• Drunk Napoleon

    What did we watch?

    • Drunk Napoleon

      Dog Day Afternoon, Sydney Lumet, rec’d by ZoeZ and I think a few others but also something I’ve wanted to watch for a while
      “He says he wants to know what time you’ll be through.”

      Hell yeah. I watch movies and shows that I won’t necessarily like, but I know will give me something interesting to think about, but it’s always a pleasure to watch something that’s just enjoyable to watch on a moment-to-moment basis, even moreso when it’s an Important film. What’s funny is that normally I hate neurotic cringe comedy, and I really hate neurotic cringe comedy welded to genre for Laffs, but this movie commits so wholeheartedly to the reality of the situation that it reduces me to fits of giggles. It helps that it doesn’t stress too hard on the beats; something will happen and Sonny is forced to think for a second, and it just comes off as funny.

      It’s obvious that I’m not 100% in tune with the queer zeitgeist of my generation, but at the same time there are expectations I’ve had drilled into me, by the queer community and by virtue of my age, one of which is that anything made more than three years ago is Problematic and cannot be appreciated anymore (including things you liked that were important to you – I’ve seen people basically apologising for something they used to love only a few years ago in spite of the fact that it directly contributed to their personal growth). In that respect, it’s really nice to watch a prestigious movie from 1974 where the main character is queer and, while it’s important to them, it’s simply one aspect of their character.

      The revelation of Sonny’s queerness is great in the way it’s played too, as not only is it one more step in unravelling who Sonny is, it leads to even more – revealing that he was violent towards his wife. My opinion of Sonny kept changing, over and over, all through the film until I settled on the idea that this was a story about a guy who has a complex inner world and completely fails to convey his thoughts to other people, eventually lashing out with anger and violence (in that respect, it’s a cousin to Taxi Driver).

      I’m sure if you got him to sit down and write out his anti-authoritarian views, he’d be extremely eloquent and maybe even persuasive; here, he’s forced to speak and act quickly, and he stumbles over his words and actions almost constantly (and to an extent this applies to all the characters). It’s like taking a Mad Men character and shoving them in The Shield (one of the great payoffs of that being that I had no idea how the movie was gonna end).

      (Jesus, reading Pynchon is starting to Rub Off on me)

      LOST, Season Five, Episode Four, “The Little Prince”
      “It doesn’t matter what I want.”

      “Light came on, shot up into the sky. At the time, I thought it meant something.”
      “Did it?”
      “No. It was just a light.”
      “So why’d you turn us around then? Don’t you wanna go back there?”
      “Why would I wanna do that?”
      “So you could tell yourself to do things different, save yourself a world of pain.”
      “No, I needed that pain — to get to where I am now.”

      I was pretty sure this episode was about getting Kate to want to return to the island, but that turned out to be a feint, and Ben is trying to manipulate her – him openly admitting to this is hilarious.

      I realised this episode that the two stories are actually moving at totally different speeds. Ironically, the time travellers are moving pretty much in real time, while the Oceanic Six story has taken place over a little under a week. One of the big upsides to the scifi setting, and a small upside to the anachronistic storytelling (The Shield could not possibly get away with this).

      We get the real start of the James/Juliet story, and it’s a direct result of James finally coming to terms with Kate, which is a direct result of the time travel – I said last episode that the time travel meant realising how far we’d come, and here both James and John finally act upon it. James accepts that to be who he is means not having Kate, which Juliet appears to find attractive; he’s basically accepting that he’s a hero now.

      Zooming way out, it’s amazing how much this not only holds up on rewatch, it flourishes (I can’t think of a better word), and it’s not because of knowing what happens, it’s because I’m older and different. A little bit of it is looking at things from a Shield cause-and-effect perspective, a little bit of it is simply having a greater understanding of and appreciation for human behaviour, and a lot of it comes down to trusting my own intuition, being able to articulate it better, and following it wherever it goes.

      Also, tiny thing: literary works like Mad Men give you extremely specific facial expressions you’ll never see anywhere else (think of Don’s smile at the climax of his Carousel pitch), but I’m pretty sure drama allows you to see every single expression one actor has in them; James’ shifts as a person are half in Josh Holloway’s shifting reactions (also, I suppose this is seen in the infamous Jackfaces).

      Ownage: Sayid owns an assassin.

      It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Season Nine, Episode Three, “The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award”
      “It’s strange to have one black friend and not be constantly talking about it.”

      “This isn’t ‘will they or won’t they’! This is ‘I know they won’t and I don’t want them to’!”

      An all-time great Always Sunny, and a great example of how it gets meta to work: simply use it as a jumping off point for the Gang, and it starts from the opening scene; the Gang always has scenes where they go from zero to a hundred on an idea (and it’s always hilarious watching their rationalisations build up), and this one just happens to be about winning an award. The satirical take on sitcoms is pretty great – just like with Futurama, I’m more invested in the jokes and absurdity than the message, and it works pretty well (love that the Gang actually end up loving Suds, for example). The final act pretty well summarises how the show works and is unique, with my favourite observation being that most shows don’t have a genuinely mentally ill person like Charlie and the Gang are forced to lock him in the basement.

      Also, we’re in the middle of the busy season at work, and every time I walk out into the dining area and see a fuckload of customers lining up I have the image of the Gang spitting on the customers running through my head for reasons I cannot comprehend.

      My Writing
      Strange discovery: literature is not very fun to write (certainly not as fun as drama), but it’s extremely fun to edit, which is to say it’s fun to read and to immerse yourself in this world that’s composed 100% of ideas you think are cool. That, and it’s nice to discover that only was that line you thought was great in the moment actually even better with fresh eyes, there are a whole bunch of other great lines you simply threw out off-hand.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        This is where I’m at in my writing too – I’m in the rough draft stage of my short story but right now I’m just trying to write stuff that I’d absolutely want to read and that uses the rules of plotting and story I’ve tried to map out in my head.

      • The Ploughman

        Aw, yeah, Dog Day Afternoon. The hostage film so good, other films with hostage scenes cite it by name (see Swordfish’s opening monologue).

      • Miller

        Charlie’s “normal” song actually being pretty good and of course rejected by the Gang is great and sets up his triumphant horror song/spitting so well – things will never not be terrible for these terrible people, might as well own it (very reminiscent of throwing rocks at the train).

      • ZoeZ

        Fuck yeah, Dog Day Afternoon. It just has such a terrific energy to it, and if you ever needed to make a case for Pacino’s greatness, all you’d have to do is screen this back-to-back with The Godfather to contrast Sonny’s awkward, live-wire intensity with Michael’s perfect containment. And I love that idea of him being a Mad Men character in a Shield situation.

        • Miller

          Another contrast — Cazale’s flop sweat in the Godfathers coming from his trying and failing to live up to his family name, bluster with no guts, and him in Dog Day Afternoon where he doesn’t have even a name to fall back on and he knows it, he exudes doom.

      • Rosy Fingers

        Dog Day Afternoon is on my to watch pile, but I think you’ve just moved it up the priorities ranking.

        • Son of Griff

          The nature of the story lends itself to a New York theatrical sensibility that feels organic, never going over the top for the sake of universal character insight. It’s what all ensemble drama’s should try for but few achieve.

    • The Wire, season 2, episodes 7 to 12 – damn. It’s so weird watching this with half-memories from 8 years ago – I totally misremembered some major plot points, and would have sworn that Ziggy got killed but Frank made it out alive. There are also characters turning up that I didn’t think got introduced this early: Bunny Colvin and Brother Mousone (whose introduction is so fucking John Wick that I’m wondering if it inspired John Wick). The epic tragedy of the stevedores makes for a hell of a season of television, but to be honest it’s the fate of D’Angelo that really moved me this time around. Curious to see whether my thoughts on season 3 will change. I remember thinking it was good, but not being as interested in the politics as I had in the drug trade / smuggling – I feel like I’ll be more open to some political wheeling and dealing now that I’m older and “wiser”.

