one hundred sixteen things tagged “movies”

Mersal (2017) IMDb C

Saw with NN. At least twice as long as it needs to be. Didn’t care about the score. It’s three hours of Vijay doing Vijay things with gusto. Spoiler: I understand that mass Indian entertainers, particularly the South Indian ones, have a tenuous relationship with reality. But we are to be OK with two siblings, born five years apart, looking like facsimiles of each other. They didn’t even bother shaving the mustache of the younger bro. Come the fuck on.

Candyman (2021) IMDb B+

Saw with BE and NN. Eh. Clear messages about creatives’ struggles and temptations, and the importance of continuing to tell past and present stories of horrific pain and suffering.

I suppose I just lazily wanted to watch a well-made scary movie without actively engaging with it, without searching for the clever and occasionally deep symbolism that has come to characterize a movie with Jordan Peele’s name on it. It was adequately scary.

The title of Anthony’s piece [“Say His Name”] also is recognizable as a play on the Say Her Name slogan meant to memorialize victims of anti-Black violence and police brutality such as Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland. The recognition of that inference is the only point of connection to it.

Beyond that, little about the plot makes a statement about over-policing or the socio-economic violence that gentrification creates by destroying and displacing low-income communities. Its characters blithely discuss these concerns over drinks or Brianna’s well-appointed living room, but only as part of a litany of urban ills. The sequences are the film’s ways of throwing a message that’s on-brand for 2021 behind a horror movie meant to speak to an audience that supports protests against racial injustice and biased policing in principle without having any actual skin in the game.

To those impacted in a real way by these issues or savvy enough to recognize when they’re being used as mechanisms to impart a sense of relevance, they come across as didactic nonsense. All that noise strangles the twin melodies that make up the Candyman character’s siren song: seduction and legacy.

Melanie McFarland, “No sweets for the sweet in new “Candyman,” which neglects the legend’s seductively scary legacy”, Salon

Speaking of these “twin melodies”: I haven’t seen the 1992 original and it’s on my list. Didn’t know that Philip Glass did the score for the movie.

The Wolf’s Call (2019) IMDb B+

Watched with LD. Nuclear apocalypse via submarines. At least as exciting as “The Hunt for Red October”. Watch on the largest screen you have and with a good sound system. The premise and last half hour were (I hope) pure flights of fancy. Excellent stuff by Francois Civil, Reda Kateb, and Mathieu Kassovitz as Alfost1.

  1. Which Wikipedia notes is not a name: “It is an acronym designating the admiral commanding the SSBN fleet of the French Navy. It stands for AmiraL commandant la Force Océanique STratégique.” ↩︎

W/o Ram (2018) IMDb D

Watched because I’m a sucker for any movie that calls itself a ‘thriller’. A case-study in nepotism. She shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near a camera. Good God.

Vijay Yelakanti considers Lakshmi as one of the best female actors of this generation. While he was directing her for a commercial, she had apparently given him 10 different expressions.

Y Sunita Chowdhary, The title ‘W/O Ram’ emphasises the woman’s identity as someone’s wife, says Vijay Yelakanti, The Hindu

Well, Vijay, let’s just say I didn’t see any.

Lady Snowblood (1973) IMDb A

The OG “roaring rampage of revenge.” Watched with LD. Endlessly creative and I imagine way ahead of its time. “Oh so that’s what Tarantino was paying homage to.” 🙏

lady snowblood

Homefront (2013) IMDb D

Shit. Stallone wrote it. Background-watched because it looked revenge-y and Netflix listed it as a Top 10 movie in the US. Jason Statham is B+ as Jason Statham. This time, he growl-mumbles through this shit movie as an undercover DEA agent (with Special Forces training of course) who speaks with an English accent, presumably because he became a naturalized citizen beforehand.

Well, he was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, which is between Stoke-on-Trent and Sheffield so that would be a mix of accents but closer to Yorkshire, but he grew up in Norfolk… which would give him an East Anglian accent. He then moved to London I believe… which gave him his slightly unusual not quite Cockney accent or Mockney as we call it.

Source

Kate Bosworth was excellent and looked like she subsisted purely off the aura of vegetables a few months before playing her role.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) IMDb A

Watched with CK. This was Hitchcock’s favorite movie:

This was my father’s favourite movie, and it was because he loved bringing the menace into a small town1, into a family that had never known any bad things happen to them. They adored this uncle. They just adored him. Yet they had no idea what he is like. The whole suspense of the movie is, “When are they going to find out?”

Patricia Hitchcock

And then there’s this exchange 🤣

CHARLIE
Oh, what’s the matter with you two ? Do you always have to talk about killing people?

HERB
We’re not talking about killing people.

JOSEPH
Herb’s talking about killing me, and I’m talking about killing him.

ANN
It’s your father’s way of relaxing.

CHARLIE
Can’t he find some other way to relax? Can’t we have a little peace and quiet without dragging in poisons all the time?

  1. The thick black smoke at Uncle Charlie’s arrivals is meant to be a bad portent. He uses this a lot. ↩︎

Tenet (2020) IMDb B

Watched with CK. The plot doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But very, very entertaining. Anyone who claims to understand what’s going on after the first 32 viewings is a damned liar. A perfect one-line review:

So suit up […] for what may not be Nolan at his best, but is definitely Nolan at his most.

Honest Trailers

Excellent soundtrack by Ludwig Göransson (first came by his work when watching The Mandalorian and just knew he was something special.)

Also the Sator Square for a standard dose of Nolan apophenia1. See also: The pitch meeting.

  1. It has no goddamn ‘meaning’ other than being a middle-school palindromic curiosity (and contributes nothing other than names to the plot.) ↩︎

Man on Fire (2004) IMDb D

Watched because Denzel and Revenge. Not sure why I bothered finishing it. Absolutely awful. The cinematographer appears to have borrowed the ghastly verdigris-like palette from this terribly photoshopped poster, and keeps twitching the camera with the giddiness of a raver who’s taken two of them Mitsubishi pills that were in vogue at the time.

Dakota Fanning is the only other reason to endure this. She was only ten in 2004 but acted like she’d been at it for at least three decades.

The Nest (2020) IMDb A-

Watched with LD. Reminded me of “Hereditary” (it’s a slow burn) but with The Evil being this chimera of financial insolvency, really bad trust issues, childhood trauma, and severe affluenza. Jude Law was perfect, but Carrie Coon was so fucking good as the beleagured yet passively complicit partner and mostly grieving person. The scene shot from the stable facing the manor was genius. Sean Durkin (writer and director) stuck the landing perfectly. Lovely stuff.

Dream Team (1989) IMDb B+

Michael Keaton and Christopher Lloyd were excellent. But Peter Boyle steals the show as “Jack McDermott. Christ fixation. Megalomania.

BILLY
Hey, Doc, isn’t it true that if even one of those tiles were to come loose, millions and millions of gallons of water would come pouring down on us and squash us like tiny little bugs? Is that a leak up there? You see those tiles? They’re leaking water right there!

DR. WEITZMAN
Bill. Cut it out. Oh, my God!

JACK
I will hold back the waters.

DR. WEITZMAN
Thanks, Jack.

.

BILLY
Dr. Verboven can be such a perfectionist.

JACK
Yeah, but that’s what makes him such a great diagnostician.

HENRY (DR. VERBOVEN)
Vital signs are good. Zip code checks out.

.

JACK
Let me hold the gun.

HENRY
No.

JACK
I let you sit in the front seat.

(HENRY HANDS GUN TO JACK)

PSYCHIATRIST
Jack, Jesus Christ would never point a gun at another human being.

JACK
Stay out of my psychosis and get your ass in that van.

and finally (even though there’s a lot more understated gold)

JACK
I drove the moneylenders from the temple. I can handle a ten-spot.

🙏

Rashomon (1950) IMDb A+

Saw this after about 18 years. Some assorted notes: Thought I heard Boléro. Every frame is a fucking painting. Just so wonderful: sunshine through the leaves and at the interrogation, characters walking into and out of the audience, the gate’s history and state of decay, and of course Tajomaru’s sword when he’s under the tree 🤣 No idea what his constant fly-swatting signified. Faces sometimes resembled those in Ukiyo-e paintings (like this one). Save for the hapless priest, every character is demon and human. Storytelling: tension between whether it is to be regarded a fable or a real account. ‘The lies we tell ourselves don’t matter as long as they’re in the service of mending and preserving our humanity.’ Professor David Thorburn breaks down the movie.

What Did Jack Do? (2017) IMDb B

Stars David Lynch, his spouse Emily Stofle, a monkey, and a chicken. The oddest and most hypnotic thing I’ve seen this year (and twice.) A mere 17 minutes in length and like if film-school students used GPT-3 to generate a script an hour before the assignment was due.

Toototabon 🐓

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) IMDb C

Saw with CK. Excited because Charlie Kaufman. Mostly self-indulgent tripe. The conversations in the car were interminably tedious1 and missing PBR hats and gauloises. The weirdness in the first third-to-a-half of the movie was excellent. Top-notch performances and camerawork.

  1. No, this is neither clever nor the point. ↩︎

The Rhythm Section (2020) IMDb C+

Am a sucker for a good revenge story. This one was very slow and kinda haphazard. But I didn’t think it was bad enough to deserve this:

The film received negative reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb, having the worst wide opening weekend of all-time, the biggest drop in theaters, and is projected to lose Paramount $40 million.

Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Good grief Basel! Blake Lively put in one of those “triumphant” performances 👏💯🏅

Vivarium (2019) IMDb B+

An entertaining, unsettling, dissatisfying Lovecraftian allegory for suburban life and child-rearing (esp the teenage years.) Dragged on for a bit: I imagine it would’ve worked great as a Black Mirror episode. Jonathan Aris and Senan Jennings were supremely creepy and magnificent and perfectly cast for their roles 🙌

Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior (2020) IMDb C+

Another jingoistic saffron shitshow a la “Padmaavat1. Quite the visual spectacle: like walking through a racist and revisionist Amar Chitra Katha. Saif Ali Khan’s Uday Bhan is the only interesting character. Of noble Rajput blood, he succumbs to eating crocodile meat, sexual assault (of chaste Hindu women who need protection), comical levels of bloodlust, a fuckton of kohl, and villainous-looking sartorial choices.

Because that’s what hanging out with evil Muslim foreigners will do to you 🤷‍♂️

Prof. Ruchika Sharma’s take on its historicity is worth reading for these things called ‘facts’ your WhatsApp relatives won’t appreciate. ProTip ✨: Please don’t make the mistake of suggesting that the “India” depicted in the movie did not exist until independence, three centuries later #swaraj

  1. Cash it in while you can, I suppose. Like for real. ↩︎

Arundhati (2009) IMDb C

“Hey Sonu, we’re gonna need you to do some PCP before you show up to the set. Certainly before the dubbing. Go for that Nandi bro.”

Sayaji Shinde as Anwar was the MVP. Ode to The Exorcist and The Ring.

The Foreigner (2017) IMDb C

Ireland. Liam. Mick. Belfast. Mary. IRA. Patrick. Belfast. Liam Hennessy. Sean. Sinn Féin. “You should try a real whiskey. Two Jamesons, Single Malt.” Belfast. Belfast.

Also Jackie Chan. But watch for Orla Brady 🇮🇪

There Will Be Blood (2007) IMDb A+

Finally saw this with PLG. Daniel Day-Lewis’ best performance IMO. Astounding, really.

Mr. Day-Lewis’s outsize performance, with its footnote references to Huston and strange, contorted Kabuki-like grimaces, occasionally breaks the skin of the film’s surface like a dangerous undertow. The actor seems to have invaded Plainview’s every atom, filling an otherwise empty vessel with so much rage and purpose you wait for him to blow. It’s a thrilling performance, among the greatest I’ve seen, purposefully alienating and brilliantly located at the juncture between cinematic realism and theatrical spectacle.

– Manohla Dargis “An American Primitive, Forged in a Crucible of Blood and Oil

Paul Dano is great as an ageless vampire-pastor 😑 The excellent soundtrack was written by Jonny Greenwood (!) and features works by Arvo Pärt and Brahms.

Bad Genius (2017) IMDb A-

Slow start but gets pretty exciting towards the end. I couldn’t wait for Lynn to rid herself of her parasitic friends (especially the cloying Grace, played to perfection by Eisaya Hosuwan.) Cheating on standardized tests is big business in India and China. The Atlantic has a relatively recent article on the phenomenon.

The usual commentary on class and meritocracy. Lots of love for Boston University.

Anurag Kashyap on The Struggle

Kashyap on his journey to become one of India’s most important filmmakers.

The cover picture is clickbait. No “shocking” revelations. Just a good story about pursuing one’s chosen vocation with grit and perseverance (with a bit of luck along the way.)

On “Josh Talks”, who look like a TED clone and are “on a mission to raise the aspirations of Young India.”

Manmarziyaan (2018) IMDb B+

Watched with Paaji. Third Anurag Kashyap and Amit Trivedi film. Superb. Maybe a little too drawn out at times (gotta fit in all 14 tracks of that sweet Trivedi score) and was dismayingly Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam-predictable towards the end.

Gray Waala Shade” (with the accompanying opening scenes) is a magnificent song12.

  1. Yes, yes, “Daryaa” too. ↩︎

  2. Kashyap saw Poonam and Priyanka Shah on this viral Bharatnatyam video before asking them to be part of the movie. ↩︎

The Titanic and Climate Change

Stumbled upon this nearly three-hour, real-time, annotated simulation of the Titanic sinking. Late night1.

Which led me to James Cameron’s 2012 documentary Titanic: The Final Word, in which he assembles a group of engineers and historians to fix the simulation in the 1997 movie, which leads to this ‘final’ version.

Cameron, in the documentary:

Part of the Titanic parable is of arrogance, of hubris, of the sense that we’re too big to fail. Well where have we heard that one before? There was this big machine, this human system that was pushing forward with so much momentum, that it couldn’t turn, it couldn’t stop in time to avert a disaster. And that’s what we have right now. Within that human system onboard that ship, if you want to make it a microcosm for the world, you have different classes, you know, you’ve got first class, second class, and third class. Well in our world right now you’ve got developed nations and undeveloped nations. You’ve got the starving millions who are going to be the ones most affected by the next iceberg that we hit, which is going to be Climate Change.

We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now, but we can’t turn we can’t turn because of the momentum of the system. Political momentum, business momentum. There are too many people making money out of the system the way the system works right now, and those people, you know, frankly have their hands on the levers of power and aren’t ready to let them go. Until they do, we’re not going to be able to turn to miss that iceberg and we’re gonna hit it. When we hit it, the rich are still gonna be able to get their access to food, to arable land, to water, and so on. It’s going to be the poor, it’s going to be the steerage, that are gonna be impacted. It was the same with Titanic and I think that’s why this story will always fascinate people. Because it’s a perfect little encapsulation of the world and all social spectra. But until our lives are really put at risk, the moment of truth, we don’t know what we would do.

  1. Speaking of… found this amazing model of the ship. ↩︎

Us (2019) IMDb A

Excellent stuff again from Jordan Peele. Thought the first half was about slavery and lost identity. Wisecrack has a great video on the movie’s various interpretations.

A Vigilante (2018) IMDb B+

The first two-thirds are brilliant. As for Olivia Wilde and her riveting performance:

[. . .] it’s still good to see a cunning and capable actress rise above her usual projects, such as stupid fodder like Tron or Cowboys and Aliens, or labels like “Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2010.”

After Enough and five Death Wish movies, the revenge genre is not without its recurring clichés, many of which get defrosted and microwaved again in A Vigilante. The point, if there is one, is that “heinous criminal felonies are acceptable if they are justified by a woman driven beyond the limits of reason.” As one battered wife says, “Every graveyard is full of people who didn’t make it.” The same is true of old movies gathering dust in Hollywood film vaults.

– Rex Reed, Olivia Wilde Goes Full Charles Bronson in the Brutal Revenge Thriller ‘A Vigilante’

Aquaman (2019) IMDb C+

Fell asleep about three times trying to finish this visual overload. Ended up taking a walk right after this exchange

“You expect me to call you Your Highness?”

“No, I expect you to call me… Ocean Master.”

The Wailing (2016) IMDb A

Saw with LD. Long, slow, visceral, beautiful, gory. Kept me guessing. Excellent stuff.

There’s a pervasive hush and sense of stillness that lingers over the region of Gokseong, and scenes of brazen, crazed madness are often preceded by shots of tranquil mountain vistas whose lush, thickly forested landscapes increasingly feel smothering and secretive. This is a film as beautiful as it is gory, as painstakingly scenic as it is committed to stark visual interplays between darkness and light.

All the while, the story of Gokseong unfolds in fits and starts, each puzzle piece more confusing than the last. Are the residents of the town being systematically poisoned with a drug that causes them to become frenzied, savage killers? Are they being cursed? Or is it both, and for what reason? Na’s writing layers tension upon tension, particularly through the escalating paranoia that each of the townspeople comes to feel for any and all outsiders.

However, answers are much harder to find in this film than accusations. Horror fans wanting a plot whose ending dovetails nicely with all the elements that preceded it may wind up feeling frustrated, though many more may be drawn into the heart of its darkness: the conviction that terror has come to this town and there is no escape to be had.

– Aja Romano, The Wailing is the most unsettling Korean horror film in years, but it offers more chills than answers

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) IMDb C

I don’t understand the ratings and the hullabaloo over what was affluence porn with a tired Bollywood plot (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham came to mind but I’m sure there’s something else that aligns better with CRA.) Might be a satirical, over-the-top take on new and old money in Singapore, though I wonder it was construed as such by the target audience.

And then:

Racism against minorities is endemic in Singapore. Job advertisements frequently only ask for those who can speak in English and Mandarin, and even if minorities are able to do so, they are told that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. Muslim women in hijabs are kept out of certain civil service jobs because of their headwear. While there are police bans on speaking in Tamil, there are yearly tax-funded programs to promote speaking in Mandarin. Minority representations are rife with stereotypes and the idea of the quintessential Singapore girl is one that embodies only East Asian beauty standards. The country’s ruling power has stated that Malay-Muslims in Singapore cannot be trusted in the armed forces due to their divided loyalties between religion and state. It has further accused them of being unable to ‘integrate’ an irony considering that Malay people are considered the original inhabitants of the land. The founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, holds views on genetics that would seem disconcertingly similar to eugenicist and white supremacist ideals, as he has touted the genetic superiority of the Chinese as stronger and hardier, with Indians not being as bright, but still better than the lazy, un-driven Malays. Chinese people wear Indians in ‘brown face’ and many elite public schools are reserved for them.

[. . .] Given this context, this movie is actually perpetuating the state of racism and Islamophobia in Singapore. The only Brown people in the movie are opening doors or in service of the elite Chinese in the movie. Minorities only exist in the periphery of the film. Why is this being lauded as revolutionary?

What people celebrating this movie are doing is bringing a Western racial framework to bear upon a Singaporean one.

– Sangeetha Thanapal, “Crazy Rich Asians” Promotes The Ongoing Systematic Erasure And Oppression Of Singapore Minorities On A Global Screen.

Bird Box (2018) IMDb B-

A slasher version of A Quiet Place except The Monster gets you when you open your eyes (but only at key moments that further the plot.) Snoozefest after the first half. Had no idea that the lanky, highly tattooed extra is a famous rapper. A few plotholes that bugged me:

What exactly constitutes a safe barrier between your vision and the outdoors? By the movie’s standards, a thin-fabric blindfold and a sparse canopy of leaves count, but a security camera does not.

How did Trevante Rhodes manage to keep such a defined six-pack over the course of five home-bound years, and would he be willing to share that workout routine?

Elsewhere, Gizmodo on how the unseen monster is an allegory for the pernicious effects of social media on our lives. Huh.

Venom (2018) IMDb C+

Venom goes from evil alien mastermind who wants to take over the planet to Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon” in about five minutes.

His new motivations make no sense whatsoever.

But in the case of Venom, the action follows nothing. There’s no reason for Venom to risk his life because he doesn’t seem to care about people, and it’s never been his arc to learn about why caring for humanity is important. Venom is not about an alien symbiote coming to Earth and learning that people are worth saving. It’s about a cannibalistic, violent force who merges with a hapless shmuck and decides to stick around. Venom’s sacrifice means nothing because even if you buy that he’d be willing to save Earth, that’s different than being willing to die to save it.

– Matt Goldberg, “The Ending of ‘Venom’ Is Familiar Except It Makes No Sense

Honest Trailers on the movie. I suppose it’s all forgiven if you make $0.9B. Of course there’s a sequel. Of course I’ll watch it.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) IMDb A-

Dan Fogler is as awesome in this one as he was in the first. A role he was born to play:

Did you feel like you had an advantage while auditioning because you’re actually from New York?

I think I brought some real authenticity to it. I grew up in Brooklyn. When I read the part, I thought, “Oh, man, I know this guy. He’s one of my ancestors.” I have a great-grandfather, Isaac, who was a baker in New York on the Lower East Side. It’s really surreal stepping into the role. I felt like it was written for me. I felt like he was family already, so I loved him.

Then I paid homage to a lot of my favorite actors from that era, like Chaplin and Buster Keaton. When Eddie and I are together, it’s like Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello. I tried to infuse him with all of that great, elegant kind of comedy, that real physical kind of comedy. Also [James] Cagney. I liked how Cagney stood. He was very conservative in his motions – because I’m such a broad, wacky guy, I thought that it helped me stay in the period. Cut to me flailing and running like a maniac. [Laughs.]

– From an interview with The Los Angeles Times’ Meredith Worner

A Wednesday (2008) IMDb B+

Because I saw Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher in the cast. And they were excellent.

The climax is an absolute knock-out with an accolade-winning speech by Naseer who becomes a flag-bearer for all those nameless, ordinary people battling with this modern-day scourge, the world over. The highpoint of the film is the class act by the two stalwarts of the industry: Naseer and Anupam pitch in riveting performances as the shuffling, seemingly inconsequential, nameless bomber and the no-nonsense cop. Add to this some finely nuanced acts by Jimmy Shergill and Aamir Bashir and you have a topical, gritty, high-adrenalin drama.

Times of India

Neeraj Pandey wrote and directed Special 26 as well.

Baaghi (2016) IMDb D

Terrible. Expected this, so not sure why I did this to myself. Thought it was a weird mashup of Varsham and Dredd. Features this ‘Grandmaster Shifuji’ who attempts to act like a Kung Fu/Kalari master in the movie and a combat veteran and “special forces trainer” in real life.

Watching what they did to Sunil Grover and Sanjay Mishra’s talents was depressing. As for Kota Srinivasa Rao: they used a North Indian voice actor to dub over his South Indian accent… with a ghastly South Indian accent 😐

Just terrible.

Lutz Ebersdorf

As if I needed another reason to fall in love with Tilda Swinton

Swinton penned a phony IMDb biography to keep the secret, and wore fake genitalia, created by makeup artist Mark Coulier, while in character. (“She did have us make a penis and balls,” Coulier told the paper. “She had this nice, weighty set of genitalia so that she could feel it dangling between her legs, and she managed to get it out on set on a couple of occasions.”) Both she and Guadagnino were miffed when their secret got out. “Frankly, my long-held dream was that we would never have addressed this question at all,” Swinton told the Times. “My original idea was that Lutz would die during the edit, and his ‘In Memoriam’ be the final credit in the film.”

Vulture

😳

Hereditary (2018) IMDb A

Deeply upsetting. One of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker on what gives it its potency

Should you want to measure the psychological disturbance at work here, try comparing “Hereditary” with “A Quiet Place.” That recent hit, for all its masterly shocks, is at bottom a reassuring film, introducing people who are beset by an external menace but more or less able to pull through because, as a team, they’re roped together with enough love to fight back. “Hereditary” is more perplexing. It has the nerve to suggest that the social unit is, by definition, self-menacing, and that the home is no longer a sanctuary but a crumbling fortress, under siege from within. That is why there are no doctors in Aster’s film, and no detectives, either, urgently though both are required; nor does a man of God arrive, as he does in “The Exorcist” (1973), to lay the anguish to rest. Nothing, in short, can help Annie, Steve, and the kids, and they sure can’t help themselves, stationed as they are inside their delicate doll’s house of a world. There is no family curse in this remarkable movie. The family is the curse.

The amazing Colin Stetson did the soundtrack which is somehow even more unsettling than Brian Reitzell’s Hannibal.

Update 25 Oct 2018: If this was a movie:

Ann Hamilton Horse Eye photograph

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) IMDb B+

This is the jingoistic view of American force so familiar from films like ‘Black Hawk Down.’ This is American power as an unstoppable beast.

Yep.

You would be forgiven for asking what religious extremists have to do with a film series that previously focused on Mexican drug cartels. You would also be forgiven for finding this film problematic as it focuses next on a craven terrorist attack in a grocery store. Three suicide bombers enter the crowded building and commit mass murder. We are not spared the image of a mother begging for the life of her little girl. We discover that the terrorists are being smuggled across the border by the cartels. Two of our greatest enemies have now become one.

– Joshua Ruth “Sicario: Day of The Soldado’ is Violent, Problematic and One of the Most Satisfying Sequels in Years”

Watch for a masterclass in tension, Benecio Del Toro being a badass again, and for Isabela Moner’s excellent performance.

Srinivasa Kalyanam (2018) IMDb D

Watched with JS and LT. A solid 2.5 hours of Telugu Sampradayam-porn for the 50+ members of your family. Culture and Tradition are static and immutable constructs that are absolutely not subject to examination and revision, especially when it comes to gender roles. Features cameos by yesteryear supporting actors who appear plasticine with the amount of makeup employed.

Isle of Dogs (2018) IMDb A-

Michael Cavna at The Washington Post with a roundup of the cultural appropriation controversy around the movie. Steve Rose at The Guardian:

Some critics are barking “appropriation!” on Twitter and online, but where Ghost in the Shell and Doctor Strange (and there are many more) took a Japanese story and cut-and-pasted in white people, here Anderson engages with Japanese culture and references on an almost scholarly level, while the cast is filled with Japanese names1, from Ken Watanabe to Yôjirô Noda, lead singer of Radwimps to, er, Yoko Ono.

Isle of Dogs is a movie that seems custom-made to set off appropriation dog whistles but, for all its questionable moves, the result is a story that’s one of a kind. If we police boundaries too strictly, we’re stifling the possibility of cross-fertilisation and invention. If you do it well enough, it’s not appropriation, it’s conversation.

Also from that article: “cultural Pinterestism”.

I can watch stop-motion “making of” videos all day and here’s a dismayingly short one on Isle of Dogs:

The sushi scene took 8 months to craft!

  1. Numbers alone aren’t compelling arguments but I counted 26 Japanese actors out of 49 on the (partial?) cast list here ↩︎

Child Endangerment

A mother in suburban Chicago breathes a huge sigh of relief this week, as she was reunited with her 8-year-old son Kevin, who was accidentally left at home alone as the family went on vacation to Paris. Apparently no one had noticed the boy was missing on their drive to the airport and through airport security and while boarding the plane.

Only once when they were in flight did the mother sense that a cherished family member may not have been present. She then shrieked, Kevin. She would rush home where she, along with police, found the boy unharmed physically, though he may deal with abandonment issues for years to come.

In addition to the boy, the police also found two career criminals who appeared to have suffered great bodily damage while attempting to rob the house. One man had been shot in the groin with a BB gun and had his hands severely burned by a hot doorknob. The other man had a nail and pieces of glass Christmas ornaments lodged in his foot. Both men also miraculously survived being hit in the head with a paint can that was apparently swung from a rope at high speeds, something which would normally crush a human skull.

Child Protective Services say they will not remove the child from the family since they believe it to be only a one-time occurrence, and certainly not something that could happen again the next year.

– Hari Kondabolu on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Inside Men (2015) IMDb B+

Longer than it should’ve been and unevenly paced. Predictable ending. Still very enjoyable, since I’m a sucker for a good vengeance flick. Lee Byung-hun was absolutely fantastic (first saw him in “I Saw The Devil”.) Found myself hating this guy’s character with the same bile as Imelda Staunton’s Dolores Umbridge.