One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [1975]

The shattering of Randle's illusion that his co-patients were simply captives of their own created circumstance, much as he was, is the tipping point. This is genius. The acting here is so special, with each character carrying themselves as an individual with real feelings and personalities, rather than cliched portrayals of cuckoo mental illness. I've only watched this once before, and seem to recall it being around my college years. Nurse Ratched was portrayed the exact same way then as she was this time around, but my interpretation of her is so much different now. Sometimes a villainous perception is as much based on the viewer as the "villain" themselves.

The Silence of the Lambs [1991]

There's a lot going on in Silence of the Lambs that registers so dimly for me. I'm not really sure what it is. I don't think I've seen it in at least fifteen years, but picked up a cheap Blu-ray copy last year because it was the favorite movie of someone I was dating. Before that, I'm pretty sure the last time I watched it was on my dad's VHS. Maybe I feel like I should always enjoy this more because other people appreciate it more than I do. One thing I will say: If I ever had an inmate throw their cum at me I'd be like, "Nope, this job isn't for me." So, props to Clarice for sticking it out. (Update: This helps.)

A Quiet Place [2018]

Fun movie with a unique concept, but even in regular horror-watching mode where disbelief is fully suspended, there were a loooot of questions along the way. Emily Blunt is great... John Krasinski's take-me-not-my-kids yell near the end cracked me up... and that was about the most convenient child birth in the history of the world.

Signs [2002]

I really liked this when it was first released, but now having been seasoned a bit by time, Signs comes across as a slightly less ridiculous Mars Attacks! (Hell, they even have similar endings.) Also: Holy shit I have no recollection of Michael Showalter having almost as much screen time as M. Night Shyamalan in this! Amazing!

Oldboy [2003]

Even in the sacrificial gesture Dae-su makes the moment about him. Without provocation he mutilates himself, bearing concern for how the action will be interpreted, of course, while also considering so little whether his decision is what will make things right: Right with himself, right with Woo-jin, and right with Mi-do. Whether in the name of revenge or amends, it is only ever about him.

Melancholia [2011]

As genuine a portrayal of mood disorders as I've seen before in a movie. Moments portraying the unbearableness of depression, not just for the sufferer, but for those around them. That's real. On an entirely unrelated note, I kind of feel like Lars von Trier is biting my style a bit though, as I'm pretty sure I came up with the idea of welcoming the end of the world while holding hands with Kirsten Dunst right around the time Crazy/Beautiful came out.

Office Space [1999]

I'm not sure what the statement is supposed to convey, but to me it told me that I was making the right decision: "Tackle the problem, not the person." This was just one of several peculiar phrases that were installed as decals on walls throughout our office this week. I work at UBS in a suburb of Nashville—Franklin, TN. Seventy days ago I wrote, "I'm quitting my office job in seventy-seven days." Sixteen days ago I was awarded a promotion at that job. Three days ago I gave my notice there.

By coincidence, this week marked the twenty year anniversary of Office Space's theatrical release. In celebration of the occasion, The Ringer published an interesting oral history piece which looks back on the movie and its legacy. The article shares some interesting tidbits (for example: I've seen the movie how many times now and never once recognized Mike Judge as the Tchotchkie's manager), but one statement from Judge stood out above the rest to me:
"What most actors did was played it like 'This place is bullshit and I deserve better and I’m going to get out of here.' To me, the attitude was, 'I’m actually lucky to have this job.' It makes the fact that I don’t like it more depressing because I didn’t think I deserved better. Ron played it like that."
I feel that.

I started working at UBS in a glorified customer service role in December 2015. To make a long story short, I had just sobered up, and it was a reactionary move. My lack of stability had been a sticking point for my (recently exited) girlfriend, and having not had health care for about eight years I thought it was time that I offer myself that stability. Maybe I was trying to prove to myself that I could be that guy. As it turns out, I could.

In the next three years, I bought a car, a townhouse, and changed positions a few times. The most recent transition was (in part) to distance myself from a frustrating manager. A couple weeks ago that guy became my manager again, which just confirmed a decision that I'd already been planning.

Last year I started taking classes toward a graduate degree in counseling psychology. Next month I'll start a job working a night shift at a drug and alcohol treatment facility. The Ringer's article quotes Ron Livingston (who plays Peter in the movie), who explains why his character's apartment being so bare is reflective of the reality of many young men. "You don’t expect to be there forever, you’re waiting for your life to start, so you’re not settling in." I think I'm in a space now where at least I'm trying to settle into myself. I didn't feel I could do that while continuing to work where I was working. While there are still a lot of question marks in my life, at least figuring that part feels good.

Last year one of my department's Directors threw a birthday party for another Director by inviting the twenty-some-odd people in our "team" for a screening of Office Space at her private community center's private theater. Alanis Morissette plays in my head as I think back to that moment. Yesterday I was working with the guy who the party was for, and without making eye contact he said under his breath that he was going to miss me. I thought about it for a couple beats. What do you say there? I'm appreciative of the person who first hired me because I submitted a resume with green ink and she thought I was quirky. I'm grateful for all the work friends I made in the twenty-two months working in that department, each of us tied to our desks by a headset and the watchful eye of a strict schedule adherence monitor. In October 2017 I was energized to be given a little pay bump when leaving that area to work as a "reporting specialist," developing interactive dashboards to replace, consolidate, and streamline outdated internal reporting procedures. And a year later, I was relieved by the opportunity to move away from working under the oversight of someone I deemed toxic, and the chance to stick it out a few more months while I determined what my exit was going to look like... I'm very fortunate to be where I am, and to have what I have because of the opportunities that this place afforded me. But I'm not sure I'll miss any of it. And the truth is, I don't think I'll miss him. So I just said thank you.

Jodorowsky’s Dune [2013]

I thought it was strange that Refn referenced how there are only two of those books left in "the universe." Not the world, but the universe. And "left"...? So you're saying there were others? Where did they go? Seems like the sort of thing a person would hold on to. Anyways, Refn likes Jodorowsky's Dune book more than I like anything.

Urban Legend [1998]

Before I kill you, please allow me to share with you this slideshow I've prepared to educate you regarding the circumstances which have delivered us here today.

The Usual Suspects [1995]

I can't pretend like I didn't think this movie was absolutely spectacular when I first saw it as a kid. Of course it was. And it's not like it's bad now... I mean: That is a classic plot twist. Then again there's the shadow of despicable men smeared all over this thing, and a (god's honest truth) scene where a Confederate Flag trucker hat-wearing Stephen Baldwin shoots two guns at the same time, killing two separate men. Actually, maybe it's not actually that great.

The Wedding Singer [1998]

There's a lot of heart to this one, and I do appreciate how The Wedding Singer breaks away from Adam Sandler's lowest common denominator mumble mouth baby talk shtick. That said, it did start a trend of Sandler and Drew Barrymore working together, which is where he really fell off, eventually leading to the Netflix-Sandler we know today. We miss you, Adam. Fortunately we'll always have Steve Buscemi.

Stargate [1994]

I don't know why, but this was my movie as a kid. Or at least one of 'em. I think maybe my dad and I both liked it, which left me feeling extra sentimental about it. For as silly as it is to watch now, I really came to love James Spader in this role, which made it that much more hilarious that (I'm pretty sure) the next role I saw him in was in David Cronenberg's Crash, while I was still a junior high (or maaaaaybe a high school) age kid. I remember watching that and being blown away that it was the same guy. It was the same guy and oh my god there's cars and they're getting crashed and there's sex and why do I find Rosanna Arquette in leg braces so erotic? And then there was Secretary. So, yeah, James Spader has played an unusual role in both my cinematic journey as well as my sexual development. Pretty sure no one in history has ever typed that sentence before.

A Clockwork Orange [1971]

I don't feel much after watching this... not in a "wow, this movie is shocking to a degree which I now feel numb" kind of way, but maybe closer to a "wow, despite witnessing myriad abhorrent violations against mankind, I'm now questioning why this has practically no impact on me, and am wondering if maybe I'm damaged in some way that can never be fixed" kind of way.

Pulp Fiction [1994]

Jules' dialog in the early scene where he and Vincent secure the briefcase is some of my favorite in any movie ever. Fabienne: "It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same." Kathy Griffin ruins everything. Random observation for this viewing: Lance is eating a cereal called "Fruit Brute." I love that.

Jaws [1975]

"You're gonna need a bigger boat." While tethered to the horror genre, this was far more fun than I remember it being. (I mean, the musical is downright whimsical through the shark chase scene.) When Quint first hears the tick of his line being tugged and begins slowly, methodically preparing for a big pull... slowly strapping himself in, then latching the reel to his harness, bracing his feet... There was a lot of care put into that, into all of this. Deservedly iconic.

Infestation [2009]

The first time I watched this I was thinking, "Wow, this is dumb, but fun." This time around... I'm wondering: Is it fun? I mean, that's the intention, but what about it is actually fun? Also, this time is on a big TV and my gawd is some of the CG is garbage (and I can't remember green screen scenes being this distracting). As far as self-aware b-level horror goes, it's fine.

Martyrs [2008]

I'm not quite sure where Martyrs lands among my favorite horror movies, but it's on the list. (It may have only recently been overtaken by Raw with regard to those considered within the New French Extremity realm.) Nearly a decade ago I went through a phase where I was really interested in watching the most disturbing films of all time. That's where I was first exposed to Martyrs, and it certainly does belongs on that list. Something about it is different though. It's not just shock. It holds up in a way different than most of what you'll find within that categorization.

There are several not entirely distinct segments to it and each carries its own unique merit for landing on a list like this. There are mental health and abuse components and the existential cross which it dies on at the end attracted me from the start (though it might not exactly hold up under a magnifying glass). The revelation of the torture victim in the house is still one of the most cringeworthy visuals I've ever seen. And then there's just the brutality of what remains. It's hard. It's a hard movie to watch. (The American remake is difficult to watch for entirely different reasons.) But it's also rewarding. Maybe I feel like I'm part of a club. "We" get it. There's an episode of the podcast "The Canon" that focuses on it and that breaks things down in a far more eloquent way than I can. Its imperfections become more glaring with time, but that isn't to say that its impact can be dismissed.

Only God Forgives [2013]

It's like Refn read all the negative reviews for Drive and said, "Style over substance? Style over substance?! I'LL SHOW YOU STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE!!!"

Scream [1996]

I've tried to buy into the Scream is the best modern horror film camp, but it feels too much like forced nostalgia for me. Truth be told, I like the sequel as much as the original.

Evil Dead II [1987]

This is one of my favorite movie posters/DVD covers of all time, but it doesn't ring nearly as enjoyable as I recall it being. I've watched the original, Army of Darkness, and the 2013 reboot this past month and my favorite is easily the first of the bunch. The Evil Dead is an open and closed affair... and I particularly enjoy the ending of it. The effects are novel, if a bit rough, but the story is consistent... staying clear of the self-satisfied winks that follow here and in AoD. I didn't particularly enjoy Army of Darkness and how II opens the door for it doesn't really help its cause.

Saw [2004]

Had completely forgotten that Danny Glover played a cop in this. Also: Not once did he allude to his line of work being ill-suited for someone of his age... SEVENTEEN YEARS AFTER <em>LETHAL WEAPON<em> HIT THEATERS.

Andrei Rublev [1966]

This one lost me. I got about twenty minutes into it a few days ago and, realizing something wasn't clicking, I turned it off. Same experience today, though I completed the viewing. I've read enough to feel like I know what I should have taken away from this, but it still just wasn't there. Could simply be that—after reeling from the revelatory impact of Stalker and Solaris—my expectations were too high. Then again, many view this as Tarkovsky's finest work.

Henry Rollins: Henry Rollins Goes To London [1995]

For as much as I wholeheartedly appreciate the emotionally raw Rollins, fun story-teller Rollins is my favorite Rollins. These stories are less important as stories as they are as a window into what would continue to flow through Henry for the next couple decades. Henry Rollins: World Traveler became his thing as he searched the world for nothing in particular. Now Henry takes photos and has had a show on the Nat Geo channel. All that because he started with things like this.

Henry Rollins: Talking From The Box [1992]

This is the more sensitive, emotional side of Rollins' earlier spoken word work. This performance has been in my life for maybe twenty years and there are stories that I heard before that, when I started wrangling spoken word CDs and tapes in the mid-to-late-'90s. How do you rate this here, how many stars do you give to the weight of hearing the story about how Henry's best friend was killed in front of him? This had a big impact on me. Henry has had a big impact on me.

Modern Times [1936]

Charlie Chaplin was a genius and Modern Times was a marvel of its time (hell, it's a marvel now). Beyond being visually striking nearly a century after its creation, I couldn't help but feel a little beaten by the themes here. This is the same stuff we're dealing with now. We're trapped, aren't we?

30 Days of Night [2007]

This is one of my favorite representations of vampires in movies. They're just so raw and visceral. There's a distinct gothic affect to the whole thing, which is an absolute delight... if you can call Josh Hartnett hacking someone's head off with an axe "a delight"...

The Witch [2015]

Not even shitting you, thunder cracked outside my house after hearing Black Philip whisper "What dost thou want?"

The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]

Everyone looks amazing here, and the costume design is like the entire cast is a member of The Damned (which I'm really fond of). My personal appreciation (or maybe lack thereof) of the movie has little to do with The Rocky Horror Picture Show oozing hyper-sexuality or its punk rock aesthetic (which, my god, that was on the bleeding edge in 1975)—I'm in to all that, but rather: I just DGAF about the musical part of this. Which is most of it, and what most fans seem to go-go ape shit for. Glad to have finally seen it, though, if only to learn that it's really just not my thing.

Bowfinger [1999]

By 1999 Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin weren't exactly at their artistic peaks, and the plot of Bowfinger doesn't scream "genius"... but it just hits its mark so well. Not that I've seen most of what followed this movie from Eddie Murphy, but it's one of the last roles I've enjoyed of his and he crushes it hard on a PG-13 level. Nothing is gratuitous, and the backstory to his Kit Ramsey character is almost shockingly developed considering the lightweight nature of the plot. Heather Graham is solid here, too, playing into the stereotype of her role as much as each of the other characters in a well crafted spoof on the entire industry.

Sphere [1998]

Alright, folks, here we have Contestant #1, Dustin, playing in the final prize round of our show. Now, Dustin, you know the rules... You can only open two of the three doors, and if the prizes match, you get to keep them all. So, if you would be so kind: Please let us see what's behind door number one... IT'S A STACK OF BOOKS! I can't believe it. Alright, and now... Dustin, let's show our audience what's behind door number two... EVEN MORE BOOKS! What unbelievable luck, several dozen rare misprint copies of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, undeniable proof of alien presence on Earth, and one heckuva parting gift for our lucky Contestant #1. Let's give Dustin a big round of applause for playing the game so well! Alright everyone, thank you all for joining us for another episode of Sphere, and—until next time—even as we play this game a thousand feet beneath the surface of the ocean, never forget: The greatest game we all play is the one between our ears. Goodnight and God bless, folks.

¡Three Amigos! [1986]

"In a way, all of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be the actual El Guapo!" For as adorable as Martin Short is, and for as much as I want to like Chevy Chase here, Steve Martin absolutely carries this thing.

The Great Dictator [1940]

I appreciate how, in the last couple of years, Idiocracy has been used as shorthand for Trump supporters... this is where we're headed and these buffoons don't even realize it. I appreciate it, but it's also problematic. I've watched that movie a few times the past year, and something about it rings increasingly hollow with each viewing. There's resignation in the mockery: Sure, this is how it is, but by claiming distance from the downfall of the masses, we "progressive thinkers" are separated and almost absolved of reality's pending terrors. Maybe that's off base, but it's what comes to mind in watching The Great Dictator, another movie I've watched a few times this past year.

Simply as an artistic work, The Great Dictator is brilliant. The scene where Chaplin is dancing, balancing the weight of the world in his hands, is one of the most impactful I've ever seen. But it's obviously so much more. A clip of the speech scene is what first introduced me to the movie... that scene remains INCREDIBLE. This is a masterwork which stands up bravely in the face of terror, though not merely mocking it, instead stating its claim against evil. But it doesn't draw a line, saying you are against us, we are against you, this is war... it says we must all surrender to our shared humanity. Supporters of a terrorist regime can still watch Idiocracy and laugh at the whole thing, but there's no way someone sharing in a tyrannical ideology can watch The Great Dictator and share in the beauty of its achievement. It's a challenge toward the cowardice of fascism without righteously distancing self from "the other" in its doing so. This isn't to mention how it wasn't exactly released arbitrarily, coming as an affront to no one in particular. This challenge for humanity was issued at a time when doing so was a terrifying venture into bravery (the British announced they would ban the film, fearing backlash from Hitler, merely when its production was announced). I know practically nothing about The Great Dictator and already that's enough to recognize how it realized the potential impact embodied by the entirety of the medium.

Starship Troopers [1997]

The one and only time I saw this movie previously was in a discount theater that played movies after their original runs had expired. I was 14/15 and my friends and I went for one reason only: We'd heard there was a co-ed shower scene that showed topless women. It was a simpler time.

Demons [1985]

The cheese factor is strong with this one, and the practical effects, setting, costumes, and soundtrack are all great. For as spooky scary as it's made out to be, I do like how it doesn't take itself that seriously. “Whoever wears it becomes a demon.” “How do you know?” “It says here: Whoever wears it becomes a demon.”

Fubar [2002]

One day in college my best friend and I looped this movie during an all-day drinking spree. We counted eight times (though it's not like we were sitting watching it straight on through). Somehow we procured a futon and took to setting up a makeshift BBQ outside our apartment. Roommates insisted on turning it off while we sit outside in the sun, but "we were still listening to it through the open window," we argued. I don't know how many times I've seen this (dozens, easily), but the first was around 2003/04. It was filmed in my hometown. It is ridiculous. I showed it to friends as soon as I could and continued to share it with whoever would let me all through college. Listen, it's not a "great movie." I get that. But it just checked so many boxes for me and has been such a big point of bonding for so many years between me and some of my closest friends. It's in our shared DNA. Tron funkin' blows. Rock and roll is my guitar, and girl's electricity. If I got both of them, I got all I need. We can sing that song word for word at a moment's notice. It's rare to find something in life that just clicks for you as well as this did for us. Until tonight I hadn't seen it in a couple years (and this might be the first time I've watched it sober in... ever?), but even with plenty of distance between now and those memories, it doesn't miss it a beat.

The Animatrix [2003]

I know this is better than I'm giving it credit for being, but The Animatrix just doesn't speak to me the same way the original does. I appreciate the different narrative approaches to filling out the universe, and the animation itself is consistently beautiful, but by the later stages of the anthology the focus becomes lost for me. I vaguely remember having a similar reaction when watching it years and years ago, and am comfortable in my conclusion as nothing here adds to my appreciation of the original movie or the concept of a larger universe surrounding it.

The Matrix [1999]

In many ways The Matrix is a movie locked into an era. The club scene where Neo and Trinity meet features a remix of Rob Zombie's "Dragula" and the closing credits begin with Rage Against the Machine's "Wake Up" (subtle!) for Chrissakes. I'm comfortable being part of the generation (if there is one) that sees the leather, trench coats and black sunglasses and "gets it" (rather than blowing the whole thing off due to dated aesthetics). As science fiction, The Matrix still holds up for the most part despite being twenty years old (though I will say: the laser gun shit looks terrible now). As an action movie, there was before The Matrix and after The Matrix. It's almost boring watching some of the fight scenes now because of how standard they feel... it's hard to remember that NOTHING LOOKED LIKE THIS BEFORE IT CAME OUT. I saw The Matrix twice in theaters (or theatres, as I lived in Canada at the time) and it's still the only movie I've ever gone in for repeat big screen viewings of. It blew my high school mind. As a philosophical movie, I'm still probably only scratching the surface of what's at play here. "Free your mind, and your ass will follow," echoes Funkadelic's "Good Times, Bad Thoughts." If only waking up were that simple.

Wet Hot American Summer [2001]

For years this was our movie. I don't know if we ever owned a copy of it, but it was 2002/2003 when a clerk at a Family Video in Bettendorf, Iowa told us to check it out. Rentals were a dollar. It was a great investment. I didn't live there, but was with a college friend on a weekend trip (or something like that) back to his parents' place. This has stuck with us ever since. In the supplemental features Janeane Garofalo (interviewed at the time of filming the movie) has a throw away comment about how this could become a generation's Caddyshack. I think she was right. Had Netflix existed twenty years ago maybe they'd have rebooted Caddyshack as an original series that cannot possibly satisfy diehard fans of the original. As is, Wet Hot is like a comedic Bible for me: For ages I would do my best to spread The Good News™, advocating for others to open their hearts to its unique brand of bizarre. "Oh, fuck my cock" isn't exactly scripture, but it had a greater impact on my life than any Bible verse ever did. What a strange movie to carry so much influence in someone's life, but I quote this thing endlessly and still look for that ability in others as shorthand for being "my kind of person." This movie built a tribe to which I feel I belong.

Waking Life [2001]

Close to a year ago I decided to start building a movie collection. I had a lot of VHS tapes, then DVDs, growing up, but a decade and a half of constantly moving and left me with very little in the way of "stuff" kicking around my house. A house that I was settling into. A house I'm still in. This is the longest I've lived under the same roof continuously since 2001. I bought this DVD having an idea of what it was, though not having ever watched it before. That's how it used to be when I was buying VHS tapes (and tapes and CDs and all that stuff) - it seemed like it was worth a shot, committing myself to this physical thing that's also not a physical thing at all.

I've been struggling at work. I'm in school. I'm trying to renovate my house. I have a lot of Cadillac problems right now... problems that I would have died to have three or four years ago. But in the midst of this, I've been depressed. I've not been taking care of myself, and when I don't do that, I lead myself to feel worse. I could barely keep my eyes open last night, but couldn't fall asleep. If you've ever been there, you know how that feels. So around one in the morning I turned on Waking Life.

It's ostensibly about lucid dreams, and dreaming in general, but last night I wasn't in the right place to drink from the philosophical firehose that serves as the vehicle for this movie's messaging. It's a barrage of existential waxing, and far too much to keep up with at times. The thought struck me at one point that each scene could lend itself to a single class in a course about the film. Which means that one class would be about Alex Jones. Maybe that wasn't a good idea, after all.

"What am I doing here?," I thought. Philosophical debate doesn't carry the same benefit that an ounce of positive action does when trying to fend off a spiral into self. There's a scene toward the end which sort of speaks to that; I don't know, I was not exactly awake and not exactly sleeping when I saw it. This may all be too much, and certainly "too much to put in a review," but also: So what? The rotoscopic visuals here are more raw than in A Scanner Darkly, but also better in their experimental translation. The animation envelopes each scene uniquely, and each scene pushes forward a narrative that is only tied together by its fraying edges. I'm not sure when I'll watch it again, but I'm going to keep this one for now. Fresh eyes are going to help next time around. Despite getting only a few hours of real shut eye in last night I feel better today.

Memento [2000]

It's been at least a decade since I've watched Memento, and the fresh factor was definitely there this time around. I'd forgotten how cruel Carrie-Anne Moss' character is, how there are a few funny moments sprinkled in ("Okay, so what am I doing? I'm chasing this guy. No. He's chasing me."), and how this Trinity and Cypher driven narrative suggests this was probably all just a simulation within the Matrix universe.

A Scanner Darkly [2006]

From a visual point of view, I really enjoy A Scanner Darkly for about thirty minutes, but the aesthetic loses its charm slowly as the movie goes on. Picking things up are enjoyable performances bu Robert Downey Jr., Rory Cochrane & Woody. (The scene where RDJ buys a stolen bike and proceeds to investigate the missing gears that were maliciously stolen before the sale is amazing.) I've not read the novel, but feel I should... which sort of speaks to my feeling about the movie, too. I'm missing that deeper appreciation that I know is out there, and if only I were to dedicate even more of my time than I already have—having seen this thing multiple times now—then I'd really see it for what it is.