• Conor Malcolm Crockford

    Realistically if I was in the Circus I’d probably wanna be Ricky Tarr but probably be Peter.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Five, Episode Eight, “LaFleur”
      “You really think you can convince them that we were in a boat wreck?”
      “I’m a professional. I used to lie for a living.”

      “We’re screwed. He’s probably trying to explain time travel to them.”

      Another all-timer, showing how the time travellers end up in 1974 and joining the Dharma Initiative. The crux of this story is James’ final step in his transformation into genuine heroic figure. The Matrix was the first time I clicked onto the idea of a good story being about someone going, step-by-step, from one thing to another; this was where I learned that TV could do the exact same thing over the course of years, and it’s something I became really drawn to.

      What makes James’ specific example of it really interesting is that it was always constant and always moving forward without being as methodical as, say, Breaking Bad. Walt’s journey consisted of shifting from one archetype to another – he always felt like a real person whose decisions made sense, and his decisions were shocking and horrifying, but there was an underlying long-term goal there. James never had that – he started out a clear rogue, and just naturally shifted.

      This is also where the James/Juliet romance finally happens! Love the intimacy of him climbing over her to answer the phone.

      Jin speaks fluent English! It’s awesome to have a character who is a literal walking, talking example of the emotional effect of drama.

      Ownage: James and Juliet killing a few hostiles is part of how they join the Dharma Initiative.

      Also, I finished part 2 of The Talleyrand Life.
      Part I: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gtAnUfUK00aYJc5y9PMq1MzWJVoSjhD4UkK2rm8a5vc/edit
      Part II: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1i5fZoWYypY7cACReczt0-FL6N3wTOv-GbmL8uhKfIfU/edit

      • ZoeZ

        Talleyrand Life: officially bookmarked for reading. And congratulations!

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I’ll try to read this later!

      • Putting together James and Juliet was a stroke of genius that did so much to free the characters from the dead end romances eating both and preventing both from staying interesting. (In retrospect, Sawyer is probably my favorite Lost character, and Juliet would be top five.)

    • The Wire, season 3, episodes 1 and 2 – there’s a similar amount of new plot, settings and characters introduced here as at the start of season 2, but somehow it doesn’t feel anywhere near as manic and overwhelming this time, maybe because there’s a solid focus on Carcetti, Cutty and Colvin (plus a little bit o’ Marlo) rather than just “a load of stevedores”. There’s also lots of stuff about established relationships breaking down and new ones forming: Daniels is only keeping it together with his wife for the sake of his career, McNulty’s wife has moved on, Perlman has her eyes on someone new and Greggs is having doubts about family life (still – this storyline feels a bit clunky to me).

      More set-up and intrigue than particular highlights thus far, but the entire wiretap getting screwed over because Cheese is sad about his dog is both hilarious and tragic. I was curious to see whether I’d pick up on the war-on-terror parallels this time around and the season literally starts with the fall of the towers, so I’m thinking it might not be THAT subtle, haha.

      • Miller

        For a while Greggs is paralleling McNulty, right down to the IKEA frustration, and it makes sense to me and then becomes something better when we see how she ultimately ends up.

        • I think my frustration with the “Greggs home life” plot is that, two seasons on from the first meeting with these characters, it hasn’t progressed at all. Season one: “Kima and Cheryl want different things from life, and it causes tension”. 20+ episodes later: “Kima and Cheryl want different things from life, and it causes tension. And there’s a baby.”

          • Miller

            “Later, they do not bone.”

          • We call that “The Americans-style plotting.”

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        When’s the point that Daniels breaks out his Lester impression? Because that’s one of my favorite things in the entire series.

        • Not yet! I vaguely remember that and am now looking forward to it immensely.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          What I love about that moment is that the show almost always has a veneer of professional conduct, and it’s a rare moment where it feels like the characters have been together for so long that some walls have broken down.

          “Shit, I’m just glad to see Lester doing it to somebody other than me!”

    • ZoeZ

      Happy Death Day: If you wanted to watch this movie–a mash-up between Groundhog Day and eighties slashers with the tone of Legally Blonde–at all, this is the version of it that you were hoping for: smarter, funnier, and scarier than it “has” to be, with genuine character development and a genuinely pleasant goofiness.

      • The script is by Scott Lobdell, a longtime third tier writer for Marvel and DC. But your description is more or less in line with my assessment of his current Red Hood and the Outlaws comic for DC. So I might have to watch this.

        • Balthazar Bee

          Yeah, me too. I’m trying to be more selective in my media consumption, but “a mash-up between Groundhog Day and eighties slashers with the tone of Legally Blonde“?

