• Drunk Napoleon

    God damned Daylight Savings means I now have to wait until god damned midnight for the Solute’s post to go up anyway what did we watch

    • Drunk Napoleon

      LOST, Season Two, Episode Fourteen, “One Of Them”
      “My name is Sayid Jarrah, and I am a torturer.”

      “You ever do any interpreting?”
      “Formally, no.”
      “Hah. The fact that you know what ‘formally’ means… We’re good.”

      BEN HAS SHOWN UP! Except he’s still known as Henry at this point. It’s a good thing none of them are film buffs or they’d have spotted his name immediately, although I suppose none of the philosophy buffs noticed John Locke or Desmond Hume.

      Sayid’s flashbacks almost kinda work for the same reason Sawyer’s flashbacks this season worked, in that they definitely and blatantly shift the genre of the show not only to war movie, but a side in a war movie we never see; the basic story is compelling, as the show draws parallels between (bear with me here) the American occupation of Iraq and Sayid’s particular story. The impression I get, from both the flashbacks and Sayid’s later summary of them, is that the Americans infected Sayid with torture skills, warping him forever, and I can see how that matches up with the whole Iraq thing. The payoff, when Sayid knows in his gut that Henry is an Other, makes more sense to me now that I’m older and understand intuition a little better.

      The great thing about Henry is he legitimately could have gone either way. This is one of two spots where I know for a fact the story was changed to accommodate a real-world situation (the other being the upcoming death of Mr Eko). Perhaps, with a good story, regardless of mode, there are only a few directions it can go; Henry really only had two possible directions, and so when the writers realised the calibre of actor they were working with, it wasn’t too much work to shift the other way, and in fact some things that had to be true, like the fact that Henry must be a fantastic liar, ended up playing into making him one of the all-time greats.

      Both the drama and the mystery of the button continues to unfold. Jack uses it to manipulate John into opening the safe where Sayid is torturing Henry, and Locke is almost a few seconds too late, so that we see some Egyptian symbols on the timer, which is fully sick if nothing else.

      I remembered Clancy Brown was in the show, but I forgot that he showed up first as Sayid’s American contact! If you need somebody to play an archetypical Evil American, Brown would be the guy, playing smug, threatening, and yet awesome.

      Finally, Hurley and Sawyer get a plot together when Sawyer chases a loud frog that’s keeping him up, and ends up dragging Hurley along with him when he discovers Hurley has a food stash. There’s not much particularly deep about it – beyond Hurley demonstrating his big heart again – but there’s an emotional aspect of these two going on an adventure together, with Hurley getting annoyed enough to walk away at one point and Sawyer apologising to him.

      NaNoWriMo Update: Fell way behind because I got inspiration for both TL and a few essays. At first I thought it was because my brain is a spiteful motherfucker, but then it clicked why: reading about Myers-Briggs kicked off a whole line of inspiration. Even if Myers-Briggs in general isn’t true, the description of INFJ (stimulated by finding patterns in human behaviour, depressed by focusing attention on outward surroundings) describes me pretty well, and served as a useful guide for generating ideas and skipping over ideas I find boring (in my case, focus entirely on contradictory behaviour, don’t bother describing places beyond the minimum).

      Conversely, my NaNoWriMo project is a drama, because I (correctly) figured it would keep a basic pace going. But I can’t just skip over the shit I find boring – there are sometimes situations where I have to describe the space the characters are in because it factors into their decision-making. Literature allows a specialist; drama requires an all-rounder. Right now, I’m riding a high of not having to give a fuck about what I don’t give a fuck about.

      Also, here’s a really insightful article on The Shield: https://www.theonion.com/jury-finds-man-guilty-of-murdering-wife-and-children-b-1819579103?utm_content=Main&utm_campaign=SF&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing

      • ZoeZ

        I appear to be skipping the “actual productivity” part of NaNoWriMo in favor of craft-related epiphanies, but I think I had a useful one this morning, which is that my writing works best when it’s partly me having a moral struggle with myself.

        That’s such an awesome point about the Lost writers needing to move forward by making some explanation–oh, he’s a great liar–and making something brilliant by remembering that explanation and having it be pivotal going forward. “This is true when it’s convenient for it to be true” is the killer of good storytelling; this is not that, and is amazing.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          I always thought a brilliant moment was really late in the game when he and Jack are on the plane together, and Jack asks him “How can you read?” and he responds “My mother taught me”, when of course she died in childbirth. Ben’s lying is so integral and so habitual that he does it even when he doesn’t need to, for shits and giggles!

          • “Look, I can’t tell you why, not yet. You have to trust me. If you don’t do this, it’s not just the end of the world, it’s the end of everything you can even imagine about the world.”
            “. . .Mr. Linus, you can just ask us to hold the pickles.”

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Actually, could you expand on what you mean by a moral struggle?

          • ZoeZ

            I think I end up with both more complexity and more conflict when I have to genuinely wrestle with something: it organically brings in characters who oppose each other, for one thing. But I think the “moral struggle” bit is that I’m pretty sure I do my best work when I’m writing about something that I find powerfully attractive but have moral reservations or concerns about.

            So “Getaway Girl” comes partly down to a struggle between the allure of intelligence and the weight of morality, and then it gets tangled up in what women are allowed to do vs. what men are allowed to do, how people judge each other, and it just sort of ricochets around between my own reactions and then my questioning of those reactions. And it’s maybe my favorite of my stories in part because I feel so many different things about it.

      • I saw a comment last week that Lost is TV’s Avatar (the blue people film, not the animated show), something that was huge in its days and utterly forgotten and unimportant. I found that to be the stupidest pop culture comment of the week. Reading these summaries reminds me of both how good the show often was, and how it probably did more to create the present approach to long form TV than anything outside The Sopranos. I am grateful to be along for this ride.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Sadly, I’d say that’s actually accurate in terms of how it’s remembered – that ending did a lot to kill the goodwill for the show. Agreed on its importance in how it influenced TV, though, and I’m holding out hope that people too young to have experienced the initial backlash will discover it in the future.

          I also hope one day to see more writers who specifically hold it up as a genuine influence and try and recreate the things it definitely did so well – for all that it’s been ripped off, simplified, and folded into the TV landscape, there really is nothing else like it.

          • So far, the show that has come closer to doing what Lost did without being a copy is The Good Place.

            At least on that show, they really ARE already dead.

    • Fans of unexpectedly linked double-bills, rejoice! Because I watched two films about dull men encountering hidden Amazon civilisations but being prevented from exploring them further by the first World War. And they were both 140 minutes long!

      Wonder Woman explored that premise by being weirdly ugly (what’s up with those shitty FX? Can I blame Zach Snyder?) but fitfully exciting, and The Lost City of Z managed to be generally gorgeous without ever being particularly interesting. Another amazing link: They were both quite disappointing!!!

      In other disappointing news, I also watched Central Intelligence which is yet another “action comedy made by a director who can’t do action” and feels kinda like it aspires to be a Paul Feig film, which is something I don’t really want to see!? But Dwayne Johnson is consistently great which did elevate it somewhat.

      Luckily I saw one film that actually exceeded my expectations: Army of One. I feel like it’s been quite a long time since Nic Cage has been given a film where he can do proper, full-on comedy, which is insane because he’s AMAZING at it. I can see how this one might be irritating if you’re not fully on board the Cage train (he plays a character who can charitably be described as “loveably obnoxious”) but I haven’t laughed this hard in ages.

      Oh, and I also watched all of Beyond Stranger Things on Netflix because I was hungover. It’s just DVD extra feature fare, but I love how Dustin / Gaten is exactly the same out of character, and the episode where they bring in Bill Nye to explain parallel universe theories to the (fascinated) kids is a delight.

      NaSoAlMo update: I finished one song, and had a small revelation. In the past I’ve set myself restrictions for this challenge that have helped me write quickly (“only use acoustic guitar” etc) but this time I’ve picked restrictions (“synths and new software”) that encourage me to mess around, waste time and not finish anything. So, uh… not sure how well this is going to go.

      • Miller

        Wonder Woman goes beyond ugly to fugly at points. What the hell, DC/Warners.

        • There are a few shots of Gal Gadot looking magnificent in front of CGI backgrounds that absolutely do NOT where I’d probably go as far as pug-fugly.

        • pico

          The trailer for Justice League seems to take that as a challenge: what’s the ugliest possible look we can go for? How about a giant fight that looks like it was filmed on a red screensaver? Yeah, that’ll do.

      • pico

        Ah, happy to be less alone on the Lost City of Z thing. I really wanted to see the masterpiece so many people had told me about, and left so disappointed.

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Is the “SoAl” for song/album? Is this an actual thing or just something you’re doing?

        • It’s an actual thing, albeit with a much lower profile than the NoWri version: http://nasoalmo.org/ (the SoAl is Solo Album).

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Miami Vice – Man do I wish I saw this as the underrated masterpiece younger critics like me apparently think it is. A intriguing first act and fairly awesome third act (despite kind of a meh final shot) with a sluggish, really uninteresting second act and just…bland, bland characters, I dunno how else to put it. I get the idea of shaving Mann archetypes down to their basic points but Thief and Heat had actual people in them, this doesn’t, not as much as it needs to. Still worth the deep, deep stylization (is there a director who knows how to film clubs better?) and Mann understanding of how bodies move, how people act.

      Also Gong Li as a woman clearly written to be Cuban is kind of racist and DOES NOT WORK – especially when the actress it seems learned the dialogue phonetically.

      • Miller

        *sadly shelves script for Cuban/Hawaii’an buddy cop comedy staring Gong Li and Emma Stone*

      • DJ JD

        I really like Mann’s stripped-down approach but I’m not sure it’s the right way to handle a romance, and doubly so a forbidden-love romance that puts ice-cold professionals at cross purposes with their ice-cold professionalism. I always make the same joke about that movie: all you need to do to fall in love with someone is stare at them impassively in a wide variety of beautiful locales.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          The romances work much better in Heat, Thief and Manhunter because these people feel real even when they’re (as I said) archetypes – Heat is a good example of how to communicate characters who are attracted to each other within a few very quick scenes. Li and Farrell actually have good physical chemistry but I didn’t feel much wrenching pain about it except for Li realizing he’s a cop, and all of that is Li actually having to communicate a very strong emotion.

          • Son of Griff

            The romantic subplots in HEAT provide the symmetrical oppositions that hold the film’s structure together. Hanna provokes chaos into his personal life through compartmentalizing his domestic personality from his professional life, and McCauley expands the range of his moral parameters by integrating romance into his, thus initiating a string of escalating tragic consequences. MIAMI VICE’s is less compelling, both structurally and due to the intensity in which Mann compresses story to the service of style.

          • Also, at no point is Gong Li’s ass described as great, nor does Hank Azaria react in shock to said description. That’s kinda necessary.

            The larger point is that Heat makes much more of its romantic plots than Miami Vice or (God help us all) Blackhat. Collateral showed the best way to handle romance if you’re not going to integrate (that’s the right word) it into the main action: it’s shading Max’s character, one more detail in a movie that has so many great ones. Collateral makes no attachments, has nothing in its life that it can’t walk away from in thirty seconds flat if there’s an action sequence coming around the corner.

          • Son of Griff

            MIAMI VICE tried to combine the narrative sweep of HEAT with the compression of COLLATERAL, and it just isn’t a good fit. The latter’s handling of the obligatory romantic subplot is right for the type of movie it is, but the attention paid to domesticity and the inclusion of the love story in HEAT are critical to understanding the project’s ambition.

      • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

        Man but that boat ride is the most fantastic thing ever filmed

    • Babalugats

      Note: Disqus does not allow supertext, which makes some of this read like nonsense. I’m using strikethrough in its place.

      Cube2: Hypercube – The first Cube is an absolute marvel in low budget filmmaking. It follows a group of strangers caught in a labyrinth constructed of an endless set of identical rooms, some of which contain deadly booby-traps. All the rooms are actually the same 14×14×14 set, made to look different by changing the color of the lighting, and after the opening scene shows us a trap in action, most of the horror comes from the possibility of more traps. Despite an intriguing premise and strong direction from Vincenzo Natali, Cube doesn’t completely escape its budgetary shortcomings. A bit more money for traps, a couple of veteran actors to round out the cast, and it could have been a horror classic. Which makes it the rare horror film that actually warrants a sequel.

      Cube2: Hypercube makes two baffling changes to the formula right off the bat. The first is that the drop the change in lighting, managing to make this film feel much cheaper than its microbudgeted predecessor. Second, they get rid of the traps. A few characters get killed by some Windows 98 screensavers, but that’s not really the same thing. Still, this is for real sequel, expanding the strange mythology and nonsensical world building of Cube and escalating the premise by adding time travel and teleportation. It’s not a very good movie. The direction is pretty inept, and the acting is broad. But it’s short and briskly paced, and there’s still enough novelty in the premise to not feel like a complete waste of time. As a completely disposable burner horror movie, it’s not the worst.

      Cube0: Cube Zero – After Cube Squared the producers decided not to go with the obvious Cube Cubed but instead Cube to the power of zero. Some franchises are always trying to ice skate uphill. Also cube^0 should be one, not zero. It’s a running motif in these movies that math is very important to the plot, despite the screenwriter having only a passing familiarity with the concept.

      We’re back in the old industrial boxes with the mood lighting. The traps are back, too, and they’re gooier than ever, and we have our strongest cast yet. We’re also going to spend a lot of this movie outside of the labyrinth. One step forward and two steps back. This is a bad movie, but a step up from its predecessor and still pretty fun. There’s a guy that gets hit with sound waves until his head explodes. The prop design was better than it needed to be. None of the movies in this franchise hit 100 minutes, which really helps.

      The Cube (1969) – Jim Henson, sans-Muppets, directed this hour long experimental teleplay about a man stuck in a small room (a cube if you will), who can’t escape despite an eccentric cast of characters coming and going at will. Henson manages to nail both the absurdist humor and the constantly escalating tension masterfully, often at the same time. And he sidesteps the three major traps of bad surrealism by being; short, entertaining and engaging on its own terms, and being absolutely full of ideas. I watched a very rough print of this movie back when I saw the original Cube, but Filmstruck justed added a nice crisp copy as part of a collection of Henson’s early work, so I decided to watch it again, and it holds up very well. Filmstruck is a pretty incredible service.

