WML2020: Dark Crystal

One of my college friends used to say that there are Dark Crystal people and there are Labyrinth people. I suppose I’m a Dark Crystal person by default because I had never seen Labyrinth at the time we had that discussion in my early twenties, and I only just got around to a few years ago.* I think they both benefit from the deep nostalgia of growing up with a film. I know from experience that adulthood is way too late to first encounter Labyrinth.

Because so many women my age attribute their erotic awakening to Labyrinth (specifically David Bowie), I expected it to be sexy. But the Thin White Duke and his prominently displayed package notwithstanding, Labyrinth isn’t sexy. It’s a kids’ movie musical with muppets, which somehow I managed to not know going in. That one ballroom scene aside, Jareth seems a lot more interested in keeping Sarah’s baby brother than in Sarah herself. Personally, I spent the whole runtime hoping there would be a scene where Sarah apologizes for being such a bitch to her stepmother, and that never happens. So I left disappointed.

But I digress. The Dark Crystal.

The Dark Crystal DVD case held up against a purple cloth background

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WML2020: Dark City

Here we have an amnesia mystery combined with cerebral science fiction. That makes is all the way up my alley. Prepare yourselves for a big, slobbery love fest. Literally the only negative thing I have to say about Dark City is that the marketing tagline is profoundly stupid.

Dark City DVD case propped against an iron, industrial book end

“They built the city to see what makes us tick. Last night one of us went off.”

No wonder nobody saw this in the theater.

Lotsa spoilers ahead.

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Welcome to D

So, I’ve made it as far as the letter D, which is the… ::checks notes::  fourth letter of the alphabet. Four (4). I haven’t even made it past the top shelf of my DVD storage. Ugh. Slow blogger is slow.

Maybe if I hadn’t taken time to watch Aquaman no less than three times over the span of a week and a half. You know, I didn’t even love that one when it first came out, but for some reason it’s apparently satisfying a deep-seated need for me right now.

Note: It’s not simple lust. Jason Momoa is ridiculously charismatic and seems like an authentically nice guy in interviews, but I don’t like him that way.

The next string of movies will take us to some dark places. Dark dark dark. Dark. Dark dark.


WML2020: Daredevil

Sometimes it feels like I’m the only person who ever liked Daredevil, but that’s revisionist history. It originally received mixed reviews, but it was not universally panned. And it fared well at the box office, especially for a February opening. I have defended it over the years, but the haters have only multiplied. Now it seemingly exists only as a punchline.

The most tragic part is that Ben Affleck seems to take it all so personally. A full decade later, he seemed to approach portraying Batman as a way to atone for Daredevil. And look how that worked out. My heart breaks a little for this genuine fan whose love for comic characters is always spat back at him.

I haven’t watched this in quite a long time. I do wonder if it will now shock me with its terribleness.

Daredevil DVD case on a red textured background

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WML2020: Coffee and Cigarettes

We have reached the first film in my library that I’ve never seen before now.

Coffee and Cigarettes DVD case against a black-and-white striped background.

I’ve been writing “Coffee & Cigarettes” whenever referring to this movie for several days now. I don’t know why I thought it had an ampersand. But it’s spelled out right there on the case. Apologies.

I have seen two other movies written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. I didn’t love Only Lovers Left Alive, but I deeply appreciated its elegiac tone as fitting for a vampire story. I hated The Dead Don’t Die. Possibly more than I have ever hated any other movie.*

So. Let’s do this.

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WML2020: Clerks

Confession: I am a recovered Kevin Smith stan. Not just his movies. The man himself.

For most of my adult life, I lit up whenever the conversation turned to him or his work. I’ve attended several of his live speaking engagements, including a rapturous experience in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con. I own the action figure depicted in this photo. Tellingly, it is not a Silent Bob action figure. It is a Kevin Smith as Himself action figure. *

Color photo. Foreground: in color a Kevin Smith Action Figure (wearing a Pillow Pants 4 Life shirt). Background is blurry, black-and-white cover of the Clerks DVD case.

It all started to go downhill around the time he published his autobiography, which I definitely purchased even though I’m a librarian and never have to buy books ever. I… didn’t like it? This coincided with Smith growing increasingly dissatisfied with movie-making and redefining himself as primarily a podcaster (or a professional raconteur). And then he started only making deliberately trashy horror films as offshoots of his podcast (like Tusk and Yoga Hosers). I guess I was happy for him, but I couldn’t participate. I didn’t listen to podcasts back then, ** and I had zero interest in the terrible movies he was making on purpose. ***

And then without warning, one day I just realized I was over him. I have not seen Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. If I should seek it out, then let me know in the comments.

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A quick pause to note that I viewed the next two Watch My Library flicks back-to-back, and the strictly alphabetical pairing led me into an accidental indie flick marathon.

Clerks and Coffee & Cigarettes.

I will write individual entries for both, but I want to briefly discuss them as a unit. The pairing fascinated me because I believe that as Kevin Smith made his first feature he clearly wanted to emulate art house writer/director auteurs like Jim Jarmusch. See the Clerks alternate ending. Although Smith is probably more heavily influenced by Richard Linklater, I noticed that he does in fact thank Jarmusch on the Clerks credits.

There’s so much stylistically similar between the two films, and yet they feel immensely different to me. Perhaps it’s the contrast between someone who makes a creative decision to film in black and white as opposed to someone forced by practical constraints to do so.

Or maybe it’s just that I love one and loathe the other.

More on that later.

WML2020: Cabin in the Woods

This is a digital viewing, so no DVD photo for this one. Instead, here is a book that I (kind of) own that is relevant given that The Cabin in the Woods references ALL the horror movies.

Photo of the cover of Top 100 Horror Movies by Gary Gerani

I only kind of own the book because it isn’t quite a real book. I picked it up for free at a librarian conference, thinking that it was an advanced reader copy. But it’s even less than that, just an “ashcan edition” that shows off the format, but not much else. It’s not just that there’s no index; more than half the entries are just dummy text. Fneh.

Anyway, Cabin. It is good. It is also one of those movies where the less you know about it going in, the more delightful you will find it. So spoiler warning if you haven’t seen it.

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WML2020: Bridget Jones’s Diary

Watch My Library is a project conceived during and for an entirely different sort of crisis.

When I only had to worry about keeping myself from going stir crazy during pandemic-induced isolation, watching some old DVDs and writing about them seemed like as good an idea as any. But as I watch my country contend with strife once again laying bare our culture’s deep racial animus while also scooching us ever closer to fascism…

Well, it did occur to me that perhaps there are better ways to spend my time than reflecting on the romantic tribulations of well-off, British white people. Another break seemed in order. Or maybe just scrap the whole deal? I don’t know.

Right now it feels like this is a pivotal moment when there’s at least a chance to make some measurable progress, and I’ve struggled with the idea that if I (and, by extension, any other well-meaning white Americans) get distracted from anti-racism learning/work for even a second, then I’ll just slide back into bullshit passive progressivism. After being asleep at the wheel for my entire life on social injustice, I should now devote my whole attention to it. Like, I should get up in the morning and eat my breakfast in a way fights oppression, right?

So I’ve been quiet because I absolutely do not have anything cogent to add to the current national conversation. And I’ve been doing my “homework,” and when I’m not doing that, I’m either working my paid job or feeling upset with my whole body.

Realistically, I can’t focus on only upsetting things until racism is solved. That isn’t some ridiculous epiphany I just had. I already knew that, just as I know no one is asking me to do that. It’s just an acknowledgement (without letting me off the hook for actually making myself as useful as possible) that if I really mean it, then I have to figure out how to walk and chew gum at the same time. Marathon and not a sprint, and all that. It’s just giving myself permission to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Photo of Bridget Jones' Diary DVD case in front of an array of colorful journals.
Bridget poses with all my old diaries.

The red one on the far right is a Japanese day planner I purchased online back when my state first issued a stay-at-home order because I thought I would use the time to do some creative journaling. You know it’s fancy because it has superlative, extra-thin paper that can stand up to watercolor and because it’s printed in a language I can’t read. To date, all I’ve used it for is tracking where I go on days I leave the house just in case someone needs to contact trace me.

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WML2020: Bourne Identity

Hey, check out this original release press kit I still have because I never throw anything away!

Photo of The Bourne Identity DVD next to a folder/CD that comprise a media press kit for reviewers.

Once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a journalist, and during that period of my life, I actually published a handful of legit movie reviews and other entertainment coverage. I perhaps could have pursued that professionally, but instead here I am doing it for free on the Internet. *

I didn’t review The Bourne Identity. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw a movie I actually liked on assignment. But my BFF did, and that’s how I got the press kit.

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