Dandy Cat

After finishing Crazy, Stupid, Love. for the… I don’t know how many times, I’ve realized just how much of an unabashed rom-com fan I am.

I’ve always enjoyed them, but I’ve never vocally appreciated the genre like I should. 🎥

Letterboxd Diaries—August 2021

  • Memories of Murder: There are some clear allusions to the Zodiac Killer amidst this story. I do not doubt that this film inspired great portions of David Fincher’s Zodiac. The parallels are there. They both tell fascinating and compelling stories about dark moments in our history. What’s remarkable to witness in Bong Joon-ho’s work is the ineptness of the police officers. I don’t recall seeing people being tortured into admitting fault in Zodiac, but that’s a prominent story point here. Indeed, the desperation of these officers only serves to set them back in their investigations. It makes for some truly heartbreaking moments that continue to stick with me. (★★★★½)
  • Ocean’s Eight: A soundtrack of catchy spybeat music does not an entertaining movie make. What would have helped this movie is any sort of unique and energetic style, but that’s nowhere to be found. Instead, we’re given nothing but hushed-tone exposition in dark rooms. If it weren’t for the immense talent of all the actors, then this would be immediately forgettable. As it is, it’s as exciting and unsurprising as plain yogurt. (★★½)
  • Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: When there’s color and style on display in this film, it just sings (sometimes literally). Unfortunately, like a lot of modern comedies, in the first half, it leans a little too heavily on people sitting around and talking at each other for its humor. For a movie that includes full-scale dance numbers, shooting a young person out of a cannon, and a bumbling Damon Wayans Jr., I wanted to see even more of that craziness. Luckily, it picks up quite a bit in the second half. It does get an enthusiastic extra half star for Andy Garcia playing Tommy Bahama. (★★★★)
  • Suicide Squad: Sadly, the film commits a pair of unfortunate sins: it’s nonsensical and boring. If director David Ayer is to be believed (and why not?), then the film we were given is the product of intense studio meddling. They never believed in his vision. We could have seen a thoughtful, thrilling, and weighty film. As it is, this one is just a damn shame. It had all the potential to be amazing, but instead, it’s severely lacking in stakes, clarity, and heart. It’s empty. (★½)
  • The Suicide Squad: Watching this one immediately after its predecessor is like finding water in the middle of a desert. It calms, quenches, and soothes on every level. It’s also a hell of an action film, and one that actually cares about its fiendish characters. James Gunn should be given all the money and leeway in the world to keep making films for both Marvel and DC. He’s proven time and again that he knows how to make an engaging blockbuster. Every cast member was a standout. Truly, I couldn’t pick a favorite (although King Shark got pretty dang close). (★★★★½)
  • Watch the Sound: More of a mini-series than a movie, but I was so transfixed by this fascinating documentary that I had to include it here. Mark Ronson takes viewers on a trip through music creation. He offers clear explanations about the technical side of making the sounds we’re familiar with and couples those with in-depth history. You can tell he breathes and loves what he’s talking about, which makes this all the more watchable. I’m not a music creator, but I am a music lover, and this ticked all my interest boxes. (★★★★½)
  • Hell or High Water: This gets better every time I watch it. A Robin Hood-esque tale of screwing over the banks to find justice for a recently departed loved one is something that people can find enthralling. Writer Taylor Sheridan has found a gritty and unflinching niche to inhabit. Coupled with his previous work on Sicario and he’s quickly become a filmmaker that’s worth watching. Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham all give contemplative, brooding performances. A tale of family love has hardly ever been so righteous, violent, or engrossing. (★★★★½)
  • Spontaneous: Surprisingly affecting by the end. I wasn’t expecting the serious turn. It seemed like it was going to go the quirky indie film route, but it ended up in the indie film with a point to make territory. I worry that large swaths of it are going to stay stuck in time. This is clearly a post-Trump film and it makes no effort to hide its justifiable anger towards those hellish four years. This may not be one of those timeless films that we all treasure decades from now. Frequent snarky references to current events tend not to make for work that transcends time. The point it makes by the end is affirming, though. Live the best life you can because who knows what the hell the future holds for each of us. Enjoy yourself before you explode, too. (★★★½)
  • Like Father: This is mostly fluff, but it’s the sort of fluff that can also be a healing balm when you most need it. Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer are immediately believable as a distraught father and frustrated daughter. The entire damn movie seems to be a clear advertisement for the Royal Caribbean cruise company, and that’s not the most welcome addition to an otherwise fine family dramedy. Look past the corporate shilling and you can be treated to a bit of lightweight fun that I found to be great for some relaxing weeknight watching. (★★★)
  • Best in Show: This is a rare film that has no visible missteps. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s perfectly funny. Leave it to Christopher Guest to turn the drama, anxiety, and ridiculous glory of a dog show into one of the funniest things ever made. Much of the credit needs to go to every single one of the performers in this film. There are too many to list, but suffice it to say that they’re all giving career-best performances here. This is a film that inspires repeated viewings and every one of them will be worth your time. There’s sure to be something new and hysterical to find each time. (★★★★)
  • Tickled: …Wow. The way this documentary unfolded was like watching an exquisite statue being carved out of marble. New features would peek out and surprise me every few minutes. By the end, my mind was reeling. What started as a dive into the world of Competitive Endurance Tickling ended with a confounding question: what the hell was all that? I wish more documentaries like this existed. (★★★★)
  • The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley: The story of Elizabeth Holmes and her desperate hunt for a world-changing creation is done well enough. There’s nothing particularly innovative or astounding about this documentary. It gets the job done. However, when you have a subject like the story of Holmes, an audience deserves innovative and astounding. Her life is astounding! One thing the film does do particularly well is feature quite a lot of Holmes. Her direct input is never given, probably due to her ongoing legal tie-ups. Her absence is a shame. I don’t doubt we’d just hear more of her insistent lies if she was included, but it would have given the film more weight. It’s a damn shame that her idea never panned out. It’s even more of a shame that she and her cohorts took malignant advantage of so many innocent people. (★★★½)
  • Us: Being a fan of Get Out, I felt confident that this one was going to be just as thrilling and, in its way, important. Jordan Peele is nothing if not consistent. The second half of the film loses the creepiness that its first half was oozing with. I think that was unfortunate because it’s a hell of a concept. Why can’t it be creepy all the way through while getting its message across? In that way, I think Get Out was the more effective film. Peele is still one of the most interesting filmmakers working today, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next. (★★★★)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: The second film in a trilogy tends to not be the most memorable piece. They tend to exist as a bridge between the first and third parts. That’s not ever been the case with The Two Towers. Somehow, Peter Jackson was able to create a film that can stand on its own as it helps bolster the other two parts of this series. There are some astounding set pieces, complex and important characters are introduced, and the looming dread of Mordor inches closer. It’s brilliant. The extended version of this film is an ideal way to watch this monumental film. (★★★★½)
  • 1408: This is a surprising film. Stephen King adaptations are terrible as often as they are phenomenal, if not more so. This is one of those that flirts with greatness. The marketing for this film when it came out did not do it justice. Indeed, it’s probably what hurt this one. This spooky and emotionally affecting film should be better regarded than it is. It starts strong and keeps you on your toes throughout. This is a locked-room mystery where the protagonist has to fight against the room itself. It shouldn’t work well, but it does. (★★★½)
  • Chaos Walking: Goodness, I found this boring, convoluted, and underwhelming. The lukewarm antagonists were single-minded, and without any coherent motivation. I struggled to find any meaningful chemistry between Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland. The thought of having to listen to every insipid thought a man has sounds like a living hell to me. There was so much left on the table in the name of making the first part of what’s surely meant to be a trilogy. The end result makes me wonder if that’ll ever happen. I can usually expect good work from Doug Liman, but this was far from his best. (★½)
  • Shadow in the Cloud: A period piece action film with an inexplicable antagonist, forgettable supporting characters, and performances that never quite make it to 100%. There’s very little substance to all the style that’s put on display. If as much care that was put into the visual effects (which start to fall apart by the end) was put into the writing, it would have been more effective. (★★½)
  • Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll: If you enjoyed the Violet Evergarden series, then you’re sure to enjoy this. It’s quite a bit more of the same. However, when the source material is so strong, then more of the same is welcome. It’s like a warm, familiar bath. The first half of this film (or rather, extended episode) is far stronger than the second half, but they work well enough together to tell a complete and moving story. (★★★½)
  • Save Yourselves!: Either I’m getting tired of ambiguous endings or the filmmakers really didn’t know how to stick the landing with this one. I think it’s probably the second one. I wasn’t expecting a simple and tidy conclusion, but I was hoping for some sort of wrap-up. You know, something that gave any clarity about where the poufs came from or what the translucent ships were and where they were headed. This film is three-quarters of a story and it really suffers because of that deficiency. (★★★)
  • Jolt: This was ineffective, by the numbers, and just plain boring. The story was nonsensical and unfocused. The ending was cliffhanger garbage (does everything have to set itself up for sequels?). Even Kate Beckinsale couldn’t keep this one afloat. What a shame. (★½)
  • Attack the Block: An early Jodie Whittaker and John Boyega film? Sign me right up for this one, thank you very much! Oh, and there are some of the coolest looking aliens to be shown in a film in many a year? Heck yeah! What other reason does a person need to see this film? How about thick London accents? Hot damn. This movie’s got it all! (★★★★)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: This is one of the most rousing conclusions to a film trilogy that has ever been made. What’s most astounding about this series is how consistent it is in delivering meaningful emotion, action, and spectacle. Succeeding in such a fashion is not an easy accomplishment. Doing it three times in a row is nearly unheard of in cinema history. The Fellowship’s journey comes to an end in The Return of the King and it’s worth every single minute. As with the previous two installments, the extended edition of this film is recommended. (★★★★½)
  • Young Frankenstein: This is a straight-up classic piece of comedy movie perfection. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you must see it. If you have seen it before, then do yourself a favor and watch it again. Either way, you’re in for a treat. (★★★★★)
  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things: In the pantheon of eternally living the same day movies, this one is one step below Palm Springs, but a thousand steps above Boss Level. They’re all pale imitations of Groundhog Day. Nonetheless, watching this movie was a perfectly pleasant way to spend some time. The stakes weren’t super high and the rewards were surprisingly touching and meaningful. You’re not going to do wrong with this one. In fact, it’ll probably put a smile on your face like it did mine. (★★★★)
  • Always Be My Maybe: This was a decent movie made memorable entirely by Keanu Reeves. Ali Wong and Randall Park were also delightful. The thing may have had a story that was like any other romantic comedy, but it did also have some laugh-out-loud moments. What I want now is an entire album’s worth of music from Hello Peril. Those songs were working for me. (★★★)
  • Total Recall: An Arnold Schwarzenegger film is always a good time. Throw in a Philip K. Dick story and you’ve got the makings of something that’s both complex and completely full of lunacy. I love an ‘80s sci-fi, action film with brains, and this film has that. I wouldn’t have minded if its running time was cut down a few smidges, but ultimately, most of it works well enough. (★★★½)
  • Freaky: A body-switching film that revels in the extremes of that concept. Too often, we’re given films of this type that features characters who need to learn a lesson about empathy. This time, the characters need to get everyone back to their appropriate bodies to prevent more teens from dying gruesome deaths. I appreciate the title’s play on the film, Freaky Friday, and I’m especially enamored by Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn in their opposing roles. I can’t call this a great film, but it is a fun one. (★★★)
  • Ingrid Goes West: Um, I don’t think Ingrid learned the right lesson by the end of the film. In fact, I’m not sure that the film was suggesting the right message all along. That being said, Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen we’re all kinds of great in this film. There was a level of commitment that’s not always found in such low-budget fare. It’s well made and eminently uncomfortable to watch. (★★★½)
  • Guns Akimbo: If they gave Oscars for dizzying camera movement, way too many covers of ‘80s songs, an unpleasant fetishization of violence, and creep directors, then this film would sweep the show. Luckily, they don’t do that and this film can maintain the notoriety it has as an extra hollow piece of forgettable action schlock. If it weren’t for the complete commitment to the insanity of the story by Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving, then this would have been a waste of my time. (★★)
  • The Natural: This was a surprising film. Who would have thought a relatively simple baseball story would have so many backroom dealings, so much intrigue, and even an attempted murder? I sure didn’t. Robert Redford’s strong performance bolstered a great story. Every supporting actor added a whole world of entertainment. At the heart of everything was a person chasing their dream, no matter how long it took them to achieve it. This is a fun and lasting classic for a darn good reason. It sticks with you after you’ve finished. (★★★★)
  • Misery: An intense film about fanaticism pushed farther than it should ever go. There are three marvels in this film. The first is James Caan, who gives an exhausting, terrified, physically demanding performance. Second is director Rob Reiner, who has one of the most peculiar and fantastic filmographies I’ve ever seen. Third is Kathy Bates, who won a well-deserved Oscar for her carefully unhinged performance as Annie Wilkes. Kind of makes a person never, ever want to become famous. Who in their right mind wants to be hobbled? (★★★★)
  • Bad Education (2019): I need more films like this one in my life. I love a tightly-paced, smartly-written film with performances that can make a story about embezzling school district funds a must-watch from the first second. Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney need to be in more films together. I would risk prison time to embezzle school district money with which I can finance more films they can star in together. Without a second thought! (★★★★)

Total movies watched: 32.

Would you look at that! This is probably the most films I’ve ever watched in a single month—an average of about one a day. I’m going to pat myself on the back for that one. Perhaps, for a future challenge,1 I’ll make sure not to miss any days or watch a Criterion Channel movie every day for a month or something.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

  1. Don’t expect this to happen anytime soon, though. This month was already tough. [return]

On this week’s episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee wants to be a Michigander, I want to be a Wisconsigoose, both of us are infatuated with Matthew McConaughey, and Violet Evergarden helps a dying soldier send his love to his family. 🎙

On this week’s episode of Stream Dream Team, I have no experience with cheese curds, Lee has fallen down a true crime tv show rabbit hole, and Violet Evergarden befriends a young girl with a dying mother in one of the most moving episodes of this show yet.🎙

After having watched nearly the first couple seasons of Cheers for the first time now, I’m struggling to see the allure of Sam and Diane. These two train wrecks need to break up before one murders the other. 📺

In the latest episode of Stream Dream Team, we’re saying gesundheit, waxing on about turtles of the ninja variety, and Violet Evergarden falls into a tempestuous whirlpool of grief before being saved by the Santa of Letters.🎙

In this week’s episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee is clearly and undoubtedly a vampire, Sean is angering up his blood, and we’re going back in time to experience more of Violet Evergarden’s violent, tragic past.🎙

‘The Suicide Squad’ Bows To A Disappointing $26.5 Million; Still Snags Top Spot At The U.S. Box Office

By Chris Nashawaty:

Five summers ago, the DC supervillain extravaganza Suicide Squad had a massive $133.7 [million] opening weekend at the North American box office. Despite those eye-popping numbers, critics and audiences were left unimpressed by the film. This weekend, the complete opposite happened: critics and audiences loved its big-budget follow-up, The Suicide Squad, but its theatrical receipts were underwhelming, pulling in just $26.5 million in its debut weekend. In the age of COVID, it appears that up is down, black is white, and blockbusters just ain’t what they used to be.

In this case, I feel like “disappointing” is a word that should only be used by someone who hasn’t been paying any attention to the world for the last year and a half.1 I’m hoping that the people who make the decision to green light a film won’t read too deep into this sort of misleading headline.

The writer’s conclusion is correct. Blockbusters indeed “just ain’t what they used to be,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re underperforming. Streaming services don’t often publish clear data about their viewership numbers and COVID has screwed up theatrical revenue. With those two factors in mind, The Suicide Squad, if I had to bet, is by no means a disappointment. To be more accurate, nobody knows yet how to properly gauge a film’s success in a world that values streaming at home over going to the theater.

By the way, I thought The Suicide Squad was amazing and fun. There’s no question in my mind that it’s DC’s best film so far. They should never stop throwing gobs of money at James Gunn. 🎥

  1. And let’s face it—much longer than a year and a half when all will be “said and done.” [return]

Netflix: “I see you watched an entire season of a single anime show. Let me offer you some new suggestions. Have you considered watching every anime ever produced now?”

Me: “…You’re coming on a little strong. I think we need to see other people.”

In this week’s new episode of Stream Dream Team, we’re talking about armies of the undead, podcasts about people who were made dead, and a sad writer’s dead daughter.

I promise it’s a lot less morbid episode than it sounds. Give it a listen now! 🎙

Letterboxd Diaries—July 2021

  • I’m Gonna Git You Sucka: Of Keenan Ivory Wayans’s films, this one is certainly better than A Low Down Dirty Shame. Its quality rests completely on the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. If this one wasn’t a parody of blaxploitation films, it would have been insufferable. Thank goodness for Bernie Casey and Isaac Hayes. (★★)
  • The Tomorrow War: This was overly long, felt like it had some major logic holes, and it underutilized Sam Richardson and Mary Lynn Rajskub (which is a serious crime in itself). The alien design was pretty dang effective, though. They seemed intimidating and were clearly capable of actually destroying all of humanity. By the end, they unfortunately just ended up becoming nothing more than some bugs to be squashed. They lost all their power when the humans figured out how to kill them. There was very little challenge for anyone. If you’re looking to watch a film that depicts a thrilling and moving future war, then you’d do much better to watch Edge of Tomorrow. You can never go wrong with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. (★★★)
  • Predator: I’m not sure why I was surprised that this one was as violent as it was, but who can ever prepare for the sight of human beings that have been removed from their skin? I certainly wasn’t ready for it, and then POW! Loads of dead people in a jungle. This was gruesome for an ‘80s film. It also became so much more than just terrible deaths. The first half of the movie is a decent examination of masculinity and its shortcomings. The back half is a great cat and mouse game between Arnold and the titular alien monster. I’d call this one pretty dang decent. (★★★★)
  • Clueless: I wish there were more movies made like this today. It was a perfect, low-stakes way to spend some of my time. There was no real antagonist. Everyone was very goofy. The main character, Cher, had far more depth than one might expect at the beginning of the film. Heck, the people who could have resembled an antagonist aren’t given much screen time. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering it’s obviously, and famously, based on a Jane Austen novel. It was just a pleasure to watch, even if it was the most ‘90s thing I’ve seen since the ‘90s. (★★★★)
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1: This is about as faithful an adaptation as you can get. Lines are taken straight from the graphic novel. Plot points hit at exactly the same time. Even visually there’s little difference between the two. That begs the question, if the source material is nearly perfect, then why wouldn’t I rank this adaptation higher? For me, the voice cast doesn’t quite work. The shadow of Kevin Conroy is long. Peter Weller doesn’t have the kind of gravelly gravitas I’d expect from an aged Batman/Bruce Wayne. I don’t know what’s going on with Commissioner Gordon. That voice is higher and reedier than I’d ever have expected. The acting is fine, but the sound of the characters is enough to make this one less effective. (★★★★)
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2: You can just refer to the entry above this one. It applies to this film, as well. (★★★★)
  • Black Widow: With this being the first new Marvel feature film since Avengers: Endgame, there was a lot riding on its success. The recent Disney+ tv shows have proven that Marvel still has the good stuff, but could they deliver again on the big screen? The answer, for me at least, is a pretty resounding yes. However, this isn’t a film that drives the long arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward. This one exists in the past. That’s not a bad thing—this one is a blast from beginning to end—but it’s hard to see Marvel’s future plans if you’re using this film as a landmark. It seems to exist out of time. I loved Scarlett Johansson and everyone else who was featured. (★★★★)
  • Another Earth: For a film about a spectacular celestial event, there’s so little science in this film. Indeed, the titular other Earth is really only referenced in news reports, radio programs, and either hopeful or frightened whispers. I appreciated the effective drama between the two main characters, but boy did I ever want more information about the world-changing event the film depicts. If it had a larger budget to work with, that would probably have been seen. This wasn’t a disappointment, but there was still a lot more that could have been done with it. (★★★½)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums: This is arguably the film that first showed Wes Anderson’s unique, symmetrical, colorful style as we would come to know and refer to it now. It works on every level. For a long time, this was his standard-bearer, and the film that worked best as an introduction to his work. Having seen this several times before, I was struck this time by how complete and well-crafted the screenplay was. His work with Owen Wilson on the story created a tale that’s always propellant, intoxicating, and hilarious. It was the last film the pair wrote together and I would love to see them collaborate in this fashion again. This, combined with their previous work on Rushmore and Bottle Rocket, showed a pair of filmmakers that were creating eccentric beauty. I want more of that. (★★★★½)
  • Big Night: A simple plot that was turned into a full-length film. This one hinges on the strong relationship between Tony Shalhoub as Primo and Stanley Tucci as Secondo. Without them and their amazing chemistry, it would have been just an okay film. There’d be little substance to support the enjoyable cooking scenes, of which there aren’t enough to buoy the film without the family drama. This one takes its time and trusts that you’ll go along for the ride it presents. It’s hard to find such a confident film these days. (★★★★)
  • How to Steal a Million: There are surely some credible knocks to be made against this film, but none of those matter to me. What does matter is just how dang fun this one is. It’s a lovely caper film with great energy. It’s also got Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. Are there any greater two reasons to watch this film than them? I think not! This is probably one of the best lazy weekend films I’ve ever seen and repeated viewings won’t go to waste. (★★★★½)
  • Wild Wild West: What an affront on every level. Plant a tree, kiss a puppy, eat some ice cream. Do anything but watch this film and you’ll have spared almost two precious hours of your life. (★)
  • No Sudden Move: Along with Killing Them Softly, Ray Liotta is making a real career out of getting the crap kicked out of him in front of a car in the rain. I can’t wait to see where he gets beat up next. Otherwise, this was a well-made film. It’s one of those things that throws non-stop names, connections, and dates at you. Much like a high school history class, it probably helps to take notes. (★★★½)
  • Gunpowder Milkshake: The story of this film really isn’t all that impressive, but damn if its style doesn’t push this over the edge into something more impressive. Karen Gillan was as lovely as ever. The cinematography and lighting were particularly top-notch. This is one of those films where it’s clear every cast and crew member enjoyed making it. Mostly, it felt hollow, and it’s a shame that there was little substance below its flashy exterior. (★★★½)

Total movies watched: 14

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥

Title Card: Zodiac (2007)

The title card for Zodiac.

Zodiac was written by James Vanderbilt and directed by David Fincher. It was released in 2007. The film was produced by Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and Phoenix Pictures. The titles were designed by Eric Ladd and Bruce Schluter.

Set primarily in San Francisco and spanning several decades, Zodiac tells the frightening story of a string of horrific serial murders that were perpetrated throughout Northern California.1 The Zodiac Killer is a still unidentified serial killer who operated throughout the late ‘60s, spreading uncertainty, paranoia, and fear. The film follows Robert Graysmith, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a political cartoonist and one of the foremost authorities on the Zodiac Killer. His relentless investigation, helped along by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery, played by Robert Downey Jr., and Inspector David Toschi, played by Mark Ruffalo, steadily brings the killer out of the darkness and into the public. While never identified or caught, the Zodiac Killer and his crimes have devastating effects on both the people who are chasing him and the city of San Francisco itself.

For my money, this is still David Fincher’s best work.2 It’s hard to find much fault in its storytelling, its visual style, or its performances. It’s one of those rare films that was made by an entire production crew that was firing on all cylinders all the time, as they say. And yet, it’s not spoken of with the same adoration that’s afforded to Fight Club or The Social Network. Those are both fine movies, The Social Network especially, but Zodiac so captures a time and mood that watching it feels like living during the harrowing years it depicts. It’s a rare thing to witness a film that is so of its time. Fincher is an exacting and demanding director. He may even be relentless to the point of assholery, but damn is he able to tell a story that envelops you, that holds you, and that can entertain you while also shocking you to your core.

There’s a moment in the film when Robert Graysmith visits a man named Bob Vaughn, played by Charles Fleischer, a silent film organist. Vaughn had once worked with a projectionist named Rick Marshall. Graysmith had previously been tipped off that Marshall was the Zodiac. The clues surrounding Marshall are soon attributed to Vaughn by the man himself, shortly before he invites Graysmith to follow him into his dimly lit basement to look for evidence that could provide a valuable link to the Zodiac. Graysmith descends into the dark, and we are given a scene that still frightens me every time I see it. I know what’s going to happen, and yet I feel my chest tighten whenever Graysmith sets his trembling feet on those creaky stair steps. Enjoy, in all its creepy glory. 🎞

  1. And possibly even Southern California. There is a potential link between the Zodiac Killer and Cheri Jo Bates, who was found murdered on the grounds of Riverside City College where she was also a student. It’s always surreal to consider that a school you used to attend was also the site of a grisly murder, made famous by the notoriety of its potential perpetrator. Whenever I drive by the campus, I feel a small chill deep down inside of me. [return]
  2. This isn’t something I’m going to argue with anyone over, but not for the reason that may suggest. I believe that David Fincher has crafted a staggering body of work (except for, perhaps, Alien 3). Any one of his films is worthy of being his best, or at least, someone’s favorite. Zodiac just so happens to be my preferred Fincher film. [return]

I really wish Apple would spend as much money marketing For All Mankind as they do for Ted Lasso.

I just finished the amazing second season and this brilliant show deserves far more attention than it’s getting. 📺🍎

On the Stream Dream Team podcast, we’re chugging right along with Violet Evergarden. This week, with episode six, we’re asking the question, “Do you want to have a picnic on top of an observatory?”

Listen to the new episode today! 🎙

Pattering rain one hour and bright sunshine the next. Southern California is being weird today.

If I had a nickel for every time the hand washing feature on my Apple Watch didn’t work, then I’d have enough money to buy a new Apple Watch that had a properly working hand washing feature. 🍎

It being more “industry standard,” I frequently try to give Logic Pro a fair shake for my podcast editing. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but it just never sticks. I always find my way back to the comforts of Ferrite Recording Studio.🎙

The Stream Dream Team has posted a brand new episode of their podcast today!

This time, we’re discussing Olympic sports, watching movies in movie theaters (finally), and Violet Evergarden becoming a badass uniter of nations. Listen today! 🎙

If I didn’t have tinnitus before my brother’s wedding, I certainly would now.

In all seriousness, I’m thrilled for him! He and his wife deserve all the best. I was very happy to share and celebrate the day with everybody. ❤️

Nothing has ever made me feel more pleased with my own small wedding than witnessing the huge production that is my brother’s wedding. To each their own, but man, does that look stressful to me.

Did Christmas come early for everyone today? Not quite, but on More Movies Please! we did watch and talk about a Christmas classic this week. It’s The Long Kiss Goodnight and it was a blast! 🎙🎥

Title Card: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The title card for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was written by Lawrence Kasdan and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released in 1981. The film was produced by Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm. The titles were created by the MGM Titles department.

Archaeologist Indiana Jones, played by Harrision Ford, discovers that the Nazis, led by rival archaeologist René Belloq, played by Paul Freeman are hot on the trail of the Ark of the Covenant, the chest holding the Ten Commandments. Indy is recruited by the U.S. Army to recover the Ark before Adolf Hitler can use it to make his army invincible. Reuniting with old flame Marion Ravenwood, played by Karen Allen, and friend Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies, the trio sets off on a globe-crossing adventure to find the Ark so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Coming off the one-two knockouts of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it’s no surprise that this film quickly became a critical and commercial success. What’s a little more surprising, even to some of the stars of the film, is how influential and beloved the movie has become since its release. It’s a thrilling and moving film, to be sure, but a crown jewel in the history of cinema? Who ever expects something like that to happen? Something like James Cameron’s Avatar is undeniably more financially successful,1 but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who holds Avatar in higher esteem. They’re both action-adventure films, made with the height of filmmaking technology at their respective production times. Yet, here we are. Due to its amazing performances, stellar direction, and a closing sequence that still boggles the mind, Raiders of the Lost Ark is a film that will be remembered forever. 🎞

  1. As of this writing, that behemoth has made over 2.8 billion dollars. When adjusting for inflation, it’s second only to Gone with the Wind. [return]

I’ve been co-hosting a new podcast show with my dear friend, Lee! It’s called Stream Dream Team and here are the most recent episodes. We’ve got a good head of steam going with our series on Violet Evergarden. I’d love for you to give them a listen! 🎙

I finished watching Schitt’s Creek a few days ago. The show has been stuck in my mind since then for two reasons:

  1. I enjoyed just about every dang second of it.
  2. I’m disappointed by the ending of the show.

In fairness, the conclusion of a tv show will never satisfy every viewer, and this is especially true when a show becomes widely watched and beloved. Game of Thrones, anyone?1 However, for a show as smart and caring as Schitt’s Creek, I expected more real growth from the main characters than what we got.2

The Rose family blew through the town of Schitt’s Creek like a slow whirlwind, affecting its citizens in myriad ways. The tears and heartfelt goodbyes that the Roses received when three-quarters of them left in the series finale demonstrated that they all left indelible marks on those with whom they had relationships. Therefore, it leaves a hollow feeling when it’s only David who stays behind. The rest leave with some fond, peculiar memories, but in some cases, little personal growth.

Were it not for his new husband, Patrick Brewer, David would have been out of the town in a flash, opening up a new location for his Rose Apothecary somewhere in New York City. That is, if he had ever been able to open up the Schitt’s Creek store in the first place without Patrick’s help. I’m grateful for his sensible realization that he’d be happier with his husband and business in the place that’s given him so much. His new house isn’t half bad either.

Alexis’s exit made the most sense. She’s at the beginning of a grand new adventure. Her blossoming PR firm, Alexis Rose Communications, was born out of her determination to get her G.E.D., find something to do with her life, and chase after that goal. It’s a great tragedy that her relationship with Ted Mullens had to end for her to achieve her dream (and he to achieve his), but sometimes life gets in the way of even the best relationships.3 Alexis’s life before her time in Schitt’s Creek was certainly colorful, but it was aimless. By the end of the show, she’d found an exciting path to travel. It just so happened that the path led away from the town. Nevertheless, her emotional parting conversations with Twyla Sands show that she understands the value of her time spent there.

Johnny, always the patient, level-headed patriarch,4 birthed a new business with the help of the wonderfully acerbic Stevie Budd. Their sure-to-be successful chain of motels will give them all security and purpose, along with, one can assume, a new mountain of cash. Why the headquarters of Rosebud Motels couldn’t be located in Schitt’s Creek, I have no idea. How nice would it have been to give back to the town, and Roland and Jocelyn Schitt, that took the Rose family in at their lowest point by making it a major hub for this business? California is nice,5 but why is it an essential location? If that was the case, why wasn’t it necessary for Stevie to come along to California? It’s an interconnected world. They started the new business in Schitt’s Creek and got noticed, so why couldn’t they keep that momentum up in the city?

Moira may have been the worst of the bunch, in this case. As we saw in the season five finale, titled, Life Is a Cabaret, upon learning that her beloved crows movie wouldn’t be getting a premiere event or distribution deal, she let out a scream to split the heavens and collapsed into a sorrowful heap. She spent a decent amount of the subsequent episode in a near-catatonic mess, hiding in her closet behind its flimsy accordion door. Her hard work was going to go unseen, but more tragically, her burgeoning ticket out of the titular town was being stolen from her.

However, when things turn around for The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening, leading to her reprisal in the reboot of her star-making soap opera, Sunrise Bay, she ultimately takes the role. The job would necessitate her presence on set outside of Schitt’s Creek, but why couldn’t the town be her home during the show’s downtime? Instead, she’s always been the most eager to return to a life of recognition and riches. It’s a shame to never see that desperation fade. I do not doubt that she became a better person since losing her past life, but even the newfound closeness her family experienced was never enough to fill the hole that fame dug into her. Even after her heavy goodbyes to the group that loved her the most—her fellow Jazzagals—she was all too willing to put the town in her rearview mirror, so to speak.

I loved this show and will surely watch it again in the future. However, the ending could have had a better message—one of growth, appreciation, and love for the people of Schitt’s Creek. They were always more welcoming and caring than the people who turned their backs on the Rose family at the beginning of the show. The journey was fun, but for me, still fell short of being spectacular. 📺

  1. While that show had its issues, I don’t think its conclusion was nearly as bad as the internet makes it out to be. But much like Star Wars fandom, nobody hates Game of Thrones quite like a Game of Thrones fan. If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you know that subtlety is a rare find. [return]
  2. WARNING: there are some major spoilers beyond this point. [return]
  3. I’m still sad about that one. Seriously, how great were they together? [return]
  4. At least, compared to the rest of his family. [return]
  5. I may be a bit biased here. [return]

Steven and I are talking about the wonderful and thrilling film from Gareth Edwards, Monsters. Make sure to give this episode a listen. This film is quite unlike any monster story you’ve ever seen. 🎙🎥