Recent Movies and TV

  • Yellowjackets (2021): A girls' soccer team crashes in the mountains and they go full Lord of the Flies. It's interleaved between a story about the kids and them as adults. I am extremely conflicted about this. On the one hand, all of the actors are fantastic and I was invested in their stories. On the other hand, this is THE most plotblocking show I've seen since Lost. To be fair, unlike Lost, they don't keep just moving the goalposts: in Lost the answer to every question was a new, stupider question, and they aren't doing that. But the Yellowjackets writers clearly have no intention of telling us WTF happened in the mountains until like season 5, if then. Do they even know? Maybe not. I absolutely hate this miserly style. It is the "dark pattern" of screenwriting.

    Also it's very weird that two of the girls in the crash are credited as "Yellowjacket #1" and "Yellowjacket #2". There are only like ten of them, you couldn't be bothered to give them all names? According to IMDB, Yellowjackets #1 and #2 appear in 7 episodes.

  • The Book of Boba Fett (2022): Obviously I will watch any show set on Tatooine. I will enthusiastically watch it on that basis alone, just for the environments and background characters. But I guess I just don't really give a shit about Boba Fett as a person. He was a bad guy with really cool armor, but the more I learn about him, and his dad, and his millions of clone uncles (clunkles?) the less I care. The stuff with the Tuskens was fun, but way too Dances With Wolves. I loved the scooter gang! But give us the Ming-Na Wen show instead. Also if Baby Yoda could fuck all the way off, that would be great.

  • The Expanse (2015): They stuck the landing on the abbreviated series finale, despite some weird choices. (Like why spend any time at all on the psychic necromancer lizards if you're just going to leave that thread dangling? Every second you spent on perky children is a second you could have spent on Drummer being a badass instead.) Though the series had a droopy middle (I didn't care about anything happening on Ilus in S04) this show set the bar for any future science fiction series or movie. It's the characters and stories that made it great, but it's the physics and the sets that made it real. Every subsequent show is going to have to live up to that.

    In hindsight, of the strangest things about the show is that, through all these interplanetary cold and hot wars over scarce resources, at no point is any corporation mentioned. Not only does Earth have some form of UBI, but in all three polities, corporations are apparently just not a thing any more? That's almost harder to believe than the Manhattan sea wall, or the space demons.

  • Archive 81 (2022): A guy whose job is restoring damaged Hi-8 cartridges (and who is not named Jason Scott) is drawn in to a culty mystery. It's pretty great, and I'm am here for this new genre of "people sitting in a room with q-tips and alcohol swabs trying to pull demons out of old analog tapes". But, stock plot detected, I can certainly do without the new trend of "the third-to-last episode interrupts the plot with a period-piece multi-decade flashback exposition episode that walks you through the whole mythology." Still. I enjoyed it.

  • In From The Cold (2022): Now I love me some "deep-cover Russian agent went native and became a suburban mom then gets blackmailed back into doing one more job" stories. And this one has some good moments, and some good fights. But it has a bunch of tech that is just straight-up magic, a villain whose motivations make no damned sense, and an ending that is... just... bullshit.

  • Nightmare Alley (2021): A noir about some carnys who upgrade their mentalist act to a real con. It's gorgeous, with great acting, a great cast and incredible sets. The story is a bit of a narrative mess, which was also true of the original -- it's kind of 2 1/2 different movies tacked together. But still a good time.

  • Peacemaker (2022): Because it is James Gunn, you're only 30 seconds into it before it is deep in the "daddy issues" woods, and I'm so bored with that. But, this show is still pretty hilarious, and a fine entry in the burgeoning "superheroes who swear" genre. It's no Harley Quinn, but it is a fine followup to the surprisingly-adequate Suicide Squad 2. And, it has far and away the most hilarious title sequence I've seen in years. I watch the entire title sequence every time.

  • Pivoting (2022): Eliza Coupe and Maggie Q are rich suburban dirtbags having a mid-life crisis. It's pretty funny.

  • Pump Up the Volume (1990): I hadn't watched this in many years, and I'm happy to report that it mostly holds up. This movie is the spiritual prequel to Hackers and (at least in my headcanon) the literal prequel to Mr. Robot. The one aspect that doesn't hold up so well is that it's hard not to read Happy Harry Hardon as just another edgelord podcaster, and it's hard to remember a world where that just didn't exist yet. Let alone had become a nightmarish cliché.

  • Seize the Night (2022): A melancholy dealer and a suicidal pop star meet and have a romantic first date while trying to buy drugs. It is both surprisingly sweet and pretty depressing.

  • The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window (2022): Everybody wants to make their own Rear Window now, I wonder why that is. The acting on this is great, and I enjoyed the first few episodes, even though it was kind of hard to watch, because Kristen Bell's character is just crazy as shit and intent on burning her life down... But as the actual plot begins to unfold, it gets just deeply, deeply stupid, and the ending in particular is just an insulting slap in the face of the audience.

  • Kimi (2022): Another Rear Window, I can't imagine why this is such a trend now! But this one is by Soderberg, and Zoë Kravitz is fantastic. It takes a bit of a Die Hard turn, and is extremely satisfying. One of those rare movies that acknowledges that a pandemic happened.

  • Inventing Anna (2022): Remember that "fake heiress" woman from a few years back? Yeah neither do I; I've mixed her up in my head with the "Russian NRA spy" woman. Anyway, I have no idea how much of this is true, but this series is pretty great. Anna Chlumsky is awesome, and the title character reminds me of several people I've known, which probably means I should spend less time around bullshit artists.

  • House of Gucci (2021): Wow was this boring. I did not give half a shit about any of these people. I started fast-forwarding about halfway through. I gather there was a murder at the very end? Nothing of value was lost.

  • The Leftovers (2014): 2% of the population got raptured (so, twelve COVIDs, or 1/25th of Marvel's "Blip") and the world loses its damn mind. This is by the Lost guy, so I avoided it on that basis alone, but someone recommended it so I gave the first season a shot. It is true that it is not very plotblocking, but also not a lot happens. It's very depressing, full of sad, damaged people doing sad, damaged things and accomplishing basically fuck-all. It wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't very compelling. It is, however, weird watching this through a COVID lens, because the ways in which the show's world went nuts are both more and less insane than what we've been dealing with.

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