A sorry follow-up to Shin Godzilla – the editing and camera angles all wacky, dialogue too overtalky. SG was talky too, but it felt like a developing story, while this is more a season of television condensed into a feature. Ultraman saves the day, disappears, turns evil, fights himself… the girl who likes him disappears, turns giant… undersea kaiju are joined by two different scheming extraterrestrials… despite all this, the movie and its kaiju-defense-team characters are mainly concerned with Kaminaga, the handsome guy who uses a wiimote to transform into Ultraman. Can’t say I wasn’t entertained, though.

Unlike in the Godzilla movie, the human team does nothing useful here:

Higuchi is a Hideaki Anno associate, who directed the Attack on Titan movies and did effects for the 1990’s Gamera series. Anno wrote this as the start of a trilogy, is also working on a Shin Kamen Rider, and I didn’t realize the Evangelion theatrical reboot is part of the Shin project. Kaminaga played the rival lawyer in Ace Attorney, his coworker/love interest starred in Before We Vanish and Our Little Sister, and the Drive My Car dude is their boss.

Just a couple of aliens on the swings:

Irma Vep (2022, Olivier Assayas)

Mira in the catsuit > Director Rene > Gottfried > Mira not in the catsuit > everything else

Mdou Moctar opening theme is always an incentive to watch the next episode, and I think the title graphics are a reference to Leaud’s experimental re-edit. The film-scratching is also referenced when director Rene breaks down and gets temporarily replaced by some superhero director, but in this version he comes to terms with things, and finishes the shoot peacefully. You can’t scratch up the negative when you’re shooting in HD.

Cast and crew are constantly referencing looks and movements with the original serial, which they’re watching on their phones. And Assayas has got his own 1990’s film on his mind, bringing in a Maggie Cheung surrogate and holding a cringey psychotherapist discussion about her. They bring in meta-elements, filming Musidora’s diaries alongside the remake of her film, which probably isn’t a reference to Maggie’s Center Stage, but you never know.

Mira’s assistant is Devon Ross, a Disney fashion model. Blowhard lead cop actor in the serial is Vincent Lacoste of Smoking Causes Coughing. Alex Descas works on the budget, Carrie Brownstein as an agent. Besides the Maggie surrogate there’s footage of the real Maggie, and a big Kristen Stewart scene in the final episode. As the costumer, Rivette actress Nathalie Richard is replaced by Rivette actress Balibar, who hit the Feuilladian rooftops herself in Va Savoir (and at one point Irma goes by the name “Juliet Berto”).

Devon directs one day, is inspired by Kenneth Anger to invoke spirits with her filmmaking. Assayas knows how to invoke spirits – most literally in Personal Shopper but it’s there in all his best work, which is why the straightforward e-book drama of Non-Fiction didn’t work for me and I’m not anxious to check out Wasp Network. This version is not great – it’s overlong, episodic TV, more content than cinema, complete with tedious Conveying Information To The Viewer dialogue in the early hours and bad ADR.


Mind Over Murder (2022, Nanfu Wang)

Happy to see a True/Falser land a whole miniseries, but I’m sorry that the form seems to mandate six hour-long episodes, since this feels stretched out, with rampant footage reuse, a plodding podcast-ass show compared to the jubilant Last Movie Stars I’ve been watching at the same time. Other comparisons coming to mind: the book Devil House (an 80’s murder case where the number of participants keeps changing) and the show Wormwood (which I thought repetitive at the time, but is looking better and better).

Nebraska, showing movies in ZD:

Hero cop convicts six for a Nebraska murder, but years later a competent cop looks over the evidence by chance and realizes the whole case was a sham. The six are released, sue the county and win, now the locals are butthurt about their hero cop’s reputation and their higher taxes to pay for reconciliation. A community theater reenactment of the case appears for too little (or maybe too much) time in each episode, paying off at the end when many of the involved parties meet up at the show.

Burt, he’s just like us, watching Mind Over Murder with his phone out:


Only Murders in the Building season 1 (2021)

Martin & Martin are pathetic washed-up podcasters, Selena Gomez their companion who’s hiding a personal history with the deceased. Suspects include a cat guy, their sponsor Nathan Lane, Sting, and Selena Gomez. They get boosts from Aaron Dominguez and some obsessed fans, and sorta-boosts from Liz Lemon, detective Da’Vine Joy Randolph (also detective of Ultra City Smiths) and murderer/bassoonist Amy Ryan. Cliffhanger ending for season 2 with their arrest for killing the landlady.

Sometimes I think it’s cheesy and I should stop watching, other times there’s a Herman’s Head reference or an episode centered on Jane Lynch as Steve Martin’s stunt double and I’m totally sold. Writers include Martin (L.A. Story), John Hoffman (The Emoji Movie) and people who worked on It’s Always Sunny, Chuck, Barry, and uh, Family Guy. Directors: Jamie Babbit (But I’m a Cheerleader), Gillian Robespierre (Obvious Child), Don Scardino (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) and Cherien Dabis (Amreeka).

This SHOCKtober we are counting down the days until the new Hellraiser Remake comes out, and starting the celebration with this Clive Barker adaptation. Seems odd that another Books of Blood semi-anthology TV movie would come out so soon after the last one, instead of like a Masters of Horror-style Books of Blood series, or a Weaveworld adaptation, or really anything else. Trying not to focus on the fact that this (smells like content) movie and the new Hellraiser are both “Hulu originals,” maybe there’s still hope.

Kicking off the anthology framing story, hitmen Yul Vazquez (War of the Worlds) and Andy McQueen (Clifton Hill) are after the Book. But we’ll get back to them in a bit – first, Jenna (Britt Robertson of Scream 4) is sad since her parents don’t understand her, is off her meds, runs away since mom is “sending her back to the farm.” Jenna’s x-men superpower is she can loudly hear the sounds of people eating. She stops in an internet cafe and books an airbnb (what year is this?) in a spooky house with hosts Freda Foh Shen (Ad Astra) and Cronenberg regular Nicholas Campbell, has a noise-cancelled sleep paralysis nightmare and pukes CG bugs, then discovers the walls are full of people (“we relieved them of their eyes and tongues”).

You’d be depressed too if you lived in this house without curtains:

Airbnb hosts:

Next, a professional fraud-debunker (Anna Friel, not of Stephen King’s IT, but of Pierce Brosnan’s I.T.) is confronted by a “speaker for the dead” (Rafi Gavron: Aarfy in a previously-unknown Catch-22 miniseries). This guy seems to be the real thing, and Anna is convinced until he drunkenly admits his scam. Alas, the dead have highways, and the boy gets cut up by ghosts, becoming the valuable “book” the stupid hitmen think they’re looking for. And the depressed girl from part one goes back to the spooky house to be relieved of the burdens of seeing and speaking and be buried alive in their floor.

Have I mentioned that the dead have highways?

From the producers of Stallone’s Lock Up, King’s Dark Tower, King’s Bag of Bones, the Barker Dread, Final Destination, Unstoppable, Cabin in the Woods, and Family Guy (those are all different producers). The director worked with a more distinguished cast than this one on the series Cosmos, aka that show everyone thought I was talking about when I used to recommend the Zulawski movie.

None of my notes are useful (see Goodbye Dragon Inn instead) because I assumed I was going to rewatch it with Katy, and maybe someday I will. The lyrics to “America” and “Gee Officer Krupke” are so great, the actors and camera work are swell, and it’s all a Lincoln Center origin story.

Kalat says this was the sixth Mabuse movie, a combination sequel and remake. It has some typical sequel behavior, taking its villain backstory too far by explaining that brain abnormalities cause his evil power. Other than this, it’s a pretty good movie, much better than the 60’s Fantômas update.

Inspector Gert Fröbe (fresh off Fritz Lang’s own 1960 Mabuse movie) knows only one criminal mind could be behind a counterfeiting ring, but Mabuse (Wolfgang Preiss, also from the Lang) is secured in an asylum, so he visits the place and discovers that a doctor (the prolific Walter Rilla, who started out with Murnau’s Finances of the Grand Duke) is being hypnotized into passing along the mastermind’s messages. Corrupt cop Flocke tries to atone by getting into Mabuse’s gang, but is killed… Boxer Johnny joins the gang then finds he and his girl are trapped… the doctor apparently survives to appear in the next two movies.

Harmless Mabuse scribbles away while Gert reviews his notes and the bowtie doctor observes:

Trapped boxer:

Mind-controlled doctor takes a drive:

The Phantom of Regular Size (1986)

Industrial-sounding mayhem, and did I hear a Psychic TV song? Nervous guy is attacked by a Freddy Krueger type in the subway, transforms into a scrap-metal mutant-man who kills his girlfriend with his giant spinning drill cock. A psychically linked rival appears, they face off and travel in stop-motion like The Wizard of Speed and Time. Looks wonderfully cheap and frantic, even the titles are scrawled Brakhage-style in rapid partial title cards.


Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1988)

Guy goes to a workshop, cuts his leg open and shoves a metal rod in, but only seems to realize the horror of this after it becomes infected, then he runs down the street until hit by a car. Our new guy, who turns out to have been the driver in that last scene, finds metal in his cheek while shaving, woman next to him on the train station touches metal thing on the floor and it becomes her hand, she chases him down and they battle… he defeats her but his feet turn into rocket shoes.

Between Maniac and Tsukamoto, subway restrooms are gonna be a theme this month. This is also my second movie in a row where the male lead is butt-raped, but this time it’s by a Doctor Octopus lady in a possible dream sequence. It’s a semi-remake of the short, but in this version the girlfriend does stab him a bunch of times with a kitchen knife and burn him with a hot pan before he drills her while unconscious. Tetsuo’s off the hook, if not the filmmaker.

See Also: Haze

Girlfriend (who helped dump the guy from beginning in the woods) is dead in the tub until the metal guy outside infects the house through its pipes and she attacks again, then transmogrifies into him, and they go speed-and-timing through the streets.

I’m sure the director had a good idea of what was happening in the last ten minutes, two metal-encrusted mutants in an extreme stop-motion battle, but I didn’t. Most of the movie is very watchable, which is only surprising since I’ve seen this before on VHS, and remember it bring a spastic, plotless, ear-piercing nightmare. In either event I wouldn’t have pinned this filmmaker to direct a prestige remake of Fires on the Plain, looking forward to that one.

This is how to do remakes – start with a disreputable movie, cast a good lead and a hammy villain, and have as much fun as possible. Add a couple twists (vampire needs to be invited to come inside, but there’s nothing stopping him from setting your house on fire to drive you out) and some real dodgy digi effects, you’re done. I don’t feel strongly about it either way.

I guess this guy stars in Kick-Ass:

Anton Yelchin is our guy, with mom Toni Collette, girl Imogen Poots, and nerdy childhood friend who has grown apart Chris Mintz-Plasse. When new neighbor Colin Farrell vampires the latter two, Anton escalates to the world’s foremost authority on the dark arts, Vegas magician David Tennant. Oh wait, the screenshots are confusing on this matter, maybe he doesn’t get Poots, or he does get her then they turn her back – either way, the magician will have none of this nonsense, then steps up when convinced of the reality.

Elisabeth Moss escapes her abusive guy and holes up with A Wrinkle in Time star Storm Reid and her cop dad (Aldis Hodge, the condemned in Clemency). The good news is the abusive guy is soon reported dead, but the bad news is he’s an “optics genius” and is actually just invisibly stalking her, after faking death with the help of his shitty brother. The first body appears at the 1hr 12min mark – that’s a minute longer than the entire original movie, in which the I.M. killed dozens. Eventually, I.M.2020 starts killing cops (and Moss’s sister), after working to discredit and destroy Moss – but not kill her, since she’s pregnant. She returns to their ultra-modern rich-tech-movie-guy house, finds that after the genius’s “death” someone covered all his equipment in giant plastic sheets but left their dog untended, grabs the backup suit and becomes The Invisible Woman. Skimming letterboxd reviews, it seems I wasn’t the only one reminded of Gone Girl (thinking of the Neil Patrick Harris scenes).

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.