      Best moments from the back half of this season: Bodie shopping for flowers. McNulty pretending to be English and really committing to the brothel raid like only McNulty could. Bunk and Lester’s Western-style standoff with the FBI. Prez punching his father-in-law. Ziggy’s duck. The Greek never quite rises above his generic ubervillain characterisation but there’s one line in his final scene that pretty much justifies the whole character (“and, of course, I’m not even Greek”).

      Bonus weirdness: After watching episode 9 yesterday morning I turned on the radio while I was making lunch and the first song they played was ‘Way Down in the Hole’ by Tom Waits.

      Baron Blood – Mario Bava is one of those directors I never quite click with. He’s a master of colour and light but even his best films feel clunky to me, and… this isn’t one of his best films. Bland characters, not much of a story, but the visuals are good and there was one plot point I did like – the evil baron, dead for hundreds of years, is resurrected by some idiot reading an incantation; the first thing this magically empowered, visibly zombie-like creature does is… head over to the local doctor for medical treatment.

      The City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel) – superb British horror film that, oddly, is set in America and requires Christopher Lee to do an American accent (not a bad one, either). It starts out with the burning of a witch, then shoots to modern times where a History student is looking for the perfect town to do research into witchcraft. Needless to say, witchcraft isn’t exactly “history” in this town. I really loved this, one of the best witch-based horror films I’ve seen, and in really striking, crisp black-and-white.

      The Cell – “what if Silence of the Lambs was 75% fucked-up dream sequence?”, the movie. I love Tarsem Singh’s wild visuals, and the story here is just about strong enough to carry them, although it suffers from mediocre leading performances from Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn (contrasted with a wildly over-the-top villain in Vincent D’Onofrio). It’s a shame none of Tarsem’s films quite live up to his crazy ability to create a striking image (although The Fall gets close) but I still really like spending time in his world.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        Fun story/reminder: when I went through the show last year, I completely missed the obvious Iraq War metaphor of season three. In fairness, I’m inclined against them.

        I love that McNulty’s experience with the prostitutes becomes legend later in the series.

        • I honestly can’t remember if I picked up on that last time. I generally seem to remember the characters well but the details of their stories have drifted away. If asked to describe the plot of season three at this point I’d say “there’s something called Hamsterdam, Tommy Carcetti is involved in things, and at some point Clay Davis probably says ‘shit’ for a surprisingly long time”.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        The Fall is the only SIngh movie I’ve seen and I’m probably okay with that.

        • The Fall is probably the only one I’d rewatch, but I’d happily watch anything he does if he comes up with visuals this gorgeous and strange. Although I heard his last movie was more visually restrained which is an odd example of “ditching the only thing you’re good at”.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Right? I also heard his Oz series was pretty bad and it got yanked quickly.

          • Yeah, I heard it didn’t have much going for it, which is a shame as that seems like a perfect world for him to throw colours and images around in.

      • The Ploughman

        Brother Mousone gets a lot of flack for not being a “realistic” character (see also, complaints about the fifth season “serial killer” plot) but he’s enough fun that I for one am cool with it. I see him as a pretentious New Yorker coming down to get schooled by a street-wise Baltimore native.

        Totally agreed on The Cell. A wildly original and interesting movie welded to a cheap Silence of the Lambs knockoff. Sometime I’m going to compile a list of great movies sandbagged with bad b-stories.

        • I’m definitely cool with Brother Mousone – the contrast between the way they talk him up beforehand and his polite, quiet nature is endlessly entertaining, and I think they do well to have him face off against Omar so early on so we’re reminded of another larger-than-life character that we already know and love.

      • ZoeZ

        The tragedies of D’Angelo and Ziggy go well together–two young men who are utterly unsuited (though in completely different ways) for the worlds they have to live in, with the first unable to walk away and the second unable to fully participate. Their arcs, along with McNulty re-enacting his car crash and doing the prostitution sting, are the parts of season two that always stay with me.

        • McNulty’s fake English accent rushed back into my memory a few minutes before he actually unleashed it, and I had to explain to my girlfriend why I was chuckling to myself when nothing was happening.

          Omar on the witness stand was the highlight of the season for me this time around, but the season is full of excellently executed tragedy that really hits home. I love the introduction of Beadie as well, with her completely different “it’s just a job” outlook on policework throwing everyone else into contrast.

      • Miller

        Mrs. Miller wants to rewatch The Wire and we just started with the pilot, so we’re way behind you! The half-memory thing is really strong with me as well, some parts I remember in broad strokes but the specifics make them so much greater (like Rawls being pissed at McNulty).

        • Yeah, there are always some delicious forgotten details even to the parts I do remember!

          We weren’t planning to blast through it quite this quickly, but it’s hard to stop once the box set is open…

    • lgauge

      Pusher (1996): Like a Dogme-esque precursor to Good Time without the political subtext.

      Like that film, this gets most of its pleasures from the building intensity and tension once things go south. Before that, this is mostly just a character study of two pretty unpalatable dudes (to put it mildly) and there isn’t all that much new ground covered. A debt is definitely owed to Mean Streets (the opening credits being a very 90s modern update of that film’s famous opening credits), though there’s never any doubt about the Danish and Copenhagen specificity of the characters and the locales. Once the film picks up its pace, you get the clear sense that Refn knows exactly what he’s doing in terms of tight and constraining use of close-ups and the movement entangled dynamism of the tracking. Though the film’s grey city aesthetic bears little resemblance to the colorful neon of his latest films (except for the rave sequence at the end), there’s certainly enough of his penchant for sudden onset brutality on display to give little doubt to who’s behind the camera.

      In general I’d say this is certainly a very confident debut and it has an interesting position among the Danish cinema of the period. At this time, the Dogme movement was starting to rev up, the manifesto having been released a year before (though the first true Dogme film wouldn’t be out for another couple of years), and there are some clear traces of it here. Yet you always get the feeling that any application of Dogme-esque aesthetics is purely motivated out of either necessity (constraints coming from the budget or similar)) and/or specific overall aesthetic considerations. Refn has never been part of that crowd, with his clear interest in genre and stylistic cool, but it’s still interesting to think about this film in that context.

      Overall, this is pretty good, even if the film does suffer from a few typical debut issues. The characters never go beyond archetypes, even if studied ones, and there are a few too many obvious nods to previous films (whether by the inclusion of posters in the background or characters making specific comments). Still, a few dead moments aside, this is certainly exciting and accomplished enough to be more than just a Refn history lesson.

      Il bidone (1955): Interestingly enough given where Fellini would be heading in a few years, the most effective scenes in this film are the ones that bear the most resemblance to conventional street level neo-realism rather than the more extravagant escapades seen elsewhere. While the New Year’s Eve party works quite well, the more comedic and (with regards to his future career) Fellini-esque scenes generally fall a bit flat. They work just fine I guess, but you rarely feel like you’re watching a world-class director at work. On the other hand, those few scenes of more tortured neo-realist tragedy conjure up some genuinely striking moments, both in terms of the grim emotional turmoil and psychological uncertainty and in terms of the clear political edge. I’m not familiar with Fellini’s 50s work otherwise, so I can’t place this in context, but overall it’s nothing too special and if it didn’t have his name on it I’m not sure it would stand out much among similar films. Perhaps tonally the mix of at times irreverent humor and quite severe tragic outcomes is somewhat unusual, but certainly from a filmmaking point of view this struck me as unremarkable. Worth a watch, but more a check mark on the filmography than a hidden gem.

      • Are you planning to watch the Pusher sequels? I’m kind of intrigued by the second, in that I’ve seen so many people saying it’s a step up from the first, whereas I thought it was almost unwatchable (I really liked the third one though).

        • lgauge

          Not sure when, but I would definitely like to check them out. Hopefully I have time before they disappear from streaming.

        • Jake Gittes

          The third was my favorite hands down.

          • Yeah, I’d go along with that. I watched it immediately after the second one and it was a huge relief that I enjoyed it so much more.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Point Break – Just…awesome. It reaches its own strange individual peak of campy-genuinely tragic/compelling and I love it (I guess a good comparison would be an action-drama Douglas Sirk? But I haven’t really seen his movies.) Some of the best directing of the 1990’s with a parachuting scene that’s downright majestic and an underrated Swayze performance. This is a California story (note the use of California open spaces, hills, and Spanish roof residences in the famous chase sequence) and Bodhi is a California existential hero, amoral yet so dedicated to his extremities that we can’t help but admire his commitment.

      Tangerine, A California story, like Point Break, but in an entirely different and more diverse part of California and also about friendship, but this is instead a comedy of human behavior in all its ridiculousness and surprises. Also its gorgeous (oof, that car wash scene, all those swirling colors). Based on the strippers I met in San Francisco this felt pretty dead on, especially them trying to avoid drama.

      Finished End of the Fucking World, which was fantastic. Tarantino doesn’t really break away from the archetypes he uses, he deepens them (which is fine by me), but here Alyssa and James are not the characters they try to play and slowly discover this, especially James. Most series would make James permanently psychopathic but the reveal to James and the audience that he’s not a budding serial killer but a traumatized boy slowly opening up to real emotion again is pretty devastating.

      Finished Rome Season 1, which was mostly good, especially Pullo and Lucius fucking owning in the arena and Caesar’s assassination (Hinds and Menzies play mutual devastation beautifully). However I’m dubious about the baby storyline still and having Niobe kill herself just felt like another “dead wife” plotline, even if the tragedy was still palpable.

      • Drunk Napoleon

        We discussed on Facebook the idea of Point Break taking place in its own strange universe and committing to the psychology and rules of that universe, some of which are based in genre and some based on its California setting.

        I nearly had a fucking heart attack thinking Tarantino had directed/written a Netflix series without anybody telling me, don’t do that to me.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          This is a very Tarantino-influenced series I’ll say but actually I could see QT dropping one on the sly and the media just freaking the fuck out.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            From what I hear he’s not a huge fan of streaming, which is a shame because if there’s any medium his tangent-heavy chapter-based writing is suited for, it’s a Netflix series.

      • Miller

        Pullo and Lucius are fucking BROS. And what makes this so good is Pullo does not ask for it, he earns it. And then yeah, what happens at the end – not a fan either.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          No absolutely. The Thirteenth is all he has so goddamn anybody who’ll slander it.

    • Delmars Whiskers

      The Post–Odd that this ends with what is essentially a teaser for All The President’s Men, because it’s not a comparison The Post needs. Jason Robards nailed Ben Bradlee just by showing up; Tom Hanks is constantly acting the part. Dustin Hoffman and especially Robert Redford gave amazingly self-effacing performances, there to serve the story; The Post is full of wonderful actors, but they are kitted out in wacky seventies wigs and wardrobe, and you only see the acting. All The President’s Men takes its time; The Post moves.

      It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong, and at this moment in time, a necessary one. But it’s also a movie that opens with a Vietnam sequence scored to fucking Credence, so it drops the ball at the very beginning.

      Saving Private Ryan–Man, Spielberg can’t always judge a script, can he? The opening D-Day sequence is indeed harrowing and masterfully directed, but once the cliched characters and ridiculous storyline kick in, it just gets worse and worse. Also, Ted Danson’s brief appearance made me think he would have been a better choice than Hanks as the lead.

      Beverly Hills Cop 3–What the hell is this? A potentially fun premise–Die Hard In Disneyland!–with the most maladroit action sequences, terrible greenscreen and an apparently tranquilized Eddie Murphy. John Landis contributes a couple of potentially funny sight gags, but even they are badly mistimed. And who thought it was a good idea to have Landis direct a sequence involving two children nearly crushed by a malfunctioning airborne device?

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Anthony Lane kind of summed up why I’m not sure I want to see The Post (and some of my problems with modern criticism) with “I don’t really want movies that agree with me” even if I’m sure its a decent film.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          It’s a good movie, it’s worth seeing, but yeah, it’s designed to make liberals feel better about themselves.

        • CineGain

          It’s Oscar-Bait that’s trying to be oh so important with the political momentum in swing against a man. You could tell that everything is so calculated about the film right down to the release date.

        • So does Lane want to see all those awful Christian films?

          (I really have little use for Lane. Can we get Denby back?)

          • Miller

            Blergh, nuke them both. Brody 4 Life! And I think I understand what he’s trying to say, it’s a problem of pandering – the movie aggressively agreeing with you as opposed to having a point of view you agree with. But I’m also picky like that, as a journalist I distrust movies about the importance of journalism (still haven’t seen Spotlight), I don’t want smoke, however prettily exhaled, blown up my ass.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            To be clear I normally don’t like Lane (I think he confuses film with literature pretty regularly) but I thought it was a great insight.

          • Brody is fine for art films and classics, but he seems to regard the very existence of blockbusters as a crime.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            That’s how I feel about Lane as well. They don’t seem to understand genre at all.

          • Miller

            Heh, he is definitely a cranky bastard. But his crankiness seems real, Denby and Lane are good writers who seem to view movies as a way to show off their snark, rather than things to engage with. Brody engages on his own narrow terms but those are what he thinks movies should be, not how many points he can score off them.

          • BurgundySuit

            If that’s what you wanted, you’d be at home with a pack of cigarettes.

        • Babalugats

          There’s something about turning the Pentagon Papers into a warm Spielbergian story of American heroism, that really rubs me the wrong way. I mean, it’s not that I disagree, and it’s not like it’s not a timely story, but I just… Can’t we find an angrier filmmaker for this?

          • Suspicion of anyone who thinks one can do good without paying a price may be a common value among Shield fans.

          • Babalugats

            LBJ to Daniel Ellsberg, ”You told them? Everything?!”

          • To be fair, Ellsberg did tell him “the wheels are coming off this thing” back in ’65.

          • Drunk Napoleon

            That and a nervous chill whenever someone calls a family meeting.

          • Delmars Whiskers

            It’s weird, because half of it is trying to be straight ahead nuts-and-bolts of getting the story right–just like All The President’s Men–and the other half is Katharine Graham deciding on her legacy, and that’s the half full of Spielbergian uplift. And honestly, I think I would have preferred that part foregrounded, but then again, my ideal version of that story would involve Mike Nichols directing Nancy Marchand, and, well…

      • Miller

        I am sure this is not the case, but I’d run out and watch the film if the Creedence needle drop was an intentional fucking with expectations like It Came Out Of The Sky or Ooby Dooby.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Have any Vietnam-y films used Ramble Tamble? That song is pretty spectacular.

          • Miller

            I think Chuck Klosterman had a drunken rant that the song itself was an allegory for the quagmire of Vietnam, which I can actually see. And yes, that song rules.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            He WOULD say that…oh Chuck. Everything about his career is given context by his hatred of punk rock.

        • Delmars Whiskers

          It’s Green River, because of course it is. But hey, at least it’s not Fortunate Son. So, you know, that’s something.

          • Miller

            Whoa, I’ll give half points just for not being Fortunate Son.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Are people still using “Fortunate Son” as a pro-America song? Or have they gotten it right but it’s just been used so often it’s now cliché? I don’t see enough movies, let alone Vietnam War-centric movies, to know.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            The three songs Federally mandated to appear in any movie set during the Vietnam-era are: Fortunate Son, All Along The Watchtower, and Time of the Season.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Run Through The Jungle too.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Also Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “For What It’s Worth”

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            *Buffalo Springfield

            Probably a little pedantic on my part given that Buffalo Springfield also contained Stills and Young.

          • Rosy Fingers

            Ah, my apologies. I own a copy of CSN&Y’s “Deja Vu” but I’m not really up to date with their music (from, like, 50 years ago).

          • Man with a robot arm

            Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit

          • Rosy Fingers

            Oh, man. Now I’m trying to remember which movie I saw in just the past week or so that dropped Fortunate Son, to a chorus of groans from my living room, but I’m drawing a blank… Somebody was walking through a doorway with guns drawn in what was clearly meant to be an ownage moment.

            It’s on the edge of my brain, goddamnit. Was it Baby Driver? Maybe it was Bright? Fuck. This is going to drive me crazy.

          • Quinn the Eskimo

            Logan Lucky?

          • Rosy Fingers

            Yeeessss! Thank you!

      • BurgundySuit

        Die Hard In Disneyland??? How did I not know this was the plot? How has no one stole it to make a better movie?

        • Delmars Whiskers

          An even halfway competent execution of that premise should have played like gangbusters. But this isn’t even a quarter competent.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            Hmm, this premise makes me want to put on “The Gang Goes to a Water Park” and “Thunder Gun Express” simultaneously. (EDIT: Maybe “The Gang Gets Trapped” or “The Gang Gets Held Hostage” would be better choices for the latter.)

    • I haven’t watched a movie since SW:TLJ, and I’m having withdrawals. The Phantom Thread is hopefully coming here soon, but my theatre isn’t updating their website, so I have no idea.

      • CineGain

        If the theater is updating on their website you should try and contact if they are getting Phantom Thread.

      • Miller

        Split the difference and watch The Phantom Menace.

        • CineGain

          Or watch the alternative cut of The Phantom Menace with Daniel-Day Lewis in the role as Jar Jar Banks.

          • Miller

            “He gave himself gills and a speech impediment, dude was INTENSE.”

          • I DRINK-A YOUR MILKFORCE!!

          • The Ploughman

            “When I say I’m a Gungan, you’ll have to agree.”

        • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace + Star Wars: Threads Of Destiny = Star Wars: Phantom Threads.

      • Babalugats

        This is something that drives me nuts. I can look up the release date for the next 12 years of Marvel movies, but if I want to know when Phantom Thread is playing, I have to wait until it’s released, and then check every nearby theater’s website individually, for months, to see if they have it. And it’s hard enough to talk my friends into seeing a movie they’ve never heard of (but it’s directed by the guy who made this other movie you’ve never heard of!) without also having absolutely zero notice. And the weather’s terrible, and the NFL playoffs are on.

        I know there’s reasons they do this, but it seems like these movies are shooting themselves in the foot.

        • The Ploughman

          For some reason both theaters in town are playing The Darkest Hour and neither are playing Phantom Thread. Some sort of Churchill-worshipping crowd is holding this place hostage.

          • CineGain

            So you’re town is flooded with a bunch of British expatriates who hanged their Union Jack flags front and center.

          • The Ploughman

            This will be known as the lesser British Invasion in pop culture history.

        • Well, I live in south Louisiana, so the playoffs are over for us. Though most of my friends are uninterested in football, but they’re also uninterested in the kinds of movies I like. I did manage to drag them to Baby Driver and Logan Lucky, both of which they liked, so who knows.

        • CineGain

          In a environment where men in capes reign it’s hard for even the critically-lauded films in award season to gain traction among the masses. The long wait could partially be blamed on the limited release route that these films take in order to build a narrative that could help it expand wider to markets that normally wouldn’t carry the picture. Phantom Thread may have the raves coming in from major critics but it has the hurdle of being what I supposedly a densely-paced period piece on a twisted romance.

          Oh, you’re friends never heard of that guy who directed the milkshake movie, the frog movie, that Scientology movie, that porno!

          • Babalugats

            It’s a bit more applicable with other directors. I went to see Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, by my lonesome. But I’ve actually pulled most of my friends over to my taste by now, and the real obstacle these days is time.

            While I’m sure none of these films would ever be smash hits, I do wonder how much they’re losing by not capitalizing on the online hype machine. You’ll hear a bunch about them during some festival, and then six months later they’ll sneak into one theater for one week, with no reviews and no fanfare. And releasing every single adult drama in the same month seems self defeating, too. But I guess they know their business.

          • CineGain

            If the studios would make an effort to spread out these adult dramas throughout the year I don’t think we’ll have this issue of losing attention. Risking a gamble in the Summer season seems lost on them, as they’ll make a good counter-programming to the loud SFX-spectacles that are clouging the multiplexes. Having a more aggressive online campaign would help, though it’s hard to remember much of the target audience is older and more reliant on traditional media such as newspapers. Maybe this is the time to release these kinds of movies that would otherwise get lost in the shuffle.

          • Son of Griff

            I think you give the distributors too much credit, but concentrating the marketing of “adult” dramas in one season seems necessitated more by “but everybody else is doing it” than by a sincere effort to get people to see these movies theatrically. Marketing expenses are the big problem– costs necessitate targeting the ads for movies in specific markets, so the budget for wide release campaigns is generally spent before the titles break out.

        • Son of Griff

          I was the co-president of a club that would book off- the- suburban- multi-plex films for our members for one time only theatrical screenings at our local movie theater. We would book them while in second run and give club members up to six month notice in advance as to when we would be screening particular titles. It was a great way to get early year Oscar buzz movies to our area, as well as art house releases. We drew between 100-150 people to each screening. As we were scheduled for late Sunday afternoon we often outdrew every other film showing in the complex where the screenings were held. For this we charged members $10 to get on the mailing list and in return they got a discount on the admission equal to that amount if they saw all films in a six month schedule. Sadly, the new owners of our venue are giving it up once the lease expires at the end of this month, so we recently had to suspend the club, probably permanently as no other theater chain wants to work out the same deal.

          The upshot is that theater chains can target underserved audiences in their areas by offering incentives and programs and hiring community laisons to foster participation in these activities. With their resources and audience research data they could do a much better job than my co-horts and I were able to manage. It’s like they aren’t even trying.

          • The Ploughman

            There’s a similarity in the way some theater chains and newspapers operate – supposedly unimpeachable institutions unprepared to rethink anything in the digital age.

          • Son of Griff

            Seconded. When they started taking ads in the 80s to supliment declining revenue I figured that they were wheezing their way out of existence.

      • Jake Gittes

        FWIW Box Office Mojo says it’s going into moderately wide release next weekend, from 62 to 500+ theaters.

        • Conor Malcolm Crockford

          Yeah I saw January 19th as the big release date.

    • Glorbes

      Theater of Blood (1973) – Vincent Price is required by law to ham it up to the extreme in this really trashy but fun as hell British production. He’s a jilted and presumed dead Shakespearean actor that is seeking revenge on a cabal of critics that gave him bad reviews, and each death is an elaborate interpretation of a death from one of Shakespeare’s plays. I think Julie Taymor is a fan.

      Scooby-Doo and Batman: Brave and the Bold (2018) – Straight to video Scooby Doo movie that flawlessly mixes with the amazing Brave and the Bold cartoon style and collection of DC characters. My kids love Scooby-Doo AND Batman, and my son (who just turned five) got this for his birthday, and we all LOVED it. So much fun. Jeffrey Combs was back as The Question!

