Having a Blast at the Box Office


Having a Blast at the Box Office
L-R: Margot Robbie in Barbie, Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

The Barbie Movie is Better than the Oppenheimer Movie

I WENT TO the Oppenheimer movie, which is all about how the Atomic Bomb was made, and then a coupla days later I went to the Barbie movie, which is all about what a Barbie doll is and has done to America, because I was interested in both movies and I wanted to see both movies in a movie theater. I did not want to do a “Barbenheim” stunt and sit in a movie theater for six hours in one day like a lotta people are doing because they are fucking lemmings, no offense.

I'm not better than a lemming taking part in a cultural event, though! I was doing a lemming or at least lemming-adjacent move myself, going to movies on their Opening Weekend because these two flicks have been hyped so hard everyone is going to feel like it's their duty to have a reaction, and that generally means a bunch of spoilers out there polluting my world, far and beyond the usual spoilers from that one guy at The New Yorker who likes to tell you the movie.

The Oppenheimer movie screening was at a historic theater and was attended by zero children and a buncha people who were at least in their 20s and older, mostly older, like Empty Nester-type olds.

Oppenheimer was interesting to look at, possibly because it was SHOT ON FILM and FINISHED ON FILM, according to the end credits. This theater was running 35mm film, not digital, but thanks to that I got kinda confused by a trailer that appeared before the feature presentation, for The Holdovers, which was also presented on film. I asked the theater afterward and they confirmed it. This Holdovers trailer looked really old, like from the ’70s. I thought at the beginning that it was a trailer for a revival of The Paper Chase until I saw Paul Giamatti.

[SPOILER ALERT PARAGRAPH] Because I am conditioned to comic book movies and am familiar with the work of director Christopher Nolan, for the first ten minutes I had the intrusive feeling that a Batman was gonna show up. Then I got my suspension of disbelief going and Oppenheimer was a surprisingly not-boring three-hour movie! I think the surprising (any) amount of nudity helped, but also lotsa cool images of explosions and conflagrations and apocalyptic visions, but all of it was well done, it all made sense and fit the movie, even the nudity. [END SPOILER ALERT PARAGRAPH]

Plus, Robert Downey Jr. was in it, but the movie (and sure, OK, probably the actor) did a great job making him pretty much not the twitchy, gimmicky, snappy Robert Downey Jr. I am used to from the comic book movies, so kudos to Robert Downey Jr. and everyone responsible for that, it didn’t pull me outta the movie to see Robert Downey Jr., he kinda went David Strathairn in this picture, good job—well, mostly good job, at a certain point he got a little gimmicky Downey Jr., it was a good effort, but also, why didn’t they get David Strathairn for this flick?

Again, three hours, this movie, and even though I had enjoyed a heavy meal before the film, and also enjoyed one glass of beer, the movie kept my attention, so I recommend this picture for a big-screen Serious Movie in a theater experience. The movie needed to be three hours long because they were telling two stories, one about developing the weapon, and one about Oppenheimer. This film should definitely get an Academy Award for Best Sound, because sound is used masterfully to depict Oppenheimer’s state of mind, and the sonic presentation of certain moments is terrifying and mesmerizing.

I went to the Barbie screening in the morning at a theater that wants you to get drunk, after I had enjoyed a big breakfast—I guess I have a pattern—and the crowd was way younger, a lotta children. This movie seems OK for kids as far as them not being bored, because there’s lotsa vivid color and cartoonishness, and since there were lots of toys and cutaway Barbie Dream Houses and stuff, some of the scenes reminded me of a Wes Anderson movie, except Barbie has a story with a point, and lots of energy, no offense. I enjoyed the last Wes Anderson picture, but I had perfectly dialed-in expectations, you know?

Greta Gerwig, the director of Barbie, has already moved past the label of being “the queen of Mumblecore” by becoming an accomplished director, with Lady Bird and Little Women, and now Barbie, which is a masterpiece and should win an Academy Award for best story or Best Picture or Best Director. This is a movie about a toy doll that is a symbol of unreal expectations of conventional beauty, and the film makes fun of itself while it dices in some Seriousness. I was raised by a single mother, so I am predisposed towards a Feminist viewpoint, and this film is fantastically, cheerfully feminist while never not being either funny or touching or flat-out entertaining. Please don’t make a sequel.

Barbie is a better movie experience than Oppenheimer because all Oppenheimer is about is this guy who was in charge of making a great and terrible thing, an atomic weapon. The drama of the piece is Oppenheimer feeling bad about it, and the politics of his career, and how he liked to fuck around a little bit. Director Nolan used all of it to make an interesting movie about a terrible thing, and at the end it’s a bummer. With lots of cool images of explosions. Barbie is an elevating experience that gives me hope for the future, and Oppenheimer is a movie about a guy who was good at math or physics or whatever and gives me the opposite of hope, for a shitty future, the real one, I guess.


New York City, July 23, 2023

★★★★ The light was sparkling and the sky was blue, though the morning air already had a dull, baking quality. Mourning doves fluted in the back. There was a whitish color in the sky like salt haze at the beach, and the sun on the balcony was beach-severe. Heat ripples cast trembling, fast-moving shadows on the pages of a book, and a magenta filter lay over everything after the eyes had left the sun-struck paper. Afternoon clouds, backlit and elaborately shaped, accumulated enough to tamp down the sun while the humidity fell. Shirtless kids chased each other around the playground, armed with buckets of water. One flicked a water gun at another and explained he was pistol-whipping his target.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 113: The Greek island of Rhodes is on fire.

Tom Scocca • Jul 24, 2023

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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from "Dame Curtsey's" Book of Recipes, by Ellye Howell Glover, Author of “Dame Curtsey’s” Book of Novel Entertainments, etc. Published in 1909, this book is in the Public Domain and available at archive.org for the delectation of all.

English Sandwiches
TO a half-cupful of thick mayonnaise add two tablespoonfuls of whipped cream, a dessertspoonful of grated horseradish, and two of finely chopped cucumbers. Spread the bread with this mixture, then with a thin layer of finely chopped rare beef, and cover with more dressing and bread. These are especially nice for stag affairs and are often served with beer or ale.

Roast Beef and Tomato Sandwiches
BUTTER whole wheat or brown bread, cover with a very thin layer of rare roast beef; put on top of this a slice of tomato, dust with salt and pepper; pour over a teaspoonful of olive oil or mayonnaise dressing. Cover with another layer of unbuttered bread.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, kindly send a picture to us at indignity@indignity.net.


19 FOLKTALES collects a series of timeless tales of canny animals, foolish people, monsters, magic, ambition, adventure, glory, failure, inexorable death, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Written by Tom Scocca and richly illustrated by Jim Cooke, these fables stand at the crossroads of wisdom and absurdity.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. The host Joe taped his appearance with got cancelled, who knew? Your $20 plus shipping and tax helps fund The Brick House collective, a Publishing Concern featuring a globally diverse set of publishers doing their own thing, with interesting items and publications available for purchase at SHOPULA. This all goes to help the Brick House collective continue to be an independent alliance and not depend on Advertisers or annoying Billionaires. Thank you.

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