In the latest More Movies Please! episode, Steven and I watched and talked about one of the more gruesome westerns ever made. In store for you this week is Sam Peckinpah’s seminal film, The Wild Bunch.
Gear up for a good one! 🎙🎥
I think my new celebrity crush is Joan Fontaine. I absolutely loved her in Suspicion. She was the most magnetic person onscreen in every scene she was in—a rare feat when starring alongside Cary Grant. 🎥
When did decent tasting envelope glue fall out of favor? I feel like there was a golden age of not being disgusted by sealing envelopes, and now my tongue is forever being attacked. I worry that I’m going to face the same fate as George Costanza’s fiancée.
Drive was written by Hossein Amini as an adaptation of the novel of the same name by James Sallis, and was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. It was released in 2011. It was produced by Bold Films, Oddlot Entertainment, Marc Platt Productions, and Motel Movies. The title designer was Jay Johnson.
Stunt driver by day and getaway driver by night, the character of Driver, played by Ryan Gosling is a force to be reckoned with. Seriously, don’t make the mistake of crossing him. After falling for his next-door neighbor, Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, he finds himself forced into violence when her husband, Standard, played by Oscar Isaac, is released from jail. Standard owes some powerful people money, and the only way to keep Irene and her child safe is for Driver to assist in a pawn shop robbery. When things go south during the heist, Driver has to rain vengeance down on anyone who means to harm the people he cares for.
What a strange sequence of titles this film employs. Sure, this is one stylish as hell movie, but the bright pink, ‘80s-inspired look of that text seems so incongruous to the rest of the story. It’s a conscious choice on the part of the director to go with something so dramatic and eye-catching. Titles like these don’t happen by accident. However, aside from the throaty roar of the car chase sequences and the gruesome violence, this is a fairly quiet film. Its characters don’t demand attention, save for Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman. Most of the interactions between Driver and Irene are peaceful and fun (that is, until the horrifying scene in the elevator when Driver beats an assassin to death). Nothing about these two characters screams “look at me!” quite like those titles do.
Pairing such flashy titles with a couple of shy, introverted characters serves the film well, though. It keeps the viewer on edge, and always wondering what the film is going to surprise you with next. Make no mistake, there are some surprising moments to be had here. The sweet looks that Driver and Irene share will not prepare you for how gruesome some moments are. It shocked me when I saw it, so much so that I considered it a revelation by the end of its running time. I ended up watching all of the credits in the theater because I was unable to move from my seat for a long time. I had no idea a film could be this way, and it’s still one that amazes me.
For the cinematography fans out there (like me!), please enjoy the video that Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting made for Drive. It examines cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel’s use of a quadrant system, which breaks up the frame into four distinct zones of focus. It is a phenomenal video that examines how many different stores can be told within a single shot. The artistry that went into this film remains impressive. 🎞
The displeasure associated with turning another year older continues to be worse than actually turning another year older.
Happy 35th to me! 🥳
Setting up my new AirTag was a fun, but short experience. Usually, a new Apple gadget comes with days of messing around with it. The point of these seems to be to forget about them until that unfortunate day when you actually have to worry about them. 🍎
Steven and I are continuing our monthlong series of western films on More Movies Please! If you were thinking it’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid this week, then you’d be correct. Congratulations! Enjoy a brand new episode as a reward.🎙
My second COVID vaccine is knocking me for a loop today. I’ve got a whole body ache going on and it is unpleasant, to say the least.
Still totally worth it, though. Screw this disease!
Rebecca was written by Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison, and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film was adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Daphne Du Maurier. It was released in 1940. The film was produced by Selznick International Pictures (which had been riding high after their release of Gone with the Wind the previous year).
Newly wed to Maxim de Winter, played by Laurence Olivier, the new Mrs. de Winter, played by Joan Fontaine, moves into her husband’s sprawling estate, the Manderley house. She’s given a cold greeting by the current staff of the house, and especially by the severe Mrs. Danvers, played by Judith Anderson. Maxim’s deceased former wife still lives deep in the hearts and minds of everyone. They’re not happy about the new Mrs. de Winter taking up residence in the former home of the woman they all loved (albeit some more so than others). Mrs. de Winter faces scorn and mockery, driving her to tears and despair. However, there’s a great mystery surrounding the titular character: was her death truly an accident, or were there more nefarious actions that caused her demise?
I saw a review of this film on Letterboxd that made an effort to explain that while this film can indeed be seen as a tragedy, it’s necessarily not for the reason most people think. The young Mrs. de Winter is surely not having an ideal time at Manderley. Who would want their marriage to include a distant husband and his callous house staff? She’s made to be the one who’s tormented at great length. However, the reviewer posits that we should take greater notice of the pain that Mrs. Danvers is feeling. Indeed that the unrequited love Mrs. Danvers held for Rebecca was also a great tragedy in this film. User “nathaxnne” writes:
We only see Rebecca through the eyes of those who remember her. It is important to not privilege one remembrance above any other, but Mrs. Danvers’ recollection burns most fiercely, her love not only surviving death but allowed for the first time to become one with the current manifestation of Manderlay [sic] in its decor, its routine, a shrine to her beloved, and finally joining her in death.
I found this to be a fascinating take on the film. So much of its running time is spent trailing Mrs. de Winter as she’s tormented by the “ghost” of Rebecca. She’s forever looking for a peaceful, joyous life with her new husband, only to be met with indifferent or distracted responses. We’re made to relate to her plight and detest her poor treatment at the hands of Mrs. Danvers. But we seldom do anything without a reason, and Mrs. Danvers is acting on the pain and heartbreak she feels over the loss of the person she loved. Maxim is all too willing to leave Rebecca in the past, and for good reason, but his desire is not shared by everyone. Sadly, what results is summed up in nathaxnne’s review:
Rebecca is a ghost story where those who are left behind are haunted, even in the potential absence of a spectre.
This is a fascinating film, and easily one of Hitchcock’s best. It deserves to be seen by more people and shine as brightly as any of his best-known works.
The Criterion Collection interviewed Oscar-winning VFX artist and film historian, Craig Barron, for their recent re-issue of this film. This video was a fun and fascinating look at how they achieved the vast and impressive shots of the great Manderley house, as well as providing a quick snippet of Hitchcock’s moviemaking history. Enjoy! 🎞
I received my second Pfizer vaccine earlier today, and I couldn’t be happier about it. As many people have already said, any discomfort I may feel from this shot is well worth dealing with if it means helping myself and those around me stay safe.
In this week’s episode of More Movies Please!, there’s gold to be had, bandits hot on the tails of our heroes, and Bogart’s really not doing too well.
Yep, we watched and talked about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Listen now!🎙
Total movies watched: 14
Compared to last month, I’ve seen far fewer movies. Seems I spent more of my time watching tv shows. I may not be able to record those on Letterboxd, but I still had a good time watching stuff in April.
Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥
The Fountain was written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. It was released in 2006. The film was produced by Protozoa Pictures and New Regency. The title card is a shot from the film with no discernible title designer.
Spanning three disparate times and places in the universe, The Fountain tells the story of conquistador Tomás Verde who has been tasked by his queen, Isabella, to find the Tree of Life. It’s located deep in Mayan territory, and she believes it will be the key to saving her kingdom. It also tells the story of Tom Creo, a modern surgeon who is desperately trying to find a cure for a brain tumor that’s ravaging his wife, Izzi. The third story is that of Tommy, a futuristic space traveler who is guiding a tree toward a dying star. He believes that its magnificent explosion will bring back his long lost love. Hugh Jackman plays all three versions of Tom, and Rachel Weisz plays his counterpart.
By this point in my life, I’d seen Aronofsky’s previous film, the disorienting, beautiful, and despairing Requiem for a Dream. I don’t think I’d ever seen something so full of style and confidence. How remarkable that it was only his second full-length film! When The Fountain came out, I knew it was something I had to see. I’m still shocked, all these years later, that it didn’t do very well, and is seen as one of his weaker works. I still believe that many of its detractors weren’t ready for its winding narrative, or that it demanded critical viewing and not just simply blank witnessing.
I could hardly walk out of the theater after I saw it; I may have instead stumbled out into the bright sunlight. It filled my head with so many impossible questions. I was in complete awe of the production and the performances. Imagine my surprise that its budget amounted to what the industry now affords to a small independent film. It’s still something that gives me chills as I watch it. It asks such huge questions, like to what lengths would you go to save the people you love and how do you view your purpose in this world? It demands a lot of you.
This one has gained a quiet, yet passionate fan base. It deserves more, and I implore you to watch it with an open heart. 🎞
It’s been too long since I took the time to talk to a therapist, but I changed that this last week. I’m not sure what this path ahead of me will entail, but I’m proud of myself for taking this positive step. I want to work on doing all I can for my mental health.
Never having to use LinkedIn again is enough of a motivation to risk utter destitution and infinite job-related hopelessness for the rest of my life.
What it’ll take for me to comfortably be able to use my iPad Pro as my main computer:
What I probably won’t want to ever do on an iPad (and am okay with):
All of this seems like I’m saying I should just use a Mac. Fair enough. However, I want to use my iPad Pro as my main computer. I think it’s an amazing device, and I really love iPadOS. That’s it. It just needs to close some gaps.🍎
With iOS 14.5 out now, I can’t wait to revoke the ability for me to be tracked across apps and websites from every damn app on my devices. This is a sweet and much-needed feature that I’m going to luxuriate in. 🍎
On More Movies Please!, we’re continuing our month of animated films with one of the most delightful Disney films about an alien who crash lands on Earth and befriends a young Hawaiian girl that’s ever been produced. We watched and talked about Lilo & Stitch!🎙
If the Oscars keep going the way they have been, then this might be my favorite broadcast ever. I love the intimacy of it, as well as the laidback atmosphere. Facing serious restrictions, they’ve found a way to make it fun. 🎥
Soul was written by Pete Docter, Mike Jones, and Kemp Powers, and was directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers. It was released in 2020. The film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios. The title designer was Laura Meyer.
A down on his luck jazz musician named Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, gets the opportunity of his lifetime. He’s invited to play in The Dorothea Williams Quartet, and would have been able to if he didn’t immediately fall into an open sewer and die. But he doesn’t want to miss out on his big break, so he escapes the “Great Beyond” and falls again into the “Great Before.” Joe is mistaken for a mentor to the new souls in the Great Before and assigned to the incredulous Soul 22, voiced by Tina Fey. At that time, he has no luck in helping them find a passion. With the help of the eccentric soul, Moonwind, voiced by Graham Norton, Joe locates his body back on Earth, but accidentally takes 22 along with him. Instead of returning to his body, 22 lands in it, and Joe inhabits the body of a nearby cat. The pair need to find a way to get Joe back into his body before his big show that night.
Gosh, there’s a lot that goes on in this film. It’s hard to keep the synopsis condensed. Suffice it to say, this film has a lot of depth. It is 100% worth seeing. I was enamored of Onward, Pixar’s other 2020 film, so I was hopeful that Soul would be able to match the bar that the other one set. After watching it, I can say that Soul is undeniably the better film, and I loved Onward. I may not be a jazz musician, but I think anyone, especially those with an artistic inclination, can relate to both Joe and 22. We’re all looking for our purpose in life. We’re all looking for our calling. The lucky ones are able to find it. Those who can help others find their calling are truly special people. My goal in life is to find the satisfaction that Joe achieves at the end of this film. Do I need to be rich and famous? No. I mean, I wouldn’t mind being rich, but that’s not what’s going to make me happy. Feeling content with my life, and being able to inspire others, is a journey worth going on.
I’d love for you to take a look at the opening sequence.1 The combination of music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross2 with the stark, black and white animation gives it a chilling, lonely, awe-inspiring feel that completely took me aback. Witnessing this instantly sold me on the movie. I had to rewatch this bit several times. I was thrilled to be seeing a true piece of art. 🎞
There are few things that hurt worse than waiting like a foolish fool to purchase a domain name only to have it bought out from under you.
Guess I’ve got to go with “domainname.biz.co.paris.com”.
On April 20, Apple hosted their “Spring Loaded” event, in which they debuted several new devices and services. Some offered peculiar iterations, while others are helping to lay the considerable track ahead of Apple’s future.
Much like every other event they’ve held in the past year and change, this one was pre-recorded. It had an extreme amount of polish, an efficiency to their information (its running time came in at about an hour), and some humor and fun were sprinkled throughout. I love the style of these events, and I hope they continue them for a long time to come.
This one was not nearly to the scale of other events they hold throughout the year. It was no WWDC. It was, however, one of a handful of smaller events they typically hold in which they talk about new hardware. This one was no exception.
There’s an updated Podcasts app. It includes their new Channels feature, which can collect the various shows of a podcast network under a central banner. Creators are now able to offer subscriptions to premium shows.
There’s also a lovely new purple iPhone 12. I’ve been using and enjoying a silver iPhone 12 Pro Max, but a color like this purple is making me reconsider my choices. Why can’t the pro phones feature colors like this? Do pro users not like color or personality? Gold just doesn’t cut it!
I don’t know if I’ll ever have a use for these—I tend not to lose things very often—but there are a few people in my life who could benefit from them.
At just over one and a quarter inches in diameter and weighing in at measly 11 grams, they’re quite discreet. They’re not the sort of thing to add extra bulk to your key ring or bump around in your bag. They’re so small that it’s a good thing they’re full of helpful tracking technology. These AirTags themselves could be pretty easy to lose!
They were designed from the beginning to work with the Find My app. This means you’ll be able to locate them on a map whenever you open the app. They also come with a small speaker which can emit a signal noise to guide you to them. Got an iPhone 11 or 12? Then you can use the Precision Finding feature to give you an on-screen guide to where your lost item is hiding. This is a great implementation of the U1 chip that Apple now includes in these devices.
Best of all, everything is designed with privacy in mind, and the battery in AirTags is user-replaceable. A standard coin cell battery will give it new life. They’re $29 for one and $99 for a pack of four.
On the other hand, the updated Apple TV 4K box still comes in two storage sizes—32 GB and 64 GB— and it is still expensive as hell—$179 and $199, respectively. And there was sadly no mention of any Apple TV sound bar.
When it comes to this product line, I don’t get what Apple’s thinking. Price-wise, they’re being outmatched by nearly every other device on the market. Heck, every modern tv sold these days has all of these streaming apps available for download, even Apple’s TV app. Why buy a second box that can do everything a tv can now?
At these prices, it’s getting harder for even me to find a reason to stick with Apple on this one. You can be certain that anyone who doesn’t care as much as I do about an Apple experience sure as hell won’t be dropping upwards of $200 on one.
Apple continues to be moving blindly in this market. Unfortunately, they’ve also started shooting themselves in the foot with the Apple TV.
The M1 line continues to grow with this striking and colorful update to what is surely Apple’s most popular desktop computer.
It carries the ghost of the previous generation’s design but differentiates itself in enough ways to make it a desirable machine for anyone who wants a great Mac desktop experience. It’s a shame that there’s still a chin at the bottom of the display, but I guess we can’t have everything.
On the plus side:
I’ve got an M1 Mac mini and display combination that I adore. However, if I were in the market for a new desktop computer, I wouldn’t think twice about purchasing one of these in whatever new color strikes my fancy.
They start at an affordable $1,299.
The M1 line continues to grow with this phenomenal update to the iPad Pro.
I’m feeling a distinct sense of déjà vu here…
Ah yes, the most powerful iPad around becomes even more impressive now that it’s running a desktop-class chip inside. I’m a little surprised Apple would move in this direction with the iPad Pro. In the past, they’ve liked to have a distinguishing factor between their different product lines. I guess when you’re making your own CPU chips you have the opportunity to throw the rule book out the window.
This begs the question, though: when are pro-level apps going to come to the iPad Pro? If it’s using the same chip that can easily run Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro on their other computers, then there’s no good excuse why their pro tablets can’t do the same. My best guess is, as usual with these devices, it’s a software limitation. For a long time now, iPad’s software has been lagging hard behind its hardware.
It’s time for iPadOS to step up and become the powerful and capable operating system it’s always wanted to be. I’ve got big hopes for this year’s WWDC. There’s an opportunity for Apple to right a lot of wrongs with this device, and they need to nail it this year.
There’s also a new and crazy good display in the 12.9” model. I’m talking Pro Display XDR level good, and all within the .25” depth of this tablet. Thanks to a remarkable array of over 10,000 mini-LEDs, this thing is going to be awe-inspiring. If you’re a professional filmmaker or photographer, this could be a great update for you.1
If you’ve gotten an iPad Pro since the gobsmackingly good 2018 model came out, then this may still be a relatively minor update. If you’ve got the money to burn, then go ahead and get one. Who am I to tell you what to do with your bucks? I’m happy to keep my 12.9” iPad Pro from 2020. It’s still amazing.
These new models are pretty damn snazzy though. They start at $799 for the 11” and $1,099 for the 12.9”.
This was an excellent event for Apple. They dropped some products that are not only appealing at the moment but will help dictate where the company is heading.
AirTags show that they’re interested in continuing to develop a wide range of products that fit a smaller niche. Not everything has to be the freaking iPhone.
The new iMac proves that Apple’s still got a sense of whimsy, while also telling the world that they’re going to continue being the most enviable computer maker around.
The iPad Pro update shows that there’s not another tablet maker out there creating more powerful tools than these. They continue to make advancements that are the envy of the entire tablet market.
The Apple TV… Well, it needs to find itself. That thing is lost in the weeds.
If they can keep this trajectory going, then 2021 is going to be a great year for Apple. 🍎
My visit to the DMV today was not the hellish experience for which the place is so well known. Instead, it was both a complete bore and a great cure for the random “should I get a job at the DMV?” thoughts a person might have.