      Dog City – Also part of that Henson collection. This is a 40 minute long Noir pastiche built around dog puns and elaborate word play that goes nowhere. It might be my favorite movie ever.

      ”This vace belonged to my dear departed mother. I’ll never forget her last words to me, ‘Give me back my vace you no good thief!’

      “I want to build a quarter-way house for the orphans”
      “Don’t you mean a halfway house?”
      “One step at a time, bub!”

      One of the dogs sounds just like Walter Brennan and they don’t hit it as a joke, it’s just a detail tucked away for those that know. There’s a car chase that knocks over a fruit cart. And it’s all intricate beautifully crafted models and sets, with a very purposefully placed delicate little fruit cart that only exists so that it’ll get knocked over. This is the movie Wes Anderson wishes he could make. A TV movie from Jim Henson released in 1989, I almost certainly watched this with my mom. This very well could be the genesis of my entire personality.

      Ronin-Gai (1990) – Four drunken ronin find themselves in the same small village, really little more than a brothel,that is overseen by a cruel and powerful lord who abuses the men and murders the women, defended by his legions of samurai. You see where this is headed.

      This is an excellent movie, with beautiful cinematography, top notch action, engaging lived-in characters, and a strong sense of place. The women have much more agency, courage, and complexity than is typical for the genre, although the film backs off before becoming a full fledged feminist deconstruction. I think this is the most Western samurai film I’ve seen. Samurai films typically deal with duty, honor, obedience, and the importance of the natural social order (as defined by those who most benefit from it). In this case, it’s the rulers who ought to bound by duty to their subjects, traditional moral values are little more than an excuse for the powerful to indulge their sadism, and the prostitutes are the only characters with any real sense of honor. Much more relatable for this old decadent capitalist. It has quite a bit less action than I expected, spending most of its runtime getting to know the characters and the village, and flirting with total deconstruction. The movie it most reminded me of was The Long Riders, another film that is interested equally in puncturing and building myths.

      • Dog City sounds amazing and I must see it as soon as possible.

        Shame about the ˢᵘᵖᵉʳˢᶜʳᶦᵖᵗ though.

        • Babalugats

          What?! But how?!!!

          Dog City is amazing. I can’t think of another film more fine tuned to the tastes of The Solute.

      • ZoeZ

        A few characters get killed by some Windows 98 screensavers

        I have also seen Hypercube and will second the accuracy of this. Other things that don’t work included repeated flailing attempts to make this movie seem like it has higher stakes than the previous movie, with people snarling, “At least the first one had rules!” which is honestly part of the problem. If literally anything could happen, then nothing matters. That being said, the time loop bit is pretty cool.

        • The Ploughman

          98 is being a little generous.

        • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

          The one thing i love about Cube 2 is when our mad man gets going and the way they show how mad he gets is from all of the name tags he has collected from eating the same person over and over again.

      • The Ploughman

        I stopped after Hypercube (leaving it with the ridiculous and weird ending it had) because I couldn’t take the acting anymore. Even the original has bad acting.

        • Babalugats

          The original Cube is a garage movie, and that’s the caliber of acting you get when you can’t 100% guarantee anybody’s actually get a paycheck. But Hypercube has no excuse. Cube⁰ is a big improvement, but it’s still at a CW level of performance. Professional, but little more than that.

      • jroberts548

        There’s a dog city movie?

        I distinctly remember the fox kids dog city Saturday morning cartoon which I loved. I am super excited about there being a movie and will have to watch it.

        • Miller

          Thank god, I immediately thought of the TV show as well and had no idea there was a movie. If memory serves the show was largely animated but had puppet wrap-around segments, those must’ve been tied to the movie. I remember liking it quite a bit and an episode built around a radio mystery has been lodged in my brain forever, particularly the coolness of the dog doing all of the sound effects.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Dog City originally ran as an episode of The Jim Henson Hour, one of the greatest uses of network air time ever. It featured several episodes of The Storyteller and an excellent coming-of-age drama called Monster Maker, starring Harry Dean Stanton as a sort of Henson stand-in!

      • HypercubeVillain

        *Ralph Wiggum voice* “I’m a Win98 screensaver!”

      • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

        Cube4: Is It About My Cube?

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          Well, that didn’t work the way I hoped it would. I will leave it up anyway for future generations to learn from.

    • ZoeZ

      Paterson: My second viewing and my wife’s first. This is a really moving film to watch with someone you love, because it’s one of the few movies that portrays a marriage as an ongoing romantic life, tender but lived-in.

      Saw: And now for something completely different, right? We watched this because of the recent hilarious We Hate Movies episode on it, and it is really uncanny in retrospect how much this feels like a trial run of breakout rooms. It is less uncanny how much the movie manages to utterly butcher the concept of tension by skipping merrily away from its two-guys-two-saws-one-room set-up for flashbacks and then flashbacks within flashbacks, how Jigsaw is repeatedly saved by the plot deciding that he’s just not going to die right then, how stupidly fake the Zep twist is (no one being forced to hold a woman and child hostage acts like this! And also, what a dick move, Jigsaw, seriously. This is the guy who was defending you as an interesting person!), and how we have not just slow-mo but that idiotic blipverty head-thrashing nonsense.

      All That Heaven Allows: And back to the good. Rock Hudson is incredibly dreamy here, and the movie knows why: it’s less the looks and more the complete, quiet self-assurance. The movie’s greatness is getting a conflict from that self-assurance as well as from the class difference. It’s all appropriately broad when it needs to be and appropriately specific when it needs to be, and there is more intense, bone-chilling horror in Carrie being given the television set than there is in the entirety of Saw.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The bit in the WHM episode where Jigsaw suggests a puzzle (250 pieces) had me in hysterics.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I said this when I watched it a few weeks (months?) ago, but it’s amazing how Sirk managed to use the beautiful sets to make Ron even more ruggedly handsome by dint of him being the one to rebuild an entire set offscreen. I goddamned swooned when he showed her the rebuilt house.

        • ZoeZ

          I was racking my brain trying to remember who here had praised this recently and spurred me to pick it up!

          And hell yes to the rebuilt house.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            It’s kind of funny, actually, that he’s an example of what masculinity – traditional masculinity, even! – can be when it’s not toxic; in fact, what makes him traditionally masculine and what makes him attractive (both romantically and in general) are one-in-the-same. The difference between him and the toxic variations is that he has no interest in controlling anyone around him.

          • ZoeZ

            I thought at the time how remarkable it is that we hear other characters make assumptions about what “women” as a class want, but not him–in fact, the thing that he perceives as most qualifying him to “be a man” is a trait he thinks she could share.

      • I had been playing escape room video games for years before Saw came out. It was after Saw that they came to real life.

      • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

        WHM is hilarious, agreed.

        “Which hallway is shotgun trap one?”

        Oh man does Danny Glover bite it in this movie.

