February 2016 Viewing Diary

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)
Oh, Chuck.

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.

The Paperboy (2012; d. Lee Daniels)
I’m on a Zac Efron tear after these conversations: Part 1 and Part 2. Great sweaty Southern-funk Gothic trash. Loved every second of it.

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.

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50 Responses to February 2016 Viewing Diary

  1. Jessie says:

    I love these posts, Sheila!

    My favourite thing about that S9 Ghostfacers episode (I still cannot get over that between their S4 webisode appearance and this one they both went over and KILLED IT on Justified, particularly Buckley, who I found scarier than anyone else on that show except for McDonough’s Quarles and Martingale’s Mags Bennett) (and aside from the outtake) is that conversation about the childhood broken arm — things are so dire at that point that such a tiny glimpse of communal feeling and reconciliation almost killed both me and the characters and sets up a metric shit-ton of yearning in that deep and desperate way that only Supernatural can do. Like you say, let me feel the agony. It’s interesting, because there’s an impulse in fanfiction to really put the characters through the wringer — real angsty, darkest-before-dawn stuff — but some people find it intolerable on screen.

    (To give some of the critics of S9 their due, I think their argument was less that they didn’t want conflict or drama and more that they found the conflict inorganic and out of character, and didn’t want it to come from betrayal and secrets and lies — and they HATED to see Sam lose agency. I don’t agree, but that’s the argument)

    Natalie Portman is such a presence in our house — I am typing this sitting underneath a giant Black Swan poster that reflects constantly and creepily into our television — I am essentially the person who has been settled for because Natalie Portman is unavailable — we both went bazonkers when we found out she was in two Malick films. We have been waiting for so long and we still haven’t found a way to see KoC but I’m looking forward to it and glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    • sheila says:

      Jessie – thanks!

      Oh God, that Ghostfacers outtake, I know.

      “You guys are really handsome.”
      “Shut your face.”

      How these people ever get a clean take in the can I’ll never know.

      // that conversation about the childhood broken arm //

      God, yes! I should have mentioned that. It was such a beautifully conceived conversation – and I love how they both were filmed (if I’m not mistaken) from the back – looking at each other. So we were sort of “left out” of it. Dean seems so sad. And Sam is uncomfortable. And yes, “dire” is the word.

      // more that they found the conflict inorganic and out of character, and didn’t want it to come from betrayal and secrets and lies — and they HATED to see Sam lose agency. //

      Okay, yes, I can see that! I’m probably being unfair. But taking that interpretation: the way I see it is is that it all was totally in character and that Season 9 was the full-blown grown-man argument that Sam and Dean have been having, in various ways, since they were probably teenagers, and Sam started to have a mind of his own. When they were teenagers, it came out one way. When they were men in their 20s it came out another way. When you’re in your 20s, you’re so busy asserting that “you’re your own person” that you don’t realize that you are still behaving in an adolescent “get off my back” kind of way. Sam had a lot of that then. But now these guys are approaching middle age. The argument is going to be different and far more serious since it’s not established that it is a destructive pattern, and Sam – calmly – just wasn’t going to have it anymore. No more adolescent “Come on Dean, I’m my own man” thing. It’s going to be “Change, or I’m DONE.”

      That argument has been amazingly consistent throughout – and has been the impetus for a lot of Sam’s darker choices. He needs to assert his individuality against his powerhouse bossy-pants brother. Hence, Ruby. Hence, demon-blood psychic-exorcisms, etc.

      Anyway, Season 9 really resonates with me – maybe because it felt so grown-up, so DIFFERENT, and yet still: a continuation of the “issue” between them that had always been there. For the most part, we don’t get brand-new core problems. We each only have a couple. Abandonment issues. Entrapment issues. Old old stuff, that come out in totally different ways through our lives and can be so annoying, like: “Oh God, YOU again? Aren’t we PAST this already?”

      There hasn’t been a lot of that since Season 9, if I’m not mistaken. It seems that that particular bugaboo was “handled.” Season 10, with all its “let’s talk about our feelings for REAL” in the Impala, and Dean being able to say “no, I’m not doing all right” and all that – and just now: Dean admitting he’s helpless against Amara, and Sam being grown-up “I got this …” They’re still lying and withholding from one another, on occasion, but something feels different. In Season 4, Dean would have kept the Amara secret, guiltily, for the entire season. Not anymore. Something has shifted.

