What'cha Watching? (TV or Film)

… and now, I’ve done a lot more. With Halloween season nearly at an end I’ve racked up Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), Black Sheep (2006), Blood Quantum (2019), The Evil Dead (1981), Hellraiser (1987), Halloween H20 (1998), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) [why yes, I did watch the Halloween series out of chronological order here], Prom Night (1980), Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters (1968), Maximum Overdrive (1986), Ghostbusters (1984), House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Freaky (2020), The Old Dark House (1932), Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), and last night, Christine (1983).

30 films! I was shooting for 31 horror films in 31 days, and it looks like I’ll easily hit that, as if nothing else I intend to rewatch Halloween (2018) before Halloween Kills.

Once again I won’t detail everything - there are some rewatches, a lot of first time viewings, but I want to shout out Freaky as being my favourite new discovery. I was a big fan of Happy Death Day, from the same director, Christopher Landon, so this was a treat. Hat tip to Polygon/Triple Click’s Maddy Myers for talking about it on a recent podcast. Given the plot hook is a Freaky Friday-style body swap between an adult Vince Vaughn and a teenage girl there was certainly room for a take I had no interest in watching, but she reassured me that this was a good take, and she was right.

Also a kind of shout out to Maximum Overdrive which is maybe not as bad as people suggest - while still not being a great film - but is bonkers and uninhibited in a way only a kinda terrible movie can be. I think it’s actually a shame the experience soured Stephen King on directing.

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That’s not quite true, in that it’s noted by several members of the Bene Gesserit that they spent considerable time over many generations seeding “useful religious concepts” to use as levers in any society they were embedded in. In a sense, the only reason Paul is recognised as the religious/military leader he becomes is that Jessica starts manipulating those seeds that the Bene Gesserit set.. So, even in Dune, there’s some subversion to the White Savior thing.

As you and NotThePars note, though, it’s not a deep subversion until the next two novels.

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There’s some additional subversion in Dune itself.

Spoilers for the ending of Dune, the novel.


Paul can’t prevent the apocalyptic vision that he sees. The forces are too big, and the holy war is something it turns out he can only choose to be part of, or swept over by. All that power, and the best he can manage is to accept the inevitable, and put it to use in his revenge. He doesn’t really save anyone, he just ends up being a vehicle for the holy war.

There’s an interesting contrast with Foundation here, so it’s really lucky that both are getting adaptations at the same time. Spoilers for both.

Both have a mechanism by which a person can see the ecological forces at work in human civilization writ large. Foundation does it with super math. Paul does it with a sort of super intuition (that may secretly be Mentat math out of control? it’s hard to say), and a more organic connection to the world via the spice.

IMO Asimov’s is the more human positive vision. He sees an ending whereby knowledge becomes a stabilizing and ethical force that restores order and liberty after violent upheaval. Bad things happen, but people have some control over how bad they can get. It’s a bit cold and clinical in its approach.

On the other hand. Herbert repeatedly shows humanity as being beholden to forces too big to control. Forces often set in motion by people, but that they can’t actually reign in. There’s something in the way the gift for seeing possible futures in Dune is fuzzy and organic that sort of connects with this idea that humans are just another creature that’s part of an ecology that ultimately shapes their fate. There’s tragedy in the way Paul & co try to deny it, and it’s a much more emotional work as a result.

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Thanks for the expansion on our points, I read all 6 books in a sort of haze two years ago and immediately dove into Knausgaard’s saga so my memory is patchy.

When a lackey of Paul starts placing him in a favourable lineage with Hitler then I think it’s safe to say they don’t view him as the protagonist!

