November 2015 Viewing Diary

Spotlight (2015; d. Tom McCarthy)
Excellent newspaper movie. I reviewed for

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 4, “Baby” (2015; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Perfection, both formally and structurally as well as emotionally and spiritually.

Truth (2015; d. James Vanderbilt)
Another newspaper movie, this one about the fall of Dan Rather following the whole “font controversy” in regards to President Bush’s National Guard career. The movie is terrible. Blanchett is very bad. Robert Redford is quite good. My perspective on this whole story – which has not changed since the original controversy – is that Mary Mapes deserved to be fired, deserved all of the criticism that she got. The film tries to tell the story that Mary Mapes was “punished for asking questions” (unfortunately, this is looped in over and over and over again with her childhood trauma for being “punished for asking questions”. “I am being PUNISHED for asking questions.” “You mean … she was PUNISHED for asking questions??” UGH. STOP IT.) Dan Rather, as figurehead, was pressured to step down. That’s too bad. The story was rushed onto the air before it was ready. But the responsibility for that does not lie at the network’s feet, but at Mapes’ feet. The film seems to set her up as a martyr for free speech. The final words on the screen state that Mary Mapes has not worked in television since. Are we supposed to think that is a tragedy and a loss? Because I thought, “Good.” Objectivity does not really exist in journalism. But integrity should matter. And there are checks and balances built into good journalism where a journalist can keep a watch on his own bias. Mapes’ bias against the President clouded her judgment. Blanchett gives an overblown actress-y performance that I thought was quite bad. Another problem is that Truth came out at the same time Spotlight did, and Spotlight made no mistakes while Truth made them all. Mary Mapes is not a martyr, nor is she admirable. “I’m being PUNISHED for asking questions!!” she sobs in the film. Yeah, well, Mary Mapes should have asked MORE questions before she put those phony memos on the air.

I’m Not There (2007; d. Todd Haynes)
A re-watch in preparation for Carol. I love this film so much I have very little to say about it. I love its examination of identity, I love its fractured narrative that ends up weaving together all of these different aspects of one man. I loved its stylistic diversity, but how it all poured into the whole. I love the performances. And I love that this film is not like anything else. Brava.

Operation Filmmaker (2007; d. Nina Davenport)
My God, this documentary made me feel uncomfortable. I almost wanted to stop watching it. Well-meaning liberals, aflame with the desire to do good and also to appear doing good, invite a young Iraqi film student to be a PA on Everything Is Illuminated, an American film being shot in Czechoslovakia. This was during the invasion of Iraq. What a heart-warming story it should be, right? However, when the Iraqi student shows up, he is not what anyone expected. He has such a sense of entitlement you are embarrassed for him, he’s lazy, he’s irresponsible, he half-asses every task he is assigned, rolls his eyes at the mundane tasks of the PA (“This isn’t my job,” he mutters). In short, he fails to be grateful in an appropriate way. And his failure to be grateful then makes everyone question their own well-meaning motives. It’s fascinating. All of these people who work on the film live in a bubble of liberalism and can barely mask their horror and incomprehension when the Iraqi kid says he supports the invasion of his country because Saddam was awful, and also, “I love President Bush.” Nobody knows what to DO when he says stuff like that. It makes them look politically unsophisticated, but no matter. It’s an interesting culture-clash, that’s for sure. Eventually, even though the kid is so annoying, so entitled, so RUDE, you start to think: who the hell can blame him? He’s been airlifted out of a nightmare, put down in the place of his supposed dreams, and expected to play a certain role. Gratified happy refugee. It’s insulting, almost, the position they put him in. This is not to say they MEANT to do that. Liev Shreiber, whom I love, is totally honest about how much he wanted to help this kid, how much he wanted to support a young artist whose film school had been destroyed in his home country. But then realizing, slowly, that maybe the kid was not on the level. Schreiber is honest. Elijah Wood is honest. The kid is an exaggerator, a complainer, a partier, the kind of guy you walk across the room to avoid because you know he’s gonna hit you up for 10 bucks. Fascinating documentary, very difficult, highly recommend it. It’s one of those examples of a documentary that started out with one intention (“let’s show the experience of a hopeful Iraqi kid working on an American film”) and then was forced to deal with reality, and give up what was planned/hoped-for. It reminded me of Daughter from Danang in that way, that clearly started out to be the heartwarming portrayal of a Vietnamese-American woman who had been airlifted out of Vietnam as a tiny child right before Saigon fell. Her biological father was white, so she could “pass” as white in America. Nobody even knew her ethnic heritage. Her American family encouraged her in that direction. But then, as a grown woman, she decides to go back to Vietnam (her first time as an adult). She speaks no Vietnamese. She says, worriedly, in her Southern accent, “I hope they know that I am completely Americanized.” At first, the reunion with her mother in the airport is so intense and emotional that you think the film is going to go one way, the expected way. Happy reunion, a new life unfolding, the cultures meeting and coming together. But boy, does the film NOT go that way. It completely falls apart. It’s unbelievable. Operation Filmmaker gives up its intentions, and becomes something way WAY more interesting than another self-congratulatory documentary about a bunch of people helping out someone less fortunate than they are. It becomes an examination of preconceived notions, assumptions, cultural divides too wide to be bridged, and a “lead character” who refuses to play the role assigned to him.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 5, “Thin Lizzie” (2015; d. Rashaad Ernesto Green)
I grew up in Rhode Island, where Lizzie Borden was as real to us as Goldilocks. We chanted the Lizzie Borden song on the bus during field trips. So it was fun to see that old story re-visited.

Call Me Marianna (2015; d. Karolina Bielawska)
An incredibly moving documentary about Marianna (born Wotjek) and her journey towards getting a sex change operation. A very human story. I introduced it at a showing at MoMA this past month.

The Assassin (2015; d. Hou Hsiao-Hsien)
One of my favorites this year. My review here.

Far from Heaven (2002; d. Todd Haynes)
Again, a re-watch to prepare for Carol. Gorgeous Sirk-ian colors and photography, every shot a keeper. Speaking of which …

All That Heaven Allows (1955; d. Douglas Sirk)
One of the most beautiful-LOOKING films ever made. Sirk was a master. Jane Wyman is very touching, and Rock Hudson is great. I want to live in that renovated mill.

Born to Kill (1947; Robert Wise)
A favorite. Claire Trevor is fascinating, as the hard-boiled cold-eyed dame who can turn on a dime and be ingratiating and soft. But this is one tough cookie. Lawrence Tierney is sexy sexy sexy. Lots of really interesting class issues too.

Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 13 “Afterschool Special” (2009; d. Adam Kane)
Ah, humor. “Walk it off.”

Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 15 “Death Takes a Holiday” (2009; d. Steve Boyum)
This one strikes a very deep chord in me. Not to be spoken about too much because it enters tricky personal waters but this episode captures what a love affair with death feels like in a very profound way.

Intervention, Season 1, Episode 8 “Tina” (2005)
I find this show irresistible. The format is pretty brilliant, especially the end title-card giving us the update. No sugar-coating. Super-depressing, I realize. But I can’t look away.

Intervention, Season 2, Episode 1 “Corinne” (2006)
See above.

The Long Hot Summer (1958; d. Martin Ritt)
Everyone is so sweaty! A hothouse environment of sexual frustration (Joanne Woodward) and sexual fun (Lee Remick). Paul Newman smolders and sweats and drawls. Orson Welles’ performance is a masterpiece of camp.

Safe (1995; d. Todd Haynes)
My first introduction to Todd Haynes. I saw it in the theatre. It destroyed me. 1995 was a hell of a year for me. I moved to New York. I left everything I knew and loved behind. I was heartbroken because of a man. I was completely unmoored from routine, reality. Safe was upsetting on all of those levels. Great film.

The Killer Speaks Season 2, Episode 5 “Lawrence Tarbert: Natural Born Killer” (2014)
This was chilling. So senseless.

Magic Mike XXL (2015; d. Gregory Jacobs)
It has not diminished. It is still a weirdo miracle of a movie. It shouldn’t work. It breaks all the rules. It shows the irrelevancy of the rules. It’s an adrenaline shot of joy.

Intervention, Season 11, Episode 7 “Zeinah” (2012)
I mean, it’s all really the same story, isn’t it. Yet still: I am invested.

Intervention, Season 11, Episode 1 “Christina” (2012)
Nothing new to say. Drugs are bad.

Sweet Micky for President (2015; d. Ben Patterson)
An entertaining documentary about the insane Presidential elections in Haiti in 2010. I reviewed for

Supernatural, Season 4, Episode 16, “On the Head of a Pin” (2009; d. Mike Rohl)
Sometimes I like to put myself through this.

The Killer Speaks, Season 2, Episode 4, “Gary Ray Bowles”
I’m into this show. I like looking into the minds of sociopaths.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 6, “Our Little World” (2015; d. John F. Showalter)
I enjoyed it.

Carol (2015; d. Todd Haynes)
Beautiful. I reviewed for

By the Sea (2015; d. Angelina Jolie Pitt)
The more I think about this movie, the more I love it. And I think about this movie a lot. My thoughts on it here.

The Naked Kiss (1964; d. Samuel Fuller)
Really interesting film about a prostitute who gives up the life to work as a nurse in a hospital for disabled children. But her past life comes back to haunt her. Her last “gig” as a hooker was sleeping with the police chief in the small town she’s moved to. So he’s “onto” her. But at the same time, he likes her. He’s not a sneering misogynist, which is refreshing. Anthony Eisley is very sexy and taciturn as the policeman. Constance Towers is awesome as the prostitute. Great mood and jazzy feel.

Secret Admirer (1985; d. David Greenwalt)
My pal John recommended this to me a long time ago when we were discussing 1980s teen comedies. I had never seen it! C. Thomas Howell, Lori Loughlin … need I say more? It has a clever premise: an anonymous love note is passed around, and wreaks havoc on every single character – who thinks it’s for them. My favorite was the parents’ bridge night that derails into a group fist fight where a man falls into a grandfather clock. Unfortunately, like with all 1980s teen romances, you have to just “forgive” the casual homophobia. They all have them.

Night Nurse (1931; d. William Wellman)
One of my favorite pre-Codes. Barbara Stanwyck gets a job as a nurse in a hospital. Joan Blondell, another nurse, shows her the ropes. Stanwyck gets an assignment involving “home care,” visiting two little girls who seem very sickly for no apparent reason. Their mother is a floozy, cavorting with the chauffeur (Clark Gable, in riding boots!) and doesn’t seem to care what happens to her kids. Stanwyck nearly goes crazy trying to get help for them before it is too late. The plot summary does not do the film justice. Kim Morgan discusses “Night Nurse” over on her site.

Supernatural, Season 5, Episode 10, “Dark Side of the Moon” (2010; d. Jeff Woolnough)
One of my favorite episodes in the whole series.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 13, “Unforgiven” (2011; d. David Barrett)
I love this one. Not just because it takes place in Rhode Island.

Supernatural, Season 6, Episode 15, “The French Mistake” (2011; d. Charles Beeson)
Never gets old. “You married fake Ruby?”

Midnight Mary (1933; d. William A. Wellman)
Great pre-Code. Loretta Young comes out of a childhood bounced around in the system and starts sleeping with people for money and rabble-rousing. When the movie starts, she is on trial for murder, and she sits at the lawyer’s table, reading Cosmopolitan magazine, totally unconcerned. Young is just great. By the 50s, she was playing sweet motherly parts, but in the beginning she was a tough cookie.

Top Hat (1935; d. Mark Sandrich)
A frivolous beautiful Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers pairing, with the always-reliable Edward Everett horton providing backup. To-die-for dance numbers. Her feathered dress. Iconic.

Now, Voyager (1942; d. Irving Rapper)
A favorite. One of Bette Davis’ best performances. And it looks very different to me now than it did when I was a young woman. Bette Davis’ character provides an alternate path for strange difficult women who don’t fit in. Not without its sadness and loss – because don’t we all want the five-course meal not just the appetizer? But there is a triumph in it too. Because no, things don’t always “work out.” And you have to find a way to go on, to create a life that still has meaning.

Lonely are the Brave (1962; d. David Miller)
A film Gena Rowlands did, co-starring opposite Kirk Douglas. She only has two scenes but she kills them. This was in preparation for my big Gena Rowlands piece over at

Tempest (1982; d. Paul Mazursky)
I love this film. Another re-watch for the Gena Rowlands piece.

Something to Talk About (1995; d. Lasse Hallström)
I had forgotten how much I liked this movie. Very unique, despite the fact that it was created as a vehicle for Julia Roberts. Callie Khoury’s script is very specific. It’s not particularly feminist. But I appreciate it, not despite that, but because of it. It’s different, in other words. The characters have unexpected attitudes, they don’t do what they’re supposed to do. And so the film is able to surprise you. The men are not evil buffoons, and the women are not saints. Everyone’s a little bit crazy. Another re-watch for the Gena Rowlands piece.

Creed (2015; d. Ryan Coogler)
One of the best films of the year.

The High Cost of Loving (1958; d. Jose Ferrer)
Gena Rowlands’ film debut! She’s wonderful.

Mouchette (1967; d. Robert Bresson)
Devastating and depressing. Hopeless, really. It had been years since I saw it. Suicide is triumph in this bleak picture.

Hysterical Blindness (2002; d. Mira Nair)
Another re-watch for Gena Rowlands. I loved it so much when it first aired on HBO and I still love it. It’s also bizarre because an old friend-with-benefits of mine has a small part in it. I laughed out loud when I saw him at the pool table. I had forgotten he was in it. He told me some pretty funny stories about the shooting of it. That Juliette Lewis was super nice to everyone is the main thing I remember.

The Big Knife (1955; d. Robert Aldrich)
It’s one of my favorite Clifford Odets plays. Obviously written with John Garfield in mind, in its story about a former radical who has gone on to become a Hollywood star, and in the process has sold his soul. It’s always cut and dry with Odets: you have money (and a soulless existence) or you don’t have money (and you are pure and free). It’s naive and would be very annoying if Odets couldn’t write like he did! For me, there’s something off about the film. It’s so melodramatic, the acting is at such a high pitch with no let-up that you want to tell everyone to take a Xanax. Everyone is great – Rod Steiger, Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Shelley Winters … but I think it’s better on the stage. I saw it a couple of years ago with Bobby Cannavale in the lead role and it was excellent.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 7, “Plush” (2015; d. Tim Andrew)
Sheriff Donna!

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015; d. Brett Morgen)
Crushing. Wrote about it here.

Trouble Along the Way (1953; d. Michael Curtiz)
John Wayne, in a charming performance where he’s a dad (that didn’t happen often), plays an unconventional football coach, hired by a small Catholic college (run by Charles Coburn) to turn their school’s fortunes around. Donna Reed plays a CPS worker, hired to investigate whether or not Wayne’s young daughter should be allowed to stay with him. I’m not sure the ending is as happy as the film wants me to believe … like … she’s going off into foster care and this is okay?? But maybe he and Donna Reed will get married (of course they will) and get the daughter back and all will be well.

Face to Face (1976; d. Ingmar Bergman)
Liv Ullmann gives one of the greatest performances I have ever seen in this film. There’s one scene where she lies in bed with a guy who might be about to become her lover, you’re not sure. Early in the day, two random guys had tried to rape her, but didn’t succeed. She confesses to her new lover what happened. It strikes her as funny. She starts laughing uproariously, but the laughing turns to crying, then goes back to laughing, and then becomes serious hyperventilation which then morphs into screaming and wailing. She moves across the room to the chair, hysterical, and then when she tries to stand up, she literally can’t. She feels like she will fly apart. The sequence is over 5 minutes long, and it all happens in one unbroken take. It is one of the greatest moments of acting I have ever seen. The entire film is filled with moments like that. Some of the symbolism is a little on the nose, Bergman being oh so Bergman-ish, but Ullmann is BEYOND good. It’s harrowing just watching her. Then of course there’s this connection:


What Happened, Miss Simone” (2015; d. Liz Garbus)
Upsetting. But with amazing footage of Nina Simone performing. My thoughts here.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 1 “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” (2015; d. Robert Singer)
It’s even better than I remembered. Very rich Season 11 premiere.

The X-Files, Upcoming Season, “My Struggle” (2016; d. Chris Carter)
Yes! I saw the first episode of the new X-Files, the one that will air in January. I thought it was incredible: most of the old team has been assembled, Mark Snow, the editor, Chris Carter – and of course, Scully, Mulder, and Skinner. Very much looking forward to the rest!

Millennium, Season 1 Pilot (1996; d. David Nutter)
Keith and I started Millennium yesterday. He thought I would like it, and he is right. I love serial killers, and Lance Henriksen is just wonderful in this part.

Millennium, Season 1, Episode 2 “Gehenna” (1996; d. David Nutter)
There’s a lot of Supernatural echoes here: apocalypse, Revelations, Biblical plagues, plus David Nutter.

Millennium, Season 1, Episode 3 “Dead Letters” (1996; d. Thomas J. Wright)
This was the episode that hooked me: the dynamic between Henriksen and James Morrison, who played the troubled profiler who basically has a nervous breakdown over the course of the episode. I loved it because it showed two men working together, not a lot of peacocking, and also honesty between them, an “I know where you’re at” level of understanding. It’s rare that men get to have such relationships onscreen.

Millennium, Season 1, Episode 4 “The Judge” (1996; d. Randall Zisk)
John Hawkes! He’s so young!!

Millennium, Season 1, Episode 5 “522666” (1996; d. David Nutter)

Amy (2015; d. Asif Kapadia)
The documentary about Amy Winehouse. This is the third very very upsetting music documentary I’ve seen this month. This one is the most upsetting. I’m haunted by it. That poor poor girl.

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61 Responses to November 2015 Viewing Diary

  1. Paula says:

    New X Files? What? How? Will you be reviewing it? That would be fantastic. So glad to hear it is good because that would have ruined me for months.

    • sheila says:

      Paula – ha – “What? How?” I know! I got connections! My friend Keith will be doing re-caps for Vulture and so he got the pilot to view.

      I don’t think I would have said anything if I thought it was bad. Because I know the anticipation is so great and who am I to rain on anyone’s parade. But since I think it’s great … yay!

      But it was so satisfying on all the levels that X-Files is usually satisfying – the TONE was perfect, I thought.

      and now I have to wait like everybody else!!

  2. Dan Heaton says:

    So jealous that you already saw the X-Files premiere! I can’t wait to see it and am glad that so many of the original cast and crew are still involved.

    I’m seeing Creed tomorrow night and can’t wait. I was already intrigued by it and have been stunned by the review.

    • sheila says:

      Dan – There was a moment during the X-Files episode when I became aware – yet again – of Mark Snow’s brilliance as composer. The thrum-beat of the music in the ep – its portentous doom-filled tense sound – is so perfect – as his scores always were. He could put himself in tune with the episode, whatever its tone. Amazingly versatile.

      and yes: so many of the original players. It is as though there was no gap at all in seasons. Amazing!

      Creed is incredible. I think I cried 7 or 8 times – basically, throughout the whole thing. It is its own new thing – but it so respects the original – and the emotional impact – that it ends up being maybe the best Rocky since the first one. It’s amazing! Excited to hear your thoughts!

  3. Wren Collins says:

    I, too, love SPN’s Unforgiven. Those gorgeous flashbacks *swoons*

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, it has a really good – and scary – vibe. Soulless Sam is one of my favorite arcs – and it’s great to see how it all plays out. How DIFFERENT he is as Soulless Sam – how unconcerned, how cold. JP pulls out all the stops. It’s not “schtick” – you realize just how good JP would have been if he had had a whole career playing sociopaths. He owns it!

  4. carolyn clarke says:

    Sheila, you are amazing. Where do I start?
    Supernatural – best start of a season since Season 2, in my humble opinion. I agree that “Baby” was perfection for all of the right reasons, but none of the episodes have been weak and well worth watching repeatedly.
    Bette Davis – love that woman, though I can’t decide whether I prefer “Now, Voyager”, “The Letter” or “Little Foxes”. What she does to poor Herbert Marshall in Foxes and Letter.
    “Top Hat” – There is a theatre in the Village that used to run Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger festivals on a regular basis. I lived in Alphabet City on 7th Street when it was still very wild and crazy and I could walk to this theatre. I can’t remember the name but people would applaud after Fred and Ginger’s dance numbers. It was so cool.
    Millenium – loved that series and was crushed when they canceled it.
    Something to Talk About – enjoyed the movie and I love Lasse Hallstrom, though I prefer “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and “An Unfinished Life”.
    Planning to see “Creed” and “Spotlight” this weekend.
    X Files – I envy you your early access but I can be patient and wait.

    • sheila says:

      Carolyn –

      // best start of a season since Season 2, in my humble opinion. //

      Agreed! Although the first episode of Season 6 is an all-time favorite. I never saw any of that coming. But yes: they have come into Season 11 with great confidence. I feel like they really know where they are going and have set up a really great mood.

      // What she does to poor Herbert Marshall in Foxes and Letter. //

      Oh I KNOW. How wonderful is Herbert Marshall?? His performance is heart-breaking and beautiful in “Letter” and she is really … quite a monster in “Letter”. One of her very best performances!

      // There is a theatre in the Village that used to run Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger festivals on a regular basis. //

      Wow – I am so so envious of your experience and wish I had been in New York during the heyday of revival theatres. Now we have the Film Forum – which is pretty much the only one – and you really need to be on the ball to catch things there, the run is so short.

      // I can’t remember the name but people would applaud after Fred and Ginger’s dance numbers. //

      That is unbelievably touching.

      So glad to hear of your love of Millennium. This series somehow totally escaped my notice. I think it was because it was happening when I was in grad school and I basically had no life outside of that. I am really REALLY enjoying it. I can’t tell what is happening in terms of the larger arc – the “millennium” arc – but it sure brings back that time, with all the anxiety about the turning of the millennium (and Y2K and all the rest) … that sense of time, a turning over a gigantic page … So I am really looking forward to the rest. Chris Carter is quite a phenom.

      Would love to hear your thoughts on Creed and Spotlight – and I can’t wait until everyone else sees X-Files too. My good pal Keith will be doing re-caps for Vulture, so I’ll link to those when they come. (He’s the one who did the X-Files marathon with me, over the course of 6 months!!)

  5. Dg says:

    Glad to see your thoughts on ironically titled “Truth” . I wasn’t going to see it anyway because I’m severely prejudiced against Mapes and Rather. I think the filmmakers were just hoping that the general public had forgotten about this journalistic hackery and would just assume viewers would take their point of view.

    • sheila says:

      // I’m severely prejudiced against Mapes and Rather. //

      You and me both. I wasn’t even going to see it because I had a feeling it would be the stupid “take” on it that it was – but since I was reviewing Spotlight I felt somewhat obligated – just in case I wanted to do a compare and contrast.

      I was a regular reader of the “conservative website” mentioned in the film and watched, with horror, as those guys did all the research that Mapes was too lazy and biased to do. Like, they were doing research into the history of FONTS, which is so insane … but that’s what should have been done in the first place.

      It’s incredible, really: there were no originals, just those photocopies. Mapes went forward with her story regardless. She hated Bush so much she wanted to take him down. That sort of hatred was just as bad a form of brainwashing as the irrational hatred of Obama from the other side. And while the film definitely shows the defining moment – when Mapes “caves” to the rushed deadline and decides to put those memos on the air … even though two “experts” had said that they could not say decisively that those memos were genuine … the film is still totally in sympathy with Mapes and presents her as a really good journalist/producer/investigator. And the dwelling on Mapes’ backstory (her father beat her FOR ASKING QUESTIONS … BAH.) and her night-drinking and her “martyrdom” clearly is supposed to slant us to her side.

      There’s a late-night telephone conversation between Rather and Mapes in the film that had a “Well, we were doing the right thing … we were doing what journalists are supposed to do” vibe – which was reprehensible.

      I wonder if that old “conservative website” has addressed “Truth” – I should check, although those guys have devolved into right-wing Obama-hatred mania, which is when I stopped reading them.

  6. mutecypher says:

    //Magic Mike XXL (2015; d. Gregory Jacobs) It has not diminished.//

    I expect in a few months we’ll read (with apologies to Don McLean)

    ‘though February made me quiver,
    Magic Mike XXL still does deliver,
    Bad news at the cineplex,
    It really didn’t vex,
    I can’t remember if I came,
    When I saw Channing Tatum’s name,
    Something touched me below the solar plex,
    The day I re-watched that bad boy flex.

    Find the fun, Sheila!

    • mutecypher says:

      Millenium kicks. Lance Hendrickson rules. Go Bishop/Mr. Weyland/Frank Black! “I prefer the term ‘artificial person,’ myself.”

      • sheila says:

        Are those episode titles??

        I agree – LH is so so great, very haunted man, and so afraid for his family that he can barely BE with them. He’s a lovely actor and it’s nice to see him in a leading man role and not a heavy.

  7. Melanie says:

    I really like the idea of the axis mundi in ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. I hate white box heaven even more than power point hell. I want heaven and hell to be outside of normal human comprehension. The road changing from hot wheels track to route 66 postcard was perfectly appropriate for S&D, but also just mysterious enough to be unpredictable. The 2nd half with Ash in the roadhouse and Joshua in the garden was not as strong, but Joshua was head and shoulders preferable to Metatron! The fireworks scene is a treasure to be savored.

    • sheila says:

      // power point hell. //

      hahahaha I don’t know why I find this so funny – maybe because of our collective shorthand as SPN fans – like we totally know what this means.

      and yes: Axis Mundi. With that huge weird planet in the sky. And footsies with brace-face. and my favorite: PAMELA.

      Dean fiddling with the stereo looking for Cas. I love this exchange:
      Sam: “What are you doing?”
      Dean: “I’m looking for Cas, what does it look like I’m doing?”
      Sam (in a classic dry JP line-reading): “Like you’ve lost your mind?”

      The question mark makes it!!

      Wonderful wonderful episode.

    • Paula says:

      //white box heaven// Exactly this! That vision of the axis mundi was fantastic. It should be otherworldly and yet weirdly familiar, and you’re right about the unpredictability of it. I love how each memory had an element of happy nostalgia that was increasingly underlaid by bittersweet, until all that was left was bitter. It was so well done.

      Also the opener is still one of the best of the series. “When I come back, I’m gonna be pissed. C’mon, let’s get this show on the road.” I only wished they had done an epilogue with Dean finding Roy and Walt. One of the great mysteries of the show is whether those guys are still walking around.

      • sheila says:

        Also the sheer carnage of all of those crunched-up beer cans along the headboards. We rarely see Sam and Dean drinking to THAT level in motel rooms. Kind of stands out, doesn’t it? I like it. Maybe if they hadn’t been so wasted they would have noticed that a bunch of freaks with rifles had snuck into their room.

        and yeah, love that closeup of Dean telling them he’s gonna be pissed.

        • Paula says:

          It’s a great detail. Did they get drunk together? That would be unusual. Were they drinking to forget the huge zombie pyre from Sioux Falls? As opposed to previous seasons, body count in S5 eps was high. Or were they upset about almost losing Bobby so soon after losing Ellen and Jo? You could write a whole book of speculation based on that one detail.

          My other favorite detail was the fireworks/shotgun blast mix, intercutting an emotional high with such horrible imagery.

        • sheila says:

          Oh man: that shotgun blast coming out of the fireworks …

          so good, so haunting.

          I loved the contrast in their “trophy moments” – it was almost funny, even though painful for Dean. Every single memory for Sam was him AWAY from the family. Hilarious (in a way)!

          Thanks for contextualizing those beer-cans as maybe a response to something else. In general, I can’t keep the general order of the seasons in my head (except for the openers and closers) – so I am appreciative of those who can.

          It was nice that it wasn’t explained!

  8. JessicaR says:

    God I love The Long, Hot Summer.

    “Well I’ll be damned.”

    “More than likely, but first you’re gonna get married.”

  9. Happened to watch Shirley Temple’s Baby, Take A Bow yesterday. To say Claire Trevor stands out, acting wise, is the understatement of the year.

  10. MBerg says:

    Glad to see your review of Truth. You were more charitable than me.

    The whole episode happened six months after I started doing my radio show – two of my cohosts at the time were Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker, whose blog post “The Sixty First Minute” started the whole “fontroversy” (and much more; the general who “signed” the letter had retired a solid year before the date on the letter.

    So the show we did the Saturday after the controversy broke was one of the most intense two hours of my life.

    And I left the theater angry at the misrepresentation of history.

    • sheila says:

      It was totes gross!

      Not getting very good reviews and it will sink into the tarpit of forgotten films – especially when compared to Spotlight.

      • sheila says:

        although, of course, as a woman writer online who has had my share of rape threats and “shut up cunt” kinds of comments from men – always men – I think the Internet Idiots’ treatment of Mary Mapes is reprehensible. Her actions were bad enough and she paid for them – which she should have – she needed to GO. But rape threats are unacceptable.

        • MBerg says:

          That sort of response always astounds and depresses me.

          • sheila says:

            It’s so predictable it’s insane!!

            I’m now just like, “Yup, I’m a cunt, delete” whereas back in the day I would get so upset!

            That being said: the vitriol shown Mapes about her WORK was well-deserved.

          • sheila says:

            and also, on a good note, or not good – but just something I noticed – the fake representation of that “conservative website” was instantly recognizable. I wish they had named it, to give credit where credit’s due … but I was like, “Oh God, yes, that’s what it looked like.” With all those nerdy uploads of Font Comparisons.

            1. I love fonts, in general.
            2. I love nerds.
            3. I love it when someone who deserves it gets their just desserts.

            So watching the whole thing unfold (back then, I mean) was quite amazing! Practically entertaining. A real cliffhanger.

            Might have been fun to do the whole story from the “conservative website”s point of view – but of course that could never happen. Did you see the movie “Shattered Glass” – about that lying fabricating sack who made up all those stories while writing for The New Republic.

            It’s really good!

            One of the best parts of the story though was that the only reason the story “broke” was because this small digital operation connected to Forbes magazine started to do some digging about one of his stories. In the film you can clearly see that it was just a skeleton crew – an editor, a web producer, and a freakin’ intern. But they asked the right questions and the questions they asked the New Republic editor made HIM do some digging.

            It was one of the first moments where the “web” broke its own story – and it brought about the downfall of Stephen Glass as well as the ruination of the New Republic’s reputation (no shaudenfraude here – I love the New Republic).

            But it was funny in a way – all these print people unaware of how powerful the Web would be … being totally “shown up” by these web nerds.

            So that would DEFINITELY have made a better story for Truth than Mary Mapes’ psychodrama.

          • MBerg says:

            I’ve wished many times that I was an eccentric billionaire that could finance that movie showing the story/ies from the “web nerd” side.

            From September ’04 through September ’05, that little crew of bloggers who combined to do the show (that I still do) first helped bring down Rather, and then helped bring down the Chretien government in Canada.

            The hard part? Making an interesting movie about a bunch of middle-aged midwestern guys typing away on their computers…

          • sheila says:

            “bunch of Midwestern guys typing away”

            hahahaha Exactly.

            I saw this hilarious Tweet a while back, something like:

            “They say write what you know, but I just don’t think I want to see a film about some guy killing it on Twitter every day.”

        • MBerg says:

          As luck’d have it, one of my favorite writers going, Kevin Williamson, writes on this very subject today.

          Being a guy, I don’t get the sexual threats. Being a right-of-center blogger and radio guy in a left-of-center town, I do get the stalking, the digging through court records (how bored must they be?), the name-calling.

          However, I’m a little shocked that I haven’t gotten any anti-Semitic stuff in decades, since my first talk show (back in, um, the eighties). So maybe things are getting better…

          • sheila says:

            For women, it’s getting worse.

            A pal of mine writing for The Village Voice got so many death/rape threats for her review of … Interstellar? can’t remember … that the editor had to actually step in and make an announcement to its readers to knock it off.

            The stupid fact that this was a FILM REVIEW made it even more obvious that if you are a woman writing on the Internet, and you express opinions in a confident way, you will be called a cunt, and people will send you emails talking about what they want to shove up your various orifices.


            For me, it’s gotten worse over the years – although I’m pretty hardened to it now.

          • sheila says:

            and women already walk around in an atmosphere of sexual aggression in their everyday lives. It can be extremely spooky and yes, triggering, to get emails like this for people who have been actually assaulted in real life. As I have. But I’m tough.

            and my platform is pretty small, compared to some of these other women. I can only imagine the volume of shit they have to deal with! I’d want to hire an assistant to open every email and see if it’s a death/rape threat so I wouldn’t have to see it.

            But never mind. There are many poorly raised barbarians out there. I have learned to never respond. Never. Ever.

          • sheila says:

            In that article you linked to – I liked the point about how you never used to have to hear from these illiterate probably-virgin morons. They scribbled on the bathroom walls and wrote letters to the editor (that probably wouldn’t be published due to the various rape/death threats).

            My dad once said that every year he and my Mum would go to the town meeting. And suddenly they both would realize how many insane and annoying people who lived in our town – who would hog the mike – and make long rambling speeches that had nothing to do with anything. And he equated comments sections to being like one ongoing inarticulate Town Meeting that happens every day – and so now every day you have to filter out the stupidity of others.

            I finally got down my own moderation system on my site and it works great. No more “three strikes you’re out.”

            One strike is all I need.

            and now I have a nice hearty friendly readership who likes to continue conversation as opposed to shutting it down!

            In other news: I wish more men would write articles condemning the rape threats women get online. We can’t do this alone, and men tend to tune women out, and call us complainers, or say stuff like “Just ignore it!”

            Well, we have seen that “just ignore it” often doesn’t work (I’ve been stalked and I ignored every single message from this person) – and because of the situation that women are sexually harassed all the time in real-life – it becomes difficult to just ignore the overriding message that people don’t just want you to shut up, they want to shove a fire-poker up your you know what, and post your home address on Reddit.

            I mean, good Lord, who raised these people?

            But enough unpleasantness.

            It’s always good to talk to you, Mitch. :)

          • MBerg says:

            Always great to talk to you too!

            And you’re right – there needs to be more of a light shone on the cockroaches that scurry when angry little people can throw their rhetorical weight around with complete anonymity.

            OK. I’ll do it. :-D

          • sheila says:

            Everyone needs allies! I mean, pure chivalry should come into operation, if nothing else.

            In other news:

            As a music man, have you seen any of the music docs I mentioned here? Not sure of your take on any of those artists (Cobain, Simone, Winehouse) but I thought they were all excellent docs because while they focused on demons and the drugs – which played a huge role in their lives – they also were interested in process and musicality – so important!

            I am cautiously hopeful about the upcoming Hank Williams biopic (and I love Tom Hiddleston) – but I hope they care as much about the music as they do the morphine.

            Time will tell!!

          • MBerg says:

            I have not seen the music docs. I kid you not – I just came back to your blog for the first time in a while, and read your article about Perkins and Simone, and made a note to look the all up, before I saw *this* post .

            So yes, I’m gonna watch ’em.

          • sheila says:

            Not sure if you have Netflix but I believe the Nina Simone one is still streaming.

            and YEAH for Carl Perkins.

            The new biography of Sam Phillips just came out and it’s a goldmine!!

          • MBerg says:

            My mission is clear.

            (And I’ll check Netflix tonight. Thanks!)

    • Desirae says:

      I’m replying to the wrong place because it won’t let me reply below; I am also about to be incredibly pedantic but it’s a discussion about accuracy so why not. MBerg, you say:

      “From September ’04 through September ’05, that little crew of bloggers who combined to do the show (that I still do) first helped bring down Rather, and then helped bring down the Chretien government in Canada.”

      The Chretien government was never brought down at all; Jean Chretien retired in 2003 (fall, I believe) because a) he’d already been PM for a decade and b) he and Paul Martin were constantly at each other’s throats and it was splitting the party essentially in two. Paul Martin was the next PM and I assume he’s the one you’re thinking of since his government went down via a non-confidence vote in Nov ’05. The blog leaking the Gomery reports (about the sponsorship scandal) didn’t have that much to do with it, though – those reports were already accessible to those in the government, just not the media. And it was inter-governmental strife that actually brought down Paul Martin. The Liberals required the support of the NDP (our left wing party) to keep going as they were a minority government; but the NDP and the Liberals couldn’t agree on some kind of conditions (no one seems to know what) and thus the gov’t fell.

      Interestingly enough the Gomery reports actually cleared Paul Martin of any wrongdoing. But he’d become so unpopular it didn’t matter; when he (very, very stupidly) decided to run for re-election in 2006 it was all over.

      Whew. I’m sorry, but that bugged me all the way home on the bus.

      • MBerg says:

        I did say “helped” bring down, right ;-)

        I say it because during the “Adscam” hearings in 2005, there was a gag order on the proceedings – but my colleague Ed Morrissey had a contact who fed reports from inside the hearings to Ed, whose blog (at the time, “Captain’s Quarters”, although he’s since moved on to “Hot Air”) carried the reports as they came in. Ed was, for a couple of weeks, the most-read blog in Canada.

