American Vandal (2017)

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American Vandal was, to me, the most unexpected emotional punch of the year.

Yes, I’m referring to the Netflix series parody of America’s obsession with crime, in the same vain as Making a Murderer, The Keepers or even Scandal… blown up to a four-hour-long dick joke.

That’s right, the Netflix-dick-joke series has more sincerity than most serious, prestige dramas.  It delves into obsession, classism, depression, gender politics, race… and it does so effortlessly, while never forgetting why it’s there in the first place: To be funny.

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It (2017)

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The latest adaptation of Stephen King’s It comes as something of a disappointment to me, if only because the original source material is something very dear to me.  It is, however, still a perfectly fine movie.  It is one with some enjoyable suspense, good acting and decent characterization.  Technically, it is a good movie, and for the amount of success that It is receiving, you could do a lot worse.

I wanted to first start with what I liked about the movie.

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Testament (1983)

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Tis the season for bummer movies about nuclear war.  A normal reaction to modern politics—including tensions heating up between the United States, Russia, North Korea and the Middle East, with wars raging with no end in sight—is usually to watch something lighthearted as a distraction.  Sometimes, though, I feel like watching a movie that mirrors society’s current woes, escalated to the most extreme outcome, has a sort of cathartic quality to it.

Testament is a film about a normal family in the 1980s in a small beach community up the California coast.  Carol Wetherly (Jane Alexander) must take care of her children after nuclear war breaks out.  No one knows who is responsible, no one knows who launched the nukes first or even what countries were involved.  Does it matter, really?  Her husband is presumably killed in a blast that took out San Francisco and it’s up to her to take care of her children, plus a neighborhood child whose parents are missing.

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On the ending of “Twin Peaks: The Return”

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The following essay contains spoilers for the finale of Twin Peaks: The Return

The titular “return” of Twin Peaks: The Return, I always thought, was Dale Cooper’s return, not only to reality, but to the town of Twin Peaks, in order to battle the evil force of BOB, the occupying entity who inhabited his original body and wreaked havoc on the world for 25 years.

It turns out, the return was Laura Palmer.

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Finally Saw It: Atomic Blonde (2017)

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Atomic Blonde plays like a spoof of spy movies, but not in a traditional way like an Austin Powers movie would be, laden with jokes and gags and genuine laughs—but instead, more like a satirical take on the oftentimes ludicrous plot at the center of most spy movies.

I might not be the ideal audience in mind for this movie, I guess is what I’m getting at.  To me, the plot existed specifically to be a confusing mess that never really engaged me.

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Dunkirk (2017)

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Dunkirk was a brilliant way for Christopher Nolan to trick a pretty broad audience into seeing a largely dialogueless, nonlinear experimental film shot on 70mm film.  Much of the story is told through action, with only snippets of conversation here and there to fill in essential details.  The film is also divided into three sections—one on the land, one on the sea and one in the air, each taking place over a different amount of time (a week, a day, an hour).

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It Comes at Night (2017)

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There’s a specific sub-genre of horror movies, the “siege” type scenario, the kind of movie where people are essentially locked into one area, one house or one cabin (or in the case of Dawn of the Dead, a mall), and they are unable to leave because the world around them is crumbling and rife with threat.  In the case of It Comes at Night, there is a deadly, highly-communicable disease.  Contact with the disease is, as of now, pretty much 100% lethal.  In the vein of George A. Romero or John Carpenter, the disease isn’t the monster—the disease just does what a disease does—the real monster is humanity.

Something John Carpenter has said again and again is that it’s so easy to say that monsters are out there, that they live in the shadows, that they dwell in the darkness.  But what’s really scary is the truth, that the monsters are already among us and we are them.

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Wonder Woman

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It’s silly that a movie like Wonder Woman has to be considered semi-controversial in a modern era that has backslid into a sort of proud misogyny.  I might be incorrect, but I feel like if this movie had come out ten, twenty years ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem.  There would have been virtually no conversations about the fact that it’s a woman-directed film starring, egads, another woman.  Perhaps because the superhero film genre that’s exploded is such a boy’s club?  I don’t know.

Anyway, that said, I’d like to forever ignore such idiocy.  Wonder Woman is a character who’s been around for ages.  She’s been beloved for generations.  Making this film is a fucking no-brainer, so I’m going to discuss the film and ignore the titty-baby pleas of MRA children-men.

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Twin Peaks: The Return

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How often does a decades-too-late sequel, reunion or follow-up ever work out?  It does, sometimes.  Fury Road, the fourth Mad Max movie, for example, was the fun bit of mayhem everyone expected it to be.  Usually, though, the results are something more like the second Dumb and Dumber… not terrible, but something better left alone.  The problem is that the characters are old now.  You look at Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey goofing around and you’re like, man, this is all kind of sad.

Twin Peaks had an excellent first season, a second season that started off great, got lost along the way, and found itself near the end—too late for audiences, because the show was canceled.  A movie was made, but the movie was not interested in wrapping up loose ends, and was instead a prequel.  People hated it.

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Alien: Covenant

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Sometimes while watching the latest entry in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant I wondered if Ridley Scott, the man who directed both this and the original film that kicked everything off, had even watched Alien.

Alien: Covenant seems to follow the path of Prometheus, as opposed to the original Alien.  As such, it is populated with characters who make the worst possible decision in any situation.  I’m not sure which film I enjoy more… or less.  Both Alien: Covenant and Prometheus are dull, lifeless exercises in… I don’t even know what.  The movies don’t seem to be thrilled with any of the ideas that they’re presenting.  In Alien: Covenant, while exploring caverns, the movie simply allows the exploration to happen—when this moment should be a wonderful, exciting sequence filled with wonders and horrors and delights, it’s treated like the characters are walking to the grocery store.

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