Thursday, March 15, 2018


Okay, I've been avoiding this TV genre, but it's been on my radar lately though. Well, it's been on-and-off it more or less, and it's hard to really explain it, but it's become distressingly popular in certain circles.

Eh, god how do I begin with this one. Alright, full disclosure, while I do have things like a Roku, I haven't had cable, cable in a while. Like a real hundreds of channels package deal in a while; it's just become too expensive, and there's a whole bunch of reasons for that, that I don't feel like getting into, but a few years ago, a friend of mine told me she watched a lot of ID, which I didn't know what the hell that even was at the time.

Naturally I looked it up, and yes, it's an offshoot of the Discovery Channel, it started as one thing originally but at some point, because of ratings, it basically morphed into a 24-hour True Crime documentary channel. It kinda freaked me out honestly.

Like I know, most channels are basically one genre of show that's runs on marathons these days, and sure some of those channels, especially some of those reality channels, they're pretty awful if you watch too much of them, but-eh, this still kinda took me back. I don't know why it does, or did, it did freak me out that I had a friend that said she basically only watched that channel anymore. Then, when I went on vacation back east for a bit last year, I found out that my Aunt basically spends most of her day only watching this channel too. Like, she knew it was bad for her to be watching it, but she kept it on all day, anyway. It was basically her background noise for when nobody else was home and nothing else was on, and then she gladly let everybody else change the channel, 'cause even she knew it wasn't healthy to do that, but she had just gotten used to it, and it appealed. I think we've all done some version of that at some point in our lives, where we basically put something on TV, just to have the TV on and only have pay attention to during the day while we work on everything else. I do it even now, I use to keep on PBS like that, you know, it was nothing else on, and even though it was kids stuff it was calming, nice, good,... honestly I should probably start doing that again, but I've done it with some reality shows, some sitcoms on Hulu and or one of those classic TV channels, the old game shows channels, I'm even doing it right now, I'm finally catching up with "House of Lies" on Amazon Prime as I write this.

I never understood doing that with something that might be too dark or morbid however; when I did pick something to keep in the background, I always wanted to keep something on that was, eh, mind-engrossing. That's why PBS always stuck on, 'cause sure, it's not the most complex thing, especially during the day, but it trying to teach kids to learn and it was calm and peaceful and some of those shows actually were really good and even funny; there's subtle adult humor in things like "Sesame Street" that you wouldn't catch as a kid, you know? Even with things that are essentially junk that I'd use, like, "Storage Wars" or something, a look at a culture of interesting people and there's also the historical aspects of what they're finding, among other things...- I would always be looking for the thing that would engross me and keep me interesting mentally, somewhat. I don't like things that simply shut you off when you put on something like that. To be fair, in that respect, these "True Crime" things, they don't do that. So I guess that's a plus and it's honestly not that they're talking about serial killers and murderers and whatnot, or that it's even morbid, and to be fair it's not just ID, there's also Justice, and Escape, there's a few channels focusing on this kind of programming, and the other weird thing, is that, these aren't objectively bad shows either.

I know it sounds like I'm demeaning or demoralizing this genre, in some way, but I can't even really do that, here, like I would, for say dating shows or judge shows like I have in the past, how I've looked at the differences in quality between the best and worst of those shows and I could I guess, but honestly, watching and analyzing any of these shows separately in a vacuum and not as a genre, I can't really say there's a bad show here. Nothing awful-awful, off the top of my head anyway; I'm sure I can seek something obscure out of course, but these shows, they have an objective, they're telling a story, through a documentary, usually it's exploitative to some degree, but even at their worst, it's still compelling, it's still a mystery, it's a profile on a real-life event, some of them might be funny years later in hindsight, 'cause of some of the claims and updates in technology and whatnot, but, I can't say that there's too many that are truly bad in of themselves. I know the ones I like more than others, and we'll go over the history of the genre and talk about one or two of those series, but is there anything inherently wrong an episode of say, "Forensic Files" or "American Greed", or even the really tacky and exploitative stuff like "Dateline: To Catch a Predator", okay maybe that one, but honestly not really, not in a vacuum. I get the appeal; I like a good mystery, we all like a fascinating true story, I took a Forensic Science class in high school, because of how fascinated I was with how detectives and police work to solve crimes and I loved watching "Forensic Files" and "Exhibit A" episodes during that class. (And it didn't hurt that "CSI..." was still watchable and the coolest show on TV at that time) I get the appeal..., in a vacuum I get the appeal.

It really does freak me out to see and know more and more people put this genre on top of their watchlist and end up binging these shows day in and day out though....

Alright, let's start at the beginning of the genre, which, again, "True Crime" is a weird modern genre. I guess the most notable beginnings of the genre start with stuff like Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood", these non-fiction stories. This is back when the real big idea was to take a true story and turn it from a journalistic narrative and form it into a structure that was more fictional. Since, we're focusing in on True Crime Documentary series here, that doesn't necessarily apply here, it's just taking one journalistic structure and turning it into another, in this case. It goes without saying that there's always been a journalistic appeal to the genre of course, for television, it's a little trickier, to pin down. I always like to think about this genre being more associated with "Unsolved Mysteries" or "America's Most Wanted" when I was a kid. Not only were those compelling, albeit, now in hindsight, they seem more open for parody, especially "Unsolved Mysteries" those shows at the time though, also played like public service announcements, and they were aired with an attempt to try to solve the mysteries, find the suspects, etc. There some aspects of those shows still around, but that's not really where these series get most of their inspiration from nowadays. Most of these documentary series, essentially are inspired by, what we used to call News Magazine shows.

While there are other thing that count in this genre, for instance, docu-miniseries like "Making a Murder" or "The Jinx" and technically there's also the narrative series, especially miniseries like "American Crime Story" and "Law & Order: True Crime-The Menendez Brothers", (That recent miniseries trend deserves it's own blogpost but maybe some other time) the series that I think about as really perpetuating this genre are these docuseries that are more inspired by those news magazines, the "Dateline"'s the- not "60 Minutes" so much but "48 Hours", "20/20", "Nightline" to some extent, those shows. It does make sense that news programs would be the inspiration for these things, although that's weird in it's own way, but you see, I remember back when all those shows previously had respectability. ("60 Minutes" still does btw, despite everything) and were actual integral parts of the Primetime network lineup, and again, they're not bad shows, in a vacuum, but they also were formatted a lot differently. The reason that genre is referred to as "News Magazine" is because they imitated the structure of a magazine at that time. People, Time, Newsweek, etc., they usually would have, three or four segments per episode, and each segment would be a little different. They'd be more in-depth stories than the Nightly News shows, but they've one darker topic, one somewhat light but informative topic maybe a celebrity interview segment,... the kind of longform stories you'd read about in a magazine, and once in awhile, you'd get a profile on a story that was a little more exploitative, that was about a shocking crime and investigation, once in a while. This would be a semi-regular thing, and when it actually happened, especially if it was a local story that somehow made this segment, it would probably be big news, and it would be really big news if they would devote the whole episode to it. We'd be like, "How, I guess they're doing the faux-Milgram experiment test thing next week!" (Yeah, that "What Would You Do?" show on ABC also started as a common segment like this. [Sidenote: Am I the only that runs into that title and thinks for a moment that they're gonna air reruns of that Nickelodeon game show Marc Summers hosted in the '90s?]

At some point, because news is supposed to make money now and everything else that "Network" predicted would happen, happened, at some point, and I'm not sure when exactly but within my lifetime, they started realizing that people tuned in for those exploitative murder investigation stories and suddenly there were more of those shows, being devoted, just to that every week. This is what made me go from, going out of my way to watch "Dateline" every couple days to, well, seeing it only when Bill Hader parodied Keith Morrison every week on "SNL".

It's not even really just that, it's the fact that I know people are just watching fascinating facts about disturbing death after disturbing dearth after disturbing death all day, and you know, most of these stories, because there's so much saturation now, they're not even necessarily that compelling. That parody is kinda right, "Let's forget the obvious suspect is the obvious suspect for awhile. and move on to whatever will kill time....-" I know most every part of the country at some point I guess, must have some huge case that fits these kinda shows theme, and I can certainly think of more than a few local ones in my lifetime that were ready-made for these sort of series to examine, and many probably have, but that leads to another issue, there's only a limited amount of interesting cases.

Forget the other twisted and maybe more disturbing aspects that if you're watching shit like this all day, you're gonna start thinking that America's just full of people killing each other, even though statistically murders have been going down in this country year after year for over two decades now, even with all the mass shootings, but beyond that, at a certain point, you're gonna run out of interesting cases to do these shows on. There's always gonna be a little more, but there's either gonna be a lot of shows retelling the same crimes or you're gonna be scrapping the bottom of the barrels and we're no longer talking about the more interesting and fascinating cases, we're just talking any murder.cases. Or suspected murder cases, or suspected-by-somebody even if their evidence and claims were fishy....

(Yes, despite the condition of the footage, that is a segment of the original "Unsolved Mysteries" doing an episode on Kurt Cobain's death; no I didn't remember they did that either.)

I'd honestly be impressed that they find all the content they do, until you realize that series like "Forensic Files" has actually had like five or six alternate titles throughout it's run and beyond by various networks that have broadcast the series. (Hell, that show was originally called "Medical Detectives", which I seriously doubt anybody even knew or realized until I just informed you.)

I don't know, I believe there's a time and a place where we can explore the more morbid sides of our curiosity and indulge in stuff like this, but if this genre really is becoming a go-to for people, the baseline for what they allow placed into their mind over everything else out there, I get concerned. This isn't a genre like sitcoms or drama series where there's such a wide variety of content within the genre where even divulging in the worst they have to offer can at least be fascinating on an intellectual comparison level, true crime documentaries-, the only real difference I can see from the best of the genre and the worst is how many exploitative tricks they have for enticing us to stick with them through the commercial before they reveal some not-at-all-shocking twist-that's-not-really-a-twist in the case later on. More of these are coming off like things that should've just a "20/20" segment that aired between the political interview and the test that determined which baby cribs were safest. I know there's a saturated market everywhere right now, but there's something, really irksome about having too much of this genre, and it's starting to bleed into everything else. Mostly in positive ways so far like those docu-miniseries and miniseries events I mentioned before but not always. This is the kind of trend that eventually lead to all the networks coming out with TV movies of Amy Fisher in the same ratings week that one weird time. If you like these shows, fine, hell, I like a lot of them too, hell, but maybe more than any other TV genre, you need to take in small doses at best, even if it requires drastic actions like racing to the remote to change the channel at the end credits before they start the next episode of whatever show with that frightening-yet-intoxicating narrator comes on and suckers you into wondering, "Just what did happen to those two toddlers after they were hijacked?" (Fuck it, I'll spoil that one if it helps; they weren't hijacked, the mother lied; she drowned them. There; let's hope that stops people from turning that nightmare of a '90s tabloid infotainment into a miniseries.)

Maybe I'm overreacting, I can admit that but...- but the thing is, that these are shows that's whole appeal is that they're making you uncomfortable. To freak you out, to keep you on the edge of your seat, etc. I may hark on people of all fan genres and trends for limiting their viewing choices and preferences too much, whether that's superhero crap or fantasy dramas to bad dating reality series, or whatever, and yes, in general, I'm not big on anybody being too fascinated by any one particular genre or subgenre or trend or whatever, but I'll take people who talk about nothing but comic book series and movies or watch the crappiest of bad reality shows or basically anything else, than people who's go-to genre is true crime documentaries, at least those things as bad and limiting they may be, they're not just this swan dive into the morbid deluge of death. So if you are one of those people who's go-to is this genre, please, actively seek out something else, something else that, for even a little while you can accept and keep yourself interested in for the sake of sanity and perspective, and just for clearing your mind's sake. Put on a random stand-up special, laugh for a bit, watch a sporting event, something, watch literally watch anything else for a little bit, except the News. Don't just fill yourself up on a diet od this genre; it may feel and seem healthy and nourishing at first glance, but it's empty calories disguised as carbs. Just something a little more nourishing regularly mixed in, that's all I'm suggesting.

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Ugh. Well, I'm mostly over my previous illness, but still pretty tired more than I usually am. Anyway, Oscar Hangover didn't last too long this year, but-eh, Super Bowl hangover, still on. (Shrugs) Yeah, I know, honestly I'm trying to get to more movies, but honestly I'm mostly just watching and rewatching highlights and clips of the Eagles winning, and then crying emotionally, and then watching more highlights and people reacting and the Parade, and then more highlights and more emotions...- (Sigh) look I might be screenwriter by trade and most of the time I'm engulfed in the film and television sides of entertainment, but there's a reason that if I ever do create a production company, it's probably gonna be called Midnight Green Productions, that's the color I bleed, and most of the time, it's been a painful existence being a Philadelphia sports fan, and um...- (Sigh) it's hard to explain, but imagine you've read a comic book series where the superhero keeps losing. Superman doesn't beat Lex Luthor for decades. Sometimes he gets close to winning, and sometimes he just keeps getting the piss and shit beaten out of him, but he never ever wins, and- I don't know why you'd keep reading such a thing for so long but, you think it would legitimately never happen, and suddenly Superman actually won. That's what being a sports fan, especially a tortured sports fan is like. (Not to mention, Philly sports fan are already crazy beyond normal sports fans to begin with) That kind of emotional release, decades in the making, is the kind of thing me, and I'm sure other Eagles fans are still going through, so... Yeah, sorry, it's hard to push my way through that, but I am.

Anyway, this is Part II of this edition of the Movie Reviews as my previously edition was delayed due to illness and timing, so some of these reviews were written a little while after I saw the movie, a little while longer than I would normally like, (Shrugs) but-eh, hopefully I'll write better reviews later. Or at least better films, SPOILER: This is a mediocre group of films.

Well, let's get to PART 2!

BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017) Director: Denis Villeneuve


(Frustrated sigh) I'm the one who's never thought much of the original "Blade Runner". I haven't seen every version, but I'm fairly certain that at best, it's overrated as Hell. Every clue goes two-ways and the twist at the end doesn't make any difference. Sorry, it doesn't, everything would've happened the same way and there's no guarantee that he wouldn't be effected differently. And frankly, in hindsight, after watching "Blade Runner 2049", why wasn't he just told he was a replicant to begin with? K (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant, that didn't stop him from being a Blade Runner, in hindsight, why would it, if he was designed to be a Blade Runner, why would it matter if he knew he was a replicant or not? I hate those mysteries where every clue is a double-clue that both means one thing and it's exact opposite.

That said, there's one other major thing that's always annoyed me about "Blade Runner", and alas, I hate to go back to my anti-Ridley Scott position, but he didn't direct that movie well. In fact, the movie is just boring. I mean, I get why, but Scott's already got a world with no human characters and he's telling a film noir, a genre that generally needs some good characters to work at all, he has none, but then, he spends all this stupid time world-building and beats down the metaphors of the work until it no longer exists, instead of telling the story. Villeneuve has a few moments like that in this film as well, although not as many and not as severely damaging to the storytelling as Scott is, but he's got a few and this movie is very laborious. It also just doesn't go anywhere. The movie dives into a world and warns about a future where replicants are about to take on, the establishment, whatever that even is anymore, but it's all, at the corners of the screen, and instead it's a lot of scenes of, interesting production design standing in for locations. The Blade Runner in this movie, knows he's a replicant, this one named K (Ryan Gosling), his job is to find the remnants of the older blade runners to disengage, as a new owner, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) has remade replicants in such a way that they are no longer going to rise us against the humans, 'cause stupid, but he's also become incredibly successful at colonializing again because of them, and they've managed to begin farming on several planets. (He's also a major farming process guru of some kind.) Him and his top replicant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) are the top villains and they get interesting in K's investigation into a discovery of old bones at an old replicant's farm, which happen to both be bones of a woman who apparently gave birth before dying, but also that of a replicant. Now, this seems like something that actually makes some sense as frightening in this world, the world revolves around the replicants being crucial but a disposable workforce, but if they're able to create life on their own, that changes everything. K's boss Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) wants him to find the kid and destroy it if possible, 'cause while she'd rather find out who stuffed the poor woman in the box, she realizing the damning effect if the story got out.

That said, this leads to K eventually discovering the not-so-surprising underworld of replicant freedom fighters currently hiding out in Las Vegas 'cause apparently in this universe it didn't survive the nuclear blackout years earlier. (Middle finger) Screw you for that one movie. (Annoyed sigh) I guess technically I like this "Blade Runner" more than the original although i'm still not sold that either of them are these great pieces of work. To me, they're more interesting from a philosophical standpoint then they actually are to watch. I get how this idea of a world with replicants running around can be compelling but as a story I don't find it particularly entertaining, or even that interesting a world to experience. I just posted my Canon of Film on "Dark City' recently, which takes so many of the same tropes but has much more to say about them and actually has new and unique ideas both about film noir and the sci-fi genres but also about our lives being taken over by a technological force that it still feels fresh and new. Meanwhile two "Blade Runner" movies in, and it's so lacking originality and ideas and is so stiff and boring that I can't really look at it as anything but a pose. It sounds good in theory but to actually experience it, it doesn't really hold up or have the deeper meanings that people think it has. This is one of the quintessential to me of people wanting and thinking about the movie they wanted to see as oppose to actually looking deeper at the film they really have. (Hell, I partially think that's why Ridley Scott's constantly going through and re-cutting the damn thing over and over again.)

I hate to put "Blade Runner 2049" in the same fate, but the more I think about it, the more it fits as well. This is a movie foreshadowing a war between replicants and higher-ups and how does the movie end? With a climatic fight scene, mostly centered around the lives of three little people who's problems don't really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. We'll always have Vegas, I guess?

GOOD TIME (2017) Directors: Benny & Josh Safdie


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Alright, I will finally concede that this is the first performance from Robert Pattinson where I generally can see his potential as an actor. I think some where jumping the gun a little bit by thinking that this performance was award-worthy, but he finally has an energy, personality and intensity that I had never seen before from him. "Good Time", the latest from Benny & Joshua Safdie, the brothers behind "Daddy Longlegs (aka Go Get Some Rosemary)" basically have one real take and that's that their family is really loving and typically full of really awful people. They took a small break from that usual M.O. to work on the underrated "Heaven Knows What" which was distinctive because it was about some other poor sap's homelife surrounded by horrible people, in that film's case, it's author and star Arielle Holmes, a homeless drug addict who was desperately in love with her shithead boyfriend who was trying to coax her into suicide. In this case, we have a poor sap, Nick (Benny Safdie) who's unfortunately a mentally-challenged young man who's controlled and manipulated by his piece of shit brother, Connie (Pattinson) a thief, who is constantly in over his head and has own somewhat talented skill of being a believable and likable enough conman that he can convince others to help him out, even though he's one of those people who thinks he's two steps ahead 'cause he does know how to slither out of a tough situation, but is still usually two steps behind because he usually slithers into one situation that's impossible to get out of into a worst situation that's impossible to get out of. In this case, a bank robbery that he brings his brother in on, that succeeds, but then naturally turns disastrous. At one point, the brother gets caught and sent to jail, and now, he has to figure out how to get the money to bail him out, (The money from the bank is inked, naturally, and now unusable) so they can both escape. At first, this involves borrowing from friends and family, which is best represented by Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) Connie's latest girlfriend who tries to pay with her piece-of-work Grandmother's card, but is decline. Connie then finds out that his brother is now in the hospital after an incident in prison, so he decides to just kidnap him, and this also fails in a spectacular manner, after among other things, kidnapping the wrong patient from the hospital and having to get help from a 16-year-old stranger, Crystal (Tallah Webster) who, the much-older-than-18 Connie, ends up making out with. (Eye roll)

I'm still barely beginning as there's a lot more to this, essentially one wild night that gets more and more out of control. "Good Time"'s best talent is it's kinetic speed, and that is quite the benefit and an unusual one from the Safdie Brothers who tend to be more slice of life in their work until now. There's still enough of what I liked in their other films that I will recommend "Good Time" but this is a bit like watching a trainwreck in slow-motion and honestly, I think the movie went off the rails by the end. This is when it would be better for the film to be more slice-of-life instead of being so kinetic intense to the plot. It definitely fits with the Safdie's work but I wish their more naturalistic tone complimented a naturalistic story. That said, this is a powerful film with strong performances, I didn't even mention Barkhad Abdi as a security guard that gets taken advantage of, although everybody gets taken advantage of in "Good Time" by Connie, and yet Connie, doesn't really have the ability to get that far. This might be the Safdie's most fatalistic feature yet, which is itself weird to think about but there isn't much to cheer for in this film, and that's something that's lacking from their earlier work. I get it's an interesting experiment for them and these are the biggest names they've worked with yet, but it's still a marginal recommendation from me 'cause I know they can do better.

(2017) Director: Kogonada


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Huh. Okay, first off, I watched this on Hulu and there's a half-way decent chance that the TV I watched it on might've had the lighting off, 'cause this was a weirdly darkly-lit film. That doesn't usually bother me, 'cause I usually that address, but I suspect my old-ass TV, might've accidentally changed the setting and had the lighting tampered with, 'cause -, I don't know, maybe he was going for a Gordon Willis feel, but it didn't seem right to me, so.... take that for what you will. Also, this movie's kinda just, um...- well,...- how do I describe this; I feel like this film had a lot of inspiration behind it, but I'm not quite sure it had any real story direction.

So, the film's Director, Kogonada, is a famous video-essayist, who specializes in pieces on classic arthouse analysis. (Shrugs, searches "Kogonada Video essays" on Google.) Oh, okay, he's more prominent on Vimeo; I really should check Vimeo out more often.

Well, I'm looking at some of his work while I write this, and yeah, he seems interesting. It's seems like he's done some work for Richard Linklater among others in the past, but he's definitely more influenced by Eastern filmmakers. He does pieces on other filmmakers too, but he mentions names life Ozu as an influence, I'm looking at his video now on Koreeda; yeah, I can kinda see where he's coming from with "Columbus", which has a slice-of-life tone, the characters that are fascinated with talking about, basically the meaning of life or lack thereof. (Shrugs) I will say though, that the name that struck me while watching "Columbus", was Michelangelo Antonioni. Not necessarily stylistically, but because of the film's fascination with architecture.

I had to look this one up, so the movie is titled and takes place in Columbus, Indiana; which would've been like my sixth choice if I had to blindly guess what "Columbus" they were talking about, but actually it makes sense. Apparently this home of Mike Pence, (Eye roll) and only about 44,000 other people is apparently ground zero for modern architecture and public art. Seriously, every architect you can name from the last 3/4 century, apparently has a building of some cultural or historical importance. Like I said, when I think use of architecture in film, I think of Antonioni, 'cause architecture isn't so much a symbol as it is a setting.

So, the Jesse and Celine, sorta, of this movie are Jim and Casey (John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson) Jim, is the son of a famous architect who was in town giving a lecture series, but then fell ill and is now in a coma. Casey is a high school graduate who works at a local library, and the movie is basically going back-and-forth between her talking with Jim or her talking with Gabriel (Rory Culkin) a fellow co-worker. In between, there's some other splices of scenes, most notably with Casey and her dysfunctional mother Eleanor (Parker Posey). But, Jim and Casey are both stuck in town and both are dealing with their parents' current situation, so they talk and they both have architecture in common, and they're surrounded by it. I guess if this movie was made in Las Vegas, we'd be seeing this movie go up and down the Strip (Naturally in the wrong order) as the main pairing dissect and analyze the history of the casinos.

I'm not sure what to make of this film honestly. I think it works more in theory than in practice, 'cause honestly, if you don't know the significant importance of Columbus, Indiana regarding the architecture world, this film could completely go over your head, on the other hand, I don't think there's much else. This isn't really a romance, and I can't really call it a "Strangers in a Strange land" film a la "The Before Trilogy" or "Lost in Translation", because only one of the main characters, of the ones that are awake enough to talk, is a stranger. This is what I mean when I say that there's a lot of inspiration, but not a lot of story. I guess that's apart of it, but on the other hand I kept just wondering what kept these two talking to each other. And talk to each other a lot about, architecture. I'd bet money that this does relate to local Indianans more than it does me, believe me, I've had some conversations with visitors where basically all I did was pontificate on things like the odds of every bet in every casino betting game and whatnot, but then again, I live in a tourist town, we're supposed to do that. Casey just seems to talk to others because, it's a movie and she's girl we're fascinated over so she better have something interesting to say. (Shrugs)

Maybe if I caught up on my Frank Gehry and I.M. Pei I would get more out of this film, so I guess I'm recommending it, 'cause it is strange and interestingly different enough; I just hope there's more to Kogonada in the future and that he has more stories of his own that he can tell me that are fascinating, as oppose to just talking about how great the works of others are. Although to be fair, based on his video essays, he is really quite good at talking about the works of others.

THE MONKEY KING 2 (2016) Director: Pou-Soi Cheung


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I looked back at my notes on "The Monkey King 2" before writing this, apparently all I wrote was, "I just don't get this series. I think it's a..."- and I didn't finish the thought. I'm not sure I had any thought to finish honestly. I actually double-backed even and watched "The Monkey King" before going into it's sequel that for some reason was deemed quality enough to deserve an American theatrical release; I'll give them this, they're right that the sequel is better but...- this is another instance where I just feel like I'm not adept or knowledgeable enough about a culture to properly qualify a film; this is some bizarre mix of, if Stephen Chow wasn't as good and he tried to make a live-action "Kung Fu Panda" franchise, only with a monkey; that's about the best I can come up with to describe whatever the hell this franchise was that burned my corneas for a little over four hours of my life.

Apparently this is another retelling of "Journey to the West" a novel I'm starting to think I better read up on if I'm gonna understand Chinese culture. It's a different chapter in that story and one that's about 500 years after the events of the previous film and The Monkey King or Sun Wukong (Aaron Kwok) has to escort Guowang (Fei Xiang) to India on a pilgrimage to find some holy document. There's several other subplots here, but it's- I can't follow most of this. This movie, to me, was just the green screen equivalent of watching static. It's strange and alien, but not in any way that makes you compelled to seek out more about it; it's the kind of way that makes you suspect that even Hong Kong is probably a little bit embarrassed by the product. Like being introduced to a culture through it's worst reality show kind of embarrassment. If you're interested in anything this cartoony then I guess there's nothing wrong with this, but I feel like I've seen better versions of this story done in this style by somebody who's more adept at using the artificiality of the style and effects to their advantage to help us accentuate and care about what's going on. Maybe animation would've been a better medium than live-action, I'm not sure. Personally this is my equivalent to whatever the term "Uncanny Valley" is supposed to mean. (Seriously, I've never understood what the hell people are talking about with that term regarding animation; but see live-action shit like this, now I kinda understand it)

I'm giving it some slack, there's talent and craft here but if you can put up with it, good for you, me...- this is just too zany to take seriously.

KING GEORGES (2016) Director: Erika Frankel


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I've done quite a few things and gone to quite a few places in Philadelphia, most of which I'm fairly proud of, one thing that I haven't done and sadly, never will now is go and have a mean at Le-Bec-Fin. "King Georges" is Georges Perrier, a Philadelphia institution and a mammoth in the culinary world. His restaurant was the standard-bearer for classic French cuisine and dining in this country for decades. It was always way too expensive for me and my family to ever go, but the upper crust and elite, it was the diamond of fine dining. It's since closed, unfortunately and "King Georges" documents the last couple years of the restaurant and Perrier, who's a determined personality. There's several foodie docs out there on the running of restaurants and to be honest, they're all pretty much the same since anybody who runs a successful restaurant is basically married to it. "Le-Bec-Fin" in it's glory days was the premiere standard of elegance in dining. An elegance that frankly is outdated in most foodie circles, which is hard to fathom for Perrier, and to some extent, his executive chef Nicholas Elmi, a name people in food circles will also immediately recognize since he's gone on to major acclaim now, including winning Season 11 of "Top Chef" and a James Beard Award with his new Philadelphia restaurant, Laurel. It's interesting to see the evolution of him as well, as Perrier is winding down and starting to close and sell his restaurant and figure out what next step he'll take in a foodie and culinary world that's passed him by and yet see the top people who he's inspired and mentor begin to take it over from his influence. Perrier is an old-time French-born chef, he's loud, boisterous, obnoxious, a stickler for standards, and he had adapted to the local color. He has season tickets to the Eagles, even still, although he barely understands football. He definitely fit in with the culture. Philly's weird, foodie-wise 'cause it does have some high-end places by the best chefs in the country, but it's also a place that's probably more familiar with less food that's less sophisticated in tastes. And there's a great charm and good food related to this, but frankly I'm amazed some of these places like Le-Bec-Fin stayed opened and popular as long as they did, and Perrier helped start and develop that culture in the city.

The movie is brisk and entertaining, it's basically a quick little documentary about a great chef and what he means to food and the city, and not much else, which, I'm okay with. Sometimes, you just want a nice little documentary and sometimes that's all you need. I wish I could eat it instead of watch it, but all foodie docs have that issue.

THE CONFIRMATION (2016) Director: Bob Nelson


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"The Confirmation" to me was kinda like "The Bicycle Thief" only imagine it from the kid's point of view and the father is a complete fuck-up. (Shrugs) At least, that's what I got out of Bob Nelson's directorial debut; he's most famous for writing Alexander Payne's "Nebraska", but I guess there's other themes going on. The movie is bookended by the young kid, Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) by going to Confession where at first he tells Father Lyons (Stephen Tobolowsky) that he hasn't committed any sins, but by the end he's committed quite a few because of his father, Walt. (Clive Owen) is a struggling alcoholic who just barely is allowed to be with his son for a prolong period of time. His ex-wife Bonnie (Maria Bello) is remarried to Kyle (Matthew Modine) and she allows him to have Anthony for a couple days while they're on a brief trip. Walt's a freelance carpenter between drinking and hasn't had work in a while, but a job opens up after he accidentally stays at a bar too long while Anthony was in the car. The next morning, he realizes that his tools are stolen. That's where "The Bicycle Thief" aspect comes in, they're special tools and he needs to track them down. (You could also point to Chris Weitz's "A Better Life" as inspiration as well, I guess.) From there, they both go around town, while trying to get to know each other and find the tools. This includes telling a lot of lies and committing some crimes and nearly getting killed a few times,  Also, making an effort to make sure his Dad wouldn't drink. Oh, and Walt didn't pay the rent, so they got kicked out of his place and had to break into his mother's for a bit...- the movie is basically one long collection of crimes and misdemeanors that the kids see and tries to rationalize. At the beginning, his stepdad has made him very religious, but he's still figuring out the world in that way that we all are as kids as that age, and doesn't quite understand or realize what's really going on, like when he presses the "Give to Charity" button on the change machine at the supermarket, while Walt's trying to collect money for-, well, he's broke. There's other good performances as they go from interesting character to interesting character trying to find the box of tools, Patton Oswalt and Tim Blake-Nelson most notably.

This was a better movie to watch than it is to write about. I'm making it sound more generic than it is, but it is a lively and well-made slice-of-life. I think it's just one of those film's that's predictable. I basically know every beat that's about to happen or could happen, and that made it a little disappointing. It's not the most original story, but I don't think that's too much of a negative. It's just hard not to compare the movie to the better similar films it's clearly trying to emulate. For what it is though, it's got it's charms and it's well-made enough to recommend.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


As I write the Oscars post-mortem, I'm still unable to get ABC on my TV. I'm not sure why, apparently it's a local thing 'cause a friend of mine from the Nevada Film Office said the same thing to me on Twitter and I had to piggyback off a FB's friend's of mine's live stream to watch the network just completely...- I don't know what. The In Memoriam started, and then, boom, ABC, gone from all three TV's of mine. I'm sure it's an issue with the digital connection, or whatever but, my ABC's out and I don't know what the hell happened.

So, anyway, thanks Palatasai for letting me piggyback off your FB livefeed. Well, "The Shape of Water" broke the SAG Ensemble streak; I considered it an upset, I had it in 4th place going in and did not believe had a real shot at winning,... it's not my predictions were good beforehand anyway, so... I guess it deserves it. "The Shape of Water" had the best night, with four Oscars, including Picture and Director, which apparently go together again. It also took home Production Design and Original Score, and that's the first time a film won only those four Oscars. Weird combination. Also, one of only five films, to win Best Picture with a female as a credited screenwriter. "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" was the last, (Why is it always fantasy) and you have go back to like, "Rebecca" to see that previously. Seriously, it's that long apart.

Acting awards went paint, with Frances McDormand's and Sam Rockwell winning for Lead Actress and Supporting Actor respectively for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", and McDormand had every female nominee stand up and insist on an Inclusion Rider. Or something like that, awesome! (Again, I'm recapping the ending a bit from 3rd degree scraps.) Gary Oldman won his Oscar for "Darkest Hour" and Allison Janney took Supporting Actress for "I, Tonya".  (P.S. If you don't know what an Inclusion Rider is, look it up. I love it when the stars use really insider Hollywood talk)

Jimmy Kimmel, was okay hosting, not great, not spectacular, although the show had it's moments all the way through. I liked that Mark Bridges, the Costume Designer for "Phantom Thread" took home a jetski, for shortest acceptance speech, that was a fun joke, although I liked it better when Billy Crystal gave away a TV back when he hosted for the 2000 Oscars. He didn't have a TV onstage though, and maybe I just like TV's more than jetskis, but that was still nice.

Jordan Peele became the first African-American to win for Original Screenplay, btw for "Get Out" and James Ivory, became the oldest Oscar winner winning for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Call Me By Your Name".

"A Fantastic Woman" became Chile's first Best Foreign Language Film winner and it's star Daniela Vega was the first trans performer to present at the Oscars. There were a lot of interesting presenters. Despite this being the 90th Oscars, they brought a few old stars back, Eva Marie Saint, Rita Moreno, who wore her old Oscar dress for when she won for "West Side Story", 'cause she's a freak of nature. They didn't go all out with it though like they have in the past. Annabella Sciorra presented, which was interesting and tense. Rose McGowen would've been a better fuck you to Harvey Weinstein, but I like the subtle touch on that one.

What else, "Dunkirk" did really well, winning Editing and both Sound categories, that was actually the biggest winner outside of "The Shape of Water", so this was not a year for the actors. I can't remember the last time, the two big winners at the Oscars both got shut out in Acting. Remind me to look that one up when I have more time, and less annoyed at my TV. (Flips channel) Oh, great, now my ABC affiliate's working. Sonofabitch.

"Darkest Hour" won the Makeup Oscar, which was nice I loved Kazuhiro Tsuji's speech about Gary Oldman, 'cause Gary talked him out of retirement to do that makeup job, and it's nice to see that they both got rewards this year. And he had never won before, and he's a legendary makeup guy.

Speaking of never won before, Roger A. Deakins, the streak is over at 14, "Blade Runner 2049" won Cinematography and Visual Effects this year. I guess the ape vote was split with "War for the Planet of the Apes" and "Kong: Skull Island". The Short categories were all interesting. Animated Short went to "Dear Basketball" which means that Kobe Bryant is an Oscar winner, 'cause he never wins enough, so good for him. (Sigh) Also, in things I got wrong, "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405" won in an upset for Documentary Short, the documentary about the troubled artist was quite touching and "The Silent Child" won Live-Action Short, so both Live-Action Short and Best Picture had lead characters that spoke in sign language. That's odd. (Shrugs) Okay.

"Coco" won two Oscars, winning Animated Feature and in a bit of an upset won Best Original Song. The performances btw were okay, although if you ask me Kaela Settle gave the starmaking performance of a lifetime, that was the highlight at the Oscars for me. Sorry for Diane Warren's losing streak to continue on, but, oh well.

They gave Agnes Varda the Honorary Oscar earlier this year, but "Icarus" pulled off the upset for Best Documentary which, makes sense, it's timely considering voting was during the Olympics and also, Netflix, it's their first win outside of Documentary Short now; nothing won for "Mudbound" but that's a big win for them.

Overall, this was a less-exciting Oscars, which, frankly considering last year, I'm happy about. Nice touch also bringing back Faye and Warren to present Best Picture at the end. There were good speeches here and there, I like how everybody had their own little thing. It was a good, quiet, subtle elbow-jerking to the rest of the world, instead of being insistent on them, and everybody seemed happy and defiant in one way or another, which I think is the right tone. They've could've done with doing something different than just monologues and the occasional legend presenter, but I think this was a good year not to experiment too much and they didn't. They gave us a nice regular Oscar shows and that's all we needed and all we wanted this year.

Now, if only I didn't miss the last half-hour or so because my ABC affiliate's light went out...! (Annoyed sigh) I don't know what happened with that, I'm sure I'll find out eventually, or not, knowing this town, but...- (Sigh)

Also, don't look at all my predictions, I did terrible this year. I am determined that one year I will go perfect predicting the Oscars, I promise.... Just not this time.

Okay, this is two-, no, three days after the Oscars now, and yes, KTNV the Las Vegas ABC affiliate had a technical snafu of some kind and a good portion of the Las Vegas audience, myself included, were unable to watch the Oscars for the last,- 45 minutes or so. From the beginning of the "In Memoriam" onward, and it didn't come back on until two hours later. The article below explains what they know,

no, the Review-Journal didn't post any of my tweets on the issue, but,...- honestly, just, happy to know that it wasn't me going crazy and that there was an actual issue. So, yeah, overall, I don't know what the technical issue was, but if you're wondering why this Post-Mortem is much more, tonally disappointing than it probably should be, this is why. Maybe I shouldn't let something like that throw me off so much, but it did, and that's wrong, 'cause this wasn't the Academy's fault, this time, but man, that was annoying.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

MY OFFICIAL 2017 OSCAR PREDICTIONS! (Still fighting a cold so, no special gimmicks this year either, just predictions. Might be briefer than usual.)

Alright, 24 categories, 24 predictions. Let's do this. Oscars are Sunday, Happy Oscar Weekend everyone,

I'll give a few thoughts on some of these like I usually do, but I think I'm gonna run through them since, I'm still mostly trying to not fall into NyQuil-induced coma, before I take my NyQuil, so let's power through this fascinating Oscar year.

And reminder, none of these are preferences, I haven't seen enough of these to have any of those, these are just prediction. Anyway, let's start with the big eight, beginning right at the top.

Call Me By Your Name-Producers: Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito
Darkest Hour-Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski
Dunkirk-Producers: Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan
Get Out-Producers: Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm, Jr. and Jordan Peele
Lady Bird-Producers: Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O'Neill
Phantom Thread-Producers: Jo Anne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi
The Post-Producers: Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macoska Krieger
The Shape of Water-Producers: Guillermo Del Toro and J. Miles Dale
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri-Producers: Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh

Honestly, as long as the don't F*** up the envelopes again, I don't even really care who wins this year. (I am almost ready to begin being over that!) Well, I think I may have to eat some crow, or not, because I basically predicted a while back, that, whoever wins Best Original Screenplay was going to win Picture, and I still kinda believe that, but I'm probably not going to listen to myself again and split those two anyway. Anyway, most pundits have it between four contenders, "Get Out", "Lady Bird", "The Shape of Water" and "Three Billboards...." with the latter currently leading on the Gold Derby odds. So, we're gonna get either #OscarSoBlack, #OscarSoFemale, #OscarsSoStillSortaRacist, or weirdest one of all, #OscarsSo-um,eh,soFishF***ers? (Shrugs) Honestly, despite Del Toro a shoe-in for Director, I'm not buying "The Shape of Water" winning; that lack of a SAG Ensemble nomination is a red flag everyone ignored last year, and I'm not falling for that again. Frankly I think it's between "Get Out" and "Three Billboards...." and this is a very close race; I wouldn't be surprised by either winning here, I was picking "Get Out" for the longest time, but BAFTA came out is when I finally switched. Not just because McDonagh won Writing there, that was as-expected, but "Three Billboards..." won both Best Film and Best British Film there, which is shockingly rare, even when it seems like it would be obvious. (For instance, "Slumdog Millionaire" winning Best Film but losing British Film to "Man on Wire"; they like to split that up.) Last year that happened was "The King's Speech", and we tried to dismiss BAFTA that year for, well, being British and sure enough it won. That and a SAG win, I think are too much for "Get Out" to overcome, which is gonna hopefully fight to get the consolation Writing prize. #OscarsStillSortaRacist takes it this year by a nose.

PREDICTION: "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" 

Paul Thomas Anderson-"Phantom Thread"
Guillermo Del Toro-"The Shape of Water"
Greta Gerwig-"Lady Bird"
Christopher Nolan-"Dunkirk"
Jordan Peele-"Get Out"

Don't overthink it. Del Toro's won everywhere he can, including DGA which has gotten it's prediction wrong once since 2000, and that was the year Ben Affleck wasn't nominated for "Argo". The rule of Picture and Director automatically matching has been long out the window for years.

PREDICTION: Guillermo Del Toro-"The Shape of Water"

Timothee Chalamet-"Call Me By Your Name"
Daniel Day-Lewis-"Phantom Thread"
Daniel Kaluuya-"Get Out"
Gary Oldman-"Darkest Hour"
Denzel Washington-"Roman J. Israel, Esq."

I've heard Timothee Chalamet's campaigning everywhere trying to scrounge enough votes to Eddie Redmayne this thing, but you know, here's the thing, Hollywood didn't want to give it to Michael Keaton, but they really, really do want to give it to Gary Oldman. Chalamet's young, so is Kaluuya, they'll be back. Again, don't overthink it, he's won everywhere, including SAG, including BAFTA, including the Globes, he's playing Winston Churchill,....

PREDICTION: Gary Oldman-"Darkest Hour"

Sally Hawkins-"The Shape of Water"
Frances McDormand-"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Margot Robbie-"I, Tonya"
Saoirse Ronan-"Lady Bird"
Meryl Streep-"The Post"

Wow, Saoirse Ronan's got three career acting nominations and she was born in 1994. She's not 24 yet. She's not gonna win, I just wanted to make all of us including myself feel incredibly sad about our lives and what little we've accomplished with them.  (I should post a Saffy Herndon video here, just to warn you all of what's coming, but-, eh.) I do think she's in the race actually, but it seems like McDormand's just riding the trend and is everyone's favorite and has, as usual, won everything and everywhere that matters. Sally Hawkins might be an interesting second choice here, but I'm just not seeing it. Better luck next year Meryl.

PREDICTION: Frances McDormand-"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Willem Dafoe-"The Florida Project"
Woody Harrelson-"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Richard Jenkins-"The Shape of Water"
Christopher Plummer-"All the Money in the World"
Sam Rockwell-"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Look, if "All the Money in the World" had gotten anything else, I might've thought to consider Plummer here, but it's just a F*** you nomination to Spacey, and you know what, fine. Plummer's already won, so he's out and that leaves four beloved amazing characters actors to choose from. I can see scenarios for all of them, but again, don't overthink, Sam Rockwell's won all the biggest prognosticators going in,- there could be a vote split between him and Harrelson, maybe, btw, the last time two nominees in this category came from the same film was 1991 with Keitel and Kingsley for "Bugsy" and the last time somebody won in this category against a cast mate, you gotta go back to 1980 when Timothy Hutton pulled the upset win over Judd Hirsch, both were up for "Ordinary People", but Sam Rockwell has been an innovative and original actor for a long time now, actors want to honor him, finally they have a chance, they're taking it.

PREDICTION: Sam Rockwell-"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Mary J. Blige-"Mudbound"
Allison Janney-"I, Tonya"
Lesley Manville-"Phantom Thread"
Laurie Metcalf-"Lady Bird"
Octavia Spencer-"The Shape of Water"

Okay, this is the one category where there's basically been one heavy favorite winning everything that I'm a little hesistant on, 'cause even though Allison Janney has won pretty much everything, every indication otherwise says that this race might be close between her and Laurie Metcalf. I think there might've been a few outstanding votes for Lesley Manville, but if she can't win at BAFTA I can't figure out how she'd win here. I think Laurie Metcalf is finally campaigning, she's been doing a play for most of the Oscar seasons, but Allison Janney has such an advantage in the ground game that I think it's just too late. They're both very similar roles, evil mother parts, plus these are two similar actresses with similar backgrounds, and a history of winning. Metcalf, people forget won like three Emmys in a row for "Roseanne" years ago, and who knows, she might win again now that that's back, and Allison Janney, she's like tied the Emmy record right now, and who knows "Mom"'s still going, she might keep it up. If they want to honor "Lady Bird", and I think the Oscars do, this is the most likely scenario, but god, even if Laurie Metcalf was an unstoppable force, she's running into a brick wall going up against Allison Janney. And let me tell ya, you ask anybody in town who truly are the best actors around, like, they might say Meryl first, but second or third, they're saying Allison. They know how talented she really is, and that's half the reason why she wins everything, and I don't see that changing here.

PREDICTION: Allison Janney-"I, Tonya"

Call Me By Your Name-James Ivory
The Disaster Artist-Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan-Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly's Game-Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound-Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

Don't overthink it again, "Call Me By Your Name" is the only Best Picture nominee in the group, and three of the other nominees have only this one nomination, you have to go back to 2004 to see a non-BP nominee win at either Screenplay category and that was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" getting an upset win, and to see a film win a Writing category with only a Writing nomination, you gotta go back to the '50s with "Designing Women" winning, and it's never happened in the Adapted Screenplay category. Plus they want to give it to James Ivory, who I can't imagine wouldn't become the oldest winner ever with this win. If there's an upset maybe "Mudbound", but boy that's the stretch and a half. Maybe to honor Scott Frank, "Logan" could be a player, but I think it needed a lot more to get in and be a player here.

PREDICTION: "Call Me By Your Name"-James Ivory

The Big Sick-Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjani
Get Out-Jordan Peele
Lady Bird-Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water-Guillermo Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri-Martin McDonagh

This is the one I'm worried about. I think we all have "The Big Sick" out of contention, easily, and I think "The Shape of Water" is probably out considering the small plagiarism claims that's out there in the ether haunting over it. Um, Greta Gerwig could pull this off, but most the winners have been split between "Get Out" and "Three Billboards...". "Three Billboards..." has done better in this category, everywhere, but America. It won the Golden Globe, but that's the Foreign Press, "Get Out" won at WGA but "Three Billboards..." wasn't eligible there, but it was at Critics Choice where "Get Out" won, "Three Billboards..." beat it at BAFTA...- They're both one and two, by my counts for Picture...-  I said whoever wins this wins Picture,.... but....- maybe they don't.

PREDICTION: "Get Out"-Jordan Peele

Okay from the big 8, let's go to the other three film awards, Animated, Documentary and Foreign Language Feature!

The Boss Baby-Tom McGrath and Ramsey Naito
The Breadwinner-Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo
Coco-Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand-Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent-Dorota Kabiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan MacTaggart

This is another easy one, "Coco" is the only film of the nominees that's consistently showed up everywhere, it's won more awards, it's the most popular and most-well known of the nominees, it's a nominee elsewhere, the fact that it's Pixar helps...- this is a relatively easy call. If there is a second choice, it's probably split between "The Breadwinner" and "Loving Vincent"...; don't overthink....


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail-Steve James, Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman
Faces Places-Agnes Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
Icarus-Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogen
Last Men in Aleppo-Feras Fayyad, Karem Abeed and Soren Steen Jesperson
Strong Island-Yance Ford and Joslyn Barnes

Okay, this one's a little tricky because one of the presumptive favorites, "Jane" didn't get into this category, so it's a bit up in the air, and there's reasons to vote for each of these. "Abacus..." could get the votes as a long overdue makeup to Steve James, who the Documentary Branch has been screwing with since "Hoop Dreams", they could go to "Strong Island" which would make Yance Ford the first openly trans filmmaker to win an Oscar, but there's also "Icarus" a timely film about Russia's Olympic steroid scandal, also, "Last Men in Aleppo" is about Syria and is about the same subject as last year's short subject winner, "The White Helmets", those last three are all streaming on Netflix btw, so there's that. "Faces Places" has to be the current favorite though, that's a film by the great Agnes Varda, who the Academy just gave an Honorary Oscar to, and again, there's years of make up that could be done if they were to finally reward that French New Wave pioneer. So, it's a bit of a toss-up, but I think I'm going with "Faces Places", just because I think they're in a mood to honor Agnes Varda, above everything else.

PREDICTION: "Faces Places"

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)-Sebastian Lelio
The Insult (Lebanon)-Ziad Doueiri
Loveless (Russia)- Andrey Zvyagintsev
On Body and Soul (Hungary)-Ildiko Eriyedi
The Square (Sweden)-Ruben Ostlund

This is always a tricky category. Name-wise, if we're going by Directors, I'd imagine "The Square" and "Loveless" are favorites, for different reasons. "A Fantastic Woman" is the most easily available, currently on Netflix I believe and is probably the least divisive and most enjoyable of the group. Chile's an interesting film country anyway, that's in the midst of a modern Renaissance, they might want to honor that. "The Insult" is Lebanon's first ever nomination, and that looks like something I can see them voting for. GoldDerby has "A Fantastic Woman" pulling away with "The Square" and "Loveless" as their second choices. I can see it either way, "The Square" has some noted American actors, most notably Elisabeth Moss in it, but that didn't help the Diane Kruger movie that didn't get in here. I can't imagine Hollywood's in the best mindset to honor Russia at the moment. Hmm, this is a bit of a toss-up, but I'm gonna go with "A Fantastic Woman" until Sweden wins for a film that's not made by Ingmar Bergman.

PREDICTION: "A Fantastic Woman" (Chile)

Now, we get to the ten technical categories.

Blade Runner 2049-Roger A. Deakins
Darkest Hour-Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk-Hoyte von Hoytema
Mudbound-Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water-Dan Lautsen

Don't overthink it, they want to give it to Roger Deakins, it's his fourteenth nomination, he's never won, they've promoted that fact, literally since before the film was made. "Dunkirk" or "The Shape of Water" might be in for spoilers, for Deakins hasn't lost anywhere, including the Guild.

PREDICTION-"Blade Runner 2049"

Beauty and the Beast-Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour-Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread-Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water-Luis Sequeira
Victoria & Abdul-Consolata Boyle

Costume Design is interesting. The Costume Designers Guild went with "Wonder Woman" upsetting "Beauty and the Beast", so that's out,  with "The Shape of Water" upsetting "Phantom Thread", with an outside win for "I, Tonya", which didn't get nominated. I think it is between "The Shape of Water" and "Phantom Thread", gut instinct tells me they'll pick the film where the costumes are more important, other gut tells me the one with the most costumes. This could go a couple ways, the category does have a history of going against the Guilds and trends, Gold Derby's leaning towards "Phantom Thread" and I think that makes the most sense.

PREDICTION: "Phantom Thread"

Baby Driver-Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos
Dunkirk-Lee Smith
I, Tonya-Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water-Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri-Jon Gregory

This was the other category that hurt "Get Out" and "Lady Bird" Best Picture predictions. Only once since "Ordinary People" has a film won Best Picture without an Editing nomination, and that was "Birdman..." which didn't have much any editing in it. "Dunkirk", war movie, won at A.C.E. Eddies, Lee Smith is overdue, that's a favorite. "I, Tonya" upset "Baby Driver" at A.C.E. Eddies, still wouldn't be shocked by that upset though, but I think "Baby Driver"'s more viable in Sound categories. It's possible for something to win without a Best Picture nod, normally it's some kind of chase or mystery movie though, like "The Bourne Ultimatum" or the year "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", won, I'm not seeing that here.


Darkest Hour-Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick
Victoria & Abdul-Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder-Arjen Tuiten

Don't overthink this one, most makeup and most obvious makeup usually wins, and it doesn't hurt if it's a Best Picture nominee, especially if the centerpiece of that film is a performance with a lt of makeup involved.

PREDICTION: "Darkest Hour"


Dunkirk-Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread-Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water-Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi-John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri-Carter Burwell

This is one category I'm not entirely sure about. "The Shape of Water" seems to have the momentum and it's definitely between that, "Phantom Thread" and "Dunkirk", but I'm not exactly sure why. A few weeks ago "Dunkirk" seems like an easy call here, but "The Shape of Water" is the one picking up the most steam. I think it's between those two, and basically a coin flip.

PREDICTION: "The Shape of Water"

"Mystery of Love"-Call Me By Your Name-Music/Lyric: Sufjan Stevens
"Remember Me"-Coco-Music/Lyric: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
"This is Me"-The Greatest Showman-Music/Lyric: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
"Stand Up for Something"-Marshall-Music: Diane Warren; Lyric: Lonnie R. Lynn (aka Common)
"Mighty River"-Mudbound-Music/Lyric: Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson

Another category that doesn't seem to give anybody much hints. Personally I'm cheering for "Stand Up for Something", 'cause Diane Warren is inching closer and closer to that Randy Newman number of nomination without a win, but it seems like "Coco" and "The Greatest Showman" songs have pulled ahead. Both are penned by former recent winners and both songs are popular. "This is Me" seems to be everywhere lately. There's no obvious musical in the mix or something that outright screams it must win, so I'm going with the trend.

PREDICTION: "This is Me"-"The Greatest Showman

Beauty and the Beast-Pro.: Sarth Greenwood; Set: Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049-Pro.: Dennis Gassner; Set: Alesssandra Querzola
Darkest Hour-Pro.: Sarah Greenwood; Set: Katie Spencer
Dunkirk-Pro.: Nathan Crowley; Set: Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water-Pro.: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set: Shane Vieau and Jeffrey A.

Art Director's Guild went Period Film for "The Shape of Water" beating both Darkest Hour" and "Dunkirk" while Fantasy Film went for "Blade Runner" so sorry Sarah & Katie. Between those two, I think it's close but "The Shape of Water" is a lot more popular than "Blade Runner 2049" is and that's guaranteed to get rewarded.

PREDICTION: "The Shape of Water"

Baby Driver-Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049-Mark Mangini and Theo Green
Dunkirk-Richard King and Alex Gibson
The Shape of Water-Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi-Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

Sound Editors Guild is a bit divided here between "Blade Runner 2049" and "Dunkirk". "Blade Runner" I suspect is a little too quiet to win for Sound, plus just as a general rule, especially when it's open to the wider Academy for a vote, when it's Sound Editing, they lean towards the loudest film, and that's usually the War movie.


Baby Driver-Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis
Blade Runner 2049-Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth
Dunkirk-Gregg Landaker, Gary A Rizzo and Mark Weingarten
The Shape of Water-Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier
Star Wars: The Last Jedi-David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson

Sound Mixing, usually goes to the same as Sound Editing, unless, there's a musical around. Now, "Dunkirk" won the CAS Award this year, but, I'm gonna take a gamble here, 'cause there is one movie with a lot of music that's quite integral to the story, and that's "Baby Driver". So, I'm taking a chance on this one and going with "Baby Driver". (BTW, this comparison Editing goes to War films, Mixing goes to Musical, make absolutely no sense when you look up the jobs of Sound Editors and Sound Mixers, but we go with it.)

PREDICTION: "Baby Driver"

Blade Runner 2049-John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2-Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island-Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meanardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi-Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlon and Chris Carbould
War for the Planet of the Apes-Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist

Most awards at the Visual Effects Society Awards split between "Blade Runner 2049" and "War for the Planet of the Apes". Everybody's a bit reluctant to predict "War..." because "Planet of the Apes" hasn't done well in this category, getting nominated every year but then losing to something more popular. I'm tempted to think that again and go with "Blade Runner 2049" just because that's the most nominated of the bunch, but- I don't know, last year, they went with "The Jungle Book" and the year before that, "Ex Machina" was a surprise winner over three BP nominees and "Star Wars....". Maybe the trends have broken in this category?

PREDICTION: "War for the Planet of the Apes"

Now, to the three Short categories. Here's where we can win the pools.

Dear Basketball-Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
Garden Party-Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon
Lou-Dave Mullins and Dana Murray
Negative Space-Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
Revolting Rhymes-Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer

I'm really worried that "Dear Basketball"'s gonna win this, but I actually saw that short and three of the other nominees, that just doesn't seem right to me. Maybe I'm being blind here but...- "Garden Party" would be my vote but I tend to know to pick the most ambitious and elaborate of the shorts, as well as entertaining one, so I'm going out on a limb here and taking "Revolting Rhymes".

PREDICTION: "Revolting Rhymes"

Edith+Eddie-Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405-Frank Stiefel
Heroin(E)-Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills-Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop-Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

"Edith + Eddie" is the only one of these I haven't seen, and the favorite. Of the others, I thought "Heaven is a Traffic Jame on the 405" was the weakest, but that's the second choice on Gold Derby, so what do I know. I'm just gonna play this one safe and go with the one that's won elsewhere.

PREDICTION: "Edith+Eddie"

DeKalb Elementary-Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O'Clock-Derin Seale and Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett-Kevin Wilson, Jr.
The Silent Child-Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton
Watu Wote/All of Us-Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen

When did Oscar voting start? 20th? When was the Parkland shooting? The 14th? Yeah, I'm not screwing with this, I'm going with the one about the school shooting. Maybe "The Silent Child" or "My Nephew Emmett"'s in the mix, but I'm not thinking too deeply on this one; I'm taking the most relevant nominee.

PREDICTION: "DeKalb Elementary"

Alright, that's my predictions folks, time for my NyQuil coma. G'night. see ya Oscar Sunday!

(Opens bottle of NyQuil, pours down throat.)

Sunday, February 25, 2018


(Cough-cough-cough, hack-ack-ack, cough-cough!!! Wipes mouth, sadly sighs.)

Okay, some of you may have noticed my lack of appearances on social media, especially Facebook recently..., well, I've been sick. Still sick, and normally I can fight through anything, but I think I caught a pretty bad flu, and frankly, I can focus or pay attention to anything for a prolonged period of time without getting tired and needing to rest or sleep or just getting dizzy. It is annoying and frankly, I hate it, and just when I thought I was about to do better, I got sicker again, and my mind and body has just been fuzzy the last few days. It's even invading my dreams. But, I need to post, and while I've seen more movies than this, although not in the last few days, I'm posting the reviews I finished now, and hopefully by the time I get healthy next week, I can focus on the Oscar predictions at least and I'll finish these batches of reviews then.

ICARUS (2017) Director: Bryan Fogel


As I write, I'm currently frustrated being a Team USA fan watching the Olympics as my country hasn't earned a single medal in two days, something that quite frankly, even for the Winter Olympics, is a major disappointment. Especially our hockey teams lately....-, anyway, it is funny to see this backstory right now. For the second time in my lifetime, back when they were apart of the Unified Team in 1992, Russian Olympians are competing under the Olympics flag, not their own; they're competing under the moniker "Olympic Athletes of Russia" as their country has been banned from these Olympics after the world's uncovered their extremely vast illegal doping conspiracy which spread across almost any sport you can think of, particularly Olympic sports, and was state-sanctioned and executed all the way up to Putin himself, although the way it's describe by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of  Russia's Anti-Doping Laboratory, which is the most ironic name the place could've had if it tried. Before becoming a whistleblower and now currently living under witness protection, although a statement from him was recently released as the cases regarding the anti-doping violations and claims continue to go on.

Bryan Fogel's "Icarus" is the kind of documentary that started as one thing that then evolved into something else. Director Bryan Fogel originally planned to do a documentary on how easy it was to evade the doping testings of the sporting world; he's an amateur cyclist and was fascinated by how Lance Armstrong managed to evade getting a positive test all those years. He got into contatct with Rodchenkov in order to have him organize his training regimen as he prepares for the Haute Route, the world's biggest amateur cycling race, it's similar to the Tour De France in terms of route, and Rodchenkov, who he was first contacting on Skype, eventually went to L.A. with him, as the story began to get leaked and eventually word spread of Russia's corruption. By the way, the actual details of how the state, in particular the FSB, which is modern arm of what used to be the KGB orchestrated this corruption, is both amazing and ridiculous, and if you're a germophobe, there's a lot of talk about urine samples.

The movie doesn't just detail the downfall of the Russian Olympics team, which, by the way, if the state is corrupt enough to give this big of a shit about sports...- I mean, we'll take the hit for Lance Armstrong's out there but we didn't help him out with his lying or inject him personally or steal, taint and switch urine samples for him, but it the state basically regulates it so the athletes can perform, then what-the-hell else are they up to.... it always shows a profile of a wonderfully fascinating and eccentric man as his life is turned completely around. One of his closest advisers and partners drops dead suddenly under suspicious circumstances and he's gone from a Medal of Friendship recipient to public enemy #1 in Russia. They still claim that he's lying, this documentary reveals how blatantly ridiculous that would be. The movie's titled "Icarus" but it doesn't surprise me that Rodchenkov is a huge George Orwell fan cause everything that he seems to do and think feels like it's right out of a doublethink mentality, as does the entire Russia state it seems these days. It's not shocking to me when athletes personally justify their cheating behavior, but it's far more disturbing when it comes from the government; there's clearly other stuff going on.

"Icarus" is a fascinating film, not only for it's look inside Russia and the Olympic doping scandal, but it also works as an investigative thriller and even dives into the athletic underworld of illegal performance-enhancing substances and shows us how they can be so widespread, how tests and results can be altered or twisted and the lengths some people and some nations will go for what, in some cases, isn't even as illustrious a prize as a Gold Medal at the Olympics. And just how easy they can be convinced that they're doing the right thing by cheating the system and lying about it to everyone else.

LAST MEN IN ALEPPO (2017) Director: Feras Fayyad; Co-Directors: Steen Johannessen and Hasan Kattan


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So, last year, there was a documentary from Netflix called "The White Helmets", you might have heard of it; it won the Oscar for Documentary Short Subject. I saw it, it was pretty powerful. It was about the Syrian Civil Defense, there the civilian search and rescue group currently working in Aleppo and the surrounding war-torn areas and their job is to basically come in after the bombing or the battle and then, help or save whoever they can. You're forgiven for possibly confusing "Last Men in Aleppo" as a sequel from to "The White Helmets", 'cause it's basically about the same thing, only a bit longer. That's not a knock by any means, and lord knows the more eyes spotlight on this group and the atrocities going on in that part of the world at the moment the better, but yeah, I couldn't help but get the feeling of deja vu come over me while watching "Last Men in Aleppo". The movie has the unfortunate timing of having competition with Amazon's documentary "City of Ghosts" a documentary about the civilian-lead news source Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered which also takes place at around the same area at the same time, and frankly, I liked "City of Ghosts" more. That's not to dismiss "Last Men in Aleppo"; I'm sure if I had seen it separately from this these other films I probably would appreciate it more. This one, is a little long for me, but I imagine it's long for them too. There's some harrowing scenes of them saving babies and kids from rubble and debris that's both harrowing to see and hard to watch. I can say that for the whole film though.

I think ultimately I appreciate that "Last Men in Aleppo" exists much more than I admire it as a film. That's enough to recommend it.

GIRLS TRIP (2017) Director: Malcolm D. Lee


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Okay, I'm gonna give this film a break, it doesn't deserve it, but...- (Long deep sighing breath) alright, I'm probably gonna regret this, but-eh, Black People, we need to talk.

Ye-ah-up, I definitely, definitely regret that, but, we still need to bring this up anyway. I understand that as a white person that there are going to be aspects of African-American culture that simply I will just not understand, like, how have you guys of all subgroups still so devoted to the ideas of a Christian God and a monolithic deity is so ingrained into your culture that you can have a movie like "Girls Trip", which basically just repeats the premise of "The Hangover" and still involve a scene where the characters are praying? Or, why a barbershop for a local hangout; that's almost literally the last place I would've thought about for something like that. Or how about marriage, too, I know it's a pushing of a message, but you guys are way too fascinated with marriage, in general really. You'll notice that's a lot of rom-coms, especially ones with white people that just do not have that aspect as apart of it.  Hell, there's plenty of aspects of African-American culture that have infiltrated culture-at-large that I simply do not understand, like why is Beyonce still famous, (or ever famous) or Tyler Perry, I know that's an easy one, but he's relevant to this conversation, 'cause "Girls Trip" is a bit of a Tyler Perryifcation of a narrative.

Well, maybe that's a little bit harsh, I'd definitely prefer "Girls Trip" to nearly everything else I've seen of Tyler Perry, but the themes he repeats and deals with-, and you know, it's not even just him, it feels like this movie wants it both ways, it begins with a look at three kind of new-age cliche characters that all eventually find out that they can be happy/happier by doing something in particular and they're doing it this weekend, and one, whatever-the-hell Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is .

One member of the-, (Sigh) Flossy Posse, as they were apparently called in college, as though that was a normal thing, (Seriously, is that a thing? A bunch of friends who go out and party together being so notorious that they get a nickname when they're together? I see so often in movies like these that I never question it, but now that I'm thinking about it..., really, is that an actual thing people do?)  is Sasha (Queen Latifah) who got a journalism degree and now uses it for a gossip website called "Sasha's Secrets", which apparently is a bad career move? (Shrugs) Is it? I mean, in this universe it is, and I don't mean to seem defensive but you know, from what I can tell, most of the Perez Hilton's of the world seem pretty happy with their career choice, including me-, well I was until I just compared myself to Perez Hilton in a positive light, but besides that, is this such a negative career choice? The second is her friend Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) a successful-, um, brand (Shrugs?), who's apparently this hugely iconic modern-day Oprah-figure who's got the ideal life in the public eye. She's happily married to a former pro football player, Stewart (Mike Colter) and she's being given an award later, which is why is at Mardi Gras for a weekend, and also she's got a relationship book out on, I swear I'm not making this cliche up, "Having It All". Okay, this character archetype confuses me even more, 'cause why the hell is she so common in movies? The famous "Has-it-All" girl who, shock, doesn't have-it-all, which means her husband's having an affair, and a rather uninteresting one at that with Simone (Deborah Ayorinde) who is something called an "Instagram Celebrity". (Okay, normally I'd probably put something (Eye Roll) around here, but I'm literally eye-rolling through the whole review.) There other Posse member, is Lisa (Jada Pinkett-Smith) who also had a cheating husband and has now gotten divorced and is currently a single mom with two kids who hasn't had sex in a couple years and has become such a parental figure that the Posse's objective with her, is to get her laid. Okay, that's the beginning of a party-to-end-all-parties scenario that I can get behind, 'cause I know friends like that and I know Dina's who would set up stuff like that for those friends. Hell, I think I've been both those people on occasion before.

I think that's my main issue with this movie, I get that successful people need to party out too, but the reason these people are so successful in life or have these deficiencies in their pursuit of happiness is solely so that they can have these issues overcome later on. I wasn't the biggest fan of "The Hangover" but I did like that how after the partying and the hangover was over, nobody was exactly improved afterwards, some of the characters were incredibly worst off, including missing body parts in some cases. I don't want "Girls Trip" to emulate that either, but I don't feel like I'm observing relatable characters. I feel like I'm looking at the modern African-American celebrity version of real female characters, and I don't know, if you can sit through "The Real" and not want to drill a hole in your skull at how all those women seem like the fakest people you've ever seen, then maybe you'll appreciate "Girls Trip" more than I did. I'm still recommending it, 'cause it's a positive movie overall and there were parts that were genuinely funny to me. Also, I like this cast and these performances. Tiffany Haddish got most of the credit, eh, I guess she's funny, I'm kinda still on the fence on her character and how she's portraying this, but I did enjoy Jada Pinkett-Smith, who seems to find way more fun roles than her husband ever does anymore, and I like Regina Hall, and she's got assistant played by an underused Kate Walsh. Also, speaking of underused, Larenz Tate, man, is it nice to see him again. He's got a small role, where he was an old friend of the girls back in college, so he's aware of the thing that's going on, and he's a potential love interest to one of the girls who he's clearly been in love with from afar for years. He is just a delight to see, anytime really, and it's nice when occasionally pops up in this film. I haven't seen him show up in a feature film role in a long time. You know, I happened to rewatch "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" recently, and I guess he's been on TV a lot, but he does not get enough good film roles; I love seeing him light up the screen every time he's on.

I'm very mixed on this film; I think there's enough that makes me recommend it, barely,, I think I enjoy this film, in spite the issues, not with the execution necessarily, but with the framing, with the perspective that a movie like this is coming from. I feel like there's still a stronger, better story out there that needs to be told, about strong African-American older woman, having a raucous, debaucherous "Girls Night" out, that's a little more deeper than simply, "Quit your job", or "Get a divorce" or- okay, maybe not deeper than "Get Laid" on the other end,- I mean, this is a movie where some really horrible, funny,  sexual things happen to grapefruits and lamps, I'm not sure a tacked on message of happiness is the best choice to frame this in.

A GHOST STORY (2017) Director: David Lowery


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Oh boy. Well, I'm not gonna make friends with this review. So funny story, within the same week, I read both a Richard Brody piece for the New Yorker as well as a Mike D'Angelo piece for the AV Club that discussed the reasoning behind the recent Oscar trend of splitting both Best Director and Best Picture, and ironically both of them, D'Angelo in much more detail, how they believed that David Lowery's "A Ghost Story" deserved Best Directing consideration, and even winning, even if it didn't or shouldn't get in anywhere else, including Best Picture. Then, that same week, a friend of mine who's a Hollywood producer whose name I won't reveal posted on her FB account her thoughts on the movie, and I won't go into  complete detail, but she called bullshit on the film and claimed that it was nothing more than an easy-to-make low-budget short film that's extended to an hour and a half. (I'm paraphrasing immensley btw, she was much harsher and in far greater detail.)

All that, was before I ever saw the "A Ghost Story", and now that I have, I can understand both perspectives, but honestly, I'm with my producer friend on this one. This movie, is kinda bullshitting us. It starts off, eh, normal enough, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara are a couple, known only as C & M respectively in the credits, and then C dies suddenly, and then he arises as a white-sheeted ghost. It's a nice sheet, it's really well-draped, does amazing things for the body, white's a bit of a bland color, but it works here, I would've preferred a little skin, somewhere, just to get some relief,...- um-, sorry, I dipped into my Zac Posen impersonation there. Honestly there's just, not much else to talk about though, I'm literally just looking at a white sheet. Yes, this is that rare ghost story that is actually from the ghosts perspective. That's something you don't see that often. Off the top of my head, spoilers, "The Others", and-eh, well I guess there's always been Casper cartoons, which are just disturbing and morbidly dark today. What the hell were they thinking with him? Anyway, at first C, stays in the house with M, until M moves out, and he doesn't go after her because apparently, he is the house and therefore he stays waiting for her. I don't quite understand it. There's another ghost across the street that he sometimes talks to, we never find out who that is. We then see him periodically haunting the house as new residents come in and out, at one time the house is bulldozed and an office building goes up in it's place. At some other time, it seems like he goes back trapped in time as witnesses some pilgrims, I think?

I think I can read this, in that, basically the ghost isn't just trapped in a spiritual he's trapped in an ongoing time loop where he is continuously experiencing all parts of several time frames at once? At least that's my theory, so it's kind of the same theory that "Arrival" plays with, only in that film it made sense and was awesome. Here, I think it's mostly just a gimmick. I mean, there's greater emotion told through the metaphor of the ghost, I'm not even sure the love conquers all cliche works, even though we end with M arriving at the house and C's ghostly presents, in the way it's played out it's just as meaningless as all the over time periods and scenes, even if those scenes are interesting. This is the second film in a row after "Pete's Dragon" from Director David Lowery that I've outright and it's not that he's talented but I think he's over-obsessed with visuals over story, again that's not a bad thing, unless the visuals don't really add to the story. He first broke out a couple years ago with "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" a movie that some people liked more than I did even though I did like it. It was quite an interesting Malick-esque tale of a robber who's spent his time in prison only to run into new roadblocks when trying to reunite with his love. That movie however, I mostly remember for having a double-feature add-on on the DVD of an obscure previous film of Lowery's called "St. Nick" that I really didn't care for. The guy mostly seems to love magical-realism above anything else, but I think he loves soaking in it and doesn't know what to do about it. (Shane Carruth comes from this same modern school, who Lowery is often a co-editor for, and longtime readers will know my disdain for him, but honestly I think he has more vision than Lowery, even if it's mostly misguided)

There's an article on where he lists some movies that inspired him in making "A Ghost Story" and I certainly understood many of them, the phantoms from "Spirited Away" for instance,  "Under the Skin",yeah, there's a lot of that in this film, "Post Tenebras Lux" makes a lot of sense, although I hated that film, so does "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives". I think the interesting thing that delineates all those films he picks is that, they were doing a little more than, just following a sheet. They were way more ambitious than this film was and they felt like it. One movie that he doesn't list is the movie I thought about while watching "A Ghost Story" and that would be Gaspar Noe's "Enter the Void", another movie where we follow a character from the moment he's alive to after his death when he becomes a spirit and looks out upon the living world until he rejoins it. Now, these films aren't trying for exactly the same thing, but when you compare the two, my friend's right. "A Ghost Story" just looks and feels like a bad student film version, and Lowery is better than that. I can't really how I'm supposed to justify giving him credit for this when others who made movies about this subject have given it much more thought and had a much more intriguing perspective and way more technical craft and ambition in their storytelling in their work.

WHOSE STREETS? (2017) Director: Sabaah Folayan; Co-Director: Damon Davis


So, Missouri sucks. I'm sorry for not being unbias, and I have good friends and colleagues from Missouri, but frankly, this state sucks, and I'm not the only one saying so. Even the NAACP put out a travel ban on the state, something they never did before. So what gives? Why has the streets of, some place I've never heard of before named Ferguson, become the ultimate battleground for the Race War in the 21st Century in America? Okay, Missouri's not alone in this, but they do this stupid thing where, especially in the big cities, the people in the town, instead of forming suburbs they end up separating out a section of say St. Louis and forming their own town so as to, usually...- well, I'll just be blunt here, it's been done mostly to separate the town from African-Americans. If you've never heard of places like Black Jack, Missouri, I suggest seeking out the great documentary, "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth" to look more into the actions that Missouri leaders and people have gone to segregate the African-American population. Ferguson at one point, seems to have been another one of these enclaves that eventually became it's own small town, only this one over time has been taken over by an African-American population. That said, the police in the town literally run the town like it's Falluja, and I'm not being facetious there. Tanks, military weaponry and tactics are all involved, as we see from the battlefield in "Whose Streets?" a documentary that takes us right into the middle of the protests. The more you're there and the more you see how corrupt the police are, how ingrained the corruption is, and how far they'll go to misinform the public about what's happening...- Honestly, an alternate title of this film could've been "Missouri Burning".

Personally, I'm most a fan of the guy whose job,-, well, I guess it became his job, but he's the one who's on the scene watching and photographing the police to make sure there aren't any more Michael Brown. He doesn't always succeed, but the town is always under attack, so they're always fighting back now. "Whose Streets" puts us right in the middle of the battle; it might be a neighborhood that looks like any other neighborhood in a city that looks like any other city, but that's why the fight for civil rights has to take place there. It is their streets, and they need to take them back.

KEDI (2017) Director: Cedya Torun


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It's a 78 minute documentary about street cats in Istanbul. That's my review!

Look, I mentioned that I was sick and I am, and I'm cutting this short on purpose, but seriously, this was literally all that was. Maybe in another mindspace I could've enjoyed it the way I enjoyed say "Sweetgrass" which was about sheep, but- you know, that film was interesting. "Kedi" would've been good as a 30-minute short maybe on Youtube, who I'm displeased to find out was behind the funding of this, 'cause of course the top progenitor of cat videos are, but no, I can't pretend this was interesting enough to make a full movie out of. You like following cats around the city? No, of course you don't, you're human right? So, no, there's no reason you'd enjoy this film. The end.