X Files, Season 10, Episode 2 “Founder’s Mutation” (2016; d. James Wong)
Mythology! Now listen: I haven’t seen the finale yet. I will this Saturday with my partner-in-crime Keith. So no spoilers – it has taken superhuman strength to stay away from basically EVERYTHING.
X-Files , Season 10, Episode 3 “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” (2016; d. Darin Morgan)
Darin Morgan is out of his mind and I love him so much. I could not stop laughing.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 12, “Loin Like a Hunting Flame” (1997; d. David Nutter)
First off: David Nutter, who did the Supernatural pilot and helped give us those pitch-black shadows we all love so much. This was terrifying in a kind-of Criminal Minds sort of way.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 13, “Force Majeure” (1997; d. Winrich Kolbe)
I am in love with this show.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 14, “The Thin White Line” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Thomas J. Wright has become one of the staples of Supernatural‘s directing bullpen, so it’s always good to see his name.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 15, “Sacrament” (1997; d. Michael W. Watkins)
Now we enter the string of one-word titles, prophetic of last year where every other movie had a one-word title. Enough already. I love it when we get glimpses of Frank as a family man, his life outside his career. Lance Henriksen is so touching, so wonderful: that woodcut face, cracking into a warm smile: it’s inherently heart-breaking and poignant. WHAT a piece of casting this is.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 16, “Covenant” (1997; d. Rod Pridy)
Anything having to do with Frank intuiting a criminal profile (“no he’s this way” or “the killer is this type of man”) pleases me on a deeply-sick level.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 17, “Walkabout” (1997; d. Cliff Bole)
FASCINATING. With each episode, we get more depth for Frank. This one is particularly de-stabilizing and frightening.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 18, “Lamentation” (1997; d. Winrich Kolbe)
So frightening I had to watch it with, as my friend Ann Marie calls it, “diamond vision.” (Hands over face, peeking through diamond-shaped spaces between fingers.) Kind of Cape Fear-ish.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 19, “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Now we’re getting into what appears to be the Larger Arc of the whole thing. I am now seeing just how much Supernatural took a page out of the Millennium playbook (at least post-Season 4, with the arrival of the Angels, which nobody seemed to see coming.)
Knight of Cups (2016; d. Terrence Malick)
I loved it. You’re going to hear the normal bitching/moaning about Malick. But Malick is Malick. If you don’t like him, fine, but it’s silly to expect a singular artist like him – who does whatever the hell he wants to do – ALWAYS – to turn in a conventional movie with a conventional narrative. There are many of the things I find slightly annoying (women don’t do much in his films, but twirl around, running ahead of the camera, in awe of nature) – but those “ticks” don’t ruin anything for me. Mainly because what he is doing, in every frame, is showing us how he sees the world, showing us what he cares about. D.W. Griffith said once that theatre showed you how to listen, and what he wanted to do in his movies, was show you how to SEE. I think Terrence Malick does that, on a level not even attempted by other great directors, because other great directors still care about narrative. And that’s okay that they care about narrative – but Malick DOESN’T. Stop wanting him to be someone else. I didn’t care for To the Wonder initially, but now it seems to me that Tree of Life, To the Wonder and Knight of Cups could stand as a kind of spiritual philosophical trilogy. Tree of Life stands far and above the other two, but it would be interesting to watch them in succession. They may very well feel like a continuation of the same movie. I loved Knight of Cups.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 11, “Into the Mystic” (2016; d. John Badham)
One of my favorite episodes of the season, and it will be high on my list for faves from the whole series. I’ve watched it a bunch of times now, and it still satisfies: every scene, every interaction, as well as the exploration of deeper themes like love and mortality.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 4 “Slumber Party” (2013; d. Robert Singer)
Randomly, I started a Season 9 re-watch, starting from here. I love the season and I love it for the reasons a lot of fans seemed to dislike it: the separation of Dean and Sam, the long conversations at the end of each episode, where Sam sets boundaries with Dean. That’s not “abandoning” Dean. That’s asking Dean to grow up and take responsibility for himself. I thought it was bold and bleak. Still satisfies.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 5 “Dog Dean Afternoon” (2013; d. Tim Andrew)
Worth it to see Jensen Ackles “barking” at the mailman. But even funnier: Sam’s reactions. As usual, it is Sam’s reactions that help Ackles’ slapstick land. Dean shouting epithets at a pigeon. Why dogs would understand pigeons … well. Not everything is perfect.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 6 “Heaven Can’t Wait” (2013; d. Rob Spera)
I have a lot of affection for this episode. Not so much the Castiel as 7/11 employee but the idea that newbie angels cannot distinguish a “bad day” from “terrible pain” and so go about killing crying babies and angsty teens. It’s a pretty funny idea.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 7 “Bad Boys” (2013; d. Kevin Parks)
