March 2016 Viewing Diary

Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 20: “What Is and What Should Never Be” (2007; d. Eric Kripke)
My 300-page re-cap here.

At Any Price (2012; d. Ramin Bahrani)
Inspired by the recent conversation Mitchell and I had about Zac Efron (Part 1 and Part 2), I rented At Any Price, directed by one of the most interesting filmmakers working today, Ramin Bahrani. (Other films of his to check out: Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo and 99 Homes.) At Any Price may be a bit too melodramatic at times (Bahrani can definitely go that way), but it features incredible performances from Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron. Everyone’s good. AND it’s a story about the situation with American farmers. Bahrani is interested in economic realities, his movies are all investigations into different aspects of that. Highly recommend it.

Marguerite (2016; d. Xavier Giannoli)
I reviewed for Rogerebxrt.com.

Ministry of Fear (1944; d. Fritz Lang)
Gorgeously paranoid. I love Fritz Lang. There’s microfilm buried in a cake. There are Nazis and Nazi-sympathizers everywhere. An innocent man gets caught up in the web of evil.

The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 6, “My Struggle II” (2016; d. Chris Carter)
I have found this entire experience of Season 10 to be 1. hugely entertaining and 2. tremendously emotional. I thought it was wonderful: it hit all my sweet spots – I love the silly episodes, and boy, some of these were silly, and I love the overall sense of yearning and love and can’t-have-you-fully-but-love-you thing between the two leads – and, if I had to say what any of this was really ABOUT, it would be that second one. I realize some people find this frustrating. For me, it’s about that relationship. I really enjoyed the whole thing.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 7 “19:19” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
It’s The Sweet Hereafter, except when the bus is pulled up out of the water, all of the children inside are gone. Glen Morgan and James Wong wrote. It’s an X-Files reunion. Plus Thomas J. Wright, well-known to Supernatural fans. I am REALLY loving Season 2 of Millennium, as the series tips into darkness even more dark, and encroaching chaos. It seems perfectly connected to the title of the series, as well as the overall mood. Things are getting distinctly spooky, and the golden-lit family life in that pretty yellow house is getting messy. It’s turning and nothing can seem to stop it. Keith and I are watching this together, and we haven’t finished Season 2 yet (of course, he’s seen the whole thing already), so I have no idea where it’s going to go.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 8 “The Hand of Saint Sebastian” (1997; d. Thomas J. Wright)
I find Terry O’Quinn to be enormously sexy. I love paranoia. I don’t love to experience it myself, but I love paranoid story-telling, and stories about paranoia. Of course, this means that Chris Carter is a man after my own heart.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 9 “Jose Chung’s ‘Doomsday Defense'” (1997; d. Darin Morgan)
A masterpiece. Jose Chung! Charles Nelson Reilly! Lance Henriksen getting to play an “upbeat” version of Frank Black, bursting through the door, with hair like Siegried and Roy’s, punching someone in the nuts, KA-POW. I could not stop laughing. Plus, a take-down of Scientology that was so so bold for that era. Pre-dating South Park’s definitive lampoon by a decade.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 10 “Midnight of the Century” (1997; d. Dwight H. Little)
A Christmas episode, Millennium-style.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 11 “Goodbye Charlie” (1998; d. Kenneth Fink)
An example of how a “genre show” (or film, too) can often get away with social and cultural critique better than a more on-the-nose message-y type story can do. Euthanasia is on the table. It’s frightening.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 12 “Luminary” (1998; d. Thomas J. Wright)
A fascinating search for a young kid who has disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness. Into the Wild is a clear influence on this episode (the book had come out 2 years before, but was probably still on the NY Times-bestseller list.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 13 “The Mikado” (1998; d. Rod Pridy)
This episode freaked me out. It was a very Criminal Minds-ish episode.

Public Speaking (2010; d. Martin Scorsese)
Scorsese’s wonderfully entertaining film about Fran Lebowitz. Keith and I went and saw Fran Lebowitz and Frank Rich at BAM this month, so we watched this in preparation. I love her so much, and Public Speaking features her doing what she does best: Talking. Never stop talking, Fran. We need you.

Shop Around the Corner (1940; d. Ernst Lubitsch)
I love this movie so much and I love the ensemble nature of it. The different personalities in that shop, the alliances, the undercurrent of hostilities and unhappiness … but also, the film’s hope. People WANT to connect. But they have such a hard time doing so. Beautifully directed by that master of humor and gentle irony, Ernst Lubitsch.

Moneyball (2011; d. Bennett Miller)
I love this movie for many reasons. I reviewed it for Capital New York when it first came out. The performances please me, the nerd-baseball aspect pleases me even more. It’s a portrait of loneliness, to some degree, the loneliness of the obsessive, the man focused on only one goal and how that isolates him. Brad Pitt does excellent work. Everyone does.

Supernatural, Season 3, Episode 4, “Sin City” (2007; d. Charles Beeson)
The long scene between the gorgeous demon (I love her teeth) and Dean in that basement-dungeon is one of my favorites in the whole series. So well-written (Robert Singer and Jeremy Carver. Singer is such a character-based director/writer. Relationships are what interests him, not the larger Arcs of monsters, etc. And that one scene is SUCH a great relationship scene.) The scene goes on for so long, interspersed with scenes elsewhere, as Sam tries to find Dean. But it keeps going back to that basement. And the relationship keeps changing, growing. At first there’s hostility. There’s a sexual element to what’s happening. But then Dean starts asking her questions. And she answers. And an almost kinship starts to develop. It’s fascinating how it all happens and every time I see the scene I am surprised by it.

Supernatural, Season 3, Episode 11: “Mystery Spot” (2008; d. Kim Manners)
“Do these tacos taste funny?”

Mulholland Drive (2001; d. David Lynch)
Criterion just brought the film out and this was the version I watched, complete with special features, interviews with Watts, Lynch, Justin Theroux, Laura Harring, etc. Gives great background on the film, and how they cast all of these miraculous people. It’s one of my favorite movies.

High School (1968; d. Frederick Wiseman)
One of America’s best documentary filmmakers, Wiseman has spent the entirety of his career (and he’s still going), investigating and infiltrating American institutions, and observing how they work. There’s no outside commentary or talking-heads or grand-standing “here is the message”. He’s done films on mental institutions, hospitals, the police, and here, he goes into a high school in Philadelphia in 1968, and just hangs out, filming. The new Metrograph theatre in New York is doing a Wiseman series – it lasts until April 14th, and I went to the press screening of High School. PBS often runs Wiseman’s stuff (he’s had a relationship with them for 40 years now), but I had never seen High School on the big screen. It’s incredible. The details he chooses to focus in on. Class rings. Hands. Close-ups. Long scenes unfold: a kid being dressed-down by the assistant principal who looks like Bob Haldeman. It’s 1968, but flower-power hasn’t trickled down yet, not really. It’s a conservative conformist world. I don’t see in it what a lot of other people seem to: a commentary on what assholes the adults were. Maybe it’s because I come from a family of teachers. Not all of the adults are assholes. They are trying to keep these kids on the right track. Vietnam is out there. How many of those boys in the student assemblies will end up in the jungle? Times are scary. Yes, “conform or die” is not really a great message, but – on the flipside – investing ONLY in “individualism” can result in a total fracturing of the social contract. You’ve got to have both to get along in this world. The students look bored in class. They look like little robots doing calesthenics in gym class. The sheer BOREDOM of high school is so evident that I practically was having PTSD flashbacks. It’s a great great film.

Krisha (2016; d. Trey Edward Shults)
A great film with a GREAT central performance. One of the best films I’ve seen this year, thus far. My review for Rogerebert.com.

Fish Tank (2009; d. Andrea Arnold)
Nothing I would say about this extraordinary film could improve on Kim Morgan’s gorgeous essay. What she said, essentially.

The Earrings of Madame De … (1953; d. Max Ophuls)
So breathtakingly brilliant that it’s even hard to process. Ophuls is probably one of the Top 5 filmmakers in terms of the Long Take. He showed what was possible in the long take, incredibly intricate long takes. He makes that Good Fellas shot through the Copa that everyone raves about like a gimmick, a stunt. You can’t believe what Ophuls accomplishes and how he accomplishes it. Along with his technical bravura, though, the story itself is so innovative, so strangely funny (it’s about the journey of her earrings … where those earrings go … and the chaos they wreak wherever they go), but then – ultimately – so tormented that it feels like a Russian novel. GREAT performances. The Criterion release has a fantastic special feature where Paul Thomas Anderson (another master of the long take, whose work owes much to the example set by Max Ophuls) talks about the film, certain shots, how they operate, how they influenced him.

The Perfect Match (2016; d. Bille Woodruff)
A romantic comedy. It has its points, it’s not very good, but I enjoyed it a little bit anyway. I reviewed for Rogerebxrt.com.

Supernatural, Season 3, Episode 14, “Long Distance Call” (2008; d. Robert Singer)
Some killer closeups in this one. Dean waiting by the phone like a nervous teenager waiting for her gentleman caller. Lots of upsetting stuff going on beneath the surface, relationship stuff, Dad stuff, and this is Robert Singer’s sweet spot. Monster-shmonster, sure, we’ll give them some scares, and a couple of good scary moments (I love how Sam eventually kills the monster. It’s gruesome as hell), but the real guts of the story is Dean waiting for that phone to ring, and the look on his face as he talks to his dead father. Of course, all of this can really be attributed to Jensen Ackles (“I was taking care of Sammy, just like you told me to …), but Robert Singer, at the helm of the ship, knows that that’s what really matters. I love this episode.

Prophet’s Prey (2015; d. Amy J. Berg)
This is one of the most upsetting documentaries I’ve ever seen. The situation is so fucking disgusting that I’m in a rage. I don’t understand why polygamy – illegal in the United States – is not enough to shut that bullshit down. At least there are people who are obsessed with this situation and have basically devoted their lives to destroying it. Who knows. But it made me sick to my stomach. I read Jon Krakauer’s book. None of this is news to me. I watched those pompadoured-women being loaded up into busses. I know what a monster that man is. But seeing this film … The footage is incredible.

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 10 “1,000 Cuts” (2015; d. Rosemary Rodriguez)
I love the mood of the show, its look and feel. I think all of the lead actors are, frankly, phenomenal. I’m not getting obsessed, though. The series is not sticking with me in any meaningful way. It doesn’t have staying power. I still appreciate what they are attempting to do, and I cannot express my admiration for all of these actors deeply enough.

Jessica Jones Season 1, Episode 11 “I’ve Got the Blues” (2015; d. Uta Briesewitz)
Even though I saw this episode so recently, I can’t remember much about it. I will continue on with the series, because I am in now, I can’t help but be invested, but I can tell I’m losing interest. Those first 5 or 6 episodes though … hoo boy!

Born To Be Blue (2016; d. Robert Budreau)
A Chet Baker biopic. Very interesting and well worth seeing. I reviewed for Rogerebert.com.

I Saw the Light (2016; d. Marc Abraham)
I thought Tom Hiddleston did an incredible job. Listen, I’m not saying he sounds like Hank Williams. Or that his singing equals Hank Williams. But it’s good enough, at least for the purposes of a biopic. It’s good enough. More importantly, he brings to it the sense of Williams’ vitality onstage, his ability to make every person in the audience feel like he was singing only to them. And that’s the most important thing. It’s a sad story. More thoughts here.

Let’s Get Lost (1988; d. Bruce Weber)
Weber’s 1988 documentary about Chet Baker, filmed in the last year of Baker’s life. Watched in preparation for Born To Be Blue. It’s a riveting piece of work. The whole thing is on Youtube.

The People vs. OJ Simpson (2016; d. Anthony Hemingway, Ryan Murphy, John Singleton)
This entire series has blown me away. I didn’t even want to watch, because we all lived through that nonsense once, and wasn’t once enough? But I read enough about how good it was that I decided to check it out. I binge-watched the entire thing over a two-day period. The ACTING. There is not one weak link. Everyone is so perfectly cast, so excellent!! Courtney B. Vance, Nathan Lane, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding, David Schwimmer, JOHN TRAVOLTA IS KILLING IT, Sterling K. Brown, so beloved by Supernatural fans, and here is playing Chris Darden, with a quiet sensitivity and thoughtfulness that holds the screen. The scenes between Darden and Paulson are revelations. I am having PTSD flashbacks again, and I wonder where the public outcry was when O.J. Simpson was busted for breaking/entering/kidnapping, for which he is in jail now. Was he framed then, too? It was a horrible and tense moment in time, dominated by the Rodney King beating, the atmosphere poisoned because of that event and the riots that followed. NOBODY kept their heads. Mistakes are made all around. I mean, putting Fuhrman on the stand! Are you kidding me? The fucking glove?? You can see where the prosecution went wrong (obviously). You can see the maneuverings of the defense team (Dream Team, my ass), the battle of wills going on in their camp, Cochran’s opportunism but also his smarts, and one of the things that is really clear is that if the prosecution hadn’t made all of those mistakes, the so-called Dream Team would have had a much harder time. I mean, there was literally a trail of blood leading from her house to his, including in his car and on his socks. Slam-dunk, right? Nope. One of the best parts of this series is that you are given all sides. It’s a cross-section of race and class. You can see where everyone is coming from. Not one narrative is prioritized over another. It’s a collage. It’s extremely thought-provoking and deep. It’s so well done. Acting tour de forces all around, everyone is doing such excellent work.

Sing Street (2016; d. John Carney)
It opens April 15th. I will be reviewing for Rogerebert.com.

The Dark Horse (2016; d. James Napier Robertson)
It opened yesterday. Here’s my review. Seek this movie out. It’s very very good.

