Recent Movies and TV

  • Creation Stories (2021): What if 24 Hour Party People but boring?

  • Nobody (2021): Bob Odenkirk does John Wick and I am there for it.

  • The Irregulars (2021): Victorian teen ghostbusters, except that for some reason there are minor characters with the names "Holmes" and "Watson" who bear no relation to the originals (and are kind of awful) and the show would have been a thousand times better if they simply did not have those names. Also this show follows the new trend of "Victorian England had lots of non-white people actually, but racism did not exist in any way, only classism" and I don't really know what to make of that.

  • Thunder Force (2021): Melissa McCarthy gets the Super Soldier serum. It's forgettable but funny.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong (2021): I tried to watch this like 4 times and was probably awake for a total of 40 minutes of its (I'm guessing) 5 hour length, and I don't feel like I missed a thing. Now I'm not saying that any Godzilla movie has been good, but... this was not. Also I haven't seen CGI hair this bad since the 90s.

  • Willy's Wonderland (2021): Another in the genre of "Nicholas Cage freaks out", this time in a haunted Chuck E. Cheese. Maybe this turns Mandy and Color Out of Space into a trilogy? Anyway, I enjoyed this more than either of those. It is exactly what you expect.

  • The Nevers (2021): Somehow I hadn't realized that this was a Joss Whedon thing until I got to the end credits of the first episode, and then it made so much more sense. They took all of the Whedon stuff and threw it at a wall and hosed it down with steampunk. It's a mess. Knockoff Eva Green is trying to start Professor Xavier's School for Victorian Pixie Dream Girls. By the end of the first season, nothing happens, except for some extremely stupid mythology-reveals. Let's hope there's not a season two.

  • Shadow and Bone (2021): Hits all of the Young Adult Paranormal Romance mandatory moves. I've already 100% forgotten it but it was fine I guess.

  • Invincible (2021): This seems like the sort of thing I would like, but it really did not keep my interest at all.

  • Jupiter's Legacy (2021): Boring. This was just... so basic for a superhero story today. Why even make this?

  • The Power (2021): A decent haunted-hospital story, set in the 70s. Spooky-assed soundtrack by Gazelle Twin!

  • M.O.D.O.K. (2021): It's a little funny, but I expected it to be way funnier. It does not live up to the MODOK from Gwenpool.

  • Cruella (2021): The plot had some ho-hum moments, but I am shocked to report that absolutely loved everything else about this! The performances were fantastic, the costumes were amazing, they nailed the look of the various time periods, the transition through glam and promo-punk. Even the set decoration in the second-hand shop was perfect. There were some dumb moments -- "my mom was killed by Dalmatians" and doubling down on the whole Disney Dead Mom thing, "Yo dawg we heard you liked dead moms so we put a dead mom in your dead mom" -- but overall, even the contrived origin-story references were pretty well done.

    Jim said: "Imagine going back 20 years and telling yourself that in 2021, Disney is going to release a Cruella origin story, about how she came of age between the swinging 60s and the punk rock 70s, and she was essentially a cross between Vivienne Westwood, Siouxsie and Banksy, and that the soundtrack is going to kick total ass, and oh, BTW, you are going to have your mind blown by the perfect recreation of the era, well... 2001 Jim would be very skeptical."

    My skepticism was increased by the fact that I think that the original 101 Dalmatians is one of Disney's worst movies of all time. The story is dumb, the songs are bad, the animation is boring, and though the animated Cruella had a fantastic, iconic look, there's nothing else there. And even with all that, this live-action (!!) prequel (!!!) is inexplicably fantastic.

    Finally: in my headcanon, Cruella also serves as Pennyworth S04. I will be taking no questions.

  • Flashback (2021): Part Jacob's Ladder, part Starfish. It's not easy to follow, but I liked it.

  • A Mermaid in Paris (2020): Or, "Manic Fishie Dream Girl". More on the "stylized fairytale" side than the "carnivorous succubus" side. The Lure remains the gold standard of "apex predator becomes lounge singer", but this one is cute. Relatedly, I still wish Siren had gotten to finish their "World War Mermaid" storyline.

  • Loki (2021): It's basically Loki on a series of buddy-road-trips going nowhere, and that's good enough for me. It's also a fucking time travel story, and I fucking hate time travel stories, but I'm willing to let that slide for now.

  • Werewolves Within (2021): Really funny small-town werewolf movie. (I'm glad this is a genre now.) But also part "screwball locked-room detective-mystery with scenery-chewing character actors".

  • The Tomorrow War (2021): This was deeply, deeply stupid on every level. Just watch the Pitch Meeting of it instead.

  • The Underground Railroad (2021): This show really didn't know what it wanted to be, and I was skimming and dozing heavily by episode 3. There was a little magical realism, a little fantasy, but mostly just a whole lot of torture porn, subcategory "plantation escape". Pass.

  • Spare Parts (2021): Girls in punk band get kidnapped, have their arms amputated and replaced with chainsaws, and are forced to fight in a gladiator junkyard. It's exactly what you expect. There are no surprises of any kind. The acting and effects aren't bad, and the "Saw" shit is kept to a minimum.

  • Kevin Can Fuck Himself (2021): It's a story about a woman who is about to murder her piece-of-shit husband, but the gimmick is that any time he's on screen, they shoot those scenes as an 80s/90s sitcom, laugh track and flat lighting and all, played as "fat man-child and his nagging wife". They get the look of that exactly right, but it just goes on way too long, like, someone writing this show was actually invested in the sitcom subplots, and I just cannot watch that shit. It's exhausting. (BTW, if any reviewer has compared this to either Wandavision or the Rodney Dangerfield bit from Natural Born Killers, they are mistaken. What's the first rule of cover songs? Don't remind me of a better band I could be listening to instead.)

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8 Responses:

  1. Dude says:

    Also [The Irregulars] follows the new trend of "Victorian England had lots of non-white people actually, but racism did not exist in any way, only classism" and I don't really know what to make of that.

    From my end, it sucks. To me, it's studios trying to have it both ways: "Yes, we're casting more BIPoC to make up for centuries of ignoring them (or casting white people as them) in theatre and film. Now, let's just drop these PoC in without asking any questions, okay?"

    It's like that old South Park episode that satirised Confederate flag controversies: the South Park city crest is a bunch of white people lynching a Black man, so at the end of the episode, they compromise by having people of all ethnicities lynching the Black man... who's now smiling. It's like putting up rainbows for PRIDE or claiming "solidarity" with BLM and expecting customers to forget a company's culpability in the bigotry that necessitated PRIDE and BLM in the first place.

    Now... this "more diverse history" approach can be done right. The 2019 Greta Gerwig version of Little Women is... imperfect, but it did an okay job of acknowledging (sometimes subtly, sometimes directly) that this is a world of racism and misogyny, through which we follow this one family.

    On the other hand, you have last year's Come Away in which Academy Award-winner Acid Burn plays a Victorian white woman married to a Black man (David Oyelowo) whose bi-racial kids become Peter Pan and Alice from Wonderland. Aside from just generally being a shitty movie that fails to see how contradictory Lewis Carroll and JM Barrie's mythologies are, the flick tries to play off interracial marriage in Victorian London like it's NBD. Sure, class comes up several times, but it's the film trying to split hairs: Jolie and her fam are upper-crust whilst Oyelowo and his family come from {ahem} a less-than-affluent background.

    But let's not suggest there's every been racism in England, ho nooooo... That's the sort of colour-blind casting that just adds to racism.

    Spare Parts (2021): Girls in punk band get kidnapped, have their arms amputated and replaced with chainsaws, and are forced to fight in a gladiator junkyard. It's exactly what you expect. There are no surprises of any kind. The acting and effects aren't bad, and the "Saw" shit is kept to a minimum.

    Ah, so I'm not the only one! I saw this last year when SF Indiefest went online and had the exact same reaction. For me, most of the fun came from when I first noticed the Canadian accents early on, telling myself, "Oh, so this is what a Canadian version of Bloodsport would look like!"

  2. k3ninho says:

    Shadow and Bone (2021) -- there are other more interesting books in the space, so I'm hopeful for more visual arts in this setting.

    K3n.

  3. apm74 says:

    Mr. Inbetween is series wrapping next week after 3 seasons. I really enjoyed it but near really got any serious buzz around it. But just throwing it out there because it's going away so perfect for binging now if you've never seen it and have got the time.

  4. Thanks for the micro-reviews. I'll def check out Nobody. Werewolves Within was great! I liked the little clues and stuff throughout the film, but it was a little weird when the reveal happened and everything was just tonally off from the rest of the movie. That ending could have really had a better pay off, but the movie was still great.

    Loki is okay, I'm certainly not a fan of time travel movies, but it kind of works for me. I love the idea the concept there's this fascist group trying to control which timeline is the correct timeline, and they basically just resemble a bureaucracy. That was a neat twist. Also love that when two Loki's meet they instantly want to fuck each other, but it was a bummer that was all so heteronormative. It would have been awesome if ALL the variant Lokis were constantly trying to smash or assassinate each other.

    Do I have to watch Cruella now?

  5. Andreas says:

    I recently saw Gaia, and it had a bunch of decent fungus-based creature makeup. If you can overlook the monster design that’s literally lifted from The Last Of Us, it’s a fun short movie.

  6. Owen W says:

    It took me half of Werewolves Within to realize it was a literal game of Werewolf. (I didn't know about the Ubisoft videogame version.) So, like, duh, but it's still very well done!

  7. vishnu says:

    Roger Ebert once said "it's a Disney movie, so of course there's parental death."

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