The Shape of Water

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Politics and movies are nearly always a toxic mix, and I was prepared to find this movie pretty tedious, based on comments referring to it as "SJW Splash". But, guess what, if you go into a movie expecting it to be ludicrously cartoonish in its good guy/bad guy setups, you can actually have a good time.

It had 13 Oscar nominations and won 4, including Best Picture, so it really does have more stuff going for it than its political correctness.

It is set in 1962 Baltimore. The heroine, Elisa (Sally Jenkins), is a lonely mute living above a dying movie theatre. She's friends with Giles (Richard Jenkins), an equally lonely closeted gay artist. She's fond of self-gratification in her bathtub. And she works at a super-secret underground government complex (with colleague Zelda, Olivia Spencer).

Which is fine, until the villainous feds bring in a creature discovered in Brazil, for no apparent purpose other than torture and eventual vivisection. The villains behind this are Michael Shannon, and also Nick Searcy as his cold-blooded military superior.

The creature, of course, is intelligent, which Elisa discovers. She also finds him sexy. So (eventually) she hatches a scheme to rescue him and return him to a safe watery abode.

IMDB genricizes this as "Adventure/Drama/Fantasy", but I'd add "Comedy". If you're in the right frame of mind, it's frickin' hilarious.

URLs du Jour


  • We've seen our share of trite Proverbs, but Proverbs 14:10 is surprisingly dark and profound:

    10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
        and no one else can share its joy.

    Feeling isolated, alienated, estranged from humanity? The Bible advises: That's normal. Grow up and deal with it.

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie has his own advice for you, not as profound as Proverbs, but still useful: Don't Let President Trump Distract You with Stormy Daniels.

    Early on in Trump's ascendancy, Politico's Jack Shafer counseled that we should all "stop being Trump's Twitter fool," that we should focus on the song and not the singer. The Stormy Daniels interview lands just a few days after the president signed a ridiculously swollen omnibus spending bill that pours more gas on the nation's dumpster fire of debt while accomplishing virtually none of his party's legislative or policy goals. It also comes after he's named invasion-crazy John Bolton as his new national security adviser. Turn away from conversations about whether the pre-presidential Trump used a rubber during his adulterous assignation with a smart and serious adult-film auteur and start reading the budget bill that nobody in Washington had time to read. It is, like the budget deal preceding it, the worst of all possible worlds: It gives defense fanboys everything they want and more, while also blowing out any possible restraint on the domestic-spending side.

    I am not sure who benefits from the Stormy Distraction, but I'm pretty sure it's not the citizenry.

  • At the Reason-hosted Volokh Conspiracy, Paul Cassell reports on recent research: The 2016 Chicago Homicide Spike - Explained.

    As the Chicago Tribune reported this morning, University of Utah Economics Professor Richard Fowles and I have just completed an important article on the 2016 Chicago homicide spike. Through multiple regression analysis and other tools, we conclude that an ACLU consent decree trigged a sharp reduction in stop and frisks by the Chicago Police Department, which in turn caused homicides to spike. Sadly, what Chicago police officers dubbed the "ACLU effect" was real—and more homicides and shootings were the consequence.

    In other words: a causal link between the ACLU's actions and increased violent death, far more direct than anything the NRA has been convincingly charged with.

    Wouldn't it be swell if there were mass protests in Chicago, with plenty of signs demonizing the ACLU as a terrorist organization?

    Yes, it would be swell, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.

  • On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't wish for that. Because as David Harsanyi points out at the Federalist: Marching In The Streets Is Not An American Virtue.

    Marching in the streets and condemning your ideological opponents as abettors of mass murder is just a common impulse of passion, a growing and caustic ingredient in American political life. We see it online all the time. Simply because you scrawl your thoughts on a sign rather than tweet them to your friends doesn’t imbue them with any more pertinence. This goes for all of us. Yet we live with the insufferable need to act as if protesting is tantamount to patriotism rather than a collective act of frustration. This is merely confusing activism with good citizenship.

    That confusion is encouraged (asymmetrically) by the mainstream media.

  • [Amazon Link]

    At NR, Razib Khan reports on the Latest Research: Humanity’s Genes Reveal Its Tangled History. It relates the results obtained by Harvard Med School's David Reich, whose new book (Amazon link at right) I have put on my to-get list.

    Who We Are and How We Got Here buries the classic “Out of Africa” theory that had emerged out of the notion of “mitochondrial Eve.” In this framework, humanity was born 50,000 years ago in East Africa, fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus, and went on to conquer the rest of the continent and the world while leaving our cousins to be footnotes in prehistory. Both the fossil evidence and human genomics no longer support that idea. Our species does have roots in the African continent that go back hundreds of thousands of years — but other populations that contributed to our ancestry, at a minimum including the Neanderthals and the Denisovans, were already present when modern humans were expanding out of Africa 50,000 years ago. The ancestors of these groups had left Africa over half a million years ago. And modern humans were present within Africa for hundreds of thousands of years before one small branch fatefully migrated out of that continent 50,000 years ago. Rather than being created in an instant, modern humans were evolving, changing, and interacting within Africa as distinct populations for hundreds of thousands of years before a few left. So an “Out of Africa” thesis still holds, but it’s hard to pack into a few concise sentences.

    I've been pretty glib about this over the years: "We're all African-Americans around here." I'll try to be more careful.