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Contentious C

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Everything posted by Contentious C

  1. Ask Johnny Utah and Angelo Pappas.
  2. He really should have limited his tweet - and possibly all future tweets - to his last sentence there. That is, understanding it was exactly 1 word too long...
  3. Just finished Peace Talks; it's kind of a return to form for the Dresden series, as it's a little more like the books prior to Changes than the books since. It's also clearly setting the table for the endgame of the whole series, as the real players have begun to emerge. Battle Ground is probably going to be the craziest thing he's written so far. I wondered why he'd put 2 books out in such rapid succession, but it's pretty clear why now.
  4. I'd say skip Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, as I wasn't even sure it was the best Le Carre adaptation of the decade; I liked The Night Manager, a limited series on Amazon(?) a lot more...but, then again, I'm a bit of a Hugh Laurie & Tom Hiddleston fanboy, so that scratched a couple of itches. Oh, and Elizabeth Debicki. The Big Short might be Adam McKay's best movie of the decade, but he's very much a guy where, if you've seen one of his movies, you've seen them all. You can slice that into the straight slapstick comedies, like Talladega Nights, or the more serious stuff like this or Vice. But I feel the point holds regardless. I went on a bit of a Fallout bender lately, so I haven't watched a lot of things. Better write some stuff down before I forget what I watched... End of Watch (Netflix) Copaganda! Yeah, fuck the idea of this movie right in its cake hole. But, as far as unnecessary fellating of authority figures goes, this is a very well-made unnecessary piece of authority figure-fellating. I get the David Ayer memes now. If I could separate the movie's subjects from its craft, I would consider including it on my list. But, I can't. Hell or High Water (Netflix) I don't think this is as good as Vulture's Top Movies list makes it out to be...but it's awfully close. This, much like Logan and Bone Tomahawk, has the proper feel of an old-school Western. Both of those other movies will definitely be on my list. This might sneak on there too, if for no other reason than it's the best thing Chris Pine has ever done (not that that's much of a bar to clear) and the best thing Ben Foster has ever done (which is a significantly higher bar to clear, but I just irrationally hate him and find his face to be preeminently punchable). It's probably the last really, really good Jeff Bridges performance, where he seems like he's kind of mailing it in on some level, but when shit goes down, we watch his world collapse right there all over his face, and he quietly steals the movie in about 4 minutes' time. Birdman (bought the Blu-Ray) I know this won Best Picture, but it seems like the least appreciated BP winner of the decade. As near as I can tell, it's pretty clearly the 3rd-best one behind Moonlight & Parasite. The ending is more than a little ridiculous, but everyone in this hits their material way the Hell out of the park. As much as it focuses on Michael Keaton giving his career-best performance, Norton & Emma Stone & Naomi Watts and Lindsey fucking Duncan just chew scenery right along with him or work circles around him. But, I'm also in kind of a weird position with this film, since I watched every single episode of both Bojack Horseman and Barry before ever seeing this, and those shows definitely tap into a lot of the same themes and ideas this did. I actually kind of wonder if part of the lack of awards recognition for Bojack was because of the similarities to this (BoJack was only nominated once! for Best Animated Series at the Emmys - once! And it lost to the fucking Simpsons!). So, I suppose I was primed to like this, even though I often find Innaritu's movies to be pretentious and overwrought. Also, still not as good as either Grand Budapest Hotel or Whiplash from the same awards year. But an easy inclusion nonetheless.
  5. This assumes the creators knew the whole story; I believe Lindelof on the 3-seasons idea as much as Rippa believes in the Uncharted movie. The first 2 seasons, outstanding though they were, were so black-box that another season probably wouldn't have been enough to explain anything, and even if it had, it likely wouldn't have been to anyone's satisfaction. So, we wouldn't really get a significantly better opinion of it; just a differently populated group of disenchanted viewers. Hell, look at what it took to flesh out Twin Peaks after 2 seasons of weird (and frankly, Twin Peaks had a lot less plot to follow and probably fewer questions to answer). But, like Twin Peaks, it still altered TV forever; every two-bit producer out there does the premise of "Arc Plot told over the subplot of This Week's Central Character's personality flaws on display" now.
  6. In the vein of solved mysteries, I'm watching I'll Be Gone in the Dark and it's everything I wanted it to be: i.e., getting into Michelle McNamara's headspace as she worked on stuff. Guess I know what I'm doing Sunday nights for a while.
  7. Buying new cars...ugh. My new car was my first dealership experience and I basically wanted to nuke the place from orbit afterwards. I mean, I already knew how obnoxious it was going to be, but it met every expectation. My big issue was that my old car got worse so quickly that I had to make plans on the fly, so my down payment was all but tied up in an online savings account. I couldn't just get a check because that would have taken days, plus it was the weekend, so all I could do was get a wire transfer put through first thing Monday. When I told their finances guy that, he looked at me like I'd grown three heads and blustered around for 45 minutes, wasting my fucking time, before I finally told the guy, "Look, that's where my money is and it's how you're getting it. You can take it, or I can walk. Pick one." While an aggravating process, it does kinda make me happy when people try to twist my arm into something; they soon learn who the biggest asshole in the room is.
  8. I wouldn't say Bob Evans is actually that good - I do agree with those who feel that American chain restaurants are basically crap - but they're better than the other national breakfast chains, generally speaking. You can find better individual items at certain places - better pancakes at IHOP, better waffles & hash browns at Waffle House, better biscuits & gravy at Cracker Barrel - but I've never had anything at Bob Evans that was the least bit regrettable, which I can't say about the others. I'm probably full of shit, though; all these places likely get the same frozen slop from the same distributors.
  9. And I'm from Ohio, which is a nice place to be *from*. So, by the transitive property, does this mean IHOPs in Ohio are the saddest places on Earth? *quiet John Oliver voice* (Yes, yes it does, because Bob Evans is way the fuck better!)
  10. Well, he's right. Ignorance is not a choice; everyone begins ignorant. He does, however, choose to be fucking stupid.
  11. I... there's so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start. Pancakes from the box. No. Just no. A thousand times no. At least separate your yolks and whites and meringue/fold the whites last. And "breakfast for dinner" are the three greatest words in the English language. An 80s thing...what in the actual fuck.
  12. "$229,000 in Weed and Cat Food" needs to be a book title, somewhere, somehow. Hopefully having nothing to do with that loser.
  13. They should really rename the English translation of that department to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Land, and Ferrying in honor of Onita.
  14. It's funny so many of you say "Carolina barbecue" and default to vinegar. Saying "I don't like Carolina barbecue" to someone who lived there is like saying, "I don't like that animal at the zoo." You could just as well mean mustard-based, or ketchup, or dry rub. They're all there; just depends if you went to the Piedmont or the lowcountry or NC or what have you. The ketchup is the only one I wouldn't eat, since plenty of other areas fuck up perfectly good meat that way already.
  15. In retrospect, shouldn't the subtitle of this thread be, "Straight-to-Streaming Homie"?
  16. Well, Doom Patrol is .... something.
  17. More stuff... Life After Beth A Ghost Story Room (Netflix) Life was a ridiculous enough take on zombie movies to be worth watching above and beyond the irredeemable dross that is Zombie Pop Culture, but it's otherwise forgettable. Now, I turn your attention to something different. To David Lowery, writer & director of A Ghost Story: Mr. Lowery, I'm sure quite a large number of people have told you how wonderful your film is. Allow me to provide an alternative viewpoint. The most insufferable part of your movie happens close to the middle, when you decide to use Will Oldham as a pompous, pontificating prick. In the future, if it occurs to you to do something like this again, please don't rattle off scientific concepts you learned in 5th grade and then say, "That's science!" Because, if you really wanted to be scientifically accurate, you'd have learned - from any number of sources - that, long before our sun becomes a red giant and engulfs Earth, it will grow larger -- and therefore both more luminous and, most importantly, hotter. When that happens, some time in the next 500 million to a billion years, it will boil every last bit of water off the surface of the planet, and the loss of water will be what ends life as we know it. And THAT is science. Also, quit contributing to Rooney Mara's bulimia. It's cruel. Thanks. Anyway. Now that that's out of my system, I'd like everyone to know Brie Larson is a goddamned American treasure. I tried watching Room about a year ago and couldn't make it past the first 10 minutes because I knew the premise was going to make me have to stop, and it did, repeatedly. But sweet crap, she's of course great. I forget which list I saw a while ago that mentioned this film and said it was, at a nuts-and-bolts level, a jumped-up Lifetime movie concept. I kinda get what they were saying, but the difference between something like that and Room comes down to focus. There are so many little moments where all those impossible choices are piled on top of her like Spider-Man getting crushed under the rubble that he eventually lifts...but here, we get so much more of the doubt that the effort of lifting is still worth it. Lifetime movies, uh, don't do that. I was really thrown for a loop with this, because William H. Macy didn't die in some awful way, so hey, good for him, but this will probably be in the back end of my list. Having said all this, I'm still not really sure that this was a better performance from her than what she gave us in Short Term 12. Happy Hour (Amazon & Kanopy) Yes, this film is over 5 hours long. But also yes, it really doesn't feel like it. The director here used a bunch of unknown actors to pull off this gut punch of a film; we're lulled into a bit of a false sense of security with the initial setup over the first hour, and, as one woman of the four central characters reveals her unhappiness, the others start questioning their lives and begin their own strange social death spirals. And, since it's Japan, that only amplifies the pressure everyone is subjected to as this slow-motion car crash unfolds. There's been some criticism of this film that claims it's a misandrist work, but I don't know if that's true. It does, for a while at least, portray all its male characters in an exceptionally dim light - you kind of want to slap them all for not noticing their wives are unhappy - but the last 90 minutes of the film really turns that on its head, as the one guy you figure might be on the spectrum actually reveals a subterranean ecosystem of hidden depths in a totally believable way. What's really going on here is a double whammy of social pressures. All the characters lead these relatively unexamined lives until they're given no choice but to ask themselves what they really want; the women are able to navigate this because they ostensibly have society's permission to do that. The men, though, are just men, and their cluelessness is as much due to disuse and lack of practice as it is any emotional shortcomings. Everyone in the movie is too busy, for so long, trying to hold up standards and work hard and play their role correctly and all that rot, but the men get the added handicap of "Be a man" and all that entails. So, not really anti-male as much as, frankly, pretty damned true to life. I'm not sure I cared for some of the last 15 minutes, but otherwise it's surprisingly affecting and rewarding for something so long. Sachie Tanaka, who plays Akari, the divorced nurse, deserves to get cast in all the things. Her Smell (HBO & Kanopy) I think I tried watching this about 4 times before I finally finished it tonight. I get why some people might like it, and I get that Elisabeth Moss is a great actress, but I'm not sure that this doesn't veer more into Most Actress territory as opposed to Best Actress territory. The first hour or so features some of the most ridiculous, painful-to-watch, walking shitshow insanity committed to a film whose plot is entirely coherent. I guess that is to her credit for rendering a character so fully loathsome. But the dialogue she's given is embarrassingly overblown. On some level, that's the point - she's supposed to be unaware of what a self-parody she's become - but...well...no one sounds like that. OK, OK, sure, no one talks in real life like they do in movies, but this is a severe edge case of that. I'm not sure that the conclusion of the film is the conclusion it set up or that it deserved, either, and not much else about it besides Moss' performance is any better or worse than any other indie director would slap together, so I'm not sure why critics would slather praise on this. This was 135 minutes and felt longer than Happy Hour.
  18. Yeah, agree. I'm having a hard time believing you can't, for example, do 30 lbs with both arms when the exercise calls for that. But, enough time with the lighter weight, and you will definitely get there, unless you're dealing with joint damage or something (or, ganglion cysts in your wrists, like I have, but those are easy to work around by skipping snatch/jerk motions and standard push-ups).
  19. Tried reading The Dark Tower. I got to Jake and kind of just...meh. Started reading La Belle Sauvage instead. I doubt this will be as good as I felt HDM was, but, if nothing else, I can stick with it a little easier, and reading a chapter a night before bed is helping me sleep.
  20. Recency bias is totally a thing! But I think of it as (sometimes) balancing out the time you've had to get nostalgic about other movies. I tend to think of it in 1-on-1 matchups. A good set of placeholders for me so far goes something like: The Lobster Blade Runner 2049 Short Term 12 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse Those are all Top 50 for me and when I think of ranking something, I start with a rough idea and then, "Yeah, but..." myself into a series of thoughts about whether something is honestly better than the next thing up the ladder. Parasite was kind of easy for me, because it beats all that stuff but then ran into Moonlight and I couldn't countenance putting it past that. The Tree of Life is tougher, and I certainly wouldn't call it anything close to perfect, but...cripes is it beautiful. Hard to believe, really, that it's nearly 10 years old and still looks *better* than practically everything else since. Anything below top 50 feels a little like guesswork and I sometimes rearrange.
  21. Eh, neither of those are bad at all. Even the one where you have to get 3 orbs onto 3 separate switches is something I typically manage in 3-4 tries. But, I use a Pro controller and have literally never played my Switch as a handheld. The one that makes me despair is the bonus puzzle where the shrine gives you a durability-plus sledgehammer to hit the orb across water into a golf hole, but the bonus one has all the pillars and crap in the way. Getting the angle and then also the right number of strikes is such a PITA. Though, ultimately, the best way to go is usually a 1-hander where you're in the 8-9 swing range to make the shot.
  22. Nope, managed to forget at least one thing while watching a bunch of new stuff, so... The Fits (Kanopy) I don't know; I suppose I didn't really get this. It's an interesting piece of work to be sure, done primarily with setting and looks and atmosphere and very very little dialogue, but a film about social acceptance was never going to be my cup of tea. Not sure why it was so bloody high on that Vulture list; a lot of the stuff on there was pretty choice, but this was merely pretty good. But it is very short (under 75 minutes), so it's not like it's a waste of time at all. The Adjustment Bureau (HBO) Wow, this was a tepid pile of junk. It's kind of too bad, though, that Matt Damon & Emily Blunt haven't had something else to do together, because they did have chemistry in spades. The rest of this came nowhere close to living up to the premise. Anna Karenina Blue Ruin Frances Ha 20th Century Women The Danish Girl (all Netflix) Now here are some good movies. I think I more or less have them ranked from worst to first. Karenina is...well...something, but Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have chemistry like baking soda and more baking soda. In fact, if Aaron Taylor-Johnson isn't portraying a character who's a total dick, I'd rather he didn't exist at all. Alicia Vikander was easily the best part of this; will be circling back to that. Blue Ruin makes for a really compelling companion piece to You Were Never Really Here, which treads a lot of the same ground. Somewhere between the two exists the perfect revenge film about self-abnegation, but no one's made it yet. This wouldn't make my list, but it's definitely something worth seeing. I think I'd like Frances Ha - and really, Lady Bird, too - if they were *less* autobiographical. Watching them in reverse order also makes Frances seem a bit more tragic, even if the ending is fairly upbeat. Gerwig's stuff is hilarious and interesting, and I love her as an actor, but I wonder what else she's got in the bag that isn't so specifically personal or an adaptation (haven't seen Little Women; don't know when/if I will). And there's a line early in the film about how works can be "authentic" that seems like a wry in-joke, but, at the end of the day, the joke is kind of on the movie itself, since it leaves you with a lot less to think about than Lady Bird ultimately does. 20th Century Women - hey, more Greta! - is a bit like Frances Ha/Lady Bird, too, in the sense that Mike Mills goes back to the well pretty heavily. If you saw Beginners, you've kind of seen a lot of the stuff going on in 20th Century; the pacing and script and setup will feel remarkably similar, maybe too much so. The biggest difference with 20th is that it's a broader set of stories that are being worked with, and there's a great push & pull going on throughout the film as Gerwig's (wonderfully acted) character and Elle Fanning's (even more wonderfully acted) character both alter the trajectory of the teenager at the center of it all. The Danish Girl wasn't something I expected to enjoy, but, hey, Alicia Vikander, so I gave it a shot. Damn. I can't stand Eddie Redmayne; let's just say that upfront. He creeps me out something fierce; the Bojack Horseman joke about him playing Sextina Aquafina's fetus is the most deplorably perfect joke in comedy history. But...that creep can act, man. And as good as he is, Vikander is just soooooo much better in this. The biggest fault I saw with all of it was that their lives seem too put-together prior to things changing; it made me wonder why things changed at all, if they had actually been that happy and (seemingly) well-suited. There probably needed to be a little more introspection from the very beginning to make it clear that Einar was ultimately unhappy. However, I have to completely take back what I said about Melissa Leo in the previous post; Vikander definitely has the Best Supporting Actress Championship Belt right now. This probably won't make my list, but...it's close. Blue Jasmine First Reformed (Amazon Prime) I love Cate Blanchett. I increasingly despise Woody Allen. Turns out, when the two meet, the latter eventually wins, like wood rot. I appreciated why she won Best Actress for this, but...eh. Enough already. First Reformed felt like a movie that didn't have the courage of its convictions. I haven't seen The Last Temptation of Christ, so I can't really comment on the similarities regarding the endings, but...there was probably a more challenging, ballsy ending to be had that would have left people even more baffled by its meaning, and they just didn't follow through on it. Having said that, though, this movie has two really big things going for it: it's the only time I've ever, in the entirety of my life, 1) been able to stand Cedric the Entertainer or 2) thought Ethan Hawke was the best choice for a film. They're both just great in this. Won't make my list, but if quiet and thought-provoking is what you're going for, this has a lot of that. Interstellar The Grand Budapest Hotel (own both of these) I hadn't watched either of these in 5+ years, since seeing them on HBO or in theaters. I was reminded why I love them both. Interstellar definitely has some hokey bullshit going on with the plot - does Murphy really need to burn her brother's fucking crop just to stand in a room and ponder things? - but it's got some of Nolan's prettiest work, too. It's like he watched The Tree of Life and said, "Hey! I can do that!" and so he did. This might sneak into the 91-100 range just because of that, and because McConaughey and Hathaway act the Hell out of a not-so-great script. Grand Budapest is probably the epitome of Wes Anderson's work. If you can't love this, you may just not appreciate what he has to offer. And I'll admit, I used to be one of those people. I think Bottle Rocket was a turd, and it took about 4 watches before Rushmore clicked for me, and even then that's mostly because I think Olivia Williams secretly carries the movie. But, by the time he did Fantastic Mr. Fox, I was hooked, and this has all the same charm and wonder and zaniness in a live-action nesting doll of a film. Easy top 50, but probably outside the top 30, though, as no one person in the film, aside from Ralph Fiennes, really turns in that super-memorable performance you might hope for.
  23. But you will still get a letter in 3 weeks' time full of word salad, if you haven't already. Once I've got nothing better to do, I'm going to set up my phone to record, light it on fire, and then piss on the ashes. Perhaps my one and only contribution to Youtube as long as I live.
  24. If I dream, I tend to do so vividly. I'll remember snippets of conversations or the visual of something I dreamt for weeks or years, assuming it sticks. Last night, my first vivid dream in a while was that I'd developed a sizable bald spot (I needed a haircut before all this started, and I really need one now, so the visual of a patch of scalp felt terrifying). Then I woke up. 5 seconds later, I realized it was a dream and quit touching my head. 10 seconds after that, I realized this was probably my biggest fear in life and I should quit complaining. Thus concludes today's lesson in What White Privilege Looks Like.
  25. Every time I do this, there's a movie or three I forgot I watched; let's try to catch them all up. Please Give (Criterion Channel) was Nicole Holofcener's film from 2010 about white privilege; I had relatively few strong opinions about this, which is not much of a good sign. It is probably the best thing I've ever seen out of either Amanda Peet or Oliver Platt, though that also doesn't really say anything. It basically felt like a Woody Allen movie without the guilt of supporting a creeper. Pass. La La Land (HBO) is not a sucky movie; it's actually pretty charming. But I do love Emma Stone, and this is easily her best role, so, YMMV. If anything, I found it to be a less egregious case than, say, Argo or The Artist of blowing smoke up the asses of Hollywood-at-Large, since the central characters are pretty clearly paying a price for their dreams, and more than a few scenes take a swipe at the nature of show business. The ending is pretty devastating, too, but it's also more or less a stream-of-consciousness playback of the end of Casablanca, and you can make a convincing case that "stream-of-consciousness take on a famous scene from _______" defines a lot of scenes in the film. Won't be on my list, I don't think, but a fine enough second feature for Damien Chazelle. Interested to see what he does next. Side Effects (HBO), at least for the first hour-ish, might be Jude Law's best role since The Talented Mr. Ripley. Then again, Jude Law has also done a lot of garbage in the last 20 years. But once it has to start tying up loose ends, the movie just kind of stops working altogether. The plot gets more than a bit convoluted, and the payoff is thin gruel. Given the cast and the director, it's pretty damn mediocre. Waste of time. The Fighter (HBO) was a rewatch - saw it in the theaters when it came out - and was slotted at #50 when I started thinking about this list. I wouldn't put it that high now, but that's really because I've just seen so much other stuff that's better. This is still really great, even if it is only David O. Russell's second-best movie. Being more familiar with his work helped the ridiculous moments land a lot better, and I found myself laughing at it as much as anything else. And if the Oscars did Championship Belts for their respective acting categories, I'm not sure that anyone would have knocked off Christian Bale & Melissa Leo in the subsequent 10 years. A 60s/70s pick, somewhere in there. The rest of these are Blu-rays I own... Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was better than I expected it to be, but shit is it a depressing movie. I mean, the premise of the film telegraphs the ending, but by the time you get there, you just see how bleak and awful and avoidable so much of it was. There's some touching stuff here, but mostly you kinda wish they'd done more to CGI some more complex emotions for Caesar et al, as they're good at rage and shock, but not so much with getting subtler touches across as consistently. Wouldn't come close to making my list. 12 Years a Slave was something I bought 5+ years ago because hey why not, and then I didn't watch it until last night. It's a pretty inconsistent film. The first hour-plus is pretty standard-fare Oscar-bait kind of stuff, aside from the hanging scene, but then those last 30-40 minutes kick in and, holy fucking shit does this become something else. This will end up on my list just for that, but also fairly low, somewhere in the 60s. I'm also quite certain that, despite its subject matter, this isn't nearly as powerful or as challenging as Shame was. Beginners I think is available on one of the streaming services - STARZ, IIRC - but this is probably going to be Top 10 for me. I saw it on HBO or something many many moons ago and was just totally blown away by how well-done it was, and it still feels as moving and real and beautiful as it did the first time I saw it. This is Ewan McGregor's best non-Danny Boyle role, Mélanie Laurent is the most charming woman in the history of women and charm, and Christopher Plummer still makes them look like they're doing Shakespeare in the Park by comparison. The script is wonderful; the direction is perfect. And I didn't realize Mike Mills also wrote & directed 20th Century Women, which is definitely going to be my next watch now. It might be too cute by half for some people, but every time I glance over at the DVD case sitting on my shelf, I smile a little bit, so that should tell you something.
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