It would be politically and morally reprehensible to force all conservatives into one party and all liberals into another.


This is so alien to my entire adult life as an American. It’s so far away that even though I like much of what is said in this article, I’m not sure I even fully comprehend it.

What are political parties fighting over if not politics? Is it just a matter of inheriting party from your parents? Which political machine has the best cupcakes? Your feelings on Strom Thurmond?

It’s weird to know so much about this history and yet to read this half-century-old essay and to find it utterly perplexing.

Yet the predictions of this article seem to have largely come true.

How, one is compelled to ask, does one undo this alignment? Dr. Durham, tell us!


April Film She Will


Ten movies in thirty days. What endurance! What exceptional fortitude!


Rialto Cerrito
Dune: Part Two (2024)

So I liked this much more than Part One. Granted, it's easier to have swifter pacing when more stuff is happening, but still. It's a more fun movie. And while a lot of new characters are introduced, you get a good sense of them. Though it's wild how a character can appear and be gone so quickly in something as short as a really long movie. (I'm thinking of Austin Butler's monster here.) But as a whole, the movie does extremely well making us feel like time is passing, passing. And Zendaya was put to good use here. The characters are asked to make astonishing leaps of development and her character's more subtle parallel-but-opposite development is what gives the movie most of its heart.

While I'd like to give the actors most of the credit for the movie's visual success, the effects deserve props as well. To make wormriding not only work on the screen but make sense is a real feat. So well done, yall.

The movie also makes me excited for Dune: Messiah. Maybe I'll have to read it? Seems like the movie probably won't be here for five years, after all....

our dvd
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

The girl wanted to watch this on recommendation of Son #3 who is away to Santa Cruz with a friend's family. Amazingly, she made it through the movie. She's exceedingly sensitive, but she made it. As the movie went on and got more scary, she managed it better. Peculiar.

Hanging with Gen Zers as I always am, it's easy to read this film as superqueer, supertrans, but it's also an argument that everything is queer, everything is trans. What's more trans than changing from a young person to an old person, after all? And, with a spot of luck, we all make that transition.

Anyway, I love this movie. It's so intriguing. Someday I want to understand all its details. But I know that's not the point. And might, in fact, be antithetical to the point. So few things ask us to accept the mystery. And isn't mystery our path? I think it probably is. I think it probably is,

library dvd
The Prestige (2006)

2006 was a very poor year for us so even though I was high on Nolan's Batman, we didn't see this movie. Years passed. And now I have. And you know what? Not worth the wait. Spoiler alert going forward. But the moment I figured out it was all real (telegraphed from the first shot of the film), the whole thing was obvious. A couple details still had to be cleared up but the whole thing unspooled. Fallon's terrible wig didn't help.

Frankly, although the realness of Tesla's magic irritates, once you see how Borden's tricks work they're even less believable. And cheapened by the actual magic. Although the plot holds together, the world falls apart.

Anyway. I didn't really like it.

The King of Comedy (1982)

With the clock on Paramount+ ticking, I picked this off the list of to-watches and watched it. And . . . it was very strange. It was good. Like . . . After Hours only from the perspective of the mad people surrounding the hero of that movie. Robert De Niro was nuts but he was easier to feel for than Sandra Bernhard was uninterruptingly unsettling.

People broadly remarked that this film was one of the inspirations for Joker and that's very easy to see. It's hardly a carbon copy (gotta get that Taxi Driver in there too) but the intersections are many and various. And honestly, I think the overlap made this all the more stressful a movie to watch.

One important difference (assuming I remember Joker correctly) is that this film lets us into the leads madness much more quickly. (Though that he is actually mad and not just imaginative takes a while to become clear.) It also ends more ambiguously.

Also, does anyone know if the woman standing next to Scorsese in that one scene is Thelma Schoonmaker?

I should also mention I've never liked Jerry Lewis more. The secret is he barely does anything. He's good at subtle as it ends up.

The Illusionist (2006)

I read the story this was based on early summer 2004 when it was published in Zoetrope: All-Story, back when I was subscribed. I really liked it and looked forward to the upcoming movie (why Zoetrope reprinted it). I don't remember much the story anymore (mostly its poetic voice) so I can't talk to it as an adaptation (though it felt accurate enough).

The movie came out the same year as The Prestige (see above). The Illusionist came out fifty days earlier and was vastly less popular. We were deeply poor and I was torn between the one I'd been looking forward to and the one made by the guy who'd just made that great new Batman movie. So I've been meaning to watch them back-to-back ever since. I've finally (almost) done it.

My perception is that The Prestige has become Chris Nolan's underappreciated masterpiece and The Illusionist has been forgotten. I will grant the former finer craftsmanship. Particularly The Illusionist's opening and closing sequences, less well aged VFX, and the sex scene (which I think may have been less an artistic way to get racy and keep the PG-13 but a metaphor for the slight-of-hand to come). But that said, The Illusionist is a better watch. I still saw the twist coming but it wasn't obvious to me how it would work (and I wish they hadn't bothered the weak attempt at Paul Giamatti's figuring it out). Also, the twist obeyed the rules of a magician movie, after making me think it had not. Which is exactly how a magician movie should work. As explained very clearly in The Prestige. (Don't let me get started on The Prestige again. I have more complaints but I don't wanna make'm.)

Anyway, I'm 18 years late to the conversation, but although The Prestige is more finely crafted visually, in the end that pizzazz comes off like an empty boast. The Illusionist actually delivers.

(And both might fall apart if you think too closely. So just enjoy the rides. I hope you love both.)

Note: They both use Ricky Jay as well. Wild how duos like this just happen.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

This has been on my to-watch list for decades. And I think I've conflated it with another silent classic. In this one, Ryan Gosling's been cheating on Drew Barrymore but in a sudden switcheroo of symbolism, the city ends up being good for their marriage. Murnau is up to his regular tricks though this is a more restrained/relaistic work than Nosferatu or Metropolis.

It's astonishing so much story was backed into sub one hundred minutes. I'll be watching it again soon.

I didn't know as I was watching it that the sound was all part of the film so I guess I need to repent of thinking that it was a bit presumptuous at parts.

Of course, I've been wanting to watch this since high school because this film won the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture, an award only given the first year. Presumably equivalent to Best Picture (then Outstanding Picture), but Best Picture was, that year, more like the proposed Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film, while Unique and Artistic Picture was more like the platonic Best Picture winner of today. If you see what I mean.

Anyway. Still haven't seen Wings either.

The Suicide Squad (2021)

James Gunn makes good movies. This one is very funny with real human connections and gives Margot Robbie an Oscar-clip speech that is utterly insane. It attaches itself to a dozen other stories and does so with utter seriousness and friendly mockery all at once. He makes fun of the full-cast-walking-toward-the-camera scene twice to different effects. The film is much more bloody than my own tastes prefer, but it is a marvelous entertainment.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021)

The little girl and I watched this together. It's faux cinema verite, quiet and slow. It takes a looong time to pay off. Basically the entire movie. And yet she was deeply into it from go. And even though we kept getting interrupted and it took us three days to finsh it, she was never opposed to returning. Even asked for it. I'm impressed, honestly. If I'd known it was like this, I'm not sure I would have proposed it. (After seeing the trailers for it, Monsters Inc., Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Anastasia, she picked this one. I think because it seemed the least scary? Still. Kids will watch more than we sometimes give them credit for.

Anyway, it is very charming.

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Ah. It's not what I expected because I was thinking of The Last Laugh. Which I still need to see. And he didn't direct Metropolis. That was Fritz Lang. Egad. I should trust my memory a little less.

Anyway, I think I might have enjoyed it more the second time. I've heard the movie called a simple fable, but no. It's not. The city is both a source or terrors and joys. And The Man's redemption doesn't quell his inherent violence. And he buries his face in both women's bellies but it means entirely different things. And she serves him bread and he serves her bread but neither time does anyone partake. But when the wine arrives? Ah, then they partake. And so on. It's complicated and strange.

library dvd

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

I can't remember where I read about the remarkable story of SIxto Rodriguez, but I do know that it turned into me getting his album posthaste and now seeing the doc. Which is a wonderful journey and I highly recommend it. I am left with some questions that count as spoilers:

Does he have no nonwhite South African fans?

What about Australia?

What the heck is up with the money?

Incidentally, the dvd's two short films provide some more context to other things (and raise more questions) but in short, check out his music and watch the movie. It's beautiful.