Recent Movies and TV

  • Night Teeth (2021): This was a great vampire movie, like if Blade had double the politics and none of the fights. There's a huge amount of backstory that is only mentioned in passing. I suspect they have the scripts for two prequels and a sequel already written, and I'm ok with that.

  • Broadcast Signal Intrusion (2021): Inspired by the Max Headroom incident and probably also the "I Feel Fantastic" videos, this is just great. It's a bit VHS-forensic, so it's very reminiscent of the first act of Videodrome, though it doesn't go body horror. So good. And the period tech! Hats off to the propmasters and set dressers on this movie, because wow.

  • The Estate (2020): Gay failson and stepmom end up banging the same guy, decide to murder dad. Despite the porny setup, it's pretty funny. Stepmom is played by Eliza Coupe from Futureman, and she's hilarious. The ending is kind of weak, though.

  • The Spore (2020): The first post-COVID zombie movie, maybe! It kinda freaked me out, might be just too soon. It's more of a series of vignettes about people dealing with the apocalypse. Some very creepy low budget body horror.

  • Only Murders in the Building (2021): Somehow I had managed to miss that Steve Martin and Martin Short are in this. Why was I not informed? This was really funny.

  • Violet (2021): Wow, this was brutal but really good. Our lead's internal monologue keeps cutting her down in brutal voiceover while her cry-for-help narration plays out in handwritten subtitles, so there are three simultaneous lines of dialog. It's very creative and I haven't seen anything quite like that before.

    My one complaint is that it's a "Hollywood" story, which... I know they say write what you know, but there has to be a limit. Every time I see a movie that centers a screenwriter or a director my reaction is "Please stop, I know you are in the most egotistical of all possible industries, but nobody wants to watch you licking your own asshole". This same story could have been told with characters who had real jobs, not breathing the same extremely rarified air as studio execs.

  • Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021): This is a Nicholas Cage movie that has almost the same plot as the Rowdy Roddy Piper classic, Hell Comes to Frogtown but with extra samurai. Some of those words will either convince you to watch this, or to never watch this. And either way, I cannot help you, Sir. I cannot help you. This movie is bonkers even by late-stage-Cage standards.

  • Multiverse (2021): Some undergrads build a magic mirror that draws some of their variants in from another dimension, which again, is why I keep saying that Mad Science needs to be a graduate level course. Anyway, it's very low budget and has some nice twists.

  • The World According to Jeff Goldblum (2019): It's just Jeff Goldblum being fascinated about things that I don't care about at all, like sneakers and denim and RVs, but he's such an adorable goofball that he made me care! I'm not sure this show would be any different if the host was David Byrne. Or Mr. Rogers.

  • Cowboy Bebop (2021): It's been ages since I watched the anime, but this felt exactly how I remembered it, like, almost to a Watchmen level of slavish detail. I really enjoyed the first half of it; the relationships between the three main characters and their small cons were really fun. But a show is only as good as its villain, and "Vicious" was boring as shit and I didn't care about anything to do with that subplot (including the ex-girlfriend who had no discernible character traits of any kind), which was basically the entire second half of the show.

    It's also striking, again, how much Firefly was 100% a remake of Cowboy Bebop with the serial numbers filed off. Whedon really brought nothing new to that party.

  • Dexter, New Blood (2021): I was pretty over Dexter by the time the first show ended -- I thought the final season, and the series finale, were pretty poor -- but I am enjoying this revival a lot so far. First episode was iffy, but it's shaping up nicely.

  • Hawkeye (2021): I think Renner's Hawkeye character in the Marvel movies is... just... the... worst. However, there have been some very good Hawkeye comics that I have enjoyed very much, particularly Hawkeye Vol. 4, 2012 by Fraction & Aja, and Hawkeye Vol 5, 2016 by Thompson & Romero (the Kate Bishop version), and this show borrows heavily from both of those. The Kate character in the show is exactly like the comics. So I'm sold so far.

  • Hanna, S03: Again, I enjoyed this, but it has been so long since the previous season that I have completely forgotten which bits I am remembering from Hanna and which are from Treadstone because they had exactly the same plot.