Cries and Whispers (1972; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Such an astonishing tour de force that I am still amazed that it even happened. This is what independence from an industry looks like. (Or can. Bergman was a genius. If a non-genius tried to make Cries and Whispers, it would be pretentious, stilted and terrible.) The performances! The red room. The absolute heartlessness of these characters. The repression. The anguish. It may seem like an “exercise in style,” and maybe it is to some degree. The movie started with a vision that had been dogging Bergman for years: a completely red room, red walls, rug, chairs, and standing against the back wall were four female figures, dressed in white, old-fashioned gowns from the first years of the 20th century. That’s what he saw. But how he developed it. Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin as the sisters give titanic performances, all. And Kari Sylwan as their devoted maid … the only character who is good, who tries to do good … is extraordinary. This is some really bleak shit.

Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 21: “All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1” (2007; d. Robert Singer)
Breakfast Club meets High Noon.

Supernatural, Season 2, Episode 22: “All Hell Breaks Loose Part 2” (2007; d. Kim Manners)
Despite the Roger-Corman-ish cemetery-scene, which borders on – and tips over into – C-movie camp – this is a very powerful episode, with one of the best endings in the entire series: pushing us off into Season 3 with a vibrating sense of urgency and hopelessness. (Which makes the first moment we see Dean in Season 3 so fantastic. What we expect is not what they give us.)

Thelma and Louise (1991; d. Ridley Scott)
Thelma and Louise turns 25 this year. Three of us discussed this groundbreaking for Rogerebert.com.

Grizzly Man (2005; d. Werner Herzog)
My friend Alex and I are absolutely obsessed with this movie. One of the times I stayed with her out in LA, we watched it twice in one day. And then called up my brother, and invited him to drive over, so we could watch it again. I have so many observations about Treadwell. His VOICE. That fake high breathless voice. Why? Why is that the voice you’ve chosen? I’m so curious about what HE thought he sounded like. Because then when he goes on a rampaging rant against the park service, screaming at the camera … I think every time: “Okay. He’s being honest now. That is his real voice.” So the high breathless voice he chose was a smoke-screen for THAT voice, and imagine how much energy it would take to pretend you don’t have that much rage in you. Endlessly interesting.

Everybody Wants Some!! (2016; d. Richard Linklater)
Loved it so much. Here’s my review for Rogerebert.com. I look forward to seeing it again. Yesterday on Twitter, I saw some asshole Tweet: “This is why we need female film critics” and then linked to a review written by a “female film critic” (grrrr), who said that the film is “dismissive” towards women. Now, I don’t care whether or not people do or don’t like the movie. Not everyone is going to like everything. That’s not what annoyed me about that Tweet. It was the comment “this is why we need female film critics,” as though all “females” have the same reactions to things, the same opinions, the same concerns. We fucking DON’T, okay? Women are as diverse as any other population. I can’t believe people who are supposedly “tolerant” repeatedly do not get this. So I, a “female”, loved the movie, disagree entirely with that critic’s assessment … so that means that I, somehow, am not “needed”? Or … am I not a woman, too? Last time I checked, I was. This kind of shit SEEMS empowering to the people who say it. I am sure they mean well and mean what they say. But it’s just another way to marginalize women, and keep us in a little contained bucket, where we all (of course!) feel the same way about everything. Well, fuck that. I loved this movie. And I’m a “female film critic,” too … although I just prefer the term WRITER. Now that feels REALLY empowering. And no. The film is not “dismissive” towards women. My voice is just as important a counter-narrative as any other. Go see it.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 16 “Safe House” (2016; d. Stefan Pleszczynski)
I’m not normally frightened by Supernatural, but this episode legitimately freaked me out.

Maps of the Stars (2014; d. David Cronenberg)
Oh my God, this movie, I love it so much. It’s brutal, it’s in-SANE, it’s melodrama and satire and sick twisted shit all mixed up in one. It’s so cynical about Hollywood that it makes Sunset Boulevard look kind and forgiving.

God’s Not Dead (2014; d. Kevin Cronk)
Watched in preparation for the sequel, which I was reviewing.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 17 “Red Meat” (2016; d. Nina Lopez-Corrado)
I literally cannot believe that the prospect of these guys dying still has the capacity to be gripping and/or upsetting. I don’t mean to be cynical, but come on. The way it all went down, though, was so visceral and Lopez-Corrado played both “death” scenes in a way that felt … abstract, almost? Like, she lingered on what was happening – Sam even went down in slo-mo – the show almost never uses slo-mo. Maybe 3, 4 times? And then the inter-cut fluorescent-lit death scene in the storage room, which looked so real and chaotic with foam coming out of his mouth, etc. that you could tell it was really happening. These things MATTER, and they are choices on the part of the director/editor, dealing with the challenge that these guys have died so many times, and wept over each others’ so-called death beds so many times … that how can it still “get to” us? “Red Meat” showed that it still can – but only if it’s done in a way that is the least manipulative possible. I don’t know how they pull it off. It isn’t easy. I knew, of course, they weren’t dead … but the episode was structured so elegantly and efficiently – that the Romeo and Juliet aspect was so perfectly timed and perfectly clear – and leading off with that gun-shot to the belly and the slo-mo collapse had an epic Spaghetti Western feeling (one of the inspirations for the series in general) that flat out would not have worked if the series indulged in such devices all the time. You have to be very sparing with stuff like this. Anyway, I thought it was a very effective episode, although bringing back Billie and then having her do …. nothing … was a let-down. She’s a Big Gun. Hold her back until you need her. Also, beautiful LOOKING episode. Those foggy woods. That opening sequence where you honestly could not tell what was happening it was so dark. Plus, the explicit connection between a married couple and Sam and Dean. Brother-wives. I’m enjoying Season 11.

God’s Not Dead 2 (2016; d. Kevin Cronk)
Here’s my review. I really said it all right there.

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53 Responses to March 2016 Viewing Diary

  1. Jessie says:

    I gotta say, People vs OJ hasn’t fully come out over here, and I think it is often quite good, but there are a few things that absolutely INFURIATE me about it. Chiefly, these apparent professionals’ fundamental inability to light and film Sterling K Gordon, and their use of dramatic irony as a cudgel with which to beat Sarah Paulson. I find it very difficult to get past these issues and so I find it very superficial a lot of the time — however I do think Travolta and Schwimmer are KILLING it, and I hate/love watching Cuba.

    • Jessie says:

      Sterling K Gordon, ha ha! well, I yam what I yam.

      • Helena says:

        Jessie, I am laughing so hard at Sterling K Gordon I do not think I will recover.

        • Jessie says:

          I am sure I don’t know what you mean. Sterling K Gordon is the name of the fish on Marcia’s desk and I feel strongly that they do not adequately capture the iridescence of his scales.

          • sheila says:

            I hear what you are saying about the lighting of the series – in particular lighting him.

            Technically, I think the series leaves something to be desired.

          • Jessie says:

            yeah — I mean there are so few scenes where you can see his face properly — even in his own house with the warm light of his bedside lamp we can’t see him fully, and he’s on the phone talking to Paulson whose skin just glows — I find that very hard to forgive.

          • sheila says:

            I hear you on that, I do.

            Chris Darden was treated as such a “cipher” at the time of the trial – I mean, I know all of these people like I know my own family – and to get an insight into what this whole thing was like for him (I have not read any of the tell-all books from the people involved) is one of the real take-aways for me.