A favorite from the moment it aired. The look on the little boy’s face when Dean burns his action hero on the stove … I have no idea how that child could tap into all he tapped into. But he kills me every time.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 8 “Rock and a Hard Place” (2013; d. John MacCarthy)
One of the goofiest and most prurient punning-title ever. I mean, come on. I enjoy Dean and Sam’s monologues on chastity so much that I can’t get enough. “My relationships end badly …” admits Sam. Dean cracks to the group, “He ain’t lyin’.” SO INAPPROPRIATE AND FUNNY. I don’t know why there are two skinny pale redheads in that group. If they wanted to make a point, they failed to do so. You could not distinguish between the two. Why that choice? The rest of the ladies in the “chastity group” were of different body types and hair colors and all the rest. When the “villain” appears in the final moment, I had no idea that she was the perky redhead at the desk. I loved the porn-star (who is now killing it as the hottie lesbian secretary on Jessica Jones), and love the ridiculous sex scene. Only Jensen Ackles could turn Dean’s “bucket list” moment of sleeping with his favorite porn star into a SWEET moment. Seriously: watch him do it. Not to be tried by amateurs.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 9 “Holy Terror” (2013; d. Thomas J. Wright)
The opening is the kind of thing Supernatural used to do so well, before they made the angels business-men and interns. That scene is truly eerie, like something out of a 1970s horror movie.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 10 “Road Trip” (2013; d. Robert Singer)
1. Congratulations, Mark Sheppard, on the birth of your baby.
2. This was from when Crowley used to be interesting. They’re trying to get him back now … but honestly, after a season of him just sitting around … it’s an uphill battle.
3. “Poughkeepsie.” So funny.
4. The sight of Crowley and Sam repeatedly penetrating one another with giant columns of black and red smoke is so hilarious that I can’t even believe they got away with it. And that it makes total sense. “Oh yes, let’s watch the hunky lead of our show open his mouth and swallow a gigantic red phallic-column of whirling smoke and then spit it back out …” Really? I love this show.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 11 “First Born” (2014; d. John Badham)
Badham’s episodes are so excellent (no surprise there). The whole Cain thing is so innovative, and I love Cain. Plus shucking corn. Plus Jensen Ackles doing one of the most incredible fight scenes in the history of the show. Things I can’t get over: Cain’s wife’s dress. It looks like it was made for a community theatre production of The Crucible. Horrible. She doesn’t look “period” at ALL. Poor casting. Poor costuming.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 12 “Sharp Teeth” (2014; d. John F. Showalter)
I hope we get to visit Garth again. I love this episode because Dean and Sam are “broken up”, and Dean kind of has a beard, and they both look – almost for the first time – like MEN. I like Dean being ashamed. I like Sam not giving in. “Something’s broken here …” People who complain about this stuff seem to not understand how drama works. That you need conflict, especially between the two leads of a show who have been the whole she-bang for over a decade. Both JA and JP do SUPERB work.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 13 “The Purge” (2014; d. Philip Sgriccia)
A favorite for many reasons. Powdered donuts. Sheriff Donna. Dean with a hairnet. Dean collapsed on a bag of sweet potatoes. Dean recognizing roofies. Sam giving a yoga class. (I don’t like the callback to dating someone “bendy.” Strikes me as pandering to the audience, not as something that Sam or Dean would say. Would Sam even remember that Dean had said that a bazillion years ago? I get it, some people love those callbacks. Sometimes I do, but not this time.) AND THE FINAL SCENE. A high watermark in the entire show, in my opinion. That final closeup. The WAY it was written: brutal.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 14 “Captives” (2014; d. Jerry Wanek)
Here’s where the angels started to descend into monotony for me. They’ve never quite recovered and I’d like them to go away, basically, if this is the best they can give us. I want scary angels who are so powerful they explode every streetlamp in a tri-state area. Also: I wonder if we’re ever going to meet up with Kevin again. Finally: LOVE the last scene. Again: BRU-TAL. More, more, more. Keep the heat turned up between Sam and Dean, I’m in.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 15 #thinman (2014; d. Jeannot Szwarc)
The analogy between the Ghost-Facers and Sam and Dean may have been a bit on the nose, but it still works for me. It works mainly because we in the audience have such a history already with those ancillary characters and they are so welcome a presence in the show. It’s good to see them get something to really chew on, and I thought both actors did a great job. Also: watching Sam and Dean (and JA and JP) have to deal with them … is always so entertaining. I hope they return. I hope they reunite – just like Sam and Dean did.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 16 “Blade Runners” (2014; d. Serge Ladouceur)
Crowley as addict – with Lou Reed playing over it – is a beautiful touch. Plus him crying over Casablanca and reading Little Women. I am pretty sure this episode aired right after Lou Reed died, which was eerie.
Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to “Off the Wall” (2016; d. Spike Lee)
So excellent. Reviewed for Ebert.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 17 “Mother’s Little Helper” (2014; d. Misha Collins)
I thought Misha did a wonderful job (there’s one shot in particular, in the police station, view of corpse being taken by from an inner room, that was very good – although Dean, shot from across the table, is also beautiful). I love Sam dealing with the old lady (prophetic of Dean and Dee Wallace in “Into the Mystic”.) I was also extremely moved by the sight of the glowing souls floating through the window back to their rightful owners. Beautifully conceived. The music swells my heart. Again: Misha Collins did an excellent job throughout.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 18 “Meta Fiction” (2014; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Oh Lord, here comes Hannah. I had blocked it all out.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 19 “Alex Annie Alexis Ann” (2014; d. Stefan Pleszczynski)
An extremely upsetting episode, very very suggestive and disturbing. Pretty blatant, in terms of sexual trauma, in a way that Supernatural has skirted around, although addressed indirectly in its mood and suggestions. “LOOK AT ME, BITCH.” Hot.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 21 “King of the Damned” (2014; d. P.J. Pesce)
Not crazy about this one, although it has its moments. These “clash of the titans” scenes often just … fall flat a little bit. Like Cain with Dean last season. Oh … so it’s a … fist fight again. What matters, I suppose, is the acting, and everyone involved invests these prosaic fist fights with so much urgency that they FEEL apocalyptic, but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a bit lazy.
Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 22 “Stairway to Heaven” (2014; d. Guy Norman Bee)
I liked how Dean secretly brought the first blade, and I keep trying to clock him doing it. Boy is smooth. Not crazy about the Tessa re-introduction, and removing her from her Reaper job. Seems like a cheat. I adore her, and I ADORE the vibe she and JA have (from Season 2! Amazing!!) That vibe was still here: the two actors are amazingly consistent with keeping that relationship feel familiar. What interested me, really, throughout Season 9, was Dean and Sam’s relationship, and how it wasn’t really working out anymore. It was reminiscent of the first sequence in Season 6. It had the courage of its convictions. Fans who prefer them to be cuddly and in sync (or for Sam to always support Dean, no matter how much of an asshole Dean is) probably hated all of this. But it was BOLD, and it challenged the audience, and it really tested our patience. I was DYING for them to come back together again. I LOVE to feel that agony. It’s what drama and tension is all about.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 12, “Don’t You Forget About Me” (2016; d. Stefan Pleszczynski)
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed (ha. Of course you have) that Supernatural is on a roll with excellent episodes.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 11, “Into the Mystic” (2016; d. John Badham)
Speaking of which …
Hail Caesar! (2016; d. The Coen brothers)
Love!! Great discussion here.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 1, “Black” (2014; d. Robert Singer)
Equal parts disturbing and hilarious. I wish we had Jolly Slut Demon Dean with us a bit longer.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 2, “Reichenbach” (2014; d. Thomas J. Wright)
It’s interesting to go back and watch all of this. It is still so clear how much of it doesn’t work. Each episode trying to do too much, feeling an obligation to keep Castiel in the story, when what most people want (sorry, Cas fans!) is to follow Sam and Dean solely, especially in these opening episodes, where Dean is a demon and all bets are off. There are three story-lines in this episode, two of which are essential and gripping, one of which feels dispensable and totally phoned-in (Misha notwithstanding).
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 3, “Soul Survivor” (2014; d. Jensen Ackles)
Ackles has just grown in confidence and style as a director. “Soul Survivor” is the best one yet, the most complex (that stalking-scene through the bunker) and – even more impressive – it’s a HUGE episode for Dean, with some of the most challenging work JA has had to do yet as an actor. He knows how to photograph himself, too. Or, he knows what is needed, and can communicate that to Serge Ladouceur (although probably no one up in Vancouver needs to say “Please make this as beautiful as possible” anymore – they probably all communicate by ESP on such issues). But those shots of him in the dungeon are as gorgeous (well, maybe not AS gorgeous) as some of those closeups in Season 4 – it’s damn close anyway. Freckles, piercing eyes, and black velvety background all around his face: the Supernatural LOOK. Very impressed with his direction here.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 4, “Paper Moon” (2014; d. Robert Singer)
This is why it’s probably a good thing that I don’t do re-caps on current episodes as they run. I disliked this episode quite a bit on first viewing. I thought the flashbacks didn’t work and I thought the actress playing Kate was not up to the task of carrying the episode. I don’t agree with any of my original assessments. The flashbacks now seemed touching. And I thought she played the desperate concerned sister beautifully. Only issue, and it feels so blatant that maybe that was what I was reacting to: This girl has been living in a barn, killing animals, and hiding out. Her hair is perfect and coiffed and clean and freshly-cut. BUSH LEAGUE, SUPERNATURAL, BUSH LEAGUE.
Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 5, “Fan Fiction” (2014; d. d. Philip Sgriccia)
To quote Keats: “a thing of beauty and a joy forever.” Stage manager moving the sound levels up and down, deadpan staring at Sam … cannot TAKE IT. And Chuck at the end. Put a fork in me, I’m done.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 1, “Lazarus Rising” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
Our conversation about the “Red” camera in the last re-cap I did sparked my interest to go back and study the first episode of Season 4. Kim Manners, first of all. A genius and he makes all of these other directors look competent, and nothing more. But the difference is even more startling than I remembered. Watch any episode from Season 1-3 or Season 7-11 … and then go and watch “Lazarus Rising.” It is an advertisement for what the Red can accomplish by someone who knows what they are doing.
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2016; d. Emily Ting)
Just didn’t work. I was rooting for it too. Reviewed for Rogerebert.com.
Jessica Jones, Season 1, Episode 7 “Top Shelf Perverts” (2015; d. Simon Cellan Jones)
This cast is so excellent. I’m so pro-Trish, I love it when she is featured heavily, as she is here. She’s a fine actress. But everyone’s good here. I love the mood and atmosphere too. Does Jessica re-unite with Luke?? Don’t tell me. Don’t crush my dreams.
Jessica Jones, Season 1, Episode 8 “WWJD?” (2015; d. Simon Cellan Jones)
A sick sick episode, and so emotionally tense I almost couldn’t take it. Krysten Ritter and David Tennant are incredible together and there are welcome shadings of complexity in this abusive relationship. We aren’t asked to sympathize with him (poor little misunderstood child!), but we are allowed to look out at the world through his eyes. It’s a messed-up view, but at least he’s not a one-dimensional villain. That’s partly why it works.
Jessica Jones, Season 1, Episode 9 “Sin Bin” (2015; d. John Dahl)
Another truly fucked-up episode. Top-notch acting across the board. Carrie Moss is killing me. I don’t know what’s up her sleeve, and I don’t know where she is “coming from,” but I do know that it is 100% watchable. I lean forward when she speaks.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 6 “Our Little World” (2015; d. John F. Showalter)
Okay. So there are a lot of interesting possibilities here, some of which are starting to bear fruit now (Dean and Amara), and others, not so much (Crowley). Not sure the Crowley Arc right now, but I attribute that to the fact that he was so useless all last season (through no fault of Mark Sheppard’s) that it’s hard to feel he is relevant at all. Maybe that’s the point? If that’s the point, then it strikes me as a cop-out point. Metatron as human too. I’m just not sure what purpose it serves. HOWEVER: the final two scenes – Dean and Amara – and Amara walking through the streets – are worth the price of admission. Dean having basically a love scene with a 14-year-old girl (and that young actress killllllls it. The language is difficult and archaic too – she handles it beautifully). Push that envelope, SPN.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 9 “O Brother Where Art Thou” (2015; d. Robert Singer)
After re-watching “Our Little World,” decided to fast-forward to the big Dean-Amara scene, to try to get some continuity going in my head.
Our Dancing Daughters (1928; d. Harry Beaumont)
Joan Crawford as the ultimate flapper (which, indeed, she was). Even in her earliest roles, she commands the screen. She’s so beautiful, her eyes are so huge … what can you say: it’s star power.
Cain and Mabel (1936; d. Lloyd Bacon)
Clark Gable and Marion Davies (long-time paramour of William Randolph Hearst). Citizen Kane, as great as it is, has obliterated the reality of who Marion Davies actually was, as a person and screen persona. Hearst wanted her to appear in romantic things, sentimental things, and so she was often mis-cast. But when she was cast as an adorable screw-ball type, she was a wonderful comedienne.
Pat & Mike (1952; d. George Cukor)
One of the most entertaining things about this Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movie is that it’s really just an excuse to highlight Katharine Hepburn’s athleticism. Tennis. Golf. Entire golf games play out almost in their entirety. It’s a sports movie. Starring a female athlete who is also a superstar who is also actually playing all of those sports, and really well, onscreen. There was really nothing quite like it at the time. A clear Hepburn vehicle, with Tracy practically superfluous. (Directed by George Cukor, after all).
American Idol (2016)
Two current episodes with Mitchell in Chicago. It’s been years since I watched the show and I am amazed at how much the format has changed. I actually like it much better. And Jennifer Lopez strikes me as a wonderful judge: her comments are always insightful, helpful, but not afraid to be critical. When she IS critical, she is specific about WHY.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 13, “Love Hurts” (2016; d. Philip Sgriccia)
Enjoyed this one quite a bit, and (trumpet blast) it is the first episode in the entirety of my time watching Supernatural that I watched the show in its original time-slot with everyone else. I loved that last scene: both of them are so good (this is what is meant by good scene-work: yes, focus on your own performance, but always remember to listen. Watch how these guys listen. Especially JP. I’ve talked about this before.) Sam seems so so GROWN-UP in this scene, and I like it, and I am also intrigued by everything that is happening on that particular level. Not sure I even want to talk about why until I’ve thought about it more.
Of Human Bondage (1934; d. John Cromwell)
Bette Davis is so good here, so fearless, it’s amazing to think how early it is in her career. She announced, through her behavior: “I am interested in good scripts and good characters, not glamour and silliness.” This character is so wretched, so pitiful, so selfish … it says so much about her that the role attracted her. AND that she went as far as she did.
Rolling Papers (2016; d. Mitchk Dickman)
Dumb doc about marijuana legalization. Reviewed for Rogerebert.com.
Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 14 “The Vessel” (2016; d. John Badham)
This episode had a profound effect on me. I think it landed for me with the line “I was just a witness …” I thought it was cast beautifully – all of those actors – and except for the fact that a French girl had a Polish accent which I originally mistook for a Spanish accent (if they threw in there that she was Polish/Spanish I missed it), the period felt quite authentic. I was also so pleased to hear a straight-up Boston Mass-hole accent from the soldier reporting back what he saw/heard on radar. You rarely hear strong regional accents on this show. I was like, “How did THAT Southie resident show up in this show?” My whole family talks like that. Also, humorously: they do ALL THAT, they go BACK IN TIME, they collide against sigils underwater, they take on Nazi necromancers … only to have the Hand of God blow its wad in the one shot. Like, ultimately, that episode didn’t lead to anything. Not really. I love it when that happens. John Badham is great (that long snaking tracking shot along the floor of the tilting submarine …) And finally: I think Misha Collins is doing a fine job approximating Mark Pellegrino’s familiar and bizarre prosody choices and intonations. I like it. Something is being set free in him, an EDGE, that has long been missing in the character of Castiel who has spent two seasons now in a Tubercular state of self-pity which is … so boring that I zzzzzzzzz. I like to see him get that sharp-ness in his eyes, even though it’s Lucifer doing it (supposedly. Of course, it’s really Misha CREATING this.) He must have read the scripts coming up and thought, “Thank CHRIST I get to DO something again.” (I love that they actually wrote that into the script: “Castiel, you have no use anymore in this story.” Ha! They’re admitting it!)
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 2, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester” (2008; d. Phil Sgriccia)
Having re-watched “Lazarus Rising,” I wasn’t done with my need to revel in the Red. This is major-motion-picture-looking, not “good TV looking.” So good to see Ronald and Agent Henriksen again although it’s sad to think of both of those guys as vengeful spirits. Nikky Aycox got a chance to be emotionally raw and boy, did she nail it. Best work she did on the show.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 3, “In the Beginning” (2008; d. Steve Boyum)
I hadn’t re-watched Season 4 in its entirety in quite a while. I LOVE Sam sneaking off for “dates” with Ruby, and how sinister and scary it seems … to have the brothers hide things from one another. I like this episode a lot. This is when Castiel was still completely “alien” and an unknown factor. The scene between Dean and his mother in the living room (because of course, you would just sit and flip through your vinyl records for NO REASON … never mind, moving on) is so good, it’s like the entire emotional trauma running beneath the entire show is in that scene.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 4, “Metamorphosis” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
I’ll have a lot to say about this one if I ever get to it in re-capping. All of the actors, the guest spots, plus the leads, are working at such a high level. Those guest spots, especially … I’ve said it before: it’s the people who get hired in those guest spots who have to do the REALLY heavy lifting in any given episode. The stars can modulate their intensity and establish their character over the course of a season. The guest stars have 15 minutes to do it. The hungry husband – excellent. The scared wife (whom many of you may remember from Slings & Arrows) – so good, especially in that last scene. Broken-arm hunter – so good, gives a great sense of that outlaw-expert atmosphere of hunters. Sam starting to “lose it.” He “means well” but we all know where good intentions lead. Literally.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 5, “Monster Movie” (2008; d. Robert Singer)
I could not love this episode more if I tried. Not just for the pure movie-madness of it, but because we get to see Dean in lederhosen.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 6, “Yellow Fever” (2008; d. Phil Sgriccia)
Another favorite, although I think the “Ka-boom” section was edited poorly. Too much. Let the actors create the tension (they already are). It’s too complex, they complexified themselves into a corner. Ackles is brilliant. And no matter how many times I see it, I still get upset when I see the yellow flash into Sam’s eyes at the end of the episode. Outside of the context of the show, it is such a perfect representation of what it actually feels like if you lose trust in someone, if you lose trust in your own perceptions. It’s so upsetting.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 7, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” (2008; d. Charles Beeson)
YAY URIEL. Also: we’re starting to get into the flashback stuff with Dean, his time in Hell impinging on his psyche. There’s that one moment where he stares up at the Halloween masks … really good.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 8, “Wishful Thinking” (2008; d. Robert Singer)
That teddy bear moaning and rocking and then blowing his brains out. You guys. I am just happy that it exists. It is one of the funniest and stupidest things I have ever seen in my life.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 9, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (2008; d. Charles Beeson)
Sam and Dean sewing themselves up, knocking back whiskey, shouting and groaning … is one of the most primitively Alpha things the show has ever done. Like, this is caveman shit. Super hot. “On three. One – two -” Crack. AHHHH! I also love Anna. She is otherworldly and powerful, again – just like an angel should be.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 10, “Heaven and Hell”(2008; d. J. Miller Tobin)
I wish Pamela hadn’t died. 4 episodes only and I still think of her longingly.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 11, “Family Remains” (2009; d. Phil Sgriccia)
Helen Slater! “Humans, man …” That’s all he says. The look on his face though … JA knows that this connects his character back to so many other episodes, that it is a callback to so many things reaching out over 4 seasons … so all he has to say is “Humans, man.” So good. It’s shorthand. We get it.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 12, “Criss Angel Is a Douchebag” (2009; d. Robert Singer)
I love how The Chief suddenly becomes a respectful everyday-dude when he asks for Dean’s “safe word.” Details matter.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 14, “Sex and Violence” (2009; d. Charles Beeson)
This episode is so messed-up in such a disturbing way that I’m still surprised (why, Sheila? This show is always messed-up) that they decided to do it. But I’m grateful they did. The assumption is that Sam is the vulnerable one. Of course it is Dean who is vulnerable. Dean is seen as the womanizer. But it is Sam who is the “slut” in this episode. And Dean is the one who falls for the siren, who is a man, who basically ejaculates directly into Dean’s mouth. Not even basically. He DOES ejaculate directly into Dean’s mouth. GREAT conception of the possibilities inherent in the siren, and I am IN. LOVE. with the doctor. I love her body, I love her shirt, I love the way she pours the drinks, I love every line reading.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 17, “It’s a Terrible Life” (2009; d. James L. Conway)
“They need to come up with another show like Project Runway …” It’s so funny I don’t know what to do with myself, especially how he laughs after saying that line. He is such a CLOWN. Like Cary Grant was a clown.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 18, “The Monster at the End of This Book” (2009; d. Mike Rohl)
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 2, “The Rapture” (2009; d. Charles Beeson)
This is what I was trying to say in a comments section somewhere and our recent troll FLIPPED. HER. LID. Misha Collins seems to me to be a very open person, with access to his emotions in a way that is extremely pure. Meaning: there isn’t a lot of “stuff” between him and his emotions. Most of us have a lot of barriers along the way, even actors do. I’m making this claim based on Misha Collins’ interviews and con appearances and also the stuff he’s written. The man is an open book and damn near squishy with his emotions. What is so brilliant is that he is not allowed to use ANY of that as Castiel. (This is one of the reasons why I think Season 4 Castiel is such an enormous feat, and you would never ever know that Misha the actor is so playful and open that sometimes he seems like he is 11 years old.) So: here in this episode, we get to SEE that. For me, Jimmy Novak crying at the dinner table is a perfect example. The troll was FUR. I. OUS. that I DARED compliment Misha, and that I DARED say something like, “Even Dean doesn’t get to be as open as this …” But it’s not either/or. Sam and Dean are different characters, more bulked-up, even Dean. But Misha Collins had a catharsis that looked so easy to him, it came out in such a flow, such a beautiful and painful flow, that I still can’t watch it without crying. Also: fascinating to go back and watch Claire the young girl, knowing that she would come around again. It “checks out.” It totally makes sense that that child would grow up to be what we are seeing now.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 2, “When the Levee Breaks” (2009; d. Robert Singer)
Sam’s hallucinations are amazing (I love that Mom dissed Dean and basically said, “You’re doing the right thing, Sam.”) and Jared is phenomenal.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 2, “Lucifer Rising” (2009; d. Eric Kripke)
I love that crazy room. I love the whole idea of it, I love the doors disappearing, the harp, the paintings changing on the walls. It’s SURREAL and that’s the best way to “deal with” Heaven.
Le Chinoise (1967; d. Jean-Luc Godard)
It had been a long time since I saw this one. Pauline Kael’s review is worth a look. There’s so much talk, so much to look at, so many different effects, that it’s somewhat dazzling. That apartment … my God, kids, LEAVE that apartment. The scene on the train with a professor. As Kael says, it is clear Godard sympathizes with those terrorist kids. But he also understands the flip-side, gives it voice and form. It’s a philosophical TRACT, more than a typical movie, but that’s Godard for you. I love it.
X-Files, Season 10, Episode 4, “Home Again” (2016; d. Glen Morgan)
Devastating. I love how DIVERSE the 6 episodes have been, thus far. Mythology. Personal backstory. Lunatic slapstick.
X-Files, Season 10, Episode 5, “Babylon” (2016; d. Chris Carter)
Lauren Ambrose killed it. David Duchovny line-dancing. Honky Tonk. Ba-Donky-Donk. As my friend Keith Uhlich said in his Vulture re-cap: “If I were to try and summarize this strange beast, it would be something like, “A screwball comedy about getting inside the head of a Muslim suicide bomber.” Yes. And it works. I laughed throughout.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 20, “Broken World” (1997; d. Winrich Kolbe)
A beautiful episode.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 21, “Maranatha” (1997; d. Peter Markle)
The ghosts of Chernobyl.
Millennium, Season 1, Episode 22, “Paper Dove” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Super-sick. A big guy sitting next to the corpse of a woman he murdered, chatting with her about the weather. Mike Starr is excellent and very creepy.
Millennium, Season 2, Episode 1 “The Beginning and the End” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
The harassment of Frank’s family continues. The marriage is suffering. Where is this going??
Millennium, Season 2, Episode 2 “Beware of the Dog” (1997; d. Allen Coulter)
A Shirley Jackson-ish vibe. But also a purely horror movie vibe. A town cloistered up together, wild dogs roaming at night. Frank’s visit to the town, having no idea the situation, is filmed in gloomy eerie long-shot often (a dog trotting across the end of the street), and everyone sits and stares at him when he enters the local diner. You want him to pack up and FLEE.
Millennium, Season 2, Episode 3 “Sense and Antisense” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Ricky Harris was the high-point of this episode for me. I referred to him throughout, in my comments to Keith, as “my husband.” I loved that character!
Millennium, Season 2, Episode 4 “Monster” (1997; d. Perry Lang)
So damn upsetting. Controversial, too, I’m sure.
Millennium, Season 2, Episode 5 “A Single Blade of Grass” (1997; d. Rodman Flender)
Buffalo running down the streets of New York. An awesome sight.
Millennium, Season 2, Episode 6 “The Curse of Frank Black” (1997; d. Ralph Hemecker)
Fantastic. Loved every second of it.
Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 22, “Lucifer Rising” (2009; d. Eric Kripke)
I absolutely loved how this whole season played out. Those were some long-ass arcs that paid off at the last second. Very satisfying.
The Witch (2016; d. Robert Eggers)
Terrifying. Loved it. Discussed it here.
Supernatural Season 11, Episode 5 “Thin Lizzie” (2015; d. Rashaad Ernesto Green)
I had only watched this one once. It was good to watch it again, so I could soak up the details. This was a good-looking episode. Well-cast, too.
Supernatural Season 11, Episode 5 “The Devil in the Details” (2016; d. Thomas J. Wright)
The lighting with Lucifer and Sam in the cage is the most dramatically gorgeous the show has looked in a long long time.
Supernatural, Season 3, Episode 13 Ghost Facers (2008; d. Philip Sgriccia)
I hadn’t seen this one in a while. It was so much fun to re-visit it. The profanity of Sam and Dean showing up with skull and crossbones … hilarious. These wacko eccentric secondary characters like Garth and the Ghost Facers and Charlie add so much to the show.
Touched With Fire (2016; d. Paul Dalio)
Yeah, I think I covered that one here.
The Look of Silence (2015; d. Joshua Oppenheimer)
Finally, just in time for the Oscars. Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing defies description. You almost can’t believe what you are looking at as it is happening. The Look of Silence is an unofficial sequel, and equally upsetting. It’s so violent. The heartless-ness and brutality of these killers … the way they brag … like, what has happened to these people? It’s not just ruthlessness. It’s the ABSENCE of conscience. There is that extraordinary sequence in Act of Killing when one of the killers, bragging about how he would kill people using piano wire to strangle them, suddenly starts almost vomiting. He’s been jovial and brutal all along. He is proud of himself. He sees himself as a hero from a 1940s film, dressing up like a Damon Runyon gangster. But suddenly (like Robert Durst burping), his body starts to betray him, and maybe remind him: “Hey. You’re a human being, remember. And human beings are supposed to be better than that. You, therefore, are a piece of SHIT.” Look of Silence shows more of the same. The eyes shifting away, the big bursts of hearty laughter in totally inappropriate moments … These are two extraordinary films, that have brought that situation to the world. Brutal.
Supernatural Season 11. Episode 15, “Beyond the Mat” (2016; d. Jerry Wanek)
Loved all the wrestling stuff. I was so un-used to seeing Sam and Dean having fun that I almost couldn’t deal with it. I had to watch it a couple of times to let it sink in. I love when Sam starts screaming at the ref in outrage. I thought the final scene was so weak and phoned-in I’m just not sure what happened there. It was practically bad. Yeah, let’s state the obvious. And try to loop us back to the “grinding” language in the earlier scene. But … it didn’t push anything forward. Dean is already committed. He didn’t need to listen to a monologue by a wrestler to be committed to his job. Except for his Crushing on Amara, he still has kept his eye on the ball. This isn’t the early seasons when Dean gets exhausted and disheartened. So I don’t know. Watched it a couple of times and that last scene still falls flat, it never takes off. It’s thankfully brief. Loved the rest of it.
Alice Adams (1935; d. George Stevens)
That dinner scene. It’s so embarrassing it’s nearly unwatchable. But also so funny. Hattie McDaniel turning an offensive role into a comedic bit. She kills it. There’s a Glass Menagerie thing going on here, and Fred MacMurray is so good as the awkward Gentleman Caller.
4 Days in October (2010; d. Gary Waksman)
Because I like to relive 4 of the most momentous days of my life. 4 of the most stressful days of my life. Also, my dad was at the game where Dave Roberts stole second, a risky move that basically allowed all the rest of it to happen. He and my uncle Terry were sitting right beyond home plate. So I kept seeing him in the footage. And my breath stopped in my throat.
I Hate Christian Laettner (2015; d. Rory Karpf)
I had no idea. My cousin went to Duke around that time. It’s an excellent documentary.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947; d. Charlie Chaplin)
A nihilistic brutal masterpiece. Martha Raye is hilarious. But it’s an extremely disturbing and de-stabilizing film and amazing, in and of itself, that Chaplin would risk alienating his audience (as he did) in the way that he did. It’s brilliant.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2011; d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
A dreamy eerie meditation on death, reincarnation, illness by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor. There is nothing else like it. He has a singular vision. A re-watch in preparation for his latest, which I’m reviewing.
The Woman in the Window (1944; d. Fritz Lang)
Edward G. Robinson. Joan Bennett. Dan Duryea. Fantastic, even the ending, which many people seem to feel is a “cop out.” I’m with the Self-Styled Siren. I think it’s great. And funny. (Don’t read her post if you don’t want to know what happens.)
Cemetery of Splendour (2016; d. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Coming out this week. Reviewing for Ebert.