        More than a few analysts credited the leak in the hearings with providing some of the impetus for the Liberal party’s defeat in the elections that year.

        It’s been a while, which is why I qualify it.

        • Desirae says:

          Haha, no worries – I just thought it was worth explaining because the whole situation was kind of impenetrable to Canadians, never mind anyone outside.

          I mostly just remember this sense of surprise that anyone in the U.S. was paying that much attention to our politics. We were like, wait… do we matter to Americans now… what does this mean…

  11. JessicaR says:

    And Creed was so very good, one those films I ached that I couldn’t watch it with my Dad. (We saw Rocky Balboa together.) I think my favorite moment of pure cinema fusion from this year might be the scene where Jordan finishes his run with the motorcycle racers. It’s why the film works in microcosm. It’s an obvious callback to an earlier Rocky movie, running with the kids in Rocky II, and yet it’s a moment so obviously of itself. Of the sound design dipping in and out, winding around an isolated vocal cue from “Gonna Fly Now”. And it ending with Jordan jumping up and down exhilarated and shouting as the motorcycles circle around popping wheelies and Rocky watching warmly from the second story window. It tore my heart out my chest it was such a perfect moment, a celebration of power, of life, and how life finds ways to continue on.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, loved that motorcycle scene. So exhilarating, and a perfect build!

      • sheila says:

        and how bold and beautifully symmetrical and courageous to have “Rocky” now struggle to get up those museum steps. It’s not easy for action heroes to grow old, or show their age – and this is even more striking because he’s playing the same role he played when he was a young man. It would be like Clint Eastwood playing Dirty Harry now, showing his frailty, as he pointed a gun at someone while heaving breaths through an oxygen mask or something. It’s admitting you are mortal. It’s saying: “Yes. I am old now.” The character is old, and I am old. Plus vomiting after a gentle sparring match in the ring. Go, Sly, go go with your honesty. Critics have a tendency (or some critics) to say, “My God, he was so good in Copland” and while I agree – I find the comment suspect. I can’t help it. Because Rocky is an epic character, performed epically, by Sly over a period spanning 40 years. Sure, he was good in Copland, but beware those who are suspicious of popular films – who refuse to be seduced on principle!! I like to say in response, just to fuck with people, “Yeah, I liked Copland but I think he’s better in Demolition Man.” and this is actually true. :)

        Back to Rocky struggling up the steps:

        Movies so capture time in a bottle that you can be tricked into thinking it’s the same as immortality. Stallone’s mere presence – and his willingness to look old and worn-out – not out of false vanity, but out of his sense of truth – acknowledges that movie characters may be immortal, but man is not.

        I was tremendously moved by that.

        Also by his utter confusion when Adonis calls back to him, “It’s okay, it’s in the Cloud!”

        Rocky’s like … wait, what? Cloud?

        • Dan says:

          OK – now you’ve made me want to watch Demolition Man. I’m not sure this is fair. :-)

          I recently watched First Blood for the first time since high school – I think that is another great but overlooked Stallone performance.

          • sheila says:

            I love First Blood too!

            Demolition Man is so entertaining!! My friends and I always say “Be well” to each other and after you see the film you’ll know why!

            Plus: the three shells in the bathroom and Stallone’s response.

          • sheila says:

            However, I can’t stick up for the arm wrestle movie with Dolly Parton – as much as she can do no wrong in my eyes. You can’t win ’em all.

  12. JessicaR says:

    “However, I can’t stick up for the arm wrestle movie with Dolly Parton – as much as she can do no wrong in my eyes. You can’t win ’em all.”

    Oh god I’m so embarrassed I know this but you’re fusing two unfortunate Stallone vehicles. The arm wrestling movie is Over the Top (which I have a soft spot for) and the one with Dolly Parton is Rhinestone (which I do not, Dolly is great in it though). And now I have to go take a walk and stare at a lake and think about what I’ve done with my life.

    • sheila says:

      Doh! Of course!! Thanks!

      I want to like Over the Top but I cannot!! I even have a soft spot for Judge Dredd, although it can’t hold a candle to Demolition Man.

      Listen, I could lecture for 3 hours with no notes – right now – on the career of Dean Stockwell (or the Russian Revolution), so no worries.

    • Dan says:

      I knew that too. I will join you in the lake walk of shame.

      • Sheila says:

        I don’t trust people who don’t have lake walks of shame. I don’t care if it’s about stamp collection or tea cup design during the reign of the Sun King. Be obsessed with something, for the love of Pete!!

  13. Dan says:

    Holy shite! Rhinestone! I haven’t thought about that movie in years!

  14. Melanie says:

    //Demolition Man is starting to get, rightly, rediscovered as a vicious satire in the vein of Verhoeven’s terrific RoboCop/Total Recall.//

    Demolition Man was on last night when I went to bed and I had to watch all of it. I had forgotten so much, but I enjoyed revisiting it. Seeing it now amidst Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent, and the plethora of other Utopian, post apocalyptic movies one can certainly see their heritage. The apple didn’t fall far from that tree. I’m pretty sure Assistant Bob is a character in Hunger Games. And yet the tone is so different. These new movies take themselves soooo seriously and somehow that “vicious satire” just seems vicious. OMG I died laughing at Sandra Bullock every scene she was in. Total Recall is my all time favorite Schwarzenegger film and I’m pretty sure DM is now my favorite Stallone film. (I loved Rocky, but just can’t enjoy the subject matter.) Thanks for the shoutout. “Be Well!”

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