    • The Ploughman

      Jurassic World in which I find no room to criticize Julius for taking time to watch The Emoji Movie. To get all properly defensive, I bought this as a used disc at our local video rental store, so they’re the only ones that made some money off of it. And I’m grateful for everybody lowering my expectations because I was able to enjoy about 30% of it. In fact, the first fifteen minutes hit the nostalgia buttons well enough, aided by the John Williams theme, that I was ready to happily declare everyone mistaken, that this film was actually working pretty well.

      Then we meet Chris Pratt’s character. Pratt and Bruce Dallas Howard are a giant blockade against fun stuck into the middle of the movie. Had they been unappealing actors, you’d blame casting. But this is Chris Pratt in a role he’d dreamed about since childhood. How much work did it take to turn him into a grump? Did they have to digital remove charm in post? And to what purpose?

      At that point everything became what I was told it would be. The broad-daylight effects were more plentiful but less convincing than the original. Trevarrow has a shaky handle on action sequences and absolutely no handle on humor.

      To its credit, I did enjoy the commercialism theme. I’ve seen some criticism that people would never actually get tired of looking at dinosaurs and I don’t think the film believes they would either. All those assertions are wound up in statistics rattled off by Howard’s character who, like the marketers she’s parodying, has to think bigger all the time to justify her job, even when there’s nowhere bigger to locally go. My inner-13-year-old also enjoyed the final showdown, when the movie finally gives up on the humans as much as I had. All in all, it’s on par with the first sequel, which is pretty feint praise in my household.

      • jroberts548

        I’m just imagining some nerd using the photoshop charm slider to digitally de-charm Pratt.

        • Miller

          “You fool! I said Nedry-fy him by 10 percent, not 100!”

          • The Ploughman

            “No time to go back and fix it. Trevarrow is in a gallimimus herdsize pissing match and he’s determined not to lose.”

    • Thor: Ragnarok – A lot of fun, and funny, and entertaining, and exciting. But I just can’t really call this a good movie. It’s a series of loosely connected scenes that are held together by a lot of glue in the form of a solid cast and solid effects, but it doesn’t ever come together to be more. There’s nothing wrong with that. It did exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it better than many other MCU films. And maybe it could have never been anything more. But it would have been nice if the string of loosely connected scenes came together at the level of Iron Man 3 or Winter Soldier, two only two MCU films that I feel like exceeded my expectations.

      A few side notes: 1) I know everyone is raving about Tessa Thompson, but I found that character underwhelming and underwritten, a string of character traits and little else. The character didn’t even get a name, she’s merely a Valkyrie. Thompson did a good job with what she was given, but like most of the new characters here, there was nothing there. 2) The choice of “The Immigrant Song” was a good one, but using it twice was lazy, and only serves to remind me, once more, that the MCU has the most underwhelming and interchangeable scores (since at no point was Mark Mothersbaugh’s contribution to the film memorable). 3. The big scene with Skurge and his big guns from Texas (which was a very good done scene and taken entirely from the comics) should have been disturbing without the real world reminding us again that what we cheer in movies stands in stark opposition to the seemingly endless horrors of gun violence. I have never figured out how to reconcile my love of a good action film with my hatred of real world mayhem. I suspect I never will. But it might be easier to cheer for heroes who use their fists, if nothing else.

      The Good Place, “midseason” finale – Not the best episode, but it does refocus at last on Eleanor, and the cliffhanger is quite good. (It’s less “midseason” than “NBC is showing football the next few weeks.”)

      Arrow – Michael Emerson is the new big bad (and the character we expected him to be), and the new status quo of Team Arrow comes into play. Good episode, but the show’s problem of “hey, Diggle’s wife runs a somewhat friendly spy agency, so we should talk to her!” continues to hover in the background for me.

      Strangers Things Season 2, episodes 2 and 3: My wife and I are trying to watch this somewhat more quickly, since it seems that half of the Internet consists of spoilers. I don’t love racing through horror shows, but it might be the only way to be surprised by everything. Not that the surprises so far are, with a couple of exceptions, big. The first third of the season is on slow boil for the most part, but it’s still working. Even if it feels like the structure of the season is very similar to the first season. Also, David Harbour is going to be a great Hellboy.

      • Miller

        Thor spoilers (Thoilers?)
        I understand the scenes-but-not-a-movie criticism, there is an underlying theme regarding the necessity of change that is an attempt to tie everything together (with Goldblum’s planet as the epitome of comics as unchanging entity, just people hitting each other over and over) but it’s pretty thin. And I think purposefully so, Waititi sticks to his strengths here and makes a generally light movie, and that is by far my preferred comic book movie mode — ones that strain for profundity, let alone “real-world” relevance like Winter Soldier or Wonder Woman, generally botch the job in insulting ways, it’s like watching someone play baseball in a swimming pool. You have the tools for something else, do that and be good at it instead of sucking twice! So this was right up my alley. Sad point about the guns, I saw this Saturday so avoided that discomfort, but it’s helped a bit I think by that general fantasy tone — while Skurge’s sacrifice is real and affecting, his weapons are mainly means to that and fairly goofy means, more Ash boomstick than Punisher machine gun.

    • lgauge

      Sicilian Ghost Story: A bunch of nonsense.

      Sometimes I’m baffled, or even saddened, by the existence of filmmakers who seem to know all the technical aspects of filmmaking and who know how to write a basic screenplay and who can manage to get a movie made, yet know nothing about making art or telling stories. Everything here is a pale imitation of something seen before, without any sense of synthesis or any idea of what to actually say. These filmmakers mistake abstraction for subtlety and every One. Perfect. Shot. frame they craft, every carefully choreographed camera move they execute, reveal nothing except the deep interiors of their own assholes. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also get a little bit of glorification of teen suicide. There are occasional glimmers of hope, signs that someone knows what they’re doing, but that just makes every mistake sting all the more. There’s even a short time where it seems like they’re at least going to double down on an ending so cruelly dark that one can at least be entertained by the absurdity, but then they do a weird “180, or is it?” turn at the very end that, like a drunk carelessly pissing against the wind, makes sure the awfulness comes back. Ugh.

      I Dream in Another Language: An interesting story that never quite lifts off due to being stuck between two modes of expression.

      One thing that’s almost certain is that I doubt you’ll find a more original and interesting premise this year. A film that’s both about the disappearance of indigenous culture and language AND a historical queer tragedy at the same time is something quite rare indeed. That, along with an often assured visual style, is enough to make this film worth watching. I was a bit less impressed with the overall execution, which gives the impression that, much like one of the main female characters in the story is uncertain whether to remain with her own culture and community or go to America, the filmmaker is torn between world/slow cinema and Hollywood-esque storytelling. The former being visible in the shooting style, the use of supernatural elements and the shameless mix of tones. The latter being clear in the misguided attempts at cliches like the unavoidable hetero pairing and the disapproving father figure. Why the filmmaker didn’t have enough faith in the dramatic potential of the main story — that of one man having had to deny his love for another in order to conform with enforced colonialist Christian values, not to mention how this central conflict threatens to exterminate a culture and a language on the verge extinction before a scholar can record enough of their properties to preserve them — I really can’t fathom. I also have some minor structural quibbles. Especially how the flashbacks are structured, which struck me as a bit awkward and something that might have been fixed by another pass at the screenplay. Still, the film has enough good qualities, and such an intriguing and rarely seen premise, that I have to say it’s very much worth seeing.

      I also played through (more or less, I didn’t explore every nook and cranny, but I saw the bulk of the content) The Stanley Parable. I’m many years behind on this one, but I hardly ever play games anymore, so yeah. I happened to have a few hours to fill and this was just waiting to be played. It’s a remarkable achievement in storytelling and structure, especially the self-referentiality and the way other parts of the game that you have chosen not to engage with still echo in your current playthrough. Its experiments with narrative, determinism and so on are very welcome and could probably seed some nice discussions here for the many of you who are really into that stuff. It also made me think of how you might make a movie that did the same kind of thing (or if any that have already been made fit the bill), but I didn’t get very far down that line. Obviously a lot of the mechanics of the storytelling are kind of unique to the mechanics of playing games, but I think you could map it onto cinema and get something interesting out of it. Anyway, I really loved this. It struck me as a kind of mutated child of Portal and the game breaking weirdness of some of the Metal Gear Solid games, especially the ones towards the end of Sons of Liberty. If anyone has recommendations for similar games (preferably of a similar short length too), I’d be happy to hear them.

    • Valhalla Rising – I was expecting more. Mads, Refn, Vikings, whadda need, a road map? Well, apparently so. I get Refn does the slow burn to highlight the brutality of his violence (eg the elevator in Drive, but when it finally exploded, it wasn’t much. Maybe Game of Thrones has altered our expectations of Medieval brutality, but so much was just dedicated to being cryptic amidst fog & scenery (which all looked amazing). The twist of them landing in America was a cool idea, but nothing seemed to come of it. Just a different group of violent people.

      • DJ JD

        I had a similar reaction. I’m still not 100% that I understand just what the movie’s last act was even supposed to be showing us, either.

      • pico

        I never managed to finish it. :/

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      Wind River. A solid neo-western from the guy who wrote Sicario and Hell or High Water. I liked his previous two movies well enough but it always felt as if they were one or two steps away from being great. With this one he dips into greatness frequently. Pitch perfect performances by everyone involved and, not so much a twist, as a sudden revelation that had me reeling.

    • Miller

      Thor Ragnarok — funny and pretty, of the two comic book movies I’ve seen in the theater it is massively superior to Wonder Woman. The action and more importantly the jokes are well-framed and several overtly stylish set pieces are essentially Frank Frazetta dioramas and boss as fuck. The actors all have a good time (Tessa Thompson is a frigging star waiting to nova and Jeff Goldblum is Jeff Goldblum) and aside from some pointless Dr. Strange garbage, the Marvelling is generally minimized. More of this.

      Quiz Show — “…because a white guy made a mistake.” Rob Morrow’s terrible accent aside, this is a pretty great movie (and a great movie for performances by white guys). Both overt and subtle about class and ethnicity in ways most movies are not, and extremely astute about power — two of the most unsettling performances come from Martin Scorsese’s ruthless but genial Geritol exec and Barry Levinson’s blithe and unstoppable Dave Garroway (the unquestioned real deal to Christopher Plummer’s Jack Paar, who is trying too hard and insecure under the smarm) — these are men who get their way. But Fiennes and Paul Scofield and their relationship are the heart of this and it is too complicated to condemn, their late-night snack is devastating and Scofield getting drawn into the show is a great touch that a less confident movie would shy away from.

      Vice Principals — all caught up in time for the end! A magnificent fight scene (McBride directs the hell out of it and it works) coming after Lee is in full Heisenberg mode at the show’s beginning, and also at show’s end. More chaos to come, and there’s sadness at leaving this world — McBride and Hill and company have done a great job of fleshing out the people around our leads and I will miss hanging out with them. Ashley Spillers’ Swift in particular makes me laugh just with her posture and costuming.

      • clytie

        I think Quiz Show was the greatest film of 1994. Which was a particularly great year for movies.

        • Son of Griff

          In any other year besides it going against PULP FICTION it would have been a shoo-in for original screenplay (and by any other measure, Academy rules would have required PF to be in the adapted category)

    • Delmars Whiskers

      Moonlight–For whatever reason, I’d never seen this at all until now. Turns out, it really is better than La La Land. Might be my favorite movie of the last few years.

      Thor: Ragnarok–It was…good, I guess? I laughed repeatedly, the performances were good, Cate Blanchett gave the MCU one of its few really interesting villains. But let me put it this way: At two separate points, Thor does what could only be called entering the Avatar state, which prompted my friend and I to spend a good hour or two afterwards talking about how much we love Avatar: The Last Airbender. A movie that mostly reminds you how much more you enjoy something else is probably doing something wrong.

      What’s Up, Doc?–An old favorite of mine. Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal are the leads, and they’re fantastic, but let’s look at the supporting cast: Madeline Kahn! Kenneth Mars! Austin Pendleton! Michael Murphy! Sorrell “Boss Fucking Hogg” Booke! An ace script, first-rate production and smooth direction by Peter Bogdanovich, but the real pleasure is just watching great comic actors nail their laughs without breaking a sweat.

      • DJ JD

        You are me? Stop saying that! Stop–somebody make him stop saying that!

        I was raised with this movie, and deeply disliked Kahn’s character as a child but as an adult it’s hard not to see all the fun they were having, making it. I still use lines like “what wine are you serving at table 3?” in my day-to-day life.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          As somebody who prefers Stardust Memories to 81/2 and Charade to North by Northwest, it’s no surprise that I enjoy this much more than Bringing Up Baby.

    • jroberts548

      Thor: Ragnarok

      Strengths:

      – This is the first of the Thor movies to fully take advantage of Hemsworth’s capacity for goofy, earnest, nobility. Hemsworth has a lot of charisma and can be very funny. He was poorly served by the attempted melodrama of the first two Thors, but Hemsworth really benefited from Waititi’s ability to balance humor with sincere character moments. 
      
- The movie is very funny, both with the script and the direction. 
      
- The characterization is economic and clear. Pretty much everyone makes decisions that make sense for who they are, and Thor, Loki, and new characters Valkyrie and Skurge all have reasonably compelling arcs.
       
 It’s very colorful. I approve of Marvel’s directors trying to out-Kirby Kirby. 
      
- I really liked the score. And “world of imagination” was a great musical cue. 

      Other observations:
      – It’s too bad Portman and Dennings aren’t in it. I think Waititi’s deadpan would have worked for them. 

      – It’s a little too easy for Hela to kill immortal asgardians. Like, how immortal are they?
      
- Something felt slightly hollow. It might just be me. Like eating too much cake.
      – I’ve been working my way through the Iliad Audiobook on my commute, and every time anyone gets killed, Homer tells us his name, where he’s from, and who his dad is. Superhero movies don’t need to do that, but they could rely a little less on armies of fungible zombies, etc.

      Stranger Things 2, up to episode 3. This is reminding me of Broadchuch Season 2. By which I mean instead of having a conflict and rising action, so far it’s just pointless wallowing in the fallout from season 1. It’s not hard guys. Aristotle wrote it out for you 2500 years ago.

      • 1. Which Iliad translation?
        2. Did you listen all the way through the chapter where Homer just lists all the boats and where their from and who the kings are? Because that was so boring, our prof let us skip it.

        • jroberts548

          Stephen Mitchell, read by Alfred Molina.

          And yes, cause I was driving, would have to swap discs out, and the tracks on the disc are too long so trying to find the next part would have been cumbersome.

        • jroberts548

          The Stephen Mitchell translation with Alfred Molina reading.

          I did not skip over the boats. The repetition was soothing in traffic. Unlike the rest of the Iliad, which makes me want to throw a spear at the other driver, right above the nipple, and push through to the other side, with the ferocity of a lion waiting for a goat to merge damn it!

          • pico

            Have you followed any of the discussion about the new Odyssey translation by Emily Wilson? If not, this article is really, really fantastic.

      • jroberts548

        Oh! And I went to the Portland museum of art, which has a cool exhibit on Laika. The museum itself is okay. It’s permanent collection on display is pretty small. They had some cool Japanese woodblock prints. The contemporary art section is dreadful. Every piece would be improved with a sarcastic placard stating “boy, really makes you think.”

        I did like one piece though. It’s called “five words in orange neon.” You can probably figure it out.

      • Miller

        Ha, the highly mortal immortals was pretty dubious, as was the fact that everyone seemed to have no idea/forgotten about THE GOD DAMNED GODDESS OF DEATH. This paradoxically makes the movie more impressive for me, you have to be pretty light on your feet to tap dance over this stuff and Waititi and company generally do. But I can see the cake thing.

        • jroberts548

          It’s not like the Norse gods could be expected have ever read a book about Norse mythology.

          • Miller

            The twist of what Ragnarok represents was well done but I was still disappointed to not get “real” Ragnarok. Leave REDACTED alone, Fenris, you have a moon to eat! And where the fuck is Jormungandr?

          • jroberts548

            It is significant that in 2017 three very successful pieces of pop culture- Gaiman’s best-selling book retelling Norse myths, the American Gods show, and this movie – are explicitly about ragnarok. Other big things are ragnarok-adjacent, like GoT.

            It’s almost like we know that the falcon can longer hear the falconer and shits about to get real.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            There’s an argument I read once in an anarchist essay that one of the reasons apocalypse has become so prevalent in pop culture is Americans secretly want an end to Western culture and capitalism and to experience something other than everyday. Take it with a big heap o’ salt but its stuck in my mind.

          • Miller

            Apocalypse is prevalent because we are deeply lazy and unimaginative and want external forces to clarify and simplify our problems, make them basic and epic if not immediately solvable. In a related story, record low turnouts expected for Election Day tomorrow!

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Considering the current state of things I dunno if I BLAME anybody for not voting right now even if they probably should, but I’ve never been huge into the usual liberal push for voting.

          • Miller

            This is an off-year, aka local election year, aka the year you (the general you) can elect people closest to the ground of what affects you — schools, roads, etc. Only you and your neighbors can vote (although that does not stop outside meddling/funding, particularly when it comes to schools). I know your politics tend toward a more anarchic mode but these elections are as basic as self-governance gets without having a full-on collective. I think they’re important because I do think the system we have is worth reinforcing and improving and that begins on this basic level, and even with the political fatigue that is radiating from the national level, it’s important to pay attention here. End sorkining.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote, you likely should, BUT…theres always this weird shaming in the moderate left side of things about not voting (like these poors are so fucking dumb for not turning out and its your civic duty blahdeeblahdeeblah) when the truth is the media reinforces apathy and not paying attention over and over and over, and the lower classes either get their vote gerrymandered into oblivion, cut out (its fucking insane that convicts can’t vote, what a ridiculous punishment especially when those involved typically have no money),or its just abundantly clear to them that the political order doesn’t give a shit and it feels like its always gonna be like this.

            Personally I think the present system is worth improving, but y’know…maybe REALLY push in the midst of voting drives that capitalism doesn’t work and a systemic approach. No half assing it, no saying “Oh capitalism just needs moderation” (god I hate that sentence), just…say it doesn’t work. I’d happily take big federal government if it heavily involves socialism.

          • Those three stories coming on the heels of a decade of dystopian & post-apoc media skyrocketing in popularity. The center really isn’t holding any more.

      • The whole concept of “immortals” in pop culture is kind of a mess. You want characters who are at once unbeatable and beatable, as if that makes for better dramatic tension. So have a long history of gods who can be defeated or even killed in fairly mundane ways. Which doesn’t excuse the fairly mundane ways that Hela kills so many without working up a sweat (assuming she sweats at all). (At least in Wonder Woman Diana needed to work a little to stop Ares. No sword through the heart for him.)

        And the deaths of the Warriors Three without much comment from anyone only emphasize both that it was too easy and that yes, the film is hollow. Fun and entertaining, but ultimately just a lot of cotton candy.

        The army of zombies was taken from a comic story, but that doesn’t excuse it also being far too familiar by now. A lot of the Asgard stuff just felt like warmed over LotR, especially the zombies. And zombie armies are a no-stakes enemy. Though the MCU loves that, following the faceless aliens in Avengers and the horde of Ultrons in Avengers 2.

        • jroberts548

          It would have been better if the Warriors 3 just didn’t show up, like Sif. Yes, some nerd (probably me) would wonder how hela conquered Asgard so easily, but their inclusion creates more plot problems than it solves. Also they were kinda nonentities in the first two movies.

          It makes sense for Hela to have an army of the dead, and the final fight was directed fine, but the opening fight was also a fine fight against zombies or whatever. Even giving one of the dead guys a personality would have helped. Maybe Cul or Bor could have been there.

    • I repeatedly tried watching War For Planet of the Apes, but every time I got to the 15 minute mark, I just plum didn’t give a shit. This isn’t to say the movie is bad. I just don’t care.

      I also watched Unforgettable where Katherine Heigl plays a psycho ex wife intent on remarrying her milquetoast but kinda hot husband Geoff Stults, much to the chagrin of his new fiancée Rosario Dawson (who has a violent stalker in the past). This has the most depressing but still kind of hot bathroom quickie I’ve ever seen. Still, it could have been better.

      The Boy Next Door is better than Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (aka Girl, you got AIDS) is better than Unforgettable is better than Obsessed (sorry Beyoncé).

      • Also, apparently I need to rewatch Grindhouse because half of my dream last night was watching that movie. I woke up thinking “this is what I do in dreamland?”

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Rewatch Death Proof! Don’t bother with Planet Terror, its just not good.

          • Planet Terror is the best. Death Proof is so boring in comparison.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Its strange because my tastes usually say I’d agree but I like how Proof is a hangout movie packaged in a slasher mode while Planet Terror really felt ugly and stupid.

          • Proof is stalled in neutral for like an hour. I call it the movie where Tarantino bought his own bullshit about his dialogue. This was next compounded by the diarrhea-of-the-mouth script that was Inglorious Basterds.

            Terror, on the other hand, is supposed to be ugly and stupid but in the most gleefully meta way possible. And it has style to burn.

          • The Ploughman

            Both go on too long, but the payoff in DP is at the end, vs PT which frontloads the good stuff.

      • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

        War For the Planet of the Apes really did hit at a time where all excitement for the series was pretty much over. I would wager the main reason it did so well was timing, and having the name ‘War’ in the title. Avalanche of the Planet of the Apes would have been a better name.

        • Jake Gittes

          Actually it didn’t do all that well, its worldwide grosses are 30% down from Dawn and exactly the same as Rise and even that’s only thanks to China. The excitement for the franchise dropped quite a bit in the US and Europe.

          • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

            Huh really? Maybe i was getting blinded by the critical consensus.

    • CineGain

      So I watched couple of Tony Scott shorts after reading what @disqus_wallflower:disqus and @SonofGriff had to say about his evolution as narrative filmmaker who was pushing the boundaries in filmmaking.

      https://vimeo.com/1866688

      Tony Scott must’ve watched Chunking Express and came up with an inspiration idea to pitch to Amazon, seated in contemporary America, eschewed dialogue and go for frantic pure cinema. Watching this short makes me convince Tony was trying to be more experimentalist with breaking the rules of time signature, no sense of visual cohesion that felt more of coming from an underground perspective then the commonly misrepresented Hollywood style of Bay and co that Scott is lumped in. Agent Orange shows a filmmaker who’s evolved beyond his commercial craftsmenship and into a new blend of experimental commercial filmmaking, if that only didn’t sound like an oxymoran. Viewing these shorts has me believed that Tony had a stronger grip on filmmaking then his brother, even with having a hallmark classic.

      https://vimeo.com/76392121

      Beat The Devil is standard commercial packing that is totally the works of an auteur. Again, what’s really fascinating about watching these films is how Scott was creating a new sense of cinema that was commercial to the core, while feeling more experimental and expressionist then anything that comes out of action blockbusters in the last two decades. For christsakes, we have James Brown making a deal with gay in-wheelchair Gary Oldman, this couldn’t be possibly be less then exotic. The short film was contemplated for a series of films commissioned by BMW which gave creative freedom to filmmakers making their own wacky pitch.

      • Son of Griff

        Thank you for these links!!!

      • In his later films, Domino most strongly, Scott felt like he was (like you said) breaking the rules and the coherence of narrative cinema but hadn’t come up with an alternative form of coherence. That kind of thing works best on a shorter time scale where narrative isn’t that big a deal, or in Domino, where the fragmenting of the character is the theme of the piece. Really all his best stuff has some kind of fragmented perspective going on; Enemy of the State had a straightforward story but the way Scott kept blending all the different surveillance angles worked to the theme. In The Taking of Pelhman 123, that worked against the material. (We shall speak of this no more.) He needed some kind of story or at least screenplay to match what he was doing in images–shit, can you imagine what he could have done with The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch?

        For historical shits and/or giggles, here’s the much-missed Ice Cream Planet‘s discussion of Domino, and the washington/wallflower kerfluffle on Is Tony Scott Any Good? Both appear early in the comments and testify to the level of conversation that The Dissolve always inspired in us 😢

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I can’t help but notice that, despite the chaos of the filmmaking, it’s always perfectly clear what the characters are doing, thinking, and feeling.

        • Scott began using subtitles as active elements in the frame for exactly that reason–on Beat the Devil, no one could actually understand James Brown, hence the text.

    • The Narrator

      A glance at David SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMS’s Letterboxd page revealed that the next Blank Check miniseries will be Paul Verhoeven after his move to Hollywood, so you know I started preparing two months in advance.

      Basic Instinct: The script is trash that isn’t worth $3 and a sandwich let alone the $3 million it was sold for, but goddamnit if Verhoeven doesn’t make it the most appealing, gorgeous trash you could ask for. Jerry Goldsmith and Jan de Bont are working overtime to make this the lushest sleazy thriller you ever did see, and Verhoeven and Michael Douglas have a blast creating the single least appealing protagonist in film history, a cop who a). murdered four people on a coke binge, b). screams at all times and all people, and c). is just No Fun. Verhoeven’s real interest ultimately lies with Catherine Tramell (especially having seen Elle, which this is barely a hop and a skip from), who at least seems like a blast to hang out with.

      Starship Troopers: I decided to fit this in after the extra hour from Daylight Savings kicked in. The combination of the late hours and this not quite being the kind of satire I was expecting (I was expecting something a little winkier, instead of Triumph of the Will 90210) means I’m almost certainly going to rewatch this before the Blank Check episode airs. So yes, I do want to know more.

      Saturday Night Live: Not a great episode in what has been so far a thoroughly not-great season, but it’s all been worth it for the triumphant return of Mooney/Bennett’s sitcom parody. I am a better man for now having seen Larry David shred on guitar, throw chairs at walls, and stab Kyle Mooney straight in the chest.

      Blank Check with Griffin and David: The Hurt Locker: This is my favorite episode of the miniseries thus far, and not just because it sees the return of the never-not-hilarious Bane/Marvin the Martian impressions. After two weeks of Griffin and David slogging through mediocrity, they sound brought back to life in this, practically bouncing off the walls while going through (with guest Sonia Saraiya) what makes Hurt Locker so great.

      • OOooooh Verhoeven! Meaning that we get Robocop and hopefully also some of his pre-Hollywood stuff.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        My friend described Basic Instinct as in essence an American giallo and that really framed it well in my mind. It’s deliciously campy but fatalistic in a way I think is interesting.

      • I still have a hard time thinking that people had a hard time catching the winks of Starship Troopers. I bust a fucking gut watching that movie and my jaw was on the floor. Maybe this explains me.

        • The Narrator

          Some of the winks are very obvious indeed (like Neil Patrick Harris in a Gestapo uniform looking in the enemy’s eyes and seeing its fear as a victory), I’ll say that much. Like I said, I didn’t watch it under ideal circumstances, so I look forward to seeing it again and catching more of them.

    • clytie

      Friday: The Lifetime adaption of the V.C. Andrews book My Sweet Audrina. It was disappointing and made me wish for a new adaption. Someone like Sofia Coppola could do is justice.

      Rain Man Still good.

      The newest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I also think that Erika Christensen’s character in Swimfan was sympathetic.

      Saturday: Forensic Files and more Forensic Files.

      Sunday: I caught up on General Hospital which has been fantastic lately, and watched The Walking Dead, which had a surprisingly strong episode.

    • Son of Griff

      The 20th CENTURY WOMEN screening went kind of meh. Audience response on the exit poll was less enthusiastic but not completely negative (more like a B Cinemascore equivalent) and a higher number of pre discussion walk outs. Several people were of the Benning’s age during the time, but the domestic focus, on Santa Barbara bohemianism, was probably too culturally specific for the audience to relate to without some form of preparation..

