghead scary or more funny?

        • The Narrator

          Definitely more funny. It’s occasionally tense, but not really scary at all.

        • It’s so not scary at all. Like aggravatingly not scary.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            DAMN IT

        • pico79

          I loved it for all the reasons Julius hated it, so as with all things: your mileage may vary.

      • This was my introduction to mumblecore and The Brothers Duplass…

        They pulled a bait and switch. I was expecting something more funny or more scary, like a bored indie version of a horror comedy. It was neither that funny or that scary. I resented it. It made me genuinely angry to watch the movie.

        I think I was expecting something more akin to Creep, which is hilarious with just a bit of tension.

    • Belated Comebacker

      Justified: Season 3, Episode Two

      Which should come as a surprise to….almost no one here.

      So we have another Case-of-the-Week here, with the Lexington Marshals having to provide impromptu protection after a Witness Security Marshal is brutally assassinated. We get to see Art Mullen going from paternal hard-ass police chief, to angry, vengeful interrogator. Granted, he never gets the car battery out, but it’s still fairly brutal.

      I of course loved the half-assed plan Raylan cooks up with Karen Sisco Goodall in the hotel hallway, which gets them nowhere, since the door gets locked almost immediately after they cuff the minor-league gangster’s two bodyguards. Clearly, the bulk of scenes with Raylan in this show lean towards comedy, and the show is all the richer for it (the way he manages to push Boyd towards an early release out of prison is especially funny, after you watch Boyd’s dumbfounded reaction).

      Finally, there is Elston Limehouse, who, when I first saw this season, struck me as a lame attempt at replicating Mags. Turns out, that wasn’t the case. Limehouse isn’t Mags 2.0. He just wants to be left alone, which makes for an interesting theory about the theme from Season 3.

      As one intelligent commenter over at Mom’s Place put it during the initial coverage of the show, Season 3 is about the de-mythification of the criminal element, since they take Quarles, who seems to be a coldhearted, efficient bastard, and completely derails him into unhinged addict territory. And Boyd has to put down rebellions in his ranks, while Limehouse, as I said above, only has interests in his Holler, and his people. Interesting stuff as the Season goes on; one that shows how it’s more thematically unified than I first thought.

      (Even Fletcher Nix suggests this theme of criminals not being that smart to be the case: Here is a cool, intimidating tough guy, who almost immediately gets outwitted by Raylan due to his overconfidence.)

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I don’t love Limehouse and I couldn’t quite tell you why – it’s just a lot of monologues and analogies about meat and the Holler.

        That being said, I fucking LOVE Quarles, especially how Wynn Duffy is at turns enamored by (in a cold blooded admiring sort of way) and clearly terrified of him.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Can’t have Duffy without the Wynn!

          Yes, one pet theory was Duffy was so put off by how bonkers Quarles becomes in the later parts of the episode, that Duffy realizes he needs to dial it back, thus becoming one of the more mild-mannered criminals you see on “Justified.”

          (By not being a badass or a crazy, he manages to outlive several other villains in the series run).

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Wynn is bonkers in his first appearance but I love that he emerges as the most rational criminal in the entire series. Mr. Pink would be proud.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Fortunately, the writers don’t go all-in on making him too rational (he is still a crook, after all). Plenty of fun moments where he just freaks out happen later on, thank goodness.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            True though they’re over like Raylan shooting up his trailer, which would weird me out too!

          • Son of Griff

            He basically realizes that, as underworld middle management, he’s too unimportant for the feds to prosecute and too useful to be dispatched of by his associates. He’s a southern Yankee who, nevertheless, like Faulkner’s poor, endures.

          • thesplitsaber

            And who finally decides that this whole criminal thing isnt even worth it when he can surf in Fiji.

          • Bhammer100

            Wynn does become quite mild as Justified went on. Season 6 Wynn is not the same as season 1 Wynn (“Come on Emmitt! Come on! Show me the Benjamin’s, the homies you’re always yapping about!)

        • thesplitsaber

          ‘I don’t love Limehouse and I couldn’t quite tell you why – it’s just a lot of monologues and analogies about meat and the Holler.’

