Sunday, July 9, 2023

Hella Nopes + Wambsgans

My husband would have said, "wow, that's too bad,"
thrown some loose change at them, and
slammed the door.

1. Knock at the Cabin (2023) d. M. Night Shyamalan

Family goes to cabin; 4 randos show up and demand one of the dads kill either the other dad or the child to stop the end of the world.

This was put together well (aside from weird extreme closeups in the very beginning) and I probably would have liked it maybe 10 years ago because omg what an interesting, high-stakes mythology! But now, today, this feels very much like Cult Initiation 101 and after all that has happened in the last 7 years, the writing feels irresponsible. I realize that worrying over whether or not some zealot out there is going to take this seriously is probably not a big enough reason to pan a film, but I have concerns for very specific and gullible members of the population and I honestly can't believe this is a 2023 narrative. Just quit trying to freak people out this way, they've HAD ENOUGH! This was like Saw but with religion.


2. ER, season 13 (2007)

"It's giving old, creepy Malucci."
My daughters are rewatching this and it's always been this exact season where I quit giving a shit about the show. I don't even think I watched it full to the end, to be honest, and this upsets me because I absolutely count the first 10 seasons as one of my best shows, ever. Abby Lockhart is 100% my favorite character, ever, and I wish she would have stayed in psych with her perfect cardigan and all her experience and empathy. What a god.

A. The change in the opening credits was bad, someone on Reddit said it was to make room for more ads. WHY.

B. Tony Gates as some sort of rebooted Clooney bad boy was annoying. Bonus negatives for Stamos, who is very problematic (look him up, JANE magazine interview), any time, anywhere. BYE.

C. No more Greene, Corday, Benton, Chen, or Romano, Weaver is hardly in any episodes, they need Carter. Abby and Luka are good, keep them along with Sam, Pratt, Neela, Ray, and Morris but Abby is just a doctor now. Not a nurse becoming a doctor, not a resident doing psych and NICU rotations. I want more for her, not just a surprise pregnancy. And there could have been multiple episodes about Darfur, not just a couple. 


3. If There be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

I cannot believe this even exists. I read it in middle school (!), then again in college with my roommate where we would circle ridiculous stuff in the text and make comments on the story in the margins, and now I'm reading it again. This is the third book in the Flowers in the Attic series (4th if you count Garden of Shadows first, chronologically and I hate myself for knowing this) where Cathy's ten-year-old son, Bart, goes off the fucking rails after Grandmother Corrine moves in next door. Bart is moody and unloved (by stepfather Chris and Cathy, who seem to prefer Jory, the older brother and Cindy, a little girl Cathy adopts. Chris and Cathy are yes, brother and sister and yes, MARRIED) so his initial interactions with Corrine seem hopeful because he's finally getting attention from someone but lo and behold John Amos, the Foxworth's butler, decides to groom Bart to become the next Malcolm Foxworth, forcing him to read the old diary, speak in his voice, and grow to hate all women for bothering to exist. 

I have a lot of sympathy for children going through struggles with parents, and many times kids with the biggest problems come off as extremely unlikeable to most people, but mental health struggles aside, there were very few redeeming qualities to Bart (to the point of me thinking GOD just let it end), and the Malcom stuff was weird and confusing. At various times in the story this change in Bart was presented as 1. He accepted what John Amos was selling and decided at 10 to be like, sounds good, Imma hate women and be like my great-grandfather, 2. A sort of supernatural possession of Bart by Malcom, or 3. An actual second personality in line with dissociative identity disorder, Malcom a second side of Bart, who was always aware of the presence (making it decidedly not DID). If I had to guess, she was going for all of these things under the umbrella of "this is what happens when you do incest," (even though Bart was conceived through Cathy's affair with her mother's husband Bart Winslow, not her own brother). See? GRANDMOTHER OLIVIA WAS RIGHT! 

Clearly I missed everything messed up about this book the first time, slightly less the second time, but this thing is off the charts ridiculous. Chris and Cathy seemed to ignore tons of red flags throughout the story just because Bart was already slightly unpleasant, and that makes me sad, but overall the story was a giant ICK.The continued incest, the abuse toward animals and Cindy, and most of all the indoctrination of a little kid into said abuse plus misogyny. I know I was just looking for creepy locked-in-the-attic stuff the first 2 times reading it, since that's what I thought these books were about, but my god, how clueless was I to be reading through this at 12, "yes, all these things are fine because SCARY BOOK!" Also, not a single adult, anywhere, thought this might be an issue because everyone I knew was reading these also.


4. The Idol

Just NO. That's all.

5. Succession

So enough time has gone by where I am able to think more about Succession and Tom Wambsgans. Yes, I made a video freaking out about how cringey he was and how he was one of the worst people on the show, but I am going to retract that. Sometimes I get it wrong. 

Tom Wambsgans was at times annoying, and I still have a problem with how he treated Greg (manipulation, water bottle assault, the bodega sushi issue, etc.), but I have come to appreciate his character as one of the only ones that reacts to the disturbing elements of both the business and the Roy family with any sort of emotion or empathy. This sets him apart from Kendall, Shiv, and Roman as they also realize their lives are disturbing and problematic yet they just continue to try to one-up each other in the race to see who can get the attention of Logan (King disturbing and problematic). While the siblings try to become more like Logan, Tom tries too, but it's a challenge for him and he consistently acts out, usually targeting Greg in the process. This is not unlike the Patrick Bateman situation in American Psycho where he wanted to be noticed so much in a money-obsessed, materialistic environment that he became a serial killer and still no one cared. Tom pretends he's like the Roys, even wants to be like them, but he's not. Shiv wants an open marriage; he feels guilty after hooking up at his bachelor party and turns down the 3-way on the boat. He doesn't want to go to prison over the cruise line issues but offers to do it for Logan. He helps Logan in the bathroom with care and tenderness none of Logan's own children would have been able to match. This is not to say Tom doesn't have the ability to become more heartless and Roy-like with time, especially considering the finale (no spoilers) but yeah. 

I am kind of okay with him now. And it has totally nothing to do with (below). 

6. Pride and Prejudice (2005) d. Joe Wright

I rewound this scene and watched it 3 times after finishing the film. I just . . .