    • pico

      Blade Runner: 2049 – I’m probably going to lose my Solute card for this, but folks… Denis Villeneuve may be my Iñárritu. I hated this so much, even more on reflection. Its central idea seems to be “turn the original movie up to 11.” You liked Vangelis? You’ll love our Vangelis-with-Zimmer-whomps. You liked that giant geisha billboard? We’ll give you giant women ads every five minutes, and no skimping on the boobs! Remember how weird Tyrell was? Leto’s Wallace is going to be, like, ten times as weird! You liked Rachael? Luv is Rachael with kickass karate moves! You liked Deckard? K is Deckard with a Calvin Klein body! Tragic death in the rain? We’ll give you tragic death in the snow!. More more more in service of less less less. That’s what probably bothered me most: no real sense of the original’s mystery, or strangeness (except ersatz), or catharsis. The few ideas it does reach for are all thudding clichés.

      Maybe the only scene I liked (?), because it was such an obvious commentary on the film itself, was the fake Rachael at the end. It looks like the original but there’s something so deeply wrong about it the CGI – uncanny valley – the whole thing feels horrible. That they didn’t even contact Sean Young about participating in the film raises the whole thing to an even higher factor of ick. There’s your film in the nutshell: we’ll give you the original film, but just wrong enough to spoil everything.

      Thor: Ragnarok – I mean, better than the other two Thor films by a walk, but maybe a bit less satisfying than I’d hoped. Still: one of Goldblum’s funniest roles ever (“sparkles!”), and Waititi is delightful, and I laughed a whole lot, so there are worse ways to spend an afternoon. I wish Blanchett had had more to do.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Sean Young is a participant in the movie! That’s a composite of her voice and her daughter standing in.

        • pico

          Ah, I see I was misled by something I’d read about the film. Thanks!

          It felt so much like the Christoper Lee scenes in Rogue One. This is not an art that can yet stand in for the real thing, yeesh.

          • Jake Gittes

            Well, in this case it’s not supposed to – it’s obviously a not-real Rachel and when Deckard tells Wallace to go fuck himself for trying to pull such a cheap trick on him, the movie stands with him. If I were being generous I might even take it as commentary on the Rogue One-esque practice of artificially reviving dead actors – the movie industry (aka Wallace) presumes that this is something we want and would enjoy, when the correct response, as demonstrated by Deckard, is discomfort: let dead people stay dead, for chrissake.

            I know I’m late but I don’t really share most of your original-post criticisms either – the score is much less noticeable than in the original, Leto is hardly any more weird than Tyrell, Luv aside from being a replicant assistant isn’t like Rachel in any way whatsoever, and the only giant woman ad I can recall a month later is in the climactic scene on the bridge which is maybe the most important and emotional in the entire movie. The point about it lacking the original’s strangeness I can agree on, but Blade Runner strikes me as such a sui generis piece of work, I dunno if those particular vibes could have been recaptured at all. I did enjoy spending time in 2049’s world, although the narrative could have been a lot tighter.

          • pico

            Sorry, I was maybe unclear there: I agree the scene is intended to be uncomfortable. What I liked (?) about it is that it mirrored how I felt about the entire film: an attempt to revive a long-dead property in a way that’s just a cheap trick, and just off enough to make me feel the same discomfort as that character. There may be some intentionality there, but why do it in a way that so devastatingly critiques your own film? Judging from this, Arrival, and to some extent even Sicario, I don’t get the sense Villeneuve is actually that self-aware, and papers over a lot of things with style. I don’t begrudge anyone from enjoying it (or him in general) – I just couldn’t shake any of these feelings while I was watching it, and even more so as I sat on it afterwards.

            Obviously have to disagree with the rest, though. (Sheesh, even the last act of the both movies begins with the blade runner going to what appears to be a giant abandoned hotel, investigating the detritus around the rooms, only to be sneak-attacked by the replicant living there!) It’s like a constant exercise in copying but ramping things up, which… okay.

          • Jake Gittes

            Those similarities strike me as pretty surface-level – that’s true about the last acts when you look at them like that, but they don’t develop the same way, the characters and their relationships are pretty distinct from those in the original which is used more as a jumping-off point. “Copying but ramping up” describes the Force Awakens approach to me, not the 2049 one. Which I guess is also why I don’t see the Rachael scene as self-critiquing.

            Have you seen Enemy? If not I hope you don’t abandon Villeneuve entirely without catching it, it’s possible you don’t like it either but I beat the drum for it as the Villeneuve film where his clinical style is put to the best use. It continues to be bizarrely slept on.

          • pico

            I’ll haven’t seen that one yet. I’m not the biggest fan of Saramago, but I’ll give it a look. Thanks for the recommendation!

          • Belated Comebacker

            The point about it lacking the original’s strangeness I can agree on, but Blade Runner strikes me as such a sui generis piece of work, I dunno if those particular vibes could have been recaptured at all.

            Not unless studio interference were more severe, and approximately at least four separate re-releases were then issued 😉

            Agreed on the tighter narrative, however. There’s a difference between making a meditative movie and one that’s dragged out, and 2049 was in the latter camp. Don’t need that many shots of Gosling slowly walking.

        • Son of Griff

          I attended a cast and crew reunion with Young in attendance about 10 years ago, and she seemed to be on good terms with the rest of the team, so it wouldn’t have struck me as being too unusual if she had been offered a more substantial role. Glad she got to participate in the sequel anyway.

          Based on the shit that has come out about James Woods, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Young declared as the most maligned actress in film history, at least as far as her temperament is concerned.

          • pico

            100% agree. I mean, the Catwoman thing was weird, but it’s not like Charlie Sheen’s or Tom Cruise’s antics ever cost them a paycheck.

      • I liked BR2049 overall but I agree with a lot of this. It definitely could have used a little more subtlety (and a lot less Leto).

        • pico

          “Hate” is probably too strong – there were things I liked, especially the final fight under the dam – but the movie soured on me the more distance I got from it.

      • Miller

        The super-stylized shot of the Valkyries bestride Pegasi bearing down on a seething Hela — I nearly ran out of the theater and stole a van just so I could airbrush that on the side. Everyone gives the Norway scene shit for its green screen and sure, it sucks, but how the hell is THAT what sticks in your mind?

        • pico

          Hell yeah. I had the misfortune of seeing it in 3D (it was the only available time, and it made the movie look a bit cheap in spots) but that Valkyrie flashback kicked all kinds of ass. The 3D made it look like a living diorama from the most metal album that ever metalled.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      NFL Football, Buccaneers at Saints. Well, I tried to. Cable monopolies in podunk towns tend to have really crappy service. Not a lot to say about this as the Saints had this one in hand pretty much from the get-go, and only a garbage-time TD kept it from being a complete embarrassment. (30-10 is still pretty embarrassing.)

  • Defense Against The Dark Arts

    My 4 year old daughter wants to see this movie but my wife won’t let her. I think it’s funny an animated movie about emojis has caused such strong emotions with her. I’m kind of meh about it.

  • The Ploughman

    This article flipped my opinion on emojis from burning hot hatred to 🤔

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford

    Btw any Philadelphia Soluters? In the final steps of securing a sublet there.

  • Son of Griff

    So if THE LEGO MOVIE is THE WILD BUNCH of of corporate product placement films, then this is THE KILLER ELITE; the nihilist poetry of the information age.

  • I saw this in a packed auditorium full of kids on opening day and man, the deafening silence in the theater every time a “joke” would come on was unforgettable.

  • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

    I’d never seen that Cher tweet, but a celebrity using a toilet emoji for Trump rules.