NFLX2019 January 25th: Polar

Polar. Jonas Åkerlund. 2019. ☆☆☆☆☆★

Oh. Jonas Åkerlund? Did he just do the film about black metal Lords of Chaos? Hm… I see; that one was made a couple of years ago but not really released until now.

Anyway, I’m expecting something stylish with an excessive amount of violence, so I’ve got my pillow ready.

And this turns out just like I expected, only longer. I didn’t think Åkerlund could keep up this level of insane glee for almost two hours.

Not everybody liked it:

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 19 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating “overwhelming dislike”.

The plot (based on a comic book by Víctor Santos) is perhaps the most moronic thing ever since the history of ever, but that only helps with the deranged mood of the film. You can only sit in slacked-jaw awe as things unfold.

I guess you could compare this to pieces of filth like The Kingsman, in that it has some of the expected “yaaah!” beats from the audience, but this movie isn’t a crime against all human feeling like that movie is: This is stupid, sure, but it’s fun.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 January 18th: Soni

Soni. Ivan Ayr. 2018. ☆☆☆☆☆★

Great! After two horrible American Netflix Originals, this is an Indian movie picked up for distribution by Netflix, so its script presumably hasn’t been auto-generated by an Eliza bot.

This movie reminds me a bit of 70s hyper-realist movies like Jeanne Dielman. 23, quai du Commerce. 1080 Bruxelles. I mean, not in depth, but in the way it places its camera in certain scenes and the lack of editing.

The camera here is handheld and very mobile, though, so just forget I said anything. NO RELATION.

It’s often the case that the less you’re familiar with what acting tradition actors are coming from, then more convincing they are. Because you can’t tell the artificiality as easy. Easily? I’ve had some wine. But my uninformed impression of these Indian actors is that they’re fabulous. I totally believe in them, and they seem totally natural to me.

Even the really, really awkward scenes seem awkwardly real to me.

I had some slight problems keeping all the different characters apart, though. “There’s a woman with long black hair, there’s a woman with long black hair, there’s a woman with long black hair…” If you get the impression that’s the only way I tell people apart is by their hair style… you’d be almost right.

It’d been nice if, as Leslie Wiener said in one of her songs, if they had wooden legs or eye patches: Easier to tell them apart.

My only problem with this is that the cop who gets into altercations all the time goes around slapping assholes instead of doing something more efficient. Hasn’t she heard that singalong song? “Target Practice” on Free to Fight?

If you choose to fight
Then remember these are the places to hit
Eyes, knees, groin, throat
Eyes, knees, groin, throat
Eyes, knees, groin, throat
Eyes, knees, groin, throat

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 January 18th: IO

Futura! Brave choice!

This guy eats a tomato for the first time in forever and has a foodgasm, which reminds me of this Sheri Tepper novel I read many years ago: It’s set in a future where there is no nature, and on a game show, a family wins the right to eat the very last radish on Earth. They spit it out and say “ewww! Nasty!”

Which seems a whole lot more realistic than this is.

IO. Jonathan Helpert. 2019. ☆☆★★★★

Yay! Sci-fi! Mah favourite!

Hm… this seems like it has a very modest budget? It’s about a woman left on a devastated Earth looking at insects while talking to people who’ve gone on to Io over a radio.

Us SF fans will watch anything… So this is the second US “Netflix Original”, and I may be prematurely seeing patterns here: Spend as little money as possible on movies that ticks some check box in some of the viewers’ heads? “It’s like The Martian, but on Earth.”

Has Netflix written a Markov Chain I mean an RNN AI I mean a Markov Chain to write movie scripts? I can’t remember watching a more predictable movie than this… except the Netflix movie I watched just before this one.

Margaret Qualley has to carry the movie, and she’s good. Anthony Mackie’s thing doesn’t really work. Brooding and mysterious just seems stupid in these circumstances.

It’s mostly just kinda, and I hate to use hate speech: Boring.

And it’s full of stupidity, from micro-actions to the shocking reveals that everybody has figured out three seconds after the movie started.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 January 11th: The Last Laugh


The Last Laugh. Greg Pritikin. 2019. ☆★★★★★

OK, this one is HDR for some reason… why not…

By Emacs! This is a horrible movie.

Let me sum up the plot: Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss are old.

That’s it.

The (I hesitate to call it that) cinematography is violently pedestrian. The jokes are… there… The characters are Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss as old people.

It’s the kind of movie that makes you want to kill yourself. I don’t think I even vaguely smiled at any of the antics so far. It may be the worst movie I’ve seen in years, and I’ve seen Hellraiser: Deader and New Year Parade Day St. Kitts SugarMas 2016.

Perhaps this is one of those movies that Netflix has generated by some sort of public sentiment algorithm? Because you can see how this is something a certain segment of the audience would want to watch. I mean, I would, too. I love schmaltz.

BUT THIS IS DEADLY!

When Chevy starts dating a woman who looks like she’s half his age — tops! (but in reality is just 20% younger than him) my eyes actually fell out due to rolling them too much.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019 January 4th: Lionheart


Lionheart. Genevieve Nnaji. 2018. ☆☆☆☆★★

OK, we’re off on The Journey Into Netflix Originals.

This is the first thing I’ve actually watched on this setup: I’ve only done debugging, so far, and of course problems are showing up, so my concentration on this film is far from 100%.

I’ve got the Apple TV set to “auto” mode, so it’s supposed to take care of all the HDR/SDR details. And, sure, it’s sending an HDR signal to the TV, even though the movie is SDR.

But… it’s doing something… not quite optimal? Visually, on the screen, nothing except the letterboxing is black when I’ve got HDR on: Everything else is washed out.

When I switch the Apple TV to SDR, the letterboxing goes gray, but the movie itself is less washed out? I think? A bit? But the screenshots look a lot better in SDR, that’s for sure.

Fiddling with these settings takes so long that it’s difficult to compare directly…

Frustrating. The things I go through to watch movies! Incroyable!

Anyway!

So this is a Nigerian film that Netflix picked up for distribution. It was shown on some movie festivals first…

Nigeria is, of course, a powerhouse in the African film industry, but this is the first Nigerian film that Netflix has picked up.

I can see why: It’s a fun movie, well made. The acting style isn’t something I’m familiar with: It’s slightly stylised, with every reaction to anything going on is a bit over the top. I mean, it’s not a parodic WHAAAAAT? thing. It’s just a slightly bigger-than-reality thing.

It’s fun to watch.

It’s a story about a plucky woman trying to save the plucky family business (which is a bus company), and the plot is about what you’d expect, with lots of twists and turns and complications.

It’s funny! I LOL-ed out loud several times.

This post is part of the NFLX2019 blog series.

NFLX2019

I’ve recently been watching mostly old movies, so I thought it was about time for a complete turn-around: What’s going on in movies today?

And the freshest movies available (outside movie theatres) are on Netflix: In particular the “Netflix Originals”. Some of these have a brief limited theatrical release, but arrive on the screens pretty soon after that.

So I thought it would be fun to watch all movies released by Netflix in 2019 and see whether they’re any good.

I’m not quite sure what a “Netflix Original” is: Some of them seem to be produced by Netflix directly (i.e., Netflix supplied the money for making the movies), and some are picked up for exclusive distribution by Netflix.

In any case, last year there was about 80 of these, and it looks like we’re getting a similar number this year: There’s been about 30 released so far. So it’s not going to be too strenuous to watch all these movies, but I’m starting late, and I’ll have to catch up to watch the rest of them in real time.

And I’ll be blogging as usual, although this required some new hardware.

Ssh!

CCCB: The Ticket That Exploded

For this week’s cake I’m making something called “tropical aroma”. I know you’re thinking “pineapple and mango?” now, but this is an old-school chocolate cake, and the tropical ingredients are cinnamon, nutmeg and coffee.

And possibly the chocolate. That’s tropical too, right?

I’m not a coffee drinker (I guzzle tea by the gallons), but I bought this coffee grinder for a cocktail project the other year and never used it, so I thought I’d give it a grind. I mean, go. It’s… a workout?

And then I used a press can. As I don’t really make coffee otherwise, I figured that was a safe option.

That’s… a very strong coffee? I think? It tasted OK, though, and the recipe called for strong coffee, so I think that should be fine. Possibly.

The cake batter is the normal stuff… Butter and sugar…

And then whisk in some eggs and flour and stuff.

The recipe calls for a teaspoon of nutmeg, and I started grinding away manually until I remembered that I have a Kenwood.

So I ground up a nut, and that was a teaspoon. I thought that was an insane amount of nutmeg, but I checked five different recipes and they all said to use that much.

After mixing everything together, I separate into two bowls, and add cocoa powder to half the batter.

Then… layer.

But very roughly and poke at it with a spoon to allegedly get fun patterns. I don’t quite understand why, but let’s go with it.

It has arisen!

The icing is just the normal stuff: Powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder. And coffee.

Hm, it’s sunk a bit in the middle? Tsk.

Oh. That’s not very… patterney. Looks like the chocolate batter has just blended with the non-chocolate batter pretty thoroughly while baking.

Decoration time! I should get a job in a pastry shop, eh? Eh? As a scullery maid, you say? What? Rude!

OK, when you cut the cake, it’s less undifferentiated.

Quite moist-looking.

But now I have to pick a book! Quick! I want to taste the cake!

It’s slim pickings among the oldest, unread books now… and, man, what a lot of dust.

So I choose The Ticket That Exploded by William Burroughs, the second in this blog series.

I think this may be the oldest book in the collection: From the indicia, it may have been printed in 1986 (or sometime later), and the price tag has a somewhat oldee fashionee look.

I think the reason I’ve avoided reading it for over 30 years shouldn’t need an extensive explanation: I’d read Naked Lunch and enjoyed it, which is why I’d bought this book, probably, but Burroughs is… you know… a bit difficult. The Place of Dead Roads was pretty straightforward, as it turned out, but this is classic Burroughs. Let’s read the first two pages together:

Yup, that’s Burroughs in high mettle.

But you can’t not enjoy sentences like “He had been meaning Sexexcellency Sally Rand cunning Navy pilot Alan B. Weld two acts for three saints in outer space proudly registered in Phoenix was it are you sure that’s right infectious night biter Mo. 18 I’m going to answer the doorbell definitely definitely the first time in thirty years Houston’s outbreak the first time in who said Atlantic City?”

The introduction by John Calder says that Burroughs’ cut-up technique (started in Naked Lunch and developed in The Soft Machine) here was used more extensively. But I wonder whether sections like this is Burroughs just transcribing, verbatim, overheard conversations or snippets from TV, intermingled with the narrative (FSVO) he’s going for.

It’s not all like that, of course, because Burroughs isn’t Gertrude Stein. He’s more easy going.

But how does it pair with the cake?

Hm! That’s… quite a lot of nutmeg. On the first bite I went “this is way way too much”, and then either my taste buds were knocked out, or the coffee icing started complementing the nutmeg, because after getting halfway through the first piece, I thought it was jolly good. Nice and moist and lots of chocolate and coffee flavours.

If I’m making it again, I’m cutting back on the nutmeg, though, and perhaps making the coffee a bit weaker, to allow the chocolate flavour to shine more through.

And it’s perfect for reading Burroughs: Strong and weird.

I think this may be the most abstruse Burroughs book I’ve read… but it’s a fast read nonetheless. It has a certain flow, especially if you read it in Burroughs’ voice, and there’s not really much there to puzzle out. It says what it says.


And you get some footnotes.

Yes. Science. Pure science.

And we get a little essay about cut ups.

The thing is — it’s a miasma of words and scenes, but then you get these sudden flashes of narrative that almost make sense. It’s… pleasant.

Oh, “Miranda Sex Garden”? Is that where the band took their name from? Burroughs also inspired other band names, like Soft Machine… and… er… that’s all I can remember… Uhm… Oh, Spooky, That Subliminal Kid? Is that from here, too? I don’t know.

And then it ends on this note, which makes sense.

And then we get an almost verbatim repeat of that previous chapter where Burroughs was talking about cut-ups, but this time without punctuation and capital letters. And the notes on the last page says that this is by Bryon Gysin?

Oh, well, it makes as much sense as anything.

That Burroughs guy can write, dude. But my eyes did glaze over on some of the more cut-up pages.