June 2016 Viewing Diary

Homeland Season 3, Episode 4 “Game On” (2013; d. David Nutter)
Hey, Nutter, what’s up? Thanks for the Supernatural pilot. Going on 12 seasons now, you set it up real good. I have now watched up until Season 5 of Homeland. Honestly, I was so sick of the Brody family that I was ready for them to GO. It was such a relief when they exited the stage because the soap opera in that house – romances and psych wards and sex in laundry rooms – like, come on, who is this show for, and what is it about. Lots of bipolar drama, too, which, frankly, I am surprised I can sit through.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 5 “Yoga Play” (2013; d. Clark Johnson)
I loved the “yoga play.” You know why? Because anything to do with tradecraft taps into my black Special Ops heart. Also: QUINN. Who is now my favorite character and basically why I am still watching.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 6 “Still Positive” (2013; d. Lesli Linka Glatter)
Pretty horrifying murder in this one. I am amazed that this man was able to enter the country. I know a couple of people who work border patrol and those folks do not mess around. Sometimes the “cliffhanger race against the clock” nature of Homeland gets on my nerves.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 7 “Gerontion” (2013; d. Carl Franklin)
Shaun Toub is perfect in his role: a complex and yet also very simple man. Demons. Lots of fear. Trying to save his ass. It makes any scene he appears in a powder keg. OH QUINN I LOVE YOU SO.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 8 “A Red Wheelbarrow” (2013; d. Seith Mann)
I loved this episode for its title alone. Also this whole thing seemed a little far-fetched and quite a gamble: Let’s lock Carrie up in a psych ward, “out” her as bipolar, in the hopes that her vulnerability will make the enemy come forward to recruit her so she can get Intel. Whaddya know, it worked!

Homeland Season 3, Episode 9 “One Last Thing” (2013; d. Jeffrey Reiner)
God, now Brody is hooked on heroin. This poor man. But I’m ready for him to leave.

Appropriate Adult, Part 1 (2011; d. Julian Jerrold)
I heard this mentioned in conversation somewhere, can’t remember where, and everyone was raving about it. It sounded right up my alley, so I watched. It’s incredible. Emily Watson, a brand new social worker, is hired as an “appropriate adult” to assist in criminal proceedings against a husband-wife serial-killing team. It’s a notorious real-life case, and the killings themselves haunt me: that house, that couple, the back yard … it’s horrifying. Dominic West, nearly unrecognizable with his short curly hair, is disgusting and yet emotional and charming, just like the real-life guy apparently was. And Emily Watson gets sucked into the web.

Appropriate Adult, Part 2 (2011; d. Julian Jerrold)
It was a mini-series so it was wrapped up in two episodes. I started getting very uncomfortable when she started visiting him in prison, and they started corresponding. Lines blurred. Plus, the bipolar husband. Bipolar is a theme in television/movies right now. Well, good for them. It’s my LIFE.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 10 “Good Night” (2013; d. Keith Gordon)
I’m alllllllll about Quinn.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 11 “Big Man in Tehran” (2013; d. Daniel Monacan)
Craziness in Tehran. Again, seems like a far-fetched plan. To embed Brody to … why not Special Forces? That’s their gig. But Brody does the job. Messily with an ashtray. In the dude’s office. How to extract him? Well, of COURSE he won’t be extracted. Quinn would have snuck out like a cat burglar because he is, in general, invisible, like all snipers are.

July and Half of August (2015; d. Brandeaux Tourville)
My own movie, screened in Brooklyn!

They Drive By Night (1940; d. Raoul Walsh)
George Raft and Humphrey Bogart (pre-Casablanca Bogart, when Raft was the much bigger star) play truck-driving brothers, on the circuit, doing dangerous night-time routes with truck-loads of fruit, in desperate times that makes them push themselves to the limit. Driving with no sleep, etc. Gritty and realistic. And then enter Ida Lupino. The following year she would co-star (again with Bogart) in High Sierra and she became a star. And it was her performance in They Drive By Night that got everyone’s attention. And it still is an attention-getter, particularly the final scene when she takes the stand in the courtroom. Listen, you’ve probably heard about that scene. It’s very famous. And if you haven’t heard about it, now perhaps you will, because it’s talked about all the time. It is a great GREAT piece of acting, completely wiping out all of the stuff that came before. She is on another level with what she is doing in that scene. It’s still terrifying.

Homeland Season 3, Episode 12 “The Star” (2013; d. Lesli Linka Glatter)
Pretty awful execution scene. But why she loves Brody is still a mystery to me.

The Conjuring 2 (2016; d. James Wan)
Jen and I saw the first one together (she’s my go-to friend for terrifying movies. We have a blast) so I took her to the press screening. I loved the first one, mainly because of the depth of the performances of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. In general, not a fan of the latter, but this feels like a role she has really embraced, down to the rings, the body language, the hair, everything. Great character. And Elvis Presley (or at least his music) is featured in not one, not two, but THREE scenes!!

Homeland Season 4, Episode 1 “The Drone Queen” (2014; d. Lesli Linka Glatter)
The entire season should be titled “Clusterfuck.” With a major MAJOR “Inappropriate Sexual Relationship Is a Massive UNDERSTATEMENT” arc. I couldn’t wait until that one was over because I CRINGED.

Homeland Season 4, Episode 2 “Trylon and Perisphere” (2014; d. Keith Gordon)
Fascinating episode split up in two parallel stories: Carrie being unable to deal with her daughter. Her sister is a fucking SAINT. And then Quinn, holed up in a motel, bonding with his landlady, getting drunk, and having sex. He’s looking for a way out. The landlady is very overweight, and I loved that the show didn’t make a big deal out of it and – more crucial – did not make it look like Quinn was “slumming.” She was a person. With an adorable haircut, nobody’s fool, and kind of blown away that this was happening to her. It’s like she fears if she blinks he’ll vanish. And of course he will. But not for one second did I get the feeling that Quinn needed drunk-goggles to fuck her – even though theirs is a drinking relationship. What he really saw in her was a sympathetic listener, a way station, an emissary from the normal world, a fun drinking partner, and someone to fantasize about who had nothing to do with Pakistan/Intelligence/Death.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 3 “Shalwar and Kameez” (2014; d. Lesli Linka Glatter)
Now begins the Sexually Inappropriate Arc and please tell me when it’s over.

Puerto Ricans in Paris (2016; d. Ian Edelman)
Someone Tweeted hatefully and contemptuously at me for liking this movie. Whatever. Any movie that STARS Luis Guzman is okay by me.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 4 “Iron in the Fire” (2014; d. Michael Offer)
I am so uncomfortable with what is happening that I can barely watch anymore. But one of the things I love about Season 4 is the soapy sub-plot of the Ambassador (the fantastic Laila Robins) and her pathetic husband (who was “Duck Phillips” on Mad Men: guy seems to be making a career of playing weak pathetic guys. But I love the Arc. He’s so AWFUL and SELFISH. I love the detail, too, about how he plagiarized a book and ruined his career. Following his successful wife around. The whole thing is very entertaining.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 5 “About a Boy” (2014; d. Charlotte Sieling)

The Bachelorette, Season 12, Episode 2
Okay, so I have been out of touch with this show for years. But reading the excellent and HILARIOUS Vulture re-caps (someone Tweeted one of them and I read one) made me think, “Let me check this out again.” Now I am hooked. “The Chad” dominated the opening episodes and it was so fascinating. Why it was fascinating was how the GUYS reacted, not her. JoJo, to get you up to speed. It was how the guys sort of organized themselves in loathing to this one guy … and watching it go down was like watching an anthropological documentary. Many many funny moments. Of course I realize the editing is manipulative. But there’s enough real behavior that it’s all been fascinating. My favorites so far? The boxing club owner whom she inexplicably sent home. Chase. James. I like Jordan but I think he seems a little immature. My sister and I text throughout the entire day after any given episode, sharing our thoughts and reactions. It’s a blast.

The Bachelorette, Season 12, Episode 3
Oh my God, Chad. He literally appears to be having a psychotic break.

The Bachelorette, Season 12, Episode 4
I’m not sure I get the appeal of Luke. Yes, he was a war veteran, and that has the potential of being attractive. Yes, they canoodled in a hot tub but you can do that with anyone. When he opens his mouth, platitudes come out, interspersed with “like”, so he is basically a war veteran Valley Girl. Cool hair, though. I still like Chase the best. I like Wells, too, but he doesn’t stand a chance. He’s too real, too regular. And not sure the appeal of Alex at all. He feels like he’s about 15 years old to me and I’m not saying that because he’s short.

All Is Lost (2013; d. J. C. Chandor)
I was sitting having breakfast with Chrisanne out in Long Beach. Alex was gone for the day. Chrisanne and I started talking about survival tactics and techniques, and how we think we would fare faced with life or death situations. The Revenant came up. Other similar stories. I mentioned All Is Lost. She had never seen it. She got so excited she said, “Let’s get the check and go home immediately to watch it.” Which is what we did. At one point, she got so tense that she moved from the couch up to the ottoman closer to the television and I didn’t even notice her doing it. It was like she teleported. Then, as his boat was sinking slowly, and he kept going back on it to retrieve more possessions – she had finally had it and screamed: “NO MORE FIXING. NO MORE FIXING.” Great afternoon.

The Path, Season 1, Episode 1, “What the Fire Throws” (2016; d. Mike Cahill)
Chrisanne is obsessed with The Path and I had never seen it so she sent me home with the screeners SAG/AFTRA sends out in Emmy season. It’s about cults, so naturally I’m into it. Very creepy, and I love all of these actors: Michelle Monaghan, Hugh Dancy, Aaron Paul. It’s a cult reminiscent of a few I could mention, with its own quirks. I watched the first 6 episodes. It’s a bit circular, and the movement is repetitive – although interesting – so I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching. I like its examination of black-and-white thinking and just how threatening doubt can be. Like: no doubt allowed. (Side note: I love that this was created by a woman. It was her story, her idea. Every little bit counts.)

