December 2016 Viewing Diary

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 22, “There Will Be Blood” (2012; d. Guy Norman Bee)
I had started a re-watch of Season 7 in November, so I finished it out this month. Season 7 was one of my least favorites, when I first watched it. I didn’t find the Leviathans scary. I found the whole concept not only rather silly but also judgmental and didactic in a way that doesn’t suit the show at ALL. Also, the whole season is about what the Leviathans are PLANNING, not what they are actually DOING. I still feel all of these things. But it’s a much stronger season than I remembered, in particular all of the smaller Arcs embedded in that larger one. It’s a very strong season in terms of the complexity of that main relationship. Plus: Charlie! And Garth! This particular episode has one of the creepiest scenarios the show has ever attempted. That pink room. The child sex-trafficking – not even implied, there it is front and center. It’s very upsetting.

Supernatural, Season 7, Episode 23, “Survival of the Fittest” (2012; d. Robert Singer)
I LOVED the ending of Season 7. I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming, what with Purgatory this and Purgatory that throughout the season, but there we have it. Yet another example of how effective Supernatural can be, with almost no special effects (that is, it can be effective when it chooses to be. When it gets lazy? The whole thing falls apart precipitously.)

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 1, “We Need to Talk about Kevin” (2012; d. Robert Singer)
Season 8 is the weakest season (well, until Season 12 came along). There are some excellent things – mainly the Men of Letters reveal, plus the Bunker reveal. (And I am so over the Bunker at this point that I want to destroy it myself.) HOWEVER. The Dean-PTSD stuff is brilliant, and Ackles is brilliant. His understanding of it, the jumpiness and nerviness of the condition, the high-alert-threat mindset … it changes his demeanor completely. Now, that’s in the story itself but it wouldn’t work without his commitment to it. Season 8 is basically the season where both Sam and Dean get girlfriends and then break up with them. Sam dates Amelia (seen through a lemon-lime Lysol haze) and Dean dates a male vampire. And both Sam and Dean are whiny bitches about the other’s partner. I love the symmetry of it. Charlie clocks it, and Dean looks confused. Good stuff.

Supernatural, Season 3, Episode 2, “The Kids are All Right” (2007; d. Philip Sgriccia)
A re-watch for my next re-cap, whenever that will be. I love this episode. It’s a great one-off monster episode, and it sneakily establishes an Arc that will not come to fruition until Season SIX. PATIENCE.

Tower (2016; d. Keith Maitland)
One of the best films of the year. Unfortunately, a Top 10 only allows 10 entries. (Duh.) So some things had to be left off my Top 10. Regardless. This has been a great year for documentaries – the O.J. Doc, and 13th alone – but Tower is stunning. I’ve seen it a couple of times now, once with Allison, because I knew she would love it.

The Piano Teacher (2001; d. Michael Haneke)
I think I’m a fucked up individual and then I watch this and realize, “I’m doing pretty okay, actually.”

Hell or High Water (2016; d. David Mackenzie)
This movie has been a Little Engine That Could. A so-called “indie.” With a couple of stars in it (Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine), but not made for a lot of money. It has made back its money ten-fold, one of the most profitable indies of the year (and maybe even one of the most profitable movies, if you consider its small budget). Like Tower, I wanted to put this on my Top 10. If I had done a Top 20, it would have been on it. Every moment, every scene, every performance … gorgeous. An old-fashioned movie. Outlaws and lawmen. Standoffs and shootouts (one being a direct steal from High Sierra). But grounded in character and relationship. I absolutely loved this movie.

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 7, “Rock Never Dies” (2016; d. Eduardo Sánchez)
The less said about this the better. I am actually kind of shocked that many fans seem to love this one. I thought it was horrendous. Embarrassingly so. Season 12 is made by people who appear to never have watched the former seasons. Or, they know the lyrics but they don’t hear the music. This entire situation has actually been upsetting me, so I haven’t been writing much about it.

Dear John (2010; d. Lasse Hallström)
My sister told me to watch this, after an indepth and lengthy discussion about our shared love of Channing Tatum. I hadn’t realized that Hallström directed it, and I love him! One of the best things about this movie, which I really enjoyed, was the father-son relationship (although how Richard Jenkins could have spawned Channing is one of the mysteries of Movie Magic). I also cried every single time Amanda Seyfried (who exudes kindness: watch the special features for Mean Girls. In her interview, she tears up when she talks about bullying in high school.) interacted with Richard Jenkins. I loved the coin sub-plot. And Channing is great. No surprise. He’s one of the best things going right now.

The Babadook (2014; d. Jennifer Kent)
Showing this movie to Jen, who had never seen it, was one of the great viewing pleasures this past month. She and I are horror movie buddies. We were hanging out at her house, I started talking about The Babadook, and whaddya know, it was streaming. I wrote about my initial reaction, and on a re-watch, and after discussing with Jen, I now think it’s a masterpiece. Mainly because of the final sequence. If it weren’t for that final sequence, if Kent had decided to end it with a vanquishing of The Babadook and a happy “now we can be happy” ending, it would have been fine, but it would have lacked the hugely suggestive (and redeeming, in my opinion) depth that it has. Kent fought HARD for that ending, and I’m not surprised to hear that nobody in The Powers That Be liked the ending. Because money-and-marketing people are stupid cowards who have absorbed conventionality and love-of-safety into their hearts through their bloodstream. Kent was after something DIFFERENT, something much much TOUGHER. The Babadook actually validates some of my own most personal ideas about life, things that nobody wants to hear. I almost can’t believe it exists, something this tough-minded. If you don’t re-think your own responses in your own life to terrible events … if you don’t wonder if you might be making some incorrect assumptions about your reaction to trauma … then The Babadook hasn’t done its job. Jen texted me the next day: “At the dog park, I found myself talking about The Babadook for 10 minutes to someone who hasn’t seen it.” Yup. The movie’ll do that.

All We Had (2016; d. Katie Holmes)
Katie Holmes’ directorial debut. I didn’t really care for it. Low stakes. I reviewed for Ebert.

Weekend (1967; d. Jean-Luc Godard)
Of all of his movies, this is the one that most obsesses me. I go back to it again and again. It’s hilarious, first of all. That long-take scene of the traffic jam is a masterpiece. But it’s his whole VISION that is so dauntingly brilliant.

Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 21, “Two Minutes to Midnight” (2010; d. Phil Sgriccia)
In terms of a season-wide Arc, Season 5 is the best, the most intricate, the most fascinating. There are so many elements to it, not to mention that both brothers spend the entire season in a state of anxiety about being raped by the OTHER brothers, the celestial ones. The series’ obsession with penetration, consent and co-option has never been as clear as that.

Personal Shopper (2016, but coming out in 2017; d. Olivier Assayas)
I had hoped this would “count” for 2016, in terms of lists, but it doesn’t. It’s being released in March 2017. One of my favorite movies I’ve seen this year. Kristen Stewart: she cannot stop being awesome. What a couple of years she’s had. And she’s still so young. So much more to look forward to. And her CHOICES for projects!! So impressive and strange and intuitive. She’s the real deal. Personal Shopper is the second collaboration between Assayas and Stewart (the first one being the magnificent Clouds of Sils Maria), and in it, Stewart plays a similar type of character. A gofer, a Girl Friday, peripheral to the giant egos of the ones she serves. There’s a lot in Personal Shopper, many elements, but my main takeaway is how unnervingly creepy it is.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970; d. Russ Meyer)
Famously, Roger Ebert wrote the screenplay. I love the movie and thought it was great that Criterion decided to release it. There were some howls from snobs (“Bottom of the barrel, huh, Criterion?” I saw someone complain on Twitter, and etc.) Dear snooty-snoots, culture is made up of all kinds of things, there’s a whole WORLD out there. I bought the Criterion version and had a blast re-watching. My pal Glenn Kenny wrote the essay for the release, and it’s a must-read.

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (2016)
I’ve seen each episode thus far. I can’t even believe the world has changed so much that this series is even occurring. Anyone who has read me for any length of time knows my history with the cult, and my obsession with it. It pre-dates South Park and “You’re so glib, Matt.” I am so enmeshed in it that I still hesitate to put that word on my site, since once upon a time I started getting a lot of traffic from Clearwater, Florida, and I got afraid that they were going to come after me. Leah Remini is a HERO. Not only is she bringing these stories to light (of well-known people – at least well-known in the cult-critic circles, of which I am a part – like Amy Scobee and Mike Rinder) – stories that have been published elsewhere, but you’d have to be really obsessed as I am – but she admits HER part in keeping this cult alive, and she is open about the fact that the series is, in some part, an act of redress. Man, Scientology pissed off the wrong woman when they pissed off Leah Remini.

13th (2016; d. Ava DuVernay)
One of THE viewing experiences of the year. 13th and I, Daniel Blake left me literally trembling with rage.

The Wave (2015; d. Roar Uthaug)
I had been meaning to see this on the big screen during its release last year (seems like it needs a big screen) but I missed it. It was streaming on Netflix. The story of Geirangerfjord, a famous fjord in Norway. It’s inevitable that one day the deteriorating cliffs will crumble into the fjord, causing a tsunami that will wipe out everybody in just 10 minutes. The Wave is one of those worst-case-scenario fantasies that help give voice to anxieties floating around in the air. The wave itself is 25 stories high (so frightening) and stunningly done. It’s got all the elements it needs: a frantic and obsessed geologist who KNOWS that something is wrong with the readings they’re getting, and he’s the ONLY one who takes it seriously. He and his family are about to move out of the area because he got another job, but the weird readings from the mountains keep him stuck, and his family … who are then directly in the wave’s path. Really effective.

East of Eden (1981; d. Harvey Hart)
Not the Kazan movie, but the 1981 mini-series, which I actually remember because I read the book right around that time, based on my OBSESSION with the 1955 movie, and Elia Kazan, and James Dean. Unlike the film, the mini series takes on the whole story, three generations worth. But without the underlying Steinbeck-ian themes of loss and memory and morality and free will, not to mention his VOICE … it’s just a soap opera. The mini series is embarrassing. The two male leads are terrible. It’s great to see Warren Oates as Cyrus! Jane Seymour does some interesting things as Cathy, but it’s still not the Cathy in the book. That special something, the Steinbeckian something, is missing. Watched it for research. A real slog.

No Home Movie (2016; d. Chantal Akerman)
On my Top 10 of the year.

The Nice Guys (2016; d. Shane Black)
Also a strong contender for my Top 10 of the year. A couple of days ago there was a kerfluffle on Twitter among a group of male film critics, arguing about whether or not the portrayal of women in this movie – especially the scene of the naked porn star (“porno young lady” as Gosling’s character says) on the hood of the car – was offensive to women. I should have gotten involved. But I have no desire to argue on Twitter, especially not in that particular scenario. A lot of women noticed the conversation too and their response seemed to be along the lines of, “I don’t want to hear men telling me what isn’t offensive.” Fair point. Neither do I! But MY point goes a bit deeper: “I don’t want to hear men telling me what IS offensive, either.” And I don’t want WOMEN telling me what I should (or should not) find “offensive” either. In fact, while we’re at it, I am sick of the concept of “offensive”, in general, because it’s such a …. polite word. PTA-polite. Suburban mainstream polite. It’s sniffing a nasty smell and going for the air freshener. If something rubs me the wrong way, I try to find another word to describe my reaction. Something not so … prissy and fucking middle class respectable. If the middle-class were in charge, there would be no revolutionary art, no bravery, no ambivalence and ambiguity. (And we’re basically there already.) Sex would be vanilla and everyone would be clothed properly and be lovely to one another, never rude or snippy or obnoxious. The values of the middle class say “Don’t rock the boat” “Play well with others.” Okay, fine, that works on the playground but it does not work with art, because most great art does not play well with others. If I think something doesn’t work, then there are other words to use than “This is offensive.” Offensive to WHOM, I ask? And if I’m NOT offended, does that mean I’m brainwashed by the patriarchy or matriarchy or whatever group thinks it has the Truth? So having a bunch of men talking about how offensive that scene was in its portrayal of women rubbed me the wrong fucking way. Mainly because of its assumption that all women were probably offended by it. I guess I’m not a woman then, because I was delighted and horrified by that scene. In it are many of Shane Black’s obsessions: innocence and corruption, violence and vulnerability, sex as Product and sex as human life-force. She looked gorgeous on that car – I’m not afraid to admit it, that’s part of the destabilizing beauty of that moment – but also terrifyingly vulnerable. I am sensitive to cruel and toxic objectification and sorry, boys, but that ain’t it. Or maybe it is to you but do NOT assume that every woman must/should/does feel the same way about it. I’m a woman and I know what sexual vulnerability is about. Being reveled in and adored when I’m naked, and also being afraid when I’m naked: I have experienced both. And all of that is there in that small moment, including my own projections onto her beautiful body, which I’m sure was deliberate on the part of Shane Black. My problem with the women’s side of this conversation is a constant as well, although the men bickering about whether or not it was offensive embarrassed me for them. But I am equally turned off by women who assume that because something “offends” them it must offend ALL women (the implication being “all right-thinking enlightened women”.) In this particular scenario, both genders (at least the mouthpieces I’m talking about here) assume that women’s responses are monolithic. I saw this this year in the initial reaction to Elle: a lot of the outraged women on Twitter were saying “No woman could accept this movie” “No woman would act like this” “Men should be barred from making movies about rape” – these comments, to me, were more scary than the movie itself. Comments like this are used (albeit unconsciously probably) as an intimidation tactic. I don’t intimidate easily. But comments like that do not promote discussion. Comments like that want there to be NO discussion, except among those who agree 100%, and that is totalitarian. Additionally: When men jump into the fray, arguing about how offensive something is to women, they are White Knighting for us, and so often – SO SO OFTEN – White Knights get shit wrong. I’ve experienced it in person. Some man says, “My God, that movie was offensive to women” and I say, “Really? How so? I loved it!” And then everything gets very awkward. Especially since I’m a woman. These men STILL treat women as “other”. They don’t know how to listen to us. And so they assume they know what we’re all about, because we all are somehow the same. I’m not saying they do this deliberately. They mean well, most of the time. But all I will say is: Do better. Moments like this have an “I’m protecting your honor” subtext. Honor? Please. “Honor” is just another way women have been held down and held back: you men clashing your big phallic swords to protect our honor. Same shit. And so these current-day White Knights are just exhibiting a patriarchal mindset, a condescending, “Never fear, Ladies, we’ve got your back!!” The attitude echoes Paul Ryan’s “Women should be championed and revered” comment. These White Knights don’t know they’re doing it. They believe they are allies. They don’t think they are sexist. They think that good ol’ boys and dudebros are the sexist ones, not THEM. They should know that I have experienced more misogyny – exponentially – from nerds and geek-boys than I EVER have from good ol’ boys and dudebros. Gimme a Dudebro over a White Knight any day of the week. Look, women NEED allies. Support is totally appreciated. But do not assume that you know how ALL women think – because by assuming, you are acting like a Douchebag Man Who Doesn’t Listen to Women, just like all the supposed “dudebros” you abhor. What “offends” one woman may not “offend” another, and hopefully your mind won’t explode trying to contain those contradictions. (Same goes for you, too, women.) Unbelievable, I know: women don’t all think alike! What is this world coming to? All of this is to say that I fucking loved The Nice Guys and was not “offended” by one thing in it. As a matter of fact, the main takeaway for me is its old-fashioned sweetness and its care for the characters. Loved it in the theatre, and wondered if it would hold up. Bought a copy, watched again, and was so happy to see that it did. A movie like this hits so many sweet spots for me.

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 8, “Lotus” (2016; d. Philip Sgriccia)
This episode pissed me off. Horrible. Misguided. Tone-deaf. All surface, no subtext. Lazy. Unforgivable. I’m actually going easy on it with these comments.

The Bishop’s Wife (1947; d. Henry Koster)
Watched while I was in Chicago. Snowy day. In Mitchell’s cozy nook. Neither of us know how many times we’ve seen the movie. We know the sequence by heart. The start of the big Gladys Cooper scene, Mitchell said, “Here we go.” We both cried at the same spots. We paused to discuss. I so want to go to that skating rink. Magic.

A Letter to Three Wives (1949; d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Another favorite, watched with Mitchell. For more indepth thoughts on the film, please read my friend Stevie’s comments on this post.

Seven Samurai (1954; d. Akira Kurosawa)
I cannot imagine what it must have been like in the 1950s to have the films of Kurosawa start to wash up on American shores. The films still astonish and terrify, they are awe-inspiring accomplishments. Seven Samurai is a stunning and exciting action film, taking place over 3 hours, but it zips by so quickly it’s almost a disappointment when it ends. The crowd fight scenes are thrilling, and the characters are unforgettable. The final shot is epic. Recently, Glenn Kenny reviewed Mifune: The Last Samurai, a documentary about brilliant actor Toshiro Mifune, which Kenny thought was a kind of Mifune For Dummies. Not for those who loved him and were obsessed by him (and our numbers are legion). In the review, Glenn sums up his issues with it in the following paragraph: Mifune: The Last Samurai,” a documentary on the actor directed by Steven Okazaki and narrated by Keanu Reeves (the script is by Okazaki and Stuart Galbraith IV) got off on a somewhat bad foot for me. Explaining Mifune’s place in the firmament of pop culture, the narration says of his collaborations with director Akira Kurosawa, “without them there would have been no ‘Magnificent Seven.’” This is factually true but seems to me to throw out a very crucial baby with the bathwater. What makes Kurosawa and Mifune crucial is that without them there would be no “Seven Samurai.” Thank you, Glenn.

Swiss Army Man (2016; d. Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert)
I can’t say enough good stuff about this movie. I resisted it at first, mainly because the reviews coming out of festivals were so rapturous. Why do I do this to myself? I can’t help it. I’m a spiky pissed-off woman with a female Irish pirate for an ancestor. Just like her, I don’t play well with others. I withhold until I’m damn well ready to check it out for myself. As so often happens, I watched and fell in love with it. (But it often goes the other way too. Exhibit A: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Once I watched that shitshow, the hype that came out of Sundance made me think: “Was it the elevation that brought on the rapture? Because … ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”) Anyway, Swiss Army Man was one of my favorite films this year, and since it was such a strong year, it couldn’t go on my Top 10. What a profound and beautiful film. What an exploration of human life – our bodies, their embarrassments, their responses – but, and even more profoundly, what an exploration of male relationships, an exploration of the possibilities in male intimacy. Not sexual, although that might be a part of it – and the fact that I have to say “not sexual” is indicative of the problem. Intimacy between men, love, friendship, adoration … is still seen as extremely threatening, and it’s fucked us UP. It’s the final frontier. I really liked Annie Julia Wyman’s essay on it in the LA Review of Books.

Patriots Day (2016; d. Peter Berg)
Reviewed for Ebert.

In a Lonely Place (1950; d. Nicholas Ray)
1. One of my favorite movies.
2. My favorite Bogart performance.
3. One of the best – and most brutal and cynical – movies about Hollywood in existence.
Everyone was so excited when Criterion decided to release it. I bought a copy finally and gloried in it, and all of the special features, for hours. My friend Imogen Smith wrote the beautiful essay.

This Is Us, Season 1, Pilot (2016; d. Glenn Ficarra, John Requa)
Allison made me watch the pilot. This is what she and I do: force one another to watch things. And neither of us are ever sorry. I am so out of the TV Loop that this had not struck my radar. It’s absolutely lovely. I will continue to watch! Beautiful acting, too. It made me cry a couple of times. Well played.

A Letter to Elia (2010; d. Martin Scorsese)
A re-watch for this big piece I’m researching. My feelings about Elia Kazan are well-documented on this site, not to mention the unforgettable night when I met him, so I’ve been having such a good time with this research project. Scorsese talking about his personal reaction to East of Eden makes me tear up.

Where Danger Lives (1950; d. John Farrow)
A fascinating film starring Robert Mitchum as a doctor (yum), who gets embroiled with what appears to be a poor little rich girl (played by Faith Domergue), who then turns out to be lying in order to reel in the good doctor. Claude Rains is deliciously evil, in such a cool and smiling and unruffled way. The mood of the movie is out of its mind. So paranoid, so richly sexual.

Tension (1949; d. John Berry)
I love this movie! Nerdy pharmacist (Richard Basehart) married to Hot-Babe Malcontent (Audrey Totter) ends up changing his name/entire personality in order to get his revenge. Once he takes on the new personality, all kinds of other things start changing for him. He also meets an adorable amateur photographer played by Cyd Charisse. The sexually sick implications in Tension, especially in regards to the marriage, and how she keeps him reeled in, despite the fact that she humiliates him constantly, are so strong that you almost want to look away.

The Fall (2013-2016; created by Allan Cubitt)
I binge-watched the entire three seasons this past month. It has multiple things I adore and NEED in my life: Gillian Anderson. John Lynch. A variety of Irish accents. A sexually sadistic serial killer. Belfast locations. Compulsively watchable, for many reasons. The acting is top-notch, across the board. Jamie Dornan gives a very creepy portrayal of obsession: watch how his face changes when he’s preparing or re-living or lost in his thoughts. It’s a whole different thing than the passive benign husband/father thing he’s got going on. Gillian Anderson, though … What I love about the performance is its chilly blend of competence and messy complexity. Her whispery voice. Her cold eyes. The outfits. Her absolute unconcern with how she’s regarded. But it’s very well-written because the majority of her backstory is left unspoken. And the glimpses we do get are startling, and you have to hurriedly incorporate them into your understanding of the character. A reminder that nobody – NOBODY – is what they seem. On an actress level, the performance is “campy” but not in the overused sense of the word. It’s high camp. It’s baroque camp. It’s reveling in the surface of it: the heels, the silky blouses, the curves of her hips in those tight skirts, the paleness of her skin, etc. Anderson knows that the surface will be the main component of the character. And it is only through the meticulous creation of and maintaining of that surface that we’ll get the revelatory “Oh wow” feeling when the cracks start to show. But surface is ALL. This is the kind of acting that used to be par for the course in the 1930s and 40s. It’s out of style now, more’s the pity. But this? This is what it looks like. There’s honestly nothing better. I so enjoyed watching her work.

20th Century Women (2016; d. Mike Mills)
I’ve seen it twice now. My 4-star review for Ebert.

Hail, Caesar! (2016; d. The Coen brothers)
“Before you say your line, just give a … a mirthless chuckle.” [Pause filled with the dead air of incomprehension. Then:] “A mirthless chuckle?” “Yes, just a mirthless chuckle.” And watching how that poor actor interprets what “a mirthless chuckle” should look like is one of the funniest moments in film this year. I love every second of this film. Should have been on my Top 10, but what are you gonna do.

Christmas, Again (2015; d. Charles Poekel)
I reviewed this beautiful movie when it came out and thought I’d revisit. It’s somewhat hard to track down. I think I found it streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s so delicate, you might make the mistake of thinking this is just a “slice of life” movie. It’s not. I loved it even more the second time. I saw even more than I perceived when I saw it originally. It got DEEPER.

Beginners (2010; d. Mike Mills)
I re-watched this in preparation for my 20th Century Women review. I loved it first time around, although my main takeaway was not Christopher Plummer but the love story between Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent (in particular that first scene at the costume party which I think is just beautifully conceived and carried out). Beginners is about Mills’ father and 20th Century Women is about his mother. The “quirks” in Beginners have vanished in his second movie, a giant leap forward. Mills is young, too. This is exciting because we can expect much more from him. He’s got “it.” Or what I consider to be “it” which is an ear for dialogue and a devotion to people. Not much happens in his movies. There’s an inciting event (“Wow, my dad came out of the closet at 75 years of age”), but after that … it’s chaos. There’s a kind of James Brooks-ish all-over-the-place thing going on, and I like that. I don’t care about plot. Please just give me interesting characters!

Tomorrow (1972; d. Joseph Anthony)
Early Duvall: in between To Kill a Mockingbird and The Godfather – released the same year as Tomorrow. This movie was a favorite of my dad’s, in particular Duvall’s performance. I remember the first time he spoke of it to me. I hadn’t seen the movie, and Dad couldn’t remember the name of the movie, but he described the character and the performance, even some of the scenes, with vivid detail. It made a huge impression. I re-watched this (and boy is it hard to find) for another project I was working on. It’ll be screening on TCM this month and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it.

Ninotchka (1939; d. Ernst Lubitsch)
If there’s such a thing as a perfect movie, Ninotchka is it. Greta Garbo is such a brilliant comedienne. Her deadpan is so dead that it goes to her very soul. Until it cracks. Every line reading is hilarious to me. The film is breathlessly passionate. Gorgeous love scenes. Eerily upsetting, in terms of what would happen in Europe that year, and through the next 4 years. The Eiffel Tower. The civilization of France. The semi-comedic treatment of Communists. (I love the scenes back in Russia in the communal apartments.) I watch this movie and get swept away every single time.

Fences (2016; d. Denzel Washington)
Denzel Washington directs a film adaptation of the great American play, August Wilson’s Fences. Washington has transferred the Broadway production (which brought both him and Viola Davis Tony’s, and rightfully so) to the screen with loving care. He wants us to hear these words, dammit. LISTEN to the prose of one of the great theatrical masters. So silly, these film nerds who complain that it’s not cinematic enough, that it feels like an adaptation, that it feels like a play. Maybe it feels like a play because it IS a play? So, are you saying that if Denzel Washington crowded up the screen with gizmo-moves and Steadicam-moves and twisty-twirly tracking shots, you would have deigned to give the movie the attention it deserves? I’m being harsh, but these people do not live in the real world, and by real world I mean the world where audiences come into a dark space, as one, to watch – and LISTEN TO – a story being told. Listen, I love good camera work and shot construction. But sometimes camera work is a distraction, unnecessary, a show-off. Fences is a great piece of writing, and Washington has done all of us a great service by presenting it to us plainly and simply. It is not visually uninteresting, but that backyard really IS a stage – in the play and in the movie – where people come out and make their points, tell stories, fight it out. Washington has not made the mistake of “opening up the script” like you’re supposed to do. It’s a great great play. Why mess with it? “Film is a visual medium,” drones some nerd who has never created anything in his life. (I’m on a roll this morning with the rants. It’s 2017. Let’s start strong.) YES. Film IS a visual medium, and so sometimes that means Andrei Tarkovsky, sometimes it means Chantal Akerman, sometimes it means P.T. Anderson, and sometimes it means putting the camera in the best spot and letting the actor/words be the star. It’s such a joy to see these actors work, as painful as this story is. There’s a lovely elegiac feeling to some of it, like you can sense August Wilson looking back on something, considering another era, one in which he grew up, the neighborhood he knew, the people he knew. This is what happened. This is who we were. Seeing Washington, one of our greatest actors, as Troy – the one-time Negro League star, now bitter, a bully to his son, a tough man, a principled man who betrays his own principles, a garrulous story-teller … God, it was satisfying! His physical work was extraordinary too: you could see the athlete he once was, but you could also see that those muscles were going to fat, that his back was atrophying from crouching on the side of that garbage truck, that this is a man facing mortality and hating every second of it. Viola Davis is a miracle. To complain that this film is uncinematic – even when you are being blessed with the enriching miracle of a performance like hers – represents an attitude of base ingratitude (not to mention a misunderstanding of what movies are actually FOR, at their most simplistic level.) Superb. I didn’t see this soon enough to put it on any list. One of the best films of the year.

To Be or Not To Be (1942; d. Ernst Lubitsch)
So subversive that it couldn’t exist now! It was subversive then too but the atmosphere is even worse now, when Humorlessness reigns supreme. Look at the brou-haha about The Interview, with the studio caving into the threats from the Self-Appointed Policemen who didn’t want ANY of us to see the movie since THEY were offended by it (that word again!) even though none of these people had even SEEN it yet. “But I’ve HEARD about it and it sounds OFFENSIVE.” Thanks, but I’ll make up my own mind. To Be or Not To Be was made right as America was getting herself involved in the war in Europe – which makes the film’s attitude – not to mention its plot – that much more out-there and courageous. It’s “Springtime for Hitler” almost 30 years before The Producers. It’s “Springtime for Hitler” WHILE Hitler was on the loose. Mr. Lubitsch, you’ve got some nerve. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny. Screwball slapstick. Nazis. Jack Benny. Sooooo funny. A young Robert Stack getting up to leave the theatre every time Benny begins the “To be or not to be” speech which – classic Lubitsch – pays off hugely in the final moment. Carole Lombard: every gesture, eyebrow raise, line-reading: perfection. An actor impersonating Hitler out in the streets of Warsaw. A nefarious plot to infiltrate a Nazi gala affair … there are a couple of scenes that Tarantino lifted wholesale into Inglourious Basterds. A hilarious movie with brass balls.

East of Eden (1955; d. Elia Kazan)
For that research thing I keep mentioning. I won’t name what it is but it’s probably pretty obvious by now. I have seen this movie many many many times, and I can say – with little exaggeration – that seeing it when I was babysitting, age 12, changed the course of my life. I always think of that when I go back to see it again. I have such personal feelings all wrapped up in it. But still: it’s a gorgeous piece of film-making from Kazan, in particular the colors, and his fluid use of Cinemascope – not an easy feat. He pulls it off. Back to the Fences conversation: there is not one uninteresting shot here. It’s not just Kazan showing off. He had many challenges facing him, in particular how to tell this personal intimate story about a father and two sons without a lot of closeups, since closeups don’t really work in Cinemascope. The emotion, then, the power of the emotion, is in his framing, his use of colors, the way he tilts the camera sometimes – yes, calling attention to itself – but always serving the story. It’s heightened overblown 1950s melodrama and much of it has nothing to do with what Steinbeck wrote (or very little, let’s say that), but it’s a clearly personal piece of work, as most of Kazan’s films are. James Dean is so compelling and captivating you can’t believe it’s his debut. The second he shows up, it’s obvious: That’s a star. Now I can say that because I know how it all turned out, but apparently in the early screenings, the second the camera came to rest on him in that opening sequence, him sitting crouched on the sidewalk curb, the teenage girls in the audience flipped ….. OUT. Instant recognition: THAT. I WANT THAT. GIMME GIMME. Not every hot young actor causes that kind of reaction just from sitting on a sidewalk curb, but Dean did.

Justified, Season 1, Episodes 1 – 12 (2010; created by Graham Yost)
Jessie. Helena. Help me. HELP ME TO BEAR IT. I love it so much I’m having heart palpitations. I’m so excited that I have 5 more seasons to go. I can’t wait for my cousin to show up! It’s so good. The first episode practically brought me to orgasm. And on that note …

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147 Responses to December 2016 Viewing Diary

  1. So glad you’re getting into Justified! Greatest dialogue and character work in a series, or maybe ever. I look forward to any posts you have time to write about it.

    • sheila says:

      Jincy – I am so hooked I’m almost mortified. It happened immediately – first scene of the whole thing!

      Amazing dialogue, and I love the structure – it’s practically episodic at times. “Watch US Marshall handle THIS crisis this week” – but then there’s the longer Arcs which seem to be (at this stage) the personal ones: Raylan and his dad, Raylan and his ex-wife, Raylan dealing with all his old school buddies, the home town boy come home, etc.

      I am so excited to see what happens next. About to start Season 2 today.

      I love, too, that it’s the kind of show that opens up acting opportunities for all kinds of character actors who really only get work as hillbilly trucker types because of what they look like – which means that they don’t work all that much. But here, these wonderful character actors – playing all Raylan’s old school friends, now religious nuts and white supremacists and meth cookers – these people with wonderful wonderful backwoods faces … get to play some really indepth stuff, get to really latch onto a character.

      I’m in love with it!

      • Maureen says:

        I’m a huge, huge fan of Justified-watched it on TV, then of course bought the DVD’s so I could savor the show at my leisure! A show that never had a weak spot for me, always strong and intriguing. Like Jincy said, I would be so happy to hear any thoughts you had on the show.

        Hmmm…what better way to start the new year than Justified marathon??

      • Jessie says:

        A lot of people seem to dislike the more standalone cases, and while I love the arcs and the recurring characters, the very second episode had Kristin Bauer teetering around on those heels being dim but sweet — glory hallelujah! There’s so much to love in those standalones!

        first scene of the whole thing!
        The scene that got me was the church scene, Boyd coming down the steps, arms out, with that big old grin on his face.

        But here, these wonderful character actors…these people with wonderful wonderful backwoods faces … get to play some really indepth stuff, get to really latch onto a character.
        Damon Herriman’s work on Dewey Crowe is genius-level! I love him so much!!!!!!!!!

        • sheila says:

          I couldn’t remember who Kristen Bauer was, and looked her up. I loved her! That character was so great!!

          Damon Herriman is brilliant. How on earth he has managed to make that character somewhat sympathetic I’ll never know. I mean, he’s clearly just not the brightest bulb on any tree. He’s LOST.

          I love the small-town gossip aspect of it too. I come from a small town and everyone is connected to everyone else and the police blotter in the local newspaper is filled with old classmates and – you seriously need to drive to the next town over to buy groceries if you don’t want to run into 10 people who were in your graduating class. Blessing and a curse. I can see why Ava doesn’t want to leave. She’s a country girl. That’s her home. What the hell is she going to do anywhere else?

          • Jessie says:

            Yeah, the small town thing — their names are SO IMPORTANT and inescapable. I love how Raylan just moseys into so many dangerous situations going hey, I know you, your daddy did this, tells a story about manners or growing up, etc etc. His relationship with Harlan and its denizens is fascinating.

          • sheila says:

            Does he ever feel fear? He’s such a cool cool cat.

      • sheila says:

        Maureen – I’m about to start Season 2. I’m so excited!! I am going to have to own the DVDs, I can already feel it. :)

  2. Wren Collins says:

    Haven’t seen the most recent two SPN episodes, just because it’s genuinely upsetting to me to see it go to shit like this. Going to wait until the season’s done to watch, I think.

    But, hey- even if it’s all downhill from here on- that’s nearly eleven great unique seasons. Not a shabby achievement.

    • sheila says:

      Wren – I keep hoping they’ll turn it around – but it’s weird – at this point I don’t feel the show can even TAKE the emotional content that we’re all so used to. There haven’t been any “BM scenes” in the last THREE episodes. Like: they’re denying us even that! MOM has returned, and they have made it all about having breakfast and playing Words with Friends. Like … except for the one epiosde where she decided to hunt to take her mind off things – and then decided to leave again – as far as I can tell, the last good episode – Mom has not been explored at ALL. And now they’re going all US-political – which – in the current mood over here and elsewhere – is a GIGANTIC mistake. I could go on and on about how awful it is. It’s sad.

      But I agree: 11 great seasons is rare indeed.

      I feel kind of desperate – like: “Come ON guys, it’s not too late, you can course-correct, do it!!”

      • Wren Collins says:

        Yeah- I was spoiled for the whole (lowers voice) US Presidential thing- and when I heard about it I was just like… yeah. Taking a break.

        I’m not saying it’s been all bad- I liked the premiere, Asa Fox, American Nightmare, The Foundry- so, y’know, I haven’t lost hope- but I’m so so over Lucifer. And the Bunker.

        I think one of the problems is that Mary coming back should have changed EVERYTHING. It should have been this massive destabilising Event- and yet the season so far feels like such a nonentity.

        For me at the moment it feels like the real show ended at Don’t Call Me Shurley. After that it’s all felt off, aforementioned episodes excepted.

        • Wren Collins says:

          And no BM scenes? What?? (Insert gif of Bob Singer lookalike: ‘Right. You answer the hate mail.’)

        • sheila says:

          // it feels like the real show ended at Don’t Call Me Shurley. After that it’s all felt off, aforementioned episodes excepted. //

          Interesting. I agree, but I hadn’t quite put it together that way.

          I liked some of the episodes too. Or at least parts of the episodes. and yes: they turned Mom into a non-event – I still can barely believe that they did this – they think we care about Lucifer more, or Crowley and Castiel buddying up – it’s like they don’t get what we like about it. That’s what’s been so WEIRD about this season.

          • Wren Collins says:

            Agreed.

            I think the frustrating thing is that it’s all THERE- all the material they could ever want or need- right under their noses. Dean not replying to Mary’s ‘John was a great father’ (I mean, what a strange thing to say anyway.) Sam getting mad about God with the religious family. & that bit in Asa Fox where Dean found out someone was dead inside the house and he started yelling for Sam- as opposed to Mary. Etc.

            Actually, that’s another thing that makes it frustrating. All this weirdness and then some really good stuff. I know I’d feel more comfortable if I could just write the whole thing off and freely dislike it- but at the moment it’s requiring me to suspend judgement on it as a whole. And I want to judge it.

          • sheila says:

            // at the moment it’s requiring me to suspend judgement on it as a whole. And I want to judge it. //

            Hahaha Great way to put it.

            I agree: so much good stuff already there, so much potential – but not if they’re going to … ignore Sam and Dean, and treat Sam and Dean like guest stars on their own show. Even the guest stars get more time – In LOTUS (abysmal), the President and his mistress got three full scenes together. Not one, not two, but three. Sam and Dean had none. Or none that mattered. Like: what the hell are you guys doing?

            It’s so so OFF.

          • Wren Collins says:

            //Even the guest stars get more time – In LOTUS (abysmal), the President and his mistress got three full scenes together. Not one, not two, but three. Sam and Dean had none. //

            I haven’t even watched Lotus and I’m mentally flinching.

            Bucklemming need to go, I think. After almost managing to singlehandedly botch up Season 11 (phone call for All In The Family)- they now have four really important slots?? What? Bottom line- and this isn’t just about Bucklemming- you cannot write for this show if you don’t care about Sam and Dean, and their Thing. You can’t. It’s like Sheppard said: you care, or you don’t. They are the whole show. Sure, the other stuff helps- Castiel (when he’s utilised properly)- weirdo side characters- visual loveliness.

            But without the brothers? Nope. It’s nothing.

          • Wren Collins says:

            wow, crazy italics.

          • sheila says:

            I think I fixed.

            So true in re: Sam and Dean – and that’s what has happened in this season for the most part. It has become nothing, and it’s very upsetting actually.

            Love that Mark Sheppard quote – and I just don’t feel like anyone cares. I mean, of course they do – but … nobody’s at the wheel saying “Guys. This is about Sam and Dean.”

            Normally I don’t peek ahead for episodes, but in putting together this viewing diary I use IMDB so I got a glimpse of the next episode and saw the words “The President of the United States …” – so they’re continuing with that arc – AND it’s airing post our inauguration here. Like, GodDAMMIT. I think they thought HRC would win, and that this would all play out ironically, like “Phew, we dodged a bullet, let’s live out the fantasy and have Sam and Dean come to the rescue!” And so now the political stuff is so unwelcome it’s actually making me sick (and that started with the Hitler episode, which I’m not sure if you saw. Terrible episode.)

            Clearly, they wrote all this stuff before he who shall not be named got elected. But still: how the hell did they think this would play if he DID get elected? Are they so out of touch? Ugh. That part of it is actually enraging me.

            I know it’s important to be positive. I still love the show. I checked in with a couple other people who watch – and was like, “Has it ever felt this off to you?” Basically the answer was No – although Season 7 and 8 are pointed to as seasons that didn’t feel quite right (I agreed with that). But THIS is “off”-ness that is very different – especially with Sam and Dean somehow vanishing into the furniture.

          • sheila says:

            Dean getting drunk alone in the kitchen looking at his childhood photos – for me – is the only image this season that has the depth that the whole thing usually does.

          • Wren Collins says:

            Oh, I saw Hitler alright. I didn’t actually mind it up until the point that Hitler appeared, after which I wanted to take my brain out of my skull and rinse it off.

            I don’t think the political arc would have been particularly welcome anyway- but with the situation as it is- awful. But still, I’m not keen on it when SPN tries to get political (except maybe Dick Roman whom I love love love). The show for me is best when it takes place in its own dusty specific world. In the early seasons particularly there’s this sense of the Winchesters’ lives taking place on almost another sphere of reality- their low-techness (which is why Words with Friends is aggravating to me, ugh) and their strangeness is one of my favourite things about it.

          • sheila says:

            // I don’t think the political arc would have been particularly welcome anyway //

            Good point! Let them float above and beside the political fray. Don’t attach them to it. I beg you. Oops. Too late.

            Last episode, Dean made a joke about Snapchat. Or maybe it was the episode before. Doesn’t matter. I was like: Dean? Snapchat?? Who’s writing this shit? It even sounded “off” coming out of his mouth.

            Granted, at this point I’m going into each episode cranky and hurt, so everything is annoying me. :)

        • Paula says:

          I feel like I’m butting in late to a really great conversation. //I think one of the problems is that Mary coming back should have changed EVERYTHING. It should have been this massive destabilising Event- and yet the season so far feels like such a nonentity.// Wren, this comment sums up all my disappointment with the season so far. Where were the aftershocks to this? It should have lead either to a richer examination of Sam and Dean’s emotions, some discovery that reveals them even more to us as viewers. Instead, Sam was overly understanding and Dean pouted while playing Words With Friends. Disaster.

          • sheila says:

            // It should have lead either to a richer examination of Sam and Dean’s emotions, some discovery that reveals them even more to us as viewers. Instead, Sam was overly understanding and Dean pouted while playing Words With Friends. Disaster. //

            I just don’t understand this.

            Drama is about High Stakes. This is theatre 101. I do not understand the choices being made. At all. It’s such a disappointment.

  3. Wren Collins says:

    /Dean getting drunk alone in the kitchen looking at his childhood photos – for me – is the only image this season that has the depth that the whole thing usually does.//

    That was devastating. And so so evocative.

    • sheila says:

      So good!! It said so much – it left so much out – SPN at its best. So I’m clinging to that!

      • sheila says:

        and it was that Kim Manners thing – give them what they want but not what they expect. That’s just what that moment was. I have goosebumps.

  4. Wren Collins says:

    //Last episode, Dean made a joke about Snapchat. Or maybe it was the episode before. Doesn’t matter. I was like: Dean? Snapchat?? Who’s writing this shit? It even sounded “off” coming out of his mouth. //

    I’m yet to be convinced that Snapchat should exist in real life, let alone in SPN-land.

    Let alone from Dean, my God. It’s all so… wrong.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah. It just doesn’t sound right. It’s not right. It’s not “him.”

      • Wren Collins says:

        Sam has feels almost absent to me, too. Not in the first two episodes- and not at the end of Foundry- and not in that great moment in American Nightmare- but like: there is clearly so much going on with this guy. And they don’t seem to be exploring any of it. It’s not much better with Dean- just a retread of ‘So, Dean. You have daddy issues?’ ‘Yeah, mom, I have daddy issues.’

        I should probably stop whining soon. After all: 11 good seasons.

        • sheila says:

          They have definitely dropped the ball with Sam – last season at the end, and this whole season – although it started REALLY promisingly with torture and non-consensual sex in a romantic setting (which the Usual Suspects predictably blew a gasket about).

          I think I said it in my Magnificent Seven re-cap and it’s strangely applicable here: Dean is the scene-stealer show-stopper because of his emotions blah blah blah. But without Sam, the show literally ceases to be. Sam is the key – he’s how Dean is even highlighted the way he is – his contrast to Dean helps CREATE Dean – and when Sam goes off the rails – like in Season 4, Season 6 – it’s like the whole world falls apart because we all RELY on Sam almost as much as Dean does. When Dean goes off the rails, it’s like, “Oh, it’s Tuesday.” This is not a “dis” on Dean – it’s just an observation of how the story works.

          And so dropping the ball with Sam – as they did SO DISASTROUSLY at the end of Season 11 (“Let me take the Mark for you, Dean!” not to mention the horrific “Why do ears look like that, God? And why are planets round?” bullshit) – has REALLY destroyed the fabric of the show. I’m not quite sure how that works – but I just know it’s so. Dean’s emotional melodrama operates in tandem with Sam’s stuff – and Sam reacting to Dean and everything else is how we have the beauty that is Supernatural. Sam has been far more of a casualty than Dean and the result has just really proved the point I was trying to make in Magnificent Seven.

          It’s such a shame.

          • Wren Collins says:

            //Dean is the scene-stealer show-stopper because of his emotions blah blah blah. But without Sam, the show literally ceases to be. Sam is the key – he’s how Dean is even highlighted the way he is – his contrast to Dean helps CREATE Dean – and when Sam goes off the rails, it’s like the whole world falls apart. //

            This is so interesting. I think perhaps Sam is more difficult a character to write than Dean- they’re both complex fully-realised characters, but Sam seems more elusive in a way. Or maybe that’s just me ‘relating’ to Dean and his blah blah blah.

            Dean is more easily understandable, maybe. Sam is a bit of an enigma to me. You have to love him without fully understanding him- something I think the show messes around with really well (Amelia, Jess, Dean himself)- and something maybe the newer or just less interested writers don’t want to touch.

            And yes- without Sam and the mystery of Sam as a reference-point- there can be no Dean. They’re so mixed-up in each other- one of the things that makes the show what it is.

          • sheila says:

            // I think perhaps Sam is more difficult a character to write than Dean- they’re both complex fully-realised characters, but Sam seems more elusive in a way. Or maybe that’s just me ‘relating’ to Dean and his blah blah blah. //

            I think that’s really true though and I think we’re seeing now in this season just how difficult it is to write Sam and how nobody on board seems to know what they’re doing with him. Dean is “easier” in a way – throw in some jokes, some insecurity, let Ackles fill in the rest (although I can’t stand that approach either – it’s so lazy – give him something to DO – even the last 3 episodes have barely used him and his genius at all).

            But yes: Sam is a tough one and he needs to be as strong as Dean or we do not have a show. His role cannot just be “let me calm my brother down” because then it’s just boring. How about letting SAM flip out about Mom ditching? Why is he IMMEDIATELY okay with it? Wouldn’t it have been a more interesting choice to have Sam fall APART? and have Dean be the one to have to pull himself together and be okay with it?

            I mean, as it is, we have nothing – Mom left, and they’re both hunky-dory with it apparently.

            This is SO BAD. The writers have made it as low-stakes as possible – and if SPN always has to be life-and-death, at least emotionally. Otherwise, you have nothing.

            It’s so frustrating.

  5. Natalie says:

    This season is just so completely disappointing. The Foundry has been the only high point for me – that one was nearly perfect. (The Asa Fox episode was, while imperfect, enjoyable, if for no other reason than Jody and Mary meeting.) But otherwise . . . Like, I’m so disappointed I don’t even have the words to express it. And I HATED American Nightmare for reasons almost too numerous to mention, and only a few of them had to do with the CPS subplot. In fact, there were a few things I actually liked about the CPS subplot. And I agree with Wren that Buckleming needs to go. I mean, they’ve needed to go pretty much forever.

    • sheila says:

      // I’m so disappointed I don’t even have the words to express it. //

      Believe it or not – despite my blabbiness – I feel the same way. I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing.

      I’m curious to hear your thoughts on American Nightmare.

      • Natalie says:

        It’s been so long now that I can’t remember everything that irritated me, but for starters, I just want the British MoL to go away, especially Mr. Ketch. I think the biggest thing for me was the texting with Dean and Mary. After the sucker punch of Mary leaving, the angst could have been sustained over the entire season, very effectively, but instead we get Dean and Mary exchanging cutesy little “I’ll always be your mom” texts the very next week? And Dean being all passive-aggressively insecure? Like, it doesn’t matter how much he’s grown emotionally over the last decade, Mary was his one ideal of perfect unconditional love and she just walked out on him. Something like that should have unraveled him, not turned him, in his own words, into a 13-year-old girl. (And, for the record, when I was a 13-year-old girl, I was not all, “please love me.” I was more, “Oh, you’re going to walk out? WELL YOU ARE DEAD TO ME NOW!” If they wanted to turn him into a 13-year-old girl, it would have been more accurate to have him hold an angry grudge and keep it simmering under the surface.)

        As for the CPS stuff – I did like that the replacement supervisor said she didn’t want the supervisor job and that it sucked, and that she was working in the middle of the night. That is probably the most accurate thing they’ve had on there. But otherwise, there was a lot that just flat out didn’t make sense for that family. (Like the fact, for starters, that the kids had old-school biblical names even though the family had only found religion in the last few years, supposedly.) And then there was the ending. “Oh, hi, traumatized teenager who has been chained in a basement and physically and mentally tortured for years. You should probably get at least a couple weeks of inpatient psychiatric treatment, and then we could have your relatives come pick you up after we have their state workers check them out and make sure it’s appropriate, but that would take several weeks, so instead we’re going to stick you on a bus to California by yourself. Good luck!” Very lazy way to get her alone so she could be shot in a bathroom.

        • sheila says:

          Natalie – thanks for all this. I am totally on board with your first paragraph. I had the same reaction. and maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the episodes afterwards hadn’t been such a wash. You know? Like if Dean had TRIED to have a nice texting relationship with Mom, but then couldn’t BEAR it anymore in the next episode. But instead, they have the two of them playing Words with Friends. It’s just … NO. MARY WINCHESTER is back and THIS is what you do with her??

          What a disappointment!

          and of course I always want to know what you think about CPS stuff! I liked that whole sub-plot with the wiccan CPS worker and wish it had been built out a bit – missed opportunity. For example: Dean’s trying to be a good boy and text his mother and be okay with the fact that she’s ditched them. He puts on that act for Sam. But then … I don’t know … something snaps … he goes out and gets drunk with the wiccan CPS worker, he turns off his phone so they can make out – he acts OUT – you know? I’m just making this up as I go – but there was a weird little potential there that could then reveal something else about Dean and where he’s at.

          But that’s a side issue.

          I am also with you on Men of Letters and Mr. Ketch. I was bored with Mr. Ketch before he even showed up. I just want them to focus on Sam and Dean – WHAT is the problem? For once in your life, you don’t have a Big Bad. Have them fight monsters. Or bring Pellegrino back. Make Lucifer into the monstrous threat that he always was – exacerbated by both brothers’ memories of being tortured and raped and everything that creature has done to them. EXPLORE that.

          Instead?

          All of them sitting around in an LA hotel room wondering where the show is. I mean, honestly.

  6. sheila says:

    What’s the scuttlebutt in the rest of the fandom? Are we outliers or is this the general feeling out there? I can’t believe anyone would think this was a good season – or that things weren’t disastrously “off” – but then, I’m in my own bubble, like everyone else is.

    • Bethany says:

      I don’t have a strong sense of what the rest of fandom thinks, outside of this blog and a few others…but I’ve been feeling uneasy, for all the reasons that you and others here have mentioned.

      Out of curiosity – when did you start watching this show in real time? (As opposed to binge-watching on Netflix?) I started in season 10, and the show started feeling very different to me at that point. I remember moments in worst part of season 8, thinking, “Is this the show now? Are we ever going to be able to get back to what I love about this show?” But because I burned my way through that season so quickly, those moments were swallowed up by the deep emotional currents between the brothers, in the best way, and the finale paid off so powerfully that it eclipsed everything that came before.

      This isn’t to downplay the horror that was 12.7 and 12.8, though. I cringed my way through both. I’m still kind of hoping that Lucifer, the nephilim (Lord help us), all of that, will be the Naomi or Abaddon of this season…set up like a Big Bad, but ultimately just something to create plot while Sam and Dean struggle with their more character-driven conflicts. I’m hoping that the reason why we haven’t seen much of Mom is because they’re holding her back for the big climaxes in the second half of the season.

      It’s optimistic, I know. I think the biggest problem is that they haven’t been planting the seeds of that emotional character-driven conflict since the third or fourth episode of the season. That’s what concerns me most.

      • sheila says:

        Sorry everyone – I pose this question and then don’t return for a week – so many deadlines this week!!

        Thanks for your thoughts though.

        Bethany – I started watching in real time during the tail end of Season 9, after doing my binge-watch.

        // I think the biggest problem is that they haven’t been planting the seeds of that emotional character-driven conflict since the third or fourth episode of the season. That’s what concerns me most. //

        Definitely. NOTHING has been set up.

        I feel NOTHING, no tension, no conflict (at least none that interests me), no emotional hooks … I have never felt this way before, even in the seasons that just didn’t work as well.

    • Pat says:

      I usually get hyped up while watching SPN because I’ve been with these brothers for sooo long and I’ve gotten invested in their lives/story. Lotus felt like all the life force had been sucked out of the show and I remember this wave of inner voices saying:

      oh, this is bad
      who wrote this
      what is happening
      is this the future of my show
      please make this better
      save my Winchesters

      • sheila says:

        Pat – I felt the same way during LOTUS. That was a nadir but I was already feeling very very “off.” But there it felt like whatever was wrong with the show was fatal.

        I don’t know if they can course-correct at this point. :(

  7. Helena says:

    Oh Jeez, Sheila. Justified.

    //Help me. HELP ME TO BEAR IT. I love it so much I’m having heart palpitations. //

    Sorry, there’s no cure.

    Happy New Year and ENJOY SEASON 2.

    • Helena says:

      PS It’s proved a great antidote to the SPN-Season-12-terminal-case-of-WTAF going on right now (seriously, I’m not sure I can face watching another episode. There, I’ve said it.) And possibly most important of all, as a show it knew when it was time to stop.

      • sheila says:

        Yes, it’s been so nice – first I discovered The Fall, which I devoured – and found it very engrossing – but SPN has this tapestry-like effect that I am particularly addicted to – The Fall is pretty single-minded. And then finally started watching Justified – it has that tapestry-like quality that I really groove to (Sopranos, at its best, had it too). The plots are all super interesting – and I love HIM – and the family-relationship plot, and the graves out in the yard, and the yearning thing for the ex-wife, and his “I pulled first” thing … it’s an interesting character. So I got hooked instantly.

        Plus the music. It’s my kind of music. I already have a bunch of Gangstagrass on my iPod already so I was in the ZONE with the music on Justified.

    • Jessie says:

      yeah, sorry, it’s unbearable!

      My takeaway from all this is that onanism is a greater lure to Sheila than Cousin Mike.

      Re: The Fences discussion, this kind of comes back to what I was saying about Justified’s pleasures. Sure, the show is often incredibly gorgeous and “cinematic” (if we discount the driving scenes) but its sole reason for existing is to watch those actors say those lines. They could do it in front of my year two Jurassic Era plasticine diorama and it would be delightful.

      • mutecypher says:

        That diorama sounds cool. Got any photos?

      • sheila says:

        // My takeaway from all this is that onanism is a greater lure to Sheila than Cousin Mike. //

        hahaha Okay onanism and cousin Mike in the same sentence is just not right!!

        The whole exchange about getting thrown out of Jesus Camp for “onanism” was hilarious – especially for me since you had already said something about the onanistic themes of the show, Jessie. Of course I had already picked up on it – because of all the guns and “who pulled first” and … it’s not exactly sexual repression that I’m seeing – of course – but there is definitely a lot of backed-up STUFF happening in the sexual realm – with pretty much everyone.

        I love the cast. I love all the faces. I can’t wait for cousin Mike and I can’t wait for Ron Eldard!

        • Jessie says:

          I mean, Olyphant has chemistry with EVERYONE, and it’s really interesting where the sexual energy appears and where it doesn’t. When he clicks in with someone it’s magnificent. Did you hear the original intention was to kill Boyd off after the first episode? Then they realised what dynamite those two produced whenever they talked and did a couple of reshoots.

          You got so many great moments and characters coming down the pipeline, I’m excited for you!

          • sheila says:

            Yes, Olyphant is one of those erotic muse types that I always go on and on about. He’s not really androgynous – but he’s basically a walking phallic symbol with the guns and the hat and all the rest. He doesn’t swagger – he doesn’t NEED to. This is a real throwback kind of thing. People have this powerful reaction to him – and also every moment is SOME kind of seduction. That’s what masculinity is so often about – esPECially in a macho world – but nobody wants to admit it. It’s operating so strongly in this show.

            any thoughts on the masculinity aspect?

            It’s really hitting the spot for me with my disinterest (sob) in SPN at the moment – because SPN too is (was. Sob.) in many ways about men and masculinity and how it is defined and how limiting it is – or freeing – or whatever. and it’s ABOUT that without ever SAYING it’s about that, if you know what I mean.

            I hadn’t heard that about Boyd – I can’t imagine the show without him – but I love to hear that they had to change plans because of what went on between those two. It is ELECTRIC. Those actors, man …

            Roles of a lifetime.

  8. mutecypher says:

    I watched The Nice Guys a couple of days ago. And then I immediately watched it again. I really loved it. Ryan Gosling just such a boozehound, and always with the Nazis. Russell Crowe doing his 30-years-later Bud White, protecting women with more violence. And wanting to make a difference with his life. Shane Black’s great dialog and their great readings.

    The opening scene was like a broken take on the Thank you God! scene in Animal House. In fact, you could almost think of Ryan G’s constant misuse of “you know how else just followed directions” as a sort of riff on John Belushi’s “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” from AH.

    I do admit to being momentarily bugged by the nudity in the crash, and then reminding myself that such things do happen in accidents. And that Shane Black does that sort of thing in his movies. And that in his movies, clues are often given by nude women. I liked that the porn-hound little boy covered her up. Consent is important (we talk about that in SPN all the time). Misty consented to having her nude pictures taken, but she didn’t consent to having her clothes torn off in a car crash. The boy got that.

    I also liked the “don’t say ‘and stuff'” running gag. Because grammar is important to grieving, scent-impared, skeezy, alcoholic PIs. I would certainly watch a sequel.

    • Jessie says:

      I don’t always enjoy a Russell Crowe performance, but when I do I LOVE IT, and he is SO GOOD in Nice Guys. I should watch it again. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is on our permanent Christmas Watch list and I mean it’s full of cleavage, boobs, nakedness, Michelle Monaghan running around in that Santa dress. You’re right about the distinctinction between the movie respecting women even where the characters don’t (as in KKBB) or when the events are shitty for the women (as in NG).

      • mutecypher says:

        KKBB is just great. I laugh every time I think of “Gay” Perry. And RDJ doing the feckless RDJ role. The arguments about grammar in that one, as well. Go Shane! You must have standards!

        I think Shane Black wants to almost rub the audience’s faces into the fact that you can like looking at naked woman and NOT think that they’re anything less than people. But he doesn’t let guys off the hook in a pandering way. Characters who don’t get that are jerks.

        • sheila says:

          KKBB is so so awesome!

          I think one of the things you see in his films over and over again – and why I don’t feel that toxic dehumanizing objectification, even though there are so many naked women in his movies – is his almost old-fashioned (some might say paternal) concern for the “lost girls” out there, those who come to Hollywood, with big dreasm, and then get sucked into the underworld, used, abused, etc. It drives SB CRAZY. You could see that in KKBB over and over again and it’s in Lethal Weapon for sure and in NG. Gosling’s character insisting on calling her the “porno young lady” – not “porn star” or whatever – and it’s HILARIOUS but it’s also his way of giving her respect – yes, very old-fashioned – but it’s touching. I think Shane Black feels the same way about things. Regardless of what you do for a living – stripper, call girl, porno young lady – you’re still a human being. But also, I think there’s something in him that HATES that porn is the industry that it is – that it USES people who don’t know what they’re getting into … He comes back to it again and again. He’s not a preacher, or didactic about it – but he really CARES about his “lost girls.” They aren’t just plot points to get the ball rolling. They’re kind of the whole point.

          Shane Black really cares about innocence. I think that’s why there’s a real sense of sadness in his movies – and, as my friend Kim and he talked about in their great interview – why so many of his movies take place during Christmastime. Innocence right up against corruption. And the helplessness of good men to really stop any of it. And the confusion too – because naked ladies are a beautiful thing, and it’s okay to look at them – but where does it stop being looking and turn into dehumanizing degradation?

          I also, frankly, think he is a master at directing chase scenes, fight scenes, and climactic battles. He incorporates humor ALWAYS. I don’t think people really realize just how difficult it is to pull off what Shane Black pulls off! He’s got a rare gift, I think!

      • sheila says:

        and God, yeah, Crowe!! It was so good seeing him be FUNNY. (It’s about time, pal.)

        I so wish there would be a “franchise” of those two guys fighting crime. They had SUCH great chemistry. But alas, nobody went to see the damn thing because people are dumb! I was very glad to see it make it to so many critics list – I have a feeling it will have a nice long life in rentals, VOD, etc. It may gain in stature as time goes by.

        • Maureen says:

          I thought the same thing after I saw The Nice Guys-that I wanted more movies with this pair, because they are awesome!

          I’m a huge Russell Crowe fan, of course it is a given he is a wonderful actor-but for me, he has that “it” quality. Even though he seems to have a big personality in real life, when he is in a movie, I’m not thinking “that’s Russell Crowe”, like I do with other actors-it becomes all about the character. I became hooked when I saw The Insider and Gladiator both in the same week, and was blown away it was the same man.

          Have you seen The Sum of Us? He gives a really sweet, funny performance in that. I always wish he would do more comedies, because when I’ve seen him on talk shows, he is very funny.

          • sheila says:

            Maureen – I love Crowe in The Sum of Us!! I haven’t watched it in years.

            I love his early stuff – The Sum of Us, Proof, Romper Stomper (shivers) – three completely different characters.

            He lost something along the way – I think it was Beautiful Mind that did it (I did not enjoy that movie) – or he somehow started to want to play Heroes, Good Guys – I don’t know, there was something going on there with his ego for a while. Seeing how funny he was in Nice Guys was such a pleasure to this long-time fan. Also, I think it helps that he wasn’t the sole star. It’s a buddy comedy. So he didn’t have to carry the weight of the thing.

            I loved their dynamic. I wish there would be a sequel watching them solve another case. If the world were fair, it would become a franchise!

    • sheila says:

      // Because grammar is important to grieving, scent-impared, skeezy, alcoholic PIs. //

      hahahaha I know. He can’t let it go.

  9. mutecypher says:

    And I’ve binged on the first two season of Homeland this week only to learn that the cool kids are watching Justified now.

    Damn.

  10. So much delicious thought food in this post. Allow me to take a a nibble of ‘Seven Samurai’. I could go on and on about the slim Buster Keaton guy samurai or Mifune, but I absolutely adore the performance of Takashi Shimura as the leader of the samurai. He’s charismatic, thoughtful, exudes empathy, humor and power, and when on the rare occasion he needs to blow his stack, the point is emphatically made. Near the beginning of the film he shaves his head to impersonate a priest and save a hostage. Throughout the rest of the film his hand wanders as if on its own to rub the growing stubble on his baldness. A great actor indeed.

    • sheila says:

      // slim Buster Keaton guy samurai //

      He’s one of my favorites.

      // Throughout the rest of the film his hand wanders as if on its own to rub the growing stubble on his baldness.//

      Yes!! He’s so wonderful – this is so different from the character he played in Rashomon. And you never feel like he’s playing a “character role.” He was a wonderfully intuitive actor.

      The action sequences, too! And how Kurosawa films them. It’s just such a thrilling film.

  11. Sarah says:

    Oh, Sheila! Makes my heart happy to know you loved the pilot for “This Is Us!” I mean, how great is it to see our very own Gordon Walker from Supernatural have such an astounding couple of years?

    Even when I’m absolutely determined it’s not going to get any tears from me, it does. Somehow. Even if only a few, but…still.

    • sheila says:

      Sarah: Yes, Gordon Walker! He is on FIRE right now!!

      Very glad to hear your thoughts on this – I watched it randomly (and basically at gunpoint. hahaha “You need to see this. Sit down.” said Allison) – but I was totally hooked. It was funny and touching and I just loved the unique structure of the story-telling device – which they held back until the final moment of the pilot when you see the three babies in the hospital. I was a wreck!!

      What an interesting concept for a story. I will definitely continue!

  12. Jessie says:

    Yes, Olyphant is one of those erotic muse types that I always go on and on about.
    I love in the show how NO ONE pretends that this is not true! People are always going on about his pretty face!

    Olyphant as Raylan Givens is unremittingly sexy in a stretched-out elegant laconic sort of way. This is not necessarily his vibe elsewhere — he has a kind of surfer dude persona in interviews, can do the “sexy asshole” thing in shows like The Grinder, and Seth Bullock is on another plane of uptightness (it makes me absolutely crazy when people say he’s not a good actor and cite a similarity between Bullock and Givens; he even breathes differently).

    re: the masculinity aspect
    My thoughts are mostly about structure and trope; I am sure Helena & Jincy & Maureen and co have cleverer things to say, and I know you have more experience with men of the South than I! But for me, the bit I keep coming back to is Raylan’s S1 interview with an imprisoned Boyd:

    Boyd: Now, I know what it was like for you growing up in that household, having to watch your daddy rough up your mama.

    Raylan: We’re not talking about my father again, are we?

    Boyd: I can only imagine what it must have been like as a little boy having to see something like that. Not being able to do anything about it. Well, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that’s not a big reason why you got your gold star and your gun.

    Raylan: You know, I’m not an idiot.

    Boyd: I would think that you vowed —

    Raylan [testily]: I’m not completely unaware of my motivations in life.

    What?!?! A male cop who is not a mystery to themselves or others?!?!

    So to me it’s a working-through/subversion & elaboration of a mythological/cultural masculinity in which a Man with a Dark Past does Antihero Stuff and Kills Bad Guys because he’s the Best or Smartest or Angriest and it’s okay because he’s a Tortured Soul and Never Kicks The Dog.

    Justified draws on that Fastest-Gun-In-The-West mythology but creates a character of believable physical, intellectual and emotional capacities. There are a couple of core things that drive Raylan [testily], and they’re pretty obvious and human, and he’s not completely unaware of them. He doesn’t particularly care about proving his masculinity, even though as you note the show often revolves around dick-comparison. He does his job (or doesn’t), is happy to ignore shitkicker-on-shitkicker crime, drinks, gets laid, often gets beaten up or outsmarted.

    His golden sense of humour is a saving grace, without which the show would die. His recognition of absurdity is delightful. Olyphant’s comedic sensibilities are razor sharp. At the same time Raylan’s fundamental method of problem solving or conflict resolution is to walk into a situation and dare or provoke someone into escalating or backing down. He pokes bears and snakes’ nests indiscriminately and that doesn’t make him a hero or an antihero. It makes him an asshole who runs into assholes all day.

    So in terms of cultural masculinities, when he “wins” or kills the bad guy it’s not always because he’s the fastest gun in the West. His superpower may well be that he expects the worst of people and prepares accordingly (on a side note, I love how racism, misogyny and homophobia just plain piss him off). His value to his team is more due to his rootedness in Harlan County than because he is a particularly good LEO. Plots are structured to highlight or pivot on mistakes, mishaps and misunderstandings; character flaws have consequences.

    This combo of humour, self-knowledge, sexuality, and refusal of antihero status is the biggest thing for me re: masculinity; that, and the fact that for a violent show ostensibly about Fastest-Gun-In-The-West action, it is intensely verbose and charm-focussed in a way that I imagine is genuinely Southern (and surely due as well to Leonard. I haven’t (gulp) read him but I am aware of his reputation for tone, dialogue, minor obsessions, and entertainingly dumb and petty criminals; my guess is that the difference between book and show Raylan would be illuminating).

    This is the difference, perhaps, between macho and aggressive masculinity (or maybe butch, but that term has complications); probably the most aggressively masculine characters are in Season 5, which is easily the least interesting.

    Roles of a LIFETIME
    Case in point! Like you say, seduction: there is a flirting quality to the dialogue between these two — that screwball pleasure of sparring with a worthy partner. I never get sick of watching them.

    • Paula says:

      //It makes him an asshole who runs into assholes all day.// Yes! Wish I had something intelligent to add to this comment but it’s perfect so, ditto. As you said, Raylan exemplifies all the best of those tropes and in his case, he doesn’t transcend them – he subverts them – he is aware of them. It reminds me of what Sheila has said before, give the viewers what they want but give it to them in an unexpected way. Raylan at every turn is unexpected in his verbal and physical responses and //stretched-out elegant laconic//? *fans self*

      • Jessie says:

        Paula, yes! I love it when he delivers the unexpected. I was just thinking today how so many of his interactions with, particularly, criminals or people he suspects to be criminals, revolve around him casually breaking social norms or subverting social rules. Touching someone else’s property, taking their keys out the ignition, walking into houses (while monologuing about how rude it is to walk into peoples’ houses), not being afraid when he gets threatened, running people over with his car (twice), or pretty much anything he does to Dewey Crowe. Even the criminals get outraged!

    • sheila says:

      Jessie – I drank up your comment like it was Manna From the Gods. I am currently halfway through – so I’m still working out my feelings on this whole thing – everyone is SO GOOD – but there’s so much here that rings so true and I appreciate this analysis of him so much. He’s the key, of course – and I LOVE how the title just keeps vibrating through the series. It’s really only in the pilot where he keeps saying he was “justified” in shooting so and so – That’s the only time they bring that thematic hammer down, but it was enough to plant the seed so that it is there evermore.

      I love his moments of true honest to God uncertainty. Him to Wynona, “Maybe I am just a criminal type?” With a question mark. He’s just not fucking sure. But then he goes out to meet the day and he’s so SURE when he’s in the moment.

      There’s a moment in the kidney-stealing episode (so hilarious! Poor Dewey. And the fact that I can look at a man with HEIL HITLER tattooed on his neck and think “Poor Dewey” is the main indication of how brilliant this show is) – Raylan is standing at the motel room door with a local cop – the cop, who’s pretty excited to be standing there with a Marshall, says, “Should I get the ram?” To bust open the door. Raylan looks at him with an expression like, “Oh my God, great idea!” (no words) – and then says, “Or …” and holds up the key. It is so fucking funny that I spent 10 minutes looking for it in gif form so that I can watch it on endless repeat.

      The dialogue, yes, is unbelievable. Boyd Crowder, in particular. But everybody. This is a thing I’ve written before about SPN (well, in better days): not everybody speaks with the same rhythm, prosody, vocabulary. It takes a very good writer to ALTER their style and write for character. We all know TV shows where everyone talks in the same way. And it may be funny, etc., but it’s not THIS. Raylan’s style is different than Wynona’s, Ava’s got her own style of talking, Boyd is on a whole other level.

      I’m not sure how heavily Leonard was involved – beyond the short story that inspired this whole thing? I’m sure you know. His dialogue is also world-class. If you want to read any Leonard, I’d say Out of Sight would be a great place to start – either that or Get Shorty. The WAY he develops a character – without ever describing them, or without ever really telling you what’s going on inside them … he’s just so brilliant. He’s a very very sexy writer too. Out of Sight is smokin’ hot.

      In re: the South.

      It’s interesting watching this show right now in the current climate in the US. This is Trump Country and this is what everyone is talking about and agonizing about in their op-ed columns about trying to understand the economic devastation of rural whites who have ZERO work (coal mines shut down, factories shut down) and also ZERO sympathy from coastal elites who persist in talking about “white privilege” and these folks are probably like, “Privilege? I don’t have a dime to my name AND nobody GIVES a shit because I’m white.” That being said: that’s an explanation for the views some of them hold – not an excuse for them. But still: I’m trying to think of a show that takes place in this world that also understands this world (as opposed to judge it and make fun of it) … and I’m coming up dry. (Film has been better, but not by much. I’m thinking of Winter’s Bone – that’s the first one that came to mind, but in general when people think of “these people” they think Deliverance, end-stop.) In popular entertainment, “these people” are only villainized or mocked. Never ever explored. But here, they are.

      Kentucky is its own distinct brand of The South. Hillbilly is really the right word. Kentucky is the Wild Child, the Bad Boy, the Rebellious Teen. The state has also been so ravaged by Oxy that it’s an epidemic. (Same with West Virginia, which has a similar culture to Kentucky – rural, mountainous, outback, poor as shit – there’s nothing there anymore). It’s different from say Mississippi or Alabama, which have whole different cultures – as well as different cultural memories of the Civil War (still alive and well down there, and still wreaking havoc on our political culture).

      Kentucky only has a couple of “industries” left: horses, bourbon, and Oxy. These are people that regular Southerners don’t even want to acknowledge – they’re like the poorer relations of a more genteel family. Kind of embarrassing. They let it all hang out. They are heavily armed. The hierarchy of class in the South still exists – for example, Elvis was considered by a lot of Southerners to be an example of “white trash” – trash, in general. He was a hillbilly redneck, and not at ALL who they wanted as an ambassador.

      So Kentucky is really still The Wild West – in a way that Texas isn’t anymore.

      I think the attitude of the show towards the backwardness of Kentucky is fascinating. It clearly has an affection for these characters – well, not all of them – but an affection for the culture of Kentucky, and the good parts of it – there’s a reason Ava doesn’t want to leave. Where else could that country girl with a rifle fit in??

      But, as you say, it’s brutal on the other aspects of it – and Raylan is our way in. He’s a good ol’ boy, but he’s also somewhat distant – and he thinks in an abstract way. He’s a realist, but his mindset is tilted somewhat. He understands these people, and he’s one of them – he lost his virginity at Audrey’s too – but he’s not OF them. (Speaking of which, this particular exchange between Boyd and Raylan made me laugh for 5 minutes. Raylan tracks Boyd down at the whore house. Sits down at the table. Drawls, “I haven’t been here since I was 13 years old.” Boyd drawls back, “Late bloomer.” THAT’S Kentucky. This is not conservative Christian prosperity-gospel culture.)

      Raylan is insider/outsider – at the same moment. He’s a protector of the vulnerable – he’s got an instinct for it – like with Loretta – but it’s kind of automatic. Maybe because he knows he’s the biggest dick in any room. and he just accepts it. Like you said, he has nothing to prove.

      BUT. BUT. Then there is the relationship with Wynona – where ALL of this is subverted – and in beautifully complex and human ways. I am mid-way through Season 3, so I have no idea where this is all going. (She just left him. That’s where I’m at now.)

      At first I was disappointed that Wynona was displaying some of the qualities of my Least Favorite Cliche: wife bitching at husband over his job and his devotion to it. I was like, “Not this again!” I think the show knows that that is a cliche and set it up and then went about subverting it. And also showing – you know what? She has a point. Who would want to bring up a child in that gun-slinging environment? But the relationship and dynamic is so interesting – they both maintain their individuality, it’s never a total Merge. I find that so refreshing. They’re both funny. They both find each other amusing. We rarely see THAT either.

      And he truly honestly wants to work it out with her. I love how he always assumes he’s in trouble with her. He approaches her with a wince, like, “What did I do now …” It’s very human and unexpected.

      I also love that he is susceptible to women. So far, I’ve seen him get “played” by a couple of different women – AND he recognizes it when it happens, and yet still it happens again!! He can’t help it.

      I am also in love with the former Ranger sniper Tim.

      Deadpan: “I feel like I’m in the Big Chill.”

      • sheila says:

        and in re: my comments on the South –

        the music is an awesome representation of the culture in the show. These are not country-western-music people. They are rougher. The whole “Family Values” thing that dominates Nashville music has nothing to do with them. Hillbilly bluegrass still dominates – but with a hard rockabilly rhythm & blues edge. Like the blues, it comes from pain and anger. Also a love of getting wasted and raising hell.

        • Jessie says:

          the music is super, diegetic and non-. I love the party scene at Mags’ house during/after the big deal: Goggins clogging, Martindale singing, the banjos, the guitars. So much texture.

          • sheila says:

            My sister-in-law (Melody) grew up in Appalachia country, a country girl – her grandmother was an actual “witch doctor” running an herbal medicine shop out of her house- Melody and her sisters are all cloggers – one of them is part of a local dance troupe. The tradition goes back generations.

            Goggins clogging was so wonderful!!

          • Helena says:

            I think my absolute favourite use of music in the entire six season run is in Season 2 – Gillian Welch’s song Annabelle playing over Aunt Helen’s funeral and Mag’s machinations thereafter. Also, what a brilliant montage. (Also also, Richard Speight Jr.) Spinetingling.

      • Jessie says:

        thank you so much for your extensive thoughts on the South/Kentucky! I find the social hierarchies and gradations really interesting: the hillbillies, the rednecks, the Good Ol’ Boys, the Hill people, the Big Name Families, the Holler communities, the Company Men, the carpetbaggers, the Pentecostals, the “regular” city folk, the bluegrass super-rich, the Winona-type Lexington working glam (I cannot handle her shoes). The conflict between all those groups, who is on the inside or outside, who has greater moral authority over a piece of land or peoples’ fate. It’s a MAZE of history and land, memory and death and outsiders like Quarles stand no chance.

        (Speaking of Quarles, how much do you feel like he just changed his name after the last episode of Terriers and headed east? Anyway, I LOVE McDonough’s vacanttoo-present performance and I love Jere Burns’ increasing unease at his increasing crazy).

        Re: the kidney episode — I know exactly the look on Raylan’s face you mean. The Dickey and Dewey show of S3 is a bottomless well of delight and Dewey’s End Times make my cry with laughter. His mournful little “thank you” to the convenience store owner’s farewell blessing as he gets wheeled out on a gurney! The fact that he gets a “god bless you son” from a man he was just in a gunfight with — that feels to me like the affection the show has for the South.

        Tim’s deadpan is a thing of great beauty, particularly when he’s talking about the Dolly Parton version.

        • sheila says:

          Jessie – I just met “the Hill People” – and I was wondering if the show would ever really address that true “Deliverance” element. I loved that they only show up in Season 3 – so that yet another layer is added to the striations of that community. Like, “the Hill People” are too savage (supposedly) for even the toughest down below to deal with or acknowledge. The fact that Raylan is a descendant on his mother’s side is illuminating – and there’s a suggestion that you’d want to hide that connection if you had it, because people would judge.

          I thought Goggins’ carpetbaggers speech was so brilliant. Generations of anger was in it. Fantastic writing and acting.

          // Speaking of Quarles, how much do you feel like he just changed his name after the last episode of Terriers and headed east? //

          Ha!

          What an amazing performance. Terrifying. I loved its mixture of suave gentility and violence – but also, the vacancy behind his eyes – not a surprise when you hear what happened in his childhood. Ugh. I love how even the criminals around him stare at him like, “Wow. He’s really really off.” And I thought Wynn Duffy was off. (That name …. THAT NAME.) Like this guy is beyond the pale even for them.

          // His mournful little “thank you” to the convenience store owner’s farewell blessing as he gets wheeled out on a gurney! The fact that he gets a “god bless you son” from a man he was just in a gunfight with — that feels to me like the affection the show has for the South. //

          GREAT moment. And yes: so sensitivie to the nuances of the culture, as well as how that religion – which is not prosperity-gospel – operates. “God bless you, son.” “Thank you.” hahahahaha As the stretcher goes by.

          Boyd has another line in Season 3 – when he’s going after the tent-preacher with the poisonous snakes – and he says something like, “People in Harlan party on Friday and Saturday and get saved on Sunday, just like they always have …” I’ve read a bunch of really interesting books on the Pentecostals, mainly in my Elvis research, because it’s so essential to understanding where he came from. I don’t mean to sound condescending – and if there are any Pentecostals in the house, feel free to weigh in – but here’s what seems apparent to me: the Pentecostals – like the “hillbilly” factor – are the poor relations of Southerners who are either rich or upwardly mobile. Churches like the Anglican church, or the Episcopalian church, or even the more well-heeled Baptist churches (Baptists also were the religion of the poor) – would have NO appeal to poor folk, because so much of those denominations places a high premium on the APPEARANCE of holiness. Look good, get yourself together, show how worthy you are. (Ugh. It sets people up to fail.) Wealth is then seen as equal to good. This is what you get in the mega-churches throughout the South – mostly epitomized by Joel Osteen’s empire. That’s a middle-class mindset, a self-help self-actualizing mindset. An Oprah-fied version of religion, a positive-thinking “Make your dreams come true” kind of religion. Imagine Ellie May walking into one of those churches and how she would be treated.

          None of this would have any appeal – as you can imagine – to someone who has NOTHING in life, who lives in abandoned towns, who work shitty jobs, collect disability checks, nowhere to go, addicted to Oxy, ashamed, desperate. “Looking good” is only possible if you have one foot up on the ladder. The same was true in Elvis’ day – the Pentecostals saw no shame in being poor, because everyone was poor. They didn’t value “things”. They also didn’t believe in salvation here on earth – the only salvation came when you died and met your Maker. It’s old-school. A lot of the conservative Christianity now is all about appearances: You CAN be saved here on earth if you show how holy you are. (And of course, those people are far more likely to have a male masseur on speed dial. It’s just a fact.) So if salvation is not possible here on earth – then there is an understanding that life is a constant process of fucking up and then atoning for it. You wash yourself clean every Sunday. It’s a process. You can’t reach your goal while you’re alive. In around 1955, when Elvis was really starting to “hit,” he went and met up with an old preacher he knew in Memphis, who had known him since he was a kid, and had a talk with him – Elvis cried with shame because he had been having sex and doing all these things he knew he shouldn’t be doing. The preacher basically was like, “Son, relax. We are all sinners.” Trying to let him off the hook – you’re no worse than anyone else, son – repent and try to do better tomorrow.

          I’m being hard on the prosperity-gospel people, but I think they deserve it. It’s a materialistic mindset, and it shames people for being sinners – for even having the appearance of being a sinner – when, duh, the whole point of Christianity (supposedly) is that Jesus didn’t hang out with rich people, he hung out with whores and vagrants and lepers.

          I loved that the snake-charmer faith-healer was actually in earnest – (albeit being duped by his sister) – but that he did not look at Ellie May with condemnation, as another “sect” might have done. He did not scream at her “REPENT.” Her repentance was all over her face. He could see it. Instead, he told her she was already loved, she was precious to God, and that’s all that mattered. and he MEANT it.

          That poor woman.

          But I appreciated the treatment of that preacher.

          // Tim’s deadpan is a thing of great beauty, particularly when he’s talking about the Dolly Parton version. //

          So good. I agree with him. Also – in the Hill People episode I just watched – it is revealed that Tim reads fantasy novels involving “Native American princesses” doing magical things – like WHAT??? I LOVE THAT.

          • Helena says:

            I love tat bit of conversation between Tim and Colton, two ex-army (Tim just tells this from Colton’s boots) just shooting the breeze, and Colton commenting on the similarities between Harlan and Afghanistan – what did he say? bunch of clans and guys with big beards wanting to kill each other?

          • sheila says:

            “Nice boots. Where’d you serve.”

    • Ditto all over the place.

      One of my favorite exchanges (season 4):

      (Raylan) Why don’t you get Boyd on the phone for me?

      (Johnny Crowder) Why don’t you kiss my dimpled ass?

      (Raylan) I don’t see how that invitation has anything to do with my request.

      Also, Art! and Constable Bob! Gosh, I love this show.

      • sheila says:

        I love Johnny Crowder. I have a huge crush on him. I was glad he came back from that shotgun blast to the stomach.

        The whores at Audrey’s are tearing at my heart-strings. In my viewing, Eva just became a Madame, and it all makes perfect sense.

        • Jessie says:

          I cannot get the way people say Ellie May out of my head! That actress with her wide eyes and her desperate puppylike yearnings breaks my heart.

          • sheila says:

            That poor ruined woman. I am just now at the point where she (very smartly) ran away from Ron Eldard and he’s now trying to find her.

            I don’t have a good feeling about her chances – and it’s devastating that she wants to stay at the whorehouse – it’s the only home she’s ever known. That actress is phenomenal. There’s a closeup of her when she’s in the passenger seat as Eldard is supposedly driving her to the bus – and she suddenly bursts out in this huge smile – and it is completely mad, in the classic sense of the word. She looks so LOST. The smile is huge but her eyes are tragic.

            Great performance!

    • Olyphant’s also good in “A Perfect Getaway,” one of those movies that’s not great but I’ve watched it at least three times. He plays a beautiful and kind of scary lummox whose girlfriend is a whole lot smarter than he is. And for sure Bullock and Givens are not related, even distantly.

  13. Heather says:

    Oh, you are all so wonderful!
    Justified- ahhhhh, it is about time! I forget which season, but Boyd says, “I’m so hungry I could eat the asshole on a low flying duck”, and my brain lit up and I relaxed. Like I had just got a hit of something illegal. So delicious.
    Jessie//”Even the criminals get outraged!” Yes! I love this too. So funny and exciting. Sheila you are gonna love this. I’m excited to read your responses.

    Well my SPN friends, I agree with the general consensus on the state of things. I know we aren’t supposed to mention in, but do you remember “Bloodlines”? The WTFness, the NO, NO, NO, the who wrote this piece of sh*&ness, well I feel that again. This whole season feels to me like they are auditioning spinoffs. Blah!

    From the first episode I was confused. “Are those magic brass knuckles? Why doesn’t Castiel just put her to sleep? Is Castiel human again? What is going on?” and then my confusion turned into fear as I started to get the sense that this was the set up season for the new batch of youngsters that they are hoping to bring into their new show. But it is coming off like an apology. “We are sorry we don’t have long standing female characters, here you go. We are sorry we made you look at old libraries, here is Snapchat. We are sorry we made you think two white men were the most important people on the show, now we barely care about them. Lets talk about celebrities, and politics and smartphones, and whatever else you crazy kids are into… ” Blah.
    There was a moment, when Mary said she was leaving again and Dean couldn’t meet her eyes, and I thought the old show was still in there. But I just don’t know.
    Aside from that- Happy New Year!

    • Jessie says:

      Oh Heather, that duck line! I think my favourite (non-Dewey Crowe edition) might be “Me and dead owls don’t give a hoot.”

    • sheila says:

      // and my brain lit up and I relaxed. Like I had just got a hit of something illegal. //

      hahahaha Heather! So true!! The following exchange was so pleasing I almost had a stroke. Raylan visits Boyd in prison. They talk through the glass wall.

      Raylan: “What would you say about a man who divorces a woman, then gets her pregnant, then thinks about moving in together?”

      Boyd: “Well, Raylan, you’re talking to a man who’s sleeping with his dead brother’s widow and murderess. So if you’re looking for someone to cast stones on this matter, you have picked the wrong sinner.”

      I just can’t BEAR how amazing that dialogue is – never mind how incredible these two actors are in delivering it.

      • Jessie says:

        murderESS! MURDERESS!!!

        Not only that one conversation and the word choices and delivery, but the context too: isn’t this the exchange after their fight of the previous episode, which it turns out was a play by Boyd to get into lockup, and this convo is Raylan saying “I’m out of sorts, but I’ve finally figured what you’re up to, so you’re on notice, and also in your opinion am I nuts?” It makes me so happy how smart these writers allow these characters to be.

        • sheila says:

          // and also in your opinion am I nuts?” //

          hahahaha

          “Murderess” is the best. Goggins’ delivery is laugh-out-loud funny – especially what he does on the “Well.” Like, it comes out automatically. He does not stop to ponder WHY Raylan has told him this. It doesn’t even occur to him. So so good.

          • Heather says:

            Yes! So good. There is the chess game- eternal, and then there is the dialogue between the opponents not related to the game. And at the same time, we know that Raylan sees it as the game, only until other people get hurt. Somehow, he manages to walk that line.

          • sheila says:

            He remains distant … and I love how his “backstory” is revealed in dribs and drabs – just now in Season 3 he tells this wretched story about his father beating his mother who fled into the black section of town – and Daddy goes to fetch the mother, dragging Raylan along. It’s a TERRIBLE story and he tells it in such a laconic unselfimportant way.

            Also the gravestone for him already in the yard, with his death date left blank. That is so Southern. There’s a space for Lisa Marie Presley in the grave area at Graceland.

    • sheila says:

      // This whole season feels to me like they are auditioning spinoffs. //

      God, this is hadn’t occurred to me but you’re right and it’s so depressing.

      I share your confusion in re: brass knuckles, and Castiel’s general state as a character. Why is he in a fist fight? What ARE angels? Why is he still here again?

      // I started to get the sense that this was the set up season for the new batch of youngsters that they are hoping to bring into their new show. But it is coming off like an apology. //

      This is INCREDIBLY insightful.

      That’s exactly it. The writers they have now are embarrassed – or at least don’t at all understand the appeal of the former ELEVEN SEASONS. And so they have messed with a perfect thing. They have ruined it – and SWIFTLY. A swift killing.

      // “We are sorry we don’t have long standing female characters, here you go. We are sorry we made you look at old libraries, here is Snapchat. We are sorry we made you think two white men were the most important people on the show, now we barely care about them. Lets talk about celebrities, and politics and smartphones, and whatever else you crazy kids are into… ” //

      This is so spot on, Heather. That’s the vibe. It’s so weird.

      The most depressing thing is that the show isn’t even really bad – at least not in any classical sense of the word. It’s worse. It’s become nothing.

      // There was a moment, when Mary said she was leaving again and Dean couldn’t meet her eyes, and I thought the old show was still in there. //

      Best moment in the season. I’m almost amazed it slipped through, considering how “off” everything else is.

      • Heather says:

        Maybe whatever writer from the show that reads your site will pay attention (we all know you are out there) (although, now come to think of it you are probably of the old guard and just as upset as the rest of us…)
        Blow up the bunker! The bunker has been outclassed by the British bunker, blow that shit up! Go back to the road- meet and respect people is small towns. But they can’t, because now there is going to be a trial for treason- or worse… Have Mary sell her soul to get them out and then her and Dean can rule hell in true Oedipal fashion and Sam will inherit the earth.
        or,
        crossover with Justified.

        • sheila says:

          // (we all know you are out there) //

          hahaha I am delusional enough that I was certain that Dean pretending to be “Mr. Presley” – and then the spectacle of the Elvis Sandwich – definitely had to do with some writer having read this site. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

          // Go back to the road- meet and respect people is small towns. //

          My God, yes. I can’t stand the bunker now. When did this happen? Can we clock the moment? I mean, at this point it’s so useless as to be actually holding the show back (kind of like Castiel? Oops. #sorrynotsorry)

          Crossover with Justified would be so incredible.

          • Natalie says:

            //I am delusional enough that I was certain that Dean pretending to be “Mr. Presley” – and then the spectacle of the Elvis Sandwich – definitely had to do with some writer having read this site.//

            I honestly think there have been enough little winks at us that one (or more) of the writers HAS to be reading here. And we know for a fact that Jim Beaver is – he shared one of your posts about his performance in Streetcar on facebook and twitter. I still kind of feel like the Clown College Collette episode was written AT me. (There was also a facebook video awhile back with Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins doing a mock award presentation, and the “award” was a teapot. I mean, that one could be a coincidence, but… ;-)

            I just finally started watching Justified while I was sick last week. I’ve been wanting to watch for years but I don’t have cable, so I’m thrilled that it’s on Amazon now. Full disclosure, though, I am a native Kentuckian (albeit from the Cincinnati part of Kentucky, which is sort of distinct from the rest of the state, but I did live in Lexington for five years – in fact, I’m a UK Wildcat). I’m only a few episodes in and trying not to get caught up in location inaccuracies – like the fact that I have driven the entire length of Tates Creek Road and at no point is there a bridge like the one in the pilot, or the fact that Lexington to Harlan and back is a full day trip, not one you can make on your lunch break. I do wish they had filmed at least a few exterior shots IN Lexington and Harlan, since the setting is such an integral part of the show. (Especially Harlan, which, like most of Eastern Kentucky is a horribly economically depressed area that could use some revenue from the show.) But I’ll keep watching and try to suspend my disbelief. I am loving the performances and dialogue – one scene that sticks out for me so far is the exchange between Raylan and Winona about whether he’s an angry person. His vulnerability and her quiet, matter-of-fact contradiction of how he wants to see himself gave me chills. Anyway, looking forward to lots more discussion.

          • sheila says:

            Natalie –

            // I still kind of feel like the Clown College Collette episode was written AT me. //

            hahahahaha Oh my God “clown college Colette.” I miss that Supernatural. So so funny!

            Thanks for your perspective on Kentucky!

            // or the fact that Lexington to Harlan and back is a full day trip, not one you can make on your lunch break. //

            Ha!!

            Where WAS the show filmed? I agree that it would have been nice to film in those areas – similar to Breaking Bad filming on location. When I was in Albuquerque last year, pretty much every local I met (all film people) had worked on that show in some capacity – it had been a boon for local actors and other businesses. They hoped for more shows/films to come their way.

            The scenery LOOKS Kentucky-ish. I am sure I could Google it – but figured I have Google right here in you all.

          • Jessie says:

            Natalie — that’s hilarious — I showed clips from episode one to a native Kentuckian a few years ago and immediately after it finished she turned to me and said affrontedly, There’s no BRIDGE on Tate’s Creek Road!

            I’ve seen some comments that people who know the area prefer some of the driving scenes, despite the hideous back projection cgi, because those backgrounds were actually filmed in Kentucky so the window scenery looks right.

          • Natalie says:

            Jessie –

            //immediately after it finished she turned to me and said affrontedly, There’s no BRIDGE on Tate’s Creek Road!//

            I actually said those exact words as I watched the scene. Out loud to the screen. Alone in my bedroom. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my reaction :-)

          • Barb says:

            Natalie-

            I hear you on the location issues, nothing can take me out of a show or book faster than those location details! The Winchesters, for example, have been traveling through an imaginary Montana since at least season 2. Red Lodge on a farmland river delta! English mansions in Missoula! Oak trees (with moss) in Whitefish! Great Falls is NOT in the middle of a mountain range! Seriously, would it kill them to use Google Earth once in a while?

  14. Rije says:

    Just wanted to say that I totally agree with you all regarding the current season of SPN. I’m so sad and disappointed that it has come to this. Thankfully we have eleven (mostly) great seasons to look back on and Sheila’s amazing recaps of the early seasons.

    Also wanted to say THANK YOU for mentioning Justified! I was looking for a new show and I’m currently halfway through season 1 and OMG IT IS AMAZING! It’s my new favorite thing haha. I normally don’t like procedural cop shows (like Dean, ‘they’re all the freakin’ same’), but this is something else. Love the western vibe, the writing, the acting, the characters. Can’t wait until I get to the Margo Martindale season. Thought she was great on The Americans (also an amazing show btw! The wigs! The mailrobot! Kerri Russell!).

    • sheila says:

      Rije – One of the great things about coming to a show “late” – as I have with Justified and you have – is that its fan base is like: “WELCOME. LET’S TALK.”

      I think the show has a great balance – of one-off cases and then the larger Arc – Season 3 is getting very very creepy. I’m almost done with it. I’m watching it way too fast. I’m gonna need to go back for more indepth watching. But I am loving it. The dialogue is so good I’m having a hard time even getting my brain around it, and definitely need to spend a little more time with it.

      So glad to hear you are loving it too. and yes: MARGO MARTINDALE. Holy crap!!

  15. sheila says:

    My current favorite exchange in JUSTIFIED:

    Listen, Lindsey …

    Stop.

    You don’t even know what I’m gonna say.

    I think you’re gonna apologize again for not giving me a full accounting of every second of your life before you heartlessly accepted the gift of my feminine virtue.

    Well, when you put it that way I guess I don’t owe you an apology.

    • Heather says:

      What a great exchange. I love women knocking men on the head with the very pedestal that they are put on. So classy.

      According to IMDB Justified is mostly filmed in Pennsylvania and California.
      Natalie
      //”I do wish they had filmed at least a few exterior shots IN Lexington and Harlan, since the setting is such an integral part of the show. (Especially Harlan, which, like most of Eastern Kentucky is a horribly economically depressed area that could use some revenue from the show.)”//
      Good and fair point. This does rub a little of the shine off the show for me, but not enough to stop enjoying the delicious parts. I remember that exchange about Raylan being angry- wasn’t it from the first episode. It has been years, but I remember the excitement that moment gave me.

      //”(There was also a facebook video awhile back with Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins doing a mock award presentation, and the “award” was a teapot. I mean, that one could be a coincidence, but… ;-)”//

      Fuck… a TEAPOT! I am stunned.

      • Helena says:

        //Fuck… a TEAPOT! I am stunned.//

        My life is now complete.

        • Heather says:

          hahahahah!

          • sheila says:

            I cannot tell you how hilarious it is that in our small corner of the fandom “teapot” has become this big SPN Thing. People, I love us. Seriously.

            I’m dying. That goes back to Season 1 and poor Cassie over-complicating her hostess duties. hahahahaha

        • Heather says:

          Here is the clip:
          https://youtu.be/X8VZlqgL_yw

          Isn’t that a kettle? It IS Cassie all over again. hahahahahahahah!

          • sheila says:

            hahahaha!!! Misha standing right there staring at him.

            It is totally a kettle of some kind.

            We all got so stuck on Cassie’s teapot in the re-cap – none of us could get past it. I’m laughing out loud.

            I certainly found “my kind of people” when I started those re-caps.

      • Natalie says:

        Heather –
        //This does rub a little of the shine off the show for me, but not enough to stop enjoying the delicious parts.//

        I don’t think it should make you stop enjoying the delicious parts! I did read that Timothy Olyphant wanted to do more on-location work in KY because he thought it would make it more authentic, especially for the driving backgrounds, not to mention that they wouldn’t have to CGI out the palm trees. It made me love him even more than I already did.

  16. sheila says:

    Just saw Jared’s Tweet that SPN has been renewed. I’m slightly … shocked?

    Not too late to course-correct?

    • Pat says:

      It depressing that in the past the news of renewal would make me extremely happy. Now, it was accompanied by a sense of dread – that I will possibly be watching a loved one lingering on with a dreadful wasting disease.

      Prayer circle for SPN fans.

      • sheila says:

        // that I will possibly be watching a loved one lingering on with a dreadful wasting disease. //

        Oh shit I know I shouldn’t laugh at this but I’m in a good mood today and I am laughing.

        I share your sense of dread – also, it’s HARD to submit to watching the damn show these days. Like: how much more do I have subject myself to that nothing-ness??

        At least maybe they can pull their shit together.

        I am so curious about conversations on the network/creator side. Not to mention what Jared and Jensen say to each other in private about what’s been happening. To be honest, for the last 3, 4 episodes, the two of them have looked bored out of their minds.

        so yes. Prayer circle.

        • Natalie says:

          I have, so far, started out each episode optimistic, and my optimism slowly drains out over the course of the episode. I don’t want them to fizzle out, so I sincerely hope they’re listening to the feedback they’re getting, and the renewal will give them time to course correct.

  17. sheila says:

    Okay all my Justified people.

    I am just starting to watch Season 4 Episode 2, “Where’s Waldo” – that starts post-coitus with Raylan and Lindsey. Raylan goes downstairs to do the liquor delivery and this random slightly hostile guy comes in, walks behind the bar and pours himself a beer. And is all aggro for no apparent reason.

    I haven’t even watched the rest of the episode so I have no idea who the character is – but my point is I was like: HOLY SHIT that’s Robert Baker – he who was the lead actor in my short film, y’all!

    Will always be grateful and proud that he did my film – and here he is, being all weird and aggressive with Timothy Olyphant.

    Good actor. Nice man. Memphis raised!

    • sheila says:

      Just finished the episode. OMG the whole episode closes with him. AND he does this crazy rough bare-chested fight scene. I do admit I guessed who he was in that first scene.

      Go, Robert!

      • sheila says:

        aaaaand an episode later, here’s cousin Mike.

        I am all OVER this show.

        • Jessie says:

          Hooray for Cousin Mike! He’s so scary!

          I LOVE Robert Baker’s mini story in season 4 and especially the resolution. Guy just wanted some chickens!

          • sheila says:

            Their “fist fight” was so hilarious. They both were so out of control.

            and Raylan staring up at Lindsey at the end saying, “You DID like me …”

            It was so pathetic!

            Great storyline. and I never clocked the fact that Lindsey was playing him. I woulda been duped too.

    • Helena says:

      Oh my goodness, Sheila, Robert Baker is your film guy!!!And finally Cousin Mike has appeared! The degrees of separation between you and Justified are reducing by the second.

      Aah, Lindsay.
      //Great storyline. and I never clocked the fact that Lindsey was playing him. I woulda been duped //

      She. Literally. Tells. Raylan. What. She. Is. Going. To. Do. Right. Before. She. Does. It … and yet, and yet he is completely blind to it. And the fist fight/bean bag fight is hilarious.

      • sheila says:

        I know! She lays it all out for him! “Here’s what we did.” She’s about to do it again. He is oblivious. It’s amazing when he misses things because he so rarely misses a thing.

        I was laughing out loud at the shape of Robert Baker’s legs when Raylan finally yanks him up off the ground and they stagger back to the van – they are all crooked, and he’s gasping, “How many times did she shoot me?” Dying.

        and yes, his dream in life is to get enough “cocks” so he can … live well and be happy? In what world does this make sense? It’s so funny.

      • Jessie says:

        that actress’s voicework!

        • sheila says:

          I LOVE her voice. It makes me want to sleep with her myself.

        • Helena says:

          “How many times did she shoot me?”
          Raylan: More than me.

          Or words to that effect – Oh, and the final shot with the bean bag gun at the guy after he says the word chickens just one too many times. So mean!

          • sheila says:

            Yes! He TOLD him not to say “chickens” one more time – and Baker is so obsessed (and dumb) that he says the word one more time. Hilarious!!

            I loved how Lindsey looking down on Raylan on the ground is suddenly surrounded by a white sunlit halo – the most romantic image possible – so we see what Raylan sees, which is so INSANE and so perfect. The show doesn’t really indulge in visual flourishes like that all that much – so that really stands out, and it’s so funny. She’s a con artist, and all he can think of is how relieved he is that she actually did “like” him – and therefore she is backlit by the sun like an angel. hahahahahahaha

            I love this show.

  18. sheila says:

    Speaking of clogging far above – I became fascinated with the clogging aspect of the show (its clear cultural connection to riverdancing – same stomping, same complicated footwork and stiff bodies – it’s an aggressive dance, a “This is OUR land” dance) – and did some Googling and came across this fascinating documentary footage. It’s gotta be the early 1960s, judging from the TV. This filmmaker knew what he was doing – look at how good his eye is for behavior and community:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs2j8f7H2WY

    • Jessie says:

      Oh wow, thanks for that link! The sounds — fiddle and banjo, feet and floorboards. And yes, what a great piece of documentary. Not only does it put me in direct mind of this song, there’s a girl in there who could have been my mother at that age, oh man.

      • sheila says:

        oh yes Bobbie Gentry!! She so gets this world.

        I love it when the crowd – who has been circling – suddenly line up. It’s an exhilarating moment.

        // there’s a girl in there who could have been my mother at that age, oh man. //

        Wow!

        It’s a real find – apparently it’s part of a larger documentary (I think there’s info in the Youtube description). I want to seek it out.

  19. Erin says:

    Someone else who has seen Swiss Army Man! I thought it was only me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried while I watched this; it was so weird and bizarre and wonderful. There needs to be more films that explore male intimacy like this one.

    • sheila says:

      Erin – I so agree with everything you said. It was not what I expected at all. So much of the “commentary” about it was about the fart-aspect of it which is really just a tiny part of it! I thought it was incredibly deep and emotional and yes – all about non-sexual male intimacy – it is the final frontier.

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