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07/30/2019

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I was too absorbed in watching Breaking Bad to see it. I dont think I will. I loved the first two seasons and I dont want a let down.

I can't honestly recommend otherwise. I just re-read that review I linked to and definitely agree with it.

Too bad. I was hoping that season three would be something of a comeback.

Having the same problem with 'The Leftovers.' Season one was great, season two fell off a good bit, and season three is just plain weird. I have one episode left, but have put off watching it for almost two weeks, which says something. Fortunately, I guess, they ended it at three.

Can't say that about the Danish 'Bridge' though. I'm about half way through season four (the final one) and it's every bit as good as the first three.

And I think I mentioned that 'True Detective' three is better than two and almost as good as the first season.

I guess I ought to give TD a try. And I'm pretty sure I haven't seen series 3 of The Bridge, much less 4.

I have just had an aversion to watching it, and now I definitely won't.

AMDG

I heard ST was heavy on nostalgia for the '80s, and so I have steered well clear.

I sort of missed that aspect of it. I can see that it was there but it didn't really have anything to do one way or the other with my enjoyment of the series.

Janet, didn't you like the first one?

I did, and I liked the second one. I did watch about 10 minutes of the new one, and then I just didn't want to fight those monsters again.

AMDG

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I'll go ahead and inform you that you missed seeing 11 go to the mall and be turned into a teenager, cheered on by appropriate empowerment rhetoric.

See, I told you--monsters.

It would have been funnier if I had said, "Those were the monsters I was talking about," but I am out of practice.

AMDG

It was still funny.

"I heard ST was heavy on nostalgia for the '80s, and so I have steered well clear."

It's got some of that, but I'm not a great fan of the 80's and I didn't find it off-putting.

I think the '80s-ness was tailored more for people who were children at the time. At least those seem to be the ones who notice it most and like it most. The Duffer brothers were born in 1984.

Yes, you're right. And also some of those who raised children who were the same age as the characters -- parents of kids born in the late 70s/early 80's, in other words, and who were to some extent tuned into the pop culture of the time via the kids.

I get a lot of the 80s references but I can't say I feel nostalgic about any of it. I was in my 20s at the time and fairly indifferent towards much of 80's culture.

I think it was mostly lost on me because pretty much everything after 1980 or so counts as "contemporary" to me. I'm not sure I would have realized it was there if one of my children (b. 1979) had not pointed it out.

Interesting. I still probably will not watch the show, because of time constraints, but perhaps I can set aside my other reservations. It's not that I dislike the '80s, but I do kind of dislike nostalgia for the '80s.

Although I was a child during that decade (age 5-15), I feel very disconnected from the pop culture of the time. The music was terrible. The fashions were ugly. The films were, well, I don't really know. I've never even seen the Star Wars films! (Except the first one, which I saw years later.)

The fashions were on the bizarre side but the music was often great! Funny, when I hear "the '80s" the first thing that pops into my head is Ultravox's Vienna album, which is one of my all-time favorites.

Film...I don't really know, either. I didn't see many. I rather like the original three Star Wars installments, but in that class of works which I think of as entertainment, not art. I certainly wouldn't defend them from the latter point of view. Also there's an element of nostalgia: my wife and I were newly married when we saw the first one together, and it was sort of a breath of fresh air in the dismal atmosphere of the mid-'70s.

I was in the long line in the theater restroom after seeing the last Star Wars movie and almost all the women were in their late 60s. I just laughed and said, "Just think, 40 years ago we were all young women standing in line in the restroom after the first movie.

AMDG

Craig -- can't believe there's someone else who's never seen the Star War movies! I've seen only bits and pieces while my grandchildren were watching DVDs of them.

If y'all decide to fill in this cultural gap, pretend only the first three (in order of release) exist.

I think that a lot of mainstream 80s music was pretty bad, but the "alternative" stuff was frequently excellent. I wasn't paying too much attention to cinema in the 80's but I can remember some gems: Tess, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, Witness, Manhunter, the first couple Coen Bros. movies, etc.

Well, I watched the series finale of The Leftovers, and it went a long way towards redeeming the final season. Very well done and quite moving -- a couple of the reviews I read afterwards said it was one of the best series finales ever. I might agree if I liked the series more as a whole, but despite the often outstanding acting and writing, I found the story itself something of a mixed bag, mainly due to the final season.

It's very much worth watching if you're at all interested in the basic conceit (5% of the world's population disappears one day in a Rapture-like event, and the remaining people try to make sense of the loss). As it's an HBO series however, there is a lot of language, and a fair number of "sexual situations" and acts of violence. But the four leads are all excellent, and it's very well written and directed.

It makes sense that Craig wouldn't have seen the Star Wars movies because he was only about two when the first one was released and eight for the third. Then the second bunch started when he was 24.

AMDG

But his parents should have seen to this part of his education. Though being Canadian I guess they weren't really obliged to.

I've put The Leftovers and True Detective on my Netflix queue.

Has anyone read Mariette in Ecstasy? Have we ever talked about it?

AMDG

I've read it. I don't remember if we've ever talked about it. I liked it fairly well. But I guess I'd say I respected it more than I enjoyed it. Been a long time, though.

I started to read it once but didn't get very far. It's probably more me than him, but I can't say that I've ever finished a Ron Hansen novel that I started.

Oops -- I tell a lie. I did finish 'Atticus,' but don't remember it much. It was years ago. But the other ones I tried I ended up bailing on.

Janet, you are exactly right: the Star Wars phenomenon went over me as a child, and when the new films' bandwagon came by it didn't seem sensible to jump aboard not having seen the original films. I just never got to them.

We have a wonderful journalist in Canada called Rex Murphy, and I remember he called the folks camping out on the street in order to buy tickets for the new Star Wars films "gravediggers at the death of reason". Pretty funny.

I've read 'Mariette in Ecstasy', and I liked it a good deal, apart from some complaints about style. Some thoughts here.

I read your Mariette post and then was surprised to see my own comments on it, saying exactly what I was thinking as I read the post this time, almost exactly 8 years later.

"gravediggers at the death of reason" is funny, but no more applicable to SW than to most pop culture phenomena. Do any of you have an interest in the Marvel suite? I've seen a few of those and they mostly bore me. I don't get the very serious explorations of its deep meanings. Just as I don't get the same stuff about Star Wars. Someone who used to comment here was (is) very sure that those films are great or at least very important works of art.

I was 16 when the first Star Wars came out. I liked it and the next two well enough, but I never really thought they were anything more profound than well-done sci-fi adventures. I wasn't interested enough to follow up with any of the later ones. To be honest, at the time I liked the Indiana Jones trilogy a lot better.

I've seen a couple of the superhero movies but the only one I liked was the first Christian Bale "Batman." The others left me cold and I have absolutely no interest in seeing any more of them.

Star Wars in general is more precisely classified as "space opera":

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_opera

Taken that way, the first three have a somewhat innocent charm, the first more than the others in my opinion. Alec Guinness helped a lot. But George Lucas kept trying to get more Serious.

The next three are almost universally disliked even by fans (I think). Among many other faults they tended toward pomposity. One of them was released when the Clinton-vs-Republicans battles were raging and I remember actually laughing out loud when a character lamented the absence of civility in the galactic senate (or whatever it was). And when someone said "only a Sith believes in absolutes" (Sith = pure evil). Take that, Jerry Falwell!

Now Lucas is out of it and the Disney empire has made several more, and...well, if you were fond of the original three, they're a respectable and somewhat interesting sequel. But I would not recommend them to anyone for whom that "if" doesn't apply.

~~Star Wars in general is more precisely classified as "space opera"~~

Yep -- westerns in space.

Even more specifically, WWII in space, the first three. With aerial combat scenes right out of a comic book or older movie. The evil empire’s soldiers are even called storm troopers.

The Wolverine movies definitely had a deliberate deeper meaning, although they were sometimes clumsy. I don't really see that in any of the others.

I have seen all the Avengers movies because I have a daughter who really loves them, and I think they are fun--and often really funny--and then, like anything else, when you know the characters, you want to find out what happens.

While no one could call them deep, for the last few years, they have been battling an enemy whose goal is to get rid of half the people in the world--universe, I guess. He believes he is doing a great service because there are too many people, and after he gets rid of half of them, the rest will thrive. The Avengers are against it. They think everyone has value. Sometimes they say "We don't trade lives." This is so counter to the prevailing culture that I can't but applaud it.

Also, they present the traditional family (with more than two children) as something to be desired.

AMDG

I agree, the Avengers is a solid series. I saw some of them years back with Stratford Caldecott, who loved superheroes. I think I saw Ironman in Oxford with him. I mean, Im not sure which one, because ... they are not SO memorable that its easy to tell them apart. Then I saw the penultimate one and the (currently) ultimate one with a famous universalist Orthodox theologian. I seem to go and see Avengers films with well known theologians! It was very enjoyable, and as Janet says, they are anti-Malthusian which can only be a good thing.

Someone wrote a piece about the basic conservativism of the Avengers -

https://quillette.com/2019/06/14/the-conservative-manifesto-buried-in-avengers-endgame/

I would like to put on a conference on masculinity in popular culture. If you have any ideas of good films or TV series to have someone speak about, let me know. And if you can think of someone to speak about them, let me know.

As it happens the first two Avengers movies are among the few I've seen, because my under-10 grandsons like them. (Whether they should be seeing them or not I try not to think about, since I can't control it.) I more or less agree with you about their healthier qualities. More or less--I didn't find most of the humor especially funny. I notice they were both written by Joss Wheedon, who was responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I once investigated because it had been compared to the X-Files, and I didn't find its wisecracks very funny, either. The characters are kind of interesting. But more than anything I find the fights or battles, whatever you want to call them, boring.

I was replying to Janet, but it more or less applies to your comment, too, Grumpy. I knew Caldecott really liked that stuff and found it kind of puzzling. I just basically don't get the superhero thing. Even as a kid and teenager, when the comic book versions were new and fresh, I just wasn't all that interested. I read them, mostly Superman and Batman, if they came my way but didn't seek them out. I remember Mad magazine more fondly.

As it happens I read that Quillette piece before I'd seen any of the movies. Interesting and I assume true but it doesn't make the fights any less boring. :-)

I will try to come up with some suggestions for your conference.

If by the first two you mean Iron Man and Hulk, well, those are the weakest. They do get better. I just ignore the fights. ;-) I do that in everything except things like Crouching Tiger...where they are beautiful.

I never saw Buffy, but I did really like Firefly.

I think the Thor movies are the funniest, but they are about to blow it with a female Thor.

AMDG

Yes, Thor is funny, especially when he gets fat and so on. I do like the humour of these movies. Its not killingly funny, but it is amusing.

Maclin, Im the same - I loved Strat, but I didn't share his tastes. I loved Mad magazine as a kid. We were not allowed to read comic books. Mad occupied a kind of limbo. My parents would confiscate it, ostensibly on the ground that it was a comic, but then they would sit in front of my brother and me, reading it and laughing. I can still remember a lot of the Mad jokes.

I think you shared SOME of his tastes - I don't like Potter or Tolkein either, so Im really different! I just like relatively naturalistic stuff. TV seems to have got better and better, as it becomes less artificial and more of an accurate reflection of human feeling. On the GLOP podcast, Podhoretz and Goldberg have said several times that that begun with Hill Street Blues, and I concur. But while the good TV shows get more like real life, movies have gone into outerspace, all about superheroes with boring cartoon battles which are not going to issue in real pain or real death.

We had a series on Narnia during Lent and I spoke on the Horse and His Boy. I throw in a few jokes about Tolkein. The conservative architecture professors were especially offended.

Yes, if anyone can think of any good shows (or bad shows for that matter) that would be interesting subjects for a conference on masculinity in popular culture, let me know.

"I can still remember a lot of the Mad jokes."

Me too. For some reason Spy vs Spy sticks in my mind. I'd like to see some of the early-to-mid-sixties issues, to see if I would still laugh.

"TV seems to have got better and better,"

Seems to me that both TV and movies are kind of a case of Lewis's observation about both evil and good becoming more themselves in history. I say that because I've just spent an hour and a half watching a really awful TV show (well, Netflix series) called Another Life. Really bad sci-fi. Imagine Arrival produced by shallow 20-somethings. Unfortunately now I want to find out what those aliens are actually up to.

"I saw the penultimate one and the (currently) ultimate one with a famous universalist Orthodox theologian."

Ha!

"I think the Thor movies are the funniest, but they are about to blow it with a female Thor."

And lesbian to boot, if memory serves.

The director of 'Thor:Ragnarok' is Taika Waititi, the same guy who made 'Search for the Wilderpeople,' which I really liked.


"if anyone can think of any good shows (or bad shows for that matter) that would be interesting subjects for a conference on masculinity in popular culture"

Will try. Tony Esolen comes to mind as a possible speaker.

I read Mad Magazine only sporadically but I do remember two of their parodies which I thought very funny at the time: one of 'Fiddler on the Roof' and the other of 'Columbo.'

Lesbian Thor is a good example of what I mean about the simultaneous progress in good and bad. I would be almost tempted to see that because it could be funny. That show I mentioned above has a character whose sex is hard to discern, which I'm sure is very intentional.

Janet, by "first two" I mean the ones with "Avengers" in the title. I think it's The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The first one had Tom Hiddleston as Loki and I spent half the movie trying to figure out where I had seen him before. It was a vastly different character in the LeCarre dramatization, The Night Manager.

Another instance: I just saw a headline "'Nancy Drew' breaks from wholesome roots with dark, sexy reboot"

The yard of the house that I grew up in abutted the parking lot of our parish. There was a paper drive truck that was parked just outside the gate that led from our yard to the church. We used to spend hours digging for magazines and just sitting and reading, and the number one prize was Mad magazines. They were funny, and I loved them, and I'm sure that part of the attraction was that they were just a bit bad--maybe sticking a toe--or a foot--over the line of what was allowed in our house.

Before I bought record albums, I bought comic books. In fact, one year at camp the mean girls called me "Comic Book." Mostly I read DC Comics. The only Marvel comic I read was the Fantastic Four.

Where the Avengers is going is definitely less white men.

I think the superhero thing is basically a desire for the one who will come to save us. They are poor substitutes for the real thing, but fun anyway.

AMDG

Cross-posted.

I had the opposite experience with Hiddleston watching the Night Manager and wondering where I had seen him before. He was very different in those roles. I see he was also in Wallander and Cranford.

I wish they would leave Nancy Drew alone.

What kills me about the female superheroes, and feminism in general is that the goal seems to be to shuck everything that is feminine except a really raw and in your face sexuality.

I suspect that in combat, it's better to be flat-chested.

AMDG

Ha! I have sometimes wondered about that. And one thing I am really, really sick of in all sorts of movies is the girl, often really skinny and frail-looking, who dispatches big muscular men with one kick or punch, frequently sending them flying in defiance of the basic physics of mass and momentum. I've sometimes wondered if any young women who think these movies are realistic have ever had a really bad surprise when they expected it to work in real life.

"the goal seems to be to shuck everything that is feminine except..."

Yep. If you step back and look at it that way, it's pretty sad. The quest for equality almost always stresses making women more like men. I heard that point made way back in the '70s but it never seemed to have any impact on the movement.

Re that sci-fi series I mentioned above, Another Life: my wife and I mutually and spontaneously agreed to abandon it after four (I think) episodes. It's really pretty awful. I found myself actually feeling sorry for the creators, because they probably put their hearts into it and yet made so many bad moves.

Among many other problems is that it relies heavily on science and technology devices and yet does so in wildly implausible and nonsensical ways. Which one expects to some degree in sci-fi but somehow this seemed to kind of force you to say "that makes no sense at all." Maybe because there's too much of it.

There is a movie called Another Earth that I thought was pretty good.

AMDG

I remember you recommending that before. I may have put it on list somewhere....

Watched the s/f movie Moon last night, and had another one of those "where did the time go" moments. I had remarked to a friend that I hadn't watched it since he and I had seen it in the theater when it was first released. I was very surprised to see, when I looked at the DVD box last night, that the movie had come out not five or six years ago as I was thinking, but in 2009. No idea where that 10 years went. :)

It's a very good movie, btw, if you are looking for an intelligent s/f film.

I've seen it, probably as a result of you or someone else here recommending it. It is indeed very good.

I must have watched it then, too, but I didn't remember until I saw the trailer.

AMDG

Derry Girls Season Two still very funny but the girls look 25 when they are supposed to be 16

I watched one. Funny and I will watch the rest, but for some reason have not been in the mood for it. They do look a bit old but then that's pretty often the case with portrayals of teenagers. One who does not is Bosch's daughter. I think I read that she's in fact the age the character is supposed to be.

I thought they looked nearly OK in Season 1, but now they look kind of ridiculous.

Hmm, I didn't notice any difference.

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