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Contentious C

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  1. My ribcage is...not trying to make me unalive, so there's that. I cut back to just going 2x, enough to try to keep whatever shape I'm in and not backslide. One upper day, one lower day. It's not like I'm eating anywhere near enough to get bigger anyway. Since I don't trust barbell presses, and may never again, I started doing pike push-ups on rings for my shoulders, and I gotta say, they're 10 times better than OHPs anyway. No issue with mid/upper back support, the lockout position is killer for side delts, the stabilizing is a huge challenge...just love these. Plus even at bodyweight, there are a huge pile of step-ups I can do with where my legs are positioned and/or boxes. Sucks, though, since I'd just cracked 200 on bench for the first time ever. Then again, that wasn't all that cracked, so...oh well. May punch it up to 3x this week and see how I do.
  2. I'm watching Nine Perfect Strangers and the biggest mystery I'm struck by is how are the Marconi parents both such mole-covered people when their daughter's skin is flawless?
  3. Ummm...all of them? Thor lost the hammer. Steve literally got buffed. Dr. Strange stopped being a Dr. and started being Strange. Tony built his suit. Carol went from Kree wetworks grunt to outer-space badass in 2 hours. Pretty much the only ones who didn't were Wanda, Black Panther, Spidey, and Bucky, and that's because they didn't debut in their own films. I mean, part of it is the notion of a film that has to be self-contained and get itself over the finish line. But this feels like it runs deeper. Maybe Kate Bishop was more of a close comparison than I realized, but Kamala seems lucky to be in one piece so far, and she knows she's lucky, but maybe not *how* lucky. It's setting aside the very trope-y "They're the Hero and they got this in the bag" kind of Mary Sue bullshit that the MCU has leaned into, as much because it was easy as because it made any sense to anyone. And yet it's not played 100% for comedy like Ant-man or GotG.
  4. This was probably my favorite episode so far. I'm finally really interested to see where it's going. I think my favorite part of it is that they haven't gone overboard with making her seem like she can actually handle...well...anything. She's just so clearly overwhelmed and that's a much-needed change from other heroes just getting it or their failures being relegated to the likes of Tony Stark's blooper reel. It's going to make the payoff that much better.
  5. Yep. It's back. You don't care. It's Day 344 (and counting) of Whatever This Is, Borrowed Ideas Edition. Hot Garbage Berberian Sound Studio - This might annoy some people, if anyone were reading or caring, but wow, what a waste of time and potential. It's got 3 or 4 moments that are legitimately creepy, and some of the editing is interesting, at least once in a while, but does it ever spend a lot of time pointing out how the Overbearing Producer is overbearing instead of, I don't know, getting to the point of anything else. The whole "actress who screws everyone over" subplot feels like a massive waste of time, for example, unless the point of the film were to call out sexism in the film industry. And maybe there's something to that, given the film-within-a-film structure, but it's not like it's done *well*. This feels like 25 minutes of possibly good ideas that somehow got stretched out to 90 minutes, instead of trying to make the first hour of it have some actual punch that paid off at the end. If there's anything to get out of this, it's mostly the details of how Foley artists work, some of which I already knew. And it feels like the opposite of the (admittedly few) Giallo movies I've seen; there, lots happens and you have no idea why; here, it's all set up but then it goes nowhere with that time spent. Lemon - This movie goes to the trouble of giving itself a precious little blurb that gives the "bad product" definition of lemon, and I want to append to that as an example: "This fucking movie was a lemon". Brett Gelman is a little too good at playing insufferable characters you want to see receive their comeuppance, except here, where a character he wrote is just...too goddamn uninteresting to care either way. This feels like it's leaning too hard on having a lot of familiar faces do a lot of silly bullshit, but it basically never makes you actually care about why anyone is happy or unhappy or deserves (or doesn't) what is happening to them. Yet another indie movie about someone self-destructing, except even the least capable of those typically makes you think something one way or the other about the person it's happening to; this can't even be bothered to muster up that. Slam Dance - I think it's time we invent a new genre. This isn't film noir, because it doesn't deserve to be classified there. It's more like 'flim' noir, since it's too fucking flimsy to sustain itself in any meaningful way. No idea why the guy who directed The Joy Luck Club of all things also got roped into this pointless mess, but here we are. The first ten minutes have more good ideas in them than the last 90, and that's hardly enough to have made that 10 minutes worth watching. There are a handful of moments in that opening stretch that make you think, "Oh, it's kind of kafkaesque, like it's predating The Big Lebowski without actually being funny," but even that gets tossed overboard so it can jerk off this limp script to a bullshit conclusion that you couldn't care less about. But hey, John Doe and Adam Ant got paid to be in this, so, I guess it's not all bad. Acceptable Nightmare Alley - I hadn't seen the original, so I had been wanting to see this for a while, but it's not a particularly compelling film except in the usual ways that every del Toro movie is compelling. It's well acted sometimes - David Straithairn and Willem Dafoe might be the highlights, which is like saying water is wet - but it's got some weak points too, namely Rooney Mara, who I usually love but is flatter here than Kyrie Irving's home planet. Cate Blanchett's whole storyline is not terribly interesting, either; in fact, the second act in general is just not as intricate or as authentic as the first, and by the time everything has to resolve itself, you can spot the ending a million miles away without having read the book or seen the earlier adaptation. It is fun to look at, though, and in some ways I liked this better than The Shape of Water, but I wouldn't have nominated either one for Best Picture. Manic - Hey, it's Muppet Babies 500 Days of Summer! OK, not really; it's more 'someone besides Gus Van Sant got really obsessed with the Dardennes and tried that style to middling effect'. This has a lot of young versions of familiar faces, and nearly everyone brings something to the table that makes this better (kind of makes me wonder why Sara Rivas didn't do more acting, actually), but you have to question the believability of any group home or psych ward that lets as many enormous lapses happen as happen here. Or maybe I'm wrong; maybe that is the norm for them. And on some level, it feels like it doesn't address what the premise of the film purports itself to address, except in sidelong glances and one Interstellar moment from Don Cheadle. But, it's worth a watch, especially to remind yourself that Zooey Deschanel can really fucking act when she has something to work with. Leave No Trace - This is not the Boy Scouts documentary that's on Hulu; this is a 2018 movie directed by Debra Granik, who also directed Winter's Bone, and this is another "fringes of society" kind of movie. In fact, I think most people who see this now would probably find it incredibly similar to Nomadland, except this came out a couple of years before, around the time Chloe Zhao had just released The Rider. Maybe the only thing Nomadland truly has over this film is the cinematography and scope, which is obviously breathtaking (though I wonder if it really deserved Best Picture, either), whereas this film has a bit more tunnel vision to focus just on the father and daughter at the center. And they're pretty good together. It also reminds me a little bit, now that I think of it, of First Reformed, mostly because of how still the camera was for so much of the film. And when Ben Foster's character is indoors or left alone, it feels like that's how the movie frames his mental issues, like the quiet gets to him. I don't think this is as good as that movie, either, but it's pretty good all in all. Palm Springs - This might have been as close to Awesome as anything from this group, but it gets slightly dinged for being the Raunchy and Irreverent Groundhog Day, while The Map of Tiny Perfect Things was the Sentimental Teen Rom-Com Groundhog Day. I think I might like the latter film just a bit more, mostly because it's a little more even, whereas the best part of this is nearly always Cristin Milioti. But having said that, I never really liked Andy Samberg in much of anything until this (never watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so...yeah); it's the first time I've seen where he's come off as a believable main character. And, as per usual, J.K. Simmons makes all things better. But aside from them and the shenanigans they get up to, it can feel a little bit flat with respect to everyone else in the film. That may be its weakest point. I haven't had the opportunity to rewatch much of anything in rapid succession in a long time - one of the major drawbacks of doing something like this - but this is probably as close to instantly rewatchable as anything I have seen lately.
  6. Did I not read enough Pratchett? I was under the impression it was flat...
  7. It's the only way Brooklyn could be even more dysfunctional, so PLEASE FUCKING DO THIS. Also, LeBron might retire rather than play another season on Discworld, so, win/win.
  8. I'm finally getting through some of Dopesick. The style is a bit too much "talk at you" to call it a great show, but it's certainly effective, despite Michael Stuhlbarg coming off as a bit over-the-top with how ghoulish he is. One of the rare times where typically-creepjob-cast Peter Sarsgaard anchors the sections I look forward to the most...well, second-most, I mean Kaitlyn Dever is right there. Does make me want to punch a hole through my TV just on basic principle, though.
  9. As opposed to all those other times the things that have come out of his mouth have had such value...
  10. I think maybe I should post this here every so often when we need a reminder that, sometimes, bad people get what they deserve.
  11. Well that was embarrassing. G4/5 were winnable if Boston didn't insist on beating themselves. Playing like dogshit at home in an elimination game is a joke. Hopefully this is motivation, but how many more shots does Horford have? Ugh.
  12. Forgetting it existed would be a blessing.
  13. If you dress that way, ironically or unironically, I don't really trust what you have to say about movies, either.
  14. Yep, more movies, more nobody reading this crap. Day 337 (and counting) of Some Movie Bullshit, Eight Days a Week Edition. Hot Garbage Stay - Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, a pre-famous Ryan Gosling, the director of Finding Neverland, and the co-creator of Game of Thrones - what could possibly go wrong (OK, maybe that last one had something to do with it)? A lot. A WHOLE FUCKING LOT. This almost gave In Dreams a run for its money for being the shittiest waste of Oscar-caliber talent on a flaccid "thriller", but nah, that turd is still worse than this. But man, this is a good 80-90 minutes of emotionless, uninteresting garbage that makes you think the twist is going Fight Club/Number 23 and instead goes "Delusion for a Dragon Slayer". That's about the only remote positive of the film - that the cruddy ending has at least a tiny touch of heart and compassion and empathy to it, but it's just too fucking bad the rest of the movie is so utterly boring and devoid of anything like a reason to care; if it had ten times fewer match cuts and more, I don't know, actual story? It might not have been a complete waste of everyone's time. Well, OK, not entirely true: Bob Hoskins has a minor role, and, at least during his first appearance, he's pretty awesome. But stuff like that only draws attention to how little the rest of this works. Addicted to Fresno - Ehhhhhh. This has got a whole bunch of familiar faces in it, with Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne front and center, but aside from maybe one scene that sets up the plot of the movie, it's solidly unfunny. When your blooper reel during the credits is far and away the most hilarious thing about your comedy, you maybe didn't make a comedy. There aren't enough purple dildos or blowjob lessons to make up for that. Plus, the whole thing feels like a movie you might have seen on USA or a Showtime original from the 90s, instead of something someone actually put some care and craft into. If the blandness of the movie were meant to stand in for the blandness of Fresno, then hey, that'd be almost compelling in a metatextual sense, but let's face it, that's not what was happening here. At least it was short. ALERT ALERT ALERT: HOT HOT SO HOT DUMPSTER FIRE COMIN' AT YA Tomcats - Uggggggggh. I get it, OK? I get it. No one expects Shannon Elizabeth to be doing Macbeth, no one's expecting Jerry O'Connell to spearhead a Thomas Pynchon adaptation or something. The bar here is low; it's really low. It's "be better than Joe's Apartment"-low. It's 2001, and American Pie had just done a ton of business, so I kinda get why something like this gets made, but holy fuckballs, how did someone - anyone - think this was good enough to make into a movie? The...the EVERYTHING about this is terrible. Painfully unfunny, badly written, beyond badly acted, ugly to look at, insulting on nearly every level, just...no. There are maybe two things that would keep this from a place on Mount Flushmore: the first is that, if you're going to have a bunch of completely idiotic jokes, it's at least fitting that the main character is a cartoonist and some of the dumb sight gags are done Looney Tunes-style; and the second is the librarian/dominatrix scene, which might have been funny on its own if it didn't need to step on its own idea by taking it even further with the granny/librarian/dominatrix bit. Otherwise, I would confidently say this is one of the biggest wastes of time and money I've ever seen...EXCEPT! It made back its fucking budget! WHAT THE HELL. Acceptable The Fault in Our Stars - I can't believe I'm putting this here, because a big chunk of this deserves a Hot Garbage honorable mention - looking at you Sam Trammell, who CANNOT FUCKING ACT any way except quirkily upbeat about every possible topic. And of course this whole movie is like watching athletes inject steroids, if only Heartstring Tugging were an Olympic sport. The only way it would have been more over-the-top is if both characters had cystic fibrosis instead of cancer (maybe they did in the book, I don't fucking know). But man, do Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, and Laura Dern act the SHIT out of this every step of the way. I just found myself wanting to hate it and through gritted...goddamned...teeth, I just didn't quite hate it. It's unfortunately somewhat effective. It's still also derivative crap on plenty of levels, but evidently, with the right people, that can fly. Martha Marcy May Marlene - I used to really like John Hawkes' work, but I've realized lately that he has two modes: diffident nice guy a la Deadwood, and giant redneck creep, such as this or Winter's Bone. But this is the Elizabeth Olson show, and if she'd been hit by a car after making this movie, she'd have already acted galaxy-sized circles around her sisters with this alone. It's not great, but for a movie that doesn't really have a plot to speak of, that's almost entirely told in flashbacks and ambiguity, it's ridiculously well-done and authentic. That said, practically every detail of the cult stuff is something you'd predict in advance, assuming you have even a passing familiarity with how they work, so it won't really surprise you. It feels at times like it could have used more background to set up why she'd even end up in a place like that, but clearly the filmmakers were more concerned with displaying the damage after, rather than the damage before. Awesome Distant Voices, Still Lives - I think this just sneaks into this category for some unusual reasons. First, I'd recently watched The Deep Blue Sea and came away thoroughly unimpressed with Terence Davies in that; seeing this just makes it all the more apparent how tepid that film is. Similarly, this movie came out a couple of years before The Dead, which I also mentioned about a month ago, and that was yet another period piece that this just blew totally out of the water in terms of quality. The second reason that this worked for me is that it almost struck me as a bit of a smack in the face to the Merchant/Ivory style of British movies that were just gaining steam around that time, a bit of working-class realism to thumb its nose at the first-world problems of a bunch of aristocrats farting around. I still prefer Mike Leigh to something like this, but this is pretty special, too. The music is not just well used but well-chosen, almost like it's from another world, and I suppose to some extent it is. Most of the acting is great, and while the transitions back and forth through time are a bit jarring, it's as close to stream-of-consciousness as I've seen a film get without going off the deep end. Not the kind of thing that would be everyone's cup of tea, and really hard to watch during the many disturbingly violent moments, but compelling nevertheless. Small Engine Repair - Show up for Shea Whigham and Jon Bernthal, stay for the black humor and the devil's bargain. The first 20 or 30 minutes of this make it seem like it's just going to be another brotastic small-town indie dramedy about people who can't get out of their own way, but man, does the second half take a majorly bleak turn. And it has a ton to say about class warfare, money, social media, justice, violence, and cowardice in its many forms. The ending is somehow the right ending and also still so thoroughly wrong that you feel the outrage of all the central characters. Oh, and did I mention Shea Whigham and Jon Bernthal? This seems like the kind of movie that's right up the alley of, oh, about 80% percent of you, if only you actually read this. Something Else The Worst Person in the World - I suppose this should go into Awesome, if I'm being as level-headed as possible about it, but this is not the kind of movie that feels level-headed to me, mostly because (aside from the dark turn it takes toward the end) there's just a massive amount of this that feels like it got scooped out of my own life. It's hard to watch slow-motion car crash relationships when you can still see your own scars. Having said that, it's got three or four pretty memorably shot scenes that are probably the things critics would focus on, and that's deserved. It's got a little bit of that Annie Hall vibe, too, where it's willing to toy around with its sense of reality a bit (not quite to the level of fourth-wall breaking, though) and be playful about things that are inherently sad. But, as good as this is, I'm not sure any of it would work without Renate Reinsve, who just oozes charisma even more than she cries on cue. She definitely got screwed out of an Oscar nomination for this, though winning at Cannes is nothing to sneeze at.
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