Trilogies are pretentious and annoying

I notice a lot of artists are obsessed with creating trilogies. Filmmaker Lars von Trier has his “depression trilogy” of films. Robert Smith and his band The Cure have their “dark trilogy,” consisting of their Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers albums. Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman had Through A Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence. There’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy of books. Tons of musicians compose trilogies of songs, or a song with three ‘movements’ in it. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer have their aptly titled tune, “The Three Fates.” Dream Theater have their “A Mind Beside Itself” trilogy of songs, consisting of Erotomania, Voices, and The Silent Man.

These are just a few examples that came to mind while writing this, and of course I’m not talking about franchise bullshit like Home Alone 1, 2, and 3. I’m talking about pretentious art stuff. I wonder why it’s so common, why artists are drawn to doing things in threes. I don’t know but I don’t like it. What about duos, quadruplets, quintuplets, etc? I haven’t come across any of those that I can remember so I feel like it’s mostly a path dependency thing, where artists are accustomed to other artists doing it so they instinctively copy the blueprint. Even when artists don’t intend to make a trilogy but later acknowledge they have inadvertently done so, I find it annoying. I don’t even want to hear about it. Trilogies are just so overdone.

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I actually love almost all the pieces I listed in the first paragraph. I just have to not think of any of them as, ahem, you know what.

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It’s DELICIOUSLY cold out

I don’t like the word ‘delicious.’ There’s something gross about it. I hate the sound, particularly the “ish” sound in the second syllable. It sounds wet, and reminds me of salivating mouths of people who get excited about food in the same way that dogs do. It also sounds like the kind of word that a boring, middle-aged housewife who fancies herself an artist would use. I can picture this person now very clearly, and I’m sure I’ve seen them read their terrible poetry at sad little boring, middle-aged housewife poetry nights that take place in coffee shops and are attended by only a small handful of similarly depressing people. They wear scarves that are deep red because they think scarves and the colour red are synonymous with art and passion. Passion is another word I don’t like, although I don’t feel quite as strongly about it as I do delicious — delicious is the worst.

I particularly hate when people use delicious in anything outside a food context, like I did in the title of this post. “The pace of the film Roma was delicious,” you might say if you wore a deep red scarf and were a pretentious fucking idiot. Sorry to any of my friends who like to use it that way. You’re not an idiot. It just drives me mad. I know that’s my problem, not yours.

Man, writing here is a lot more difficult since my epiphany about not being so mean to people. Being mean is how I amuse myself. It’s probably a defense mechanism for cripplingly low self-esteem or some deep-seated self-loathing. I don’t feel like exploring that right now.

I still don’t like the word delicious. But it’s cold out today, and I like that.

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Roma sucks, and I need to stop checking out the purported ‘best flicks’ of last year

Jenn and I had both heard good things about this Roma flick in the last month or so. It was on a lot of lists as one of, if not THE best film of 2018 so we checked it out last night. It wasn’t awful but it certainly wasn’t great. What it was, was pretentious — in spades. Wowee. Black and white; tons of long, slow, panning camera shots; tons of scenes where nothing much happens and you wonder if it might be significant later but it isn’t; tons of recurring “themes” like airplanes, dog shit, and space men. I don’t have a problem with any of those things in and of themselves but when they are all done together and in a particularly boring way, I get a strong sense of someone trying really hard to be a classic annoying artist type.

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This works on a few levels.

The airplanes, dog shit, and space men were the most annoying parts to me because I think that inserting something a few times throughout a film is such an easy thing to do, and if it’s vague or pretentious enough, it gives the artist immediate cred with all the sycophants. Like, “ooohh, notice how prominent the dog shit is in so many of these shots. Ooohhh, notice how the car’s tire smushed that dog turd. What’s it symbolic of? Fascinating.” I don’t find it fascinating. I feel like I could make a film and toss a few random details throughout the film to create similar “themes” that people would gush and crow over, even though the things were emotionally and thematically empty. For example, here are some random things: umbrellas, incidental weather reports on the tv and radio, and a female character putting on lipstick in the background of some shots. Throw those into your snail-paced black and white flick and the Academy Awards would surely sing your praises. “The director’s take on female sexuality is at once disarming and challenging. Best film of 2019.” I really believe it’s as easy as that.

Last year, I tried The Florida Project. This year, it was Roma. Well, fuck it. I’m not falling for this ‘best film of the year’ bullshit again. From now on, I’m sticking with the shit that gets lousy reviews yet still intrigues me. All reviews are trash. That includes this one.

‘the florida project’ sucks

yesterday i saw someone’s ‘best films of 2017’ list and the florida project was on it. the list didn’t give too much away about what the story of film (which i like — i hate knowing too much going into a movie and creating expectations for it) so jenn and i watched it last night. i thought it sucked. but guess what, i read afterward that everyone is cumming in their pants about it, hailing it as great piece of cinema. well, nuts to that.

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“a bunch of random people have given it lots of stars so it MUST be good”

let me first give praise where praise is due though: willem dafoe is fucking fantastic in this film. that man is a god damned professional. when he acts, you don’t know he’s acting. it feels real and organic — that’s what a good actor should do. so my hat’s off to him. bria vinaite was pretty convincing as well.

aaaaaand that’s about it. the kids came off as kids being directed to act like kids. yeah i know, they’re just kids, what can i expect? listen, i’m not trying to tear them down. i think that most children will naturally have a limited capacity for acting due to their lack of understanding of the craft. considering that, you can’t expect top notch performances from them, so i don’t hold it against them. i’m just saying that part of the nature of most child actors is sub-par acting. it’s not their fault, that’s simply the nature of the beast, but it does have an impact on the films they’re in. so let’s be honest and as critical of the kids and the overall film as we would any other actors or film: their acting wasn’t believable and that detracted from the rest of the film.

moving on: mela murder, aka halley’s friend ashley, was absolutely horrible. every time she spoke, it sounded like she was learning how to read and was practicing doing it out loud. she was that stiff and unnatural in her delivery. 0/10.

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the LA times called murder’s performance “underappreciated,” “raw,” and “perfectly endearing.” i guess those must be the new industry buzz words for “terrible,” “film-destroying,” and “reminiscent of my grade 3 xmas pageant performance.”

something that particularly bothered me: the scene near the end when child protection services shows up to take moonee away was complete bullshit. i’m sick of totally unrealistic depictions of professionals as being completely inept and bumbling. people whose job is to remove kids from bad circumstances understand the gravity of their work. they anticipate and are prepared for the difficult scenes they encounter. they have extensive training in that particular field. they have a fucking clue what they’re doing. they don’t stand around like buffoons while situations escalate to a fever pitch, and they sure as hell don’t helplessly watch as the kids in their care just run off down the street to god knows where. that scene was insulting to the audience, and to people who work in that profession.

the story was shitty too. ‘film spends almost 2 hours showing kids entertaining themselves over the summer and illustrating what trash the mom is, kid gets taken away by CPS.’ it’s weird because there was enough coherent stuff going on that some of the film had a normal, linear story, but there was just as much stuff that was random and seemingly unimportant or unrelated to anything else (like bobby’s son getting angry with him while moving shit into the elevator) which made the film seem more like a character sketch of the hotel and its various inhabitants. these two approaches felt disparate to me, unfocused. maybe that was the director’s intent. don’t know, don’t care. i thought it sucked.

but i get the feeling that one idea the director really wanted the audience to think about with this film was the dual nature of halley: “she’s such a despicable piece of shit…but she truly loves her daughter.” i think that’s a really annoying and pretentious devil’s advocate position to take. why not make a film about hitler’s softer side? i know, that’s a bit of a stretch, but it illustrates my point — a film about hitler’s softer side is a dumb, offensive idea. similarly, suggesting people be more understanding of neglectful parents who do lifelong damage to their kids, intentional or otherwise, is also a dumb, offensive idea.

to sum the florida project up: unfocused; lots of terrible acting; pretentious; preachy. just another piece of shit (dafoe and vinaite’s performances notwithstanding) being lauded by the sycophants and phony industry twits.

business as usual in the entertainment world.

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“choose happiness,” said the miserable sod

my grandmother divorced from her husband when she was in her 50’s. she once told me that for years after the divorce, she harbored great bitterness and resentment towards him, that she often imagined what she would say to him if she bumped into him around town, or how she would have handled various events in their marriage if she could only go back in time. she said that eventually, though, she realized that all the negative feelings she kept revisiting never had any impact on him, but they did have a huge impact on her. she realized that she was making herself miserable by continuing to dwell on negative things that she couldn’t change or didn’t intend to follow through with.

once she had this epiphany, she simply stopped giving it any thought. after that, she felt much better.

similarly, a long time ago, my wife jenn said to me, “choose happiness.” i was super annoyed when she first said it because it sounds like something a yoga hipster woman would say, but the more i thought about it, the more i liked it. what “choose happiness” means is, when you are driving home at a respectable 10 km/h over the speed limit and you come up behind some son of a bitch who is putting along just under the speed limit, you have a choice. you can choose to fume and gripe out loud, maybe swerve slightly into the oncoming lane as if to pass the slow driver, perhaps lay on the horn, and get right worked up about this minor inconvenience — or you can realize that you actually aren’t in a big rush for any justifiable reason so you may as well take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

for whatever reason, we give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to embracing anger and frustration. we allow ourselves to stew over tiny, insignificant things and make ourselves miserable. i see people do it all the time. i do it all the time myself (except i usually like to do it). but we have the ability to become more self aware, notice when we repeat negative patterns, and work to break those patterns. i actually frequently think “choose happiness” to myself now as a mantra when i want to snap myself out of yet another loop of rage. i even say it to jenn occasionally, which she absolutely fucking hates.

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“don’t you EVER use my own pretentious, mystical advice on me!”

i’m writing about this now because i was bothered by something else when i got stuck behind an insanely slow driver. i had to remind myself that the slow driver wasn’t what was actually bothering me, and letting myself get worked up about them would only make me even more unhappy. so i relaxed and slowed down and felt better for it.

it’s nice when this kind of stuff actually works. which is only maybe 50% of the time, but that’s still way better than nothing. i welcome any mitigation of my misery with open arms.

nowhere left for rednecks to get coffee

bill, riley and i used to go to robin’s donuts in duncan. we loved it because it was darkly lit, had a gross orange and brown 70’s decor, and was mostly frequented by kinda rough people — working men and the like.

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drool

generally speaking, we liked robin’s because it was shitty in a funny way, and unpretentious.

but it’s long gone now. the old robin’s building has been a ‘serious coffee’ place for many years, and they of course cater primarily to yuppies and other people who like to pay $5 for skinny caramel macchiatos with extra whipped cream — in other words, detestables.

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i don’t want to hang out at places like this, with people like this.

so when bill and i were talking over the last few days about finding another gross coffee shop to go to, i realized that there are no more gross coffee shops around here. why? because while our town used to have a lot more rednecks and working class types, it has slowly gentrified (well, a little bit anyway) to the point that there are more yuppies and hipsters than working men. there’s not enough business for the dirty, gross coffee shops of the 70’s. they’ve had to get with the times and pretty themselves up, get wifi, and start making frappuccinos, or get left in the dust.

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ah, the good old sayward mall. home to…well, nothing, anymore.

that bums me out. it’s just another reason to move north sometime, to find another place that still retains its working class roots, even in the year 2016. a place like sayward or woss. a place where we can get coffee and baked goods around people who are comfortable making inappropriate jokes, people who aren’t terrified of offending every hypersensitive dickhead. simple folks who aren’t so fucking irritating.

i sure do miss robin’s donuts.

“whole alternatives” is a whole lot of bullshit. so are big film awards.

fuck these guys

i haven’t had popcorn in years and have been watching lots of crappy stephen king flicks with dana recently so i decided to pick some popcorn up. there was all the usual big name stuff but then i saw some stuff with “USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC” and “GMO FREE” writing on it, and it was on sale for less than the big name stuff. i like organic shit and think monsanto is an entity of pure evil that cannot be trusted (although GMO’s themselves may have some place in the world) so i gave this upstart popcorn a shot.

but it sucks, and that sucks.

the god damn stuff didn’t pop worth a shit. after the instructed time in the microwave, less than half the bag had popped. it tasted fine but i felt ripped off that i got such a paltry amount of popcorn. i didn’t lose my shit over it though, i just thought, “maybe that was a bad bag,” and dana and i continued watching the first episode of the 1997 made-for-tv version of ‘the shining’ (which was awful).

then last night i tried to watch an old jack nicholson film, ‘the passenger.’ it earned some awards back in its day but it sucked. i turned it off halfway through, so boring. you know what i’ve learned? basically, if a film gets academy awards or anything like that, it’s a guaranteed piece of shit. for instance, the whole motivation of nicholson’s character in ‘the passenger’ was unclear from the start. he stole a dead man’s identity but i wasn’t sure why until i read the story online afterward. that’s dumb. shit should be clear, unless it’s an abstract art film. then nicholson met a young girl and she asked who he is. he said he used to be someone else but traded him in. then he asked the girl what she’s doing and she replied that she’s talking to a man who might be someone else. this was not delivered in an abstract, interesting way. it was delivered like two normal strangers just talking, even though what they said was far too unlikely, too implausible, to be a casual conversation. and that pissed me off.

dialogue like that is so fucking pretentiously artsy in the lamest, most flaccid way possible. it’s the sort of shit that gives wannabe art losers boners. it’s for the sort of turds who watch the academy awards and think that they really matter. that’s the sort of people who would say “wow, what great dialogue.” suck my dick. it’s not good dialogue, it’s smug and simpering. it’s shit.

the sort of idiot that thinks limp, unrealistic, vaguely mysterious and romantic dialogue is clever and intriguing.

now think about all the amazing films that didn’t clean up at any awards — akira, eraserhead, the exorcist, mad max, the shining, eyes wide shut, edward scissorhands, bladerunner, batman (the michael keaton/jack nicholson one), polyester, the tenant, repulsion, blah blah blah. i could go on. i think all those flicks are a lot more interesting, more multidimensional, more thought-provoking than anything the academy awards has ever gushed over. my point is that any movie that has any edge to it, any aesthetic other than soft, benign, unobjectionable, any film that is not palatable for mass consumption in some way, is overlooked by the major awards. major awards are just a way for a bunch of phony fucking industry types to pat each other on the back and get drunk on champagne. it’s a sickening thing.

ANYWAY. so i was watching that lousy fucking film and i thought, “maybe some popcorn will make this bearable.” i threw a bag of organic, GMO-free popcorn in the microwave for 3 minutes, like the directions said. and by the end of it, nothing had popped. nothing. the bag was as flat as when i put it in. i had never encountered such a faulty bag of popcorn before so i didn’t know what do do. i put it in for another 3 minutes and the stuff popped intermittently but by the end, the bag looked pretty full. i shook it, opened it, and found once again that less than half of the stuff had popped. i thought, “fuck,” and ate it because it was getting late and i needed to get through this god damn movie. i was left with a half-full bowl of popcorn kernels staring at me, mocking me, reminding me of my wasted $4. so i put a plate over the bowl and put them back in the microwave for 4 more minutes. by the end of that, most of them appeared popped. i tried one and it was bland as all hell. that was it, i gave up. i threw the shitty popcorn out, turned off the stupid fucking movie, and went to bed.

it was a bad night. i considered it.

do you know what really pisses me off about the popcorn? not my wasted $4. i can suck that up. what pisses me off is that other people who may be on the fence about supporting organic and GMO-free stuff might try this popcorn, have the same shitty experience as me, and say “holy fuck, organic stuff sucks. i’m just going to stick with cheetos and their chemicals and unsustainable palm oil farming practices.” i’m worried about this crappy ‘whole alternatives’ brand giving organic, GMO-free food a bad rap.

so i went to their website, which is so terrible that it looks like a fake site. i clicked on ‘contact us’ and expected to see an online comment/complain form, but nope. just a phone #. that’s ridiculous since no one talks on the phone anymore. but i called anyway, and guess what. wrong #. it went to some lady’s voice mail who does not appear to have any connection to ‘whole alternatives’ whatsoever. so i’m not sure how i’m supposed to complain to them.

don’t buy this junk. or better yet, find a way to contact them and give them shit. i sure as hell can’t.

and that’s how i wound up here, bitching at great length about my terrible popcorn and film experiences of last night.

first world problems.