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The Flist knows all

Apparently there's a thing where people post a joyful thing each day of August. I am not sure but I think this came from synecdochic. Very well. I am off out to a fair tomorrow where there will be duck-herding and a book tombola. DUCK HERDING. Not quite a GIP. But my new favourite icon. I made a new XF icon a while ago but it is mean and I don't want to harsh anyone's shiny film buzz.

I went to see the new X-Files movie tonight. The company was excellent but the film was not to my taste . I wanted to love this film so badly but failed. It was two hours that passed pleasantly enough and I didn't dislike it at all except for the part where I shouldn't have been sitting there feeling nothing for long stretches.

I found the script nonsensical, and the dialogue desperately portentous and pompous. Some of the directions it took were lacking in clear logic, and confused. Googling? For specialist knowledge? Really? I am glad I know that I can do that, and will be taking up my career in particle physics just as soon as I have arsed about printing out photos of the large hadron collider.

There was none of the paranormal thrill in there for me, aside from Father Joe's visions, indeed the whole thing just reverts to a rather tame slasher movie which is taking its cues from Saw and Hostel.

The two FBI agents we see, Special Agent Flirty McBadmascara and Agent Dodgyrapper , are by rote drones, there just to mouth sceptic/believer standard lines, and are played in anodyne, featureless fashion. Though as hesychasm said, it goes to show that if you flirt with Scully's boyfriend you end up falling down a liftshaft.

I was fairly offended by the whole Russian serial-killing gay spouses on two grounds: firstly it's brass-plated xenophobic fail to make your villain wun o' them furriners -- and a criminal waste of the effortlessly charismatic and sinister Callum Keith Rennie -- secondly, I am sure I don't have to explain why it's just *rubbish* to draw a link between gay marriage, sexual deviancy and serial killing. Yes, you could say that he is motivated by love, rather than gain, but it's not done in an interesting way.

Of all the XF episodes I thought they might reference, I never imagined that they would go for "Home" -- and manage to leave out the parts that made "Home" twisted fun.

Finally, I didn't like the performances that much, with the exception of brief Mitch Pileggi and especially Billy Connolly. Parting company with the vast majority of my flist here, the two central performances weren't consistently doing much for me, as I felt the script kept demanding that they act as though this was *serious* and *important*, and that made any usual lightness of touch desert them. Gillian Anderson always does wonders with Chris Carter dialogue, and there were scenes where she was really good, and David Duchovny as Mulder is a lanky streak of hot with a smart mouth, but all the plotty heavy lifting they were doing made me tired. There was little gallows humour and precious few instances of quirky wit that I so loved about the best episodes of the series.

All the mobile phone and ceiling/pencil interface-related shoutouts in the world aren't enough to make up for that script, no matter how much fanservice there is in finally making the relationship loving and explicit. The end scene, after the credits? Let us not speak of it. I'll have whatever crack he's having. I've run out of WTF and the shops are shut.

Ultimately, I haven't seen a full episode of the show in maybe four years -- or maybe I did but I'm blanking on it. The DVDs are on my shelves in their shrink rap packaging. I bought 'em cheap, I'm saving 'em up, I'll watch them one day. The characters I love don't live in this film or, for me, on those DVDs. They live in my imagination and the imaginations of people who write them in a way that I love.

I believe my flist knows all and I wonder if you might help me:

What is the present equivalent of a song like Radiohead's "Creep", you know, I hate myself/the world and I want to die (but not really)-style teenage angst music? I am sure there must be something from that legion of American emo bands but I don't know any of their output at all. It has to be something as well known as "Creep" though, rather than obscure. It has to be well known enough that a factory in China would put it in a musical toy. Is there such a song?



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
I don't know much about the current crop of popular bands either. The closest thing I can think of is Staind's It's Been A While, which fits the theme and was massively popular, but that was from 2001 and the band members were pushing thirty when the song came out, so probably not. I'll put the question forth at B.org music thread to see if anyone else could think of a song fitting the description.

Re. The X-Files movie -- err, what you said. Boy, did the plot bother me. I couldn't see past the problematic plot well enough to indulge in M/S nostalgia. It was rather sad-making. Ah, well.

Edited at 2008-08-02 04:58 am (UTC)
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I've listened to that but it's not really one of those songs that permeated the public consciousness the way things like Crazy or Hey Ya or Creep have. Maybe I should go for something dead obvious.