      Am I reading into this?

    • sheila says:

      // I am essentially the person who has been settled for because Natalie Portman is unavailable //
      hahahahahahahaha

      Oh my God, that is hilarious. I love it!!

      Knight of Cups is not a regular narrative, of course – and Natalie Portman is featured in the most “conventional” part of it – and she’s heartbreaking in it. Totally transparent, some beautiful scenes (my favorite one is on a pier that seems to be out in the wilds of Malibu.)

      Interested to hear your thoughts!

      • Jessie says:

        Yes, in my memory the conversation is filmed from behind, so we don’t get full access to their faces — denial and projection, the mother’s milk of Supernatural!

        You’re not reading into it, no! I agree with you — I’m down with S9 and 10, for the most part, particularly with respect to the relationship. Some dots weren’t fully connected but such is life. I enjoyed the wringer and I thought it was on the whole fascinating and gave us some indelible, series-defining almost, moments. And Dean had a shower.

        And I found it psychologically sound — I think JA and JP, at the very least, always justified their behaviour — and like you say the repetitiveness that people so hated had a different shade — I mean, “if you wanna hunt together, that’s fine, but if you wanna be brothers, *shrug*” — yeowch, we haven’t seen that before. I think some feared that the relationship was broken beyond repair, by which, presumably (seeing as no one could ever think that they’d stay apart for ever) they mean that it wouldn’t return to something they recognised as the Sam-Dean relationship. So it comes down again to what desires Supernatural calls up in its viewers and I think that some peoples’ desires were never going to align with what the show does.

        Something has changed, now, yes. And S11 is pleasing many people (including myself) with the newfound ease and support that’s there between them. It’s pretty great. But I think that a lot of the people who have felt awful for Sam, in particular, for a life of what this excellent vid illustrates, see him being happy now and forgiving and gentle and are like wooo he’s better and things are back to the way they should be. For my part there’s no deep “fixing” going on — things are only okay by certain definitions of okay. I see disturbing stuff like them buckling down into the insanity of brother-wifedom (you have to know I love this) and Sam’s unconditional forgiveness extending to blatant (wrestler man) and inadvertant (love curse wife) murderers (what is going on in his head?).

        So we’re still in pretty messed-up territory here even if some of the old entrapment-abandonment issues have been laid to momentary rest. In fact the last thirty or so episodes kind of feel for me like the final stages of a vivisection of Dean’s psyche — it has really exposed the core of his self-understanding and I am very curious as to where we go from here.

        • sheila says:

          // I think some feared that the relationship was broken beyond repair, by which, presumably (seeing as no one could ever think that they’d stay apart for ever) they mean that it wouldn’t return to something they recognised as the Sam-Dean relationship. //

          I actually felt that way too – especially that line you mention – like, WOW, “if you want to be brothers” … my God, Sam!! and Dean’s agony – even beyond anything else going on with him at any given moment – the knowledge that he has messed up the thing that matters to him the most … I mean, that was straight-up excellent television – and really bold for a show that was 9 years into its successful run. Like: really? You’re gonna call into question the entire reason for the show’s existence??

          So I definitely felt that same agony of other fans … and yet … God help me. I enjoyed it. I reveled in it. What is my problem.

          // or my part there’s no deep “fixing” going on — things are only okay by certain definitions of okay. //

          I definitely agree with that.

          In fact, I almost miss Sam’s “wait a second, Dean isn’t my WIFE’ stuff – like that great look on his face when poor Jodie Mills said to him, “Not everybody can have what you and Dean have.” Sam is now more committed than ever to his “marriage” after his 5-year-long midlife crisis where he was doing EVERYTHING he could to get out of his “relationship.” And so what does that mean? How will that come into play again?

          It’s such a great tension, the brother-wife thing.

          Wasn’t it just last season when Sam was going behind Dean’s back with Crowley/Charlie/Rowena – and Dean was like, “Where do you go all the time? Is there a woman you’re not telling me about?”

          I just love this show. It’s so messed-up.

