What'cha Watching? (TV or Film)

Ah man, I watched all of this at the weekend. I can’t stop listening to Morning Brown. Not enough sketch comedy these days!

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You know how there was that story about Disco Elysium getting a tv show? Because I think we’ve found our Detective

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I still really hate this season of Fargo so far, but the last episode was really good. It felt like the Coen Brothers and not some crappy Boardwalk Empire-copy. (Copying the last season of Boardwalk Empire too, the really bad one.)

Maybe it was just a blender of like six different kindsof Coen Brothers quirky, but sure. That’s what I want. Not five speeches an episode about how America is bad.

I mean, I get it, America sucks. Down with this shithole. But we don’t need a speech about it every scene, man. Instead just one confusing billboard advertisement about how “the future is now” works so much more.

My colleague has been imploring me to watch What We Do In The Shadows the TV series and I’ve started watching the past couple of days. Once I got past the initial cringe feeling I have with BBC stuff as well as the massive debt it clearly owes to The Office I’ve actually enjoyed it. I feel it’s still finding its feet or I’m getting used to it but I’m getting at least one big laugh an episode and enjoying the vibe generally. Was saying to my colleague that Matt Berry has built a career on just being himself, a very posh and silly Englishman, but it works so well. I can watch him in anything. It also helps that it’s like a lot of other comedy I’ve enjoyed despite themselves in that it’s clear everyone involved gets on with each other and is having a lot of fun while they film.

Looking forward to making my way through the rest of it.

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Matt Berry’s a pretty good musician, too.

Just, don’t watch The IT Crowd. He’s hilarious in it, of course, but it’s a Graham Linehan show, and there’s at least one episode where ol’ Graham’s transphobia came out to play in a big way. Not worth it when you could watch anything else at all with Matt Berry in it.

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So, I was in a western mood today, and I decided to check out a random movie I’ve always seen in western circles but never watched.

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So the plot is that Jeremiah Johnson is a regular bloke who decides to go up into the mountains to become a mountain man. Yes, that’s the whole plot. While up there, he learns to hunt, track, survive, etc. from a cast of interesting characters. Like this man who has a bear chase him into his own cabin:

So, I am LOVING this movie with scenes like this. The issue is that they begin to introduce Indigenous Americans into the story, which involves face painting white or latinx people to look like them. YEAAAAH, that is where it starts to fall apart. To the movie’s credit though, it introduces a number of actual named tribes into the mix. There’s Crow, Flathead, and Blackfoot, maybe others… I have no idea how accurate these representations are, but the majority of stuff involving them seems to be Johnson navigating the political structures of these tribes. In one instance, he meets a tribe that speaks French. It’s still really problematic throughout, though.

Also, this film is where this gif comes from:

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I decided I hated this movie after the scene where Johnson navigates a group of American troops through a Crow burial site, in which they answer that by massacring his little misfit family he had been building in a cabin he built. Then the film just turns into this awful slog of Johnson killing as many Crows as he can. There’s literally a montage of this… With soul searchy music in the background… The tone is just completely destroyed for this awful western trope of Indian killing. I hated it. I hated what the writing did to the story. Don’t watch this. Or if you do, stop watching when he delivers the American troops to their people.

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Jerimiah Johnson was basically part of the curriculum for 7th grade history in my state, so it’s always funny to me when people discover the movie and realize that’s what RobertRedfordNod.gif is from. I revisited it with friends in high school, and even 10+ years ago it was clear that this ain’t it. I mean most westerns have problematic depictions of indigenous peoples, but as you outline, this movie goes WAY beyond that.

Anyways, the VHS we watched in middle school had an intermission which blew my mind as a kid. Honestly, the 2.5 hr+ Marvel movies were getting these days could use an intermission.

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I seriously about turned it off when his wife and kid were killed. The movie was building SO MUCH on the idea that the loner lifestyle that Johnson wanted wasn’t actually what he wanted, and it would take his adopted mute child and indigenous wife to break him out of it. I was seriously rooting for this little family. I loved the little detail that Johnson was learning HER language instead of her learning his. How he hated her food at first, then started eating it on the regular. How they were actually falling in love with what started off as a political marriage. There are so many kernels of progressiveness hidden in the film, and it just squanders it all with that dogshit ending.

I am still mad.

Also, this film got me looking into positive representations of indigenous peoples in westerns, and it’s where I found out all of the tribes basically talked mad shit while on camera and no one noticed because no one spoke their language lol

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I watched all of the IT Crowd back when it aired. Some of it was alright (mainly due to Berry and Chris Morris) but I’m glad that I never really got Linehan given, well, everything. I never took to Father Ted despite everyone trying to get me to like it.

There’s one particular episode of IT Crowd that really was the canary in the coal mine in hindsight.

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So, after all the discussion around how bad Black Ops Cold War’s politics were, I decided to look for a film on espionage to watch. I know Rob mentioned Spy Games, but I was curious about how a film like Munich holds up today.

Man, Munich is so fucking good.

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Basically, Munich tells the tale of a fictional band of Mussad assassins tasked with killing 11 members of Black September, the Palestinian terrorist group responsible for killing the Israeli Olympians during the Munich games of 1972.

So, the movie itself is fictional, as are the characters, but every event and set piece in the film is based on actual events perpetuated by Mussad agents or parties unknown. The film spends the first half of its runtime to show how patriotic and clumsy these assassins are. They fuck up nearly every assassination they attempt, the routinely get civilians killed, and they overly rely on this French information broker who they know they cannot trust. The later half deals with the ramifications of their actions. They start to question the motives behind their hits, also questioning why their task continues when Black September seems to replace every member they put down. (Huh, seems like a pretty damn heavy condemnation of the war on terror and how their actions are just radicalizing more people, in 2005.) They also begin to realize that their targets are not even connected to the Munich attacks, and how Israel is just using them for house cleaning.

This movie is really brave for the nuanced look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from a more conflicted perspective for its time. It does as much condemning of Israel as it does Palestine. It wastes no time in having our characters argue over their actions, citing how Israel bombed and killed over 60 Palestinians since the attack of Munich. I was curious about what people were saying and the historical accuracy of the film, so I looked into a few things.

Also scenes like this are great:

(CW for anti-semitism)

Reality is actually MUCH more depressing:

One story I read talked about how ALL of the Mossad agents this news organization interviewed, NONE of them had any reservations about what they were doing like the characters in the film did. They considered their actions part of a ‘holy war.’

Apparently, Israel was VERY MAD that this film equated the actions of Mossad agents to terrorist attacks… Which they were.

Also, I found ABSOLUTE GEMS like this:

Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” is not a bad action film. It tells an intense and haunting story of a man whose willingness to kill for his country engenders a personal dilemma regarding the efficacy of violence, even justified violence, as a response to terrorism.

But it also badly distorts the circumstances under which Israeli intelligence operatives assassinated Palestinian terrorists outside the borders of Israel during the early 1970s. Because of the potential influence worldwide of a Spielberg film such as “Munich,” this has ramifications for both the Israeli and American responses to terrorism. Hence, the issues must be examined closely. Having served as a Mossad operative in Europe during the period in which the movie is set, I feel I can lend some useful historical perspective.

I’ll spare you the rest.

But yeah, Munich has to be one of Spielberg’s most underrated films. The only issue I have with it is the REALLY WEIRD sex scene overlapped with the Munich killings. Dunno what you were thinking there, Spielberg.

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Hey Munich! Yeah, this movie absolutely slaps. Funnily enough, the film is mostly based on a tell-all book called Vengeance that I stumbled upon circa eighth grade. I read through all of it; found it captivating. As a matter of fact, the film’s “Avner” is based on a guy now referred to as Yuval Aviv, and he tells the story in the book pretty similarly to how it happened in the movie–cold feet and all. Since then, a lot of people have come out to discredit Aviv, but yeah, I don’t know. That movie slaps, and I recall that book slapping too.

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I’ve been making a bit more use of my Netflix sub so been watching stuff that looks p. interesting.

I watched Attack on Titan which is an anime based off a manga series about the last remnants of humanity hiding behind walls from fear of extinction at the hands of massive human looking Titans that are near invulnerable and have inflicted consistent defeats on the remnants of humanity.

The first season was alright. It’s all very melodramatic and I enjoyed the greater focus on the internal politics of the society than I expected to get and it’s all set up with enough mystery to carry on into season two if I ever decided to go seeking it out.

I went into this very blind, however, and was unaware of the wider material and their author who I’ve since found out has been accused of inserting far right militarist and apologia for Japanese war crimes which, uh, isn’t great tbh! I can see elements of those politics in the show and found this interesting article from The New Republic exploring the show’s fascination among the alt-right and liberals alike - https://newrepublic.com/article/160193/attack-titan-alt-rights-favorite-manga

It’s strange because the one fash aspect I can definitely read from the show that I found interesting was the cult of the sacrifice and the glory of death. This is repeated endlessly throughout the first season and anyone who isn’t ready to give their life to the cause is portrayed as weak, self-serving and corrupt. However, almost every instance I can think of (especially early on) where people lay down their lives for humanity is decimated in quite graphic and ignominious fashion. It actually reminded me of Starship Troopers and how that movie took questionable source material and very openly mocked it with the heroic characters being ripped to shreds. I haven’t watched enough to say if that’s what’s going on here but I thought it was interesting. Am willing to admit I may be miles off base here!

Eta: the show’s use of German architecture within the city walls might also have a bearing on this. It’s hard to work out what is meant to be mocking and what is meant to be taken at face value which is complicated more when it’s an adaptation of existing work. And unlike Starship Troopers, AFAIK, there aren’t clear statements of intent from the director that says “no this is meant to be satire.”

The other show I’m watching is Snowpiercer which is great. It’s based off the Bong Joon Ho movie of the same name (he’s also an exec producer in this) about a massive train speeding round the world carrying what is assumed to be the last remnants of humanity (see a theme??). Of course the train is as literal in its depiction of class divides as Parasite or (as alluded to in the show) J G Ballard’ as High Rise with the aristocrats of the train enjoying the luxuries of First Class, the bourgeois class reclining in relative luxury of Second Class, and the labouring workers in Third Class who are granted permission to board on condition they maintain the train and provide the comfort and entertainment to their betters.

Of course everything is complicated at the last minute as a bunch of desperate poors crowd on to the Tail of the train and are crudely assimilated into the society as a persistent burden and reserve labour base.

The first series takes this premise and throws in some upper class dalliances with murder, a mythical engineer and owner of the train, and a brewing reckoning of the classes that threatens to explode at any provocation.

I’m really enjoying it. It does the same thing as my low-key fave movie - The First Purge - in that it’s as subtle as a sledgehammer and is gleeful in its fuck the rich attitude. There’s multiple scenes where characters state baldly what the themes are (including one scene where (I think) a gruff Northern Irish man says “a train is just a high rise turned on its side). I love it!

I’d say skip IT Crowd and watch Toast of London.

He’s also great in Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place obviously (Glinner does have a small cameo, as do most people involved with British comedy at the time who didn’t come up through the Oxford footlights).

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Watched Bridge of Spies and Hanna being on my spy kick.

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I love Hanna. It’s so fucking weird and unique. The music, the over the top villains, the way its shot… There’s what a spy thriller SHOULD be and then there’s Hanna. I still get hype as fuck at the breakout scene. Plus I LOVE any film that paints the CIA as evil:

The look of fear and genuine excitement in Cate Blanchett’s expression is just SO GOOD.

Loved the fight scenes too:

God, the Chemical Brothers soundtrack slaps so fucking hard too. I watched a couple of episodes of the Amazon show, and while it has it’s own style, it just doesn’t kick ass like the original does. They took the HAMMY southern CIA rouge agent villain and made her into just a soft spoken sinister type. I’ve heard the second season gets better, but I really wish the show embraced the weirdness of the original. I also don’t like how the show Hanna doesn’t have that elfish look to her like Saoirse Ronan has. Everything in the show is going for a more realistic feel, but that’s not what makes Hanna special IMO. The show seems like it’s going to lean more into the queer angle the original did. Thankfully it doesn’t come off as creepy and leering as the film lol

Bridge of Spies is typical Spielberg flair, which is comfortable and compelling. It feels less brave than what Munich was doing, but I just love how the film portrays the Americans as bumbling, rage induced, bloodthirsty morons and the Soviets as calculating and subtle. It does feel like two complete movies in one. I’d honestly love to see a sequel set during Donovan’s trip to Cuba to negotiate the release of the Bay of Pig’s prisoners.

Loved Mark Rylance’s performance here, though I absolutely HATE ‘pull the heartstrings’ music. Spies in fiction always tend to be more over the top. It’s really refreshing to see Rylance’s portrayal of Abel as the quietest and smartest guy in the room.

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Matt Berry is a treasure.

Unrelated, I enjoyed the French dark comedy Deerskin about a man with a deep selfish love for his jacket.

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Always love to see the Rubber guy doing his thing

Me and my mate were obsessed with Mr Oizo in late high school/ early uni and discovering Rubber one night when we were looking for something to watch was a trip.

So this is more of a “What will I be watching” than a “What’cha watching”, but; I believe a posted in another thread about this watchlist of Westerns that I had originally started to compile because of my love for Red Dead Redemption 2. Well, that’s definitely how it began, but then I started to add more and more films, across different subgenres and countries of origin, and now I’ve got a huge backlog of fifty five movies and I’m convinced I’ll discover a great hidden truth about myself when I figure out why I’m so obsessed with this genre.


Most of these I haven’t seen, some I have, and I’ve seen a few of them several times at least (mostly because this is a project I’ve now attempted to start a few seperate times and my autistic brain needs it to be PERFECT). Either way, I’m interested in tackling this with renewed vigor, and starting in December, that’s what I’ll be doing. The current, hopeful, plan is: start working my way through this ordeal, and every five films or so, I’ll be posting reviews/musings on the genre /thoughts on how it all fits into the 21st century, if at all. So on and so forth.

I’ll be honest, I’m nervous. This is certainly a more ambitious writing project than anything I’ve ever really done before, and I didn’t exactly pick an easy genre to try and untangle. Mistakes will be made and there’s a pretty good chance I’m gonna accidentally say something racist, misogynist, or just exceedingly white. For that, I’d like to preemptively apologize. And let’s not forget the impostor syndrome, everyone’s favorite!

But, you know what? I always tell myself that I’d like to write more crit and I never do. This is how it’s been for years. I’m 26 now, more than halfway to thirty and DAMN IT, I wanna start indulging my hobbies a little more. I wanna stop getting caught in this cycle of work, then rest, then work, then rest, repeat ad infinitum. I owe it to myself after this particularly nightmarish year.

SO, YEE HAW MOTHERFUCKERS

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Rubber seems so familiar but I don’t remember the details except it’s a tire with psychic powers. Might have only seen the trailer.
I’ll have to watch it soon.