Phantom Thread. Loved it in the moment. Didn’t know where it was going, didn’t care, I just knew I wanted to be there. I’d probably put this in my top 3 Paul Thomas Anderson movies, but I’m not yet sure how I’d reshuffle them.
It Comes at Night. It’s great! Movies like this remind you of what a simple, almost primal pleasure it is just to watch how light fills and moves through a dark place. I also like that it doesn’t bother with answers about the general state of the world, and doesn’t waste time with half-hearted attempts. People seek and accept what’s practical, and move on. Backstory is irrelevant to a degree. The red door in the house – like a church, perhaps? I’ve really come to love this survival-cabin subgenre. Other recent ones that are worth a look: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Into the Forest, Z for Zachariah. What else?
I Am Not Your Negro. I liked it a lot. Just the premise – a movie rendition of an unfinished book – is such an interesting way to start. I’ve heard similar formulations before, but two ideas in here really stuck with me. One, his comments during an interview that, while he may not know what whites believe, he can see the state of our institutions (church, work, real estate, etc.). They tell you something you cannot deny. Second, his prompt to ask ourselves why the negro was invented. Black people didn’t come up with it. It’s a white invention to fill some need – one worth examining. Recommended. Filed under: documentaries.
I really liked Lauren Hallden’s Towards a Bra-Free Instagram Experience. It made me start to wonder about the effects of a social medium when it thinks you are something… but you are not that. Every so often I’ve noticed an account can stumble into a sort of algorithmic death spiral. I remember years back when I foolishly gave The Great Gatsby five stars on Amazon, and for months on end it thoughtfully suggested classic after classic after classic after classic. I guess that’s to be expected. But what’s get interesting is that somehow it’s not just an annoyance – I don’t use the suggestions that much – but it also feels like a wrong worth correcting, a sense of identity betrayed. And I have to try to convince the black box that this is what I’m about.
I’ve spent my fair share of time on Instagram, and don’t really regret it much. Perhaps that’s because the channel isn’t as emotionally charged as others can be. But I recently removed the Instagram app from my phone, just as a little experiment. I still log in every now and then on the iPad to see what’s up. (By the way, Instagram via iPad web browser is so much better than the iPhone app it’s crazy. There also seem to be fewer ads?)
This removal is also part of a re-RSSing (and re-assessing) project I’ve been trying to do. If I check comething a lot, find a feed. If I think about a topic a lot, find the feeds. Instagram doesn’t have any built-in feeds that I know of, but you can cobble something together through various means (for example). So far I like this approach. I see only what I wanted – and I miss what they think I wanted. I’m okay with this. This product manager idea of “discovery” has never ranked high on my list, and I don’t miss content-hopping down the bottomless pit. That’s what Twitter is for.
“When not telling feels like ‘hiding,’ it’s time to tell. There’s your opener, too. ‘I should have said this sooner.’”
Carolyn Hax. As it is in relationships, so it is on the web.
The Post. Precisely what I expected it to be!
A question I like to ask when I travel: “What would I be like if I grew up here?”
Song to Song. Rooney Mara might be the best dizzy princess Malick’s ever had. This one also has some of the best music. It’s also one of the few Malick’s to ever make me laugh multiple times. I was surprisingly swept up for the first hour or so. And yet… the staying power wasn’t there for me. Still good, though.
Updated Terrence Malick power rankings:
That is a solid body of work.
The Neon Demon. This is Nicolas Winding Refn‘s best movie, haters. I think it was More Than One Lesson, their episode on this movie, where Tyler Smith talked about this being a perfect pairing: Refn loves image and surface and sheen, and here he finds characters to match. Mirrors everywhere, all-consumptive. Don’t forget it’s a horror movie.
My Refn power rankings:
A Ghost Story. I loved this movie. I will probably put it on my favorites-of-2018 list. I like this view of ghosts as sort of outside of time, in both directions. Ghosts as unfinished business. Ghosts with flaws and hang-ups. And the idea that places are saturated with history, and by the same token history isn’t just events in time but in a space. Solid soundtrack, too.
War for the Planet of the Apes. Kind of a bummer. At first I was really into the melodrama. Eventually, it became very tedious. It seemed like they were stopping for a sappy moment every 5-10 minutes. The Gollum/Jar Jar ape didn’t help. I also don’t understand why a crucial character uses a crossbow in a world with guns. Another hang-up was that I couldn’t figure out how the world fit together. That’s one thing I liked about Rise… and Dawn… – the geography was clear. You knew who was where. This one started in those awesome rainforests, then moved to a snowscape, and then to the Sierras? Or Tahoe? The previous ones were strong in that they felt like our world. I don’t know what happened to it here. Bummer. Filed under: Planet of the Apes.