I’ve fallen out of the habit of doing these round-ups since the panini started. But I want to return to it because it’s kind of fun thinking back over the last year’s media.
This year, I’m gonna break up my usual post into two parts: my favourite films and my favourite TV shows. Here we go.
Number 5: Nope. I confess that the earliest trailers for this film were largely incomprehensible to me. I had no idea what the film was about (except, broadly, horses and UFOs), and that didn’t particularly move me to seeking it out. But Sio suggested that we try it one night, and I was particularly struck by the relative originality of the story, especially in regards to the UFO element. I hesitate to say much more about plot, because part of the enjoyment, for me, was watching the various discoveries emerge. There were moments when I found myself pondering: “why does this particular side-story exist in the film?” but by the end was really satisfied with the cohesiveness of the film. I’m torn about the original trailers: on the one hand, I really enjoyed not having the trailers spoil the story beats for me, but on the other hand, I don’t think they did a very good job of enticing me to see the film.
I watched a coupl’a movies the other night. The first was The Lost Girls. It was pretty bad. But it was the $0.99 movie rental on Apple Movies a week or two ago, and I rented it. The premise was that multiple generations of girls from Wendy Darling’s family are visited by Peter Pan. Or maybe not. Maybe Peter’s just a metaphor for mental illness. It’s not entirely clear. The person who wrote the screenplay (adapted from a book) and directed the film also starred as the main character. And I don’t think that was a great choice.
But the other movie I watched was Being the Ricardos — an Amazon Studios film available through Amazon Prime. And that was amazing.
This latter film was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. And while I sometimes think that Sorkin’s stuff can be a little infuriating — for example, I think The West Wing is a very facile and idealistic view of the way American politics works — I love how he writes dialog.
He writes the characters smart and able to express themselves. Throughout the film, characters are juggling multiple crises: rehearsing and filming an episode of I Love Lucy (with a director that Ball doesn’t really have confidence in), dealing with a question of whether or not Arnaz has been unfaithful, trying to quash a news report alleging that Ball is a communist, and trying to persuade the studio that they should allow the show to incorporate Ball’s pregnancy as a storyline (I learned, years ago, that the studio didn’t allow them to say the word pregnant on TV; Lucy was, instead, “with child” or “in the family way.”) The characters are constantly jumping around from one point of conversation to another. In one scene, Arnaz chides Ball for jumping topics without warning and Ball admonishes him to keep up.
There was one distraction in the film: it positions Arnaz’s opposition to communism to be a result of the revolution in Cuba… but the story is set waaaay too early (1952/1953?) for that to make sense.
Anyway: going from a film that I almost turned off to a film that I adored in the same evening was pretty whiplash-y.
You look at the capture of power in the right wing, the ascent of white nationalism, the concentration of wealth. You cannot really animate or concentrate a movement like that—you can’t coalesce it into functional political power—without a sense of persecution or victimhood. And that’s the role of this concept of cancel culture. It’s the speck of dust around which the raindrop must form in order to precipitate takeovers of school boards, pushing actual discourse out of the acceptable norms, like in terms of the 1619 Project or getting books banned from schools. They need the concept of cancel culture, of persecution, in order to justify, animate, and pursue a political program of takeover, or at least a constant further concentration of their own power.