Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

27 October 2014


Fury. It's awesome. I absolutely loved it. First of all, I love Brad Pitt, so watching him be in charge of a WWII tank was already a sell for me. He is great in this, his lined, pained face showing years of struggle. In fact, I think this is the main thing that I liked about this movie. Fury is about a tank crew that has seen a lot of terrible things. This crew has been in the war since the beginning of U.S. involvement, and they have done and seen terrible, awful things. Fury doesn't try to upsell the war, to tell us that wars are won by men building computers in England or by spies stealing secrets from wealthy ammunition salesmen. And Fury doesn't pretend that wars are about ideals or freedom or democracy or even revenge (as our government would have us believe). War, in Fury, is about what Elaine Scarry says it is about in The Body in Pain, viz. people in a contest of killing. The winner is the person who kills the most people or has convinced the other person, by virtue of having killed a lot of people, to stop trying to kill him. A contest of murder. That's the set-up here.

Fury is not a rah-rah-America movie or even a rabid anti-Nazi movie, both of which would have been much easier for David Ayer to make; this is a muddy, bloody, usually drunken mess.

The plot, such as it is, follows a young typist who is ordered to join a tank squadron made up of four men who have been together since the beginning of American involvement in the war and have just lost one member of their crew. Logan Lerman plays the young recruit and the other actors in the tank are Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal. Jason Isaacs, Anamaria Marinca, and Xavier Samuel are also in the cast.

Mr. LaBeouf
Fury is an action movie, but in a lot of ways it feels like an old-fashioned WWII picture. This is probably due to the tank in which the crew spends the entire film. This was not a tech-savvy, exciting war for the men in Fury. It was a difficult, disgusting, awkward dogfight in a bulky, stultifying metal box on wheels. Critics have said that the movie is too brutal, too graphic, but all of it seemed quite responsible to me.

The revelation to my mind is the acting. Shia LaBeouf is absolutely fantastic. Let me just say that again: the guy from Transformers and its absurd, ridiculous sequels is great in this film. Logan Lerman, who I have only seen in nonsensical roles, was also great in this. In fact, the film is filled with excellent performances, including a near-silent turn by Romanian actress Anamaria Marinca (from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days). The men look exhausted throughout, and the camera spends a great deal of time looking at them, examining their faces. One sees in their eyes a kind of tired, resigned horror. It's incredibly powerful.

(As for Oscar chances, I don't think Fury can do very well. It's too anti-war, too violent, too conflicted about the violence it portrays. Sound categories, perhaps? And maybe also one other below-the-line category. This is just not the kind of thing Oscar voters want to see. Not uplifting enough.)

I actually recently saw a 1936 film called Fury with Sylvia Sidney and Spencer Tracy. He's a nice man who becomes the victim of a lynch-mob somewhere in the North. He is burned alive by the mob or at least almost burned alive. But he lives and then he seeks revenge against the men who unjustly tried to murder him. The film is notable for a few strange reasons. It uses video footage as evidence in the trial – the murderers are actually caught on video lynching him. It also was Fritz Lang's first U.S. film, and a big departure for Metro, which got into the gritty crime-film business with Fury. (The wikipedia page has lots of other trivia, too.) The other thing that is curious is that the film is about lynching, but of course there are only white people in the film. Fritz Lang made a movie about lynching in the United States, but he didn't set that film in the South and he didn't make it about the lynchings of black men. It's a pretty interesting picture.

26 October 2014

Magic in the Moonlight

Well, this is three Woody Allen pictures in a row that I didn't like. I don't really know what to do about it. I'm going to keep seeing them when they come out, obviously, but I think the old Woody Allen magic is mostly gone.

It is more complicated than that. The script for Magic in the Moonlight is actually ok. It's clever and quite funny with a central puzzle that I didn't actually figure out until the film's end. Colin Firth doesn't have any chemistry with his co-star Emma Stone, but he is funny enough as the central Woody character, neurotic and depressive and misanthropic, and the rest of the film's actors are delightful, particularly Hamish Linklater as an absurd, besotted multimillionaire and Eileen Atkins as Firth's wise aunt.

