Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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97 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    The movie also gave us this:

    It’s easy to forgive things that result in stuff like this.Report

  2. aaron david says:

    Well Jaybird, that was the best Birdman review yet! (Haven’t seen the movie yet, just love good criticism.)

    The wife and I are down to the last 1-2 episodes of Hannibal season 2. Much better than the first season, darker and with out the “Serial Killer of the week” feeling of season 1. I do find it fascinating that this was on NBC, as it is much darker and gorier than pretty much all other TV shows (network and cable.)

    I just started reading The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk. A story of a Italian slave in renaissance Ottoman Empire. So far very good, but tends to tell rather than show. Also reading a few books on backyard boat building, as I am in the healing stage post surgery, and need something for my mind to wander around.Report

    • Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

      So if you are nearly at the end of S2, you either have seen or are about to see possibly the single most disturbing scene I have ever seen, in any medium.

      And it was on network TV!Report

      • aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

        Network! I know!

        When we finish, I will put something up for you, as I am now curious.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        I read an interesting article about how much arguing there was within the production company about whether characters could smoke. Blood, guts, and gore, but smoking was where some people involved drew the line.

        I can’t find said article.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        I read an interview with Fuller, and Standards and Practices told him he can do pretty much anything, as long as it’s in shadow/darkness…which is of course perfect for horror, since your brain will fill in the gory details better than they ever could.

        There was also a scene where a corpse’s buttcrack was visible, and so to obscure that and make it “decent”, they had to cover it with blood.

        Whew, that was a close call, we almost saw something obscene there.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to aaron david says:

      Oh my Gosh! I was doing the exact same thing that I was complaining about!Report

  3. James Pearce says:

    “It’s just at, at the end of the movie, I was struck by how the story they told oh-so-expertly wasn’t really that much of a story worth telling.”

    Having not yet seen the movie, I’m curious about this. What about the story wasn’t worth telling?

    (I should disclose that I subscribe to the “nothing new under the sun” theory, that stories come to us in a finite number of iterations –man against nature, man against man, man against himself, etc– and that the most expertly constructed stories dress up the familiar -familiar plots, familiar characters, familiar ideas- in unexpected ways while offering very little that’s actually new. )Report

    • For me, it was rather a lot of “we actors think we have really difficult, stressful, emotionally-tortured lives.” And while I don’t doubt that there is stress for the professional actor, I have a hard time sympathizing.

      I agree with @jaybird that the acting was really great. Convincing, intense, effectively conveying the inner emotional lives of the characters.

      The soundtrack was distracting. And the long, long edits — digitally spliced together to seem like nearly the entire movie was shot in a single take — was visually and mentally exhausting.

      Also, WTF was up with that ending? After the big onstage moment, the denouement was just a slap in the face to the audience. “THAT WAS APOTHESIS! DAMNIT! DON’T YOU GET IT? A-POTH-E-SIS!” I didn’t really need to be narratively bludgeoned that way.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to James Pearce says:

      Okay, now I’m going to climb down. It’s more like all of this craft, skill, art, and expertise was put forward to tell a story that probably didn’t deserve half that much craft, skill, art, and expertise.

      Man, I would have loved to see this team tell a different story.

      (Compare to, say, Paper Man that also played with magical realism, had Emma Stone, and centered around a tortured artist haunted by one of his creations. Personally, I thought that Paper Man was a better story put together by less talented (Don’t get me wrong! Still talented!) people.)Report

      • James Pearce in reply to Jaybird says:

        “All of this craft, skill, art, and expertise was put forward to tell a story that probably didn’t deserve half that much craft, skill, art, and expertise..”

        That’s how I feel about Apocalypse Now (which I still enjoy). I’ll probably watch it later this week when I check it out from the “Dude At Work Who Buys a Lot of Movies” library.Report

  4. Michael Drew says:

    Did you see Boyhood?

    The parallel with the filmmaking-genius : story-meaningfulness ratio is interesting. I thought Boyhood’s was a story worth telling, though I can see a different view. I also thought the 12-year gimmick wasn’t much of a gimmick really and just blended into the story pretty well – but I can also see a different view on that too. I like the film, though wasn’t blown away.

    I haven’t seen Birdman yet, though, so can’t compare.Report

  5. Christopher Carr says:

    Part of me strongly wants to avoid movies about movies.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Then you’d never watch anything made by the Coen brothers. To me, that would be a big loss.Report

      • Christopher Carr in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        If I take that literally, the only one I’m thinking would be possibly excluded is Barton Fink, which I haven’t seen. The Big Lebowski is not about movies in any way that couldn’t be removed without destroying the plot.

