Soul is the best movie of the pandemic

With all due respect to Palm Springs, Pixar’s Soul is the best movie to come out during the pandemic. 

I’m still not quite sure how a media Death Star like Disney ended up producing one of the most internal, challenging movies I’ve ever seen and that dwells on subject matter that’s often way too difficult to confront (What is our purpose in life? How do you live a meaningful life? Why are the New York Knicks the way they are?). But I’m glad that they did, even if it reduced me to an existential puddle who also weeped openly about a character who is a talking cat. 

Did the joke about the lost soul of a day trader hit entirely too close to home? You’re gosh darn right it did. And did I ball my eyes out during the final montage of the main character’s life? Hoo boy. 

One of the things that has stuck with me most about Soul, however, is the idea of finding your spark. It feels so especially salient now, nearly a year into a pandemic that (at least for me) has caused me to go through entire life cycles of hobbies in search of my own (my sourdough starter ended shortly after the Trump presidency; I never did finish that 1,000-piece puzzle; I’ve been producing fewer and fewer listicles for this eminent newsletter, etc. etc.). And what about all of us who derive energy and inspiration from the very people we’re not able to see right now? 

As awed as I was by Soul’s discussion of capital-D Difficult concepts about life, death, and the meaning we find in between, I think I got just as much out of its exploration of Joe’s love of jazz and what it means to pursue your ambition by immersing yourself fully in what brings you joy (and the ways in which that dedication can hamper other parts of your life). And on top of that, it was worth it just for the reminder to take a breath and look around you—which, in Soul, was a New York City that looked more real than any movie set in NYC that I’ve seen since Spider-verse

So for me, Soul is on the Mount Rushmore of pandemic movies, right up there with Palm Springs and whatever else you happened to have streamed this year (TenetChicago 7Mank? Sure, go ahead, so long as it’s not The Midnight Sky). One month of Disney+ is worth it to watch Soul and then binge as many of the Mighty Ducks movies as you have the appetite for. 

Godzilla And King Kong Better Fuck In That Movie

If you’re a good, red-blooded American, you’ve likely seen the flawless trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong. And if you’ve seen that trailer, there is one inescapable conclusion you’ve likely drawn: those two are going to fuck, right?

Don’t get me wrong—I know what they want you to think; these are two terrifying proto-monsters hellbent on destroying each other and everything in their paths. But c’mon. You’re telling me you watched that whole trailer, heard that mood music, listened to the long history of their relationship and saw them start to go at it and didn’t just know, “Oh yeah, they’re going to go at it, alright. They are going to destroy everything.”

I’m not saying it would be offensive if they didn’t fuck. But also… it would absolutely be offensive. In this day and age, in 2021, it would be incredibly puritanical to keep two creatures from fucking who are definitely ready to go to the bone zone just because one is a gigantic ape and the other is a dinosaur (ageist, much?). And if Christopher Nolan can produce a movie where Robert Pattinson definitely has poop re-enter his body (oh, you think pooping is off-limits in that reverse timeline?!? It happens. Grow up), we can get at least a couple minutes of Kong-on-Zilla action.

Let’s make this happen, America. We got a whole new fucking Sonic after one horrendous trailer. The least the film industry can give us now is the hookup of the century. 

Let them fuck! Let them fuck!

Left on Read Is Hiring!!

Have you dreamed of working for the sometimes bi-weekly newsletter that The New Yorker once referred to as “spectacularly self-assured”? Then you’re in luck. Left On Read is looking to hire one passionate, self-motivated, and experienced individual who can come explain to us what the fuck happened in Tenet.

The only requirement is a PhD in particle physics, since that’s apparently needed to understand this goddamn movie. Research questions of interest to you should include:

  • How the fuck does someone travel backward and forward through time at the same damn time?
  • Is there even a remotely scientific basis to any of this at all?
  • Is that woman really that tall?
  • How can I learn to have even a vanishingly small percentage of the swagger that John David Washington has?
  • Hang on, John David Washington played running back for the Saint Louis Rams??

It probably goes without saying, but this position is entirely uncompensated. 

Movies Coming Out In 2021, Ranked By How Much They Will Test My Resolve To Not Be A Complete Moron And Go See Them In Theaters

2020 was not a great year for the film industry. The problems started in March, when movie theaters closed due to Covid-19, and continued all the way through late December, when we all realized that, despite our highest hopes, The Irishman would not end this calendar year. 

For moviegoers, all we have left is to look forward to the bevy of exciting movies coming out in 2021. Here are a few of them, ranked in ascending order of how likely they are to compel me to be a totally irresponsible dipshit and go sit indoors in a room full of strangers for two and a half hours.

5. Top Gun: Maverick

Haha just kidding. Eat shit, Tom Cruise, you middle-toothed psycho shitweed.

4. Black Widow

Look, I’m pretty careful about Covid-19 precautions. But I’m only human. And when you give me not just a first look at MCU Phase Four, but also David Harbour as what appears to be an overweight, booze-addled Russian superhero has-been, you are basically inviting me to put a couple hours of entertainment ahead of my obvious responsibilities to the health of myself and my community.

3. The King’s Man

The coming prequel, which will round out the spectacularly fun Kingsman trilogy, looks to be a surprisingly dramatic and intense war movie. It has Tywin Lannister, the warlord from Fast 7, and the war hero from Inglourious Basterds AKA the villain from Captain America: Civil War. And I’m supposed to stay at home and acknowledge that my actions have consequences???

2. No Time To Die

James Bond movies were made to be seen in theaters, or otherwise to be binge-watched on Tuesday mornings when you’ve just graduated college and still don’t have a job. This one is no exception. I’d like to be considerate of the world around me, but this movie might tie my hands (and also put me in a chair with the seat cut out and proceed to slap the hell out of my nuts with a rope knot).

1. F9

THE IDIOTS FROM THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS FRANCHISE ARE GOING TO SPACE! I REFUSE TO NOT BE A DICKHOLE!!! 

It’s Time to Compromise with the Sith

My Fellow Rebel Alliance Members,

This past week has been a joyous one indeed. After years of fighting and thousands of casualties suffered, we have done it: We have defeated the Galactic Empire. The Death Star has been destroyed. Across the galaxy, Humans, Wookies and Jawas alike have erupted into spontaneous dance. It is a momentous accomplishment, and nobody is more excited than I am. However, despite our happiness, it is critical to remember that there are millions of Storm Troopers and Sith who are just as sad now as you were when Emperor Palpatine murdered your family. Today, we must chart a path to compromise with the Sith Lords to guarantee a new era of peaceful cohabitation.

I understand that many people do not agree with the Sith platform. Their policies, like blowing up planets that don’t submit to their will and force choking anyone who criticizes them, can certainly ruffle some feathers. And yes, I concede that their enslavement of Wookiees, Mon Calamari, and other races was less than kind. However, we must admit we are much more alike than we are different. Who among us hasn’t drank a few too many at Mos Eisley cantina and then killed a few innocent bystanders? Or turned a blind eye to a genocide or two so you could spend the weekend enjoying pod racing? If you can look past all of the “We want to murder them all” rhetoric, you’ll see they are just like you and me.

Now, I will address the Hutt in the room: I am a former member of the Imperial Ruling Council. However, I only joined to protect all of you from his worst impulses, and I am a firm never-Palpatine Sith. That’s why I joined #TheResistance — not because the Emperor killed my children and exiled me from his Star Destroyer. My colleagues and I at The Anakin Project have been critical to your success, whether the results show it or not. 

While this is a grand accomplishment, now is not the time to get carried away. We must be very careful about listening to advice from young radicals like Luke Skywalker. The way forward is through compromise. So open your arms to the Sith — they promise not to cut them off. 

Jesse Plemons Is a Bully Who We Have Allowed to Fail Upward

How have we let this happen? How have we, as a nation, allowed Jesse Plemons, a.k.a. Meth Damon, to fail upward like this?

There were warning signs. All it took was his second film appearance, as Tommy Harbor (younger brother of star QB Lance Harbor) in Varsity Blues

What do we call this? Bullying. Pure and simple. And the only thing bullying produces is more interpersonal violence: 

Fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice? 

The red flags were all around us. This bullying behavior by Plemons’ character Ox in Like Mike is textbook. The aggression. The lack of empathy toward a height-challenged Lil’ Bow Wow. Look at how he thrives on the insecurities of others (to hide his own insecurity at being an orphan, perhaps?) while misusing his power over other foster children. 

America appeared to be on to this shitbird after Like Mike. Plemons spent the remainder of the early 2000s schlepping it from CSI to Grey’s to NCIS. But somewhere along the way we lost our focus, and we allowed this bully to continue to fail upward. Worse, we let him continue to think that his antisocial behavior was okay. 

Like most bullies, Landry Clarke’s pals on Friday Night Lights might not have thought there was anything wrong with him. But just tell that to the man he MURDERED. How does a kid go from a stable, football-loving home in Texas (Varsity Blues), to an orphanage in Los Angeles (Like Mike), to committing involuntary manslaughter back in Texas (FNL)? BECAUSE WE ALLOWED HIS WORST CHARACTERISTICS TO DEVELOP WITHOUT CHECKING HIS UNWANTED, AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR, THAT’S WHY.

And don’t for a minute think that Landry’s killing (not the last murder Plemons would commit on screen, either) was a once-off, spur-of-the-moment type of thing. No, Plemons would continue to commit ever-more heinous acts of violence against those less powerful than he:

Like most bullies, Plemons’ Todd in Breaking Bad flirts with white supremacy. Based on his meth-slave relationship with Jesse Pinkman, it’s clear that he also struggles with letting his friends be independent from himself. 

The bullying would continue. Take Plemons’ appearance in Black Mirror, in the episode “USS Callister,” for example. Plemons’ intimidation and coercion has progressed into middle age, where he takes out his frustrations and resentments on sentient digital clones of his coworkers. Unsatisfied with bullying on a terrestrial stage, Plemons now appears to have taken his abuse to galaxies unknown. 

And the behavior persists to this day. It was only last year, in fact, that Plemons portrayed Chuckie O’Brien—the man who may have been responsible for Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance—in Martin Scorsese’s lauded TV mini-series The Irishman.

What can possibly be next for this heinous bully? What new heights will we allow him to climb? Will Jesse Plemons next portray Regina George in a gender-reversed recasting of Mean Girls? Will he transport back in time to join Cobra Kai? 

Whatever he attempts next, it’s time for the American moviegoing public to just say no. Plemons’ bullying has to end. It must end.

Was the Angels’ victory over the 1994 Chicago White Sox in Angels in the Outfield the most improbable sports victory in movie history?

I’ll come out and say it: The most improbable aspect of Disney’s Angels in the Outfield isn’t the fact that Christopher Lloyd somehow skirted the player’s union to get on the field or that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t be adopted. Instead, what really grinds my gears is that the lowly California Angels—despite not receiving any angel assistance whatsoever in their final game—somehow beat the 1994 Chicago White Sox to clinch the division title and the pennant at the end of the movie.

How could this have happened? How could that year’s Angels squad, a team so bad that Gordon-Levitt’s father bet that he wouldn’t have to regain custody of his child until they won the pennant, pull off a victory against a White Sox team that clearly would have won its first World Series championship in 77 years had the 1994 season not been stopped short by a player’s strike? It’s a mystery that grows ever more perplexing when you compare the team’s rosters: 

First Base
White Sox: Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas losing out on the full 1994 season is one of the worst travesties in American sports. The Big Hurt posted a shocking 1.217 OPS in 1994, the 18th best single-season OPS of all time. The guy was in the midst of a Ted Williams–caliber streak, and he was well on his way to earning his second straight AL MVP award and my everlasting love and affection. The Angel Gabriel couldn’t have stopped Frank from winning this game. Post-playing career boosted by Nugenix. 
Angels: Mitchell Page. Second place AL Rookie of the Year in 1977. Career batting average of .266, but he couldn’t make the roster for the Athletics’ 1981 postseason campaign. Post-playing career cut short by alcoholism. 
Advantage: White Sox, and it’s not even close. 

Second Base
White Sox: Joey Cora.
 Survived a stabbing, one-time All Star, and won a ring as the third base coach for the 2005 White Sox. Brother of Rob Manfred–patsy Alex Cora.
Angels: Israel Juarbe. Played Freddy Fernandez in The Karate Kid, a role for which he has been referred to as a “bitch motherf*cker” in at least one MMA-themed forum. Probably best known for his limited role as the room service waiter in this exceptionally 80s clip
Advantage: White Sox.

Short Stop
White Sox: Ozzie Guillén. 
There’s a lot that can be said about Ozzie. The spitfire-spewing third baseman-turned-Fidel-Castro-praising-and-gay-slur-using manager who we let things kind of slide with. The man invented Ozzieball (grind out a single, bunt him over to second, then smash a two-run home run) and managed the best Sox team of the 21st century. But I think this clip comes the closest to capturing all he brings to the table.
Angels: Albert Garcia. Dude doesn’t even have a wikipedia. 
Advantage: White Sox.

Third Base
White Sox: Robin Ventura. 
A two-time all star, six-time gold glove third baseman, and by all accounts a nice guy who was never as good of a manager as he was as a player.
Angels: Stoney Jackson. Appeared in the “Beat It” music video. Doesn’t seem to have heard of a “Drake LaRoche.” 
Advantage: Angels. As far as I know, Jackson never got his ass whooped by a 65-year-old Nolan Ryan. 

Left Field
White Sox: Tim Raines. 
A 10th-ballot hall of famer and arguably on the Mt. Rushmore of Montreal Expos players (I assume that this is a statue made out of chewing gum and used kilts outside a Montreal punk venue). 
Angels: Mark Cole. Actors without their own wikipedia pages are the theater equivalent of kids getting stuck playing left-center field. 
Advantage: White Sox.

Center Field
White Sox: Lance Johnson. 
Most famous for the fact that I somehow confuse his name with Larry Walker’s. Wikipedia tells me he’s the only person to lead both the AL and the NL in bats, hits, and triples, which is cool if that’s the thing you’re into. 
Angels: Matthew McConaughey. With McConaughey, you get power and longevity. The McConaissance was still decades away when McConaughey made this spectacular catch in center field. Dude had range, and no I’m not talking about going from Dallas Buyers Club to Wolf of Wall Street to True Detective to Interstellar in a calendar year.  Just imagine the 30–30 potential he would have deep into his Magic Mike era as a ballplayer. 
Advantage: Alright, alright, alright. Angels. 

Right Field
White Sox: Darrin Jackson.
 Jackson’s most notable career achievement to date has been the fact that he (mostly) stayed awake alongside Ed Farmer’s radio calls (RIP to a real one, Farmio). That fact alone is far more impressive than beating out Nicolas Cage for a bullshit Oscar for The Pianist.
Angels: Adrien Brody. This man definitely would not kneel for the national anthem. We never see him playing his position, but given his Mookie Betts–esque stature and Italian American–ass quaff, he must be a right fielder. 
Advantage: Angels, I guess. 

Designated Hitter
White Sox: Kit “Hit or Die” Kesey.
 In real life, this position would probably be filled by Julio Franco, who slashed .319/.406/.510 in 112 games. But one of the few White Sox players we actually get to see in the movie is good old “Hit or Die,” which doesn’t even come close to the worst nickname for a White Sox player. 
Angels: O.B. Babbs. He’s listed as only an “Angels Player” on Wikipedia, so I guess he gets slotted in at DH. 
Advantage: White Sox. You don’t cross a guy with a nickname like “Hit or Die,” especially when he’s allegedly the league RBI leader

Pitcher
White Sox: Jack McDowell.
 Played in a band that once opened for The Smithereens. Also pulled off a goatee for most of his career and won the Cy Young in the year before Anaheim started receiving angelbolic steroids. 
Angels: Tony Danza. Angels wasn’t Danza’s first or best role as a washed-up MLB player. In real life, Danza went 9–3 as a professional boxer, but in Angels it is revealed that he’s about to die because of his lifelong smoking (womp womp).
Advantage: White Sox.

Catcher: 
White Sox: Ron Karkovice.
Daddy. The only thing Ron Karkovice looked like he enjoyed more than performing an unconstitutional traffic stop is drinking a Miller High Life after mowing the lawn. 
Angels: Tony Longo.Daddier. And noted chili dog aficionado
Advantage: Nobody’s out-thiccing Longo. 

Manager
White Sox: Gene Lamont. 
Fresh off a 1993 Manager of the Year Campaign. Survived more than 15 years of working in Detroit and Pittsburgh. 
Angels: Danny Glover. Keeps referring to a mysterious, ill-fated “stint in Cincinnati” throughout the movie. But he won’t come clean about working with Mel Gibson? Also, google keeps thinking I’m trying to do half-assed research about Donald Glover. 
Advantage: White Sox. Say what you will, but Lamont never threw his players on the bus by suggesting that they needed angels to win a game.

Secret Weapon
White Sox: Michael Jordan.
 Performed surprisingly well at AA Birmingham while he was riding out the storm after retiring from the NBA under suspicious circumstances. Would probably choke out Ozzie during a practice. Remember, even angels buy shoes. 
Angels: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. College dropout. Shoehorns the female lead into a “manic pixie dream girl” persona in (500) Days of Summer. Had better chemistry with Tony Danza in Don Jon


As if that wasn’t bad enough, JGL gets savagely dunked on during one of the worst (among many) screenwriting of this film: 

  • [having just given up custody of Roger, JGL’s character, forever] 
  • Mr. Bomman (JGL’s character’s father): I’m sorry, boy. 
  • [he exits the courtroom]


Advantage: White Sox. And you know Jordan is betting on this game too. 

Owner
White Sox:
 Jerry Reinsdorf.
Angels: Ben Johnson.
Advantage: TBH both of these owners seem pretty anti-player and determined to lose rather than spend an extra dollar. This one’s a toss-up. 

Overall: If this game had actually occurred in real life, I had known about sports gambling, and the internet existed to the point where I could place a bet with an offshore sportsbook whose servers are located in modern-day Yugoslavia, this would have been a traumatic gambling loss for me. That is to say, it is patently absurd that the White Sox didn’t win this fictional game, and I hope that Disney deep-sixes Angels in the Outfield from Disney+ like it did to Song of the South and Star Wars: Ewoks

The Dumbest Possible Lines in F9 If It Goes to Space

In an interview last week, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges let slip a remark that strongly suggested the possibility that the newest installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, F9, will see our favorite crew of international crime-fighting street racers go to SPACE. This is actually somewhat logical for a series of films that has raised the stakes with reckless abandon in each successive film, though we admit we had hoped they’d wait until the tenth film for the inevitable space excursion so the world could be treated to a barrage of groan-worthy Space X puns.

Throughout the course of the last nine films, the franchise has made a splendid transition from a self-serious homage to Los Angeles street-racing culture to a rollicking, self-aware half-caricature-half-tribute to the action movie genre. However, the series has never completely uncoupled itself from the corniness of the earlier installments, so if F9 does indeed take our favorite Family to space, we can expect some absurdly bad dialogue to surround the adventure. Here are a few lines we think we might hear in the film:

DOM: You know, my pops always told me to shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, he said, you’ll land among the stars.

ROMAN: We’re going to SPACE? Hell yeah, baby! I’ve always wanted to see some of them good-lookin’ alien bitches!
TEJ: [rolls eyes]

JOHN CENA’S CHARACTER: Just because there’s no gravity in space doesn’t mean you can’t get a little……..Attitude Adjustment

TEJ [TO ROMAN]: No one can hear you scream in space, so maybe we’ll finally get one quiet moment from your dumb ass.

LETTY: You know I’d ride with you to the end of the Earth…
DOM: We may need a little more than that this time.

ROMAN [to Ramsey]: Come on, baby, look. I could take you anywhere. [points to Earth from space shuttle] You wanna go to that place there? I’ll take you there.
TEJ: That’s North Korea. You’re gonna take her to North Korea?

Movie Pitches for a Post-Pandemic World

60*: In the 2020 pandemic- and labor-unrest-shortened MLB season, the White Sox went 60–0 en route to their first World Series victory since 2005. But should their incredible season have an asterisk next to it? From producer Barack Obama and the guys who brought you Fever Pitch comes the sports movie from an era when we worried we’d never have sports again.

Jumanji 5: There’s no alternate world, but they play a board game, which is pretty fun.

The Newest Wes Anderson Movie [working title: The Sunnyside ICU]: What, you think that just because there’s a global pandemic, Wes Anderson can’t make another movie? You don’t think he can just walk into someone’s house, paint everything in pastels and make things symmetrical and well-lit? Fuck you. (Starring Jason Schwartzman.)

I Know What You Did Last Summer 2: A psycho murderer stalks a group of teens who spent the summer of 2020 ACTING LIKE EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL, NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING, HAVING PARTIES INDOORS, SPREADING THEIR IDIOT GERMS EVERYWHERE.

You Stupid Motherfuckers: This is just three and a half hours of Dr. Anthony Fauci personally and repeatedly insulting the American people (directed by Scorsese, obviously).

Shooting Blanks: A heartwarming rom com about LeBron James, a generational talent on the court who has his last shot at winning one final NBA championship. But you’ll never guess who his team signs—his nightmare ex! Premiering on the Hallmark Channel this August.

Quaranteam: OK, hear me out—it’s six conventionally attractive white people who live in a massive apartment in the Village, and buddy let me tell you, they get into some serious HIJINKS during their time in quarantine (they fuck).

Imagi-nation: A gutsy documentary following that time The Celebs sang at us for some reason, culminating in an emotional debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

A Quiet Place Part 3: It’s quiet because we’re all dead!

Untitled Harry Potter Prequel: In which J.K. Rowling reveals that the founders of Hogwarts were all anti-vaxxers. (Also that Helga Hufflepuff had an IUD.)

La La La La Land: The President spends every minute of every day singing incoherently to avoid learning about all of the people dying. The choreo is sub-par because only white straights are allowed to help on the film.

There Used To be 50: A touching tribute to the former state of Florida, written and directed by Pitbull. 17 Oscars, a clean sweep.

QUIZ: The 1975 Lyric, or Classic Teen Movie Quote?

1. “She can’t be what you need if she’s seventeen.” 

2. “I’m in love with Jesus Christ.”

3. “What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or something?” 

4. “We’re all human, we’re just like you man.”

5. “Who allowed you to be this beautiful?” 

6. “I don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else.”

7. “Who needs affection when I have blind hatred?”

8. “Ugh, as if.” 

9. “Love yourself like someone you love.” 

10. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

11. “You’ve got a beautiful face but nothing to say.” 

12. “I want to go to the rooftop and scream ‘I love my best friend Evan!’”

13. “You just write about sex and killing yourself and how you hardly ever went to school.” 

14. “But the really amazing thing is, it is nobody’s goddamn business.” 

15. “Don’t fall in love with the moment and think you’re in love with the girl.”

16. “Why don’t you speak it out loud instead of living in your head?” 

17. “I just want to let them know that they didn’t break me” 

18. “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.” 

19. “I put on this shirt, and I found your smell, and I just sat there for ages contemplating what to do with myself.” 

20. “Do you think they are maybe the same thing? Love and attention?”

***

***

***

***
Answer Key
1. The 1975 lyric
2. The 1975 lyric
3. Back to the Future
4. The 1975 lyric
5. Booksmart
6. The 1975 lyric
7. 10 Things I Hate About You
8. Clueless
9. The 1975 lyric
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
11. The 1975 lyric
12. Superbad
13. The 1975 lyric
14. Easy A
15. The 1975 lyric
16. The 1975 lyric
17. Pretty in Pink
18. The Breakfast Club
19. The 1975 lyric
20. Ladybird