The Grumpy Owl Guide to Keeping Your Eyeballs Twitching and Heart Throbbing

I’ve seen quite a few movie and show recommendations floating around lately. If these and the trending movies on Streaming Service X are any indication, people have a real appetite to watch movies about outbreaks, contagions, and pandemics. Can’t imagine why.

It does, however, occur to me that people may be interested in movie recommendations. I have no idea why they would be interested in mine. I usually have no interest in theirs. For fuck’s sake, if the movie is called Something-Man and you recommend it to me, not only do I question your taste, politics, and basic maturity but our whole relationship. Even when it’s a good recommendation, it often takes me about a decade to get around to following up on it.

I’m just not a big movie recommendation person. Like, at all. But what the fuck? I’ve already dispensed mental health tips on this blog, which isn’t really a thing I do, and if anyone told me ten years ago that I’d be at all emotional about The American Grocery Situation in the Year 2020 while living in Korea, I might have cut them off. (jk I’d pour them another drink.)

So as Nan used to say, ‘if you’re going to hang for stealing a sheep, you might as well shag it too.’ Here’s The Grumpy Owl Guide to Keeping Your Eyeballs Twitching and Heart Throbbing.


If we’ve known each other for any period of time and we’ve talked about television shows, I’ve probably recommended this one to you and you probably haven’t watched it.

You see! This is why I don’t even fucking bother!

But let me try AGAIN. This is one of my all time favorite shows. Like, I don’t make lists of favorites because, after a certain point, a thing is good on its own terms and what is this need to assign some number so that you can rank your relationship to it. Like why?

I ever tell you that I never had a best friend as a child. I refused. What does that mean? A best friend? How do you think that makes your other friends feel? What exact responsibilities come with that position anyway? Like, a friend is a friend far as I can tell.

This stance, of course, upset many of my friends. Kept them on their toes too, if we’re being completely honest about it.

But I should probably talk about this show. It’s the story of three friends during a difficult time and in a difficult place in Korea’s history. It’s just gut-wrenching. The entire thing is full of so much love and tenderness. It’s a melodrama but it is an amazing melodrama.

It’s a bit of a slow burn but, holy fuck, it does burn. There were parts of this thing where I cried so much, the tears felt holy. It was like altered consciousness emotional. And other parts, man, I felt some sort of protest PTSD. It’s a great show. You should watch it.

You probably won’t. I really don’t know why I even bother.

The Horse Dancer

One of the reasons that I don’t recommend movies or shows is because, well, many of the movies and shows that I like are a bit . . . It’s hard to expect anyone to like them. They’re not a thing you really want to recommend to a person.

Like how do you recommend The Horse Dancer?

It’s bad but it’s not bad in the way that everyone is used to — it’s not some Mystery Science Theater type bad. It’s bad but if you treat it like a bad movie, that’s just kind of boring. I mean, say what you want about these so-called bad movies but many of them, at least, aren’t predictable. Just the other day I saw one about a cyborg that kills some evil Supreme Leader or something and ends up on the run. You know what he did? He started competitive arm-wrestling at a truck-stop. You just don’t see Hollywood do shit like that. It’s kinda great.

So, yeah, maybe bad movies are bad, but at least they’re not boring.

I should also explain – I have a thing for a particular genre of movie. I like movies that are about a white girl who fucks up and gets sent to live with the horses and the horses teach her about life, love and small town American values. There’s a lot of these movies. Many are made by churches. They vary widely in quality. In some of these movies, the horse even talks. Those are especially good. I also really like talking animal movies — but only certain types of talking animals. Not CGI for example. It has to be a real animal.

My favorite entry in the genre of horses teaching people things is pretty easily The Horse Dancer. In this one, the horse does not talk. But the girl goes off to live on the ranch with the horses and then she starts dancing on them. Strange? That’s just the plot. The real marvel is just in the how this movie was made. It is so strangely put together that it becomes hallucinogenic. This is what watching a movie on LSD is like. (Trust me.)

You would have to be a genius to make a movie like this on purpose. Art house directors could mine this movie for years and never run out of really sinister and strange shit.

Like, I don’t know – watch it and imagine David Lynch or some such is directing it.

Star Trek Voyager: Night

This is on this list because I saw some Trek site claiming that another episode of Voyager was the best one about the current crisis. That other one is about a giant virus on the ship and Captain Janeway runs around with a laser gun shooting at it or something. And, like I know that one has a giant virus in it but I’ll never understand how science fiction manages to attract some of the most literal-minded people on the planet.

What do they even get out of the genre?

Since reading that post, this episode, Night (S05 E01), has been rattling around my brain like a song stuck in my head. It’s not my favorite episode of Voyager (hello Tuvix) but it is the episode that I think is most resonant with the times. The ship is stuck in a really boring void. Nothing to do but get through it. Their struggle is with powerlessness, morale and guilt. This is one of the first times we see Janeway really lose it — one of the few times when she goes to pieces. I like it when Janeway goes to pieces. Some vulnerability is good.

I watched it again tonight. Good episode.

And why the fuck has Picard made Seven so much worse as a character? Like, seriously. She was so much better than Bad Ass Action Hero. So much better.

Three poplars at Plyuschikha

This one caught me off-guard. I can’t remember exactly why I watched it — I think I ended up down some rabbit hole related to movies where the teacher teaches the inner city students a lesson they won’t forget, and somehow ended up in Russian movies. Happy I did.

You probably have to be some sort of movie expert to talk sensibly about this one but, to me, this is just a really well-executed and moving film. It’s so simple. A lot of people try to do understatement and very few succeed. This succeeds completely. It is not easy to make something this simple and to make it say so much. That’s mastery. It’s a simple movie that creates complicated feelings. Complicated but very plain too. It is what it is.


Everyone has their different tastes. One person likes Big Budget Space Cowboys at war with Coporate Mascot Superheros and another likes things that are actually good. But whatever the differences in our tastes, this can be a time for us to watch some stuff that we maybe haven’t heard of before and, you know, just give it a shot or whatever. Maybe something here will catch your fancy and make you have a feeling or two.

Fucked if I know.

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