          I’M NOT MADE OF STONE!

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        Initially I thought it was brave to have the main character be such an awful person, but then as she got killed over and over again I had a feeling her attitude was going to change. So I guess the moral of the story is, if you see a bitchy, sorority girl kill them until they become a better person?

        • ZoeZ

          To be fair, minus the specifics, that’s basically the moral of all Groundhog Day stories: suffering builds character. And makes you more willing to eat carbs and be kind.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            Yes, good point. There would be no reason for a good person to get stuck in a time loop, although it might have the affect of turning them into a bad person, which might be a cool super villain origin story.

    • Glorbes

      Bob’s Burgers, the one in which Bob attempts several times to brine a Turkey for Thanksgiving, but they keep winding up in the toilet under mysterious circumstances. This is a very funny and very sweet episode, and whenever I question the wisdom of letting my eight year old watch this show, the show removes all doubt by ultimately reinforcing good, solid human values and the importance of family. The best part in this episode, for me, is the interactions Bob has with the guy at the meat counter. Bob doesn’t panic at the thought of being mistaken as hitting on the guy…in fact, he’s a touch curious himself, and is both positive and flattered by the whole thing.

      Also, Dirk Gently. One more episode of this grinding bullshit.

      • silverwheel

        “I’m so sick of Tony, and his dancin!”

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      The Fate of The Furious, like 20 minutes in the middle, and it was SO BAD. The first one I’ve seen in pieces and thought it was super charming, but this is really silly and tedious.

      Jeopardy – Lee is killing it with this 2 day streak.

      Writing – I’ve been super productive lately. I’m hoping to have a rough draft of the horror/noir story ready by next week and I already have a spot for submission in mind. What I’ve found so far is that plotting is something that has to be natural and therefore there has to be room for improvisation when what you’ve written out is developing natural consequences (the “But, therefore” rule has helped with this a lot). Also I love writing dialogue and trying to make something I think is just cool as @drunknapoleon:disqus said, in particular a fight scene I’m proud of and really had fun writing. I might be a decent action writer maybe? But overall I’m just trying to take what Ellroy, The Shield, genre shit, and Aristotle have given me and running with it overall.

      • ZoeZ

        That’s awesome! Where are you thinking of submitting? Any market would be lucky to have an Ellrovian, Shieldian, genre-bending Aristotleian drama of a horror-noir; definitely I already want to read it.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Lol it’s not THAT good but thank you. I’m likely submitting to Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled Writers call they’re currently doing for genre writers and non fiction writers, poetry, etc. Their subs are open until February 15th and I’m hoping to have this at least completely functional til then.

      • Glorbes

        I have yet to successfully sit through a whole Fast and Furious movie. They aren’t for me I guess…

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          The first one has decent action and the sensibility of going into a whole underground culture and its rules, complications, etc. This was just dumb.

        • Jake Gittes

          I pretty much loved 1-3 and 5-7 all for various reasons and Fate was still a complete drag. It wastes so much potential and spends two and a half hours doing it.

    • Finished up Inside Man. I give it an overall positive review for the performances (outside of a surprisingly inert Jodie Foster), the pacing, the cinematography, the NYC-ish-ness I discussed yesterday, and the cleverness of the caper. But it would have helped a lot to have any sense at all about who the crooks are. And the last fifteen minutes kind of sag badly.

      Plus I will add that as a fan of Donald Westlake’s books, there is a part of me that just doesn’t love Thieves Doing It for the Right Reasons. Invariably, if someone is committing a crime in the Parker novels (and most of the time in the rest of his works), the only reason is the money. (OK, Parker also wants revenge at first. But that isn’t The Right Reason either.) Again, it really would have been nice to had a better idea of who Clive Owen’s character was.

      Star Trek: The Immunity Syndrome – Entertaining if somewhat standard issue TOS, with everyone in danger and McCoy and Spock arguing over who gets to go on a suicide mission. Not McCoy’s finest hour.

      • Glorbes

        Nimoy’s suggestive dialogue as he enters the space amoeba is amazing.

        • There is something delightfully Trek about a space amoeba in the first place. (The space whale on Discovery is one of the few things that show has done in the same league of Trek-ness.)

      • Miller

        I prefer my thieves amoral too, and Owens’ crew is using the moral implications of the heist (and high-placed players’ reaction to those implications) to distract from what they’re up to – Denzel being on another trail means he’s not on theirs and what they steal is a smart thing to get, untraceable. So there’s more than just Right Reasons at stake. And I wanted more of the crooks’ background when I rewatched it, but then came to the conclusion that if you tug that thread, you have to unwind a whole mess of backstory (going back 60 years) and I’m glad the movie passed that up.

        • I think that any attempt to explain who Chaim is and how he came to be part of this is not going to go well. (I was already just a touch uncertain about Frazier’s assumption that an Orthodox Jew has to know something about diamonds. Never mind that it’s also true that pretty much every Ashkenazi Orthodox Jew in NYC knows someone in the trade.)

    • lgauge

      Deep Red: Idiosyncratic thrills above all.

      I still don’t really know what I’m talking about, but based on this film I finally get why people say that Suspiria isn’t a giallo. The films, while sharing a certain set of aesthetic elements, feel very different in execution and intended tone. This is so much more relaxed and poly-tonal where the other film is a more non-stop pure dread. To use a more modern parlance, this is a detective thriller (which I understand is more where giallos tend to be) and Suspiria is horror. In any case, this is a terrific film for all the expected reasons (the aesthetics, the score, the brutality), but also for a lot of other reasons. There’s a surprising amount of comedy present, making the film feel very idiosyncratic and unpredictable. At times it slows down maybe a little bit too much and for this reason I may ultimately have a slight preference for the sheer onslaught of Suspiria, but the extra time spent does allow for some more expansive character and psychology work that almost makes up the difference. Particularly the final reveal, which for all its strong Freudianisms is still a reversal of one of the most famously Freudian horror/thriller endings in cinema history (it’s probably obvious which one I’m talking about, but just to avoid spoiling it for those who aren’t sure I’ll leave it semi-vague) and also sidesteps what seemed to be an unfortunate implication about a queer character. One final small thing that works against the film is how clearly you can see the difference between the Eastmancolor here and the Technicolor of Argento’s next film. The color, especially the redness of the blood, is certainly lovely here, but there’s never going to a substitute for the ecstasy of Technicolor cranked up to 11. Still, no complaints here. I asked for Argento and Goblin and murderous mayhem and that’s what I got.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Suspiria has a strong sense of the Uncanny, how something can be horribly wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it, and its this that tends to separate thrillers from horror films. Catharine Tramell might do horrific deeds but she doesn’t inspire dread, only curiosity and interest.

      • Deep Red definitely hits that thriller-horror borderline sweet spot, and I’m not sure if it’s despite that or because of it that I found it absolutely terrifying in places. I’m not sure if it’s my favourite Argento film (just because I love the anything-goes insanity of Phenomena and Inferno) but I think I’d probably say it’s his best.

      • Jake Gittes

        I thought the dividing line was simple, if it’s supernatural it’s not giallo.

        • lgauge

          Could be, I’ve always been a bit confused on this point, but I’ve never really sat down and done much reading on the issue either.

          • Jake Gittes

            Giallo in the classic/cliched sense is a masked and/or gloved killer chasing scantily clad young women around with a knife. Later expanded to include pretty much any mystery thriller with gruesome murders. But going supernatural just means it’s horror.

          • PCguy

            People on the internet are inclined to call most anything Italian a giallo so I wouldn’t worry about the preciseness of the term. If there’s a close up shot of the killer’s black gloved hands holding a knife you can be sure it’s a giallo. If not, it probably isn’t. Argento’s first film was a giallo called THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE which has an ultra stylish opening with a woman trapped in an art gallery and forced to witness a murder. It’s worth watching.

          • Jake Gittes

            I’ve seen that and really enjoyed it. Still need to catch up with the various Fulcis and Martinos and Bavas though (I’ve only seen like a couple movies from each), not to mention the lesser-known directors.

        • Miller

          I think it comes back to that sense of dread lgauge referred to – other horror movies will very their tone, but it’s always doom for giallo.

    • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

      Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold. It was when my wife groggily asked me, “Are you watching cartoons?” that I seriously wondered, should a 38 year old man be watching an animated movie starring Scooby-Doo and Batman, alone, in the dark? The answer is probably not. But one can’t subsist purely on a diet of subtitled, black and white French cinema from the 1930s, so I did it anyway and as @Glorbes said, it was fun. Something about seeing Scooby driving a van really tickled me. It reminded me of my favorite episodes of the old Scooby-Doo cartoons from the 70s when Batman and Robin would show up to help out the gang. I missed Robin though and the laugh track.

      • Miller

        Of course you shouldn’t be watching that alone in the dark! That’s when the crooked realtors disguised as ghosts come for you.

        • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

          G-g-g-ghosts?!

        • R-r-r-realtors!?

          • Miller

            “Ruh-roh! Our bid is being trumped by Chinese investors with cash on hand!”
            “Zoinks!”

      • As a fan of The Brave and the Bold and of the current Scooby voice cast, I look forward to this one.

        But you should never, ever have to defend watching cartoons. Cartoons are not and never have been just for kids. Well, maybe some of those Scooby Doo episodes were. But cartoons are for everyone!

        • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

          Well some cartoons are for kids. I’m not going to be watching Peg + Cat by myself. Mostly because Peg really gets on my nerves. She thinks she’s soooo smart.

          • The Ploughman

            Man, what is it about Peg + Cat that gets on the nerves of so many people I know?

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            It could be the animation style, it could be the voices. It could be that Peg reminds me of everyone in every math (maths) class I’ve ever had who knew the answer when I didn’t.

          • The Ploughman

            I suspect now I may have been Peg.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            That’s okay, I was Cat.

      • Glorbes

        Have you watched Be Cool, Scooby Doo? It’s a lot of fun. My five year old LOVES it (as does my eight year old, but he’d deny it).

        • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

          I haven’t. Before this movie my last exposure to Scooby was A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.

    • Sweet Smell of Success – Tons of nasty fun. Great, too, to see a noir that wasn’t a typical crime-gone-wrong, but with social climbing and words like daggers (“He sweats a little” is one of my favorite insults now). Shout out to @Babalugats for the wonderful YOTM article.

    • Miller

      Season One Wires – whoa, I forgot Steve Earle was around back then! It is fun to see these little seeds that become payoffs (or hints to come, like Ronnie being hit on and told she’ll be a judge in ten years) and it is a joy to see an hour of TV with very little bullshit, scenes happen for plot and story, not wack-ass theme (or if for theme, they’re light on their feet about it, like the cold open with Herc moving the desk). Bunk and McNulty drinking is making me nostalgic for similar nights out, minus the hound dog stuff though.

    • The Ploughman

      Lore ep. 1-2 – An Amazon series that mixes re-enactments with voiceover to tell creepy tales from the past. Moves along better than a similar History Channel program, but you’d still get more willies from reading snopes articles and creepy pastas.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Lore is pretty good but I always want Mahnke to just say “Fuck it, the thing in this story was a ghost. It wasn’t like the darkness inside of us all or some humanist nonsense, it was a supernatural creature. You happy?”

        • Babalugats

          When I was a kid we used to lose power all the time. I remember sitting in my room at two in the morning on a muggy 90-some degree July night, with no fan or television or lights, playing around with a little battery powered radio, and coming across Art Bell’s Coast to Coast, a show Id never heard of. It was just caller after caller with these wild stories about ghosts and angels and aliens and vast government conspiracies, and Bell was just weaving them all together into this giant absolutely insane narrative. I listen to a lot of podcasts about paranormal stories, and none of them have that touch. Whether they’re skeptics or waka-does, they’re always trying to chase some objective truth, instead of just rolling with the story.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Is Coast To Coast available to listen to? I’ve heard about it as being pretty legendary.

          • Babalugats

            There’s some stuff on YouTube, and for a while the had some old episodes up, but it wasn’t the same. The actual show is still airing, but Bell has been retired for years and it’s nothing special now.

          • Miller

            I came across Coast To Coast one early morning, about 3 a.m., after I had been driving for roughly 20 hours. I think a guest was hosting and he was talking with someone else about how Woody Harrelson was using his wardrobe to send signals to North Korea. At that moment, it made absolute perfect sense.

        • The Ploughman

          I could roll with it except 1) the cinematography is really bland and 2) the research is pretty lazy. I don’t need spooky skeleton graphics to accompany facts I can look up in less than five minutes on the Internet, and there was at least one blatant inaccuracy in the first episode (the expression “saved by the bell” is from boxing, not people accidentally buried alive in coffins with bells attached).

          • Babalugats

            Eh, six of one…

          • Lore works much better as a podcast than as a TV series, but in defense of the show (which I thought was uneven, but good in sections), I like that it experiments with the cinematic genre it wants to recall with the re-enactments. My favorite is the episode that’s basically does in the style of a 1940s/50s horror film.

          • The Ploughman

            I didn’t even realize it was based on a podcast (my smartypants wife just pointed out that it says so in the show’s description).

          • I recommend the podcast. The TV show is really more of something for fans.

    • Mary and the Witch’s Flower–Solid fun, though nothing really great. Better than the movie was the little girl behind us, who was having the time of her life giving an adorable running commentary: “What a beautiful house!” “Aw, look at the kitten!” “Wow, how did they do that!?”

      Some Season 9 Seinfeld–Has anyone ever commented on how much of the post-Larry-David seasons’ humor relies on having the characters parody specific social conventions/pop culture characters? Kramer is Merv Griffin; Kramer is Thelma & Louis with the car salesman… maybe it’s just Kramer, actually (though there is that Frogger ep). But the humor is definitely less character-based and more parody-based.

      • “Aw, look at the kitten!”

        *adds to watchlist*

      • Balthazar Bee

        Season 9 takes a lot of flack, and I think some of it comes from just that — the need to lean pretty heavily on almost Simpsons-esque parody. (Or even just recreation, without much of a twist.)

        Having said that, the zeal with which the cast attacks the material, and the zany “we’re not even going to pretend this is authentic human behaviour anymore” approach does free up the show to pursue some really tremendous laughs. There’s also a real confidence behind it all, the knowledge that they can do just about anything and get away with it, as long as its funny — and it will always be funny because the cast (even Jerry by this point, I’d say) is so strong.

        “The Serenity Now” is a great example, in that it’s built on the idea that simply using a particular phrase as a coping mechanism is going to invariably lead to insanity — and it does, and we get to see some classic meltdowns and near-meltdowns. It’s not really earned, I guess, but it is funny.

        And can we talk about the moxie of opening the final season with an episode called “The Butter Shave” in which Newman fantasizes about cannibalizing a close friend?

        https://media.giphy.com/media/5xqKWd6761tkY/giphy.gif

        • I actually think Season 9 is stronger than Season 8, although they are both doing basically the same thing, comedy-wise. You’re right; it’s very funny, and I personally don’t have a problem with the show transforming from being about the escalation of microscopic social and personal grievances to something much more absurd. That Kramer Turkey gif summaries the absolute best kind of strangeness that the show could muster at this point. It doesn’t all work, but it usually does, and it’s consistently funny.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      The Age of Shadows – good Jesus, this one was a surprise. This is a beautifully fastidious spy film, more Le Carre than its pulpy blockbuster origins might make you think – nearly every scene is compounded with chains of watchers watching watchers watching watchers, all choreographed into a ballet of eyelines and reflections. That’s not to say this isn’t pulpy, though, as Kim Jee-Woon stays true to his action roots, pulling out all the stops for sporadic John Woo-esque shootouts. In fact, the combination of those tones is what makes this film so terrific: it’s simultaneously thrilling, somber, and intelligent, able to excite as well as challenge (partly because of a gorgeously precise screenplay). It’s a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Watch this, even if it’s just for the indescribably perfect 30-minute train sequence alone.

    • pico

      The Good Place, ep. 2.11. When everyone on your twitter feed simultaneously writes JORTLES!, you know you’ve experienced something magical, heh. Seriously, this kind of thing doesn’t happen as much anymore in the streaming era, where we all watch television at our own paces.

      All that’s to say, great episode, and given the crowded media landscape and limited amounts of free time, I’m so glad I made the decision to watch this show.

  • Miller

    More fine work, although this would be justified solely by having images of John Hurt’s incredible folded face – who wore pain and anxiety better?

    • Joyce


      Gℴℴgle is paying me 97 dollars /h to do job with a computer .. Labor for only few time and stay more time together with your friends … Any person can also join this job…last Saturday I got a brand new Buickafter just earning $13524 this last six weeks .it is absolutely the most rewarding but you may not forgive yourself if you don’t read this.!kx49m:➻➻➻ http://GoogleNewNetJobsMediaUpdateWorkFromHome/more/cash ♥♥a♥♥♥l♥m♥u♥f♥♥♥t♥♥♥l♥♥q♥♥♥p♥♥♥t♥i♥♥♥u♥g♥u♥♥♥w♥♥♥z♥♥♥c♥♥♥i♥♥♥y♥♥♥q♥♥♥w♥♥♥x♥y♥♥♥g♥♥♥q:::::!ze462y:chg

  • Babalugats

    Questions – The other day we were discussing Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri and @theploughman:disqus observed that by specifying Missouri in the title, McDonagh places the film in a political context that is then mostly ignored by the story itself. This is similar to Detroit, a film that isn’t really about Detroit or the Detroit riots.

    So, my question is this. How much do you care about titles? Do you consider it part of the text of a film, or is it more akin to marketing? Are there any films you think would have been better received with a different title? What should an artist consider when choosing a title?

    • Miller

      I personally have no issue with Boyhood the title (it is A Boyhood, not THE Boyhood) but I think Linklater got a lot of unnecessary flack by not using, for obvious reasons in 2014, the original title of 12 Years.

      And based on a cursory glance of McDonagh’s oeuvre, he seems to like specific locations in titles. Although I think that works better in some cases than in others, I might watch “The Cripple” in hopes of a martial arts flick but “In” would be a pretty weak name for a movie.

      • Babalugats

        That was also part of @theploughman:disqus ’s argument, as I understood it. That McDonagh did the thing he always does, but that lead to the film being received in a much different context than was intended.

        I think with Boyhood the criticism had as much to do with the marketing and the critical establishment going on about the “universality” of a movie “unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” than it did with the film itself. Although this also plays on the film’s intense disinterest in the larger culture surrounding it’s bland audience insert protagonist. If Mason was anything other than a straight white upper-middle class boy, than his perspective on what ended up being a pretty transformative decade would have been new and unique. But instead he just goes through the motions of a thousand other coming of age stories. I, um, don’t like the movie. But the title is the least of it’s problems.

        • The Ploughman

          I like Boyhood but I think your tying it to the criticisms matches my experience with Billboards. The title is admissible as evidence, but is not the problem in itself. Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III might not be insufferably twee because it’s called Inside the Mind of Charles Swann III, but you can point to the title as an example if you find it that.

          Similarly, a review of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford sticks in my mind because it observed everything in the movie went on too long, starting with the title. Yet I love the movie because it’s paced and structured like that title.

    • The Ploughman

      This is a question I’ve considered many times. Would The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension play differently if it were called The Dimension or something more generic? Would Schindler’s List have been derided as insensitive and trite if no changes were made other than retitling it Help! Bad Nazis!?

      I think by using extreme examples like these, it’s impossible to say a title has no effect on the reception of a film. I have a hard time thinking of examples of films where my opinion of it would be changed with a different title, though I don’t doubt that there are.

      To look at other mediums, A lot of song titles are just convenient ways to catalog the work (with a few exceptions of deliberate irony). Yet titles are crucial to understanding some painting/sculptural works. There’s some where I feel like the artist’s titling of the piece was the real art.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Help! Bad Nazis! is some Homer Simpson-level anti-genius right there.

        • The Ploughman

          I’m often described as the Homer Simpson of my household.

    • Jake Gittes

      Titles that are just the name of a character are a pet peeve of mine. I mean, it’s fine when the name is sufficiently memorable and/or expresses character by itself (Jackie Brown, Rango, Barry Lyndon), but when say biopics just go with the last name of their subject (or, even worse, the full name, like Steve Jobs) it drives me up the wall. Use some fucking imagination. (This applies to Detroit as well.) John Carter is of course a special case.

      Certainly an unusually wordy/flavorful title (that doesn’t cross over into self-parody) will spark my interest quicker than a bland one, and if I feel that the movie itself shares/earns that sensibility it might contribute to my positive opinion of it. Various gialli are the obvious example here (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key can never be brought up too much). I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a good recent example. And I get positively giddy just thinking that a movie called Let the Corpses Tan! is coming soon. On the other hand, if I feel like a certain title has been chosen simply because they needed one and couldn’t come up with anything better, it can dampen my enthusiasm even if I like the cast/crew/premise – see The Post.

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        There’s a movie coming out called This Giant Papier-Mâché Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy. It sparked my interest enough to check out the trailer.

        • The Ploughman

          Films that I haven’t seen but want to based on title alone: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Thou Was Mild and Lovely (I might have to add Let the Corpses Tan! to the list).

          Favorite title of a film that I don’t have a whole lot of desire to see: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, which at the time was so perfectly topical and inappropriate that it still makes me laugh.

          • Jake Gittes

            A three-hour French-Canadian movie called Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves premiered in Toronto all the way back in 2016 and I’ve been waiting for a chance to see it ever since.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            On the latter mine would be: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. Not interested in seeing it but that title has stuck with me for years.

    • Son of Griff

      I’m glad that the “-ing —” title thing is passing. Now we need to downplay the “American —” cliche.

      As a Southern California resident, watching images of my homeland re-signified for dramatic purposes is a part of my heritage. Unlike Thom Anderson, I am fascinated with how the idea of California spurs migration and mythological transformations. I like titles that have a specific but symbolic meaning pertaining to California’s geography and myth. MAGNOLIA was a magnificent choice, as it pertains to both a street in the San Fernando Valley and the structure of the film. POINT BREAK, with its use of surfer lingo, also implies the splitting of similarities into opposites that governs the logic of that movie. I have no idea what TANGERINE signifies in terms of what that movie is about, but I love the title’s evocative nature in terms of the subject matter.

      • Jake Gittes

        I’m very far from being a Californian but I love La La Land as a title for being so simple, yet describing or evoking so many things at once – LA as physical location, an idea, and a promise; a state of both happiness and delusion (and consequently disappointment); cinema itself as its own kind of location or realm that exists both within reality and outside of it. It reflects everything that’s found within the film.

        • Son of Griff

          The abbreviation “L.A.” is about as annoying as “American” in titles, but I like how the transformation of the words from a slightly derisive connotation of place to an expression of song gives a pretty strong clue as to what that film is trying to do.

          Your comment makes me realize that SHOW PEOPLE, my upcoming YotM piece, also plays with the transformative nature of words in its title: It denotes its subject as well as telling us what it is doing. Thanks for the insight.

          • Jake Gittes

            I’m happy to hear that.

      • The Ploughman

        I was a producer on a documentary that was searching for a title. My only note was “no gerunds.” The reply back was “what’s a gerund?” That’s when it occurred to me that this might not turn out to be the best documentary on education ever made.

        • Babalugats

          The Academy Award nominee No Gerunds is a harrowing, engaging, and at times, heartwarming, exploration into the rising tide of inequality in our public schools, and the teachers and students who struggle to find their way in a system stacked against them.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        No idea what the title of Tangerine means either! I was trying to parse that out after the movie.

    • Balthazar Bee

      Weird that I haven’t thought about this before. I think I have a weak spot for titles because they tend to be concise, and we could use a little more of that in movies generally. And when they’re not concise, sometimes that’s the joke.

      Having said that, sometimes a great title offers more amusement than a mediocre film in its entirety. I’ve never seen Surf Nazis Must Die, but I’ve seen the trailer, and the way that title lands is some next level shit. That was back when Troma and Cannon (with a tip of the hat to Larry Cohen) had pretty much cornered the market in brazen titling (more love for Ninja 3: The Domination) because they weren’t shackled to the millstones of good taste or “vagueness in service of wider market appeal.”

      It’s something that the big/medium studio budget bean counters didn’t really seem interested in pursuing prior to, say, Snakes on a Plane — but as functional as that one is, it doesn’t really capture the raw gutter poetry of its predecessors.

      Lucas seemed unafraid to go there with his little space operas, but I guess he was financing himself and answered to no one. The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favourite movies of all time, and I go back and forth on a daily basis about whether the title is the worst thing about it, or a lovably self-aware homage to serialized storytelling er something.

      I do maintain that had The Silence of the Lambs bombed, the title would’ve gone down as one of the worst, most pretentious examples in film history. Not to be outdone, apparently Harris’s working title for Hannibal was Morbidity of the Soul.

      • DJ JD

        I think I’ve watched three Troma films entirely because of their titles, including SNMD. I didn’t think any of them lived up to whatever it was I imagined by that title, but I didn’t come away feeling ripped off either. I’m not sure what that adds up to.

      • Surf Nazis Must Die is terrible. But the title almost makes up for it.

      • Babalugats

        I’ve heard They Saved Hitler’s Brain! isn’t a very good movie, but I have a hard time believing it.

    • pico

      Titles are definitely part of the text, so I wish filmmakers spent more time thinking of them as more than just a hook to get people in the seats.

      My favorite title this year is The Florida Project for meaning three things at once, so A+ to whoever suggested that one. Also loved The Killing of a Sacred Deer, for somehow adding an extra layer of bitter irony to a film that’s already drowning in it.

      That last one reminds me of one trend in film titles I really, deeply dislike: cheap irony. My Happy Family. Good Time. Like half of Haneke’s films (Funny Games. Happy End, etc.) That’s not a statement about the quality of those movies, just the titles, which are lowest-common-denominator stuff.

      • pico

        Looking back… 2016 gave us Hail, Caesar!, one of the very best titles in the Coens catalog, and one that enriches the film with an extra interpretive layer. But it also gave us the lazy Manchester by the Sea, a very good film with a very lame title.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          “Uh I dunno Matt lets call Depressed Guy?”
          “How about Manchester by The Sea, Kenneth?!”
          “…kay.”

          • pico

            Coming soon to theaters: from the writer/director of Sad Family Reunion and Traffic Accident PTSD and the screenwriter of Moose and Squirrel comes this season’s most riveting drama, Depressed Guy!

            Seriously, Lonergan’s an often great writer, but he could use some help in that department.

          • “Margaret’s not even anyone’s name in the film! Come one!”

            In all seriousness, I do think that Margaret is sort of the worst of both worlds, being both an obscurish reference and not all that interesting of a title.

          • Jake Gittes

            You Can Count On Me is a title that grew on me over the course of the movie, especially when I felt Lonergan used our memory of it for drama – in the climactic scene Linney blurts out “Remember what we used to tell each other when we were kids?” and it really hit me because the actual words went unsaid but it was immediately clear what they were. Margaret as a title though might be the only weak thing about a spectacular movie, and I agree that MTBS is a classic example of just lazily using the name of your location.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Dude, just thinking of that climactic scene makes me teary, damn you.

          • The Ploughman

            Just seconding how it’s another testament to Margaret‘s greatness that I forget how terrible the title is.

          • Babalugats

            I would absolutely watch Depressed Guy! if it was directed by Mel Brooks.

        • Babalugats

          Was Bridge of Spies 2016? That’s a godawful title. Silly, boring, and meaningless.

          • Jake Gittes

            2015. Spielberg in general hasn’t had the best luck with titles recently, has he?

    • Julian Schnabel, back in his painting days, said that the title was one more layer of the work–you already have canvas, paint, ink, and shattered plates, so why not add a title that makes no literal sense on top of it? The best titles do that for me: they have some poetic force on their own, but also exist in not-quite-harmony with the work. They aren’t so much meaning as provocation. Full Metal Jacket, Lunar Park, and Peace are all good examples of this kind of title.

      Probably the best titles-as-advertising are the ones that have a yummy, irresistible premise right there: Escape from New York,
      The Force Awakens,
      and as @balthazarbee:disqus sez, Surf Nazis Must Die. How could you not want to see those? Titles-as-names work here, as long as the names have some iconic force. Michael Clayton isn’t a good title, but Che and Elizabeth are.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Michael Clayton works for me because the movie and its characters are persistently asking who this person is (if sometimes too bluntly). Otherwise its pretty unoriginal to name a movie after the protagonist most of the time.

        • John Carter may have been the most stupid example of the latter, especially since John Carter of Mars is such a great pulptastic hook.

          • The Ploughman

            It’s been said before, but retitling A Princess of Mars is the worst of committee meddling in a nutshell. Princess supposedly wouldn’t appeal to boys, Mars supposedly wouldn’t appeal to girls. So we get John Carter which appeals to nobody.

          • Jake Gittes

            Don’t forget the magnificent bit of logic that, since Mars Needs Moms bombed the previous year, the word “Mars” was a turn-off for audiences.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Really? That’s their logic?! They’ve got it all backwards! Even in their own framework, Princess appeals to girls, Mars appeals to boys, and anything that keeps the kids quiet for two hours appeals to parents, so bam, you’ve got the whole family on board.

        • pico

          On the flipside, could you imagine if Ayn Rand had titled Atlas Shrugged (a good, nay great title!) something as lame as John Galt? Kinda funny, though, that the only astute aesthetic choice in that interminable book was suggested by someone else (her own working title was the also lame The Strike.)

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          I was disappointed it was not a documentary or dramatization of what happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver after he had one of the best rookie seasons in history and then just disappeared.

        • Balthazar Bee

          I think I read that Michael Clayton had the title Realm & Conquest elsewhere — after the fantasy books the kid likes. But that title doesn’t really work for me either, because any possible metaphorical implications come across as thuddingly obvious when it’s, you know, the title.

          Hmm…how about Clayton’s Conquest — Episode 1: The Fixer’s Realm?

          McLuhan pointed out that “the name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers,” and I think that can be doubly true about art. The Schnabel idea is one I embrace too, though it can have unintended consequences — colouring interpretation in a way that’s difficult to escape. (The example I’m always thinking about is Pollock’s “She-Wolf”. Once you know the title, it’s hard to divorce it from the painting itself.)

          • The Fixer would’ve worked–yes, kinda generic, but simple, memorable, and a bit of a hook. It’s been used before (besides Malamud, there’s also the great Joe Sacco comic) but no one in the business seems to care about that anymore.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      About a decade ago, I read that the creator of Gunnerkrigg Court chose the name because it was easy to Google (it’s also the name of the location in the story), and that’s something that’s always stuck in my mind. And I’ve always loved Tarantino’s apparent system for naming movies – putting together two words that don’t normally go together, like Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, or Inglourious Basterds. It’s like shoving two icons together.

      (You also have It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which has both the pleasures of a wordy title and can be reduced to Always Sunny)

      Kill Bill also ties in with the conversation we had on Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia, where it describes a badass premise.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Kill Bill also ties in with the conversation we had on Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia, where it describes a badass premise.

        In this vein, I think of Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

  • Son of Griff

    The costuming in TTSS does a terrific job of illustrating the class and generational strata of the British Secret Service explored in more detail in the novel in cinematic shorthand. Considering the density of the novel, both in plot and sociological observation, the fact that the movie feels complete in a slightly more than 2 hour format is miraculous.