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RIP Albert Finney

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve watched Miller’s Crossing, I’d probably have enough money to buy a bottle of decent bourbon so that I could play the only drinking game I’ve ever played, which is, every time someone takes a drink in Miller’s Crossing, take a drink. So many great lines from Mr. Finney in this one, but the first that comes to mind is, “We’re all friends here!” spoken in barely controlled anger. Thank you, sir.

Le sigh.

“By the mid-’80s, at a meeting of the New York Society of Film Critics, [Pauline] Kael leaned over to Richard Schickel and whispered, sadly, ‘It isn’t any fun anymore.’

‘Why do you say that?’

‘Remember how it was in the ’60s and ’70s, when movies were hot, when we were hot? Movies seemed to matter.'”

— Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘n’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, by Peter Biskind

Must See

“This footage has been around for 100 years and these men had been buried behind a fog of damage, a mask of grain and jerkiness and sped-up film. Once restored, it’s the human aspect that you gain the most.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/16/movies/peter-jackson-war-movie.html

And…we’re out.

(Apologies for language in video.)

Well, it looks like someone went and made Alphonse into a movie.

Hello sophomore, my old slump…

So as I dig into Entry Two of Lives of Famous Catholics, I realize that I’m basically re-doing Entry One. A story about a film director (Guillermo Del Toro) pursuing a passion project (At the Mountains of Madness) that never gets made but nevertheless reveals something about his spiritual state, told from the perspective of a collaborator on the project (an illustrator). For that matter, Gaga Confidential also treats a failed artistic effort (The Secret Show), only it’s told from the perspective of an embittered fan who uncovers a link to a collaborator on the project (H.R. Giger).

I keep thinking back to the line from the opening to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History: “I suppose at one time in my life, I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” Heh.

A Post about The Post

From the moment we linger on that typewriter in the opening scene, we know we’re watching a film directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. It’s pretty good, even great if you enjoy footage of the newspaper production process in the 70s—hot type, giant spools of paper, the whole Rube Goldberg machine for distributing a fresh pack of lies every day—which I do.

Yes, newspapers are in a sorry state these days, and no, perhaps not exactly for the reasons we’re lead to believe while watching The Post, but while everybody disagrees with everybody else when it comes to the how and why truth has become so imperiled, I don’t think anybody much doubts that it is, in fact, imperiled. Always has been, always will be. The Post is pretty good on the has been.

Phantom Thread

This was an excellent movie. Being written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, I knew it would be a good movie, but I didn’t know what to expect in a movie about a dress designer in London during the 1950s. I strongly suspect that the inspiration for the story came from years of reading fairy tales to his children, as a fairy tale is precisely the sort of story Phantom Thread is. We’re a long ways from Boogie Nights. I mean, I love Boogie Nights, and though I’m not suggesting Phantom Thread is any more appropriate for children than his ode to the porn community, I suspect it will wear better and longer.

The Master remains my favorite of Anderson’s films, even one of my favorite films ever, being a generous portrayal of the Master/Slave relationship comparable to Tolstoy. Phantom Thread, if not (to my eyes) quite as great a film, is yet a greater surprise, where in the end what matters most are the life and death stakes of marriage, a fairy tale for what happens after the fairy tale. No, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Still, don’t miss it.

Mr. Arkadin

I didn’t care for it, not at all. Watch Touch of Evil again instead, or even The Stranger. Above, you can listen to Welles deploy a Russian accent through an improbable beard as he regales partygoers with the story of the Scorpion and the Frog. Then compare it to versions from The Crying Game, Drive, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all of which you can find on the side bar.

Okay.

the-shape-of-water-sally-hawkins

So The Shape of Water (my review, for what it’s worth, is here) got a whole bunch of Oscar nominations. I’m gonna use that as my spur for writing Volume Two of Lives of Famous Catholics. See if I can get it done in time for the ceremony in early March. No title yet, but my subject is director Guillermo Del Toro. I know, I know — another film director? But I can’t help myself. For what it’s worth, I still hope to finish Gaga Confidential, perhaps pegged to the release of A Star is Born later this year. I have plans for the other four entries that will make up the eventual seven-story book, but there’s no sense in getting ahead of myself. Let’s see if I can do one.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

This wasn’t a very good movie, which I suspected would be the case because Bone Tomahawk, director S. Craig Zahler’s first film, wasn’t an especially good movie either. But it was fun to watch, was indeed a pleasure with a full plate of nachos and three glasses of rye, since when it comes to accruing my guilt, I like to do it all at once. I’m also a fan of Vince Vaughn, who looks like he stayed off the nachos and whiskey while making this movie.