But the exposition is clunky. And the filmmaking (like Blue Jasmine's) is amateurish. Awkward shot/reverse-shot cuts, strange non sequitur sequences that should've been edited out, stilted transitions, two-dimensional characters, lazy scripting.

There is a fabulous sequence with Eileen Atkins – truly great in the film's best performance – where she tricks Colin Firth near the film's end. The writing sparkles and Atkins shines. This scene comes near the movie's end, so the overall impression with which one leaves is pleasant and delightful (the geriatric audience with which I saw the movie actually applauded), but for me it was way too little too late.

This is where I am with Woody Allen, I think. His ideas are good. The jokes are still quite funny. But putting it all together just doesn't work anymore. Someone else should be filming his scripts. I'm afraid he's lost his touch.
Earlier Allen:
2013 - Blue Jasmine
2006 - Scoop

24 October 2014

The Briefest of Reviews from 1970

Dodes'ka-den (どですかでん) is Kurosawa's first color film. I thought it was ok. Sad, but with lots of lovely parts. It's intended as a kind of Chekhovian story, with comedy, love, tragedy, fantasy, etc. The title Dodes'ka-den means, apparently, "clickety-clack", and the metaphor here is the train, which rolls by the lives of the poor people that this film describes. The characters are beautifully sketched here. Dodes'ka-den was also produced by the great director Kon Ichikawa. In any case, this is not the place to start with Kurosawa, but it is very good nonetheless.

12 October 2014

Two with Kevin Costner

I don't know if you all have seen Draft Day, but I was into it. It is a kind of poor man's Moneyball. Ok, it has nothing to do with Moneyball, really, but it is about the general manager of a professional sports team fighting with the coach, fighting with his advisors, that kind of thing. So it has a Moneyball vibe. Kevin Costner is no Brad Pitt, and Ivan Reitman is no Bennett Miller, but hey, I loved Moneyball and I was into this, too.

For me this was all about the suspense of the thing. What is he going to do? How is this going to work? How does he get out of this mess they're in? And Kevin Costner is just a lot of fun, so watching him finagle his way through things is a delight. The filmmakers very intelligently keep a clock running at all times. One always feels a sense of urgency. By this I don't mean dread – the stakes just aren't that high in a game like this – but the stakes of a game itself, the rush of winning, of getting one over on the opponent, of coming out victorious. Draft Day has this in spades, and it is a fun ride, though not much else.

I will say, though, that I hadn't seen Chadwick Boseman in a film before (I skipped 42 and Get On Up), and so seeing him in this was incredible. He is so unbelievably good. I am in love. He is totally brilliant in this little film.

Now for Waterworld. I remember this getting a lot of flak when it came out in the mid-1990s, and I can't really remember why. Bloated budget, probably. All of that water! Here's the thing, though: the film looks cheap! This is a prime irony in film history, surely. One of the most expensive flops to date looks like it was done by cutting corners.

The film itself isn't too bad, though. The dystopia Waterworld describes is at least totally different and interesting when compared to the grey, zombie-infested dystopias of our own decade, or even the back-to-the-forest dystopias of Planet of the Apes or After Earth (not that I saw that, haha). I mean, Waterworld is just water. And that looks really cool. Plus, Costner's little boat is really cool, too. It has all kinds of little hidden compartments and he moves around on it like a little evolved monkey. It's quite fun.

The disaster part of the film has to do with the film's villain, Dennis Hopper, and his henchmen, all of whom are played in full cartoon mode. These portrayals are so silly, so completely ungrounded, that the film has no stakes at all. Jeanne Tripplehorn, Costner, Chaim Girafi, R.D. Call, and Michael Jeter are actually playing the scenes like real humans, but Hopper and his crew don't seem to understand, they clown it up in literally every sequence, and the director Kevin Reynolds stages the violence they commit and that is committed upon them as cartoonish, as well. It is easily this that kills the film. The plot is not that great, but lots of plots aren't that great. When you can't believe that there are any stakes in a film, that is a problem of an entirely different order. Waterworld could've been pretty cool, I think, and it's still not as bad as everyone made it out to be in 1995, but it is indeed a big mess.

11 October 2014

The Briefest of Reviews from 1972

Catsplay is a strange, strange movie. It is a kind of memory-piece told in fits and starts. A kind of meditation on the way the past sort of never leaves, how the past is always still a part of the present. So far so good, but there is rather too much about cats in Catsplay for my taste. As far as I can tell, this Hungarian movie was never released in the United States, and IMDb dates this movie as 1974, but that is plainly an impossibility. But it is an intriguing little picture about an old woman in love with a faded but persistent opera singer, as well as the memories the woman shares with her (uptight and pretentious) older sister.

The Briefest of Reviews from 1972

Pete 'n' Tillie is 1972 Oscar bait. Weird stuff, really. Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett are a strange couple who just sort of end up together. They have chemistry, but the whole thing is odd. And this is not primarily a comedy, despite the cute little n in the title. The film does pick up whenever Geraldine Page is on screen, and this does give it some delightful comic elements, but mostly this is a movie about a difficult marriage with rather a lot of "acting". There's a reason this movie is hard to get ahold of these days. I'm calling it Oscar bait because Matthau and Burnett, as comedians, are asked to be serious and deal with some family issues and real trouble, in what seemed to me a awards-season ploy to note the versatility of the performers. I'm not sure either is really up to the task here.

The Briefest of Reviews from 1972

Fat City refers to a kind of dream; the term is the equivalent of easy street. But Fat City is a movie about a boxer starring Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges (in 1972! so cute). I am not calling this a boxing movie, because it isn't really that. This is much more a movie about poverty, about living in Northern California and trying to find work and drinking a lot. Keach goes back to boxing because he loves it, but physically it costs him dearly, and if he doesn't win he doesn't win much money. Almost all of the victories here (and there aren't even many of those) feel hollow. This isn't a very pleasurable picture. But the pleasures that are here a related to Susan Tyrrell, as Keach's hard-drinking girlfriend – part of my difficulty with the film is the amount of screaming the two do at one another, but her performance is really great – and Jeff Bridges. Tracking this man's professional trajectory would be totally fascinating. At this point in his career, Bridges was playing hopeful, slightly feckless young men, and this is another of those. Fat City is definitely worth watching, but not a lot of fun.

The Briefest of Reviews from 1972

The main title for this film is Neil Simon's The Heartbreak Kid. I didn't really realize that this was a thing, where the writer got billing like this. (I know this happens on Paddy Chayefsky's Network, but that still seems quite unusual to me.) Neil Simon did not write the novel on which The Heartbreak Kid is based, and Elaine May directed the film. The Heartbreak Kid is a really funny farcical piece, and I quite enjoyed myself. Eddie Albert is hilarious, but I think what I don't really get is Charles Grodin. I've just never understood Charles Grodin. Maybe it's from seeing Beethoven as a kid and hating him, but he is young and cute in this... and still looks as one-note and uncomfortable as ever. I will say, though, that The Heartbreak Kid is a kind of comedic version of the 1970s lonely man à la The Conversation or Save the Tiger. The ending, funny though it is, is a beautiful portrait of this emptiness. I thought this was pretty great.

08 October 2014

Catching up on More 2014 Films

Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる) is Hirokuza Kore-eda's exploration of childhood, genetics, parenthood, and the big nature/culture discussion that we always have. Like Father, Like Son poses the question: What do you do if you find that your six-year-old son, whom you love more than anything, was switched at birth with another boy? If the other family agrees, do you switch them back so that you can begin raising the son that is genetically yours? What if – and this is where Hirokuza's film gets really brilliant – you have always wished that your son could be braver, stronger, smarter, and now you feel like this is an explanation for your son's failings?

Hirokuza's film is a Japanese movie, so it isn't filled with histrionic scenes and yelling and fistfights between the two fathers. And the dynamics of raising in children in Japan and raising children in the U.S. are (obviously) slightly different, as well, but Like Father, Like Son gets at the real heart of the matter. Hirokuza slowly complicates things until they are as difficult as you can imagine them being. (Rather like a Asghar Farhadi film, without the tragedy.) By the time we reached the third act, I cared for these people so much that I was emotional about any decision they might have made. This is a superb film, with excellent performances, especially from the lead actor, Masaharu Fukuyama. The performances of the children are also beautiful, their wide-eyed confusion works as a mirror for the alleged knowledge that the experts, the parents, and the audience are supposed to possess. Be sure to see Like Father, Like Son before you see whatever USAmerican remake that (you can be sure) they are cooking up.

I hated Calvary, John Michael McDonagh's (alleged) comedy about an Irish priest who is threatened with death during confession and then given a week to get his affairs in order. The film stars a bevy of excellent actors, including Brendan Gleeson, Isaach de Bankolé, M. Emmet Walsh, Aiden Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, and Kelly Reilly. (Killian Scott gave my favorite performance in the film, for the record.) I've been told, too, that the film makes more sense if I've seen JMMcD's earlier film The Guard and perhaps a television show or short film of his? Whatever they are, I missed them, and apparently missed the point of this film as well.

Films about religion have never been very interesting to me, in truth, and Calvary is about the way that the Catholic church, once so important to Irish nationhood and Irish daily life, has faded in importance, rejected by the people it was intended to serve. The church, too, has been guilty of horrible crimes, not just over the centuries, but in our own century, and so the film is about parishoners and their complicated relationship with their local priest. The thing is, the film is not funny, and is not intended to be. Amusing or quirky scenes between the priest and the parishoners are broken up by gratuitous helicopter shots of Irish hills and these are overlaid with slow, operatic (or more specifically) sacred music. This slows the film down considerably, and gives it a ponderous mood.

Even more vexed is Calvary's use of violence. John Michael McDonagh is the brother to the writer/director Martin McDonagh, who has written hyperviolent plays such as The Lieutenant of Inishmore and A Behanding in Spokane. His films include In Bruges. Now, I will admit to never truly understanding McDonagh's approach to violence. Why is this supposed to be funny? Do you enjoy the violence? Are you interested in pain? Are you making a statement about it? His work always makes me ask these questions, not least because violence is treated in a cavalier way. To give just one example, in In Bruges, a body falls from a high tower and lands with a crunch and a splash on the cobblestones of Belgium. The effect is decidedly comic. Why? With McDonagh, his fascination with the flesh-ness of the human body, its fragility, always seems to be what he's exploring – an intriguing exploration, to be sure – but his point of view about this always seems to be silly. Isn't it funny that we're just, after all, meat – with bones that go crunch when you smack 'em? I'm mostly alone here, of course: McDonagh's work is very popular.

But his brother John Michael McDonagh takes even more pleasure in the violence he shows us. His camera positively enjoys watching suffering, and he asks us to enjoy it, too. He slows down one particular sequence so that we can, Tarantino-like, watch a bullet rip through a man's head in slow-motion and spatter blood across a beach. Why? The effect is cruel and grotesque, and this clashes markedly with the emotional valence the scene appears to be trying to achieve. Calvary is, honestly, a total mess, and I had begun to hate it long before the slow-motion bullet.

...And then there's Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer (설국열차). We're on a train. In the future. We need to fight the bad guys. And we need to get to the front of the train. The whole thing is as simple as that – at least to begin with. Now this is a violent movie that has no pretentions about how its violence works. This is an action film about meat, about bodies crunching against metal, about weakness and fear and real pain. But these are Bong's acknowledged subjects. That is, Snowpiercer is a movie about who gets to live and who gets to die, and the different types of violence that attend decisions about who lives and who dies. And this exploration all takes place on a train that is speeding through a frozen wasteland.

Snowpiercer stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Song Kang-ho, Jamie Bell, and Octavia Spencer. And it is fun (at least it was for me) from start to finish. In fact, I think the movie is worth seeing simply for the art direction – the train cars are crafted beautifully, and they are so different from one another, and so cleverly arranged, that the simple walk from the back of the train to the front, through the world of the cars, is fascinating. And Tilda! Tilda is ridiculous and so much fun. (Hilarious that she and John Hurt were also both in the ponderously boring Only Lovers Left Alive in such a different style.) I do wish Chris Evans were a better actor. His range strikes me as fairly limited. I think he's a really fun performer, but there's an act three monologue in the film that (aside from interrupting the action-packed thrust of the film) really doesn't achieve what it ought to because Evans can't really connect emotionally with what he's saying. A more actor-focused director may be able to solve this problem for him, eventually. I will hope so, because I like him.

