When your only tool is a hammer

I’m still not exactly sure what I want to say about Oldboy.

Let’s start at the beginning, I suppose. Some good long time ago, I hung up the 100 Movies Bucket List in my office and began very slowly working my way through the titles that I hadn’t yet seen.

And I mean VERY slowly. ‘Cos after watching and posting about Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, that was it.

And that was it because I kept looking at the next little square on my poster.

6 squares on the 100 Movies Busket List poster. 3 are all the way scratched off: Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, The Deer Hunter. 1 is halfway scratched off: Snatch. 2 are untouched: Old Boy and Leon: The Professional. The square for Old Boy is marked with a post-it flag.

It’s no great mystery why I was dragging my feet here. I’d heard the film was ultraviolent—which it is—and I’d heard it was disturbing—which it also is, though not in the way I was expecting.

It’s just the kind of film that is very much not my bag, and I couldn’t summon the gumption to watch it. Especially once 2020 became…. well, 2020.

And I know I could have skipped over this box and gone onto to something I was more in the mood for. Except I didn’t. Not 100% sure why. I think in part I was imagining that I’d keep skipping this one, again and again, until it was the absolute last film to scratch off my poster, and I didn’t want that.

So, once our library system opened up enough that we can get interlibrary loans again (woot!), I asked for the DVD to be shipped to me from Groton. And now I can say I’ve checked off this box on my poster.

Spoilers right below the jump!

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Black girl magic, holiday style

It’s the start of the weekend chez Mezzo. Not only do I have another 3-day weekend ahead, but I’m taking most of Thanksgiving week off, too.* AND Mr. Mezzo has tomorrow off so he can power through some more of his NaNoWriMo project.

So, even though we’ve been keeping a good habit of getting the TV off between 7:30 and 8 PM most nights, to support our separate writing habits—me here on JALC and him on his NaNo book—tonight we made an exception and kept watching later into the night so we could enjoy a movie on our “Friday night.”

A picture of 5 main characters from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story: Jeronicus, Journey, Buddy, Gustafson, and Grandma. The words "Netflix Official Trailer" are superimposed over the image.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Four thumbs up: would recommend.

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First Amendment Protection

Since our extra-successful weekend errand running finished up so quickly, I decided to use some of that time watching movies, as well as the reading I’ve already mentioned enjoying. And, with last holiday weekend signaling the end of May, I decided to start my film selections by taking a quick look at the HBO list to see what movies are about to drop off of rotation, in case I wanted to see any of them before I lose my chance. (You may recall that’s how I started doing film reviews on here in the first place.)

There was only one movie that jumped out at me form the “departing May 31st” list, but it was a film well worth seeing: Steven Spielberg’s The Post.

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Cool Rider

It all started innocently enough. They’ve been doing work on the floor above us in our office building, and yesterday’s noise involved stuff bouncing on the floor(1), and bouncing at regular enough intervals, that one of my co-workers posted on our Slack channel:

You’d think our upstairs neighbors would have invited us to the opening of their new bowling alley.

Which then prompted me—as a child of my generation—to ask:

Does anyone here remember Grease 2? “We’re gonna sco-o-ore tonight!”

And just like that, I’d ear-wormed myself.

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Nothing to Prove

Why yes, Virginia, I did enjoy Captain Marvel yesterday.

Now, there’s no need for me to do a full-on review: there’s enough examples of that out in the wilds of the Internet. In case you need them, here’s some recommended links:

  • Peter Travers’s review in Rolling Stone
  • Owen Gleiberman’s review for Variety
  • Alex Abad-Santos’s coverage in Vox about sexist responses to the film, in the larger context of similar buffoonery around Star Wars: The Last Jedi and other genre flicks

Instead, I’m going to focus on one small moment, recounted in as spoiler-free a fashion as I can manage.

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To Infinity and Beyond

The hubs and I bought our tickets today to go see Captain Marvel this coming weekend. That got me thinking: I never got around to posting my thoughts and responses to my (incredibly belated) viewing of Avengers: Infinity War.

Certainly, there’s no objective need for me to add to the discourse here. The money has been made, the ink has been spilled, the spoilers have been spoiled. Let’s face it: once you see Thanos and his gauntlet as an Ash Wednesday meme on Facebook, you get the sense that there really isn’t anything new that can be said about this particular piece of cultural juggernaut.

Said by you, though, George. (10 years later and I still wrestle with this crap. Sigh.)

So this won’t be any attempt at a comprehensive “film review.” Instead there’s just one thematic thread that I want to riff on.

(Obviously, if you are one of the maybe two people left on the internet who haven’t seen or read about the film and its shock ending, know that there be spoilers below the jump.)

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February Recap and Looking Ahead

So, with the end of another month, time to milk another post out of the ongoing process of monitoring my progress on all these reading challenges. (One, two, three.) As with January, I’m going to do a small snapshot report on where I stand in regards to my initial reading plan, and where there’s been changes.

And, in light of the new diagnosis and research project I have going on, I’m also going to be putting some thought into a change of direction for the rest of 2019.

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Achieving the Impossible

I took a wee break from writing over the weekend. I got some upsetting personal news Friday afternoon and spent that evening in bed reading and playing Make the World Go Away in an endless mental loop.*

Then, Saturday I caught up on not one but two big film releases from 2018 I missed along the way: Mary Poppins Returns and Avengers: Infinity War. Since I saw Mary Poppins Returns early in the day, I’ll write about that one first. I’m assuming I’ll circle back to Infinity War at some point, though there is a certain ludicrosity to me taking on either of these blockbusters so far after the curve.

But that’s where we are. And I have enough thoughts popcorning in my brain about Mary Poppins Returns that I absolutely want to mull over that for a bit.

(Since this is going to more of a critical meditation than a straight-up review, there may be plot details/spoilers that get spilled below the jump. Be warned.)

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Dog, Boxing Glove, Diamond, Pistol

I’ll admit, after coming up with such a fun string of emojis for my last movie review, I played around with the notion of continuing to create emoji strings for this and subsequent ones. Ultimately, though, I’m just not quite that creative, and there’s no way I could sustain that over the long haul.

Having said that, the emoji string for the next film on the reviewing roster—Guy Ritchie’s Snatch—came pretty easily, so at least I was able to make this a running gag of sorts. (Perhaps a jogging one?)

Anyhow: Snatch. Guy Ritchie. I remember when Ritchie hit it big with this film and its predecessor, but these sort of British gangster flicks aren’t my bag, so I kept Ritchie in my roster of “filmmakers I’ve heard of but not seen” until the Robert Downey Jr.-led Sherlock Holmes. I will also admit to having a guilty-pleasure sort of fondness for 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

But honestly, I probably never would have gotten around to seeing either of Ritchie’s early hits had Snatch not come up on that 100 Movies Bucket List.

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