• Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

    What did we watch?

    • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

      LOST, Season Two, Episode One, “Man Of Science, Man Of Faith”
      “I’m going to fix you.”

      “It was a Tour de Stade.
      “What?”
      “It is when you run all the steps in every section of a stadium up and down.”
      “Why would you do that?”
      “I’m – I’m intense.”

      Another fucking amazing hour of television. The opening was the exact kind of clue I was talking about yesterday, enough to set my imagination ablaze and tide me over while the characters caught up; the characterisation was pitch-perfect and pushed everyone into some really intense places – I was struck by Locke’s tenacity diving straight into vile, as his faith was clearly shaken and he did things like pushing Kate further down the hatch when she started to second-guess the plan.

      I remembered the flashbacks for this episode as pretty pointless filler to make the final twist more shocking, but I ended up liking it more this time because it contrasted well with the on-island drama – Jack in the present being useless to Hurley, Jack in the past having a shitty bedside manner, Jack in the present trying to give people hope. The vibe I get is that it takes Jack a long time to come to believe in a goal or a cause, but when he does he’s like a dog biting down and not letting go, while Locke will jump on any cause but won’t think it through and can have his faith shaken very easily. Putting them together doesn’t quite get a functional person, but it does push the story forward, which is pretty much the same thing to us.

      The aesthetic of the hatch is 100% the sort of thing that bakes my potatoes; I love kitsch that’s clearly been transformed by a single person who’s been using it for so long it’s developed its own personality (cinematic equivalent: Quentin Tarantino), and in fact it reminds me of Portal now. In this specific case, we have cutting edge 70’s technology and architecture that’s part of the routine of a modern health nut (wrong word but you know what I mean), as well as the cool mural. In general I go nuts for art within art, and this is a [revving intensifies] kind because I desperately want to know what kind of mind created that mural, adding to the sense of mystery while being a tiny example of it and furthering my suspicions that mythology must be rooted in character too.

      (Again, drawing comparisons to Portal which has murals and drawings done by someone who was running around the facility before you, implying a psychology behind them)

      And thinking on it, we’ve said that literature requires a vivid imagination in the storyteller, but perhaps it also inspires a vivid imagination in the viewer, as they put the pieces together.

      Walt appears in a vision to Shannon, saying “Don’t press button, button bad” backwards, and with the semi-mainstream internet fandom thing happening at a pre-Netflix time was the perfect time to do this sort of thing. I suspect it’s just way too trivial now to reverse a character’s dialogue for it to feel special, but pre-2000 it wasn’t trivial enough to have an impact on the right amount of people.

      It’s a tiny thing but Jack and Hurley’s natural friendly relationship, the funny dude and the super-intense hero, is so great.

      Ownage: Much like Shannon did last season, Desmond establishes he has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it by firing it harmlessly into the air.

      • GhostZ

        And now you have me wanting to play Portal again, which is not ideal on my current mouseless laptop.

        It’s so strange, reading this, to actually remember having been online speculating about the mysteries of Lost as it was airing, and to try to remember my reactions to things. Even if people guessed correctly back then, journalism was still healthy enough that a dozen major websites wouldn’t have picked up any thoroughly-documented bit of pop culture speculation and presented it as clickbait entertainment “news.” Alas, we will never see such days again.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        I weirdly can’t wait for you to get to Michael Emerson as Ben, who’s just a fantastic character.

    • The Witches – after quite a few disappointments, I finally found a Hammer Horror film that I can love! Also Joan Fontaine is in it for some reason!? She plays a teacher who returns to work in a British school after a stressful attempt to teach in Africa led to a nervous breakdown. Unfortunately, there are witches! And a cat! And general small-town weirdness, some of which feels like a precursor to The Wicker Man. Apart from a mid-film amnesia subplot that derails things a bit, it’s an absolute blast, and the ending is absolutely insane. I loved it.

      Song of the Sea – I actually rewatched this before spending the weekend at local horror festival, but didn’t want to clutter yesterday’s post up too much. On first viewing I had this down as “incredibly beautiful, but the storytelling isn’t a match for the visuals” – second time through, either I liked the story more or cared less, and now I’d definitely rank it among my favourite animated films.

      I also watched the first three episodes of The Good Place. So far it’s enjoyable without really knocking me out (i.e. it’s the kind of thing I’d usually drift away from after roughly “this many” episodes) but given the general consensus that it gets a lot better (and a general fondness for Ted Danson), I shall continue.

      • Miller

        The Good Place does indeed get better and in an extremely well-structured way, I think sitcoms generally improve as casts and characters find their strengths and the show starts to reflect that, this is more deliberate in its expansion. Which is trickier but successful and the cast is an enormous factor in how it can go where it needs to go. D’Arcy Carden’s Janet in particular is a standout for me.

        • Yes, Janet! I’ve enjoyed D’Arcy Carden’s occasional appearances on Broad City, so I was immediately pleased to see her in the cast.

          I tend to prefer the “each episode is a self-contained story” kind of sitcom to this more “ongoing story arc” variety, but we shall see how I get on. I’m still young, I can change!

          • Miller

            Going back to the structural stuff, I think the show does an outstanding job balancing episodic plots and themes with the larger arc, it’s one of the big attractions for me. The episodes are referred to as chapters in their titles and they feel like discrete parts of a whole in a bookish way to some extent, as opposed to units made by slicing a big thing into smaller things (coughNetflixcough). The little end twists/setups are well done here.