        Unless you’re saying the Coen Brother’s movies are about movies in the sense that they’re often times self-aware, in which case we can clearly impose a literalist reading to my comment above and also gleefully admit Woody Allen movies.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        The Big Lebowski is a deconstruction of The Big Sleep. (It’s other stuff too, of course.) Miller’s Crossing is much more about gangster movies than about gangsters. Blood Simple starts off as The Postman Always Rings Twice, and even after the plot diverges, stays within the conventions of noir. Etc. I love the Coens, but they make films about other films rather than films about life.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Movies about movies:

      Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
      Get Shorty
      Berberian Sound Studio
      Cabin in the Woods
      Shadow of the Vampire
      The Stunt Man
      Barton Fink
      Purple Rose of Cairo
      Cinema Paradiso

      I’ve seen all those except for the last, and none of them are less than interesting, and some are great.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      The Player is very good. The other one that comes to mind in Mulholland Dr, which, though it’s plot is an afterthought, distills the entire art of acting into one scene where Naomi Watts does the read through audition with Chad Everett.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Did Shakespeare start the show within a show thing, or is it older than that?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

        I will guess based on no evidence whatsoever that it goes back further than we can possibly trace. Rufus, what do you think?Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Kolohe says:

        Aristophanes wrote “The Frogs” in 405 BC. In the play, Dionysus goes into the underworld to bring the recently deceased Euripides back from the dead, but ends up judging a “which playwright is best” contest between Euripides and Aeschylus. I don’t recall if there was literally a play within the play, but Theater about Theater dates back to the ancient Greeks at least.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

        Would “1001 Arabian Nights” qualify?Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

        wikipedia says it does. (so does The Odyssey)Report

      • Christopher Carr in reply to Kolohe says:

        Let’s be clear: story within a story and story about a story are two different things.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe says:


        I think it was just more of a debate than anything else. No sampling of the plays.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

        Awesome, Kolohe. If we can trust the Wikipedia (narrows gaze), it seems that the first play-within-a-play (done as a play) was the guy that Shakespeare (OR FRANCIS BACON!) stole Hamlet from. From whom he stole Hamlet.

        1587. Surely the device is older than that.

        Surely one of the Greeks made a play about making a play. Perhaps he got hung for it and they burned the manuscripts. Yes. That’s what I will choose to believe.Report

      • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

        It is a debate, and a hilarious one. Aeschylus says he can defeat Euripides’ prologues with a bottle of oil. He has Euripides recite from his prologues, and keeps finishing his sentences with “lost his little bottle.”

        EURIPIDES: Bacchus, who, clad in fawnskins, leaps and bounds torch and thyrsus in the choral dance along Parnassus…

        AESCHYLUS: Lost his bottle of oil.

        Change the names, and it could be Abbott and Costello.Report

  6. Will Truman says:

    I finished the Blood Gulch Chronicles Red vs Blue, and enjoyed it greatly, even though they moved away from the thing I liked about it most (Two armies, half-heartedly fighting a pointless war against one another in the middle of nowhere.) I will pick it up again later.

    I am about half-way through the half-season of Gotham. I’m enjoying it, though as others have mentioned I’m not sure I would enjoy it as much if not for the Batman connection. I was going to say “I wonder what it would be like if they actually did a Batman show” and then remembered that the answer would likely be Arrow.

    Audiobookwise, I’m listening to Mind Prey, from the John Sandford Prey series. After this, I’m thinking of listening to the TV show Rubicon, which a few years ago I made it about ten episodes through. It was kind of slow to watch, but is dialogue-heavy from what I recall and may be good listening material.Report

  7. James K says:

    The final chapter of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality was posted yesterday, and I felt it was a satisfying conclusion to the story.Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    I am reading In These Times: Life in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars by Jenny Unglow. I am also reading the Buried Giant by Ishiguro and bought two Stefan Zweig novels yesterday.

    I don’t think Birdman was a perfect movie but I am glad it was made. Then again, I am one of those people who is against the over-proliferation of what I call “bang wow” movies where it seems to be a never ending arms race for the most CGI, the newest Superhero franchise/reboot, and the only appropriate way to talk about a movie is by describing said explosions and action scenes using a vocabulary that is limited to words like kick-ass and hardcore.

    What happened in the past ten to fifteen years where franchises and reboots seem to dominate all? Why is it a never ending arms race for the most CGI and the biggest budget? The Superhero craze never seems to end and Marvel and D.C. seem to have movies planned until the end of time with a trillion different crossovers and mini-issues becoming CGI extravaganzzas!

    /end rantReport

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      When I was a kid, it was at the tail end of “make a movie for a few million, it’ll pull in 10 million.” (Adjust for inflation as necessary.)

      That paradigm had stuff like “Holy cow! Everybody is seeing this movie! It pulled in 25 million!” which also allowed for “I’m going to make an experimental movie for 1 million” and some of them recouped their money and some of them didn’t but, hey, that’s okay because most movies were able to pull in the 10 million and everybody was happy.

