What I'm Watching: Friday the 13th (2009)

A little palate cleanser before I watch something serious, and it's leaving HoboMax tomorrow. I make sure to check the "Leaving Soon" tab near the end of every month; Hobo doesn't pay for these films in perpetuity, and really stacked the deck on launch. In a few months they may be down to nothing.

Dumb Millennials who act like high schoolers go camping/looking for a weed farm to rob, up near the site of Camp Crystal Lake… OMINOUS MUSIC. Two couples and a stoner, standard crew.

Zero star power or acting talent in this one. Ben Feldman, the douchebag lawyer in Silicon Valley. America Olivo, who's a stripper, opera singer, "professional" soap opera extra. Jared Padalecki, Sam from Supernatural and other male model shows, is great at looking confused or afraid, which are his only two emotional states. Derek Mears who plays him this time, is a long-running giant movie thug, and does a fine job physically; role doesn't require acting, and he couldn't deliver it if it did.

Typical idiots separating, fucking (all you see is some bouncing tits), being picked off, not particularly good kills, often just cutting to black. Except maybe what happens in the cabin, which sets up the final act of the film.

Record scratch. Pause.

So, here's the thing. Friday the 13th (1980) came out when I was a Boy Scout camp-going little Mark (you learn your survival skills where you can; but these days don't give BSA your money or attention, it's a shitty organization). Over the next few years they all came out on Beta and VHS, and of course we all saw them much too young. It is just a fact to me that there are undead psycho killers at all campsites, that's what makes camping exciting (just wait for season 2 of Yuru Camp vs Jason!). I've watched most of these, despite them all being trash except the first three and Jason X. A timeline:

  • 1957: Jason drowns at Camp Crystal Lake.
  • 1980: Friday the 13th: Jason's mom murders the counsellors (who mostly weren't even born when it happened!)
  • 1981: Friday the 13th Part II: Jason rises from the dead.
  • 1982: Friday the 13th Part III: Jason finds his face.
  • … A bunch of shitty sequels, psychic weirdos, death after death.
  • 1993: Jason Goes To Hell: Jason is blown up by the FBI, possesses a body. So there's definitely no more original Jason.
  • 2010: Jason X (2002): Despite this, Jason is captured by the military and cryogenically frozen. 400 years later he'll be in space and on another planet, but that's not important right now.
  • 2009: Friday the 13th (2009): Jason returns again. How? What Jason can possibly be here? OK, maybe this happens just before Jason X, but there's still no original body! I want answers, and this film isn't gonna give them to me.
  • 2011: The Cabin in the Woods: The world ends. "Okay, I'm drawing a line in the fucking sand, here. Do not read the Latin."

Spin on.

24 minutes in, and we're on team 2. Biker Loner looking for his sister (from first segment) is a good walk-on protagonist. Couple blow-dried douchebag bros, weird Chinese-American stoner, black guy who is stereotypically not stereotypical, three bimbos.

Loner finds a few scary locals/psychopomps to talk to. Cop is just a dumb obstructionist, but Cujo lady's good, and stoner hillbilly with woodchipper is fantastic. Really sells the "you don't wanna come round these parts" tone, and keep an eye on that woodchipper.

We haven't been able to clearly see Jason until now, but he finally finds both his burlap sack and then his real face again. Weird that he's been here all this time without them.

Finally after almost an hour of this, there's a new behavior. Something I've never seen Jason do before, and it's completely weird: He keeps a prisoner in his shrine/base, and… not communication, but there's a few moments where Jason and another character interact without killing, which is bizarre.

But back to formula, team 2 gets picked off, not generally interesting. In a big two-story McMansion by the lake, so it's the most generic set possible. A couple of them you kinda root for, but it's pointless. The only question is which of the Final Girls or Loner will survive? Orpheus and harem enter the Underworld. The entire end is shot in the dark and fake rain, so you can't see anything even when they're outside.

Really stupid denouement on a pier, which makes no sense that they'd go there.

★★☆☆☆ — Mostly just boring. I had more fun writing that timeline than I did watching anything in this.

What I'm Watching: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswalt's late wife, was a crime podcaster/writer. The one she wrote about was the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker (rather overly functionally named: EAR/ONS). Much of this is framed in interviews with Patton in the few years since her death (prescription drug overdose), and it's certainly awkward watching him, not doing standup so I don't know what to expect from him, and he's obviously hurt, but he doesn't have a huge emotional range.

The show is all flashbacks, old footage, people reminiscing, and a few dreamlike, abstract reenactments—about a writer who only read books and endless forum posts, and interviewed people who had done the actual investigation, and thought she was contributing something to the cold case. "This is what I was born to do!", she says.

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation, Lord Dorwin is "awfully fascinated" by history, and the origin question (what planet Humans originated on, long lost and forgotten); but he does no field research, he just reads other peoples' books and papers and writes his own third-hand papers. That's also the trend in E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops, where original research and going outside is abandoned, people just make video talks (Youtube, but written in 1909!) about other video talks. I bring these up, because these dystopian distant-future visions of totally derivative non-research have already come true, and this is a show about it.

Michelle (and the voice actor reading her text) is incredibly preachy and pretentious; she was one of those writers who thinks a 5-dollar-word is better than a short one, that poetry in the middle of her exposition about a rape and murder makes it pithier. An editor would've told her to dial it back, but she was almost entirely self-published and unedited. The scope of her book, and idea of getting it done on deadline, was just implausible, solving a cold case as her first investigation, writing her first book. Even if you didn't see the news, her manner of death is unsurprising.

"Michelle was such a brilliant woman, she was such a talented writer, she was so into everything that we're all into, and she made such great contents. It's just an incomprehensible tragedy."
—Karen Kilgariff, "My Favorite Murder Podcast"

"Such great contents". Fuck. Let nobody be buried with that as an epitaph, OK?

Because EAR/ONS used wooded creeks as a "highway" between stalking sites, there's a repeat theme and little snippets of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. But this is weird, bordering on offensive; it's portraying the Creature as the rapist, Julie Adams as the victims. But in the actual movies the creature fights only in self-defense, he has no woman of his own kind and never hurts the girl, but he's hunted by a murderous, reactionary white lynch mob and murdered in his home; I'm always heartbroken by the ending. I haven't yet seen Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, but I understand it's in line with that. Surely they're not suggesting EAR/ONS is a tragic victim.

E1 almost completely lost me, I wasn't going to keep going, but I gave further eps a chance, and it does get better, but still spends entirely too long on Michelle's personal life and death, and it's all intermingled.

You get a segment on EAR/ONS in rather grim detail. A segment on research and interviews with the surviving victims. A segment on Michelle playing with her daughter. Shove in a blender with barely a screen blank for transition. That's appalling storytelling.

The case is, however, not solved by Michelle's book, or any of the paperwork, but by DNA evidence & geneology (many people are stupid enough to upload their DNA to random company websites!) years after Michelle's death, by detectives also working on the case. Almost nothing about the actual killer, his plea bargains and the additional murders he confessed to, is covered at all.

Real life's not neat and tidy like a good crime drama, but this biopic/true crime mix is an absolute mess, gives you whiplash going from subject to subject.

★★☆☆☆

What I'm Watching: The Old Guard

A 'flix adaptation of a Greg Rucka comic; I haven't read this one, but his series Lazarus and Queen & Country are also headed to adaptations. I'm more interested in Lazarus, post-apocalypse feudal lords with engineered female super-soldiers. Greg's got a similar "type" to mine, and buff women is it.

I'm not going to spoil this much, but I need to talk about the first scene.

The Old Guard starts dumb.

These guys are immortal soldiers, like four little Deadpool experiments but not funny, must have dealt with thousands of clients, and they can't figure out that transparently treacherous CIA guy is playing them? Even after walking into an obvious trap, the goons who kill them in the first minutes don't keep an eye on the corpses, search them? Even with non-immortal victims, combat praxis is to remove weapons, flip them over to make sure they're really dead. "No, it's fine guys let's huddle over here with our backs to the corpses." SIGH.

Show doesn't understand that suppressors are not fantasy "silencers", you can't shoot someone "thwip thwip" and it's not heard, suppressors just make guns less incredibly loud. The actual melees are pretty standard but well-choreographed vampire/superhero fights. There's nothing here you haven't seen in Blade 1-3, Deadpool 1-2, every damned Marvel flick, the Punisher series, the Nolan Batman movies, Red, Polar, etc etc, but it's competent enough. I wasn't paying a lot of attention to bullet counts, but they do run out of ammo, and regularly stop and scavenge guns from enemies, which I see too rarely in these things.

Any time a scene is a little bit dark, it goes full cyan/orange filter, forget about being able to see colors. Then the camera moves anywhere lit, and it has mostly unfiltered color. It's super jarring, but I guess I should be happy it wasn't cyan/orange all the time.

