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'Malcom & Marie' is a mess

I initially published this on my Letterboxd profile when the movie premiered. Felt like it was worth bringing over here for safe keeping. Follow me there for more regular film reviews.

Malcolm & Marie is the kind of movie that rats on itself. It ropes you in with a swanky neo-retro, upper class black & white aesthetic, a classic romance-on-the-rocks situation, and strong performances from two rising stars, but the film is as blindly self-obsessed as its male lead. Shortly after its title card, Malcolm frustratingly asks Marie to tell him what’s bothering her and she calmly responds, “Malcolm, I promise you nothing productive is going to be said tonight.” This movie is nothing if not true to its word.

What follows is the push-and-pull of several 20ish minute arguments between the couple interlaced with metatextual banter on filmmaking & film criticism. Some of the monologuing is worthy of plumbing for meaning, but at its core, the movie fails at delivering any coherent message on relationships, art, or criticism. But then the movie rats on itself again, as Malcolm shouts halfway through its runtime, “Cinema doesn’t need to have a message. It needs to have heart.” This line reflects the defensiveness Malcolm as much as that of the movie’s creators.

Again, the movie is true to its word, though: every moment is overwrought with emotion. It absolutely has heart. Its dialogue may sometimes feel more like the argument that happens in your head than the one that happens with an actual human being, but that’s the poetic melodrama of romance. Successful romances get away with saccharine and acrimonious dialogue. Blue Jay does it. Blue Valentine does it. Roman Holiday does it. But Malcom & Marie…doesn’t.

The movie fails because it’s a lazy portrayal of toxic masculinity that doesn’t make any real attempt to confront or deconstruct those behaviors. The first 20 minutes of the film are Malcolm berating Marie for being “psychotic” and “delusional” for wanting him to be thankful for the life experiences she was honest with him about that were the foundation of the film he created. She’s making him food while explaining this and can’t even get a murmur of gratitude from her partner. She was hurting and he made it about himself. And it doesn’t stop after the first segment. He belittles her, minimizes her concerns, accuses her of being jealous, and on and on. It’s the most basic portrayal of narcissism and emotional abuse and the film barely limps across the finish line on the topic.

So I guess the movie does succeed because nothing productive was said. And the movie knows it didn’t want to say anything productive. And that’s the whole problem.

Scribbled in my notepad is a quote that I cannot actually locate the origins of, but states the following: “We procrastinate when we forget who we are but also when we’re struggling with admitting how much we don’t like that person.” My notes follow it up saying it belongs to Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, but I cannot seem to verify that. I haven’t even seen that movie yet, though perhaps now I will make time for it. Anyway, it made me feel something.

Singular They Is a 600 Year Old Word and People Upset about the Gender Neutral Usage Being Added to the Dictionary Are Grumpy Dingdongs

When Merriam-Webster added the use of they as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun to the dictionary recently, a whole bunch of dingdongs got bent out of shape pretending they care and know about language. King Dingdong himself, Ben Shapiro, went on a lengthy rant about it that concluded “once and for all that logic has gone out the window” because of this decision.

Of course these dingbats are totally wrong and don’t actually give a shit about language, but instead smuggle bad faith ideas into the discourse by pretending to be serious, “rational” thinkers.

The argument against a singular personal pronoun ‘they’ is basically that of prescriptivism – that there is a defined, “correct” use of language and that’s the be-all end-all forever. It’s basically linguistic authoritarianism. So with this argument, “they” hasn’t referred to a singular gender-neutral person in the past, so it’s not in the rule book, so that means it’s illogical and we shouldn’t do it.

This is a total sham of a perspective, though, because our language changes all the time and if you’re upset about “they”, you’ll need to be upset about how flirt actually means to flick something and hussy is actually equivalent to saying housewife. Except, wait, those words haven’t meant that in almost 500 years. So either language evolves and we all understand that is a real thing that happens or there’s a whole lot more words these dipshits need to be angry about, which they coincidentally seem to have not been angry about publicly.

The thing is, the singular form of the pronoun “they” has been around for 600 years and we use it in a bunch of other ways people don’t bat an eye at (e.g. “If anybody wants their refund, they can get it at the register.”). “You” went through the exact same thing. It was a plural pronoun until the 1700s when it took over for singular use, too. I don’t see these dingdongs talking about the scourge that singular “you” has on the English language.

See, these people aren’t actually upset about language. They can’t possibly be, because if they thought about linguistics for more than five seconds, they would discover language evolves all the time and even has within their own lifetime and they roll with those punches.

So what could these people’s concerns possibly be about when they complain about this topic? What a coincidence this happens to be a political topic and all of the complaints come from right wingers frothing at the mouth about “SJWs” in the same breath they decry the gender neutral usage of they as illogical.

And that’s what these complaints are actually about: Dingdongs like Shapiro want to complain about the world changing because they’re bigoted garbage and don’t actually care if they’re wrong, as long as they can put their boot on the neck of someone below them.

They is a gender-neutral pronoun. Don’t be a dingdong.

My Git Cheat Sheet

I’ve been using and learning git a bunch lady, so I started jotting down some of the basics I found myself using often and wanting to make sure I remembered and left a note in the plainest language possible about what it does. Figured it’d be worth putting out there. I’ll probably add a few more as I find myself in recurring situations.

git remote update

git add .;git commit -m ‘message header’ -m ‘message body’;git push

git commit -am ‘message text’;git push

git clean -dfx

git checkout -b branchName

git branch -d branchName

git stash apply stash@{#}

git log --oneline --decorate --graph --all

git config --global --edit

The Sadness

The sadness that consumed me in my early 20s feels very different to the sadness that consumes me now. I coped a lot through music back then and when I’ve gone back to listen to songs that soothed me and made me feel understood, everything feels overwrought.

For example, Foxing’s “The Medic” still digs its nails into me, but I simultaneously feel a sense of distance when I listen. I’m more of an observer in the room than a participant. Such a visceral expulsion of emotion doesn’t really hit the same way these days.

I suppose it’s that I’ve turned inward in the last half decade or so. I take my self-loathing out on myself these days, whereas I used to project it onto my relationships and this has changed how I relate to and express my own sadness. It feels like a better path, at least for now.

Earnestness »

The AV Club on Amazon’s The Boys:

There is a rise in the desire and nostalgia for characters with good intentions that embrace passions and dreams rather than cynicism, because many of us want to connect with earnest emotion and unapologetic ideals to counter the weight of the world.

It’s okay to want the world to be a better place and fight for that to be reality. It’s okay to be genuine-genuine instead of ironic-genuine. It’s okay to care. There’s been enough years of wallowing in the misery of our cultural cynicism and it’s time for a change. In the face of overwhelming political tension and fatigue, impending ecological collapse, and the drudgery of everyday capitalism, hope can feel like all we have left to hold onto. I think stories of hope and sincerity will be a defining moment of this era and the world will be a better place for it.

I was not prepared for the irony of my first post in 9 months to be about shoes again.

Shoes: Poems

A Facebook friend was looking for some poems about van Gogh’s ‘A Pair of Shoes’ painting and I felt inspired, so here are a few haikus I whipped up.

Leather for the bad
Weather, take me home, soft like
A feather, now rest
Tangle untangle
Chasing lace, these fingers dance
Daily routine trance
With me all these years
Every crevice, a story
Dad’s boots fit me now
Broken sole; patch me
Let me keep you safe and warm
So much left to give
Early morning rise
Freshly oiled and ready
For a long day’s work

hail satan First tree as an adult.

Retied Shoes

I almost exclusively wear all-black Vans Authentics. I’ve worn a pair of these shoes for almost a decade. I tie them once and then slip them on and off until I get new ones. This is to say that I am intimately familiar with this shoe and its relationship with my feet. I also gain and then lose the same 20 pounds every year. I’m currently down a little over 10 pounds in the last month and found myself retying my shoes the other morning.

It’s kind of an event having to retie these shoes, which is why it stuck out to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it that day. The knot was still perfectly tight, but my foot was loose when I put the shoe on, which made no sense to me. Then I was looking at my health data and realized the most likely scenario is that I actually have, well, less foot. Once I realized that, it changed my mood that day and reminded me I’m heading in the right direction and to keep up the good work.

Small changes matter. Even just retying your shoes.