The Path, Season 1, Episode 2, “The Era of the Ladder” (2016; d. Mike Cahill)
Okay, these people are already driving me crazy. Wonderful cast though. I love the kids. I love the teenage boy. I love the relationships and how they are unfolding to us: it’s mysterious and they all speak cult-language but it’s becoming clear. Hugh Dancy is great. So manipulative. So hollow. You get the sense he doesn’t even believe. He just wants the power.

The American Friend (1977; d. Wim Wenders)
Yet another fascinating attempt at bringing Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley to the screen. This is the best movie of the bunch, although Dennis Hopper – as wonderful as he always is – doesn’t really resonate with the off-putting otherness of Ripley (in the way that Alain Delon – the best Ripley yet – does.) But the whole art forgery thing in the Ripley books (and the made-up Derwatt paintings and the sheer scope of the pretense) is fascinating so you get all of these great cameos, including director giants such as eyepatched Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller. And Bruno Ganz is extraordinary. It’s really his movie. How an “ordinary” man finds himself doing the most extraordinary things, things he never would have thought possible.

The Path, Season 1, Episode 3, “A Homecoming” (2016; d. Michael Weaver)
It took me a second to realize that that was Kathleen Turner, although her smoky-sexy voice will always be the giveaway. An extraordinary performance, out of left field, truly disturbing, a drunk on her way to dementia. I saw her in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway and it was one of the greatest pieces of live-acting I’ve ever seen.

The Killing (1956; d. Stanley Kubrick)
An extraordinary film, both acting-wise and visually. Another “heist” movie – I’ve been watching a lot of those lately. Sterling Hayden (whom I love, and the Criterion release has a GREAT interview with him where he says “I started at the top and then moved on down …”) is terrific (one of the best voices ever, makes my toes curl) – everyone is. Each guy is essential to the heist coming off, and it has to go like clockwork. Of course … things go wrong. And then it starts to unravel. Very REAL-looking cast, tough-guys and regular-looking people, plus Elijah Cook Jr.

Wiener-Dog (2016; d. Todd Solondz)
I can’t get this one out of my head. Someone said to me on Twitter that he hated it because it didn’t provide catharsis or emotional release. Well, it DID provide an emotional release for me … although it’s a hopeless and angry film. The “release” had to do with futility and the impossibility of finding long-lasting joy. But this person seemed to feel that a film was not successful if it didn’t provide a catharsis. (He’s young.) I disagree STRONGLY. To the Greeks, “catharsis” did not mean “finding SOME hope,” “fellow felling,” or whatever. “Catharsis” involved PITY and TERROR. There by the grace of God … Or: My God, how HORRIBLE. Whatever. Wiener-Dog is not unsuccessful because it refuses to provide a catharsis or release. Not every film is meant to be hopeful and cathartic. It may be your PREFERENCE that they are – but that’s a different question. I reviewed for Rogerebert.com.

The Path, Season 1, Episode 4, “The Future” (2016; d. Michael Weaver)
So far so good. Lots of plot-lines and intrigue. Everything holding together. The rules of this cult starting to become clear. The delusion of it. The glimpses of doubt, and groupthink, and what punishment looks like, the desire human beings have to “follow.” I like its patience, even though there doesn’t seem to be much progress. The acting is really really good.

The Path, Season 1, Episode 5, “The Hole” (2016; d. Patrick R. Norris)
I like the tentative fraught-with-nerves budding romance between the teenage son and his classmate. It seems like sending kids to school would be a pretty risky thing. I also like how Michelle Monaghan – True Believer as she is – seems to struggle with memories, wondering about the outside world, her lost sister, etc. But boy, she is a ferocious believer.

The Path, Season 1, Episode 6, “Breaking and Entering” (2016; d. Patrick R. Norris)
Teenage son brings home his evicted girlfriend and mother and siblings. He asks his family to tone down the proselytizing. But of course they don’t. From the second they enter that house, a love-bombing recruitment process begins. I LOVE how teenage son races out to the truck after girlfriend leaves the “church” and then they basically leap into one another’s arms, tearing at one another’s clothes. This should get interesting.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 6 “From A to B and Back Again” (2014; d. Lesli Linka Glatter)
It’s getting worse in the safehouse. I can barely watch. It’s horrible. Quinn reads Carrie the riot act. I love it. Quinn could probably slaughter a bunch of innocent animals at this point and I’d forgive him.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 7 “Redux” (2014; d. Carl Franklin)
Tracy Letts is kicking ass recently. Well he always has. As a playwright (we were in Chicago at the same time and I remember the first production of Killer Joe – starring Michael Shannon – and it was like a bomb going off. I ended up being in the first production done outside of Chicago, which is where I met Michael. No, it’s not all about me. But it kind of is.) Tracy Letts was great in Wiener-Dog (see above) and he’s great here too.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 8 “Halfway to a Donut” (2014; d. Alex Graves)
Oh, Duck Phillips, you are pathetic as a man and even more pathetic as a spy. Really enjoy this arc. Saul being abducted is okay, although Mandy Patinkin’s acting is often very self-serving. He’s excellent, don’t get me wrong, but he’s a soloist, not a team player.

Le Cercle Rouge (1970; d. Jean-Pierre Melville)
I love this movie so much, I own it on Criterion, and it features Alain Delon and Yves Montand, seedy and wordless and COMPETENT in mostly silent roles. Another heist movie, clearly inspired by Rafifi: the heist here is equally elaborate and also takes place mostly in silence. Brilliant. I always have to close my eyes in the Yves Montand “delirium tremens” scene which ambushed me the first time I saw it and I have goosebumps of horror just remembering it. Not only are the “beasts” terrible … that WALLPAPER.

Love & Friendship (2016; d. Whit Stillman)
One of my favorite movies of the year so far. One of the most – if not THE most – Austen-ish of any Austen film adaptation. Fantastic. I love Whit Stillman so much.

Shoah: Part One (1985; Claude Lanzmann)
We had to watch some of this in a college history class on the Holocaust. I had never seen it before. It’s fascinating and extremely depressing, of course, but not exactly in the way I expected. Lanzmann is obsessed with the HOW of it all. Who drove the trains? Who lived across the railroad tracks? Who worked in the camps? What were your duties? Tell me exactly how it went? It’s not that there isn’t judgment in his questions. Obviously there is because this entire thing is a moral issue. But he doesn’t approach his subjects with open outrage. He wants them to talk to him. To tell him everything. How often did the trains run? Did you know what was happening in that church? Who owned this house before you did? Oh, it was a Jewish family? Did you ever ask yourself what happened to them? All of this done with the help of the most dogged translator in the world. I felt the need to re-visit it in such dangerous terrible times. To remember.

5 Easy Pieces (1970; d. Bob Rafelson)
The movie that ushered in the 70s. It could never ever be made now. It’s a brilliant and bleak treatise on loneliness, and total dissociation from meaning. And the final shot is a masterpiece. Amazing performances from Nicholson, Karen Black, Sally Struthers, and the two other “easy pieces.” That’s all they are. Pieces. They don’t add up to much. And so he’s off again.

OJ Made in America, Part 1 (2016; d. Ezra Edelman)
You might think we’d all be OJ-d out. There was the initial event which PLEASE STOP IT NEWS MEDIA that exhausted the nation. Then there was the mini-series this year. And now this 5-part documentary on ESPN. I know Edelman was a little bummed out that the mini-series beat him to the punch but the timing actually couldn’t have been more perfect. This documentary is extremely well done and examines all of the issues – racial, class, gender – that that case brought up. It’s also still infuriating. Because the man got away with murder. At least he’s in jail now. Again.

Nuts! (2016; d. Penny Lane)
Wonderful! Everything you wanted to know about the 1920s/30s quackery of goat-gland specialist “Doctor” John Brinkley. Loved it. Reviewed for Ebert.

OJ Made in America, Part 2 (2016; d. Ezra Edelman)
This whole thing stresses me out. I get too pissed off. But still: it enthralls. Flashbacks to the whole sordid horrible thing. Fuhrman. FUHRMAN. Oh, prosecution, you all were morons. There was literally a trail of blood leading from the bodies TO O.J.’S HOUSE. How do you fuck that up? You put Fuhrman on the stand.

OJ Made in America, Part 3 (2016; d. Ezra Edelman)
I wish Chris Darden had consented to be interviewed but I understand why he didn’t want to dredge it up again. But everyone else is there: OJ’s friends, policemen, courtroom people, bystanders, two jurors, Jeffrey Toobin, everyone.

OJ Made in America, Part 4 (2016; d. Ezra Edelman)
The defense team was shameless. But the prosecution was incompetent.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 22 “The Fourth Horseman” (1998; d. Dwight Little)
Keith and I picked up where we left off. I love the Biblical stuff and I love how philosophical Season 2 is. It’s like a longer version of CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.

Millennium, Season 2, Episode 23 “The Time Is Now” (1998; d. Dwight Little)
Very Supernatural Season 3/4-ish: Pestilence spreading. And it gets bad. And the final shot of Season 2 is quietly terrifying. Loved it.

Millennium, Season 3, Episode 1 “The Innocents” (1998; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Chris Carter back in charge as show-runner and Keith had warned me that some of the themes introduced in Season 2 would take a back seat. I’m fine with anything this show decides to do. I’m loving it. I love his new partner, Emma Hollis (Klea Scott). I like Lance Henriksen in scenes with women. Some very interesting things come out. He’s an intelligent man, drawn to intelligent challenging women.

Millennium, Season 3, Episode 2 “Exegesis” (1998; d. Ralph Hemecker)
There’s a really interesting twist to this one and a throwback of an Arc that goes back to Season 1 (I think? The seasons are so long). Emma Hollis rising in importance. She’s not afraid to be pushy, to get what she wants. She’s ambitious. She’s super-smart. I like her.

Millennium, Season 3, Episode 3 “TEOTWAWKI” (1998; d. Thomas J. Wright)
A little bit prophetic for my taste. Columbine was a year away. But here is the anxiety of that event beforehand. And now, of course, episodes like this are tragically rote, and Sandy Hook? Forget about it.

Millennium, Season 3, Episode 4 “Closure” (1998; d. Daniel Sackheim)
Interesting backstory provided for Emma, which shows that a lot of people get into that line of work in order to find revenge/justice for their loved ones. Another similarity to Supernatural.

Millennium, Season 3, Episode 5 “”…Thirteen Years Later”” (1998; d. Thomas J. Wright)
It’s so nice to see Supernatural favorite Thomas J. Wright all over the place in Millennium. KISS is involved in this episode, making a cameo appearance. How is that possible? Well, it is. When Frank gets his visions in this one, he sees flash-cards of each KISS member, leering at the camera. Keith and I were roaring.

Millennium, Season 3, Episode 6 “There’s Something Else Going On” (1998; d. Thomas J. Wright)
You bet your ass there is.

Life Animated (2016; d. Roger Ross Williams)
A beautiful and really emotional documentary about an autistic boy who figures out a way to communicate through the Disney animated movies he loves so much. Opens today. My review at Rogerebert.com.

Supernatural, Season 2, episode 21 “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1” (2007; d. Robert Singer)
For my latest re-cap, of which the number of comments has almost reached 200. Not bragging. Just saying that the amount of work these take is worth it when you see the conversations they ignite.

The Bachelorette, Season 12, Episode 5
I told you I was hooked. Robbie seems like a nonentity to me. WHY do you love JoJo, Robbie? Not that she’s not lovable – I love her – but … why do YOU love her? Or do you just want to “say it” first? When he said it to her, what was her response? “Thank you.” Ouch.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 16, “Safe House” (2016; d. Stefan Pleszczynski)
“It’s Shabbat!” I hadn’t watched this one since it aired. I’m still really impressed with it, and the time and the care they put into that creepy space, and how eerie it was. Plus killer fight-scene between JA and JP, something that always pleases me.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 17, “Red Meat” (2016; d. Nina Lopez-Conrado)
I hadn’t watched this one since it aired either. Or I don’t think I did. Either way, this may be one of the best episodes of the season, just in terms of how it deals with the ultimate question: the death of one of these guys. It’s hard to believe it could have any resonance or any finality – but Nina pulled it off. Bold use of slo-mo. Phenomenal acting. My favorite moment currently is the look on Dean’s face when he says “This is gonna hurt like hell …” You know what that’s called? That is called an actor being IN THE MOMENT.

Supernatural, Season 11, Episode 19, “The Chitters” (2016; d. Eduardo Sánchez)
Maybe not quite as good on a re-watch, and boy does it have a long LONG monologue 3/4s of the way through – I had forgotten just how long it was (actor plays the hell out of it though.) I still love Jesse and Cesar, and what they brought to the table, to the series in general. It has always bothered me that there weren’t gay hunters. Not once, guys? Ever? What the hell. There’s every OTHER kind of hunter. Also, maybe if there were LGBT hunters, Dean wouldn’t be so gaga-taken-aback when he meets “one”? Still a funny moment. AND, Dean said the words “settle down.” Please let’s take a moment to acknowledge it and how it shows growth, change, a weird sense of adulthood, asking the important question, acknowledging a RELATIONSHIP that CAN exist. And he ends up protecting that relationship. I imagine that Sam and Dean would have flip-flopped on what to do in that situation throughout the series. Sam would have been a softie, except for … well, when he’s not. ANYWAY. Also: how hilarious that that actress is supposed to be the sheriff of a small town? I’ve lived in small towns. Never seen a sheriff look like THAT. She’s so gorgeous that I am sure if you saw her in real-life you might walk into a mailbox, craning your neck to look at her. Also, the “orgy-ish” comment and the tired “Really??” look she gives Dean. No matter where he goes, SOMEBODY gives him that look.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 10, “13 Hours in Islamabad” (2014; d. Dan Attias)
Yes, let’s just show our enemies how easy it is to break into our Embassies, shall we? Pretty tense episode, though, with Tracy Letts again killing it, as well as Laila Robins. Carrie is beyond the pale. She’s pretty much a shitty person at this point and should probably be fired. Claire Danes is fearless in playing these unattractive elements.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 11, “Krieg Nicht Lieb” (2014; d. Clark Johnson)
Holy shitballs, I had no idea NINA HOSS appeared in this series!! One of the best actresses on the planet today? Not an exaggeration. If you haven’t seen Phoenix, then I just don’t know what you are waiting for. (See her in all of her collaborations with Christian Petzold: my favorite collaboration going on right now. Nina Hoss can do ANYTHING.) AND, even better: she suddenly shows up as Quinn’s lover – i.e. long-term friends with benefits – even better – AND she looks at Carrie with this cool almost amused stare, knowing she can handle this frantic American. She’s world class at tradecraft and beats Carrie at her own game.

Homeland, Season 4, Episode 12, “Long Time Coming” (2014; d. Lesli Linka Glatter)
I found this to be an extremely touching episode and very good on all of the details: what a wake can feel like, that there can be joy at such gatherings, a togetherness. Carrie starting to open up to the fact that she’s a mother. Beautiful scene in the park with one of her father’s friends. Quinn suddenly appearing in the distance. (Oh QUINN I HEART YOU.) The two finally kiss and it’s just as sloppy and passionate as I could have hoped for. But alas, not meant to be. Felt that the “Call me with your answer” bit was contrived, and not at all Quinn-like. It was manipulative, a race to the finish. If she says “No” then off I will go to war again. I think it was still effective but I felt them turn up the heat under that thing and you didn’t need it.

Rope (1948; d. Alfred Hitchcock)
It works better as a stage play. The one-take thing is impressive, all of the dialogue and blocking, but somehow … there’s something not quite right about this. Jimmy Stewart is great. Farley Granger wears his guilt on his sleeve. I’m working on something pretty huge right now, so had to re-watch this one.

Shoah: Part Two (1985; Claude Lanzmann)
I will force myself to continue. It’s important. Very very important.

You Can’t Take It With You (1938; d. Frank Capra)
I don’t care how many times I see it, it still makes me laugh, and then it makes me cry when Edward Arnold takes out his harmonica at the end.

Supernatural, Season 2, Episode “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part II” (2007; d. Kim Manners)
Superb. You know, I live in hope and I’m preparing for the next re-cap. Whenever that will launch.

OJ Made in America: Part 5 (2016; d. Ezra Edelman)
Had to force myself it finish it. It’s that good. That upsetting.

Captain Fantastic (2016; d. Matt Ross)
Opens next week. Will be reviewing for Ebert.

Carnage Park (2016; d. Mickey Keating)
Opens today. My review at Rogerebert.com.

The Shallows (2016; d. Jaume Collet-Serra)
It just opened. Jen and I (I told you we like to go see tense movies together) went to see it a couple of days ago. HOLY SHIT Y’ALL. It’s amazing. The main comparison I can think of is not Jaws or Castaway but Aliens. SEE IT.

The Last Tycoon Season 1, Episode 1, The Pilot (2016; d. Billy Ray)
The pilot just launched on Amazon. Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel, of course. With Matt Bomer (Magic Mike XXL!!) as Monroe Stahr. Incredible production and costume design. Amazing cast. I know two people who appear in it – well, one is my cousin so of course I know her – we grew up together – and – coincidentally – BOTH of them played the lead female role in my script, one in the big New York staged reading, and one in the short film. Worlds collide. Two “Neve”s in this thing? I felt like I was THERE. Kerry O’Malley as one of the hard-working stable of screenwriters at the fictional studio. Annika Marks as the wife of one of the screenwriters. It’s excellent. We all hope it will get picked up, so go watch it on Amazon (you don’t even need an account), and then VOTE FOR IT.

The Bachelorette, Season 12, Episode 6
Oh, JoJo, no. You just said you believe passion should last forever. You just said you are looking for a “unicorn.” Now I suddenly am doubting your judgment. (My sister and I have been texting about this episode for 24 hours now.)
1. Luke’s monologue: “I just like feel strongly for you and I like just want more of you and like sitting here in like Argentina with all this like culture is the best thing ever.” Meanwhile her hand is resting in his crotch. Listen, it’s okay to have a hookup. Go for it. Maybe you’re not ready to settle down, JoJo? That’s totally okay. I wasn’t in my 20s either.
2. Derek is so sure he will win that he now seems to be losing touch with reality. SPOILER ALERT: Which means he was then blind-sided when JoJo picked Chase. He could not believe it. And then my heart broke watching him in his car ride away from the show. He was so upset he began to speak of himself in the third person. It was … I couldn’t believe it was happening, I guess is what I’m trying to say? At one point he said, tearing up, staring out the window. “I guess it’s not my turn to be happy.” He will CRINGE when he sees this … but it was actually kind of tragic.
3. I love Chase. For me, Chase is the Dark Horse. When she asked him to open up, he did in a way that was recognizably human, awkward, and … charming, as a result. He’s not a “playa.” He seemed genuinely shocked when she said, “Maybe I like you more than you like me.” He had no idea the signals he was giving out. Fascinating. I told you, it’s like watching creatures in a zoo. And I’m dating now, because I’m sick of having a dead cold heart, and this whole thing is actually extremely enlightening. I used to know all this shit because once upon a time I was a floozy. I never believed in a “unicorn” don’t get me wrong, but I was out and about and used to this kind of engagement. So now I’m basically starting to exercise those muscles again. I have some extremely funny stories. I’m like the stereotypical guy in every scenario. The guy gets mushy, I put the brakes on. The guy wants to talk deeply, I wonder if I will get laid that night, AS he’s talking deeply to me. Clearly I might not be ready for this kind of quest right now, and I never said I wasn’t difficult. But the men in my past – the big ones – Michael and the man who shall be known as M. (or Window-Boy, for old-timers – there’s a worlds-collide thing happening with him right now that is so hilarious it borders on the totally surreal but I’ll share it when it becomes a reality) – anyway – neither of them sweated any of this, or found me difficult, or if they did it was just “Oh, that’s Sheila, and I like her.” And both of THEM were difficult too and it didn’t matter to me because I liked/loved them. Neither Michael nor M. were in any way/shape/form unicorns, just regular people who liked me as I was. You see? The Bachelorette is sneaky in that it is rather deep, or at least it makes me ponder all of these things. Bonus point for Chase: he effortlessly went to pull JoJo’s chair out for her – he did it automatically – and Crybaby Derek looked like he thought he should have thought of that – but Chase didn’t have to think of it. He just did it. Chase and James are my current favorites. But then there’s JoJo’s hand in Luke’s crotch to consider. As well as her adoration of Jordan, who is nice, but seems like a college student to me in terms of his development.
4. Dear James, it is never a good look to gossip about the other men when you have a “one on one” with JoJo. But when he says, “I really am the best man for her here” – I kinda believe him.
5. I fear that James may have a permanent scar on his eyelid from that football-playing challenge.
6. What exactly does Alex bring to the table? He also has glimmers of a real anger problem and he’s not even aware of it.