      • I love Theatre of Blood so much. Great concept, Vincent Price at his best and there’s a swordfight that involves trampolines. What else could anyone possibly need?

        • Glorbes

          That sword fight was amazing! It was well staged, directed, and it felt dangerous.

      • If only Combs could be the Question in adaptations of the 1980s comics.

      • mr_apollo

        Love Theater of Blood such that, when I was living in London, I saw it in a theater that was having a “Shakespeare on Film” festival. Plus it’s got Diana Rigg not fooling anyone.

    • Miller

      Before I Wake – Netflix rescues* an old Mike Flanagan joint and his quite good adaptation of Gerald’s Game locks further into place, Flanagan is probably the strongest heir to Stephen King in horror right now. This has a young boy with a terrible power and a deep sadness and horror in grief that strongly pulls from Pet Sematary. Unfortunately, it also has a King-like slide at the ending, the last third feels extremely rushed and overexplanatory. But Flanagan’s chops and concepts remain solid, I hope he goes back to trusting them to go all the way into the darkness (as he did with Occulus).

      iZombie, end of season 2 and start of 3 – Rob Thomas the showrunner pays off a lifetime of jokes and bring in Rob Thomas the singer for a glorious finale that shifts the show into a new gear, crackerjack stuff. But the new season, while still good, is emphasizing a few things that are troublesome, namely a character in angry Nice Guy mode (which other characters are at least calling out, but there is some wheelspinning at play here to maintain soapiness) and a major plot set in motion by something transparently manipulative that our otherwise smart characters don’t see. But the show will go through quite a bit during a season, so I’m yet hopeful.

      Spartacus: Vengeance, episodes 2-5 – did I say iZombie goes through a lot of plot? Most TV shows would end a season where Spartacus ends its fifth episode, in blood and fire and terrorism from our heroes. Holy shit. The show has blasted through story and twist and action, maintaining a fine balance between the bloody survival of Spartacus on the run and the largely bloodless (well, of the players – they literally carve up a rebel for sport at one point) maneuvering of the Roman elite, which somehow makes the viewer invested in the survival and positioning of people that our hero would slaughter in five seconds if given the opportunity. The fighting remains a little below par but there is enough of it to stay fresh. Bonus points for one episode being an inverse of the great B-flick Centurion. I love this show.

      *the movie was made in 2013 but shelved due to financial woes at the company, Netflix later picked it up. Which is to their credit, but then they added the credits of “Netflix Original” to the movie, which is patently false. Orwellian manipulation of the past – the real horror?

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        “I am not the fool you and your daughter think I am.” *squash*
        OHHHH SHITTTTTTT MEGA SCARY OWNAGE

        That episode is one of the masterpieces of the TV Golden Age for me. What a series. I’ve got five episodes left and I’m stalling because I simply do not want it to end…and I know where it goes. 🙁

        • Miller

          “Spartacus, your revolution has shamed us all. We grant all slaves freedom! And we’ve created a farm upstate where everyone can live and you and Crixus can play all day.”

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Its funny watching Rome after Spartacus because the show just doesn’t make a big deal about the slaves (and frankly it shouldn’t because neither would the Romans).

          • Miller

            Libertus is a ballsy as fuck episode of Spartacus because it finally moves beyond ignoring the for-lack-of-a-better-word “middle class” to focus on the extreme highs and lows (not that there is anything wrong with that) and slaughters a whole shit ton of the folks in the middle. Which is what Lucius and Titus sort of are in Rome! The shows are a fascinating dialogue.

            And I just heard this on the radio, it could be Pullo’s theme music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dcMqzXc1bM

      • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

        Flanagan is good. Before I Wake surprised me, it was more of a dark fantasy than a horror movie like the trailer promised. I really felt for the kid too.

        • Miller

          Jacob Tremblay’s movie life: Born a bad dream monster (this is technically his first movie), locked in an underground prison for years, given a horrible facial disfigurement. Give this kid a break!

          I think a harder push into the Pet Sematary territory it’s exploring (or frankly, really acknowledging certain events that happen in that territory) would’ve made the movie a lot stronger as horror.

          • The Narrator

            Don’t forget being brother to a kid with plans to assassinate the local police commissioner.

          • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

            Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind that it was a dark fantasy. I liked it. The trailer was just misleading.

    • Bhammer100

      Finished season 4 of Parks and Rec

      “In the event of an exact tie, the seat is awarded to the male candidate and the female candidate will be put in jail.”

      I think this was a good season. I don’t think it quite reached the heights of season 3 but there were some very strong episodes. “The Debate” was great and the season finale was filled with optimism and hope.This last half really raised the stakes and kept the gang constantly moving and trying to adapt at whatever new problem was thrown at them. A lot of that had to do with Kathryn Hahn’s introduction. She was an interesting adversary, someone who doesn’t really care about the election but got paid a lot of money to win.

      I didn’t care for the Ann/Tom “relationship” arc, although I did kind of like that they could never stay together longer than a day without breaking up. No matter how many times Tom is confronted with the way he acts, he doesn’t change and he keeps acting like a dick. I actually can see this being the beginning of a change in Tom – how he actually cared for Ann and takes her criticisms to heart and works to become a stronger character. But I don’t know how seriously the writers wanted us to become attached to this relationship but given Ann’s drunken promise at the end it doesn’t seem this story is done.

      • Miller

        To your last point – the writers openly admitted later to writing that relationship as a joke to screw with the audience. And fully agreed on Hahn, she’s awesome and a sorely needed mercenary perspective, she’s what Ron no longer is.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Season Three’s 18 episode length making it the best Parks & Rec season (no fat, good plotting, etc.) is a good case for traditional network seasons simply being too long to sustain a lot of plotting.

        • Miller

          And it’s really 7 and 11 episodes – the Harvest Festival story was plotted as a possible finale in case the show wasn’t picked up.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Also I honestly am not sure right now what with the Ansari sexual assault stuff now flying around whether I could watch the show again without that in the back of my head. I certainly can’t watch Master of None.

          • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

            What the hell? I keep getting “internal server error” trying to reply.

            Anyway, what I was trying to say, regarding @disqus_hde7I14XwM:disqus ‘s spoiler, is:

            “No matter how many times Tom is confronted with the way he acts, he doesn’t change and he keeps acting like a dick.”

            Sounds kind of like the real Aziz Ansari, then!

        • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

          18? I think it’s only 15.

    • The Ploughman

      Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – A pretty slight affair, but I can see why it’s a fan favorite. Its best moments are character interactions and they get to act like heroes at the beginning of a journey rather than old men about to retire. That may be the most surprising transition the film makes over its surprisingly short run time – it begins as a victory lap for Wrath of Kahn (Kirk even watches his own VHS copy at one point) and ends with the heart swelling and a title promising that “the journey continues.”

      Between this and ST IV, Nimoy should be given credit for being so adept at presenting dumb material and still making it compelling. Not a single idea in the movie could stand on its own without Kahn, which is probably why I had the hardest time remembering it. My favorite sequence is the escape in the Enterprise, which is a lovely contrast to the shaky, high-speed action sequences in the new universe. Kirk & friends are in space dock, so they can only leave at quarter impulse power. The space door only opens so fast, so the tension comes from whether Scotty can do his magic to open it in time. It has all the thrills and speed of backing your car out of the garage before opening the door, but that scenario gets your heart going a bit, doesn’t it?

      Also, it’s called the “space door.” Because it’s the door you take to go into space.

      Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World – With commentary from Disney scholars The Ploughgirl (6) and Ploughboy (now 3).

      Ploughgirl: Ooh, it’s winter this time!

      Ploughboy: Where the Pocahontas go?

      PG: The ship is too slow. I would take an airplane.

      [the dog falls into a barrel of rum, emerges with drunk hiccups]

      PB: He’s making tiny bubbles!

      PG: Is that how they make dresses in England? I couldn’t get used to that.

      PB: That’s cool. That the sound a horse makes.

      PG: She’s wearing another of those weirded-out dresses!

      PB: Ha. Weird.

      PG: She’s probably going to find a tall tree to climb so she can see her home.

      PB: (evil laugh, for some reason)

      PG: She’s going to the king? She’s supposed to be in jail. They won’t take her home now. She’ll have to swim or something.

      This movie is bad, ya’ll. Very bad. I don’t know if Gillian has done a piece on the glut of late-90s Disney direct-to-video sequels that tarnished the brand, but I hope she does, because it’s fascinating that anything like this was allowed out of the drawing room.

      • Glorbes

        Star Trek III gets an awful lot of mileage out of letting the cast do their thing, and giving everyone a moment to shine. The same goes for The Voyage Home. Nimoy was VERY conscious of using the ensemble, which is why they all loved him so much.

        My most quoted line:
        SULU: “She’s supposed to have Trans-Warp Drive.”
        SCOTTY: “Aye…and if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.”

        • The Ploughman

          Their disdain for the new ship is hilarious and it makes the destruction of the Enterprise that much more surprising and moving.

      • Most Trekkies regard Search for Spock as the most like an actual episode of the series. Which doesn’t make it a good movie, but does make it worth watching for us.

        • Glorbes

          KIRK: “MyGodBones…what HAVE I done.”

          MCCOY: “What you had to do. What you ALWAYS do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.”

          III also extends and build on the themes of the second film. We get Spock back, but Kirk pays for it (as Sarek points out so helpfully) by the end. There is STILL a price for everything Kirk does, and I love the echo of Spock’s utilitarian logic being inverted to show how the human thing to do isn’t the logical thing to do, but it’s what friends MUST do.

          • I am not disagreeing. I love those moments. I love how A leads to B.

            But it’s easy to see how non-Trekkies can dismiss the film.

          • Glorbes

            Oh sure. I mean, it looks cheap, and it’s kind of dumb. It’s basically cashing in on good will.

          • The Ploughman

            How is Christopher Lloyd’s band of renegade Klingons to Trekkie eyes? I had a hard time not seeing Doc Brown as the one leading the ship. (Plus what exactly they need to “get Genesis” is incredibly unclear – I especially don’t see how hand-to-hand combat on a self-destructing planet is going to help)

          • Glorbes

            The Klingon stuff is not fabulous. It’s significant in terms of the history of Trek (as it basically sets the tone for the aesthetic and overall behaviour of the Klingons after that, and it was also the first time the Bird of Prey was used in the series), but that stuff does feel half-baked. They perceived the need for villains, and this was the first time the Klingons were the main baddies in a movie. The original plan was for the alien antagonists to be Romulan (hence the name of and design of the ship) but the producers forced Nimoy to change it to Klingons.

      • Miller

        “PG: She’s probably going to find a tall tree to climb so she can see her home.”

        The combination of cartoon and little-kid logic here is fantastic.

        • The Ploughman

          She got a globe for Christmas which has given her an awareness of, if not a perspective on, the Atlantic Ocean.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        Pocahantas 2 is pretty terrible though I guess it weirdly feigns historical accuracy more by having her be with John Rolfe at the end (though it fucks up, like, everything else).

      • Babalugats

        May I say that your daughter has a career ahead of her as a script doctor, if she wants it, and your son as a studio exec.

        • The Ploughman

          I guarantee, “That the sound a horse makes” would not be the least-helpful studio note in history.

    • Shorts Committee for a mixed culture film festival is extraordinarily hard. Yeah, there are some terrible ones that are easy to dismiss outright. But, many shorts are good to great. I almost have enough amazing shorts to fill five overstuffed programs, and I’ve only watched less than 15% of the shorts. And that’s not taking into account the “these are really good” nor the “these are good but they’re not for me” shorts. There are also a few “these are good; although they are really long and they feel kind of Oscary” shorts.

      Oscars shorts always tend to run long; of the five narrative shorts, four were over 25 minutes. And there were no Oscar docs under 20 minutes.

      Which brings up a good question for the audience; as a programmer, I’d like to bring quality AND variety to the audience. Putting in one 30 minute short means that I’m valuing a single voice over two 15-minute voices or 3 ten minute voices. What if you put the wrong 30 minute voice in? It’s a challenging balancing act.

      And, please, don’t use 3 minutes on your closing credits. In fact, I’d almost like to see shorts pull the television thing where they put their credits under the frame, but that’s just me.

      • Also, let me just say, the Julius Kassendorf Short Film Festival would be really fucking weird. Still, I have a dream of doing a “Julius’ Remainders” festival where all of my favorites that weren’t selected would be shown.

        • The Ploughman

          Would watch.

          • Ooo…I dunno why the full video of Wes Hurley’s Little Potato is currently posted on VTIFF’s YouTube site, but you all should watch it before it gets taken down.

            This was one that everybody loves. Still, I think Wes’s upcoming follow up Potato Dreams, a film made for VR, is even better because it is even more cinematic.

            https://youtu.be/FTMN0qaN0CU

          • The Ploughman

            That’s great. Like Chuck Norris vs Communism meets an episode of Love & Radio. Elena’s a badass, and the limit of her tolerance at the end – perfectly understandable.

            Also, I happened to catch Robyn Miller as the composer and wondered… yep. It’s that Robyn Miller, co-creator of (and composer for) Myst. How about that.

          • Trilobyte is in our backyard, and I think they’re still working on a Myst sequel (they had a playable demo at PAX).

    • NFL Playoffs, Divisional Round. Aside from the boringly competent performance of the “New England Patriots,” (man, is that story getting old) this was the best absurdist comedy around, from the wacky names (Bortles! Lutz!) to physics-defying plays (a pass caroming off a defendant’s knee into a receiver’s grasp? Why not) to favored teams almost mounting dramatic comebacks (twice) to a breathless triple-reverse finish, with a brutal inversion of the Rookie Saves the Day trope. Meta highlight: listening to the audio of that play from Minnesota and New Orleans radio. Both heavily featured the line “Are you kidding me?” used somewhat, uh, differently.

      • Blake Bortles is a pop culture phenomenon, Ask anyone who watches The Good Place.

        That ending on Saints-Vikings is why, no matter how hard I try to stop caring about a brutal and dangerous sport, I still care about football.

      • Miller

        Last week saw the worst game of professional football in my lifetime. Yesterday saw the Steelers let one of that game’s architects score 45 points. I think someone has resurrected Don Simpson in full cocaine mode to run this season.

    • The Good Place – I don’t know if I have much to say at the moment, and might just reserve all commentary till after the season finale. But I love this show and I love the cast and I just hope that the show still deserves my love in two weeks.

      Men in Black animated – watched through the series finale, which was a blockbuster film two parter, sort of. Nice that the show got a finale, but it could have been a lot better. Though they get painful irony points for having a woman president in 2000 when we still haven’t managed that.

    • CineGain

      Le Cercle Rouge-One of my first Melville’s and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. There’s such a grittiness to the film grain that I just love, even more beautifully when you are watching it on a rain-draining day. Something that surprised me while watching this was how little dialogue was contained, as you’ll expect from your run of the mill crime flick. Silence was most notably constructed when our professionals go into the bank, which had the steadiness that is lacking in today’s blockbusters. I’ll love to look as cool as the crooks in this film.

      • Glorbes

        Melville kicks ass.

    • The Voice of A Gnu Generation

      The Snowman. Boy there sure are a lot of red herrings in Norway and, evidently, a lot of British people too. Anyway, I’m a sucker for whodunits involving serial killers because I believe if I didn’t have this overactive conscience and nagging empathy I could have been one. This movie had me interested for the first hour or so but the mystery didn’t add up to much. Characters are introduced, and then forgotten. JK Simmons plays a rich weirdo, Chloe Sevigny plays twins for some reason and a poorly-dubbed Val Kilmer shows up in a few flashbacks and then gets his head blown off.

      There are a lot of good actors in the cast, Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, but they’re wasted in a movie whose conception was wrong-headed to begin with. Two things I would have done to fix it: Instead of keeping the novel’s Norwegian setting, change it to another locale. I mean it snows other places too, right? And change the name of the lead character. Instead of Harry Hole, which is just ridiculous, call him something like Harry Anus. With those 2 simple tweaks this movie could have been better than Silence of the Lambs Seven and Zodiac put together.

    • Jake Gittes

      Darkest Hour – Joe Wright’s flash, however superficial, keeps this going for a while, at the very least making it preferable to, say, whatever Tom Hooper might have done with it, but in the end it still falls victim to the screenplay, which is misshapen and maudlin in expected ways – Churchill may have knowingly sent soldiers to certain death and made his secretaries cry, but when time comes to make its position clear the film goes for entirely uncomplicated hero worship, and while the clock is ticking and pre-Dunkirk political tensions are insane, you can be sure there is time for scenes like Churchill – isn’t he a wacky old man! – announcing he’s about to exit the bathroom naked. (I understand that the makers of these movies clearly believe they are going for a richer portrayal by mixing up the Important Stuff with lighter personal details like that, but it just leads to the work being all over the place.) Didn’t find anything substantial about Oldman’s performance – he huffs and puffs and mumbles and shouts and staggers all over and you just keep looking for Gary Oldman beneath all that makeup. It’s an unfunny joke that one of the greatest actors of the past 30 years is going to win the Oscar for this.

      Special mention for the much-noted subway scene with The People – it’s so utterly fucking brazen I actually feel a sort of perverse admiration for it, especially once the movie throws in a little girl who is the loudest at shouting “NEVER!” in response to Churchill’s question about the country possibly entering peace talks with Germany, and then a very prominent and dignified young black man who finishes Churchill’s quotation of Macaulay for him and gets admiring looks in return. (The people behind stodgy British biopics learn you want diversity, this is what you get.) Still, when something like this is a late highlight of your movie, you know things are dire all around.

      • A Person

        The gimmicky direction of the film was only there to confirm my position that Joe Wright is one of the most self-conscious prestige directors working today and throughout most of the second half it completely took me out of the film.

        • Jake Gittes

          His thing can be a nuisance but when married to this material it was the main thing keeping me awake. On the whole though I’ve long believed that he should ditch the prestige altogether and do more stuff like Hanna, his one movie I love.

      • Babalugats

        I wish Joe Wright would just make more movies like Hanna.

        Also,
        Fightin Words – Everybody always talks about how crazy it is that Gary Oldman has never won an Oscar, but when has he ever deserved one? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give the best performance of a movie, let alone an entire year. Maybe Sid And Nancy? I haven’t seen that yet, but was he so good in it that he’s deserved 30 years of makeup Oscars? Oldman’s a solid supporting actor, but you look over his career, and there’s a lot less there than you would think. I mean Sam Jackson has never won an Oscar either, and he has Django Unchained, Hateful Eight, Jungle Fever, Chi-Raq, Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Hard Eight… John C Reilly doesn’t have an Oscar. John Turturro doesn’t have an Oscar. Steve Buscemi doesn’t have an Oscar. Why does everybody make such a big deal about Oldman?

        • Jake Gittes

          I’d say he deserved to win for Tinker Tailor easily – I don’t know if he was the best actor of that whole year, but certainly the best among those who were nominated.

          I also think for a long time the big deal wasn’t so much that he never won, but that he never even got nominated until this decade. And while it’s true that it’s hard to point at a single earlier performance of his that deserved to sweep the awards, when you add up Sid and Nancy, True Romance, the Luc Besson films, and other less iconic but still quality work, he feels like someone who’s been unjustly ignored – in part because, yes, the aforementioned performances are of the kind that the Academy and other “respectable” awards bodies would never have touched with a 10-foot pole.

          • Babalugats

            Jackson has one nomination, Reilly has one, Buscemi and Turturro have zero. A lot of actors go unrecognized. Oldman’s good in True Romance, and he’s fun in the Besson movies and Air Force One, but 1) I don’t think he’s the best thing about any of those films, 2) those genres are always ignored, and there’s better examples to have that fight, and 3) that type of performance is always ignored, and probably rightfully so.

            That was a weak field in 2011, I’d have gone with the unnominated Ryan Gosling (Drive), Michael Fassbender (Shame), or Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), although I think Brad Pitt did good work in Moneyball. I still haven’t caught up with Tinker, Tailor.

            Also want to point out that John C Reilly was great in both Carnage and We Need To Talk About Kevin that year, and didn’t get squat. The never-nominated Kirsten Dunst put out Magnolia. Hell, just look at the entire cast of Drive, Gosling, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, no Oscars between the lot of them.

            Of the great long list of Actors who have been undervalued by the Academy, Gary Oldman barely registers.

          • Son of Griff

            Like Meril Streep, Oldman is an actor whose style and usual roles deflect emotional identification from the audience. TTSS worked against that expectation brilliantly, and as was pointed out last week, the design of Oldman’s glasses used his eyes to create a compelling portrait out of the actor’s wheelhouse.

            One factor that I was going to mention in the next installment of how wise it was for the characters in the novel to be re-written to best suit the actors, with Cumberpatch’s Guillam being the most obvious example. Even though, like Alec Guinness, Oldman doesn’t really resemble the literary Smiley, he inhabits the character’s personality.

    • The Narrator

      Call Me By Your Name: A second viewing, which melted away whatever minor reservations I had the first time (I thought it was maybe a little pokey at times at first, but the pacing was perfect for me this time). And Michael Stuhlbarg’s performance just totally clicked into place for me on this viewing, even beyond the last scene. Chalamet is still my performance of the year, and maybe the only representation of my type on film, which is a sorta-Jew who’s an introvert with the weird, energetic mannerisms of an extrovert.

      The Post: Spielberg blends the stately approach of Lincoln and Bridge of Spies with the jittery paranoia of Munich (he even busts out the zoom lens), and the end result is a helluva lot of fun. It’s also never not a thrill to see Spielberg frame five great actors in the same shot together, or to see stuff like Bob Odenkirk and Jesse Plemons getting into an extended verbal confrontation.

      Saturday Night Live: My expectations for this were rock-bottom after a season of disappointment, even with Sam Rockwell as the host, but damn if this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season thus far, and Rockwell definitely my favorite host (dude brought his all to every sketch, even getting so in-character that he dropped the f-bomb). Even with an episode that prominently contained a dog with human hands eating a sandwich and using a cellphone, the highlight of the night, and probably season, was definitely the rap parody entirely about Stanley Tucci. If Rockwell wins the Oscar this year, it will definitely be for his breakdancing movies while made-up like Stanley Tucci.

      King of the Hill: Watched in honor of Soderbergh’s 55th birthday, and yeah, it’s still great. Ashamed that it took me this long to connect the dots between this and Lady Bird, with their similar foregrounding of class, and the lies the main characters have to tell to sugarcoat their realities, in their coming-of-age tales, as well as the various tragedies occurring all around the main character, often just outside their line of vision.

      Blank Check with Griffin and David: RoboCop: A full two-and-a-half hours of love for RoboCop, almost all of it coming from superfan Griffin while David, who also adores it, can only sit back and sigh at some of the hyperbole coming out of his cohost’s mouth. Exhausting and hilarious in equal measures, with a surprising amount of time devoted to the Saturn Awards.

    • PCguy

      I saw most of the football but missed the twist ending of the Vikings game so there wasn’t much to note. While I never liked him as a player, Tony Romo has been a rare bright spot for this season with his performance in the broadcast booth. CBS has found a real winner with him, and though he has a problem with being a mite bit too enthusiastic and stepping on Jim Nantz’s duties as the announcer, his knowledge and excitement for the game translates well to television. He possesses a great ability to clearly communicate insights that a typical fan might miss.

      Moviewise the only thing I saw was the British Western CARRY ON COWBOY. I recently found out about the series through the infamous “woman shooting off her bikini top whilst doing calisthenics” sequence and thus was under the impression that all the films would be raunchy in that ‘orrible broad post-war British fashion. COWBOY however, is just a generic Western with a smidgen of physical humor thrown in. I have absolutely nothing to say about its’ blandness.

    • Ruck Cohlchez 🌹

      NFL Divisional Playoffs. That’s going to take some time for me to get over.

      I then watched the entirety of season 1 of Superstore and the first three episodes of season 2, because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything else.

      Oh, I watched some other stuff since the last time I wrote, but who can even remember after yesterday?

    • Rosy Fingers

      The Little Hours – this one seemed to fall by the wayside last year but it’s a really worthy comedy. I have a great love for historical comedies. Actually, no, I have a great desire for good historical comedy and that desire is continually thwarted by dint of said comedies being stupid. But The Little Hours is more Life of Brian than Year One and for that I’m grateful.

      Funny, lightly paced, good performances and clearly made by people with actual knowledge of mediaeval religious orders, it’s far more entertaining than the basic nuns-gone-wild premise the trailers would have us believe. The comedy is character based, as markedly different personalities each chafe against the restrictions of a cloistered life and act out in different ways against the situation and against each other, with the biggest laughs coming from characters’ side comments and reactions to each other. Just a thoroughly good time, hang-out with nuns kinda film.

    • Quinn the Eskimo

      Cowboy Bebop: The Movie at the Nuart. I still have a few big problems with this movie when it comes to plotting (the “end of the world” stakes feel extremely incongruous for Bebop, Spike and Jet spend twenty minutes of the movie forgetting to check in on Faye when she gets abducted by Vincent, and there’s a certain joke that passes the boundaries of offensive humor into straight-up cruelty), but goddamnit, I still got to watch Bebop on the big screen, and enough of it works to make it magical (the penultimate Swordfish highway chase in particular plays like gangbusters). More live-action filmmakers should pay attention to the way this movie choreographs action.

      Death Line/Raw Meat – between this and Dead and Buried, I’m starting to think that cinema as a medium wasted Gary Sherman. This eerie, slow-paced, class-conscious mystery procedural in horror clothing is perfect proof of that, especially because of its cast: Donald Pleasance gets to play the world’s most polite loose cannon cop as he feuds with a man who looks exactly like Joel Hodgson, and Christopher Lee shows up to chew as much scenery as he can in one scene. The true star of the film, however, is Hugh Armstrong, whose performance transforms the thankless role of a pustulent subway cannibal capable of saying only “Mind the doors!” into one of the most tragically empathetic monsters in horror history. Good title sequence, too.

      The House on Sorority Row – for a classic-era slasher, this is remarkably subversive, undercutting audience expectations at nearly every turn in ways that feel fresh and satisfying (especially when paired with the pastel cinematography and lush orchestral score). It’s such a shame, then, that all of this is in service of THE STUPIDEST GODDAMN CHARACTERS IN HORROR HISTORY, who kick off the plot by thinking that staging a shooting before holding your house mother at gunpoint is a charming prank that cannot possibly go wrong and yet somehow get even dumber. I love the idea of combining slasher movies and Coen Brothers-esque “crime gone wrong” films, but there have to be limits on how inept your criminals are.

      Godzilla: Final Wars – this is a very, very dumb movie, but I still love it anyways. Needed less of Godzilla’s inflatable son, though.

      Also, a ton of Personal Writing, during which I reached the halfway point of my current script and decided to introduce a twist that would send everything I previously had planned in the narrative flying out the window. Good stuff.

      • Delmars Whiskers

        Vice Squad is another good Gary Sherman picture. Trashy script but vividly realized, and shot by John Alcott.

        • Quinn the Eskimo

          I’ll check it out for sure.

        • Son of Griff

          Back in 1983 Martin Scorsese was holding a Q&A at UCLA after an advance screening of THE KING OF COMEDY in which the audience was giving off a rather WTF vibe. Sensing a negative line of questioning, the director tried switching gears by telling everyone how great VICE SQUAD was. I had seen it on cable a few months before–He wasn’t wrong. .

      • Drunk Napoleon

        To my eye, the Bebop movie takes what would be a dense forty minute two-parter and stretches it out over two hours. Without the enforced discipline of TV’s time limit, everything takes about twice as long.

      • The Ploughman

        I forgot until I read this that the wife and I watched The House on Sorority Row the other night. I don’t know how we made it through the end, but the last twenty minutes were worth it, when the film gets surreal and genuinely creepy.

  • Miller

    I remember watching the movie in history class but not much of it other than the ironic ending – I should revisit it and check out the book. Good stuff on its timing in the middle of the wars – Paths Of Glory (the book) came out seven years later, much closer to things starting up again, and is still furious about the idea of old man waging war with the young or indifferent, although its scope is much narrower.

  • Leo Berger

    Well, I live in south Louisiana, so the playoffs are over for us. Though most of my friends are uninterested in football, but they’re also uninterested in the kinds of movies I like. I did manage to drag them to Baby Driver and Logan Lucky, both of which they liked, so who knows.

  • BurgundySuit

    Wanna be as cool as Joey Joe Joe? Then sign up for Year of the Month (from an idea by Elizabeth Lerner)!

    Here’s some of your possible topics:
    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1928/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_in_literature
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_in_music
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_in_art

    And here’s what we’ve already got on the docket!
    NO DATE: Son of Griff: Show People

    Jan 20th: Conor Malcolm Crockford: Steamboat Bill Jr.
    Jan 28th: The Ploughman: The Circus
    Jan 30th: Miller: Decline and Fall
    Jan 31st: ZoeZ: Ashenden

    And coming in February, we’ll be moving on to 1983!

    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1983/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_in_literature
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_in_music

    NO DATE: Wallflower: Soundtracking – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

    Feb 1st: BurgundySuit: El Sur
    Feb 3rd: Joseph Finn: WarGames
    Feb 6th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: King of Comedy
    Feb 8th: Gillianren: Will Lee (Mr. Hooper)
    Feb 15th: John Bruni: Trouble in Paradise
    Feb 19th: Balthazar Bee: Psycho II
    Feb 20th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Loc al Hero
    Feb 28th: BurgundySuit: Chartbusting!

    • Babalugats

      Ah, fuck it. Put me down for Zack (1983), I mean, If it’s still available.

      • BurgundySuit

        Date?

        • Babalugats

          I should have it ready by the beginning of the month. I think I’ll be able to keep this one below 3000 words.

          • BurgundySuit

            The 2nd it is!

      • Joseph Finn

        I’d never heard of this before but now I’m really curious.

    • Joseph Finn

      “Joey”

      *shudder*

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Mmm, sign me up for Videodrome on February 16th.

  • Noam

    Aw, yeah, Dog Day Afternoon. The hostage film so good, other films with hostage scenes cite it by name (see Swordfish’s opening monologue).