November 2017 Viewing Diary

This viewing diary may be tough going for those of you who are not Supernatural fans. But there’s a lot more mixed in there that is not that damn show. I was on a viewing tear, in general, to get ready for NYFCC voting. I had to catch up on a lot of the things I had missed. And one of the perks of NYFCC membership, is PR people and studios suddenly start sending you screeners. Every day, multiple deliveries from UPS and Fed Ex. Normally, as just a regular freelance critic, I have to hustle to get screeners, ask around, hit people up. Now they come to me. So if you scroll past the Supernatural binge I was (clearly) on (mainly as a way to unwind) – there’s a lot more happening. All I did in November was watch shit. Literally: morning to night. Well, and I wrote too. And visited family for Thanksgiving. And started a newsletter. And went on some disastrous and yet very amusing dates. Where all I could talk about was movies. Believe me, I was a thrilling companion. But other than that …

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 12 “Swap Meat” (2010; d. Robert Singer)
There is so much that is amusing here, in particularly Sam’s clothes as a high school boy. In a way, though, I wish they had decided to portray the body-swap in the opposite way as the one they chose, so that Padalecki would be in the position of having to play the nerd-boy trapped inside of him. There’s humor to be had the way they chose to do it – Dean looking at that teenage kid and trying to understand what is different about his brother – and we in the audience are trying to picture Padalecki behaving that way. That’s why the “I would love to have the sex with you” scene is so funny: we get to see Padalecki BE a nerdy virgin. I wish the whole episode had been played by a totally co-opted Sam.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 13 “The Song Remains the Same” (2010; d. Steve Boyum)
There are some extremely moving things here, and I love in particular the moment when Mary reveals she is pregnant. So …. there are two Deans in the room at that moment and I’m not sure how THAT works in a time machine. Wouldn’t there be some warping of the time loop? Still. I also love how John is in a submissive position and is pissed off at not knowing stuff, but is also ready to help. He takes on this commanding tone, he refuses to be left out and worthless. Tell me how big to make the sigil. Now. I find that very moving too.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 11 “Sam Interrupted” (2010; d. James L. Conway)
I don’t know why I skipped around in the order. I am sure I had my reasons. This is a favorite. I never get tired of thinking about it: about Dean’s invention of the psychiatrist, in particular. That THAT is what his brain came up with. Also, think about it: even though it’s “saliva” that got them infected, the implication is that … she put her gloved finger up both of their asses. And that’s how the infection was transmitted. Listen, I’m not reading into it like a nutbag. They make a point of showing her holding up her finger, gleefully grinning, and they make a point of showing Dean and Sam’s shared shame afterwards at the unexpected unspeakable violation. So …. The possibility that she infected them via prostate exam is so insane that I am no longer going to think about it anymore.

Sylvio (2017; d. Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney)
I’m a huge HUGE fan of Kentucker Audley, dating from when I saw Christmas Again, one of the more fortuitous assignments I’ve received in my time at I am so glad this one was given to me. I’ve seen it 4 or 5 times since, and each time it works its strange magic. (Here’s my review. As far as I can tell, Amazon Prime is streaming it – but I’m not sure where else. Definitely try to see it.) Kentucker Audley is a really interesting guy (you can read more about him on his site), with a huge devotion to new film-makers, microbudget filmmaking, and indie projects in general. In Sylvio, he co-directs as well as co-stars, in this strange and gorgeous film about a gorilla who becomes a phenom on a cable access talk show for his propensity for destroying shit. The gorilla, though, is played by a guy wearing a gorilla suit, with nerdy office-worker clothes over it. No explanation is ever given. This is “Sylvio.” He works in a debt collection office, but it’s difficult for him to do his job because he can’t speak. He does not WANT to become a minor celebrity because he knocks stuff over and throws temper tantrums but that’s what happens. Audley plays the nervous talk show host, filming a local talk show from out of his basement, and hiding from debt collectors. This is how Sylvio comes into his orbit. The ratings spike after Sylvio’s first accidental appearance on the program. So the two go into partnership. Sylvio amuses himself in his spare time by creating these strange little puppet shows. How can I explain to you why you should see this movie? How can I explain to you the effect it had on me? I loved every second of it. It’ll be on my Top 10 of the year.

Foxtrot (2017; d. Samuel Maoz)
I have mixed feelings about some of the symbolism and how it’s utilized, like a short story showing its thematic cards. The “foxtrot” in question has 4 meanings? I lost count. And it shows up multiple times, with explanations for each context. That being said, it’s a very interesting film about one particular Israeli family, and the bureaucratic snafu that leads them to think their soldier son – in an undisclosed location – is dead. Very intense film. Very good acting with truly memorable images.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 4 “The Big Empty” (2017; d. John Badham)
Now we’re cookin’ with gas. This episode had much to recommend it, and I held my breath when Sam exploded in the grief counselor’s office about how he didn’t have a relationship with Mary. Of course all of that SHOULD have been explored last season, but better late than never. I have lost a lot of trust. I hope they keep it up. I am fearful they won’t. But this episode really went in the right direction, AND it managed to plumb the humor of Jack, his eager to please quality, and Dean’s reaction to him. This is when I got on board with Jack train. Alexander Calvert is doing a really wonderful job. It’s pitched perfectly.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017; d. Griffin Dunne)
The new Netflix documentary about Joan Didion, directed by her nephew Griffin Dunne. I have such insanely strong feelings of love, admiration, and association with Didion I went into it with some trepidation. The fact that it was made by a family member who loves her … actually helped. It’s an in-depth and intimate portrait. She trusts him. She opens up to him. The last 10, 15 years of her life have been brutal. Beyond brutal. There are several moments that stuck with me. One was during an interview about death, and she was talking about how when you die, you just hope that your loved ones will be okay, that the ones you left behind will be all right. Then she says, and her voice cracks, and I thought my heart would stop, “But I’m not leaving anyone behind.” The other thing was her reaction to Griffin Dunne’s question about her time in Haight-Ashbury, preparing for an essay about the Summer of Love (which would become, of course, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”). In one of the more harrowing parts of that essay, she’s in a house and describes seeing a small child, surrounded by drugged-out people, and the child is also tripping on LSD. Dunne asked, “How did that make you feel?” Didion opened her hands wide – and there’s some expectation that she would say, “OH, THE HORROR OF IT” or “I felt I must bear witness as difficult as it was” – or some socially acceptable thing. I have no idea why I had that expectation because Joan Didion has never been socially acceptable. What she said literally put a shiver down my spine: “Well, as a journalist … a moment like that is gold. Pure gold.”

Along for the Ride (2017; d. Nick Ebeling)
A documentary about American icon Dennis Hopper, by his right-hand man for decades. There’s a self-dramatizing aspect to the whole thing, but that becomes irrelevant once you see all this great footage, once you listen to all of the interview subjects (including Dean Stockwell, Hopper’s BFF). I loved it.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 14 “My Bloody Valentine” (2010; d. Mike Rohl)
When I watch this episode, I always think of the two actors who appear in the teaser. Who kiss sweetly. Who are then required to disrobe, all while eating each other alive. It’s the kind of gig you want and yet dread as a one-off guest spot. Taking off your clothes is part of the job, but it’s easier when you KNOW the crew around you. (Holly Hunter, who had to be totally naked through a lot of The Piano, was asked how difficult nudity like that was. She said, “It was no big deal.”) But here are these two actors, coming up to Vancouver, knowing nobody, not knowing each other even (as far as I know), who have to do this insanely bold thing, who have to really “go there” in order for it to work. And it so easily might not have worked. Both of them may have been embarrassed, if the scene hadn’t been treated with care by Mike Rohl. Rohl really set it up perfectly, though: you got the guy’s character, you got the girl’s … so that when they both let loose, you understand how out of character it is. I thought they both did an awesome job. Then, of course, the rest of the episode is awesome too. “What are you, the Hamburgler?” My favorite part about that line is that it is said off-screen. It makes me laugh every time.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 15 “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” (2010; d. John F. Showalter)
Welcome to the series, Jody Mills! She has become so much of the texture of the show, even if she only appears in a couple of episodes a year, it’s hard to remember she hasn’t always been there. I love the opening interview scene, where the guy being interviewed gets a bead on Dean from the second he sits down and will not let it go. Dean has that effect on people. All he has to do is walk in that room, with his glimmer, and his shine, and his bullshit. Some people are wowed. Others are like, “Dude, don’t turn that shit on me.” The “who died and made you Queen” is particularly wonderful.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 16 “Dark Side of the Moon” (2010; d. Jeff Woolnough)
A favorite episode. It’s one of the ones I pop in when I want an escape, because I do love a Sure Thing. “Playing footsies with brace-face? That’s a trophy moment for you?” Honestly, that’s one of the meanest things I’ve ever heard and I die laughing every time. I also die laughing when Dean is shouting “Cas” into the stereo and Sam asks, “What are you doing?” Dean answers, “I’m trying to find Cas, what does it look like I’m doing?” Sam replies, “Like you’ve lost your mind.” That line reading alone is worth the price of admission.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 17 “99 Problems” (2010; d. Charles Beeson)
There’s a pretty accurate observation here about what can happen when human beings are under threat. Yes, human beings can come together and help one another beautifully in times of grave crisis. (See the entire city of New York, in the weeks, months, following 9/11. Maybe you had to be there. I was.) But human beings can also double down in their fear of the outsider, in their devotion to purity (“be pure enough and you will avoid disaster”), in their distrust of the “other.” What we see in “99 Problems” is pure Cult. It’s terrifying. It’s accurate as hell.

