Recent Movies and TV

Come True (2021): A runaway joins a spooky sleep study. It's very moody and never quite turns into the "monster movie" or Nightmare on Elm Street that you might expect. Soundtrack by Electric Youth, with surprise Shriekback cover!

Batman Soul of the Dragon (2020): It's a fun 70s ensemble kung fu heist movie. See, DC does know how to make fun, engaging movies about their characters that aren't all grimdark garbage. But again, it's only the animation side of the company that knows how. Put column A in charge of column B. These people are already on staff.

Bloody Hell (2020): A guy talks himself out of being hogtied in a basement by cannibals, while arguing with a hallucination of himself. Snappy dialog makes it work.

Locked Down (2021): A broken-up couple in lockdown lose their damned minds (which nobody I know can identify with) and then decide to do a heist. It's fun.

Boss Level (2021): Action movie Groundhog Day. It was entertaining. You would be forgiven for avoiding it due to the presence of noted shithead Mel Gibson in a small role.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021): Groundhog Day as a low key emo rom-com. I liked it.

Monster Hunter (2020): This was everything I hoped for from a movie where Milla Jovovich fights kaiju with a comically large sword. And I mean that in a good way. I assume it's based on a video game that I have never heard of and would never play.

Teknolust (2001): Tilda Swinton wears four different wigs and harvests nerd sperm in a world where Wired Magazine metastasized into an interior decorating catalog. It's half Liquid Sky and half "if Johnny Mnemonic was directed by David Lynch". In a scene worthy of Plan 9, someone asks, "Is it possible for a computer virus to infect a human?" And Doctor Exposition shrugs and says, "Sure, why not. They say AIDS started in monkeys." This movie is... quite an artifact of its time.

Moxie (2021): Kind of feels like Mean Girls without the mean part. I liked it. Bikinikill has been prominently featured on a lot of soundtracks lately, in movies starring people who were born after the band broke up. Good for them, but it's weird...

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021): "Another dragon cartoon, really?" But in that heavily overloaded genre, this was pretty good.

Warmed Over Krautrock (2020): Normally I'm a sucker for the genre of "staff at a failing record store slack off and talk shit" but this was forgettable, with mostly wooden acting.

Red Sonja (1985): Wow, this was even worse than I remembered. When Arnold is the best actor in the movie, what are you even doing? Also he's playing Conan but it's not Conan -- they were by the same author! You couldn't negotiate a bulk deal with the Howard estate? And it misses all essential Sonjaness. Where's the angry drunk assassin in a chainmail bikini? Why must we endure a child sidekick? And why does she have a mullet? That mullet... Remember that scene in Conan where he punches out a camel? That's more her deal. No camels were punched and we were robbed of that.

Barry (2018): A hit man decides that local theatre is for him. Initially I had ignored this because it seemed to run too close to my rule against shows about lawyers, doctors or cops, but it's only slightly a cop show. Mostly it's a "Hollywood" show, which can be uncreatively navel-gazing in their own way. But this is pretty funny. The kung fu episode, in particular, was hilarious.

The Blues Brothers (1980): I hadn't seen this in years, and it's still hilarious. The practical effects -- I am still laughing at the sheer number of police cars they crashed in a giant pile, twice. "Hey", someone said, "This would be funnier if we kept going and stacked up like 25 more cars on this crash", and they were absolutely right.

Nancy Drew (2019): Season 1 kind of pissed me off because it dragged its feet so much on "are ghosts??" (spoiler, yes) but season 2 has a kind of resigned and mildly annoyed "welp I guess I'm a ghostbuster now" attitude which is better?

Resident Alien (2021): The plot is basically toned down live-action Invader Zim, with extra fambly because SyFy Channel, but Alan Tudyk has fantastic comedic timing and makes it work.

Wandavision (2021): Almost entirely perfect. Really a remarkable achievement. I'd argue that the final couple of episodes copped out a bit by having too much exposition and punchy-punchy, but overall, this was fantastic.

Debris (2021): An alien ship blew up in space and the whole world knows about it. Boringly uniform hexagonal chunks of it keep falling to earth, and the X Files team are trying to keep that part secret, I guess? I'm here for the premise, but so far this show is garbage. Instead of there being any coherent mystery or science fiction behind it, every piece of space junk is just maaaaagic in some goofball psychic, psychosexual way that lets the agents have feeeeeelings about fambly and their daddy issues.

Like Lost, it seems to have been written by people who are using a science fictional MacGuffin but have no interest in (or possibly even a hatred for) science fiction. In a world where The Expanse exists, a show like this is just doubly insulting to the audience.

I have been regularly getting to the end of my queue of movies and TV shows to watch. This didn't used to happen when we had a functioning society. If you have suggestions of shows that I should watch that I haven't covered in previous reviews, please suggest them! As always, no shows about doctors, lawyers or cops.


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88 Responses:

  1. Lee says:

    Giri/haji on Netflix. English gangster/cops meet Japanese gangsters/cops. Hilarity ensues.

    Space sweepers / Netflix - it’s bad, but in a good way.

  2. Krisjohn says:

    I have been regularly getting to the end of my queue of movies and TV shows to watch. This didn't used to happen when we had a functioning society. If you have suggestions of shows that I should watch that I haven't covered in previous reviews, please suggest them!

    Fuck. Us too. That's why I'm here.

  3. kelly says:

    Yes, it's technically for kids/young adults, but Alex Rider. I watched it on Amazon Prime, but I think it's on different platforms in different regions.

  4. Dave says:

    Thanks for the recaps. Have you seen Love and a ,45?

  5. k3ninho says:

    I can't see it listed in the previouslies so: Star Trek: Lower Decks might earn 'no callbacks to old sh_t' blocker. There's a lot of charm to it, I found myself asking "why isn't this called Galaxy Quest: Lower Decks?"


    • jwz says:

      Lower Decks is no Galaxy Quest, that's for sure. My review was:

      This is just The Orville. The Orville already met its goal of debasing Star Trek. Why is Star Trek now taking a sarcastic shit on itself? What if Star Trek, but cynical, barely-competent dimwits? If Star Trek is The West Wing, this is Veep.

      And I am very much not a fan of Orville:

      I barely made it through the first episode, and it filled me with rage. Someone gave this shithead a budget to cosplay Star Trek with the premise, "You know what would have made Trek better? If Kirk was a racist drunk who hates his ex wife." Fuck that show. This review nailed it.

  6. Jim says:

    Westworld and Raised by Wolves are way better than I think you give them credit for.

  7. Lloyd says:

    The Astronauts on Nickelodeon.

    The Adventures of Paddington Bear.

    They're seriously good.

  8. Ben says:

    Thanks for doing these, it's about the only way I hear about movies now.

    How do you feel about British light entertainment? Taskmaster is almost all up with full episodes on their YouTube channel. The british one, not the american one which was not good.

    Looking at what's currently on my HD... Kon Tiki? I'm sure you've seen The Guard but if not it's great.

  9. Doctor Memory says:

    I feel like somehow you're under-selling the appeal of "half Liquid Sky and half "if Johnny Mnemonic was directed by David Lynch" -- how is that not a description of the greatest thing ever?

    Anyway, there's actually one thing I've enjoyed recently that I haven't seen in your backscroll: Derry Girls (Netflix) is a mostly inoffensive coming-of-age ensemble comedy, the twist being that it's set in a border town in Northern Ireland during the troubles: imagine if All in the Family had impenetrable accents and a much higher risk of violent explosive death for any of the main characters. It pulls off balancing those two elements...about 65% of the time? Extra points for committing to a lead character who is absolutely the least likable of her friends.

    • Doctor Memory says:

      Oh, huh, a quick scroll back also suggests that you haven't watched the BBC Adaption of His Dark Materials, and... I mean you could do worse? It's sort of relentless in its adequacy: it's very well cast (the young lady from Logan is Lyra, the crazy-eyed woman from Luthor is Mrs. Coulter and for some reason Lin-Manuel Miranda is the mad Texan), they've clearly spent a ton of money on it. It hits all the prestige TV checkboxes: slumming Royal Shakespeare Company actors, big rousing set-pieces, nearly-movie-quality FX. And to its credit unlike the books they remembered that there are non-white people living in England. But for a series where the primary motivation of a lot of the characters is literally to attack and dethrone god it feels a little... toothless? There's a lot more faffing about with characters inside the Magisterium in the show than in the book and it's a dreadful mistake: it gives the impression not of a ruthlessly efficient theocracy but of a drearily moribund bureaucracy that can't find its own ass with a map.

      The final season's production got derailed by the plague and is only just starting now; if nothing else it'll be interesting to see how they handle the, ah, eveything of the third book.

  10. E. says:

    Thanks for the writeup! I always enjoy reading your thoughts on shows.

    Suggestions-wise, have you tried Ted Lasso? I'm honestly not sure whether you'd enjoy it, but it's been my favorite over the past year, so I figure it's worth suggesting.

    Nomadland and Minari have both stuck with me after watching, but might be heavier fare than you're looking for right now. Promising Young Woman is also heavier fare that has stuck with me, but I'm not sure how the nightclub elements in it would hit for you.

    (As far as I can tell, you haven't reviewed any of these; I apologize if I missed any you've covered already!)

    • Chad says:

      I came here to mention Ted Lasso, although I would suggest you start it with a drink handy to make sure it gets a decent start.

      I would also suggest In and Of Itself in general, and Utopia for you in particular. There seems to be both an American and British version; I watched the American version without realizing there was another option, and I haven’t yet been reduced to watching the other.

  11. Bert says:

    Thank you for publishing this -- it's my favorite thing you post to your blog and I always end up discovering some show/movie that I'd never heard of that I end up checking out.

  12. david konerding says:

    I can only provide a few anti-recommendations: any scifi B-movie Bruce Willis has done recently (Cosmic Sin, Breach). I went back and watched Soldier, which supposedly is in the Blade Runner universe,but isn't really. Only worth watching if you are a 90s scifi completist. Synchronic was mildly interesting, you might enjoy it (not sure if you mentioned this one and I watched it).

    I've been hitting end of queue myself.

  13. Marc Lacoste says:

    I'm watching Shameless currently, and I must say it's enjoyable. The haracters

    • Marc Lacoste says:

      The characters can be really annoying, and it almost jumps the shark on a daily basis, but it's fun. William Macy is perfect as a detestable jerk.

      Less know, turkish miniseries Bir Başkadır is a delight: intelligent, sensible, and of course in a less known setting.

      • jwz says:

        I mostly enjoyed it for the first 2 or 3 seasons, but it really just started repeating itself. And there's only so long I can tolerate any show or movie where literally every character is a horrible piece of shit.

    • margaret says:

      shameless is breaking bad with a cast you may want to see naked, and you do.

  14. Carlos says:

    I don't have any TV shows to recommend, but a couple of lesser-known movies. I don't think you've mentioned them.

    Weirdsville (2007): Two bumbling stoners try to solve the problem of their dead friend's body, and end up running into trouble with a yuppie cadre of cannibalistic Satan-worshippers. Extra-weird because it's Canadian. Much funny.

    Butter (2011): A young girl in Iowa enters the annual butter-carving competition (because Iowa) and ends up fighting against an insanely competitive suburban mom who'll stop at nothing to win. Hilarious characters by Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, and Olivia Wilde. Note: I normally hate movies with kids in them. This one's different.

  15. mischieflounge says:

    Legion ... the sets! And Aubrey Plaza chewing the scenery.

    LetterKenny... The goth/meth dancing.

    • margaret says:

      i recently discovered aubrey plaza is the most entertaining actress. how did it take me so long. her dream role is playing catwoman and i so want to see that.

  16. Ooo James Hong voices O-Sensei in the Batman Dragon movie. Love to see him still working.

  17. morgan says:

    Last night watch Sound of Metal, about an ex-herion

    • morgan says:

      I wasn't done! (edit as needed)

      Last night watched Sound of Metal, about an ex-heroin addict thrash/punk drummer who looses his hearing and ends up in a half-way house in a community for the deaf.

  18. Rich says:

    Save Yourselves was so good I watched it twice.

  19. Marko says:

    I guess Babylon Berlin disqualifies because of your "no cops" rule.

    Virtually everything with gangsters also has some cops in it, so is Lilyhammer still ok by that rule? Having moved to Norway I find it hilarious how that series gets so many aspects of Norwegians right, e.g. the NAV officer.

    Since the name is unsearchable, I have no idea whether you have seen North. Watch it if you do like road movies in the sense of "Enjoying movies while slowly slumbering away".

    I do not find any mentions of "The Umbrella Academy" here, but I cannot believe you have not seen it (Not as quirky as the comic but the first season had it's fun moments, esp. when it comes to choreography to music).

    Speaking of different superheroes, the first season of Misfits is also something I enjoyed a while back. The later seasons got weaker.

    And while Occupied has a political thriller story, to me it was more about how the different characters would try to get through such a fucked up situation.

    • jwz says:

      Shows about gangsters that are also about cops are shows about cops.

      I know a lot of people have a hard time mentally processing the idea that I avoid shows about lawyers, doctors or cops. "Surely you can't really mean that! Why, almost all shows are about lawyers, doctors or cops!"

      Yes. And that's why.

      I only made it through S01E04 of Umbrella Academy. It failed my test of "there is not a single person in this show that I like or am rooting for." If they all died I would not care. And then I heard that season two has time travel in it, so pffffffff to that.

      • thielges says:

        I just realized that my favorite gangster movie is devoid of cops: In Bruges. It is a hilarious black comedy with an undercurrent of existentialism. There's a fair share of violence though this is one of the few movies where the violence isn't gratuitous. It also has one of my favorite plot twists (the 1+1=0 scene in Astridpark's playground).

        Bonus: Jordan Prentice plays an excellent misanthropic actor.

        (yeah, a cop appears for a minute in one scene, but he's just a beat cop arresting a hooligan, not the detective masterminds that populate normal gangster movies).

    • nooj says:

      Misfits was lovely! They set up a lot of funny situations. Their Christmas Special (Season 2) is worth the price of admission! It probably stands on its own, but I don't remember, I saw them in order. I stopped watching somewhere in Season 3.

  20. Erik says:

    Check out Hilda on Netflix. At first I wasn't convinced when my wife suggested it, but I was hooked after the first episode. It's relaxing and the soundtrack is interesting. Trailer

  21. Aaron says:

    If you haven't actually watched Babylon 5 at all, HBO Max recently released an HD remaster that solves every visual problem the old DVD transfers had, and then some. It's not in 16:9 but who cares? Not that it isn't a bit camp by modern standards, especially early on, but so is TNG and everyone still likes that. Too, assuming you're a TNG-era Trek fan, you may as well get a sense of the show whose original idea the Paramount execs probably ripped off to create DS9. And it's 110 45-minute episodes long, so should help stave off the end of your media queue at the very least.

    Whether you find it likable or not, I'd at the very least be interested to hear your opinion on it should you give it a try - I can't think of anyone else in my RSS reader who hates the things they hate in so interesting and frequently useful a way.

    • jwz says:

      I watched the first season of Babylon 5 when it first came out and hated it. (This is where someone says "Oh it gets really good in season 6, but you have to watch the whole thing", no doubt.)

      • Aaron says:

        Season 19, actually. But only in the Japanese release, and you really have to watch the subbed version to get the subtle flavor of the original dialogue.

      • Bob says:

        Start in season 3. You're done at the end of season 4.

        Don't bother watching Season 5. Once you're attached to the characters, then watch season 2. Then, maybe, season 1.

        • Zygo says:

          Season 1 is like the DVD extra "gallery" where some production team that wasn't involved with the show make up some silly backstory for all the characters...except for some reason they produced full-length episodes, and set them all to play before the show starts in season 2.

          3-4-2-1 and not-5 is a really good order. I watched the seasons in that order by accident when they were airing in the 1990's, and I wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't been hooked by the third season first.

          I agree that season 5 isn't necessary, though it has some moments. jms's story arc was done by the end of season 4. They didn't know they would get a season 5, so when it happened...well, it's basically another DVD extras gallery, but with the bugs in the VFX worked out.

      • Doctor Memory says:

        Actually the party line on B5 is "you can skip the first and last seasons entirely" and in this case the party line is 100% accurate. That show took a long time to find its footing for a lot of reasons, but it really didn't help that the first season's lead actor was slowly losing a battle with paranoid schizophrenia during filming. :(

    • Jacob says:

      I had watched Babylon 5 when it was new, and I remembered liking it quite a bit, and when it came out on HBO Max I started rewatching it, and the thing that keeps hitting me now is how very early 1990s the set decoration is, it’s like the space station is some suburban mall in the northeast. And it reminds me of how much effort I’ve spent trying to efface the early 1990s from my mind, and that’s just no good.

    • Jonny says:

      I'm re-watching Babylon 5. First season is a little rough if you don't like your sci-fi jank. The first season has some truly awful directing and acting, and the CGI is really bad. You have to love world building and have an active imagination to get through it, and I do. I find the shows entire quality gets drastically better in season 2. CGI, acting, directing; everything got noticeably better.

      I think I'm actually most surprised by the sets, especially starting in season 2. They had such a thimble budget, and yet somehow they make Babylon 5 feel more like a full and vibrant place than most sci-fi shows do these days. They have these scenes showing a busy market with people always moving around in the background, and I buy it. I'm also appreciating how utterly non-utopian Babylon 5 is. The Federation is a nice asperation, but Babylon 5 looks more like the Earth government of the future that I expect; self interested, pretty militaristic, and struggling with internal xenophobia and nativism. It's kind of amazing to see this janky 90's TV show that feels so relevant to today.

      The real pay off for Babylon 5 though is the fact that it was written as a full story, and it shows this constantly with foreshadowing and world building. It shares a lot of qualities with The Expanse in that someone clearly bothered to sit down and think about how their world works, and then remain consistent to it.

      You have got to be a big nerd in love with world building to really love Babylon 5, but if you are, there are very little sci-fi on TV that matches that old janky ass show.

  22. Jacob says:

    What about Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the 2013 anime? I liked it better than the original, and the English/American version is much less mangled that the original “Star Blazers” mess.
    And now that I’ve blasphemed by recommending the remake over the original, I shall put on my asbestos suit and crash helmet.

  23. TreeSpeaker says:

    If you enjoyed Galaxy Quest you may also like Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary which is a paean not only to the movie and “how the hell did that ever get made, and with that cast?!?” but to the whole Trek stan culture, in an actually loving way.

  24. Not Frank says:

    My quick attempts at searching do not mention this (though for all I know I've posted it on previous review sets), so: Over the Garden Wall -- that's the trailer, looks like the first episode might be on YouTube too. Ten episodes, eleven minutes each, with a tendency to zig where I expected them to zag. (And if you despair at one part seeming to hint it's all a dream, note the previous sentence.)

  25. Patrick says:

    I didn't see mention of these in past reviews, but on the quirky, non-linear related front:

    Forever: (Amazon Prime starring Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph): a cute, short series worth checking out if you like Fred Armisen. (I don't want to leave any spoilers, and it's hard to describe the premise without doing so.)

    About Time: British movie in which a young man learns that all men in his family have the ability to time travel (with limitations).

  26. michael crowley says:

    It's a laugh riot

  27. Ryan says:

    I'll asterisk the ones that are just super very good, and include some others that are good enough for the bottom of a very large barrel.

    # Movies

    * Love and Monsters (2020): Written by Brian Duffield (of Spontaneous), it's a monster movie sort of the way that one was a horror movie, but the world and monsters are neat, and it's just very charming and fun and I loved it.

    ARQ (2016): I went on a time-loop deep dive and this one is dark and a little heavy and the sci-fi was cool and left a little vague, which I respect way more than going too hard and failing. Pretty successful, and I was surprised to have never heard of it even a little bit.

    The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020): Okay. Wait. I can probably safely assume your overall interest in a movie by McG is near zero. And yes, I didn't like the first one very much either (if you even bothered). But this movie is actually incredible. Like, wildly self-aware gonzo fun horror stuff pulled off so smartly and well that it's completely unbelievable. Unfortunately, it leans hard on plot from the first movie without a great deal of holding your hand if you haven't seen it, so you kind of need to sit through it if you haven't yet and that won't prime you for wanting more...but the reward is absolutely worthwhile.

    Becky (2020): Ignore for a minute that this is Kevin James playing a bad guy in a horror movie and give the trailer a chance. Then reflect for a minute on that having been Kevin James playing a bad guy in a horror movie and see where that gets you.

    Greener Grass (2019): If you haven't heard of this, I almost don't want you to even watch the trailer first. It's...staggeringly, insanely, mind-alteringly strange in such perfectly dark and unique ways. It doesn't quite build to something—let's say—narratively satisfying, but experiencing this movie is like being on actual drugs. Both because it is taking hard left turns that are really that hard and that left, and also because you're meta-aware of the movie you're watching existing in the real world and unable to process how that could ever have come to be. I watched this movie alone, late at night (which is the most correct experience), but still found myself making confused or extremely uncomfortable noises out loud.

    Psycho Goreman (2021): I'm just going to leave this trailer here. I know your opinion of Spielbergian Goonies-alikes, so I don't know at all if it's better for you to take or leave this.

    Save Yourselves! (2020): I guess this oddball thing is getting turned into a series now? But it's weird and just smart enough to be worth your time, depending on how its particular blend of oddball strikes you from the trailer.

    Shithouse (2020): At times, this feels a lot like a white man is making a movie about his feelings and this girl he likes that doesn't like him. And it is that. And that's obviously problematic. But it's so. well. done. And it's this particular kind of honest that lingers and sort of slips away from the problematic line and turns into something pretty special actually.

    PSAs: Don't watch Max Reload under any circumstances, even if it's 3am and your brain just wants something dumb and it seems like this might scratch an itch. Max Cloud is much better, but not strictly a recommendation. Archenemy is the same movie but I couldn't get into it far enough to know where it lands.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention the batshit-looking Nic Cage actioner Jiu Jitsu. I expect if it's on your radar you're going to watch it regardless of what I say (especially because I'm no one to you), but it's baaaaaaad bad. I love action movies and I seriously enjoy bad movies, but this isn't one of those. The editing is an actual crime against your time and sensibilities and what's left doesn't do nearly enough to make any part of it worthwhile. But it's better than Max Reload.

    # TV

    * Condor (2018): This show is Night Manager good, but no one has ever heard of it. It's a slow-burn spy thriller that just keeps delivering. Way more Rubicon than Jack Ryan. This is a blanket rec, but I do think you specifically would appreciate it.

    * How To with John Wilson (2020): No trailer because I don't want to spoil even a second of it. I couldn't finish the first episode because it was not my favorite flavor of cringe, but every other episode sticks the landing and the final episode is rare brilliance on a completely other scale of human brilliance. The sight gags are so smart and come so fast you don't even know what you're actually watching while you watch it until it dawns on you a little while into it. Well well well worth your time.

    Perry Mason (2020): This is a cop show even less than True Detective is a cop show, but I understand the impulse to dismiss it out of hand for multiple reasons. I background watched the first few episodes and was impressed at the production quality and everyone is acting their asses off. Then I got super hooked and it was the best TV going while it was on. Blind-siding.

    Snowpiercer (2020): Nearly what you're already picturing, but better than the nagging fear about it. Solidly worth watching.

    Soulmates (2020): Diet Black Mirror Valentine's Day episodes. Not setting the world on fire, but more thoughtful and interesting than it strictly needed to be.

    * Teenage Bounty Hunters (2020): So technically this could run afoul of your "no cops" rule (though it's not a procedural), but holy shit does this show deliver on all possible genres. The teens are twins and one of them is good and religious and positive and the other wears boots and skirts and has a satanic-adjacent profile photo when she's texting someone. But the good one gets into more trouble in a neat Saved! plot, and the pauses for them to telepathically twin-communicate are amazing and they just get distracted psychically complimenting each other's hair or something in the middle of serious danger and somehow it all plays just pitch perfectly. Wall to wall delightful.

    Woke (2020): Great premise of a black cartoonist awakening to a reality where not taking sides about race is no longer an honest position to take. The conceit of things in the world talking to him like he's crazy fizzles out a little, but it stays timely, short, and well acted. Doesn't get as off the rails as I hoped, but a reasonably fresh anyway.

    Letterkenny (2016): Do you like the way Arrested Development becomes more and more self-referential and funnier because of it? This weird show is a borderline sketch comedy with almost exclusively throughlines, and if you're not turned off by its rabid fans make sure you don't weigh the kind of bad second episode too heavily when you consider whether to keep watching because it becomes pretty special.

    Quickies: Ted Lasso is as good as everyone says (and I put it off because I didn't think I'd care, but it made me happier than I could remember it being possible to be--it's so smartly, unironically sincere and just good).

    The Midnight Gospel is that animated podcast thing, and I watched most of it at a speed multiplier, but it's good weird and the final episode delivers something pretty rare and the buildup is useful in honing its payload.

    Did you know they made a show out of The City and the City? If you've read the book, you're probably curious enough, but I've been afraid to actually watch it so if you haven't read the book I'd recommend that instead....

    And you've not seemed to ever mention Jean-Claude Van Johnson...? It would be hard to imagine you missed it not on purpose, but just in case you put it out of your head, it is p e r f e c t.

    • Michael says:

      Whoa totally going to find that "The City & The City" now, I had no idea they were doing that.

      I generally think Miéville is seriously overrated, but that one fascinated me.

      Also added "The Greener Grass" - I watched Annihilation in the same way, totally cold, no idea, and wow was that a trip.

    • American Jeff says:

      I second Perry Mason as being worthwhile but not amazing. Definitely would not consider it to be a cop show.

      How about Itaewon Class? Stoic revenge melodrama? Somehow it makes me keep watching.

  28. Mspong says:

    I seem to remember you were a fan of the Katering show, you might like their more recent effort Get Krack!n which is an angry spoof on those horrifying 4am infotainment variety shows.

  29. Carlos says:

    I get more good recommendations of stuff to watch from this blog than from all media-focused news sources combined.

    It's like "What if Rotten Tomatoes, but by people with brains and cynicism who aren't failed filmmakers and bitter because of it". (Might still be bitter, but for better reasons.)

    Thanks to everyone who's chimed in. My own to-watch queue grew a bunch today.


  30. Andrew Klossner says:

    "The Good Liar". The plot just keeps twisting.
    "The Sun Is Also a Star". Rom com with a sense of urgency: one of the two is to be deported tomorrow.

    For the benefit of readers other than jwz: "The Trial of the Chicago 7" is the best movie I've seen in years.

  31. julius yang says:

    Coherence, a super low budget "trapped in one room" semi-improvised movie.

  32. familial says:

    Possessor by Brandon Cronenberg was a great debut, don't watch the trailers. Looking in your older reviews you've already seen Tartakovsky's Primal, which was going to be my other suggestion.

    I'm surprised you thought Raya was good. I'm forgiving of the overstuffed and overexpositioned plot, and the annoying side characters, but the final message of the movie is insane and made me actively hate it.

    • jwz says:

      I was actually halfway through my second viewing of Possessor before I realized I had already seen it, so I guess that's not a positive review. Which is a shame because I liked Antiviral.

    • familial says:

      To expand on why I hated Raya, an analogy: Imagine it's late 2019 and COVID is a distant threat but starting to be a concern. You, as a state official, invite Donald Trump Jr to your home in a bipartisan meeting to talk about it, where he pretends to be your friend in order to steal your state pandemic response plans, then beats you up, fucks up the plans for everyone and unleashes COVID to run rampant in the United States.

      It's now 2020, COVID is everywhere. Trump Jr is gleefully hunting you down while you look for Dr. Fauci. Meanwhile Donald Trump Sr is using the pandemic to enrich himself and his family and planning to expand into the newly depopulated wastelands. You find Fauci, who develops a vaccine response but naively wants to talk it over with Trump Jr, who promptly betrays you yet again and shoots Fauci to death just because, which causes all partial lockdowns and restrictions to end everywhere.

      Virus surge time. Everyone is getting COVID. You're the only holding the partial vaccine, but for some reason you need Trump Jr to trust you. And the only way to get him to trust you is for you, and all of your family and friends, to voluntarily infect yourselves with COVID. Trump Jr almost betrays you yet again after everyone's helpless and immobilized with illness, but at the very last second releases the vaccine that you gave to him in the first place.

      Cue instant happy ending where everyone is inoculated and you invite the Trumps (who, again, fucked literally everything up at every turn and delighted in it) back into your home again. Everyone's smiling. 20 minutes of end credits backed by a song about the benefits of blind trust.

  33. Rob says:

    Recently watched The Dragon Prince with my kids and was impressed, it is getting better every season and I legit can't wait for season 4.

    "Upright" is enjoyable, mainly because Upright Piano's are hilarious

  34. Jason Schuster says:

    Warrior is great so far

  35. Ben Combee says:

    I saw "Dave Made a Maze" a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Quoting Wikipedia: "The film centers on the titular Dave who builds a cardboard fort that somehow supernaturally houses an entire labyrinth full of deadly traps and creatures."

  36. Elusis says:

    Just watched "Judas and the Black Messiah" which has some cops in it but they are clearly the bad guys, not the characters of interest. Phenomenal.

    I'm giving "Kim's Convenience" a run. As a rule I don't really watch 21-minute family sitcoms. Korean-Canadians, though, pique my interest in a "maybe there is something useful for my family therapy classes?" kind of way. And I find myself enjoying it.

    "I May Destroy You" absolutely... well, destroyed me. I very very very much did not want to watch a show about the aftermath of rape. I could not stop watching this show.

    I am told Gravity Falls is worth it? no idea personally.

    Also I am curious to see Idris Elba do comedy in "In the Long Run."

    • Not Frank says:

      I am partway through the second season of Gravity Falls, and it was a bit of a slow starter, honestly, but it definitely picked up with time. (Also, the second season promptly killed a few annoying sacred cows of season 1, cleverly.) I wonder whether or not I'd get more out of actively pursuing the Easter Eggs... though I believe all the cryptograms are solved at this point.

  37. llcamp says:

    Years ago I went through the AFI 100 list and added any of them I hadn't seen to my Netflix queue. I do not recommend this. But I do recommend at least purusing the list for things that sound interesting. Two movies that I really liked, but would have never watched if I hadn't done this, were:

    Sullivan's Travels (1941). A movie director decides that he can't make his masterpiece until he's lived life as a "hobo." The studio sets this up for him, but tries to manage the experience. But things quickly go off the rails. Sounds like a silly premise, but it actually kinda works.
    The Best Years of our Lives (1946). Follows three veterans returning from WWII. It's striking for how NOT "war is awesome" you might expect for something from just after the war. And it was fairly well received commercially when it came out too. I think it's becuase it's from that short time period between WWII and the Korean War where the cold war wasn't a thing yet. Public opinion on WWII seems to have been more nuanced about WWII than it is now.

    • jwz says:

      Sullivan's Travels is one of my favorite movies of all time -- everything that Preston Sturges has done is amazing. An absolute master of the "screwball comedy". If you liked that, do not miss The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story.

  38. MattyJ says:

    Wolfwalkers, deserves the Oscar.

    WandaVision episode of Assembled (behind the scenes thing) is worth watching.

    Dickenson and The Flight Attendant are things that are nothing like anything you've ever reviewed, but I was surprised I enjoyed. The latter is worth watching just for Michelle Gomez.

    OG Muppet Show on Disney+. Just sayin'.

  39. margaret says:

    not in the oeuvre of above but the only movie i've watched this month that made me feel like i invested my time well is "da 5 bloods." and, speaking of boseman, if you miss live theater then: ma rainey's black bottom.

  40. Ham Monger says:

    The Goes Wrong Show is British, so the season is 6 episodes, but they got renewed for another season which will be available real soon now. Slapstick, but so funny I was crying.

    Hustle (the British one about confidence tricksters, not the American show apparently about two women but with the same name). Leverage, but better, and earlier. (Has cops but only as the opponents of the main characters and none of the cops are recurring characters.)

    Blake's Seven is late 70s British SF of what if the Federation from Star Trek was the same one in Firefly? (In fact, I just now realized how much Firefly owes Blake's Seven.) The titular character left halfway through because the actor got tired of being called "Blake" on the street, but Paul Darrow chews the scenery enough for both of them for two more seasons. The cops (the Federation) are only there as villains but are recurring characters. There are AI computers but they don't want to be real boys, so I think they won't exceed your threshold for beep-boop. One of them is intensely misanthropic if that helps.

    The Marx Brothers movies, especially the ones with animals in the names, which are much more vaudeville and therefore have less coherent plots. Fast forward through the musical numbers performed by anyone who isn't a Marx Brother. 100 years old, so you have to ignore the almost totally white casting and the racial caricatures each of the Marx Bros play, but it's possible and worth it.

    The Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies, including A Shot in the Dark, if incompetent or insane cops are acceptable. Clouseau is a womanizing racist but he's supposed to be an idiot, not a hero.

    • josh says:

      +1 hustle, I couldn't get into Leverage as it was a pale imitation. For a time one of my easy tv recommendations was to just look at whatever Kudos does: Notably:
      - Hustle
      - Spooks
      - Utopia
      - Humans
      - The Hour
      - Hunted
      - The Fixer

      Unrelated, an old series I like to revisit every 5 years or so is La Femme Nikita. The late 90s were a much simpler time.

  41. thielges says:

    The Hours (2002) - I never imagined that I'd appreciate a movie centered around depression, but here it is. A rather heavy theme leaves it at the polar opposite of feel good movies. The story telling, script, and editing are fantastic as it seamlessly transitions between periods; something that The Cloud Atlas failed at miserably.

    Difficulty: Philip Glass soundtrack (which fits the movie very well)

  42. Keith says:

    30 Coins.
    It's an HBO limited series by a well-known Spanish horror director about someone collecting the last of the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas for betraying Christ ("Napoleon found 3. Hitler had 5. We've got 29...."). Starts slow in ep 1 ("is there really something supernatural happening?") but it's not long before our heavyweight-boxer-priest with armored vestments and holy-water-soaked machine gun bullets is handling full Cronenburgian body-horror things and we end with a demonic Kaiju and more skinned, crucified, and beheaded animals than...your average TV show? Also stars the closeted gay action movie star from Sense8 (which is also good (Netflix), although I think you may have commented on it back in the day although I did not find in link). It is subtitled, mostly in Spanish and some stretches in Italian.

  43. Gregg says:

    I have been enjoying For All Mankind. In my head, it's the historical-fiction prequel to The Expanse. There's some speechifying but someone on twitter described it as "stopping short enough of being Sorkinesque to remain plausible".

    • Andrew Klossner says:

      I got hung up on their depiction of Thomas Paine. I knew him; he was nothing at all like that character.

  44. Matthew says:

    Cleverman is original. Turns out Aboriginal legends of a second mildly superpowered Homo species are all true, they were just hiding. So Australia has to invent ICE. Full disclosure: my friend made some of the bodywigs.

  45. Rodger says:

    La Revolution - What if the French Aristocracy were vampires, and the revolutionaries were hunting them?

    April and the Extraordinary World: Jaques Tardi, steampunk, where have all the scientists gone and who is stealing them?

    Inhuman Resources: Is this fuck capitalism, or a swindler masquerading as fuck capitalism?

    Dr Knock: The incredible Omar Sy is a black, post-WW II new doctor in a remote French village who is introducing a revolution in healthcare. The thing is, he’s an ex-crook who conned his way into a job as a ship’s doctor. Did he learn to become a doctor? Is he a fake? If the people of the village are happier and healthier, does it matter?

    Julie and the Shoe Factory: What would happen if Ken Loach and Baz Luhrmann did a film together? This is what would happen.

    Relic: Gender roles in aged care meets horror movie.

    My Extraordinary Summer With Tess: The really lovely story of a pair of oddball 12 year olds bonding when the family of one is on a summer holiday in the town of the other. Beautiful and touching.

    Ellie & Abbie (and Abbie’s Dead Aunt): Ghost of a dead aunt is advising her niece on dating as a teen lesbian in a comedy with a dead serious backstory based on Australian queer history. Hilarious and serious.

    Fritzi: A revolutionary tale: Kids in East Germany as the Berlin Wall is about to come down.

    Stuffed: A documentary about modern taxidermists. Really good.

  46. Carlos says:

    Sorry this one's late; I just assumed you would have seen it, but I see no mention of it here.

    Promising Young Woman (2020) - absolutely amazing film. Drama, thriller, maybe part horror - don't want to give too much away. Incredible performance from Carey Mulligan. This is one of the best films I have seen in the last decade.


  47. c9 says:

    A good old Kubrick film I haven’t seen you mention, and which I hadn’t seen until last year, is Paths of Glory.

  48. Jyrgen N says:

    The Blues Brothers has been one of my favourite films since I first saw it in the 80s. I watched it so often I lost count, some time in the 90s I went to a cinema to watch it nearly every month. It is overly silly, over the top, and blatantly illogical in places. But being so, dunno, light, and not taking itself seriously at all, it still pulls off being super delightful fun. And, so great music.

    Makes a great double feature with The Commitments, by the way. If there is alcohol, show The Commitments first.

    Totally agree about The Orville. I made it through two or three episodes and found it annoying and boring. No reason at all to watch it.

  49. Extinction: SF-Horror, twisty plot
    Ninja Assassin: Almost nonstop violence, awesome
    The Resurrected: The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward set in modern (1991) times
    Coherence: SF with twisty plot. This may tie your brain in knots like a pretzel but more or less makes sense, eventually
    I'd say 'The Assignment' but there are cops in it. This felt like a Nip/Tuck episode with a good budget.

  50. Another Duncan says:

    American Ultra
    Basically a love story starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart with an action backdrop and some comedy. The trailer gives away the entire plot including every single plot twist and makes it look like a pure action-comedy, which it isn't, so I'd miss that. The first 20 minutes are set up, it ramps the action very hard after that and doesn't stop. If you're not sold by the 30 minute mark it's probably not your thing, sorry you wasted 30 minutes.

    Themes: assassins; MK ULtra style mind control; CIA coverup gone bad; love conquers all.
    Elevator pitch: "The Manchurian Candidate" meets "Rambo" meets "Dazed and Confused" but a romance.

  51. Jason says:

    pen15: Relive how awkward early teenage years are. Fantastic performances.

  52. nooj says:

    Death Race: Beyond Anarchy is pretty great. The pole dancer was legit, even though she only got 4 seconds of screen time holding classic positions. They had a Volkswagon bug as a death machine!

  53. margaret says:

    just finished watching coded bias on netflix. it starts out with "weird, my hobby ai project doesn't work very good on my face" and ends up in the panopticon. several previouslies are touched on, among others.

    previously previously previously previously

  54. Penguin Pete says:

    Very late to the party, but since you asked... I think you (not to mention several other commenters here) might be ready to discover

    We champion stuff there that makes David Lynch look conservative.