  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Stop me if you've heard this one before: it's the future of our Earth, but there was an apocalypse, and after the complete collapse of our society, the world recovered technologically to around 1500s England and then stayed exactly there for 10,000 years, and also oh yeah there's magic now or something. And some monarchist propaganda about pretty teens with a genetic predestination to rule. FFS, why do they keep making this same show?

  • Venom, Let There Be Carnage (2021): With the caveat that I was pretty drunk at the time, I found this funny. It's definitely way better than the first one. And all of that gay subtext from the first one is just text now.

  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021): This was pretty great. The MUNI fight is as good as you've heard. The first half of the movie is a straight-up kung fu movie, and it's fantastic. The second half turns into a Marvel movie, and that gets to be a bit of a slog, but overall it's worthwhile.

    Can someone explain to me, though, how this has basically the same plot as Batman: Soul of the Dragon? Like, the whole second half boss battle was, "Wait, didn't I just watch this?" Is it because DC and Marvel were just madly plagiarizing each other in the 70s?

  • Last Night In Soho (2021): This is absolutely fantastic, and gorgeous. Without giving too much away, it's a mystery taking place partly in the 60s and partly today, and in the telling of the story, the two actresses switch places often, which is done with incredible choreography. There are some tricks with mirrors that rival Candyman, but I'm pretty sure this was all practical.

  • Arcane (2021): Some poor kids do parkour and Fight The Man in Steampunk Land. It was pretty great. The character had personalities and the animation was awesome. It had a very painterly feel to it. Spiderverse pretty much showed that there is no longer any difference between "animation" and "3D animation" and this is a worthy continuation of that. Apparently it's based on a video game that I know literally nothing about, so it's fair to say that you don't need the backstory. Maybe I would have liked it less if I had ever seen the game.

  • The Great S02: Just as hilarious as the first season.


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20 Responses:

  1. Rodger says:

    Night Teeth is almost a platonic ideal of dumb fun. It’s like someone with a sense of humour made a Vampire: The Masquerade film.

    • Phil says:

      It sounds like the pitch was “Collateral, but with Vampires” & hey, that sounds like it could be pretty good actually.

  2. Dude says:

    It's also striking, again, how much Firefly was 100% a remake of Cowboy Bebop with the serial numbers filed off. Whedon really brought nothing new to that party.

    Huh. I always heard that Firefly ripped off Outlaw Star. But seeing as how that was always compared to Bebop, that may just be "six-of-one, half-a-dozen of the other".

    • グレェ「grey」 says:

      Six of one, half dozen of the other, both Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop (both released in 1998) also pay significant amounts of homage to 宇宙海賊キャプテンハーロック「uchū kaizoku kyaputen hārokku」(Space Pirate Captain Harlock) from 1970s Leijiverse precedence as well. Outlaw Star's Gene Starwind, even sports facial scars, like Captain Harlock, and by golly so does Cowboy Bebop's Jet Black! Firefly, from 2002, always did feel derivative, but the same could be said about a lot of what Hollywood cranks out, especially when it comes to SF.

      The Matrix franchise? In many regards might as well be a live action variant of 1980s メガゾーン23「megazōn tsū surī」(MegaZone 23) without the decency to bother with licensing a bad adaptation, they even seemed to ripoff some of the AI mech snake/whatever designs.

      Star Wars? Also, heavily derivative of 宇宙戦艦ヤマト「uchū senkan yamato」(Space Battleship Yamato). Heck, if you ever played Habitat in the 1980s, Lucasfilm/Lucasarts/ILM/whatever they called themselves back then even called their mos6502 cross-compiler Macross. 100% homage to 超時空要塞マクロス「chōjikū yōsai makurosu」(Super Dimensional Space Fortress Macross), awfully "clever" of them I guess? Though, full disclosure: I know Randy Farmer personally, and don't think he nor Chip Morningstar meant any disrespect by the naming convention choice for a cross compiler, and as far as I know, that tool was for internal use and not available to the public until the source was released approximately 8 years ago.

      I could go on with more examples, but better to cut it short I think.

  3. Rodger says:

    I hadn’t seen the Bebop anime, so I watched that and started in on the live action.

    The live action is amazing in terms of the realisation of the anime universe. The 50s and 60s American cars on New Tijiauana, the use of the classic toaster Macs for desktop computers everywhere, it all sits Just Right. The space visual effects are not so much amazing in and of themselves, but imagine showing them to someone 10 or 20 years ago and noting that they’re from a TV show.

    Faye seems like a much better realised character in live action, but the pacing feels really off for me so far - the episodes feel very loose at 60 minutes, and like they’re front loading too much of the character back stories.

    • Eric TF Bat says:

      "Front loading too much of the character back stories" is an excellent description of season one of Titans, and it paid off later on because it made it possible to do more with the characters in later seasons. Maybe this is a thing now? When TV was all "tune in next week" and the possibility that networks would run things out of order on a whim or because Football Is God, you had to balance things differently. Now, bingeing the entire season for untold years into the future is just the way of things, and perhaps this is a sign of the evolution of plot design. Interesting.

  4. Patrick says:

    The problem I have with Last Night In Soho is that it's exceptionally hard to talk about in a non-spoilery way. Like, so many things you want to say "watch it, it's a ... mmm, no that spoils something. Oh! It's like... No, not that either, that's also a surprise. It's an Edgar Wright movie through and through and you'll like it, trust me."

  5. Joe Crawford says:

    FFS, why do they keep making this same show?

    I suspect because there's period costumes that can be reused.

    • dzm says:

      "The sets are built, the bodices are sewn, the 'magic' effect is just an AfterEffects filter. Hell, we're wasting money just letting this stuff sit in storage. Quick! Get some community theatre actors and license/rip off some hoary YA fiction!"

    • Rob says:

      It's pretty rich criticism for a guy who recently posted about watching 18 Chucky movies

    • bq Mackintosh says:

      FFS, why do they keep making this same show?

      Because — like uppers laced with fentanyl, or rigorously anodyne autotuned pop music — people keeping buying it, I suppose.

  6. Only Murders In the Building was far funnier and beautiful than it had any right to be. The previews just don't do it justice.

    I love the new Cowboy Bebop show too.

  7. DC says:

    Oh "Prisoners of the Ghostland" is from Sion Sono, who's certifiable.
    He also made "Why don't you play in hell?" which I enjoyed a lot, but YMMV.

  8. Dude says:

    I just last night realised that Always Sunny... is back on and four episodes in. They do go post-COVID after the first ep, but all four thus far are funny as hell and something I needed at this time of the year.

    • jwz says:

      I have never been able to make it through an episode of that. I can't watch shows where absolutely every character is a piece of shit. Same thing with Succession.

      • bq Mackintosh says:

        I can't watch shows where absolutely every character is a piece of shit.

        This is a particular feature of recent storytelling that stands out to me, where everyone who is remotely qualified as being on Team Protagonist is also deeply flawed, thereby making them actually more relatable in some way, or like someone you can get behind. Tip past that line of compassion though and echhh fuck no, fuck all of these people.

        Tell me a story about how hard it is to find your way in a world that tends to reward craven mercenaries willing to do anything for profit — while wrestling with our own flawed tendency to confuse comfort for justice — then I'm fully on board. Tell me a story about craven mercenaries willing to do anything for profit, then fuck your story, and fuck you for telling that story.

      • Rodger says:

        This is what killed Orphan Black and Fleabag for me. I hated everyone in them. I don’t want to spend hours and hours with them.

  9. Jason Kaczor says:

    ... So - I have never watched the Cowboy Bebop anime (or much series-based anime in general, mainly stick to movies) - I have been waiting for Christmas break to do some catch-up, looking forward to it after teasing myself with the first 10m of the first episode - looked great...

    ... And... Netflix cancels it already...

    Fuckers - forgot my rule - never be invested in a Netflix series until it completes it's full run...

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