So Far from God, So Close to “Miami Vice”

So for reasons best known to my confessor, I decided to watch the premiere of Snowfall (a new drama on FX, set in 1983 LA, about "how crack began") right after watching the premiere of Miami Vice (an NBC procedural, do I need to tell you guys this?, made and set in 1984 Miami). This viewing strategy is not flattering to the new show.I don't mean to beat up on Snowfall too badly. It's adequate and I'll watch more if I can figure out our TV code. But it really underscored just how great, and I … [Read more...]

Cat Fight This Feeling: I watch GLOW

So Netflix made a show about women's wrestling in the 1980s and I am hard-pressed to imagine a concept which would seem, on its face, more custom-made for me. But then I watched the show. So, okay, I watched the whole season (ten episodes, hovering just over thirty minutes each), I was interested enough to want to know what it would do. Let me try to gesture at what really did not work, and also what I enjoyed. Vague spoilers.I love the look of the thing. The first episode's opening credits, … [Read more...]

Between the Promise and the Payoff Falls the Shadow: Movie and music reviews

It Comes at Night: This film is incredibly effective at creating tension and dread, and pretty aggressive about refusing to be a "story" in any conventional sense. Did you know that sometimes terrible things happen, due to pileups of bad luck and understandable choices? That is what this movie wants to give you. No character grows or changes (unlike in downer horror flicks like The Descent) and no questions will be answered by the end except, "Who will die?"I know it sounds shallow to be … [Read more...]

Ignatius After Dark: And Other Bright Ideas from the Sick Pilgrim Conference

Last week I headed to sunny South Bend, IN for "Trying to Say 'God': Re-enchanting Catholic literature." Its official sponsor was "the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts" but a bunch of the organizers were people from the Sick Pilgrim blog/community and that sounds cooler. Anyway, my notes:# Notre Dame in summer is ridiculously lush. I swear whoever planted this rambling campus made it a project to get every kind of tree and just jam them right up next … [Read more...]

99 Dreams I Have Had, Every One a Red Heifer: I read “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”

So I finally read Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and in spite of its serious flaws, I was still left with that wonderful feeling, Where have you been all my life? Why didn't I read this thing sooner?The novel's delights lie in its setting, its genre, and its prose. The setting is an alternate history in which the state of Israel was never founded, but the United States agreed to resettle Holocaust survivors and other European Jews in the Alaskan territory. So now … [Read more...]

Alone in the Commune: I Review One Scandinavian ’70s Free-Love Flick But…

...then without warning swerve into reviewing another, better one:“The Commune,” the new 1970s period piece from Danish writer/director Thomas Vinterberg, begins when architect Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) inherits a huge house. His own family, with wife Anna (Trine Dyrholm) and daughter Freja (Martha Sophie Wallstrøm Hansen), is too little to fill it, and they can’t afford its upkeep. So they have a sweet, laughing romp-through, the wife and daughter mimicking bird calls from the most distant rooms … [Read more...]

Post-Demon Stress Syndrome: Some horror-flick reviews

Stake Land: A teenage boy and his grizzled mentor travel north through a vampire-ridden, devastated America, picking up vulnerable people, encountering security cordons and emptied towns, and seeking a haven they've heard all about on the radio. They forge a found family by killin' the dead. Also there's quite lush cinematography and big sweeping shots. If this is starting to sound familiar, you are correct, this is basically 28 States Later. Even the "vampires" are actually zombies with big … [Read more...]