December 2017 Viewing Diary

Supernatural, Season 11 (2015-16)
What an incredible season, right up until the moment …. it was not an incredible season. I hadn’t re-watched in its entirety since it aired, although I cherry-picked favorite episodes to re-watch (of which there are so many!) There’s a stretch there – mid-season – where it was one awesome episode after another. An embarrassment of riches.

Quest (2017; d. Jonathan Olshefski)
One of the best documentaries of the year. I was so glad I got to review it. I reviewed for Ebert.

My Happy Family (2017; d. Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Groß)
Loved it so much. I included it on my Top 10 for Ebert.

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, Season 2 (2017)
Catching up with the episodes I missed. As a long-time critic of said cult, I cannot believe this is even happening. She is going so in-depth. It’s not just about people’s horror stories (although there are a lot of those), but she has made the decision to tackle the cult from every angle, including angles which may not be as scandalous – and may even be a bit “dry” in tone – like its tax-exempt status and the battle with the IRS – but are CRUCIAL to understanding the organization’s power. They’ve done an episode on the lies of LRH, they’ve had panels about Dianetics itself, they’ve done QAs with the audience through Reddit … it’s a massive ONSLAUGHT, an ATTACK on the organization which is unprecedented, all-encompassing. One of the reasons why her series feels more meaningful than the documentary Going Clear (as important as that was) is that she and Mike Rinder are former members. And so their interviewing of subjects comes from a very particular place of knowledge, which – in turn – creates a space of safety for those telling their stories. It’s just extraordinary.

Supernatural, Season 13, episode 9 “The Bad Place” (2017; d. Philip Sgriccia)
I mean, okay, if Jurassic Park is where y’all want to go. My trust was shattered last season, so forgive my reticence. I’ve been on board (mostly) this season and there have been pleasant surprises. We’ll see.

The Post (2017; d. Steven Spielberg)
I’ve seen it twice now. It’s exhilarating and detailed, with a strong story about freedom of the press vs. a bullying President … while also managing to be a character study of Kay Graham. (Her autobiography is wonderful, if you haven’t read it.) I am also a sucker for newspaper stories. I never get sick of the obligatory shots of the “run” of the paper, the gigantic machines printing out the paper with the headlines that will change everything, topple empires, reveal corruption … whatever. If you’re gonna do a newspaper story, you NEED to include that shot. The Post does not disappoint.

Permanent (2017; d. Colette Burson)
Not good enough. I reviewed for Ebert.

Zodiac (2007; d. David Fincher)
Has it really been 10 years? I watch it a couple of times a year, so it doesn’t feel like 10 years to me. I consider this one of the best films released in my lifetime (or, for sure in the last 30 years). I was shocked, SHOCKED, that my friend Allison had never seen it. Half the time when we are together we watch documentaries about serial killers. So we holed up in her apartment one snowy night and watched it. (We love to “show each other” stuff. It’s not enough that we watch whatever it is on our own. We both want to BE THERE when the other one experiences it.) It was so much fun “showing” her this. It was great, too, because she got so upset that the murder has never been solved, not really. She kept forgetting that it’s unsolved, and would Pause to say, “So … is that the guy?” I was like, “Welcome to Robert Graysmith’s Rabbit Hole.”

The Greatest Showman (2017; d. Michael Gracey)
There are many reasons people dislike The Greatest Showman, and I may not agree with said reasons, but who the hell am I? I’m just one person. Incidentally, Owen Glieberman lays out his theory why critics have hated The Greatest Showman and I think he is completely right. My feeling is (and this may be out of step with current film criticism, I have no idea) you try to understand what a movie is trying to do – what is the attempt – and then judge whether or not the attempt is successful. This goes back to my Actors Studio training. That’s how acting sessions are run. You ask the actor, “What were you working on/going for?” The actor answers. Then you discuss whether or not they did what they set out to achieve. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s hard to know what a movie is trying to achieve. “So … you WANT to include every cliche in the book? I don’t get it …” But other times – like with The Greatest Showman, it is vibrantly clear what it wants to be, what it wants to do, in every single over-crowded whirling frame. And it succeeds in that. I reviewed for Ebert.