I have spoken more about The Bachelorette here than I have about Shoah. I’m sorry.

To Each His Own (1946; d. Mitchell Leisen)
I watched this last night (it’s on Youtube in its entirety) to celebrate the 100th birthday (today) of Olivia de Havilland who is still alive and with us. Olivia de Havilland is one of the greatest actresses in cinema history and if all you know of her is Gone With the Wind (for which she was nominated for Best Supporting), then I beg of you to branch out. See The Snake Pit (another Oscar nom, this time for Lead), Hold Back the Dawn, another nom, her tour de force in The Heiress, for which she won an Oscar (it is one of the all-time great performances by an actress ever), and then this one – To Each His Own, another Oscar win. I watch this film and I swear, I can barely breathe. It’s a “woman’s picture”, the money-making juggernaut that used to be an accepted part of Hollywood, as opposed to now, when an all-female Ghostbusters brings out the raging virgins of outrage. (If a female Ghostbusters “ruins your childhood,” then you should get down on bended knee and thank the Lord above that he has spared you any REAL pain in your childhood.) This is one of the popular stories of female martyrdom (which Molly Haskell analyzes so brilliantly in her essential volume, From Reverence to Rape) which was a way for the somewhat-disenfranchised female audience to let off a little steam, weep for what they have given up, weep because someone understands the difficulty of the choices. Career or motherhood? Love or practicality? And etc. But the two final scenes … the two final scenes … If they do not destroy you and reduce you to a puddle, get your heart checked! And finally: Olivia de Havilland’s mousy spinster-before-her-time character sleeps with a pilot who breezes his way through town – she’s clearly never slept with anyone before but she falls for him. Their one night results in a pregnancy. He’s long gone by that time. Then word comes that he’s been shot down over France (WWI). There is a frank discussion with a doctor about a possible illness that needs surgery – but if she does it, she needs to make a choice: her own life or the baby’s: it’s either/or. She says, “Well, the choice is clear” (meaning: I’ll get the surgery.) Nobody blinks an eye. In 1946, that seemed like a reasonable choice. We have gone backward. But then something happens and she ends up having the baby. She breaks the news to her elderly father, who is shocked. She’s never even had a boyfriend. How did this happen? She huddles in the corner, away from him, sobbing, “You’ve always been proud of me … I am sorry to have shamed you” and he approaches her saying, “Josie.” She won’t turn around. He says, “Turn around, Josie.” She does. He puts his hands on her shoulders and says, “We don’t judge each other here. We love each other, we don’t judge each other.” SOBBING. Having a baby out of wedlock is still a big BIG deal … but on an interpersonal level, it’s quite a different story. An INCREDIBLE performance from de Havilland, who goes from age 18 to 40 … with a total personality change, due to her hardships and loneliness, a hardening of the heart … and then: those two final scenes. Breathtaking.



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96 Responses to June 2016 Viewing Diary

  1. I watched Shoah on PBS when my baby was just a few weeks old and I was up late every night (I think they ran it 3 nights in a row, but I’m not sure). This turned out to be (in my experience anyway) the best way to watch Shoah. Otherwise I wouldn’t have fully appreciated that genocide is all about the babies, because in order to annihilate a race of people you have to kill the future. At least I think that’s what happened as I watched it; I was not in any way insulated against the horror of it.

    Then again I’m the same new mother who, on a different midnight, watched Alien with my somewhat older baby, reasoning that he would know ugly from beautiful, because you have to learn that. He woke later that night from an obvious nightmare, and the next morning, I swear to god, I read in the ProJo that scientists have shown that we’re born with templates for ugly. There’s such a thing as overthinking, and I do that a lot. Wotta dope.

    • sheila says:

      Junco – first of all – oh my God, about Alien. !!!

      // Otherwise I wouldn’t have fully appreciated that genocide is all about the babies, because in order to annihilate a race of people you have to kill the future. //

      Chilling. But yes, you’re right.

      I am so struck by the interviews he get with these elderly SS men who keep trying – desperately – to insist that they were kinder, they gave certain Jews a break “we helped them clean up the mess” – “You helped?” “Yes.” “How did you help?” (Lanzmann is relentless.) “We helped.” “But how?”

      Also the cackling Polish farmers – all of whom greeted the trains of Jews by slicing-motions across their throats when they were kids – something the Jews clearly remember – all say they were warning them what was ahead. And yet they stand there laughing hysterically. It was extremely … I don’t know … otherworldly, practically.

      And I’m trying to get through all of them in as short a time span as possible – best, yes, not to chop it up. The cumulative effect is devastating.

      • sheila says:

        Jincy – I just noticed that Autocorrect makes your name “Junco” and I didn’t even realize it. So sorry, that is so bizarre.

    • sheila says:

      // I swear to god, I read in the ProJo that scientists have shown that we’re born with templates for ugly. //

      This is very intriguing.

    • …I meant “reasoning that he would NOT know ugly from beautiful. Jeez. Wotta dope indeed

      • sheila says:

        So we, as humans, are hard-wired to cringe from things we collectively find ugly?

        • Well, what the article said was that newborns prefer pretty faces. I don’t think it went into “ugly,” but it stands to reason that if we’re born knowing what beauty is, we can also recognize its complete absence–of which the fever dream of H.R. Giger is an ostensive definition. Nothing uglier in the universe; unless you’re an alien baby, I guess…

          • sheila says:

            // of which the fever dream of H.R. Giger is an ostensive definition. //

            Love this observation.

            There was a documentary that came out last year I think about Giger – I haven’t seen it but it looked very interesting.

  2. mutecypher says:

    //Someone Tweeted hatefully and contemptuously at me for liking this movie//

    I’m thinking it’s because you’re so male-identified.

    • sheila says:

      Out of place reference although I appreciate you paying attention.

      No, it was the usual thing people throw at us Ebert writers:

      “Roger would be turning over in his grave.”

      But I thought the movie was stupid and entertaining – what’s wrong with that? Roger liked stupid and entertaining too. He co-wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, mainly because he enjoyed boobs. I mean … since when was this man a saint who only loved Bergman films? NEVER.

      Another idiot Tweeted that at me saying “You’re not as smart as you think you are. If Roger knew you were writing on his site, he’d turn over in his grave.”

      1. Yes, I am as smart as I think I am.
      2. I replied politely: “He actually asked me personally to write for him, so he did indeed know.”

      Idiot’s Tweet back was: “Now I feel dumb.”

      You should. As well as rude.

      Two days later, still obsessing over it – while I had forgotten all about it – he Tweeted back at me: “I just read a lot of your stuff and now I see what Roger saw in you.”

      Oh, fuck OFF.

      I’m grateful for the gig but honestly it’s a relief to write for other outlets where nobody mentions Roger Ebert as a comparison.

      • mutecypher says:

        Yeah, I see those Roger-Grave comments on some reviews at Ebert. What a disgusting thing to say.

        I see Steve-Rolling-Grave comments directed at Tim Cook as well, at Apple.

        The shitty thing about free speech is shitty speech.

        There was a bad product opening at Apple once, and the part that I was involved with was the cause. I had recommended to the VP in charge that we not do what we ended up doing. So I was right about things not working well, and I thought the VP was a dick, but making that call was his responsibility. It may have been a better choice for the company than not launching. And then I got to read on the fan sites that Steve should take out and shoot the person in charge of this – me. So, I have a tiny, one-time-only appreciation for some of the crap you get.

        Much love.

        • sheila says:

          Ooh, I don’t know Roger Grave. I never ever read comments over there (and really much of anywhere) because of this reason. I don’t let morons into my world in real-life, why should I online? I run a tight ship here and it’s one my favorite places to “hang out”. But that’s only because I’ve decided what I will and will not allow.

          These people get to me through email and Twitter unfortunately – they have a deep need to call me out publicly!

          But whatever, honestly so much worse shit has happened to me online and I got hardened to it circa 2004 after a year of having comments on my site. I realized: Oh! These people are AWFUL. Let me shut this shit DOWN.

          So little Twerps on Twitter are like flies against a screen.

          // And then I got to read on the fan sites that Steve should take out and shoot the person in charge of this – me. //

          Oh my GOD.

          Yes, because SHOOTING someone is a reasonable reaction to a technical flaw. Yes, we should all be allowed to have the space to say shit like this. (Not.) Horrible.

        • sheila says:

          It’s surprisingly easy to wean oneself out of reading the comments. Now it never even occurs to me.

          One of the best parts about writing for The Dissolve, though, was the comments section. They actually engaged with what we actually WROTE. Not “Roger would never have loved this.”

          Asshole, there is ZERO way that you can actually know that.

          • mutecypher says:

            Oops, “Roger/Grave” was my unintentionally indecipherable abbreviation for Roger Spinning In His Grave. I didn’t mean to impugn anyone named Roger Grave.

            I always thought a little less of Siskel for looking down on Roger for having co-written Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.

            On a vaguely related note, one of the history teachers at my school assigns From Reverence To Rape in her classes. I haven’t had a chance to ask her how she uses it – it’s a 20th Century History class.

          • mutecypher says:

            I went to Ebert and read Roger’s reminiscences of BVD and loved his closing sentence:

            “When Meyer and I were hired a few years later to work on an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie called “Who Killed Bambi?” we were both a little nonplussed, I think, to hear Johnny Rotten explain that he liked “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” because it was so true to life.”

            I had no idea such a thing was considered. Oh, what might have been.

          • sheila says:

            Mute cypher – Roger Grave hahahaha I’m very literal and I rarely get puns. Or I have to really think about it.

            From Reverence to Rape is an incredible book in many ways – not just in film history (although it’s essential there) but in terms of women’s changing roles in 20th century society – and how that was reflected in culture.

            The book is definitely a challenge to the current (uninformed) generation’s view that anything that happened before, say, 2001, is now reductive, not enlightened enough, needs to be apologized for. Idiots. I’m sorry. Haskell breaks down all of the roles women played in the movies of the 30s and 40s – and how the variety was VAST – and MUCH vast-er than it is now.

            She talks about how the 60s and 70s – when women get more political power, plus the Pill – showed a serious deterioration of the quality of women’s roles on film. Like, the Boys re-coiled and retaliated by reducing women to girlfriends and whores and sidekicks. (Exceptions, of course.)

            It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. Especially to film fans. I filled up 2 or 3 pages of movies that I have never seen and now need to see.

          • sheila says:

            “Life Animated” (the wonderful documentary I just reviewed, link on the page somewhere) has an extremely touching moment involving that horrible Bambi scene.

          • Patrick says:

            //Ooh, I don’t know Roger Grave. I never ever read comments over there (and really much of anywhere) because of this reason. I don’t let morons into my world in real-life, why should I online?//

            I’ve noticed that in part web sites get the commenters they deserve. That is, Self Styled Sirens’ commenters are always very polite because she is so polite, who would be anything but polite back? Likewise, another site I sometimes read is written by a guy who is kind of obnoxious, sure enough, when I do venture into the comments section (rarely), they have the same tone he uses. And here, you are fair minded, and you get that tone back in the comments.

            I think on political sites all bets are off – usually takes about 3 comments into a thread before things deteriorate into name calling.

          • mutecypher says:

            //She talks about how the 60s and 70s – when women get more political power, plus the Pill – showed a serious deterioration of the quality of women’s roles on film.//

            I really need to read this book. I think of those times as ones of growing freedom in film, with the breakup of the studio system and development of independent film. I know you’ve written about how the studio system allowed/pushed for “women’s pictures” as an entertainment staple, and how the studio’s talent pipeline would be placed in service those movies and they were often of high quality because of that.

          • sheila says:


            I don’t frequent sites with un-moderated comments. I don’t read the comments at Roger Ebert’s, even though they ARE moderated – because (in my experience, when I WAS reading the comments) the comments are all pretty useless, with every single comment mentioning Roger. I get it, it’s his site, but the man is dead. There is no way on earth knowing whether or not Roger would or would not have liked any given movie – and so it’s completely irrelevant (and boring) speculation.

            It’s such a relief to write for other sites where Roger is never mentioned.

            Roger has also been turned into a saint by these ridiculous people – as though he never wrote a bad or snarky movie review. The man published a book called I Hate Hate Hate Your Movie – he was a GREAT and articulate hater.

            But in these people’s delusional minds, he always gave movies a chance, he always approached everything with love.

            My God, people are SOFT.

          • sheila says:

            Mute cypher:

            Yeah, the breakup of the studio system was a good thing – and I love 70s movies – and some of the greatest actresses ever were leading women at that time – but there were almost no “women’s pictures” – or, you can count them on one or two hands. Woman Under the Influence. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. An Unmarried Woman. Annie Hall. In general, the breakup of the studio system meant the Boys Club filled that vacuum – relegating women to nonentity girlfriends and whores. The 70s were all about the exploration of male angst, male anger, male alienation. Very very self-congratulatory, very very blinded to other ways of seeing things. And the list of those kinds of films are endless.

            Women got power – got sexually liberated – and men retreated, culturally saying “Here is what we think of you still. Don’t get too big for your britches.” Or there was generally just a lot of anxiety in men – and the films are filled with male anxiety – which isn’t necessarily un-interesting (Taxi Driver – a movie which, in so many ways, COMMENTS on all of this – that’s what it’s about: women got huge and powerful, and men got terrified) – but without a counterpoint of what all that was like for women – it’s like women ceased existing. And the “female market” – which had been pampered and catered to in the 30s, 40s, 50s, took a backseat. And we’re still in the backseat.

            Haskell really breaks all that down.

            The 80s – 20 years after the Pill, 20 years after the 60s – started to show at least a LITTLE self-examination and there were lots of good movies with strong female leads – although stuff like Risky Business was so influential that we’re still struggling to get out from under its influence. Every lead actress or starlet has to play a whore now. So many hookers and whores. With hearts of gold and otherwise.

            BUT. The other examples – huge hits like Working Girl – or the Big Kahuna of Aliens – showed that 1. men enjoyed movies about women and 2. women could carry a film, and the films DIDN’T have to be about a love story – OR have any romance in it at all (although the unexpressed attraction between Hicks and Ripey in Aliens is one of my favorite romances of the 80s).

            Oh my God, and Pretty Woman: a juggernaut. Another film that was such a huge hit that it showed men would go to see a film with a female lead – even if it was because their girlfriends dragged them to it. (Repeat viewings was why that movie got so huge.)

            Haskell’s book is essential cultural history!!

          • sheila says:

            Ha! Yeah, I saw that. I honestly don’t think it’s as big a problem now as people are making it out to be. Watching a movie from the 70s you can see how far we’ve come. And I love 70s movies and I also love hooker/floozy/flat-affect-girlfriend roles, too. Brigitte Bardot excelled in those! Monica Vitti! But there are so many alternatives out there – so many television shows STARRING women – roles where romance barely plays a part (watching Homeland right now, and it applies but it’s not the only example.)

            But of course, it’s still a problem. What’s more of a problem is the casting-off of women when they hit 40 (in other words, just when they start to get interesting.) But even that is changing. Meryl Streep is still opening films on the power of her name. Helen Mirren. Susan Sarandon. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis had to do grotesque horror movies in their 60s in order to keep working.

          • mutecypher says:

            Yes, long arc TV series really do offer something that I don’t think existed before in terms of character development and change. And definitely opportunities for actresses. At one point, it would have been some sign of a career catastrophe for Holly Hunter or Sharon Stone or Glenn Close to be in a TV series. They would have been stuck “down market” in TV for the rest of their careers. I recall the exchange in The Player about whether a movie about a TV actor should be played by “a movie actor or a TV actor.”

            Now, I think you could trace the beginnings of miniseries back to the ’70’s – so there’s that decade again. And the nighttime Soap Operas – Dallas and Falcon Crest and so on. I think that women had the skills and interests to follow long character arcs (because of daytime soaps) – and then when those shows became successful in prime time it begat the realization that longer stories had an audience – that folks didn’t just want to come home and watch Gilligan be stupid. Perhaps the increasing percentage of white collar jobs and the decreasing percentage of people who came home physically exhausted from work also helped with that. And with more than three networks, it didn’t make sense for all those networks to do nothing but cops, doctors, and sitcoms.

            And then I recall how much Barbara Stanwyck worked in TV from the late 50’s on, and I just want to tear up my thesis from above. Maybe we can just call her a trailblazer. Or perhaps she was respected for making the best of her bad situation (getting older and all that annoying stuff).

            It’s complicated.

  3. Lyrie says:

    //Also: how hilarious that that actress is supposed to be the sheriff of a small town? I’ve lived in small towns. Never seen a sheriff look like THAT. //
    In Hemlock Grove, she plays what would be a hunter in the SPN world. I always think that it’s funny how that very short, very thin thin, absolutely gorgeous woman often plays characters who have jobs and behaviours traditionally seen as male. Every time I’m a little surprised, still, and every time she just pulls it off. I love her.

    • sheila says:

      I haven’t seen Hemlock Grove – cool! She is absolutely stunning.

      I love, too, how she is also clearly funny. The way she reacts to Dean – like: “Really?” and also the “alien attack” line – Like, excuse me I have to go deal with traumatized townspeople and … we’re being attacked by aliens? I don’t have time for this, YOU deal with it.

      • Lyrie says:

        Re: Hemlock Grove: I’m currently watching it. I don’t know what I think about it, honestly. But I just can’t stop watching.

        • sheila says:

          This sounds intriguing.

          • Lyrie says:

            I’ve almost finished season 1, and I love so many things about it. But what I don’t like I really dislike. I think it’s adapted from a book – or a series of books? – so that might explain a few things. I don’t want to research it because I have two seasons left and I want to avoid spoilers.
            I am fascinated by the small town feeling, and I think it’s what made me watch it in the first place.

  4. Maureen says:

    I love reading your Viewing Diary for the month!

    I’m so glad you wrote about To Each His Own-I really love this movie, and de Havilland is so good. This is a movie that makes me cry every time I watch it. Not very many people talk about it though. I don’t think it is in the TCM birthday tribute lineup today, I wish it was!

    Have you seen Four’s a Crowd with Olivia, Flynn and Rosalind Russell? She is so funny in that movie-I remember catching it a few years ago, and being amazed at her comic timing.

    I don’t think I have seen The Killing-I am a big Sterling Hayden fan (absolutely agree with you on his voice!), I will have to find a way to see this.

    A very happy 100th birthday to Miss Olivia de Havilland!

    • sheila says:

      Maureen –

      To Each His Own: // Not very many people talk about it though. //

      It’s shocking – her performance is as good and as emotional as anything she ever did. It’s not as readily available as The Heiress or GWTW though – at least I don’t think it is. It’s on Youtube, but the quality is pretty poor – it would be great if Criterion came out with it.

      Four’s a Crowd – no, I have not seen that one! Some of my favorite people – boy, 1938 was certainly a good year for movies. Leading into the be-all end-all year of 1939!

      And I highly recommend The Killing – and if you can see the Criterion version so you can watch the interview with Hayden – done by a French production crew – you know the French and how they idolize Johnny Guitar!! Hayden is so damn ENGAGING and in the footage he looks like Ernest Hemingway – with this Amish-ish white beard. To die for!

  5. Dan says:

    Huge fan of Melville. Have you seen Army of Shadows, his film about the Resistance? Should appeal to your Black Ops heart.

    • sheila says:

      Dan – Black Ops heart. hahahaha

      You know, I haven’t seen that one although I’ve heard so much about it. It’s on my Netflix queue. I love Melville, too. I love how he wears his influences on his sleeve but then what he comes up with is some weird French-gangster-noir hybrid of his own.

  6. Jeff says:

    I’ve been watching O.J. Made in America with my son who was born in August 1994, and it’s been really interesting to see his reaction to the things that were burned into the memories of all of us who lived through the saga. “Oh, man” and “WTF?!” are things he’s been saying a lot.

    • sheila says:

      Wow, how interesting!! He was born right into that chaos.

      I’m certainly glad it’s all over. I practically watched these two things (the mini-series and the documentary) against my will. Why re-live it? But I’m glad I watched.

      Did you see the mini-series? If so, thoughts?

  7. Helena says:

    //I’m working on something pretty huge right now, so had to re-watch this one.//

    I love it when you casually include sentences like this.

    Also, will never watch The Bachelorette but I loved your reflections on it, and thank you for sharing them.

    Penny Dreadful Seasons 1-2 has just arrived in my house so I’m hoping a Gothic-horror-mash-up will help take my mind off the current situation.

    • Lyrie says:

      Oh, Helena, please share all your thoughts about Penny Dreadful!

    • sheila says:

      // I love it when you casually include sentences like this. //

      Helena – hahaha I don’t want to jinx it – it always takes me so long and so much DRAMA behind the scenes to get these long pieces done. You have no idea … It’s like I’m a cat circling around and around searching for the perfect spot. I do so much research without writing a WORD, and the anxiety builds, and finally I’m like: “Sheila. JUST START.” I drive myself crazy.

      I spent all of yesterday researching. And it was legit – I will probably use 40% of it. But still. START, SHEILA. So that’s where I’m at right now.

      And ha, The Bachelorette! It’s a madhouse but it’s anthropological and sociological. Also, her fake eyelashes are indestructible. Even cavorting in a swimming pool does not impinge upon them in any way. They look ridiculous! Whatever guy she ends up with is going to be shocked – shocked! – when he sees her without them.

    • sheila says:

      and ooh, Penny Dreadful!! I need to start watching – so we can all experience it together and catch up with Jessie!

      • Lyrie says:

        Oh yes, please let us know when you guys start – I might do a re-watch! It’s been frustrating to talk about it with Mutecypher in twitter DMs only, not let spoilers out! ;)

  8. Abigail says:

    Sheila, I’m glad you enjoyed Love and Friendship so much. I saw it recently and thought Kate Beckinsale was great as Lady Susan, so imperious and conniving! I loved Sir James Martin too – “Oh, it’s Churchill, not Church Hill. One word, not two”. Priceless!

    Kate Beckinsale was excellent many years ago in a TV adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, as Flora Poste, sorting out all the witless yokels. I was reminded of that when I saw her in this.

    • sheila says:

      // “Oh, it’s Churchill, not Church Hill. One word, not two”. //


      God, I thought it was great. There was so much going on that I know I need to see it again – and was thinking AS I watched “Okay. Time for a re-watch, already.”

      And how about (SPOILER)

      the fact that she got exactly what she wanted. As if there was any doubt. What a great character!! And yes, gorgeously and perfectly played by Beckinsale.

      I haven’t read the Austen story – and now I have to!

  9. Barb says:

    Happy to hear your thoughts on Love and Friendship, I’m actually hoping to go see it tomorrow! It is playing at the new art house in town, which I’m also excited to see. (A departure from the multiplex is especially exciting for me since we have not had such a thing as an independent theater in my town until last year, and when I watch movies I’m either at the 14 for whatever superhero flick my kids have chosen, or else I’m watching by myself on Netflix. Anyway -)

    I watched Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco obsessively for a while way back when, and I loved Lady Susan, so Stillman plus Austen plus Beckinsale and Sevigny equals dream come true!

    • sheila says:

      // A departure from the multiplex is especially exciting for me since we have not had such a thing as an independent theater in my town until last year, //

      Barb – this makes me so happy to hear!!

      Love & Friendship is so good – please come back and share your thoughts if you feel like it! Now I need to read Lady Susan!

      Metropolitan is a masterpiece, in my opinion – and Last Days of Disco is amazing too. There’s nobody quite like him.

      Criterion just came out with a Stillman box set and my friend Farran wrote the gigantic essay on his work included in the booklet. I haven’t read it yet – but I need to get that box set eventually.

      • Barb says:

        Wow, Stillman box set! (I know someone who might get that for Christmas–) Criterion really should set up some sort of old-school movie club, like the Columbia Music Club of our youth (mine, anyway). I’d subscribe to that, if only to keep up to date with their releases; they do such good work!

        I really enjoyed Love and Friendship–Lady Susan is definitely an Austen “type” (the calculating high-society woman), but I think this may be the first time that she gets to have her unadulterated say throughout the story, so that you wind up rooting for her, even though she is absolutely scandalous! Great performances, great design, sharp wit–one of my favorite touches was the exceedingly charming gentleman who never says a single word on camera.

        I actually got down my copy of “Lady Susan” after I got home and started re-reading it. I had actually forgotten that it is an epistolary novella–did Austen ever try another of these? It’s a pleasure to find that Stillman has sprinkled lines from the letters here and there throughout the script, and that the lead character’s voice comes through in the story as well. I remembered the story as being on her daughter’s “side”, which I suppose it is, in the end, but Austen’s wry view of people’s foibles comes through in Susan. Haven’t finished it yet, but it’s a short read–

        I was pleased with the Art House Cinema, too–it’s a small room, holds maybe 50 people, with rows of wooden padded seats that must have been reclaimed from somewhere, and a mirrored bar where they serve popcorn, wine and beer. One of the managers (there are two who seem to run the place) made an introductory speech before they started the film. This is the kind of thing I’d love to translate into the library (I wish I could figure out some way to partner with them) –ok, not the wine and beer, but the atmosphere, film expertise, and the sense of a film-going community.

        • sheila says:

          // one of my favorite touches was the exceedingly charming gentleman who never says a single word on camera. //

          Ha!! I know!

          I loved how Stillman did the “introduction cards” – with the characters staring straight at the camera in a melodramatic soapy way. it was so funny – but it really was helpful in the end, since the family relationships are so convoluted.

          // you wind up rooting for her, even though she is absolutely scandalous! //

          My God, I know! And Kate Beckinsale is so smiley and generous-seeming – she’s all about plausible deniability – that nobody can really “catch” her at it, and if they do, she wiggles right out of it. Perhaps a commentary on what women had to do in a society where they had no economic power. That circumstance can create a monstrous narcissist like Lady Susan! Hell, if she had had any power, she could have gone into politics.

  10. Paula says:

    Wow, The Shallows? I love these kind of tense movies but am always leery. So many seem like adrenalin porn (a subset of torture porn only you’re all by yourself?) so I wonder am I going to feel that rush with no payoff of story or character. But any movie you compare to Aliens, I’m here for this. “Stay frosty people!” God, I loved Hicks.

    • sheila says:

      Hicks is THE BEST. I really need to sit down someday and write the gigantic post I already have written in my head about Hicks.

      And adrenaline porn … hmmm. I don’t think this qualifies although you might disagree if you see it.

      I thought it was a beautifully told story (the cinematography! the underwater and surfing photography!) – with enough of a backstory for her character that you invested – and it’s not too much – just sketched in enough so you get where she’s coming from, and she’s personalized – not just a girl surfing. And then – what you get to see – is someone in dire straits deciding to save her own life. Not giving up. Problem-solving in the most stressful situation imaginable.

      I dig those kinds of stories because I always think: “What would I do? Would I think of that? Or would I just curl up and wait to die?”

      • Paula says:

        I would LOVE to read a post from you on Hicks. Such an unexpected character, so kick-ass and obviously respected by his fellow colonial Marines but then soft-spoken when he is talking to Ripley or Newt.

        • sheila says:

          Wonderful wonderful character – and the relationship between him and Ripley is – I don’t know – my ideal, in terms of male-female romantic relationships? Because I see it as a romance. At least the possibility of one.

          It reminded me of 1930s movies – filled with fabulous capable difficult women – and the competent laid-back/appreciative men who provided counterpoint without asking the woman to hide her light. Like William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man.

          anyway, YES, I need to write it!!

  11. //OJ Made in America, Part 1 (2016; d. Ezra Edelman)
    You might think we’d all be OJ-d out. There was the initial event which PLEASE STOP IT NEWS MEDIA that exhausted the nation. Then there was the mini-series this year. And now this 5-part documentary on ESPN.//

    When I first heard about this — and especially that it was produced for ESPN; I mean, another sports documentary and who cares? — I had less than zero interest in seeing it. But then I kept hearing great things about it so I decided to watch. Problem was, I cut the cord about four years ago, so I watch everything on streaming. And this wasn’t available until just now (Amazon) and it’s been killing me!

    Just now watched the first episode and I am BLOWN AWAY. First, I love the sheer artistry of it. The way it opens on the prison at one of O.J.’s parole hearings. And he stunned — literally shocked speechless — that his arrest and trial for murder are even being brought up. He literally can’t even believe it.

    And we’re like, Yeah, that’s right motherfcker, you can run but you can’t hide. WE KNOW YOU.

    And then they show his rise to fame and I realize that I never really knew what the fuss was. I didn’t understand til now: O.J. was truly special. Gifted beyond imagining. Football and track. Determined. Self-made. Generous of spirit. And you can’t help rooting for him because he IS The American Dream.

    I mean, I know what’s coming. And I hate this man. And yet I can’t look away.

    • sheila says:

      // The way it opens on the prison at one of O.J.’s parole hearings. And he stunned — literally shocked speechless — that his arrest and trial for murder are even being brought up. He literally can’t even believe it. //

      That is SUCH a shocking moment.

      I grew up in a baseball family not a football family – although we are Patriots fans – so OJ wasn’t really on our radar in the way that say, Carl Yazstremski was. I remember OJ on Saturday Night Live though – I saw that episode recently and it makes me so uncomfortable!!

      I thought the racial aspect was so interesting – how OJ refused to get involved in black politics and civil rights – how he kept insisting that his life was beyond race – that he wanted to walk into a room and not see color at all – but he didn’t realize that he was still defining himself completely against WHITE success. Like, WHITE success and what that looked like was still the tippity-top that you could reach. (And while that may still be viewed as true – it was presented in such an interesting way, with the black interviewees describing the atmosphere of those times – really painting that picture – and how OJ didn’t factor at ALL. Which is fascinating considered that he was – wrongly, in my opinion – eventually the symbol of white oppression. Puh-leez. The man couldn’t run away from the black community fast enough.)

      And then how he honestly believed he could step back into that white world and have it be the way it was before. Delusional sociopath!

      PLUS his claim that he would devote his life to finding the true killer – and than all he did post-release was play golf.

      There was quite a bit I did not know – about his time in Florida, and how wild he got – once he was no longer welcome in the country-club set. And how off the grid he went, with cocaine and strippers and all the rest. His poor kids!! They lost their MOTHER.

      I’m glad I watched it but it was still infuriating.

  12. bainer says:

    I saw “The Shallows” based on your recommendation, Sheila, and thought it was a terrific movie, well-paced and structured and stunningly beautiful. My husband made the point that, at first, she’s objectified but it’s okay because everything is beautiful, the scenery, the men too. But then her body becomes a tool: what still works? what can I use to save myself? I thought that was an interesting observation.

    Speaking of internalized mysogyny – have you seen this review? http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/04/movies/in-the-shallows-blake-lively-surfs-in-kate-hudsons-wake.html

    • sheila says:

      Bainer –

      So excited you saw it!! So far, for me, it’s been the movie of the summer – leaving the big blockbusters in its dust. I think that’s fabulous and great news, actually. I don’t wish anything to fail, but have to say – the big bloated blockbusters not doing all that well is a positive sign.

      I didn’t think she was objectified! But then I grew up in a beach town where hot athletic girls strolled around in their bikinis everywhere. Because they lived at the beach. This girl probably spent more time in a bathing suit than she did fully clothed, and that’s what I got from who she was on that beach. Get me OUT of my clothes and into my wet suit as quickly as possible – she couldn’t wait to get out there.

      But I understand, too, that just seeing a woman in a bathing suit calls to mind advertisements and billboards and how women’s bodies are commodified – it’s an automatic association.

      I very much appreciated the matter-of-fact way her body was treated in the film – and – like your husband said – how her body became THE WAY she would get herself out of this. (Along with her brain that was always working.) Even with a busted leg, she was naturally athletic enough that she could give it a shot swimming to that rock – or swimming to that buoy – and it was believable that Blake Lively could possibly make it. I liked how – similar to, say, Castaway or The Revenant – stories about men dealing with their bodies and injuries and survival – the body was just a tool (like your husband says) that NEEDED to survive – and how much it can endure if you push it, if you want to live badly enough.

      I saw that NY Times piece but – sorry to say – or, not sorry – but sorry since everyone is flipping out about it – I didn’t have an issue with it the way everybody else is. The piece on Margot Robbie that also came out last week was RIDICULOUS and gross as well as the vicious piece on Renee Zellweger’s face but I don’t think this one is the same thing. I love Wesley Morris (his review of Magic Mike XXL at Grantland was the best thing, bar none, written about that movie. He got it, and he got it so hard) and he was describing his preference for Kate Hudson movies – and how once upon a time Kate Hudson was a “thing” and now she’s not anymore – which is true – and how you get confused sometimes – because you can’t keep track of the parade of blondes that fill Hollywood every year. I certainly get confused by all the identical blondes starring in movies in Hollywood. They get interchangeable roles. They all look vaguely alike.

      AND – which I’ve talked about before – once upon a time individual stylists catered to individual stars. So Marlene Dietrich would never be confused with Joan Crawford, and Crawford would never be confused with Bette Davis – and on down the line. The 30s and 40s catered to the DIFFERENCES in all these women – they were individuals – and now – somehow we’ve lost that. The Kardashians and Real Housewives somehow “set the tone” for what women are supposed to look like – and now everyone looks like they’re styled by the same person. I do not understand why Hollywood thinks this is a good idea. It’s super stupid. (And leads to essays like Morris’, incidentally!)

      Blake Lively. Rachel McAdams. Reese Witherspoon. Kate Hudson. These are all talented women but they do become interchangeable. I suppose that’s nothing new – there will always be a blonde who becomes the new “thing.”

      So no, I didn’t have problems with that piece. I thought it was kind of funny, actually – and I’ve had similar thoughts about people who were “hot” for one second (not physically hot, but getting all the roles) and then totally not hot anymore, almost over night.

      I think it’s fine to have a personal preference too. I was never a Kate Hudson person – she was too generic for me – but he clearly loved her. Not sure how that’s misogynistic OR how acknowledging that once upon a time Shallows would have been a Kate Hudson movie and now it wouldn’t be (and it wouldn’t have been as good with Hudson in her heyday, in my opinion: Blake Lively is not a household name yet – so there was something anonymous about her – it’s not a “star vehicle”).

      Regardless – thought THE SHALLOWS was awesome and I’m so glad it’s doing so well at the box office. The more hard-core evidence that’s out there that movies starring women can do well – and men enjoy them too – the better!

  13. Patrick says:

    //My God, people are SOFT.//

    Love it, I think that sums you up ;)

    I don’t think I have lot to say on Roger – him and Pauline have been canonized, it seems. I mostly liked him but thought he was frequently too generous to too many mediocre movies.

    • sheila says:

      Roger more so than Kael. Lots of people openly dislike Kael and are quite vocal about it. Maybe that’ll happen too eventually with Roger, maybe it’s too soon. Who knows!

      My thing about both of them is: more than anything else, more even than their opinions (because I disagree with both of them all the time on this or that movie) – is I find their writing so pleasurable to read. Totally different styles, of course – but with both of them, it feels like you’re sitting next to them in the movie theatre, and they’re speaking out loud their reactions. There’s no distance, or “omniscient” feeling – you always get the sense that this is one man’s reaction, one woman’s reaction, and here’s how they choose to express it.

      Both had a real VOICE. Very few writers have a VOICE. They can put words together but the result is generic. You can’t distinguish it from anyone else.

      But I could recognize Kael or Ebert’s writing even if their names weren’t on the page. So I love that about both of them.

  14. Patrick says:

    “Totally different styles, of course – but with both of them, it feels like you’re sitting next to them in the movie theatre, and they’re speaking out loud their reactions. ”

    Speaking of that – I hate to always be complimentary, it’s so tiring (no, probably not really :)), but for some reason a line of yours from a movie review stuck in my head, I forget the movie title, but about addiction, someone was cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving and you said (paraphrasing), never mind, not paraphrasing, there is a search feature on this internet contraption – found it -, I really liked this phrase, seemed to convey a lot and be almost conversational at the same time –

    “As the film hurtled on its rickety precarious rails, I kept thinking about the turkey in the oven. I wanted her to go check on it. It seemed so important that the turkey come out well. ”

    So – nicely said.

    • sheila says:

      Patrick – you have an amazing memory.

      And oh my gosh, that turkey scene. I practically had a nervous breakdown watching it!! That was from “Krisha” and I was like, “Krisha. Keisha. CHECK on the turkey. DON’T get distracted. Oh my God, how much time has passed – CHECK on the turkey, lady!!! Don’t screw this up!” It was horrible (and great!!)

      Thank you as always for the compliment – are you kidding me, I love compliments! They are always appreciated and make me feel happy that people like what I’m doing. Seriously. Thanks.

  15. bainer says:

    Has anyone here seen Legends of Tarzan, the new one with Skarsgaard? I’m curious what people think after reading many dismissive reviews. I liked it, and felt it was a new take on the tale. Anyone else?

    • bainer says:

      I’m just thinking that’s two films in a row that have had poor reviews but when I saw them, I thought they were fine.

    • mutecypher says:

      I loved the books as a kid, I think I read 20 of the 26 Tarzan novels. I liked the old Johnny Weissmuller movies, and the 70’s cartoon, but haven’t really liked the modern ones. Is Skarsgaard a good Tarzan (clever, physical, compassionate, competent, mischievous)?

      • mutecypher says:

        From the Wikipedia entry on Tarzan:

        Tarzan’s primitivist philosophy was absorbed by countless fans, amongst whom was Jane Goodall, who describes the Tarzan series as having a major influence on her childhood. She states that she felt she would be a much better spouse for Tarzan than his fictional wife, Jane, and that when she first began to live among and study the chimpanzees she was fulfilling her childhood dream of living among the great apes just as Tarzan did

      • bainer says:

        A few of the reviews said he was “to tame to show the wildness in his heart” but I thought he did a good job (all you mention!). The film aims for a sort of realism and shows how it might have really been for a child growing up among animals (they skip over the whole how’d he learn to talk part). And, certainly, a child wouldn’t have been “the Lord of the Jungle.” He was submissive and gentle with the animals and fought for a reason. I really liked that they aimed for realism. The parts that showed Tarzan terrorized by the alpha male gorilla were ferocious and, again, aimed for realism.
        I’ve read the movie is racist but I’m not sure. Tarzan is not the “white savior” swooping in to save the day; everyone works together and Samuel Jackson plays a heroic role.
        Should anyone on this board see it, I’d love to read your thoughts!

    • sheila says:

      I haven’t – but a bunch of people I know loved it.

      And Manhola gave it a great review in The Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/movies/the-legend-of-tarzan-review.html

    • sheila says:

      I’ll definitely see it – my good friend Charlie wrote a fantastic essay on the Library of America movie-goer site (where film critics review movies made of books in the LOA library) – on the Edgar Rice Burroughs series as well as the Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan. (No mention of the new Tarzan – it hadn’t opened yet when Charlie wrote this) – It’s a fantastic essay about the appeal of this story.


    • mutecypher says:

      bainer –

      I just got back from it. I loved it so much. Skarsgaard is a very good Tarzan, emphasizing his seriousness, but also the rest of the traits I described above (much use of mating calls for the mischief – nice one, stud muffin). Tarzan and Jane’s love really reminded me of the Johnny Weissmuller movies (don’t know if you’ve read the link Sheila posted to the LOA essay, but it’s excellent). Margot Robbie was a great Jane: loving and loyal and resourceful. I loved how they ended the movie, even better than ending with a wedding.

      Swinging onto the train just rocked. I liked that they differentiated between gorillas and the mangani. The Wildebeest of Rohan was a pretty good movie moment: something Tarzan would do (I’m sure he did that sort of thing in some of the books) and also silly. I didn’t always like how everything was geographically so close together (the village where Jane grew up was a five minute walk from the river with the paddle boat that silently appeared? the town where the British ships were heading – how did all those natives get up on the mesa? Was there a free village near by, or did the freed slaves climb up there to cheer on the final battle?). And I don’t think people said “we’re screwed” in 1890. But it’s a movie to make you cheer and thrill and wish that there was a Tarzan and a Jane.

      And it was fun to see Samuel Jackson as something like comedy relief. I hope he enjoyed playing that.

      • mutecypher says:

        Jane’s line “a normal man will do the impossible to save the woman he loves. My husband isn’t a normal man.” That was a great, inclusive way to put things. Don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I’d recommend Bone Tomahawk if you want to see the impossible a normal man will do.

      • bainer says:

        I’m glad you saw it and liked it! Sure, there were a lot of issues. Sheila mentioned something in another thread about being fascinated with feral children and I am, too. Particularly with whether they would learn to talk or not. Studies on children who had been isolated all their lives (like locked in a closet) show they never learn to talk. There was the story of the boy in France raised by wolves at the turn of the last century who did learn to talk but that story has since been debunked. The question, for me, is if there truly were children raised by animals , is there a grammar they would learn (through body language and sounds) that would still enable them to understand human languages? The accepted wisdom, as I understand it, is that most sounds mammals make are call and response, no real meaning. But the more research that is done shows this to be wrong. For example, they believe now that dolphins call each other by name. (don’t have the link — Sorry!)
        So, to get back to the movie, I thought this Tarzan was really well conceived. The little tap his brother gives him after the alpha gorilla terrorizes him (presumably not for the first time) and again after they fight. Even the fight itself — Tarzan knew he couldn’t win but knew fighting was a way of communicating to his brother that he understood the brother felt betrayed and by fighting, knowing he couldn’t win, was a way of apologizing. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think those moments show the film makers thought about how communication would really work.

        • bainer says:

          An example from real life: we have a new puppy, 11 weeks old now, male. There was a watering can on the floor and the puppy decided this was terrifying and he wouldn’t go near it. So my son, 15, instinctively picks up the can and pretends to kill it. Sets it back down and the puppy runs right over, grabs it and runs off with it. Interspecies communication at its finest:)

        • mutecypher says:

          In the books, the mangani have a language that Tarzan learns as he grows up. I doubt that Burroughs was addressing the developmental use-it-or-never-acquire-it for language acquisition when he did that. I suspect it was just to make the story more interesting for Tarzan to have something like conversations with the great apes.

          The incident with Kerchak terrorizing young Tarzan was something that happened repeatedly in the books as he grew up. And I had the same reactions to Akut nudging Tarzan after Kerchak’s attack, and later fighting with Tarzan when he returned. Well done in terms of the psychology.

          Animal communication really is a fascinating topic. I just finished reading Exuberance by Kay Redfield Jamison and she devoted a section to some animal communication researchers – one of whom studies elephants and their cultures. I didn’t know anything about it (and still only a tiny bit). A fascinating topic.

          • bainer says:

            I didn’t know that in the books they had a language. Explains a lot!

          • mutecypher says:

            They don’t do any speaking in the movie. Maybe to keep it from being to Disney-esque? Don’t know. But they certainly captured emotions and feeling with the flashbacks: devotion and terror and brotherly affection.

    • sheila says:

      Bainer – I saw it yesterday and just loved it!!

      • sheila says:

        With everything I loved about it – I think one of the most touching things was its respect for the animals. Like Tarzan had. Respect for their experience of life, their care for one another, their individual natures, and also how dangerous they can be: – you need to bow down before the angry gorillas – approach a lion with care – nothing too fast – and, not for nothing, but the CGI-ness of the animals was also excellent. Better than the bear-attack in The Revenant – where you could just tell, somehow – in an uncanny valley kind of way – that it wasn’t real. The elephant moment was profound.

        • bainer says:

          Yes, I thought so too. It could have been really cheesy but wasn’t.

          • sheila says:

            Right? I didn’t feel they were anthropomorphized at all – they weren’t cutesy animals, like human beings in ape-suits. They were wild animals and Tarzan met them on their level, respected their level.

  16. Todd Restler says:

    Barnes and Noble has it’s 1/2 price Criterion sale going on now, and I just picked up The Killing ( along with a few others). The DVD also includes Killer’s Kiss, an early Kubrick film I am looking forward to watching.

    Great movie, I haven’t seen it in quite a while so I’m looking forward to revisiting it. It doesn’t really seem like a Kubrick film as I remember it being told in a fairly straightforward manner. But brilliant plotting, and I remember loving Hayden in the role.

    Did you know Sterling Hayden was a US Spy in WWII in the OSS (the precurser to the CIA)? Maybe the coolest man who ever lived.

    • sheila says:

      Todd – yes, in re: Sterling Hayden!! I actually need to read his books – people rave about them. Jim Beaver – who was just in that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof production I saw – talks about Hayden’s writing all the time in his posts – some people think he was a better writer than an actor.

      I love Hayden in Asphalt Jungle too – a desperate man – killer last scene.

  17. Todd Restler says:

    Ooh, never saw The Asphalt Jungle, will definitely get to it.

  18. Todd Restler says:

    I thought All About Eve was the breakout role?! But this is another “must see” movie I have somehow been meaning to watch for years but never got to.

    • sheila says:

      It came out a little bit after Asphalt Jungle – and Eve is a MUCH smaller role, and your classic breathy bimbo (with some of MM’s hilarious line readings: “What if someone’s NAME is Butler?”)

      A dime a dozen role in Eve – in Asphalt Jungle she only has two scenes but she makes a much bigger impression, and it’s a more complex role. Yes, a kept woman – but very sympathetic and much more fleshed out.

      She was always grateful to John Huston for giving her that chance – to remove her from the “starlet” pack and put her into something much more substantial. and then a decade later, they’re doing The Misfits together – and she loved the full-circle nature of it.

      and yeah: it’s great. and Hayden is awesome! It’s very very cynical and dark. Love it!

  19. Todd Restler says:

    “Walt falls into true adolescent love, but is compelled to deny it to himself, because his father urges him to play the field, and he values his father’s opinions more than is wise. “You have too many freckles,” he tells Sophie (Halley Feiffer), the girl he likes. I guess he thinks that shows he has high standards. He’s so dumb he doesn’t know how wonderful too many freckles are.”

    Roger Ebert, The Squid and the Whale review

  20. mutecypher says:

    I just got back from Love & Friendship. I really enjoyed it. Purcell’s Music For The Funeral of Queen Mary used at the beginning is the same piece that little Alex whistles when he comes home from the first night of ultraviolence in Clockwork Orange. I don’t know if Whit was clueing us in to the (Austenian) violence that was to come, or he just liked the piece. I suspect he was offering a clue.

    I didn’t find myself rooting for Lady Susan. She was such a horror! I didn’t expect her to come to any seriously bad end, since everyone but her (and Lord Manwaring and Mrs. Johnson) were kindhearted. She wasn’t going to starve in a garret. But I was hoping for some sort of comeuppance. It’s not a flaw that she didn’t get one – that was the dramatic tension for me. She was like Hannibal Lector getting away, just a less bloody sociopath.

    • sheila says:

      Very glad you saw it!

      // But I was hoping for some sort of comeuppance. //

      I’m sure we all know Lady Susans. People we HOPE will be un-masked but never are because they are too smart and understand plausible deniability in their DNA.

      Not sure about the music – seems a stretch – but maybe!

      I love Whit Stillman – he’s so damn smart and unique.

    • sheila says:

      He’s also a tiny bit of a conservative crank, which makes his dialogue fascinating, with a real bite. Metropolitan has to be one of the most startling directorial debuts of all time. I actually couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I saw it in its first-run. I went back to watch it again the following week. There was so much there – a film that really goes after social commentary, and un-cool things like tradition and honor and values – and things we’re not supposed to talk about or acknowledge – especially not in 1990 – like class and privilege – and not really coming down on one side or another (although you can tell Stillman cares about debates like this – it’s the whole reason for the movie – and that steps outside obnoxious liberal groupthink, where everyone thinks everything is so obvious that we don’t need to discuss it at all.)

      He cares about investigating these things. The debutantes and bachelors, steeped in a tradition they had nothing to do with creating, feel the rules of it – submit to them, question them, debate it – with these long choral monologues about society and manners and all the rest – sometimes floating in from the next room as a voiceover.

      That movie is a DREAM.

      I love all his stuff – but again, as a debut – boy, that was an announcement of intentions. Nobody else like him.

  21. Lyrie says:

    //Fascinating episode split up in two parallel stories: Carrie being unable to deal with her daughter. Her sister is a fucking SAINT.//
    Hmmm, yes, but also: no. Carrie knew before giving birth she wouldn’t be able to deal with her daughter – she voiced it very clearly. But that’s so unacceptable that her family forced her. “Wait until she’s born.” Well, she is born, and she doesn’t love her. And sure, maybe, maybe later, maybe when she’s done grieving, maybe but maybe not. And then what? Reproaches will keep coming? Well, maybe they should have listened. That just pisses me off so much.

    The bath scene was unbearable.

    That baby has amazing red hair. I’m jealous of a baby’s hair.

    Quinn and the building manager: a world of yes.

  22. Lyrie says:

    //Now begins the Sexually Inappropriate Arc and please tell me when it’s over.//
    Ew, why, WHY, WHYYYYYYYYY ?

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