I, Tonya: Good and funny enough, with most of the humor coming from the white trashiness of the characters. Allison Janney got the Oscar for playing Tonya's mother, but the funniest character is the late Shawn Eckhardt, the fat mustachioed goon who helped plan the attack. He tried to change his name after it happened! I can't say it did that much to make me feel that sorry for Tonya though, if that was the goal, and of course Margot Robbie being smoking hot beautiful doesn't help (her *performance* is fine, but it's Jim Carrey-as-Andy Kaufman syndrome where the performer's face gets in the way of the character for whatever reason.)
Silence: I guess the overall message of this is that people will cling to their faith no matter what, even their own violations of said faith, which by the standards of the time, really is what Andrew Garfield's priest character ends up doing by the end of this movie. Well, you tell me: in these secularized modern times, who out there is going to really want to call him a hypocrite for having that crucifix in his hands (that, to add to the ambiguity, his Japanese wife may have placed there) when he's burning in a funeral pyre, having caved in and apostatized years ago? Gee, don't we just want God to be NICE to him even though he went ahead, committed the sin and stepped on that floor tile because he wanted the Japanese to stop torturing those poor people? And hey, what does that say about us? The depiction of the Japanese authorities is handled pretty well, I thought--they weren't cartoon characters, but they nonetheless are shown violently killing people who do what they want, so...Depressing. I get the impression that most moviegoers kind of secretly didn't want to sit through this (and remember, although it's frequently name-dropped by cineastes, that the hugely controversial Last Temptation Of Christ made like fifty cents at the box office in 1988), not just because of the painful religious themes (which will be painful to atheists and churchgoers alike) and torture-death scenes, but the 160 minute running time. I think it's one of his better films but I may not return to it much in later years.
The Dark Tower: Hey, kids, let's have some fun! Let's take $60 million, two major movie stars, a gigantic book series from America's most popular writer, and turn it into a BIG MONEY FRANCHISE or maybe a TV SERIES or WHO THE EFF KNOWS OR CARES AS LONG AS PEOPLE SEE IT, by hiring a no-name director from Denmark and have him direct a disaster of a script slapped together by the douchechill who wrote Batman & Robin and two other people you've never heard of, and it will consist exclusively of REPLACING the 4000 page mess of an epic story with a barely-similar story based around the hero, the kid, and the villain from the first book tearing through a meager 85 minutes of fantasy cliches you've already seen in a zillion other genre fantasy movies and shows, beautiful locations that you barely get to see for a few seconds before we move on from them, lame Easter-Egg references to other Stephen King works, crappy characters and motives that will get maybe 10 seconds to explain themselves, and messy action sequences, all of which the movie will be hurtling through so quickly that we can finally crown a new winner of the title of most INCOHERENT, POINTLESS BLOCKBUSTER EVER!!!!!! Billdude here again: This pretty much deserves a rare zero, IMO. I can't name a single thing in it that really works, at all, aside from a few pretty shots of scenery. Suicide Squad is still probably worse, but that's because I guess I'd rank two hours of "loud painful yuck" behind 85 minutes of "yeah, so?" I have no idea who could possibly defend this movie, but some people actually tried to, and God knows what they were thinking--it's so clearly an artistic disaster on all levels (except that none of it is laughably bad--because none of it LASTS ON SCREEN long enough to be laughably bad!) that it's probably already been forgotten and we'll see someone else take a lame crack at it in about eight years. There are MST3K films more coherent than this!
Good Time: This recent thriller stars Robert Pattinson of Twilight infamy as a Greek-American criminal running loose in New York in an attempt to save his dumbass brother. The movie is sort of a nocturnal adventure in the vein of After Hours, albeit a lot scummier and more feral. Pattinson is quite good, as you may have heard (I'm never going anywhere near Twilight, so I'm not interested in making that comparison) but the movie's missing something and I'm not sure what. For one, I didn't really feel any sympathy for his character--he's just smart street trash. On top of that the adventure he goes on just starts to seem kind of pointless after awhile and the movie doesn't contain a single great scene or set piece. Adventures like this really need one, IMO.
Oklahoma City: 2017 documentary that goes over the details of the Ruby Ridge tragedy in 1992, the Waco tragedy in 1993, the rise of the pissed-off-white-guy-militia-movement in response to these two events, and then Timothy McVeigh's life until he blew up the Murrah building on 4-19-95. (Curiously, Timothy felt liberal guilt about killing Iraqis in the Gulf War--the word he uses is "bully"--but had no problem blowing up civilians.) Not bad for what it is but I don't know that any young people watching this documentary today (assuming they actually do!) are going to really grasp just how heinous a tragedy this seemed to be when it actually happened. Unlike some whacko AR-15 shooting today which only gets coverage for a week before the press moves on, the OKC bombing was headline news every day for like three months. It's what finally knocked OJ off the news, for God's sake! Where my 90s kids at?
A Noble Lie: Oklahoma City 1995: Another direct-to-video documentary about OKC, this one is two hours of conspiracy theories that are probably total bunkum. Alex Jones makes several appearances, blecchhh. All the theories seem really vague and nebulous--"I think I saw charges planted on columns in the building before it blew up!" That sort of thing. I think you can skip this one--I only watched it to compare it to the other one without realizing it was quasi-libertarian conspiracy porn.
Jaws (REWATCH): Discussed with Joe already, didn't know about the John Milius uncredited speech thing, Paul C made a good point about the boat adventure taking up half the movie. Yeah, this one's gotten better, and think what a curious specimen it is to be the world's first official Summer Blockbuster. What with those painful deaths and all--man I can't get off that topic! But most of all, it highlights that movie screenplays just sort of had to be better in the 1970s, eh? Everything this movie does well has gotten worse since then, it seems--not fleshing out the characters enough, or including an easy cartoon villain, or not taking time to think about the tragedy of death or only doing so in a perfunctory way, or just being watered down for a PG-13 rating and easy $$$$. Am I rite?
Clueless (REWATCH): I don't think I even wanted to admit to rewatching this but it's going to have a new place in my heart--I used to watch it all the time on HBO as a teen and enjoyed it, and I guess I was looking for 90s nostalgia or something, but now it seems totally lightweight. Oh, and more importantly: it's the movie I was watching when I had that bout of physical depression that made me write that really long post about a month ago. Thanks, depression. You ruined Clueless, a movie for 14 year old girls. (How appropriate, since thanks to this I can't enjoy 90s nostalgia anymore.) I will admit Alicia Silverstone did display some actual acting talent in the film.
Liz Phair, Whip-Smart: Having unexpectedly become the huge widely-talked-about critical heroine of 1993, Liz did exactly what you'd expect and put out a sophomore album a year later that sounds like a bunch of songs that didn't make it onto her first, which I guess some of these were. If you like Exile In Guyville you'll like this, and I was really loving the midsection of it--"Shane," "Nashville," "Go West" are all beautiful and the "when they do the double dutch that's them dancing" line she stole from Malcolm McLaren in the title track is the album's finest moment--before I realized that the rest of it was faintly mediocre. Her talk-singing voice (didn't one of you say once that she sounded like a bored college girl reading her own diary out loud to herself?) gets a bit stale, for one thing, and the minimal arrangements were cuter on EIG. Liz has said that she didn't want the fame she was getting around this time, which doesn't explain her *later* career moves...
The Church, Of Skins And Heart: This Australian 80s-alternative band's debut was a streamlined, still faintly New Wave-ish quickie from 1981 with decent melodies, lots of driving 4/4, and not very much jangle guitar, so it sounds just like The Blurred Crusade which follows it. They didn't add the jangle until 1983 or so, it seems. Best song is "The Unguarded Moment," the best remembered track from the album anyway. This was alright, but now I have to go forwards with the Church...
Jethro Tull, Too Old To Rock And Roll, Too Young To Die!: Better than the three or four albums that preceded it; I didn't give a rat's ass one way or the other about Ian's "concept" here, which may or may be slightly more interesting than Gentle Giant's Three Friends or something, and just concentrated on the decent set of shorter songs he wrote for this album. The title track is a pleasant rememberance (one of the first rock songs I ever heard), the pleasant discoveries were the beautiful ballads "The Chequered Flag" and "From A Deadbeat To An Old Greaser," and I sure did like that hammering metallic piano-key-ish noise running throughout "Taxi Grab," no joke. I don't like "Salamander," I know that one--a flagrant rewrite of "Cold Wind To Valhalla," and it's no godlike album anyway, I'm just pleased that I liked it at all since Tull didn't have a good album since 1972 and I've also had the misfortune of hearing some of the dinosaur albums they put out on the other side of 1980. I really hope this isn't just some temporary island, either--I'd hate to see Tull have an even spottier track record than Yes turned out to have.
Deep Purple, Machine Head: This is probably about much as I'm ever really going to like the Purps, people--well, I guess I should hear those live-in-Japan albums at least once, eh? But bands need great studio records too and since I never liked much of In Rock or Fireball at all, this is probably the peak. "Space Truckin'" is very funny with that fat cascading organ riffage, "Smoke On The Water" was worth revisiting a few times, and "Highway Star" is probably their best-ever song, losing not a beat in 46 years of existence. "Maybe I'm A Leo" and "Pictures Of Home" aren't terribly memorable though and I just couldn't get into the hicky jamming of "Lazy," I remember not liking that one when I heard it years ago. So I think this is pretty much it for me with El Purplino unless you guys want to talk me into those Glenn Hughes or David Coverdale albums? Or whoever the hell else was in the band? I don't know this stuff like you guys do and there used to be a LOT of Deep Purple talk here...
Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac: The 1975 album, a best-seller in its own right before Rumours conquered the world. "Rhiannon" is a little better--that happens to me sometimes, a hit song I didn't like becomes a standout when I hear the whole album. "Landslide" never did that much for me though (and why did people ever like the Smashing Pumpkins cover so much?) "Monday Morning" was better done as "Second Hand News," though, leaving "I'm So Afraid" as Buckingham's best contribution. I guess it's the Christine McVie softy pap that I liked the most? She really surprises me--I *shouldn't* like this kind of silky drivel but I think she may honestly have the best batting average between 1975 and 1979 out of the three songwriters! "Say You Love Me" and "Crystal" may be the best songs here since I'm not into the hits, but the two followup albums are both a lot better anyway.
Aztec Camera, Frestonia: With this 1995 album, Roddy Frame hit 30 and was officially a boring old man balladeer and retired his band name, which of course didn't matter since it was his band. The only reason to hear this pleasant load of doldrums is the cutesy alt-rocker "Phenomenal World," which features actual guitars instead of boring slow pianos and strings and makes me wish Roddy had pulled an R. E. M. and put out a 90s sellout album like Monster or something so that it could set next to Love, his 80s sellout album! You most likely have never heard this album so take it from me: don't bother!