Wind River (2017; d. Taylor Sheridan)
I love a movie that shows me a world I haven’t seen before (not a sci-fi world, but parts of the actual world), lets me into a community, lets me get to know people who live there, see how they live, what they do. (This is also part of why driving cross-country – and avoiding the Interstates while you do so – is such an important rite of passage. Don’t eat in McDonalds. Find the local diner! and etc.) Wind River is a wonderful film which I missed in its release early this year and kept reminding myself to catch up with it. I finally did. It takes place in an inhospitable (and yet stunning) world, freezing cold, with wide wide spaces between people, a place where you need to know how to take care of yourself – and handle a firearm – because 911 just won’t cut it, the cops are a half-hour drive away. Jeremy Renner is terrific as a “tracker,” roped into a murder case, with a newbie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) asking his help in getting the lay of the snowy land as she tracks down suspects. Beautifully filmed – so much so that you feel how cold it is – how dangerous that cold is – Wind River manages to have a depth of purpose as well, shining the light into a marginalized community.

Supernatural, Season 12, Episodes 1 – 4 (2016)
I couldn’t make it further. At least not in order. I didn’t have the heart. But these are very strong episodes, in retrospect, although the BMOL suuuuck and – like Rowena – had a deadly effect on the structure of the show. But removing them from the picture, there’s so much promise. It was episode 4 where I felt something … shift. Sam being “okay” with Mom going … just one episode later. And Dean being like, “You’re right” at the end of the episode. This is not the Supernatural house-style: normally they draaaaaaaag ooooooout these conflicts, plumbing them for as much mileage as possible, knowing that the true Gold is in the relationship of Sam and Dean: their ebbs and flows, conflicts and resolutions, etc. Plus the screengrab below. After 11 seasons, we got something we haven’t seen before, a situation neither brother has in before, unheard of, not even IMAGINED. It did not disappoint. At least not in that final moment. And Padalecki’s wince when the door slammed shut. Tragic.

Mother! (2017; d. Darren Aronofsky)
In Film Critic Land, this was one of the most talked about movies earlier in the year. The buzz was not a buzz. It was a roar. Of outrage, of condemnation, of mockery … Having not seen it at the time, I couldn’t really parse out what the problem was for everyone. (There were those who loved it too and hailed it as Important … the usual Melodramas). Every year there’s a movie like this. It’s fun to watch from afar, but also confusing if you’re not participating first hand. I knew I needed to cram it in at some point, just so I could catch up, belatedly. I thought it was bonkers, I thought it was SUPER DUMB, I thought it was pretentious as hell, and I also thought it was pretty great. Therefore, I cannot come down on one side or the other of the divide. The ending was so stupid, but for me the middle section – where the guests arrive – and keep arriving – and won’t leave – is where the film really took off. I was viscerally upset watching it, and was frustrated that she wasn’t like, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.” Which I suppose is the point. Michelle Pfeiffer is AMAZING. I think Lawrence is great, too, but Pfeiffer KILLLLLS it.

The Insult (2017; d. Ziad Doueiri)
This one is getting a limited release in early 2018, and I highly recommend you keep your eyes peeled. I popped in my screener at random, one freezing afternoon, and was so sucked into this story about a Lebanese man (a Christian) who cannot let go of what he perceives to be an insult from a Palestinian man. It’s a great and very smart film about immigration, prejudice, and perception. How so many problems in this world are not real … they are just a matter of different perceptions. We are all dealing with phantoms here … not reality. The court scenes near the end of the film – with prosecutor and defender (father and daughter, as it turns out) fighting for their individual clients’ perception – beautifully lays it all out. The film is also a great portrait of a multicultural society, with striations and hierarchies, a long history of “blending,” but – as we see in so many democracies currently – a strain of rage at being encroached upon by newcomers (who, in so many cases, are not newcomers at all). This is a very good film.

La Grand Illusion (1937; d. Jean Renoir)
A masterpiece. I re-watched because I finished the gigantic biography of Jean Renoir this month (I’ve been making my way through it for half a year), and want to re-visit as many of his films as I can. This movie really made his name in France, although there were others before it. It was a blockbuster. In a short 3 or 4 years though – the vision of logical and somewhat understanding German prison guards – its vision of the humanity of all of us and the folly of war – was totally out of style. No one was in the mood for good Germans anymore. But it’s a great prison-break movie. Jean Gabin is such a superstar.

Christmas Again (2015; d. Charles Poekel)
A brief discussion about this amazing movie on Twitter led to a re-watch. Fascinatingly enough, the director was tagged into the Twitter conversation and he informed us that – at long last – the film was coming out on DVD/Blu. It’s so good. I reviewed for Ebert. I treasure this movie. I’ve seen it about 4 times now, and I love it more every time.

Supernatural, Season 12, episode 11 “Regarding Dean” (2017; d. John Badham)
Despite the fact that I now blame Rowena – and the bunker – for helping to rupture the fabric of the show, removing all kinds of degrees of difficulty which used to MAKE the show – this is still a good episode. I felt, though, that they had lost so much ground by dropping the Mary-grief too soon … and by going into politics (please Supernatural no more politics. I’m already mad that you allowed the name of 45 to sully the landscape of my beloved show. NO MORE.) … that the image of Dean as a carefree mechanical-bull-rider maybe didn’t have the import that it would have if it had come, say, after “Into the Mystic,” an episode where Dean was feeling beleaguered about his life, looking towards the future, freaked out at being drawn to the Darkness, etc. – all kinds of identity issues freaking him out. As it was, coming in the middle of … what … SWAT team shootouts, it didn’t have the same “oomph”. However, I do like it as a stand-alone. Dean: “Whaaaaaaaaaat?” And Sam having to deal with Dean out of control … always good stuff.

Downsizing (2017; d. Alexander Payne)
I’m almost amazed at how … not good this is. My review for Ebert.

Supernatural, Season 7, episodes 1-3 (2011)
After a conversation on Twitter among Supernatural fans (those who say the Internet keeps humans isolated … I must quote my friend Mitchell: “You’re doing it wrong”), where I mentioned my experience with Season 7 (I didn’t care for it as a whole and then re-watched it and thought … Damn, I love this season) … I decided to do a re-watch. (I have been so overworked since … August maybe? With nary a break. I worked over Thanksgiving break. I worked on my summer vacation with my family. And etc. So Supernatural constitutes my “breaks” right now – a situation I am determined to change in 2018. All and work and no play makes Sheila … too much of a good girl, really. I don’t recognize myself.) Anyhoo, I watched the first 3 episodes of Season 7. It’s so freakin’ intense and there’s so much going on: the Leviathans, Castiel’s religious rampage, foreshadowings of Bobby’s death, and then Sam’s tormented broken brain. In episode 2 comes this SUPER intense scene in an abandoned warehouse, where Dean comes across Sam who is FLIPPING OUT and Dean works his ass off to get Sam back on track. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram about this scene:

Sometimes I forget – or take for granted – just how good these two guys are. Then I watch a scene like the warehouse scene, Season 7, episode 2 and I suddenly go, “Holy shit, these men can act.” They’re world-class in the nuts and bolts of acting (playing objectives, awareness of high stakes, listening and talking – the building blocks of all good acting) but within that structure – which they need, which everyone needs – their emotions are operatic epic – while still totally real. They are amazing.

Wormwood (2017; d. Errol Morris)
I have been waiting for this documentary series to air on Netflix ever since I first heard about it. It sounded intriguing: the great Errol Morris, Project MKUltra … already a minor interest of mine … interviewing actual people involved with this pretty well-known story – but ALSO casting well-known actors for re-creations. I wondered how it would be when it was all put together. It’s absolutely gorgeous: haunting, massive, epic … if he had been forced to cram all of this into a 90-minute film, a lot of the texture – and overall feeling of disorientation and paranoia – would be lost. Watching this was one of the experiences of the year for me. Great.

The Last Jedi (2017; d. Rian Johnson)
I enjoyed it a lot.

Escaping Polygamy, Season 1 (2014)
I didn’t even know this show existed. I watched the entire first season in one setting.

Tabloid (2011; d. Errol Morris)
Wormwood reminded me there have been a couple of Errol Morris films I haven’t seen, this being one of them. My God, it’s insane. It’s RIVETING. Especially the final sequence when things take a distinctly weird … or weirdER … turn.

On the Road (2012; d. Walter Salles)
I re-watched this in preparation for the piece I wrote on Garrett Hedlund in Mudbound. I remember loving his performance, and being struck by his vulnerability most of all (and thrilling to the big dance scene with him and Kristen Stewart: two Erotic Muses going AT IT.) He’s sexy, but there’s something lonely about him. Hedlund tapped into the desolation at the heart of the story: the movie itself isn’t great, and it doesn’t deal with the eternal storytelling problem of “here’s how this guy wrote this great book.” Movies about writers are hard. On the Road, in particular, is hard. The galvanizing force of the book is “Dean Moriarty” (aka Neal Cassady). And he is in the movie too. Although if you didn’t know the book you might wonder: “Okay, every single person in this movie is obsessed with this Dean guy. Maybe they all should get lives of their own?” One of the good things about On the Road is it admits Dean/Neal’s bisexuality – or, that’s too mild a term. Pansexuality. Uber-sexuality. Open-For-Business-24/7-sexuality. Erotic Muse. (You see, there’s a REASON that “Dean Winchester” in Supernatural is named Dean. You dig?) At any rate, Hedlund is terrific in this film.

The Hoax (2007; d. Lasse Hallström)
Clifford Irving, the great literary Hoaxer, just died this month, so I went back to re-watch this film about how he fooled everyone in the publishing world with his “autobiography of Howard Hughes.” Richard Gere is so GOOD in this. It’s a role he was born to play. I like him with that edge, the edge of narcissism and danger, the self-involvement and the heady fumes of self-creation … a guy who thinks on his feet, who dreams big, panics bigger … He’s terrific in this. So is Alfred Molina. Great story too.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013; d. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
A re-watch, again for the Hedlund essay. This movie is my jam. I love the grey wintry light. I love the fact that everyone is cold. Nobody is ever warm enough. I love the sense of elegy: worlds are dying out, the folk world is already almost over (the rise of Dylan coming, the game-changer), and then there’s Hedlund and Goodman – a “tangent” perhaps – but also evoking other American worlds – Beatniks, jazz, juvenile delinquents – those worlds also about to vanish. And through it strolls Llewyn, who is practically a spectator to his own life, in every instance. It’s such a good film. Plus: this scene. I can’t get enough.

Country Strong (2011; d. Shana Feste)
I had missed this movie. Gwyneth Paltrow is as good a singer as she is an actress (meaning: very good). Unlike a lot of other actors who sing, she’s good enough she could probably put out an album, two albums, go on tour. In fact, I’d buy one of her albums. I love her voice. (Her version of Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” on Glee is fabulous. Girl’s got range!) So anyway, I watched this in my “catch-up” course for Garrett Hedlund. And I really liked it. It’s so unbelievably melodramatic and yet … it works. I went to go see what Roger Ebert wrote about it and he nails it. He nails the context for it, he nails the throwback nature of it, he nails its flaws. But I was watching it for Hedlund, and he’s wonderful. He can sing too, in that deep voice he’s got. As a matter of fact, I went to iTunes and bought the soundtrack album. Sue me.

Supernatural, Season 7, episode 7 “The Mentalists” (2011; d. Mike Rohl)
A refrain of Mitchell’s comment (mentioned above): “You’re doing it wrong.” I mentioned on Twitter that Melanie was my favorite one-off character, as well as a possible THE mate for Dean (if Dean could ever have just one, she would be it). It’s a lonely little “ship,” Melanie and Dean. ANYWAY, a very kind Supernatural fan made me this Gif, capturing THE moment. So nice. This episode holds up. It’s lovely.

Supernatural, Season 7, episode 8 “Season Seven Time for a Wedding” (2011; d. Tim Andrew)
The main thing NOW about this episode is that Leslie Odom Jr. shows up as the sketchy crossroads demon (as well as Becky’s “dealer”) and Odom, of course, then went on to star as Aaron Burr in Hamilton on Broadway in a performance I will never EVER forget. I have chills just thinking about it.

Supernatural, Season 7, episode 9 “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” (2011; d. Guy Norman Bee)
I will never get sick of stoned Dean. “I just want my damn slammer back.” The entire episode is haunted by its final moment. I, for one, did not see that coming. I am curious if anyone else did? It’s devastating.

Alias Grace (2017; d. Mary Harron)
Margaret Atwood is having a hell of a year, isn’t she? First the Netflix series of Handmaid’s Tale and now Alias Grace. There’s a lot about Alias Grace to love: Sarah Polley’s involvement, for one. Plus an entirely Canadian cast, as far as I can tell – including Paul Gross and Martha Burns, who were the stars of Slings & Arrows (which Polley appeared in in Season 3). The acting, art direction, production design, conception, cast – PLUS the great Mary Harron – makes this a must-watch. If you don’t know the story, so much the better. It’s filled with surprises. A real murder-mystery.

Friday Night Lights (2004; d. Peter Berg)
Thank you, Todd, for the recommendation. A visceral sports movie rooted in its location. Honest.

In the Fade (2017; d. Faith Akin)
Diane Kruger is incredible in this, which is parts “whodunit”, parts criminal case, and then part … Death Wish. I am sometimes not so quick on the draw but … I did not see the end coming. I gasped.

Prime Suspect, Season 1, episode 1 (1991; d. Christopher Menaul)
A pioneer in what has now become a cliche: a woman boss in a man’s world, a “badass” (Grrrrrr) woman, stalking through murder scenes, slaying the sexists in her way. Helen Mirren is so good here, and some of the best moments are her private ones: how she leaves the evidence room, or her boss’ office, or the morgue – and has to take a moment to get herself together. Either she’s in triumph, or she’s upset: this is a woman who KNOWS she can not let her emotions show. She must appear to be All Business in front of those hostile guys. And she IS all business. Tom Wilkinson has the stereotypically thankless “female” role of frustrated boyfriend wondering why his mate can’t come home for dinner. The work here is complex, every scene satisfying, grounded by Mirren’s extraordinary performance. She’s so much fun to watch.

The Queen (2006; d. Stephen Frears)
I had forgotten how good this is. Clearly, there’s a Mirren theme. There’s so much that is amazing in her performance, the main thing being how she completely buries her extremely sexual energy (so much a part of her). It’s just flat out not there. It has no place in the character and so she “leaves it out.” I was also so struck by her WALK. It’s a stalking country-girl walk, a woman used to wearing big rubber boots so she can tromp through the mud. What a perfect and eloquent choice. This is not a delicate woman. Terrific.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1990; d. Peter Greenaway)
I saw this in Philadelphia with my boyfriend in its first release. We were obsessed with it. I used to sing like the little blonde boy in the film, “WASH ME! CLEAN ME! MAAAAAKE ME WHITER THAN SNOOOOOOOW” to make my boyfriend laugh. The movie is completely bonkers and completely riveting. The production design alone. But also the MUSIC. I don’t think I’ve seen it SINCE that first release, but I remembered almost everything.

Blame (2018; d. Quinn Shephard)
My first move of 2018! Review on Ebert this week. Written by Quinn Shephard while she was in high school. She’s 22 now. She directed and also starred. Hats off.)

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967; d. John Huston)
Melodrama doesn’t even cut it. This is pure homoerotic Southern Gothic. Elizabeth Taylor is so good. Brian Keith and Julie Harris are so good. It’s Robert Forster’s debut and he’s terrific. He has only 1 or 2 lines but he dominates. Plus, he rides a black mare through the woods, buck naked. But it is Brando … Brando … one really remembers. What a great and bold performance, of a gay man trapped in a straight world. So trapped that he has become a huge priss. Women are messy and undesirable. Their bodies disgust him. It is men he wants. He sits alone in his office at night, staring at small postcards of Renaissance sculptures, perfect naked men. He rehearses his smile in the mirror. He is TRAGIC. Terrence Rafferty wrote a terrific essay about this film and the book by Carson McCullers on which it is based.

The Confession Tapes, Season 1, episode 5 “8th and H” (2017; d. Kelly Loudenberg)
This Netflix series is so enraging I’m not sure I can even continue. The focus is on false coerced confessions. I’m fascinated by the subject, by human beings’ susceptibility to pressure and how on earth someone can be pressured to incriminate themselves for something they didn’t do. There are people in prison serving life sentences for crimes they didn’t do. Confessions are so convincing to juries. It’s incomprehensible that these people should be innocent. Why on earth would they confess? There are experts interviewed throughout, about the phenomenon of false confessions.

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21 Responses to December 2017 Viewing Diary

  1. I regret to say I’ve never caught up to Country Strong (it was in the theater the same time I was going to see True Grit every week, trying to lift myself out of a blue period…worked actually). But I do remember a couple of years later I was driving around town listening to an Adult Contemporary station (something I do about once a decade) and some duet remake of “Cruisin'” came on. Had no idea who it was by. The guy wasn’t much…but I kept thinking “Man, whoever this girl is, she’s giving Smokey a run for his money.” (This is heavy coming from me, because Smokey is one of my Top Five All Time singers.) For that reason alone, I held on the station to the end of the song, hoping for once, they would announce the singers.

    “And that was Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow….”

    That might be the most mind-bending moment I’ve experienced this century. I thought I must have dreamed it, but I went home and pulled it up on YouTube and it was every bit as good as I heard it the first time (not to mention every time since).

    You’re right, she could make it as a singer. It’s almost unfair! (lol)

    Happy New Year Sheila!

    • sheila says:

      NJ –

      // That might be the most mind-bending moment I’ve experienced this century. //

      hahahaha!!

      Yes, she really is wonderful. I think I first became of aware of her voice during her stint on Glee – she sang Cee Lo Green’s song, I think she sang a Fleetwood Mac song too – OH and she also sang Joan Jett’s “do you want to touch me” – which is yet another mind-bending moment for you.

      Something really free is unleashed in her when she sings! I would love it if she came out with an album.

      I think she’s really believable here as a country-wester DIVA, along the lines of Faith Hill. (If Faith Hill was a raging alcoholic that is). The movie is pretty dumb in parts but everyone in it is good. Tim McGraw too!

      Happy new year to you too!

  2. Maureen says:

    I had a paragraph of a comment, then went back to realize-you watched Friday Night Lights-the movie. Which is good-but oh my goodness, the series. One of my dreams is that you will start watching the TV show, and decide to do a recap of the episodes. I think that might be one of the most perfect things that ever happens to me :)

    • sheila says:

      Maureen –

      // One of my dreams is that you will start watching the TV show, and decide to do a recap of the episodes. //

      Ha! You’re so sweet. My sister Siobhan feels the same way – she just absolutely loved it and binge-watched it during her third trimester. She was like, “I was so uncomfortable that show was EVERYTHING to me.”

      I will definitely get to it!

  3. Stevie says:

    Brando in “Reflections in a Golden Eye.” I mean. This performance is so ahead of its time, I don’t know if there’s been a greater portrait of the inevitability of effeminacy. He coaches himself on manly behavior but the priss cannot be suppressed. At the worst possible moment, the facade is torn away and all that’s left to do is the socially sanctioned beating/killing. Brando is shocking in this naked portrait, a man unsuccessfully hiding in plain sight. His interaction with the world is so skewed he doesn’t quite recognize the moments when it all turns wrong. And excuse me, Taylor as his frustrated wife? Holy fright. This is TRAGIC, like you say. I get upset thinking about it.

    One of the most amazing parts is that Brando doesn’t sissify – he just uses his natural androgyne qualities and mixes in some narcissism (which feels foreign in him – one of those “doesn’t know how stunning he is” types). The scenes where he’s looking in the bathroom mirror, either preening or criticizing – looking to see if the gay is seeping out – practicing mundane greetings. Gives me the chills. I know this man. I was briefly this man (until I realized at 11 years of age that no amount of wrist stiffening and voice lowering was gonna work). The unconscious smile upon seeing a beautiful uniformed young man in close proximity – forget the saluting and genuflection – it’s an immediate telltale signal in that world of hypermasculinity/homoeroticism. It’s as if he called out, “Hey, sailor, new in town?” I keep thinking of Piggy in the Lord of the Flies: his crime is differentness, and his bloody end is inextricable, inevitable. Brilliant. xoxo Stevie

    • sheila says:

      Darling Stevie – so sorry for the delay. Last week was nuuuuuts.

      Your thoughts on this film are far more eloquent than mine and I ate up every word!

      // Brando doesn’t sissify – he just uses his natural androgyne qualities and mixes in some narcissism (which feels foreign in him – one of those “doesn’t know how stunning he is” types). //

      My God, this is sooooo true.

      // I don’t know if there’s been a greater portrait of the inevitability of effeminacy. //

      Wow.

      It’s also a tragic portrait of how damaging the closet is – and NOT just to him. Like you say, look at how the closet affects his wife. Just tragic all around. Him staring longingly at the Renaissance statues – locked in his office late at night – my heart broke.

      This is a really brave performance – and not just in the regular boring sense of the word. Brave because of how DEEP it goes. Not too many men want to “go there.”

