November 2016 Viewing Diary

Elle (2016; d. Paul Verhoeven)
I loved it. People HATE this movie. One lady on Twitter said that men should be banned from making films about rape. How you would enforce such a rule is beyond me. Also: No fucking thanks. Nothing is stopping women making films about rape either. Ida Lupino did it decades before anyone wanted to hear it or even had a name for the PTSD that came afterwards. Anyway, I loved it. My review.

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Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 4, “American Nightmare” (2016; d. John Showalter)
I thought this was a very successful episode, but I thought there was a way more elegant way to get across the “family needs to spend time apart” message – which was said, out loud, by three different characters three separate times. Supernatural, this is not like you. Get it together.

Seoul Station (2016; d. Yeon Sang-ho.)
I have not seen the sequel yet, which is on a lot of people’s Best-Of-Year lists, but I really dig this Zombie movie. Beautiful strange animation. Mood of dread. Political commentary too: Zombies are the excuse a State needs to become Authoritarian. Check it out.

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Things to Come (2016; d. Mia Hansen-Løve)
Seen twice this month, once in Hawaii and once a couple of days ago. It opens today. I reviewed for Ebert. It’s wonderful. I am grateful for Mia Hansen-Løve’s films.

95 and 6 to Go (2016; d. Kimi Takesue)
Very emotional documentary about the filmmaker’s grandfather. Keep your eyes peeled. Thoughts here.

Paterson (2016; d. Jim Jarmusch)
It hasn’t opened yet. I saw in Hawaii. It’s on my Top 10. Oh, Lord, this movie is special.

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10 episodes of “Bar Rescue” and “Intervention”
I don’t have television. I did this marathon watch on my final night in Hawaii as the votes were being tallied. I stopped being able to watch. I felt so so alone. “Bar Rescue” is a HOOT. And I love “Intervention.” It makes me feel grateful that I never did drugs except for that one disastrous time.

Port of Call (2015; d. Philip Yung)
A detective/crime-thriller from Hong Kong. I really enjoyed it. Very good acting.

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Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 11, “Appointment in Samarra” (2010; d. Mike Rohl)
I continued my re-watch of Season 6, because I wanted to watch Soulless Sam, my favorite Arc.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 12, “Like a Virgin” (2011; d. Phil Sgriccia)
It’s the little moments that get me. “I think I delivered it …” hand over heart. If you’re not familiar with my love of The Perfect Gesture – then that’s a great example.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 13, “Unforgiven” (2011; d. David Barrett)
Many reasons to enjoy this episode, the main one being it takes place in my home state. And except for the H.P. Lovecraft scene, when does that happen?

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 14, “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning” (2011; d. Jeannot Szwarf)
The 1980s style of this episode – with the music and the moody-glam driving montage – is so pleasing and so cheese-ball. And I’ve said it somewhere else: The scene between Ben and Dean is left unresolved. SO GOOD. It does not tie it up in a neat bow. This is not a cry-and-hug-it-out kind of show (or it shouldn’t be). Dean is thrown back on himself by Ben’s behavior and words. It’s brutal.

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 5, “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (2016; d. Nina Lopez-Conrado)
The less said about this episode the better. Horrible timing. And I get the sense they thought it would be perfect timing. Fail.

I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016; d. Feng Xiaogang)
Weird (and beautiful) movie that had no business being 2 1/2 hours long. But still: stunning to look at, with a unique visual device (see below). My review.

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Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 15, “The French Mistake” (2011; d. Charles Beeson)
With all of the great stuff in this episode, one of my favorite parts is how in sync Sam and Dean are throughout. They race around like crazy, plotting and scheming and beating up an extra and “acting” and picking up illegal shit at the airport, and it’s like they’re one being. Also, Misha Collins’ death scene makes me HOWL.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 16, “And Then There Were None” (2011; d. Mike Rohl)
You know what? The more I think about this episode, the more fucked up (and awesome) it becomes. Five men stand in a locked room, getting penetrated one by one by a thick slimy worm. It’s hard to believe they even get away with half the shit they do, and the reason it works so well is because no one is playing the metaphor in a wink-wink way. It’s deadly serious.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 17, “My Heart Will Go On” (2011; d. Phil Sgriccia)
I’m not crazy about this episode.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 18, “Frontierland” (2011; d. Guy Bee)
One of my favorite episodes in the history of the show, from beginning to end. “You going to a hoe-down?” Sam drinking sarsaparilla and loving it. Dean’s clothes: “I look good.”

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 6, “Asa Fox” (2016; d. John Badham)
I’m having some serious issues with this season. I realize it’s a leftover of feeling burnt by the final 3 episodes of Season 11 but something’s off. The spine is missing. And the sense of psychological melodrama which should be pushed front and center. Also, as Jessie pointed out, the “magic” from the witch-twins come too easy. Member Meg slitting someone’s throat, so the blood can pour out so she can make her “phone call”? I prefer the grit and earthiness of the “magic” in the show, not the wave magic wand type of “magic.” It helped ground the whole thing. There are things I liked here. Asa’s mother. The final scene. Jody as Hunter friends-with-benefits. But something’s off.

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976; d. Alfred Sole)
What a find. I watched it for an upcoming essay I wrote from Film Comment, and it’s amazing. The whole thing is on Youtube, FYI.

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Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 1, “Meet the New Boss” (2011; d. Phil Sgriccia)
It’s funny: For a long time, Season 7 was my least favorite. I just didn’t care for it. That just goes to show you how reliable first impressions are. I still don’t find the Leviathan scary (the whole show is about what the Leviathan are PLANNING to do, not what they are ACTUALLY doing), and I don’t like the didactic preachy tone about fat Americans and fructose corn syrup. However: I think this is a really really good season now, with GREAT stuff between Sam and Dean in the first half, as well as the introduction of Garth and Charlie and Kevin. So I am team Season 7 now.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 2, “”Hello, Cruel World”” (2011; d. Guy Bee)
I wish they’d torch the bunker now.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 3, “The Girl Next Door” (2011; d. Jensen Ackles)
I didn’t really like this episode on first watch, but now I really liked it a lot. Also, really good set-up for the blow-out that’s coming with Sam and Dean, a situation that they really explored in-depth. Like: that’s all I remember from the early part of this season and that’s as it should be. The only thing we should care about in this section of Season 12 is Mom returning, but somehow it’s not being prioritized as focused as it should. Missed opportunity.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 4, “Defending Your Life” (2011; d. Robert Singer)
Egyptian cultural appropriation aside, I actually like a lot of this. I like how it’s set up to focus ONLY on Dean’s guilt and the growing chasm between the brothers. This is in Singer’s wheelhouse. Dumb maybe but right on point. The plot is irrelevant, just an excuse, a flimsy structure on which to hang what really matters which is emotional torment.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 5, “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” (2011; d. Phil Sgriccia)
Another one I really didn’t care for and now I think is a hoot. I love the two actors hired for the couple, I love Jenny the assistant, I love the lesbian-yearnings in the best friend. It’s a silly episode (Dean and bees) but it’s fun.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 6, “Slash Fiction” (2011; d. John Showalter)
Super fun. That opening scene shocked me so much on first watch.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 7, “The Mentalists” (2011; d. Mike Rohl)
I believe I have made clear my feelings about this episode and Melanie, in particular. I never get sick of this whole entire story, and this is one of the ones I pop in when I need to chill out, relax, enjoy, put my feet up. It’s really special, a wonderful hour of television: compact, funny, good acting, bizarre.

The Night Digger (1971; d. Alastair Reid)
The second movie for my essay in Film Comment, mentioned above. What a fabulous film. Patricia Neal stars. Script by her husband at the time Roald Dahl. This is her second film post-stroke.

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Green (2011; d. Sophia Takal)
Takal is one to watch, I tell you. Her latest, Always Shine is one of my favorite films of the year (review here. Green is her first. It’s an hour long and it’s excellent.

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Always Shine (2016; d. Sophia Takal)
So good. It opened last week and it’s already gone from the theaters. Bah humbug. See this one once it hits VOD. My review here.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 8, “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” (2011; d. Tim Andrew)
So disturbing. Sam roofied and assaulted. AND he “consents” once he’s drugged, which makes it even sicker. However, the main reason to see this now is because Leslie Odom Jr. appears as the Crossroads Demon (and he’s excellent and nuanced), and of course a couple years later he literally took Broadway by storm playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton. “Room Where It Happens” really shows what he can do, and where he can really go. I saw the production in its earliest days on Broadway, right after the reviews came out, and everything about it was so phenomenal, but that number … The ovation it received could have been heard across the Hudson.

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938; d. Ernst Lubitsch)
A favorite. Gary Cooper: so so sexy. Claudette Colbert: lovely and funny. A very disturbing plot, if you think about it closely. David Niven is hysterical! Lubitsch doing his indefinable and yet unmistakable Lubitsch thing.

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Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 9, “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” (2011; d. Guy Bee)
Terrific. Not crazy, again, about the “look at all the fat people zoning out in a restaurant” thing Season 7 had going on, but I really liked this episode, and love it when an episode features Bobby, Sam and Dean all together the whole way through. Plus Dean stoned.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 10, “Death’s Door” (2011; d. Robert Singer)
One of the best episodes the show has ever done. It makes me cry every time. The look on the little boy’s face as his father yells at him. Jim Beaver roaring at his father. The reveals of Bobby’s life: the wife, his childhood. Devastating. Plus Rufus. Plus the production design which was truly eerie: a lot of care put into it. If the world were fair, this episode would have been nominated for an Emmy.

