Spider-Man: Homecoming (2016)

(Rough Draft. This was supposed to go through revisions but I had to move on for a lack of time).

This is written with the provision that you have already seen Spider-Man: Homecoming.

I tend to refrain from posting numerical ratings on here, but I’ll preface this review with a 5/10 and the following should explain the reason behind this number.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is too damn spotty and contradictory with it’s themes and ideas that it ultimately betrays the meaning/purpose of the story. For now, I’m mainly deconstructing how the script destroys the moral lesson for Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in its conclusion. So, after the tedium of the boat-glue rescue sequence (which pales in comparison to the previous elevator rescue sequence – and thus feels needlessly repetitive), the lesson is exposited pretty clearly: you need to be able to take more responsibility than simply rushing in with your sense of duty, or more truthfully, your sense of wanting to save the day like a dumb kid superhero – a la: Tony’s (Robert Downey Jr.) ‘what if people died? That would be on you. Could you handle the deaths of collateral damage? Wait til you’re old enough to take the responsibility’ diatribe. Only, when it comes down the final showdown between Peter and Vulture (Michael Keaton), he does the exact same thing as before: he creates massive public collateral damage, nearly dies and almost has Vulture die in front of him too. What then? Praise from Tony, for doing the exact same thing (!?)– the difference? This time it benefited Stark, and luckily everything turned out ok. So, by now the problem is glaring: this betrays the logic that Tony attempted to teach him – he learnt nothing. There isn’t an ounce of discussion concerning anything to do with collateral damage and being responsible for the potential deaths of others. Tony’s praise to Peter, including his ignorance and approval of his collateral damage, practically defines the film’s moral stance: it doesn’t matter about accepting responsibility and consequences of one’s own actions, as long as everything works out to everyone’s convenience (or more mechanically: so long as the plot can be written to fit demands for a positive denouement). Even worse than doing this once, the film constantly ignores its own themes: the script creates an idea it wants to discuss yet never executes a discussion of any depth.

Again, take for instance the parallels drawn between Vulture and Tony Stark – ‘how do you think Stark got where he is?’: arms dealing – fair point. Given Peter’s relationship with Stark, this is a perfect parallel to draw for this Spider-Man story. Great!. Lets see how this plays out… It doesn’t. The parallel is drawn, but their relationship isn’t considered once, again nothing comes into consideration; it doesn’t have to be that Spider-Man immediately hates him for his past self’s mistakes, but while they’re on the idea of collateral damage and responsibility, surely something would’ve come into Spider-Man’s head where he felt some internal conflict towards Tony Stark being an arms dealer at one point. And, while we’re on the topic, I’d consider him still an arms dealer – now he only deals to The Avengers – and, let’s face it, he has made a weapon out of a 15 year old boy by giving him that suit – yet, nothing is developed of any of these ideas (despite it being the whole fucking argument in Civil War). Simply, the parallel between Vulture and Stark is used no more than a justification of Vulture’s archetypal plot to rob and deal arms. Even Aaron Davis’ (Donald Glover) concerns doesn’t come into more meaningful play. Approaching the situation from a point of concern, Davis’ tells Spidey that he doesn’t like that these types of arms are being dealt in his cousin’s neighbourhood – the same neighbourhood as Vulture’s daughter. That’s a very interesting problem, and the plot twist, Vulture being Liz’s father, certainly does validate the connection between arms dealer, neighbourhood and daughter’s safety. But, alas, the twist goes nowhere, other than to create shock value (and some awesome 5 minutes afterwards in the house, the car and talk in the car – these moments were butt clenchingly fantastic). Nothing is said by or to Vulture about the conflict between making the sacrifices for his daughter and putting her life in danger. I’m not asking for a scene where they dump philosophies on us, but you can understand the frustration one might feel when a consideration is made within the film and is then entirely forgotten at the expense of either laziness, a lack of care or forceful studio control on the plot.

So, lets link Davis’ concerns to the parallel between Stark and Vulture. Tony’s origin story comes to the realisation of the personal implications and destructiveness of his own arsenal lifestock (as does Iron Man 2), but Vulture’s story never once raises any questions about him being in the position where he’s putting his daughter at risk by bringing these weapons into her environment. Iron Man earns a second chance because once he realises the damage of his weapons he changes his ways – he is punished for what he has brought into his own environment. I wouldn’t expect the same narrative to happen again with Vulture, but a little thought about the true repercussion of his actions would’ve been nice (since the whole fucking movie is about action and consequences (literally!)).

I think my major gripe with the movie is that it’s so underdeveloped that it becomes nonsensical in conclusion. It’s as though the film has a restriction on itself; it can’t progress certain aspects – everything but the plot is supposed to remain unchanged. Tony and Peter’s relationship must go forward, but only in the direction where Spider-man must become an Avenger, meaning that nothing else can affect this dynamic. Peter might have rejected Stark’s inauguration to The Avengers, but come the movie’s end, the Spidey suit is back in Peter’s possession because at any and all costs to the meaning of the story, Marvel’s franchise must continue.

This isn’t to shit on the film entirely. Everything with Spider-Man being a teenager and coming to grips with his limitations is great stuff; it’s nothing compared to the tapestry of ideas that is Spider-Man 2, and for as cute and fun as Homecoming can be at times, there just simply wasn’t enough present that gave me food for thought – but it had fun paying homage to the John Hughes classics. Riffing off Hughes’ filmography is as fun as the film gets because it was the only thing that helped to distract from repetitive, stagnating action scenes that, beyond having Spidey smash into things and things and things and more things, went absolutely nowhere, moreso whenever he was chasing the main generic villain plot. Anything to do with the subplots between the teenager unknowingly carrying a bomb in his backpack, I loved – though not enough time is spent on Peter coming to terms with the how he just put his friend and his crush in an almost fatal amount of danger. Never mind how the film just hops over regarding terrorism entirely. For my liking, it’s far too convenient that he almost shrugs it off as though it never happened – he’s almost sociopathic when he returns to crime fighting. We’re expected to move on from the fact he just had to save his friend from a bomb that almost exploded in an American landmark – the film clearly has more important things to do, like sexualising Aunt May or letting Tony cash in his allotted bi-annual quip pension.

Again though, there are more moments that I liked (I’ll try to not shit on the movie too much from here on). I enjoyed the overwhelming sense of danger in superheroism. It’s an often undiscussed element of a superhero’s reality – and sure, Batman Begins kinda already covered it, as did the original Spider-Man, but still… in a franchise full of uber-macho-supermen and their abundance of over-enduring punch outs, it’s a great reprieve to see something tackle the more cautious side of the action. Spidey’s fear of that which he strives for in hope of excitement gives a fascinating 3-dimentionality to his character psychology (though a little ridiculously far stretched come the end). It’s great to see such a conflict between risk and desire; where is the trade off? What will it get you? etc. It’s all pretty great stuff. That action is his reward and also his downfall. I was interested in this, although a further exploration into this topic would’ve been a little more wonderful.

In quick form comments: I would say that Tom Holland was a great Spider-Man, and I loved his charisma – he’s wonderfully charming and endearing to no end – his wide eyed, headfirst charge into superheroism is easily his most admirable quality. MJ, this time not ‘Mary Jane’, unexpectedly burrowed herself effortlessly into the core of my laughter. And Michael Keaton as Vulture was brilliantly intimidating. In regard to narrative and tension, Keaton takes the fatherly talk intimidation scene and brings it to a new peak. It’s there, under the growl in his voice, a deeper growl, a more determined beast – you feel the Birdman is within him, in partition with the caring father. And the film does have more than it’s fair share of humour, it’s just a shame that the film’s core is so underdeveloped and stifled that it can never really seem to say anything that it wants to, or give the jokes the weight they deserve. There’s plenty of fun to be had here, but at a certain point it isn’t enough, and starts to wear a little thin after the first few action sequences. Beyond the stereotypical villain plot, there’s nothing much here that’s narratively original, at least not significantly so.

Side point: the first 5 minutes were awkward as hell – clunky exposition: everywhere. Then, for the first twenty minutes, the editing was a stitch job shitshow. It kept ending scenes by cutting back to the first shot of what is probably now the deleted/extended scenes. It was super uncomfortable whenever it did this and irked me endlessly. And I’m 90% sure that the only reason the boat scene exists is because they wanted an excuse to have some Jesus symbolism – I could never prove it, but I know.

There is more to the movie that I liked, and there’s more to the movie that I disliked. I’m not going to write it all – that would be insane – but this should give you fair reasoning/indication as to why I thought it deserved a 5/10. For something that has more to say about being a human, a superhero, and someone with a great sense of duty that stretches beyond their physical capabilities, while being funny, creative, exciting and entertaining, I’d more than recommend Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 – because, sadly, Spider-Man: Homecoming just didn’t do enough.


Psycho (1960) – Short Review

This article is written in tandem with my contribution to HCMovieReview’s Halloween List [When It’s Uploaded, Link Will Be Provided Here]

Your inability to control what happens to your life is a universal, philosophical nightmare. The path taken may not be the one you intended to travel. Your time is precious and finite, and making a true choice of how you spend it is a scarce luxury. I’d argue that this is why the twisted consequences of ‘Psycho’ may feel so profoundly understandable. At the core of ‘Psycho’ is a study of autonomy in ostracisation, either by intention or external effect. Life for Marion and Norman is reinless and uncontrollable, despite them always making choices.

Norman and Marion’s success is measured by how lonely and singular they become. Only when either character is alone do we see them appeased. They’re miserable in company. Norman’s narrative briefly overlaps with Marion’s; they share tales of misery and then Marion is murdered. The morning after Norman cleans her body and the evidence, he wanders around the motel as though cleansed of his torments. Afterwards, civilisation pollutes Norman’s world again in the form of Detective Arbogast, Marion’s sister ‘Lila’ and partner ‘Sam’, and so, once again, the narrative becomes a struggle to rid one’s self of unwanted people. Norman’s tragedy is that he cannot flee from the distractions to his solitude with Mother. In fact, our two protagonists share notably similar narrative motivations. Marion seeks to restart her life too, far away from society with her significant other.

Strangely, the film’s happiest ending (well, an ending of a sort) comes near the middle of the film. Most of Marion’s narrative is her evading the authorities, and the only time she smiles is when she escapes the police, her boss, her job and is alone with the $40,000. And when the film ends with the famous smile of Norman and Mother alone in solitary confinement the narrative has been truly reversed. I find it interesting that Marion starts miserable and becomes happier, freer and singular as her narrative evolves, then when she decides to restart her story by returning to society she is killed; while Norman starts/restarts happy after killing Marion but becomes distressed as his narrative devolves and society eclipses him, yet in the climax he’s entirely free from normal society, though his Mother’s psyche eclipses him, smiling with victory.

Yet, for as ostracised a life as these two desire, neither one finds ownership of self. In their final moments, neither lives the life they wished for. Motivated by the desire to escape to something better, the decisions that most affect their lives are taken out of their hands and instead are given to literal or psychological strangers. The major conflict of ‘Psycho’ is that desire always comes at a cost to someone else’s life. Norman and Marion’s lifelines were always in conflict, doomed to end in tragedy, even before they met. It’s Norman vs. Mother vs. Marion – each fighting their own battle for autonomy – and Mother wins above all.

So, that’s what I love about ‘Psycho’. The horrific reality that pushes ordinary people to do such terrifying horrors to one another. Perhaps, without the decision to build the highway, without Marion deciding to steal $40,000, or without Arbogast, Sam and Lila searching for Marion and even without the policeman’s decision to follow Marion down the highway, maybe Marion, Arbogast and Norman would have survived the horrific tragedies of ‘Psycho’.

Your road to freedom may be a shortcut to your coffin. Happy Halloween.

A Personal Retrospective: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man


A brief look at the conflict of the superhero identity.

New York, with its buildings hemmed with threads of webbing, hinges so slightly on the fringe betwixt the real world and your imagination, it almost seems impossibly possible that you might literally touch it. Better yet, you may be bitten by a genetically mutated spider, and although a realist would inform you that you’re unlikely to turn into a form of superhero, something, a thought of perchance in the back of your mind supposes that the ridiculous fantasy might perhaps come true regardless – especially for those who wholeheartedly believe in the philosophy of Spider-Man.

As a child, I semi-believed that the fantasy of Spider-man was real – as much belief as a kid of 8 years would permit to himself. I could not fly like Superman or Batman; I am neither a son of Krypton nor a multi-billionaire philanthropist, the same goes for Iron Man. However, being bitten by a spider is irrelevant to your status. Therefore, I, a growing boy, a soon to be teenage boy, might develop superpowers through some freak accident. I was definitely willing to convince myself that this was plausible. Regardless of truth, I certainly could pretend. And then one Christmas I opened a present; a Spider-Man web-shooter. It shot foam straight across the room, in the same fashion Peter does when he discovers his powers; by performing the iconic two pronged, heavy metal finger motion, foam-webbing would come flying out the contraption, thrusting across the room and only once up on the ceiling. The blueish webbing stayed in my home for years, until I eventually moved house; I would bet it’s still there right now. In reality, Spider-Man was the only superhero a small kid could truly pretend to be. His abilities were borderline physically possible, and then they became my abilities too.

When I became a teenager, and then an adult, I didn’t consider Spider-man much. A few years ago, perhaps in 2015 (age 19-ish), a strange itch began to form in my mind; an inescapable hum of misunderstood potential. So, I decided to reconsider my first impressions. After nearly 10 years of never once thinking of the web-swinger’s sequel, I found myself in a haze. I felt like I was inspecting my younger self under a magnifying glass – “what was wrong with you? To have so blindly missed so much”. It seems the case is: the lens in which you use to store your memories is greatly important indeed. The size of a lens completely changes the way an image comes to be understood; it determines the scope of what you can capture from a particular point of view.

The eyes of an 8 year old child cannot develop with clarity the significance of Spider-man 2, as strange as that may sound. It took me 18 years to seriously develop enough ability to capture, in my mind, the truth within the story – both as a sequel and an original film – that the world needs more from you than what you are willing to give to yourself, and that both Spider-Man and Doc Ock are willing to fight for this truth. This is the essential conflict of the superhero lifestyle; the genre of superhero films, at their core, tend to tell a heightened, hyperbolic parable of human problems. And Spider-Man 2 does this the best.

In the sequel, this ‘Webbed York’ reality reaches a new state of pensiveness – it’s restructuring the fun of realism into a carefully constructed epiphany; Peter’s inescapable responsibility and promise to prioritise other people over himself is the biggest conflict to his need to live a life beyond a super-heroic slave.

In his eagerness and arrogance to save the world, Rosalie Octavious saw her husband ignite an untested artificial sun to a small public crowd. Quickly, the sun began to consume everything. She cautioned him with fear, yet he persisted without consideration, insisting that stopping the experiment now world deny the world of potential infinite energy. Consequently, the sun’s consumption killed her and destroyed his mental dominance over the artificial tentacles designed to manage the sun’s energy. After this, his motivation changes as Doc Ock dominates his consciousness. A desire to create meaning in his wife’s death by re-attempting his failed experiment drives his villainy. Although the central plot revolves around getting tridium to recreate the artificial power, it is important to remember that at its core, the story revolves around dysfunctional relationships with power itself. Although Doc Ock’s end goal is quite well-meaning, the real world consequences are disastrous. Doc Ock is the representation of power without humanity, an intelligent mechanism that is incapable of recognising the repercussions of great power; essentially the opposite of Spider-Man, it has great power with no sense of responsibility.

Spidey and Ock’s battle is to find harmony within their power, a recognition of one’s hubris and of one’s need to remain human, each one being a result of the corruption of artificial abstraction or of social excommunication. Ultimately, each foe is engaged in a quest for internal peace with one’s purpose in life and their sense of duty to do something bigger than themselves. If the first Spider-Man film is about Peter Parker discovering his great power, then Spider-Man 2 is where he realises his great responsibility. As Peter battles with Doc Ock’s corruption in the hopes that this may return him to the path of good, both must reach a point of fulfilling the desires of their humanity.

On the spectrum of bad and evil, the curse of power penetrates Peter and Octavious’ lives to varying yet exemplarily similar ways. As mentioned, Mrs. Octavious dies; an outcome of Octavious’ conquest for power. And Peter loses his love too, Mary Jane. Unlike Doc Ock’s selfishness, it’s selflessness that is Peter’s flaw. To be more specific, his flaw is that his selflessness does not reach the right people. It’s easy, as an audience, to be the omniscient observer of Peter’s story; it is a tragic irony that Mary Jane cannot. In this mini sub-narrative, it seems obvious that Octavious and Peter would benefit from empathising with their loved ones, to save them and themselves from self-destructive behaviour, regardless of how well intentioned their behaviours might be.

Herein Spider-man 2, Raimi repurposes the original’s realism into a tragedy of how an idealistic fantasy may become trapped in a new truth, our reality.

Apologies for the mini-depression but it’s important to think seriously about how things touch our lives in important ways. I was strongly affected by Spider-Man as a child. I played Spider-Man 2 on the Playstation 2 for hours at a time, only swinging around the city. But as an adult I learned the harsh realities what being a superhero entails – or on a more relatable note, what being a person with responsibilities entails. It’s that age old irony of the child wishing to be free like the adult and the adult wishing to be free like a child, how “youth is wasted on the youthful” – a fable-like moral that addresses the problems of perspective and expectation.

We fail to see how our intentions appear to in the eyes of others; that Peter ignores Mary Jane by becoming consumed by Spider-Man; and that Doc Ock neglects to see that he is consumed by a guilt derived from good intention. Had these characters understood how others see them, what expectations were set for them by others, there wouldn’t be such a consumption of their human selves; they might have survived to be the hero befitting their capabilities, and not the heroes they think they are supposed to sacrifice themselves to be. If there’s one thing to take away from the fable of Spider-Man 2, it’s this: allow yourself to make the priorities you want to make – give yourself the freedom to live, for you have more than likely earned it from all the positive efforts you have made for the lives of others.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this, as I have enjoyed writing it. Feel free to let me know what you thought of this piece; I’m thinking of developing it into a longer, more in depth discussion – to be published here – and I’d love to hear what you think about it.

As always, if you wish, you can fight me on Twitter @JoeFilmJourno.

Have a great day.

Sense 8 – 1×01-03

A playground for entertainment.
A show that toys with greatness, though I remain sceptical until I see more.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Starring:  Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton
Cinematographers: John Toll, Danny Ruhlmann, Frank Griebe, Christian Almesberger
Editors: Joe Hobeck, Joseph Jett Sally, Fiona Colbeck

As we’re introduced to the characters of Sense 8, there’s a sense of expanse I haven’t seen much elsewhere. This is classic Wachowski territory: Cloud Atlas for instance, expanded time, space and cultures of the farthest distance; Jupiter Ascending also. Watching the introductory episode doesn’t simply make the world bigger, but richer too, everyone leads their own show.

Science fiction television is a genre often riddled with stipulations. To my mind, Quantum Leap is the only exception – perhaps also The Twilight Zone. Even Heroes, a high ranking favourite of mine, is stipulated by its allegiance to the comic book story and aesthetic. Plenty of shows pivot on a reference point as something cultural helps an audience better understand how the show’s world functions. Sense 8 ignores this idea. Their only rule is that characters should intervene psychically – like Quantum Leap – besides fulfilling the rule, Sense 8 has infinite potential to tell any conceivable story. Shame it doesn’t – other than their being connected, the stories are standard, so far.

There are rich stories aplenty here, all tying thematically and emotionally, but none being mind-blowing in their concept. Though the themes of togetherness extend beyond the concept of psychic connection itself, that the show isn’t tunnel-visioned on exploring only the concept – some of the shows best moments come from their lives aside the concept – you’ll see enough life to get a feeling of it then being interrupted by the sub-conscious presence of these 8 distant strangers.

In 1×03 I began to wonder when they’d start using their ability to effect each other’s lives. I knew their unique skills would come around to save the day, I just didn’t know when; in the next scene, it happened, and it was, umm, cool enough. As a first moment of interference, this felt more like a water test for what similar scenes are yet to come. I can safely say that Sun and Cepheus’ moment was more badass, however, there’s an undeniable, more potent catharsis from the exchange between Nomi and Will. Maybe I like their characters more, perhaps their stories were more developed, either way, as a first shining moment of the concept coming into action for the first time, it’s a shame to see it overpowered so suddenly by a better storyline.

For those pleased with Cloud Atlas or just the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer (the directors of Cloud Atlas) and James McTeigue (director of V for Vendetta) in general, you’ll probably enjoy a heavy portion of how Sense 8 plays out narratively – instead of each episode having a director, each director has a location instead. For those who liked Heroes, like myself, they will enjoy the experimentation of adding sci-fi elements to character interactions. Despite sounding a gimmick, there is promise, so far, that we’re in store for some interesting situational combinations. And whilst contributing to the world building in general, the visual conjunctions between characters are playful in wonderfully entertaining ways. There’s a lot of room for games in Sense 8’s playground.

Wonder Woman (2017) – Review

Fourth try is the charm.


First up, a small prelude to the review. Perhaps five times in my life have I seen a comic book adaptation with substantial dignity, intelligence and grandeur. I have seen the beautiful Road To Perdition, the grizzly Logan, the delightful Spider-Man 2, the slickly inventive X-Men: First Class and the poignantly candid and complex The Dark Knight. Disregarding a handful of other adaptations (A History Of Violence, Sin City and perhaps even Captain America: Winter Soldier), the rest in the superhero genre have not been so impressive. In the fatigue of non-stop Marvel egg salad sandwiches, something more emotionally nutritious comes our way, something worthy of the bite.

What’s fantastic about Wonder Woman is how it isn’t a post-comic-book picture. Plenty of times modern comic book adaptations have had an unfair sentiment of mourning for their source material and medium. You can feel the pang of yearning in the film as it refuses to let go of its hold on the pages of it’s ancestry. It’s not a hard feeling to understand; I get it. However, you can’t recreate ink on film, motion pictures don’t work that way. It’s been said a million times before, and will be said a million times again, and studios will still not listen to a single word of it – unless this is about to change. Here, Wonder Woman’s awareness of its medium is emotive in a way beyond the basic means of post-comic-book production; this idea that a film is only the comic book in a new form. Logan had the integrity to be stylistic in the fashion of a western. Wonder Woman has the immensity of a true superhero movie. This one feels how I want being a superhero movie to feel like – to be a champion in a valorous battle against mighty powers, a brutality that you must survive to win; to fight with all your heart, and to have the whole screen express the ferocity of your might. Wonder Woman embodies the raging fire in the heart of a battle and the impact of a tremendous crushing force. Most of this is a created by a wonderful mixture of rib-cage trembling sound design and extravagant eye watering visual styles.

What comes to mind when thinking about particular scenes: Bombastic pictures, moving volumes of sympathy and empathy, a discovery of ones self and the nuance of good and evil in reality. I could list endlessly, but the point is that each moment is loaded with big ideas, truths, emotions and introspections. Not only is this a golden moment for grandiose action cinema, it’s a feast of thematically intelligent, rich and perceptive thoughts within the atmosphere of that time in human history – a broken society in the midst of the mindless, inhumane anarchy of the first world war. There’s a tapestry of inspirations behind the film, and it’s evident in how it gets you feeling exactly how Wonder Woman wants you to feel. Super heroic, a guardian.

There’s a bulky bombastic American style in the camera, none of the clichés of the standardised braggadocio contemporary cinematography; the blocking is nearly as chunky as Ludendorff’s jaw (Danny Huston), unless it’s making a break for the glorious superhero shots – you know the ones, yes, the admitted clichés – the slow motion rise from under the horizon; that pose Batman does atop the Chinese building in The Dark Knight, the contemplation of one’s journey; and a handful of a few others – oh, and the Jesus symbolism, of course (mind you, it’s fairly ungaudy in execution). Admittedly, the film isn’t without the staples of its genre.

Otherwise, we have texturally deep grains that progress the closer to war Diana (Gal Gadot) gets. As we’re introduced to Diana’s home island, Themyscira, the screen is rich with saturated greens and blues, hardly an impurity. Then, Britain, the colours drop. In the middle, the war, here the grain pops in (not too much, mind). The dirt and shrapnel of the wasteland stick to the frame. A miring pollution of subtle impurity. The perils of war are felt, the dirt is in your eyes, it is more than a backdrop for you to champion her heroism, it is a reality that begs for her heroism. Our sympathies are her sympathies; the trauma in the trenches stand to hurt you, then we can hope that our hero can fix it better. Her value is tangible.

Experiencing Wonder Woman is to have your heart and the jaw pulled at the same time, one does not exist without the other. Every action piece is prefaced with sombre moments of contemplation and empathy; after then, Diana’s reaction in that moment determines what she feels is necessary to save the people, and thus the action ensues. It is not simply that the characters move from location to location slaying bad guys. They fight onward because this is their best response. Diana witnesses the bloody, severed men returning home from war; the look on her face expresses an infinite sympathy and sorrow for their pain. For Diana, she believes Ares is the god behind the violence; as a young girl she was told the story of Ares, God of War, and his bidding to start battles among the Gods, until one day he was struck down by Zeus, where he fled into hiding. As she goes deeper into the battlefield, her anger with Ares grows stronger with her sympathies for every wounded, fearful soldier that meets her gaze. The film is without restraint of harsh truths and reality. We see her simply looking at the terrors of war. The civilian fear, the cold eyes of soldiers nearing death, the cries of orphaned boys and the constant desolation of life and faith. It’s all there in front of Diana; and Gal Gadot gives a wonderful performance of a woman in this ongoing turmoil – she hopes to end the suffering, she knows she can, but she’s constantly being told to leave the victims to die for they are beyond help. True to her character, Diana doesn’t have any of it, she came here to help and that’s what she does. There’s hopeful justice within her. She’s not fighting “The Germans”, she’s fighting for the hope that the living have lost, she’s fighting to save the innocent people from what they do not deserve. She believes in fighting for their innocence.

One may call Diana naive, that she is in a position where she has a lot to learn. Mind you, this position doesn’t render her useless either. Having to learn something is not the same as stupidity. Script wise, her naivety is not in trade with her convictions; more so, this conviction to taking righteous action is the saviour of hundreds of soldiers lives and the lives of the town’s people. And perhaps I say that she is naive since cynicism is my default setting, maybe her naive understanding of how earth should be suggests to us the way things ought to be more often. She’s uncompromising in her will and badass in battle, yet funny, likeable and constantly wholesome. In fact, that’s what I’ll call Wonder Woman: enwholesomed badassery.

Firstly, this plays as two halves of a fish out of water story; after Steve Trevors (Chris Pine) discovers and then fights to protect her land, Themyscira, she protects his by way of killing the God of War, Ares. We see a fair amount of him coming to understand her world, and her coming to understand his, before we see how both put their sensibilities to the test in the great war. Right down to the tiniest bits of dialogue, everything Diana says tells you of who she is and what she believes. In a seemingly throwaway titbit of introductory dialogue, she asks what Trevors’ watch is, and after he explains that it tells the time, and that he does whatever he does by whatever time it is (wake up, eat breakfast, work), she laughs at the concept that a ticking clock tells you what to do. Diana doesn’t see the sense in waiting. She does what she feels is right, and that’s it. She simply does. A lot of the discussions about what to do in the war come down to waiting for ‘this’ and not doing ‘that’, and following ‘this’ protocol. She considers their approach impractical when trying to do good for the people, that actually fighting the enemy would serve more purpose (obviously not in the real war, this only applies to the context of a superhero being present on the battleground). Her notion of taking immediate action, and saving real lives now, is a noble cause indeed – and it is felt more so when the reality of the war surrounds the audience as we see through her eyes; as she sympathises, we feel an empathy, then the motivation behind the action delivers a greater potent shiver down your spine. Wonder Woman’s best asset is its feeling of raw, illustrious heroism – something a movie hasn’t really captured for me until perhaps Logan, and now this – it’s the sense of struggle and the worthiness of the battle. Simply put: it’s terrific dramatic action.

Furthermore, for all of the power delivered, as the audience’s spine collectively shivers with the satisfaction of mighty PG-13 violence, there’s plenty of time dedicated to this examination on the cost of human lives. It’s not too hard to imagine Come and See taking place too far away from here. Though the reality of Come and See is inescapable, as it moulds non-fiction with its production until the facade of story and storytelling becomes indistinguishable, Wonder Woman is a more audience friendly depiction – it’s somewhat comparable to if Richard Donner’s Superman and Joe Johnson’s Captain America: The First Avenger took themselves seriously, and without compromising on levity in character.

In a surprise delight, for a movie so heavy in theme and tone, there’s a complete range of humours, most with insightful purpose. As discussed, there’s the ridiculing of the watch and how we humans live lives by the arbitrary measurement of time. In addition, in the first 40 minutes, there’s a plentiful amount of gags straight out a comedy of errors, mainly Diana in London cooing over babies or divulging to Steve about the evidences that men are irrelevant to the pleasures of sex (perhaps a bad choice of film to watch with my partner). My favourite kind to see was the humour of comfort. Steve would often tell jokes to cheer things up in darkened times – bright smiles in dark places. In Steve, at all times, is a sense of trying to do good. Though Wonder Woman technically outshines him in the capabilities of fighting, Steve never feels defeated or frustrated by her power, instead he takes her opportunity to do good. And whenever possible, he is by her side to share his warm heart and comfort. Unlike Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, where men are belittled and condemned to stereotype; this is a story about how Wonder Woman did great things by her own determination, to offer help for those whose lives are ruined by the God of War. Nothing here is about belittling, or making any overt statement to feminism, that “women are better than men”. To the audience (of either gender, though more prominently to females), it’s empowering for sure, and the film itself is never critical or antagonistic against either gender, there is simply a positive focus on demonstrating the mighty power of Wonder Woman. There is no statement within the film, only one of the film. Empowerment by way of watching powerful women, not by way of bullying the audience.

Spoilers ahead. Only read on if you have seen the film or want to ruin it for yourself, but you’re not a cretin, so why would you do that? Otherwise, skip to the last paragraph for the conclusion.

Now, there are a few minor gripes I have with the film – they’re not crushing, but I feel like I owe it to you to be as outright as possible. Here goes: Someone explain to me why Ares is shooting lightening out his fingers. He is not Zeus; what’s he doing with his powers? Why the costume reveal for Wonder Woman in No Man’s Land? We’ve seen her costume in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, we know what it looks like. Perhaps Patty Jenkins (director) was determined to treat this like a stand alone film and we’re to pretend that BvS:DoJ doesn’t exist – possibly, but for anyone familiar with Dawn of Justice, this was a pointless reveal (except for that it’s still badass). That said, this reveal does address some attention to her agency as the hero. By indulging in this sequence, her moment of stepping into action by her own initiative associates her costume to the initiation of her as a fully realised superhero. She is Wonder Woman, her actions say so, and therefore so does her costume. It’s like seeing the crown of the Pope and knowing he’s a catholic; you see the gauntlets of Wonder Woman and you know she’s here to save the day. To another note, the moment is greater for having Wonder Woman realise herself as a warrior again. After being masked and clothed in traditional English women’s attire for several, long periods of time, here she rejects the normalcy that has been put upon her, opting instead to do as she pleases, however she sees fit. The last place she fought was Themyscira, now she regains her sense of origin. This isn’t hyperbolic symbolism for feminism, it’s simply the moment where Peter Parker accepts the responsibility to become Spider-man, or when Clark Kent endeavours to apprehend the criminals of Metropolis and quickly changes into the iconic Superman costume, Wonder Woman’s scene is becoming of the equal glory of those other films.

I found it interesting that Wonder Woman doesn’t embody ideology like other superheroes do. Where Captain America was created as pro-American propaganda during the war, to which he arguably still perpetuates that same propaganda, and as Superman upholds the law and order of Metropolis, Wonder Woman stands to tackle something far greater than upholding a country’s ideological values; Wonder Woman fights the philosophy of human nature – almost literally in the final showdown. Remarkably, the film deters from blaming “The Germans” entirely, it’s paints with themes with a much broader brush. Diana believes that all humans are under the mercy of Ares, that he controls their violent self-destruction. In the final reveal, she was wrong, Ares simply gave them the rope to hang themselves, and they jumped at the opportunity to do so. Now, discussing the complexity of Ares’ plan is a discussion in need of a much larger space (perhaps for a later date). For the time being, I found his philosophy of action quite morally complex, especially so for a superhero film. Most villains of a franchise tend to be obviously flat in the way that Red Skull wants to kill all people by blowing them up, or that Ultron wanted to kill all people by blowing them up, or that Loki wanted to kill all people by blowing them up, or that Enchantress wanted to kill all people by… you get the point. Here we have someone who has not manipulated or outright attacked anyone on the human race; he allowed them to prove who they really are – a species that will easier destroy than make peace. Ares is a surprising breath of fresh air – and to boot, the fight between him and Wonder Woman was evocative of strong sweat inducing fist clenching. I mimicked every punch and knock landed, I adored the vibrancy of the action.

In a true albeit sad way, Ares’ point isn’t hard to argue for (as is the case with good villains), some may defend and agree with his reasoning – admittedly, I was considering it. To my initial observation, this is the first superhero movie that seemingly lacks in a fascist antagonist (for the most part; all debates around hierarchal dictatorship are a rabbit hole). Other than how Batman imposes his law, and the law of America, upon the criminals of Gotham – by “imposing” I mean straight up murdering them in BvS:DoJ – the rest of the genre is full of them (see quotes: “kill all people by blowing them up”); to some credit, Captain America: Civil War does bring attention to the idea that The Avengers’ potential perception of they being fascists is plausible (yet, sadly this comes to no intelligent debate and instead triggers a round of fisticuffs between a pouting couple who take no consideration to their position into account when fighting their counter-protagonist). Needless to say, when Ares gives all the power to the people, he’s defies the archetypal role of dictator as villain. Elsewhere in the superhero genre, the villainy of conventional evil typically lies upon the villain itself; the villainy of Wonder Woman mostly lies on us, the humans, the most dangerous and self-destructive animals of earth. This creates a far more interesting dialogue between the film and the audience – Wonder Woman showcases a model of ourselves, where we can observe our own behaviour. However, the battle of good is still in Diana’s court; Ares is too simplistic in his understanding of humans. In reality the war did stop, without Wonder Woman or Ares, and sure we had another, bigger world war – and who knows where we’re headed now – but Ares was ultimately wrong. We did stop fighting. And having Wonder Woman fight for that, makes for a worthy showdown in the end. Of course humanity is worth fighting for, we know because we’re still alive – and there’s so much more to us than war. This is an idea worth remembering more often today. Maybe this is why I was so passionately embraced the final fight. It’s a fight for the philosophy of our nature, one who stands for all our evil and one who stands for all our good.

So, to conclude (finally) this massive, slightly admittedly rambly review. I found Wonder Woman to be a feisty yet compassionate superhero movie made richer by the complexity of its story’s ideas and Wonder Woman’s muscular, taut, corporeal fighting style that blows the feeble excuse for punchy-punchy-ouch-ouch in contemporary actions films. Wonder Woman fights like a blend of John Wick on a handful of hallucinogenic steroids. For those privy to complaining about the CGI overload, I got one thing to say, tell me you’ve experienced action one tenth as incredible as that. There’s a fair littering of CG throughout the movie, partially in all action scenes, but the heaviest freight comes at the end. Until the dial is turned to eleven out of ten, it’s used lightly enough, the illusion maintains, then comes Ares and the screen turns from a dark knight to searing orange. There are moments that will kill you come the finale, and how Patty Jenkins and cinematographer Matthew Jensen express Diana’s pure agony is excruciatingly excoriating; everything on screen screams for Diana fury; I’ve never seen aggression look this real (except for Whiplash and Mad Max: Fury Road). Having a director this capable of discharging a collective of soulful emotions throughout the frame, atmosphere and aesthetic is what makes film and film-making so extraordinary to enjoy on the big screen. I can’t endorse Wonder Woman highly enough.

Thank you for reading.

If you wish, you can fight me on Twitter @JoeFilmJourno.

Buster’s Mal Heart (2016) – Review

At this point in Indiewood cinema, this is utter trite.

Director/Writer/Editor: Sarah Adina Smith
Starring: Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Kate Lyn Sheil, Toby Huss

I was intrigued to hear the term Y2K; I’ve always thought there would’ve been great dramatic potential in such a historical blundering moment of our time, but, sadly, as was the conclusion of Y2K, Buster’s story is just one long build up to a big wet fart. In fact, there’s a lot of vapid stuff in the empty void of Buster’s Mal Heart; a sprinkling of neat, albeit under-developed ideas; a handful of conventionally superficial shots – though most were overly simplistic, uninspired hand held recordings of drama with no emotional substance whatsoever. Oh, and the tree porn was good… lotta trees up in them mountains… that was neat. And the science elements were slightly interesting, despite being tragically suffocated by the “character study” of the borderline cliché, totally not Jesus, Johan (Rami Malek). And, well that’s about it. Underwhelming, I know.

As slow burners go, this is stagnancy at its longest. Sarah Adina Smith, the director, tries to be the millennial indie cinema’s version of Stanley Kubrick. His influences are plentiful, most prominently recognised in the bar scene between Jonah and The Terminator(?). Since The Terminator’s part in the film is so easily predictable, we’re already ahead of the reveal that he’s not really there, he’s imaginary. Here, they trade in paranoias for a while and it plays like a textbook from The Overlook Hotel. Oh, did I forget to mention that Johan also works in a hotel? Yep, it’s that on the nose. Had the scene done anything at all, besides saunter smugly in its artistic fraudulence, I might have enjoyed the homage. But it’s barely a homage, I’m close to accusing Smith of plain theft. Truth be told, the film reeks of The Shining, in atmosphere and its slowly stirring narrative – and the carpets! Can’t forget the carpets. They’re positively direct out of the Overlook Hotel furniture catalogue. Buster’s Mal Heart is the worst case of identity theft I’ve ever seen in independent cinema. I am truly hard pressed to believe how this isn’t someone’s film school project. I guess anyone can make a surrealist drama now and pass it off as “artistic”.

With every pawn introduced, the film convinces itself more and more that it’s teasing you. It isn’t. You see the nameless weirdo and you know he’s the other half of Jonah’s dichotomy. After seeing Jonah alone in the wilderness, you see the wife and kids and you already know that they’re already dying at some point. You hear the prophecy about the universe imploding up its own arsehole and you know the writer probably will too. And sure, there’s probably some Primer like explanation for all the scattered bullshit, but who gives a fuck. Primer was fascinating by the snowball of confusion that spirals from the unexplored depths of casually discovered time travel. Buster’s Mal Heart wants you to believe that it’s obvious symbolism is harder to predict and deconstruct than it really is. It’s almost offensive.

Adina Smith, doing the age old trope of movie cross-comparison, referred to the film as Bad Santa meets Donnie Darko. Fuck. Right. Off. What part of this is Bad Santa? The pseudo-intellectual jibberish, that’s Donnie Darko all over – although, Smith has clearly missed what makes Richard Kelly’s masterpiece so masterful, but nevermind. With the Bad Santa remark, I have no idea other than it being severely bland and disengaging (which worked for something as ironic Bad Santa, but not here). What’s worse is that Buster’s Mal Heart works best when it’s daring to be original, when it slips into re-run territory then it begins to ache with flatness. When thinking about the review, I felt dreadful with the idea that the director is unsure what her inspirations are, and how to use them – perhaps this could have easily been a great film, had she gambled within the genre more often.

As it stands, Buster’s Mal Heart plays like a writing prompt on some creepypasta forum site. r/creepypastaprompts or something around the idea.

If you’d like, you can fight me on Twitter @JoeFilmJourno


Season one of Twin Peaks is a soap opera that was terrifying to live in. Season three of Twin Peaks is a terrifying horror show that you’ll settle into and that’ll be that. Whether that is good or bad is something I will deliberate.

On both occasions (season one and season three; we don’t count season two, for universally agreed reasons) David Lynch experimented freely with the art of televised audio/visual; in the first round he hit hard at home and unnerved audiences with the constant threat of impending doom, by scattering the strangulation of fearsome nightmares into the playful daytime TV dreamscape. Season one denies viewers the safety of the most recognised, safest TV genre – the soap opera. Now, Season three denies you the light comfort of that particular genre, and sacrifices this fear with the comfort of it being of a singular genre – in other words, season three has the safety of a Ronseal horror show. The return to Twin Peaks omits the terror of having your comfort zone turned into a haunted mansion; sadly the pilot episode remains to the end exactly as it begins, a monorail of surrealism and horror.

This lack of the manipulated experience on the act of watching television itself removes the personability of the show; the purpose of it being a TV show is missing without the uncanny displacement of the genre. This chiasmus of genre hybridisation makes for an emotional storm of horror and fear, one that turns our familiarity with TV genre in on itself. Explicitly in regard to audience-genre relationships, season three episodes one and two is simplistic and monotone in execution.

That said, Twin Peaks: The Return is a welcome reinstatement to its glorious, previous standard. I don’t consider it to be as intricately intelligent as its origins, but the dial for experimental surrealist cinema has been cranked to and beyond breaking point.

With his bravado approach to new introductions, oftentimes it feels like Lynch is taunting other showmakers, a kind of “How about that, let me see what you got”, “This is how it’s supposed to be done”. So, mind the underlying ego-stroking (rightfully earned, mostly), and be cautiously aware of what you’re getting yourself in for – this is Lynchian in its densest form, but not necessarily “Twin Peaks” in any form other than the returning characters.

At his most audacious, Lynch communicates directly to his audience, well, not his audience exactly, but the viewer, the more casually inclined eyegazer: “watch this show and pay attention, you will miss something if you are distracted by anything beyond this box, DO NOT MISS A SECOND… OR ELSE”. And he’s right, if not slightly paradoxical too.

By positioning the audience as Sam Colby, the college student who endlessly watches an empty glass box, here, Lynch puts us in a position of waiting for something to happen, all the while nothing happens. One could argue that the black monster attack is symbolic of season three itself, that this is the ‘something’ happening to TV-land itself (though I’d argue: this show makes no difference or impact in the world of TV. This definitely is not THE thing that TV audiences have been waiting for – from my standpoint, this is non-revolutionary, unless you mean ‘revolutionary’ as in the wheel keeps on turning, then yes, it’s exactly that).

In reality, I think the audience may feel more inclined to align with the Colby’s experience to their own, where they too watch the show, waiting for the good stuff in between the nothing, emptiness. Though, within his fear, there is an uncanny perspective taken from our being characterised as Colby.

Ironic, everything else in the show is pretty spectacular entertainment, but the most slumber-some scene the majority of people will find they’re treading through is this one.

On one hand, these scenes symbolise Lynch saying “go fuck yourself” directly at those not paying the show enough attention; on the other, they signal a want for attention, despite assuming that much of what your experience could consist of is you waiting idly for something interesting to happen (as subjective as that experience can be – it’s worth noting that 1hr50mins is a lengthy engagement for any TV show, and not everyone is going to love everything) – but I think that’s a reasonable request. Personally, I think it’s worth it – if you only enjoy a slither of The Return, I am assured that those small moments will negate any unfavourable scenes, it’s the only show capable of overwhelming, grandiose artistic enlightenment.

There’s a semblance of self awareness in the glass box narrative. Paradoxical for sure, but short and sweet, a compromise I’m happy to endure for the intelligent position it creates – a scene of and for the audience. Perhaps: ‘Lynch’s Gogglebox, of many interpretations’.

However, in the end, this scene feels reductive to the contemporary appreciation of television. Now, more than ever, we are giving our fullest attention to the small screen, and a scene critical of the audience giving anything less is wasted since it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

But wait, let’s stop the negativity for a moment, for many moments. This show was great! And sometimes, I forget to mention that.

David Lynch is an incredible experimental filmmaker. I personally have never been infatuated in him the same way some others are, though I do understand the appeal. I have liked Lynch fondly, but I am more than aware where my limits with him end and begin.

For reference (of what I have seen (not including shorts etc.)): Blue Velvet > Wild At Heart > Eraserhead > Mulholland Dr > Elephant Man > Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me > (in the pits of hell->)Inland Empire 

Although a detachment from the original seasons’ mostly classical mode of shooting TV, this season’s camerawork is devilishly great in a blocky, chunkier way. Lynch has taken the DV-esque (Digital Video) quality of Inland Empire and puts a plentitude of gusto and heft into the editing and staging that the product becomes indistinguishable from a dream made from broken reality – a palpable lucidity.

Knowing Lynch’s filmography, I had an easier time being agreeable with his decisions to switch between the tones of Lost Highway to Inland Empire to Eraserhead and wherever else he felt like. Although I watched this on my laptop (quite possibly the worst platform to enjoy the array of visual delights), I couldn’t help but admire the texture and atmosphere of the different worlds herein, all which feast on the wealth of his mostly successful 40 years of experimental filmmaking. Some may see these tonal changes as confusing, especially by the way Lynch merges Wild At Heart (a clear and heavy influence for Doppelganger Cooper’s bit) with Eraserhead puppetry (the tree brain thing), or with the Inland Empire / Fire Walk With Me world of Bill Hasting (Matthew Lillard (my favourite part of the episode, much to my surprise)); some may call it part of the experimental arthouse territory – most who are familiar with Lynch’s work will likely find no fault at all with him attempting to best his previously best tricks. Either way, I find this works to good purpose (which I will get to soon enough – and yes, it’s kinda the point of the show).

I hear a lot of people saying that this feels like a re-run of Lynch’s films, and I half agree, but saying so would diminish the great new lengths he’s going to surprise and be creative with the scenery that dominates each scene – just look to the Black Lodge (zig zag floor, for the unfamiliar) for new examples of his foray into environmental de/re-construction. Clearly, Lynch works best when he’s reinventing old toys. At sporadic moments, he throws the camera around the room to reinvent it entirely. He doesn’t shoot this room like before, this is a spacier, loopier, destructible room. There’s an air of a theatre environment whenever Dale sits to listen to the old talkee-reversee people. The room stays the same (for the most part), but by the change in shooting style he creates the room anew – and that is the magic of cinema (or in this case, TV). His control of storytelling technique reconstructs our experience of the same room from 25 years ago.

Much of what shines in this pilot episode/s is how much of ‘Lynch’ Lynch is remixing; as though he is competing with himself, he is reconstructing his filmic history into a new, self composed compilation swan song. The Return feels like a strange goodbye – sincerely full of best intentions to finish in a sweat of effort where he gives himself entirely to his audience. So, to go re-evaluate, these tonal changes aren’t really changes per se, I would argue that they’re parts of the whole that is David Keith Lynch, superb film author. And watching the rest of the season will gradually break my heart the truer that goodbye becomes.

Until the finale arrives, it is exciting to see the convergence of his worlds brewing in one pot, under one roof, additionally so as the world of Twin Peaks expands further into unknown territory. While I care deeply about the lack of uncanny in regards to our relationship with watching TV, Lynch still continues to push the concept into unexplored territory. Despite how Lynch’s world feels very separate from ours, seeing the mysterious entities of the Black Lodge hit the streets of America is a frightfully nightmarish aspect of the uncanny. I felt safe watching the insanity take place in Twin Peaks, having it become a reality in New York creates real world implications, and I don’t think a 2017, mid Trump climate can handle that kind of Pandora’s box anarchy.

That said, I could have done without the specificity of the locations. For someone so enigmatic about the meaning of content, the clear labelling of the locations seems like something born of conscious choice. You have the entire world, why choose New York, Las Vegas etc.? Something more ambiguous is the obvious fit. Without making a point of where these stories take place, we are engaged in a guessing game to determine our own answers concerning the whereabouts of these tales in our world. The streets become anywhere that they feel similar to; not that this ruins the point of the show, but, when expanding the scope of the Twin Peaks tale, labelling the locations becomes redundant.

However, you could argue that his specificity is the point, that it establishes paranormal clearly in our world, it becomes undeniably a reality. Either way, I have my preferences, and I prefer the idea that it’s in our reality, and that we never know where exactly.

At first, I was dismayed by the lack of innovation with the concept of distorting the connections between the show and its medium, and I still am. Considering the platform’s big changes in the last 25 years, I expected a bit more in the self awareness department. With the return of the show that redefined TV and TV genre, I’d hoped Lynch would’ve given some kind of keen, intelligent insight that manipulative our experience of watching TV in the modern day. But Lynch has never been about that kind of filmmaking, that was only a feature of Twin Peaks, a feature I loved, but not necessarily a feature of the creator himself. In a world full of studio rejections to artists visions, and despite my dismays, I abide wholehearted by the show that openly endorses the freedom of uncensored imagination.

I take back (only a little) about what I said about it contributing nothing to the world of TV; there is now a show in the air that is helmed by a director with a philosophy aside from other producers; Lynch is a man fascinated by infinite experience in the universe, and Twin Peaks: The Return is a show reborn by that philosophy of ignoring the norms of standard TV entertainment and instead baptises the audience with potent magic, dispersing a mass delirium of joyful catharsis.

However, I am in a terrible position to be reviewing the show so far; Lynch has been extraordinarily secretive and that means anything could be in store next week; how about I just shut my mouth and see what happens. After all, isn’t that what TV is all about? The excitement for what is to come, next time on Twin Peaks…

Thanks for reading. See you soon.

You can fight me on Twitter at @JoeFilmJourno , if you’d like.

Halfway through writing this article, I realised Lynch may be saying goodbye, and I got a little sad in realising this.