Wrack some racks son

I have eaten very little today.

I’ve had no room. Yesterday was my friend’s birthday, and I did not stop eating. It’s like it was my birthday or something. Firstly, we went to Cats. A bunch of us. Upon viewing it for a second time, slightly less high than the first, I had a revelation. On my first viewing I was so high, and I don’t think I heard almost any song lyrics. I didn’t follow along, I garnered meaning like an animal. I was all facial expressions and intonations. Naturally, I was terrified. Why were so many inexplicably senseless things happening, and why was it all permeated with an aura of menace? This time, I actually heard the lyrics. Turns out, the nightmare was real. It’s still a terrible movie even if you’re following. Maybe worse. I still have more questions. Like, it’s ostensibly they’re in a human’s London, but they’re scurrying around. Why then, do the humans have so many cat pun based stores? Why do they go to the Catsino, not a casino? Are the Cats held in a venerated position? They shouldn’t be. Jellicle cats are a plague, of a lower caste than normal cats. They seek only to sew misery and do the bidding of Eros. That Skimbleshanks song though? It’s a banger. This screening was far more intimate, and invited a bunch of interaction. We did drum roles, heckled, and did a full theatre sing-a-long to Mr Mistoffelees. I might wait a while for my third viewing.

After the film we piled back to my birthday friend’s house, and her boyfriend started serving up snacks. He’s a chef, and he’d relished a chance to make some great meals for us all. We started with smoked oka, sharp cheddar, challah bread and raspberry jam. There were barbecued chicken chunks, a mac & cheese pie, and home made fried chicken. A rack of lamb draped with pomegranate seeds and pistachios, flanked by a balsamic reduction. Buttered cod with chilli slices. He even made mini sunny side up crostini with spiced sausage, quail eggs and chilli rinds. Oh, and for dessert we had strawberries covered with frozen nutella, speckles of some ground nut over the top. Ice cream for good measure. I earned my keep as The Bone King and demolished many a bone. My friends paid homage, and gifted me their lamb bones to strip. I spent almost the entire night eating, and it was divine.

Today? I’ve eaten a protein bar and a sandwich. It’s 6pm. I’m anything but hungry.

LOLd into a false sense of security

Welp, I watched Joker. Spoilers for Joker will follow. If you don’t want them, please don’t read this.

SoJoker was.. a movie? I dunno, I’m having a hard time with this one. It wasn’t a capital B/M Bad Movie, but it also wasn’t good. It had a great cast who tried their absolute best with what they were given, but therein the problem lies. The film wanted to be Serious. It wanted to have A Message, but a lot of that got garbled up with genre problems and a difficulty with what it wanted realism to mean. The movie had a bunch of fun set pieces, and a cluster of modern ideas relevant to inflammatory social issues. It seemed like it wanted to say things about mental illness, about protest culture, literal class warfare and rampant inequality.

Unfortunately, it couldn’t escape from its own trappings. For all of its ambition to raise beyond comic book stakes, it played out like a cartoon. Peoples’ reactions were nearly always wildly out of proportion. I’ve never been to Gotham, but it seems that pedestrians hand out arse kickings like greetings. It’s literally unbelievable how many times people beat the shit out of Arthur while he’s curled up on the ground. Nobody seems to be able to act like an ordinary person. Most characters’ delivery is garishly over the top and the dialogue is trash. Just clunky as shit. Unnecessary roughness all the way down. The film takes a complex series of interrelated societal issues and makes sure you got the point. Everything is triple underlined, with all the subtlety of a cast iron pan to the face. A protester runs past at some point with a sign that says “RESIST”. No further context or explanation. It’s all shallow, surface level stuff. It wants to be greater than the sum of its material but as Scorsese himself said “I saw clips of it. I know it. So it’s like, why do I need to? I get it. It’s fine.” The price is on the can, yo.

It’s hard not to have sympathy for Arthur, a character that Phoenix disappears into. He’s a wretched creature, literal skin and bones, and his laughing affliction is genuinely affecting in its scope. We see the difficulty he has with simple social interactions, and it’s heartbreaking. It just sucks that all the peripheral characters behave like anthropomorphised cardboard cutouts. Of course, because it’s a DC film, Bruce Wayne gets shoehorned in, and it directly cheapens the movie. I’ve got no issue with fanservice, but the Joker character created in this film is not the Joker we love. He’s emotionally stunted and fragile, a simple and kind man relentlessly kicked around by the world he inhabits. He’s not, however, clever. He isn’t a criminal mastermind. Even giving the film a ton of leeway, assuming that this was all hiding behind his myriad of medications, for instance, is stretching suspension of disbelief too far. Aside from shooting his beloved talk show host, this Joker character doesn’t commit crime with intention. The actions he’s eventually praised for were accidental, or a byproduct of other decisions. He’s a symbol for a movement, but he’s not an architect. If we’re to believe that the riot he birthed resulted in Bruce’s parents’ death, it’s impossible to see this Joker as an adversary for this Bruce’s Batman. Or at least, he wouldn’t be a super capable one. If this was an unrelated movie to the franchise, honestly it probably would’ve read a lot better. But it wasn’t, and this film has no right to the Best Picture or Best Adapted Screenplay categories.

2019 was a great year for film. This wasn’t one of them.

If you must Call Me By My Name it’s Pauly, Pauly Shore

Okay, it’s time to finish this nonsense. I’ve been snarky over a film I haven’t seen for too long. I’m watching Joker.

Honestly, before all the hubbub, I had interest in seeing the movie. I like Joaquin Phoenix a bunch. I loved You Were Never Really There, hard to watch as it was. I don’t really care much for superhero films these days, but a mashup of Scorsese stylings and King of Comedy sounded enjoyable enough. Then came the cavalcade of critics. Joker was irresponsible, mediocre at best or just plain trying too hard. The refrain of We Live In A Society rebounded in my brain and I found the concept of watching it harder to justify. Then it got an eight minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, and I didn’t know what to think. Film Twitter produced meme up meme about its unremarkability being put on a pedestal. Other people were like look, it’s an enjoyable film, just ignore the critics. But there was so much snark that I had trouble pulling my head out of my arse. I didn’t watch the film.

It got 11 Oscar nominations. I have such little faith in The Academy that I don’t take the nominations as a sign of its certain quality, but now I feel like I have to know. Is this film actually good? Did The Academy want to stir up controversy? Or was it just that the movie made so much fucking money? In any case, it worked. I’m watching the film tonight to discover for myself how I feel. Mostly I’ve been shitting on it for long enough that, without having a concrete opinion, I feel like a fraud. Who knows? I might actually really like the film. I’m doing my best to, despite my innate bias, give it a fair shot. Look, I’m crabby that The Farewell didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. I’m also quite excited to see Uncut Gems, and from what I’ve heard it should’ve been in contention. The thought that in any universe I could precede Sandler’s name with Academy Award Winning Actor is a dream brought crashing to the ground. I’m gutted that they’re obviously gonna give Best Foreign Picture to Parasite so they don’t have to give it Best Picture too. That’ll probably go to 1917 or Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, but who can tell?

It’s been a surprisingly robust year for cinema, despite the endless onslaught of Disney produced franchise films. My list of what I haven’t seen greatly outweighs those I have. Word of mouth has convinced me that Knives Out, Little Women, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and The Lighthouse should be on my shortlist, to join Us and Midsommar. Goddamn what a happening year. I don’t know if I’ll have time to watch The Irishman, when I could lend that time to seeing Toni Erdmann instead. It’s funny, but I go through these motions every year. I put together a stack of films to watch, and don’t get around to it. I just found 2017’s one: Molly’s Game, Call Me By Your Name and The Shape of Water. How could I get this far without having seen that hot and steamy fish sex story? A bodice ripper to be shore.

GET IT? TO BE SHORE?

Pasta point of no return

Back to reality, Mom’s Spaghetti and all that.

Is there a term for when songs have egregious lyrics that become emblematic of that track? The above pasta reference in “Lose Yourself” being one of them. I don’t have an extensive thesis on this, but it’s a thing. That placenta line in Live’s “Lightning Crashes”? There’s some song that talks about patio lanterns. It’s so weird and specific that it shakes me every time I hear the track on the radio in our work bathroom (was that weird and specific enough for you?). Oh, turns out that’s just the name of the track. Y’know, I could’ve thought of more examples before I tried and failed to write this. 2020, it’s a brave new world.

That said, it’s not like the past isn’t still important. Like this clip of Mark McGrath flipping out on a teenager who calls him “Sugar Gay”. It’s crazy we can’t see his internal organs, given how thin his skin is. The clip has a ton of amazing pull quotes, like “you’ll never make it in this business” and “I WILL BEAT YOUR FUCK”. Mostly, it’s an ode to the potential evils of cocaine mixed with Mark McGrath. It’s also baffling to see someone so thoroughly miss that they’re the butt of their own joke. As ever, nobody takes Mark McGrath seriously but Mark McGrath. Missing the Mark, as ever.

In other news, World War 3 might be starting soon, and Dr. Phil is packing heat. Why do so many rich people have so little taste? His place looks like a green room for the Warped Tour. It’s so goddamn tacky. Just an eternal power clash, with nothing cohesive. Minimalism be damned, Dr. Phil needs a feature wall of semi-automatics to go with his gauche pop cultural lego art. Why do none of the endless themes match? What’s with the bizarre lips and teddy bear hanging on a pole? What real estate agent took on the Sisyphean goal of staging this clusterfuck, and can they still sleep at night? How did the good doctor hire Jared Leto’s Joker to make such #damaged art?

My mum thinks it’s weird that I’m hosting my own funeral for my birthday. She’s probably right.

I recently bought a nice Dutch cheese plane as a gift for myself. It’s perfect. We have a Baldersons aged cheddar in the fridge, and I’ve figured out that I can cut a slice with the cheese plane, drop it in my mouth, and eat it while cutting another slice. The timing works out that I have become a perpetual cheese eating machine, and I can’t think of anything else better to aspire to. I mean, with enough cheese it’s definitely something to perspire to.

I finally watched The Farewell last night. What a wonderful film. A blissful family drama with notes of offbeat comedy. The basic premise is that Billi (Awkwafina) has been living for years in America. Her grandmother is soon to pass from cancer and doesn’t know. The wider family stages a fake wedding in order to say goodbye. It’s a tender movie filled with intergenerational conflicts, cultural values and constant lies. There’s so much fantastic nuance within group and personal discussions, ruminations on life, loss and propriety. I loved it from start to end, and was wholly drawn into the story. I’m sure it’s not long until it hits streaming platforms. Please do yourself the favour and watch it.

Speaking of The Farewell, see y’all tomorrow.

I call a spade a spade, but this was more of a spayed

I saw Cats (2019). Spoilers will follow. This movie has left my brain a dense mush, so we’re doing this in bullet point, baby.

  • Cats (2019) is what happens when someone has a dream, a budget of $95 million, and a ceaseless erection draining all the blood from their brain.
  • I was told that this movie was rampantly horny and frankly, the sexuality was undersold.
  • The movie is both incredibly unsettling and unerringly perverted in every second of its runtime.
  • You will never get comfortable with the uncanny valley nature of the film. This is just part of the experience.
  • The animation looks like they worked really hard for a while, got 70% of the way there but just wanted to be home by 5pm and called it.
  • Cats is the kind of film that collapses under its own weight if you ask any questions, and you will not stop asking questions once you leave the theatre.
  • You will spend most of the film seriously asking yourself “would I fuck a cat?” At this moment, I think I just haven’t met the right one yet.
  • The body horror is palpable. There’s something discomforting about every character’s animation, and it’s unique for that character. Sometimes actors’ faces look like they’re floating. This is normal.
  • Jason Derulo’s furry neck tuft is kind of cool, but it also is maybe sentient? It moves in a way that’s not flush with the rest of his body, and is not affected by wind or motion.
  • James Corden’s proportions are alarming. His legs are not appropriately large enough for his body shape, and he looks like a furry anthropomorphic burger with limbs.
  • Ian McKellen is a fucking treasure, and commits 120% to the role. Is it beyond silly? Immeasurably. Will you be on his side? Unconditionally.
  • There’s a cat who wears bright red pants and suspenders. For at least three scenes this cat is unnamed, and draws all the focus as soon as he’s on screen. It’s a mind-boggling directorial choice.
  • There are liberties taken with certain actors’ CGI. Idris Alba has defined cat abs. Taylor Swift’s breasts are eerily shapely in comparison to every other female cat, like her fur has formed its own bra.
  • At one point a character unzips a literal cat fur suit, and the implications are beyond frightening.
  • The movie refuses to address scale. It changes on a whim and it’s never comfortable. There are two forks of woefully different sizes.
  • Why do some cats have clothes? What animals are those fur coats made of? How do the cats feel about that? The movie outright refuses to explain.
  • Cats wearing clothes is odd enough, and raises a lot of questions about the means of production these cats control. Despite this, as soon as cats wear sneakers it gets somehow worse.
  • Looking in the bathroom mirror, I took stock of my body. I felt at peace with the proportions I saw reflected back, then I shook myself off and returned to the nightmare.
  • At some point during the film I left to go to the bathroom. I saw a couple arguing outside about how bad the film was. To be clear, neither of them were saying the film was good. Merely that it was worse than the other thought.
  • That “Mr. Mistoffelees” song is still a fucking banger. We stan.
  • It’s an Emperor’s New Clothes parable for the modern age that so much money was put into this film, so many people were involved and nobody at any link of the chain stopped to ask not if they could, but if they should. This movie is fucking trash. It’s utter nonsense. It’s so poorly plotted, and it’s impossible to put aside its faults to focus on what they were trying to do. The audience started guffawing as soon as the cats were shown, and a low rumble of chuckles permeated the entire screening.
  • Our screening was CHAOTIC. It organically took on a life of its own. A group of four left after 30 minutes. A woman in the row in front of me exclaimed “ALREADY?” We all clapped and cheered furiously after every single song. We stood in respect after “Moonlight”. Sometimes people would make loud involuntary groans, and you knew exactly how they felt. We were far from the only group audibly heckling, and it was the most comforting, communal experience I’ve ever had in a cinema.
  • It’s inexplicable how quickly the “rules” of movie-going went out the window. People just didn’t care. The concept of having respect for the cinema collapsed once we understood how little respect the film paid to its audience. We all expected to be kicked out or talked to. We weren’t.
  • I will see this movie again. Probably many times. It’s destined to become a regular midnight cult film, and I can’t wait to see what call and responses develop. The cost to fun ratio of the $14 I paid for my ticket was astronomical.

Movie: 2/10
Experience: 12/10

See. This. Film. The nightmares are just part of it.

Nonsense and sensibility

Mistoffelees Navidad, motherfuckers.

Was that aggressive? Aggressively horny? Who cares? All that matters is that I’m seeing Cats tonight and will subsequently lose my mind in a swirling eddy of randiness. From what I’ve heard, this film is alarmingly sexual and terrifying, which is a Venn diagram of my interests. I’m in. I’m all in.

It’s weird how this film has already created a mythos of its own. I can’t imagine many things more 2019 then people coming out of their internet holes to celebrate mainstream Hollywood crashing and burning. If there’s one thing I love more than big corporations failing, it’s big corporations failing big. It sounds like Cats was an unintentional abyss, and anyone conspiracy theorising that it was an intentional bleeding discharge is too high on their revisionist history. They tried, and created a monster. Accept it. Love it.

Mostly, it feels like getting in on the ground floor of a cult film. From what people have been saying, it’s madness wrapped ribbon-like around a visceral erection. I’m absolutely sure that Cats (2019) will find its way into midnight screenings/frenzied orgies. I’m ready to able to say “I just finished watching Cats and boy are my arms tired.” My friends and I are all super thirsty for the unedited version. Oh wait, let’s jump back a tad. So one of the big calling cards of this film is that it made it to the cinema unfinished. They didn’t nail all the CGI in their haste, and the studio is sending out updated versions to theatres. We’re taking Judi Dench’s human hand, ring and all. We’re walking a grey humanoid statue they forgot to add the cat layer to in post. An old man walking around in a scarf and hat. The movie already had suspension of disbelief issues with their unstable ratio of scale, and this only adds to the maelstrom. Supposedly big chains will have the updated version, but we have hopes it’s coming Tuesday. None of the smaller Toronto chains are carrying the film, so we have fingers crossed. We’re ready to be horrified, and positively randy.

We will not be sober. Edibles are legal here now, and we’re all prepared to embrace the clusterfuck. When Jason Derulo sprays milk in a radius at the summation of his song, we will lap it up metaphorically (and maybe literally, if the edibles are strong enough). I’m hoping the will be live sing-a-longs. I’ll scan the lyrics to Mr Mistoffelees just in case. Our memories in the moonlight will not be alone. We’ll have others to hold us in the theatre. I may have to refer to my life in BC/AC, for pre and post the screening. I’m prepared, but still not quite H O R N Y for this film. I have a few hours. I’ll get there.

See you in the AC, pals.

Is there a Cats planet in the Star Wars Expanded Universe?

Yesterday felt like a big news day.

Of course there were the impeachment proceedings, where Trump proceeded to get impeached. As I said yesterday, it was gripping viewing. As part of a generation raised on cringe television, it was staggering to see the inane bullshit republicans would bring up to talk around the issues at hand. I dunno, deep down I think I believe in the ability of politics to do good, or the fundamental desire for people to want to help others. Almost everything I’ve seen tells me that idea is naive bollocks, but that doesn’t want me to stop believing. It’s crazy that the system has been so irrevocably broken that we’re at a point where impeachment is just a comma in a president’s ledger. The senate has already said it’s entirely biased in favour of Trump, so there’s no hope for any real success. He will be acquitted and free to continue campaigning in 2020. There’s nothing in the law that can force him to testify, and none of the guilty parties will either. They are, for all intents and purposes, above the law. So it’s a dead end. We get the hollow victory of officially having it in writing that Trump’s a piece of shit, but that’s it.

Star Wars. Without spoilers, the reviews are in. Apparently it’s overstuffed with plots. A convoluted mess made to salve the vitriol of whiny man babies. Kelly Marie Tran, target of an insane amount of online hatred (for no conceivable reason I can grok), got sidelined. Her lines generic enough that they could’ve gone to any character. I’ve never been a massive fan of Star Wars and mostly I don’t care. I am, however, a big detractor of Disney in their endless quest to homogenise entertainment into safe, boring bullshit they can peddle to China without making ripples. I also think that it’s really funny that Disney bought one of the world’s biggest entertainment properties and totally shat the bed on it. Mostly it really irks me that, in a time of propulsive social change and development (aside from the previous paragraph, of course), this generation is being robbed of stories that could embolden and encourage the vulnerable and marginalised. It’s almost 2020, and we should be getting tent pole family franchises that raise LGBTQ+ voices and awareness. Elsa should be an unambiguous icon for young gay kids. Valkyrie’s bisexuality should not be hinted or winked at, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with queer romance. Period. There’s nothing unsafe for families, wrong messages to send to children, or social ills that would be perpetrated by sending the very real message that love is love, irrespective of gender. Instead Disney drops little crumbs like “oh there’s a gay character in Beauty in the Beast” which amounts to little more than nothing. Great job patting yourself on the back with one hand while jerking yourself off with the other.

Also Cats sounds fucking bonkers. From what early reviews have said, it’s an absolute train wreck. Characters motivations and lines make very little sense, the scenario has not been well adapted from the stage play or filled out. The logic surrounding this cat world is tenuous at best, and it’s resulted in a surge of uncanny valley. Moreover, the movie looks like it hasn’t been finished, with half rendered CGI in places, and at one point an old human dude with a scarf and hat is in the background of a scene. Lazy, sloppy and unnecessary. Mostly what Hollywood resembles today.

Maybe today could ease the pedal a tad. Cheers.