The Justified Trailers are Coming Out

For season 6 – the final season.

And DAMN this looks like it’s going to be really, really awesome. Lots of Ava in there, but then she’s got a really good role this time around.

Trailer 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8D-FNUTKVk

Forget the match. Joelle Carter’s hips should be classified as a deadly weapon. I mean, damn.

Trailer 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH6J4UFMI_w

Awesome. Now THOSE are how you make good trailers.

My ending prediction: Boyd shoots Ava and is captured by Raylan. Raylan’s luck finally catches up to him and he retires from the marshals in disgrace, but gets his happy ending with Winona. Boyd is captured by Raylan and lives out his life in prison.

We’ll see soon. January 20 cannot come fast enough.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fun Stuff From Wright’s Blog [UPDATE – Skip to Bottom of Post]

This is a long post with lots of quotes. I’d do a TL;DR but the quotes are important. I’ll try and bold the most important bits.

I have a feeling I may have done enough to get a ban from Mr. Wright’s blog.. Instead of telling you why, I’ll quote the discussion directly and let you all decide. Hey, Wright is clearly smarter and more educated than me. Maybe I really do owe him a sincere apology. I’ll offer my own thoughts at the end of it.

The original thing I responded to:

The second assumption, harder to defend and harder to swallow, is that mainstream Hollywood movies are artsy, trivial, greasy, and bad…I am thinking of movies critics and Hollywood insiders like, flicks such as FULL METAL JACKET, RAIN MAN, DANCES WITH WOLVES, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, AMERICAN BEAUTY, CHICAGO, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, CRASH, THE DEPARTED, THE HURT LOCKER.

My original response:

“Silence of the Lambs” WAS based on a popular book, though.

Nitpick, I know, but man, that’s a great movie.

Mr. Wright:

Yours tastes and mine differ. When the movie that made the cannibal murderer, a man who hunts and eats men like beasts, into the most admirable figure in the story won the Oscar award as opposed to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which is perhaps Disney’s best movie of all time, with the most striking and vivid characters, a story about redemption, a story about a beast turning into a man through love, I knew that I would never trust the Motion Picture Academy again.

Me:

Hannibal Lecter as the most admirable person in the story? I don’t know what movie you were watching. The most admirable character was Clarice. Lecter was the most fascinating. Hopkins gave us all an insight into the mind of a maniac, and it was compelling because normally we can’t really understand these people, and then there’s this movie and this actor that made their mind and motivations so believable. It was fascinating….But yeah, I have more of an appetite for the grotesque than you and am less of a romantic, as my username would seem to assert.

Mr. Wright:

The portrayal [of Lecter] was indeed positive, or, more to the point nihilistic. Lector is portrayed as courageous, cunning, possessed of immense self control, and as an avenger who preys only on offensive and unpleasant folk whom we secretly wish dead anyway. So he has three out of the four classical virtues, and justice he lacks only because he is draconian.

There was not a single line in the film, a single camera shot, showing the victims of his crimes in a sympathetic way: no windows shown sobbing at a funeral, nothing.

And me:

No, what’s missing is the performance of Anthony Hopkins. That’s like saying “The Dark Knight” wouldn’t have been as good without Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker…

[Quoting Wright]There was not a single line in the film, a single camera shot, showing the victims of his crimes in a sympathetic way: no windows shown sobbing at a funeral, nothing.

Why is this a requirement? It’s universally agreed in the movie that Lecter deserves to be there.

Mr. Wright:

Here we have a film which portrays the good side of a cannibal murdering psychopath, showing his wisdom, ingenuity, and animal magnetism, while scrupulously not portraying the bad side, that is, scrupulously avoiding showing any suffering by the victims, or, at least, any victims we care about. You are in effect asking why a negative portrayal of a horrific criminal murderer’s crimes is a requirement to avoid a positive portrayal.

The sheer nihilistic effrontery of the question is astonishing…Do you honestly expect me to debate whether or not offering flattering portrayals to pure evil is a good thing? That such portrayals are allowed under the rubric of art for art’s sake if the villain’s unrealistically superhuman role is sufficiently well-acted?

Author note: I will admit that this was the point in the conversation that first irked me. I had disagreed with Mr. Wright thus far what I think was fairly politely. I was perhaps a bit dismissive at one point when I said “what movie were you watching?”, but I figured this was a casual discussion about taste, so didn’t really mean anything by the remark except as a way to say “I disagree”. So I responded with this:

1) Yes, I’m asking [why a negative portrayal of a horrific criminal murderer’s crimes is a requirement to avoid a positive portrayal.] We all KNOW why eating people is bad. He starts the movie in a freaking insane asylum. Perhaps you’ll disagree, but I do indeed trust the viewing public enough to understand and agree with the fact that Lecter belongs in an insane asylum because he is a violent murdering psychopath. The INTERESTING things to portray about Lecter are his positive qualities, because the fact that a human being so revolting has these positive qualities is compelling.

2) Okay, you’re astonished. Let’s move on.

Do you honestly expect me to debate whether or not offering flattering portrayals to pure evil is a good thing? That such portrayals are allowed under the rubric of art for art’s sake if the villain’s unrealistically superhuman role is sufficiently well-acted?

And here we reach the problem: The conclusion YOU have reached is so obvious, that we can’t even debate it.

All right then, Mr. Wright. You win. I’m out of this thread.

Mr. Wright wrote this:

“We all KNOW why eating people is bad.”

Do we? If you keep up your work, it will not always be so.

It is not because my conclusion is too obvious that I wish not to debate it with you, but because it is too good. What fashion of honor or integrity should I appeal to, to a man who enjoys darkness, and shrugs and plays nonchalant when asked whether it is right to praise darkness?

Am I supposed to appeal to your sense of that truth is better than falsehood? You have already, with a sneer, set that standard at naught. What standard should we use, then? Your sense of virtue and vice? You artistic judgment of beauty and ugly? But your argument is that an ugly portrayal of an appallingly vicious killer is attractive, and merits praise.

You see, you are have emptiness in your soul [sic]. You can mock and sneer at the judgements of other men, but there no common ground for a debate, no standard to use, no neutral place for a judge to stand in the debate between everything and nothing.

You have no grounds to ask for a debate when you side with nothing. It is like asking for a civilized debate about the merit of savagery, or a polite debate about the merit of rudeness, or a law-abiding debate about the merit of anarchy. Actually, it is all of these and more: you are asking for a philosophical debate on the merits of nihilism, which is the abolition of all philosophy.

So, I laugh at your pretensions and your childish tilt of your nose in the air at me. I am unwilling to exchange meaningless words an empty-headed idolator of nothingness.

I will not help your pretend your nothing is anything, certainly not anything worth talking about.

I responded one more time, in case you’re interested, but that response contains basically what I am writing here in different words. Here is my take on the incident, which given my last response will probably get me banned, and with few allies to boot because of Mr. Wright’s popularity. I know the game – if you and a more popular person get in a fight, and both sides claim different things, who will you believe? The person you trust more, of course. So I’m in a lose-lose here, and can only document my case.

I have reviewed “Awake in the Night”, “Awake in the Night Land”, “The Last Guardian of Everness, “City Beyond Time”, “Tales of Feasts and Seasons”, and “One Bright Star to Guide Them”. Mr. Wright actually posted my very positive review of “The Last Guardian of Everness” on his personal site. Vox Day posted a brief excerpt of an even more positive review I wrote for “The Book of Feasts and Seasons” on his. I compared “Awake in the Night” to the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien, and stand by that comment. I watched “Interstellar” entirely on his recommendation, even overriding the recommendation NOT to watch it by loved one, and loved it for pretty much all of the reasons he said.

And now, because I dared to disagree with him and say that “Silence of the Lambs” is a great movie worth watching, I:

  • “Enjoy darkness.” Um, okay? I’m not sure what that’s really supposed to mean, honestly, unless he’s trying to say that I seek out watching evil things?
  • “Side with nothing”. Incorrect. I side with the people who say that “Silence of the Lambs” is good. That’s what we were discussing, right? “Silence of the Lambs”?
  • Am pretentious and childishly tilted my nose in the air at Mr. Wright. I believe he’s referring to the point where I dismissed his condescension and then proceeded to call him out on the fact that he refuses to even discuss things with people who disagree.”

Now, the point about me having an “emptiness in the soul”. This is such a vile and uncalled for accusation I almost declined to comment, but feel I must. So I say this: I said I liked “Silence of the Lambs” and that it was fascinating to look into the mind of a maniac, and “Silence” was great because it offered us this glimpse into the psyche of something we can’t normally understand, and was written skillfully enough to make the character sympathetic without making him truly good. This is my argument. This is why I said “Silence of the Lambs” was an Oscar worthy movie.

And for THIS Mr. Wright is willing to say that I have an emptiness in my soul, and can only mock and sneer at the judgments of other men (by the way, I don’t even know what he’s referring to, unless he counts “disagreement” inside the ranks of “mocking and sneering”).

This is libel, and I hope for an apology from Mr. Wright. I doubt I’ll get one though.

I beseech all of my five to ten readers for a moment of honest opinion: Has anything I have written ever made you think, for the slightest moment, that I am a secret nihilist?

If so, I apologize for that impression, and will work to correct it in the future. I am not a nihilist. I would describe myself as a Thomistic natural law theorist with no philosophical training who rests mostly on the shoulders of smarter men to form his philosophy. But those men certainly do not include Nietzsche.

In the meantime, I will “keep up my work”, which includes such things as coming up with lesson plans to teach students Lewis and Tolkien, publishing a story about an atheist converting to Christianity, and running an anti-suicide charity. I’m sure that somewhere down that line, in between my glowing praise of “Awake in the Night” and my criticism of “The Walking Dead” as nihilistic, despairing and pointless, someone will get it in their head that I’m in favor of people eating other people.

My arrogance does me no credit. But neither does Mr. Wright’s self-righteousness.

If somebody thinks I’m out on a limb here, do say so.

UPDATE: Mr. Wright has offered an apology. The offer is gracious and unexpected, and I gratefully accept. In turn I apologize for the times I appeared overly glib or dismissive, as this was never my intent. I will be more careful of this in the future.

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Why I’m Not Superversive

Mr. and Mrs. Wright (both excellent writers, both of whom I admire and agree with on many things) have started what they call the superversive fiction movement. In Mrs. Wright’s words:

First and foremost, a Superversive story has to have good storytelling.

By which I do not mean that it has to be well-written. Obviously, it would be great if every story was well-written. It is impossible, however, to define a genre or literary movement as “well-written”, as that would instantly remove the possibility of a beginner striving to join.

What I mean by good storytelling is that the story follows the principles of a good story. That, by the end, the good prosper, the bad stumble, that there is action, motion to the plot, and a reasonable about of sense to the overall structure.

Second,the characters must be heroic.

By this, I do not mean that they cannot have weaknesses. Technically, a character without weaknesses could not be heroic, because nothing would require effort upon his part.

Nor do I mean that a character must avoid despair. A hero is not defined by his inability to wander into the Valley of Despair, but by what he does when he finds himself knee deep in its quagmire. Does he throw in the towel and moan about the unfairness of life? Or does he pull his feet out of the mud with both hands and soldier onward?

Nor do I mean that every character has to be heroic, obviously some might not be. But in general, there should be characters with a heroic, positive attitude toward life.

However, many, many stories have good storytelling and heroic characters. Most decent fantasies are like that.

Are all decent fantasies Superversive?

No.

Because one element of Superversive literature is still missing.

Wonder.

Third, Superversive literature must have an element of wonder

But not ordinary wonder. (Take a moment to parse that out. Go ahead. I’ll still be here. )

Specifically, the kind of wonder that comes from suddenly realizing that there is something greater than yourself in the universe, that the world is a grander place than you had previously envisioned. The kind of wonder that comes from a sudden hint of a Higher Power, a more solid truth.

There might be another word for that kind of wonder: awe.

Specifically, the awe that comes when you are pulled out of your ordinary life by being made aware of the structure of the moral order of the universe.

That kind of awe.

Here are my problems with this:

1) The definition Mrs. Wright gives of good storytelling is this:

That, by the end, the good prosper, the bad stumble, that there is action, motion to the plot, and a reasonable about of sense to the overall structure.

…Which would make Shakespeare’s “Othello”, off the top of my head, bad storytelling. I do not agree.

2) About heroic characters, Mrs. Wright says this:

A hero is not defined by his inability to wander into the Valley of Despair, but by what he does when he finds himself knee deep in its quagmire. Does he throw in the towel and moan about the unfairness of life? Or does he pull his feet out of the mud with both hands and soldier onward?

Nor do I mean that every character has to be heroic, obviously some might not be. But in general, there should be characters with a heroic, positive attitude toward life.

But that would mean that the Hitchhiker’s Guide books don’t count as superversive; I can think of no major heroic characters off the top of my head. In book three, when the main characters gather to save the universe, they need to practically be dragged out of the various bars they are partying in.

Adams’ books aren’t superversive. But they’re brilliant. I would love to write a book like “Hitchhiker’s Guide” (I actually tried a faux-medieval story in that style, without success. Adams simply can’t be duplicated). But if I defined myself as superversive then that would mean I should not even try.

3) Mrs. Wright then says this:

Specifically, the kind of wonder that comes from suddenly realizing that there is something greater than yourself in the universe, that the world is a grander place than you had previously envisioned. The kind of wonder that comes from a sudden hint of a Higher Power, a more solid truth.

There might be another word for that kind of wonder: awe.

Specifically, the awe that comes when you are pulled out of your ordinary life by being made aware of the structure of the moral order of the universe.

The problem I have with this is that it leaves out any stories that end with the opposite conclusion – for example, a story like “Silence in the Night” by Mr. Wright, a novella that ends with the main character being forced to effectively kill his own father and ending up with no answers to any of his questions about life except for mocking laughter from an evil land. And that would be a shame, because it was a great story.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like, really LOVE, superversive fiction. My favorite books tend to be superversive (Tolkien and Lewis and L’Engle and Zusak…). But Mrs. Wright’s description leaves out some stuff I actually really like, and I don’t want to limit myself to only writing superversion, as if it’s the only sort of writing that matters. Case in point: I love “Silence of the Lambs”. It’s a great movie. Mr. Wright used it as an example of a movie that “mainstream Hollywood” somehow pushed upon us, passing over the superior “Beauty and the Beast” for the Oscar.

Well, this is where I disagree. I love “Beauty and the Beast”. Great film, great music, great characters, entertaining story. But “Silence of the Lambs” was smarter, had better acting (yes, it was an animated movie, but we’re judging which was better, not which was the superior achievement technically), and portrayed a fantastic character with mesmerizing death and offered us an insight into the darkness of the human heart.

It was not superversive. “Beauty and the Beast” was. It was also at least just as worthy of an Oscar. Oscars should not be chosen based on how superversive the work is. That “Beauty and the Beast” was about love and “Silence of the Lambs” was not doesn’t mean “Silence of the Lambs” was worse. And that is where I disagree with Mr. Wright, who seems to imply that those who like those sorts of films are somehow liking something inferior, and it is something to be ashamed of if you like “The Departed” (another example he gave and another movie I love).

And that is why I’m not superversive: Because I think we should be making great stories, period. Superversive or otherwise.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What Was Up With Season 5 of Justified

So I mentioned that season 5 was very good, but a bit worse than 2-4. Now, I hesitate to bash it too much because it was great. Seriously. Watch it. But there’s no denying that something was quite “off” about it.

I think that “Restitution”, the finale, is really an excellent microcosm of the season as a whole:

  • The best moments involved Boyd. Pretty much like the rest of the season, I loved basically every scene he was in.
  • The worst moments came with Ava in prison. The plotline wasn’t exactly bad but with so much interesting crap going on it was definitely weaker than the rest of the show.
  • The Crowe family storyline seemed weirdly underwhelming. The point of Raylan’s anger was that he was pissed that Daryl shot Art, but he didn’t seem as angry with him as he did when his Aunt Helen was killed or when trooper Tom was killed. I know Art didn’t actually die, but Raylan wasn’t sure of that at the time.
  • At the same time, it contained some absolutely sensational moments….like the rest of the season. Raylan’s monologue to Kendal about how he killed his first pig was terrific, and Wendy Crowe’s final scene with Daryl was terrific, and Raylan’s gambit to get Kendal to out Daryl was ballsy and brilliant. It wasn’t as if the death scene of Daryl was underwhelming; it wasn’t. It lived up to the hype. But…
  • Like the rest of the season, the whole seemed to be less than the sum of its parts, perhaps because the Crowes didn’t seem as large of a threat to Raylan as the Bennets or Quarles. They had no real plan. While individual scenes involving them could be outstanding, they didn’t really have an overall story arc.
  • Despite the issues, Ava’s prison arc was resolved very well. The way they set up the final scene on the bridge was perfect.
  • And finally, by the time it ended I still came out with the feeling that it was REALLY good…like the season as a whole. The final scene with Ava and Raylan at the bridge was a brilliant twist that set up season 6 in magnificent fashion.

I think the key to understanding season 5 is that it really works best as a set up to season 6. The lack of a true central plot weakened the season a bit but it had some outstanding moments. At time Boyd just carried the entire show on his back, and it worked. While the finale might have been a bit less than the sum of its parts, like season 5 in general, when understood as the set-up to an explosive season 6 showdown between Raylan and Boyd it works extremely well.

Once again, I hesitate to say I was underwhelmed, because I was not, or disappointed, because I was not. But I think it’s only fair to give the season this sort of analysis, and admit it was perhaps a touch below the high standards set by the previous four seasons.

BUT – Season 6 looks like it’ll be AWESOME.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You Know What Amuses Me?

How people who bring up the American indians somehow think it’s some sort of “gotcha” moment for people who oppose immigration. “Oh yeah, well YOUR family pushed out the indians, so suck it up!”

It never fails to astound me how people who bring up the American indians don’t realize that it’s quite possibly the best anti-immigration argument of all. Yes, let’s have what happened to the indians happen to us. Great idea.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Justified Review: “Restitution”

So season 5 came out on DVD about three or so days ago! I had no idea, and when I found it in a store on the same day I just so happened to have 25% off every item in my basket (I worked on black Friday…never work in retail if you can help it) I was beyond psyched. Merry Christmas!

So how was season 5? Well, the quick answer is “excellent”. The long answer is “excellent, though seasons 2-4 were better overall”.

That’s not to say that season 5 didn’t have some killer episodes. Episode 5, “Shot All to Hell”, was dynamite, and generally, as always, the episodes leading up to the finale were spectacular.

The season is difficult to summarize, but basically we have two plot lines coming to a head: The Crowes and finally dealing with Daryl and Boyd getting out of the scrape with his Mexican friends. On the side is Ava getting out of jail somehow, but that one’s a bit less interesting.

The final episode, “Restitution’s”, best scenes involved Boy Crowder. Boyd found himself both thoroughly outmatched and incredibly brilliant at the same time. After his kidnapping by the Mexican  heroin smugglers Boyd looks almost hilariously outmatched. One particularly embarrassing scene ended up wasting a spectacular line by Boyd (he wasted it, anyway…I loved it. “You know what your trouble is? You just don’t know how to talk to people!), and he very nearly gets skinned alive in another awesome scene. But his dangerous gambit to bring the marshals down worked like a freaking charm, not only getting him out of the mess alive against all odds but ridding him of his Mexican problems without even having him get any more blood on his hands. Boyd might be a villain, but he is just awesome to watch. Seeing him sit down and just talk is a blast.

Daryl Crowe and Wendy Crowe also had a dynamite scene together, when Wendy finally gets Daryl to admit he shot Art. If anything about the episode was disappointing, perhaps it was too little Raylan.

So I was nearing the end of the episode and thinking “That was…good. I mean, I wish the finale was a LITTLE stronger…”

And then the final scene happened. And it RULED. Ava flipped on Boyd! She’ll be wearing a wire! The marshals are going after Boyd!

Ladies and gentleman, your main villain for season 6, the final season of “Justified”: Boyd Crowder. Wouldn’t want it any other way.

Seriously though, AVA FLIPPED ON BOYD. Brilliant plot twist, and now I am VERY MUCH looking forward to the final season. How great is it that I made it just in time to see the show end live?

And finally: If the Ruby Friedman orchestra just went all the way to the end, their version of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” would be my favorite. Awesome rendition.

As it is, the award for “best use of the song on the show” still goes to the haunting ending of season 2. Absolutely perfect.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brief Review: Interstellar

Best science fiction movie ever?

Probably.

I still say “Serenity” is better overall because it’s hard to top that crackling dialogue, but “Interstellar” relied way more heavily on the sci-fi elements. Probably the single most ambitious movie I’ve ever seen. Visually gorgeous, it features a virtuoso performance by the show stealing Matthew McConaughey and a totally mind-bending plot.

The ending reminded me of “The Last of All Suns” – not because of what actually happened but because of my reaction to it. It may have gone a bit (just a bit!) to far into the “weird” direction for my taste, but if you like hard sci-fi you’ll love it.

If you consider yourself a sci-fi fan, see this movie. It is brilliant.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments