Leap Day means an extra day for movies
in February 2020


Young Adult (2011)

It's been nine years since this came out?? I never would have guessed that. Even having just watched it, that 2011 caught me off guard. It jumped way ahead on that Nineties nostalgia!

Anyway, I watched it because a) Kanopy had just added it so it was atop my watchlist went I went to Kanopy looking for something to watch and b) I was still high off Charlize Theron's performance in Long Shot.

I'm glad I did, but I'm not sure what to make of it.

This is the same team that made Juno, with Diablo Cody writing and Jason Reitman directing and a soundtrack with an interesting take on the Nineties.

Charlize Theron plays a woman who moved to the "big city" and is making a living ghostwriting petty, old-fashioned YA novels. She looks like Charlize Theron, which is good, but she is a mess, slowly pulling our her hair, drowning in alcohol, and deciding the only way to happiness is to win back her high-school boyfriend.

A normal movie would provide one of two endings for this quest: First, for immoral audiences, that she succeeds at her goal. Second, for moral audiences, that she fails but learns a lot along the way.

Our hero takes a long time to learn she's not in the first movie. And the second movie has all the necessaries laid out, waiting for her to pick them up.

But she doesn't. (Or, arguably, she does but gets them all mixed up. If you think this is a joyful example of the second movie, seek therapy now.)

We the audience are so unclear where we're headed that when a character near the end tells our hero just what she wants to hear, we can't tell, for most of their conversation, whether this character is serious, ironic, desperate, mocking, hopeful, or what. She could be any of these things. And then the movie ends!

What is this, real life?

(UPDATE: I was just nosing around IMDb and discovered the woman who marries ol' Charlize's beau plays the vampire matriarch in the Twilight movies. This must be a deliberate bit of stunt casting. A crack is made about vampire YA which Charlize's character did not like and it's implied those books are why her series is being canceled. Nice touch, I must say. Unfortunately, respective box office also turns out to be relevant....)

Groundhog Day (1993)

Upsettingly, I was interrupted by a twenty-three-minute phonecall and missed classic bits, bits. This is a true classic film. No question.

I showed it to the Big O when he was younger than all three boys are now. They've seen Edge of Tomorrow. This was overdue. They liked it!

I want to watch it again. Like, immediately.

I missed some parts.

And the parts are all so good.

Kung Fu Dunk (2008)

Wow, this is a terrible movie. At first, it's just a basketball version of Shaolin Soccer, and I was happy to enjoy it as such, but then, in the final act, it completely loses its way. It dumps the rest of the cliche dictionary into the pot and ceases to make any sense at all. Characters betray themselves, the film betrays itself, the editing goes to pieces---it's a disaster. Instead of laughing with the movie, by the end, you're just laughing at it.

Back to Shaolin Soccer, at least two actors are recycled here (I think three) just in case you missed the connection. It starts by quoting directly from the previous film, but whereas that film was about characters, this film slaps some bathos here and there and calls it character. It's nonsense.

Any why oh why oh why does it matter if they win the big game? led by a player I call Evil Barry Manilow?

I will say one thing about the officiating of this game: it gets to why rule of law is so important.
Trump’s comments left both Justice officials and Huawei executives fuming. Huawei leaders, who told me that they’d long respected the sacred place of the rule of law in the US system and wanted China to model it, now wondered how sacred it really was.
So maybe this is a political film?

Regardless, the lazy use of flashback and close-up and montage and slomo do not make this absurd capitalist wet dream any better.

That said...it was hella fun.

And the coin at the end was a nice touch. Unearned, but the closest they came.

Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)

This film stars Charlie Chaplin, but he is not THE star and, although the Tramp was invented, it wasn't his full identity yet. He plays the badguy here.

Although it clearly was a bit off, it was kind of fun to watch a feature on Wikipedia!

Chaplin plays a con artist who chases the lead to get first a small cache of money and then, later, a huge fortune. The movie is madcap. The thre-year-old laughed her head off. Where are the 50%-slapstick comedies these days?

Allegedly, this is the first feature-length American-made comedy. (Remade, fourteen years later, as a talkie with another allstar cast [and an utterly unrelated plot].)

Final analysis? It's not that great, but it's a lot of fun and gee whiz but it must be an important film. First feature comedy! And the last Chaplin film before he took full charge of them. I'm glad it survived.

Arrival (2016)

This is the first revisit I've made of a film to make my Best of the 2010s list since making the list. I feel very strongly that putting Arrival on the list was a correct choice. What a film.

First, the writing and direction are incredible. I am enormously humbled to know this film exists (also, that the short story it is based exists) because I can't imagine making it myself. The way the film teaches you how to read itself is possibly unprecidented and made this second viewing all the more powerful.

Amy Adams's performance is incredible, Jeremy Renner manages not to be annoying, the sound and score are topnotch, all the visual design and cinematography are just as they must be.

And: the politics are more vital now than the were in 2016. God, I wish this movie were true.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Sadly, I only got to watch the first half of this movie. The kids decided to watch it of their own accord (it's their first time!) and I was enjoying it as well when my beloved dragged me along to put away chairs at some middle-school-band fundraiser. So really, does this even count as a movie watched?

It must. Because I like it so much.

Somehow, as a child, I got it into my mind that this was a terrible, terrible, wicked film, one I was certainly not allowed to watch. I'm not sure how I got this idea, but it was probably true.

Weirdly, I do not remember how I finally came to watch it the first time. But I know I enjoyed it. Bad words notwithstanding, the panic seemed too much. Especially given we watched Adventures in Babysitting many times in my home and that prominently features a Playboy.

One thing I would like to say about Ferris, even though it is exagerrated nearly to surreality, it is one of the most accurate high-school movies I can think of.

And Matthew Broderick is a true star. How is it he is not more frequently tapped? Maybe he's just off-center enough to confuse Hollywoodites?

Jean de Florette (1986)

Manon des Sources (1986)

This month's film-group movie(s) are two movies that are really just one movie. Released months apart and bleeding one into another---leave out the first film's credits and you wouldn't know they were two movies. Set aside four hours and do them in a single sitting!

Lady Steed had seen them before, pre-Thteed, at International Cinema, and they slowly came back as she watched, but besides the wedding dress and almost the flowers (gladiolas, not lilies), pretty much everything was unexpected.

Honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed most of the way through, but the final reveal was absolutely worth the journey. It didn't hurt, getting to watch Emmanuelle Béart, even more beautiful in movie two than in Mission:Impossible. (And who looks uncannily like the talented kid who played Manon in the first film then never made another movie.)

The movie is still pretty timely, frankly. Dishonesty, an incel, and the need to be kind to strangers because, in the end, strangers we are not. Beautiful films.

Inception (2010)

Now that the kids are Chris Nolan fan's and that Tenet's coming soon to a theater near you, it was time to rewatch Inception, this time with them. It's been almost ten years! And my remembered impression is that it was terrific---really, realy great---but then demolished by a cowardly conclusion. I'm less upset by the (still arguably lazy) ambiguity of the conlusion this time, but it would have been much better had he never emphasized it. Don't pan back down to the top. Just ... let it go. Let us forget.

Speaking of forgetting, I had forgotten that the different dreams had different time signatures. Or, in other words, that this was a trial run for Dunkirk.

Overall, even (mostly) forgiving the denouement, I just...didn't enjoy the movie as much as I did sitting in the theater ten years ago. It was cool. It seemed to work. It was fine. But it didn't have sufficient heart. I'm not sure why. The marriage subplot seems like it should work---and probably will next time I see this movie (2030?) but not this time.

Maybe I needed Lady Steed sitting beside me, instead of in the other room reading a book.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

I've always felt bad that I, a high-school senior, never took seriously a freshmen's recommendation to watch this movie. I saw a couple minutes at one point, but genuinely had no idea what I was in for.

Because whatever that was, this was not it.

I should start by saying this is a terrible movie and I did not like it. Then follow that up by saying the twelve-year-old and the ten-year-old did like it. Then admit that one of the things that brought be around to finally seeing it is a cast that I appreciate more than I would have back in 1994. Then admit, in contrast, that many of the best players were not the famous people I'm now fans of---notably Buckaroo's best buds played by Lewis Smith (who makes 80s New Wave hella sexy and looks like a cross between James Franco and Jon Hader) and Clancy Brown (who has been in everything, but you definitely know him as Mr Krabs).

The film has moments of utter brilliance, but they're glued together with so much failure---

It's like a diamond necklace held together with crap rather than gold. What a waste of diamonds.

Muriel's Wedding (1994)

Ends up Lady Steed and I have seen this before.

I thought that might have been the case but I really didn't know what was coming moment to moment and only recognized moments after they had passed.

Lady Steed had seen it before our shared viewing, but slept through this one. I might wish I had done the same. I am tiiiired.

That said, I really enjoyed the movie. Toni Collette and a great cast---plenty of lines that could easily become inside jokes, and a moving arc that flirts with cliche but never brings it home. In fact, Muriel has to cruch cliche to find her happy ending.

UPDATE: Lady Steed watched it solo the next day and I came in many times, watching maybe a third of it. It's wildly entertaining even in pieces, instantly compellable. If this were still true of anything, "When it's on tv, I just have to watch it through." would apply.

Bolt (2008)

The Big O and I saw this film in theaters in 3D, which is how I decided not to spend money on 3D for kids anymore. He found it terrifying and kept removing the lenses. Which was annoying.

Other than the basic concept, I didn't remember much about this film besides that it was ... fine?

Which was about right. This was a perfectly adequate, paint-by-numbers movie. Nothing terribly inspired but nothing really embarrassing either.

It was ... fine.

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

Life forced us to split our viewing in half, but even so---it did not feel like two hours and forty minutes to me. It was much too breezy for that.

I like the movie fine. It didn't work as well for me as intended, perhaps, as I've never cared all that much about Charles Manson, but the golden-hour coloring and the nostalgic trips through old tv etc were pleasant and pleasurable.

Should it have been nominated for Best Picture?

To be honest, I do not see why it should've been. It's a move about Hollywood and a Tarantino film, but otherwise? Why? I don't know. It wasn't that great. Not like, say, 1917 or Parasite (or even Joker, which also began with a period logo).

(Other 2019 movies I think were certainly superior: The Report, Us, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Toy Story 4, I Lost My Body.

WHICH IS NOT TO SAY I DID NOT LIKE IT. I did. It was my first Tarantino film watched clear through and I liked it. So hey. Maybe I'll watch another.

Sylvio (2017)

I don't tire of this movie.

It is an easy way to tell, though, which kids have never seen anything other than a Marvel movie....

Contagion (2011)

Luckily I washed my hands just before watching this because otherwise I would have had to pause it to go wash my hands. The camera lingering on touched objects made my skin crawl.

Everything about this movie is that deliberate. It's hella melodramatic. It's a good thing it's such a stellar cast or it might have tipped into the laughable.

Even though this movie disease kills tens of millions of people (including a couple of its on-poster stars---one of whom is dead ON THE POSTER), they do still get a couple lucky breaks and things turn out much better than it could. In the final credits---even after thanking Georgia and Illinois and Louisiana for the tax breaks---it threatens us with the unhappy thought that it's just a matter of when.

(Theric pauses writing this to read newspaper. Remembers to add #coronavirus to this writeup.)

While we might not be as unlucky as people were at the beginning of The Andromeda Strain, we're not likely to as lucky as they were in The Andromeda Strain, either. You fire the CDC's pandemic teams though and Contagion gets harder to give even that tens-of-millions-dead happy ending.

Next up, at long last, Outbreak!

Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013)

I heard of this movie because an acquaintance of an acquaintance posted this video and I had to ask about the rainbow-blood clip. Then I found the film and now I've watched it.


The filming, the sound, the concept, EVERYTHING. I was laughing with/at it all the way through.

It's a nice touch, when the people making the movie suddenly become diegetic there at the end. Very appropriate.

All I can say is that if you like cg blood EVERYWHERE and heads and hands flying upwards a story post-katana, then you will enjoy the finale and the path there, as well, mostlike.

I can't guarantee you will be ... morally uplifted in anyway. It's just absurdity and violence (and absurd violence) for the sake of absurdity and violence (and absurd violence). That's all.

Troop Zero (2019)

The powerful payoff this film provides made me rethink my disappointment with the first three quarters. I was so excited after seeing the trailer and then...it didn't quite hold up. But it ended so well that I realized: this is one of those movies that becomes a favorite the second time I watch it.

It certainly looked cool (as you would expect from these directors) and the acting was good (the little girl I'd seen before, but she really impressed me here). And I liked the characters and the writing and etc etc, but it wasn't until the end that it finally came together for me.

But a noncookiecutter movie can be like that. You have to watch them twice.

Which...is not something we do too often these days.... There's too much wealth of newness.

I don't know about the new entertainment economy.

Previous films watched


jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec









Six through eleven send you to heaven


012) Wag the Dog: A Study on Film and Reality in the Digital Age by Eleftheria Thanouli, finished February 17

Searching for Wag the Dog in the library catalogue, I also came across this work of scholarship by a Greek academic.

Let me test your memory: what broke first: Wag the Dog's theatrical release or news of the Monica Lewinsky* scandal?

Ends up the movie came out just a few weeks earlier than the scandal. But the alignment has connected the ideas in the American (and the international!) psyche, perhaps permanently.

Did you know Wag the Dog was played on Serbian and Sudanese television in an attempt to shame the U.S. away from warlike actions? Or that it may have worked.

This volume is not a collection of fun facts and anectotes, however. It's a work of theory with a vocabulary to match. It was a heavy read---at times nearly opaque---but insightful and thrilling in that higher-education sort of way.

Plus, I'm reminded of some films I've wanted to watch and accepted some suggestions I otherwise would not have seriously considered.
under three weeks


013) Flaming Carrot Omnibus: Volume 1 by Bob Burden, finished February 17

I first bought a copy of Flaming Carrot in 1992, the second in the TMNT crossover.

It was hilarious.

I read it over and over, but other Flaming Carrot comics were not just available in Tehachapi, California. I did get one more issue of that run and a one or two more here or there. But I was never able to Just Read Flaming Carrot without some hassle upfront, aka collecting.

For I am lazy.

Anyway, walking the floor at Comic Con last summer, I picked up a itsybitsy handout alerting me this book was coming out in September. I dropped egregiously obvious hints what I wanted for Christmas. I got it for Christmas.

Ends up, 400 pages really isn't as much as it sounds like, printed on a tiny card. This is issues 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 25, 26, and 27 of Flaming Carrot Comics. And, happy day, it includes the beginning and my teenagehood favorite, it feels grotesquely incomplete.

And very funny. I did laugh and a lot.

But I need to hear Bob Burden do Flaming Carrot's voice, because I'm quite flummoxed how his bad grammar and goofy phrasing translate into speech.

Anyway. The nearest modern comparison I can think of is Axe Cop, but I doubt that five-year-old was reading a lot of Flaming Carrot. More likely, Burden tapped into childlike nonsense in a true and honest way.

Burden's sense of gesture is also a source of pleasure.

Such said, the fact remains that Flaming Carrot is like a more insane version of Batman who engages in horrific (if silly) violence and casual acts of sexism. Sure, this is satire, but the nature of satire is such parsing satire versus celebrating the target of satire is an ever-moving borderline. So just remember: not only may your mileage vary, it may vary from read to read.

Still. It's Flaming Carrot. You owe it to yourself.

under two months


014) The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag, finished February 22

I'm starting with this image because it a prefect rendition of Mojave, California as imagined in this alt-history scifi version of Mojave back in the Nineties. Wonderful. Amazing.

Now I'm going to complain for a while.

SOMEHOW, you drive from Barstow TO MOJAVE then take THE 395 NORTH in order to find a way WEST over THE MOUNTAINS and end up in CARSON CITY.

