Monthly Archives: November 2012

WE ALL LIKE TO EAT CAKE: ‘DAISIES’ AT THE ROXIE

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Last night I tried to beat the rainstorm to the Roxie, San Francisco’s oldest running movie theater. The Castro may be our city’s opulent movie palace, but the Roxie is our musty shoebox, a treasure chest of mysterious breeding. It’s a bit like time travel, and last night the screen was prepped for that cheerfully boxy frame: 1:33.

Too often this film gets called mischievous: Daisies has real teeth. Looking at it now, the 1966 film looks communist-friendly, but was banned on release in communist Czechoslovakia. It was also a state sponsored film: such is history.

What complicates the film is the interplay between surrealism and satire. While the film formally slashes and burns its way through un(classically) motivated montage, absurd dialogue, optical tricks, and what can only be described as the most irresponsible use of color-tinting in cinema history, its heroines are also essentially parodies. Not caricatures: parodies.

I have no beef with feminism, but I don’t know where that label is coming from. Daisies has been pitched to me over and over as a feminist film, and the label persists in this poster (foregrounded on the film’s IMDB page):

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Whether you find the image nauseating or ironically sublime, you can see the words “madcap feminist farce” printed in clear, modestly goofy font for all the world to see. Construing the film as feminist kind of upsets me, because the films heroines… well, they don’t behave well. Calling them heroines is sort of a joke. Their acting out seems to be less about upsetting established patriarchal order (although that may be in there somewhere) and more about exploiting that order for their own unending (and unsatisfying) gain. They’re not women– they’re cheery idiots, merry fools, dress-up dolls. 

Of course you get some juicy anarchist sentiment to chew on: the destruction of wealthy order. (The girls can be found cheating elderly men out of huge amounts of expensive food, and, most famously, trashing an extravagant banquet.) Although I question whether there isn’t a distinction to be drawn between anarchic destruction of, and fetishistic worship of. The worship of a product could result in its consumption, and the girls love to destroy by means of consumption. 

But there’s judgement coming. The film’s end finds the girls being forced to clean up their mess. Indeed, they beg for a second chance after their destructive impulses land them karmically (instantly and absurdly) in a large body of water. They look ready to drown, and beg an unseen force to spare them.

They’re then warped back to the seen of their crime, tasked with cleaning up their mess: and they can’t. Not only are their hearts not in it (they titter and whisper and fuss while trying to piece together hopelessly shattered dishes) but all their tasks are impossible. Nothing can repair the damage they have done. They cannot rebuild the plates, and they cannot reproduce the amazing food that took them only one scene to grind under their heels.

Maybe the film would play well next to the somewhat more ascetic The Comedy (Rick Alverson.) While that film looks on its central character with somewhat less relish, its similarly critical.

We’re meant to enjoy the antics of the girls in Daisies, maybe in a visceral, amoral way, but the logical thread of the movie is a damning comment on their behavior. Far from real “rebels” the girls are the ultimate consumers. They’re constantly pigging out on all manner of food, frequently very rich food, frequently cake, and their glee seems to partially stem from their not having to pay for any of it. What a value! The constant consumption looks to be a metaphor for the capitalist middle class that, frankly, the French New Wavers weren’t so crazy about either: it’s that petty bourgeoise thing again.

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That they’re women: well, their names are Mary I and Mary II. Maybe the feminist tone that people are wringing out of the movie does recognize the women as acidic satires, stingingly evoking what women aren’t: interchangeable dolls running around eating and tittering and lighting things on fire.

Like The Comedy, Daisies evokes a special strand of superficiality that seems at once horrifically extreme and banal (we all like to eat cake, don’t we?) But here it’s based less on ironic malaise and more on endless consumption and play. Destruction is purportedly a creative act (maybe by omission) but in Daisies the anarchy is passed into the hands of the mindless, the self-obsessed, the greedy, the hedonistic: and they’re women. So we should be more careful calling this an empowering, feminist romp.

Just what kind of a farce this is, only Vera Chytilova knows. Now:

If I can go on for a moment, from reading to experience: the film is breathtaking (is the phrase “gleefully anarchic?”) and truly, nothing is sacred. Janus Films and the Roxie have also conspired to present this Czech New Wave masterwork/symphonic riff on a new 35mm print which, I can attest, is gorgeous. Daisies is also available to stream through Hulu, but seeing the celluloid really draws some of the more- ahem– colorful passages, giving them enough weight to sufficiently convince you you have left your body. You will lean forward, but see only butterflies.

A night at the Roxie also puts you in position for Taqueria Los Coyotes, where the carne asada fries come recommended. Hopefully the rain keeps up, as it somehow makes the tacos taste even better, and the Roxie even more magical.

-Max Berwald

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CONSIDER ‘THE BEAVER’

Everything that follows is: a spoiler. 

I have seen a lot of movies while under the influence. Sometimes this is a terrible idea, like when I went to see Shutter Island after an hour-long binge of a certain substance, at a movie theater across the street from Ground Zero. Too. Heavy. So. Paranoid. Other times, like when watching The Beaver, the help of a mind-altering pal can make the experience not only bearable, but enjoyable.

Let me begin by saying it is taking all I have not to constantly refer to this mess as Jodie Foster’s Beaver. She deserves it though; she chose to bring this movie into the world. You used to be something, Jodie Foster. A guy shot Ronald Reagan for you. This is the best you can come up with?

What you need to understand is that Walter (Mel Gibson, remember him?) is depressed. Extremely depressed. He doesn’t talk to his sons, a brooding teenager and a bright-eyed kindergartener, and he won’t make out with his wife, Jodie Foster, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t have a name in this movie. Also, he inherited a major toy manufacturing company from his father, The Greatest CEO That Ever Lived, and he’s running it into the ground. Instead of showing compassion for Walter’s obviously worsening condition, and possibly getting him some help, his family keeps calling him out on his shit and telling him he’s a loser. Teenage Son actually keeps tally of all the ways he and his father are similar with a not-obvious-at-all chart on his wall, and then works on ways to eradicate those similarities. Good lord, I would be bummed too if I were Walter.

When Jodie Foster kicks him out, Walter has a smoke-fueled, bloody, drunken shame-spiral at a cheap motel, much like the night I saw Shutter Island. He awakes in the morning on the motel floor, being berated by a woolly beaver puppet attached to his hand. In other words, he is yelling at himself in an exaggerated Australian accent. Which puzzles me – Mel Gibson is Australian. Why does he need to put on a thick, joke accent to be the beaver? Or wait – is this Mel Gibson’s real accent and he’s just been holding out on us all these years?

Anyway, the beaver puppet tells him to get his shit together and start living his life. The beaver puppet and Oprah have a lot in common. He picks up his kindergartener from school, and they start making things out of wood, because that’s beaver-y and a great way to bond. Jodie Foster comes home and is mildly alarmed when she sees what’s going on, but Walter quickly wins her over with his newfound confidence and Australianess. You see, as he explains, the beaver puppet is a therapeutic device given to him by his psychologist, only used when no other methods will help. The beaver is in control of his life until he is sane again. Okay. Jodie Foster doesn’t see anything too weird about this, and invites him to stay for dinner. Over time, they rekindle their romance and he moves back in with the family.

Meanwhile, Teenage son is running a successful business at school writing other students’ papers. He is shocked when the pretty blonde valedictorian (Jennifer Lawrence) who he totally wants to Winters Bone, asks him to write her graduation speech. He agrees, and they later meet up at her house to start working. He discovers that even though she’s a serious student, her real passion is art, which her parents don’t understand. And not just normal, “square” art, but tagging. If only it wasn’t so easy to get caught! Somehow, he derives from her telling him not to go into an empty bedroom that she has a dead brother. There is definitely no mention of it whatsoever. And yet, he decides that a romantic gesture would be to take her to an empty lot and tag “RIP DAVID” in neon yellow on the wall, because “he knows that’s what she’s yearning to say, but doesn’t know how.” She is pissed. This movie makes no sense.

Walter (or the beaver, technically, because he only speaks through the puppet) has pretty much revamped his life. Things are going well. He pulls off a stunt where he goes into the toy company and calls a company-wide meeting. He informs the whole staff that he will be stepping down as CEO, and the beaver will be taking his place. No I’m serious. The whole company eats it up, finding his enthusiasm and whimsy charming, instead of what it is: disturbing. This man needs help. Within about three hours, the beaver saves the toy company by coming up with a hot new toy for the holiday season – a tool kit with precut wood pieces that children piece together to make their own beaver. And it’s a smash. Everyone in the country is buying one for little Johnny. You should know at this point I threw a lot of chex mix at the screen and yelled “You’re a liar, Jodie Foster!”