            I mean, that’s true across the board. There’s even an episode featuring the jury going batshit crazy being sequestered for so long.

            It was such a toxic moment in America’s history – we are still scarred – and in a lot of ways it’s gotten worse – but what the series really drives home is that this was the first time something like this had happened on THIS scale. 24/7 news-hour cycle, in other words.

            It changed the game.

            ESPN does this great series called “30 for 30” – different documentaries – all done by different directors – about various moments in sports history.

            The best one, bar none, is called June 17, 1994. About the Bronco chase. I can’t explain it – and the power of what that documentary does and shows. There are NO “talking heads”, nobody sitting down and reminiscing about that day. It’s ALL footage from that day.

            I wouldn’t have thought that there was anything else to learn or remember about that ridiculous day – and it WAS ridiculous – but that documentary showed me, showed me what happened – on a larger cultural level.

            It’s excellent!

          • sheila says:

            and the fact that it was Darden who had a bad vibe about Mark Fuhrman – there’s that great scene where he tries to tell Marcia Clark what it is like for a black man, and how someone like Fuhrman gives off a very familiar vibe – and Marcia Clark won’t listen …

            But THEN, that it was Darden who pushed for the glove-fitting moment – that was such a disaster that you still can barely believe that it happened.

            Sheer incompetence on the prosecution side. I mean, it boggles the mind.

            The whole thing was so ANNOYING here as it played out – that watching the series is not what I would call a pleasant experience – but it is providing some shadings in the background shenanigans that are making me think.

            I don’t know if I want to read Toobin’s book – I may have had enough at this point – but I’m thinking about it.

          • Jessie says:

            It’s been so interesting to see the response it gets, because I lack a lot of context (too young and in the wrong country) and I think it’s easier for me to be dismissive of it. I didn’t experience it as the Turning Point of a Nation and I find it fascinating that you find it an almost unpleasant watch, and that it’s making you rethink your opinions on Clark etc.

            From what I hear Darden in particular comes off better in Toobin’s book. There’s a cool interview out there with Mr Sterling about how thoroughly he came around from his original (as a young black man in LA) support of Simpson and how much he came to like Darden.

            That documentary sounds great!

          • sheila says:

            Jessie – yeah, the whole OJ thing was this event that took over our culture, changed it entirely (for the worse, at least in terms of the media), and was a “way” to “handle” the Rodney King situation – but it made it much much worse.

            OJ “got off” – mainly because of the incompetence of Marcia Clark and Chris Darden – like, guys: there is a trail of blood from Nicole’s house to OJ’s house. Blood in his car. On his sock. But they completely mis-read every situation along the way, and got intimidated by the shameless “race card” shenanigans of the other side, and intimidated by the media presence … that they screwed it up.

            The scar that this whole thing left was made really clear to me when OJ was arrested – again – for breaking/entering/stealing/kidnapping, etc. He is still in prison. Not for the murder of his wife and her friend. For something else. But I am happy that his freedom was taken away from him. Like, I’m still invested in this shit.

    • sheila says:

      // nd their use of dramatic irony as a cudgel with which to beat Sarah Paulson. //

      I agree with that – but I am getting these unpleasant flashbacks to watching that trial on TV and having a very bad reaction to Marcia Clark, and wondering why she was so ineffective … and I’m feeling bad about myself, but also … I don’t know … like it was so clear that she was messing up and knew she was messing up – and the trial (of course) was all I saw of her. I never saw her “backstage” or any of the rest.

      It’s making me uncomfortable – and maybe that’s a good thing.

      Cuba is killing it.

      • sheila says:

        “Sterling K. Gordon” is making me laugh out loud. I can’t stop!!

        Actually, I’m not crazy about the “filming style” in general – all of those crazy 360-degree arcs around characters – it doesn’t work for me. Kim Manners makes it work … but here, it feels arbitrary and maybe even a little desperate.

        For me, this is all about a crazy-good ensemble cast – I mean, Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey??? That is such genius casting – and so BOLD. I think he is doing such an excellent job – and it’s almost an example of how out-of-the-box casting choices are so rare, and we need more of it, and actors can do these incredible things if they are given the chance. I love Nathan Lane but he is never cast in stuff like this. As an elder statesman. And he SHOULD be. So so good.

      • Jessie says:

        Cuba is so good. His voicework! I agree totally the acting is the reason to watch. I LOVE watching Travolta move around. With his puffed up chest and his nose in the air and his defensive/smug/prissy smile (what a combo!).

        Paulson is fantastic but like I said I have problems with how she’s written (you think she’s a smoker? maybe?). Actually I was thinking of her performance in the haircut episode when I was writing about that feeling of like good-mood-turning-horrified in the WIAWSNB thread. They kicked her in the face like four or five times that episode and she made each one distinct.

        I’m not crazy about the “filming style” in general – all of those crazy 360-degree arcs around characters
        Me neither. I feel like its style is disingenuous — it wants the The Wire realism of the DPP building and the courtroom with all that harsh lighting and mounds of folders and it wants splashy camp and irony with everything else. So it sets itself up as something complex and authoritative but then it has scenes (hilarious, I might add) like the Connie Britton book dictation. Like, it wants to be seen as commenting on something True about the Media etc but it’s just kinda patting itself on the back. Does that make sense?

        • sheila says:

          // Like, it wants to be seen as commenting on something True about the Media etc but it’s just kinda patting itself on the back. //

          Absolutely and that’s a really good way to put it.

          Marcia Clark was des-TROYED because of her physical appearance – and I remember at the time thinking that yes, she looked frumpy on the TV screen, but then feeling bad that I was even thinking that, because she’s a lawyer not a sex symbol – but at the same time I was like, “God woman, get some better suits.” (Like: complicit. It made me ashamed to be even thinking these things. That’s why this series is so unpleasant – it brings it all back.) But THEN, after all THAT, when she showed up at court with a new shorter hairstyle (in the real-life event I mean), I was so embarrassed for her – not that it looked bad, although it did look bad, but that she had LISTENED to all that criticism and tried to do better. God, it was just so queasy-making. And I was implicated in it, I’m not saying I was an angel in this, with a “You look great, girl, wear your hair however” attitude. It was like you rode the waves of her fucking hairstyle – MEANWHILE: two people were SLAUGHTERED in cold blood. THAT was what was so disgusting about this trial – and what still disgusts me – because OJ obviously did it – and the fact that those two people lost their lives almost became a footnote to the circus of that trial. Yuk!! And THEN, Marcia straightened her hair and got the shag cut – and yet again I was mortified, because I felt her backstage shame at her own appearance and how her hair was and I couldn’t help but imagine how badly she must feel about the commentary and on and on and on.

          Paulson killed that episode – you really got how slammed she was and how unprepared she was for criticism like that. It was the first televised trial – cameras in the courtroom were so new, so controversial – and she had no idea that anyone would care about her hair in such a serious situation as a murder trial. NOW, every lawyer has a “media relations” adviser and professional makeup and professional blow-outs before appearing on television – basically all to avoid the kind of criticism Marcia Clark got.

          The entire thing is so disgusting, and we all participated in it. Not our finest hour, by a long shot!!

        • sheila says:

          and I so agree with you about Cuba’s voice! Excellent call.

          That raspy high-ish pitched voice – the “vocal fry” – and also how the voice is … empty somehow? Like, he’s “acting”. All the time. His only real emotion, deeply felt, appears to be self-pity.

          It’s a really brave performance.

    • sheila says:

      And I know, in re: Schwimmer! He’s so so good. I’m not surprised he is good, but I am surprised he is so good in this particular role.

      He is so PAINED.

      I hadn’t realized just how close Kardashian was to OJ Simpson. I knew they were friends but not to this degree. It was such a conflict of interest.

      • Jessie says:

        For me, Schwimmer has been key to the whole thing — his arc feels painful and honourable and personal as HELL. It is an amazing story in amongst all the others and Schwimmer is so sensitive to it all. I am most interested when he is on screen.

        • sheila says:

          Me too. His stakes could not be higher.

          • sheila says:

            In some cases, I’ve heard chatter that people are annoyed at the inclusion of the Kardashian family and the kids – that they’re just there to capitalize on the fact that all of those kids have grown up to epitomize (basically) the worst of our culture.

            I don’t know. I don’t really see it that way.

            Kardashian had a bunch of kids. He seems to have been a good father, who was trying to navigate them through life and keep them on-point. And he was disturbed at how he could explain to them that their godfather was charged with a double murder – and of course they all knew Nicole.

            I think that’s a valid point to bring up, and he can’t help it that those girls grew up to be tabloid queens.

            Same with the handling of Kris Jenner (I think Selma Blair has been very good in one or two of her scenes – actually humanizing a woman who has become so associated with reality TV and tabloid news that you forget that she’s … real, in any way.)

            And I’m relieved that they didn’t “go there” and include Bruce Jenner in the proceedings, in those Jenner house-hold scenes. I wonder if they were tempted.

  2. Helena says:

    //Like, she lingered on what was happening – Sam even went down in slo-mo – the show almost never uses slo-mo.//

    Finally, that homage to Kurosawa I’d been waiting 11 seasons for. Thank you Nina Lopez Corrado!

  3. Debbie Lake says:

    By the time Red Meat was over I needed a drink! I’m with you Sheila, I can’t believe how upset and emotional I was over this episode. Lopez-Corrado and the crew did an amazing job. Jared and Jensen were . . . well J2 aka freakin’ amazing! Billie’s appearance was anticlimactic but it was great seeing her anyway and Erin Way was fantastic. That conversation at the end between her and Dean really got me.

    My new favorite expression – lumberdouche! A Twitter SPN fan used it to describe Corbin. I love it!

    • sheila says:

      Lumberdouche. Ha.

      There are many of them in New York, most who live in Williamsburg (stereotype alert!!) – and you see them and you’re like, “Dude, you’ve never cut down a tree in your life. Get over yourself.”

      I actually liked Corbin, though – before he killed Sam, that is. Ha.

  4. sheila says:

    Oh, and here’s part of the Paul Thomas Anderson video I mention in the post that’s in the special features of the brilliant The Earrings of Madame de … . I love his analysis and what he picks up on. (It’s well worth getting the Criterion release so you can see the whole thing – but this gives you a good feel of it):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oumV7GgPyfE

  5. Dg says:

    Speaking of the x- files, I’ve never watched it but I read a great book review in the Washington Post of a second novel written by no other than David Duchovney. The title Sheila, brace yourself, is Bucky Fucking Dent. You can imagine when it takes place and the reviewer loved it

    • Sheila says:

      What???? Bucky Fucking Dent??

      Why did I not know about this?? I’m buying it immediately.

    • Paula says:

      Do I hear David Duchovny somewhere saying “Amazon me, bitches”.

      Amazing. Double bonus points for Amazon recommended Gillian Anderson’s book, A Dream Of Ice, at the same time for all us TXF fans.

      • sheila says:

        I thought David Duchovny was born and raised in New York.

        I mean, I suppose one could be born and raised in New York and still become a Red Sox fan, although I find that hard to believe. Because, if you were born and raised in New York, why would you WANT to be a Red Sox fan when the Yankees are uptown?

        I’ll have to check his book out. He directed a beautiful X-Files episode that was all about baseball.

        • sheila says:

          and I’ve never heard of Dream of Ice.

          What the hell is going on??

          Has Mitch Pileggi come out with a novel I don’t know about too?

  6. Paula says:

    //Breakfast Club meets High Noon.// I’m laughing so hard at this. Does that make Sam Bender?

    Grizzly Man is one of the few movies or documentaries that I’m so reluctant to see but after reading your description of the Voice, I feel compelled just to listen for it.

    • sheila says:

      I actually think Sam is the principal.

      • Paula says:

        Ha, Sam as Vernon? I thought that was Azazel (other than the whole Barry Manilow raided his closet thing). He does have the creepy toothy smile for it.

        • sheila says:

          Ha. You’re right – it’s totally Yellow Eyes! I was kind of kidding – but there is an aspect of Sam wanting to keep everyone in one place that is principal-ish!

          Eva as Molly Ringwald is a pretty funny idea.

    • sheila says:

      Oh and Paula, Grizzly Man!! The story is just so terrible (although, frankly, he deserved what he got. You sleep in the wild and you encroach on grizzly bears’ boundaries … well, that’s what you get. But it’s his girlfriend who was killed too – and she was scared of the bears – because … uhm, she was smart … Just awful.)

      It’s a riveting (and upsetting) psychological study of the man. He is clearly extremely ill and un-medicated.

      and yes! His voice! Let me find a clip of the high whispery voice. It’s hiding so much anger. I just can’t figure out what he thought he sounded like, and why he picked this particular voice. It’s so distinctive.

      • sheila says:

        Oh yes, oh yes, here is a really good clip of him. (And he is filming himself. There is no TV crew there, or anyone else … it’s just him and his tripod. Plus a bear in the background. And, of course, he’s not supposed to be that close to the bears. In the film he gets close enough to pet them. And he does pet them.)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVj_fFGA1Vw

        • sheila says:

          He thought grizzly bears were misunderstood. He’s the ONLY one who didn’t understand grizzly bears.

        • Paula says:

          Oh yeah, I see exactly what you’re saying here with the voice. “I persevere… I persevere.” What battle does he think he’s fighting? Ugh, so deep in his delusion that he’s a part of the landscape behind him.

          • sheila says:

            “I’m a gentle warrior. I’m a flower.”

            Deep in his delusion is a perfect way to put it – one tough old Alaskan guy says in the documentary: “Timothy Treadwell treated the bears like they were human beings in bear costumes.”

            In a fascinating moment near the end of the film he starts screaming in a rage about something – and he becomes the tough pissed-off FURIOUS Long Island boy that he really is inside – It’s actually his most honest moment in the film.

            Definitely tough-watching!!

