You guys do understand that this series is just me rambling about all the shit I do in my free time each month, right? Why the hell did my last list get twice as many views as the movie analyses that I actually put effort into? Well, shit, I ain’t complaining. I could talk about this stuff all day. June wasn’t quite as densely-packed as May when it comes to the amount of content I consumed. I would like to say this is because I’ve been busy writing the blog for the first time, but I wasn’t nearly as prolific this June as I had hoped to be—hell, I haven’t posted anything in almost two weeks now. I’m going to try step up my game for July. I have a whole lot of stuff in the works right now, so for all zero of you people who even know I exist, get ready. For now, though, here’s What I’ve Been Watching in June of 2017.
- Barry Lyndon (1975) – I’m honestly not sure how to feel about this film. I know that I enjoyed it, but I’m still trying to figure out why. It’s probably the weakest Kubrick movie I’ve seen so far, which isn’t really saying much since I’ve only seen three others (2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining), all of which are masterpieces. Barry Lyndon is an absurdly beautiful movie. Why Kubrick went from a lurid future-shock black comedy to a subdued, quill-pen era historical drama is a mystery to me, but the result was a truly remarkable achievement in cinematic visuals, and I don’t think anyone can complain about that. Kubrick is a director who continues to amaze me with each film I watch of his—the man died before I was even born, but his films have taken on a life of their own. I’m planning on watching both Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut very soon, so I’ll probably be able to discuss both of those next month.
- Dog Day Afternoon (1975) – Without a doubt the best film I saw this month. I already said this in my analysis of the film, but I’ll say it again here: Dog Day Afternoon is a lesson in creating empathetic characters. Sonny Wortzik is one of the most compelling, funny, and tragic characters ever put to screen. This is due in great part to Al Pacino, who is so good in this film it’s absurd. If you’ve ever doubted Pacino’s ability as an actor or think he only knows how to overact, his performance here is guaranteed prove you wrong. This is also one of only five films to star the inimitable John Cazale, who brings a wealth of life to the character of Sal Naturile with half as many lines as Pacino. The hyper-realistic style of Dog Day Afternoon and the fact that it was based on a bizarre but true story adds an entire other dimension to the film. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as last month’s Blade Runner or One Flew the Cuckoo’s Nest, there are few films I can recommend more than Dog Day Afternoon—it’s the latest addition to my list of favorites.
- Jaws (1975) – I’m not sure why it took me this long to finally watch Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, one of the most iconic films of the late 20th century. Jaws is a movie oozing with as much humor and heart as edge-of-your-seat suspense, accompanied with an iconic soundtrack by the inimitable John Williams. Most of you reading this have probably already seen the film, but if not, make sure to do so as quickly as possible. It’s the perfect horror movie for summertime.
- Logan (2017) – This was the perfect sendoff to Hugh Jackman’s iconic portrayal of Wolverine. This is a film that not only manages to cast new light on the character of Wolverine but also reminds us of why he’s such a great character to begin with. It’s also an incredibly bleak and gruesome yet defiantly hopeful look at the X-Men universe and superhero movies in general.
- No Country For Old Men (2007) – While I didn’t respond to it as well as I had hoped, No Country For Old Men is a film so well-crafted and so well-directed that it’s impossible not to appreciate and enjoy. It’s a fascinating study of how the Western paradigm becomes dysfunctional in a modern setting, something that’s been touched upon in films like Taxi Driver but has never been the main focus. Javier Bardem steals the show here with his portrayal of Anton Chigurh, a killer so remorseless he might as well be death personified. I’ve done the Coen Brothers a disservice by only seeing two of their films so far, but I can promise you that I’ll be talking about the rest once I get around to them.
- The King of Comedy (1982) – Like Dog Day Afternoon, I’ve already written a full analysis about this film, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much here. The King of Comedy is a darkly funny look at the celebrity culture of the 1980’s, yet it has only become more and more relevant over the years. It feels like a prophecy for the celebrity culture of today. Rupert Pupkin (played excellently by Robert De Niro) is a passionate and talented man with an honest and ambitious dream, but he uses only the most dishonest and heinous of methods to achieve that dream, and is driven by naive and unrealistic motivations. For as reprehensible as his actions are, Rupert is a strangely likable and even somewhat relatable character at times. Martin Scorsese delivers once again with excellent directing and cinematography. There’s a reason he’s my favorite director after Tarantino, and The King of Comedy is a testament to his brilliance.
- Interviews With Monster Girls – This show is pretty decent, which is a high compliment for something made by A-1 Pictures. The characters are likable and the way the show explores the challenges of monster girls (or ‘demi-humans’) was actually pretty fascinating at times. And at the end of the day, not all shows need to be masterpieces—if they have enough good ideas, they deserve to be watched.
- Kado: The Right Answer – This series just finished airing the other day and I’ve been itching to talk about it more. Kado is not only a fantastic hard-sci-fi series packed with interesting ideas, but it’s also a testament to the potential of 3-D animation in anime. I’d like to write a blog post on it once I’ve more clearly processed my opinions about the show. For now, I will say that Kado’s final message about human progress (the “right answer”, if you will) was something that really resonated with me. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this anime yet, go do so as soon as you can.
- Nekomonogatari: Kuro – Though I enjoyed the indulgent dialogue and fanservice of Nisemonogatari, it lacked the same level of insight, character-building, themes, and romance as Bakemonogatari. Don’t get me wrong, I could look at Kanbaru’s naked ass 24/7, but that’s not what makes Monogatari a great series in the first place. Thankfully, the four-episode prequel series Nekomonogatari: Kuro is a return to form, showing us the events that took place over Golden Week. The story arc, also called “Tsubasa Family” focuses on the character of Hanekawa, her troubled home life, and her relationship with Araragi. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the “Tsubasa Cat” arc from Bakemonogatari, but the two are relatively close in quality. As I’m writing this I’ve already started watching Monogatari Second Season and I’m really looking forward to talk about it in next month’s installment of this list. This franchise is already becoming one of my favorite experiences of 2017.
- Repeats from last month – I must confess that I’ve done a pretty poor job of keeping up with anime lately. I haven’t gotten much farther in Little Witch Academia, Re:Creators, or Sakura Quest, so they’re not really worth talking about on their own just yet. I’ve kept up with Boku no Hero Season Two and some of the episodes that aired this month were absolutely incredible, as anyone watching the show right now could tell you. Studio Bones has been doing fantastic work lately (which only makes me feel worse about how slowly the project I announced is coming along). They’re a studio that only improves their craft over time. Still, I think I’ll wait until the series is finished to discuss it any further. The Pedantic Romantic made a fantastic video on the Uraraka vs Bakugo fight that I highly recommend you go watch.
- Batman: Made of Wood – This hidden gem by Ed Brubaker was included in the reprint of Batman: The Man Who Laughs (see next entry), and was one of this month’s biggest surprises. It follows Batman as he tries to solve a mystery that is ominously similar to a famous case from Gotham’s past. Along the way, he gains the alliance of Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern and protector of Gotham, who comes out of retirement to fight one last battle. Made of Wood is a small but sweet gem of a Batman story that I can recommend to any fan of the caped crusader.
- Batman: The Man Who Laughs – This short graphic novel by Ed Brubaker details the first encounter between Batman and his archrival, The Joker. It is sort of a follow-up to Batman: Year One, following both Batman and Jim Gordan in their early careers as they try to make sense of the situation and stop the Joker’s killing spree. It doesn’t take long to read and contains solid writing and art. Like Made of Wood (which is included in the current paperback print of The Man Who Laughs), I can recommend this story to any fan of the character and mythos of Batman.
- Crisis on Infinite Earths – Back in 1985, Marv Wolfman and George Perez set out to clean up the mess of continuity and inaccessibility that the DC Universe had turned into after over four decades of history. The sheer size and scope of their task and the revolutionary effect it had on the comics industry is impressive, but I don’t think I can recommend Crisis on Infinite Earths to those who aren’t big fans of DC and interested in the history of its universe. It is an utter clusterfuck of a story filled with hundreds upon hundreds of characters, and nothing that happens is interesting enough to make it truly compelling in my eyes. The fact that it is also an extremely long book doesn’t help. I wouldn’t go as far as to call Crisis bad. It’s still one of the most important comic books ever made and we owe a great deal of respect to Wolfman and Perez for changing the face of superhero comics. But you might be better off just watching Comic Pop’s Back Issues episode on it instead of going through the trouble of buying and reading it yourself.
- Superman: Last Son – Last Son was quite possibly the greatest comic book I read this month. It introduces a new character, a young Kryptonian boy who crash lands in Metropolis, implying that Superman is not, in fact, the last son of Krypton. Superman and Lois Lane adopt the boy, naming him Christopher Kent. However, the arrival of the classic Superman villains General Zod, Ursa, and Non quickly breaks the newfound family apart, and it is revealed that the boy is none other than Zod and Ursa’s biological son. The rest of the story follows Superman as he teams up with Lex Luthor, Parasite, Bizarro, and Metallo in order to stop Zod’s invasion and prevent him from turning the Earth into New Krypton. The story brings into question Superman’s belonging in the human world, and there is a nature vs. nurture motif relating to both Christopher and Superman himself. Last Son is also credible for re-introducing General Zod into the DC Universe in the mid-2000’s. It is written by Geoff Johns, who is the current president of DC Comics, and Richard Donner, the director of Superman: The Movie (1978). Everything about this comic was solid, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from beginning to end. Not a masterpiece, but I give it a high recommendation to fans of the man of steel and superhero comics in general.
- Carrie by Stephen King – I read this book in two days. For someone who reads as slowly as I do, this is a considerable achievement, and a testament to Stephen King’s extraordinary ability as a writer and storyteller from the very beginning of his career (this was the first novel he published, after all). Carrie is a startling look at the darker sides of adolescence and of the human desire to overpower and manipulate others, as well as a great character study of a tormented young girl. Even though you know what her inevitable fate will be, even though you know it was never meant to be, King makes you hope with all your heart that Carrie White will find some kind of happy ending. Reading Carrie was a truly great experience, and I’m greatly looking forward to watching the 1976 movie adaptation by Brian De Palma.