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Contentious C

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  1. So, I got my counting all wrong, I think. Obviously, July 15 of last year to July 14 of this year is 365 days, so today, logically, has to be Day 351 (and counting) of This Stuff I Do to Escape the Impending Doom that Insane Cultists Insist on Forcing on Us All, Existence Is Political Edition. Hot Garbage Breathless (1983) - This is exactly what you think it is, only starring Richard Gere, and it's exactly as bad as you'd expect it to be. Hell, it might be worse. Dare I say the original is more *gasp* subtle than this? Then again, it's hard to be less subtle than this giant pile of shit. The less said about it, the better, but I will say that Gere has done one tremendous acting job for 40+ years, and that's to convince everyone that he isn't hung like a chipmunk. WarHunt - I saw this on Hulu and really expected it to make the HOT HOT SO HOT MY FLESH IS MELTING WHEN I JUST THINK ABOUT THE DUMPSTER FIRE annals of totally awful, but it's just garden-variety bad. It has, I don't know, 3 minutes of interesting ideas and otherwise is as poorly executed as just about any other direct-to-video offering you can find, but I imagine there are some Nazi-heavy movies of this ilk out there that are considerably worse. I don't know, I almost found myself siding with the witches, all things considered. One of the many B2 Bomber-sized plot holes in this was the notion that the witches would actually share their knowledge with anyone, let alone Hitler. So dumb, but not really even the dumbest thing here. But, some of you who watch schlocky garbage on purpose might not hate this. Lucky Life - I don't really like putting this here, because it's a far better film than either of the other two - it's certainly got some 'achingly beautiful' kinds of moments and cinematography to it, the kinds of things Lee Isaac Chung went on to include in Minari. But, the acting is all over the place, the script is not interesting, and aside from the ending, there's little reason to be even remotely invested in the scenario. It's like a film version of that one Toad the Wet Sprocket song, "Walk on the Ocean" or whatever it was called, and about as remarkable. This was in fact inspired by a book of poetry with the same title, and that's referenced throughout, but maybe Gerald Stern managed to inspire that song with his poems, too, so hey, that's two mediocre knockoffs, I guess. It very much exists in that same between-space as something like Waitress did, where you see the threads of something with potential, but it's just not nearly well-executed enough. The Good Doctor - Jesus, this is like a hit parade of Actors Who Are Better than Orlando Bloom in a movie starring Orlando Bloom. I wonder if they all wanted to punch him in the face as much as I did. This is well before he started figuring out much of anything in the acting department, so kudos to the director here for at least realizing Bloom could play a mediocre psychopath by leaning into his lack of facial expressions. Otherwise, this is dull, puzzling in all the wrong ways, somehow overlong at 90 minutes, and lacking any real sense of development, even with its blink-and-you-miss-it attempt at a redemption in the ending. Blorf. Acceptable Things to Come - This was kinda close to making it into the Hot Garbage category, but it's just that little bit better in some respects than something like Lucky Life was: the characters seem more real, the direction is at least as good (if not better), and the acting is a bit more consistent. It's also...not actually that interesting, since it's yet another movie about someone's life coming apart when it doesn't really fucking matter if their life comes apart, because everything and everyone around them is so goddamned cushy anyway that their "catastrophe" would be someone else's wet dream. There could be something to say here about the generation Isabelle Huppert is portraying, stuck between the awful vision of their future symbolized by her mother's decline and the insistent march forward of youth, but it only skirts those things instead of actually dwelling in them. Then again, maybe that's the point; maybe the main character is that far in denial. Ammonite - This is a far cry from, say, Portrait of a Lady on Fire in terms of smoldering sapphic brilliance, but it's a nice enough little movie that does its fair share to nicely simmer its plot before a couple of rather explosive scenes take the lid off of everything. Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet can basically do stuff like this in their sleep, though, so it's hard to get too excited about the two of them cavorting as they do when the rest of the film is just-sorta-there. It's pretty at times, and the whole 'Rosalind Franklin of archaeology' aspect is neat, and it's at least true to the portrait of her they build within the confines of the film, but it isn't always that believable. This is mainly after seeing something like Carmella, where the same behavior results in upheaval and madness, whereas here, once again, some rich people can just do whatever the Hell they want and no one's supposed to bat an eye, despite the social mores of the 1840s being, uh, not so great. Awesome West Side Story (2021) - There were a lot of really good movies last year. This may still be only the 4th-best one I saw, even if I do appreciate at least some of the things it updated. The visuals are fucking great, but shouldn't they be? You have to figure Spielberg has been spinning a version of this in his head literally since he was a kid. But despite what works, there's stuff that doesn't. Why is the one trans character trying so hard to join a gang of racist, sexually violent pieces of shit? Why do we get to spend so much time naming and listening to the Jets and so little with the Sharks? Could it be, oh, I don't know, because this still centers white people - white men - way too fucking hard, instead of actually understanding the complexities of as many characters as possible? Yeah, probably. So maybe this should get nicknamed "White Guy's Story". Something Else 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days - I watched this the night of the 23rd and then woke up to a world spewing hate and insanity faster than it can spew greenhouse gases, though after today, it's clearly trying to catch up in the latter department. This is a slap-in-the-face, kick-in-the-pants, grab-by-the-throat-and-take-notice cry into the void of EXACTLY what women have fought for for decades, and yet...and yet. We still ended up here. We're still backsliding. We're still fucking it up because not enough people actually fucking care or listen or engage or just do the right goddamned thing. If I were remotely able right now to be clear-headed about this movie, it'd be an easy Top 10 entry for the 2000s, but who cares about making movie lists? They're the wrong kinds of lists to make right now. Then again, if this is the best we can do, maybe destruction is what we deserve. Because now, existence is political.
  2. Certainly a Bible chapter or two. It doesn't end well. Nine Perfect Strangers didn't really stick the resolution to an extent I would have liked. A little too obvious. And there are apparently hints here and there they're going to to do a second season, which has got to be the worst idea since True Detective Season 2. But Melissa McCarthy is great - easily her best work along with Can You Ever Forgive Me? And she works great with Bobby Cannavale. The two of them alone told me enough about this to know it wasn't going to be straight drama or some kind of Lynchian mindfuck, either; there's just enough satire and black comedy to keep it interesting. But, I liked it, aside from having to stare at What Nicole Kidman Did to Her Face for 8 episodes.
  3. Best review of Skyrim I ever saw was: "Ruined my life. Five stars." Extend elsewhere as needed.
  4. That's a lot to give up for Murray. I guess the logic is their draft picks will be garbage anyway if it works. I still don't really get why Beal gets the attention he does, either. Aside from scoring, he's never convinced me he's a top 15 guy, and his injury history is not good.
  5. This thread makes me miss Marvel Heroes, still. Then again, it's probably good it got cancelled. I spent literally 3400 hours in that game. That means I could have probably finished my Ph.D. about 4 *months* sooner if I hadn't wasted that time.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Did I not read enough Pratchett? I was under the impression it was flat...
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. As opposed to all those other times the things that have come out of his mouth have had such value...
  15. I think maybe I should post this here every so often when we need a reminder that, sometimes, bad people get what they deserve.
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