      I really can’t improve on what you’ve written here. Every time I see the film I am so touched and horrified.

  4. Eva says:

    So glad to see you talking about the warehouse scene! It’s one of my favorites in the whole show. Every time I see it I’m torn between bawling, and just geeking out over how ON LOCK everything is – acting, writing, directing.

    Either way it destroys me. The heartbreak in Dean’s eyes, the unfiltered (to the point of seeming childlike) fear in Sam, Lucifer looking like he’s literally getting off on the events…guh.

    • sheila says:

      Eva – I know!! I guess I had forgotten the power of it – it’s been a while since I’ve seen it. It’s a DESPERATE scene – Dean fighting for Sam to “come back” …

      It’s also SO well-written.

  5. Todd Restler says:

    Along the lines of great sports movies, I had once mentioned the HBO movie Long Gone starring William Peterson, Virginia Madsen, and Dermot Mulroney.

    I consider it the far superior minor league baseball movie to Bull Durham.

    It’s hard to find, but or some reason a full length version (though not great quality – standard def it seems) is on you-tube right now. I never understand how or why that happens but if you want to see it this may be the time. I freakin’ love it.

    • sheila says:

      wow – how have I not heard of this? It’s still on Youtube – I will check it out.

      How’s our running list going, Todd, of things you’ve recommended to me that I love? Longer every day! :)

  6. Todd Restler says:

    As of 9:42 Friday night yes! You Tube “Long Gone Movie”.

    You’ve given me many, many more. Always flattered when you check mine out.

    Have you seen Olivier Assayas’ Carlos? I’ve has some issues with his movies, (REALLY disliked Clouds of Sils Maria – I liked Personal Shopper much more but still had some issues) but I saw the full 5 1/2 hour, 3 part movie (originally a mini-series on French TV).

    It was absolutely incredible. I mean stunningly good. It would make a great triple feature with Z and The Baader Meinhof Complex, two other movies I really love that I’ve recommended.

    Get to Carlos if you can, it’s worth the effort.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, I’ve seen Carlos- it’s amazing! Just watched the first episode in the new American Crime Story – with Edgar Ramirez as Versace – he’s terrific.

      • sheila says:

        although why they cast all Hispanic actors as Italians is slightly baffling. But okay, whatever. Penelope Cruz is RIVETING as Donatella.

        That whole sick weird story came flooding back to me watching that first ep.

  7. Todd Restler says:

    Gotta watch that!
    Glad you saw Carlos. I absolutely loved it.

  8. Jessie says:

    I have to thank you (and Stevie) for shoving Reflections in a Golden Eye onto my radar — what an interesting film! And what an extraordinary, solitary, fearless performance from Brando. Glad to have seen it, cheers.

    • sheila says:

      Jessie – so excited to hear you saw it!! Brando, man … I mean, that’s why he’s BRANDO. It’s hard to imagine another actor at that time – at his stardom level – doing what he did with that role.

  9. Paula says:

    //creates a space of safety for those telling their stories. It’s just extraordinary// this is so on the head, Sheila. Those people would not open up to anyone else. Breaks my heart that look in their eyes as they talk that says, “you understand”. I really enjoyed the discussion around how they’ve made this whole house of cards stand (how is this group not charged with something, anything? They took Al Capone down with tax fraud but David Miscavige is untouchable?)

    Also, I could kiss you for that comment about Gwyneth, Glee and Forget You. My guilty pleasure.

    • sheila says:

      Paula –

      // how is this group not charged with something, anything? They took Al Capone down with tax fraud but David Miscavige is untouchable? //

      I know. I think if anything’s going to get them it’s going to be a revoking of their tax exempt status. That was the main focus of Going Clear – and I’m so glad Leah Remini has devoted part of the show to that as well. At this point, the organization is an empty shell which owns a ton of real estate … There are still people trapped inside – or staying there “willingly” – but it’s really not a viable organization now, in any way shape or form. They just aren’t as frightening anymore. They still have a lot of money – but obviously they have little to no power anymore. at least not over critics.

      and total cosign on Gwyneth!! She can SING. She lets loose in her singing in a way she doesn’t in her acting – which is really interesting to me. I’d love it if she came out with an album. I did buy the Country Strong album. Ha! Talk about guilty pleasure!

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