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Indeed, and this is something that starts to get paid off in God Emperor of Dune (at least, by the end), where we learn that Leto II’s “solution” to the Golden Path that Paul couldn’t achieve is to be a brutal dictator for ?thousands? of years in order to cause humanity to fracture so widely in various different potential developments in response that it is impossible for all of humanity to ever be controlled by one vision ever again. (Something which the deeply inferior prequel/sequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson really don’t seem to understand properly, what with their weird obsession with AI)

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Yeah, this is why I still love Dune despite the “mighty whitey” and Orientalist overtones. Herbert creates the ultimate “Great Man” figure in Paul, but at every turn he’s constrained by a tremendous weight of history – both in the form of grand plots and simple contingency. His supernatural precognition only lets him understand the options before him; he’s powerless to change any of those prior conditions or the cultural expectations that would delegitimise him as a leader if he pushed too hard against them.

(He still should have married Chani, though.)

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I really couldn’t get over the White Savior thing they seem to be teeing up so far in Dune.

It doesn’t help that it’s really only half a narrative at this point, so It’s unclear where they are even going to take things in the adaptation.

I was not familiar with the source material before watching it, and after reading up on the original story its clear that the books do in fact subvert that trope pretty overtly eventually, but that still remains to be seen on screen since the movie we got does not even contain the whole story of one book.

It’s a really sharp looking film, but the story they’ve covered so far in this first installment really fell flat for me.

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Welp, Halloween is over, and so is my spooky season movie marathon. I hit 36 films this year, with an attempt to watch every Halloween franchise movie driving a lot of that count. In the end I ran out of time/enthusiasm after getting to the 2007 Rob Zombie Halloween remake so I still haven’t seen his Halloween II nor Halloween Kills (I’ve already seen the 2018 reset/sequel, but I would have watched it again because it’s pretty great).

This month was the first time I’d seen anything by Zombie - I also watched House of 1000 Corpses for the first time - but I have to say I really liked his Halloween. There’s a chunk of the film, a good portion of the second half really, that is just a remake of John Carpenter’s original and I don’t think it works too well. The rest, though, was kinda great, really fleshing out a young Michael in way I found interesting in how sympathetic that exploration is. I didn’t think I needed more of a backstory, nor one delivered so sympathetically, but there we are.

Also what a great/bizarre cast, with a number of small cameos. Udo Kier has exactly one line? Ken Foree shows up looking like 25+ years haven’t happened between then and Dawn of the Dead (1978)? As for Zombie’s penchant for casting his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, in (AFAIK) every single one of his films, I can’t help but compare him to my favourite Japanese director Juzo Itami and his wife Nobuko Miyamoto. The ultimate directorial wife guys.

EDIT: I’ve just discovered Ken Foree was Kenan’s dad on Kenan and Kel and my world is upside down.

My goal for Shocktober movies this year was to watch one a day and try and find new movies.
Over Halloween weekend I caught a Japanese Horror marathon so my total ballooned up to 38. Post my favorites later.

Best spooky movies this October:

No One Gets Out Alive (2021)
Woman trapped in a haunted house/creepy dudes, I liked the end sequences and monster design a lot.

Halloween 3 (1982)
Nuff said already

Multiple Maniacs (1970)
John Waters and Devine being extremely camp, lots of great lines and scenes.

Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (1988)
This was when they were pumping out a sequel a year and in some ways its a blow off movie that tries too hard to sell the 3D effects…but it still appealed to me. This is where Freddy really starts to get cartoony. There’s a great dream sequence where a woman slowly turns into a cockroach and Freddy traps her in a roach motel.

Carnival of Souls (1962)
Must be one of the original twist ending movies. Lone survivor of a car wreck moves to a weird small town.

Infection (2004)
Creepy hospital horror, lots of green slime and unethical doctors.

  1. Guzoo (1986)
    Low budget 40 minute film, a bunch of girls stay at a house where an extra dimensional tentacle monster also lives (behind the mirrors). Very horny and random.

Unholy Women (2006)
Split into three parts, I enjoyed the middle movie which is about the troubled love life of a burlap sack woman and this guy who works in her brother’s auto shop.

Noroi: The Curse (2005)
Found footage horror with a lot of moving parts that eventually come together. Psychic girls, ghosts, ancient demons, reality TV shows…liked this one a lot


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Finally got around to watching Dune last weekend. It was solid.

Riding my Villaneuve high, I decided to watch Arrival today. (On Hulu.) And wow. Holy shit did I like that movie. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in several years. Really fantastic. And enjoyed it as a fan of (big spoiler) Slaughterhouse-Five, especially. Huge fan of media working with non-linear time. Blinking in and out of moments, etc.

Anyways, Arrival really blew me away. My roommates are interested and I might watch it again with them in the next week or so. If you like movies you should check it out.

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“It is pretty, but is it art? Well, how is it valued?”

Last night I watched Orson Welles’ classic F for Fake (1973), and had a great time. It’s such a fun movie! I loved the exploration of themes that are commonly treated in philosophy of fiction/art (e.g.: “do fictional statements have truth-value, are they ‘just pretense’?”) through these notable cases of hoaxes. And the discussions of how both auteurship and the institutional status of art are viewed through the lenses of the art market were insightful. Really got me thinking about what can be conveyed through storytelling, and what it takes for an art object to be “authentic”. I was also fascinated by the editing, and enjoyed the soundtrack (I found it very soothing, lol). One final thought: WHAT IS THIS OUTFIT?!! it’s so cool. Mr. Welles was truly a stylish icon.

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Picked up watching The North Water after getting all caught up with Succession. Colin Farrell has clearly embraced looking like absolute shit on camera between this and The Batman. Utterly terrifying performance.

As violent period pieces go, it’s not quite up to the production value of The Terror but doesn’t need to be. Much more of a character study than a horror story so far. As a show about whaling, there is an incredible amount of violence against animals that you have to stomach. Never thought I’d see the star of Phone Booth club a seal to death but here we are.

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Saw a Wario64 ad for the Mortal Kombat movie and have been imagining an MK movie where Tony Leung plays Shang Tsung all day.

Also watching Legends of Tomorrow still I guess but it feels like the pandemic put everybody’s vibes off.

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I just started my kinda annual rewatch of Justified. It was me and my dad’s favorite show to watch together.

He passed away before the final season and I waited to watch it until it was able to be streamed. I’ve watched it from start to finish way too many times since.

Also, fuck Nick Searcy.

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Watched Eraserhead from the venerable David Lynch. Definitely better than the other film of his I have seen (Dune). But I’m gonna be honest the whole time I was waiting for it to be over. I think I’m just a normie when it comes to film? Let me watch Iron Man, y’know.

It’s a film student’s film, I think. If you want to watch something strange and unique and relatively short then you might have a good time. Myself… well, I didn’t get it at all.

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Superb show. Watched that and The Shield this year and will struggle to watch two better more propulsive and consistent shows for a long, long time.

Rob’s discussion on the 2019 end of year Waypoints round up also summarises the show in 10 minutes better than anything else I’ve read or listened to.

I started watching Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop. It’s…certainly a thing. The speed at which it goes from like…frame-perfect recreation of the show to a parody of a photocopy of a JPEG of Firefly and back again is head-spinning. They don’t even seem totally sure how to use The Seatbelts here.

UPDATE: The non-anime-fied fight choreography, though? I…gotta hand it to them.

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I’m watching Cowboy Bebop Netflix… It seems… fine. It does have the disadvantage of having exceptional source material it could never measure up against.

Its biggest issue for me is it feels like the writers don’t trust its viewers are smart enough to figure out who and what Spike is and what his motivations are without clunky flashbacks and exposition. I could forgive the weird tone, iffy writing, and cinematography/effects if it didn’t presume I was stupid.

It also portrays the gang as idiots instead of terminally unlucky, probably has a lot to do with the tone feeling off.

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And, while I acknowledge that there are things about Faye Valentine that probably don’t play in 2021, whoever decided on that characterization for Faye needs to go to their room and think about what they did.

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They’re gonna carry that weight.

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