There's a wafer-thin backstory exposition for the ancient Scythian "Andy" (Charlize Theron; she's still very cute); Crusader Nicky (Luca Marinelli) and Arabian Joe (Marwan Kenzari) who are in love, there's a good scene with them and some stupid snickering soldiers, but I don't believe love lasts years let alone centuries; Napoleonic soldier Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts); joined by newbie US Marine Nile (Kiki Layne, barely capable of hitting marks and saying lines, her fighting is poor).

No explanation for their ability is given, "that way lies madness" says one of them, and the magic/psychic dreams are unexplained even though Andy mocks religion and magic. I must say I'm always glad when atheists get heroic representation in movies. It's just a scene, but thanks, Greg.

The little bad guy, ex-CIA spook Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is pathetic, and has implausible moments of morality; nobody with morals becomes a spook. It's just kind of insulting. His Zodiac-conspiracy/Andy-stalker whiteboards are full of stuff, but he behaves like an accountant, not a motivated crazy person or soulless spook. Terrible writing, acting, or both?

The big bad guy, Merrick (Harry Melling, aka Dudley Dursley; but he's twice as ugly skinny as he was fat), is a jackass: Scene-chewing, Shakespeare-quoting, openly admitting he just wants money for saving lives, openly sadistic. There's a partial violation of Chekov's Law, he poses with Andy's axe, but then doesn't use it; holding it keeps it from being forgotten before the next scene, but it's still a tease not delivered on.

The plot is linear, most of the twists are obvious. When they're not, it's always revealed in low-stakes environments, and then you just wait out the development of the twist. There are zero surprises if you're paying even minimal attention.

Actual plot ends with 15 minutes of denouement and team-building, like a superhero "Pose as a Team Cuz Shit Just Got Real" scene. Words cannot express how tedious and commercial the ending is. I feel a couple thousand years old like I've seen every possible story when I see a scene this badly written.

Then it has a "post-credits" scene, but of course Netflix makes it hard to watch credits, so they moved it up before even the star credits, let alone the technical credits and classical music. Sit thru your goddamned credits, people. That's when I write these posts, I've just got some notes until then.

★★★☆☆

You know what I liked in this genre? The Losers (2010). Andy Diggle & Jock's comic was well-adapted, the fights were higher-stakes and weirder, the characters had massively more personality & development, and were much more aware of being double- and triple-crossed. Zoe Saldana is a fucking magical special effect all by herself. It didn't do great in the box office, I dunno why.

The Best Thing About RSS

… is it's not anything like Twitter.

I was over there checking my notifications, a daily chore but also sometimes there's something good if I don't scroll too long. But also just endless shit that makes me mad from randos. Well, that shouldn't happen, I've curated my follows and turned off their retweets… Except Twitter also reposts shit your followees "liked", even if you have retweets turned off from them, so Jack Shit can continue their mission to make the world a shittier place.

RSS never shoves some third-party garbage in the feed, just because someone "liked" a post!

So I'm thinking it's time to close the Twitter feed again, stop syndicating to it, and completely ignore it. This is the last post Twitter will see. Sorry, but those guys fucked it all up. Follow this blog on RSS, and you can follow specific categories if you don't want the whole thing.

If you don't know how, there's Feedbin, NetNewsWire, and many other readers, both free and paid.

What I'm Watching: Barbarian Queen

From the SHOUTFactory Sword and Sorcery Collection. Remember DVDs? You stick it in a slot and your movie just starts playing!

First, trailers!

  • Streets (1990): "The most brutal, sadistic killer on the streets… is a cop!" Yeah, no shit! That was true even in the '80s. Christina Applegate (age 19) is cute as a teenage hooker (age 16). Eb Lottimer made a half-assed career of dirty cops and evil soldiers. This looks better than average for exploitation flicks by Roger Corman.

  • Angel in Red aka Uncaged (1991): Whores and a psycho pimp and brother. Looks dire. Apparently a remake of Streetwalkin' (1984) by the same writers, and the director Lisa Hunt took her name off it. Nope.

Huh. I guess they know their audience. And now our feature presentation. Note: R-rated and then some.

  • Barbarian Queen (1985): Instantly starts with a blonde girl (Dawn Dunlap) gathering flowers captured, tits exposed, and raped by two heavy metal dudes (long hair, black clothes, medieval, work with me here). Sets the tone for the film; if you can't handle this, don't go on.

Wedding day for the girl's sister, Amathea (Lana Clarkson)—previously seen in Deathstalker—is rudely interrupted by a whole bunch of these heavy metal dudes who didn't RSVP. Mass fight choreography is… not an exact science. Mostly you see dudes taking turns holding up a sword or staff, enemy attacks, then they switch roles, very D&D initiative sequence, not much like real swordsmanship.

All the village men are defeated, but the women can bare-handed (sometimes bare-breasted) kick the ass of any man. Mostly because the heavy metal dudes stop mid-fight to try to rape, which turns out to be a tactical mistake.

The barbarians have fabulous '80s hair & makeup, and wear preposterous linen bikinis and reed bundle pushup bras/legwarmers, uh, and unlabelled Keds tennis shoes. The people live in reed & grass huts, but then bundle up in furs. This was filmed in Argentina, like so many of Roger Corman's wilderness flicks. The wilderness cinematography is quite good; they try to avoid showing skylines and obvious clues as to the location.

The "city" (barely a village) isn't bad but anachronistic; low stone/adobe walls, topped by wood pallisades. The "arena" is a solid wood pen, because of course they have a gladiator arena. A few hundred extras, wearing a weird mish-mash of clothing, muu-muus, hoodie robes, tunics & pants, half middle-eastern. It's like any bad D&D campaign, the Referee just threw random stuff together until it was full. The rebels of course hide in the dungeon tunnels under the city. There's always a dungeon.

The props deserve a call-out, and not in a good way. Weapons range from clubs, sharp sticks, and stone axes, to a few pole-axes, to many crappy mass-produced shiny swords with bad brass/gold pommels, and stage swords made of pig iron. Shields are a layer of hammered tin(?) over wood, very awkward. Armor is mostly black linen with big chunky chains sewn on top, it looks ridiculous and offers no protection. One or two people have brigandine which doesn't look awful. None of this fits any consistent period.

Katt Shea, Susana Traverso, and a little tomboy girl soon join Lana as an adventuring party, hunting heavy metal dudes. They never lose HP to these dudes. Dawn goes looney tunes, because that's what happens when you're tied to a tree. Middle girl is constantly eating, thru the entire film, it's kind of remarkable, giant lump of bread, unidentified "meat", craft table in the harem, she's horny for food.

"I'll be no man's slave and no man's whore, and if I can't kill them all, by the gods they'll know I've tried." —Amathea will kick your ass.

Armando Capo as Lord Arrakur is very businesslike. I can't tell if he's supposed to be stoic, doesn't know his lines all that well, or thinks he's doing taxes instead of torturing, raping, and killing. He's much too fat, useless, and square to lead the heavy metal dudes, I don't know how he got cast here. When I think of all the roles Jack Palance chewed scenery in, and compare him to this dork, ugh.

"20 years that THIS KINGDOM has ruled THE LAND. And we gather for your entertainment, the greatest warriors of ALL TIME, willing to sacrifice their lives for the glory of THIS KINGDOM." —Arrakur has no idea when or where he is, either.

The torture room, and glasses-wearing Jewish nerd torturer are amazing. Hanging metal claw hands, swinging stabby gadgets, acid bath, and an automated rack. Lana's tits spend a lot of time exposed and upthrust. Her '80s-style G-string bikini bottom is a little out of time. Her way of getting off the rack is amazing, only ever matched by Kathleen Turner in The War of the Roses.

The gladiators don't get much better at fighting, and they end every fight in a KO or kill, which is not how you keep a gladiator population; they were highly-valued entertainers, like pro wrestlers. Here, apparently the reward for the surviving gladiators is the harem, which rather misses the point of harems; but there is a fat eunuch harem guard in pseudo-Turkish outfit completely out of place with everyone else.

Maybe this whole thing's post-apocalypse. No artifacts or mention of the olden days, but there's also no churches, the entire operation's such a mess of periods it's just nonsense as history, but perfectly reasonable as post-apocalypse Argentina. I've had the same hypothesis about Deathstalker, but it has Orcs and magic, more likely a secondary world.

Some great shots. Guards go running past, Lana slips out sword ready and runs like a panther. She looks great and kills like an experience-crazed D&D murderhobo PC. The final fight is still badly fight choreographed, but well-paced.

Title is a lie, she's not the queen of her barbarian tribe, nor of the city (I presume the rebels take over, but the ending just freeze-frames).

The deleted scenes on this DVD are a mix of longer kills, even more T&A, and some backstory for the traitor and rebels.

A classic of swords-and-no-sorcery, heavy on the exploitation, half-assed (if that) at production as usual for Corman, but mostly saved by the story, and focus on Lana Clarkson and the girls.

★★½☆☆

(A reminder about my star ratings. Full ★ is for quality filmmaking. The extra ½ is earned by being fun, regardless of quality. I'd rather watch a ★★½☆☆ than a ★★★★☆!)

Paid Twitter

I said years ago Twitter should have a paid no-ads tier.

But now, I think they should do microtransactions, with their own microcurrency, the birdseed (BS), roughly 1 BS = $0.01 but look out for bundle sales!

Emoji gachapon packs cost 300 BS for one pull, 3000 BS for a 10x with guaranteed S-tier; keep pulling, maybe you'll get that 💯 you need (0.00062% chance). Avatar from webcam/front camera only costs 1000 BS, avatar from anime builder is 200 BS, a new avatar "costume" or filter costs 100 BS, uploading a photo is 10,000 BS. Every post costs 10 BS, or special packs of 200 for 1500 BS. Faves cost 69 BS, of which 7 BS goes back to the faved person, quote-dunking costs 666 BS. Following costs 100 BS, blocking is free.

This would just about fix Twitter. In that nobody would put up with it (well, millions of phone gamers do, but there's sometimes an actual game under the microcurrency shit); but apparently they don't mind being spammed at which costs far more.

Or you can Join Mastodon for free, and not be on the same network as the orange shitgibbon and every crazy person screaming at each other because they don't know where the block button is. That's nice, too.

Assemblage 23 "Mourn" Preview Thursday Music

Out on 9/11. Ha ha do you remember when we lost our minds at a few thousand dead Americans, but now our so-called "President" is letting hundreds of thousands die by his incompetence and lies? Ah, good innocent times. Mourn's been in production much longer than the current disaster, but sounds very appropriate.

MysticDungeon.club

I've finally got my web games/tech demo site MysticDungeon fully running SSL, a proper Node & database server, and all the existing games ported to my common "Learn2JS" framework. High scores and hit counters work for all of them; I haven't set up a really stable migration tool yet but that's on the TODO list before anything more serious gets stored there.

If you run into any bugs, let me know here or on fediverse.

Upcoming will be getting a couple features in PortalWorlds finished, then the rest of the Umbral Adventure world, and some more tools in Grimoire, which will be a tabletop RPG journal/toolkit, more for Referees to use as a virtual screen/notebook than as a coop gaming tool, but you could screen-share it if you needed to. Proper user accounts instead of an unverified screen name will be part of that.

I'm still thinking about if I should replace the old BBS with a forum, or what. Rebuilding the Mystic Dungeon game is on the list, that's part of what the Umbral Atari-like screen is for; nice ATASCII line-drawing characters instead of the few ANSI chars it supported.

What I'm Watching: Bordertown, Freaks

  • Bordertown: The best of the grim Scandinavian crime dramas. Kari Sorjonen (the Finnish title is just his name), is a borderline autistic, Sherlock Holmes with a memory palace technique, and partner Lena, a Russian ex-FSB cop/thug/defector. There's a wife and a kid, and Lena has a daughter, sometimes, and there are a few too many household drama stories early on, but it mostly lowers that to a background level later.

But most of the series is Kari pursuing really crafty serial killers, including a repeat nemesis, supergenius high school chemistry teacher, not named Walter or Moriarty but oughta be.

Emotionally the show could not be more Finnish. Everyone is stoic and awkward, frosty to their friends, completely closed off to anyone else, until they have a giant emotional meltdown and kill each other. Secrets and actual intentions are rarely revealed and when they are, everyone's glum but takes it. The distance between Kari's emotional flatness and everyone else's emotional bunkers isn't far.

Finland has a harsh and beautiful wilderness, and the cities are the grimmest of industrial shitholes, and then the interiors are mostly sterile black and white unadorned furniture, like Jony Ive set designed it; when you see a warm set it's just jarring. The cinematography and music are great; I'm unamused at the pretense the daughter sings the title song, tho, and in this last season she got way too much screen time doing so. Apparently the actress is a wannabe Miley Cyrus.