I should note that I thought that Snowpiercer was totally incoherent, and the presence of the writer was so palpable that by the end I felt that literally anything could've happened and then been explained away by some trick. The film's ending didn't make one bit of sense to me. (There's an explosion and there's a polar bear: I have no idea.) And I didn't care about any of that. This is a brutal, violent, fun ride, filled with the awesome fight sequences and suspense we have come to expect from the new wave of Korean directors. I really, really liked it. But don't spend too much time thinking about it.

05 October 2014

Three with Goldie Hawn

I don't know what's been happening, but I've recently been catching a movie with an actor and then, without really intending to, watching a second (or third) movie with that actor.

Butterflies Are Free is mostly a silly little drama, and is obviously adapted (and not very much) from a play by the same name. There isn't much to say about this film except that Goldie Hawn is a delightful little nymph in it, the main actor (Edward Albert) is very attractive, and Eileen Heckart is pretty well near brilliant as the young man's mother. I should note, too, that the main character is blind, but that this disability is mainly understood through the (typical and tiresome) lens of metaphor. His blindness is a way of talking about living in the world on our own, without the supervision of parents, lovers, etc. Can you make it on your own? Yes. Yes, you can. As long as you don't freak out too much, and as long as you find a very cute white girl to love you. I am being dismissive. But it is easy to be dismissive about something so slight. In any case, if there is a reason to watch Butterflies Are Free, Eileen Heckart is that reason. Her performance is beautifully nuanced. She is initially a kind of stuffy, Helen Mirren type, who Heckart humanizes into a fascinatingly strong, compassionate character. It's enchanting to watch.

Best Friends is a rom-com with Hawn and Burt Reynolds that is completely and totally enjoyable. This comedy was written by Barry Levinson & Valerie Curtin and directed by Norman Jewison. I basically loved it, and in the processed remembered how much I love both of these actors. Reynolds gets a lot of flack for his off-screen behavior – frankly, I am taking him to task for a couple of things in my book manuscript – but as a performer, I just love him. He is so much fun, and plays the frustrated, exasperated straight man figure just perfectly, with a careful eye on how silly he knows he looks. He's delightful. This comedy, too, is really funny. A couple of Hollywood screenwriters, who have a great relationship, decide to get married and then to visit each of their parents' families in turn. Both interactions are hilarious, and as you can imagine, the relationship is tested by this return home to the nonsense from which each of them originally came. This is a complete farce, with a few sentimental messages about marriage and commitment thrown in, but it's never preachy, and even the girlfriend-with-the-baby character (who usually preaches wisdom and freaks the heroine out in these kinds of movies) gets drunk in the afternoon with Hawn's character and gives wise counsel rather than inciting terror.

And then there's Swing Shift, which is a Kurt Russell / Goldie Hawn feature about the Rosie-the-Riveter types who went to work during the Second World War. The film is a nostalgic piece of fluff for the most part, presenting the past in a kind of Barry Levinson-esque candied haze. But this film, too, has things to recommend it. Aside from the obvious hotness of Russell (as well as the sexy Ed Harris), this is a movie about cheating on your husband that doesn't spend a lot of time moralizing about how awful the cheating wife is. The cheating wife in this case (Hawn) figures out who she is by herself while her husband is away, and the film is much more interested in this discovery of subjectivity itself than it is in punishing or scolding the woman for her discoveries. Swing Shift was directed by Jonathan Demme, and it also possesses the particular brand of quirkiness that Demme was working on in the 1980s. I'm thinking of films like Married to the Mob and Melvin and Howard, that take a humorous perspective on human nature, while also understanding the difficulties and violences that daily life entails. Swing Shift is one of these 1980s Demme films that makes fun of its characters in a gentle, empathetic way, while also spending just a little more time than it knows it should focusing on how silly everything is. His films from this time period focus almost guiltily on the pleasure everyone is experiencing, even though they are well aware that we are talking about serious things. This makes the director's movies into the quirky, seemingly disjointed narratives that they are. But his movies are not disjointed at all. His films are of a piece, in fact. This quirky, nostalgic style runs through all of Demme's movies in the 1980s.

02 October 2014

The Briefest of Reviews from 1970

I actually don't understand how this was nominated for Best Foreign Language Picture. Wikipedia and IMDb both say that First Love is a German-language film. But that is definitely not true of the English-language print I watched. With the actors John Moulder-Brown (British), Maximilian Schell (Austrian), and Valentina Cortese (Italian), English rather than German seems a more common language here, as well. In any case, First Love is a beautiful picture, and this is mostly due to its exquisite direction (also by Schell). It is Chekhovian and wise and visually interesting. The film is marred by a 1970s musical soundtrack that now seems dated and silly, but otherwise this is gorgeous stuff.

01 October 2014

Short Conversations about A Clash of Kings (Book 2)


Me: Why does GRRM insist on describing meals and outfits constantly? These are the two things I don't understand. And all the meals are the same anyway: pork roasted with leeks and herbs, wine sweetened with honey, black bread, and honey cakes.
Catie: Um, have you seen the size of him?
Me: Oh my god. Excellent point. But he needs to hire a chef to help him change up the menus a little bit.
Catie: He dresses like he lives in Game of Thrones. He loves being Robert Baratheon.
Me: They only ever eat winter vegetables. But it has been summer for like twenty years!
Catie: So true!
Me: Like, no one has seen a zucchini.
Catie: Or a nice avocado.
Me: Exactly. No one grows tomatoes. Though it is perma-summer.
Catie: And they dress like it's winter, as well.
Me: Well they are all naked a lot.
Catie: I'm wondering if his last book and last sentence will say Winter has come and that's it. We've just been leading up to snow.
Me: The Starks will have been right all along.
Catie: Hahahaha. Fuckin' Starks.
Me: Ugh. May they all perish.
Catie: Except Arya???
Me: Right. I like Arya. Although she just did something asinine. She got captured by the Mountain because she trusted this idiot Hotpie.
Catie: Hotpie. I forgot about him!
Me: Easy to do. I assume I will too. He will be killed in the next chapter.

Tom: Where are you in Westeros now?
Me: I am wishing I could move faster. The audiobook isn't very fast when I'm only going to and from the grocery.
Tom: You know, you could, like… read it...

Me: Lady Catelyn has gone as an envoy to King Renly. I am glad. Even if I have to put up with Catelyn's constant boo-hooing, it is worth it to hang out with Renly for a while. I've never hoped we'd go back to Catelyn before but like what is happening with Renly.
Catie: Does he make you miss the Starks?
Me: No. Fuck a Stark. But, like, GRRM only cares about Arya and Tyrion and fucking Daenerys (and who the fuck cares about her right now?) and I want to know what Renly is doing!

Me: Renly??! No. I can't. I am so sad/mad/upset!!
Catie: I've been waiting for this text. I knowwwww.
Me: I hate everything. There are two motherfucking gay characters and he has to go and kill one.
Catie: Best reaction. Shall we go into mourning?
Me: Seriously. So mad. I had been looking forward to hanging out with him for the whole fucking book. And GRRM cuts his throat with a fucking fake shadow dark magic sword from his racist version of a mysterious orientalist east.
Catie: Hahahahahaha. Oh my god. That's it.
Me: Maybe next the evil red bitch Melisandre can put some five spice powder in her stir fry. Almond eyes. Fuck. Can he think of any other way to describe Asian people. I am so mad. There better be another gay character soon or I'm out.
Catie: Melisandre annoys the shit out of me. That fucking birthing a weird ghost Stannis baby. I can't imagine.
Me: But then the rest of these assholes. Catelyn is like, you know what we ought to do? Pray. Yep. That'll help. Only Tyrion is like: Hmmm. I think I'm going to hatch a fucking plan. Catelyn is like Plans? Why do we need plans? We have honor! Just like her husband. Someone oughtta cut her throat too. I'm going to bed. I'm going to cry and pray that GRRM can think of another character with cool outfits like Renly's. You know he loves to describe an outfit. (And a meal.)
Catie: Catelyn is just straight dumb. Worst representation.
Me: Literally everything she says I just think cheer up!
Catie: She invented Debbie Downer. And she doesn't shut up.
Me: I can see why people get onto Team Lannister. Go fucking do something.
Catie: I just want Tyrion and Varys to take over everything.

Me: Sometimes I actually think I'm only reading this book for the gods. For an atheist, I sort of love the idea of deities.
Tom: Haha. They mostly bore me
Me: Gods bore me in real life. But if they actually have magic powers, I'm in. Like the Greek ones.
Tom: I like R'hllor
Me: I have no idea what you just said, but it looks abominable.
Tom: The lord of light. That's how you spell his name
Me: It is spelled like that? That's horrific. Yet another instance of GRRM racism? Is he supposed to be from the East? The mysterious oriental east?
Tom: Hahaha. I don't think he's given a geographic origin.
Me: Bullshit. That Melisandre woman was chanting in the language of Asshai.
Tom: Oh right, she is from the east
Me: Nailed it. This shit is so racist.

Me: I'm on Theon II. He's flirting with the wife of the man who built his ship.
Tom: Ok.
Me: No idea what's happened in Pyke since I was there last though. GRRM hasn't gotten around to that. He's busy talking about Theon's "iron" "mast".
Tom: Well it is his defining characteristic
Me: I like him. I like sons who don't get on with their fathers.

Me: The reason the Bran storyline is so fucking stupid is that he only sees future scenarios that we already know about.
Catie: He's just a recap.
Me: Boring ass Starks.

Me: The mother of dragons needs to give birth again. This time to a plot twist. I'm 60% through this book and she can't do anything except roast a bit of meat to feed the little guys.
Catie: She's so slow in that. Actually most of her stuff is slow and redundant except for a few boom moments. I mean, come to Westeros already.

Me: I hate Catelyn so much. I liked her for five minutes at the Twins when she talked to Lord Fray. But now. Fuck her.
Dayne: This is when a judging emoticon would be useful.
Me: In the books, though: she is such a whiner. She just cries and there's no plot advancement. Boo hoo hoo hoo, bitch. This woman has not enjoyed a single day of her time in the entirety of this series. I can't wait for her to die.
Jeanne: How are we friends? Stark-hater.
Tom: Would you enjoy her life? If it makes you feel better, pretty much everyone hates Cat. Which makes me sad because I love her.
Me: You two go ahead and love her. And I will hate away. 

Me: Melisandre gave birth to Stannis's shadow baby and it was great.
Catie: False. It was fucking random.
Me: I loved it.
Catie: I had to reread it. I was like whaaat? And then got turned on. She is badass but if she says "Lord of Light" one more time I will light her on fire.
Me: True. But she is fucking pure evil. And that is interesting.
Catie: Especially when you have the Starks prancing around.
Me: What did you say? I fell asleep for a second.
Catie: Hahaha. I said HOOOODOOOOR.
Me: Twice today I sighed deeply and said "oh dear" and then much louder I said "HOOODOOR."

Me: There is so much magic in Book 2. I like it. Dany just escaped from the house of the undying.
Tom: I was literally about to ask if you'd been to the house of the undying yet.
Me: It was so cool! I feel like that is the chapter you need to revisit. He probably hid lots of secrets in there. But also Jaqen H'ghar!
Tom: I just reread House yesterday I think. And of Jaqen, you're just at his intro now, right?
Me: Oh no. He has already disappeared like the wind. After being amazing and killing people
Tom: Ahhhh. Valar morghulis
Me: Whatever that shit means.
Tom: It will be translated for you
Me: Aside from the fact that it obviously means something having to do with magic and death.
Tom: Yes. I can tell you what it means. It's not a huge shocker.
Me: Haha. Yes. Do.
Tom: "All men must die."
Me: But see. Here's the thing. What is dead may never die, as the Greyjoys remind us.
Catie: The drowned god! Yes.

Me: Jaqen H'ghar is my shit.
Catie: He is awesome. And hot.
Me: Phrase most often written in this book: "Blah blah blah, said Catelyn gravely."
Catie: Gravely. Hahahaha. Every. Thing. Is. So. Dire.
Me: Seriously. Catelyn is always weeping. When she was alone with Ned's bones I thought I was going to explode with rage.
Catie: Someone would give her a million dollars and she would just be so sad about it.
Me: She was wealthy beyond measure, but she couldn't help her thoughts turning to the sadness in her heart. Gold and jewels only appeared cold and unfeeling to her. They wouldn't bring her Ned back. And they wouldn't bring her closer to her children.
Catie: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Maybe if you had a better attitude all your children wouldn't be so fucked up and living a million miles away from you.
Me: Exactly. Also, you never should've left Winterfell. And never have let Tyrion get away.
Catie: I'd go to war to get away from her.
Me: Hopefully she'll die soon.
Catie: Fingers crossed.
Me: I'll pray to the seven about it.

Me: I really like Sansa in this book. Almost finished with Number 2.
Jeanne: Wow! You're killing it! She's definitely better in the books. ... I do think it's funny you like the one Stark who I don't like. It took me forever to get through the first half of that book.
Me: The first half of that book nothing happens. It is awful. Nothing is still happening, frankly, but I have hopes for the last fifth.
Jeanne: Hang in there. It gets awesome.

Tom: You're heading to the big climax.
Me: Yes of course. Cliffhangers and whatnot. Fucking Stannis is going to attack King's Landing. But what gets me is that the books are totally ignoring Robb Stark - or have been for ages. Not that I care about Robb. He is boring. But, like, Tywin and Robb are fighting and fighting the whole book and there are no eyes on them.
Tom: Yeah but it's the war of five kings. With five kings, you lose track of one or two for a while.
Me: I counted 7. Kings, I mean.
Tom: Well, 6 and a queen.
Me: Yeah.
Tom: Joffrey, Stannis, Renly, Robb, Balon, Mance, Dany.
Me: Can't leave out the king beyond the wall.

Me: So after the battle of Blackwater. The guy reading my audiobook goes: “Daenerys”. And I yelled curses at the CD player for the next five minutes straight.
Tom: Haha.
Me: I don't wanna hear about her. I wanna know what happened.
Tom: Hahahahahaha.
Me: Loras was wearing Renly's armor I take it. Romantic. And stolen wholesale from the Iliad. I am so close to being done with this book.
Tom: And then onto Book 3! My favorite of them all.
Me: …And hopefully some new characters. But right now GRRM is literally introducing us to a million Frays who are hanging out at Harrenhal with whatshisname with the leeches. Like: hello! Wrap it up! I'm meeting new characters?? That fucking sadist.
Tom: Setting up Book 3.
Me: Right.
Tom: Blackwater is the climax, time to have falling action
Me: And I suppose the book will end with Bran telling us where the fuck he's hiding himself. HOOOOODOOOOOR.

Me: Poor Theon. Everybody hates that motherfucker.
Dayne: Bahaha. I'm part of that club as well. 
Catie: Not a damn friend in the world. I want Varys to employ him.
Me: It makes me like him. Haha.
Dayne: Of course.

Dayne: You finished book 2!
Me: I did. Cliffhanger city.
Dayne: I'll have to call and hear about it.
Me: You've heard all there is to hear. But I will say one thing. Jon Snow is no Stark. He abandoned his honor for the good of the realm. What a good guy.
Dayne: Doing what?
Me: Going over to the wildlings.
Dayne: Ah.
Me: Lord Eddard could never have done that. Ever.
Dayne: Daenerys' boring stuff is finally over. 
Me: Thank the lord. Maybe Bran can become interesting finally too. And maybe Catelyn will die soon. Plus: new point of view characters!! I am hoping for Jaime this time. Or Loras. And I hope Davos is still alive.
Dayne: Book 3 is good.
Me: Good! I am excited for it