It’s traditional to say that there are “no easy answers”, but this is not really true. Everywhere groups face the problem of holding themselves together. Every society has its enormous complex of institutions and weight of rituals that, through the sheer force of mutual expectation and daily habit, bring that society to life. But not every society has successfully institutionalized the mass shooting. Only one place has done that, deliberately and effectively. The United States has chosen, and continues to choose, to enact ritual compliance to an ideal of freedom in a way that results in a steady flow of blood sacrifice. This ritual of childhood is not a betrayal of “who we are” as a country. It is what America has made of itself, how it worships itself, and how it makes itself real.
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I visited St. Paul’s while in London a few weeks ago. My first time there. Pretty amazing place, especially the climb to the top. I published a few pictures in a gallery here.
They Shall Not Grow Old — Really not sure what to do with this one. It has a natural home in a museum, and the colorization and foley work was effective, if supremely hackey. Also, what gives w/ the amateurish picture in picture stuff at the open. I happened to see a clip from Return of the King at a museum the other day and it reminded me what an artless director Peter Jackson is. All that said, I learned a good bit about life in the trenches, and I think that was the point.
Blue Ruin — Closing out the Crime Tragedy trio, Blue Ruin. I’d been meaning to watch it for years, and it wasn’t really what I expected. I prefer Green Room, which was more cohesive, but this was good.
Widows — Cynical and stupid, which I should have known. I do not understand the Hollywood love affair with Gillian Flynn, but she is a terrible writer of dialog and overly reliant on preposterous second act reveals. Total garbage, not sure why it is regarded as well as it is.
Triple Frontier — On two flights to Barcelona this kicked off a trio of American Crime Tragedies. Recently I’d been a bit down on Netflix original content, but in the hands of a talented director it turns out not to be a factor. There are a few Hollywood convention notes here (beautiful accountant, guy who counts everything, disappointing dad), but Triple Frontier transcends those and makes you feel the weight of their haul grow with each passing scene. I love a good logistics story, and that is what we’ve got here.
Us — Not quite as strong as Get Out, but it lingers with you longer. Nothing more to say to those who haven’t seen it.
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley — Alex Gibney has found his place on television, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. I don’t see all of his movies, but he is so trapped in the conventions and hacky techniques of bad documentary that his subjects have to work to escape. And this is frustrating because he has access to interesting stories. All of the 3D and Edison stuff here is a distraction, but the film does manage to credibly tell the story of Theranos, which is all any of us actually wanted. And, as a bonus, we get to see Errol Moriss reveal himself as the hack he always has been.
Hereditary — I’d held off on watching this for quite a while. Pretty good, pretty creepy. Enjoyably ridiculous.
Captain Marvel — Pretty fine. Brie Larson was good, but the plot was forgettable. Nice to see Lee Pace though?
Generation Wealth — As insightful and interesting as any of this films subjects, which is to say not at all.
Graphic Means — Really effective as a process film, but few of the interviews get much deeper than reflecting on the tedium and complexity of legacy methods of graphic production. That said, I wish there were more films that so simply spent time explaining how things work(ed). It is a gift to pull back curtains and share a private view of how some part of the world works.
High Flying Bird — Pretty great. A Small scale, but personal and engaging. This is the kind of movie that digital distribution seems well suited for. I don’t think we need the Hollywood knock-offs like Bright as much as a places to tell stories like this that don’t have a great home in the theatrical model. I love the look and feel as well. The iPhone form factor creates so much freedom of movement and HFB takes advantage of it. The result is shots I realized I’d never quite seen before. I watched the first half on my phone and the second on my TV. The look transferred very differently on both and felt a bit more natural on the phone.
In Michigan, the pickle industry started growing before World War I. In 1907, the Detroit Free Press reported that Detroit pickle processors were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to pickle farmers, who were growing 5,000 acres of pickles at the time. (Today that number is closer to 35,000.)