      Sure, you’d have the occasional “Dream Team” movie like “The Godfather” that cost a whopping 6 million to make, but those were special events.


      They realized that it was possible to make 100 million. And to make 100 million, you had to get rid of the whole “make a small movie, make a small profit” paradigm but moved to “MAKE A BIG MOVIE AND MAKE A BIG PROFIT!”

      We recently saw the email discussing how putting Denzel in a movie meant that you’d merely hit a solid double… and the implication was that they would be leaving money on the table because it’d be possible to hit a home run (or a grand slam) with someone else in the same role. (Due to considerations of international markets and whatnot.)

      If you want to hit a grand slam, you need to not only sell tickets in the US, but in China, India, Germany (heck, Europe!), Japan, Brazil, and, on top of that, sell tickets not just in the big cities in those places but also in the sticks.

      And there are only a handful of movie genres that they’ve found can make that happen.

      The people who leave money on the table tend to be replaced by those who do not.

      But now we’re veering a little too close to politics.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’d argue that a few factors recently have contributed to Hollywood moving in the direction that it has:

        (1) The theater-experience as a selling point is at a premium, due to (a) the proliferation of alternative entertainment, (b) less money being made after a theater release due to a, streaming, and piracy.
        (2) An increased reliance on international audiences, which means that cultural intricacies become limiting while everybody understands explosions.
        (3) Related to 1a, but as independent movies have become more feasible, big time producers need to set themselves apart by making something that Early Kevin Smith can’t, which involves bigger budgets and movies that justify them.
        (4) Also related to 1a, but television has grown and evolved in both quantity and quality, so movies increasingly offer things that television can’t.
        (5) Also related to 1a and 4, which is an increasing reticence on the part of studios to take any chances.
        (6) Related to 3 and 5, but budget-drift generally is occurring, and the more money you put in to something, the more you have to rely on established properties, and the more conservative you need to be generally. Superhero movies tend to be reliable.
        (7) It’s worth pointing out that other movies are still getting made.

        (“Conservative” here does not mean politically conservative. No politics.)Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        8. The teenage audience is becoming more and more important, partly because they will often see films they like more than once, which makes stuff that appeals to grownups less attractive.

        9. People who are chronologically adult still get excited about superhero movies. This baffles me, but facts are facts.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

        @mike-schilling Not that it will make you understand #9, but it might help just a smidgeon:

        Those of us who liked comics when we were younger had very, very few good superhero movies back in the day. Marvel movies weren’t being made or weren’t very good (Captain America ’94), and DC movies ran the gamut but even some of the good ones (like Burton’s Batman) were serious departures from the comics.

        So then something happens, and they stop sucking.

        So some of us – even people like me who have stopped reading comic books – are finally getting to see the movies we never got to see when we were younger. And so we can’t get enough (though I’m kind of reaching my fill and am becoming more selective).

        Also, Jaybird , my apologies for duplicating what you said about international audiences.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        I liked comics when I was younger (much more DC than Marvel, though I loved the Saturday morning version of Spiderman.) But I outgrew them long ago, just like I have the works of Asimov and Heinlein. Though I haven’t read The Hobbit or LOTR since I was much younger, and if anyone ever turns them into good films [1], I’m definitely there.

        1. Like even half as good as HBO’s Game of Thrones.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        @mike-schilling @will-truman @jaybird

        1. IIRC from my film history class, teenagers (especially teenage boys) were always the dominant movie goers in the United States or among the most dominant movie-going audiences. This information is 15 years old though and was just a line or two in the textbook.

        2. As Mike notes, it might be more appropriate to say “teenagers of all ages”. Now there was probably never an age when adults all liked foreign movies and avant-garde novels but there was a time when you did get cool points for experimenting a bit and at least trying to read a Boris Vian movie or going to see Truffaut or Goddard or Kurosawa or Bergman movies. These days have seemingly ended. There was also an age when Hollywood could make exciting movies with adult plots like The Godfather and Bonnie and Clyde and Bullit.

        2a. What I’ve seen a lot of people in the geek culture scene say is “Why should my tastes change just because I am an adult or why should adulthood be judged on tastes. I pay my bills. I go to work. Why can’t I keep on playing video games?”

        3. Movie theatres losing out: I think there is something to this. I actually love going to movies in theatres (l like seeing things with audiences of people I don’t know) and going out and being social (as do a lot of other people) but there does seem to also be a growing anti-socialness where people say it is largely not worth it to go to movies. The fact that you can get a big screen TV for a relatively small amount of money helps the homebodies.*
        I will add that I generally prefer going to theatres that try and keep it adult. You pay a bit of premium but the reward is not being bombarded with advertisements before the movie.

        4. Everyone does understand explosions. I like them from time to time too. But I don’t like them in every movie. I will take good acting, writing, and plot over explosions any day. I just don’t get the idea of wanting every movie to be reduced to being “badass” or “kickass”

        5. This might be veering too much into politics but I’ve noticed there is a popular facebook group called “I fucking love science”. Posts from this group always rubbed me the wrong way. I think what they do is that the tone turns me off because they are written in a way that demands that everything be done in a tone of an overly-sugared 8 year old. There is nothing wrong with this from time to time but American culture (even on the left) seems to think that intellectualism is now suspect. Describing yourself as an Intellectual instead of a geek or a nerd is off-putting and wrong. I’ve worked too hard to describe myself as a culture nerd or geek.

        I am probably exaggerating for effect. I can and go to Superhero movies and enjoy them. But it is often very hard to get people to go see a Goddard or a Truffaut revival or something smaller.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        Re: I Fucking Love Science

        One thing that someone pointed out was the childlike wonder might be more beneficial in the sciences than it is in the arts and humanities.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think @jaybird hits the nail on the head. Star Wars and subsequent franchises taught the money people that there are big bucks to be made in science fiction and action-adventure movies. When you combine this with growing globalization and the increased easiness in making bang wow movies because of CGI than you get an impetus to make bang wow movies. Most people can understand them and enjoy them. Drama can be pretty universal to but it is often wrapped up in local culture. Alzheimer’s might be experienced across the world but the frustration of an upper-middle class white woman in the United States in dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s might not register to somebody in Pakistan or even Russia. Comedy is definitely for local consumption for the most part. Simple stories of good vs. evil are understood by practically everybody.

        There was a bit of a drag for a couple of decades after Star Wars because the international audience wasn’t that important for most of the 1980s and 1990s, special effects were still hard to pull off well, and alternative forms of entertainment less plentiful because cable and the Internet were in there infancy. Once all these obstacles disappeared than the drive towards bang wow movies increased.Report

      • James Pearce in reply to Jaybird says:

        Interesting discussion, guys, and I don’t disagree with any of it, but will just add my two cents.

        The demise of the theater business will be due to the collapse of the distribution window over any other factor. Theaters used to be able to get you with the experience (the big screen, the wide frame, surround sound) but all of that can be had at home now. You might have noticed that the “big” thing in theaters these days is reclining seats and alcoholic beverages, which hey….I’ve been enjoying for years at home and now I have surround sound.

        Once a big movie –bigger than the Interview, American Sniper big, new Avengers big– bypasses theaters, it’s going to be a death spiral for the theater biz. The movie biz will be just fine.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:


        Interestingly the movies that tend to stream early on tend to be smaller ones like The One I Love or maybe Snowpiercer. The Interview was a sort of special exception because of the whole plot and controversy.

        I am not sure when we will see an Avengers big movie released simultaneously on screens and streaming.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        Re: Home theatres:

        I have a very small TV. Small enough that people actually comment “Why do you own such a small TV?” when they come to my apartment. The TV works fine and I haven’t felt the need to get a new one.

        Again this probably goes to the fact that I don’t watch much TV.*

        *I’ve been through this before but I wasn’t allowed to watch TV during weeknights in High School and then I went to college and did not watch much TV then either. Then I was abroad for a year and did not watch much TV. So 9 years of every little TV was just enough to keep me off the stuff. It just doesn’t occur to me to turn on the TV after coming home from work.Report

      • James Pearce in reply to Jaybird says:


        It seems inconceivable at the moment to consider the death spiral of the theater business, but consider this one fact: Movies are released in theaters first and exclusively because that’s how they make the most money. It’s a business strategy, a model designed for max profit.

        Sooner or later, someone is going to figure out how to “make the most money” with a digital, on-demand release that bypasses the theatrical establishment entirely. (The company that does this may not be a traditional studio, but once the concept is tried and proven, the studios will inevitably follow suit.)

        Not saying it will happen this year….Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Jaybird says:


        What I’ve seen a lot of people in the geek culture scene say is “Why should my tastes change just because I am an adult or why should adulthood be judged on tastes. I pay my bills. I go to work. Why can’t I keep on playing video games?”

        That’s mighty big talk for someone whose artistic tastes appear to have not changed since the 1960s. Look, I get that you don’t like geeky things, and that’s fine. But your consistent need to turn it into a value judgment is rude and ridiculous, especially given that your own notions of culture seem less like an organically developed appreciation for art forms and more like a list you copied out of an intro to film textbook.

        Also, maybe look into getting a better TV, or just using the one you have a little bit more. The biggest reason that we live in the age of the blockbuster is that we live in the golden age of television. Today’s Godfathers and Bonnie and Clydes are on HBO, not at the cineplex.Report

      • rexknobus in reply to Jaybird says:

        Several quick (and vast) over-generalizations here:

        There have always been “A” films and “B” films. It’s sometimes a bit odd for someone of my extreme senescence to get used to, but what Lucas/Speilberg/etc did was reverse them. What used to be “A” films (top-flight product with big stars made for adults) are now “B” films (indies that don’t garner much audience). And vice versa — action programmers that once had a lot of cowboys and horses in them are now mega-budget tentpoles.

        Luckily for me I have always enjoyed both kinds of movies, but it does present a problem. The ad budgets and the theater spaces go to those big tentpoles and it has become harder to become informed about and seek out the smaller, more serious pieces. Cable television has stepped in admirably in many cases (HBO et al.), but the dynamic doesn’t work as well across the spectrum

        @saul-degraw It helps to remember that “TV” is just a medium. I know that we all deride “TV” in a short-hand way to talk about sub-standard fare, but it’s important to remember the distinction. I watch my TV several hours a day, but I rarely “watch TV.” With a couple of exceptions, the network and basic cable offerings don’t do much for me, but DVDs and oddball flicks on Netflix, etc., keep my “idiot box” glowing long into the night.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        IIRC from my film history class, teenagers (especially teenage boys) were always the dominant movie goers in the United States or among the most dominant movie-going audiences. This information is 15 years old though and was just a line or two in the textbook.

        I would be shocked (and not “shocked, shocked”) to find that this had changed.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Thinking about it, I really, really, really want the HBO versions of The Hobbit and LOTR, where they respect the original material, make changes that mostly improve it, and don’t distort it by spending a gazillion dollars on spurious spectacle. (And if they really have to show Arwen and Galadriel expositing while skinny-dipping, I can accept that.) You know how so many cable series put the big climax in the penultimate episode, and show the aftermath in the last one? They could totally do the Scouring of the Shire that way!

        It’ll never happen, I know, because they’re no way to pry the rights out of Peter Jackson’s hairy little paws. But he never got the rights to the Silmarillion …Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:


        I probably do overstate my issues with geek culture too much or make it seem more dramatic than it really is and it probably can come across as a sneer. For that I apologize because it is wrong. I do resent your accusation that I sound like a textbook though.


        I think teenage boys as the dominant movie market has been true since the 1930s.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

        Thinking about it, I really, really, really want the HBO versions of The Hobbit and LOTR, where they respect the original material…

        I admit that what I’d really like is a rewrite told from Gandalf’s viewpoint. Where that scheming, manipulating old bastard puts all the pieces in place. Same thing for Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, too.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        But he never got the rights to the Silmarillion …

        Oh dear god. You might as well try to make a movie out of the Klingon dictionary.

        Anyway, that ship has sailed and there’s no going back now, and the original LOTR film trilogy wasn’t that bad. What I really want is for that Joseph Gordon-Levitt Sandman film to crash and burn in pre-production and so make an HBO series adaptation possible.Report

      • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        My TV is smaller than saul’s (it’s actually a computer monitor. yup, pretty small). The color fidelity is out of this world though. Seriously, Lawrence of Arabia was an Absolute DREAM to watch.

        I’d go out to movies a lot more if they bothered putting subtitles up.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        The Sandman film! We’ve got the coke-encrusted exec in here to suggest a minor change.

        “With the Constantine show crashing and burning, we’ve got a suggestion. Let’s get rid of the religious angle. No god or Satan or gods or anything like that. Too controversial. So pick between the North Koreans and White Supremacists and do a fast rewrite.”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        the original LOTR film trilogy wasn’t that bad

        I guess they weren’t bad action flicks, and they were occasionally vaguely reminiscent of the book.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Oh dear god. You might as well try to make a movie out of the Klingon dictionary.

        You’re being misled by the hash Christopher Tolkien made of trying to turn the First Age material into a single book. There are some great stories there of the war between the elves and Morgoth. JRRT struggled his whole life to find the right way to tell them, and never succeeded, so his papers contain many, many, inconsistent, incomplete attempts, as you can read about in the History of Middle-Earth. A talented writer could use them as source material for some amazing television. A hack like Jackson could mostly ignore all of them but the battle scenes.Report

      • j r in reply to Jaybird says:

        Now there was probably never an age when adults all liked foreign movies and avant-garde novels but there was a time when you did get cool points for experimenting a bit and at least trying to read a Boris Vian movie or going to see Truffaut or Goddard or Kurosawa or Bergman movies.

        @saul-degraw, I think that you may have convinced yourself that there was some sort of golden age of intellectualism in this country when having your particular set of tastes served as a marker of refinement and signaled some high level of cultural appreciation. I don’t know that has ever been the case. America has never been France.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        America has never been France.

        I’m not sure that France has ever been France. Le Petomane makes Adam Sandler look like Godard.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        The French really do have impeccable taste in entertainment. I’ve brought someone with me who can explain this far better than I. Let me call her over here.

        Hey, laaaaaaaaaaaaaady!Report

      • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        If not France, perhaps Germany?Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      What happened in the past ten to fifteen years where franchises and reboots seem to dominate all?

      This isn’t anything new. I think the 70s-90s were the aberration in this sense, rather than the norm. If you look back to the 60s and earlier, most of the top-grossing films were book, musical, and folktale adaptations.

      And it’s not as though original films aren’t still being made. It’s just not what theatergoers are choosing to pay to see, so they don’t get the big budgets. As for why not, zeitgeist is as good a guess as any, I suppose.

      Alternatively, it may have something to do with the rise of high-quality home-theater systems. The theater’s unique selling proposition is a huge screen and great sound system. If a film doesn’t exploit those, you might as well wait six months, save your money, and watch it at home. The timing hints at piracy playing a role, as well, although that may be purely coincidental.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Alternatively, it may have something to do with the rise of high-quality home-theater systems. The theater’s unique selling proposition is a huge screen and great sound system. If a film doesn’t exploit those, you might as well wait six months, save your money, and watch it at home.

        This is an interesting observation that people don’t always grok about the symbiosis of the medium (or more specifically, the state of the tech art) and the message.

        When I was in high school, installing ginormous woofers in your car was a thing. And what did you listen to with it? Miami bass – which to some people’s thinking wasn’t much “music” at all, just a series of low-end “explosions”.

        But did people install the woofers because they wanted to listen to Miami bass, or did they listen to Miami bass because they had installed the woofers?

        The answer is: yes.Report

  9. Glyph says:

    “Magical realism is one of those things that needs to be handled with a fairly light touch. It’s far too easy to veer off into something silly (see, for example, Lost).”

    Not to get all annoyed at Lost, again, but if I’d realized from the beginning that magical realism was what they were going for (despite all the repeated feints and allusions that implied there would be a sci-fi “realistic” explanation of events, which, even if it was stupid and nonsensical, would possibly have been LESS stupid and nonsensical than what we got), the whole thing might have left less of a bad taste in my mouth.

    But they wouldn’t have pulled in the kind of numbers they did, either.

    Which on one level I get, but on another can’t help but feel bait and switched somehow.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

      Did they intend that from the beginning, do you think, or get trapped by having introduced so much random crap that no realistic ending was possible?

      One of the things I admire about Vince Gilligan is that he is relentless about continuity. He didn’t have Breaking Bad planned out in advance — that wasn’t possible, not knowing how many seasons he’d have to tell the story, or which of the supporting actors would be available from year to year — but whenever he planned a season, it had to be consistent with what had happened before, and had to move towards the goal of Walt’s complete corruption.Report

  10. rexknobus says:

    In the wake of some intensive research for a Central American project, have fallen back on some fun lighter entertainment:

    Finished the latest US “House of Cards” series. Not so good, but if you were a disappointed fan, I strongly recommend re-viewing the first couple of episodes of the first season. “Oh! That’s what they started off doing and completely tossed aside! Huh!” It’s a somewhat bitter-sweet experience — the combination of “look how cool that was” and “gee, how could they misunderstand their own product so much?”

    And, after 30 years or so, have picked up Michael McDowell’s “Blackwater” epic for a re-read. Imagine a fetid Southern Gothic soap opera where, every once in a while a main character turns into the Creature From the Black Lagoon and bites somebody’s head off. Basically. (And nicely done at that.)Report

  11. Mike Dwyer says:

    I went down a weird rabbit hole this past week and I have been binge-watching HGTV’s Fixer Upper. It’s one of the better home improvement shows I have seen because they give each episode a full hour so it doesn’t feel so rushed. They also seem like they are a bit more honest about the budgets for each home. Plus the couple at the center of the show seem to adore each other and I love the way they act towards one another. It is a weird thing to become absorbed with but I think that is the cool thing about the way Americans watch TV these days. Binge-viewing really gives you permission to take these brief detours and not feel like you just committed yourself to 20 weeks of appointment TV.Report

  12. Tod Kelly says:

    FTR, I disagree with pretty much everyone here (I think?) on Birdman, which I thought walking out was one of the best movies I had ever seen ever. (I usually wait for a year or two before I call a movie an ATF, to see if the passing of a bit of time takes some of the shine off, but at this point I am expecting it to sit alongside Amadeus, Fisher King & Raiders on my personal movie Rushmore.)

    Part of the reason I found it more compelling than did Jaybird or Burt, I think, is that I didn’t see it as a movie about actors putting on a play, so much as I found it a movie about Other Things that used actors putting on a play to act as a metaphor for those other things. And even though I don’t think what I’m about to say would diminish anyone’s experience of watching the movie, I’ll follow MD house rules and rot13 it:

    Gb zr, gur zbivr jnf ernyyl n fgbel nobhg obgu vqragvgl naq perngvba — gur ynggre engure fcrpvsvpnyyl guebhtu gur perngvba bs neg. Vg jnf yrff nobhg jurgure be abg gur npgbe/qverpgbe jnf tbvat gb or fhpprffshy fb zhpu nf vg jnf nfxvat, jung qbrf vg zrna gb tebj nf n crefba, naq jung vf gur cevpr bs perngvat fbzrguvat arj naq ornhgvshy.

    Cneg bs gur pyvznk bs gur zbivr, nf vg hasbyq bire gur cnfg ovg bs gur svyz be fb, vf ubj va beqre gb orpbzr zber — va beqre gb perngr — gur yrnq punenpgre unf gb or jvyyvat gb qrfgebl jung unf pbzr orsber, obgu uvf jbex naq jub ur jnf. Vg’f ab nppvqrag, V jbhyq nethr, gung gur guerr zbzragf va gur pyvznk gung ercerfrag uvf obgu orpbzvat zber nf n crefba naq perngvat fbzrguvat gehyl pncvgny-T Terng (nf bccbfrq gb jung ur gubhtug pevgvpf jbhyq yvxr gb frr) ner nyy zbzragf jurer ur erfbegf gb na npg bs fhvpvqr: Ba gur ebbsgbc jura ur vf va qrfcnve, ba fgntr jura ur vf orvat bofreirq ol gubfr whqtvat uvz, naq svanyyl gur ubfcvgny jura uvf snzvyl naq ntrag unir yrsg uvz jvgu n pubvpr orgjrra eriry va uvf arj sbhaq fhpprff naq pryroevgl be rfpncr onpx vagb frpyhfvba, naq ur vafgrnq pubbfrf gb vafgrnq pbagvahr gb tebj naq perngr.

    I thought it was astounding.Report

  13. Chris says:

    SXSW all week. Just met Russell Simmons. Almost ran into him, then freaked out.Report

  14. Damon says:

    I saw the movie a few weeks back. Meh. It had it’s moments, but it was just too odd. You find out who the voice is towards the end of the movie. Really?

    The confrontation with the critic was good but my acting friend said that it rang false to her. Emma Stone’s eye were too big too. But hey, Naomi Watts kissing another woman again. Ahoy!Report

  15. zic says:

    So I’m nearly 1/2 through System of the World, and struggling; it’s not holding my attention as previous books did, despite the fact that Jack’s currently flying over London Tower, gold cape a-billowing. Please tell me it’s worth it to keep going, lest I get distracted.

    And @tod-kelly your comment above puts Birdman on my must-watch list, though I’ll have to wait for it on netflix or Amazon prime.

    Believe it or not, the nearest movie theater is two hours away now. Used to be one in walking distance; and several within a 30-minute drive. The couldn’t afford the cost to convert to digital.Report

  16. ScarletNumber says:

    I just got done watching the NCAA Selection Show on CBS.

    As part of the show, CBS puts cameras at various schools, to broadcast the reactions of the teams as they get announced into the field. However, lately they have only been putting cameras at schools that have already qualified or at schools where it is a fait accompli.

    They used to put the cameras at schools that were truly on the bubble, and then show the room when the team figured out that they were left out of the tournament. It made for GREAT television.Report

  17. Chris says:

    The whole “bottle of oil” bit, because the Greeks had bits:

    AESCHYLUS And how do you make your prologues?

    EURIPIDES You shall hear;
    And if you find one single thing said twice,
    Or any useless padding, spit upon me.

    DIONYSUS Well, fire away: I’m all agog to hear
    Your very accurate and faultless prologues.

    EURIPIDES “A happy man was Oedipus at first-

    AESCHYLUS Not so, by Zeus; a most unhappy man.
    Who, not yet born nor yet conceived, Apollo
    Foretold would be his father’s murderer.
    How could he be a happy man at first?

    EURIPIDES “Then he became the wretchedest of men.”

    AESCHYLUS Not so, by Zeus; he never ceased to be.
    No sooner born, than they exposed the babe,
    (And that in winter), in an earthen crock,
    Lest he should grow a man, and slay his father.
    Then with both ankles pierced and swoln, he limped
    Away to Polybus: still young, he married
    An ancient crone, and her his mother too.
    Then scratched out both his eyes.

    DIONYSUS Happy indeed
    Had he been Erasinides‘s colleague!

    EURIPIDES Nonsense; I say my prologues are first rate.

    AESCHYLUS Nay then, by Zeus, no longer line by line
    I’ll maul your phrases: but with heaven to aid
    I’ll smash your prologues with a bottle of oil.

    EURIPIDES You mine with a bottle of oil?

    AESCHYLUS With only one.
    You frame your prologues so that each and all
    Fit in with a “bottle of oil,” or “coverlet-skin,”
    Or “reticule-bag.” I’ll prove it here, and now.

    EURIPIDES You’ll prove it? You?

    AESCHYLUS I will.

    DIONYSUS Well then, begin.

    EURIPIDES “Aegyptus, sailing with his fifty sons,
    As ancient legends mostly tell the tale,
    Touching at Argos”

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    EURIPIDES Hang it, what’s that? Confound that bottle of oil!

    DIONYSUS Give him another: let him try again.

    EURIPIDES “Bacchus, who, clad in fawnskins, leaps and bounds torch
    and thyrsus in the choral dance along Parnassus”

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    DIONYSUS Ah me, we are stricken-with that bottle again!

    EURIPIDES Pooh, pooh, that’s nothing. I’ve a prologue
    He’ll never tack his bottle of oil to this:
    “No man is blest in every single thing.
    One is of noble birth, but lacking means.
    Another, baseborn,”

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    DIONYSUS Euripides!


    DIONYSUS Lower your sails, my boy;
    This bottle of oil is going to blow a gale.

    EURIPIDES O, by Demeter, I care one bit;
    Now from his hands I’ll strike that bottle of oil.

    DIONYSUS Go on then, go: but ware the bottle of oil.

    EURIPIDES “Once Cadmus, quitting the Sidonian town, Agenor‘s offspring”*

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    DIONYSUS O pray, my man, buy off that bottle of oil,
    Or else he’ll smash our prologues all to bits.

    EURIPIDES I buy of him?

    DIONYSUS If my advice you’ll take.

    EURIPIDES No, no, I’ve many a prologue yet to say,
    To which he can’t tack on his bottle of oil.
    Pelops, the son of Tantalus, while driving
    His mares to Pisa”

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    DIONYSUS There! he tacked on the bottle of oil again.
    O for heaven’s sake, pay him its price, dear boy;
    You’ll get it for an obol, spick and span.

    EURIPIDES Not yet, by Zeus; I’ve plenty of prologues left.

    Oeneus once reaping”

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    EURIPIDES Pray let me finish one entire line first.
    “Oeneus once reaping an abundant harvest,
    Offering the first fruits”

    AESCHYLUS Lost his bottle of oil.

    DIONYSUS What, in the act of offering? Fie! Who stole it?

    EURIPIDES O don’t keep bothering! Let him try with
    “Zeus, as by Truth’s own voice the tale is told,”

    DIONYSUS No, he’ll cut in with “Lost his bottle of oil” bottle

    Those bottles of oil on all your prologues seem
    To gather and grow, like styes upon the eye.
    Turn to his melodies now for goodness’ sake.

    *This is made funnier by the fact that it’s from a play in which Dionysus himself features heavily.Report

  18. Glyph says:

    We are getting HBO for free right now, and I totally binged Togetherness last night. Reading comments on the AVClub recaps makes me realize this is a pretty divisive show, people either seem to “get” what it is doing (small-stakes-yet-not, real-life-type stuff), or they think it’s banal and trite.

    Me, I loved it; very funny, well-observed details, great acting/editing/music selections. It really hit me where I live; each of the characters is flawed, but believable and sympathetic despite their flaws.Report

  19. Maribou says:

    I thought I already posted! But I did not.

    I largely agree with Jay about Birdman. Would rather agree with Tod (do agree somewhat about intentions) but just didn’t feel the story merited the efforts put into it.

    Watching, otherwise: Lots of HIMYM (bedrest), a documentary about YouTube (passable), we finished Sleepy Hollow and started a series of Cadfael mysteries (yay, Derek Jacobi).

    Reading: My mother-in-law’s self-published (awesome) historical novel, another Sarwat Chadda YA paranormal (sequel to the one I talked about last week, but only good, not awesome), and The Blythes Are Quoted, which is a revision of LM Montgomery’s posthumous The Road To Yesterday – the previously published version was about 200 or more pages shorted than this one, and not nearly as delectable to (at least this) rabid LMM fan…. now I am reading another book about fibromyalgia. Sigh.Report

  20. Glyph says:

    I’m still disappointed that Birdman has nothing to do with Harvey.

    This isn’t necessarily my favorite clip from the show, but since it features Colbert in two roles (be-eyepatched boss Phil Ken Sebben and diminution-fetishist/supervillain/opposing counsel Reducto, who also provides the impetus for a libertarian joke at the end) as well as prescient surveillance paranoia and Moving Pictures, it kind of seems tailor-made for this place: