(1,974 replies, posted in Off Topic)


I understand the complaints that this is too devoted to its predecessor—it's at its worst when it's slavishly imitating Kubrick's film to no apparent purpose (what is the point of making Bruce Greenwood's office a mirror of Ullman's in the Overlook?). But I think to dismiss this out of hand is to ignore just how effective it is when it takes that Kubrickian imagery and draws on it to create something new and meaningful. That conversation between Danny and his dad at the bar is an extraordinarily daring piece of work, and while it's marred by its inability to overcome the iconic nature of Kubrick's film—it will never be possible to watch the recast Jack and Wendy and not feel enveloped by the uncanny valley—Flanagan's choice to use a new performer is a far more humble, moral call than using digital trickery to resurrect the Nicholson of 1980. Hell, in an age of reanimated Peter Cushings and James Deans it's downright refreshing.

This also captures the essential weirdness of maximalist King in a way that most other adaptations don't even try at, thanks in no small part to Rebecca Ferguson's entrancing performance as Rose the Hat but not solely because of her. It's all here—silly slang, references to the Dark Tower's shambling mythology, psychedelic dream visions. It even nails how delightful King's lapses into nonsensical clearings of the chess board can be—the sequence of Ewan and Cliff just fucking laying waste to an army of psychic vampires with... deer rifles?! works precisely because of how ridiculous it is.

Is it better than Kubrick's? No. Am I surprised by how much I dug it? As someone who's been lukewarm at best on previous Flanagan, absolutely.


(81 replies, posted in Off Topic)

We need to return to the days when posters had not one, not two, but three awesome cornball taglines.



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Fave 2019 release so far. The stark black-and-white film stock makes for gorgeous use of light and shadow, the aspect ratio constricting the frame to the point of claustrophobia. Pattinson and Dafoe make utter lunatics of themselves. A metric ton of vodka is consumed. And where The Witch felt genuinely unholy (it remains the scariest movie I've ever seen), this one is basically a romantic comedy crossed with isolation horror? My audience was in stitches.

Oh hey, Disney buying Fox is basically a holocaust for repertory screenings. Surprise surprise.

Joe Neff knew there was trouble when the horror films started vanishing.

Neff is the director of the 24-Hour Science Fiction and Horror Marathons that happen every spring and fall at the Drexel Theater, an independent venue in Columbus, Ohio. For this year’s Horror Marathon, Neff wanted to screen the original 1976 version of The Omen and the 1986 remake of The Fly, two of hundreds of older 20th Century Fox features that became the property of the Walt Disney Corporation after its $7.3 billion purchase of the studio’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, was made official this past spring. In the preceding few months, Neff had heard rumblings in his Google group of film programmers that Disney was about to start treating older Fox titles as they do older Disney titles — making them mostly unavailable to for-profit theaters. More and more film programmers and theater managers were reporting that they had suddenly and cryptically been told by their studio contacts that Fox’s back catalogue was no longer available to show. Some got calls informing them that an existing booking had been revoked.

When Neff’s requests to screen The Fly and The Omen were denied — via the Drexel, which handles the logistics of booking a programmer’s requested titles — he realized the rumors were true, and that he had to stop screening Fox films altogether. It was a devastating blow: Neff’s homegrown repertory festivals have shown many older Fox movies, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Zardoz, the original versions of The Day the Earth Stood Still and Suspiria, and Phantom of the Paradise. He asked the theater to double-check with Disney to make sure there hadn’t been some mistake. “Our Fox booking contact offered a very brief apology that she could no longer book repertory titles with the theater,” he says.

Sadly, Neff’s experience is indicative of a recent trend across North America, where it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what Disney’s new policy regarding back-catalogue films is, beyond generally making it more difficult to show classic 20th Century Fox movies in theaters. The Transit Drive-In in Lockport, New York, which has hosted packed screenings of older Fox films like Alien, Aliens, Say Anything, The Princess Bride, and Moulin Rouge, says those films and others can no longer be screened there. The Little Theater in Rochester booked Fox’s Fight Club for August and was told by a Disney spokesperson mere days before the scheduled screening that a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) of the movie would no longer be shipped; then a Disney representative called the theater to apologize for the misunderstanding, and assured management that the film was still on its way; the reversal happened a day after a Los Angeles Times reporter called Disney asking them to clarify their repertory policies.

A recent Canadian Broadcasting Company story confirmed that even major first-run chains like Cineplex will now lose access to Fox repertory titles. That collection of movies is a gold mine for many commercial theaters — particularly art houses, regional chains, and big-city multiplexes that like to mix things up by sprinkling a few older works into their screening lineups. In addition to films that have already been mentioned, Fox’s holdings include hundreds of notable films in a variety of genres and modes, a layer cake of options which, taken together, give a sense of the richness of American cinema over the last 100 years: everything from Miracle on 34th Street, All About Eve and The Sound of Music to Deadpool, The Revenant, The Simpsons Movie, and Terrence Malick’s version of The Thin Red Line.

[. . .]

The decision to broaden Disney’s artificial scarcity tactic to include thousands of movies released by a onetime rival is a wounding blow to a swath of theatrical venues that used to be able to show them, and where film buffs were able to see them with an audience.

For such theaters, repertory screenings make business sense, too. “It may not seem like a big deal, losing access to movies that might only make the theater $600 or $1,000 once you deduct the costs attached to booking them,” said a film programmer who asked not to be named in this story for fear of angering Disney. “But over the course of a year, it all adds up. A lot of these movies are what you’d call ‘steady earners’ for theaters. You show them, and people turn up.” Speaking of steady earners: the steadiest of them all, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, appears to be the one title Disney isn’t cracking down on — perhaps because, according to Rachel Fox, “maybe Disney knows that if they pull Rocky Horror too, there’ll be a full-scale audience revolt.”)

What all of this does is erode the idea, beloved by cinephiles, that any film is new if you’re seeing it for the first time, and that movies exist in a perpetual present where different eras are in conversation with each other. This idea is still reflected on streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Criterion Channel, and Shudder, and to a degree, Netflix (although the latter has become notoriously unwilling to dedicate more than a fraction of its offerings to movies made before 2000). But there’s a special thrill in seeing an older title displayed on the marquee of a first-run movie theater like Cincinnati’s Esquire, which one weekend not long ago was offering Joker, Downton Abbey, Monos, and Aquarela, plus 1987’s The Lost Boys and 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby.

The silent erasure of many classic Fox films from mainstream commercial spaces is also unnerving because it invites the question, What will go away next? If you’re a fan of seeing repertory films in public spaces, and are lucky enough to live near a first-run theater that shows them at midnight, on weekends, as anniversary or holiday events, or in themed festivals like Joe Neff’s drive-in marathons, Disney’s gradual culling of the Fox catalogue is chilling — like the start of a horror film where the things you love begin to vanish from the places they once called home.

But why, exactly, is Disney doing this?

[. . .]

this is just how Disney does business. We’re now 11 years into the imperial phase of Disney’s expansion, which saw the company buy Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm (owners of Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and become the dominant player in theatrical exhibition. Last year, Disney claimed 40 percent of North American ticket sales (a number expected to jump to 50 percent once the Fox merger begins to deliver). It is able to demand and receive percentages of ticket sales far beyond those of its rivals, plus entire screens dedicated not just to near-surefire hits from Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Disney’s animation department, but iffier prospects like the live-action remakes of Pete’s Dragon and Dumbo, A Wrinkle in Time, and nature documentaries like Monkey Kingdom.

More than one exhibition professional contacted for this article speculated that Disney’s overall goal is to claim as many screens at a theater as possible for its newer titles, even if some of them are packing the house but others are selling just a handful of tickets per show. A former theater manager for a major chain, who asked not to be identified in this piece, says, “It seems short-sighted, you know? But they do it, I think, just to keep a Sony title out, to keep a Universal title out.” The Fox freeze out, he speculates, may be an extension of that tactic: Disney considers any screen that’s taken up by an older movie, even one that’s owned by Disney, to be a screen that could be showing the new Marvel or Star Wars title instead. Or showing Orangutans 4 to an audience of three.

It might seem as if the wars being waged by international conglomerates over screen space would have little bearing on whether a movie lover in Montreal or Minneapolis can see a weekend screening of a Fox comedy like How to Marry a Millionaire, Mrs. Doubtfire, or Big. But as an ancient proverb states, when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.

The economic effects could be especially devastating for neighborhood landmarks like the Plaza in Atlanta — the oldest and last remaining independent theater in the city. Its owner, Christopher Escobar, also the executive director of the Atlanta Film Society, estimates that 25 percent of the Plaza’s yearly revenue comes from Fox titles. Half that take is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which they’re still permitted to screen; but once they lose other guaranteed Fox moneymakers like Alien, Fight Club, and The Sound of Music, he estimates they’ll lose 10 to 12 percent of their yearly income. “Why would a distributor make it harder to be in the movie theater business now?” Escobar asks. “In an era when there are a dizzying amount of streaming platforms launching, and there are all these fights happening about availability windows, they should be working to get people to see movies in the best possible way first.”

There might be a tendency to see all this as a niche issue, one that only affects nostalgists and people who are still enamored with the theatrical experience. But Escobar and other theater owners interviewed for this piece point out that the estimated 600 independent first-run theaters left in the United States are the only reliable incubators for independent filmmakers who are unlikely to have their work screened in multiplexes dominated by Disney and other major distributors. Many of them are international filmmakers, documentary filmmakers, and filmmakers of color who are going to lose access to these venues unless they’re subsidized by other events such as repertory screenings of old movies that can be relied on to draw crowds. “These kinds of theaters are the only places where women filmmakers and other members of underrepresented groups can go and see themselves, the last frontier space,” Escobar says. “The more the means of making, distributing, and exhibiting films are controlled by a handful of companies, the fewer entry points those voices are going to have.”

Access to multiplex screens has become even harder for independent filmmakers in recent years, now that a version of “block booking” — the supposedly illegal practice of withholding likely hits from a theater unless it agrees to take a probable flop from the distributor as well — has become commonplace once more. Distributors are increasingly practicing “clearance” — refusing to book films in small theaters if they’re already playing at a big multiplex, even one that’s an hour away. The Rio’s Rachel Fox says her theater only shows new major studio films when they’re basically played out, because big multiplexes in the area always get first dibs and hang onto them until they’re old news. “I mean, we didn’t even get A Star Is Born until weeks after the Oscars,” she says. But that hasn’t helped her make her case to Disney. The Disney representative she spoke with said those distinctions didn’t matter, because their theater was considered first-run regardless of what films it shows and when. She says she’s starting to suspect that Disney “makes the distinction of what kind of venue you are to be based, probably, on your box-office return, which really sucks.”

Even at the upper echelons of theatrical exhibition, the business is being worn down by a confluence of forces, including the relative cheapness of streaming services; shorter windows between when a movie plays theaters and when it goes to home video; more aggressive rental terms by major distributors; shoddier service (at chains, mainly) due to cost-cutting; and ticket prices, which have steadily risen with inflation over the past 40 years even though wages have remained roughly the same. Audiences have been conditioned not to leave their homes except for spectacular, special-effects-laden, heavily advertised entries in a big-name franchise like James Bond, DC adaptations, The Fast and the Furious, or, well, everything else that seems to be owned by Disney these days — from Marvel, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation to Star Wars, Die Hard, and Alien to awards-friendly one-offs like The Descendants, 12 Years a Slave, The Shape of Water, and the upcoming A Hidden Life and French Dispatch. Huge chains are able to survive under these conditions (though not easily). Smaller theaters have to go the unconventional route, and repertory screenings have always been an important tool in their kit. Remove it, and survival becomes much harder.

The Plaza’s Escobar also happens to be a Disney shareholder, and he says he’s holding out hope that Disney will change its mind and rescind the new policy. “Disney has the opportunity not to be the bad guy, to act in the public interest and prove that them owning something is not a bad thing,” he says. Time to wish upon a star.


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You know what? As long as he doesn't retcon Rey's parents, I'm okay. I get to experience this series I've loved since I was a kid one last time, and that's all I need. Give us hell, JJ.

Also, this looks absolutely STUNNING. Dan Mindel is pulling out all the stops.


(54 replies, posted in Episodes)

HenryChM wrote:

The primary example for this is the scene with the Architect, in which Neo learns that the prophecy of The One was made up by the machines as a way to corral the freed humans and make them easier to control. This is a really interesting concept, and could totally be explored in greater depth, but the actual on-screen explanation of this is a dude in a chair speaking in deliberately difficult to understand phrasing (concordantly, vis-a-vis, ergo), and no follow up. Compare this to the scene in The Matrix where Morpheus takes Neo through his 3D slideshow presentation of what the matrix is, the history of the machines, how the world got how it is, and it's clear that there's a real lack of 'show, don't tell' in the sequels. There's no visual interest to aid the exposition, and there's no time dedicated to exploring the concepts presented. It's as if the movie doesn't want you to know that it has cool ideas.

Just to reply to this bit specifically—I think the Architect's exposition being obtuse is definitely intentional and rooted in character. When Morpheus is walking Neo through the history of the Matrix, he's a teacher, a mentor, an empathetic human being trying to help another human being acclimate to this new world he's been shoved into in the most intuitive way possible. The Architect is under no such restraint because he views Neo as a near-literal cog in the machine—what he delivers isn't an attempt at teaching, it's gloating toward an inferior combined with the weariness/contempt of familiarity (he has, after all, delivered this speech to Neo some half-dozen times). Beyond that level, I think it works much better for the feelings the movie is trying to elicit for this revelation to be a coldly delivered speech in front of a bunch of screens than it would be to have a whiz-bang presentation. God is a soulless program, you're not special the way you thought you were, every emotion you've felt and choice you've thought was your own comes down to the whims of an old man sitting in a room full of screens—pretty crushing if you ask me.

(All that said, the original really is a wonder of exposition. Basically two thirds of the whole thing is a giant continuous infodump and it's so engaging that it just flies by. A feat that, its other problems aside, Inception also managed with flair.)

As for the rave, I don't know, I think it's certainly a bit indulgent but also crucial in establishing just what the human race stands to lose if Zion is destroyed. And I think it's largely redeemed by the intercutting between the rave itself—love on a vast, communal scale—and Neo and Trinity having sex—love on a relational, individual level. Like I said in my earlier post, the tenderness of their relationship is one of my favorite aspects of the sequels, and the juxtaposition of them with the rave works really well for me.

Wooooow, fuck YouTube. Great job regardless of monetization, beej!

Okay, here's Alice and me together! This was super-fun to do—helps that Alice is fucking amazing.


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A core of true events—a philandering priest accused by nuns of witchcraft and rape at the tail end of the Middle Ages—is spun out into a carnival of surrealist horror. Genuinely has the power to shock some five decades later.

Canny enough to root its false-accusations paranoia in a patriarchal farce rather than straight misogyny, and honest enough to make Grandier a bastard who's nonetheless deserving of empathy rather than a perfect martyr. Christianity was fucked the instant it aligned God with hierarchical power and the devil with the marginalized. Our stroll through the ashes has yet to end. (See Kotsko's political theology The Prince of This World.)

As a longsuffering Who fan, really wish this Russell had shown up for Tommy.

Streaming on Criterion Channel as of this month—has a tendency to depart from services as quickly as it pops up on them, so get ye to the internet while you can.

Jonathan's is proooobably better suited to my range iirc, but whichever one works better for you is fine by me!

I WILL TOTALLY DO THERAPY WITH YOU (requisite small letters)

Absolute LOVE the duet idea. If anyone is up for "Pretty Women," you know where to find me big_smile (Teague and Alice, you both killed it as per the yoozh.) [EDIT: Goddammit I swear to god "Alica" was a typo.]

Finally pulled out some Sondheim tonight:

You Could Drive a Person Crazy
Missing backing vocals and some instruments, but whatcha gonna do.

Getting Married Today
Other characters' voices drop in and out at points because Amy's part on the karaoke track goes much slower than the actual song, so I had to speed it back up prior to singing for reasons that will become abundantly clear tongue


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Never ever sleeping again.

In many ways a spiritual successor to The Blair Witch Project—mockumentary format rather than found footage, but it takes that movie's idea of the camera as simultaneous buffer between you and reality and terrifying confirmation of horror as reality and progresses it into the realm of digital image-capturing. When reality is capable of being manipulated, the line between the artificial and the hauntological blurs—ghosts become digital artifacts and digital artifacts become ghosts. It becomes impossible to say whether the supernatural is always with us or whether we manufacture it into being.

The above philosophical wankery is wrapped around a core of tragedy and violation—there's absolutely zero chance the choice of "Palmer" as the family surname was coincidental—that tethers it to visceral horror where it could have wandered into the abstract. The two elements come together in a single shot that's one of the most unspeakably terrifying images I've ever seen, one that's gonna be burned into my brain.

So yeah, bed tonight will be fun.

Streaming for free on Prime. Watch it for Spooktober.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Teague wrote:

That was a hell of a review. Thanks.

Thanks, Teague!

Aaagh this is all so wonderful.

BDA, you need to play Judge Turpin at some point in your life.

Regan, a Life on Mars cover is now required.


Henry, a real instrument?! No. Gregorian chants only, you heretic.

Boter, in addition to the awesome song selections, that shirt though.

Two-fer today:

Mein Herr
Alphabet Aerobics

Residual Minelli in the background of the former but that's never a bad thing tongue


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Well that was goddamn great. (Also gotta love the screensaver-ass opening.)

EDIT IN TURN: Just to continue this great-live-performances thing, David Rawlings is an absolute demon.


(249 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Saw the Who's Rock and Roll Circus performance shared on Twitter and was reminded that, while I'm nowhere near the rockist I used to be, live music objectively peaked with this song and it's been downhill ever since.



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Avoided this for years because I considered the novel essentially unadaptable, most specifically in its overwhelmingly repulsive violence. As it turns out, Harron agrees—rather than even attempting to translate the book's slaughterhouse depictions to the screen, she reduces them to the abstract in the crazed scribblings Patrick's secretary Jean discovers in his notes. That moment, while it lacks the horrifying power of the book's lengthy descriptions of brutality and mangling, is nonetheless absolutely chilling.

It also highlights Harron's choice to wander outside Patrick's point of view and into the skins of the women he victimizes, the one area in which her adaptation is definitively superior to Ellis's novel. American Psycho the book is Bateman's story, Bateman's monologue, Bateman's experiences, and while being trapped in his head makes for suffocatingly powerful satire, it also locks the reader into a world without remorse, without empathy. We are sickened by the descriptions of Patrick's rape and torture and mutilation, but those acts might as well be happening to pieces of meat—the women are voiceless bags of flesh that are violated and then disposed of.

In American Psycho the film, the viewer is allowed to slip outside Bateman at crucial moments. When he solicits Christie for the second time, we inhabit her fear, her reluctance, her ultimate decision to dissociate and turn off her emotions in the hopes that this man won't hurt her; later, as he chases her, our perspective is not that of the man who holds the chainsaw but that of the girl who runs. And in the lesser, verbal violence he commits against Jean, we're inhabiting not his mind but hers; Bateman's callous, deliberate negging of her, every compliment barbed with a twist of abuse just underneath, honestly feels more visceral than a good chunk of the murders he commits, because Harron's camera follows Jean's pasted-on smiles, lingers on the hurt welling under her skin. When she finds the truth of who Patrick really is, we're alone in his office with her, experiencing the revelation in all its horror as though for the first time.

Ellis's novel is an American masterpiece in spite of its author, who in the three decades since its publication has done his level best to prove that he was capable of producing it only by accident. Harron's film succeeds because of its author—because of the ways she's able to mold Ellis's unrelenting charnelhouse to her own ends, enriching and expanding it without betraying its heart.


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Not a movie this time!

I have been waiting three years for this game. My hype-shakes are off the charts right now.


(54 replies, posted in Episodes)

So, after rewatching the OG Matrix on the big screen for the 20th anniversary early this month, I did the sequels for the first time back-to-back. At the time I refrained from posting because I hadn't listened to the commentaries for them in ages, but.

I liked Reloaded, fucking loved Revolutions. I think that they're beautiful and meaningful and honestly made stronger by their imperfections. And more than anything else the thought that keeps going through my head is We didn't know how great we had it.

Just LOOK at these things, guys. Remember when sci-fi tentpoles had honest-to-god setpieces that were painstakingly conceived and executed? Remember when they were allowed to look like something besides grey mush? Remember when there was a visual ethos beyond "What's gonna be the easiest angle for the VFX team to be altering shots at the last second?"

They set up a bunch of questions they don't answer? OH MY GOD THANK YOU. The universe is so much richer for it—compared to the Pirates sequels where the entire edifice collapses under the weight of its own intricate bullshit mythology, or the MCU where the stated ethos is to make things "CinemaSins-proof," it feels so refreshing.

Trinity's death is overly sentimental and earnest? Yes please. Remember sentiment, guys? That thing you get when you don't undercut your emotional beats with jokes? (And this was honestly the biggest surprise for me, because my one major sticking point on the first film is that I don't buy that Trinity has fallen in love with Neo by the end of it at all. And yet, watching Reloaded and Revolutions, I found myself moved at how tender and REAL the relationship between the two of them is—love communicated through the smallest of looks or gestures. I remember the podcast ripped on it for being awful because Reeves and Moss are both wooden, but I think there's a difference between wooden and reserved. The way they deliver dialogue doesn't mean they aren't expressing feeling in tons of other tiny ways.)

I do have to wonder how much my gleeful reaction to the trilogy as a whole stems from how creatively bankrupt so many tentpoles are today vs. how they were even fifteen years ago, but god, I just loved these so so much and I'm very glad that the revisionist "They're good, actually" camp seems to be sliding into the majority. Fingers crossed the upcoming fourth one is a home run.

You'll have to forgive the part where I try tapping on my laptop to imitate tap-dancing, not realizing how sensitive my mic is tongue

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ey9q56 … sp=sharing


(48 replies, posted in Episodes)

For the interested, a Twitter thread on the historical roots of the real fencing techniques referenced by Goldman in both the film and the book.

Thibault's book is available in a very fine presentation/translation by John Michael Greer.


(209 replies, posted in Creations)

Chrysties Wake


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I had the exact same thing with The Matrix, and it felt so off-putting to me to watch it and absorb so many references in reverse that the entire movie really rubbed me the wrong way at the time. (Rewatched it on the big screen recently, then did the sequels for the first time, and loved all of 'em, so I'm glad I got over that sticking point. tongue )


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Felt physically ill reading this one. Utilizes the medium's ability to depict the undepictable to generate some of the most skin-crawling body horror I've ever encountered and tie it into an overarching cosmic horror narrative built around impossible geometries. Love it and never want to touch it again.


(12 replies, posted in Creations)

Bought a copy today, looking forward to digging in!