Now, I know this is an alternate reality, but this is bonkers. Just bonkers. Even with a couple north/south issues explained by novel's end, the driving from Barstow to Mojave thing to get in the 395 is just one of the craziest things I have ever---

And Stålenhag knew he was wrong! He intentionally left off the bits of broken reality from his map so no one but locals would notice!

But oh oh oh WE DID NOTICE. We did.

This is the third experience I've had in the last twelvemonth with Europeans fascinated with the bit of desert I grew up beside (the other two are Supermarket and Bagdad Cafe). I'm starting to think Godson needs to be a standalone novel aimed at European readers....


My other big complaint about the novel is the subplot which a) I didn't realize was a subplot until b) it ended abruptly and in a way that rendered it seemingly pointless. A strange choice to be sure.

Besides those two (not insignificant) complaints, I admire this books a great deal---the interplay of text and art is great, the slowburn is great, the time spent with the narrator is naturalistic, etc. I'm confused by the ending, but it would kill in, say, The Paris Review, so there you go.

Here's the skinny: this is a postapocalyptic 1997. Best I can tell, history diverged from our world in the '60s when people learned to interface their minds and their machines directly. This changes the nature of war, state (national?) boundaries, public health, you name it.

One aspect reminded me of Peck's Leere, only instead of corporations being the new alpha organism on the planet, it's drones, collecting humans and essentially turning them into neurons.

Now you know the gist.

It's a quick read and if you didn't grow up next to Mojave, you'll like it more than I did. And maybe you can explain the ending to me.

NOTE: Looking for images, I discovered this all began on Kickstarter. Not all the images at that link made it into the version of the book I read.

three days


015) The October Faction Vol. 2 by Steve Niles and Damien Worm, finished February 24

I picked this up at the library and read the first couple pages and though maybe I had finally found a new dark comic to inherit the mantle from Sandman. I didn't realize it was a volume two.

That didn't matter so much. And it was a fun little bit of monsterhunting. Overall, it wasn't much, but, as Stephen King says, maybe the best way to measure a work of terror storytelling is by its highest moments, and volume two of The October Faction certainly has some excellent moments including one right up top that I saw in the library where the teenage girl in the family predicts the pre-forty deaths of some girls at her school who are tormenting her. That was a great moment.

I doubt I'll bother to pick up another, but if this sounds like something you've been looking for, it's worth a shot.
one night


016) Minus by Lisa Naffziger, finished February 26

Father taking girl to college to meet her new roommates! Yay! Sweet!

But slow down, partner. Dad pulls a gun from the glove compartment when he sees a cop car in the other lane?

Hang on. What's going on at the gas station.

Hold up---who just shot whom??

This poor, poor girl.

WHAT is going ON in her life?
two days



Hella Mormon books (and matt fraction, for leaven)


006) The Marriage of the Moon and the Field by Sunni Brown Wilkinson, finished January 25

It took me several poems to find my way inside Wilkinson's poetry, but once I did, I started finding powerful images and elegant structures.

From there, the book just opened up to me, and what a marvel it is. Highly recommended.

one evening


007) My Parents Married on a Dare by Carlfred Broderick, finished January 26
I would never have heard of this out-of-print essay collection on my own, so thank goodness for twitter! Because it is a solid collection. Witty but unironic. Sincere and (largely) Ensign-friendly (published by Deseret Book).

A scientist and therapist, a world-recognized expert on the family, Broderick was also a bishop and stake president. Sort of the Clayton Christensen of his day, you might say. And a big enough deal that not only did I not have to start his Wikipedia page, but it's been live since 2007.

His essay on the family relationships of Jesus has already made an appearance in seminary, and his final essay, "The Uses of Adversity," almost made me sob on a couple occasions.

The essays are a mix of autobiography, practical advice, spiritual insight, and just plain kindliness. I feel I know him, having read the book, and I like and admire him.

It's a solid collection and I recommend it.
about a year


008) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl (volume one) by Scott Hales, finished January 26
009) The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl (volume two) by Scott Hales, finished January 27

The first time I read these, it was in a prerelease pdf and the non-narrative stuff was left out. The intros (one of which I wrote) and the notes and the outtakes and such. It's the notes that add the most reading time, if you're taking on every word. For volume one, I didn't know about the notes so I read them after reading the narrative. Volume two, I switched back and forth between them. That's probably less effective and might get in the way of the narrative's power, but I still choked up on several occasions near the end, starting with Kyle's visit to the hospital.

The notes are not created equal, volume to volume. Nearly all the comics have notes in volume two, less so volume one, and volume two goes much further in explaining Enid's tshirts and other visual references. I think I would have noticed this anyway, but the two references to *me* are in volume one and so unexplained. (A third reference to me is in a comic rightfully exiled to the "compost pile."

Anyway. Enid was very much of its moment. I still think it has aged well, but it's hard to say if, five years on, one should base a fifth-Sunday lesson around her.

The real test, of course, is will we still be reading her a hundred years from now. But there is utterly no way to answer that question today.

(Related to that last paragraph, read today.)

In short, Enid is good fiction. And its meta elements attract readers to the larger world of Mormon literature. She is a gift and we all ought to be grateful to have her.
one day then the same day and another day


010) Solid State by Coulton / Fraction / Monteys, finished February 9

A comic based on an album! That's new. I just put it on as I started working on this writeup and the first song is now just finishing. It was pretty good.

So: Coulton made the album. Fraction wrote the book. Monteys drew it. The intersections of collaboration and laid out in the aftermatter, which is Coulton's original notes to Fraction with commentary by Fraction.

Fraction is daring and taking some chances. We've seen him do this before.

Reading the notes at the end helped me put together what I had read---not because the book didn't make sense otherwise but because it made more sense otherwise. Which is, sure, nice.

two days, one for the aftermatter


011) Into the Sun: Poems Revised, Rearranged, and New by Colin B. Douglas, finished February 16

I was not aware of Colin B. Douglas before I came across this book. Likely, I had heard of him, but nothing had stuck. He's in his seventies and has been publishing poems (incl. Mormon poems) for at least forty years, and has published three previous collections, but this valedictory work is my introduction to him. I'm not sure how many of these poems may have been collected in previous collections, but I'm assuming at least a few.

Before we go on, let's look at these two covers:

I believe the first is the final version, but some copies of the second are out there in circulation. I don't like the second as well, although I think neither quite captures Douglas's work. He's much weirder. And, although in his Author's Note, he says, "I am not a Surrealist (Neo-Romanticist influenced by Surrealism is closer to the mark," he does admit to writing "oneiric poems" (271–2) and if that's not surrealist, I don't know what is. He spends time in that note discussing how he let his subconscious do much of the driving, and I think that's why certain repetitions occur.

Which leads to why, if this collection has a primary flaw, it is its length, resulting in an effect much like that once so eloquently described by Daniel Handler:

That aside, I loved this collection. I would have been better to take three years to read it rather than not even two weeks, but even so, I loved it. My eyes did glaze over at times, I think his longer poems make good evidence of Poe's maxim that anything over 100 lines is no longer a poem, but when the poetry (and strange short fictions) flew, they touched the sky.

That said, I want to list some of the words that I noticed repeating, and how many poems they occur in:
33 1/3 [2 poems]
alder [8 poems]
alphabets / letters / glyphs [~31 poems]
aureole [3 poems]
breast [~21 poems]
chair [~15 poems]
clown [4 poems]
crow [~4 poems]
*crystal [~10] / sphere [~10] / crystal sphere [~5, including at least two that grow inside someone's breast]
deer [19 poems]
drawer / door (the drawers especially often opening from bodies) [~44 poems]
[blue] dress [[5] ~23 poems]
etch [~7 poems]
eye [~47 poems]
giraffe [~5 poems]
Logos [2 poems]
map [~13 poems]
mask (most often white or yellow) [~6 poems]
nipple [6 poems]
patina [~4 poems]
piano [~ 8 poems, including one that ends with piano keys and the next that has piano keys in the title]
(especially white) rabbits [~10 poems]
red tricycle [2 poems]
rib (and related words) [~10 poems]
sandstone [~10] / cliffs [~13] / sandstone cliffs [5]
skeins (especially of yellow silk) [3 poems]
skins and/or snakes [~39 poems]
spider's web [~6 poems]
*stones [~14]
stumps (or other amputative language) [~8 poems]
tamarisk [2 poems]
thigh [~16 poems]
urinal [3 poems---in two of which the urinals are difficult to distinguish from the sinks]

*(often with urim-and-thummim undertones)
I could go on. And, if you were watching closely, I could write a decent LDS Eros post about some of the poems in the book, particularly some of the earlier ones where the poems are more connected to discernible (and Mormon) reality. But that'll have to wait for another day. It is late and I am tired.
over ten days



Origami Drama by Brooke Larson


This slender volume (twenty-five pages) is one of the coolest things I've seen in some time. Published by Quarterly West and worth the $15 just to see what can be done with form.

What most of the poems in the collection do is be about the paper they are printed on. Ofttimes they are printed over colored lines, the colors instructing you as to what order you should fold the page in order to make it into the poem---"Paper Ball for Games" or "Paper Daggers" are two titles where this can be obvious with only the title to consider.

But the papers don't necessarily need to be folded. "Grease Catcher" has no fold lines---it just instructs you to "Rip this page out. Rip it out and place it on your / cutting board." This poem engages with its physical reality as ink on paper in a way I've never seen before.

That / above I'm a bit uncertain about. Most of the poems are fully justified so that the text can form a square, like origami paper, natch. It's part of the conceit and therefore cool, but it does make the line breaks seem more like prose than like line breaks, and some of the poems ramble on a bit in order to fill the space. But that's part of the difficulty of what's been attempted here and what's being attempted here is too dang cool not to celebrate regardless.

The final poem, "Written Concern," is (like some of its precedents) less obviously concerned with its physical reality. (A mode of poetry Larson has pushed to extremes.) But it might be the most emotionally raw poem in the collection. I certainly was moved by it.

I think you might be too.


Unfinished Books: Your Movie Sucks


Roger Ebert is a good writer. I'm not going to argue he's a great writer, but he's certainly quite good. And his stuff is fun to read. But honestly, I'm going to continue reading but not finishing his Great Movie series instead of the negative collections. They're fun, but they're a terrible menu. It's better to be excited about something new to see.

These reviews are of movies that came out fifteen to twenty years ago. If I hadn't been working in the home-movie industry during that period, I would remember even fewer of them. They are rightfully forgotten movies. Why dredge them back up? And since I'm a pretty educated movie goer, I've avoided most of these movies, so I can't even share in the glee of evisceration. Even those I did see, I can barely remember. Here's what I've seen:
The Dukes of Hazzard (maybe I saw it? pretty sure?)

Godzilla (all his criticisms are fair and correct but I disagree with his conclusions)

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (don't really remember it, but it was terrible---a greater disappointment given how much I loved the books)

The Master of Disguise (I'm ashamed I got suckered into seeing this by relatives)

Men in Black II (see Rush Hour 2)

Mr. Deeds (even Adam Sandler apologists don't like this one)

The Princess Diaries (I'm glad I'm not alone)

Rush Hour 2 (see Men and Black II)

Scooby-Doo (he wonders if Scooby-Doo cultists will like it; this cultist did not)

13 Ghosts (well, I watched it on fast-forward....)

The Time Machine (pretty sure I watched this and was disappointed)

The Tuxedo (pretty sure I did NOT watch this, but I might be wrong---how would I know?)

The Village (I liked this and will defend my like of it, but admit to all its faults and am in no rush to watch it again...but would like to again, someday, to see what I think)
That said, the opening part of the book---before the reviews that come alphabetically---was very much worth reading. More in-depth looks at Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Chaos, and The Brown Bunny, including interactions with the filmmakers and such---those are worth reading. They include more about the value of criticism and the various results criticism can have.

The rest of the book is just slowing down on the freeway to look at carnage.