Our Greatest Living Film Critic, XVII

May, 2020

Watched Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), a very shaggy road movie slash heist movie starring Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. It begins as a movie about two actors with no chemistry stealing a series of 1970s cars while escaping a killer. At around minute 45, it becomes about robbing the Montana federal reserve. George Kennedy sports a pencil mustache and is a Nixonian Anton Chigurh. Beautiful scenery of Idaho and Western Montana, and the Snake river. The directing debut of Michael Cimino. If there are any themes to this movie, I guess one is that you should try to return to your past rather than becoming something new, and the other is that Clint Eastwood is a tough guy. Possibly the earliest filmed usage of the phrase “fuck a duck”? I give it 3 pistachio ice cream cones out of a possible 5 pistachio ice cream cones.

Extraction (2020)

Watched Extraction (2020), a tactical movement thriller. Chris Hemsworth is your basic tough mercenary guy, and he has to rescue a kidnapped kid in the middle of a city where literally everyone is a baddie. The centerpiece fight scene is cool, there was no need to make it a “one-take” sequence with obvious cuts. Bushy beards just signify special forces now, even when they’re retired and in India. I guess it’s okay for the good guy to kill all those cops? I would have liked a sequel starring Saju and Ovi on the run. Sam Hargrave, who like Chad Stahelski of John Wick (2014), is a stunt man turned director, was careful to stage fight sequences so as to avoid random goons in the background doing idle animations. give it 3.5 survival modes out of a possible 5 survival modes.

Crimson Tide (1995)

Watched Crimson Tide (1995), a cold war submarine movie about Denzel Washington challenging Gene Hackman to a mutiny-off in order to prevent or cause a nuclear holo-caust with Russia. First of all, there’s no way Viggo Mortensen should end that movie with a smile on his face, he’s a goddamned double coward. I like that the lesson of the movie was that the president should have sole authority to launch nuclear missiles, because that could never backfire. All submarine movies are essentially the same, but this one had the best score. I would have hidden the launch key inside the dog, but maybe that’s why I’m not a nuclear submarine captain yet. The comic book stuff was weird: turns out Quentin Tarantino punched up the script. I give it 4 conning towers out of a possible 5 conning towers.

Terminological disputes

Architects often get mad when non-architects conflate the terms “modernism,” “postmodernism,” “Brutalism,” etc. They love telling people that, say, “Frank Gehry is actually REACTING to postmodernism.” These terminological disputes can obscure the fact that everything under discussion is actually just a minor variation on the same garbage.

Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture

The psychic toll of placenames

This Celtic Christian culture of retreat originated in the Ireland of the fifth and sixth centuries. Begun by St Patrick in the 430s, and inspired by the desert saints of the preceding centuries, the practice of retreat spread to what are now western Scotland and coastal Wales: a centrifugal motion, carrying men to the brinks of Europe and beyond… We can surmise that the monks moved outwards because they wished to leave behind inhabited land: land in which every feature was named. Almost all Celtic placenames are commemorative: the bardic schools, as late as the seventeenth century, taught the history of places through their names, so that the landscape became a theatre of memory, continually reminding its inhabitants of attachment and belonging.

— Robert MacFarlane

Postdiluvian paralysis

It did very well before the Flood, when a man would consult his friends upon an intended publication for a hundred and fifty years, and live to see his success afterwards; but at present, a man waits, and doubts, and consults his brother, and his particular friends, till one day he finds he is sixty years old and that he has lost so much time in consulting cousins and friends that he has no more time to follow their advice.

— Sydney Smith

Purges

The Communist movement in Western Europe began, as a movement for the violent overthrow of capitalism, and degenerated within a few years into an instrument of Russian foreign policy… Every time Stalin swaps partners, ‘Marxism’ has to be hammered into a new shape. This entails sudden and violent changes of ‘line’, purges, denunciations, systematic destruction of party literature, etc., etc. Every Communist is in fact liable at any moment to have to alter his most fundamental convictions, or leave the party.

— George Orwell