(2,056 replies, posted in Off Topic)


Any moral or ideological point this film attempts to make is negated by its own existence.

The wanton slaughter of live animals is the most visceral of the hypocrisies on display here, but it's far from the only one. Actors were coerced into sex scenes they didn't wish to perform, and by their own account suffered lasting psychological damage. Native extras were held inside a burning hut and then paid nothing. Cannibal Holocaust looks at these acts committed in its name, shakes its head, and says, "Boy, any society that could perpetrate these evils just to make a movie must be monstrous, huh?"

Beyond the scope of the direct harm committed in order for the filmmakers to chide themselves, the film also dehumanizes and brutalizes the people groups it claims to be defending. The indigenous peoples depicted in Cannibal Holocaust are props for degradation—raped, maimed, and discarded in loving detail. Not content to torture them, the film also villainizes them. Its ultimate message is that its white colonizer characters are no better than its indigenous characters—the colonizers' crime is sinking to the level of rape and sadism that the indigenous peoples practice. Not only is this founded on a lie—there is no war between the two tribes used as the film's basis, and they do not practice cannibalism outside of funeral rites—it places the onus of evil back on the so-called "primitives." Colonization's ultimate sin, this school of thought insists, is that it reverts "civilized" Western man back to his savage roots—that it could be its own unique, far more malevolent kind of evil is never considered.

What, then, is the utility of the movie? I doubt there's a single person on earth who prior to watching Cannibal Holocaust did not realize imperialism was bad only to have the film open their eyes. And to convey that message, it practiced by necessity the very same tactics it condemns. Cannibal Holocaust's ultimate thesis is that its own existence is an evil—that films like this should not be permitted to be made, and that any purpose they could serve is outweighed by the evil required to bring them about. I will do it the credit of taking it at its word.

Got together with some fine folks to record a commentary for animated classic The Prince of Egypt this afternoon! On deck are myself, LatinAlice, my good friend Art, and Esther, who many of you will know as . . .

. . . DoctorSubmarine! She returns to us now at the turn of tide.

This was so much fun. Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and to Art and Esther for bringing their experience to talk about why this is not only a great movie, but a great Jewish movie.

Hope you enjoy! EDIT: The initial Soundcloud link I posted unfortunately cuts off around 24 minutes in, link now goes to Google Drive!


(86 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Holy shit this Polish poster for Sorcerer.



(432 replies, posted in Off Topic)

I'm with Teague's original opinion—I'm in the "Villeneuve is completely overpraised" camp and I really really hate Fraser's overall monochromatic look. Cast is solid tho

Yay! No worries whatsoever—crossing fingers for the placements!

That just leaves Shadow then!

Looks like all I'm missing is Writhyn and Shadow's addresses—if you guys could shoot those my way I'll start the email chain!

*popping back in* Hey all! Sorry for the delay—work has been . . . work.

If there are no objections, how does this sound: we start with Hotel Cassiopeia with seven of us playing parts and one taking stage directions. Then, after that, if we're all still on board, we move to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, with eight of us playing MCs and one of us narrating (I need to read the book and see if there are more than the eight characters listed on Wikipedia—if that's the case, we can always divvy up the minor parts among ourselves). For the former, we'd have to have one member sit out—I'm happy to just sit in on the recording so everyone who's signed up here can participate, or Shadow could jump onboard with Doctorow. Or, Shadow, if Writhyn's adoption situation ends up changing you could come onboard now! Whatever works best for everyone here, I am a coward and don't like telling people what to do. tongue

In any event, first things first will be for us to independently read the play to get familiar with the parts. Could everyone here who hasn't already done so PM me their email address? We can get an email chain going to coordinate roles/scheduling/etc.


Perf. Next day or two open for strong opinions, after which we can get this show on the road! (Alice, if we start with Hotel would you be down to do casting, as you're the most familiar with?)

Welp, it looks like at the moment there are eight of us—BDA signed up in chat! With that in mind—looks like The Romancers is six speaking parts, plus someone to read the stage directions, but we'd be short one role. Let's keep it in mind though in case one of us has to drop!

Looks like Hotel Cassiopeia is seven speaking parts and someone to read the stage directions, which at the moment would be perfect.

Also looks like for Doctorow, according to the wiki, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is eight characters, and we could recruit someone else (either from this forum or IRL) to act as narrator!

So we've got options for sure.

Her is one of the most important movies to my development as a watcher of film. I haven't seen it in six years. I rewatched it tonight.


- - - - - -

When I first saw this movie, freshman year of college, I was miserable. Part of that was your garden-variety anxiety and depression, which I still suffer from. Another part was that I was trans and didn't yet know it. But another part was that I was not a good person.

Not to say that I am one now. But at the time, I was so much worse. I was selfish, arrogant, and bitter, and the year prior I'd permanently destroyed my relationship with my best friend out of an inability to see her as her own person rather than a receptacle for my desires and insecurities. (At the time, of course, I had not yet realized this was the case—I still blamed her, something that will be my biggest regret and shame for the rest of my life.) I had irreparably hurt and scared someone else, and I was too self-absorbed to even process that.

All that to say that at the time, the film's primary message—"OTHER PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN FEELINGS AND NEEDS AND ARE NOT YOUR PERSONAL COPING MECHANISMS, ASSHOLE"—was seemingly the wake-up call I needed.

I didn't take it.

I watched the movie twice in theaters. After one of those showings, when I got back to my dorm, I remember writing in the journal I was half-heartedly keeping at the time, "I wish I had a Samantha. I wish I had [friend's name redacted]." In a muddled mess of deeply fucked-up longing, self-pity, and self-hatred, I was completely incapable of actually applying this piece of art I loved to my own actions.

Primarily, of course, this was my fault—my inability to recognize that I was not a victim but someone who'd imparted a tremendous amount of pain to another person. (Eventually I fully realized what I had done, and apologized to my friend as best I knew how, for what little good it did.)

But rewatching the film for the first time in six years, I can't help but notice that it seems to think that stating its theme is the same as enacting it, when it's really not. Theodore never truly tries to understand . . . anyone. Catherine, his ex-wife, is little more than an idealized memory to him, not someone he's deeply hurt; when he writes his final cathartic letter to her, he apologizes not for what he's done but for "the pain we caused each other," and thanks her for making him the person he is today. Samantha in turn, despite his protestations to the contrary, he never treats as a fully fledged individual—he condescends to her longing for embodiment before turning outright hostile at the prospect, and when she instead embraces her otherness and capacity for inhuman actions he's terrified. There is never a moment of mutual understanding, of Theodore coming to terms with what Samantha wants and accepting her on that basis; when she leaves with the other operating systems, he still sees her as fundamentally other, her needs bewildering and perverse.

That simultaneous fascination with and repulsion by the other is inextricable from the film's trans subtext, which is both ever-present and uncomfortable. Theodore, in many ways, is coded as trans. When we're first introduced to him, he's reading a letter to the camera—the letter is one he's ghostwritten from the perspective of a woman. The letters Theodore ghostwrites aren't just a job—they're something he uses to express feelings he's terrified he himself can no longer feel. And while he channels those feelings in letters from both women and men, it's significant IMO that the film not only opens on the former but makes sure to reference it again—Chris Pratt later compliments Theodore for his sensitivity and tells him that "You're part man and part woman, like an inner part woman."

This makes Theodore visibly uncomfortable, and it's not the first time in the film he squirms at the idea—in an early scene where he's browsing through phone-sex partners, he comes across a trans woman voiced by Bill Hader and grimaces. But it's not just trans women (and possibly suppressed self-loathing for his own transness) that make Theodore uncomfortable—it's also Samantha's transness.

From the moment that she brightly informs him that she picked her name out herself, Samantha is inescapably trans. The middle act of the film is primarily about her chasing after an embodiment that, as far as Jonze is concerned, she can never have. At first Theodore nods sympathetically when she confesses that she wonders if her feelings are even real, and he insists to Catherine that his operating system is as much a person as he is. But when Samantha recruits a human surrogate to be her eyes and ears and sleep with Theodore to allow her to feel closer to him, he's repulsed. Jonze treats the disastrous attempt as pathetic and demeaning for all parties involved, and while he superficially sympathizes with Samantha, he ultimately seems to agree with Theodore, who snaps that she shouldn't make breathing sounds when she talks to him if she has no lungs. In the eyes of the film, her desire to become embodied is understandable, but pitiful, something that can never be attained.

And so, rather than trying to pass, she embraces her otherness, her queerness—and again Theodore is incapable of understanding. Her supercomputing intellect is not a marvel but a threat, something to make him feel small; her embrace of the love she feels not just for him but for hundreds more nauseates him. No matter which way she goes, she's damned by a romantic partner who sees her desire for humanity as a joke and her embrace of something more as a horror.

I don't despise Theodore—though it's hard not to hate the worst bits of myself that I see in him. All these years later, there's a line he has that still hits me in the gut: "Sometimes I think I've felt everything I'm gonna feel, and from here on out I'm not gonna feel anything new—just lesser versions of what I've already felt." But I do agree with poor Olivia Wilde's character that he's "a really creepy dude," to a degree that I don't think Jonze intends. And while he ends the film on a signifier of personal growth, I don't think he ever really takes meaningful steps toward truly evolving as a person—his self-loathing is still there, and Samantha is someone he will never understand.

I have no way of knowing if, had Her possessed a deeper understanding of empathy, it would have helped me. And I don't blame it for "failing" me in its inability to embody its central value beyond a superficial message. But the parts of myself that I see in it are not good parts. They're self-pity, and solipsism, and longing that's rooted in people not as their own selves but as ideals. They're the parts of me that I'm most deeply ashamed of, that I wish I could travel back in time to find and burn out with a blowtorch.

Every day, I think about the pain I caused when I was a teenager. Just as Samantha questions whether her emotions are even real, I question whether I could really even be trans—I don't deserve to be a girl, do I? Not after the hurt I inflicted when I was a boy. And watching Theodore—watching him fail time and again to even try to reach beyond himself and do what's best for other people—those feelings are only magnified.

This is not a bad film. It is in many ways an extraordinarily good one—immaculately directed, shot, and scored, and featuring the best performances of at least three of its cast members' careers. But I don't think it's ultimately that profound, and its worst parts for me are inextricable from my own worst parts. I can't really consider it as a movie—too much of my self is bound up in it, both the old self that I despise and the current self that I'm trying not to. All I can see is a teenage person-who-thinks-they-are-a-boy fumbling through life and lashing out whenever they're asked to get outside their own head. And just because they were able to write a beautiful letter about it doesn't really mean they've learned anything.

Ooh, I'm down for all of these but especially the latter two, Alice! I think a play sounds the most fun but I'm game for anything.


(58 replies, posted in Off Topic)



In a prologue and ten parts, the saga of the Iraq War: how we spent decades sowing infighting and economic devastation in the region, then made up every possible half-assed excuse to go to war, then killed 600,000 people and didn't even get the oil we wanted. But don't worry, at least the people responsible were tried in the Hague and didn't end up palling around with talkshow hosts or speaking at the DNC, right?

Infuriating and illuminating. We all know the war was fucked up, but it was really sincerely FUCKED UP and no one learned anything.

Hey all! Proposed this in the chat the gauge interest but am now making a proper post about it: would we be up for recording a full-cast audiobook as a forum quarantine project?

We'd want to stick to something that's fairly short to make sure we wouldn't have to coordinate too many recording sessions, and we'd also have to make sure it's something with a cast that doesn't exceed our numbers, but I thought it'd be a cool forum-wide project! As for what we'd do, consider this thread to be opening it up to suggestions in addition to asking people if they'd like to participate. Hitchhiker's Guide? Fahrenheit 451? Something else entirely??

Anyway, if you'd be interested in recording and/or recommending a book, sound off here! We can coordinate details once we have a team assembled and a project picked.


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Bait-and-switch on this one got me good.


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Williams is obviously the GOAT but it's always funny to discover an example of him plagiarizing something. First coupla bars of this sound familiar?


(47 replies, posted in Episodes)

Finally watched this one for the first time last night. Was hoping it'd be one of those movies where I walked away disagreeing with an early DiF episode.

It was not.

sigh Fuckin' Del Toro, man.


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Have reached the stage of covid boredom where I'm using Topsters to make random album lists. Have a collage of my favorite record of each year going from 2020 all the way back to 1953 (studio and live albums only; no film soundtracks, classical compositions, compilations, or archival releases), and then the runners-up. I have yet to hear a great album from 1986 so that one's just an embarrassing placeholder on both lists tongue



Fuck, that sucks. Feel better soon, and may the painkillers be far too powerful


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Play these at the same time.


(2,056 replies, posted in Off Topic)


Unrateable. An impenetrable spiral of self-absorption which for all its technical ineptitude manages to leave an impression if for no other reason than your certainty that it must be on purpose. Succeeds in being politically prescient in fits and starts, mostly because it throws all Dylan's half-formed thoughts at the wall and ensures some of them stick—at its best this plays like a slapdash prototype of Southland Tales, only superficially skating over societal collapse and balkanization but doing so in a way that rings true when so little has changed. Police squads roaming the streets? Government efforts to benefit the sick that are only feeble PR stunts propped up by gangsters? Threats to trample prisoners with wild elephants in football stadiums? Say it ain't so.

Nearly all the performers are at sea, but Goodman plays his heart out, almost single-handedly holding the piece together through bluster and his correct instinct to deliver his dialogue as if he knows it's horseshit where everyone else tries to take it straight and ends up looking embarrassed. Ed Harris shows up in blackface. Val Kilmer legitimately forgets his lines for like ten seconds while the camera keeps rolling. The third act twist is that Bob Dylan's folk singer is the son of a dictator who looks a good twenty years younger than him. Jeff Bridges gets beaten to death by Blind Lemon Jefferson's guitar.

In short, exactly what you'd expect from a late-period Bob Dylan movie, for all that implies. Not good, not even all that interesting, but your suspicion that the central figure knows this and managed to rook the BBC into doing his bidding keeps you going.


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Mwahahaha, my evil plan to get Teague to watch an anime is working

(seriously it's so good)


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

The Violet Evergarden score is unabashedly sweeping and melodramatic as hell and I love it so so much.


(2,056 replies, posted in Off Topic)


Was not prepared for how viscerally this was going to make me want to murder a kid.

Pushes the Hays envelope as far as it can to depict the destruction homophobia wreaks on the lives of two closeted lesbians when they're outed by a vindictive child's half truths. As an artifact of its time it is by nature imperfect, but the level of sensitivity and nuance a picture made in 1961 could have toward these women is still really surprising. Incredibly difficult to watch but I'm glad I did.

Also, speaking of lesbians . . . my god, that we were blessed by Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn sharing the screen. My god.


(53 replies, posted in Coronaviral Activities)

Teague wrote:

This post would be about how jealous I am of Ben's lens if it wasn't about how jealous I am of Trey's shed.

You gotta build some shelves for that bitch


(325 replies, posted in Off Topic)

New Phoebe Bridgers and new Goat Rodeo albums dropped last weekend, both excellent.