Miksimum

is the index page for Jesse Miksic,
a digital dilettante dayjobbing as a UX designer

Loyally feeding the following beasts:

(follow and/or friend me -- if you appear to be a real person capable of passing the human tests, I will probably reciprocate)

General

  • @miksimum on Twitter A random sampling of thoughts and anxieties and signal-boosts and self-promotion.
  • Verbal

  • Benefit of the Doubt My outlet for Media Theory, also used to track other sources
  • @Miksimum on Medium Home to more politics and theory writing, plus reposts from Benefit of the Doubt
  • Berfrois.com A great site that kindly publishes my more polished critical writings
  • 366 Weird Movies An awesome site where I'm an on-and-off contributor
  • Goodreads My book reviews are long enough that I consider this an official creative outlet
  • Visual

  • @miksimum Tumblr Reposting all my visual art from Tumblr
  • @miksimum Instagram Visual art, plus occasional snapshots
  • Symbot on Flickr Digital photography, a hobby on temporary haitus
  • Overheated Media My short video work, on extended haitus since 2012
  • Recent Output

    Aggregated from Benefit of the Doubt and Tumblr, which gives the best representative sample of work in multiple media, I think

    Twin Peaks: The Return / A Cataclysm of Enlightenment

    "Explanations place all apparent possibilities into the context of the necessary; stories set all necessities into the context of the possible." -James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games[1]

    ...

    Today's date is September 11, 2017. Thursday. Twin Peaks: The Return ended exactly one week ago, on Sunday the 5th.

    ...

    With luck, the end of Twin Peaks: The Return will also be the end of Twin Peaks as a whole phenomenon. It's been pushed to its reasonable limit, and at that limit, it's found a kind of wholeness.

    ...

    Another reason the series should reach its end: the whole world of Twin Peaks was annihilated in the closing moments of episode 18. That final scene showed the collapse of that universe.

    ...

    Not everybody who watched the finale saw this. Indeed, the general drift of public opinion seemed to be frustrated confusion (as though nobody had noticed Lynch's whole, relentlessly consistent directing career telegraphing this kind of ending). Most people didn't know what they saw in those final moments... it registered as an unsettling non-sequiter, a rebuff to the closure that Lynch teased them with in episode 17.

    ...

    The end of the episode is about those fans, hoping for some kind of closure. It's also about the FBI (at least, the fantasy FBI that Lynch has constructed for the world of Twin Peaks). It's also about characters, and audiences, and creators, and all their relationships to the art that defines them.

    ...

    And of course, like everything Lynch has created, it's about the strangeness and singularity of the art.

    ...

    This is not a particularly profound conclusion, despite this broken, aphoristic formatting, which is saturated with pretense and self-consciousness. (I'm only using it because these thoughts needed to be broken up, or they would have come rushing out as an exhausting torrent of interpretation and explanation [2]).

    ...

    If you want to "understand" Twin Peaks... if you were frustrated by the lack of closure, by the fact that the ending didn't add up to anything meaningful or resolute... I have a solution. It may work for you... it may not... but at least I can offer it. It's an interpretation that convinced me, even in my resistance to it. It's the one that risen above all the other speculation.

    ...

    I kind of hate that I've discovered a privileged reading. I kind of liked it better when I was wandering between interpretations. But it's only natural that, as a Fan, I find a form of closure here, because that allows me to be more at home with the series.

    ...

    Judy has been translated by some fans as "explanation." This has been hotly disputed, and I'm almost ashamed to be referencing it, but it leads smoothly into this reading of the series' conclusion: that Judy is an embodiment of transcendence, or gnosis, in a terrible, destructive form.

    ...

    By "transcendence," I mean the understanding of Twin Peaks from outside the fictional world of the show. This is what Judy represents. This is the "extreme negative force" that these characters are all chasing, even as they should be running away from it.

    ...

    A lot of these ideas are assembled from comments in this Reddit thread, by the way. Despite my desperate desire to explain every detail of this interpretation, I am going to restrain myself. To read more of the textual connections, glance through that thread a bit. Also, I think this blogger got about halfway to where I ended up, so read that post for some more connections within the text.

    Also, this post on syncing up episodes 17 and 18: this theory is brilliant, and may ultimately overrule any alternative, but it also dovetails with my own interpretation: the connection between Judy and the Demiurge, and the pathway into the real world, are particularly relevant.

    ...

    If this is what Judy is, and they finally find Judy in the semi-fictional Limbo ("pocket universe") of Richard and Linda and Carrie Page, then the final scene is the discovery of Judy herself, and Cooper and Laura/Carrie's realization that they are fictional characters.

    In fact, the sound of Sarah Palmer's voice calling Laura's name... to me, it looked like that was coming from a room in the house. It looked like someone in that room was watching a TV, and maybe that was the dialog they were hearing.

    ...

    When this happens, Sarah screams, Cooper loses his orientation in time, and the power goes out.

    ...

    The fire of narrative, fed by credulity and poetic faith [3], is embodied as electricity. In those final moments, the electricity flows out of this universe forever. This is the destruction of the show's secondary reality, the collapse that closes out the whole series. When the characters realize they are parts of a fiction, that fiction can no longer be maintained.

    ...

    So many of us amateur critics are willing to hand-wave Cooper's disorienting final question: "What year is this?" That line actually has great significance for this finale. To Cooper, it's a confrontation with a reality outside his own timeline, which is running discontinuously through it, on a million televisions.

    Suddenly Cooper, the character, understands that he simply vanished for 25 years, and now he exists again, with a different name. He is the accursed fancy of a higher consciousness: a Creator with the power to construct a universe out of nothing.

    For the audience, this is connected to the question of why: why should this creation, left fallow for 25 years, suddenly be resurrected in our age of cell phones and Skype? And why, 25 years after the story closed itself off to us, are we still so desperate for closure and "explanation"?

    ...

    David Lynch has been hounded by demands for explanation his entire life. He knows that everybody wants it. He also knows that in the end, we don't want it... it dispels the glamour of narrative, chops down that fertile tree that grows from our subconscious.

    ...

    And the reason Twin Peaks: The Return spoke to me was that Lynch had something to tell me... a warning, a threat, and a little koan. Because I didn't want explanation, I thought. I've always reveled in the open signifiers of Weird Cinema, and I've always appreciated the fluid meanings of poetry and surrealism.

    Right?

    ...

    But I also search for meanings. I search desperately for them. Where I see order, I can't help but divine for purpose. Twin Peaks was no special case in that regard... I digested for a day, and then I fell into the major outlet thinkpieces (numbingly repetitive, frankly) and then I dove deeper, surfing Tweets and comment boards and the subreddit.

    I was hunting for something I didn't want to find.

    ...

    And now that I've found it, I'm lost outside the work. I'm the consummate chin-stroker, hovering above the abyss, who's lost the grand mystique of unspeakable ideas. I've stumbled from Fandom into Criticism.

    ...

    This was the trap Judy laid for me, and I fell into it.

    ...

    And perhaps, when I hit Publish, I'll lure a few more hapless souls into this explanatory abyss.

    ...

    But even from here, I can still see the whole series, laid out before me, and part of me knows I don't really understand it. Though my sight is dimmer, I can still see sparkles: unresolved events, unanswered questions, and broad themes that I've only glimpsed.

    And that part of me will always find a home in Twin Peaks, beyond the shadow of Judy.

    ...

    [1] Carse has some fascinating ideas about Explanation, Narrative, and the Unspeakable. His theory is beyond the reach of simple paraphrase, but I should note: he associates explanation with what he calls "finite games," which are time-bound, goal-oriented, and seek as few players as possible (ultimately leading to a single "winner"). Explanation closes off possibility, and it's relentlessly rearward-facing, always hung up on the past. To Carse, explanation is self-limitation, and as a world is explained, it is also restricted.

    Judy is the Finite Game descending upon the open signification of Twin Peaks. She is the knowledge that undermines wonder, and the darkness of pure transparency. To Lynch, she is terrifying.

    [2] Okay, here's a quick tour of some other evidence:

    • The question "What just happened?" was asked repeatedly in the last couple episodes, and the repetition was pretty conspicuous. These characters are itching for an explanation.
    • The refusal to speak, the allusion to Judy as the unspeakable: "We don't talk about that" is echoed by Agent Jeffries, and also in Hawk's explanation of the spiritual map.
    • There are several pretty strong implications that the final scenes of The Return, after Coop and Diane's night in the hotel, take place in the "real" world (or something close to it, at least)
    • Electricity is a crucial image through the whole season, the 2017 "mutation" of Fire from the original series. There are lots of metaphorical possibilities here (the Lynchian Open Signifier), but there's no denying that electricity is necessary for running a television -- the lifeblood of the fictional artifact, and the lubricant that allows it to escape its container and get released into the world.
    • By this reading, the end of Season 3 echoes the discovery of Laura's killer in Season 2. By some accounts, this is what killed the show's momentum and mystery. Another explanation, another death of the show... then forced, now intentional.

    [3] A concept related to "suspension of disbelief", associated with Norman Holland.



    Posted on 11 September 2017 | 2:48 am

    Dynamics 3/3 . . . #art🎨 #artistsofinstagram #amdrawing #drawing...



    Dynamics 3/3
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    #art🎨 #artistsofinstagram #amdrawing #drawing #penandink #illustration #fantasyart

    Posted on 6 September 2017 | 11:45 pm

    Dynamics 2/3 … #drawing #illustration #art🎨...



    Dynamics 2/3

    #drawing #illustration #art🎨 #artistsofinstagram #penandink #amdrawing #fantasyart

    Posted on 4 September 2017 | 12:43 am

    Dynamics 1/3 . . #drawing #fantasyart #artistsofinstagram...



    Dynamics 1/3
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    .
    #drawing #fantasyart #artistsofinstagram #illustration #penandink #amdrawing #art🎨

    Posted on 1 September 2017 | 11:23 pm

    The Scholar . . #drawing #sketchbook #characterdesign...



    The Scholar
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    #drawing #sketchbook #characterdesign #fantasyart #artistsofinstagram #art🎨 #sketch #amdrawing #illustration #pencildrawing

    Posted on 1 August 2017 | 11:57 pm

    I thought there would be a statue here. I wouldn’t say my...



    I thought there would be a statue here.

    I wouldn’t say my sources were reliable, per se… mostly an old bookmark I found in my copy of The Velvet Promise, which turned out to be a page torn out of a 1970’s tour guide to the Matawan Bluffs… but you could see the name of a town, and a photo: the stone silhouette of a man with a musket, perched on a pedestal, set up as high in the ridges as they could reasonably get him.

    I don’t know why that photo always stuck in my head.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the last of my vacation days to come out here and look for it. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought that new camera, or started that YouTube series about this road trip. Now I’m going to have to end it ironically, and I don’t think my thirty-seven followers are going to appreciate that direction.

    You’d think it would be here, even if it had fallen over. Maybe lying down across the path, or shattered, with its head miraculously whole, spread out over the dry creekbed. But the empty pedestal, and no shapely stone fragments to be seen… I don’t suppose somebody made off with it?

    That must be it. Maybe it’s still intact, mouldering in the basement of some frat house in Beanerton.

    Maybe I can still find it.

    I guess it’s on to Season Two.

    Posted on 31 July 2017 | 11:04 pm

    On Twin Peaks: The Return, and the Present Delerium

    Note: Spoilers below for Twin Peaks: The Return, Parts 1-11.


    1989 comes to a small northwestern town, just as it comes to every other place. This town, sheltered by the rains and forests of Washington State, is called Twin Peaks.

    And in 1989, Twin Peaks becomes a place so unlike every other place, it's almost insulting to describe it with the same language, channeled through the same air.

    Something will find Twin Peaks and linger there: an entity from outside space and time, incorporated in a human body, but endless and depthless when you look into its eyes... a creature of the abyss, feeding on suffering, whose emptiness infects the weak and compromised. This thing is called BOB.

    Fortunately, this universe has its defenses. A coalition of reason and resistance will emerge -- a wise and perceptive FBI agent named Dale Cooper, a stern and earnest local sheriff named Harry Truman, and a cast of supporting personnel who will make their jobs possible. This coalition will both win and lose... it will vanquish a tormentor, save a life, and face down the darkness... but Cooper will be drawn into an existential prison, locked away, while BOB is let loose upon the world.

    This story will start with a single unsolved murder, and it won't end for 25 years.

    ...

    In a hotel that appears mysteriously empty, except for the small lobby where we linger, there's a meager crowd huddled together and looking expectantly at an empty stage. Suddenly, a chorus of music blares, and a figure descends on a long escalator from nowhere. He stands in front of this audience, hand-picked to receive him, and he tells them something small and strange that will end up changing the lives of everybody in the world.

    This creature is a funny little monster, a sort of orange wax figure, always scowling, with hair that looks like the chaff from a bad harvest. It's truly a Thing.

    There's a lot of mockery of this spectacle... disembodied laughter, a slow-reacting universe that sees nothing but an empty absurdity... but when everything becomes clear, months and years later, we'll remember that laughter as a terrible portent.

    ...

    In that small northwestern town, where those terrible things happened twenty-five years ago, a girl meets with her boyfriend outside the Double R Diner. He is afflicted... everyone is afflicted... and in his case, it shows as bad skin, a twitchy demeanor, and sunken eyes.

    The girl ends a tense conversation by giving him a wad of money, and he promises her the world. He is moving in the right direction, he says. He will be everything he's been promising. In the meantime, do a line and lean back while I drive you into the wind.

    It takes a certain kind of person to do this -- to convince themselves, and those who trust them, that they own the world. If they're really that kind of person, they can give you the glow of a good high, even as they grind your life into dust.

    ...

    On November 8, 2016, the strange Thing from the top of the escalator becomes the Thing-in-Chief. Garmonbozia Futures shoot up on the commodities market.

    ...

    Dale Cooper returns to the world, but he loses something in the process: his shoes, of course, but also his sovereignty, his gifts of wisdom and cunning and personality. He is essentially reduced to a toddler, well-meaning, but diminished, adrift in everyday life. Nobody really seems to care, because they have no sense of his real value... to them, he is just a placeholder, like every other secondary character in their lives.

    Sheriff Harry Truman is suffering from an unnamed medical condition, and his loved ones can only hope he will recover. Twin Peaks, 25 years later, has to function without him. The silence of his absence is deafening.

    Where are the heroes, the protectors, the avatars of hope and compassion? Where have they been, while Bob has been ranging across the American dreamscape?

    ...

    The Thing-in-Chief is constantly photographed. This is a world where every reality is measured in photographs, after all, and this Thing has changed everything. History will always have his mark gouged across the second decade of the 21st century, and there will be plenty of visual records to prove it.

    In this particular clip, he is on the tarmac, walking in close proximity to his wife, a loyal beauty who's been reduced to an ornament... whether this flatness is his work, or whether it's somehow self-imposed, is presently unanswerable.

    The distinguishing thing, though... the little touch that sets this moment off... is that he reaches for her hand, looking for reassurance (a show for the cameras? Or an unexpected moment of insecurity?) and she bats him away. With gait unbroken and stone expression, she rejects him. How easily she makes such a large Thing look so small.

    And the lens of the entire apparatus... every looping GIF, every gasp and joke and conspiracy theory, is turned toward that snub. Here, in a soup of irrationality, we catch a taste of meaning, and it turns out we're starving for it.

    ...

    In 1941, "Trinity" -- predecessor of the nuclear bomb -- changes the geographic face of New Mexico, and the political landscape of the whole planet earth. This is the epicenter of the sins that will be visited upon these humans for the next century.

    Within the blast radius, shadows flicker against gas station walls, and something parasitic is born.

    ...

    Hands are an especially persistent motif in this visitor's mythology. The dissenting voices of the void call them "small," and this becomes a creeping trauma for the thing-in-chief. He sometimes uses them as weapons in social situations, yanking people toward himself and crowding them when he needs social leverage. His handshake is a landmine.

    One of his strangest spectacles is a session in his office, sitting across from a fellow world leader while the buzzing eyes swarm around them. The expectation is simple -- a handshake, the oldest convention of courtesy in Western diplomacy -- and he refuses to carry it out, conspicuously ignoring the chancellor with whom he is supposed to be negotiating.

    What is he afraid of, exactly? Her good will? Her leverage over him? Or his own hands, that suddenly seem so tiny?

    ...

    And now we come to the primal scene, the moment where everything is distilled into its purest incomprehensibility.

    ...

    At the Double-R Diner, there's tense conversation, followed by an unexpected burst of violence outside.

    If you want the imaginary center of this sequence of events, pay attention to the conversation. Twin Peaks Deputy Bobby Briggs is talking to his daughter Becky and his former wife Shelly, and the family's tenderness is palpable. Even so, the strength of their connection can't efface the cruel undertone: Becky defending an abusive husband, continuing a pattern of abuse that her mother once propagated... and that her mother is making the same mistake again, even as she disapproves. The deep compassion of this family is barely enough to balance the cycle of violence that plagues her maternal line.

    After the conversation is over, the violence comes, and here, you will find the emotional center, hand-in-hand with the imaginary center. Two gunshots break the windows of the Diner, and everyone ducks for cover. Deputy Briggs runs outside and finds a family stopped at an intersection, the mother screaming at her sulking husband for leaving a loaded gun in their car, and their child sulking in turn. So the father, so the son.

    Behind the derailed minivan, there's a white sedan, and it can't stop honking, despite the obvious emergency that's holding up the line of traffic. Like a good town cop, Deputy Briggs goes to the window of the sedan to convince the driver to stop honking.

    There, Briggs finds something harrowing, in its inexplicable way: a woman screaming about the delay, enraged that she won't make it home for dinner, while a young girl writhes in throes of agony beside her... apparently having a seizure and coughing up black bile.

    There is something absolutely alien and poisonous about this narrative moment. What impulses the driver is acting out... why she's so hysterical over banalities, even as she accompanies a suffering family member with a horrific illness... the malevolence is thick and oily and palpable. There is a sense, here, that Deputy Briggs has stumbled into a nightmare. Luckily, a scene change arrives to wake us up, so we don't have to remain there with him.

    ...

    More centers, more nodules where reality seems to have twisted around on itself:

    On July 25, the Republicans in Congress (the Thing-in-Chief's sycophants) held a vote on to bring a bill to the Senate floor. This bill would dismantle the ACA, and radically reshape the US healthcare system. It would rip health insurance away from something like 15 million people, and it would increase premiums by something like 20% (contrary to its stated aim of making healthcare affordable for all) [CBO via Business Insider]. Their "Yes" votes were audible over the national public outcry against the bill, and over the advice of medical associations, state governors, and their own constituents.

    If you glance at this bill for more than a second, you see that it's actually illusory: no concrete policy is entailed, no strategy for solving the lingering problems with the healthcare system is implied. It's essentially a blank page, and the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell and goaded by the Thing itself, are insisting on having a "constructive debate" on it.

    At the heart of the process was a veteran soldier, famous for standing up against his party's worst impulses. braving the aftermath of major brain surgery... a mythical figure of politics, walking dramatically into the Senate chamber, and casting his vote: to conform without question to his party's nihilism, denying millions their health insurance when he himself had just undergone the trauma of a devastating medical condition.

    He was applauded for his bravery, not just by his own party, but by the entire floor. And then the vote went through, and this bill -- a throbbing nuclear bomb for anyone with unstable employment and medical needs -- became an imminent possibility.

    These are the children of reason's sleep. These are the scions of a chaotic, narcissistic, demented modern age.

    ...

    It's 3 AM, and my town is very Lynchian tonight. The suburbs are deserted, with a hum in the background (a neighborhood of window air conditioners). Whenever I hear a car coming in the distance, it's always isolated, and I'm fully alone, and so I keep feeling a moment of panic. This is the dark road of the margins, and I am the bystander getting caught in the headlights.

    Where are my protectors? Where are the people who have some grip on the world, who can still resist its tantrums and confusions and cruelties?

    They are still sleeping, it seems, and I'm still left watching the television.

    Posted on 27 July 2017 | 4:33 am

    Belfry dwellers - recent sketches … #amdrawing #art🎨...



    Belfry dwellers - recent sketches

    #amdrawing #art🎨 #artistsofinstagram #fantasyart #characterdesign #sketchbook #drawing

    Posted on 25 July 2017 | 12:52 am

    “Touched” - sort of a Swamp Thing type character,...



    “Touched” - sort of a Swamp Thing type character, but less sludge and more blossom/thorn

    #drawing #sketch #sketchbook #pencildrawing #characterdesign #fantasyart #artistsofinstagram #art🎨 #amdrawing

    Posted on 24 July 2017 | 11:56 am

    Inside the old barn by Jesse Via Flickr: 3 quiet, dusty...







    Inside the old barn by Jesse
    Via Flickr:
    3 quiet, dusty shots from the July 4 trip to the Finger Lakes

    Posted on 19 July 2017 | 11:00 pm

    Honeoye Lake July 4th 2017 by Jesse







    Honeoye Lake July 4th 2017 by Jesse

    Posted on 12 July 2017 | 2:54 pm

    Balti was holding Lapswitch Ridge, and that meant Lapswitch...



    Balti was holding Lapswitch Ridge, and that meant Lapswitch Ridge couldn’t be taken by force.

    Balti, last of his regiment, who arrived here alone and set his traps, stacked up a convoy’s share of munitions, and set himself a schedule: hoist the flag every morning, reset the charges on each bridge, and check the horizon every two hours. Fill your remaining time pining for your fallen comrades.

    Lapswitch Ridge wasn’t the most important site, strategically speaking, so after a couple devastating skirmishes, they all left Balti alone. Too many losses, they said, not enough gain. The wars went on, borders were redrawn, and whole strategies were drafted around this little pocket, left alone at the center… Lapswitch Ridge, settled territory, beyond the reach of armies and airmen.

    And the wars ended, and nations changed their names, and still, Balti defended his fort. I think he must have stockpiled rations from all the relief shipments he got… he wasn’t a farmer, after all, and the wild pigs up on Lapswitch don’t make for a well-rounded diet. However he’s done it, he’s spent lifetimes now, hoisting the flag of a sovereign that’s long ceased to exist. Whatever oath he made, he was sure to keep it.

    I’m the only homestead with a line of sight up Lapswitch, and this very morning, for the first time since I’ve lived here, the flag didn’t go up. So I’m going to head on up and see what’s happened to Balti.

    If Lapswitch has finally fallen, will another sunrise even bother coming? It’s hard to imagine so.

    Posted on 7 July 2017 | 2:00 am

    The grass on the stratum harasses the bottom of my feet. I think...



    The grass on the stratum harasses the bottom of my feet. I think it would break the skin of a softer sole, but mine are already well-worn. It is cold, though… cold enough that it gives an extra electric shiver to the brisk air. Cold enough to see a long way.

    There’s the Fellsthur up ahead, first time I’ve seen it in… how long has it been?

    I can still hear the paterna, speaking the ritual in my ear, laying this burden upon me. These are troubled times, he said… the soil isn’t coming back, the buzz of wires and engines isn’t going to subside. His voice was a beacon, and I was charged with walking away from it, finding my people a new homeland, and finally following his light back to the stratum.

    To Grayson and New Olderville, to Tropolis and Saggy Bluff… lifetimes spent wandering, searching, bearing our standard. Eyes open for unbroken years, looking for the right kind of loose, fecund territory where our stories could take new root. How long was I out there?

    Too long, it turns out.

    When word came to me, it was a trickle of cold water… awkward whispers, avoidant questions, third-hand rumors faintly remembered. The truth was shy, ashamed, but desperate to be heard: after our land died, my people died, too, one by one, down to the last.

    So my search ends here: in the shadow of Fellsthur, a repurposed ruin, my peoples’ fortress of exile, where the last of them spent their last days. Tonight I’ll listen to their echoes, sleep beside their bones, tell them my story, and finally bring theirs to an end.

    Posted on 28 June 2017 | 1:42 am

    Making some timelines, closing some loops, organizing some...



    Making some timelines, closing some loops, organizing some knowledge. Thanks historyofphilosophy.net for prompting me to think in new directions.

    Posted on 27 June 2017 | 9:28 am

    Twitter movie reviews: first half of 2017

    In honor of the Summer Solstice, I'll go ahead and compile all my Twitter reviews for this year. These were all written within a couple weeks of seeing the film, and they all take up exactly 144 characters, including the film title and date. As you can see, I gave myself some flexibility on the matter of punctuation and abbreviation.

    If you follow me on Twitter, these will occasionally show up on my timeline. As you can see, I like movies. I am very forgiving. If you're looking for something more acerbic, maybe Armond White or the Angry Nerd has a Twitter account.


    JUNE


    Spring (2014) - A wide-ranging young romance, with flashes of horror that are discordant, but don't do much to curb the warmth of the story.

    Kagemusha (1980) - Grand & lush, all the elements of vintage Kurosawa, but didn't have the shapely arc and development of his better movies.


    MAY


    Anguish (2015) - A brooding, earnest "tormented ghost" tale with exceptionally endearing characters. In the end, it rather undersells itself

    Tangled (2010) - Sort of a throwback Disney Romance/comedy, whose brilliant physical humor more than redeems some clumsy writing and pacing.

    Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) - Gorgeous boy-hero story plus family chronicle, all warmth & wisdom, tempered by brilliant visual treatment


    APRIL


    The Wailing (2016) - A strong, thick, & subtle tonic: when the initial hints of levity fade, you're left with despair burning on your tongue

    The Double (2013) - Through a Terry-Gilliam-influenced lens, a focused, twitchy, & potent reflection on the cruelties of desire & insecurity

    Enemy (2013) - A brilliant, chilling cyclical enigma that opens its own little self-contained universe, and ends by closing itself up again.


    MARCH


    10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - A tense, brooding chamber drama -- great fun, but its explosive finale undercuts the interesting character work

    Dead Lands (2014) - A self-conscious intensity only barely distinguishes this action movie, otherwise built on rote masculine warrior tropes

    City 40 (2016) - A fascinating subject, but too clinical, missing any kind of gravitational center -- intriguing, but emotionally weightless

    A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) - Not too scary, but stylish &; austere, with the feel of a dream on the edge of becoming a nightmare


    FEBRUARY


    La La Land (2016) - Sometimes too pat, but always earnest... you could tell the filmmaker wanted a happy ending as badly as his audience did

    Dope (2015) - Malcolm and his crew are brilliant protagonists in a striking and spontaneous adventure, tonally cacophanous, but never boring

    Happy People (2010) - Herzog weaves a spell of fascination and intimacy with the Taiga: its stern voices, its landscapes, & its bitter cold.


    JANUARY


    Extraordinary Tales (2013) - A Poe anthology that improves steadily, from an amateurish first entry, unto the finale, a goddamn masterpiece.

    Quest for Fire (1981) - A muddy slog, bludgeoning narrative conventions with brute frankness, but limited in its capacity to create tension.

    The Last Unicorn (1982) - A wise and bittersweet animated romance, crafted with gentle strangeness that makes it feel timeless and mythical.

    The Witch (2015) - A grimy historical claustrophobic head-space whose perversions leave a toxic footprint. Creepy, corrupt, & very effective

    The Lobster (2015) - A dry and twisted movie - sadistic in a lonely, alienating way, with traces of hope and romance. A singular experience.

    Posted on 21 June 2017 | 7:00 pm