Hit Me with Your Best Shot – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My (once again late) Hit Me With Your Best Shot post for The Film Experience had me frozen and locked in fear. This week, Nathaniel R. chose the latest entry in the Star Wars franchise, last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I will indeed be hitting up that movie with my favorite shot.

But part of why this is so late is because – as many of my friends resented me for – I found that movie ok and that came from the fact that I just wasn’t impressed by J.J. Abrams as a visual artist. In fact, it’s a movie that I sooner came up with a worst shot for – the final telephoto helicopter ugliness when two characters meet – than a best shot. And half of my problem with that is how all the best shots, as far as I am concerned came from the very trailers of the film. Which is why they were some of the best trailers ever made when they convinced a Debbie Downer like me to finally bother watching the movie.

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I don’t feel like taking some of the shots that obviously stood in the previews because that feels a bit too lazy (plus my undeniable favorite shot from all the trailers didn’t even appear in the film – where we see Kylo Ren from the back practically limping in the frozen landscapes of Starkiller Base), yet little of the actual shots within the movie proper actually hit me as much more than the medium wide television shot version of a Star Wars project and I was having a lot of trouble selecting one that actually caught the space opera grandeur that makes me love the franchise in the first place.

So I look back to the two shots above and think… what do I really like about them? The horizon is nice. The rustic leftover aesthetic from the franchise proper gives it an aged feel that compliments the original 1977 film‘s indie roots quite nicely. But that’s getting too cerebral into it. I just think they look fucking cool. It’s Star Wars! Looking cool is a job requirement… to the point that they could easily resemble…

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… the conceptual art of the legendary Ralph McQuarrie, practically the lifesblood of the look of the franchise.

Both of those trailer shots could easily be mistaken as one of McQuarrie’s works so all I needed to do was pick out a shot from the film that didn’t feature in the trailer (as per my dumb and arbitrary rule for myself) and that looked like it popped right out of the vivid imagination of the man…

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Well, I hope I did well enough. It’s certainly not as bright and hopeful as McQuarrie’s western swashbuckler design and Snoke is one of the worst things about The Force Awakens, but it captures the grandeur of the blockbuster (I mean it’s a giant being speaking in darkness to his servant) and it helps to have the shoddy CGI that makes up Snoke be relegated to the shadows. And it does look cool, like a dark charcoal work of McQuarrie’s. Darkness is cool.

Plus I really wanted to have a shot in regards to Kylo Ren. He’s too good a character.

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Le Temps Detruit Tout

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Confession time: To date I have only seen the 2002 film Irréversible out of Gaspar Noé’s output. I got halfway through Enter the Void when I got distracted by other matters and never returned to it, never tried I Stand Alone, and I simply was too busy to catch Love and wonder if it’s worth the watch without 3D. Still it is very easy to see simply from the limited exposure I have to Noé’s work how eagerly he slips into his role as one of the frontrunners of the New French Extremity movement, movies from young French filmmakers between the late 90s and early 00s that stress an ugly shade over sex and violence.

I never once got the feeling Noé wants me to feel comfortable. Hell, the very NSFW posters for Love are the kind of thing your local theater – arthouse even – wouldn’t want to display. Hell, the very credits of both Irréversible and Enter the Void both invite a precaution before beginning to watch the film proper – the former an ominous almost invisible mess of colors that don’t mix well without giving you a headache, the other a barrage of unstoppable nearly unreadable credit names flashing in and out, both credits to the pounding of Thomas Bangalter’s drone – 1/2 of the famous electronic duo Daft Punk this time around decidedly removing the melody so it just feels mechanical and cold.

Or hey, if it’s not really all that obvious that Noé wants to get under your skin, make it the fact that the movie I am about to review – Irréversible in case it’s not obvious – is notorious for a 10-minute rape (and potential murder) scene that takes place in the middle of it. So yes, now we have gotten to that. And it is the worst fucking thing to sit through and almost singularly the reason I will probably never watch Irréversible again for the rest of my life and there is no way you can make me.

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We don’t exactly start with that as the movie bases itself on two creative decisions between Noé (who quadruple threats as director/”writer” – since the film kind of is semi-improvised in dialogue/editor/”cinematographer” – essentially an Assistant Camera but he gives himself the credit anyway) and cinematographer proper Benoît Debie (who thankfully did not have to relinquish his credit). The first is the one that would obviously require the complete synchronization between Debie and Noé – the movie, much like the Iñárritu/Lubezki production Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) that followed 12 years after this film, would be entirely manipulated to present its sequence of events under the illusion of a single unbroken take. This unfortunately includes the notorious rape scene and, while Debie is eager to allow the camera to swerve all around disorientingly and try to push the viewer into vomiting from the very first temporal transition, it is among several scenes of confrontational elements or mean-spirited brutality where the camera is in total focus. Visual gimmick completely, but the second creative decision only intertwines with the first in a manner that presents the film as a temporal stream.

You see, the sequence of events in Irréversible is presented in reverse chronology. Beginning with a brief sequence of a man (Phillipe Nahon) candidly discussing his incestual relations (I am to understand the character is actually the lead of Noé’s debut, I Stand Alone), we then witness the arrest and hospitalization of Marcus (co-producer Vincent Cassel) and the arrest of his friend Pierre (Albert Dupontel) outside of a gay club Le Rectum. As we go further into the club through a ventilation system and with a sound mix that feels like it’s giving me a headache and threatening to crush my cranium, we discover Marcus and Pierre being involved in a heated vendetta against a man named Le Tenia followed by another grisly and ghastly moment of extremely violent brutality – with the same steady camera movement by Noé’s very hand watching it. I can’t say the CGI holds up as well these days, but Debie has bathed the shot in a single-block of harsh eye-watering red with widescreen grimy 16mm to catch it (shadows only present to shape the objects on screen rather than give any expressionist style to it) that it hides what we could easily catch just as well in the moment..

The rest of the movie is spent contextualizing the cause of Marcus and Pierre’s rampage, which doesn’t take long to identify to be the notorious rape and hospitalization of Marcus’ girlfriend (and Pierre’s ex-girlfriend) Alex (Monica Bellucci, then Cassel’s wife as was probably known all around France. Noé approached the couple to work on Love long ago and that transformed into this project and that must have been an extremely interesting spousal discussion). All done in an angry red frame constructed by the set design of the underground tunnel, washing out the colors of even Alex’s dress to a discomforting fleshy tone under the 16mm. The scene also provides a shocking revelation in regards to the man Marcus and Pierre were hunting and in relation to their opening vengeance. But then that only presents itself about halfway through the film’s generous 97 minute runtime where a friend of mine actually referred to the film as “a banal comedy of manners” and that’s actually pretty apt to refer to the second half of Irréversible in such a manner as it presents (still in reverse chronology) Alex, Marcus, and Pierre attending a party together until Alex is turned off enough by Marcus’ extremely odious and alcohol-attitude attitude towards everything and everyone (as Cassel as an actor has always done so very well to portray characters either odious or full of rage – see La Haine or Black Swan).

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And believe it or not, in a film filled with sour notes fitted into its soundtrack, and an unwatchable rape scene, and a face-caving scene, and some pretty problematic homophobia and transphobia (I know Noé actually feared being labeled a homophobe for this film so he gave himself a cameo early in the film as a man masturbating in le Rectum, a whole shot dedicated to him, to which I say… ok, guy)… this is where the truly sadistic spirit of Irréversible shows itself to me.

When I saw the movie and had to orient myself to its chronology, my thought was that it was done as a way of thinking back after a tragedy to what led to it and how one could have avoided it. At least, that’s where my mind goes when I have to go through something tragic. But it turns out that within Irréversibles second half, it has a whopper of a revelation it tosses off as a simple throwaway bit of information we just now gain about the three characters we’ve witnessed suffering or handing out suffering. Least of all, the final scene, right after we learn what we learn, is meant to be superficially presented as a moment of bliss and peace, maybe earned after everything we witnessed… except we can’t accept it with all of the movie’s content in the back of our mind. Not least of which because Noé is still eager to spin the camera around nauseatingly and blinkingly run up the shutter speed until the movie returns back to its headache-inducing form. It’s a bullshit fake happy ending and it knows it’s tearing us apart with it.

It’s not much of a secret that I don’t think much of controversial material for the sake of controversy. Fuck off with your Harmony Korines, I don’t really think much of them when they’re just jumping at the chance to go “fuck you” over misery business with nothing of true substance beyond it.

Irréversible should not have been my wheelhouse of nihilism, but it got by on several things – its dedication to using its visual and narrative conceits (trying to pick a less-honest but more humble term than “gimmicks”) to actively contribute to the “it’s a ride” atmosphere of the whole picture. Which it is. The actors are mostly just elements we witness rather than actual real people. It got by on its illustration of the backwards momentum of memory, how we look back on better days while we’re stuck bleeding to death on a gurney like two of the characters almost certainly are.

But it’s the final two scenes… that really aid how Irréversible gets by in my eye as a great big “Gotcha!” for once on mean-spirited nihilism pulling the rug the fuck out from under me. This is something I rarely see a picture accomplish to me as a viewer personally. Von Trier couldn’t do it, Korine wishes he could, not even Natural Born Killers could. No, Irréversible is the one that actually got its cake and ate it right in my face as I walked away from the movie knowing I got out of a pretty singular experience (there is NO cinematographer like Benoît Debie today with a chaotic eye for fluorescent color and how it sets the mind’s eye – sorry Larry Smith, still love your Kubrick and Only God Forgives work; and honestly even if one doesn’t necessarily respect Noé’s work, his last three films honestly show an eagerness for experimentation that we need more of in cinema today. Noé has imagination in spades, just 30 minutes of Enter the Void will tell you that), but feeling a hell of a lot more miserable than I had been in a while. Things were floating in my head I didn’t want there, I couldn’t really cheer myself up.

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Irréversible is not the sort of movie I can recommend to just anyone and I don’t think it’s really everyone’s cup of tea. It is a savage, disgusting, painful film to put yourself through… one that you have to prepare yourself for before you allow yourself to deal with what you’ve watched. And that doesn’t mean you will have a good time.

But, yep, never fucking watching this movie in my life. Nope. Nope Nope Nope.

Nope Nope.

Nope Nope Nope Nope Nope Nope.

Nope.

Here’s some kittens to lighten the mood.

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Nazi Punks Fuck Off

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Overhype is the worst damn thing, especially when you do it to yourself for frankly no reason. And I think the worst thing I could have done for Jeremy Saulnier’s third feature Green Room is have seen his sophomore piece Blue Ruin and love it. And to have been attracted by the punk rock vibe of this movie. Because I ended up extremely underwhelmed by the movie in the end and a good portion of it comes from the fact that the aesthetical choices of both movies are almost completely indistinct from each other, save for color palette. Maybe later on in Saulnier’s career this could have been read as the establishing of a personal style, but when a director is this green – pun intended – and chooses to make no big shifts… it comes off as a refusal to grow as a filmmaker. In any case, I also think the storytelling and visual decisions both movies make suit Blue Ruin much much better.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have a still pretty entertaining thriller on our hands, but we don’t get much more meaty beyond it – unless you are a punk rock fan yourself, in which case there’s an underlying commentary about the “true believers” and skinhead movement that I enjoyed catching. But the average viewer probably can’t tell Bad Brains from Minor Threat and so I don’t think this is the place to divide that.

Instead, let us take Green Room‘s plot for what it is: The Ain’t Rights, a way-too-off-the-grid punk rock band from D.C.made up of bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat), drummer Reece (Joe Cole), and vocalist Tiger (Callum Turner) that is finding their tour into the Pacific Northwest turning into quite a bust. When they get a tip on a spot in a club just outside of Portland, they make it out and find themselves given a cold welcome in a Nazi skinhead bar (they don’t exactly help things by opening with a certain Dead Kennedys number). After their show, Pat quickly goes to the green room to pick up Sam’s phone and happens upon the aftermath of a murder, with one other terrified witness Amber (Imogen Poots) asking Pat to call the police.

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Pat’s attempt to escape and get help fails and, in short order, the band and Amber become trapped with the people behind the murder of Amber’s friend ready to do whatever it takes to get them outside and within range of their machete blades or pitbull jaws. The group has to figure out a way to escape alive and hope they make it out at the end of the night.

Relatively simple premise and structure, we’re looking at a sort of Assault on Precinct 13 type of scenario. The story is centered on two gambits that are admirable in their own way separately. But together is another thing unfortunately. What those two gambits essentially are is that the movie is not to waste any time attempting to shape the characters more than the body count they potentially are. We get maybe hints of inner life – some a bit clumsier than others, like us being told Callum knows jujitsu – but the majority of the 95 minutes are dedicated to the situation they are in. The only character function we get is quickly recognizing Pat as our de facto protagonist, not only because Yelchin is the most recognizable star of the film other than Patrick Stewart, but because the brunt of the shit that happens happens strictly to him.

So there’s that, which lends the horror film atmosphere that the film has been constantly praised for. In a slasher, we don’t know the meat very well, we just know they’re gonna die soon. And this movie is eager to shoot for just a touch of that dire certainty of death from the very moment we get the first (non-fatal) incident to one of the band members, a moment of shocking use of off-screen space to invite the audience to wince at what they’re expecting on the other side of the door before introducing a very grisly piece of sloppy makeup work that will linger in a viewer’s mind for a long while, aided by the performance of the actor suffering. It is an unfortunate shame that almost immediately after this scene, the severity of the injury never once affects the capability of the character to perform certain acts (especially when he is later on struggling to overpower a man with a gun and should not be able to put up as well a fight as he is).

Anyway, the secondary gambit that doesn’t mix well with the first is something by no means new to Saulnier as a storyteller, nor is he at all ill-equipped to use.

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Nobody in this film knows what they’re doing. It’s a very fundamental part of this movie – not only is the band clueless on how to handle the situation, the skinheads and their own authoritative owner of the club Darcy (Stewart) are merely trying to organize themselves in the wake of this mess only to find it hard to keep a hold on a group of scared kids. The idea that people are seeing red but don’t know how to control is once again something Saulnier went through with Blue Ruin and used to much much better effect, especially when you have a dopey looking actor like Macon Blair who is so great at looking down on his luck and kicked around as the lead like in the former film. Here, he’s still that dopey leftover, but he’s just an afterthought.

Anyway, having a cast of characters being absolute screw-ups in every sense (and finding themselves mutilated and killed horrifically for it) is easily writable as human flaws, but not when the movie spends little time allowing us to see how human these characters are, and therein lies Green Room‘s inability to be anything more than a watchable thriller (a very breezy one, though, the movie really rides through the escalation without losing the fatigue of these people being stuck in the club for at least 12 hours). The actors try their best, of course, to give the illusion of depth, but the Nazis themselves are indistinguishable from one another except that one is Patrick Stewart (probably the most overhyped element of the movie – Stewart’s performance is inconsequential whatsoever to the film and while he does paternal illusion and quiet calculation well, it is by no means a performance anybody else would not have been able to deliver), one is Macon Blair, we find out the true affiliation behind one quickly, and Werm (Brent Werzner) – the man who commit the very deed that set this whole thing in motion, killing his girlfriend – is easily my favorite performance in the whole movie despite being one-note. He spends his entire short appearance embodying unrestrained hate to everything he sees and only exits the film after practically eye-fucking Yelchin relentlessly while he describes how he killed his girlfriend. It’s intense in all the right ways without anything happening to the leads and probably the closest the movie gets to horror territory without the pitbulls being involved (another juicy bit of frighteningly blue-lit makeup work comes with the first pitbull appearance).

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The trapped themselves, I’ll never call any of their performances bad, but Poots’ Amber is the only character with some real life behind her by becoming a resigned center of cynicism, certain that every single one of them will die. Yelchin gets the whole movie to himself and carries it well, but… well, like I said, they’re all meat for the slaughter. They don’t phone it in, but they’re nothing to write home about.

I know I already mentioned how I feel the aesthetic is virtually similar to Blue Ruin in every way, but I should at least elaborate before I call this review done. Brothers Will and Brooke Blair (also related to Macon) return as composers to provide a blanket of ambient tones that give the early tour scenes a dreamlike quality and get lower to turn things into a nightmare, much like they did in the previous film. Saulnier stepped away from the cinematography role he took on with the former film, but clearly held onto making sure Sean Porter did everything just as lo-fi indie as he did and lit even indoor scenes to feel asphyxiatingly foggy at times. And none of this is necessarily bad, since we still have a sense of location grounding about (I feel I could map out the club by memory now), but if Saulnier’s next film certainly doesn’t show him moving higher on the learning curve, I’m gonna start thinking he’s a one trick pony.

It’s certainly an enjoyable trick, an amusing one, but not anywhere near well-tuned (one more gripe: the movie mishandles itself by having one of its ending notes humanize one of the Nazis… even the dog lover in me was kind of like “this is tasteless as fuck, they just finished a massacre”) or perfect. And one note is still one note.

You can’t play a punk rock show with just one note.

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Captain v. Iron Man: Dawn of Spidey

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I always approach my personal opinion towards every movie from the most possible objectivity I can, but before I go deep into Captain America: Civil War, the latest in the now-thirteen movie Marvel Cinematic Universe and third entry in the Captain America sub-franchise, I need to acknowledge a few potential disclosures and biases. I’ll start with the one least likely to affect my opinion.

I have a friend – maybe at this point reverted to acquaintances now, given we are not still in contact; hence I don’t think it’s gonna matter – who has worked on Civil War. I worked as a 1st AD on two of her productions in film school and she wrote a couple of letters of recommendation for me as the President of our alma mater’s Film Association before I chickened out of attending grad school for… I think the second time. So, there’s that. Pretty small and ineffectual (needless to say, I am extremely proud to have known her), but no stone unturned when it comes to disclosure.

The second one that threatened to matter but I actually don’t think occurred in the back of my mind is… I hate Mark Millar. The comic writer who is the head – I don’t wanna say brain – behind the Civil War comic book event where the superheroes get to arguing about being registered and regulated by the government made that story into an overflowed, inconsistent mess in every front and one that was ignorant of motivations and characterizations. As a comic book reader, I find it one of the great farces of the medium. And as a hater of Mark Millar, I think it’s a miracle he didn’t shoehorn sexual assault into it like he does literally everywhere else.

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That doesn’t seem to be a problem with the film itself. Sure, it’s not a perfect script but Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely do an admirable job of condensing the storyline without losing its ambitious international scope, of fleshing out character psychologies by having them be anchored by the events we’ve already seen them go through, and by having an ear for the language and cadence of certain interactions. The script is not perfect – certain characters are completely disposable by all means and nearly all of them have no real change between their characterization in the beginning of the movie and the end – but it works and satisfies me.

The third and final bias, one that actually sort of affects my attitude towards the movie, is how I was on the edge of my seat until I finally saw the movie a few hours ago flipping over whether or not we’re getting a new Captain America movie or an Avengers installment. The former has consistently been the most enjoyable rung on the MCU branch that isn’t Jessica Jones or Guardians of the Galaxy for me, while the latter felt like a constant obligation and remarkably divided from the development of any character.

I half-regret to inform you all that it is leaning more to Avengers story than Captain America entry. Only half because regardless, it is maybe the most consequential of the MCU works yet. Everything has a weight, everything feels like it matters.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always had some amount of self-awareness towards collateral damage and casualties, so it is no surprise when after such a disastrous mission occurs in Nigeria at the opening of the film, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and the rest of his 2.0 Avengers are met by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and General Ross (William Hurt) with the Sokovia Accords. After all the damage done, the UN demands to have oversight over the Avengers. Stark jumps at the opportunity to sign it and try to convince his supermates to do so as well, given his hand in Ultron’s wrath during the previous Avengers film as well as other factors I’ll get into. Rogers is not so convinced, particularly on the aftermath of the revelation of liars and villains living inside their very own government in the previous Captain America film. Thus he and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are met with certain retirement.

That is until a terrorist bombing occurs at the sight of the Accords’ ratification in Vienna and it appears that Bucky Buchanan/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) whom Rogers was once allied with in WWII is behind it. Knowing that Stark, Ross, and the rest of the authorities will undoubtedly take Buchanan dead without intervention, Rogers jumps into racing to find him first and causing a massive rift between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

In a movie like this, there is easy ability to bog one self down in fan service and, to be fair, Civil War does take advantage of that for part of a time – that’s kind of the reason Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and especially the newly procured MCU version of Spider-Man portrayed by Tom Holland are in the movie – but… Civil War gets well enough away with this apparent overindulgence by having the best ensemble of the entire MCU. And I’m not just talking about the front-and-center superheroes themselves, though we can clearly see where Evans, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, and all the others grew more and more into their characters. Chadwick Boseman as Prince T’Challa/Black Panther gets the most to do with his vengeance arc after his father is among those killed in Vienna and nails it, Daniel Bruhl breaks Marvel’s curse of having uninteresting villains with a broken humanity unexpected, and Downey Jr… after a series of films that implied he was fucking done with the character and giving little effort behind his choices, Downey Jr. did the unexpected and raked in all the psychological aspects of Stark’s breakdown as a character – especially the PTSD and uncertainty of his actions and the exhaustion behind all the decisions he made in the franchise – to give his best performance as Iron Man yet, above and beyond even the first film. His line readings show him clenching muscles playboy Tony Stark wanted to pretend he didn’t have and the trailers don’t show half the internal commentary behind his response to Rogers’ “He’s my friend”: “… so was I.” It is the “I wish I knew how to quit you” of this movie.

Hell, even if I’m not as impressed with Holland, he’s a damn sight better than Andrew Garfield. Stan is the only weak link, but that’s ok, we were stuck with him from the beginning.

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The result of these performances being as well-tuned as they could possibly be is that we get a movie that can move by swiftly on its dialogue and clashes, even if it doesn’t really give its arguments depth, which is fine. I don’t really think a politically charged MCU film is ideal if the third act of The Winter Soldier nearly ruining it is any indication. But even moreso, we have an entirely familiar gallery of characters so that the latter half of Civil War, where conflicts truly come to a blow, can actually experiment with how the characters fight and work together and as a result, the battle in the Berlin airport becomes just a fun bombastic piece of action cinema, never running out of things to do with anybody.

And the true miracle of Civil War is having a fully impactful third act, with a central fight scene between Captain and Iron Man that turns fucking vicious early on and feels every bit exhausting and relentless. Being a fan of Community and thus the Paintball episodes that got directors Anthony and Joe Russo their job here, I couldn’t help thinking of the tension in the end of “A Fistful of Paintballs” with the four-way standoff and realizing that the final fight in Civil War is essentially all of that tension completely let loose.

In the end, Civil War still little more than a product by Kevin Feige to keep the MCU rolling, but it’s a product that did its job while entertaining me and leaving me more satisfied than I truly expected all things considered. The Captain America films continue to be the shining elements of the MCU and I’m only all the more excited to see how Ryan Coogler will treating Black Panther in his own upcoming movie. It’s refreshing after 2015 gave us the two of the most typical and uninspired comic book movies from the MCU.

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot – You’ll Remember Tomorrow Shortly

The amount of lateness on this is too damn high. I’ll be lucky if Nathaniel R. posts this on his Hit Me with Your Best Shot page, but it’d serve me right for not participating in forever. I still have too much stuff to do here in New York and I’ll keep trying my hardest to be a regular poster.

Still missing this – even if I’m late to the party – was not a goddamn option. I found out one of the two short films assigned was the dazzling and depressing Don Hertzfeldt miracle that is World of Tomorrow, one of my favorite movies from last year and a perfet piece of animation and short visual storytelling from top to bottom. And while we’re at it, voice acting – both Julia Pott as Emily from the Future AND Winona Mae as Emily Prime are able foils for each other and imbue different personalities into the cold and disarming revelations World of Tomorrow makes about society and technology and humanity. I mean, really, I reviewed the damn thing so you ought to know how much I love it. If you are into animation, you better be into Hertzfeldt and if you are into Hertzfeldt, you better watch it on Netflix or Vimeo.

Anyway, I’m gonna do something crazy and go ahead and use this an excuse to show a number of shots I love from it. Why? Because my first choice was from the very end of the the 16 minute short.

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But I’ve noticed I have a habit of picking shots from either end in this series and I kind of want to grow out of it. Still it is at once a funny moment to me – calling back on the inconsistencies and risks of time travel that future Emily pointed out – and a pretty horrifying one… this little girl is going to be accidentally left to fucking die after all of that.

Most of all… she’s not afraid. She has that stupid simple smile to add to the simplicity of the character that Mae and Hertzfeldt’s animation style add. It’s an image and possibility that lingered well after I saw this. By the way to note, I’ve seen this short enough times to memorize it, so all these shots are coming from memory.

Anyway, I considered this next bit that actually feels remarkably Spielbergian in its ethereal center, not least due to its context of a memory being unwittingly granted to someone for their final comfort.

It also features all the visual elements that make this standout from other Hertzfeldt works. The bright and bold colors, the sleekness of the design with just enough imperfect angles or shapes to show that all is not well.

But alas even that was not my pick for best shot.

I cheated instead and picked two that happen immediately after one another that help add to the existential dread of Hertzfeldt’s whole opus. They are not the shots that make the biggest impression of this (frankly I think Tim Brayton at Antagony and Ecstasy picked the best damn shot) but…

They do promise the viewer that even when humanity has “advanced” and made achievements that were once dreams, you’re not much to the stars:

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And you’re still going to end up underground in the end:

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Man, ain’t that movie a joy?!

Anyway, we’ll be moving on from all that to Stephen Zlotescu short True Skin, which is a first-time watch for me.

And maybe I’ve just seen enough future noir type of stuff but I wasn’t too impressed – it was obviously made to show off the visual effects but the effects aren’t exactly anywhere to write home about where there’s such an obvious separation between the frame and the neon robotic elements keyed into one’s face – and I don’t see myself revisiting it any time soon. At least it’s garish color and worth a look at on Vimeo. It’s literally five minutes, so yeah. Go ahead. It’s pretty enough maybe I just finally went through sci-fi fatigue.

It would at least explain the attitude behind my pick, which comes from the very end because I will be lazy for this even if I’m not lazy for WOT.

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Of course our future head computers will have advertisements bombarding us because fuck us, right?!