June 2023 Viewing Diary

Succession (2018-2023)
I finally watched, having somehow resisted the DEAFENING buzz over the last couple of years. I like Jeremy Strong, liked his small moment in Zero Dark Thirty, he totally stood out in The Big Short (directed by one of Window Boy‘s best friends, who also exec-produced Succession – all part of the crowd I hung with during my Chicago years, at least when I was with him, which was …. always. All those dudes are famous now, either as actors, or writers with the best jobs, the jobs every comedy writers wants – writing for Conan or Colbert or Seth Meyers, winning Emmys etc. … but Adam McKay is FAMOUS famous.). I was intensely annoyed by all the “wow, Jeremy Strong is obnoxious, he takes the Method too far” chatter, pattered around by people who will never be excellent at anything because they suffer from tall poppy syndrome. What he was doing is not necessarily Method, Jesus Christ. It’s his process, you mediocre assholes. Vulture made fun of him for using the word “dramaturgy” – he used it correctly, I might add – and it’s a valid term, in common use in his profession. Way to … make fun of someone for using a big word correctly? And you’re a major entertainment outlet? It’s disgusting. Yes, let’s all just talk in Twitter-ese snark all the time. Fuck all those people. I hadn’t even seen the show by then and I was on Strong’s side against that ridiculous chatter. That out of the way: I binged it in … God, I don’t know. Two weeks? It’s everything everyone said it was, although I think some of the “this is the best show ever made” chatter is … more of a commentary on the state of affairs than reflective of reality. It’s a very good show, though. What’s wild is your feelings about the characters fluctuate on an episode to episode basis, sometimes even a moment to moment basis. GREG. TOM. I CAN’T KEEP UP WITH YOUR DUPLICITY. I love Roman, he might be my favorite character. And honestly, Jeremy Strong’s work in Succession is evidence of what that deep a process has given him.

Strong goes deeper because he wants to and feels he needs to and the proof is onscreen. The ending was brutal. I wish we had more closure with Marcia. Was she an asset? Like a Ghislaine Maxwell asset? With her mysterious past? Loved that character. Honestly, I think Matthew Macfadyen’s work rivals Strong’s, and in some cases surpasses it because of the nature of the character he played. A sinister snakey sycophant with an incredible public face, almost hapless. Boy, everyone underestimates him. I am trying to think of an equivalent character in current culture and I’m coming up empty. Claude Rains could have played it and, in some cases, did. But … it’s a “type” … the ambitious court jester, eye on the prize … Nobody saw Tom coming because nobody gave him a second thought and obviously that was a grave error. I dug it and I needed the escape, I needed a good binge. These people are all despicable. People like this are why the world sucks. The wrong people are in charge. Elon Musk and Zuck challenging each other to cage matches. God, they’re so embarrassing. I guess I’m just used to having better quality men in my life, not insecure losers. So watching Succession was like hanging out with the worst of the worst. The miracle of all of these actors is that they could generate sympathy for these characters, even though what they want is … despicable. What they REALLY want, of course, is to be loved in an unconditional way by their monster of a father. That’s never gonna happen. But … it’s heartbreaking in a way. All of the scenes where Kendall gets manic, and plans parties … UGH I CAN’T WATCH. You’re not a hip hop mogul, Kendall! STOP.

Mending the Line (2023; d. Joshua Caldwell)
Speaking of Brian Cox …I reviewed for Ebert.

Brooklyn 45 (2023; d. Ted Geoghegan)
I really liked this. I reviewed for Ebert.

On the Waterfront (1954; d. Elia Kazan)
Speaking of the so-called Method … but again, Brando wasn’t really a Studio guy, he was an Adler guy, but even that isn’t accurate. She said he was fully formed already in her class, a natural. His instincts were perfect. I know this movie practically by heart – my Dad loved it – but it’s always good to revisit.

RMN (2023; d. Cristian Mungiu)
I made up my list of the best films of 2023 before I saw RMN, directed by the great Cristian Mungiu, one of the leading lights of the Romanian New Wave (and that’s a pretty crowded field). He’s directed two films I consider harrowing classics – 2007’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and 2012’s Beyond the Hills (which I wrote about here). Both films are unforgiving and relentless, brutal and mortifying – as in the religious meaning of “mortification”. I highly recommend both films, as well as Graduation (2016). Mungiu, like Christian Petzold, like Jafar Panahi (well, him most of all) are two of the international directors I wait – patiently – to hear from again. And so we’ve heard from him again. RMN quickly shot to the top of my unofficial list of best movies I’ve seen so far: another harrowing experience, things moving to an inevitable climax, nothing to stop it, the vicious bigotry of small towns, the xenophobia, the racism … all incited by a small boy walking through the woods where he sees something, something so traumatic he stops speaking. We in the audience don’t know what it was. The entire film is powered by that mystery: the forest on the edge of town, filled with bears, wolves … The final sequence is just terrifying because … this is how these things go, it’s how it would go. Same with his other films. Beyond the Hills is based on a true story and the others might as well be. Great film. There’s also one incredible scene – with about 40 people onscreen at the same time – a town meeting where people debate the crisis – and it plays out in one, the camera in a static position, the “debate” – poisonous and divisive – plays out in real time. Extraordinary.

Shiny Happy People (2023)
I can’t believe this exists now. It’s akin to what Leah Ramini did to Scientology. She didn’t just go after the symbolic figures. She went after the whole thing. This looks like it’s about the Duggars, and it is to some degree. But it’s really about the IBLP, and if you are into this sort of thing – and follow controlling groups with queasy fascination the way I do – then you know about the IBLP. But I don’t really matter: I am an outsider, an onlooker, the people who grew up in it REALLY know what it is, and they are the ones who matter. The Duggars saw their TV show as a “ministry”. They are such dyed in the wool hypocrites it really is amazing, to use a cliche, that they can sleep at night. So for the tabloid part of it, you get all the Duggar shenanigans. But that’s window dressing for what’s really going on. Very bold documentary, with victims centered in the story.

Don’t Bother to Knock (1952; d. Roy Ward Baker)
I’ve written quite a bit about it over the years, including recently.

Asteroid City (2023; d. Wes Anderson)
Some directors have quirks – most of the good ones do – and in some cases, the quirks drive me insane. In other cases, I love them and when people complain about a certain director’s quirks, I feel like … you want him/her to get rid of the thing that makes them unique? Wishing they would just stop it with this or that artistic quirk is … like asking Titian to stop being so obsessed with the color red. Like, dude, it’s his thing. Find another painter who never uses red if you can’t stand it, but Titian’s gonna Titian. This happens all the time with Lars von Trier and Baz Luhrmann, two examples of directors who get criticized for the very things – in my view – that make them successful and unique. Take away Baz Luhrmann’s so-called over-the-top-ness and you don’t have Baz Luhrmann. He chooses material wisely and well, considering his sensibility. He comes from OPERA, people. Why are you looking for subtlety? It’s idiotic. People have very strong opinions about Wes Anderson! Wow! I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite, but I love a couple of his films DEARLY, they are in my heart forever, and his wistful-ness and bittersweet-ness is a real sweet spot for me. I think the farthest he ever pushed his quirks was in The French Dispatch (which I reviewed) – the film was almost alienating. It kept you at arms’ length. The film was the opposite of welcoming, and the nostalgia was abstract. Not nostalgia for family or childhood but a magazine’s heyday, a magazine which pre-dated Anderson’s own existence. (By the way: I really relate to that kind of nostalgia). I think French Dispatch is one of his best films. I loved the alienation effect, the sheer obsessiveness on display. Asteroid City is, in a way, back to the early themes he’s explored: childhood, sad yearning, loneliness, flawed parents … but the atmosphere, the colors, the fake desert, the fakeness of it all … It’s as far out there at the very edge of his quirks, just like French Dispatch was, only in a different way. I adored it. I really loved my pal Glenn Kenny’s review.

Morning Glory (1933; d. Lowell Sherman)
Allison and I watched this. I sometimes forget how damn DARK this film is. Long ago I wrote about Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in this. It’s just really upsetting. A departure for Hepburn. She’s out on a limb.

Summer with Monika (1953; d. Ingmar Bergman)
It’s been a minute since I watched this. In 1953, Harriet Andersson appeared in two Ingmar Bergman movies – this one, and Sawdust and Tinsel: two totally different characters, so much so it seems like two different actresses. A CRASHING talent, which of course was not a fluke, as the rest of her performances with Bergman show, particularly Through a Glass Darkly where she gives, in my opinion, one of the greatest performances in cinema. But it all started with the coming-of-age (in the truest sense) Summer with Monika, which expresses the Eden – almost literally – of first love, young love – and then what happens when you leave Eden. As of course you must do. You can’t be 17 in a Utopia forever. Her direct-to-camera look grips you. She’s daring you to judge her. It’s beautifully shot too: the light, the water, the silvery-ness of it all.

Catching Killers: Body Count: The Green River Killer (2021)
This is how I relax. I watch docu-series about serial killers. I was actually not familiar with the ins and outs of this case, although I knew the bare bones of the facts. The cops who worked the case are still alive, and they still seem haunted by it, they still get upset in their current-day interviews.

The Wild One (1953; d. László Benedek)
Marlon Brando is outRAGEOUS in this. The charisma is inSANE, and he oozes it everywhere. It’s a very QUIET performance, tender and thoughtful – one of his instincts for material (see: the cab scene with Rod Steiger in On the Waterfront). Brando’s willingness to retreat into interior thoughtfulness and interior pain is one of his tendencies – if you could say he has a tendency. This tendency, or instinct, or whatever you want to call it, unbalances The Wild One, tilting it towards Brando. Which of COURSE we’re gonna tilt towards Brando. If you don’t want us to tilt towards Johnny in The Wild One, then for God’s sake DON’T CAST BRANDO. We’re supposed to be on the townspeople’s side. I mean, Stanley Kramer produced. He was the opposite of counter-culture anti-establishment. But who on earth is going to be on the townspeople’s side watching this? You want to get on the back of one of those bikes, and roar out of town! There’s a lot of silliness: the biker gang is more like a group of rowdy teenagers or drunken frat-boys as opposed to the criminals on a rampage they often were. (See: Hunter Thompson’s entire book about the Hell’s Angels, particularly the incident in Hollister in 1947 – on which The Wild One is loosely based. The bikers in Hollister weren’t jitterbugging in the club, and goofing off on the sidewalk. They were tearing shit up, and dragging girls into the bushes, and the situation was extremely scary.). The guys in The Wild One look like Grease extras. And strolling through it all, calmly, deliberately, sexy as FUCK, is Marlon Brando. This performance launched a generation, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say. This performance inspired James Dean (who had yet to appear, although he was right around the corner), it inspired Elvis (sideburns, motorcycles, motorcycle cap).

The performance inspired young actors – it was more influential than Streetcar, at least in terms of the coming youthquake. Elvis was only two years away. (He recorded his first tracks at Sun Records in 1953, the two quavering ballads he said he recorded for his mother. Uh-huh. Okay, Elvis.) Brando’s reply to the question “What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” was “Whaddya got?” You could say, again without too much exaggeration, that the late 1960s youthful rebellion was launched over a decade before in 1953 with those two words.

Stalag 17 (1953; d. Billy Wilder)
It’s hard to choose, considering the body of work, but Stalag 17 is maybe my favorite Billy Wilder. I talked about it on my pal Nic Rapold’s excellent podcast, The Last Thing I Saw. (It was a group event: my friend Farran, Steven Mears and I were all guests. Each of us had to pick a Wilder to discuss and I picked Stalag 17. We each – without planning it – chose films from different eras so it was a nice balance.) At any rate, Stalag 17 appeals to a part of me not really socially acceptable, the part that doesn’t want to play well with others – at least not if the “others” are assholes. Maintain your independence. Not everyone is going to like you. Fuck them. Don’t try to fit in to a group dynamic if the group dynamic is SICK. (See: Twitter. When I hear writers – writers!! – saying “This wouldn’t play on Twitter” I think: “Why are you judging what will or will not play based on the sickest dynamic on the Internet?” Fuck Twitter. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Write as though it doesn’t exist. Refuse to participate and refuse to let it get inside you. I mean, you can be on Twitter – I’m still on Twitter – but there’s a dynamic there and you can actually refuse to participate in it. RESIST THE GROUP.) I think Stalag 17 is one of Holden’s best. Hard-bitten. Tough-minded. His final line … yeah, you could see it as a wisecrack, but I think he means it. I never want to see any of you assholes again and if we run into each other on the street let’s pretend not to know each other because FUCK each and every one of you. Now THAT’S a catharsis.

The Earrings of Madame de … (1953; d. Max Ophüls)
Masterpiece. I’ll never be “over it”. Breath-taking accomplishment by every single person involved, before the camera and behind. Wow.

Prisoner’s Daughter (2023; d. Catherine Hardwicke)
I just reviewed for Ebert. I love Catherine Hardwicke’s work, so this gave me a chance to sing her praises.

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23 Responses to June 2023 Viewing Diary

  1. Jessie says:

    Succession is such a ride! just a thoroughly entertaining jaunt – I think often what I’m looking for these days (I rewatched Death of Stalin the other day seeking the exact feeling) is just the feeling of being held in supremely competent hands for the purposes of entertainment. You know? It’s not a lean-in joint. It comes to you, but because it’s not flat you don’t feel bored by it. It’s just pleasure in craft. You know the writing is gonna cut like a razor, and you know the performances are gonna be alert and keyed in and specific. I just really enjoy exactly what everyone is putting down and never feel like there’s any gap or lack. And there’s also enough depth to the specific pathologies of every character — they’re as purposefully distinct as Karamazovs — that tracking their through-lines is, again, just a matter of pleasure, even as they express themselves in the most excruciatingly exposed or despairing way. Totally agree on MacFadyen, and I love the Disgusting Brothers as a team. I also really loved Alexander Skarsgaard this year, how he skates off-normal with his light voice and enormous shoulders.

    There are elements of s4 that didn’t work 100% for me, but it was never less than a good time, and the final episode was a DOOZY. I replayed that sibling fight in the belljar boardroom multiple times just delighting in how the three of them played through the shifts. Snook putting her hand to her ear sarcastically, Strong losing himself, Culkin’s nihilism. Actually Sarah Snook is a local girl and often she’ll react to something with a gesture of mockery or pure sarcastic rage that instantly transports me in time to year 6 recess, I love it.

    Turns out I have a lot to say about Succession, haha!

    • sheila says:

      Love all these thoughts, Jessie!

      I totally agree with what you said about the joy of watching competency – very under-rated!! I heard that a lot of this was … not improv – but they were given a lot of freedom to sort of flesh out the dialogue on the spot – particularly Kieran Culkin – who – my God some of his under his breath mutterings were just hilarious – and BRUTAL. That character really got to me. And how his sexual impotence was so obvious but never really … dealt with. Like, does he want to fix it?? Or is he good with it?

      How about the “relationship” with Gerry – that lasted for a season – and then really came back to bite him in the ass. Wow. Complete chaos.

      Sarah Snook! I was not familiar with her work going into this and I was blown away. Of all the characters, she felt the most – not relateable – but maybe the most human. Like, she just wanted “in”. She was the girl, she was left out of all this stuff – and … God, the man she married. what a climber. and she totally thought she could get around him and then look what happened. I have to admit I saw that coming.

      The scripts were just brilliant – and I am not at all into high finance or business – but I could totally track what was going on. I could follow it.

      Skarsgaard was awesome. I was so fascinated by him – he seemed so laid back but … I could never predict what he was going to do. A fearsome person – like, never ever trust him. And Adrien Brody – God, that scene too just killed me. He was legit trying to give Brian Cox a heart attack. These people are inhuman and I totally buy it. Living in a bubble like that – you’re just not normal, you lose something in that process.

      I’m curious what parts didn’t work for you?

      I feel like there were a lot of carrots put out there – that were then dropped. Like the whole thing about Marcia’s past which was such a big deal that Shiv hired a private investigator!! But then it was just dropped and she eventually just vanished from the show. I wish they had developed that more! I was very intrigued.

      The family fight scenes were truly incredible – and the moments when they bonded were so few and far between I never trusted them. And I also never really got past my contempt for people who live in that echelon. I know it’s bad of me but … people are STRUGGLING out here in these streets and you people sicken me.

      and the brother who lived out in the desert with the call girl girlfriend … what a windbag. such a funny performance though.

      Feeling like I was in really good hands … it’s so what I felt too. I knew they would stick the landing. And up until the last scene I really had no idea how it would go!

    • sheila says:

      and oh God, Death of Stalin. I am still so amazed how well that movie works. so difficult, it seems like, to get everyone on so much the same page that the tone is carried. amazing.

      • Jessie says:

        the joy of watching competency – very under-rated!!
        It is SO slick as a show that they really do manage a miracle to not have it come off as completely empty; you know these are not….this sounds bad but they’re not coming in with movie star charisma, it’s not that kind of capture, it doesn’t need you, it’s not a mutual thing. There are no shadows, no subtext. Does that make any kind of sense? In the wrong hands it would be like watching the blandest child of Shark Tank and Dynasty.

        I also never really got past my contempt for people who live in that echelon. I know it’s bad of me but …
        I don’t think it’s bad of you because I don’t think you’re supposed to respond with anything but pleasure! Or perhaps I am just a sociopath. But you watch it and you’re like oh, shit, the climax of this episode is that his dad put suicide barriers all around the top of the building and now Kendall can’t jump off and his black hole of a self crumbles a little more and your (my) response is yessss…….haha give me more. Strong in particular was very good at generating those moments of mania and catastrophic despair that feel authentic and real and specific, but I never felt like in recognising his damage and humanity that the show was expecting you to suspend any kind of structural awareness of him as a parasite and contemptuous human being.

        Roman and Geri!! I was dead sold on them after season two, and it was perfect that he threw away his chance with the only person who truly saw something in him on a bizarre manic power trip reaction to that hologram of his dad.

        Adrien Brody was so good!! And Cromwell! Everyone kicking goals.

        I’m curious what parts didn’t work for you?
        Yes it was partly the dropped carrots like Marcia, but also something about how decompressed the season was, with maybe half the episodes being essentially in real time and the rest not being far off. Except for the election episode I thought that all these set-piece productions were masterfully orchestrated, but never quite connected in the way that decompressed talk-fests in other seasons were. Perhaps because s4 was so responsive/reactive rather than active and scheme-y? I know that the election episode was very cathartic for many people but I kind of thought it was unusually clumsy – however I recognise that it probably hits different over here. I also really missed Gerri, and the Tom-Greg show.

        and the brother who lived out in the desert with the call girl girlfriend … what a windbag. such a funny performance though.
        He is so funny and the way the show leaned into Willa’s play being AWFUL, hysterically AWFUL, made me so happy.

  2. Jeff says:

    I feel like “Titian’s gonna Titian” has a chance to become one of your Hall of Fame phrases. Classic!

  3. Ted says:

    Great post. You just lengthened my to-be-watched pile considerably.

    But, oh! Succession, we need a dinner to discuss! Some of the best writing on TV in recent memory. King Lear meets The Godfather. The casting is perfect. I thought the score was really excellent. A simple but distinctive theme that seems to almost be a classical piece you know…but not really – on which the composer makes variation after variation.

    I’m so in agreement with you on Jeremy Strong’s work and the whole non-drama around his methodish approach. Oh yawn. It seems like every couple of years, we have to listen to someone get on their pedestal about the evils of The Method (there’s only one, you know) when most of the time, they are talking about a method, i.e. some individual actor’s way of getting where they want to get to. How is this such a threat? How does it effect anyone else’s work? You know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of a certain kind of European talking about Americans. “Oh, you A-MERicans. You are so…. your diet is so…. your politics are so…..” I’ve ceased counting the number of times I have had to listen to this poorly informed, chauvanistic bombast.

    Shout-out for Keiran Culkin’s cringe-inducing character work! Some of his choices were so physically large, e.g. his sinking into his seat when pressured by his father at the board meeting – but I never questioned them. I thought that the ensemble’s diversity of approaches was a real asset and became character defining in and of themselves. You wouldn’t ask Alan Ruck to do Jeremy Strong’s vulnerable deep dive because his character was too much about superficiality. Sarah Snook was too busy playing both sides. Her ACTION (in acting terms) was To Strategize so as to never be left out in the cold. She was capable as an actor of being vulnerable, but to plumb that would be to show weakness, and those moments when her eyes began to glisten, she looked like a six-year-old caught with her knickers around her ankles.

    The bald greed for power (and also for love and for money) was so of-the-moment, but I thought the strength of the writing/directing/acting here was to let one get inside of that lust. No character here was good, but at times they could be likeable enough that I found myself rooting for them. The script smartly resisted commenting on the morality of the characters in real time.

    So much to talk about!

    • sheila says:

      Ted – I can’t wait to discuss over dinner!! Next time I come!

      Good call on the score. I kept wondering if it was actually an extant classical piece it was so beautiful and rousing. Used really well. The tension in some of these episodes! It was agonizing!

      // Oh yawn. It seems like every couple of years, we have to listen to someone get on their pedestal about the evils of The Method (there’s only one, you know) //

      Right? It’s so tiresome. and reductive. written by people who just … don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m not an “expert” in many things but I can say with some confidence that I know what I’m talking about when I talk about the Method and its history – and I know it from practical experience since I was a teenager. I know you feel the same.

      My advice to “pundits” of this sort is to volunteer for … one week only … or even one DAY … during a rehearsal process for a local community theatre production. You could run props for all I care. Just to get a feel for the collaboration – and also how actors pull a performance together. It’s the same shit, whether it’s Meryl Streep or a local beloved character actor who plays Ebenezer Scrooge every year for the Christmas season. It’s the same thing. Watch how actors work. Stop thinking you know everything. YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT.

      There’s that moment in Italy – I think? – when Jeremy Strong collapses in tears outside – and his siblings rush over to him, truly concerned – one of the few times this ever happens. And Strong’s work is so deep there – this doesn’t come from just “talent”. This comes from technique and a “method” (whatever) of working that ALLOWS him to be that much in a make-believe space.

      // It reminds me of a certain kind of European talking about Americans. “Oh, you A-MERicans. You are so…. your diet is so…. your politics are so…..” //

      Seriously. Sorry, Europeans, we bailed out your ass when you were caught up in fascist malarkey – you’ve got a lot to answer for too.

      // Some of his choices were so physically large, e.g. his sinking into his seat when pressured by his father at the board meeting //

      Yes!! You know what that posture reminded me of – and I wonder if it was deliberate (it’s hard to tell – Culkin’s work feels truly improvisatory) – is the scene in Godfather II when Michael confronts Fredo – and John Cazale is lying backwards in that circular low chair – his body flailing around in anguish at being “stepped over” – The chair just happened to be there in that room and Cazale – so inventive and so responsive – used the shape of that chair in the moment.

      It’s almost the same kind of scene too – Roman being stepped over. Not taken seriously. In awe of his dad. so wanting his dad’s approval.

      But still … a nasty guy, a womanizer (who never has sex), a complete wild card.

      Culkin was up for another role – I can’t remember which one – and he felt he could do Roman, a complete change-up from anything he’d ever done. He put himself on tape and submitted it. I’m SO impressed with him.

      // Her ACTION (in acting terms) was To Strategize so as to never be left out in the cold. She was capable as an actor of being vulnerable, but to plumb that would be to show weakness, and those moments when her eyes began to glisten, she looked like a six-year-old caught with her knickers around her ankles. //

      I love this!

      The scene where the news breaks that their dad is dead is phenomenal – in my memory it’s one take although maybe there are some cuts. The news is totally unexpected – and they are thrust into a new reality where jostling for the best position is thrown out the window. they are scared and grieving – Sarah Snook in particular is just destroyed – Nobody can believe what has happened and the scene is such a perfect representation of the sheer unbelievability of death – the shock takes a while to wear off.

      // thought the strength of the writing/directing/acting here was to let one get inside of that lust. //


      In a way, they’re all villains – but they’re also just people … I watched that doc about the Murdoch “kids” and the whole Murdoch legacy and how these adult kids are basically waiting around to see who will be picked to lead (I mean, I’m simplifying – but that’s about it). I can’t even begin to imagine what life is like in that situation …

      I thought the writers/creators did a phenomenal job of opening up this world and how it operates to us.

      I miss you!!

      P.S. have you seen The Bear? I just finished that one and I’m in love with it. although it gives me nightmare flashbacks to working in restaurants.

      • sheila says:

        and The Bear features amazing in-the-moment acting, great actors and characters you invest in. season 1 was frenetic to the point of an anxiety attack – and the second season is a deep dive into the characters – I was surprised at how much it moved me.

  4. Lyrie says:

    So happy to see all the love for Succession! I binge watched the first three seasons just in time to watch the fourth season in real time, and what a ride – I hate them all, I love them all!

    Jessie, I agree, I wish we had explored Marcia’s background more – we barely got any glimpses of her inner life, and I wanted MORE! And although I’m becoming really wary of the reboot trend, I’d love to see what Greg has become, 5 or 10 years later. Does he become Tom2? Does he have his own Gregling? Does he marry up? (I guess in that world he couldn’t really marry down) Has he taken over his grandfather’s canadian estate, living a fulfilling rural life, has foreshadowed by his relationship with cowbells in the series?

    I found the people mocking Strong saying “dramaturgically” really odd – I don’t know if it’s about not taking actors seriously, wanting to take them down a notch (jealous?) or just plain idiocy but… I don’t know, when a doctor or a mechanic uses a word I don’t understand, I look it up and I’m grateful I learned something – I don’t go “ha ha big word!” I don’t know much about acting but I remember hearing Culkin justify one of his choices by saying “it felt right in my belly” and I thought that was absolutely great too!

    Yesterday I watched Run Rabbit Run with Sarah Snook – a horror movie – and it was weirdly satisfying to see her UNRAVEL without trying to contain anything.

    And Ted, yes, I love the Nicholas Britell’s soundtrack so much, I’ve been listening to it non stop for the past three or four months. I’m a little obsessed.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, my main beef – or what I think was missing – was not closing out the Marcia story. She loomed so large in Season 1 – such an intriguing complicated woman!

      Shout out to Caitlin Fitzgerald – an actress I really like – who played the woman who hooked up with Tom (grossly) at his bachelor party who then segued (unhappily) to Roman. she isn’t in it a lot but what she does with the role is indicative of why I really like her! She’s the co-lead in a recent film I LOVE – always shine.

      and seriously: GREG. One thing I thought was a little “off” was how he was kind of this fish-out-of-water child-man – it developed very quickly into that – like, not really a partier or a drinker – when the very first time we meet him he gets so stoned he vomits out of the eye holes of his costume.

      I have a feeling that Nicholas Braun’s performance developed very quickly into the comic masterpiece that it was – and so the writers started writing TO that – or, just giving him the space to let him GO. He is FANTASTIC.

      I love the first moment we realize we should NOT underestimate him – and that he is WORKING this scene (when he tells on Tom to Geri ) – I literally gasped at that moment and from that moment on I got even more interested in Greg. Ooooh, who is HE? He’s not just some bumbling comic relief – he is going to be a FORCE. He is also just soooo funny, his line readings …

      // I don’t know much about acting but I remember hearing Culkin justify one of his choices by saying “it felt right in my belly” //

      I love that! Yes, actors are super smart about their own profession. It’s so annoying. I get it when civilians do it – assuming all actors are dumb egotists (when honestly the opposite is true) – but when a site like VULTURE does it? I’ll never feel the same way about that site again. They were rightly TRASHED for this Tweet. So gross!

  5. Lyrie says:

    //She loomed so large in Season 1 – such an intriguing complicated woman!//

    I loved the moment at the funeral when the children’s mother introduces the mistresses to include the new one, who’s been treated like shit by everyone, and she gets some acceptance in grief. But yeah, where was Marcia before?

    //Shout out to Caitlin Fitzgerald//

    When she makes him swallow his own cum, right? She was great, I loved her whole trickster energy. Not intimidated one bit by that whole circus.

    //I have a feeling that Nicholas Braun’s performance developed very quickly into the comic masterpiece that it was – and so the writers started writing TO that – or, just giving him the space to let him GO. He is FANTASTIC.//

    After the pilot, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep watching – it was good but without liking ANYone, it’s tough – but the title was Shitshow at the Fuck Factory, so I HAD to watch at least one more. And Greg has that whole moment of pure slapstick with the cowbell, and that’s the moment I was sold – HE sold the show to me.

    // Ooooh, who is HE? He’s not just some bumbling comic relief – he is going to be a FORCE. //

    Yes! Hilarious but ready to be nasty given the opportunity. It’s how he ADAPTS that I fond so interesting, with him.

    //He is also just soooo funny, his line readings …//

    If it is to be said, so it be, so it is makes me CRY with laughter every time. I love that the writing is brilliant, and also the showrunner is so confident he trusts everyone to do their job, and that the actors were given room to try things.

    • sheila says:

      Oh my God and when Greg please with Tom, “I’m too young to be in Congress so much!”


    • sheila says:

      and yeah – Roman’s girl just does not care. She would never get sucked in too far – it seems like she finds it all a big joke, which is … relatable.

      She’s not like Willa – oh my God Willa – who is CLEARLY making a choice based on money even though she is so CLEARLY not enthusiastic. like, he wants her to move to a ranch in New Mexico? and … she’s a playwright?? why is this so funny and depressing. And by the end, Willa is all in – she is going to be “the first Lady” some day (maybe) and she’s INTO IT. Willa’s journey is pretty depressing. also how they always just send her out of the room when they start talking. lol

      • Lyrie says:

        And she stays with him for a while – she’s not in it for the money, the network, certainly not the sex… She’s just amused by the freak show, isn’t she? Love her.

        Oh Willa. So very depressing. The resignation. And yet, there is some sort of tenderness? That the other siblings don’t get.

        • Lyrie says:

          When she says, the day (or a few days?) before her wedding “everything is so vivid.” Girl, you need to leave and you need medication, maybe.

        • sheila says:

          she’s so visibly depressed by her boyfriend. You can see her face when he talks about water or New Age stuff or all his big plans and she just … can barely stop herself from rolling her eyes. She’s basically tolerating him.

          Is she using him to get her play produced? He seems like a “catch” until you talk to him for 3 seconds.

          • Lyrie says:

            I think it started out that way, but it seems her play wasn’t very good, and Connor was offering financial stability and a girl has to make a living, and I imagine you get used to getting really nice things. And once you goal or dream is dead… she just let herself get swallowed up.

      • sheila says:

        She was totally just fascinated by the freak show. She’ll tell stories about it for the rest of her life!

        • Lyrie says:

          And what a story: she *almost* fucked one the Roy kids AND she made the head Waystar Royco swallow his own cum, ha!

          • Lyrie says:

            And what I love about this moment is not the thing in itself so much as the successive reactions of Tom – first, so proud to have done something so daring, then when he doesn’t get the validation from the other guys, ashamed but clinging to the pride to avoid complete humiliation – oh, Tom! I love Matthew Mcfayden so much, he made me feel for that handsome mediocre fool!

  6. SeanG says:

    Hi Sheila, always enjoy your viewing diaries. Did Brando and Elvis ever meet? or would that be just too much. I just starting watching Baz’s “The Get Down” and I am totally enthralled and loving it. amazing.

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