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Tag: Movies

Notes: 2023-01-26

Mmm, a whole month’s worth.

Look! Finally an article about “the average rural voter” that doesn’t turn out to be about a local Republican activist!

I need to remember to check out this online course about modern Ukrainian history from Yale.

The trap everyone falls into with technical debt is basically the result of the fact that human instincts are terrible at risk analysis. “It’s been OK so far!” And then your entire airline stops being able to fly.

Have an excellent list of the best movie action scenes of 2022. Baby Assassins is so cool.

There’s some neat insight into Cronenberg’s process in this interview about Crimes of the Future. Also it’s hilarious that Ted Turner wanted to censor Crash because he was worried about kids having sex in cars.

Living on a boat, building new assembly languages by hand, the usual kind of thing. For my money this is somewhat more interesting than the guy who went off the grid in Manhattan, although that was neat too.

There is no way that Shopify will change underlying behavior with this much change in one shot, but good experiment, will come back and check it out in six months. I am working out of a Dublin office this week and the ability to have uninterrupted blocks of a couple of hours of time every single day is magical.

When thoughtful conservatives read about fascism, they produce one kind of reading list. When thoughtful progressives read about fascism, they produce another kind of reading list. Both have value but only one comes away thinking we’re not in danger of fascism because of, uh, feminized societies.

Pallet cleanser. (YouTube, music.)

Gretchen Felker-Martin pulls the old “I’m gently ribbing you, it’s not a micro-aggression” trick.

Good summary of what the 1/6 Committee learned about social media. You can also read the full report, which is wild, and not just because it tells us that there were Rumble employees worried about violence.

Have a decent summary of why each release of the Twitter Files has (mostly) sucked, from — of all places — TechCrunch.

And now S. and I are off to have pancakes.

2022 in Movies

Something weird happened in 2022: I watched 423 movies.

This is pretty atypical for me. It’s over 20% of the movies I’ve watched in my life. I’ve never watched as many as 100 movies in a year before. I’ve been trending up a bit recently, particularly during the pandemic, but 423? Sure, some of them are shorts, but that’s balanced by the 7 hours of Les Vampires and the 5 hours of Fanny and Alexander (TV version) and the 4 hours of Ludwig. At the end of the day — uh, of the year — we’re talking 730 hours of movies. WTF?

Well, I quit playing World of Warcraft, and that’s a huge time sink right there. I also just got into a rhythm. On any given weekday night, it’s easy to catch a movie after dinner. If you’re not doing anything else during a weekend, what’s a movie after each meal? I joined a couple of subreddits that watch a movie a week collectively, I took on a challenge to watch 52 Criterion movies, and about halfway through the year I realized I was on pace for over 350 movies. All those neurons I’d been using on making WoW numbers go up got dedicated to making my movie count go up. Whoops. Fortunately S. is supportive of my whims and obsessions.

An aside: Letterboxd, which I am linking to throughout this post, is amazing. Also a total enabler of my numbers go up obsessions. Worth every penny I pay them as a patron, which is not all that much. It’s been a great way to find movies I might want to see, it’s way more comfortable to use than IMDB, and I just love them to pieces.

At times it was a grind. The trickiest month was October, because S. and I took on a horror movie challenge together. I didn’t love the way I was engaging with challenges in general; I love movies but I want to watch them because I love them, not because they’re leaving my favorite streaming service or because I need to finish a checklist. I am not taking on any challenges next year, although S. and I made a list of 50 date night movies. (Each one has a connection to the one before, and we swapped picks. It was really fun making the list.)

But you know, it’s like anything. If you spend a lot of time on something you love, you’ll discover new depths and new joys and new preferences. Or I guess you’ll start hating it, but that wasn’t me and movies. I’m still not a guy who can breezily analyze Kurosawa in terms of his shot choices, but I know which directors and actors make me happy, which is good enough for me.

Top Ten Movies (2022 Edition)

I was writing this up elsewhere and I thought it’d be worth saving here too. This particular version is prompted by the release of the 2022 Sight and Sound poll results.

  1. The Master — my favorite PTA. Is it the best? Easy to argue that one, but it’s messy and sprawling which I love, and it has my favorite actor of all time, who I still mourn.
  2. Tokyo Story — what an incredibly heart-rending movie. The sadness lies in the stillness. It is as calm as The Master is messy.
  3. In the Mood for Love — the greatest visual director of our time (I kindly assume he’ll make another movie some day) and two of the best actors I’ll ever see. Nostalgia. Coincidence. Sadness.
  4. Crash — my favorite expression of Cronenberg’s thesis statement: mankind will evolve into something else some day and we’d best be ready for it. I love the chilly violence of the Toronto highways in this.
  5. Beau Travail — not just for that final scene, although I will happily explain why Denis Lavant is remarkable for hours, just ask me, see if I won’t. If there’s a common theme to these first five movies (and there is), it’s desire. Claire Denis knows how to put desire on screen.
  6. The Third Man — I swear I didn’t notice until I was making this post, but this list can be divided into arthouse and genre, and we’re now in the genre section. For a long time Casablanca was in this slot but The Third Man replaced it for me. Vienna as a haunted house.
  7. Brazil — this is the movie that taught me there was more to life than the multiplex, and I still love it for the messy excess of it all, plus it’s about rebellion and I find that still resonates with me.
  8. The Big Sleep — yeah, the plot makes no sense, but I’m not in it for the plot. I’m in it for Bogart and Bacall and a poisonous toxic Los Angeles and the snappy dialogue. And for Dorothy Malone.
  9. City of God — did you hear about the time a couple of Brazilians took the pyrotechnic effects from The Matrix and the disjointed narrative that Tarantino didn’t invent anyhow and bent them to their whims to tell a story about their homes? It’s really good.
  10. Lawrence of Arabia — I have been lucky enough to see this in 70mm on a high quality screen three times, and if I could only ever see one movie like that again it’d probably be this one again. For my money, there has never been a better epic. Those dunes.

Holy Motors, Hiroshima Mon Amour, 8 1/2, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and Three Colors: Blue could very easily be on my top ten as well.

One Year of AMC Stubs

I generally always feel like I want to see more movies. A year ago I decided that if I signed up for an all-you-can-eat movie theater membership I might actually see more movies. Mostly thanks to the sunk cost fallacy. Accordingly, I signed up for AMC’s version of the program and waited to see what would happen.

This cost me $21 a month. In order to avoid having to make a spreadsheet, I decided my break even target was 2 movies a month. In Seattle, the average ticket runs around $12, but matinees are like $6, so I figured 2 movies a month would be a simple target.

As it turned out, I saw 28 movies at AMC theaters in the following 12 months. Definitely worth the while! July was my most rapacious month, in which I saw five movies. I saw nothing at AMC in February, cause it’s a bad month for movies and I was busy watching noirs, and I saw nothing at AMC in September, because I spent two weeks on vacation and then got sick.

I only really regret one of them, The Hustle, not to be confused with Hustlers which I just saw and really enjoyed. Even the relatively bad movies like Glass or Godzilla: King of the Monsters — I mean, I’d take those four hours back but it was worth the risk. (I knew The Hustle was gonna suck and I saw it anyhow. I don’t know why.)

And man! I would not have stumbled across the dark slice of neo-noir, Destroyer. I would not have caught Overlord. I probably would have put off going to see The Favorite and it’s one of the best things I saw all year. The slight sense of wasting money pushed me to take more chances. That worked out perfectly.

Overall? Well, I’ve watched 51 movies this year and it’s not over yet. Last year, I watched 49 movies total. Year before that, just 37. That was about typical, so looks like the membership paid off in general. That’s a happy ending!

Review: Pacific Rim: Uprising

This is a perfectly good movie about fighting giant monsters, even when judged on an absolute scale. There is a plot with an interesting twist. Steven S. DeKnight has a good feel for action; the fight scenes play out clearly, even the ones in the middle of dense urban centers. I never lost track of where the combatants were.

There are no characters really. I apologize to John Boyega for this but he really doesn’t have much to do. He’s kind of a bunch of swaggering dialogue and charisma draped on top of a mannequin. He does what he can with the role, it’s just not a convincing part.

Our leftover trio from Pacific Rim is the exception. They’re all fine.

The big flaw is that the jaegers and kaiju don’t have any personality either. This is a fatal flaw. In Pacific Rim, it was a huge deal that there was one three-pilot jaeger. It fought differently, the pilots had a different relationship, it was cool. There’s a three-pilot jaeger in Uprising, which gets no exposition. “Oh, that’s where they’re sticking the extra pilot.” Very unfortunate.

On the other hand you get a decent number of fights, which are well filmed and satisfying. The plot is good, as noted, and it sets up a third movie well. I am happy I saw it even if it reminded me that it took Guillermo del Toro to make such a goofy concept awesome the first time around.

Object of Dreams

Should you ever happen to be in Singapore and desirous of spending a thousand bucks or so on me, this is what I want. It’s the nearly complete Shaw Brothers collection, 668 films, on one set-top box. Presumably there’s a hard drive in there. HDMI output, 720p picture quality, from the Celestial Pictures remastered rereleases. Man, that would be awesome. At a thousand bucks, it’s reasonably priced on a per movie basis, too. Alas, they won’t ship outside Singapore.

Film Festival

I like film festivals a lot. The minimum number of movies means I can’t finish this off by just hitting the Boston Film Festival once; I have to do the festival thing, read film listings, and participate.

I would count Harry Knowles’ Butt-Numb-A-Thon for the purposes of this, although it’s unlikely. More likely candidates: Fantasia, the Boston Independent Film Festival, maybe the Tribeca Film Festival if I get ambitious, or the Boston Fantastic Film Festival (which didn’t run this year).