Media Diet on Tuesday (#52)
The Newsletter That Is About Margot Robbie And A Killer-Doll, But It's Not Barbie
Somehow I’ve not watched or listened to anything in the past week that was created by a woman or a queer person, and that saddens me.
Also, Substack provides comments and chat functions. Should we use those to discuss media? Like, I’d rather actually not take any negative feedback or let you challenge my impeccable taste, but most of y’all are here for something, so leave a vote:
What To Watch This Week
★★★★☆ - directed by Damien Chazelle - in cinemas - watch trailer
A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, tracing the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood.
Babylon is insane. In a way, it’s a movie that feels like jazz: I’m sure there’s beauty and coherence… somewhere. Chazelle's previous works - namely Whiplash (excellent!) and La La Land (surprisingly good!), both about jazz, are critical groundwork in order to understand his special brand of chaos: improvisational, larger-than-life, not easy to follow, full of overwhelming energy and passion. But also the jazz is taking place at a fetish party with Elephants and the musicians are overdosing on speedballs?
I found myself stumbling out of the cinema, exhausted and in seizures. I am still in constant flux between This is brilliant, everything works! and I hate it, nothing works! But maybe that’s a good sign! I love manic rampages and movies that feel like fever dreams, but there's only so much bodily fluids and Margot Robbie jumpscares and Brad Pitt ironically making a movie about his own legacy in Hollywood that I can take before begging for a quiet moment. Is that intended - a stylistic circus that will make you question your own role as an audience member? It’s meta, sure, which is great if you love studying Hollywood scripture, but is it enjoyable? Chazelle’s magnum opus or the apex of wasteful cinema? I guess my feelings about Babylon parallel the movie’s overarching themes: there’s splendour and there’s misery. Anyway, I can’t wait to see it again.
Boogie Nights But Annoying
For People Who Like
The Wolf of Wallstreet, Cocaine, Bisexuals, Margot Robbie, Movies About Movies
★★★☆☆ - directed by Gerard Johnstone - in cinemas & Media Diet Plex - watch trailer
I had no expectations for a cunty killer robot-doll movie and all of them were exceeded! This was a pleasant, campy and delightful film, not even remotely as scary as Babylon, and the best thing: it was not 3 hours! Not even 2 hours! Passes the Bechdel test with honours and has no qualms about what it is. Plus there’s some exceptional interior design going on at Gemma’s house. I’m moving to the Pacific Northwest to live in my ideal natural environment: damp but with palm trees; flannels are uniforms. If you’re asking yourself if you should watch this for a good time, the answer is absolutely, 100% yes.
For People Who Like
ChatGPT, TikTok, Parents Dying In A Car Crash, Sexy STEM Aunts
To Leslie (2023)
★★★★☆ - directed by Michael Morris - & Media Diet Plex - watch trailer
A West Texas single mother wins the lottery and squanders it just as fast, leaving behind a world of heartbreak. Years later, with her charm running out and nowhere to go, she fights to rebuild her life and find redemption.
To Leslie is perfect Oscar bait that flew under the radar for the whole year until Edward Norton gave it a shout on Twitter and the Goop Trooplatched on to it. But that’s not to say I didn’t like it. Andrea Riseborough is phenomenal! However if she wins Best Actress over Cate in TÁR or Michelle Yeoh in Everything I’m going M3GAN on Hollywood. But yes, it’s true and obvious, I like my movies like I like my women: manipulative and dramatic, and if you’re still looking for the red thread, ALL OF THEM ARE ABOUT BAD MOTHERS.
Women’s Wrongs, Sad White People Cinematic Universe
For People Who Like
Shameless, Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club, Academy Awards, Amy Winehouse
🎧 Really into the hard-hitting, analog, melancholic house vibe of 1-800 Girls (not a girl). Feels like an intergenerational art project by someone who simultaneously remembers dancing at Farbfernseher in Berlin but also knows what works on TikTok. Loving his new release, 90%, for those extra traces of Bicep.
🍿I wanted to watch a big and energetic movie so I watched Creed (2015, Ryan Coogler), the Rocky re-boot that brought Michael B. Jordan to stardom and HOLY SHIT!!! If boxing were actually filmed like this in reality I’d 100% be into it.Yeah yeah formulaic sports movies, I don’t care, this was climactic as fuck. When Conlan enters the ring... 🤯 (A)
👎🏼 I can’t overstate how much I don’t care for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Netflix series Copenhagen Cowboy. I love neon colors and I loved Drive, but Refn doesn’t just prioritise style over substance, he has completely annihilated substance from the equation of film-making. Similar to his Amazon project Too Old To Die Young, I have zero patience for this tomfoolery and I don’t care how visually stunning it is, I’m putting my foot down, and I’d rather read my book. (D)
📚Said book is The Passage by Justin Cronin. I use soft sci-fi thrillers to get me back into reading. I’ve already come past the free Amazon Kindle review, which means it’s easy enough, but like, not great literature or anything (C+)
📰 Froma few observations on the visual blandness of Netflix:
But every time I watch something made before 2000, it looks so beautiful to me—not otherworldly or majestic, but beautiful in the way the world around me is beautiful. And I don’t think I’m just being nostalgic.
📰 An eight minute phone call of happiness (and somewhere else I remember reading that talking on the phone boosts confidence, but I can’t find that link anymore)
🖥 I can already tell you that The Last Of Usis the best thing on television right now and probably for the rest of the year to come, and maybe the best thing I’ve seen ever. IF NOT FOR THE SHOW THEN FOR THE MEMES, THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME LIFE. The tension, the cinematography, Pedro Pascal… I’m already grieving its ending. Okay but I hate Ellie is that okay to say, that snotty little funghi brat I’d choke her stupid teenager hammer shark eyes out if I could ffs (A+++)
🎧 The category is “songs that are made so I can scream-sing”: Serengeti by the Flints.
🍿I think the subtitles really screwed Kore-eda’s Broker (2022) up for me. Half of it wasn’t even grammatically sound. I did enjoy the cinematography though. Turns out my man Hong Kyung-pyo - of Parasite, Burning and Snowpiercer fame - DOP’d this, and maybe that’s really the only saving grace for an otherwise meh film. Thank you for being born! (C)
🎬 Leading the hype train for Cocaine Bear like I’m getting paid for it
Nominations are out and they are… wild. Very happy for Paul Mescal and Stephanie Hsu in leading actor nominations. Ana de Armas is nominated for Blonde which I will fight to my death, RRR and Decision To Leave are NOT nominated which is an absolute shame - but Top Gun Maverick is, and surprisingly! All Quiet On The Western Front, which is good but not great? I wish Albrecht Schuch all the best though, he deserves everything. In my heart of hearts, I still want TÁR to win Best Picture, but I’d love it if a woman took it home, which is ironically the only movie on the shortlist that I haven’t seen yet: Women Talking. If it’s Elvis I’ll to stop doing this newsletter, because why even bother. Maybe more on Oscar’s soon, but probably not.
Creed III is coming out this year, so I’m really just playing catch-up. Also I was kindly reminded that I need to re-watch the original Rocky as well, but I’m from a time and place were Rocky would be on every Friday night on TV. All of the films have kind of merged into one smorgasbord of 90’s martial arts movies, including Karate Kid and American Shaolin lol, but I like it like that. I want to keep it that way.
(in 4K on a projector... do with this scrappy YouTube link as you want)