Last week, I finished the last two episodes of Dexter Season 1. Over the past two sleepless nights, I finished Season 2. About 11 hours of viewing. I still really enjoy the show. At its best moments, it inhabits the same tense air that Hitchcock permanently resided in. We really like a murderer and want him to escape. At the same time, we understand and come to like all of the people trying to catch him. The feeling of being exposed and possibly being caught is expertly displayed.
Abby and I have also continued to watch Smallville Season 2, through episode 14.
What has surprised me is how similar the two shows are. And I might have missed it if the Dexter writers hadn't made it extremely explicit in the second episode of Season 2. Dexter's girlfriend notices that Dexter keeps disappearing in the middle of things just "like Clark Fucking Kent."
Both Dexter and Clark have secrets which, if exposed, would destroy their "normal" lives. To protect their secrets, these two "heroes" lie to every one they love. Both have strong father figures that inculcate (there's that word again!) a strong moral code of sorts in their sons. Probably the biggest similarity between the shows is that any "bad" person who finds out our hero's secret identity is destined to die before they are able to publicly reveal this secret. No exceptions. Cruel, cruel screenwriters. There are more parallels, but that ought to give you the gist of how these two shows mirror each other.
Dexter is Superman.
Expect a Woman in the Moon post soon. Be prepared to be disappointed; I've only been building this up for three months now!
I've started watching Ebert Presents At The Movies. I do like Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and wish him a successful career. I've been following his writing since he started publishing on The Auteur's Notebook (now Mubi). I appreciated his interviews, especially his Bujalski interview (Beeswax rises in my opinion the more I think about it) and I liked that he recognized the beauty of Munyurangabo, a film that is still criminally overlooked by too many. Still, his True Grit review is just stupid. I'm not out-and-out accusing Vishnevetsky of giving in to critical groupthink, but that's what it seems like to me. It's fashionable to see the Coens as amoral, despite the strong evidence to the contrary laced through their entire body of work. I don't know. It seems like it's become critically cool to hate the Coens.
I'm also both impressed and horrified that he listed Histoire(s) du Cinema as one of the "Movies That Made Us Critics." He also quietly and effectively recommended Internet piracy as the best method of obtaining a copy of this series. "This film is not currently available on DVD, but you can find it on the internet." It actually is available and easily obtainable on DVD (French region-free) for 40 euro plus shipping. It's just not easily available in these U.S. as a Region 1 DVD. But, of it is easy to find a torrent of this and one ought not to feel too much of a twinge of guilt regarding piracy, considering that the entire series is essentially one big long mash-up of Hollywood images.
So, why impressed and horrified? The "impressed" should be obvious. Histoire(s) is dense, but by all reports brilliant (I haven't seen it. I tried downloading a bootleg years ago, but it turned out to be a corrupted file and I couldn't watch it. I may try again soon). The "horrified" is an overstatement, but reflects what I perceive is a strong "trying to prove myself" attitude on behalf of Vishnevetsky. Surely, he thought about becoming a critic before seeing Histoire(s) or Foolish Wives or True Heart Susie. Unless you're in an unusual context (like growing up in the home of a diehard cinephile), then these aren't films that you see at an early age. I suspect that there were other, more mainstream films that he saw first that led him back to these films. Then again, maybe I'm too suspicious. Maybe he loved movies, but really fell in love with them and recognized his critical calling after being exposed to these richer films. I don't know. I just know that I couldn't honestly talk about films like those he chooses without seeming like a phony, even though I've grown to love very similar films. I'd have to talk about-- as a child: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Return to Oz; as a teen: Fearless and Ruben and Ed; as a young college student: Stalker and A Woman Under the Influence. Maybe Vishnevetsky was an unusual guy watching von Stroheim and Griffith as a teen. My kids probably will grow up watching this stuff. They love The Broadway Melody of 1929 (post to come soon). So I'm probably being unfair. Probably just jealous that I'm not the one on Ebert Presents. :)
Anyhow, Christy Lemire's picks might not be as impressive, but they feel more honest.
Brandon, I'm excited for more "my essentials" posts. I still would like to see a list. My top ten (thirty) of all time list needs a serious revision, but I don't regret throwing it out there. I need to work on a top 50.
Ben, you wrote: "I'd recommend it for anyone with a passion for running, interest in Africa or a love of socially conscious and inspiring documentaries."
As I despise running, have little interest in Africa, and don't have much use for inspiring documentaries, I would normally pass on Running the Sahara. Still, Abby likes all three of those things, so I added it to my queue.
Jason, thanks for the long dump. I bet your wife was wondering why you were in the bathroom so long. I don't really have much to say about any of the movies you list. I've already written about some of them and I haven't seen most of the others. I am looking forward to your The New World post.