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What are you watching? 2019 edition


#3964

Crimes of Grindelwald was another movie I forgot when I was doodling my ten favorites from 2018 (the others were The Old Man & the Gun and Dark Crimes) in another thread. I loved it. The Fantastic Beasts movies are about the filmmakers realizing how powerfully dramatic the later Harry Potter films got to be, how well they sold the magic, and that was very clear in the closing scenes. Goblet of Fire is my favorite of the Harry Potters, and Crimes also draws from that with its showstopping Grindelwald speech at the end. These aren’t movies geared toward grown up fans, but simply fans of great epic moviemaking, and I think it’s going to take audiences experiences like Crimes to begin appreciating that. This was a movie calculated to speak directly to our times, and reflect on it, the deep divides we’ve been seeing split up societies all over the place (Brexit, Trump being the two most famous examples). Johnny Depp was a true sensation as Grindelwald, another classic role for him. But in effect the whole thing was setup, Dumbledore allowing himself permission to become involved in a way he rarely allowed himself in the Harry Potter films (with exceptions like the masterful duel against Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix). I think it’s more crucial, however, to have seen And Where to Find Them than any particular Harry Potter. That’s where you discover the relationships that are tested, mended and broken, during the course of the story, things that never really happened in the Harry Potters. This is a fully grown-up world, and Crimes even gives us flashbacks to Hogwarts, and there’s never a sense that we saw that already in the previous series. I think it’s a movie that builds to a magnificent crescendo, and holds great promise for entries yet to come.


#3965

Yeah, the Fantastic Beasts series does sort of remind me of the Star Wars prequels with all of the politics. I don’t know how familiar Rowling is with Star Wars, but someone from Warners should have taken her aside and explained to her how prequels focusing on bureaucrats and conference rooms can turn off audiences when she handed in the first draft of her script.


#3966

The bureaucracy thing was always in the background of the Harry Potter books, with the Ministry of Magic always in the background.

I always thought that was more of a British thing, like having the story take place in a boarding school. Growing up American with some exposure to British stuff via my local PBS station, I sort of got a sense that the UK had a prominent bureaucracy. I mean, you guys even have a ministry for silly walks!


#3967

It’s playing a lot with archetypes. The boarding school story is very prominent in classic British kids stories. Very few people actually go to them and Rowling wasn’t from that background at all. There’s a tiny number of very prestigious expensive schools where the teachers will wear those robes for example but in the rest of the country died out in the 1960s .

Similarly the focus on bureaucracy is quite a feature of the days of empire. When I spent time working in India it would drive me nuts and when I moaned a little the response came back, quite accurately I think, that it’s the fault of the British. The Brits had dumped most of it since 1947 to be more dynamic but it continued there (and I think in the 16 years since then has fallen out of fashion in India to to some extent).

So really Rowling is playing with the fiction of her youth and updating it with some modern twists.


#3968

It was, and Gar’s correct, it is very British, it’s something we do moan about a lot, to the point where it’s a stereotypical thing.

However, the fact that it was background is the point.

‘Fantastic Bureaucracy and Where to Find It’ is not, perhaps, the continuation of the series that everyone wants?

It’s as if James Bond started spending more times in meetings, rather than just popping in to see M at the start of a movie before jetting off to a tropical paradise to fight the first batch of henchmen.


#3969

Sounds a little similar to one of Redmayne’s other big hits, Jupiter Ascending.


#3970

It’s kind of ironic that she was responsible for some of the boarding school trappings she glamorised in Hogwarts feeding back into the real school system, like the house system which most state schools were pressured into adopting.

I had a house system at my last primary school and it was the most pointless thing and the lack of it at my secondary school was a breath of fresh air.


#3971

We had it at my secondary school, but they never did much with it. It was like having a coat of arms. They look interesting but most people don’t read the motto, let alone follow it.


#3972

We had a house system in my comprehensive school before Rowling wrote any books (and my brother’s who went to a different school). I’m sure she may have influenced a revival in some schools but it was pretty commonplace outside the private system before.


#3973

So Brazil must be the ultimate bureaucracy movie? :wink:


#3974

That is kinda the joke behind Brazil, yes.


#3975

Buttle


#3976

I ended up with stiff legs last week, and found that particular ministry’s business quite helpful. So if it’s not real, it really ought to be. And naturally John Cleese would head it.


#3977

Binged Netflix’s 3Below, Del Toro’s spin-off of his previous cartoon Trollhunter.

And it is more of a mixed bag than that was. It still has a lot of the charm of that previous series, but with less of a grounded foothold. There are times when just following these alien/fish-out-of-water characters strains the show itself. But they’re innocent and harmless enough so it comes and goes. The rest is pretty much what you’d expect from a mid-range kids cartoon. Not as funny as She-Ra, nor as “radical” as Stretch Armstrong. But it does have some funny lines here and there, and some action set-pieces are pulled off nicely.

The worst things about it, really, would be that it goes hard on the Trump metaphor. Like, insanely. They have characters use direct quotes and milk the fact that they’re aliens for as much as its worth. It can be pretty jarring, but I don’t think a kid would pick up on the fact so…here nor there.
Oh, and it’s basically an interquel taking place during the last season of Trollhunter so everything is a foregone conclusion and it drags it down a bit whenever it tries to make a definitive intersection.

6/10
Will watch a second season cause Creepslayerz were still ace.


#3978

Cop (1988)

James Woods, in one of his best roles, plays amoral, but sympathetic detective who investigates the brutal murders of women. Smooth talked, he regularly preaches about his cases to his young daughter for bedtime stories. Also, uses female witnesses for sex. The best moment of the film comes at the very end - he catches the culprit then blows him away with shotgun and the credits roll. Shocking and mesmerizing. Based on James Elroy novel.


#3979

Black Panther


#3980

Watched Bros: After The Screamkng Stops on the iPlayer. It’s got some quite heartfelt moments were they talk about splitting up, and their mums death…But it’s also bloody hilarious. Matt Goss goes full on Spinal Tap, and comes out with some great lines.


#3981

Avengers: Infinity War


#3982

This is weird. I mean, it feels like I’ve stepped into an alternate reality where Liam Gallagher starred in Hellboy 2 after Oasis broke up. I never knew Luke Goss had been in a massively popular band with his twin brother. I thought he was always an actor and maybe a model.

I’m still not sure that this isn’t an extremely complicated hoax. The movie does look pretty good (and very funny) though.

I watched a somewhat strange documentary called THE GILLIGAN MANIFESTO that makes a weak case that the show Gilligan’s Island was pushing a communist social agenda. However, through some very selective editing of scenes from the show and interviews with the show’s surviving stars and creator set against interviews with college professors, the doc does make a good case that the show and its success emerged from and satirized the cold war cultural struggle and propaganda.

For example, there is an interview with the show’s late creator, Sherwood Schwartz (who died in the 90’s) where he talks about having an idea for a group of seven people who are in an old lead mine for some reason when there is some sort of nuclear catastrophe that kills everyone else on the planet. So when they emerge, they have to basically create their own small civilization. Now, that’s an interesting idea, but Schwartz never actually says “and this was the idea that led to Gilligan’s Island.” It could have been, but the way the show puts that against clips from the 60’s showing all the nuclear hysteria, it basically makes you fill in the blank there.

Certainly, though, it could have been the origin of the idea and had its sharp edges dulled from “post-apocalyptic survivors” to “castaways on a deserted island.” Less convincing though are the ways the documentary uses the technique to tie scenes from the show directly to Marxist theory. It “could be” but it’s not a convincing case.

Personally, though, I enjoyed the look back at one of my favorite shows as a kid and seeing that it actually did have more going for it than dumb slapstick and silly one-liners. Though I don’t think it was some secret masterpiece of Brechtian satire sneaking Marxist ideology into American Prime Time at the height of the Cold War, it was definitely making people laugh at the absurd things we put up with in the ways we lived and still live with each other.


#3983

Sounds like someone took his original idea and ran with it: