Dandy Cat

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was about as grand and moving a film as I’ve come to expect from him. In a little over a decade, he’s become one of the most interesting directors working today. His films are sticking around for the long haul, and I frequently rewatch many of them.1

This is a film that should be seen in theaters. It deserves as big a screen as one can find. I bet an IMAX showing would be a uniquely moving experience. Heck, given how impressive the sound was, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually shook some people right out of their seats. You should see it. It’s impressive, to say the least.

I watched it on HBO Max on my relatively dinky 55” television. I’ve also got a pair of HomePods I use for audio. Compared to the vast expanse of a theater screen—a canvas truly worthy of the gargantuan size of the terrifying Sandworms—my television was a shameful Lilliputian consolation.2 Suffice it to say, Denis isn’t going to be impressed with how I viewed his film.

Our friendship prospects are looking bleaker by the day.

Were it not for both COVID and the recent, tragic shooting at one of my preferred local theaters, I would have seen this great film the way it was meant to be seen. I’ve always treasured going to the theater. It was something special I did with my dad and I’ve also treated myself to solo trips on countless occasions. It breaks my heart that I no longer feel safe or enthusiastic about indulging in an activity that means so much to me.

I can do what I’ve always done about COVID. I could wear a mask and distance myself from other theatergoers. I’m also vaccinated, so my personal risk is fairly low, despite how many people are still not fully vaccinated.

But how does someone avoid a hateful, destructive person who is intent on murdering others who are only sitting peacefully in a theater and enjoying the entertainment they paid for? How does one prevent a seemingly random act of disgusting violence from befalling them, especially in a place where visibility and awareness are so low? How do I avoid dying in a theater if not by avoiding theaters altogether?

Those senseless murders are horrible for two reasons: lives were ended and terror was forced into our minds. I hate that I have to live with this fear now because evil, cowardly, sick people keep feeling the need to make theaters their personal hunting grounds.

I wish that I could have seen Dune the way it was meant to be seen. I would have loved those two and a half hours in one of my favorite places. Instead, I watched it at home. It’s a better theater experience only in as much as I’ve got a large, comfy couch to sit on and I can pause the film for bathroom breaks whenever I want.3 Otherwise, it hardly has the special magic of a theater.

I wish my country didn’t have an insane, crippling fetish for instruments of death. There is no need for them to be so easily accessible by the general public. I wish sick people could better receive the care they desperately need. I wish they would stop taking the lives of others.

And I want my theaters back.

UPDATE: Looks like I’ll get to watch Part Two on my television in the future, as well. I’m very glad the sequel was greenlit. It would have been such a shame if this adaptation wasn’t able to get a conclusion.

  1. Except for perhaps Incendies. Not because it wasn’t a good film—it was one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen—but because the twist was so heart-wrenching that I don’t think I want to put myself through it again. [return]
  2. But hey, at least it was in 4K? [return]
  3. Which comes in handy when the film I’m watching is as long as Dune was. [return]

On this week’s episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee has some candy recommendations, I go on quite the potentially dangerous nighttime rescue mission, and Dazzle Novak explores some aquatic love.

Listen to this rollercoaster ride of an episode right here! 🎙

macOS Monterey is out now. I think it’s a fine release. I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that it won’t destroy my computer in the coming days.

What I’d love to see now is any sort of attention paid to Reading List. A first-party solution with actual organization would be nice.

There’s supposed to be a lot of rain in my area today, and I couldn’t be more excited. It feels foolish to wish for consistent weather these days, but I’m still going to hope this means we’re officially out of summer now.

Title Card: The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

The title card for the film, The Double Life of Véronique.

The Double Life of Véronique was written by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz and was directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The film was released in 1991.

It was produced by Sidéral Productions, Canal+, Zespol Filmowy ”Tor”, and Norsk FIlm. 🎞

I think the new Apple Music Voice Plan may be a decent offering.

I do feel some pity for fans of classical music who will have to request “Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183: I. Allegro con brio.” Or Bon Iver fans who want to listen to anything from 22, A Million.

After a marathon reading session, I’ve finally finished Stephen King’s The Stand.

I was left feeling breathless and satisfied. I’ll remember it for being thrilling, complex, maddening, exultant, and uncomfortably prescient. 📚

I’ve been enjoying a renewed interest in Animal Collective lately. I’m reminded of when their album, Centipede Hz, came out in 2012. Words cannot express the profound disappointment I felt upon my first listening of its third track, “Rosie Oh.”

It begins with swirling whines, rhythmic kick drums, and one of the most pleasant and intriguing rising bass lines ever before devolving into a mess of noise that’s a bit much even for them.

It mars what’s an otherwise decent album. Luckily, they’ve done far better work before and after that song, so there are always other things to enjoy.

Ruby Rose explains why she left Batwoman, alleges injuries and dangerous working conditions

Gabrielle Sanchez, writing for The A.V. Club,

Speaking about her own injuries as Batwoman, Rose explained that she underwent emergency surgery for two herniated discs, with doctors telling her she could have been paralyzed.

The actor said she was required to return to work 10 days after her surgery, with [Warner Bros. TV executive Peter] Roth telling her the crew would lose their jobs and it would cost the studio millions if she did not promptly return. She also alleged Roth hired a private investigator to trail her after she left the show.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a terrible thing to read, and what happened to her is inexcusable. Combined with the recent story about the grotesque treatment Gal Gadot received from Joss Whedon during the reshoots of Justice League, and a clearer picture starts to form. See also: Ray Fisher’s hellish time on the same set.

It’s more evident than ever that Warner Bros. and the people running it are rotten to the core. It’s a damn shame. The company has a long history of bringing great entertainment to audiences for decades. I have serious doubts that anything there will change unless they raze it all to the ground and start over again.

In this week’s episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee got freaky with Freaky, I want to become a breadmaker, and Dazzle realizes that one should never meet their heroes because they might try to murder you.

Give this hilarious new episode a listen right here! 🎙

Forget a new MacBook Pro. All I want in my life right now is more well-made courtroom drama movies.

As per usual, Apple delivered some amazing new products that have left me both salivating and wishing I was born into a richer family or had some crazily well-paying job.

Also, as per usual, all the rumor sites got many things wrong. “M1X”? “M2”? New Mac mini?

I will never not love that this image exists. Even if it’s (probably) fake, it’s still glorious. May it bring you a smile, as well. 🐱

Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins, holding two black cats on the cover of Paws Chicago magazine.

In the last month, I’ve lost eight pounds, and all just by cutting out the great amount of artificial sweets to which I was clearly addicted.

I’m excited to see what I can accomplish in the next month!1

  1. I’m trying hard not to think about Thanksgiving! 😅 [return]

Title Card: Catch Me If You Can (2002)

The title card for the film, Catch Me If You Can.

Catch Me If You Can was written by Jeff Nathanson and was directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was released in 2002.

It was produced by Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures, Kemp Company, Muse Entertainment Enterprises, Parkes/MacDonald Productions, and Splendid Pictures.

The title sequence was produced by Olivier Kuntzel and Florence Deygas of Kuntzel+Deygas. 🎞

David Fincher Announces Surprise Netflix Documentary Film Series ‘Voir’

From House of Cards to Mindhunter to Mank and now a new documentary film series about cinema, Fincher is once again proving himself to be one of the most progressive directors working today. I’m not in the least bit surprised. This man, one of my favorites, has always been at the forefront of filmmaking. His brilliant 2007 film, Zodiac, was one of the first feature films to be captured almost exclusively with a digital video camera, the Thomson Viper FilmStream Camera.1 This was at least a good six years before films shot with digital cameras started to outnumber those shot on film.2

The man likes trying new things.

Contrast this behavior with that of other directors, like Steven Spielberg. In an interview with ITV News, he expressed his distaste for movies made for streaming services being given the same reverence and accolades that movies made first for theatrical screening can receive. He said,

Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.

I’m not necessarily saying this venerated, incredible director is wrong. He’s expressing his own opinions, many of which I share. I love seeing a complex, moving film in a dark cinema. There’s something unique and special about that experience. Furthermore, he’s certainly earned the right to comment on and criticize the way corporations have minimized the spectacle of theatrical premieres. Goodness knows that I’m not a legendary filmmaker and a household name.

I would suggest that he’s also showing a fair amount of famous person privilege. He shouldn’t forget that he came from nothing. He should also recognize that extremely talented filmmakers, whether they be known now or up and coming, may never achieve the sort of clout necessary to have a film released in theaters. Some of the most brilliant films to ever be made will debut and live only on streaming platforms. It would be a shame if those films didn’t receive the recognition they deserve from the Academy just because they don’t fit Spielberg’s idea of what a “real” film should be. The world would be lesser for it.

I don’t think theaters will ever disappear completely, but it’s clear that the filmmaking business and viewers around the world are more interested in streaming their media outside of a theater. Therefore, it’s more exciting for me to watch a director “skate to where the puck is going,” so to speak. Fincher is not someone who has ever shied away from being at the vanguard of new techniques or experiences. Instead of fighting the growth of streaming services—a futile battle—he welcomes them. He’s diving into this new world headfirst. No one will ever be able to accuse him of being stuck in the past. He might still make films that premiere in theaters, but he won’t do that out of stubbornness and inertia.

I’m excited to see Voir when it’s released. It will surely be the product of much attention, talent, and love. That will help further legitimize filmmaking in all its forms, whether it be released in cinemas or on a streaming service.

  1. Much credit is given to the amazing Harris Savides for all of his brilliant cinematography work in Zodiac and elsewhere. He was gone way too soon. [return]
  2. https://stephenfollows.com/film-business-became-digital/ [return]

In this week’s episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee watched dinosaurs rampage in all their glory, I watched Arnold Schwarzenegger save all of Mars, and Dazzle Novak creates the worst film ever made in Moonbeam City.

Give this great new episode a listen right here! 🎙

Title Card: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The title card for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick and was directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film was released in 1968.

It was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Stanley Kubrick Productions. 🎞

Paramount+ has the distinct honor of being the worst streaming service that I’ve ever seen or used. Their competitors aren’t even close. UI issues aside, if I can’t count on it to even just play a chosen video, then it deserves nothing but shame.

This week on Stream Dream Team, my brain was sucked out by a Starship Troopers bug, Lee is going to create her own Jurassic Park, and we all travel to Moonbeam City, where the police are buffoons and the neon is endless.

Give this delightful episode a listen right here! 🎙

NYPL Announcement: The Library Is Eliminating Fines

Tony Marx, NYPL President:

The New York Public Library is proud to announce a major policy shift: as of today and moving forward, we will no longer charge late fines on overdue circulating materials. In addition, we have cleared all prior late fines and replacement fees from patron accounts so that everyone gets a clean slate at the Library. This is a step towards a more equitable society, with more New Yorkers reading and using libraries, and we are proud to make it happen.


Some might say fines teach accountability and ethics. I disagree. New Yorkers are quite reliable and responsible, clearly respecting our collections and the need for them to be available for others to borrow. We can reinforce the importance of returning books without attaching a financial burden that targets those most in need. If we’re talking ethics, it is clear to me that the real ethical conundrum lies with pricing our most vulnerable citizens out of using a free, public library system.

We sure could use more institutions that think and act this way, and I hope more follow in the footsteps of the NYPL.1 Punishing those who are least capable of paying something like a library fine, which is not an effective motivator, is not a kind or, as Mr. Marx says, equitable action to take.

Access to knowledge should never come with a price tag.

  1. I sure do wish my own public library would implement this measure. There are many people in this city who would benefit from this change. [return]

It’s overcast and gray outside. Finally, my preferred weather is returning. I’m noticing that the cooler it gets the more my mood improves. Is it any wonder that my preferred season is winter?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Mr. Corman’ Canceled By Apple TV+ After One Season

Despite its relatively small catalog, Apple continues to prove that it won’t hesitate to cancel an underperforming show. A failed show is always a shame, but I will forever prefer quality over quantity.

Letterboxd Diaries—September 2021

  • The Fast and the Furious: If what you crave is a bunch of dumb man-children getting into fights over dick-measuring contests gone awry, then boy, is this the movie for you! It would have been a rough watch when it was released in 2001. Watching it now, it’s still not great, but in the way that, ironically, a horrific car crash on the freeway where several cars are overturned and there are some suspicious sheets draped over areas of the ground is not great. You don’t really want to watch it, but you find yourself oddly compelled to keep your eyes on it as you creep past and a worrisome, desperate part of you wants to see more of it. Luckily, humanity has seen fit to give us all at least eight more of these things (and a spin-off!). Truly, we live in the most halcyon days of all recorded history. (★★)
  • Gerald’s Game: A remarkably effective telling of Stephen King’s book of the same name. Cuffing your main character to a bed, where she remains trapped for most of the film, would have been an insurmountable challenge for most filmmakers. Director Mike Flanagan figured out how to make this constraint into a compelling aspect of the film. Personifying the inner terror and madness of Jessie in the forms of her dead husband and herself makes for a ghostly back and forth that drives the story. It may not be the best King adaptation, but it’s miles away from being the worst. (★★★½)
  • The Place Beyond the Pines: A sprawling, deep, twist your emotions until they’re about ready to snap sort of film. It’s separated into three distinct portions, telling complete tales of fathers and their sons. This is beginning-to-end wonderful and sticks with me for days every time I watch it. Ryan Gosling gives a restrained and unpredictable performance. Bradley Cooper gives a familiar turn, but one that still works. The rest of the phenomenal cast turn in some career-high performances. This is lush filmmaking on many levels, and with few failed notes. (★★★★★)
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.: Look, this may not be the best film ever made (and what would that really be anyway?), but it’s one of the most pleasant and joyous films ever made. This is a watch multiple times a year because it’s just so much damn fun kind of a film. What’s surprising about the story is how much more complex and heartfelt it is when stacked up next to something of this romantic dramedy genre. It’s not just a story about some guy getting his groove back. It’s about an entire group of people learning how essential love is in this world. Also, I would give both of my kidneys to have Ryan Gosling dress me up like a stylish god. (★★★★½)
  • The American President: In typical Aaron Sorkin fashion, there’s a whole lot of talk-talk-talking about desperately important stuff, interspersed with some witty jabs and friendly jibes amongst the characters. It’s such a good thing that Rob Reiner directed this film, otherwise, it could have been dreadfully inflated by its own importance. There are also some lovely performances by Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, et al. These days, it can feel a little tough to watch a film that’s focused entirely around a presidency, but luckily President Shepherd (and the crew making the film) appears to have everyone’s best interests at heart. Come for the excellent writing, stay for the nice love story. (★★★★)
  • Reminiscence: Too long, overly convoluted, and it trips up over its own story before finally drawing back the curtain on the central mystery. But hey, at least there’s some top-tier Hugh Jackman growling going on here. Also, it looks damn gorgeous. If only the quality of the writing had been as high as the quality of its visual effects and cinematography. There might have been something special here in that case. (★★½)
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious: In the annals of obviously (except to the characters themselves) homoerotic cinema, this one stands tall. Well, except for the other, so far, seven films in the series. Let’s just call this what it is: an octilogy of movies about men who wish they could kiss each other, but because of the desperately masculine world they live in, just can’t. This isn’t so much an action movie as it is a great tragedy of forbidden love. I enjoyed all the Miami colors, but there were too few Miami beaches. (★½)
  • Midnight Run: Oof, that’s a rough Danny Elfman score. I think he took the idea of “buddy comedy” a little too far in his writing. Everything else, though, just sings. It all works so well. I want this one to be far more well-known than it currently is. Let’s raise Charles Grodin and Yaphet Kotto from the dead and get the band back together for another film! (★★★★½)
  • Grosse Pointe Blank: Why isn’t this movie more well-known and loved? I enjoyed the hell out of this one and I’m really looking forward to when I’ll get to watch it again. John Cusack and Minnie Driver shine with an energy that’s hard to find in a movie from any year. Who would have ever guessed that a story about an assassin with a great deal of aimless ennui would be so much dang fun? (★★★★)
  • Sharknado: I’ll never get this hour and twenty minutes of my life back. What a piece of crap this thing was. Please send anybody else to save the world if there’s actually some sort of future insane weather emergency. (½)
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Despite the protagonist being an absolute cocky moron, this one was way more enjoyable than the previous installment. I appreciate that the director knew both how to make a good-looking film and how to direct their actors to deliver genuine emotion. Both of those qualities were sorely lacking up until this one. I am disappointed that it took well over half of the film to get to any sort of real plot. Hey, at least Han was cool, right? (★★½)
  • The Terminal: Like a bowl (or entire pint) of your favorite ice cream, this one goes down easy. The pairing of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg is something you can bet money on. There’s delightful energy to the film, and its central conflict is weighty without becoming too melancholic. At over two hours, it’s too long. That’s probably my biggest criticism. With a film like this, one that wants to be fun, energetic, and even a little romantic, overstaying your welcome is a perilous thing to do. Unfortunately, that happens here. Good thing it’s got national treasure Tom Hanks to buoy everything up. This is a pleasant film. (★★★½)
  • Sleepless in Seattle: The whole conceit of the film is absolutely, certifiably bonkers. One person pines away for someone who doesn’t have any idea she exists. She flies across the country, eventually leaving her too-good-for-her fiancé behind, to see (and presumably spend her life with) this person she’s only heard a few times on the radio. At one point she tracks down where the guy lives, hires a private investigator to surveil him, and stalks him around his home. Put all this nonsense aside, and you’ve got a perfectly fine romantic dramedy. The best thing this movie has going for it is the strong chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (when they’re finally onscreen together). (★★★½)
  • Luca: I sure could have used a lot more pasta dishes. But, Santo Mozzarella, there was still a good amount of food and friendship! This wasn’t as soul-crushing or life-affirming as some of Pixar’s best-known work, but not everything has to be. Instead, we’ve been given a nice slice of Italian-styled animated goodness. (★★★½)
  • Fast & Furious: As hollow as ever, but at least they’ve finally gotten a real handle on how to tell these stories in an exciting way. This one looks, sounds, and thrills better than any previous installment. I can only hope that they’ll continue to improve as the series continues. I don’t expect them to get any less vapid, though. (★★½)
  • The VelociPastor: I’ll never forgive my friend for making me watch this. But hey, at least it was better than Sharknado? This one had more style, even if every second was more insane than the last. Also, I hope one day the director can marry Tarantino since that’s clearly what he wants to do more than anything in this world. (★)
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard: 85% “motherfucker.” 13% action. 2% comedy. (★½)
  • You’ve Got Mail: Despite this one being laughably dated, it was such a delight. I enjoyed it more than Sleepless in Seattle. There was real conflict, a relationship that took its time to bloom, and a charming little bookshop around the corner. Oh, and also dial-up internet. And also an enormous corporate bookstore that has no idea it’ll one day crash spectacularly under the mighty weight of Amazon. Sooner or later, Bezos ruins everything. (★★★★)
  • Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: 50% everyone’s yelling at each other all the time. 49% nausea-inducing shaky camera action shots. 1% comedy. (★)
  • Zombieland: Double Tap: The first Zombieland had clever characters, a unique story, and some decent character development. This one is lacking in much of that. It’s a good thing that the world of these movies is predicated on fun and the cast is wonderful, otherwise, they would be interminable. Sadly, there’s just not enough new stuff to make this rehashing of the first movie better than average. (★★★)
  • The Hustler: I shouldn’t have been surprised that this film isn’t more about pool playing, but I’m still surprised. You know what makes up for that lack? Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, and the brilliant Jackie Gleason. I mean, my goodness. The celluloid must have melted itself for how hot all the acting and pretty faces were in this thrilling, devastating film. Give this one a watch and then immediately follow it up with The Color of Money. (★★★★½)
  • The Grifters: I was hoping and expecting to like this one more than I did, but maybe I wasn’t in a Stephen Frears mindset when it started. Not being in that headspace, this one drags a bit and the intrigue feels half-baked. Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening, though. My gosh, they brought a freshness and energy that just wouldn’t have been present if they weren’t in this. If the film relied on John Cusack’s nearly catatonic performance, this would have been dull and dreadful. (★★★½)
  • Fast Five: Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about. They’ve finally gotten to the point where things feel modern and interesting. Director Justin Lin has been this series’ saving grace. The action is thrilling and there’s a decent story with some real stakes. Dwayne Johnson’s new presence is a welcome addition. It’s all still nonsense, but at least now it’s well-made nonsense. (★★★½)
  • The Devil Wears Prada: I could watch Stanley Tucci movies every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly content. It certainly helped make this one more pleasing for me. I find the world of fashion that this movie presents to be daunting and unappealing. Perhaps that’s because my wardrobe entirely resembles that of Andy Sachs before she meets and works for Miranda Priestly. I mean, I can clean up like the best of them, but there’s not one thing wrong with a comfy, cable knit sweater. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But yeah, Tucci all day. (★★★½)

Total movies watched: 24.

Favorite movie of the month: Grosse Pointe Blank. It would have been Crazy, Stupid, Love. if I hadn’t already seen it.

Least favorite movie of the month: Sharknado. I had to watch it for More Movies Please! This was one of the worst things, and not just movies, that I’ve ever witnessed.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

After watching the first two episodes of the enjoyable Apple TV+ show, Foundation, the story appears to boils down to this:

“Hey girl, would you like some politics to go with your math?”