Speaking of Jodie, she’s enjoying all the hot sex she’s having with Mel Gibson (shudder), but really wishes he would put down the beaver puppet during the deed. The last straw is when they’re getting dressed for their anniversary dinner, and he puts a tiny tuxedo on the beaver. She orders him to take the puppet off, because “I want you, not the puppet.” Except, this does not work well, because Walter is still depressed. This peppy, confident person is the beaver, and without the puppet, Walter is back to how he was in the motel room. He practically sleeps through dinner and suddenly blows up at his wife. The next day, she packs her bags and moves the kids out of the house. Walter is alone again.

Around this time, he films an appearance on the Today show to talk about the toy tool kit thing’s amazing success. The beaver, of course, does the interview- and the whole world is enamored. There’s a nauseating montage of his face on every magazine on the news rack, and being interviewed on every late night show. Disappointed family is still disappointed.

But here’s the kicker: The psychologist never actually prescribed the puppet therapy. Where did the puppet come from, you ask? According to Walter, it’s not a puppet – it’s real, and it won’t let him go. Walter, NOT the beaver, calls Jodie Foster in the middle of the night pleading for help. In the best scene of the movie, the puppet wakes up and catches Walter on the phone. THEN THEY FIGHT. Mel Gibson fights with a hand puppet. Teenage son races over to the house to see if his dad’s okay, and finds Gibson on the garage floor covered in blood. He’s cut off his hand to get rid of the beaver for good.

After some intense therapy and a stint in a mental institution, a cutesy voiceover informs you that everything is better and you should love your family. I think. I don’t know what the point of this movie is. Be yourself?

-Samantha Wilson

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THE NEW ‘WEEKEND’

This is part of a series examining art house releases in 2011.

Watching Weekend is like watching a home run in slow motion. Andrew Haigh’s 2011 film, his second feature to-date, is a big muscular talky. It’s a simple premise played heartily: two very different gay men, very drawn to one another, talk, flirt, kiss and think over the course of a weekend- the same weekend they first meet.

I say that they’re very different from one another as as a form of endorsement. I shouldn’t have to say it, but LGBT individuals still live (on screen) in the purgatory of caricature. Gay men, while enjoying the most representation, still have a long way to go as far as representation. They can be this, or they can be that.

The shopping, fag-hags, lilting lisps: all absent here. Moving on:

The film pulls off the difficult trick of housing, within itself, the explicit discussion of ideas. These guys are liable to argue about representation while just hanging around the kitchen. If that sounds boring, it’s not. The trick is that you love Haigh’s twin protagonists immediately. And, as in life, they draw their beliefs about the way the world works (or should work) from very, very personal experiences. Learning about those is the whole journey of Weekend.

So much happens in this movie. In the discussion of ideas mentioned above, dialogue becomes action. The characters speak from their hearts (rooted in ways you’ll understand intuitively before you do concretely) and so force themselves into the world with words. They have presence, and take action, with what they choose to say.

The reason I get so excited about this: it’s the way actual, living-breathing, 21st century people take action in the world too. We talk to one-another. We’re talking to one-another, in fact, all the time.

I will say that there’s an uncomfortable struggle to wrap-up what is essentially a bottomless narrative with a neat, commercial bow. But you forgive the writer-director that. He’s got one foot in the uncannily real lives of his characters (the faux-documentary hand-held camera work seems to be the most shoed-in, insincere thing about this reality) and the other in the world of the cinematic romance. That he doesn’t topple into sentimentalism is so admirable that I’ll forgive him his urge to tie things up. It works in its own way.

As far as nestling the film into an increasingly global art house tradition: it’s not contemplative. Okay, it’s not usually contemplative (the scene of Russell at work– he’s a lifeguard at the local pool– is great, steady, and contemplative.) But it does slash bravely across traditions, offering a new way to be a movie. The slice-of-life has never yielded such a palatable mix of likability, contemporaneity, comment, argument, soul, realism, wit… I gush.

And anyway, if it isn’t a stylistic revolution, it’s a big meal. 

-Max Berwald

Weekend is streaming on Netflix.

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MANHATTAN PROJECTIONIST

I didn’t think I’d like Jose. Every old-school projectionist, the ones who’ve held union cards for decades, hold claim to their booth that they decorate as they please. Jose adorned his booth with a single corkboard pinned with a bounty of buxom-boxer-babes, many of them autographed with salacious sentiments and “we loooooove you Jose”s. Scattered among the ladies are a couple snapshots of his wife and kids.

I thought this macho-man Jose Rodriguez, a towering chain-smoking alcohol-stenched Puerto Rican with a thick New York accent, might not take me seriously. He was far closer to the paradigm of the classic union projectionist: middle-aged male, gruff and full of vice. I was an atypical projectionist: too young, scrawny, and female. I’ve handled adversity here-and-there: a film trafficker asked “why is there a little girl running the films?” and I’ve had a manager tell me I don’t have the physical strength for the job. But Jose never questioned my abilities, and neither has any other projectionist.

Projectionists often have families, and it’s easy to watch your kids in a projection booth. It’s inevitable with children’s curiosity and the long lulls of booth boredom that they’ll want to know how to thread a film projector. It’s a simple pattern through a series of gears, creating loops ensuring the film won’t slide across metal causing scratches. There are easy rules to follow: soundtrack always face you, reels take up counter-clockwise, there are four sprockets in a frame. Within a couple years, these kids are professionals. My former boss’s eight-year-old daughter has thread machines for me without a scratch.

Jose used to let his (now grown) daughters thread machines. He’s been projecting film since before they were born. Jose attended a technical highschool in the Bronx to learn mechanics, so when he would be drafted in Vietnam he could fix planes far away from the front lines. Two months before he finished high school the war ended. A movie theater was in need of someone skilled with machines, and Jose’s been a projectionist ever since.

Jose claims to have worked at every movie theater in Manhattan. He was the go-to projectionist for the adult-film festival. He was working out lighting cues with one of the stars of an adult film: she wanted the lights slowly to brighten, building up to a “trick” she’d perform for the audience during the end credits. This feat involved a handstand and a ping pong ball. Jose looked me dead in the eye, “after that, nothing fazes me.”

He used to work exclusively at porn theaters, but since the 90’s Jose has worked at Anthology Film Archives in the Lower East Side, a theater and preservation site for film often leaning towards the avante-garde and experimental. It’s a projectionist’s nightmare. The prints are old, sometimes damaged and always a bit scratched. Techniques employed by these filmmakers often involve upside-down titles, purposefully damaged or jittery photography, and completely erratic sound. They are enough to give projectionists a heart attack.

Jose has had two heart-attacks. He doesn’t like referring to them as heart-attacks, he calls them his “heart mishaps”. I didn’t ask if they were projectionist related.

I questioned why he would settle down at Anthology, of all the New York theaters, since union projectionists notoriously like taking easy jobs. The platter system was invented to ease projectionists into a culture revolving around the multiplex: films consisting of five to seven small reels are combined on a platter into one giant reel. Just thread the one giant reel into the machine, press a button, and your job is done at that screen for the next two hours.

Anthology Film Archives does not have platters, it still does the old-fashioned system of reel-to-reel. This requires two projectors and one projectionist standing by every twenty minutes, keeping an eye on the right hand corner of the screen for cue marks (often called cigarette burns, indicative of the profession’s nicotine habit). The first cue tells you to start the motor, the second cue comes exactly seven seconds later and tells you to open the shutter. The goal is seamlessness: every frame of black between reels is a painful disaster, and every smooth transition is a sigh of relief.

Projectionists are forgotten until they screw something up. As Jose says, “they’ll forget you exist until you fuck up and then they’ll start talkin’ about your mother”. Every projectionist will screw something up eventually. They have nightmares about it: they’ll show a print that will be horrificly scratched and they can’t figure out why; their hands will be too big to thread the machine; they’ll run a screening for Paul McCartney, the print will break and Sir Paul will personally berate them.

I hold my breathe during the cue marks at any screening I go to. No one has sympathy for projectionists but their colleagues.

Anthology assuredly breeds nervous projectionists with their reel-to-reel 35mm prints, along with the myriad of other film formats they show, none of their material standard and none of it as easy as the platter system. However, Jose loves Anthology. He doesn’t mind their quirky, artsy programming. Kidlat Tahimik, a famous Third Cinema movement Filipino director, asked Jose to keep the projector running past the credits, projecting the “tail” of the film (extra liter on the end) and then just light on the screen. During this additional portion of the program, Kidlat performed a dramatic and bizarre hybrid Filipino tribal dance/graduation march. Jose, looming in his gruff Bronxite ex-porn theater employee glory, gazed down at the spectacle and commented with pure sincerity, “These artists. They sure are creative”.

Jose settled at Anthology because they have a one-projectionist-per-booth rule. In the multiplexes that use platters the projectionist’s job is simpler, but he has to walk from screen to screen. Jose would much prefer sitting in his chair, having to stand up once every twenty minutes or so.

Like many other projectionists, Jose sleeps on the job. The booth is comfortable, it’s a home away from home. It’s dark and relatively warm. In large enough booths there are couches dedicated to naps, complete with blankets. Yet, the projectionist sleep is never a fully restful one. They often wake up in alarm, fearing they’ve slept a second too long, leaping to their feet to ensure there’s still an image on screen.

In this strange mix of boredom and neurosis, you’ll find that a projectionist is never just a projectionist. If they’re not sleeping, they’re designing websites for a client or making illustrations for their portfolio or reading for their grad school. During his shift Jose often grades papers for his math class. Monday through Friday, 8am to 3pm, he teaches math to high schoolers in Brooklyn. He used to work five nights a week as a projectionist, but after his “heart mishaps” he decided to cut it down to three.

Jose’s health has taken a recent decline. He tells me about his recent adventures with the Chinese practices of acupuncture and cupping. He explains all this to me while smoking his fifth cigarette in the booth, whose only ventilation is an exhaust pipe running straight to the projector. Jose is determined to find a cure for his ailments as long as it doesn’t involve quitting cigarettes or alcohol.

One cure Jose is sure will work is retirement. He’s reluctant about moving to his seaside house in Puerto Rico; having grown up in the “concrete jungle” and worked most of his life in a room without windows, he’s not big on nature.

Jose is getting out just in time, along with dozens of other unions projectionists who dedicated decades to the projecting films. Digital projectors are already standard in most multiplexes, and within five years distributors will no longer be shipping film prints. Jose, along with others, agree that it is inevitable. Technology changes, and as platters dominated reel-to-reel, digital projectors are bound to dominate. Film projectors are being torn out of booths, along with their projectionists.

Projection is a solitary and often lonely job, but one with history and mysticism. There is an immediate kinship felt among projectionists, a sharing of fuck-ups and freak accidents only particular to this job. In the last decade this kinship has broadened to the bonding over the profession’s own demise. Digital booths have an inhuman silence without film passing through gears, and are bereft of the personal touches (including corkboards filled with busty athletes) that made them a second home. Inevitable but sad, the lullaby of the film projector will no longer be singing their masters to a restless and sacred sleep.

-Grace Sloan

photo credit: Brennan Lashever

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‘HOUSE OF PLEASURES’ 2/ NOTES ON SADE AND BIG CATS

This is part two of a two part series on ‘House of Pleasures’ (2011) by Bertrand Bonello. 

House of Pleasures also negotiates the morality of Sade.

Sade’s name comes up early: “My only books are Sade’s diaries, and the bible. And I haven’t read the bible,” says one prostitute.

To be coy about it, pain takes center stage only once, and stingingly. But the moment haunts the film as trauma.

Prostitution’s value comes from the individual’s transformation into pleasurable-object.

Pornography’s value comes from the individual’s image, and its transformation into pleasurable-object.

The prelude to the traumatic moment of pain includes a particularly Sade-ian yielding of power. A prostitute yields control, and allows herself to be tied up. She gives over her individual agency, in order to become an object.

Once an object, she no longer has the power to reject the agency of her customer. She has become a slave.

Then the customer takes pleasure in punishing her for her decision to become a pleasure-object.

But in Sade, there is no time for grieving; there is only the next pleasure, the next punishment.

In Bonello’s brothel, we dwell on the sufferer, as she travels back to the world transfigured, deformed.

She becomes an individual again soon enough, but her body has been damaged, and has become worthless in the economy of prostitution. Having been punished, she is no longer a suitable pleasure-object.

The film doubles back, and punishes the punisher. But the course of revenge is not as interesting as the poetry that here renders it.

One element of the brothel-as-fantasy-world: a panther, brought by one of the customers.

The panther haunts the film, waiting languidly on a sofa, watching impassively the alien world of people and pageantry and make-believe. This is nothing like the jungle, from which both man and panther, originally, spring.

I’m being broad because the film’s use of the panther is broad. It’s an apt symbol for the wilderness that pageantry (by which I mean both apparel and custom, neither necessarily period) can only attempt to cover.

The panther does not symbolize one act of punishment committed in one direction, but rather the beastly mode by which humans act when doors are closed and shades are drawn.

The physical House of Pleasures presents us with a paradox: an organized institution of commercial exchange, of extensive pageantry and custom, and a place designed to allow for man’s basest urges to be indulged, satisfied.

Bonello frames traditional period pageantry as being little more than the attempt to costume-away the selfish-pleasure drive that governs a lot of human behavior.

There are also women caught in the thick of this attempt at disguise.

And while they may attempt to find themselves in Sade (“…and I haven’t read the bible”) it’s not working.

It will never work, because their suffering is real. They see it in each other. In Sade, they are told their suffering is part of a natural flow, a currency of spectacle and consumption.

But Sade was writing pornography. A special kind of narrative pornography. A political pornography. Maybe even a moral pornography.

But the difference between the ideals of pornography and the realities of prostitution are so vast as to be intraversable.

Bonello’s work is presented as a missing link in this dialogue.

Bonello presents a moral depiction of prostitution, rendering the suffering, degradation, and danger of that trade. By rendering prostitution as prostitution, he offers to his characters an escape. They see in each other, maybe, what we see in the film.

Sade depicted one type of prostitution legendarily, as a myth, with only one character rendered morally (the pleasure-taker, the object-user, the rapist.)

Bonello renders the victims morally, thus offering some kind of balance.

And no such balance existed, at the time his film was set.

-Max Berwald

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RETROMANIACAL

How Mendes managed Jarhead remains a mystery.

Skyfall accepts the zeitgeist credo of retromania– even wallows in it. Every narrative solution is a turn backwards, to the past of Bond. Which is unfortunate, because with Casino Royale, some found reason to suspect that the super-spy had an actual future.

Mendes seems content to consign him painfully to the past, bizarrely skirting (by pretending to confront) the issue of the changing roll of espionage in the globalized information age.

Q, the screenplay’s apparent nod to the increasing importance of digital presence, is the focus of precisely one scene. Bond handily silences the upstart hacker: “Eventually, someone’s got to pull the trigger.” …Right.

If there’s audience pleasure to be found in this (what Celluloid Liberation Front handily dubs “meta-Bond”) film, it’s in that retromaniacal wallow. It’s clear we’re supposed to enjoy Bond’s use of: an old car. An old pistol. An old razor.

The film’s first half (massively more entertaining than its second) succeeds in its dreamlike conventionality. Silhouetted, Bond karate chops anonymous Bad Guy against Shanghai’s neon-lights. A bond girl materializes in the next building over, the center of a yellow, stage-lit tableaux. They stare at each other. It’s all pretty weird, but at the same time, conventional. Visually fresh, but narratively ancient. Bond in summary. Bond restated.

By the movie’s climax, even the visual freshness has been surrendered. The climax is a summary of everything that is (or can be) wrong with the contemporary, over-budgeted action film. There’s no way to pay attention to it. No conceivable way to care– about what? A bone-thin origin story we never asked for? Fire. Water. Muzzle-flash. Helicopter. Run run run. Mendes has reduced Bond-action to a checklist. And I suspect he may have checked a lot of boxes while I was fighting, every bit as valiantly as Bond, to stay awake.

Back to the retromania, we can chalk it all up to the fact that Bond isn’t terribly relevant anymore. That’s not to say he cant have a great franchise all to himself, but he does represent a kind of crass, Imperial, racist authority. Hard not to think of Team America, when Skyfall opens with Bond careening through Istanbul in a high-speed chase (Puzzlingly, Mendes seems actively committed to making this chase generic.) The Turkish will get out of his way; it’s for the greater good, to be sure.

Another problem is the lack of all danger:

Bond falls into an icy lake, but we’ve already seen (in this very episode!) that he is undrown-able. Consequently, when he emerges into the night, his soaked suit fails to prompt even a shiver. Don’t blame it on the actor, blame it on the franchise. The frozen lake is not a frozen lake. It’s just an underwater shot.

When Bond is shot in the chest with a uranium bullet, he continues to fight doggedly. Because bullets aren’t bullets in Skyfall. They’re just muzzle-flashes and squibs: nothing in between.

-Max Berwald

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THE TWEETING: ‘LIZ AND DICK’

The Tweeting is a series wherein we log and celebrate spits and spats, tantrums, and general outpourings of live tweeting from our writers, as they watch what you, Dear Reader, should not have to.

‘Liz and Dick’  is a Lifetime original movie chronicling Elizabeth Taylor’s relationship with Richard Burton, played by Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler respectively.

@yeahyeahsam: Welcome to the #lizanddick feed @ALTFEEDBACK readers! I am qualified to do this because I read all of Furious Love and I am insufferable.

@yeahyeahsam: Did you know that this is “based on a true story?” So is every episode of Law and Order SVU.

@yeahyeahsam: Drinking game: Every time someone speaks, throw your glass of scotch at the screen, weep.

@yeahyeahsam: The Liz accent has already begun to waver, five minutes into the film. Hello, Long Island LiLo. 

@yeahyeahsam: TAKE A DRINK EVERY TIME SOMEONE SAYS BOSOM

@yeahyeahsam: Burton, sad that Lohan in a black wig rebuffed his comments/street harassment, has begun drinking, and presumably won’t stop.

@yeahyeahsam: One magical makeout sesh in the back of a warehouse, and you suddenly stop hating each other. This is just like high school.

@yeahyeahsam: “Eddie, good to see you! I’m sleeping with your wife!” – the ghost of Grant Bowler’s career.

@yeahyeahsam: If soap operas have taught me anything, it’s that joint-bubble baths lead to SEX SCENES. 

@yeahyeahsam: Mmmm, adultery underscored by overwrought poetry.

@yeahyeahsam: Everyone’s accents came back just in time for two back-to-back suicide attempts.

@yeahyeahsam: Lifetime’s ON TOP of its ad game. We’ve had cat-eye mascara, vodka and tempurpedic mattresses (you know, for all the fucking)

@yeahyeahsam: “I hate you.” “No you don’t” “No, I don’t”

@yeahyeahsam: “But what about the turbans, Sam?!” I’m glad you asked, she’s currently wearing a furry one.

@yeahyeahsam: Wondering if the makeup they used to cover Lohan’s freckles and contour her coke bloat would work on my facial birthmark?

@yeahyeahsam: Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny has appeared I can now confirm at least one person in this film is British.

@yeahyeahsam: The “reminiscing in a blackbox theatre” thing is a nice touch that I would have used when writing this movie on my livejournal

@yeahyeahsam: HATS! YELLING! DIVORCE! MORE HATS! COCKTAILS! OVERWHELMING DESPAIR!

 @yeahyeahsam: You can tell where the Lifetime budget is dipping. I bought that Taylor-Burton diamond at Forever 21 yesterday.

@yeahyeahsam: Is this Grey’s Anatomy?” – Dad 

Cleo-Fat-Ra. Solid burn, Lifetime

@yeahyeahsam: We’ve had two monologues from the butler so far about how wrong he was to not like Elizabeth at first. We were all wrong. 

@yeahyeahsam: Mom has spent this entire movie thinking Grant Bowler is a very haggard Greg Kinnear.

@yeahyeahsam: Surprise paralysis! Furry turban count: 3.

@yeahyeahsam: Crying while chugging vodka is also how I deal with my problems.

@yeahyeahsam: They didn’t use enough spirit gum on anyone’s facial hair.

@yeahyeahsam: A doctor just told Liz that she probably has colon cancer but he’s not too sure. Then backed out of the room stage right. 

@yeahyeahsam: Whoops, I thought the boat run aground in this Time Warner commercial was Liz and Dick’s yacht.

@yeahyeahsam: OH MY BAD YOU DON’T HAVE COLON CANCER OH HO HO GOOD THING RICHARD BURTON IS HERE I’LL LET YOU CRAZY KIDS RECONCILE.

@yeahyeahsam: I trust one of you can find me a gif of 80s Liz fainting when she hears Burton died.

@yeahyeahsam: What the hell happened? It’s over. Guys that blackbox theatre is some kind of purgatory where they smoke camels in the void.

@yeahyeahsam: They’re dead, talking to fake reporters about their love affair out somewhere in the ether. Are we dead?

@yeahyeahsam: I’m done. I’m going to go down some scotch and ask the first man I see why he doesn’t love me. Thanks for tuning in @ALTFEEDBACK!

-Samantha Wilson

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