Dandy Cat

According to my Letterboxd 2021 in review, I started and ended the year with a Sandra Bullock film. Gravity on January 4 and The Net on December 30.

This was totally unintentional and entirely magical.

Title Card: The Shape of Water (2017)

The title card for the film, The Shape of Water.

The Shape of Water was written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor and was directed by Guillermo del Toro. It was released in 2017. The main titles were designed by Cam McLauchlin.

The film was produced by J. Miles Dale and Guillermo del Toro, along with Double Dare You, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and TSG Entertainment. 🎞

Apple Maps these days

A CNN article and interview by Jacob Krol has been making the rounds. It’s an interesting read and is packed with detailed imagery that shows off how capable and beautiful the app is now.

On September 19, 2012, Apple released its own map app, supplanting the app that had previously used data provided by Google. To say its reception was frosty would be an understatement. Rarely has an app been greeted with such disappointment, bafflement, and occasionally outright furor. Two momentous things happened in the immediate aftermath:

  1. Tim Cook released a letter of apology following the bungling of the release, in which he suggests using alternative map apps.
  2. Senior Vice President of iOS, Scott Forstall, and mapping team manager, Richard Williamson, left Apple (or were made to leave).

Apple isn’t ever without fault; it’s had its fair share of public embarrassments. I’m thinking of Ping, AirPower, and the still gorgeous Power Mac G4 Cube, to name a few. They may play like they’re unassailable, but oftentimes they show a great lack of insight and transparency with their releases. I guess world-shaking products like the iPhone, Apple Watch, and MacBook help to keep the balance.

Perhaps it’s because I live in Southern California, but at the beginning, I never had the sort of truly awful experience that others did. It was clear that its edges were as rough as could be, but calling it an abject failure? A catastrophe? Something worth getting fired over? It was an embarrassment, sure, but the reactions always felt outsized. Indeed, I think everyone should have taken some deep breaths over the whole thing.1

Anecdotally, the general feeling around my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances was one of disappointment and ridicule. Many expected it to be as capable and reliable as Google Maps was at the time (and continues to be). What a ridiculous notion that was! To write off an entire app—and for many, never use again—because it wasn’t immediately as good as its predecessor/competition felt like the wrong sort of knee-jerk response. Google Maps launched on February 8, 2005, a full seven years before Apple Maps. Of course Apple is going to be playing catch-up for a while. If you told me that Google’s product was rough and problematic at launch, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.

We’re coming up on a decade of Apple Maps and, baby, it’s come a long way. We’ve got useful mapping data, gorgeous 3d models, and a Look Around function that’s second to none.2 As Krol describes in the article:

When navigating somewhere on an iPhone, you’ll notice that you’ll see clearer details about lanes in a road. Lanes are depicted accurately — with road markings — and intersections show crosswalks. It not only helps with accessibility since you’ll know those elements are there, but also extends to knowing what lane you need and how to get there properly. Even neater, you’ll see proper elevation when navigating complex highways that have ground-level roads with overpasses that intersect.

It’s a treat to use the app now. The service is capable and trustworthy. They’ve turned what would otherwise be an app lacking in personality into an experience that feels friendly, is chock full of helpful information, and is littered with eye candy.

Maps has a special place in the history of Apple. Roundly criticized and rejected at its release, it has since become one of their crown jewels. The app shows Apple at its best—quietly improving a product or service until it gleams with polish and essential utility. There are few apps on my devices that are as simultaneously useful, entertaining, and educational as Maps.

  1. That being said, there were undoubtedly some areas of the world that were failed by the app’s rough edges and shoddy mapping data. It’s a damn shame that people were let down by Apple’s mistakes. ↩︎

  2. Yes, it’s a far better experience than Google’s Street View. The only downside is that it doesn’t have the same coverage that Google’s feature does, but it’s only a matter of time before that changes. ↩︎

In this week’s new Stream Dream Team, I’ve got serious questions about public tooting etiquette, Lee is dropping knowledge about the Sabrina-Riverdale universe, and we meet newly famous musician, Larry Underwood, in The Stand.

Listen to this informative new episode right here! 🎙️

Oh, how I long for a Letterboxd-type, independent service for books that isn’t Goodreads. Amazon sucks all the fun out of most things.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

I hope you have a lovely day full of cheer, family, friends, giving and receiving nice presents, delicious meals, and as much happiness as you can stuff into a day. 🎄

Title Card: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

The title card for the film, It's a Wonderful Life.

It’s a Wonderful Life was written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hacket, and Frank Capra and was directed by Frank Capra. It was released in 1946.

The film was produced by Frank Capra, along with Liberty Films. 🎞

All I don’t want for Christmas is finding rain water leaking into the house through a window frame and under the eaves of the roof.

I’d like to send this terrible present straight back to the North Pole, thank you very much!

As it happens every year, the confusion and stress of trying to schedule a holiday visit with everyone in my life are enough to make me not want to do any of it. A quiet day with my wife (and some cozy blankets, Christmas music, and maybe gingerbread cookies) sounds way better.

In this week’s new episode of Stream Dream Team, I suck at making vuvuzela sounds with my mouth, Lee is given the title of “Dingmeister,” and we delve into the post-apocalyptic horror world of the recent The Stand mini-series.

Listen to this silly new episode right here. 🎙️

If the company that makes my eggless mayo could stop adding an incredibly rich and noxious artificial egg smell, that would be great.

If I could get paid for rearranging my desk, I’d probably be on par with Bezos and Musk right about now.

Title Card: The Social Network (2010)

The title card for the film, The Social Network.

The Social Network was written by Aaron Sorkin and was directed by David Fincher. It was released in 2010. The main titles were done by Neil Kellerhouse and the end titles by Scarlet Letters.

The film was produced by Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, and Scott Rudin, along with Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, Scott Rudin Productions, Michael De Luca Productions, and Trigger Street Productions. 🎞

A cozy, rainy day is nearly impossible to beat (and it’s especially welcome after the hot year we had)!

An image of a wet backyard, complete with green grass, a brick walkway, and a large gazebo. Rain fall from above.

In this week’s new episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee’s been keeping the most terrible of secrets, I’m all about Captain & Tennille (I guess?), and one last time, we travel to the beautiful and emotional world of Violet Evergarden.

Listen to this moving episode right here! 🎙

Paul Thomas Anderson: Superhero Movies Haven’t Ruined Cinema

In an IndieWire article by Ryan Lattanzio:

I mean, look, we’re all nervous about people getting back to the theater, but you know what’s going to get them back in movie theaters? ‘Spider-Man.’ So let’s be happy about that.

Like a cooling oasis in [a desert of bad hot takes about superhero films](https ://www.dandy.cat/2021/10/14/david-fincher-announces.html), Paul Thomas Anderson says that movies and the theatergoing experience will be fine, even if there is more money than ever spent on high budget, blockbuster films. There’s still room for everybody to play. Indeed, it’s the enormous movies like the new Spider-Man film that will allow directors like him to continue doing what he does.

So it’s a universally held truth that calories don’t count during the holiday season, right?


The Apple TV app interface could undeniably use work. However, I think a lot of its terribleness could be mitigated just by letting me like/dislike items in there.

I want it to stop guessing what I’d like poorly, and instead, just let me tell it.

Title Card: The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

The title card for the film, The Edge of Seventeen.

The Edge of Seventeen was written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. It was released in 2016.

The film was produced by Julie Ansell, James L. Brooks, and Richard Sakai, along with Gracie Films, Huayi Brothers Media, Robert Simonds Productions, and STX Entertainment. 🎞

With the purchase of Farrago, along with all the other Rogue Amoeba apps I already have, I feel like I now have absolute control over my computer audio.

Music, sound effects, heck, even the sounds of the birth of the universe! It’s all at my fingertips.

In this week’s new episode of Stream Dream Team, Lee is enjoying the heck out of brinner, I’m less than enthusiastic about the movie, The Night House, and we’re saying a tearful goodbye to our beloved Moonbeam City.

Listen to this heated episode right here! 🎙

May your days always be as full of 91 cent class action settlement checks as mine has been!

May those lawyers’ gift-wrapped presents always be filled with the enormous payouts that those cases grant only them!

May there be nothing but coal in the stocking of Bank of America!

Whoever popularized the “Jump to recipe” button on recipe blogs needs to receive a Nobel prize or a knighthood or something. That should be a required element for every one of those websites.

Title Card: Double Indemnity (1944)

The title card for the film, Double Indemnity.

Double Indemnity was written by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder, and was directed by Billy Wilder. It was released in 1944.

The film was produced by Joseph Sistrom, along with Paramount Pictures. 🎞

Letterboxd Diaries—November 2021

  • Violet Evergarden: The Movie: Two hours and twenty minutes is a long running time for any movie. This one was no exception. On the plus side, nothing about this story felt rushed. We’re allowed to luxuriate in the beautiful artwork and dramatic storytelling. This story was a long time coming, and I’m glad to see its titular character finally receive the closure and happiness she’s been craving for so long. (★★★★)
  • Army of Thieves: Star and director Matthias Schweighöfer seems assured beyond his years. I really can’t wait to see more of his work because he’s a great filmmaker. The plot of the film becomes repetitive early on. There are only so many ways you can show somebody cracking a safe before it becomes tired. A shorter running time would have helped keep its momentum up. However, it is a beautiful film. It’s a pleasure to look at. (★★★½)
  • Home Alone: Charming, certainly. There’s a lot to like about this film. However, I think it stumbles into its “classic” status mainly by virtue of stubborn nostalgia. In lesser hands, it would be a sadistic, interminable bore. The confidence and adept hand of director Chris Columbus keeps this holiday film afloat. I don’t disparage anyone’s love of this film, but it doesn’t capture my attention. (★★★½)
  • Happiest Season: I could really use a whole bunch of movies like this. It’s really well done, is full of amazing actors, and presents a complex issue. I want 31 days of movies like this every December. I’m glad this didn’t shy away from tougher moments. I hope Clea Duvall will write and direct many more movies because they are very talented. (★★★★)
  • This Beautiful Fantastic: I missed a lot of what could have been depth under the surface of this film. If it were a little bit longer, some of these characters’ pasts could have been fleshed out more. However, its breezy and eccentric spirit kept it from being disappointing. It had a charming story that can easily bring a smile to your face. Every one of the actors seemed like they were having so much fun during the production. (★★★½)
  • Buried: Jeez. What a decently made, well-acted, bummer of a film. It was pretty effective. Ryan Reynolds gave this performance 1000% of himself at all times. That ending wasn’t totally unexpected, but it still leaves you with despair. Complete and utter despair. This is not a happy or triumphant movie in any regard whatsoever. There’s no real catharsis. No lessons learned. No good reason for the character to be subjected to this ordeal. Just abject cruelty performed on an innocent person. “Cruel” is a good word to use here—this was a cruel film. (★★★)
  • Red Notice: I’d feel better about giving this one another half-star if it was significantly shorter. Unfortunately, it was long to the point of being boring and insufferable. There was very little compelling action. Only the tiniest bit of character development. Trying to find any humor in it was like trying to find Cleopatra’s third egg. Considering its three leads, this one should have been so much better. (★½)
  • Margin Call: This is another one of those films that’s steeped in financial terminology and history, which means great portions of it largely go whizzing by over my head. In this case, there’s still enough mood-setting, amazing performances, and confident direction to keep those without extensive knowledge about the 2008 financial crisis riveted. It’s wonderful to watch a film that takes place over the span of a single day not get bogged down by its adherence to its clever storytelling gimmick. As always, extra points are awarded solely for the inclusion of Stanley Tucci. (★★★★)
  • Thirst: What a strange freaking movie. It felt so frantic and all over the place. It hardly lets you get a feel for what was happening before whisking you off to another location or another personal crisis. But it was good. The journey it takes you on is exhaustive. It had weight and spectacle and was shocking in many places. Few characters were who they appeared to be. It keeps you guessing, which should always be welcome. I think I would have liked this more if it was a bit shorter. (★★★½)
  • Psych 3: This Is Gus: Is this a biased review because Psych is probably my favorite show ever? Why, yes. Absolutely and without question. James Rodriguez, Dulé Hill, and the rest of the always stellar cast give performances reminiscent of the best parts of the television show. The film feels energetic, there’s a great mystery at the center, and as always, there’s an undeniable love imbued in every single frame. I had a blast watching this one. I hope they’ll make many more films because they bring joy into this world. (★★★★½)
  • The Edge of Seventeen: It wasn’t until the last half hour of this one that I thought it was going to be a well-made and perfectly enjoyable story about a unique teenager and the authentic issues she’s dealing with. Also, any moment Woody Harrelson was in it was the best moment. That third act proved that there was more intelligence and care put into this one than it seems. There’s some real devastating emotion and catharsis on display here that’s just impossible to look away from. I’m glad my teenage years weren’t so tumultuous, because I think it’s a very real depiction of high school life. Hailee Steinfeld was magnificent. (★★★★½)
  • Yes Man: I don’t think I can ever go so far as to say that this is a great film. Maybe it’s not even that good all the way through. But it sure as hell is fun and lighthearted, and damn it, isn’t that just all a person can need sometimes? Breezy, funny, earnest at times, motivating. There’s a lot of good that can be found. I enjoyed Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel together. They’re always good in anything they do. This is a perfect movie for when you’re feeling down or you’ve got a lazy afternoon on your hands. (★★★½)
  • The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected): I can’t call this Baumbach’s strongest work. He’s done amazing things before and after this one. However, of the films of his that I’ve seen, this one is probably filled with the most heart and familial love. His writing is always top-notch, but he should really be credited far more than he already is for the flawless direction of his actors. He always finds a way to tap into the best talents of his formidable cast. (★★★★)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Ah, this was such a refreshing change from the usual Marvel fare (and I’m a huge fan of that stuff). I absolutely loved the history, culture, and mythology that fills this entire story. The performances are at their typical best, as are the visuals. It’s beyond clear that everyone had a great time making this one. I was more films felt like they had that kind of care and energy in them. (★★★★)
  • The Fate of the Furious: Breaking up the family made for an emotionally weak installment to this series. It certainly amped up the drama and intrigue, but it didn’t do anything to help create a strong connection with any of these people. It’s a dang shame, too, because they should feel very familiar by this point. Just goes to show you that a strong and emotional story will always be better than impressive spectacle. This is a middle of the road entry. (★★★)
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage: What’s most frustrating about this film is it should be so much better than it is, considering how much formidable talent is behind it. It only gets halfway toward being great, and then stops. Making an R rated film may have been a good first step. Utilizing Woody Harrelson, who was still delightful, better would have been another good idea. There’s nothing particularly bad with this film, but it’s also unremarkable. It’s unlikely to stick with you any longer than it takes the credits to roll. (★★★)
  • The Fundamentals of Caring: I’m racking my brain to try and figure out if I’ve ever seen a bad Paul Rudd movie, and I’m coming up with nothing. Nope, he’s been great in everything. This movie proves to be no exception. The entire cast takes a story about friendship, exploration, and overcoming your fears and imbues it with warmth and humor. It’s eminently watchable, and at 97 minutes, it just breezes by. The film’s short running time may make some of the earlier moments feel rushed and lacking, but it makes up for it with some strong character development later on. (★★★½)
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Steve Martin and John Candy are always immediately and effortlessly magnetic, but I found the film’s story to be a slow burn. Del and Neal’s warring relationship makes for a pair of characters that aren’t especially relatable (or likable) at the beginning of the film. As time passes and you learn more about them, though, they start to feel like old friends, both in the film and for the viewer. By the end of this insane and exhausting road trip, I wanted it to keep going. Begone, end credits! (★★★★)
  • Ride the Eagle: I don’t mind a long, epic movie, but sometimes you want to watch something that knows the value of brevity. This is one of those movies. Jake Johnson, as always, is excellent at playing the character he’s cultivated since, at least, his time on the show, New Girl. It works, and it’s a delight to see in this story. You’d never think that a family relationship that develops entirely through a VHS tape would be so affecting, but here we are. This one is pleasant and it has a cute as heck dog. (★★★★)
  • A Mighty Wind: I haven’t come across a Christopher Guest film that isn’t a delight. They’re all varying degrees of fun, hilarious, and excellent. This one doesn’t hit the high bar set by its predecessor, Best in Show, but it is full of the style and deadpan humor that makes his films so unique and memorable. I enjoy folk music, so this one was right up my alley. However, I would have appreciated more humor and less music. The ratio seemed off this time. (★★★½)
  • Love and Monsters: A very strong entry into the post-apocalypse genre. Instead of zombies or aliens, we’re treated to enormous, macabre versions of creatures we’re already familiar with. It’s an interesting concept that’s bolstered by a capable lead performance and some excellent relationships that form during its story (who can resist the charm of the dog, Boy?). The ending was unexpected considering the title; “happily ever after” doesn’t seem to apply here. It’s unique, thrilling, and fresh. (★★★½)
  • Minari: A heartfelt, loving, and tough family drama with an underlying core of desperation running underneath its surface. It’s no wonder why this film was so revered and received so many accolades. Yuh-jung Youn was particularly deserving of the Oscar she won for her performance as Soonja, the family’s grandmother. “The American Dream” always seems so cruelly out of reach to this family, and it’s heartbreaking to see them struggle and nearly unravel. You hope nothing but the best for these characters. This is a film that will surely stick to you, as it has to me. (★★★★½)

Total movies watched: 22.

Favorite movie of the month: Psych 3: This Is Gus. I’m a little biased here—Psych is one of my favorite things ever.

Least favorite movie of the month: Red Notice.

Be sure to follow me on Letterboxd! 🎥