Citizen Kane (1941; d. Orson Welles)
Watched over Thanksgiving with Mum and my nephew Cashel. Cashel and I went to go see it at The Aero in Santa Monica years ago when Cashel was only in middle school: a really good memory. It was so much fun. But also eerie how much it was commenting on current events.

Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962; d. Agnès Varda)
A masterpiece.

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Things to Come (2016; d. Mia Hansen-Løve)
My second time this month, for my review which launched today.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 11, “Adventures in Babysitting” (2012; d. Jeannot Szwarf)
Not the strongest episode, but I always enjoy it when Sam and Dean have to deal with children or adolescents.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 12, “Time after Time” (2012; d. Phil Sgriccia)
So much good stuff. “What are you, some farmer-clown?” I lose it every time. “How does that fill you with awe?” Nicholas Lea is PERFECT. “… you morbid son-of-a-bitch.” The way it’s filmed, a replica of De Palma’s lush style. The music (loved the featurette on how they put together the score). I also loved the Jodie-Sam dynamic (and I loved it in the chastity episode too), and always felt the two of them should have hooked up at least once.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 13, “Slice Girls” (2012; d. Jerry Wanek)
“… in FRUIT FLY time …” Dean remembering the possible “accident” that occurred, and how pleasurable it was, before snapping out of it. That’s all Ackles. He’s a ham. I enjoy the episode although I think the Amazon dialogue is SUPER stupid. “Strength, Emma. As in all things.” What the hell. Also: I hope I get to this re-cap (sometime in 2020 at the rate I’m going) because I just want to talk about that hotel room and one of the most gorgeous shots in the history of the show: it all looks accidental, casually beautiful, but it’s clearly not. No surprise Jerry Wanek directed this one. He knew how to highlight his own work.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 14, “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” (2012; d. Mike Rohl)
Sam’s face when he hears about the “destructo beams.” This is Padalecki’s sense of humor and it makes me so happy. I love the manager of the place smoking a joint on the back steps. Slight error in the casting of the cranky exhausted mother who looks so much like Amy, Sam’s first monster-girlfriend, that I honestly thought she had somehow survived Dean’s attack and had morphed into another character. I love this episode. How on earth could I have thought that Season 7 was weak? So the Leviathans aren’t scary, big whup.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 15, “Repo Man” (2012; d. Thomas J. Wright)
We all know that Supernatural has an issue with compulsively relying on endless Monster Monologues in the third act, but the monologue here takes the cake. It’s about 15 minutes long. Dear writers: if you have to explain yourself for 15 minutes, then your plot is too complicated. Wow.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 16, “Out with the Old” (2012; d. John Showalter)
Fabulous all around. The start-up for real of the Sam-Insomnia arc. I’ve said somewhere before that if I had watched this season pre-diagnosis I might have not been able to continue. To me, that’s not a supernatural representation of a “wall” crumbling in Sam’s brain. That entire thing comes off as “this is what it is like to go fucking nuts.” The voices telling you to do bad things. The agony that is literally so painful that you cannot go to sleep. Agony so agonizing you will do anything to make it stop. Padalecki is so good that it’s actually slightly harrowing to watch since I used to go through that all the time, in cycles now so obvious you could see them on a graph, and it’s lucky I’m still alive to be writing this. I have no idea how I white-knuckled through it. It’s actually hard to watch.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 17, “The Born-Again Identity” (2012; d. Robert Singer)
See comment above about “Out With the Old.” Same. That’s not a supernatural plot-line. That’s what it feels like to lose your mind and to know you are losing your mind. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. And the ECT scene is devastating. It’s hard to make Jared Padalecki look that weak. He’s such a strapping hunk. He’s amazing.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 18, “Party On, Garth” (2012; d. Phil Sgriccia)
“I miss these talks.” Legendary. I love Garth. I love how smart he is and how underestimated he is by the two Winchester Snobs. He KNOWS Bobby is sticking around. He’s a very good hunter.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 19, “Girl with Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo” (2012; d. John MacCarthy)
I don’t think they should have killed Charlie off. She brought something very special to the show. I get it, everyone gets killed, but her energy is something that became essential to the dynamic, and all of her episodes are very special in that they brought out different things in both brothers, mainly Dean. What a breath of fresh air. Dean, pretending to be Charlie flirting, “You look amazing.” And that crazy split screen. So not Supernatural‘s style, but perfect for that circumstance.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 19, “Reading is Fundamental” (2012; d. Ben Edlund)
Kevin! Plus Castiel as Healer. I have to say, too: the scene where he “remembers” who he is and smites all the demons is beautifully done. The music, the intensity of it. How SPECIFIC the “magic” is (see comment above about “witch twins”), and also his pain/guilt as he remembers what he has done. Beautiful scene between the two of them in the car as well. I am not a Destiel person but I do love this relationship (or, I loved it. I feel it has long outlasted its usefulness. Charlie added more to the show than Castiel currently does. I get it, his fans would go apeshit. But the show has suffered from not wanting to let him go.) I will not end on that dreary note. I love Kevin. I have no idea why I didn’t like Season 7. I must have been cranky.

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9 Responses to November 2016 Viewing Diary

  1. Aslan'sOwn says:

    “Death’s Door” IS devastating. I’ve only watched it twice because it hurts too much. I love how they keep circling back to that scene in the kitchen as we keep finding out more and more about what happened there that night. I think I’ve mentioned this in a comment before, but I found it chilling how things kept disappearing, becoming more intangible, up to the boys fading out while arguing on his couch. The reaper’s words freak me out: “You know why it’s dark out there, don’t you? This house – it’s your last island. Everything else melted by that bullet. Gone.” I feel kind of claustrophobic watching it. (I like the detail of the last thing Dean says is that licorice is like little pieces of heaven; fading out on the word “heaven” might be a LITTLE heavy-handed but I liked it.) I prefer C. S. Lewis’s view of heaven in “The Last Battle”: “Further up and further in . . . The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning . . . All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” With THAT image of heaven deeply ingrained in my belief system, I REALLY don’t like SPN’s view: them locked away in rooms off a sterile white corridor in their own worlds; as Dean says in DSotM, “Spending eternity trapped in your own little universe while the angels run the show, that’s lonely, you know? That’s not Nirvana, that’s the Matrix.” So for me, Bobby fading away just seems so empty and sad. (And if those lonely rooms, trapped in your own universe, weren’t bad enough, now of course we’ve found out that it can get so much darker: there is actually an Empty where Billie plans for the Winchesters to go next time they die.)

    • sheila says:

      // I found it chilling how things kept disappearing, becoming more intangible, //

      I know, me too. Not sure if you’ve seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – but it’s clear that everyone involved in Death’s Door had seen it, and used it as their template! The books’ texts disappearing … Ugh, it’s so upsetting.

      and wow, thank you so much for typing out that passage from The Last Battle. Goosebumps. It’s been a long time since I’ve read those books.

      • sheila says:

        oh, and sorry so LATE in responding. I’m catching up now – it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to visit my own blog. :)

        Thanks for commenting!

  2. Aslan'sOwn says:

    I promise I won’t comment on every single episode you mention in your viewing diary, but I did have to talk about Slash Fiction. I was shocked too at the opening scene; we see them as who Henriksen has always claimed that they are — cold-blooded killers. It’s horrifying.

    But even after we realize what’s happened, I’m still horrified because it’s the loss of reputation. Of course, Dean’s lost that before: his rap sheet is plenty damning. But this is irretrievably bad: gunning down an entire diner of people, filming themselves doing it and identifying themselves by name. I thought of the people they’d saved who KNEW what they’d done, how all of a sudden they’d think that these heroes who’d saved the day once upon a time had gone bad, seriously mega bad. Is it being a first-born, desiring to do right? Is it being taught from childhood about the importance of having a good reputation. The thought of having people think I was “bad” was terrifying. As Iago says in Othello, “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls. Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.” Having their characters smeared like this is just such an awful thing to me.

    (BTW, Leviathan!Sam describes Sam’s dinner choice of salad as “Dead plants with creamy goo. It’s like eating self-righteousness.” LOL!!!)

  3. Jessie says:

    one of my favourite things in all of Supernatural is that push-in on the anatomy mannequin while Dean’s pulling its heart out, making jokes about Valentines or whatever. Cracks me up every time.

  4. Pat says:

    In the recent recap of All Hell Breaks Loose II, I said that Jensen Ackles stunned me with his scenes with dead Sam. “Adventures in Babysitting” has another of those scenes that made me think ‘this guy is so good’. It’s during the last 5 minutes – we get a great car scene with the brothers, who are still hurting from Bobby’s death but decide they need to keep working or getting rid of Dick Roman instead of wallowing in grief.

    Sam turns on the radio and Traffic’s cool song “Dear Mr Fantasy” comes on and Dean remembers the words of Frank Devereaux. It is heartbreaking to watch him practice his smile. The camera focused on JA while the passing highway lights lighten and darken the contours of his face. Fascinating – that should be on loop. I could watch it for hours. And like I said, it again made me appreciate the depth of talent in our show.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWh4SudoSuE

    • sheila says:

      Pat – yes. If I had to pick Top 5 Jensen Ackles moments in the entire 12 years, that moment would be on the list.

      He’s always good, but that is on another level.

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