Zodiac Of The Damned : Amy Brereton’s “Horrorscopes”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ve never put too much stock in astrology, myself, but for our purposes here that’s entirely immaterial : I know good art when I see it. And I know that when good art is presented within a strong conceptual framework, then you’ve got yourself the making of a really cool ‘zine. And if there’s one thing Amy Brereton’s self-published Horrorscopes is without question, it’s an exceptionally cool ‘zine indeed.

Getting the particulars out of the way first, it’s an impressive enough physical object in its own right, printed on a satin-finished heavyweight paper stock in gorgeous full color with a sturdy clear vinyl protector over its grimly gorgeous cover, the whole thing spiral-bound for ease of flipping through (it’s also signed, numbered, and dated on the back, published as it is in a limited run of 100 copies) — but “easy” isn’t a word we’ll be applying in any other…

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If I Could Bend Your Ear About “If On Account Of Sunday” —

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

There are mysteries, there are riddles, there are enigmas, and then there are those things that are all three wrapped around each other, as Joe Pesci’s David Ferrie informed us in Oliver Stone’s JFK back in the days when conspiracies were kinda cool and outre and not solely the province of dudes in animal pelts and portly rendering plant workers who have taken it upon themselves to impose their bizarre worldview on the rest of us by storming the halls of congress. I’m not here to talk about MAGA nitwits, though — beyond the extent to which I just did, I guess — I’m here to talk about Lane Yates and Michael R. Muller’s new self-published mini, If On Account Of Sunday, which fits the bill of what Pesci was talking (okay, babbling) about to the proverbial “T.”

Ostensibly based on the Norse myth about the origins of the…

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The Films of 2020: The Social Dilemma (dir by Jeff Orlowski)

You have to feel a little bit bad for The Social Dilemma, a well-intentioned documentary that makes several good points but which runs into one huge problem.  The documentary takes a look at social media and, more specifically, how society’s addiction to social media has led to a world where people are more divided, more angry, more anxious, and more volatile.  Featuring interviews with the people worked for the companies and who created the social media sites that currently dominate our culture, The Social Dilemma shows how the algorithms that were initially designed to keep people clicking have now led to a world where everyone is living in their own separate reality.  The film makes the case that this is not a good thing and that the heads of Twitter and Facebook are potentially more powerful than any world leader.  Considering that the film was released months before the social media-directed riot at the capitol and Big Tech’s subsequent decision to ban President Trump (while, of course, continuing to allow both Chinese propaganda and the Ayatollah’s calls for the destruction of Israel), it’s hard not to feel that The Social Dilemma‘s case has been proven.  It’s a prophetic film.

The problem, however, is that most people already know that social media is addictive and that it’s potentially harmful and that Google has way too much data on file about its users.  Everyone already knows this.  It’s just that most people don’t care.  That’s the nature of addiction.  Even though you know it’s probably going to kill you, you also know that there’s a good chance that you’re next fix might be the best feeling you’ve ever experienced.

I know that it’s not a coincidence that YouTube is always trying to get me to watch videos about kittens.  I also know that it’s not a coincidence that, for several months last year, every internet ad that I saw was for lingerie.  And yes, I guess it’s a little bit creepy that both YouTube and Facebook managed to figure out my political leanings, despite the fact that I hardly ever post anything political online.  I would be outraged if I wasn’t so busy clicking on stuff.  What’s that YouTube?  There’s a video of two kittens at a meeting of libertarian Catholics and it ends with a La Perla ad?  I’ll be right over. Just let me finish writing this review….

The Social Dilemma is full of interviews with people who once worked for companies and services like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Most of them wear the shell-shocked expressions of people who are still grappling with feelings of “My God, what have I done?”  They discuss not only how the algorithms behind social media work but also how those algorithms eventually turned out to be more powerful and more destructive than any of their creators imagined.  One former Facebook engineer discusses how “likes’ were originally viewed as being a way to encourage people to be positive but, instead, they quickly turned Facebook into a competition.  One particularly sobering segment discusses how the social media boom also brought with it a surge of teenage girls going to the emergency room as a result harming themselves as their self-worth became linked to getting likes, retweets, hearts, shares, and all the rest.  It’s a sobering film, though its impact is lessened by the decision to include some dramatizations involving a fictional family.  The message of the film come through well enough via interviews without the film including scenes of Vincent Kartheiser literally playing a character named Artificial Intelligence.  (That said, it’s always good to see Vincent Kartheiser in a film.  He’s an actor who deserves to work more.)

To the film’s benefit, it acknowledges that giving up social media is not a realistic solution for most people.  At this point, asking people to totally give up social media is the equivalent of asking someone to voluntarily cut themselves off from the world.  (As one interviewee points out, social media manages to be both a utopia and a dystopia at the same time.)  The documentary makes the argument that the Big Tech monopoly needs to be better regulated and perhaps broken up.  (The film’s right but, considering how many former Silicon Valley executives and Big Tech lobbyists are going to be involved with the Biden administration, none of that’s not going to happen any time soon.)  The film ends with a series of suggestions about how to use social media without allowing it to control or destroy your life.  Most of them are common sense stuff — seek out opposing view points, don’t click on clickbait, don’t blindly retweet or share, do not give devices to children, turn off notifications, etc., etc. — and I’m happy to say that I do most of them.

That said, social media is addictive.  I’ve tried to take breaks from twitter but it’s rare that I can ever go more than a day without checking.  Seeing those mentions, seeing those likes, seeing those retweets; even after all these years, it’s still a rush.  When I first started watching The Social Dilemma, I hopped on twitter just to let people know that I was watching the movie.  When the movie ended, I checked to see if anyone had commented on the fact that I was watching it.  That’s the world that we all live in right now.

And, as one interviewee says during The Social Dilemma, it could very well be the end of the world.  What’s sad, though, is that most people are too busy looking at their phones and devices to even enjoy the ride.


Here are the 2020 Nominations of the St. Louis Film Critics Association

The St. Louis Film Critics Association yesterday announced their nominees for the best of 2020.  The winners will be announced this Sunday, the 17th.

The great thing about St. Louis is that they give out a lot of awards.  They honor the Best Horror Film and the Best Comedy and all the rest.  As a result, their awards are always marginally more interesting than what you get from some of the other regional groups.

Here are the nominations!

First Cow
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Promising Young Woman
The Trial of the Chicago 7

Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Spike Lee – Da 5 Bloods
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Jessie Buckley – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
Frances McDormand – Nomadland
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Ellen Burstyn – Pieces of a Woman
Olivia Colman – The Father
Amanda Seyfried – Mank
Yuh-jung Youn – Minari

Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Delroy Lindo – Da 5 Bloods
Anthony Hopkins – The Father
Gary Oldman – Mank

Bo Burnham – Promising Young Woman
Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Bill Murray – On The Rocks
Leslie Odom Jr. – One Night in Miami
Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
Jack Fincher – Mank
Andy Siara – Palm Springs
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Charlie Kaufman – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kemp Powers – One Night in Miami
Jon Raymond & Kelly Reichardt – First Cow
Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Benjamin Kracunc – Promising Young Woman
Erik Messerschmidt – Mank
Joshua James Richards – Nomadland
Newton Thomas Sigel – Da 5 Bloods
Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

Jonah Moran – Hamilton
Robert Frasen – I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Kirk Baxter – Mank
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland
​Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Kave Quinn – Emma.
Mark Ricker – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Donald Graham Burt – Mank
Cristina Casali – The Personal History of David Copperfield
Michael Perry – Promising Young Woman

Ludovico Einaudi – “Nomadland”
Ludwig Goransson – “Tenet”
James Newton Howard – “News of the World”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Baptiste – “Soul”
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – “Mank”

Birds of Prey
Da 5 Bloods
Lovers Rock
Promising Young Woman

Birds of Prey
The Invisible Man
The Midnight Sky

Over The Moon
The Wolf House

The Invisible Man
La Llorona
Possessor: Uncut
​The Vast of Night

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The King of Staten Island
On The Rocks
Palm Springs

Birds of Prey
The Gentlemen
The Old Guard

City Hall
Dick Johnson Is Dead
My Octopus Teacher
The Social Dilemma

Another Round
Vitalina Varela

Artemis Fowl
The Doorman
Hillbilly Elegy
Wonder Woman 1984

HR scene in The Assistant
Rudy Guiliani in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Dinner with parents in I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Sisters dine in The Invisible Man
Questionnaire in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Artwork of the Day: Too Much Woman (Artist Unknown)

Artist Unknown

The book was first published in 1961.  The cover artist is unknown and I couldn’t find any information on Elliott Gilbert either.

Joan Manready’s name appears to be appropriate as she’s ready for any man.  I guess the title means that she had too much passion for just one man, like her husband, to satisfy.  Her husband is cold, which means that Joan has to seduce (or, as the cover puts it, conquer) the pool boy.  Not surprisingly, the pool boy is not putting up much resistance.  Speaking for myself, I like the broad shoulders and the abs but the unibrow is a definite turn off.

Music Video of the Day: Shakedown by Bob Seger (1987, directed by Tony Scott?)

Written for the film Beverly Hills Cop II, Shakedown was nearly a Glenn Frey song.

Frey was hired to perform the song but, on the day he was set to record it, he came down with laryngitis.  As Frey didn’t really like the song to begin with and wanted to change the lyrics, it was decided to instead hire Bob Seger to do the song.  Seger did not object to the lyrics and the end result was another number one hit for him.  As Frey and Seger were both from Detroit and close friends, Frey later said that he was happy that they at least keep the payday in Michigan.

The song was also nominated for an Academy Award.  It lost the Oscar to I’ve Had The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing.  1987, admittedly, was not a strong year as far as the Best Original Song competition was concerned.  Among the other songs nominated were the title song from Cry Freedom, Storybook Love from The Princess Bride, and, from Mannequin, Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now, a song that was so vacuous that only Starship could have performed it.  Shakedown, at least, has some life to it.

The music video is basically a trailer for Beverly Hills Cop II.  Shots of Bob Seger performing are mixed with shots of Brigitte Nielsen’s legs and Eddie Murphy doing his thing.  I couldn’t find any directorial credits for the video but all of the Beverly Hills Cop II footage was directed by Tony Scott so, even if someone else directed the footage of Seger performing, this is still definitely a Tony Scott music video.