Thankful for movies


Amazon Prime
Samuel the Lamanite (2006)

From my brother: ...we decided to watch Samuel the next Sunday, and--wow. Just wow. It uses the War On Christmas as its jumping off point, then it seems to draw inspiration equally from 3 Nephi and Robin Hood Men In Tights.... Samuel is mostly creative liberties. It's so unabashedly silly, it's nearly a parody. But I sort of love it. So, naturally, we needed to check this out.

The War on Christmas framing led to a lot of unintentional ironies. Rich white people being persecuted by a vaguely British and effete superintendent of schools is not actually very muck like genocide, if you'll forgive me for saying so. The frame, in my opinion, is a disaster tonally and religiously. That and I didn't like the songs. The songs made it's hour-and-eight-minutes runtime feel much, much longer.

That said, the in-Zarahemla scenes had a lot of wit. Some of the gags (the gate code, the split arrows) get genuine laughs, and the bizarre choices sprinkled throughout (French accents, weather-guaging apparatus) keep it cartoonishly absurd, making the whole thing just that much more amusing.

I'm guessing the people who made this wanted to make genuine entertainment but figured they could only sell it by nodding to the irrational worries of an upper-middle-class, white, Mormon audience. That's my guess.

library dvd
Early Man (2018)

So this is a very entertaining movie that really only suffers by comparison. It has lots of zany Aardman chaos but doesn't live up to the Pirates standard. It's a good sports comedy but falls short of the comidic-action genius of Shaolin Soccer. Hognob's a great funny animal but he's no Gromit or Shaun.

To be clear: Very fun movie!

library dvd
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)

I'm not sure now how I heard about this, but it sounded charmingly anticapitalist, so why not?

So it's not really anticapitalist. It's just antiunethicalcapitalst. That's all.

Anyway, it's not a terrific movie, but it did provide regular big laughs and it's certainly charmers. As a whole, it's aged fairly well. Most of the sexual politics aren't that bad (compared to expectations). The main thing you'll come away with is a wonder if capitalism were ever really so healthy. I suspect it was more so then, in a time with less income inequality etc etc, but I also wonder if it's a bit of a gloss.

Anyway, I did thread on the movie as I watched it, if you're interested.

Extra Ordinary (2019)

I don't remember how I first heard of this (maybe just seeing the poster on Kanopy? maybe at some movie blog I was visiting for some other reason?); the trailer intrigued but I have so many to-watch movies and I couldn't imagine it making the top of the list anytime soon.

But then Maeve Higgins became our favorite new panelist on Wait Wait and then we heard her interviewed somewhere about the movie and I put it together and, here we are!

It's very funny. Perhaps a nice palette cleanser after watching Ghost Story.

In short, Maeve plays a woman with powers to clear up ghosts but after a childhood disaster does not want to exercise her Talent. But then a satanist comes to town (Will Forte in a role that should be paired with his work in Don Verdean) and she has no choice. Plus, you know, she gets to meet a nice guy (etc etc but NOT etc). My only complaint is that someone in continuity should have done a better job with the progression of the eclipse. Otherwise, wonderful.

I haven't seen many possession movies, so this, I am pretty sure, is now my favorite.

(Also, the door was a nice nod to Sixth Sense.)

Just Mercy (2019)

Couple side comments. I've seen the writer/director's first couple movies and I'm impressed. Plus, he always hires Brie Larson. And, in this film, one of my most favorite character actors, Tim Blake Nelson, does more great work. That was a fun discovery.

But this movie is more than cool casting by an interesting director. And it is oool casting. I really understand Jamie Foxx now and I'm wondering why we ever watch movies without Michael B. Jordan---and the acting was terrific up and down the line---but this movie is rousing and inspiring. I'm hoping it'll stick with my kids and that they'll want to do something with their lives that will really matter. That makes a difference.

And seriously: Why do we still have the death penalty? How can we be so low? And what will it take to get us to change?

We need to be better. I'm glad we have prophets like Bryan Stevenson to show us the way.

Amazon Prime
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

I didn't read this tweet closely enough. It was only the first minute, white credits on black background, excellent score. I could have stopped satisfied and not gotten sucked into a post-midnight movie. But I did. And there was no good moment to start. It was perplexing and witty and clever and fun. Although a few things revealed themselves just before they happened, the uncertainties were always greater.

Plus, you have the ever-pleasant Walter Matthau as your host, moment to moment, and surprising people I didn't know until they were older, like Jerry Stiller.

And a very nice closing shot that I can't imagine a modern action movie willing to even attempt. (Maybe the remake?)

So good it was that the Big O, on his way to bed, paused to watch the first few allegedly very compelling minutes and stuck around for the whole thing. The compelling ending just never stopped!

And oh, hey. I've never seen it, but is this where the baddies in Reservoir Dogs got their names?

library dvd
Missing Link (2019)

This is an absolutely beautiful film. The sets, the characters, the animation, the acting both voice and body.

And it is true that I have not always appreciated Laika films on first viewing, but I really think this one has some flaws. The kids were confused by how much time was passing and we all kept audibly expressing skepticism regarding the tracker's tracking ability. A few more key details---the tracker tracking, for instance, or the leads getting along better---these small details would have made the rest of the film work better.

I'm also not sure the jokey attempts to address allworldonelanguageism quite worked.

In other words, a beautiful film---engaging, funny, etc---and maybe one that will improve on further viewing, but, as of now, just a so-so success in story and emotion.

Amazon Prime
I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Second time watching. I still will repeat all the compliments, but I did notice a couple things that seemed off. One is the film's simplicity by which I mean its ignoring of Baldwin's sexuality (discussed here and here, if you want something more thoughtful). Lady Steed's good response to this complaint is that, ultimately, the film is not about Baldwin. It is about race in America with Baldwin's thinking as our conduit. And this, I think, is true, but I think it fails to capture the full majesty of his thinking, which is complex and nuanced to the point of upsetting potential colleagues and collaborators whose vision of the path forward was reduced and simplified in order to more easily market.

There is, of course, place for that. Vital place for that. But I think to think the thinkers have a sizeable portion in shaping our future. Oversimplification leads to oversimplification and while, yes, love is the answer, love is not a plan or a roadmap or even a thorough understanding.

bootleg dvd
1917 (2019)

This was our Armistice Day film (I see it was also in theaters again today; I hope they do that again on a year when seeing a movie makes sense) and a fine choice. I told the younger boys they could watch it (the younger took me up on this). It is, after all, much less violent than a Marvel movie. It's just much more honest as to what that violence means.

I suspect the Great War will remain our Great Metaphor for the futility of war for some time yet. Its saeculum has come to an end and yet nothing gets so quickly to the waste and brutality and core evil of nations slaughtering nations. The reasons are as nonsense as any war, but there is no abstraction as to the bloody results themselves.

I can't think of a better way to honor the dead than to admit how brutal and stupid were their deaths.

While remembering that the individual men themselves could and often did retain their honor and their goodness and their humanity.

Happy Veterans Day.

Amazon Prime
The Last Man on Earth (1964)

I thought that this was a black-and-white film, but when it showed up in color I didn't even question it even though it certainly looked colorized. It wasn't until the blood was black that it sunk that I'd been snookered.
I just finished reading the source material and now I'm going to work through the three film adaptations, chonologically, starting here.

This movie is supposed to be happening in America, but the scenery and cars are not the least American and, with one (maybe two) exception(s), none of the characters pass as American-sounding. And! when the news broadcast cuts to "his excellency the mayor of the state," it becomes clear that they weren't trying that hard to make an American movie.

It has other flaws. Vincent Price, for all his wonders, cannot convincingly wield a mallet or throw tear gas. I realized, as I was watching this, that most of my favorite Vincent Price roles are on radio shows. He's great at radio.

One last complaint: I'm not sure some of the details of plot (eg, the difference between living and dead vampires) make sense without knowing the book.

That said, not a bad film. I enjoyed it. It moves at a pretty slow pace up until the very end. The little girl is AMAYZING (was this her only film??). It almost does intersting things visually at the end. But, finally, it's a fairly forgettable Italian movie of the era. Disappointing, but not that disappointing. Just found out Lady Steed has always wanted to see it. I would be willing to watch it again.

Amazon Prime
Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Son three offered his sister three movies to watch adn this is the description she chose.

It's weird how this movie is a cluster of annoying cliches and yet is somehow honest and fun and true. How does that even happen?

I hear the other movies in the trilogy are also good. Perhaps we should try them sometime.

In the meantime, all that really matters, is that she did kung fu until bedtime.

our dvd
Jurassic Park (1993)

On Unspooled a couple times they've discussed whether Jaws or Jurassic Park is a better movie and, really, who cares? But I do love Jurassic Park as much as any movie. My first viewing will be the one film-going experience I'm certain to keep all the way to my final senescence.

It might have my favorite John Williams theme. It has my favorite cast of characters. It's the smartest balance of humor and scares.

It is the standard by which other movies must be judged. That's all there is to it.

our dvds
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

The kids start clapping and I start crying and just when I think I might stop Pedro's family starts celebrating his election and then just when I think I'm done Deb shows up and When in Rome starts playing this song I never even heard before 2004 in a theater when I first saw Napoleon Dynamite.

It's hard to express how much I love this movie.

And the baby loved every time some John Swihart music showed up. Win win win win win win win.

bootleg thumbdrive
Ford v Ferrari (2019)

So, first of all, it's a very good movie. Exquisitely crafted. Flawless from top to bottom. In fact, that's its only problem. And while I hate people using craftsmanship as an insult, this is what they mean. The film obeys every rule. Allows no callback to remain uncalledback. Every sound must have its echo. Every needed nod must be nodded. This film knows the rules and follows them perfectly. If you've never seen a movie before, you'll be blown away. If you have seen a movie before, you'll be impressed how well it runs.

If the cast hadn't been so excellent, the arrow signs and signifiers would have been awkward and annoying, but this cast can make them work. And the racing scenes are among the best I've ever seen. Between the excellent cast, the excellent sets and props, the excellent racing, the excellent construction, and the backdrops just down the street where I grew up, I finished 100% satisfied. It is, in other words, exactly the sort of movie that deserves a slew of Academy Awards nominations. And doesn't really need to win any of them.

library dvd
Arthur Christmas (2011)

I have a deeply ingrained skepticism for Santa films. So many of them misrub my fur from start to finish. But recently I saw the (entertaining and potentially not-stupid) trailer to this film and noted it was from Aardman and decided why not?

Even so, my skpeticism made it hard to give myself entirely over to the movie even though I was enjoying it. In my mind I was already writing this review about all the ways it fell short.

But then, in the final act, it won me over. It didn't change what it was, it just settled into itself more fully and came alive as its own thing. And I believed.

I would watch it next year.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

I haven't read or seen Taming of the Shrew since high school so I can't really say how well it tracks. I can see why people like it. I've kind of grown to hate high-school romances, but I get the appeal. And it's a pretty brilliant cross-section of late-90s post-grunge pop. I also get the appeal of the soundtrack.

As high-school movies go, solid. But I can't really see me seeing it again. Maaaayybe if I teach Shrew, but otherwise, nah. Sorry, kids.

Previous films watched











Shall we give thanks for good books?


097) Your Choice, Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz, finished November 17

The fascinating thing, reading these collections with the baby, is how we find totally different things funny. I can never predict what she'll find funny. It will have a sort of strange logic but it will not be a logic I could predict.

Read Peanuts to a toddler. You won't regret it.

two nights



098) Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt, finished November 19

I'm a fan of Greenblatt's and Shakespeare's, and I was upset with the existence of a President Trump, and then I heard about this book. I didn't get around to buying it for about six months and then I mostly kept it at school so reading went slowly, but now that ol' Trumpy's out of office, I buckled down to finish it.

I feel ambivalently about the book. On the one hand, wow! The genius of Shakespeare! On the other hand, crap, every chapter, every gruesome play, is relevant to our now. It was upsetting and marvelous, depressing and brilliant.

In other words, it is a marvelous book and I highly recommend it to you.

Every chapter made me want to grab someone and shake them, make them read it then watch the play and admit that this is our now. This is us. These are our dilemmas and impossibilities.

The book's coda does leave me with hope. Just as every tyrant proves to be bad at maintaining power, the ultimate reason is inspiring. We, this world, are a thing of chaos. And while this means that idealists cannot quite succeed, neither can tyrants. The world is too complex---and ambivalent itself---to allow it.

Another fun side effect is whatever play I was reading about I wanted to teach next. Shakespeare is so great, guys. Don't underestimate the mass entertainers. They know how to be heard. 

almost two years

099) This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, finished November 22

I'm not sure how I heard of this book. It showed up under my name at the library and, well, there it was! So I guess I put it on hold?

How to describe this book.... It's a love story between two women, one of whom was grown from a seed, the other from a vat, on opposite sides of an eternal war that sends its agents into futures and pasts in multiple dimensions trying to outwit and outmanuever each other.

The book's cover is counterintuitive and absolutely perfect.

Rather than thinking of this as a novel, I recommend thinking of it as a two-hundred page poem written by people who never bothered to master blank verse and so wrote their poem in prose.

a week?

100) Lovely War by Julie Berry, finished November 23

This is one of the books that the AML Awards directed my attention to last spring. I purchased it and started reading it almost immediately, though where I kept it meant I was not often dipping back in. But I settled down to finish the last hundred-fifty pages before Thanksgiving and here we are! Such a lovely book to be the year's 100th!

Because I enjoyed it so much. The characters, most notably, especially the human ones---although the gods did win me over in the end. The structure of the books is the gods (Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Ares, Apollo, Hades) telling the story of these humans during World War One. They bring their different points of view to the story.

The hundred pages led me from tears to tears---even the final meet-up with gods made me cry---even the historical notes made me cry.

(Coincidence: earlier today I posted the Hope & Healing submission guidelines today, then the final sentence of the notes included the phrase "hope, healing"; how about that?)

Anyway. I really loved this book. I'm lending it to my mother but then I'm going to force it on every person in my family. (They've been warned.)

five or six months

101) It's a Dog's Life, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished November 25

This is kind of a strange collection. It cut out the middle of the freeway-taking-down-Snoopy's-house storyline for instance. Why? Why not just include the entire thing? And it split the Mad Punter storyline with about two thirds of the book inbetween. Who edited this thing?

a week

102) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, finished November 25

I have been wanting to read I Am Legend for a long, long time. I don't know what planted this need in me, but after having the book on a wish list for years and years I finally bought it. Then, a little of a year later, I read it.

(I might have started reading it right away, but I got the movie tie-in cover which slowed me down. No pretending to Lady Steed that book had always been around!) 

Anyway, I was a bit perplexed by the copyright page. Took me a while to figure out have the book was the NOVELLA I Am Legend and the rest a collection of short stories.

I enjoyed I Am Legend. It's hard to say if it's "what I expected" but I love it's major conceit (spoiler alert) that the protagonist will discover he is the monster. That's great and it should happen more often. The science was kind of dumb but within legal limits. Aspects of the science made me want to write some fan fiction set in that world, actually. It's nonsense but its fun and evocative nonsense.

The short stories were pretty good also. "The Funeral" has a similar vibe to  The Lonesome October and it was interesting to see him develop as a writer from the 50s to the 60s (and to see how America had changed---out suspicion of public transportation, for instance). But the weirdest thing was the two Zulu stories, dark African magic attacking middle-class / upper-class white Americans.

(Incidentally, I've started watching the three films based on I Am Legend---here's the first one. But I've also watched an adaptation of one of these Zulu stories, "Prey." I had thought it couldn't be adapted successfully, but then I read about this adaptation in Stephen King's Danse Macabre, looking for what he had to say about I Am Legend. Not much, incidentally. The Matheson novel he spends the most time with is The Incredible Shrinking Man, which I will now keep my eyes out for.)

Anyway, the Zulu stand-in for bizarre otherness was typical at one time but feels uncomfortable now. "Prey" (1969) is just a little-monster story and, although would benefit from more analysis, was less interesting to me in this respect than "From Shadowed Places" (1960). This story is a strange beast instead.

It has, as a character, a young Black woman with a PhD. She is an absolute, stone-cold expert. Her dress is professional---sexless. But over the course of the story, she will take on the role of which doctor and appear nearly naked in exotic garb, revealing, for the first time to the (white) people she is assisting, her "voluptuous breasts, the sinuous abundance of her hips ... [her] physical wealth." She then gets all funky and primitive even to the point of engaging in a ritualistic sex act in order to save the rich white playboy's life from the curse he is under.

It is, in other words, paint-by-colors racism.

But, on the other hand, Matheson is attempting to do something else. By 1960 standards, I think you could even call the story an attempt at anti-racism. Not to say I think Dr. King would have approved, but the attempts to call out racism by using the most racist tropes imaginable are clearly well intentioned. Whether that makes it okay is another question. Consider whether you've cancelled Tina Fey over 30 Rock's attempts to use blackface to explore modern racism before you try on this even uglier set of tools.

Anyway. There's a paper in there if someone wants to write it. 

perhaps a month



Not five but six books. What a bargain!


091) East of Eden by John Steinbeck, finished Oct 28

After getting onboard the Steinbeck train, I got stuck at the station, undecided on my connector. I could do The Grapes of Wrath, which passes through my hometown and was banned in county schools and libraries for decades, but which is hella long, or I could read East of Eden, one of my wife's absolute favorite books that I've "meaning to read" for nigh on twenty years now, but which is even longer. And so I hesitated.

What I fool I was!

I finally acted because the Relief Society book group picked it. I got started early enough that I could, feasibly, have finished in time with dedicated effort, but that moment coincided with all my waking moments being spent working on my fireside, which thus came together nicely but, ha ha, I wasn't reading East of Eden in the moments leftover.

Which was fine, actually. Four months is about the right speed. Slow enough to really savor, but not so slow that I could forget the characters or the meaning of timshel.

When the book began (with a gorgeous rendition of the California landscape) I came to the theory that this would be Middlemarchy---about a community more than any one person or family. And then it swung to the East Coast and I was, like, HOW BIG IS THIS THING?

Lady Steed, rereading it for the book club. had forgotten everything before the final third or so. And I can understand why. Although I loved the history of the family (and it does focus in on one family, then one generation, then one person in the final pages) I expect it will be those final relationships and pages that are most likely to remain vivid as the years past.

That said, add Cathy to literature's great villains. Add Lee to literature's wisest observers. Add Sam to literature's great holy men. And so on.

Lady Steed says that when she read it in high school, a lot of the students struggled because the novel is controlled by a single Bible story, and the number of characters whose names start with C or A is not exactly subtle. But what Steinbeck does with those initials is subtle. All things are rich and complex, much like real people.

One thing Steinbeck does that I'm still mulling is make himself a character. Only barely. I think we see him as a child, once, but his realness does color the narration now and then. It's a curious choice and one I'm still deciphering.

over four months

092) Impollutable Pogo by Walt Kelly, finished November 2
I have always wanted to read and to like Pogo. But I've had this and another collection for about a decade now and this is the first time I've made it through. It's a bit wordy, and its wordiness is made more problematic by its idiosyncratic idioms---each character seems to have their own. Some have over-the-top faux intellectualism, some are more simple Southern boys.

I finally picked it because the baby wanted us to start a new booklength comic and it was handy. I knew it would be child-friendly at least inasmuch as it would be moral and wholesome. Whether she would enjoy it was a big tbd.

She did, though we have also started volume one of the Complete Peanuts to supplement. Between the two, we have something nice going. I think I'll bust out the bigger collection and see how it goes.

Pogo has nice, lived-in feel to it. The situations are absurd and satirical, but the characters aren't aware of this. They just live in this world and hafta make their way through it.

One thing worth mentioning. Based on a couple reputable sources, the line "We have met the enemy and he is us"---arguably Pogo's greatest legacy---was born in an Earth Day poster (1970) and then appeared in the Earth Day strip of 1971. This is not true.

Impollutable Pogo was published in 1970 of strips that had previously appeared in newspapers. The final strip of the collection appeared on an August 8 (I'm not sure what year). This could feasibly place it after the Earth Day poster, but it most certainly comes before the Earth Day strip---a strip so famous it represents Pogo on Wikipedia.

Perhaps most interestingly, instead of a line Pogo says <i>to</i> Porky Pine, it is something Porky Pine says:

All yall comics folks and specialisterans needs to update your researches.

(I have contacted both pages shared above.)

almost a month

093) The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons, finished November 3

I don't remember how I bumped into this online. But the conceits intrigued. The cover (though I liked it and I like it even better live and in person) seemed small-press but I wandered over to my library and they had it! How about that!

Here's the gist: A man has died. But something's gone wrong and he can't quite leave this world. While stuck behind he falls into a relationship with a woman---as he slowly disappears.

There is more to it of course (and so much more sex than you may be imagining). The writing is lovely and, as appropriate, often right on the cusp of being  a bit too much.

For an October book, it was a lovely read. Haunting but not scary. Romantic and philosophical. Speculative yet grounded.

Worth checking out.

about three weeks

094) The Complete Peanuts: 1950 to 1952 by Charles M. Schulz, finished November 9

The baby decided to pick up Peanuts again and she went for the big books. So I grabbed volume one.

I've been meaning to reread these books prior to ever finishing volume one, so this is overdue for me. Reading aloud has been pretty great, too. Although she doesn't really understand all that much, she loves looking and listening. And I do too. It's delightful to watch the characters make first appearances and develop into themselves. Reading these early volumes the first time over fifteen years ago, I was constantly exclaiming in delight as every piece of Peanuts first arrived.

These characters are important and I'm so glad they are fully available to us.

maybe a month?

095) You Are Too Much, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz, finished November 14

Before we could move to volume two, Colleen came into about a dozen midcentury massmarket Peanuts collections in excellent shape. So we got her a box and tossed in our other ones (of which this is one) and now these are our nightly reading. So far so fun!

two nights

096) David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Gregory A. Prince and Wm. Robert Wright, finished November 16
I cannot think of many history books I've enjoyed reading more than this one and vanishingly few, among those I've read, as thoroughly documented.
I think I remember being skeptical of the topical organization when I began, but it actually was a great way to explore McKay's life and ministry. It was like the tide, coming and going. As each chapter ended, I met him again as a younger man and followed him into old age, over and over. Echos upon echos.
I also enjoyed meeting the men at the top as men, with their foibles and politics in addition to their heroics and depth. I doubt I'll see it, but I would love to see similar books written, most especially of Gordon B. Hinckley, who is but a bitplayer in this volume.

The books has loomed so large in my mind the last couple years that I kept referencing it in Face in Hat---to the point that my cohost eventually decided we should have a season working our way through it. So far we've covered correlation, missionary work, and politics.

eighteen months





In Search of Flat Earth (2020)

This was recommended to my by the cohost of our podcast and a son has been amused by Flatearthery lately, plus, I'm reimagining my conspiracy unit for distance learning and am open to videos.

So it's a good video. I'm not sure I'm apt to give it to kids on their own. I would be more likely to use it IN class, but that's still something I'll have some mulling over to do over.

(Or something like that if perhaps more grammatical.)

Intolerance (1916)

At long last I have seen Intolerance -or- Love's Struggle through the Ages -or- A Sun-Play for the Ages. And, yes, it is very long and it is very old, but it is very good.

It does hiccup now and then but it is the first film to every attempt anything like this, so c'mon. It's amazing! They don't make sets like that anymore, that's for sure.

I've been wanting to watch this for ages and ages and I had decided I was going to talk the ward's unofficial film group into watching (succesfully---we're discussing it next Tuesday) and then I heard the Intolerance episode on Unspooled and I've been stoked and ready and excited ever since.

If you're unfamiliar, this massive three-hour epic takes place over twenty-five hundred year and three story lines: Babylon, (then five hundred years later in) Judea, (then fifteen hundred years later in) France, and (then four hundred years later) America. Throughout, the Eternal Mother (played by none other than Lilian Gish) rocks the cradle as we swing from love to intolerance and back again.

The stories largely end in disaster for our protagonists, though the most recent story contains some hope (but will they get their baby back?) while, at the same time---even in 2020---reminding us how wealth imbalance and leads to sins of poverty and police brutality and enmity of all sorts. (Fun fact: Griffith was forced to tone down the deadliness of the National Guard when they mow down the strikers with machine guns. So that's not as historically accurate as maybe it should be.

Another fun detail I noticed was that only the rich and powerful receive names. The god-emperors and Pontius Pilate and the royal court and the capitalists, respectively with, I think, only one exception, and I think I know why. (Ask me sometime.) The others are called the Boy or the Mountain Girl or the Dear One or Brown Eyes or the Princess Beloved or the Nazarene or the Little Mother or the Friendless One. Stuff like that.

The fun ends with a hope that the Great War might end with angels and children dancing and prisons turning to fields of flowers. I can't decide if me living through a hundred years of irony or if the film might be a bit cynically crowdpleasing, but although this worked for me, it didn't work quite as much as I would have liked. The climax of all four stories ending in horror at once was, however, fully involving.

The films closest closeups happen with the protags of the modern story and they were both quite expressionist and emotional.

Anyway, I have a few days to think about it.

our dvd collection
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)

No one wanted to watch this with the baby and I back in July but we two laughed so much everyone wanted in and that rewatch day finally arrived today. And it was just as madcap insane and hilarious this time. This Aardman hilarity which is an excellent brand of hilarity and my prefered variant on Aardman as well.

Makes me realize how sad I am that we haven't seen their last couple movies.

Time to hit JustWatch and or the library and see what our options are....

Internet Archive
Three Ages (1923)

Obviously, after watching one of the most important movies ever made, if Buster Keaton parodized it, you follow up the great film with the Keaton film. Because it will also be great. Intolerance was great. Three Ages was great.

Instead of the Eternal Mother, we get Father Time, but otherwise, see if this sounds familiar: Three stories intercut from different ages of the earth, each telling about love.

But besides that? It has stop-motion dinosaurs and the #1 absolute greatest lion costume I have ever seen. You must see the lion costume.

This was Buster's first feature and a bonus was that if people didn't like it, it could br broken down into three shorts---because people already liked his shorts.

It has some classic sequences, at least one of which he'll repurpose (for College's football scene) but it is bright and funny and the final joke feels like it's from my lifetime, not a century ago.


Amazon Prime
The Next Door (2016)

The director picked up an AML Award in May after previous nominations, including for this film. It was a bit uncanny watching this film, honestly, because, although the tone and aims are entirely different, I have a screenplay right now that involves missionaries and criminals in mistaken-identity hijinks. Again: totally different and yet the core concept is in place.

Anyway, for a moment part way through I thought we might be headed straight into some uncanny doppelganger behavior ala Enemy or The Double. That didn't happen though, so can I get dibs on that idea?

This is a film that will either really come alive on reviewing or completely fall apart. It's only a bit over half and hour, so it's probably worth the time to find out.

I do want to add though that the Dutcher cameo was tonally off and didn't work for me, but at least it came at the top of the program.

our dvd collection
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Last month we showed the eldest Terminator, which was also my first time seeing it. I have seen T2, once, when I was younger than he is now.

I loved how it dashed expectations (O didn't know the twist re Schwarzenegger and it was fun to watch that unroll under his eyes). I liked how it used the same music but synthesizers had somehow grown up over the years between. Having now seen both, I enjoyed how all the callbacks to the first movie were completely reworked and reimagined.

Anyway, even with the dvd constantly glitching, it's still a terrific action movie.

And, to make an MPAA comment, an easy PG-13 today. The new movie, I'll wager, was no less violent or sexy or sweary.

And, if we must have narration, Linda Hamilton should do more of it.

The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2015)

I've been wanting to watch this movie since I first heard of it and that baby disappeared during peekaboo. What a trailer.

And now I have. And it is beautifully made and evocative. Everything about this movie works except possibly the last moment, but even that is probably "right" if you accept the film's basic thesis.

Which is that everything is evil.

It reminds me of some of my other favorite films from the last decade---Tree of Life and Silence come to mind first---but instead of a hopeful nature, The VVitch dives right into a calvinistic view of weighted, inescapable evil. To evil are we born. There is precious little evidence of hope. God is swift to abandon and slow to reach out his hand. Each sin, no matter its size or nature, is evidence you and everyone are bound for hell. There is no escape. The world is the devil's. No goodness can save you and God is not apt to help.

So it's kind of a downer. Beautifully made and powerful but it is not offering any good report.

In other news, Anya Taylor-Joy seems to be on her way to stardom, and rightly so, but all is mysterious. Ralph Ineson is also excellent, with a voice like and a face sharper than Geoffrey Rush's, and he has a full resume, but I don't know his name. Do you? I'm guessing you do not. Bit roles in even Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy do not a star make.

Life is unfair.

But it's not necessarily and inescapably and only evil.

our dvd collection
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

I last saw this movie circa...2008? It's been a long time. I'd forgotten the details but you don't know details to know what matters.

A mummy, stolen from a travelling exhibit and lost in a bus crash, had broken free from his sarcophagi and figured out a sweet gig, fueling himself on the souls of people who are already dying, in an East Texas nursing home.

Elvis, having escaped his life of fame, is now winding down his final days in this nursing home. He is friends with Jack Kennedy, who is also there. The movie makes you feel Elvis is probably on the level and Jack is probably a loon, but it hardly matters. They're fun guys to hang out with (Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis) and their relationship is warm and nice to share a room with.

Anyway, it's up to them to save the day,
It's a cheaply made movie. One interior location, three exteriors. On the big screen, Bruce's hair and makeup aren't great. The bug effect is...so-so. But it hardly matters. It's lovingly made in the b-tradition, and it has genuine heart throughout.

Amazon Prime
Jabberwocky (1977)

I didn't open my browser intending to watch Jabberwocky. In fact, I didn't begin Jabberwocky intending to watch Jabberwocky. I just new it as an old 70s film that gets talked about more than seen, and nothing else. Then it opened with notice that it had been restored with the help of George Lucas which was attention-demanding, and then I saw Michael Palin's face and from then on, why stop?

I didn't know it was a Terry Gilliam film when it started, even though I thought that might have been his mug getting devoured. Gilliam is both attractive to me and worrying. Most of the Gilliam films I've seen have disappointed, but I have loved a couple and I always start with high expectations. Happy to report this one played out.

Honestly, part of my fondness for this film is how it refuses to obey the rules. Our main character never acts, is always acted upon. He's constantly thrown into fairytale situations but that's not what he wants. He's a simple man with simple wants and simple tastes, but the world wants to give him more. And it won't take no for an answer.

The monster didn't arrive until I had decided it wasn't going to. But when it did? What a monster! It's terrific! Best monster I've seen all week.

Better than all the goofy gore had led me to expect. Puppets are the real VFX.

Over the Garden Wall (2014)

(Yes, I am treating this as a movie.)

This is one of the better Wonderlands. For a lot of reasons, but here is one: No matter where you look, you see things that are almost familiar. From Silly Symphonies to Betty Boop to Cab Calloway to the Children of the Corn to Jim Woodring to Little Nemo to Mayazaki (and on and on and on). It's bounteous riches and you don't need to know any of these things to appreciate the whole.

our dvd collection
The Sixth Sense (1999)

This is my fourth time seeing this movie, and probably the first in fifteen or more years.

I love this movie. The first viewing was one of the most terrifying and startling movie-going experiences I've ever had. The second was a beautiful love story between a man and a woman. The third time was a movie portrait of a mother and son. This time, I was a bit too aware of all those previous experiences, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the movie and picking up details I had either forgotten or never noticed before. I was moved emotionally by each of the major arcs.

I wanted to show it to the kids. #2 refused to start it. #3 left before any ghosts arrived (I think it was a mix of too much suspense and being a little bored---it does take a long time for things to speed up!). #1 made it through and enjoyed it. We'll see if he spends any time, middle of the night, staring in the mirror as I did, after my own first viewing. . . .

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

So I largely standby my 2016 opinions---I still think it's the funniest of the three Ghostbusters films and I like the cast best. However, maybe it's because this was the twenty-minutes-longer extended edition or maybe it's because I'm finally really over long, extended cgi battles*, but the third act did drag for me to the point I was bored.

*(Perhaps why I admired the Jabberwocky monster so much or my recent viewing of The Haunted Swordsman. Real stuff is just so refreshing.)

The boys however give it a strong endorsement. "I almost threw up several times," he was laughing so much.

Endorsements don't get much better than that.

(Note: It's a shame that action pays better than comedy. This is what the world needs Chris Hemsworth doing.)

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