  7. Nicola says:

    Frickin’ MAPS TO THE STARS, man. One of the only movies other than BLUE VELVET that had me going, “What am I watching?” But in that I-must-know-more and watch-it again-immediately kind of way.

    So, so bizarre. And intriguing. And how freakin’ great was Julianne Moore. I think it was the same year as STILL ALICE? Like, THAT’S THE SAME WOMAN.

    David Cronenberg is the warped best.

    And also, I crush hard on Robert Pattinson and I’m so excited that he’s in interesting projects.

    • sheila says:

      I actually think Julianne Moore was better in Maps to the Stars than Still Alice, which was far more conventional. I totally agree – how about when she basically celebrates that that little boy drowned, because now she got the part? That was when I really realized not only just how sick the movie was (because I expect sick-ness with Cronenberg and I treasure him for that sick-ness) – but also how far it was willing to go. Amazing!

      There were so many scenes that stuck with me. John Cusack’s absolute charlatan of a “therapist”. Mia W’s long gloves, and that strange moment where you see her dancing by herself as one of Cusack’s infomercials plays and I just couldn’t interpret that moment the first time I saw it.

      And yes, Robert Pattinson was great. You think he might be kind – and maybe, ultimately, he is, deep down, but he’s seething with ambition just like everyone else. That scene he has driving Julianne Moore around was just so … disgusting … in a great way.

      The movie is so brutal – but in that creepy metaphorical way that Cronenberg is so expert at … like, it’s so obviously a critique – and yet … I don’t know, he’s so fascinated by what drives these people that he immerses himself in their world, as opposed to hover over them, fingers wagging.

      Would you agree with that?

      I get totally sucked into his movies. Also, you can see his obsession with twins in Maps to the Stars – where everyone had their opposite, everyone was cut-in-half, looking for the other half.

  8. Nicola says:

    Julianne Moore was definitely better in MAPS TO THE STARS. She had SO much more to work with. And she was perfect and messed up. Do people like this really exist? I’m horrified and fascinated.

    All the “therapy” scenes between Julianne Moore and John Cusack were just so creepy. Mia Wasikowska and her long gloves and the constant repetition of that poem or whatever it was. The freakin’ threesome between Julianne Moore, the director, and the voice contestant. That horrible, horrible little child star. Every scene he was in was a little horror movie of it’s own. Again, is this real? Are there people like this in Hollywood? WOW. I’m actually just horrified rattling off all the messed up things in this movie and how much I loved it and was fascinated by it.

    |||The movie is so brutal – but in that creepy metaphorical way that Cronenberg is so expert at … like, it’s so obviously a critique – and yet … I don’t know, he’s so fascinated by what drives these people that he immerses himself in their world, as opposed to hover over them, fingers wagging.|||

    THIS. All. Of. This. There’s no judgement in David Cronenberg’s direction. And he’s so fearless in where he’s willing to go. It’s kind of cool that he gets given that freedom, too.
    Nobody “gets off” in his movie. There’s no quintessential good guy/bad guy scenario. Everybody are kind of victims or creations of their own circumstance.

    I’ll admit I haven’t seen a lot of David Cronenberg’s movies. I saw THE FLY when I was far too little and it still haunts me. I have seen COSMOPOLIS, and A DANGEROUS METHOD all really recently. Where would you recommend I go from there? I’m dying to see SCANNERS and VIDEODROME. I’ll probably just end up blind buying them, but then I’ll probably try and splurge and get Criterion editions.

    • sheila says:

      Nicola – I’m headed out the door for the day but I want to come back to this – I’ve been dying to discuss this movie!

      In terms of Cronenberg: I’d say Dead Ringers for sure – I mean, gynecologist twins? It’s horrifying. So so good though. Has Criterion come out with that one? For years, it’s been very very hard to find – I don’t think it ever came out on DVD. History of Violence is excellent – I love Eastern Promises too.

      Plus the be-all end-all of weird sex movies – Crash. (not the Paul Haggis one. Ha.)

      As twisted as his movies are – I think he really gets women. This is where the “male gaze” provides excellent information about that gaze, and what it sees, and how it operates. Lars von Trier is another one like that. LVT branded a misogynist which I totally don’t understand. How can you watch Melancholia and see a misogynist? Anti-Christ is a mind-fuck, for sure – but I think he is interested in how women interact with themselves in a patriarchal world, how turned against themselves women can become. Besides: misogynists are often obsessed with women in a way more “enlightened” men aren’t – and so their films often give women WAY more to do, and present them as SO powerful. So I think misogyny definitely has its uses, especially in art.

      I LOVE Cronenberg’s perspective.

      I mean, John Cusack … like, everyone knows a guy like that. Way back in college, I used to call such men “back-rub boys.” They were sexually unsuccessful theatre-department boys who didn’t really have a lot of sex and instead offered back-rubs to the girls in the department. You could clock these guys a mile away. It’s creepy. I’ve written about “back-rub boys” before and some men got defensive about it – but it’s like: You want an opportunity to touch a woman as a replacement for the sex you’re not getting, so you present it in a beta-male “I want to be helpful you look stressed” way and it’s even grosser than some drunken groping at a frat party, which at LEAST is honest in what it wants.

      I could go on …

      That Cusack character … Ugh. So accurate.

      More to come – but later!

      • Nicola says:

        Ah, CRASH, yes. Fodder for my James Spader crush too.
        Criterion had DEAD RINGERS, but it looks like it’s out of print.

        I’ve been super keen for a mini Cronenberg festival for a while now. I’ll have to get on that. Talking about MAPS TO THE STARS has made me excited to actually do it.

        I know I’ve read about people calling Lars von Trier a misogynist, but I don’t understand. Why? Because the women in his films are often suffering, or are made to suffer in some way? People are complicated and if you are examining one aspect of something, like depression, then yes there is going to be some hard stuff to see. I love MELANCHOLIA. It’s one of my favourite movies. It roughed me up so much the first time I saw it. I was too scared to see ANTI-CHRIST. I may still. And I watched NYMPHOMANIAC based on your review.

        Maybe the whole “back rub boy” thing is what made John Cusack’s character so gross. I was just kind of surface disliking him. The obsession with keeping face, his own personal “brand”. To the point where he would hide a child under the guise of fear, but really because it interfered with his own personal ambition for himself and his family. But really he’s also just a creep.

        Also, Sarah Gadon. Really love that Cronenberg keeps working with her. She’s used SO well in his films. And I always love watching Olivia Williams.

        I’m actually so excited that you’ve seen MAPS TO THE STARS. Nobody else I know has even heard of it. Thank goodness for the internet, man.

        • sheila says:

          // Nobody else I know has even heard of it. //

          Nicola – that is nuts!!

          I mean, it’s not ingratiating, that’s for sure. And the people are all wretched. Is there a “good” person in it? A person who tries to do the right thing? If there is, I’m drawing a blank.

          Oh man, Nymphomaniac. I loved those movies. Completely insane movies – and I do not know how you could watch those films and come up with the fact that LVT is a misogynist – ESPECIALLY with the very final moment – which shows exactly what women are up against, in terms of male understanding of female sexual freedom. I think without that final moment, the film(s) wouldn’t be what they are.

          Anti-Christ is tough. But outside his empathy for female characters (which I’m not sure he has, not completely – he’s too conflicted) – what is wrong with men being fucked up about women, and thinking fucked up things about women (and their sex organs – which is what Anti-Christ is about) and not being able to reconcile their lust with their rage and their impotence and all the rest? I mean, aren’t women messed up about men? It’s like men and woman are trying to communicate across the Grand Canyon. LVT is trying to “get it,” trying to understand. I far prefer that approach than a more “enlightened” approach – often enlightenment is a code-word for wanting a pat on the back for being so enlightened. Can’t stand that. LVT puts all of his delusions and ideas and desires out there for all to see. I wish more artists were that bold and personal.

          // Criterion had DEAD RINGERS, but it looks like it’s out of print. //

          Ugh! Can this be rectified, I wonder? I wonder what’s involved in bringing something back into print. I remember seeing Dead Ringers in the theatre and thinking, at some point during the movie, “Okay. I won’t be able to sleep tonight.” It is obsessed with gynecology (a world of mystery to most men) – but then it also taps into women’s fear of it, and also … a general “fear” or “suspicion” towards twins. It’s soooo messed up. Ha!

          // he’s also just a creep. //

          God, he really was. He disgusted me. And the “work” he was doing with Julianne Moore … I love that her dead mother said to her, “Those are false memories, you know.” And I totally believe that. And I think Julianne Moore’s character was so self-centered and such a charlatan that she would do anything – reveal anything – to keep her name in the headlines.

          What I loved about her performance was that it seemed very … connected, I guess. It wasn’t a “comment” on ambitious actresses – she didn’t protect herself that way. She let us SEE what most actresses feel, at one point or another. It really does look like that. It’s pretty vulnerable work – and I think she nailed it.

          I remember thinking it was kind of interesting that this movie came out almost at the same time as Clouds of Sils Maria – another film about a middle-aged actress (or even older than middle-aged) who was getting ready to do a project that had already been done 20, 30 years before. In Maps to the Stars, she’s going back to play her own mother – in Clouds, she’s going back to play in a revival of the play that made her famous, only now she’s playing the older woman in it. Kind of some interesting ideas in all of this.

          I liked “Clouds” better – it was one of my favorite movies last year – have you seen it? – but in its own way, it’s just as crazy as Maps to the Stars.

          Hope for the future, if challenging movies like these are being made – AND attracting big heavy-hitting actresses – so at least it gets media attention, and isn’t some wayward indie-fesitval hit that nobody will ever see.

          • I loved Sils Maria. I know this is something that you like/love as well, but I love movies about “work”. So I really loved watching those two women just sit and talk and run lines and debate and just work. (On a similar or maybe dissimilar note that’s also why I loved watching George Clooney assemble a damn gun in The American). And even though my favourite of the Oscar contenders was Mad Max I wasn’t mad at Spotlight winning because I loved watching those guys work their story. So, yeah.. I LOVED Sils Maria. But it didn’t even get a theatrical release in South Africa. I had to do the bad thing to get to see it. To make up for it I 100% intend to buy the Criterion release when it comes out June or July. Maps got a super brief release at the “art” cinemas.

          • sheila says:

            // I love movies about “work”. //

            Yes!! Especially the “work” of show business – or, not even that, the work of “acting.” Which is so hard to portray and be honest about. Like my feeling after I first saw Opening Night when I was in college – and studying acting. That movie didn’t feel like an exaggeration at all. It felt like a documentary. Ha!

            // (On a similar or maybe dissimilar note that’s also why I loved watching George Clooney assemble a damn gun in The American). //

            That is so weird that you said that because I just brought up that scene in the latest Supernatural post – because that’s such a gun-heavy show, and the guns are beautiful – and gun-beauty is perhaps not popular, but I’m extremely susceptible to it – and I brought up that scene. GREAT scene – not just because of the beauty of that gun but – like you say – it’s a whole scene about work. No “acting.” It’s a How To. So so good.

            You and I are psychic!!

            // To make up for it I 100% intend to buy the Criterion release when it comes out June or July. //

            I can’t wait!!

  9. Jessie says:

    Just bringing it down here.

    I am loving hearing about your experiences watching, then and now!

    But they completely mis-read every situation along the way, and got intimidated by the shameless “race card” shenanigans of the other side, and intimidated by the media presence … that they screwed it up.
    This is so excruciating — that they were from step one playing cricket on a baseball field. Not playing the game they thought they were playing, the one they were good at. The series is showing that well, for my money, with scenes like the DNA expert’s testimony (go Rob Morrow!). (actually I felt like that scene was a little OTT in the way it was filmed (were there dutch angles or am I projecting?) but I am guessing that it would have matched up pretty closely to what really happened).

    God, it was just so queasy-making. And I was implicated in it
    I don’t doubt I would have been, too — and really felt that second-hand embarrassment. So I guess as a viewer, the series is letting me off the hook by giving Marcia more dimension and letting me feel sorry for her.

    His only real emotion, deeply felt, appears to be self-pity. It’s a really brave performance.
    oh man, the way he WHINES — and how he starts BULLYING once he feels like he’s back on top — he’s hideous. And I think Cuba had a really tough job, too, of connecting post-murder OJ to car chase OJ to jailed/courtroom OJ, because the series is committed to OJ’s guilt without ever actually saying so (although I haven’t seen past the jury episode) and so there’s some weird disjunctions there.

    I’ve heard chatter that people are annoyed at the inclusion of the Kardashian family and the kids – that they’re just there to capitalize
    I think they’re definitely exploiting the fact that these are the Kardashians, and I also think it’s totally legit to have them in there, they’re a huge part of his character and their fascination with the media circus — chanting their own name, getting into restaurants — that seems pretty relevant to me!

    I was also worried about how they might treat Jenner in those household scenes — I don’t really trust Ryan Murphy to not turn it into a can of worms. I think that would have been exploitative — Jenner’s handling of her own media presence and femininity is fascinating in its own right and worthy of something a bit more considered than a cameo that could only have been a comment on her transition.

    It’s killing me that I can’t find a good clip, but if you haven’t seen Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tina Fey and Jerry Minor are absolute GOLD as Marcia and Chris in 2015, who are definitely NOT a couple, no sir, and who are utterly incapable of prosecuting John Hamm’s cult leader.

    • sheila says:

      // actually I felt like that scene was a little OTT in the way it was filmed (were there dutch angles or am I projecting?) //

      Hmmm, I’m not remembering it at the moment. I’ll have to go back and watch – although honestly the entire experience has been so horrible-flashback-y that I don’t want to subject myself to it again!

      and yeah: Clark and Darden thought they knew what they were doing. They did not. Almost every step of the way.

      I cannot remember why it was that they were not allowed to discuss the Bronco chase and OJ’s transparent suicide note during the trial – somehow it was not allowed. (Vincent Bugliosi, Manson family prosecutor, who was definitely a “get off my lawn” kind of guy – wrote a book called “Outrage” about the OJ verdict. It feels like he wrote it in a weekend, the weekend after the verdict came down. It’s so angry that it’s all over the place – but as a successful prosecutor, who was also the DA, he has some great insights into where the prosecution went wrong. He also thought the defense sucked, AND the jury sucked, and he goes after them, too – but his real target is the prosecution. If memory serves, he does go into why the Bronco chase was not allowed as a topic, or that good-bye letter – my God, that letter!! With a smiley face at the end of it?? Matt Seitz’s re-cap over on Vulture says something about Gooding’s performance that I really liked – something like – Gooding captured the essence of a man who had no essence. Burrrrrrn.)

      // the series is letting me off the hook by giving Marcia more dimension and letting me feel sorry for her. //

      Good point! Yes – for me, at the time, I cringed just looking at her – because I wanted her to do well, and I thought her hair was bad, and I couldn’t understand her strategy and I was mortified for her – meanwhile, what about Nicole and Ron?? Those two were completely LOST in that ridiculous shuffle – and it’s still a shameful memory for all of us.

      I just finished the series yesterday – I had to stick it out – and there’s a great moment between Cochran and Darden post-verdict, two black men stating their case to one another, and you get both sides – so clearly. Cleary, I’m on Darden’s side – and our beautiful Sterling K. Gordon played it so beautifully. And dissolving into tears at the podium afterwards? I remember that moment in real life. I was so ANGRY at the time. Like: You all have EFFED THIS UP. Bah. But yeah, getting all these different sides presented … I think “we” are ready to really look at this now.

      In terms of OJ’s guilt: the final episode is excruciating – and Gooding is SUPERB. He plays a man who cannot look at himself in the mirror. (A great mirror moment! Just like our boy Dean in SPN!) And there’s this wince in his eyes as he realizes that nothing will get back to normal. That even though he’s “not guilty,” the perception in his world – the white world – is that he was guilty. I had forgotten a couple of horrifying things:
      1. He threw a huge party when he came home. STAR Magazine or one of the tabloids paid for the party for the “privilege” of taking pictures of it. One cannot imagine anything more misguided. But that was pure OJ.
      2. OJ stood up and made this speech at the party, declaring that he will not devote his life to finding the “real killers.” The mind boggles – the scene was so well-played in the series – It was just an event I had heard about, of course, no actual footage of it – and the awkwardness in that room … including the awkwardness of OJ – as he realizes that everybody basically believes he was guilty – and even HE knows he did it … AGH, IT WAS AWFUL TO WATCH.

      I’m so glad it’s over.

      // hey’re a huge part of his character and their fascination with the media circus — chanting their own name, getting into restaurants — that seems pretty relevant to me! //

      So true! Like: this was their childhood. The defining moment. Tabloid media was the way to go!! Depressing, but I liked that it was included. Not too much, but definitely there as an implicit commentary on how that trial basically created the modern tabloid world we now live in. Reality TV, etc.

      I have got to catch up on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – I haven’t seen any of it – but that Clark/Darden bit sounds hysterical!!

  10. JessicaR says:

    Travolta in ACS seems to be a love it or hate it performance but I love it. I think it’s the perfect archness for that kind of role, and who apparently Shapiro was. I think it’s fascinating when the mask slips, when you can see Travolta really see the stakes of this trial, and what he’s actually being a part of, something that won’t be neatly pressed into a self serving anecdote to tell at a dinner party. Great work, and unbelievably it meshes with the more grounded acting styles. Really I wish The Emmys and The Oscars had Best Ensemble categories. ACS was such a difficult show to pull off. And honestly I didn’t expect Murphy to try this hard, or to take it this seriously. I was expecting some trashy fun in the vein of American Horror Story. So kudos to him and everybody involved.

    • sheila says:

      I mean, Shapiro really was like that. I remember thinking, watching his press conferences, “Is this guy for real??” It’s my age-old disdain for anyone who calls things “over the top.” I want them to describe, in their own words, what they actually mean by that. Shapiro was just too bizarre to be believed. Travolta is mimicking him perfectly, but he’s also inhabiting that mimicry fully: he has figured out what made this guy tick, where those gestures came from, the facial ticks, he understands, and he has internalized all of it so you go: Oh. Yeah. That’s who that guy WAS.

      I think it’s the best performance in the ensemble, and that’s saying something.

      // I was expecting some trashy fun in the vein of American Horror Story. //

      I know, me too! I almost wasn’t going to watch because fuck that, I lived it, and I felt like a prisoner of it for the year it was happening, why do I need to re-live it? But it was really well done (except for the visuals, which left much to be desired.)

      Great ensemble. Everyone’s all “sarah Paulson Sarah Paulson” and yeah, she’s great, and it’s a huge break-out for her – but everyone else in the thing is equally as great. It was a group event. Remarkable, really!!

      Even the two law clerks who work for Cochran … we don’t get to know who they are in their personal lives – every scene they’re in, they’re following Cochran around – but didn’t the two of them just create this completely three-dimensional relationship? I almost wanted to follow THEM after meetings, see where they went, follow them to a bar where they talked about everything. Because you KNOW they did.

  11. Myrtle says:

    I just saw Magic Mike 2 and need to squeal with delight that a movie like this exists!!! I have watched the convenience store dance about 8 times. I love that the end goal wasn’t to convince her to come to the show, or go panting with lust and throw herself at him. No, it simply to make her smile.

    And I love that it came out of them all being high as kites. Seeing the trailer, it’s like, how on earth can that happen realistically in the plot?! Ah they’re high on molly, of course it seemed like a good idea hahaha.

    Another favorite moment is the end of Mike’s showoff dance for Jada. Again, another movie might have cut to her going “ yeah yeah you win”, but she doesn’t. She looks at him with this wise, grave sadness, and it becomes a different moment. That’s how you look at ghosts like that. I could have happily watched a full move of just those two, I found their whole relationship fascinating.

    • sheila says:

      Myrtle:

      // Seeing the trailer, it’s like, how on earth can that happen realistically in the plot?! Ah they’re high on molly, of course it seemed like a good idea hahaha. //

      hahahaha I know, right? It’s still insane to me that any of it works, AND that it works as well as it does.

      // Again, another movie might have cut to her going “ yeah yeah you win”, but she doesn’t. She looks at him with this wise, grave sadness, and it becomes a different moment. That’s how you look at ghosts like that. //

      Oooh, that is a really good observation and now I want to go back and watch that moment.

  12. Todd Restler says:

    Maps to the Stars. Holy crap! Just saw it last night, my goodness. Couldn’t tell whether to laugh or cry. Totally fearless acting by everybody. I absolutely LOVE Julianne Moore in just about anything but WOW did she “go there” in this movie. And John Cusack keeps giving one performance more quirky than the next (I loved “Love and Mercy” too.)

    But, MAN, did this movie have BALLS. It kept upping the stakes on itself. Cronenberg is something else. Videodrome is one of my favorite movies and I think his best, but this is right up there. Like The Player crossed with Mulholland Drive with some other film that doesn’t exist yet. Just bonkers. I LOVED it.

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