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eight thoughts on ‘the hateful eight’ 70 mm roadshow.

Just in time for the run to end, at least here in Seattle, I finally made it to see the 70mm Roadshow version of The Hateful Eight.

Here are eight thoughts I had about the movie.

1. Ennio Morricone is a god.
2. All movies over two and a half hours long should have an intermission. This one was so great.
3. I really hope Tarantino does another western. He claims he needs to do one more to be a “real” western director, he also still claims he is only going to make two more films in total.
4. It was really interesting watching the film while keeping in mind it was originally a Django sequel. I’m glad Tarantino changed it.
5. I’m pretty sure I would pay money to watch Walton Goggins read a phone book.
6. I really hope more directors start doing the 70mm thing, but if only one did it, it had to be Tarantino.
7. The western is the most misunderstood and underappreciated genre in film.
8. I’m so glad Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino found each other.

The end

my year in shows, 2015.

And, a new addition to my lists. Here are all the shows I watched for the first time this year. This is the first time I’ve actually kept a list going all year. If a show doesn’t have a list of seasons or specials next to it then I watched the whole thing this year, or it was only a single run.


Rick and Morty (Seasons One & Two)
House of Cards (Season Three)
Portlandia (Seasons Three – Five)
Moone Boy

Moone Boy S1
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season Ten)
The Mindy Project (Season Three)
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Walking Dead (Season Five)
Man Seeking Woman (Season One)
Archer (Season Six)
Justified (Season Six)

Daredevil (Season One)
Inside Amy Schumer (Seasons One – Three)
Mad Men (Season Seven)
Bob’s Burgers (Season Five)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season Two)
Silicon Valley (Season Two)

Game of Thrones (Season Five)
Community (Season Six)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Bojack Horseman (Season Two)
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Adventure Time (Season Six)
True Detective (Season Two)
Master of None (Season One)

Fargo (Season One)
Black Mirror (Seasons One & Two, White Christmas)
Jessica Jones (Season One)
Last Week Tonight (Season Two)

Bonus: Shows I Rewatched Episodes of Regularly All Year

Archer, Sunny, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, Bob’s Burgers, Seinfeld


The end

my year in movies, 2015.

Every year I share the list of every movie I watched. Many years, it’s with a bunch of other lists I make of all sorts of favorite things and whatnot. We’ll see if that happens this year, but at the very least, here is my 2015 in movies.

125 is better than last year’s 105, but I really miss the days when 200 movies a year was the minimum. Anyway, on with the list!


The key is mostly the same as always:
(#) Movie I saw in the theater.
[#] Movie I saw for the first time.
E# Movies I watched with Emily.
Favorites (These underlined films cannot be movies I saw this year for the first time, they have to be movies that have been able to stand up after at least one repeated viewing.)
*Best movies I’d never seen before. (It doesn’t matter when these movies came out, I saw them for the first time this year, and they were awesome.)
Halloween Movie Fest.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – E1
2. The Imitation Game [1] (1) E2
3. The Guardians of the Galaxy
*4. Persepolis [2]
5. The Guardians of the Galaxy – E3
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
*7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [3]
8. Horns [4]
*9. Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [5] (2) E4
10. What If [6] E5
*11. Calvary [7]

12. The Equalizer [8]
13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – E5
14. Arbitrage [9]
*15. Whiplash [10] E6
16. John Wick [11]
17. The Trip to Italy [12] E7
18. eXistenZ [13]
19. They Came Together [14] E8
*20. Kingsman: The Secret Service [15] (3) E9
21. Gone Girl [16] E10
22. St. Vincent [17] E11
*23. Frank [18]
24. The History of Future Folk [19]
*25. The One I Love [20]
*26. Paris, Texas [21]

27. The Double [22]
*28. Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jô) [23]
*29. The Silence (Das letzte Schweigen) [24]
30. Nightcrawler [25]
*31. Housebound [26]
*32. Top Five [27] E12
33. Shadow of the Vampire [28]
*34. 13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku) [29]
35. The Boxtrolls [30] E13
36. Hot Fuzz
37. John Dies In the End [31]
38. The World’s End
39. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug [32]
40. Girl Most Likely [33]
41. Shut Up and Play the Hits [34]
*42. What We Do in the Shadows [35] (4)

43. Avengers: Age of Ultron [36] (5)
44. Avengers: Age of Ultron (6) E14
*45. Brooklyn Castle [37] E15
46. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World [38]
47. Natural Born Killers [39]
48. Now You See Me [40] E16
*49. Fury [41]
50. Pitch Perfect 2 [42] (7) E17
*51. Mad Max: Fury Road [43] (8)
*52. Ex Machina [44] (9)
53. Zoolander
54. Star Wars – E18
*55. Inherent Vice [45]
56. A Fantastic Fear of Everything [46]
57. Spy [47] (10) E19
58. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief [48] E20
59. High-Fidelity E21

*60. Inside Out [49] E22
61. Wet Hot American Summer – E23
*62. Dope [50] (11) E24
63. Ant-Man [51] (12) E25
64. Say Anything… – E26
65. Slow West [52]
66. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation [53] (13) E27
67. The Guest [54]
68. Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot American Summer [55]
69. Theory of Everything [56] E28
70. The Crossing Guard [57]
71. Life of Crime [58]
72. 48 Hrs. [59]
73. Dear White People [60] E29
74. El secreto de sus ojos – E30

75. Hot Fuzz
76. Three Colors: Blue [61]
77. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [62] E31
78. Creep [63]
79. The Skeleton Twins [64]
80. Harmontown [65]
*81. Life Itself [66] E32
82. The House of the Devil [67]
83. Magic Mike XXL [68] E33
*84. Kingsman: The Secret Service – E34
85. Dawn of the Dead *1978*
86. Day of the Dead [69]
87. The Martian [70] (14) E35
*88. The Haunting [71]
89. Pulse [72]
90. Byzantium [73]
91. The Empire Strikes Back – E36
*92. It Follows [74]

93. Pan’s Labyrinth – E37
94. The Devil’s Backbone
95. Witching and Bitching [75]
96. The Wicker Man *1973* [76]
97. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead [77]
98. Frenzy [78]
*99. The Babadook [79]
100. Crimson Peak [80] (15)
101. The Blair Witch Project [81]
*102. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night [82]


103. Spirited Away – E38
104. Spectre [84] (16) E39
105. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 [85]
106. Seven Psychopaths
107. Better Living Through Chemistry [86]
108. People, Places, Things [87] E40
109. Jurassic World [88] E41
110. The Kings of Summer – E42
111. Rocky – E43
*112. Spotlight [89] (17) E44
113. Cop Car [90]
114. Return of the Jedi – E45
*115. Me and Early and the Dying Girl [91] E46

*116. What We Do In The Shadows
117. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. [92] E47
*118. The Tale of Princess Kaguya [93] E48
*119. Amarcord [94]
*120. The Force Awakens [95] (18) E49
121. Trainwreck [96] E50
122. A Very Murray Christmas [97] E51
*123. The End of the Tour [98] E52
124. Inglourious Basterds
*125. The Force Awakens – (19) E53


The end

halloween movie fest, 2015: nights 15-17.

I got there. All in all, this was a successful Halloween for me. I got to be The Driver for Halloween (nailed it!), I made all 17 films work with my schedule this year, and I got to play the Thriller album in its entirety at work two days in a row.

This was a great HMF! Sure, there were some duds, but that’s always worth it to watch films like The Babadook, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, and The Haunting for the first time. I love doing this, my only hope is that I can get a rhythm back so that I can get the writing back to where it used to be.

Now I’m craving two things. 1. Doing ‘Another Day, Another Movie‘ with a genre other than horror, again. 2. Watching all of my favorites from previous HMF’s throughout the rest of 2015.


Night Fifteen: Crimson Peak

crimson peak

 “I heard you the first time.”

I’m sad to say it, but I mostly didn’t enjoy Crimson Peak. 

Based on the trailers, I was worried about this from one from the start. I’d liked the idea for the long period that it was being reported on by movie blogs and whatnot, and I was stoked about Hiddleston and Chastain in a GDT film. Yet, the trailers had me underwhelmed and I just held out hope because I really wanted the movie to be good.

The aim for the dialogue seemed to be flowery and Victorian, but the result was clunky and wooden. Several plot elements that were supposed to be shocking simply aren’t because of a few major stories everyone has talked about over the last several years. Nothing interesting or surprising ever happens, and there times that GDT’s trademark visual choices actually tipped over the edge into what felt like an homage to himself, which I think I would have actually come to terms with if the story had been as interesting visuals could be at times.

The music was also really misplaced. I wish del Toro had worked with Javier Navarrete again, as he did in Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. I forgot to mention Navarrete earlier in HMF this year, as he also did the score for Byzantium. Three movies has to be a record for one composer in a single HMF. For my money, he’s the best at making sad, eery, beautiful scores for films like the three I’ve enjoyed recently.

Crimson Peak has some major plot holes that were just the right sort to be really distracting to me. This is where some people will make the tired old argument that I shouldn’t have a problem with plot holes because GHOSTS AREN’T REAL, I’m expecting too much if I want it all to make sense! You’ll especially hear writers and producers and actors say that sort of thing. Yet, there is still such a thing as internal logic in a story. I don’t need the ghosts to operate according to some rules I have decided on my own are how all ghosts in stories should act forever. However, I do need the characters in the story to act in ways that make sense, or else they aren’t characters but props.

It was still Guillermo, so the film was still beautiful to look at, but that wasn’t enough to save this one for me.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? Sadly, I doubt it.


Night Sixteen: The Blair Witch Project


 “I love you mom, dad. I am so sorry. What is that? I’m scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them. We’re gonna die out here.”

So, spoilers, but that probably isn’t a thing in a film that has been such a major part of the cultural landscape.

We all know this one is about a malevolent and mysterious force which kills the world’s most incompetent film students (and don’t forget most incompetent hikers), saving us from what would have been the worst documentary of all time.

This was my first time watching this sub-genre spawning, classic, low-budget indie success story. It took me a while to get around to it, mostly because so many found footage films have followed in its wake and it’s tiring.

All in all, have finally seen it, I was really impressed by what they did and how they did it in The Blair Witch Project.

I thought the main characters were really annoying, but in this rare case that’s actually a good thing. If you watch unedited footage from some film students making a documentary, more often than not it is going to be annoying, especially if those film students are growing increasingly lost, terrified, and desperate. Annoying characters fit this story.

This film proves that you can be effectively scary without having a ridiculous CGI monster, or even without a well-designed practical effects monster for that matter. The film’s final moments were especially creepy and unsettling, including the end where our foreshadowing tells us what Mike was doing over in the corner. Creeeeepy.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? Probably not, fitting as they may have been, I don’t think I could spend another 80 minutes with these characters.


Night Fifteen: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night


 “You’re sad. You don’t remember what you want. You don’t remember wanting. It passed long ago. And nothing ever changes..”

Holy shit, yes! This movie is so good.

Called the first Iranian vampire western, it’s like Sergio Leone, Drive (which is already a neo-western, so I guess that’s redundant), and Let The Right One In had a beautiful Iranian-American baby together, and there was much rejoicing.

Watching Ana Lily Amirpour’s feature length debut felt just like when I saw Take Shelter. While not his debut, that was my first Jeff Nichols movie and I immediately wanted to see everything else he’d made and wait with bated breath for him to make more. That’s instantly how I feel about Amirpour. I just want her to make more movies as soon as possible! Her sure-handedness and textual literacy was on display everywhere in this film, and it just made me want to keep getting lost in her visuals and references and framing and sound choices.

Amirpour wrote the film in English and then translated that to Farsi phonetically, which would have been reason enough to have a quiet film dialogue-wise. Yet, this would have been a quiet film anyway. Amirpour has crafted this film so that every gesture, every prop in the background, every pause and beat is perfectly constructed for the movie. I know that’s how it is usually supposed to work, but this is what it looks like when a filmmaker actually succeeds at it.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night has style for days, paints its allusions with perfect balance for the tone of the film, has an amazing soundtrack, and just plain feels like the sort of movie that would crawl out of my own love for culture and genre and film.

This was a really great way to end Halloween Movie Fest 2015.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? I could watch this one on repeat.

The end

five things i’ll do this year.

Every year, I make a long list of things I plan to accomplish. Some things are easy, some things are hard; some things are important, some things are trivial. I like my long lists, but Emily saw a suggestion recently that your yearly to-do list only have three to five things on it. If you cross one off early, you can add one to replace it, but at any one time the list should be short and sweet… or bitter, if that’s your jam.

This makes quite a bit of sense. My longer lists do nothing in terms of prioritizing what’s actually important to me. If I’m forced to pick five things that are the most important in that year, it will help me to see where I’m actually aiming, and might help me make the most of years that go by faster and faster as I age.


1. Get a new job – I love bartending, and I want to keep doing it. So I’m not looking for an entirely new genre of work, but merely a new venue in which to do what I’m already doing. That will be easier said than done. I’ve got about 14 months of experience behind a bar now, and in Seattle that doesn’t really count for much. I’ve been out again trying to meet industry folks, because in the Seattle industry especially, it’s all about the people you know. I’ve got 10.5 more months, so hopefully before the end of 2015 I’ll have a new bartending home.


2. Complete seven writing projects and submit them for publication – If I never get paid to write, I want that to be true because I am a failed writer, and not simply a writer who never really tried. Now that I’ve been doing the work again, it’s time to start finishing projects, editing the hell out of them, and submitting them to people who publish whatever that particular sort of writing happens to be. I’ve only tried that twice, and even that was half-hearted. It’s time to dive in and risk actual failure, especially since failure is often what must come before any sort of success.


3. Run in an official 5k, lose ten pounds – I just recently wrote about running, so no need to go into detail as to why it’s my exercise of choice. With insomnia and depression, exercise and weight quickly become an issue if I’m not very intentional and disciplined. I’m already off to a good start this year in the weight loss department, and as far as running a 5k somewhere it’s just picking one and signing up. So… this one should be pretty simple to cross off if I just continue doing the work.


4. Get my first tattoo – This one is already in the works, I just have to follow through with it. It happens this spring. Deposit is already down.


5. Travel somewhere I’ve never been – I’ve also recently written about my desire for more travel. Our ability to do so is limited by the amount of money I make (or don’t make?) at my current job. We can’t go too far away this year to some exotic locale, but we can go on our first road trip in quite a while. We’re planning to head to Salt Lake City. A place I’ve never been, so it counts, and Emily has heard good things about parts of it. The destination could still change, but we are in the process of planning a fall road trip to get that all important adventure and discovery into our diet.


The end

all we gotta do is be brave and be kind.

On December 31st, Emily and I were talking about our hopes for the new year. Neil Gaiman inevitably found his way into the conversation. It was inevitable because, 1. Emily was talking to me, so I was most likely going to bring up Neil Gaiman, and 2. Neil Gaiman is the undisputed king of New Year’s wishes. Seriously, though… the king. You should look them up.

Emily was the first to say that she wanted to be a better version of herself this year, which meant, seizing on Gaiman’s language, being brave and kind.

“And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”

And from another year:

“So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them. And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation.

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.”

More on joy another time, because I agree that we do most often find what we’re looking for, but for this year, I’m joining in Emily’s desire for 2015 to be a year of bravery and kindness. I’m comfortable stealing it, because she will be happy I did. Not to mention, Emily wouldn’t have been reading Neil Gaiman’s NYE wishes if I wasn’t yammering on about him all the time. Also, my love of The National lyric predates all of this:

/baby, we’ll be fine/all we gotta do is be brave and be kind/

No coincidence that the two most important creative forces in my life agree.

I want to be brave. I know I won’t stop being afraid, but I want to live anyway. Like NG says, I’ll fake my smile, hopefully just until it becomes real. I’m always stuck because I’m worried about taking the big risks and looking like an asshole when I fail. Ironically, the resulting paralysis and self-sabotage leads to failure anyway. I might as well fail in a blaze of glory, because at least that leaves the possibility of something remarkable happening.

And I want to be kind. Not nice, nice is bullshit. I do nice all the time and it is far too rarely out of kindness. My favorite line from Into the Woods was “You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice.” Being nice is amoral, the falseness we put on to make our social interactions go more smoothly. Kindness is beautiful and true. I want to be kind: doing good, inspiring happiness and pleasure, acting on my sympathy and compassion. Toward others, and with a much higher difficulty setting, toward myself.

So, there you have it, the central hope Emily and I have for 2015.


The end