Family get-together/squabble movie. It’s less murdery than Wheatley’s other films, and went straight to TV, so I assumed it’d be minor, but it’s really nice, my favorite since at least Sightseers. Kill List star Neil Maskell is beardy vaping Colin, whose sister Hayley Squires (Babs of In Fabric) invites their shunned brother David (Sam Riley: Ian Curtis in Control). David arrives, everyone blows up, he causes a scene as expected, is kicked out then called back, then he flips the movie by being really nice to his parents while Colin’s rage escalates until he storms out. Shot handheld with very snappy editing. I’d had fun with the Wheatleys, but it looks like he’s got himself into Netflix Remake territory with the upcoming Rebecca… maybe I’ll catch up with The Wrong Door series instead.

Other actor highlights: dad is Bill Paterson (dad of Fleabag) and mom is Doon Mackichan, a TV comedy regular ever since The Day Today. Asim Chaudhry is behind the series People Just Do Nothing. And Richard Glover (Sightseers, A Field in England) is Lord Richard, who runs the place they’re renting for the party.

Come on, the headlamp has to be a Kill List reference:

Adam Cook in Cinema Scope 78:

It is through some seriously impressive tonal sleight-of-hand that Wheatley keeps us fixed on the comical and sensationalistic aspects of his intricate plotting only to ultimately segue into something poignant and touching … The humour comes from a keen understanding of human pettiness and the convoluted relationship between people’s actions and how they feel; so as the latter is revealed, the less funny the proceedings become, and we are left with a complex and troubling assortment of sadness, trauma, and vulnerability.

Deliberate opening scene in an office lobby (“Is this how you want to live your life?”), then at a bar (“Are you a doctor? You have a pager”), aha so it’s a period piece. Woman in the bar wants to seduce the doctor while telling him an unnecessarily long story about her friend Luz, and their performances, the dialogue, none of it is working for me, then she takes him to the restroom and mouth-flashlights her spirit into him, and things are looking up.

In the long middle section, the doc and two other authority figures have got Luz hypnotized, re-enacting the taxi ride where the girl from the bar went missing. The doctor is freaked out and his weird influence begins to spread, until everyone in the room is somewhat possessed except the terrified soundman locked in his booth.

I honestly don’t know what happened or who is still alive at the end or why – only a few drawn-out things happen in this short movie, but they happen in multiple ways, and with cool light and sound. It’s also another pleasingly soft-looking movie (though none of the locations are interesting)… I didn’t intend to watch two 16mm movies in a row after Chained For Life, just a bit of good luck.

I thought this would be some kind of drama about a film actress (Jess Weixler of Somebody Up There Likes Me) trying to find common ground with her facially deformed costar (Adam Pearson of Under The Skin), but it’s more of a behind-the-scenes hangout movie. Appealingly hazy-looking (shot on 16mm!) and well acted and executed, with some good jokes (Nigerian limo driver is writing a book called My Struggle).

“There were atrocities on both sides.” Let’s see if I have this straight… American gold intended to pay Vietnamese allies fighting vietcong was found by Chadwick Boseman’s squad… CB wants to distribute it to Black countrymen, but is killed by accident by Delroy Lindo, who then hides the gold along with surviving buddies Isiah Whitlock, Clarke Peters and Norm Lewis.

The four return to Vietnam in present-day with Delroy’s son Jonathan Majors (Monty in The Last Black Man) and tour guide Vinh, locating the gold and the remains of their commander. This is where I thought they’d turn on each other out of paranoid greed, per the Sierra Madre comparisons I’d read, but it’s the already unstable MAGA-hat Delroy who holds the others hostage, and their smuggler middleman Jean Reno leading the fight against them. Only Peters and Majors make it out alive, and about a sixth of the gold is donated to Black Lives Matter, which ain’t bad. Whoever said this movie has more aspect-ratio clowning than The Grand Budapest Hotel was right, and I hadn’t heard about all the injections of historical photos. The only part I didn’t buy is an anti-landmine organization happening to walk by moments after someone steps on a mine.

The Staggering Girl (2019, Luca Guadagnino)

Luca’s follow-up to Suspiria Remake is… a fashion ad, and from the writer of The Current War, weirdly. I’ve watched other attempts at taking the fashion money and making a short film. This one lacks the nudity of the Carax and the creepy coolness of the Martel, and is overall not very interesting – but at least in this one I really noticed the clothes, so it arguably does its job better than the others. The Tsangari museum ad still beats ’em all.

Anyway, I barely remember this, but took some notes at least:

Julianne comes home with flowers to an empty apt, talks with Kyle on phone

The woman in yellow disappears

Nice whispery horror soundtrack

I think Kyle is Julianne’s painter mom’s assistant.

Now the woman who disappears is in pink.

Mia Goth with whoever plays Young Julianne:

Proper Julianne:


Original Cast Album: Company (1970, DA Pennebaker)

We watched this doc on Criterion because it’s newly available after being hard to see for years, and it’s talked-about online… but mostly because I wanted to do my homework for the next season of Documentary Now! Stephen Sondheim wrote some overcomplicated songs, he and the recording engineers fret over the performances, especially Elaine Stritch, who is saved till late night, then convinced to come back the next day and re-record.

We also watched a couple of shorts on Criterion… I think Michigan Avenue, and a jazz short, possibly A Rhapsody in Black and Blue, but I’d better not count those, since I can’t even recall for sure which ones they were.


Hamilton (2020)

It would’ve been cool to see this live, but our $480 tickets to see the touring company from the Fox balcony were refunded, and instead we watched the original cast up close in HD for free, and I’m not complaining. After all the Clipping I’ve been listening to, I’d hoped Daveed Diggs would be cooler as Lafayette… but then in the second half he’s super cool as Jefferson.


Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Firefly ripped this off quite a bit, eh? When it originally aired I thought this show wasn’t for me… in my defense, that might’ve been a knee-jerk stance from being surrounded by anime kids in college. Pretty excellent, our two main dudes accumulating shipmates, each with their own skills, competing for bounties, then finally the gang breaks up.

I’ve gotta see Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, which I’m just now learning about. The same team worked on Macross Plus, Samurai Champloo, Wolf’s Rain, and Space Dandy.


Fleabag season 1 (2016)

Really good, short series, based on a stand-up show that I tried to watch afterwards but it’s the same stories told in the same way, so I bailed after a half hour. Phoebe Waller-Bridge runs the guinea pig-themed cafe she co-owned with her late friend Boo, steals from her stepmother Olivia Colman, and torments her dad (Bill Paterson, who I just saw in Colin Burstead) and sister (Sian Clifford).


Superjail! season 3 (2012)

Opens in Ultrajail with the Warden as inmate, so I thought this season might end up having some kind of stakes, but nope, that was a one-off, then we’re back to the usual ultraviolence. This show is a LOT – I can’t even look directly at the screen the whole time or else my brain and eyes get overloaded, but it’s a good thing to half-watch while reading the news.


Rick & Morty season 4 (2020)

401: Akira, fascism, holograms, crystals that show you how you’ll die
402: Rick defends his private toilet from intruders, Jerry develops matchmaking app with an alien
403: R&M visit a heist convention, put a crew together, and pit Heistotron vs. Randotron
404: R gets M a dragon, Jerry has a talking cat
405: Morty interrupts a society of racist snakes causing time-travel chaos, Jerry floats
406: Narrative train!
407: Alien facehugger mind control
408: Vat of acid, Morty gets ability to save his place, vat of acid
409: “I fucked a planet”
410: star wars episode with an unexpected Don’t Look Now reference

Bonus: Samurai & Shogun anime short mashing up R&M with Lone Wolf & Cub.


A Touch of Cloth (2012)

Looking for something lightweight to watch, I found this TV movie cowritten by Charlie Brooker, and it was just the trick. All visual puns and word games delivered straight-faced, a la Police Squad or Airplane. It’s a cop mystery, and I think their boss (guy from The Hour) ends up being the culprit. Director Jim O’Hanlon did the Romola Garai/Jonny Lee Miller Emma. A few weeks later I made it a half hour into the second of three Cloth movies, but pulled the plug, only writing “oh noooo it’s all the same jokes.”


Lodge 49 season 1 (2018)

Ex-pool-guy Dud (Wyatt Russell from the fear-VR Black Mirror) and restaurant worker Liz (Sonya Cassidy of a bunch of UK miniseries) are in the dumps after their deeply-in-debt father apparently killed himself, until Dud finds a new sense of purpose at the local (also doomed by debt) Lynx lodge. I picked up this show after reading Vikram in Vulture, and loved about every minute of it. Dud sees signs everywhere, thinks everything is fate, and it’s never clear whether he’s delusional or on to something big – shades of Inherent Vice and Under the Silver Lake.

Lynxes:
Sovereign Protector Larry: Kenneth Welsh, a boss in Survival of the Dead, Windom Earle in Twin Peaks
Future S.P. and Dud’s reluctant mentor Ernie: Brent Jennings (Moneyball, The Serpent and the Rainbow)
Ernie’s secret squeeze Connie: professional mom Linda Emond (Ryan Gosling’s mom in Song to Song, Evan Rachel Wood’s mom in Across the Universe, Logan Lerman’s mom in Indignation)
Connie’s husband Scott: Eric Kramer, Little John in the Mel Brooks Robin Hood
New Age Blaise: David Pasquesi, Veep’s ex-husband

Notable non-Lynxes: Pawnbroker Burt… Brian Doyle-Murray as Ernie’s Boss… Bruce Campbell as Captain… Ernie’s coworker Beautiful Jeff… Dud’s depressed temp boss Gloria… Hot Librarian Emily… Liz’s fling “Corporate”… Surfer Alice… Fake Lodge agent Avery (lead singer of All-American Rejects)… and Real Lodge agent Jocelyn.


Tim & Eric’s Bedtime Stories season 2 (2017)

Piano salesman Eric’s boss Tim is obsessed with baklava.

Scratchoff gambler/mesmer Ray Wise steals Jorge Garcia’s wife Rhea Pearlman

The return of angelboy Scotty, featuring Bubbles

Very bad air traffic controller Will Forte takes a break, feat. Veep’s daughter and aww, Fred Willard

Gross dude gets a free trial workout at an auto-gym.

And T&E play lesbians Belle & Bonnie, whose adopted son is sold to a rich guy.


Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle (2016)

Alan goes to different parts of Britain to try to bring harmony to the people… something like that, anyway. I forget how he gets locked into a warehouse over a weekend, but I recall that the whole adventure was started after someone filmed him attempting an insult joke. “The footage went viral,” he tells us, while the screen says 150 views. This was after the great Partridge movie, between Mid Morning Matters and This Time.


Also watched an episode each of Sherman’s Showcase, Final Space,
Avenue 5, and The Last O.G., none of which seems essential.

We enjoyed the quarantine reunion special of Parks & Rec.

Katy and I checked out each other’s shows in which characters burst into song, but I didn’t love Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and she couldn’t stand Lipstick On Your Collar. We settled on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but now it’s been three months since episode one…

After reading reviews I decided to watch half of The Twilight Zone 2019 season 1. Nightmare at 30,000 Feet confirmed my worst fears: instead of a goblin on the flight, it’s a podcast. Fun to watch Adam Scott anyway, so I made it through, but then the next two episodes I tried opened with cops, and that’s not the kind of story I was looking for that particular week.

Totally Sci-Fi Adventures of the Moonrise Kingdom Kids. Refreshingly different little movie – okay, the showy long takes aren’t so different anymore, but twenty minutes in I was thinking “this isn’t how an indie film is supposed to be made,” and it ends up stealing as much from Pontypool as Super 8.

Everett is obsessed with a pulsing sound that interrupts his broadcast, investigates with help of Faye on the phones. They interview some locals, build up a Soviet conspiracy, finally put the pieces together in time to get abducted by aliens.

Having the film title appear in a 1950’s TV is cute, but using the same TV effect for scene transitions is maybe too cute – although the lead guy is a radio broadcaster, the lead girl has a shift as a phone operator, so it fits with the communication media theme. Really good string music. Star Sierra McCormick was in last year’s VFW, and Jake Horowitz in Julie Taymor’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (and they’re remaking Castle Freak?).

Hawkeye’s family disappears.

Dark Phoenix saves Iron Man from dying in space.

They kill tired-old-man Thanos.

Years later, a rat resurrects Ant Man.

Thor drinks a lotta Tropicalia.

They all get Ant-Manned – doesn’t this diminish the importance of actual Ant Man?

They visit previous movies through time, just like one of those 24-hour Marvel marathons at the Regal, tangling with Robert Redford, Tilda Swinton, Loki, their own selves, undead Thanos, and even Natalie Portman.

160 minutes, which is how long it took to reassemble our bookshelves.

Grandma Joan remembers performing in a TV special back in her choir days, and meeting Don, who wanted to marry her back then, when she was already engaged. Joan wonders if Audrey can find the TV recording. She doesn’t ask if Audrey can find Don, but she does that too.

Writing and reading letters, phone calls, google searches… ill-lit video with humming appliances. Half the movie is these three characters eating alone. Catching up on my Bohdanowicz & Campbell, since MS Slavic 7 is out now.

I think I sorta remember watching this. Anyway I gave it 2 1/2 stars on letterboxd, which feels right, in between four-star stan Ehrlich and 1.5-star stan-hater Kenny.

Post-2007-financial-crash, Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) returns to her strip club job to find that old friend Jennifer Lopez has a new scam, drugging rich guys and charging huge tabs on their cards, with buddies Lili Reinhart (the latest Charlie’s Angels) and Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee). This is recounted in the form of interviews with reporter Julia Stiles (lately of It’s a Disaster, which I recently read would be a good quarantine movie).