Friday, June 14, 2019

Seen in May 

Some enchanted evening - Dany and Jon Snow take a walk in Season 8 of Game of Thrones, image via The Movie Db

A lot of time was invested in May in the final season of Game of Thrones and the Raptors' unprecedented playoff run (to victory! Go Raps!) Was it worth it? Sure. As much as anything that involves lying on the couch is worth anything I guess. I'm sure I could've been doing something else. Doing taxes? Did it. Exercise? Tomorrow or maybe on the weekend. In the end, there are only the memories. Now, what was I talking about? Oh right, movies and stuff.

Yossarian makes his case for his sanity, image via The Movie Db


This is the 1970 film based on the seminal novel of the same name from Joseph Heller. The novel and its title have became a sort of cultural touchstone of the madness of modern warfare. Set in the Mediterranean theatre air campaign of WWII, pilot Yossarian desires nothing more than a break from flying missions. Yet every time he and his fellow pilots are approaching the set limit of flight missions, the number is raised by their superiors. The only way to get out of flying additional missions is to be declared unfit to fly by insanity. The only way to be considered for such a recommendation is to request it from the base doctor who is the only one who can grant it. The catch? Only a reasonably sane individual would ask to be relieved of this duty, therefore the pilot asking for this exception must be sane and is thus fit to fly. I’m surprised this paradox hasn’t been pointed out more often recently as it’s been the basis of the US Attorney General’s reasoning on why the President of the United States hasn’t committed any crimes. Basically, because no actions of a sitting president can be considered criminal it is therefore impossible for a sitting president to commit a crime. This of course is nonsensical and forms the background to a kind of madcap escapade of the absurdity of modern warfare and American capitalism. Milo Minderbinder’s explanation of how eggs purchased at a loss from Malta vendors can be sold at a profit to the US Military as long as the transaction passes through the profiteering “Corporation” and a ready supply of silk can be provided to Egyptians even if the silk comes from the parachutes of American pilots is the level of satire that is the entire basis of this film.

The Tick Season 02

Season 2 ticked along, reliably goofy with underwhelming effects and costumes.

Emily Blunt doesn't take any guff in Sicario, well, some guff, but not much. Image via The Movie Db


This slightly confusing drug thriller is as good as it gets. Excellent performances from Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin underpin a conspiracy between the CIA working with (or against) the FBI to work with one cartel to undermine another more violent one. Who knows if these kind of operations ever happen but the infamous violence of the cartels is frighteningly depicted here as are their methods of stash houses and tunnelling. I don't know why I put off seeing this for so long but it is definitely worth watching. You'll also realize how deft a director Denis Villeneuve is and just why he's so sought after.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Memorize this name. Image via The Movie Db

Knock Down the House

There will be tears and cheers in this political documentary of four female political rookies aiming to get a foothold into their own party’s machinery. The filmmakers hit the jackpot when featuring then unknown underdog Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC), who has become the face of a youthful political movement interested in addressing social issues piece by piece until the system has been rebuilt.

There's something to disappoint everybody in Season 8 of Game of Thrones, image via The Movie Db

Game of Thrones Season 8

The wildly popular fantasy series featuring sex, medieval battles, magic and dragons came to a withering end not with a massive battle or apocalypse but with a meeting of the board. Apparently many, many GoT fans think the makers of the show got the season wrong, wrong, wrong just plain wrong. In defence of creators, your petitions are pointless and your disgust misplaced. George R. R. Martin had years to complete the series but has been unable to come up with anything (the R. R. Stands for Really Reticent) so the producers forged ahead without a book as their guide. This, many critics argued was how the show lost its soul, meaning some long ponderous dialogue, slow burning political plot twists and an overuse of red herrings. I would argue that only the last two episodes disappointed. Genuine criticism would be that the pace of the show seemed accelerated unnecessarily, too many misdirections led nowhere and in the end, some characters very quickly turned against their nature that had been developed over the previous seven seasons. Despite it all, I was disappointed with a less than ingenious conclusion than the show deserved but that doesn’t discount the success of creating 7-3/4 seasons of the most incredibly expansive, complex and expensive series ever brought to television. In my dreams the HBO series Rome would have had a similar success.

Barry Season 2

“Am I an evil person?” asks the perpetual killing machine Barry Berkman. I think after this season’s finale, in which the body count rivals only that of the Game of Thrones’ Battle of Winterfell, we can say, “Yes”, yes Barry, I think you are all kinds of evil.

Veep season 7

It’s a little frightening to think that Washington insiders consider HBO’s political comedy Veep a more accurate depiction of the government and its machinations than the drama “House of Cards”. Never has a more superficial, narcissistic, or moronic group of idiots been portrayed as the power players of Washington D.C. (well, at least not until 2016). In its final season, Veep manages to show presidential candidate, Selina Meyer, played with aplomb by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and her circle of politicos at their lowest and most vicious and what you find in the depths of America’s political soul is pure comedy gold.

No man stands alone, against a dozen foes, unless you're in a martial arts movie like Ip Man, image via The Movie Db

Ip Man

I’m not sure why I put off watching this for so long but I’m glad I finally saw it. This is a fictional re-telling of the martial arts master, Ip Man, who resisted oppression just before WWII when a large area of China was occupied by a very nasty (in the model of superior race fascist nasty) Japanese army. Martial arts star, Donnie Yen, plays the Ip Man who after defeating a Japanese champion using his style of martial art, Wing Chung, is forced to flee mainland China for Hong Kong. Many years later he would start a school whose most famous student was none other than Bruce Lee. Curiously, no one has yet made a parody of this series of films telling the tale of a craft brew master called "IPA Man"?

Very Nice, Very Nice

This seven minute short film from Arthur Lipsett for the NFB is one of the most unique film creations I can think of. Described as a “conceptual collage of sounds and images" it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Chris Marker’s La Jetée for its brilliant use of still images edited with mesmerizing effect to a sound collage of recordings and music. There is no story but there is a message of modern isolation within a commercial and materialistic society that is eating itself alive. I think.


Despite Christian Bale’s almost inhuman transformation to become Vice President Dick Cheney this film could never coalesce. Using some of the same comedic and breaking the fourth-wall techniques he used in The Big Short, film maker Adam McKay is unable to bring together all the threads Cheney plucked on and unraveled during his career in two of the most infamous White House administrations of the 20th century, that of Nixon and George W. Bush. Cheney combined war profiteering with rewriting American democracy to a level that is both shocking and absurd. Yet the story didn’t end with his comeuppance but rather with his interpretation and use of the Unitary Executive theory laying the groundwork for the misuse of privilege we see today and the idea that because any action the President of the United States takes is legal, the President of the United States cannot commit a crime. Sound familiar?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a talented biographer who is unable to get her latest work published due to her obscure subject (who wants a celebrity biography about someone no one remembers?) As she descended into debt due to her alcoholism and difficult personality she discovered a letter from famed author Dorothy Parker. When the letter was deemed too dull be of any value, Israel decided to spice it up. What was a mediocre bit of memorabilia became a valuable collectible. Thus began Israel’s second career of forging literary letters. Her skill and knowledge of the subjects made a potent mix that led to a mini goldmine until eventually she was found out. McCarthy shows excellent range and sympathy as an angry down on her luck writer who pairs well with her rogue drinking pal, Jack, played by Richard Grant. Unfortunately the movie can only take these characters so far and slows to a stop just as it gets interesting. At some point no one would buy letters from her and as in real life, Lee Israel was charged not for her forgeries but for her theft of genuine letters stolen from archives which she replaced with her own copies. Lee Israel. Forger. Original.

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