          Theres one scene in season 3 where Raylan says something to the effect of ‘drop the dumb hick routine’ and the real Limehouse comes out for a second. I do wish we got more of his life as the mayor of the holler but i always felt that was a great insight into his character.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Yeah in theory Limehouse is an interesting guy – not quite a strict criminal but he does what he has to to protect the people around him, and that means being ruthless and aware about the white hicks around him. Just didn’t quite work in practice

          • thesplitsaber

            Agreed. I think getting Mykelti Williamson helped a lot. I can easily see that character not work at all.

      • ZoeZ

        Raylan’s hilarious, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth playing of Boyd to orchestrate his release and foils Boyd’s plan with Dickie is one of my favorite comedic scenes of the series. They have kind of a genuinely nice moment (“you’re talking to a man who’s sleeping with his dead brother’s widow-slash-murderess, so if you’re looking for someone to cast stones, you picked the wrong sinner”) and then it’s just so much fun to watch Raylan’s amused competence against Boyd’s stammering inability to reasonably protest.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          That’s all of Boyd and Raylan’s scenes really – A mix of odd camaraderie and distaste.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Best part of Season 4 is Raylan cuffing Boyd to a tree. As we can see:

            Raylan: I have a sense of humor. See? This is funny.
            Boyd: You know Raylan, I’ve given it some thought, and I don’t much care for you!
            Raylan: I never liked you much neither Boyd.

            ….These two are terrible liars.

        • Belated Comebacker

          Especially since Boyd almost never stops talking, so clearly Raylan had some effect on him, given how caught off guard he is.

      • thesplitsaber

        ‘half-assed plan Raylan cooks up with Karen Goodall’

        The tv gods have clearly failed us when we dont have a series of Gugino and Olyphant doing basically anything together.

        • Belated Comebacker

          These were more minor-note characters, but I felt the same way about Hot Rod Dunham’s enforcers, Jay and Silent Roscoe. Wood and Steve Harris do a great job with their rapport (“Hammer and Anvil, Baby!”), that I would totally dig a series where they solve mysteries together. No joke.

          • thesplitsaber

            Yeah the Harris brothers were amazing. They were pretty much the high light of that season for me. Especially that epic Shakespeare monologue before they died.

            Im super impressed at how well Wood Harris can move from Kingpin on The Wire to a great henchman here and in Dredd.

          • Belated Comebacker

            He clearly has a knack for sussing out intricacies to the characters he plays, preventing them from becoming too one-note (or too similar). Not an easy thing to do, but he absolutely nails it. To the point where even I was right there with him, pissed that Eric Roberts shot his brother.

      • thesplitsaber

        ‘Even Fletcher Nix suggests this theme of criminals not being that smart to be the case: Here is a cool, intimidating tough guy, who almost immediately gets outwitted by Raylan due to his overconfidence.’

        I always explain Leonards view as ‘criminals are stupid. Police officers are only slightly less.’

        • Belated Comebacker

          Short and sweet. I like it. (Also why I was won over by “Out of Sight,” from the very first scene. Sure, Clooney is smooth as hell, but the car doesn’t start. So much for the slickness.)

    • The new Better Call Saul–I remain impressed by just how assured everything is about this show. Breaking Bad struggled a bit to hit its tone, and even when it did so, it was always teetering right on the edge of being too much. But Better Call Saul has everything exactly in its right place, from the cinematography to the plotting to the writing–it’s all just so tight. Also, what does everyone think? Did Chuck intend for Ernesto to hear the recording? And if so, what’s his end-game with that?

      • Son of Griff

        I completely agree that BCS is much more assured starting out of the gate than its predecessor. That’s why I’m assured that the mystery behind Chuck’s machinations will be revealed in a satisfactory manner

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Yes. I don’t even think it’s debatable; Donna Bowman (and other reviewers) simply got this wrong.

        • Yeah, that was kind of my thought, so I was surprised to see what the reviewers were saying.

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974). If New York City in the 1970’s was a movie it would be this one. “Gesundheit.”

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      The Mick was fine; mostly I’m mentioning it for the guest appearance by Ronnie MF’ing Gardocki (sans beard)!

      Brooklyn Nine-Nine was… eh. I get distracted by crises that are violate procedure in some way (Amy’s ex-boyfriend is auditing the 99… that conflict of interest should kill the plot right away), and though there were some highlights (Gina’s return from getting hit by a bus), the episode largely felt insubstantial and unnecessary.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Finally, the Shield/Always Sunny crossover we’ve been demanding!

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          We’ve often talked about how Dutch should investigate Dennis’ serial killing… I’d like to see Ronnie meet with Frank and agree to cover it up for a cut of whatever shady things Frank is doing to make money.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Oh, this was from Tuesday night, but we also watched Fresh Off the Boat, which was a really good episode in large part because it focused on one of the most underserved members of the cast, Grandma Huang. Also, I love that even for all the ways in which Eddie seems like a lazy slacker, he really does have business instincts.

  • Usually when I’ve seen short films at festivals, they’ve been programmed in blocks, which is another factor – as soon as one is over, the next one starts up, so it needs to have an immediate impact or it will be quickly forgotten.

    My favourite shorts tend to either be funny enough to make me want to share the joke with others, have an emotional kick, or just have some unique element to them that helps them stay with me.

    The horror festival that I go to each year has a shorts programme and a lot of them seem to be devised as a showcase for a director who wants to make a feature, and is just proving their skills – these tend to be heavy on style and whatever effects the filmmakers can cobble together but not much else to think about once they’re done. There were two that particularly stood out last year were The Procedure, a one-joke short that got the whole room laughing, and Manoman, which is full of dark humour and stood out from the crowd due to the use of marionettes. They’re probably both NSFW.

    On the emotional end of the scale, two that have stuck with me are the gorgeous House of Small Cubes, a wordless Japanese animation full of nostalgia and sadness, and Tea With The Dead (link to trailer only), a series of short conversations with bereaved people turned into moving animated conversations with a mortician (voiced by Frank Kelly from Father Ted) which is a little like the opening sequence from Up played several times in a row and had me in floods of tears.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Shudder hosts some short films and a few of them are indeed frustrating because they’re more about being a director’s showcase, not a complete narrative in and of itself.

      • I can understand why it happens, but yeah, it doesn’t make for a very satisfying viewing experience. I’ve seen a few showcase-type short films that have made me curious to see what else the creators go on to do, but unless the short itself sticks in my memory then I’m probably not going to remember who made it later on…

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Imagine the director who decided to make “solid storytelling” their style.

          • Son of Griff

            How about simply making solid storytelling a desired basic pre-requisite for commercial movies, as opposed to, let’s say, making sure that all of your properties link up to a “cinematic universe”.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Yeah its perfectly understandable but nevertheless its frustrating. I’m actually working on a short horror film myself with a friend (at least on the outline) and we’re trying to put the story ahead of the other elements.

          • With horror, I’m not sure the story needs to make 100% sense so much as it needs to have an emotional consistency.

            There’s a good long horror short that was in last year’s program, and the story goes off the rails in the best way possible.

            (NSFW, somewhat. Best for late night watching anyways.)

            Tonight It’s You

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I mean “Off the rails” is good too but what we’re doing is more sci-fi as much as horror anyway. This looks good though, I’ll watch it tonight.

    • That’s also a problem with Aden, which is only like 10 minutes. It’s always a festival favorite (it has won prizes at more than a few festivals), but it still is little more than a proof of concept.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    For my part: I like my shorts to get in, make their point, and get out. Don’t waste a second.

    • I used to say that, but then I found a couple of shorts that used very deliberate pacing and a lengthy run time to their advantage. All my rules or guidelines have exceptions.

  • DJ JD

    What I want out of a short is a lot more varied than what I want out of a full-length movie, probably for the pedestrian reason that less time of mine is required so I’m more forgiving. Anyway, my answer to this question (apart from @tristannankervis:disqus ‘s excellent observation that a short – like everything else – should be as short as possible) is just that I want it to give me something I keep after I’m done watching it. It can be serious or funny, heavy or light or dark, but I want my mood to have been deliberately changed by the creator somehow.

    I’d love to nail down what I mean by that further, but my favorite shorts, I couldn’t even tell you what I took away from them, just that they “took me somewhere” in the jazz music sense of the phrase. So – and I’ll need some slack on my definition of “short” here – if you take the “Girl Hair” episode of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, the whole thing is one long, surreal, slightly nightmarish buildup to a single, magnificently stupid joke. I still remember my friend and I watching that in increasingly-alarmed disbelief, and after it ended, we sat there in silence for a few seconds and then both burst out laughing until we cried. Okay, so I know what I got out of that–but what exactly did I get out of Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow? Man, I still don’t know.


    Going back to something I wedged in there, I should mention that I tend to think of most cartoons as “shorts”, what with that Looney-Tunes-loving upbringing I had. That has certainly influenced my thinking on the point, as well, and it has muddied my internal sense of what a “short” is. After all, 100% episodic television shows are basically shorts, right? From a certain point of view, South Park has made some of my favorite “shorts” ever.

    • I wouldn’t consider any television show to be 100% episodic. Many of them still depend on a pre-knowledge of the characters’ interconnections and history. No episode is an island.

  • jroberts548

    The most important factor in a good short is Chuck Jones.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Fake that, you’ve got it made.

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        • Drunk Napoleon

          You’re bad at faking it.

  • Son of Griff

    If I could place an addendum on this question: As a programmer of blocks of short films, how does one choose and place the order of movies in a specific program. I’d imagine that the art of the successful short film festival lies in how the programs are conceptualized and ordered. Like a record album, sometimes less successful material better fits the flow of the assemblage than an individual piece. Programming is a bit like DJ-ing, I suppose.

    • *shhhhh* I was gonna make that a separate taco break!

      • glorbes

        Always three steps ahead.

        • It was one of those, “now that we’ve discussed a good short…How do you program these things, even by genre?”

      • Son of Griff

        Looking forward to it.

  • The Narrator

    Hey guys, Cannes! Movies are good again!


    120 Heartbeats Per Minute (Robin Campillo)

    L’amant double (François Ozon)

    The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola)

    The Day After (Hong Sangsoo)

    A Gentle Creature (Sergei Loznitsa)

    Good Time (Benny and Josh Safdie)

    Happy End (Michael Haneke)

    In the Fade (Faith Akin)

    Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)

    Jupiter’s Moon (Kornél Mundruczó)

    The Killing of the Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)

    Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

    The Meyerowitz Stories (Noah Baumbach)

    Okja (Bong Joon-ho)

    Radiance (Kawase Naomi)

    Redoubtable (Michel Hazanavicius)

    Rodin (Jacques Doillon)

    Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes)

    You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay)


    After the War (Annarita Zambrano)

    April’s Daughter (Michel Franco)

    L’atelier (Laurent Cantet)

    Barbara (Mathieu Amalric)

    Beauty and the Dogs (Kaouther Ben Hania)

    Before We Vanish (Kurosawa Kiyoshi)

    Closeness (Kantemir Balagov)

    Directions (Stephan Komandarev)

    Dregs (Mohammad Rasoulof)

    Jeune femme (Léonor Serraille)

    Lucky (Sergio Castellitto)

    The Nature of Time (Karim Moussaui)

    La novia del desierto (Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato)

    Out (Gyorgy Kristof)

    Western (Valeska Grisebach)

    Wind River (Taylor Sheridan)


    Blade of the Immortal (Miike Takashi)

    How to Talk to Girls at Parties (John Cameron Mitchell)

    Visages, visages (JR and Agnès Varda)


    The Merciless (Byun Sung-hyun)

    Prayer Before Dawn (Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire)

    The Villainess (Jung Byung-gil)


    12 jours (Raymond Depardon)

    Clair’s Camera (Hong Sangsoo)

    Demons in Paradise (Jude Ratman)

    Napalm (Claude Lanzmann)

    Promised Land (Eugene Jarecki)

    Sea Sorrow (Vanessa Redgrave)

    They (Anahita Ghazvinizadeh)