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I ain’t even mad

I think we’re getting too tetchy, white people. It’s a comedy. I doubt I’m the intended audience, so I doubt the jokes would land for me, but I can stand having the piss taken.

The director’s whole reason for making the film hinges on his definition of ‘magical negro’

I think of the Magical Negro as a kind of stock Black character; a Black best friend character who is only focused on helping the white hero. They don’t really have an inner life, and they don’t have their own things going on. They’re just relentlessly focused on helping this white character grow in most cases, and I always thought that was so funny.

So he made this movie because “the idea that there’s a white writer who pictures the thing we do in the morning is getting up and trying to help them.”

But that’s not my definition at all. To me, a magical negro is a movie character who pops up at a critical moment and can magically do absolutely anything. He’s usually something humble like the janitor, but turns out he can hack computers or complete fantastically complicated equations or do a field appendectomy – whatever the plot requires. And he does it while dispensing folksy, homespun wisdom. Or ghetto smarts.

And now that I squint and look at it, both definitions do describe the same character. He fixated on the idea that the black guy’s only purpose in the film is to help the white guy, I focused on the idea that to do it, the black guy is given fantastically improbable powers. And the movie makes fun of both.

I guess people are feeling rubbed raw at the moment, but I can stand it. I won’t go see it, but I can stand it. Feel the outrage here (and you can also watch the trailer at the link).

December 18, 2023 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 5

Worked for me

The power of opportunistically clicking links: yesterday, I hit the link for the Daily Wire’s new comedy movie Lady Ballers and it inexplicably let me watch the whole movie without being a subscriber.

It was surprisingly good. It wasn’t one long cross-dressing joke, either; it had lots of side gags and easter eggs. I mean, sure, if you catch most of the references, we probably follow the same people on Xwitter, but it didn’t feel like pandering or forced messaging. It felt like they genuinely set out to make a funny film.

Nearly the whole cast is amateurs – in fact, many of them are pundits with the Daily Wire – and I’m afraid it felt like it in places. I hate being forced to admit that professional actors have an actual skill. But it wasn’t enough to ruin it. I’d watch it again.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like I can do it for free for a while. If you hit the link above, it’ll ask you to sign in to your account. For the next twelve hours, they’re going half price on an annual membership – $6.50 a month – but I don’t want to see it seventy eight bucks worth. Come to think of it, they might not even let me sign up from outside the US.

Worth considering if you had kids, though. I understand their children’s programming is genuinely good. And not just Disney+ for MAGA, but genuinely thoughtful.

December 4, 2023 — 7:15 pm
Comments: 4

Look who’s in town

Kinda. I understand Michael Caine is staying in the beautiful town of Rye and filming a movie in nearby Camber Sands.

It’s about an old man who escapes a care home to go to 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

That’s his co star, Glenda Jackson. If you don’t recognize her, this is what they looked like when they last worked together.

He’s 89 now. She’s 86.

The production company is looking for extras. They’ve put out a call for people who look especially old and frail.

It’s hilarious watching all the old dears in my social circle act like they couldn’t possibly qualify.

October 3, 2022 — 5:16 pm
Comments: 7

Tales from the Klondike

The actual Klondike, not my living room today (though it sure am cold in here).

Dawson City grew up around the Klondike Gold Rush. It went from a remote Indian camp to a city of 40,000 back down to a town of 8,000 when the gold rush ended in 1899. It’s hovered around 1,000 ever since.

But it had a movie theater. And because it was so remote, it was the end of the line for the movie circuit. That is, after the movies were shown, they were thrown away.

In 1978, a construction company accidentally stumbled over them, buried under a hockey rink. They dated from 1903 to 1929. In all, there were 533 reels of film, some from silents that were thought to have been lost forever. Many were damaged, but I imagine the cold helped preserve them. We know how nitrate film likes to burst into flames.

Wikipedia on the Dawson Film Find.

Dawson City: Frozen Time is a 2016 documentary put together from the reels, though I gather “documentary” is not a very good description. It’s something altogether more dreamy and strange.

You can watch the official trailer on YouTube.

What? No. I haven’t seen it yet. I’m waiting to find a used copy. I use this blog as a notepad, you know.

p.s. Bonus. The totally unrelated short film Battle at Big Rock is totally worth ten minutes of your life. Stick around for the credits.

February 9, 2021 — 8:09 pm
Comments: 9


We watched The Dig over the weekend, the Netflix dramatization of the dig for Sutton Hoo just before the outbreak of WWII. It was 4/5 a brilliant film that somehow decided to spend its last twenty minutes tying up a minor subplot I didn’t give a shit about. With any luck, there will be a director’s cut with that excised.

Still a recommend.

They worked with the British Museum to get the costumes and sets right. There’s an interesting blog post from the BM here that describes the process. Spoilers, I guess.

And you can take a virtual walk around Room 41 that they’ve somehow built using Google Street View technology.

Very cool.

February 2, 2021 — 8:09 pm
Comments: 12

Warming to my theme…

Gloria Swanson was 51 when she played Norma Desmond.

My teenage impression of Norma Desmond, she was a thousand years old. But, thinking about it, it the story works better if she is way too old for a comeback, but not clownishly, ridiculously too old.

God, the makeup didn’t do them any favors, though, did it? Like the way your mom’s high school graduation picture made her look about 42.

Oh, speaking of clownish and ridiculous, I’ll close with Carol Burnett’s Norma Desmond. I don’t recommend looking up any of the skits — too broad, too long and totally belabor the joke — but holy shit the stills of her crack me up every time.

February 26, 2019 — 9:17 pm
Comments: 9


Well. Carol Channing has died, age 97. As often happens, I didn’t realize she was still alive, and now she’s not.

Banging around the tubes, I found the above: Carol with Mary Tyler Moore and Julie Andrews. Thoroughly Modern Millie, which I never saw.

One of the signature songs from that film was “Jazz Baby” from 1919, which Wikipedia says they had to buy back from the Washburn-Crosby Company, manufacturers of Wheaties, who had used it with variations for an advertising jingle since 1926.

The link from the Wikipedia article is dead to me (“not released in my country”), but I found this 1926 Wheaties jingle which…honestly doesn’t sound anything like “Jazz Baby” to me, but someone in the comments says it’s the first use of a jingle in a radio ad. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

While you’re there, please enjoy all these other Wheaties ads. Said it before, I’ll say it again — there needs to be a word for that thing you do where you start off with a simple Google search and find yourself an hour later squinting at Bruce Jenner eating Wheaties.

p.s. oh, yah — congratulations to peacelovewoodstock who wins the Dead Pool with Carol Channing. Y’all know what that means!

January 15, 2019 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 18

RIP Dr Stanley


Ralph Stanley died last week, and that’s an end to all the original men of Bluegrass, I suppose.

I know it doesn’t seem like it, but Bluegrass was strictly a Twentieth Century musical style. It borrowed heavily from traditional music, of course, but it was a highly formalized and particular form that started with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys (hence the name), particularly when Earl Scruggs joined them in 1945.

Stanley and his brother Carter had performed together since the late Forties, though Carter drank himself to death in the Sixties. Their sound was very heavily Appalachian. Ralph’s singing style was typical of the genre — a high-pitched, whining sort of sound called “high lonesome” and often compared to a ghost wailing through a forest. It’s eerie. And probably an acquired taste.

Listen to the chorus of The Fields Have Turned Brown to hear what I mean.

Stanley’s career had a sudden resurgence late in life when he did the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers’ film O Brother Where Art Thou. The album — particularly the song Man of Constant Sorrow — was a surprise hit.

As a personal aside, I hated that fucking film. It was the beginning of the end for me and the Coen Brothers. Films like Fargo poked fun of people but seemed to do it with affection, but O Brother was full of tone deafness and sneering contempt. But good on Ralph for ending his life on a high note (oh, pun, I suppose).

And thus a sad footnote to a strange week. Good weekend, everyone!

July 1, 2016 — 9:17 pm
Comments: 13

Say no to racial stereotyping of weasels


Snuck out of work to catch a matinee performance of Zootopia today, Disney’s latest kids flick. It was purty and fun.

It tried to be a message flick, and the message was that predators and prey animals can live together in harmony if they overcome their prejudices. But the message was ruined by the fact that…no. They can’t. Really.

I doubt even eight-year-olds are buyin’ it.

Not quite as dumb as the one where dinosaurs were socialist environmentalists. What was that, Land Before Time? You could go nutty trying to analyze the messages in Disney flicks, most of which are charmingly dumb and harmless.

Anyway, we see above more of the typical Hollywood anti-mustelid prejudice.

April 12, 2016 — 8:00 pm
Comments: 13

And your little d’….awww g’wan witcha


I just love seeing the Wicked Witch of the West crack up laughing. This is from Margaret Hamilton’s makeup test. An early one.

I’m struck by how much she looks like Carl Sagan here.

March 8, 2016 — 8:24 pm
Comments: 10