          • Yes, “chapters” does seem appropriate for the storytelling so far. I kinda feel like it does have some of that sliced-from-a-bigger-pie feel to it, but I’m watching on Netflix so maybe I just feel that way because they keep yelling WATCH THE NEXT ONE at me each time the credits roll

    • hellgauge

      A Nos Amours: Occasional moments of majesty, but otherwise just another really solid Pialat. I’m really starting to think I’ve been right in the past to avoid director marathons as much as possible. Even just 1 film per week is a little much. Especially when the films are so consistent in style, plot, themes, tone etc. Having a similar problem with my Kaurismäki watching. Still, it’s hard not to watch these when they’re put right in front of my face, for no additional cost, and I don’t know when I’ll get the chance again.

      • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

        I’ll get to this soon, but I had the exact same problem marathoning Scorsese for my first director marathon. I ended up more positive towards Gangs Of New York than most people simply because it shook up the Scorsese formula at that point.

        • hellgauge

          It’s probably a personality thing too. I’m generally more of a “little bit of everything” kind of guy, rather than getting pleasure from deep-diving into something very specific for a long time.

          • Jake Gittes’ Doppelgänger

            I’m the latter type. Constantly switching between different things can give me whiplash, while marathoning works of the same person or even genre/type helps me better evaluate their strengths and weaknesses by way of comparison. Even I wouldn’t marathon, say, Woody Allen or Hong Sang-soo except in small chunks, but my dives into Malick, Cronenberg, Coens, Jarmusch etc. ended up pretty great.

            I recognize it’s not entirely healthy though, since that way of thinking can easily develop into a crutch, and after spending enough time focusing on a single creative voice or sensibility it can be hard to immediately jump over to another. So it’s still something to work on.

        • The prelude & opening battle in GONY is one of my fav Scorsese moments. I do like that he once said that, had he made it early in his career, it would’ve been a really violent movie.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          You really have to mix it up with watching more of his weirder divergences from “violent street guys” and rotating them.

          • Miller

            Oh, how happily I would watch the Asylum Scorsese knock-off “Violent Street Guys.”

          • Well, there’s the Millennium Films duo of 88 Minutes/Righteous Kill, where, like middle-period Scorsese, everyone involved clearly got paid.

          • Miller

            Blergh, is there anything to recommend Righteous Kill? I got weary just looking at the poster.

          • Well, if you feel like working your way through the Jon Avnet filmography, it’s pretty necessary, although for that you’d be a lot more justified watching, um, Justified.

          • Babalu-ghost

            Wow, 88 Minutes and Righteous Kill are from the same director. Why would Pacino sign on for another one?

            Fun fact; I saw both these movies in the theater.

          • Babalu-ghost

            Did you ever want to see 65 year old Robert DeNiro and Carla Gugino in a sadomasochistic relationship? Did you want to see a movie that casts two of the greatest actors of all time, and then builds its plot around a twist that means the audience can’t know what they’re doing or thinking throughout the entire run of the film? Are you interested in watching a movie that is not just embarrassing for DeNiro and Pacino, but also a low point in the acting career of 50 Cent?

          • I’m amazed this isn’t the blurb on the Blu-ray. (It’s a low point in Blu-rays too.)

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            “You don’t make up for your transgressions in cathedrals, you do it in the avenues. The rest is nonsense pal.”

          • Miller

            “For a really long time, I yearned to be a Mob guy.”

          • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

            I watched them chronologically (though skipping over a fair few).

        • Son of Griff

          When you see it chronologically, you kind of see Scorsese’s evolution from a more European to American studio style emerge gradually, so its artificiality isn’t so much a shock but a deliberate affectation.

      • I like director’s binges precisely because I like seeing how their pet themes and tropes play out again and again. When I first subscribed to Netflix (in the ancient days of DVD), I loved finally being able to dive into the filmmakers I’d only read about. After 4-6 movies by one, I’d move on to the next and cycle back to the ones I enjoyed.

        • hellgauge

          Totally get that, just don’t feel the same way.

          • Yeah – it’s all in whether you think the repetition is a bug or feature.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I didn’t mention it above, but my watching TUK is an attempt to start a deep dive into Errol Morris. My thought is he’s got his definite style, but the subject matters vary greatly enough that it will stay fresh.

          • The only Morris I wasn’t keen to was The Thin Blue Line because it’s style and subject (talking head true crime) have been so thoroughly assimilated that it really felt dated.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            That’s one I’ve sadly only seen in clips during film school – it got on that list of films I read so much about I feel like I’ve seen it already, which is never the same experience as watching it. It’s in the pile, so I’ll get to it at some point.

        • Son of Griff

          I’ve done Kubrick that way, and it was really rewarding. Scorsese’s catalogue was so exhaustingly long that I ended up quitting just at the end of his filmography. When I took a 6 week summer Hitchcock class, consisting of about 6 films a week, I felt like I was about to have a nervous break down. limited careers work best for completists, but I like the three or four at a time method, as the directors I like the most would try my sanity for longer hauls nowadays

          • hellgauge

            Kubrick is kind of a special case given that he has such a large variety of genres though. I think even I would have little problem watching 1 or 2 Kubrick films per week if I was catching up.

          • hellgauge

            He said, justifyingly bragging of his accomplishments.

          • The only time these binges didn’t work for me was Tarkovsky, whose films were so long I was dreading the time investment, and Bergman, because I became mopey and depressed.

          • Son of Griff

            Bergman can be done selectively, I imagine, and when I get Filmstruck he’s well overdue for a revisit. I’d do Tarkovsky if I had the time.

          • Tarkovsky’s filmography is short enough that you can space out his films–I watched all his movies over the course of about 8 months, and that was rewarding way to watch them without getting burned out on the length.

    • GhostZ

      You’re the Worst, “Not a Great Bet.” Maybe it was just the presence of Zosia Mamet, guest-starring as an old friend of Gretchen’s who has settled down in a very different life, but this felt like an episode of Girls (specifically the one in the first season where Hannah temporarily returns to her hometown) mashed up with YTW’s own season two episode devastating “LCD Soundsystem.” It can’t beat “LCD Soundsystem,” but it soundly beats Girls, and I think that’s because YTW keeps the focus on its characters–their longings, lies, and self-justifications–while Girls kept it on authorial voice.

      Also, Criterion flash sale haul: Barry Lyndon, For All Mankind, Straw Dogs, Whit Stillman Trilogy, Tootsie, Cameraperson, and Design for Living.

      • hellgauge

        Cameraperson!

      • “Not a Great Bet” wrecked me. I think I said this on Facebook somewhere, but while I don’t always track with You’re the Worst on the whole, about once a season, a single episode usually knocks me out cold. “Not a Great Bet” was that episode this year.

        • GhostZ

          The knockout punch should probably have hit me at the title drop, but I think it actually got me during the conversation about cinnamon toast.

    • Babalu-ghost

      Mirror, Mirror (1990) – A goth girl moves to a new town where she’s a social outcast, and acquires a cursed mirror that grants her increasingly violent wishes.

      I don’t know how I feel about this film. It takes a long time to get going, but once it does it has a nice variety in its horror scenes, and they’re all well executed. I particularly liked the scene with the murderous doppelganger, and feel like that’s strong enough idea to support an entire movie. The acting is pretty good for straight to video horror, but the lackluster pacing and thin characterization keeps you from fully engaging in the story. If a good movie is three good scenes and no bad ones, what do you call four good scenes and eight bad ones?

      The biggest strength of the film is the authenticity of its perspective. This is a goth girl movie that feels like it was really written (and directed) by a goth girl. For example, there’s a scene where our protagonist is teased by her teacher, and so she starts doodling really intensely in her notebook which makes her cursed antique mirror give him a heart attack. I feel like I saw more than a few girls try this back in high school. So much of the movie feels like it’s coming from that place. Like some girl wrote it through a rough sophomore year and just gave it a light polish when she finally got a shot to make it. Reminds me a bit of Donnie Darko in that regard. That’s never been my culture, but I can appreciate the sincerity even if it’s a bit alienating at times. I’ll forgive a lot for a little sincerity.

      I don’t know, I guess I’d recommend it. But temper thine expectations. William Sanderson is in it for a minute, and he’s got a really awful ponytail, providing the movie with its most effective jumpscare.

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        …”what do you call four good scenes and eight bad ones?”
        An Apatow movie.

        • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

          [wallfloweresque BURN pun]

    • I had just started watching the opening game of the NBA season online – TNT offers a free stream with alternate cameras angles, no graphics or replay, and the regular play by play – when newly signed Celtic Gordon Hayward landed badly and broke his leg. Something that was painfully clear to viewers. I turned away, and TNT stopped the stream.

      After seeing that, and also after finishing a very harrowing and intense book (Seanan McGuire’s The Brightest Fell), I went for something really innocuous: the two-parter on Dick Van Dyke where Sally Rogers becomes a regular guest on the “Stevie Parsons” and Laura tries to work for Rob in Sally’s place. Part one was a great showcase for Rose Marie. Part two fell back on the usual (well-done) tropes of marriage and the workplace. No one broke a leg, thankfully.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Not a sports follower for the most part (though I dig going to baseball games) but my feed had a bunch of guys who posted about Hayward and didn’t say what happened but seemed horrified, which made it even worse in what could be inferred. That is still god awful though.

        • It was the timing plus the way it looked (combo of broken leg bone and dislocated ankle). It’s a bad injury but far from the worst that’s ever happened, but viscerally it was shocking.

        • PCguy

          It was a horrific moment in a game that was already strange. These were, in essence, two new teams full of guys who were still feeling each other out and learning how to play together. After a couple minutes in the disjointed first quarter play completely stopped and the players just milled about the court hugging each other and forming prayer circles. It was bizarre.

          It was a freak injury very reminiscent of Kevin Ware’s injury in the NCAA tournament a few years back. The huge difference was that the telecast actually showed the aftermath of the injury. From the players immediate reaction to Hayward falling awkwardly you could tell that something was very wrong. Then you had Marv Albert screaming “he broke his leg, he broke his leg” and the coverage cut to a shot of Hayward lying on the court with his ankle obviously broken. It was a shockingly graphic piece of footage that is surprisingly rare in professional sports coverage.

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        That’s lucky considering Rob’s history with that ottoman.

    • Jake Gittes’ Doppelgänger

      The Meyerowitz Stories – maybe the Baumbach with the fewest surprises in it, either positive or negative; more than any of his recent films, this feels like quality, assured work from a fully recognizable voice who isn’t really stretching himself that much in any direction. There’s a lot of The Squid and the Whale here, enough that the film could practically be a sequel set 30 years later, and that passage of time also provides the novelty; Harold Meyerowitz is very much the type of person Bernard Berkman is – arrogant, narcissistic, pretentious-but-unsuccessful – but his dynamic with his kids is obviously different when he’s around 80 and on the brink of death, while they are fully-grown adults who spent decades living under his shadow.

      I have to agree with those disappointed that the movie sidelines the main female characters; Baumbach going as far as to create a family with three siblings and then focusing almost entirely on the two guys while making the sister’s most significant line “You have no idea what it’s like to be a woman in this family” almost felt like an admission of his own defeat as a writer. Then there’s Emma Thompson, who barely escapes being a caricature. On the other hand, Sandler and Stiller are both perfectly cast and both shine, while Baumbach alternates the pointed, bracing moments of character insight (Jean’s reaction to her brothers’ reaction to her story, all the siblings’ desperate attachment to Pam the nurse, an adult son’s “I got your focus, and it fucked me up!” to his father) with broader, more familiar stuff like not one but two public speaking meltdowns. Given how specific all of his films are about their milieu and protagonists, it’s very possible that the viewers closer to the ages of Sandler and Stiller’s characters will get more out of this than I did, just like how Frances Ha and Kicking and Screaming are my own biggest favorites.

      Brawl in Cell Block 99 – following Bone Tomahawk, S. Craig Zahler continues walking his chosen tightrope of a genre film that promises raw-meat, violent carnage, then takes as much of its sweet time getting to it as possible. The key difference is that his previous film had four distinct protagonists who could spend all day trading wonderfully entertaining Old West banter while getting to their destination, while Brawl only has one lead character who is defined as much by his silent stoicism as he is by his willingness to throw out an occasional pungent one-liner. In other words, it’s much easier to feel the 132-minute length here, and it doesn’t help that it looks notably uglier – while Bone Tomahawk‘s modern sheen was obvious but didn’t ultimately distract me much from the performances and writing, Brawl leans hard into its super-digital look dominated by dark blues, which I could only really accept as a sort of digital answer to the cheap celluloid grime of older exploitation cinema (unfortunately, based on his interviews, Zahler genuinely seems to find nothing wrong with the visuals).

      Anyway, whatever dialogue’s there is on-point, and the violence, once it actually arrives, does not fuck around – I audibly gasped and laughed in shock at more than a few moments. You obviously can’t go wrong with Udo Kier and Don Johnson as your resident polite sadists, and the less well-known character actors all get to make an impression. But the movie belongs to Vince Vaughn, who is never not believable as one-man ownage delivery machine, and whose performance ultimately gives the film its surprisingly emotional ending and even allows the entire thing to be retroactively seen as a drama about one man’s journey into the hell of his own making, all so that he can do one right thing from there. A drama that just happens to involve literally scraping people’s faces off using hard concrete floor. So, yeah, it’s pretty good.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        You had me at “scraping people’s faces”.

      • I don’t get why directors feel the need to bloat their movies. Is it to feel important? That they don’t want to be accused of making mere pulp? Green Room is a brisk 95 minutes and better than most of these serious action movies.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Its a trend that’s a serious issue, especially in blockbusters (with indie movies I dunno, I suspect an inability to edit). BR 2049 I get the length because the film rooted in atmosphere and tone, but when its numbing set piece after set piece its a serious issue. Saulnier hasn’t made a movie that’s over 100 minutes and bless his heart for that.

          • Son of Griff

            I’ve heard that, back in the days of film, that indie films were slower because you didn’t have as much coverage to cut with, so you had little you could remove to retain continuity, but digital shouldn’t bring on those problems

        • Jake Gittes’ Doppelgänger

          With Zahler it’s definitely a conscious creative choice, and I don’t mean “taking its sweet time getting to it” as a criticism – he is genuinely interested in that journey and invests it with detail in character, story and dialogue, without suffering delusions of grandeur. If there’s bloat it’s unfortunate but it’s not because he doesn’t know what’s good for him (unlike the case with overstuffed blockbusters). I recommend Bone Tomahawk a lot.

          • I liked BT a lot, too, but having a full cast helped. Stripped down to Vaughn’s stone-faced inmate sounds more like a chore.

        • clytie

          That’s the biggest reason why I’ve seen so few contemporary comic/action movies. There’s no reason for most of them to be 2+ hours long.

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        Oh man how I despise digital blue. I had hoped we’d grown out of that trend.

      • Miller

        Interesting, the modern sheen of Tomahawk was a huge distraction for me but I haven’t noticed anything too off about the brief stuff from Brawl I’ve seen. But I bet it’s a lot more noticeable over two hours.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      The Shield, final season 1 and 2. And here…we…GO.

      “I’ve been trying to do the right thing.” – Shane missing how that is by now impossible. The Shield is a deeply Christian show, both reflecting a workaday Protestantism and the Catholic mental state of slowly being mired in your own sins with no way out.

      The Strike Team in the midst of their own manufactured insanity manufactures more insanity. Creating a gang war is totally nuts and a no good very bad idea but they’re slowly getting squeezed out. There are no real options left here, and the show gives you that sense of both how its just another dayyyyyyy (mostly for the rest of the Barn) but also how things are coming to a head, especially with Shane and with Claudette, hiding her meds and feeling like shit yet still the most powerful person in a room.

      Ronnie going “No, that won’t be necessary” in the most business like manner possible then killing the hitman with two in the chest is that Shieldian combo of badass and terrifying ownage. Ronnie over and over is the character who does what he has to do – he is defined by action, and that’s what might make him my favorite character here.

      Also I just finished Poetics by Aristotle and as a friend said many of the rules there are simply not observed anymore (David Simon and Ed Burns frankly proved the man wrong in his belief that tragedy could not hue to an epic structure or tell more than one story) yet its uncanny how much The Shield, bullet point by bullet point, follows its ideas of tragedy and structure, even Vic being a man of stature.

      • You could honestly get rid of all the contemporary arguments about antiheroes and replace them with a single observation from the Poetics: the tragic hero must be neither too good nor too bad, ‘cuz you know what both of those kinds of people will do.

        One of the things that becomes clearer on rewatching that last season is 1) just how crazy the Yojimbo/Red Harvest strategy is and 2) just how much Vic doesn’t see that–to varying degrees, Shane and Ronnie do.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Hell you could just break it down to variables of behavior, etc., and I think it shows how Vic has never really learned that people aren’t easy to predict or control – he’s very much a patriarchal leader, unable to comprehend that other people might have agendas or aren’t easy to sway (and I think it comes down to how he usually has control over the streets so actually dealing with smarter, sneakier people can throw him). Shane and Ronnie seem to get how wild all of this is but they also just don’t know what else to do.

    • Cennywise The Ploughn

      The Unknown Known Fifteen years ago I sat in a theater at the Telluride Film Festival and watched Errol Morris’s The Fog of War as the invasion of Iraq ramped up. Film festival goers in Colorado mountain communities are, naturally, about as left-leaning a crowd as you can get. Robert McNamara of all people receiving applause for his thoughts on US foreign policy is something that has stuck with me all this time. Morris’s ambitions are always bigger than his subjects and in this case he allowed a historical villain a late-in-life mea culpa, expanding our view of him and history without getting caught up in settling scores.

      The Unknown Known had less distance in terms of time from the war at its heart and much more distance in terms of how close the subject is willing to get to Morris (this despite sitting for eight more hours of interviews than McNamara did). Where McNamara knowingly spun bullshit and lived to regret (some of) it, Rumsfeld never seems to know or understand that he has done the same. He’s caught disseminating contradicting information (“lying” you might abbreviate, then brace yourself for a rebuttal from the language-obsessed Rumsfeld) during the interview more than once. Morris illuminates these contradictions without underlining them or declaring victory. Rumsfeld is given the chance to show his human side, which he generally declines, save for a moving section where he fights tears describing a meeting with a severely wounded vet.

      There’s a tendency to state that Rumsfeld and others don’t care about the collateral damage they cause with their decisions and actions, which is a claim they can easily rebuff and shake off. No, the problem is Rumsfeld and Chaney and their ilk do care – they just hold several other things in greater priority. They probably possess the empathy that McNamara came to value in his interview, but it’s ranked somewhere outside the top five.

      The main criticism of the film – that Rumsfeld remained too opaque for Morris to make anything too meaningful out of his interview – is one I understand. But I also see value in knowing a man like this exists, even if I don’t value the man. I’m going to make a prediction that in another ten years this film won’t be talked about as a follow-up to The Fog of War, but as the middle entry in a trilogy.

      • Who would you want the 3rd interview to be in your trilogy?

        I like how the usually quiet Morris was just flabbergasted by Rumsfeld’s admission he hadn’t read the memos.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          I’d be genuinely interested in what Rex Tillerson has to say in about five years, especially given the rumors that he’s only in the cabinet still because he’s terrified that Trump will launch missiles.

          • Son of Griff

            I was thinking John Kelly. McCristal would be a good choice too.

          • PCguy

            Somebody somewhere pointed out that an abnormally high percentage of people in the cabinet are either former military men or boy scouts like Tillerson. They are willing to eat the shit sandwich day in and day out because of a higher sense of duty to the country and its’ institutions.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          I shudder to think, considering the common “achievements” of the first two. Various current executive branch, obviously, though probably not who we’d think of first. My thought (fear) is we’ll have Part 1) The employment of language to justify our actions 2) the use of language to obfuscate our actions (eventually even to ourselves) and 3) language as rendered meaningless in terms of our actions.

          If McNamara trained the American people to distrust the government, Rumsfeld taught them to disregard words themselves. And here we are.

          • If that’s your standard for 3, then can I suggest Sean Spicer?

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            I think it’ll be somebody that’s in the administration for the long haul and has some key decisions dropped in their lap. Tillerson as CMC suggested or Kelly like SoG says were the first that came to mind.

            One thing that won’t be a surprise is when Morris lands the interview. His final question to Rumsfeld (“Why are you even talking to me?”) is one he answers much earlier in the film – one of those high unstated priorities of Rumsfeld’s is his own ego and his enjoyment in having his belabored words spread out and mulled by everybody. Morris will have his pick of spotlight-seekers out of this current nonsense.

          • I hadn’t thought about longevity – Spicer’s tenure was brief but memorable, and he did so much to shift how we expect Trump’s words to match (nor not) his actions.

            Tillerson would be great, esp to compare his SecState term to being a global CEO, similar to McNamara.

      • The Unknown Known is terrifying and possibly the greatest proof of the actual existence of the “postmodernism” bogeyman that conservative religious folks always rail against. Ironic that it came from the right.

    • Miller

      Old Parks and Recs — Brandanowitz era over post-Brandanowitz era 4 ever. I love that he repeatedly tells Ron to shut up and accept his help, the loss of his competent but unenthusiastic bureaucrat ultimately leaves the show unbalanced. But it’s hard to complain about that when there are so many riches here, the various stifled reaction shots as the crew tries not to insult Jerry after his “mugging” are fantastic.

      • Rucker and Cohlchez vs. Evil 🌹

        I swear it wasn’t that long ago that I posted Leslie’s talking head doing her impersonation of Tom making fun of Jerry about it.

        • Cennywise The Ploughn

          I can vouch.

          • Rucker and Cohlchez vs. Evil 🌹

            It isn’t quite the same online, as in person I can do Leslie-as-Tom’s shit-eating grin at the end.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      The Daily Show–Found a For Your Consideration Emmy screener at a local thrift store, full of segments from relatively late in Jon Stewart’s run. The grind of constant Fox News takedowns was obviously wearing him out at this point, but more than any of his current disciples, Stewart mixed his outrage with impeccable comic timing. His daily presence is very much missed.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Stewart also was super self deprecating in a way that was always appreciated – while the Rally for Sanity was a huge mistake, on air he always made it clear that he didn’t take what he was doing to be a serious business.

      • When he guests on someone else’s show these days, it pops just how much better he was at this than everyone else.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          It was uneven, but I really liked Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show; it had a unique voice and a weary seen-it-all-but-still-outraged attitude. Naturally, it was the topical comedy show that didn’t last.

    • PCguy

      MST3K: BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955)

      I still can’t decide if this show hasn’t aged well or if it’s just me. When I was a kid many of the jokes would go over my head but it didn’t bother me because I attributed it to the fact that I was just a kid. As an adult who considers himself to be in possession of the fairly urbane Midwestern sense of humor that this show traffics in when I don’t get the jokes it’s just confusing. I never know if it’s the show not being funny or if I’m just clueless. This episodes invention exchange has the bots showcasing something called the “Microwave Faith Popcorn” which is a bag containing pop culture predictions. I’m assuming that wasn’t funny back in the mid 90’s but even after looking up Faith Popcorn on Wikipedia I still really have no way of knowing. I adored MST3K when I was a kid for inculcating a love for bad movies but as an adult I feel the show is aimed to an audience that is a lot older than I am.

      While it may be an oxymoron to criticize a show about bad movies for showing some real stinkers even at a ~45 minute cut (there’s also a dreadful short about a failed car salesman in this episode) BRIDE OF THE MONSTER is tough to watch. There’s a reason Ed Wood is the Ed Wood of film making and his ineptitude behind the camera and on the editing table is in full display here. Many of the scenes from this film, including Lugosi’s tussle with the rubber octopus [1], were featured in the ED WOOD biopic so it’s amusing to see the primary source. That and Joel & the bots reaction to Tor Johnson are about the only redeeming qualities in this picture. Wood’s editing is so egregiously bad. Watching his jumbled sequences is like trying to picture an unfinished puzzle without looking at the box. His practice of smash cutting to stock footage is a hallmark of the cheapest and shittiest cinema out there. And his habit of casting absolute stiffs to play his stupid cop protagonists sucks the life out of all his films. BRIDE is an absolute bomb and no amount of riffing could render it palatable.

      [1] Lugosi buffs should note that Tim Burton took some artistic license for his version of this scene. As Tom Servo points out it’s obviously a stunt double wrestling with the vulcanized cephlepod.

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        “Go get daddy a beer!”

        This was one of my first MST experiences many a year ago. The skits were always hit and miss for me and I think that’s a pretty common refrain even among fans. The movie riffing was the show’s enduring innovation but I think one of the underappreciated appeals of the show (particularly under Joel Hodgeson) was its iconography and rhythm. This is something Joel injected on an instinctual level and his obsessions and repetitions, I suspect, resonated more than people consciously realized.

        The trio in silhouette was instantly recognizable when flipping channels. There’s no earthly reason why we need to see the travel back and forth through the tunnel to the theater several times per episode. The whole show is ritualized – (nearly) every Joel episode starts with the invention exchange and ends with letters, “movie sign!” etc. The rhythm of routine with slight variations (like a prop carrying over into the theater) has a primordial appeal to brains of the target audience, the ones that had cataloged hundreds of hours of pop culture before the Internet was there to assist. So to a degree the skits didn’t even have to be good. They just had to be present.

        And thanks for giving me the opportunity to dump a thought I’ve been holding for a while without a place to put it!

        • Delmars Whiskers

          I dunno, to me the skits could be one of the best parts of the show. Bride Of The Monster itself features the much-beloved (at least in my house) Hired!–The Musical, and the “subtle forms of Hell” sketch from Eegah is borderline profound. Sure, the host segments could be uneven (especially during the Sci-Fi years) but so could the riffing or even the choice of movie. Hey, it’s ninety-plus minutes of comedy cranked out on a weekly basis. They can’t all be gems.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            Oh, there was great stuff, of course. “Wild Rebels” cereal is possibly my favorite. But I don’t think there was ever an episode that was made or sank by the skits.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            Maybe Mitchell, because the changing-of-the-guard host stuff overwhelms the actual movie. Oh, and Last Of The Wild Horses and Time Chasers, where the wacky host shenanigans bleed over into the movie segments. Fortunately, these all work well. If those dreadful Roman Times runners ever invaded the movies themselves…ugh.

        • I mean, if you’ve ever watched the horror movie hosts of old, they were also ritualized. Elvira, The Ghoul, Joe Bob Briggs, Up All Night, whoever else might have been regional. Mst3K just ritualized the rituals, making it blatantly obvious what everybody else was doing. It was inspired.

          • Cennywise The Ploughn

            True. And the original concept of the show at KTMA in Minnesota was much more in the vein of those “movie night” hosts. The concept tape they made is floating around the Internet somewhere. Aside from a couple skits, it’s just Joel sitting in the theater, giving a bit of trivia about the movie, making maybe one joke off the dialog, and mostly sitting silently while the movie plays. The scripted riffing is what made the show what is was, but it was almost the last element inserted into the framework.

            This is the inverse of Rifftrax, which dispenses with all of the framework for just the riffing. There’s advantages to this (especially in being able to work around copyright law) but it’s a lesser experience imo.

    • Spooky Narrator Man

      Lost in Space: This might conceivably be dumb fun if one got the sense that anyone involved other than Gary Oldman (who knows what movie he’s in and acts accordingly) was having any fun at all. The actors are all adrift, and William Hurt looks half-asleep in every scene (his delivery of “I love you, wife” sounds like it was gotten out of him either a few seconds after he woke up or deep into a night of hard drinking), and the one-liners they have to say are totally without flair or distinction (I’ll take Akiva Goldsman’s ice puns over his lines here any day of the week) Even the visuals are murky and, in the case of several of the effects, actively unpleasant to look at (I’ll forever be scarred by seeing Spider Gary Oldman shaking his pointy, poorly-rendered egg sac at the camera). Goddamn you, Blank Check, why couldn’t you prioritize S.W.A.T. over this?

      • somewhat shocking silverwheel

        When I saw this at the bargain theater, the projector crapped out with about 15 minutes to go, which felt like intervention from a benevolent god.

      • thesplitsaber

        ‘his delivery of “I love you, wife” sounds like it was gotten out of him either a few seconds after he woke up or deep into a night of hard drinking)’

        I think Hurt actually was in the middle of a very deep drinking problem at this point.

        Its shocking that with the exception of Oldman and to a lesser extent Hurt, this pretty much wiped out the movie careers of almost the entire main cast.

        Theyre doing a new tv version which i am going to begrudgingly check out since it has Molly Parker and Parker Posey as Dr Smith(!!).

    • glorbes

      Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1973) – I don’t think I can accurately convey how much I love this movie. It’s effortlessly perfect.

      • Cennywise The Ploughn

        No argument here.

    • Son of Griff

      BLADERUNNER 2049. A really interesting, although ultimately unsatisfying, sequel to one of the most influential studio movies produced in my lifetime. I was very pleased to see that the filmmakers used the opportunity to enhance and revise the themes of the original in a respectful manner, and that Villanueve kept a measured pace so as to not jar the viewer from the previous film’s original tone. In some respects, its a more thematically and dramatically focused work, smoothing out the indecisiveness in the original. The middle section is very powerful, ending in a side trip to a Middle East casino that feels absolutely Kubrickian. It is unable, however, to break from its middlebrow, meditative sheen to deliver the pulpy romanticism of the original. It lacks the presence of a Roy Blatty or a Bradbury Building for a deliriously over the top showdown. The villains lack personality and the final fight scene feels obligatory and cheaply produced, particularly in comparison to the original.

      It makes an interesting companion piece with EX MACHINA in its fascination with the engendering of technology to line up with male desire and patriarchal myth. With regards to its simulations, II don’t think it moves much beyond milking the male gaze for pathos, however, although it has some women, most notably Robin Wright Penn taking a more active role in shaping their institutions, and other female replicants making an initial step towards independence and autonomy. It’s a noteworthy effort but lacks the follow through on its ideas, or the ability, like its predecessor, to embrace the pulpy spirit of its origins.

      • glorbes

        This is a more carefully worded and precise articulation of my feelings on the film. I couldn’t agree more.

        • Son of Griff

          Thank you. I think both movies had ambitions that outstripped the creative resolve of its directors, but both dealt with this problem in different ways. Scott really didn’t know what he was dealing with philosophically, but he doubled down on the romanticism and spectacle to create an uneven, but frequently galvanizing politicer. Villanueve deals with the same elements, and his limits in following through on them, with an emphasis on tonal control, which leads him to treat violence, mostly, as genre obligation. On the plus side, it allows him to expand and revise the ethical/philosophical/symbolic bricollage of the original with more complexity and coherence, but it still doesn’t entirely congeal, and it feels particularly inert in the third act due to its lack of committment to integrating the action into a meaningful sense of space, or making the characters in the fight have a meaningful purpose for conflict.

          It’s self conscious male gaze-iness seems to have been done before as well, but it seems clear that, at this point, we need women, as critics and filmmakers, to not just recognize but to develop a more meaningful response to it.

    • I Dream In Another Language – I ugly cried during this one and was an emotional wreck for awhile after. The themes are pretty universal for many queer people, and I heard many a sniffle in the theater. People I talked to afterwards were all “yeah, that destroyed me.”

      A linguist comes to a small Mexican village in the hopes of learning the the ancient language of Zikril, a tongue that allows the speakers to talk with the animals. The final three speakers are elderly and dying: a woman on her death bed and two men who haven’t spoken to each other in 50 years after getting in a fight over a woman.

      The touch of magical realism is very light, having almost a Twin Peaks-esque vibe to the touches. It’s more about the connections torn apart by modern religion and peer pressure. It’s about modern Western life and the mainstream encroaching on and killing off a way of life. Some may find the story beats feeling familiar or cliche, but it’s never been told quite like this. I found myself thinking of my own teenage best friend and that short made in Polari where the point is the death of a part of queer culture after queerness went mainstream.

      I miss my friend.

      Hattie Goes Cruising – This short is a hoot and a half. An older black dude in his 70s tells us about how he used to cruise, and how he still cruises, with the most matter of fact storytelling ever. Hattie is all “Sometimes I’ve patted guys down. ‘You look like you might be dangerous and I have to make sure.’ If something doesn’t seem right, you have to say ‘Get the fuck out.’” He’s hilarious. Highly recommended.

      Snapshot – Lesbian “thriller” porn. It’s a story about a photographer who accidentally snaps a photo of a murderer and then is stalked while she gets a new girlfriend. Sex and stalking ensue. The point here is the queer sex with a variety of models. It’s ok for what it is, though I’m not in its demographic. The final sex scene went on forever while the thriller angle was so truncated. Many lesbians and women may find it hot (it does have a variety of body types and racial identities). Also, it’s the first time I’ve seen a dental dam actually in use and I’m curious if that actually works. The dams I’ve seen seemed so thick that it would be like trying to lick your way through one of those rubber mats you use to grip the tips of stubborn jars. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • Miller

    “If only Jurassic Park was brave enough to have a direct homage to Alien.”

    Heh, interesting –Carnosaur 2, on the other hand, is a straight-up Aliens rip-off. A highly skilled team (technicians, not marines) is led by a sleazy guy to a base where everyone save a child has been killed, attacks commence while the child and a parent who has lost their own child bond. The final monster is destroyed by a protagonist operating a large lifting machine, and then the site is destroyed by nuclear explosion (and of course there is a beat the clock escape from said explosion). Two characters even get an explosive Vasquez/Gorman exit, although the Gorman is actually the Burke so fuck him. Shameless stuff, though not as shameless as the back of the VHS, which photoshops a woman in a low-cut high-hemmed dress into a T-Rex’s mouth, which is not something that comes close to happening in the film itself: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9f/a3/58/9fa3589792f062510e31e8da3306ce96.jpg

    • Babalu-ghost

      Between the woman’s picture being taken from a sex scene, and the goofiness of the T-Rex puppet, it really looks like the it’s giving her a shoulder massage. Would watch that movie.

      • Miller

        “Why are you massaging me with your mouth?!”
        “Honey, have you seen my arms? I work with what I have.”

        • Son of Griff

          Insert hands in the place of arms, and I think you have a Donald Trump porno.

          • Napoleon Of The Living Drunk

            NEVER put those three words together like that.

    • Jake Gittes’ Doppelgänger

      I saw that movie somewhere in my early teens and it was pretty eye-opening (and really funny) to watch such a shameless rip-off of something I recognized.

    • Carnosaur’s homage isn’t that complete. Even though we know the Carnosaur life cycle includes eggs, Diane Ladd has a chest bursting death scene complete with the final famous look down the torso at the newborn.

      • Well it does have the Diane Ladd/Laura Dern connection. Anything made of it?

        • Nope, though I was wondering what those phone conversations were like.

          • Seriously though.

            LD: “Hi mama! I got the lead in the new Steven Spielberg movie.”
            DL: “Congratulations! I’m so proud. That’s gonna make you so much money!”
            *beep*
            Diane: “Hold on I have another call.”
            *Diane Ladd clicks off*
            *clicks on again*
            Diane: *screams* “I just got a new part too! It’s in the new Roger Corman movie.”
            Laura: “Oooo. What is it?”
            Diane: “it’s Carnosaur! It’s about dinosaurs and I’m the mad scientist!”
            Laura: “Mama! Why did you have to take that?”
            Diane: “What do you mean?”
            Laura: “Don’t you know I’m in Jurassic Park?! Spielberg’s movie is also a dinosaur movie!”
            Diane: “Well, I’m sure…”
            Laura: “MAMA!!”

          • Jake Gittes’ Doppelgänger

            I’m more fascinated by Ladd’s casting in light of her having just been nominated for an Oscar two years in a row immediately before Carnosaur. Did she think it would be something bigger and more respectable when she first took it? Was she just cool with starring in schlock because, hey, work is work and she thought she’d have fun in an over-the-top role? Given that she maintained an active career both before and after it’s not like she was in dire need of good roles/money.

          • I’ll bet this was like 3-5 days work, since Diane Ladd only has to be on three sets. Right about this time, Ladd’s roles started dropping precipitously into “mama” and “grandma” side roles instead of main roles or leads.

          • thesplitsaber

            And Dern had been nominated for an Oscar the year before!

  • Defender Of The Dark Arts

    I’m pretty sure if the raptors in Jurassic Park looked the way the paleontologists believed they did they would have looked like giant killer chickens. I for one hope the chicken holocaust never comes because I’ve eaten so many of them over the years that I would be first on the kill list.

    • Dear vegans: when the animals rise up, they are not gonna check credentials. You’ll go down with the rest of us.

      • glorbes

        Let the feast begin.

  • Vincent

    Bergman can be done selectively, I imagine, and when I get Filmstruck he’s well overdue for a revisit. I’d do Tarkovsky if I had the time.

  • vincent

    I’m pretty sure if the raptors in Jurassic Park looked the way the paleontologists believed they did they would have looked like giant killer chickens. I for one hope the chicken holocaust never comes because I’ve eaten so many of them over the years that I would be first on the kill list.