I read subtitles fast, and can usually rely on being able to pick up some spoken words, but Finnish is annoying; English lets me pick up enough Dutch, Norwegian, or Swedish to recognize many words, my bad French lets me get a lot of Flemish and Belgian, and so on… but Finnish sounds like gibberish, and these people talk fast; I usually complain about slow-talkers, but here it's a little stressful. So good thing this is on Netflix where rewinding for a complex scene is easy. It'd be unwatchable on 'zon's terrible video player.

S3 switches from overlapping almost-season-long stories to more episodic 2-parters, but there is a continuing story.

Picking on some of the non-plot elements aside, this is just a perfect crime drama, watch it.

★★★★½

  • Freaks (2018): It's Firestarter; this Charlie ^W Chloe is a different kind of little girl freak, but the "psychic powers make your eyes bleed" thing, the father, the low-rent treachery, the government murderers are straight out of Stephen King. The Shop ^W ADF is funded like post-9/11 counterterrorism, not a CIA hobby project.

I'm both amused and horrified by a trick used to get the ADF to kill innocent people, the writer's not original but able to embellish well.

Once you realize the scope of Chloe's, and her family's, and the missing mommy's powers, the question of "is this overreaction" changes to "what would you do for species survival"; altho Dallas probably had it coming. Little Chloe also learns to kill like a teenage boy playing Call of Duty, way faster than a supposed 7-year-old (actress was 9) should. No way she should see this movie or the evil shit her character does.

★★★★☆ — despite the near-plagiarism, this is well done.

What I'm Watching: 12 Monkeys (1995)

Haven't seen this since the theatre when it came out.

So, 1995. Bruce Willis was familiar from Moonlighting, and Die Hard, and his mediocre blues album The Return of Bruno, but hadn't become quite the caricature and one-note joke he is now. Brad Pitt had just come off True Romance and Se7en, whining and crying "What's in the box? What's in the box?!" Madeleine Stowe was the A-list femme fatale from China Moon, Revenge, and The Two Jakes. Plenty of smaller familiar actors, like Chris Meloni (most punchable face in the world) as the asshole cop, years before Law & Order: Formulaic Rape Is Bad Unit.

This film's a massively extended (too much so) Hollywoodization of the French experimental… it's not quite a movie, except in the way Ken Burns' documentaries are… sequence of moving pictures, La Jetée. Which in some ways is very effective, but it's dry as hell, lacks any characterization, it's an idea without implementation. Hollywooding it up was inevitable.

The style of the future, the police station, the mental institution, the shitty New York corner they keep going back to, just every set except the outdoors and the mansion, are basically Terry Gilliam going crazy with his brutalism and industrial post-war England anti-aesthetic. Visually impressive sometimes, but good grief, Terry, not everyplace looks like the concrete cell you were apparently raised and beaten in. The man needs a psychiatrist, not a director of photography.

The closed time loop of James Cole's life is pretty obvious from the first flashback, if you have any science fiction background; I'd well forgotten the details, and immediately realized it. The people of the future can't find anyone honest and sane who's tough enough to survive time travel, so they send a stir-crazy prisoner; but everyone seems to be a prisoner or a guard, there's no indication of normal life in the future. Cole's inability to calm down, act normal, like he remembers people being from childhood, is what causes all of his own problems.

The Army of the 12 Monkeys are well-cast, I've known a few people in extreme environmental causes and they're… not well-adjusted. When you're "the only people who know the truth!!!", you can either work sanely to raise awareness; or wait for it to be a giant mess so finally people act at the last minute, which is what normally happens, see global warming; or scream like a maniac and discredit everything you stand for, which is how these groups usually work. Pitt's a convincing lunatic, he's always had that twitchy look and when he gets screaming & whining & making weird hand gestures, nobody can stop him. Is there a film where Pitt doesn't flip out?

There's a nice tight 60-90 minute story trapped in a flabby, repetitive 2 hours 10 minutes of film. There's no reason for the second or third trips back, or the side-jaunt to the more distant past. A tighter version: Cole goes back, gets nabbed, stays in the asylum a few years, escapes, goes on a road trip with the shrink, the finale happens. Nobody else from the future ever needs to show up, the shrink picks up the last clue in the airport.

I so want this to be better than it is. The premise is great. It's better to watch than La Jetée. Madeleine Stowe is very nice. But I had to take a few breaks and got out my phone during the long repeat acts. The slo-mo death scene with swelling music at the end should've been cut, it shits on the tone of the rest of it.

★★★½☆