• Fresno Bob

    Jeez, everyone, are we ever gonna find out we watched last night?

    • Alien: Covenant–Everything I’m seeing online (besides critics) is painting this movie pretty negatively, but I thought it was really good. Not great–some of Prometheus‘s screenplay problems creep up in here (such as the crew’s stupidity [“Oh hey, look, a mysterious egg on a hostile planet–I think I’ll look right into it”]), but it also doubles down on what I thought was the most interesting part of Prometheus–i.e. the philosophical bent that posits creation as an act of sadism and horror. Everything with Fassbender, for all its florid, purple dialogue, is utterly fascinating and adds this cosmic vibe to the gritty, workmanlike Alien universe, and I’m all for that. And if nothing else, the movie consistently looks completely stunning. IV’s review at the AV Club said this is some of Scott’s best technical work in decades, and I’m inclined to agree.

      • Fresno Bob

        Well, I’m excited.

        • As I said, though, online fan reaction seems pretty negative. Maybe it’s just me.

          • Fresno Bob

            I loved Prometheus. So, like I said, I’m excited.

      • Belated Comebacker

        I’ve heard it was super-Gothic. Presumably, you stand by that assertion? Because if there’s one thing that would be great, it’s Fassbender doing a little…vamping akin to what Gary Oldman did in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula.”

        • Oh yes. The villain of the film is less the xenomorph and more this mad scientist/vampire character. It’s awesome.

          • Belated Comebacker

            Sweet. Count me as…intrigued!

          • Also, there’s a Fassbender-on-Fassbender kiss. If that’s not motivation to see this movie, I don’t know what is.

      • Miller

        The creation as horror stuff really worked for me in Prometheus where certain other dumb shit fell flat. This review informed a lot of how I see the movie at its best, hearing there is more of the same in Covenant is excellent news: http://wwwbillblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/youre-tired-of-yourself-and-all-of-your.html

    • Arrow has amazingly gotten to its season finale without veering off the path much at all. The penultimate episode doesn’t hold up to a ton of scrutiny, but it was really suspenseful and dark and edgy and still fun. The best Batman story ever told without Batman has been a thrill ride all season. I cannot wait to see how it all plays out.

      And the show is attempting something big, as the finale is also the end of the flashbacks, so given the structure of the fifth season we are basically wrapping up the season, Oliver Queen’s personal journey through the five years the show has been on (complete with guest stars tied to every season of the show but the fourth), and Oliver’s passage from the the five years in exile to the life he leads now. Even if it comes up short, it’s pretty ambitious for a show about a man who runs around playing Robin Hood.

    • Belated Comebacker

      Quest: Which was showing in my city’s newest film festival (it already has several), and ran about 90 minutes.

      What this documentary showed was an inner-city African-American family from Philadelphia over a 10 year period (thereabouts). It began with rejoicing over Barack Obama getting elected to the White House, before ending close to the 2016 election (although by that point, the film is more focused on the micro rather than the macro details).

      In any case, the idea behind this was to show a family’s tumultuous living circumstances, while also showing how they offered an invaluable service to other members of the community. They run a home music studio, where, on every “Freestyle Friday,” people can come in and record. Fun stuff, although the doc was clearly more interested in their struggles than in the purpose of the studio. No experts to be found here in the whole movie; this was a cinema verite experience through and through. Probably the most dramatic part was when their teenage daughter gets shot in the eye, collateral damage from a gang shooting. Somehow, she survives, and grows up just fine. Basically, a slice-of-life story, without too much need to make a grand statement.

      Justified: Season Five, Episode Two: The Kids Are All Right: Oh, how I love the interactions between Loretta and Raylan, which arguably goes to show how, yes, Raylan could be a great parent, if he just wised-the-hell-up, and got over his insecurities. He does, more or less, at the end of this season, but boy howdy, it’s a rough journey. Seeing Raylan threaten Hot Rod Dunham and his gang by saying “Are you gonna make me do paperwork?” will never not be funny, and Steven and Wood Harris are able to carve out their own niche in the “Justified” henchman pantheon. Every scene they’re in, they always manages to steal the attention away from the rest of the actors. For example:

      Wood (Jay): Did this asshole sleep with your daughter?
      Raylan: She’s in diapers.
      Jay: That’s gotta be upsetting, huh?

      The joke is super lame, and a bit of a reach, but somehow, you don’t get the feeling that Jay’s being creepy; he’s just trying to keep the atmosphere light, having been confronted by a federal law officer. Point being, I’m looking forward to seeing these two again.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      MST3K The Loves Of Hercules–Not a total misfire, as there are certainly plenty of laughs, but definitely one of the weakest NuMST episodes. Probably mostly due to the movie itself, since even MST Classic could only do so much with these Italian sweat spectaculars.

      But never mind that–I had a dream last night that was basically Hannah And Her Sisters, but totally recast–Matthew Broderick for Woody Allen, mid-80s Charles Grodin for Michael Caine, Michelle Williams for Mia Farrow. (Dianne Wiest still had her part, though, because she’s too damn good.) Much as I love the real movie, I think I’d possibly like my version better.

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Breaking Bad, Season Three, Episode seven, “One Minute”
      “This should not have happened.”
      “But it did.”

      “I will own him forever.”
      Flashback opening again, showing that a) Gus has been working with the cartel since the cousins were kids and b) the wrath of the cousins has been shifted to Hank.

      This episode covers the immediate consequences of Walt tricking Hank. Hank pretty immediately rolls up to beat the piss out of Jesse, and ends up putting him in hospital. He realises pretty quickly he’s gone way too far with this, and the consequences come hard on everyone, step by step.

      Firstly, of course, he’s disciplined at work and given a standard procedure that burns with humiliation. Secondly, Jesse’s pressing charges, which pushes Skyler to turn to Walt to do something about it. This leads to a very interesting revelation of Walt’s character: he can’t just come out and say to anybody “I need the situation to be like this”, he has to manipulate everyone for some reason.

      Meanwhile, Hank opens up to Marie about where he’s been emotionally the past while. The key parts of his monologue for me are “these actions are not who I’m supposed to be”, and “the universe is trying to tell me something, and I’m finally ready to listen”. The former implies interesting things about the show’s sense of personal identity – that there are things one potentially can do, and that Hank has hit his full ‘rogue cop’ potential (as compared to Walt discovering more and more ‘drug emperor’ potential). The latter is a rare explicit reference to the way God works in this show.

      Hank is rewarded for his obedience when Jesse lifts the charges – which is really as a result of Walt’s actions, but still. When Walt tries offering him money, Jesse tells him to fuck right off, and explodes in a tower of rage of grief, having lost everything that matters to him. It’s only when Walt tells him that his meth is just as good as Walt’s that he changes his mind.

      Hank loses his badge and gun, which means he’s completely lost when the cousins show up to murder his ass to death; the only thing that saves him is a quick call from a mysterious stranger, the bullet that slips out of one of the cousins’ jacket, and fast thinking on his part. It’s slightly cheating to have the cousin decide “even though I have you dead to rights, I’m gonna put my gun down and get an axe”, but it doesn’t completely ruin things for me.

      The Wire, Season Two, Episode Twelve, “Port In A Storm”
      So, everything wraps up. Frank’s body washes up on the dock, which kicks everyone into their final fate – Nicky doesn’t bother getting revenge via gun, because he saw how that turned out for Ziggy. Instead, he turns himself in to the cops and secures Witness Protection, effectively destroying not only the Sabotka presence on the dock, but in existence. The union is forced to change the guard to survive, and the detail and FBI catch everybody but the two guys on top.

      Meanwhile, McNulty and Greggs stumble upon Stringer’s continued work, which leads them to the connection between Proposition Joe and Stringer. Meanwhile, Stringer gets official permission from Avon to start doing his thing, and Omar suspects Stringer set him up. This doesn’t really have a conclusion, seeing as how it’s really the start of a new story.

      Greggs has to look at baby shit and clearly hates it. Her marriage is barely holding together. It’s funny to me that the show gave such a stereotypical cop story to a black lesbian – a lot of proponents of Representation that I know of ask for stories that empower said representative groups, while this is closer to breathing new life into a cliche by shifting who it happens to. Works for me, though.

      I’ll openly admit to missing the significance of the information FBI Bro gives Daniels.

      It’s funny how it feels like time is coming for these characters, in the same way it comes for Mad Men characters (and specifically doesn’t come for The Shield characters).

      • Belated Comebacker

        I can’t imagine what it’s like jumping from “The Wire” to “Breaking Bad.” I know that for me, watching the former lead to me having to swear off of dramas for some time, given how bleak the whole series was. “Breaking Bad” was like a romp for me when I got around to watching it, given how steeped in genre it is.

        • Drunk Napoleon

          It wasn’t nearly as bad as going from marathoning The Shield for a week before going back to both of them.

          • Belated Comebacker

            I take it “The Shield” moves at light speed?

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Let me put it this way: The Shield is pure rock and roll, Breaking Bad is prog rock (taking a long time to build up but otherwise recognisable as rock), The Wire is ambient drone.

          • silverwheel

            Watch out for season 3 – it’s the only one where The Wire approaches Shield-ian levels of “oh holy SHIT.” The pacing and rhythm stays the same, but, thanks to the developments of season 2, when the Barksdale storyline boils over it REALLY does so.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            I don’t know if Idris Elba ever had a better moment than his confrontation with Avon.

          • silverwheel

            Stringer and Avon’s last drink together on the balcony of Avon’s condo might be the most beautifully shot scene in all of the show.

          • Not counting the flashback episode “Co-pilot,” (and no one counts it), there is one scene in seven seasons of The Shield that does not move the plot forward. (And by then, when that scene happens, it’s just the most dread-filled thing possible.) It simply does not ever stop, and it accelerates through each of its three acts.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Okay, I’ll bite, because I’m pretty sure you’re not talking about Vic lifting weights and having flashbacks in episode two.

          • Oh right, those are flashbacks too. My bad. I meant Shane, Mara, and Jackson chillin’ at the house in season seven which can only mean “there’s no way this ends well,” and it doesn’t.

          • Bhammer100

            Oh man. When I first saw that scene play out, why they were there somehow completely slipped my mind. I was all “ah, look at this beautiful family. Mother and son playing hide n’ seek while the father plays piano. This is just so peaceful. Oh, look. Now they’re dancing. What a wonderful… wait. Oh no. How could I forget they’re on the run. Why do you do this to me show?!”

          • EXACTLY. It’s like for one moment, we’re in not just an alternate life but an alternate show.Part of The Shield‘s greatness is that Shawn Ryan had the discipline to do these kind of moments only once.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            Slightly unrelated question: do you recall any characters on The Shield telling each other a story? I’ve been building up the idea that when characters monologue a story at each other, that story tends to reflect the storytelling of the whole show – e.g. Mike’s ‘no half measures’ speech on Breaking Bad, or Frank Sabotka’s story of the guy who accidentally stole Tang on The Wire. I can’t recall if The Shield ever indulged in that – all I can think of is the racist joke Shane told once to distract Kavanaugh.

          • All I can think of is back in season one: Aceveda telling his wife about the woman who accused him of rape. Like a lot of things in season one, we don’t see anything like that again, because almost by definition, storytelling means either recounting something that already happened (backstory) or something that didn’t happen and The Shield will have neither of that. Characters on The Shield might declare their attitudes (think Kavanaugh’s “two percent zone” speech) or relate something that happened offscreen (Emolia revealing that she was raped) but it’s always in service of advancing the plot.

            If you want to make this reflect your (very interesting) idea, try this: on The Shield, storytelling only occurs as an action, because The Shield is nothing but action. On Mad Men, for a contrast, storytelling is pitching an ad, and great ads are storytelling. The line between the two keeps getting blurred, especially with Don, until the final moment of the series where the entire story of Mad Men dissolves into the legendary Coke ad; the whole series was one long pitch.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            I was actually thinking something even simpler than that. When Mike tells Walt his story, he outlines where he was emotionally, then walks through his decisions and the consequences for those decisions, finishing on how the story changed his view on the world, which is exactly how the show is structured. When Frank tells the Tang story, not only does he contextualise the guy’s social standing, he’s making a rhetorical point about how our choices are limited by where and how we were born – a stevedore will not have astronaut children.

            Heck, you even have Tarantino characters, who’ll start off a story creating specific characters with specific details (“Elouis, everybody called her Lady E, she looked like a pop culture figure”) then follow that person through fucked up dramatic decisions. Over on Mad Men, something like Pete telling Peggy about his vision for what he wants – “I killed an animal, and you cook it for me” – is buried in vivid details that explain who he is and require the broader context to understand.

            Which makes me realise, oh right, all those confessions on The Shield are ‘stories’, and are almost always focused on the action (certainly, that’s all our protagonists care about).

          • Son of Griff

            On one of the disc sets there is a bonus feature “mini-episode” that is entirely a flashback. I think it might have been shot as a prologue for what was planned as a two hour season 5 finale but was cut.

          • Is that “Wins and Losses”? That was a webisode between seasons 5 and 6. I’m not sure, because that one is half flashback, half present action, basically there to give us one last tribute to the beauty of Lem and Kenneth Johnson.

          • Son of Griff

            That’s the one– I didn’t want to go into too much detail to avoid spoilers

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            No, light tries to keep up with The Shield.

          • Belated Comebacker

            So what you’re really saying is that…”The Shield”…

            …has gone plaid?

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Welllll… I’m not a physicist, I’m just saying The Shield redefines what we thought we knew about momentum and acceleration.

      • silverwheel

        FBI bro’s information was that he mistakenly assumed that Agent Koutris was still a field agent in San Diego – he had no idea he was talking to an agent much higher up who had The Greek as an intelligence asset. As soon as he checks into it, he realizes what was happening and that Koutris was where the leak was coming from – Koutris was working counterterrorism now, and The Greek periodically gave him good info on that front, so he turned a blind eye to his activities and protected him (albeit in an extremely morally compromised way).

        • Drunk Napoleon

          Ah, right, thank you. I’m terrible with names so I didn’t make the connection to that guy.

    • The Ploughman

      Collosal. I’m looking forward to going back into the comments on this one as it presents good points for discussion, even as I don’t think a whole lot of it as a film. Suffice to say, the conceit is twisted into an unexpected theme and while the solution become obvious about five minutes too soon, it’s a clever enough one to feel like a payoff.

    • jroberts548

      The Americans. Regardless of what’s happening with the long term plot, when the show gets really episodic, down to its mission of the week spy procedural roots, it’s super effective. I think that was its best episode in two years. The only demerit is the nagging feeling at the back of my mind that we’ve seen this before, where a somewhat similar mission seems to have long term consequences for our hero that don’t pay off in a timely manner.

      Fargo one week behind. I really dug the use of the motifs from Peter and the Wolf. There was another show that did something similar a year ago. I think it was also Fargo, season 2?

      iZombie Me: “Liv is weirdly hot this episode.”
      Wife: “you’re not allowed to go to parent teacher conferences when we have kids.”

      Finally finished season 2 of Love. I really like Jacobs and Rust here. I wish the show was 10% less depressing.

    • Fresno Bob

      So, I watched a couple of episodes of Buffy. One was KICK-ASS and involved knights on horseback attacking an RV. The other one was about Buffy being basically catatonic and Willow entering her mind, and (again) the pacing, writing, and overall effect is off again.

    • Defense Against The Dark Arts

      The Cabin in the Woods. A re-watch after about 5 years. Does it want to have its cake and eat it too? Yeah, but I enjoyed it. A cool concept can carry a movie if it doesn’t over-stay its welcome and I think they got out at the right time. Maybe I’ll watch it again in another 5 years.

    • pico79

      Finished off Sense8‘s second season, and it’s the age-old question: how bad does the final ten minutes of a season have to be to retroactively ruin the entire experience of the show? Apparently they decided to try that out, because woof.

      • DJ JD

        Well sheesh, now I’m curious. I only made it halfway through the first season because it was like a dog whistle: the vibe that other people latched on to was something I just didn’t get. I was more irritated than not, apart from a couple of deeply awesome sequences. Was it worth it overall? (I realize this is a slightly unfair question, given what you posted.)

        • pico79

          I have complicated thoughts about the show, which is formally never more than a mess. One of the reasons it’s attracted such a following is that dog whistle you mentioned: the characters (some of them) are really charismatic and likable, even when thinly sketched, and over the course of the show it’s clear in the performances how much the actors have become friends behind the the scenes, so all that goodwill radiates outward. That hangout vibe suits its best moments, which are typically not plot-related. And the action scenes themselves are pure Wachowski, so they tend to deliver in spades.

          I think the high point of the show, if you want to give it another chance, is S1 E10, whose ending is sublime (I think the best thing the Wachowskis have ever done, outside of Bound). It takes a willingness to go along with what they’re selling, but it’s rare to see someone take that audacious a swing, much less (for me) hit a grand slam. I don’t think it’s really necessary to watch everything in between. The plot, as I said, is the least interesting thing the show has going for it.

          • DJ JD

            That’s a strong enough recommendation to jump to S1E10. Thanks for replying!

          • pico79

            Heh, you may hate it! (other people had mixed feelings), but it sure as hell swings for the fences at the end.

      • Sounds like we could have a competition between this and The Man in the High Castle‘s second season ending, which. . .also yikes. (The season in front of it was better than the first, but still pretty mediocre.)

        • pico79

          I’ll go ahead and spoil it for people who might be interested, but: one of the pleasures of the show has been the rare moments when the characters finally meet, or see each other for real, even if via video – Riley on the phone with Amanita, Nomi unexpectedly catching a Lito movie, the promise of Wolfgang and Kala meeting in Paris. So in the finale, in a montage that couldn’t have been 5 minutes long, all the characters buy plane tickets to London, then we jump to a heist-in-progress involving all of them, and then end credits. What the what? The show’s big eventual showpiece, their real-life meeting, takes place offscreen, they don’t so much as talk to each other during the heist, and there’s no decompression afterwards. It spoils the much-anticipated moment and forecloses any more of those small pleasures from here on. Who thought this was a good idea?

    • The Narrator

      Two films about young women adrift in foreign countries (from directors of movies playing at Cannes), Morvern Callar and Lost in Translation. Both were very good, and Callar has a pretty genius use of music, but as is always the case, my heart is with Sofia Coppola more.

      • Lost in Translation‘s soundtrack is a lot cooler, even if Morvern Callar‘s is deployed more ingeniously–Callar‘s songs can get a little abstract.

        • John Bruni

          I have to disagree: MC soundtrack has Lee Hazlewood–with Nancy Sinatra–and Can.

          • You know what–now that I’m looking at the track listing, I think I disagree with me, too. I forgot there was quite so much Can. It’s been many years since I saw either movie, so maybe my music tastes have changed significantly enough that I’d hear them completely different now.

          • I haven’t seen MC since it came out. I totally should rewatch it. I love the novel as a teenager though, and it felt like a tonal shift I wasn’t ready for.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Just season 1 Aqua Teen. The Mooninites are utterly delightful and low key weird.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        I’ve always found the evolution of [adult swim]’s flagship cartoons interesting. In the beginning, they were things like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law and Space Ghost Coast To Coast, genuine surrealist nonsense parodying pop culture detritus. Then things like The Venture Brothers and Moral Orel show up, seeming to be in the same vein, only to shift to thoughtfully looking at that same detritus and considering what it means, usually coming to an existentialist despair.

        It feels like a logical extension of the groundwork laid by those sillier shows – once the novelty of the absurdity wears off, someone clever somewhere must sit down and ask, “Well, okay, but what does it mean?”. Now the network’s flagship cartoon is Rick And Morty, which begins with the despair of The Venture Brothers and is going somewhere else with it (and Venture Brothers is gradually going somewhere else with the despair, too).

        (I don’t even think this is intentional, just a matter of like-minded individuals bouncing off each other and developing at around the same time and within the same community – not just writers, actors, and animators, but the audience as well)

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          This is likely why the Venture Bros was always my favorite of those cartoons, because it looked seriously at the bleak implications of outsized adventure and superhero genre fiction What if villains/heroes were bureaucratized and formalized? What kind of morality would even exist in this universe? What would this do to the people who live in these cycles over and over like poor Rusty? In retrospect Venture Bros. was at least a decade ahead of its time in its absurd, borderline nihilist existentialism. Bojack Horseman and Rick and Morty is sort of its heirs in accepting the implication that if capitalism/the overall system has made us all complicit in evil we might as well try to find joy where we can.

          Venture Bros has SO many quotable lines but I can’t read superhero comics now without thinking of the immortal “Chasing the same guy over and over? Its completely gay! And that is coming from a guy who voluntarily has sex with other men!”

        • pico79

          No matter how dark Moral Orel got in its last season, I was completely unprepared for the emotional punch of the last episode. Like, actual tears. I wish more people had stuck through the show.

      • Miller

        Delightful? Those bastards are terrorists!

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      Clearing the slate from the last few days…

      Brooklyn Nine-Nine, episodes 19 and 20 (I already forget what they are called). The first episode brings in Holt’s mother, which is a delight, as she shares his deadpan and understatement. It’s great to see Jake interact with her, and it’s great to see Amy freak out about the possibility of meeting with her (and Holt confirming that freakout is why he didn’t choose her). The second episode features the infrequent but always fun Jake/Rosa pairing. Also, Scully and Hitchcock have some great moments in both episodes.

      Fresh Off the Boat, “This Isn’t Us.” So the somewhat predictable turn of Jessica feeling uncomfortable in the new house leads the Huangs to try to move back to their old house… but in one of those “Oh, right, that would happen in real life” moments, the house has already been rented out (to a guy played by Chris Elliott, and I really hope that means we get more of him next season). No idea what this means for the Huangs, but it’s an intriguing twist that will add some new drama to season four.

      Great News, Episodes 7 and 8, “The Red Door” and “Celebrity Hacking Scandal.” Two really good episodes here; I’m very excited for the growth it’s already shown in its first season, and what that suggests for season two. The first episode put together its two subplots beautifully at the end; the second one had some brilliantly dark jokes. I’m really pushing this one as a recommendation lately to people who like shows in the 30 Rock / Kimmy Schmidt vein.

      Veep, “Chicklets.” Kind of strange to watch two different shows this week featuring Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum figures (after Great News). Some terrific bits, particularly with Richard and Jonah (the writers seem to have a real knack for finding unexpected angles with Jonah that seem really obvious as soon as they happen). Learning more about Selina’s real family history was fascinating, too, although I do still think the show is better served when it has the gang more or less all together in Washington doing politics things.