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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