Last Men in Aleppo (2017; d. Firas Fayyad, Steen Johannessen, Hasan Kattan)
A devastating documentary about a couple of the famous “White Helmets” in Aleppo. This is the opposite of what I just said above in “99 Problems.” This is an example of human beings – under the most horrifying conditions imaginable – coming together to try to help. In the total lack of infrastructure, in the total destruction of civilian life … these brave men (there are no women in the film, outside of the ones pulled out of the rubble) have come together to fill that vacuum. They are amazingly well-organized. It’s a shattering film. I feel helpless and don’t know what to do to help. It’s a human tragedy on a grand scale. The documentary contains no “talking heads,” no expert testimony, no “here is what is happening” monologues from scholars at universities. It’s filmed completely on the ground with these guys.

Gosford Park (2001; d. Robert Altman)
My continuing research project. I’ve watched this film 4 or 5 times in the last month and a half. I love it more every time. It’s one of those films that definitely improves (and it’s already magnificent) with each subsequent re-watch. Every time I watch it, I notice something I’ve never noticed before.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 18 “Point of No Return” (2010; d. Philip Sgriccia)
First off, this scene. Destiel people, I am not one of you, but I will not say you are WRONG in your perception of … REALITY. Terrific scene. I love this episode. I love the “green room.” It’s one of my favorite alternate universes created in the series.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 19 “Hammer of the Gods” (2010; d. Rick Bota)
I know there is a fan dislike of the Other Gods episodes. I can see the point. Kali has a moment where she says, “You Westerners, I swear …” before observing how self-centered the whole apocalypse thing is, the Judeo-Christian world’s assumptions that theirs is the only narrative that matters … the actress taps into that in a VERY real way. Also, there’s this moment, which is basically an object lesson in how to deal with a woman who turns you down (repeatedly). Dean saying, “Copy that” at her 3rd No makes me laugh every time.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 20 “The Devil You Know” (2010; d. Robert Singer)
So here’s my deal with this. I am not crazy about the idea – placed retrospectively into the series – that Jess was pushed in his way by demons, that demons were surrounding Sam all along to make sure he stayed on track. I feel the same way about John and Mary being in a Heaven-arranged marriage. I basically just pretend it didn’t happen.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 21 “Two Minutes to Midnight” (2010; d. Philip Sgriccia)
This episode features the best sequence Supernatural has ever done, with Castiel’s entrance a close second.

Supernatural, Season 5, episode 22 “Swan Song” (2010; d. Steve Boyum)
“Well then I ain’t gonna let him die alone.” Put a fork in me. Repeatedly.

Supernatural, Season 6, episode 1 “Exile on Main St” (2010; d. Philip Sgriccia)
A favorite episode. I’ve watched it countless times. It’s so … deeply upsetting.

Louder than Bombs (2015; d. Joachim Trier)
I met Joachim Trier at the first Ebertfest I went to in 2013, when his haunting film Oslo August 31st played. I’ve been a fan ever since. Louder Than Bombs is a textured complex portrait of a wife and mother (played by the great Isabelle Huppert) whose work as a war photographer makes it impossible for her to re-adjust to civilian life. The horrors she’s seen are unimaginable, but she is addicted to the adrenaline rush of it. When the film opens, we learn she has committed suicide, leaving behind a husband (Gabriel Byrne) and two sons (Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid), struggling to understand. It’s a beautiful film.

Song to Song (2017; d. Terrence Malick)
There are many who rolled their eyes at this, Malick’s portrait of a trio of people – played by Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling – with Cate Blanchett late to the party – all involved in the music business, all hanging out in Austin during the SXSW. I didn’t roll my eyes. I was riveted. You have to get into a different mindset for Malick. You have to get into Museum Mode. As you stroll through a museum, you have to open up your pores, and really pay attention. You have to love the visual information, let it wash over and through you. You can’t get hung up on plot or story. You have to “just go with it.” It drives some people crazy, even die-hard Malick fans expressed frustration about this one. I understand why. I do. And his Knight of Cups and To the Wonder drove me slightly crazy, even as I was in thrall to his visuals. But this one pierced me to my core. Cameo by Patti Smith.

Thelma (2017; d. Joachim Trier)
I love Trier so much, as expressed above. I wrote about his latest – Thelma – for Ebert. I highly recommend it.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 1 (2005; d. David Nutter)
Well, for the first time ever, I decided to do a re-watch of Season 1. I love to watch pilots of shows that went on to be successful. Most of these pilots come out of the gate fully formed. You can see where the show is going, what it is interested in, what it cares about. This is a very VERY good pilot. They have gotten so much mileage out of this one 42-minute episode, it’s almost unbelievable. Eric Kripke knew what he was doing.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 2 “Wendigo” (20015; d. David Nutter)
I can usually find something to love in this series. It’s the rare episode where nothing works. On a re-watch, “Wendigo” really is not a very good episode. There’s no “reveal,” no unfolding of mystery, no “case.” There’s a monster in the woods and they hunt it down. Boom. End of story. Supernatural usually devotes more time to “working the case.” But still, there are good things here. A moment of sexualization between Roy and Dean (Dean sexualizes the moment, which is a standoff between two aggressive alpha-males … destabilizing the entire atmosphere.) This is indicative of things to come and of Dean’s essential character. Sex as a weapon. This, I suggest, is all Ackles. Nobody said to him, “Hey – why don’t you go all seductive when Roy gets in your face?” I imagine that that was his choice to play it that way, and Nutter was no dummy and realized it was great, and it’s organic to Ackles – his sexuality is pretty strong, he wears it pretty openly – and so anything organic like that “reads.” It’s interesting to go back and re-watch and realize just how much time they invested in Sam grieving for Jess. He’s grieving for the entire season, and beyond. Her name still comes up. Jess’ death, then, was NOT just a plot point. Even from the very jump, Supernatural showed it was more interested in character than plot.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 3 “Dead in the Water” (2005; d. Kim Manners)
A gorgeous episode that still has an eerie pull on me. One of the “reasons” for the episode is to deepen the Dean character, to show the trauma he experienced, and also to show Sam – who barely knows Dean at this point, at least not really – looking at his brother in a new way. There’s also a great moment where Jared rolls his eyes behind Dean’s back that is so hilarious. Talk about organic.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 4 “Phantom Traveler” (2005; d. Robert Singer)
And here, my friends, is the episode that hooked me in, the one where I knew that “Okay, dammit, I need to clear my schedule for the next month so I can binge-watch 9 seasons and catch up.” The reason this one hooked me in – and not “Dead in the Water” (which seems like the more obvious choice) – is because of the humor. The slapstick of Dean being terrified of flying. Yes, it’s fine to have hot guys being tormented. But hot FUNNY guys being tormented? You’ve got a fan for life.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 5 “Bloody Mary” (2005; d. Peter Ellis)
The final scene in the antiques shop is Peak Gorgeousness and – with all those mirrors – must have been HELL to film. But great result.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 6 “Skin” (2005; d. Robert Duncan)
Dean finally shows us some skin. But he’s a monster. So it’s grotesque as opposed to sexy. Welcome to Supernatural, where – in the words of Kim Manners – you have to “give them what they want in a way they won’t expect.”

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 7 “Hook Man” (2005; d. David Jackson)
There’s a Meh-ness to this episode, although it does serve to show Sam’s continuing grief and his kinda sorta starting to move on. Great final shot, although … typical Supernatural … you want to say, “Dean. Stop spying on your brother’s romantic life.”

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 8 “Bugs” (2005; d. Kim Manners)
The less said about this the better ALTHOUGH it does include one of my favorite single shots in the whole series. I call it the Hamlet-Yorick shot.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 9 “Home” (2005; d. Ken Girotti)
This is around the time I became infuriated by John Winchester. You get a tearful phone call like that from your tough-guy adult son? You call them back. I am in love with the episode and I disagree with the fans who balk at Missouri’s treatment of Dean. Yes, it is “unfair” but “fairness” does not make for compelling drama OR character development. She senses something in Dean. A couple things. His need for a strong authority figure, for one. But also, this is not a boy who was properly mothered. She sets about on a course-correction. And of COURSE he is irritated. Because inside he is still 14 years old, a rebellious teen. He OBEYS though. That’s the most interesting aspect of this whole thing and if Missouri treated him in an “Oh poor baby” way (eyeroll), we would have been denied that insight. Great episode. Weird to watch now: it takes place in a world where Mary Mattered.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 5 “Advanced Thanatology” (2017; d. John F. Showalter)
Jensen Ackles’ spectacle of hungover behavior actually made my head hurt. I felt his dehydration. His need for salt and grease. I enjoyed the set of the mental hospital and felt the show really invested in creating the mood of this one-off set (one of the joys/miracles of the show).

