DVD Reviews Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
30Aug/190

Can’t Stop the Hiatus (I know this better than anyone else)

I've gone on desperation and wedding hiatus before and, this time, it's for reasons less dire than the former but nowhere near as happy as the latter.

Something's gone out of me since I wrote about my abuse. I'm deeply disillusioned with my writing here and I haven't felt like watching, reading about, or writing thoughts on film for a while. After months of what felt like screaming in text equivalent how badly I needed help and receiving little more than boilerplate words from a depressingly large percentage of the folks I thought closest to, the whole notion of striking it out on my own has lost its ability to stir any kind of passion in me.

Instead, I'm going to be doing as much for-hire work as possible. Thank Doctors of Gaming for that and their continued actual financial support for my written labor. Writing within the restraints of someone else's review system has also gotten me to consider my words in different contexts and how to write for those formats.

I'm also continually moved by the number of people I've never met and only know me through my words or podcasting who have come forward to support me. No matter how small, it's all mattered. Even three dollars is a nice rice lunch during my financially strapped times. It's increasingly difficult to feel seen or heard in what often feel like apocalyptic times but even if the apocalypse is upon us (it's not) at least I can go out with a belly full of rice.

If you want to keep supporting me the best place to do so is my streaming platform on Twitch with Can't Stop the Kittens. I've got a M-F schedule worked out there but, as has been the case so often recently, my ongoing mental or physical health issues keep me from keeping it as consistently as I'm trying to. But I'll keep trying.

Things continue to be dire. Still haven't been able to afford my antidepressants or treatment, curiously strong new pains crop up a stones throw away from the kidneys, the kidneys themselves are ongoing disasters, I'm still $60k in medical debt, and blahdedy blahdedy on. I could spend more words on the already well-documented or get back to work on the stuff that's giving me direction and a hopeful bit of income.

So, back to work for me, and I hope to be back in the film reviewing mood soon.

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8Apr/191

Patreon Post: Old Stone (2016) and the presumption of decency

Why do critics lean on unearned claims of "decency" in characters when their actions say otherwise? I look at Old Stone to explain why.

You can click the image above or this link to access the post on Patreon.

14Mar/190

Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

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Matias' new laptop will finally make connections easier with his loved ones. What he doesn't realize is that his new laptop hides secrets and connections to a vile world full of people ready to do what they want to Matias and his friends. Stephen Susco wrote the screenplay for and directs Unfriended: Dark Web, which stars Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, and Betty Gabriel.

The worst thing I can write about Unfriended: Dark Web (just Dark Web moving on), is that it's the exact kind of film I thought 2015's Unfriended was going to be. Dark Web has more excellent sound design, some creepy detours into internet vaporwave aesthetics, and chilling implications for the way our "always on" technology has continued to ingrain itself into our lives. But it lacks the moral and cultural punch of Unfriended with Dark Web's characters not having much at stake going into the terror they're about to experience.

The biggest problem is that Dark Web's main characters are, for the most part, innocent of the kind of wrongdoing that warrants punishment from an international criminal cabal. Aside from main character Matias' (Colin Woodell) laptop theft that kicks off the night, no one has much of a life - digital or otherwise - that weighs in on what happens in multitude of screens in Dark Web. They're little better than blank slates and it's hard to get invested in what happens when the only expected response from each is, "Oh my god," or, "Why is this happening?" in various combinations. We're just waiting for the next scare instead of being drawn in by the character's reactions to what's going on.

12Mar/190

Rocky and Bullwinkle (and Friends): Episode 3, Jet Fuel Formula parts 5 and 6

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Jet Fuel Formula Part 5

In which a scrooched moose becomes an important trophy for spies and moonmen alike.

Today's episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle is a fun lesson in how to read older works of art. There's a temptation among critics (myself included) to think that certain lines or images are more progressive or "woke" than their surroundings might suggest. This episode opens on a fantastic image of Moon Churchill addressing angry moon men holding the above sign, "Progress is our least important product!"

The temptation is to read this as a literal progressive critique against the isolationist moon men borrowing one image of 20th century opportunistic conservatism. What's more probable is that Churchill, at the time, was a man whose image in the anglo world was still riding high on beating back invaders and that makes for a good fit into the caricature-friendly world of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Cartoons can be great mechanisms for social commentary but it's highly unlikely this cartoon that shipped its animation to be cheaply produced outside the US to save those sweet advertiser dollars was thinking that progressively.

Anyway, discussions on whether something's progressive in a '60s cartoon aside, this is a punchier start to Rocky and Bullwinkle than the previous parts. There's fine snappy timing on display as Rocky and Natasha both want to claim the genius of their respective pairs then pass it off once the moon men threaten the geniuses with more scrooching. Then there's the fantastic image of Bullwinkle frozen mid-hypnosis having to be carted around by Boris, who must be all muscle considering the heft of the titular moose.

4Mar/190

Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018)

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How the hell did we end up with Trump? Michael Moore's latest documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9, tries to make sense of the conditions that allowed for his rise and neutered those looking to resist.

Michael Moore just had to start Fahrenheit 11/9 with that goddamn song. "Fight Song". The song performed by a cavalcade of celebrities for the 2016 Democratic National Convention in a spectacle that gave me severe pause that the Democrats had my interests in mind. That was when the idea of Donald Trump as President seemed a terrifying but distant possibility. Then the months rolled by, Hillary Clinton lost, and Trump began carrying out (at my time of writing) 2+ years of absurd and abhorrent policy.

If you want Fahrenheit 11/9 to make sense of these last two years, or function as a no-holds-barred assault on Trump, then you need to watch a different film. There's plenty of effective Trump bashing but Moore has something more affectively difficult in mind. Fahrenheit 11/9 is a snapshot of our mental and emotional condition reinforced by facts both about the Trump candidacy then Presidency along with the Democratic failures that led to his ascension. Those who have spent the last few years cogent and improving need not apply, this is a film for those who need to know someone with some power empathizes with pain.

Whether Moore is the appropriate ambassador for this communication is sometimes in question during Fahrenheit 11/9. In front of the camera, he's often the same uneven and impish provocateur as ever. An ineffective moment has him filming himself spraying water from Flint, Michigan (at least that's what's written on the tank) over then-Governor Rick Snyder's lawn. It plays too silly and considering Moore's criticism over wasting resources I couldn't help but think that someone of his means should at least have been able to decontaminate that water to provide for his fellow Flint townspeople. But that same impish quality fuels his fearlessness as he attempts a citizen's arrest of Snyder while filming a stammering aide to the office offer limp explanations to why Flint's crisis is well on its way to ending (as of my writing, again, it hasn't).