          I hadn’t thought about Sam’s unconditional forgiveness – although I have sensed it at work somehow. I’ll have to think more about it.

          // final stages of a vivisection of Dean’s psyche — it has really exposed the core of his self-understanding and I am very curious as to where we go from here. //

          Yeah. It’s pretty thrilling. Amazing to think of Dean in the pilot … and Dean now. What a character.

          • Jessie says:

            Amazing to think of Dean in the pilot … and Dean now.
            I came across a comment this weekend where someone was like, I started Supernatural, but the first half of S1 was kinda dull, and the acting was nothing special, and I was like O_o what were you WATCHING????

            So I definitely felt that same agony of other fans … and yet … God help me. I enjoyed it. I reveled in it. What is my problem.
            GIVE ME ALL THE AGONY
            I think the creators are as deep in it as me: I don’t think that we’ll end (whether it’s bloody or tragic or victorious) with them anything but united and, essentially, in love — you know, I mean, X Files is not gonna end with Mulder and Scully on the outs. This is not Remains of the Day. That’s just obvious to me. So all the agony in between, if it’s successfully rendered, is a sweet treat. That’s the paradox of tragedy, right? It makes us feel like shit, and we love it.

            I hadn’t thought about Sam’s unconditional forgiveness – although I have sensed it at work somehow.
            Yeah, I can’t get a sense yet of whether this is something they are going to explicitly deal with or if it’s going to be something that runs underneath but there is almost a saintliness to Sam at the moment that seems to, like, merge with his bone structure in a very pure and aesthetically and emotionally appealing fashion.

            Wasn’t it just last season when Sam was going behind Dean’s back with Crowley/Charlie/Rowena – and Dean was like, “Where do you go all the time? Is there a woman you’re not telling me about?”
            ha ha ha yes, it was! And in that run of episodes Sam was saying to Charlie, I want this life, but I can’t and don’t want to do it without Dean. So compared to his reaction to Jody’s statement it’s a pretty huge about-face or disconnect within the character. It’s complicated and fascinating. Fuckin’ weirdos. I love it.

          • sheila says:

            // there is almost a saintliness to Sam at the moment that seems to, like, merge with his bone structure in a very pure and aesthetically and emotionally appealing fashion. //

            hahahaha YES.

            and yes, in terms of Sam and Dean’s End-Game whatever it will be. No matter what happens, they’ll be “back together.”

            Interesting to consider the end of that first Kripke arc: Dean holed up with Lisa/Ben, Sam in Hell … or not?? – Sam outside, almost like Barbara Stanwyck standing in the rain in Stella Dallas, peeking in at her daughter getting married. Like: WOW. DRAMA. HEART CRACK. Sacrificing your own happiness for someone else’s. If the show had ended there … well, it would have been agonizing, of course, but it’s the kind of agony that those “maternal sacrifice” movies of the 1930s had. Woman gives up child so child can have better life. Scorned mother looks on from afar as daughter flourishes. Her heart breaks yet she is happy that she did the right thing, etc.

            And yeah, just recently – in Into the Mystic – Sam had that monologue where he says, “I couldn’t do this without my brother. Even when i let him down, he’s always been there for me …”

            I wonder if all of this is leading up to something.

            Is it … too saintly? Or is it just Sam making peace with his past (it’s about time)?

            There’s definitely something going on there. The long-delayed apology in re: Purgatory.

            Wrapping up loose ends? Preparing for (gulp) the end of the series?

            Word hasn’t come yet if they’re renewing, right?

            Knock wood.

          • Jessie says:

            Sam outside, almost like Barbara Stanwyck standing in the rain in Stella Dallas, peeking in at her daughter getting married.
            Ha ha ha we have talked about this. My reaction was, hello here is femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck from Double Indemnity ready to FUCK SHIT UP.

            Is it … too saintly? Or is it just Sam making peace with his past?
            I don’t know! I mean, the apology, the doubling-down on the marriage, the guilt, the unconditional support and forgiveness. It’s not really…there’s a way in which they don’t really align with his old traumas and issues. It’s hard to get a grasp on it and he’s still kind of serving Dean’s story so I think it’ll take more shape once it’s played out.

            No word on renewal yet……

          • sheila says:

            Right – interesting.

            There was also his comment to the deaf hunter which has stayed with me: “Drop a line … if you ever want to hang out.”

            I mean, I suppose both of these guys could have said stuff like that to women along the way – just that we haven’t seen it – but I doubt it. What is shown is shown for a reason. And when has Sam ever said something like that? Or even thought something like that? Hang out? HANG OUT?? But then accompanied with his “We won’t live long enough to retire” comment … in the same episode …

            There are some interesting forces at work here, that I can’t quite untangle yet – and I don’t think they are to be untangled quite yet. Dean’s strange “So you don’t think we’ll grow old” questions – when normally it is the other way around – Like: suddenly Dean is looking forward to … a retirement community? What the HELL.

            Maybe these are some of those reversals we all love so much … only we’re in the middle of them so we can’t see how it will play out yet.

            I think it’s all pretty rich and textured, myself. Not “on the nose.”

        • Paula says:

          //brother-wifedom// I’m into reading all of your comments so seriously and then that pops up and I giggle like an idiot. “I made you a promise in that church, Sam…”

      • Jessie says:

        Oh and re: KoC I am looking forward to seeing it even more now after MZS’s incredible and honest review so hopefully will remember to drop back in once I’ve managed to catch it!

        • sheila says:

          Yes, I was going to send you that link – hell of a review, right??

          • Jessie says:

            Amazing review. And you’ve talked about how actors have to be fearless, but that is a hell of an open and fearless review. I think most of us have had that experience, of being so immersed in something that we are only able to communicate about it by trying to approximate its language, and there is a real risk there, because what we experience as profound often seems from an outside or cynical perspective to be trite or even a bit dim. Because the profound is often appallingly simple, and to downshift into language just seems to devalue it. I guess that is why artists like Malick are to be treasured; they find a way to bypass language. Maybe that’s why his films are made in editing instead of scripting and filming.

          • sheila says:

            I love how Matt basically admits that to try to “boil it down” would be to ruin it. He can only talk about it experientially.

            For some people, Malick’s stuff (especially recently) doesn’t work at all. And that’s cool. But I think he’s trying to do something that … well, only he can do, because only he cares about certain things in that particular way. It’s like a painter. A painter – a genius painter – doesn’t follow trends, and feels no pressure to do what everyone around him does. So the Impressionists – before it became a “movement” – were painting what they wanted to paint in the way they wanted to paint it. And the world HATED it at first – it was like the whole world was ending because of this new style. There’s almost a “who does he think he is” thing going on in the reaction.

            I don’t think Malick is a trend-setter – because who COULD follow that “trend”? It’s so personal to him.

            These last three films are the films of an old man. The past bleeding into the present. A sense of the stretches of time. How small “we” are compared to the solar system’s age, etc.

            I think they’re wonderful – and I love how far he is pushing it. There’s almost no dialogue in To the Wonder. Knight of Cups is mostly word-less too.

            People seem to resent this. A lot of critics resent this. Which seems odd to me. They think he’s gone “too far.” A friend of mine wrote a scathing review of it when it played at Berlinale – and I read it thinking, “Come on, friend. You LOVE experimental film if it’s other people doing it. Why are you asking Malick to give you something that he has no intention of giving?” It’s like critics suddenly become uptight schoolmarms, super conservative, suspicious of innovation.

            Also, I love that Matt pointed out that Knight of Cups is actually funny. I can’t think of any funny moments in Malick’s films – but there are quite a few here!

  2. Carolyn Clarke says:

    My God, Sheila, when do you sleep? Better question..
    do you sleep? Supernatural, Millennium (which I enjoyed and I was so angry when it was cancelled), Xfiles AND I don’t know how many movies/documentaries.

    As always, your recaps are delightful. So rich and dense given their relative brevity.

    I enjoyed Season 9 but I admit that I had to watch it twice to see all the nuances and so far, season 11 is hitting it out of the park. The writing is so good, the producers are bringing back or introducing good characters that generally have something to say to move the story forward. IMHO, there appears to be far less fluff and filler episodes. Even the funny episodes serve to either provide solid exposition or character development. Sully was there to help Sam face Lucifer. Dean admits to Sam how he sees Amara. Crowley is finally getting his groove back. Castiel is funny again. This season feels clean and efficient while giving us enough BMs without too much immature angst to go with it. I am so enjoying this and your writing.

    But please get some sleep.

    • sheila says:

      Carolyn – Ha, in re: sleep. I know. February was a weird month – busy – but no day-job. (Day-job just started again … so my schedule has been all topsy-turvy.)

      //This season feels clean and efficient while giving us enough BMs without too much immature angst to go with it.//

      I agree with everything you say, including this. It’s been an extremely strong season. I love that the “Big Bad” is … well, it’s not an Abaddon kind of thing. Or Leviathan. It’s more indistinct … and while everyone fears this “thing,” she herself seems almost … innocent? She’s just doing what she needs to do. I don’t know … it’s fascainting, and extremely different for the show – I love that they’re invested in trying something really new.

      • carolyn clarke says:

        Yes, Amara is not evil at all in her eyes. She clearly wants revenge but even that is reasonable by her way of thinking. I also think that by writing her in the way that she is written, it leaves it open to the audience as to what she is and what she needs/wants/deserves. No matter what happens, not everybody is going to be happy. So be it.

        Personally, I enjoy the female characters in Supernatural (except for Becky because she got on my nerves). They usually know how to fight for themselves or ask for sex when they want it. These aren’t the type of females that trip in their high heels when the monster comes upon them or get the gowns tangled up in the shrubbery. These ladies wear boots and tank tops and usually have as many layers as the boys. I don’t really worry about whether the boys settle down, stay single or come out of the closet. As long as the story is good, I’ll go with it.

        • Lyrie says:

          Yes, the girls and women are so great. And how they cast them, too. Btw way, I really hope we’ll see Billie (Billy?) again soon, because I kinda wanna see her pissed.:)

          // As long as the story is good, I’ll go with it. //
          Agreed.

          • sheila says:

            I love Billie. Her first scene? Just classic – not AS classic as Death’s entrance, but they were clearly going for something similar. Plus “Night of the Hunter” – which – I think – was referenced in that same episode on the little random television? I think it was the same episode.

            and yeah: it seems like her threats to make sure those guys STAY dead are akin to the whole Chekhov-gun theory. If a gun is mentioned in the first act, it MUST be shot in the third. In other words: don’t introduce a gun into the action early on if you’re not gonna follow through later. The audience will always be thinking about that innocent gun in the drawer … “Oh God … who’s gonna shoot that gun …”

            So methinks Billie is going to show up as a particularly un-moving adversary if either of the Winchesters die … again.

        • sheila says:

          Carolyn –

          // I don’t really worry about whether the boys settle down, stay single or come out of the closet. As long as the story is good, I’ll go with it. //

          Ha! I like that.

          I agree with you about the female characters. Becky was horrifying! I wasn’t around when Becky was happening in real-time – were fans at all put-off by that representation of them?? It’s pretty bitchy!! (Thankfully, counter-acted by the other sweet fans at the convention – but then of course Becky had to return and … roofie Sam … and all bets were off at that point.)

          The fact that Becky’s “dealer” in that episode is now RAISING THE ROOF on Broadway as Aaron Burr in Hamilton is so pleasing to me, I don’t even know what to say. I am so PSYCHED for him.

          But back to your comment:

          I like what you say about Amara – I agree – she seems to float in this pool of possibility – and is all things to all people. I hadn’t considered that. Crowley tried to control it. She slipped away. He projected onto her a vision that she wanted no part of.

          I hadn’t really considered the whole “siblings” aspect of this – and its possible correlation with Sam and Dean. God and Amara, pissed-off siblings … Who else can piss you off like a sibling?

          What do we think about that connection between God/Amara and Sam/Dean?

          • carolyn clarke says:

            //The fact that Becky’s “dealer” in that episode is now RAISING THE ROOF on Broadway as Aaron Burr in Hamilton//. He also did a semi-arc with “Person of Interest”. He was so gleefully evil in that role that I didn’t recognize him from Supernatural at first.

            //God and Amara, pissed-off siblings … Who else can piss you off like a sibling?//

            I’m not sure that I see a correlation between God/Amara and Dean/Sam as pissed off siblings. I think it’s bigger than that.

            I suggest that the correlation stems the characters of Sam and Dean and what they would do. I’ve always seen Dean as black and white with a little bit of gray. He believes in what he believes in but he is mostly white. (Yes, he is a serial killer but that is for another discussion.) In contrast, I see Sam as very, very gray and I don’t think it’s just the “demon blood”.

            In “Form and Void”, Dean goes to kill the baby Amara and she’s disappeared. I don’t think he would have been able to kill her but I think Sam could easily stab a baby in the heart. This is the Sam who wanted to kill the virgin in “Jus in Bello” and bled the nurse dry in “Lucifer Rising”. At the end of season 10, Death asked Dean to kill Sam because he knows that Sam would do anything. Death knows that it’s not enough to neutralize Dean because Sam is the one who will dare to do anything, if he thinks it right.

            Sam did sacrifice himself to save the world but he started the apocalypse by going over the line even when Dean tried to stop him. Here, God decided it was okay to sacrifice Amara to create the world. I don’t think that Amara ever approved of that idea. Anger is a huge part of the conflict but I think it’s more than that. If my brother sacrificed and exiled me to create the world without my permission, my first words would be “Where did you get that set of balls? The nerve of you!”

          • sheila says:

            Carolyn –

            wow, I love your in-depth analysis, especially in regards to Sam.

            This is very very insightful!

  3. Paula says:

    Epic rewatch this month, Sheila. Sex and Violence is so disturbing and I love it. The mouth ejaculation – you’re right, there’s no other way to put it. The total control the siren has and how he sits on the edge of the bed preening and aroused by their fight. The weird smile on Sam’s face when Dean has a knife to his throat. So uncomfortable and yet I rewatch this ep more than any other..

    Fascinating the character reversals you mention. Another one I noticed is how happy Dean is when the case starts – strippers, Sammy! – but then when they are actually at the club both times, he isn’t particularly interested in the girls or the show, being pissy with Sam about the case the first time and then talking classic rock with the ‘other agent’ the second time. It’s like Dean’s infamous libido was stripped away while Sam is slutting around. Instead the writers gave the high libido to Cara Roberts, who is my queen. She’s a hot mess who lives totally in the moment. Some good looking FBI agent shows up and she’s like why the hell not, that’s why I keep a fifth of whisky in my desk.

    • sheila says:

      // She’s a hot mess who lives totally in the moment. //

      God, yes. And her crooked little smile and knowing eyes …

      She’s an onslaught of sex appeal. And I love that after having sex with Sam she’s headed out to a bar for (presumably?) more. Only to get up, go to work, and start the whole thing over again. Great little performance.

      And so funny that Dean is
      1. out of his league when it comes to her. She’s very much LIKE him, in a way.
      2. assumes that he will steal Sam’s thunder, thinks Sam has cock-blocked him when … not even close!!

      • sheila says:

        and is he actually referring to the “c” word there? Meaning: Sam is blocking him from getting to her “c”? Or is he referring to his own “c”?

        These questions keep me up at night.

        • Lyrie says:

          I always assumed he was talking about his own “c”. Now I’d have to watch the scene again, I guess.

          // These questions keep me up at night.//
          Ha!

      • Paula says:

        You’re so right, she heads out to the bar after Sam, and also looks a little distressed as she exits the taxi. Perhaps there is another date waiting for her there and she’s running late? Because she grabbed onto the opportunity for some mind blowing office sex earlier? No wonder she shows up all ragged to the office in the mornings. LOVE HER and her complicated backstory. Her husband died but she doesn’t seem mournful at all, as would be expected, just shrugging a shoulder over the end of the relationship. Talk about self medicating your pain.

        The “c” – hahahaha. The censors probably had no idea that leaving it ambiguous makes it that make dirtier,

        • sheila says:

          I know – her husband died!! I love how all of this was sort of set up as a red herring: She’s so sexy she’s got to be the siren. I mean, she embodies it, right?

          Turns out: Nope. She’s just a hot mama who actually lives her life AS a siren without actually BEING a siren.

    • Jessie says:

      Paula, Sex and Violence is such an amazing episode! Easily a favourite for me. You and Sheila are so right about the ejaculation — couldn’t have a kiss, no, so let’s go for something even more twisted. Love it. Same thing happens when Dean gets turned into a vampire.

      Cara and Nick the Siren are WONDERFUL and memorable one-and-doners — two great actors — and, I mean: “I gave him what he wanted and it wasn’t a bitch in a bikini, it was you” — that is a line that actually appeared on broadcast television. What is there even to say about that.

      • sheila says:

        Jessie – that gif!!!!

        Oh man, thank you for making me LAUGH that hard on a Saturday morning.

        // that is a line that actually appeared on broadcast television. //

        hahaha I know!!

      • Paula says:

        OMG yes that! Dean as a vampire, same weird twisted sexuality. God bless how SPN writers get this stuff in.

        • Jessie says:

          lol Sheila all credit to Bill Hader, he is incredible! Have you seen his version of Little Edie in Documentary Now! yet?

          Paula yes, I just love when the show doubles down on the twisted stuff! I feel like there’s not as much of that lately and I miss it! Maybe that’s why I responded so strongly to the first Lucifer ep of the season and why I enjoy him most when he’s representing an actual immediate threat to their bodily and emotional integrity. You know, there’s no way for them to actually represent the awfulness of what he could actually be doing. Crowley licking the floor is child’s play. I feel like they shouldn’t even bother.

          • sheila says:

            I have not seen Bill Hader as Little Edie and now I MUST. He is so so talented. After Skeleton Twins, I am convinced he can do anything. He could play Hamlet and it would probably be fascinating.

            I worked on the 17th floor at 30 Rock for a year – the 17th floor is the SNL floor. A closed floor. Through a snafu in office-assignment, I (and my mini-team of 2 other people) were placed in offices on that floor. We worked for The Today Show so we really had no business being on the 17th floor. So I’d be in the ladies’ room with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey – and Jimmy Fallon (who wasn’t on the show at that time, but maintained an office) had the office right next to ours. He knocked on our door once and asked if we had a corkscrew. And once, when there was a fire in the building (black smoke filling the windows), the two of us ran down 17 flights of stairs together. Other people waited for the elevators – as we ran, Fallon said to me, “After 9/11, I can’t believe anyone would get into an elevator.”

            BUT why I’m mentioning all of this is that my year on the 17th floor was the year of Bill Hader’s first year on the show. Everyone on SNL dressed like shit, as you can imagine – people rolled in in their sweat pants. Bill Hader wore a suit and tie. Every day.

            It was so heart-cracking, for some reason. I had already seen him in a couple of things and really liked him, but his quiet formality of dress was really touching.

            I’m a huge fan!!

          • sheila says:

            // I feel like there’s not as much of that lately and I miss it! //

            I know, I agree with this. I wonder why this has been phased out. Were there certain writers who really brought that vibe out – and those writers are no longer with the show?

            // why I enjoy him most when he’s representing an actual immediate threat to their bodily and emotional integrity. //

            Absolutely. And yes, with the torture of Crowley. The show loses a lot when it goes explicit.

            All of Season 4 was a tease of what was done to Dean in Hell – and we never saw one second of it. Much much worse – to get those suggestions – also, to see the look on Sam’s face when Lucifer threatened him, teased him … because Sam remembers what was done to him.

          • Jessie says:

            your 17th floor anecdote is so beautiful! So moving — especially considering he was apparently so nervous in those early days. oh my god! And yes he is great in Documentary Now! and plays a whole range of characters — although not Hamlet (yet). He is just a stunner.

            Were there certain writers who really brought that vibe out
            My guess would be Gamble. Edlund too but he tends to go esoteric and elaborate and she tends to go simple and visceral, and season 6 really was just grimy and awful in some terrific ways.

            All of Season 4 was a tease of what was done to Dean in Hell
            Yes! In fact there are a lot of similarities between the Alistair-Dean and Lucifer-Sam scenes, how so much of it has to live in the queasiness the actors create between them. JP’s reactions to Lucifer in the cage and Cas-Lucifer in the bunker SLAYED me. I’ve said this before but it’s almost like we have to treat Dean’s Alistair-torture scene as a metaphor — what we see, a bit of knifey-spoony, is kind of just the shadow of whatever unrepresentable things happened.

          • sheila says:

            // season 6 really was just grimy and awful in some terrific ways. //

            Totally agree!

            // JP’s reactions to Lucifer in the cage and Cas-Lucifer in the bunker SLAYED me. //

            Yes! And because we didn’t see what happened – as you say it’s up to the actors to show it. JP’s face when he realized Cas was Lucifer … so so good. Dean’s face when he first saw Alistair come into that church attic space … it’s all there.

            And then we all out here fill in the blanks.

            It’s such a RICH give-and-take – to allow an audience that space, even though what we are imagining is practically unmentionable.

  4. Bethany says:

    Thank you so much for putting into words what I have never been able to fully express about Terrence Malick. Teaching us how to “see.” I went to see Tree of Life by myself, in a theater with about 10 other people, some of whom walked out after an hour or so. But I couldn’t stop crying. Thought about it for days, the weight of those images. I don’t know what to expect from Knight of Cups, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

    Also, always always wonderful to hear your thoughts on Supernatural, the gift that gives double and triple on rewatch. :)

    • sheila says:

      Bethany –

      // I went to see Tree of Life by myself, in a theater with about 10 other people, some of whom walked out after an hour or so. But I couldn’t stop crying. Thought about it for days, the weight of those images. //

      I so feel the same way. I think Tree of Life is the best of the lot – mainly because it does have a more conventional “narrative” (the father and his sons, the Texas childhood) – and To the Wonder and Knight of Cups are WAY more un-moored. They’re more like tone-poems, or collages – with almost no dialogue, and whispered voiceover. Malick has been using voiceover since his first film – Badlands – and To the Wonder was practically one long prayer.

      I liked Knight of Cups much better … it’s really just about a man who feels disconnected from everyone and himself.

      I found it very moving!!

      And in re: SPN: it really is the show that keeps on giving. With the best episodes, there’s always something I notice once I re-visit!

  5. Desirae says:

    I really liked Our Dancing Daughters and found the gender politics incredibly interesting. They’re more modern than they would be fifteen or twenty years down the road. And Crawford is just gorgeous in it – its easy to see why she became such a huge star, and why all the men on the lot were chasing her around. The ending isn’t quite conventional either, at least not where the character of Diana is concerned.

    • sheila says:

      Desirae –

      so glad to hear your thoughts on Our Dancing Daughters.

      I so agree! Mitchell and I were talking about how Crawford stands out – her acting is somehow more grounded, and also more … star power-y – than the others.

      She was so good at that “working regular girl trying to ‘make it'” thing – she could be ruthless about it, like she was in The Women, or just good old-fashioned needing to make a living because men are unreliable – like Mildred Pierce …

      with all her glamour, she was just so good at playing women who had clawed their way into respectability.

  6. Lyrie says:

    I can’t wait until you’ve seen the whole season of the X Files. I want to talk about it!

    //“Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster”//
    I was roaring with laughter — with a few tears because Kim Manners. My boyfriend was so confused. I’m so glad they didn’t “forget” to be silly. I don’t know why, but I was worried they would.

    • sheila says:

      Oh yes – Kim Manners!! That was so emotional!

      I’m seeing the final episode today! Headed out to Brooklyn now. Will report back!

      • sheila says:

        and that actor playing the were-monster was so so funny.

        And how about Gillian Anderson playing his porn-ified version of her? “Why won’t guys send me pictures of their junk?”

        I was on the FLOOR.

    • Paula says:

      Kim Manners *heart crack*, seems like he would have loved that tombstone prop.

      The were-creature actor, Rhys Darby, was hysterical. If you haven’t seen Yes Man, you should watch it just for his performance as the bank manager who throws the most pathetic Harry Potter party ever.

  7. There is STILL stuff in Season Two of MILLENNIUM that blows my mind.

    • sheila says:

      Kelly – Watched 5 more episodes yesterday. It’s such an incredible show.

      What parts blew your mind? I’ll see if we’ve gotten there yet in our binge-watch.

  8. Lyrie says:

    // That teddy bear moaning and rocking and then blowing his brains out. You guys. I am just happy that it exists. //
    Yes, it’s the best. Sometimes, when I’m alone and frustrated about something and I realize I need to have a little sense of humour about it I just go “Is that all there iiiiiis?”

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