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 10 “Asylum” (2005; d. Guy Bee)
Nice dovetail back to Season 1, another episode taking place in a psych ward. This is one of the most spectacular sets the series has ever created. Most of it was a real location, tricked out to make it look much worse than it was. This episode features Ackles climbing over a tall fence – in one shot (wrote about it here). Interesting again to re-watch. I had forgotten a lot. The shivers of discord between the brothers, the insecurity that raged in this early season, unspoken resentments, etc. So rich. One of my favorite moments in the episode doesn’t even belong to the leads:

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 11 “Scarecrow” (2006; d. Kim Manners)
A masterpiece.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 12 “Faith” (2006; d. Allan Kroeker)
Another masterpiece. I’m not a compulsive re-watcher of earlier seasons. Especially once I’ve done a re-cap. It’s like I have to move away from it after delving in so deep. Coming back to it a couple of years later … I’m even more impressed. Also: a revelation at how ready Dean was to die, at 26. How much he didn’t want to fight on his own behalf. Fascinating, and – of course – it will be explored repeatedly over the next 12 damn years.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 13 “Route 666” (2006; d. Paul Shapiro)
Okay, so we have had a fine time lampooning this episode, in particular Cassie’s over-complicated pouring of the coffee/tea. It’s one of my favorite SPN threads ever. It still makes me laugh when I watch it. That poor actress. You can feel some competing agendas going on here, none of which really has to do with the ugly history of racism in America. So that’s weird. If you’re going to take that on … maybe put some more thought into the episode? You can also feel how they aren’t quite sure yet about Dean. It’s fascinating to consider he fell in love with someone. That still holds (even though they never mentioned Cassie again. I don’t care: I will never forget her.) I have gotten much mileage in my analysis from the fact that Sam was able to have an intimate almost-to-the-point-of-marriage relationship and never ever reveal “the family secret” (which reveals an ability for compartmentalizing and duplicity that is damn near sociopathic), while Dean dates a girl for a couple of weeks and probably spills the beans on the 2nd day. So although that last scene (“Maybe this goodbye won’t be permanent”) doesn’t really ring true, now with all we know about him – the fact that he is unable – UNABLE – to lie convincingly to a woman he cares about – is fascinating, and one of his distinguishing characteristics.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 14 “Nightmare” (2006; d. Phil Sgriccia)
This was the first episode where I suddenly perked up and went: “Holy SHITBALLS Jared Padalecki is an awesome actor.” I wrote about that extensively in my re-cap. I realized with dawning admiration, “He is a worldclass listener. He’s actually … unbelievable at it.” He shows that true listening is active.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 15 “The Benders” (2006; d. Peter Ellis)
I had a weird experience with this one. First viewing, I was disappointed. They’re just humans? Why are they throwing this into the mix? Stop it. Second viewing, I realized how WRONG I was. It has now become one of my favorite episodes in the whole thing. And I love that cop.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 16 “Shadow” (2006; d. Kim Manners)
You guys, if you were clawed to that degree on your face you would be scarred for life. This episode features my favorite Dean romantic relationship. With Amy, the Sagittarius cop. She never even makes it onscreen. But Dean has somehow – offscreen – become her best friend. I’m sure he slept with her multiple times, off-screen, over the course of the episode. He’s having this whole other LIFE outside the frame. It makes me laugh. He’s unembarrassed about “using” her and she CLEARLY is “unembarrassed” about being “used.” She’s using him right back. An Adonis like that wants your help? And is open for business sexually? Please. Jump on that shit. This also features that great great scene in the hotel room where Sam is actually still in the place where he thinks he could go back to school. Ackles is so great in that scene. And he pushed back against playing it to the degree he ended up doing. He felt it was a betrayal of the character. He felt protective of Dean. Kim Manners showed his gift as a director, for working it out with his actor, respecting where Ackles was coming from, but urging him to at least try it his way. And look at the result.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 17 “Hell House” (2006; d. Chris Long)
The prank thing does not work for me. But the Ghost Facers totally work. I hope we see them again. I hope they bury the hatchet and start working together again. Also: enter Sam the Centaur.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 18 “Something Wicked” (2006; d. Whitney Ransick)
What a wonderful episode. Again: rage at John Winchester rising. The true bleakness of their childhood shown in that devastating flashback. The grim-ness of that fucking room. With the bowling pins. Dean’s attempt at creating Christmas. Not eating so Sam can eat. The necklace. It’s too much.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 19 “Provenance” (2006; d. Phil Sgriccia)
“That’s muh boy.” STOP IT. NOW. Having watched the outtakes between Padalecki and Taylor Cole I am, frankly, amazed that they were ever able to get a good take of their scenes together. Neither of them could stop laughing. It was non-stop laughter. Through every single scene. This episode pre-dates Genevieve, so I basically inappropriately ship Padalecki and Cole. I hope they hooked up, at least once, and had a blast. The chemistry radiates off the screen and the outtakes of nonstop hysterical laughter are a joy on earth.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 20 “Dead Man’s Blood” (2006; d. Tony Wharmby)
FASCINATING return of John Winchester who …. appears to be only a couple of years older than his sons. But no matter. Dean playing referee really gives a sense of what has made him the way he is. Also, John using Dean as sexualized bait, and Dean doing it without any compunction whatsoever. It doesn’t even occur to him to say “That makes me feel uncomfortable.” Rich rich detail.

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 21 “Salvation” (2006; d. Robert Singer)
It’s so weird to see the show before they decided on Bobby as the surrogate father figure. I mean, Pastor Jim? Who the hell is that? Why don’t they ever mention Bobby? I’m kidding. I know why. It’s still funny. Because Bobby is about to arrive in T-minus 1 …

Supernatural, Season 1, episode 22 “Devil’s Trap” (2006; d. Kim Manners)
Enter Bobby. The second he showed up, it was like he had always been there. He has the line which will give them mileage for a season or more “and you boys are smack dab in the middle of it.” Final thought: no way does the Impala ever get re-built after being plowed into by an 18-wheeler. And no way do any of them survive.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 1 “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here” (2013; d. John F. Showalter)
Decided to skip ahead for a rewatch, beginning to end, of Season 9. I usually just cherry-pick favorite episodes, but … now that Season 13 has started, and the emotional wounds of Season 12 have started to abate (not totally yet), I thought it would be fun to re-visit one of my favorite Arcs: Dean’s betrayal and then the crackup of their relationship, leading to the first blade, the mark, and Dean as demon. It’s an incredibly ambitious and emotional season. I love it.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 2 “Devil May Care” (2013; d. Guy Norman Bee)
Not crazy about the slut-shaming of the poor Army lady for doing Jello shots in Dubai or whatever it was, but “Kevin Frickin’ Solo” is pretty funny.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 3 “I’m No Angel” (2013; d. Kevin Hooks)
This is a momentous episode for one reason only: The uproar from Destiel fans about Castiel “losing his virginity” to anyone other than Dean – actually reached my ears, and I didn’t even watch the show. But the screams made their way to me, through various Internet rabbit holes, and I started reading Destiel Tumblrs, fascinated by the anguish expressed in these posts. I wasn’t making fun of it. I was truly interested in a fandom this intense. I love intense. So I decided to check out the show. I started at the beginning but it was the reaction to this episode that got me started. I was so in the dark that I thought “Destiel” was a character who appeared on the show and I kept waiting for him/her to appear. So thank you, Destiel fans, for being so loudly enraged about an angel’s penis going into a body other than Dean’s that your rage reached me, far outside of your fandom. (In retrospect, after watching the show, I understood what those howls of betrayal in Season 7 were all about, when Leviathan-God-Complex Castiel wandered off into the wilderness and married – married a WOMAN – and presumably put his penis in her – instead of putting it into Dean like he was supposed to.) I’m making fun … but my Thank You to these intense fans is 100% sincere. You got me watching. How much you gave a shit made me curious.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 4 “Slumber Party” (2013; d. Robert Singer)
I can’t even look at Charley now without feeling sad and mad about how they killed her off. Not over it.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 5 “Dog Dean Afternoon” (2013; d. Tim Andrew)
There are some dumb things here, and I remember Jared actually Tweeting out how disappointed he was in the voices of the animals. Bold!! However: Ackles literally turning into a dog is a high point of behavioral stuff, his powers of observation so acute that look at his eyes: his eyes become dog eyes. It’s not just the outward behavior, the fetching, and scratching and shouting “YOU YOU YOU” at the mailman. He literally makes me believe he is a dog. Inside. Hats off.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 6 “Heaven Can’t Wait” (2013; d. Rob Spera)
This is quite a moving episode. Destiel fans were probably blowing another gasket – please understand me: I do not judge – people come into the show and see different things and invest in different things. This is the power of this damn show. I’m just saying that by the time I started paying attention to the show, it was mainly the Destiel people and Destiel Tumblrs I was sucked into. I was fascinated by the POWER of these people’s reactions – it was unlike any fandom I had ever seen. It felt more invested than other fandoms. This was what piqued my curiosity. At any rate: Castiel being an excited suitor – of a WOMAN – not DEAN – did not go over well. But what moves me about this episode is the angel not being able to distinguish between different kinds of pain. It’s such an imaginative and insightful concept.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 7 “Bad Boys” (2013; d. Kevin Parks)
A favorite episode. I may well have re-watched this one as many times as I’ve re-watched French Mistake or Changing Channels. Still finding new things to reveal to us about the brothers. I hope this does not stop. There are still gaps to be filled. There will always be gaps, and I love the gaps intensely. Having that gap of unknowability is part of why I keep watching. But this made me have to re-consider Dean, and factor in some new things. That he WASN’T particularly precocious sexually was a true revelation. Maybe he wasn’t sexually active because of nasty associations – his father had forced him into “using” his fledgling sexuality as bait? Maybe sex freaked him out because monsters/people drooled over him the second he became a teenager? Maybe he had no chance to experiment because he grew up in a hermetically sealed world? Who knows. But a sexually innocent Dean … at the late late age of 16 … was something to think about. (I’m kidding. I was the last person in my demographic to lose my virginity on the entire Eastern seaboard. I was a senior in college. “So ya finally got plugged,” said my Mohawked-and-ripped-tights-wearing friend Emily, “It’s about time.” But my point is: I had been certain that Dean had been around the block – 100 times – by the time he was 16.) … I thought it was a great “twist” and also made his story that much sadder.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 8 “Rock and a Hard Place” (2013; d. John MacCarthy)
Having not re-watched the entire season since it aired, I was shocked at just how LONG they drew out Dean’s lie in re: Gadreel. Here we are, episode 8. It’s still in operation. Hats off. That’s the Supernatural I know. Listen, I have issues here. Mainly with casting. Why do all the women look almost exactly alike? But I have to just say … I cannot think of many actors who could play the moment below and not make it totally gross and skeevy and entitled. Cary Grant could pull it off. Ackles is on that level. And lucky us, we’re the only ones who know about it.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 9 “Holy Terror” (2013; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Poor Castiel. I love Ackles’ deadpan reading of “The reaper you banged.” The world of this show is so weird that a line like that is 1. even possible 2. makes sense 3. is funny. The teaser of this episode is stunning. The killing of Kevin is devastating.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 10 “Road Trip” (2014; d. Robert Singer)
If I tried to explain the scene below to someone who had never seen the show … how would I even go about it? A demon explodes smoke out of his mouth to penetrate the mouth of the man opposite him. A little bit later, the man opposite returns the favor. Two people stand there – and one of them is brother to the one being penetrated – and watch the double penetration. Because yes, all of this is completely normal.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 11 “First Born” (2014; d. John Badham)
Enter Cain. I just love the details that he is shucking corn. Cain the farmer. Fuck my father who didn’t like my gift. I will STILL be a gardener. Also, Dean’s “Really? Now?” when Crowley crosses himself … Funny. You can see Crowley insinuating himself into Dean’s life in ways totally not benign. These episodes help make possible the total CREEP FEST that is the final moment of this season.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 12 “Sharp Teeth” (2014; d. John F. Showalter)
Oh, Garth. I’ll miss you. I also have huge doubts about the tenability of your situation. Plus, Dean has a beard and is heartbroken.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 13 “The Purge” (2014; d. Philip Sgriccia)
A favorite episode. And the final scene is one of my favorite scenes in the history of the show. Brutal. I am so glad they stuck to their guns, did not listen to the fans who either hated Sam, or hated the “breakup” of the brothers. You’re supposed to hate it. You’re supposed to revel in your own agony. It’s the warp/weft of the show. I am not a Sam or a Dean girl. I am a Their Relationship girl. And Sam’s insistence that Dean did not do what he did for THEM, but for HIM … well, it needed to be said. Poor Dean. The floating look in his eyes, totally detached from his reality, that closes out the episode … well, that’s why Ackles gets the big bucks.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 14 “Captives” (2014; d. Jerry Wanek)
Poor Candy. She didn’t have much of a chance, did she. Kevin telling the brothers “enough with the drama” at the end … It was supposedly the right thing to say … BUT! BUT! Yet AGAIN the show resisted an easy answer to the shattered relationship of Dean and Sam. “Drama” isn’t the problem. Dean is in total denial. The final moment, turning to try to have a moment with Sam … and Sam is already gone … Stunning. This is a very brave show.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 15 “#thinman” (2014; d. Jeannot Szwarc)
“Treasure trail.” Oh. My first watching I felt the one-to-one relationship between the Ghost Facers relationship and Sam and Dean’s relationship was a bit too on the nose. I didn’t feel that way this time. Or, I DID, but it didn’t matter as much. The episode reverberates with sadness.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 16 “Blade Runners” (2014; d. Serge Ladouceur)
What is so extraordinary to me about the whole “first blade” thing is Jensen Ackles’ CONCEPTION of what holding that blade feels like. It’s similar to his CONCEPTION of what it feels like to be close to Amara in Season 11. These choices are all on him. At this point, believe me, nobody is advising him on “how” to play anything. Maybe he had some conversations with Robert Singer about it. But that was only after he had homeworked the shit out of it and made some very specific choices. What happens to him when he gets the blade in his hand is unique in the history of Dean Winchester, as we have gotten to know him. (Same thing with Amara). This is one of the things that Season 12 lost: giving us something NEW to think about in re: these guys. So far, too, in Season 13 – although the ship has been righted, there isn’t much that is new. Or: there are glimmers of possibilities, tantalizing possibilities that only need to be explored. (Being foster parents, for one. Acknowledging all the feelings that were not present at all during the debacle that was Season 12. There’s some of that being revealed – showing they’re on the right track – but I need more.) Dean’s SWOON of acceptance of the blade’s power is frankly sexual in nature. I’m not saying Ackles went into it with that goal, but that’s the result. It’s almost like the bottom drops out of him, to allow room for power to rise up. It’s orgasmic, in other words. Or … pre-orgasmic, that moment when you know it’s going to happen for sure, and you suddenly realize it’s an 80-foot wave as opposed to a 10-foot wave, and then you realize you are about to wake everyone up in the whole Tri-State area, and you’re sorry but you can’t help it. Ackles trembles with that very specific KIND of power. Later, it makes him ferocious and violent and demonic. But it’s the SWOON on his face that stays with me.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 17 “Mother’s Little Helper” (2014; d. Misha Collins)
Collins does a wonderful job here. I love love love the relationship between Sam and the ex-nun. She’s wonderful. Her pain is still fresh. But she feels his sympathy (who wouldn’t?) and opens up to him. Meanwhile, Dean revels in his heartbreak. Wallows in it. Crowley’s seduction has begun in earnest now. It’s all quite … queasy-making.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 18 “Meta Fiction” (2014; d. Thomas J. Wright)
Not exactly my favorite episode, but who the hell cares, it starts with this:

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 19 “Alex Annie Alexis Ann” (2014; d. Stefan Pleszczynski)
A fascinating episode. It’s so intense I actually resisted revisiting it. The title alone … the splitting off of identity, the teenage girl as sex-slave and “lure”, the ugliness of her experience, the vile vile mother (terrific actress), Jody Mills’ pain dominating causing her to make some sketchy choices … and the elephant in the room: how much the Winchester childhood was like Alex’s childhood. Nobody even MAKES that connection which – frankly – is why the show is what it is. This is a show about trauma survivors and one way to survive trauma is to ignore the fuck out of it.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 21 “King of the Damned” (2014; d. P.J. Pesce)
More First Blade drama. Ackles’ superb conception of what it feels like to hold the blade, the swoon of his own power (masculinity) rising out of … impotence, damage, etc. It’s a great metaphor. Plus, Abaddon’s death has a distinctly sexual-rape feel. Not an accident.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 22 “Stairway to Heaven” (2014; d. Guy Norman Bee)
The entry of Bartholomew is the entry of the Amway version of Heaven and Angels and is the beginning of my lack of interest. The conception of angels lost the crazy-eccentric-mystical figures like Uriel and Balthazar, etc. Here, we get the return of Tessa … who is suddenly … not a Reaper? But part of the angels? Or … Whatever, it was good to see her but I didn’t care for what they did with the character. Pretty brutal too, imagining Dean carving that sigil off of her.

Supernatural, Season 9, episode 23 “Do You Believe in Miracles” (2014; d. Thomas J. Wright)
It’s devastating on so many levels. Even more so now? I don’t know, my first time re-watching I was distracted by the fact that it was the final episode, and also distracted by the fact that it was “leaked” that Dean would become a Demon. So I was semi “out of it” on my first watch. Enough time has passed that I could relax into the episode and watch the horror of it unfold. Those final 5 minutes, man … I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

Mr. Roosevelt (2017; d. Noel Wells)
I reviewed this funny directorial debut from Noel Wells (who also stars) for

Personal Shopper (2017; d. Olivier Assayas)
I was voted into the prestigious NYFCC this past month and I’m really proud and I still can’t believe it happened since I’ve only been doing this professionally since 2010. The week I was voted in, the NYFCC hosted a screening of Olivier Assayas’ second collaboration with Kristen Stewart at the Metrograph. I had seen it on its release earlier this year and I knew immediately it would make it on any Top 10 list I had to do. In their first collaboration, The Clouds of Sils Maria, Stewart was paired up with Juliette Binoche (with a smaller role by Chloe Moretz). Stewart’s character is the linchpin of the whole thing but her presence was balanced out by the other two. In Personal Shopper, there is no balance. It is all K Stew. Most of the time she is alone onscreen, reading texts on her phone. That is literally the majority of the movie. I wrote about Kristen Stewart here.

Coco (2017; d. Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich)
The latest from Pixar. I sat with a friend at the huge screening held at a multiplex in Manhattan, and near the end I was weeping so copiously I was afraid I would disturb him. There may be something pre-determined about this emotional reaction – Pixar flipping the switches with expertise – but I don’t care. Catharsis is catharsis. I was WRECKED by this movie. And believe it or not, it took me a full 24 hours to fully absorb its title. I hadn’t thought of it once during the film. I didn’t think “Oh, this is a film about Coco so pay attention to Coco.” I didn’t think that because I am dense as fog. Literally the next day, the light bulb went off and I thought, “!!!!! Coco is the whole point!” This is not an indepth observation. Literally, the film’s title is Coco. It’s not like they were burying the lede.

Mudbound (2017; d. Dee Rees)
I took a friend to the screening of this at DGA. Dee Rees was there for the QA after, as was Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan and Tamar-kali (who composed the score, her first movie score: EXTRAORDINARY). The first time I had seen this film was on my laptop, via screener link. But this film should be seen in a theatre. Its epic scope is even more clear when screened big. Great night.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 6 “Tombstone” (2017; d. Nina Lopez-Corrado)
I really loved this episode. The rockabilly undertaker. Dean’s burlesque: cowboy burlesque, sleep burlesque, coffee burlesque … I’ve mentioned already how much I admire where they seem to be going, with these MOTW episodes, and the re-devotion to one-off characters. I liked Castiel and Jack talking. I think Lopez-Corrado is a wonderful addition to the roster. She directed a stinker last season but I don’t hold it against her. She directed “Red Meat.” That episode killed me. She’s got great style, a great feel for these characters.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 1 “Black” (2014; d. Robert Singer)
Dean as Demon did not disappoint. I was thrilled to see he was jolly, careless, carefree, with a hard edge completely foreign to Dean, at least manifested in that way. The way he treats his “playmate” … fucking her silly, doing whatever it was she begged him to do – pleasing her – and then basically putting the brakes on her afterglow. Mean. Normal Dean always leaves his hookups smiling. The pacification of Crowley has begun, though. It was like they didn’t really think this out fully. Crowley is about to begin his descent into irrelevance. Rowena is about to show. Things are not going to get better. I had completely blocked Hannah out of my mind. I hesitate to talk smack about actors. It’s not my thing. But I think she is terrible. She never seems celestial. Her reactions seem human. Think of how “other” Misha Collins seems. She keeps letting human-ness – humor – sarcasm – slip out. She hasn’t grasped what the character needs. It’s a very lazy doing-the-bare-minimum performance. And oh my GOD the Hannah-Castiel road trip is endlesssssss. It’s so long it’s like they were heading out to Kansas from Uzbekistan. Like I said, I had blocked it all out and had forgotten just how long they were on the road. I just can’t even with the three bean surprise.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 2 “Reichenbach” (2014; d. Thomas J. Wright)
The scene with Lester and Dean in the car is terrific. Cole has entered our world. I know his behavior was gross (in the extreme) at cons, and in general he is not very well liked (on the show or off the show). I don’t think he’s supposed to be liked. It’s part of the Arc of the character, and they needed someone as aggressive as Dean could be. As no-boundaries (how he immediately calls them both by nicknames). You’re not supposed to like him. Maybe you’re supposed to feel for him. I do. I can see where he’s coming from. I also want to say, “Stop calling Dean Dino.” Both are true. Both valid reactions to the ambiguity the character brings. We won’t see him again though. You can’t join the SPN Family and then act like an asshole at cons. Something like that – especially in the current atmosphere – could bring the whole show down.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 3 “Soul Survivor” (2014; d. Jensen Ackles)
Ackles has really grown as a director, which can be seen in this very bold episode. His other episodes were not so Dean focused. But this episode is all aBOUT Dean. And he was not embarrassed to frame himself – surrounded by black – with a red shirt – and careful lighting – so that he looked as gorgeous as possible. This is not vanity. This is understanding what he brings to the table, the effect he has, the length of his eyelashes, the pallor his skin … I so appreciate that kind of self-knowledge. It’s like Cary Grant having a revelation when he changed his part from one side to the other, back before he became a star. He suddenly realized how much better he looked, and from that day forward he never ever changed his part. Or like Claudette Colbert always being filmed on her best side. Vanity? Sure. Part of the gig of actors. Beautiful people who know they’re beautiful and know how to use it … I was impressed with Ackles’ direction in particular on that score.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 4 “Paper Moon” (2014; d. Jeannot Szwarc)
If I recall correctly, on my first (and only, until now) watch of this episode, I thought, “Oh my God just STOP with the flashback!” I totally did not mind the flashbacks on this re-watch. I think the actress was in a little bit over her head, but JA and JP had her back, and were there for her (as an actress) in a way that helped focus her. I’m not sure how living on the run and squatting in abandoned barns results in her perfect Bieber haircut. I am still annoyed at that choice. Dirty her up a bit. Come on, team. But actually, I really liked this episode. Go figure. The two of them so rarely wear sunglasses I barely knew who they were anymore.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 5 “Fan Fiction” (2014; d. Philip Sgriccia)
There are no words …

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 6 “Ask Jeeves” (2014; d. John MacCarthy)
I love this episode so much I am laughing out loud as I type this. Even the out-takes are hilarious. “Your hands are FRIGID, Beverley.” I love each and every member of that ridiculous family. The script is off the charts.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 7 “Girls, Girls, Girls” (2014; d. Robert Singer)
This episode blows. For multiple reasons. Dean getting on a hookup App has great potential but they never reference it again. So clearly it’s just a plot device. Lazy. The witch-brothel is actually pretty interesting, but again, not explored in an interesting way. And I’m so angry at this point by the damage Rowena has done to the fabric of the show that it’s hard for me to enjoy her anymore. ALSO: we have the Castiel-Hannah correlation where – it feels mean – but she plays the naked scene with a sort of womanly mischief – when it would be so much better if she played it totally clueless about why you shouldn’t be naked in front of someone like that. Showing her total cluelessness that humans in general think naked = sex. Instead, she played it with a whiff of knowingness which – in my opinion – ruined the scene. Which was already bad.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 8 “Hibbing 911” (2014; d. Tim Andrew)
You know who’s particularly awesome in this episode? Kim Rhodes. Not that this is a shock, but she has to go on a pretty epic journey here. Watch her gradually shifting responses to smiling Donna. Her crankiness. Shifting when Doug is mean. Shifting back to just not being in the mood for Donna. Her wince at the nicknames. “Save ya a seat, Jodes!” (Can’t even deal with how funny that is.) But then there’s that moment of realization that Donna is a hell of a good cop. That’s in the morgue. Later at the Expo they bond against sexism. Then Jody sticks up for Donna and it backfires. Then they bond again. Then Jody does her big John Wayne swing around to give Donna the talk. Seriously, I could go on. Kim Rhodes hits every note perfectly. It’s like the end of Casablanca: “This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 9 “The Things We Left Behind” (2014; d. Guy Norman Bee)
This is when Supernatural still had a taboo for the most part about taking human life. Suddenly in Season 13, Dean and Sam are fine having firefights with SWAT teams. Someday I’ll get over it. But not yet.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 10 “The Hunter Games” (2015; d. John Badham)
Let me speak briefly about Kathryn Newton, who plays Claire Novak. I know some people are annoyed by her. I did not share that annoyance and found her performance quite touching. But that’s not the point I want to make: Newton’s career has taken OFF. I have seen her in 4 MAJOR events this year alone: recurring role on Big Little Lies, she’s in freakin’ Lady Bird, which may very well sweep the Oscars this year, she’s in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (I didn’t care for it, thoughts below) – that film ALSO may sweep the Oscars in other categories, considering the groundswell of support I’m seeing, plus she’s playing Amy March in an upcoming mini-series of Little Women (perfect casting! We’ll see how she can handle “period” piece). This in 2016-17 alone. That’s a major year.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 11 “There’s No Place Like Home” (2015; d. Philip Sgriccia)
It’s so upsetting watching Dean beat the shit out of Charley it kills me every time. The Charley episodes in general pierce my heart. She allowed softness into the show, openness, love even. Jody Mills is a good and trusted contact but she doesn’t bring LOVE with her. Again: they screwed up killing Charley. Also they killed Charley in a pretty hackneyed half-assed “let’s just get rid of her” way, completely disrespecting the character. The final scene makes me cry.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 12 “About a Boy” (2015; d. Serge Ladouceur)
I can’t find any gifs of Dean’s wonderful scene in the bar with the other barfly. I wrote before about how much I love the casting of that actress. In general, they’ve paired Dean with age-appropriate women. So the two of them pounding back shots and reminiscing about their shitty childhoods has a poignancy that it wouldn’t if she were some 23-year-old party girl. They can RELATE. They are messed-up adults. I loved her performance. I love this episode.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 13 “Halt & Catch Fire” (2015; d. John F. Showalter)
A couple of years ago, someone (can’t remember who) balked at me referring to Dean as Gen-X. I felt vindicated by Gen-X becoming explicit in this episode.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 14 “The Executioner’s Song” (2015; d. Philip Sgriccia)
So we have, yet again, the unfortunate situation of a long-awaited confrontation between a brother and a feared supernatural being and it ends up being ……. a fist-fight. Maybe it’s a WORSE fist fight? The … punches have more power? Or … the insults hurt more? Hmmm. Unimaginative shit aside: these two actors make it work: make it clear what it is about this totally-rote fist-fight (besides the first blade, that is) that is different for Dean, why it is transformative and destructive.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 15 “The Things They Carried” (2015; d. John Badham)
Listen, it was worth it to keep Cole around to have a scene in a makeshift sweat lodge where Cole has a big giant worm inside of him … and stares hungrily at Dean with desperate need in his eyes before asking Dean to tie him up … and Dean keeps his distance because he is afraid of Cole’s worm getting inside HIM. Listen, I’m just describing the plot. Don’t blame me. This is literally what happens. Look at the set-up of this shot. That water bottle coming in from the side. It is outRAGEous. Everyone in Vancouver knows exactly what they are doing.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 16 “Paint It Black” (2015; d. John F. Showalter)
Until Season 12, this was the worst episode of Supernatural. From start to finish, it was “what Supernatural would be like if it were very very stupid.” The pirate shirt! The romance-novel flashback! The nuns in their bizarre habits! Catholicism in Supernatural is always pre-Vatican-II. I’ve got nuns in my family, yo, and I’ve never seen habits like that. They looked like they were in a community theatre production of The Crucible. Nuns exploding in a cloud of smoke out of one another’s backsides. What the HELL, Supernatural. The only mildly redeeming quality is the confession scene.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 17 “Inside Man” (2015; d. Rashaad Ernesto Green)
Very good to see Bobby again. Metatron is starting to outstay his welcome for me. He’s not as irrelevant as he will become, but he’s getting there. I like the old cranky hippie hoarder psychic. Wonderful and emotional final montage sequence.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 18 “Book of the Damned” (2015; d. P.J. Pesce)
Charley returns and in my re-watch I started to feel dread (and annoyance). Rowena hasn’t ruined the show, but her presence is very damaging. I feel about her the way I feel about the bunker. Get rid of these things, they’ve served their purpose, let them go, toss the characters out into the unknown again. It’s time.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 19 “The Werther Project” (2015; d. Stefan Pleszczynski)
The return of (sort of) Benny. Like Dean, I miss that barrel-chested vampire.

The Post (2017; d. Steven Spielberg)
This film is under embargo until it opens (December 22) so I can’t say anything about it. What I WILL say is that it has the best poster of the year.

Molly’s Game (2017; d. Aaron Sorkin)
I think there’s an embargo for this one too (it opens Christmas Day). I’ll just say I’m fascinated by the topic, mainly because I don’t play poker and I am interested in those who do play it and love it (like my dad).

Girls Trip (2017; d. Malcolm Lee)
I knew I had to catch up on this one. I had heard too much about Tiffany Haddish’s performance to ignore it. And boy, am I glad I did. I watched in pure amazement at her utter and total lunacy, her fearlessness, her funniness which is so huge I almost couldn’t even laugh. So so psyched that she pretty much SWEPT our awards voting for Best Supporting. I wrote about her performance here. Historically, the NYFCC awards have been moments when industry watchers and Oscar predictors sit up and pay attention. It’s a clarifying moment, an upping of the profile of certain individuals. I’m not a huge Oscars person, which makes me very unusual for a critic. But I was an actress for way longer than I was a critic. Actors, in general, see the Oscars as a happy time when artists get together and celebrate their accomplishments. “Winning” certainly doesn’t mean “winning” in the strict sense, although yes, “winning” can mean more opportunities, and etc. But in terms of WORTH? Never ever EVER let yourself forget that Cary Grant never won an Oscar in competition. However, with someone like Haddish … this feels important. More important than if someone else had won.

The Breadwinner (2017; d. Nora Twomey)
Gorgeous and shattering film about Afghanistan after the Taliban took over, but before 9/11. A little girl dresses up as a boy, otherwise her family will starve. Women are not allowed in public. I’ve heard that there’s been some bitching about the fact that the movie ignores a trans subtext. This makes me angry. Representation issues are, of course, extremely important. My friend Alexandra Billings, an actress and advocate and cast member of Transparent, can and does attest to that. But The Breadwinner is not that story. Not every story is meant to include everything. This is the story of brute survival under a murderously misogynistic medieval regime, and about what women (and girl children) have to do in a society organized to punish them – forever – for having a vagina. Chopping off your hair and pretending to be a boy is not an issue of sexual orientation OR of gender in this context. I mean, I guess it COULD be (see the gorgeous and tragic Iranian film Daughters of the Sun for an exploration of that idea) but The Breadwinner is not that story. Dressing up as a boy is so your mother and your baby brother will not fucking starve. It’s life or fucking death. The status of women under the Taliban is a humanitarian tragedy, its own topic, its own subject, worthy of respect in and of itself. I would also suggest that whining that The Breadwinner doesn’t make a point about trans acceptance because you want it to is the HEIGHT of privilege. Only a person living in a totally privileged society – even with its vile prejudices against the trans community – could make a point like that. How about some respect for women around the world who do what they have to do in order to EAT? This was my favorite animated film of the year.

A Quiet Passion (2017; d. Terrence Davies)
My God, this film, and my GOD, Cynthia Nixon’s performance as Emily Dickinson. For me, it’s the best performance by a woman this year. Everyone’s good in it, in particular Jennifer Ehle, as Dickinson’s sister. Supernatural friends, take note: Emma Bell, who played the pushy bar waitress trying to get Sam to open up in Free to Be You and Me plays the young Emily Dickinson. She’s wonderful. I was FLATTENED by this movie.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017; d. Martin McDonagh)
I’ve been almost afraid to share my thoughts about this movie. It will probably win a lot of Oscars. It’s showing up on many people’s Best of the Year lists. I am not saying anyone is wrong. But I am definitely not seeing what they all are seeing. I thought it was a pretty bad film, actually. MacDormand is good, as always, but there was something flat-lined about the character that may have been preferable to moaning/wailing/teeth-gnashing – but isn’t particularly interesting. Everyone’s good. Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson … they’re all fine. That’s not the issue. I found the film to be humorless, self-important and … written/directed by a man who doesn’t quite “get” America. I realize that’s harsh. But he’s asking for it. If an American director went and made a film about small-town France, or small-town Estonia, I would expect that they would be pilloried for their presumption. Every year there’s one film the majority of people FLIP OUT over that leaves me cold. One year it was Her. One year it was La La Land. One year it was Chicago. I look around at the love heaped on such films and finally just have to go, “Okay, fine. I’m just not getting what they are getting.” I do not assign bad faith motives (unfortunately, the same courtesy is often not given in return). I’ll just say, I am baffled at the reaction to this film. I adore In Bruges. I love Martin McDonagh’s plays. But not a fan of this one.

Faces Places (2017; d. Agnes Varda and JR)
It won Best Documentary in NYFCC voting. For me, it was between this and Kedi (which I reviewed for 90-year-old Agnes Varda teams up with French artist JR and their travel around France in his van, tricked out with a photo booth and a large-format printer. They make collages and paste them up on walls, on trains, on water towers, on shipping containers. How can I explain to you that this “plot” results in a film so delicate, so beautiful, so human, that I was in tears almost from the first 10 minutes, an emotional state that continued to the end. It has to do with art, with artists, with Varda herself, with her relationship to this much younger man, his appreciation for her, their collaboration in making art – art that is designed to be temporary. Please, I beg you, seek out this film.

Novitiate (2017; d. Margaret Betts)
What a fabulous film. It’s about a teenage girl who feels the call from Jesus to enter a convent. This is in the early 1960s. It is about the process of being a novitiate: what it entailed, the rigors of it, spiritual and physical. It’s about this particular “class” of novitiates, the girls who can’t hack it, the one girl who joined the order because she had seen a movie where Audrey Hepburn played a nun and it seemed so wonderful. Melissa Leo plays the strict traditionalist Mother Superior. During the course of the 6-month period of the novitiate “program,” dispatches from the Vatican through the Archdiocese start coming in about the council being held in Rome, the council known as Vatican II. It will change everything. What an awesome topic for a film! Vatican II pre-dates me, but it had an enormous impact on my family. I have two Great-Aunts who were nuns (sisters), who ended up leaving the sisterhood post-Vatican II, for various reasons. I interviewed one of my Great-Aunts (who is still with us!) about Vatican II, and she describes being sent to Ireland to travel around to the various dioceses and get the priests with the new program (an uphill battle). She and her fellow nun would bicycle around from church to church, and return home to the rectory of whereever they were staying, pour a couple of beers, and sit in the kitchen, bemoaning (and laughing) about how difficult this was, what slackers the priests were. I wrote a fictional piece based on my interview with my Great Aunt. Anyway: it’s a rich and important topic, a world-shaking event for Catholics in the 1960s, and here’s a gorgeous film about it. I highly recommend it.

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 7, “War of the Worlds” (2017; d. Richard Speight Jr.)
Oh, no. Not Ketch again. No. However, the relationship between Castiel and Lucifer was quite pleasing. I’m really liking Castiel this season.

A Fantastic Woman (2017; d. Sebastián Lelio)
A very interesting film starring Daniela Vega, a trans actress, playing a trans woman trying to cope with the death of her lover, and the prejudice of his family who won’t allow her to mourn, be a part of the mourning, have a place in the family etc. Vega is wonderful.

Menashe (2017; d. Joshua Z Weinstein)
An extremely touching first film about an Orthodox Jew – who is kind of a loser, albeit a well-meaning one – who has lost custody of his son after the death of his wife. His son will be booted out of school if he doesn’t live in a two-parent home. It’s the journey of this man to try to maintain contact with his son, while keeping up his job as an assistant in a grocery, and the various debacles (self-inflicted) in his life. He needs to get his act together. Will everything be solved if he just marries again? He doesn’t want to get married again. He didn’t love his first wife anyway. This is an extremely confident first film, filmed on the ground in Brooklyn. Full immersion. Wonderfully naturalistic acting. A good companion piece to the documentary One of Us, also out this year, about this particular Brooklyn-based Hasidic community.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017; d. Denis Villeneuve)
Took me a while to get to this one. I am not an admirer of Denis Villeneuve (and in some circles that will get scorn heaped upon your head. Maybe not as bad as the scorn you get if you say you don’t like Christopher Nolan, but still, it’s intense), so I was hesitant about the sequel in the first place. Shot by the great Roger Deakins (and his work is phenomenal), Blade Runner 2049 takes place in the future of the future, when the old replicants have been discontinued, to make room for newer models. Ryan Gosling is terrific. Harrison Ford is amazing (once he shows up). The scenery is superb and I especially loved the denouement in a totally emptied-out Las Vegas. It’s like you’re visiting the ruins of Persepolis in the desert. Loved it. See? I am not close-minded. Villeneuve did a wonderful job.

The Shape of Water (2017; d. Guiellermo del Toro)
I saw this one twice. My reaction the second viewing was very different from my reaction to the first. Much of it is wonderful. And it is one of the best-looking films this year. So atmospheric, so romantic and rich and dark. The acting is very good. But large sections of it left me cold, particularly in the second half. I reviewed for

Phantom Thread (2017; d. Paul Thomas Anderson)
This one’s under embargo (it opens Christmas day). I saw it at its PACKED TO THE GILLS screening at DGA. And what a thrill, all the main players were there for the QA afterwards: director Paul Thomas Anderson, stars Daniel Day-Lewis (complete with beautiful tattoo sleeves), Lesley Mannville, and newcomer Vicky Krieps.

Darkest Hour (2017; d. Joe Wright)
Gary Oldman is so so good as Winston Churchill. The placement of the shoulders, the posture, the silhouette, the grumbly-huffy-puffy voice … but it’s not a show-off imitation. It’s FILLED, with the essence of the man. It’s no secret Churchill suffered from depressions (what he called “black dog”), and that experience is etched on his face. It’s a wonderful companion piece to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk because it shows how the decision was made back home to send that fleet of civilian boats across the channel. One of the things I really loved about this movie was its focus on the speech-writing aspect of Churchill’s career. He gave some of the most memorable and famous speeches of the 20th century (including his most famous, the “we will fight them on the beaches” post-Dunkirk speech) and I loved being shown that process, the drafts, the decisions made, what tone to take. It’s a wonderful movie.

Come Swim (2017; d. Kristen Stewart)
Kristen Stewart’s directorial debut is a haunting 17-minute short about a man drowning (literally) in his own pain. I wrote a little bit about it here. It premiered at Sundance.

Loveless (2017; d. Andrey Zvyagintsev)
What a shattering film. Directed beautifully by Andrey Zvyagintsev, (whose previous film Leviathan made a big splash over here) Loveless is a brutal story about a couple going through a horrible divorce, and the effect on their child of the scorched-earth policy of their arguments. There is no catharsis. And the film takes a dreadful turn about halfway through. The ground is laid meticulously for the catastrophe. It is a world of hardened even narcissistic adults and vulnerable blameless children. Set in the world of Putin’s Russia haunted by the Soviet past. I can’t shake this film. My pal Godfrey Cheshire, who just returned from Russia, wrote the review for Ebert.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 20 “Angel Heart” (2015; d. Steve Boyum)
If I recall correctly, first aired on Willie Nelson’s birthday (apt, since the final song is “Blue Eyes Cryin in the Rain”). Not completely wrapped up in Castiel-Claire – it feels a liiiiittle bit like they’re just finding Cas stuff to do … this disinterest in Castiel will bite them in the ASS big-time in the two seasons to come. Claire and Dean playing miniature golf and bickering like children (Dean, she’s a teenager, stop being competitive with her, and letting her get to you! I love it) is my favorite scene.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 21 “Dark Dynasty” (2015; d. Robert Singer)
NOPE to this whole entire episode. NOPE NOPE NOPE.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 22 “The Prisoner” (2015; d. Thomas J. Wright)
I disliked the Stein/Styne family upon arrival. 1. They all look exactly the same. 2. How on earth could they have not been detected over the centuries? 3. There’s a whiff of anti-Semitism in the whole entire plot-point: a family with the name of Stein who have “controlled financial markets” for centuries? Like the Rothschilds, perhaps? Yes, “helped the Nazis come to power” was tossed in there, but still, there’s a nasty stink about it that makes me very uncomfortable. Either it’s deliberate or it’s unconscious. It’s bad either way.

Supernatural, Season 10, episode 23 “Brother’s Keeper” (2015; d. Philip Sgriccia)
Bummer about Death. This moment shatters my heart.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 8 “The Scorpion and the Frog” (2017; d. Robert Singer)
I loved the screwball element here. I loved the development of crack-safe-girl. I loved how frightened Dean was of putting his hand in the Roman Holiday-esque hole, and how she busted him on freaking out for a tiny pinprick of blood. Hilarious. I’m not sure what any of this has to do with anything, but the longer they put off going into the alternate-universe and following Deadpan Mary around, the happier I am.

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29 Responses to November 2017 Viewing Diary

  1. Wren Collins says:

    I cackled so loudly reading the SPN bits here that my flatmate ended up leaving the house. I love your commentary so much. Dying.

    • sheila says:

      // my flatmate ended up leaving the house. //


      It’s kind of fun to just fire off comments without thinking too much. I barely re-read these before I hit Publish. Glad you like.

  2. Helena says:

    Just, wow, Sheila. I too have been cackling my way through your SPN comment, so much fun to read. I can see I am going to have to start rewatching from Season 1 again.

  3. Helena says:

    and whenever you mention Christmas, Again I check to see if it has become available in the UK but alas not :-(

    • sheila says:

      I Tweeted about it yesterday and the director showed up – !!! – and told me it will be released on DVD in a couple of weeks. It was like – Ask and ye shall receive.

      I’ll post about the release once it comes. I’m so excited!

  4. Nicola says:

    So….. I suppose I’m going to have to start watching Supernatural.

    • sheila says:

      Nicola – please, don’t feel pressure. Ha. This looks so insane printed out like this. I was so stressed out this month that it was my way to unwind. Lots of unwinding to do …

      But still: it’s a great show and I’m obsessed with it. OBVIOUSLY. :)

      • Nicola says:

        I feel no pressure. I’ve loved Jensen Ackles since he was on Days of Our LIVES! I always felt weirdly proud that his career took off outside of the soap opera when he showed up on Dark Angel. I’m surprised that I never started watching this show, the timing must have been off when it started.

        Your enthusiasm seals the deal.

        • sheila says:

          It’s so entertaining. He’s one of the best things going right now, in my humble opinion. It’s amazing that it’s a pretty small demographic who know just how good he is. I admire him that he’s not only okay with that – he knows he basically won the Lottery when Supernatural came around. He’s very special.

  5. Sheila
    The documentary The Center will not Hold is what changed my mind about Joan Didion.
    I’ve been having a hate/not much love affair with her writing for years. Everyone I know loves her and I kept my mouth shut about what I think because, one, I don’t feel like raining on everyone’s parade and two, there is a double awareness because I know it’s great writing, three, I wasn’t sure why I was always resisting her.
    But when I saw I could see this documentary it I thought, “Oh great! Joan Didion! is that how you react with a writer you hate?
    That “gold” remark floored me. And there it was. That’s why I don’t like her.
    I thought. That coldness. I cannot relate.
    My initial reaction watching that in the film was, “I’d get that kid the hell out of there.” Having been in almost near situations like that and pretty much what I did. I recoiled from her remark. But right after I watched the film other thoughts started crowding in and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
    Like, what if a man said that? Would you judge him? How would you feel?
    And that gave me great pause.
    Also her complete dead honesty to have the courage to say and admit that. Maybe other women would feel that way, but would they say it? It goes completely against what we think a woman, a mother would behave.
    Also I started thinking, and it was right there in the film, her wealth, her privilege, annoys me. Describing, I don’t remember exactly, a relative in a Pucci bathing suit, I felt that old annoyance. So, I’m judging a great writer because she has money!
    Somewhere in the 90’s in NYC in the summer I was stomping along the street in heavy motorcycle boots, T-shirt and my hair chopped off like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s baby except a lot rougher because I did it myself. I was having a stupid narcissistic moment, so proud of myself, like, girl, I look better then you, who is trying to hard, with no make-up and no hair, when coming up upon Pete’s Tavern I saw, from across the street waiting for the light, unmistakably Joan Didion herself, sitting at the outside tables all by herself.
    “Oh shit! that’s Joan Didion!” She zeroed in on me from across the street and never took her eyes off as I went past. I felt dissected. I felt that cold journalist, writer’s eye taking it all in.
    And as I passed I thought, I think Joan Didion likes my haircut! haha!
    I remember feeling after reading A year of magical Thinking that it was cold too.
    I was devastated at that part in the film when she says as she is cleaning out her husband’s clothes, “What if he comes back?” I started wondering why I thought that book was cold.
    Also, my daughter’s great love for Joan Didion was one of the big reasons why she fell in love with California, lives there and I can’t get her back. While visiting her I pointed up at the hills in Malibu with the ocean at it’s feet I and said to my daughter, “I’d like to live there!” And my daughter just laughed hard and explained that is for the very wealthy. Joan Didion lived there, damn her again. So I’m annoyed at Didion for stealing my kid away, haha.
    I think I have to re-read Joan Didion.

    • sheila says:

      Regina – this is the best comment!! I was laughing at the trajectory of your “relationship” with her! The issues you have with her – her wealth (all those laundry lists, the brand names!, etc.) – sort of shivers around her work … always … and it’s where she writes from, so it definitely has to be grappled with. Her work has this depressive glamour to it – detached women wearing Chanel, drifting through the 60s, getting depressed in hotels in Hawaii. hahaha I mean, how can one relate??

      I love the bit about her looking at you!! I am sure she was struck by you. That’s fascinating.

      Totally agree in re: the coldness of “it was gold” comment. It gave me chills. and I hadn’t thought of your point – what if a man had said that? Would we even blink an eye?

      Her political novels – which I REALLY recommend – have that cold-ness, that gimlet eye. They are less interior-gazing than her less-political novels. and she’s brutal about politics – it’s not a stereotypically “feminine” attitude. She writes about gun runners and third world dictatorships and idiotic do-gooder Americans – the foolhardy foreign policy that tries to impose democracy on third world places … I love her political novels and her journalism the most (more so than her personal writing).

      // So I’m annoyed at Didion for stealing my kid away, haha. //


      She definitely generates super strong feelings. I’m always interested by the Didion Dialogue.

      Christian Lorentzen wrote a TERRIFIC piece on her for New York mag … he kind of addresses a lot of these issues with her, and does so from a male perspective – which is fascinating. She was such an idol to him as a writer it was hard for him to separate himself from her influence. Kind of an interesting perspective.

  6. Paula says:

    The Didion documentary was fascinating! I read The Year of Magical Thinking after my mother’s death and became so attached to it emotionally. So glad you pulled out the Haight-Ashbury moment //“Well, as a journalist … a moment like that is gold. Pure gold.”// because as you said, it was so unexpected and rather devastating. One of those writers that feels the moment but then views it from the outside as well. Such a rare talent.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, her writing is like no others, really. She apparently agonizes over every semi-colon – so it’s amazing she has been prolific as she has been.

      My favorite books of hers are the political novels – and then her journalism. Her essay on Patty Hearst. Howard Hughes. Her essays on California, her home state but which she never seems to be able to get a hold on. Her essays about Haight-Ashbury and the crackup of the 60s. To me, that’s Peak Didion – but it’s been amazing to watch her move into the world of memoir. Year of Magical Thinking is amazing – one of the best books about the pure disorientation of grief – that’s the thing they never tell you! It’s not about being sad – it’s about being totally confused, and not yourself … I was so not prepared for that aspect of the experience.

  7. Paula says:

    I couldn’t put this in the same comment as Didion -just couldn’t do it -but I laughed my ass off at your comment about the nurse in Sam Intterupted. Because OF COURSE she infected them during the prostate exam with her gloved fingers. That whole ep was insanity plus we saw the one time Sam was happy when doped to the gills. What a joy.

    • sheila says:

      When Sam says to Dean, “Maybe you’re just crazy” it’s soooooo funny.

      The whole thing is super upsetting – but also – somehow – hilarious. They are both RUINED by the experience. Their little tete a tete at the car afterwards? They’re still IN it. I always wonder about shooting out of sequence. You have to be so on top of your game to know just how big you need to be at any given point of the story – what if they filmed that final scene first? Like, how could they know just how big they would get in their performances until they did it??

  8. mutecypher says:

    I really enjoyed Blade Runner 2049. I’m not sure if I liked it more than the original, I’ll have to watch it again (and again, like the original). What is the meaning of memories, what gives them weight, what are our responsibilities to the things we create: I thought the film did an excellent job of raising those questions. I also thought it was beautiful. And I loved the challenge of viewing Joi as a person without a body, as someone only one more level of abstraction away from K. Did she have a true affinity for K because they were both creations? Though I also know she could be viewed as conveniently programmed to sacrifice herself. And Luv was very intriguing, complex, tragic. RG and HF were very good; Gosling was especially poignant. And (I may have mentioned) the movie was beautiful.

  9. Sheila
    Thanks for that link!
    And your comments are always unexpected!
    I’m nowhere near as smart as you guys, or as well read, hardly, and tend to just have a gut reaction, and not even fully understand the reaction. And do I always have to like and read writers who maybe feel and think like me?
    I also never read any of her political novels!
    But on the heels of that “what if it was a man” comment other thoughts would crowd in me, like well, what if it was Walt Whitman? He was on the battlefield helping the wounded soldiers, (and writing about it after) I can’t imagine him thinking, this is gold! But who the hell knows what he was thinking?
    Also as a painter I was obsessed with that image of her in that yellow corvette and made drawings of it, changing it to a ghost in it, my daughter in it, stuff like that.
    Why was that? I have no idea! A subconscious longing to be more like Joan Didion and a little more critical in my thinking? But probably more like also want to be living in Malibu and driving a yellow corvette!

    • sheila says:

      // A subconscious longing to be more like Joan Didion and a little more critical in my thinking? But probably more like also want to be living in Malibu and driving a yellow corvette! //

      I so relate to this.

      She’s such a complex figure. For me, she is “aspirational” in terms of writing technique – and also work ethic/output. But there is that other aspect – the Malibu, Corvette, cocktail hour, lavendar-scented pillows or whatever aspect – that is also aspirational. I don’t think Joan Didion has had a particularly easy life – wealth or no. You can see her depressive tendencies on her face. But she certainly does have a way of … making you want to be her. Even in something like Goodbye to All That – her essay about deciding to leave New York. It’s so over-quoted – and basically is the “be all end all” of “I’m leaving New York” essays – but the details she puts in there … I don’t know, she is such a detailed writer, she somehow makes her despair/sadness seem … pleasurable? I know that some people – John Lahr, I think, has spoken about this – find this aspect of her work disturbing – but I would suggest that to people who are depressive – there IS something glamorous/self-aggrandizing-dramatizing about their own depression. Especially if they have a gift of writing. So I don’t know what else to say about that. John Lahr is basically like, “I don’t buy her claims of depression” which I think is pretty vile. Also vile are those who assume that her “privilege” somehow protects her from mental health issues. Screw those people.

      But her work is definitely captivating in an extremely specific way.

      It’s interesting that she “lived” in your mind in that way – even as she drove you a little bit crazy. hahahaha The response to the documentary has been really interesting – I think a lot of people share your feelings about it.

      Like Christian Lorentzen wrote – I actually have to struggle to get ANY perspective on her at all. I’m so on board with her. Know what I mean? It’s similar to my relationship with Sylvia Plath, which – honestly – has been longer than most of my real-life relationships!

      I have to grapple with Plath – and my reactions to her change, depending on where I’m at in my life.

      so anyway, it’s all very interesting.

      I love hearing your thoughts about her, Regina!

  10. Melanie Rice says:

    Bless you, Sheila! I should have known I could count on you for the Roman Holiday reference! Jensen was definitely channelling Cary Grant’s physical humor with that bit. (Posted this on the wrong thread. Sorry.) And as you noted about Phantom Traveller above and have written about many times, I am completely hooked when gorgeous men like Grant, Presley, Ackles allow the audience to laugh at them through physical comedy. I was not at all interested in watching another CW, pretty boy, teen, fangirl, drama. I was only watching as a means to share in something my teen daughters liked. Pretty soon I was reeled in by the comedy like you.

    My youngest daughter and I have started a season 1-3 rewatch. So much fun and watching Ackles ‘grow into his man face’ as I call it, while JP still wears his boy face til about season 6.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, I’m just not sure the show would have lasted this long if it hadn’t been – on occasion – not just funny, but HILARIOUS.

      and yeah, Dean putting his hand in that hole … total steal from Roman Holiday. and what I love is that he is playing the Hepburn role, not the Peck role.

      • Melanie Rice says:

        Geez – Gregory Peck not Cart Grant! I really did know that, but I was thinking about your post about Cary Grant and Elvis prat-falling. So many tall dark and handsome men in that era. And, yeah, shocker that Dean is playing the Hepburn role. I love that movie. I’ll have to rewatch now. Just watched bad day at black rock and howled at JP ‘s physical comedy. His does feel more Jerry Lewis style than Ackles. I can’t say exactly why. I was a HUGE Jerry Lewis fan growing up. Labor Day weekend was always spent watching his movies during the MD Telethon.

        It’s funny how physical humor can affect you (me) so differently coming from different people. It humanizes beautiful people, bringing them back to our plane of existence, making me like them so much more because they allow themselves to be completely humbled through the comedy. Others, like Lewis and Padalecki, manage to evoke so much emotion through humor – empathy, frustration, love, sadness. It makes you feel for them. And then there are physical comics that I just cannot even stand to watch. Not sure why, but their stupidness enrages me – John Cleese in Fawlty Towers and Monty Python’s Jabberwocky is the only movie I’ve ever walked out of. Having said that, I learned to love British comedy when we lived there in the late 80s. The Black Adder series is still an all time favorite, so it’s a bit difficult to analyze why I have this visceral reaction to some physical comics and love others. I

        As for Ackles you’ve talked about how he knows what he has and uses it (or allows it to be used) as in Soul Survivor. I think he is very savvy as he approaches middle age to transition more and more to his natural comedic gifts. There are so many good looking has been out there, but JA won’t be among them. (Love him or hate him, I’m thinking of William Shatner at age 87 is off the page!)

  11. Jeff says:

    Blade Runner 2049 was a scary one for me because of my love for Blade Runner. I was afraid that if it turned out to be mediocre (or even just very good) instead of being a masterpiece, it would serve only to tarnish how I felt about the original. I’ve only seen it once and will dive back into it at some point, but my feeling as I walked out of the theater (and we splurged for the huge screen with the big comfy seats for this one) was that it didn’t quite maintain the standard that it set in the first set-piece with Dave Bautista, which I thought was magnificent. At that point I was on the edge of my seat, thinking that if this movie is this good for the entire running time, I’m going to be wrung out by the end.

    But everything you say about it is spot on, and notwithstanding my misgivings, it was still one of my favorites of the year. My only real disappointment was with the score, which just didn’t strike the right tone for me.

    • sheila says:

      // At that point I was on the edge of my seat, thinking that if this movie is this good for the entire running time, I’m going to be wrung out by the end. //

      I know what you mean. It definitely didn’t “wring me out” and I have mixed feelings about some of it – but I loved the mood and the atmosphere – and so much of the original was about mood/atmosphere.

      Also, I’m a huge fan of Mackenzie Davis – based on her amazing performance in last year’s Always Shine – so it was great to see her here in this small but very memorable role.

  12. Todd Restler says:

    I get what you’re saying about Three Billboards, I really do. Self-important, I won’t argue with you there. I will defend the movie- to play Devil’s advocate, but also since I did like it.

    I don’t think he was trying to tell an American story exactly. (I mean he was, of course, it was a very specific town this took place in.) But it could have taken place anywhere in the word in a small town. This was a fantasy/parable about the desperate need for closure that we have, both as people, and as a movie going audience. I know this because the movie doesn’t wear it’s themes on it’s sleeve, it bludgeons the audience with them in a relentless beating.

    None of that bothered me because (SPOILERS ABOUND)

    1. The plot of the movie was, for me, unpredictable. In hindsight it follows pretty standard beats, but in the moment, I didn’t really have a feel for where this was headed at all, which is always good. With regard to closure, the fact that a certain suspect was NOT the guy pissed the audience off almost as much as the characters

    2. I though McDormand was good, but the movie lived and breathed due to the work of the supporting cast. I loved Woody Harrelson. I liked Dinklage, John Hawkes, Abby Cornish. Zeljko Ivanek makes me happy just by being on screen. There was some good character work here (I think) that added some great texture where the script may have been lacking.

    3. The Sam Rockwell performance knocked me out and is the main reason I would recommend the film. As I type this I can’t remember the McDormand character’s name, but Jason Dickson is marked on my brain. He has a big, huge arc, and while the story beats aren’t necessarily new, the way he play that guy (in particular a scene where he reacts to the letter he got from Woody) really stood out to me. The beating scene too was filmed and played in such a way that I felt as sorry for him as I did for the other guy for some reason. I LOVED this performance.

    I know you love Rockwell too, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on him, and if you agree the acting throughout was good or not (I love your acting thoughts always)!

    And if the acting WAS good, did you not like the story? Or was it just the “self-importance” that got to you. Because if that’s a deal breaker, you may have to be off Olivier Assayas!

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