As for the movie, I enjoyed preemptive nostalgia when I knew they were making it. I still like the characters but I pick my own version. *g*
Aug. 2nd, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
What about one of the Linkin Park singles? I can't remember the titles, but a few were v. emo.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
"In the end"
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I shall go YouTube it right now
Aug. 2nd, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
My dear friend from back home who was my fellow XF geek back in the day (but did not follow me onto internet fandom or fanfic), saw it and loved it, and emailed me to say:

"I loved it - why didn't you like it? I can't believe you didn't like it!"

I felt like an evil bitch to go all whiny and nitpicky and displeased on her. I kept it mellow and hopefully she'll still speak with me.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
I don't want to drizzle on anyone's parade if they loved it. I can see why some people did but it didn't ping for me.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 06:37 am (UTC)
Oh, God, that Evanescence song. What's it called? Oh, oh, "My Immortal." GOD that song sucks. (Yeah, it was from a couple years ago, but I think it still applies.)

And I'm like you, in that I mostly found the movie unobjectionable while I was watching it, by which I mean I didn't love it but I didn't feel enough to hate it either. And a good dose of humor would have made it quite a bit better for me.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, it does suck. Everything about Evanescence sucks. *Everything*
Aug. 2nd, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)
I think that was cazling's line -- and it is oh so true.

Spot on review. Like I said, I was able to watch the movie more for curiosity's sake so it was all right with me that it sucked -- expected, in fact. At least we got some LULZ out of it. ;) The important part for me anyway was getting to hang out with the both of you again!
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:25 am (UTC)
It's all about teh LULZ! I've now decided I'm just going to stick to thinking about my 10-15 minutes long great shippy movie that this could be edited down into, and pretend that all the snowy killer stuff I remember is actually just me misremembering 'Fargo'. It's amazing what a little sangria and a good night's sleep will do.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
I loved the evening. I had just hoped for more from the movie. Have a marvellous time on holiday
Aug. 2nd, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
Duck herding!! I do hope there will be a report.

I'm with you on much of what you said about the movie. I was particularly bothered by the homophobia, xenophobia, and just general ...phobias and gross stereotypes that were there in place of, oh I don't know, plot and thinking. I have no particular love for the Catholic church, the portrayal of priests in this was particularly reprehensible, I think. I did think Billy Connolly was most excellent and cheered for the return of the Burly One, although wanted to gouge my eyes out over the pieta moment in the shed. But, I got to see it with excellent company (erehwesle, audrey_cooper, thalia_dmuse, and girlgone) so that was really the main point.

Enjoy your fair!
Aug. 2nd, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
Actually, I hadn't even thought about the treatment of the Catholic priests but you're right. One could accept Father Joe and Father Ybarra if there were leavening moments but there weren't. And I wasn't keen on the comedy nuns at the end either.

However, you're right. The best thing about the movie was the company *g*
Aug. 2nd, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry you hated it. I've had a couple of long, involved conversations with people about the couple who were the murderers at the heart of the movie, because at first I didn't see the wince-able quality of them being gay. What I saw was a mirror of the kind of folie a deux that characterizes Mulder and Scully's relationship, a willingness to do anything to save the other. Except, of course, in M&S's case, they wouldn't kill other people for the sole purpose of keeping the other alive. Well -- they would, actually -- but not in that way.

What I saw on the screen was the utter devotion of the Husband With Bad Teeth to the Husband Who Was Reduced to a Head. I mean, CKR played that so well in the way he talked to his husband, the way he never touched the body to which he was attached, ever, only the head. Even though the plot was ridiculous and ill-conceived in that how exactly was this going to work out for them? Were they just going to keep killing people to keep the HWWRTAH alive? How ... gross. However, after being on one too many fan boards and reading people's utterly crack-addled ideas of what was going on, with the mega-focus on the idea that they were trying to change the HWWRTAH into a woman, I've decided that they naysayers were right: this was a truly bad plot idea because a) people are too prejudiced about gay people and b) because CC still is caught up in his whole ambiguous text crap that makes it even more difficult for people to understand what the point of it all is. I mean, he had Mulder say in the lab that they'd uncovered a dozen body parts, both male and female, so what's actually going on is that these men have killed a whole bunch of people while "perfecting" sort of, this transplant procedure. The two that the HWWRTAH gets attached to just happened to be female. However, chances are that they wouldn't have been the last to disappear if Mulder hadn't found them, and then been rescued by Scully.

As far as Fr. Joe's role in the movie, I find that less objectionable. I actually found his story very interesting, and didn't even think for a minute that his having raped the child who grew up to become the HWWRTAH had anything to do with the latter's sexuality. Of course, I was raised Catholic, live in an area where the Priest Abuse Scandal was blown wide open and realize that pedophilia and homosexuality are not related to each other in any way, shape or form. Once again, though, reading message boards has been an eye-opening experience in the ignorance of others. Both my sister and I have noted that the particularly bizarre reasoning we've seen on boards where people believe that Fr. Joe and his roommate are romantically involved. WTF? Both Suzanne and I thought that it was pretty clear that the roommate was sexual predatory toward women, or females, and that his response to Scully made that pretty darned obvious. However, not obvious enough, evidently.

Don't get me wrong: I don't think the movie was great by any means. But what's depressing me more is the outpouring of prejudiced misunderstanding that I've seen in a number of fora. CC should have run the same plot with a heterosexual couple, and kept the pedophiliac priest. It might not have been a better movie, still, but my faith in humanity's progress might have been less shaken. (Why won't CC think of me?)

Primarily, though, I think the big mistake was in not having Mulder and Scully work together in this movie. The artificiality of their fight in this film was particularly strained, and it did keep the joy out of seeing them back together. It's his old 'give one thing and take one thing back' principle in play. We got M&S living together, obviously devoted to each other despite everything, so ... they don't work together anymore.

I still maintain, however, that it could have been so much worse, and that my main criteria (Pleasedon'tletittotallysuck) was met. Plus, it was full of fanfic tropes, which makes me feel so much better about my own use of them.

Edited at 2008-08-02 07:15 pm (UTC)
Aug. 2nd, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
This got really long. Pt. 1
It didn't totally suck and if this is the last I see of M+S, it's not a terrible goodbye. I didn't hate it. I think I was just so disappointed that it wasn't the ur-show I have in my head, which I still love to pieces. I am not bitter about The X-Files, though I do make jokes about it. I love it, in the present tense. I didn't want to watch a movie about my second favourite show ever and feel nothing much.

There are good things in there. There's an amazing 20 minute portrait of a mature, difficult and very loving marriage.

It's just the main plot that does nothing for me and after five years, I would have hoped that they would have found a story that worked like a steel trap. I wanted this movie to be good so much, and while it passed the "pleasedon'tletittotallysuck" test, it was a narrow, narrow pass.

I've got a post waiting to be written in my head about why Chris Carter and Russell T Davies resort to hackery (I don't think RTD is a hack outside Doctor Who but that's tl;dr for here).

I think this was a hack's plot, using short cuts and lazy writing to get to the beats he really wanted. And I sympathise with that, really I do. I have a folder full of beats from X-Files stories never finished because I wrote the beats I wanted and couldn't figure out how to get the plot from A to B to make that happen. However, I am not a professional writer, it's not my JOB to do that. Chris Carter is.

The difficulty I have is that I can see the scenes CC really wanted to get to, like rocks standing proud of the sea, when in a good script they should be submerged, part of a whole world. These were two-fold: firstly, the portrayal of the relationship, and secondly, the cheap scares of axes and head transplants.

In the first case, as you say, it was painfully obvious that the conflict between them was not manufactured but the separation was. The joy of the series is seeing those two lovely minds in conflict and harmony, and we didn't get enough of that because the script separated them.

As far as the cheap scares go, could have used a man and a woman being kidnapped to show how the married couple were desperate and dangerous but no, because the terror of young women *sells* movies, that's what we have to have. Because we couldn't possibly care equally about a young man being kept in a box.

CC should have run the same plot with a heterosexual couple, and kept the pedophiliac priest.

NO. And you know why? Because I am absolutely certain that it would have been the woman who was operated upon, and disabled -- not the man, even though the idea of a female serial killer is more interesting -- and it would have been a whole other world of wrong. The box office at the moment is in thrall to a slew of torture porn movies in which women are objectified and slaughtered just to show how insignificant they are: because teenage boys, that deeply desirable demographic, like it.

Now these problems are mediated somewhat by the fact that Scully saves Mulder in the end, but not wholly.

Aug. 2nd, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
This got really long Pt 2.
CC also got there by way of ripped from the headlines plot points like stem cell therapy, two-headed dogs and gay marriage and I believe that because this magpie approach has served him in the past he thinks it still works. However, the world is in a place where you *cannot* play with gay marriage in that way, for the reasons you cite: it's too important a point of friction in the world that matters to be played with as a mere plot point.

Father Joe, on the other hand, I thought worked really well. I don't know where people get the idea that Fr Joe and his roommate were an item. Fr Joe appeared to be living in the "box of monsters" as part of his cycle of self-punishment and weirdly, I liked the idea that the headonnatable was one of his altar boys and that God had sent him visions to stop the slaughter because of the weight of guilt he felt.

However, this also linked in to the idea that if boys are molested by paedophiles they will grow up gay because being gay couldn't possibly just be a natural inclination, just a thing that human are, like they are heterosexual or have good singing voices or like the colour blue, and it acquired some unpleasant associations because of that.

It was just the whole depressing implied Daily Mail agenda of the film that sent me off the deep end, you know: immigrants=bad; gay people=bad; catholi church=hopelessly compromised.

To bring me round to my first point, what Chris Carter -- and Russell T Davies, for that matter -- really need is *someone to stop them*. They need someone to script edit them and point out the hidden implications of what they write and how it's being perceived. You might write and be innocent of the way that the undertones of what you write are being perceived, but it's the job of a script editor to point these things out to you and help correct them.

It would be churlish of me to be bitter about the lost opportunities of this movie when so many people have been inspired by it to write more in a universe I love. (and write it better). All I would love now are plotty stories. I've become a gen lover in my old age.

And now, back to destroying London via the means of fanfic!
Aug. 3rd, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
Re: This got really long Pt 2.
Honestly, I'd prefer the plot of the movie, the central mystery, to have been something else entirely, but if it was going to be this piece of horror, well then ...

Truthfully, I saw (ugh) the whole plot of the movie as a paean to Saw, a movie I've not, and will never, see. There seems to be a rash of dismemberment movies out there that seem to enthrall the chilluns. I do not understand it myself, but I am old, and had to walk to school both ways uphill in the snow, as you very well know. Really, I saw this as CC's very stupid way of trying to endear himself to the NuSkool of Horror, and try to appeal to the fanboy base, of you know, teenaged boys. The thing is, he hadn't a hope in hell of engaging them in the Summer of the Dark Knight, and shouldn't have tried. But, once again, he's shown his absolute failure at understanding who his key demographic is. I wonder how skewed female the audience of this movie is, overall. I suspect that it is HIGHLY female, and that they (like us) were not interested in the horror elements of the film, per se. The thing is, I think that they could have written a story that more adequately mirrored the folie a deux that I do think characterizes Mulder and Scully's interaction. After all, the woman did bring him back to life after he'd been dead and buried for three months. In some very deep, crackaddled way, they should understand the desire that impelled our killers in the movie.

That would, however, have rather required those killers to be drawn a bit more clearly, as we know, and that was not going to happen.

As to the genre of dismemberment films that currently hold sway in Horror Cinema, my impression from the previews I've seen (which, again, is as close to those movies as I will ever be) is that, at least, in the Saw movies, there are quite a lot of men being hacked up, or forced to hack themselves up and then hack up their roommate. Or something.

:: ponders for a moment what on Earth this could mean ::

:: feels queasy ::

Not that I'm not sure that they are also delightfully, regressively sexist, because when on Earth have movies in that genre not been?

:: ponders, recalls drive-in movies of youth ::

Quite possibly in later David Cronenberg films -- but no, not that I'm aware of. They're all just a thin veil of hostility for the fear of the other: the women, the foreigner, the gay, aren't they?

:: sighs ::

To bring me round to my first point, what Chris Carter -- and Russell T Davies, for that matter -- really need is *someone to stop them*.

Well, that's not going to happen with Fox, is it? Because if the rumors I heard are true, CC got approval to shoot the script exactly as it was written (and it was all approved well in advance) and wasn't allowed to change a thing without prior approval. It was all test-marketed for appeal by the same idjits that brought you S8 and S9, sure from the getgo that it was going to be a SMASH HIT!!!!

Go, Team Marketing!

:: coughs ::

All I would love now are plotty stories.

Well ... you know how my brain works. It's all plot all the time. I mean, what are the real implications of "Don't give up"? Why was it so important that Scully receive that message? What are the implications of Mulder being freed? Skinner being alive?


That's where my brain has gone.

And now, back to destroying London via the means of fanfic!

Oohh!! I got the first three discs of No. 9's season in Netflix today. I will catch up to you, I will!!

Edited at 2008-08-03 12:12 am (UTC)
Aug. 3rd, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Re: This got really long Pt 2.
I'm jumping into the conversation just to say that this back and forth was very interesting. I'm bad at such message-board-style back and forth and have nothing coherent to add, but it was nice to be a fly on the wall. comice, since you are so much closer than infinitemonkeys and thus easier to chat with out loud in person, we should plan a dinner of discussion!
Aug. 3rd, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
Um, songs -
"Break Stuff," Limp Bizkit
"How You Remind Me," Nickelback
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )