Recent Movies and TV

  • The Rising (2022): Small-town ghost tries to solve her own murder. It's pretty good. Reminded me a bit of I Still See You.

  • From (2022): Idiots trapped in Twilight Zone "Mayberry" pocket dimension; at night carnivorous ghosts come out. The individual moments of survival-horror are ok, but by the end of the season absolutely nothing is resolved or explained.

  • Moon Knight (2022): This was just so boring. Why was Oscar Isaac in something so boring?

  • Russian Doll S02 (2022): So they swapped out the time loop for time travel, and it was fun, and lower stakes and much simpler than the first season, but it was still decent... and then the last two episodes went completely gonzo and were amazing.

  • Where is Anne Frank? (2022): Anne's imaginary friend comes to life in the present day as an avatar of the diary, and goes looking for her and has adventures. It's cute, and the animation is great.

  • Gaslit (2022): I would not have expected another re-telling of Watergate to keep my attention, but Julia Roberts is fantastic in it, and this version really plays up what a bunch of bumbling morons they all were.

  • Star Trek Strange New Worlds (2022): This is the greatest Star Trek series so far. A+, no notes.

  • The Lost City (2022): I gather that Sandra Bullock is one of those super-connected Hollywood people who can get any movie made that she wants, and what she wanted was to make a goofy Romancing The Stone variant. Well, good for her, it's really funny.

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022): The first five minutes were a re-cap of Ep 1-3, which was a pretty deep hole they chose to dig themselves into right out of the gate. I mean we're talking Sarlacc-deep here.

    Remember that space ship model that Luke had in the garage? Were you hoping to get an origin story for that? You weren't? Too bad.

    It's just making me re-angry about so many things I haven't thought about in years, like, "WTF does 'princess' mean to these people, your government and monarchy is completely incoherent!"

    Obi-Wan's day job is slicing little slabs of meat off of the giant, bloated, rotting corpse of some kind of dinosaur. I feel like this is a bit too heavy-handed a metaphor for the entire franchise.

    The Big Bad ("Third Sister") is fine, and Baby Leia is surprisingly tolerable, but did I really want to see a show about a snarky pre-teen whose only skill or function is getting kidnapped? I really didn't.

  • Night Sky (2022): A retired couple have enjoyed having a Stargate under their shed for years; finally, some cultists come a-knockin'. I enjoyed it (JK Simmons is always fantastic) but it definitely follows some recent cynical and manipulative TV screenwriting trends: first, the plot advances very slowly for the first 7 episodes, and then in the 8th, they throw everything at the wall, tossing out like 5 unrelated pieces of exposition as cliffhangers for season 2; and second, that none of these problems would even exist if these characters weren't keeping secrets from each other for no reason other than to advance the plot.

  • Shining Girls (2022): This show is terrible. I had read the book, which I enjoyed, but it was a while ago, so I can't tell you precisely how they diverged, but the show is just bad. There's a serial killer who lives in the time-traveling House of Mystery, so he gets to leave his clues/trophies out of order, and try again until he gets it right. One victim inexplicably (as in they never explain it) gets away and retains her memory of Timeline Zero when the world resets around her at his every change. She convinces a few other people that she's not just delusional, that the world is really changing, and they are all almost immediately onboard with that -- and yet it takes them 7 episodes before anyone thinks, "hey, maybe it's time travel". Multiverse of Madness? Sure. Time travel? Now that's just crazy talk.

    I'm not sure if you, the viewer, were supposed to go into this show already aware that it was time travel, but since it's set in the gray-and-rainy 90s and jumps around to the equally-gray-and-rainy 40s and 80s, you would probably have been completely lost until like episode 5.

  • Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022): This was absolutely bonkers. Rarely have I seen a movie so committed to how bonkers it is. This is the movie that Matrix 4 should have been. In fact, here's what should have happened: you saw all the trailers and promo and interviews with Keanu and Carrie-Anne and then you got to the theatre and this played instead, with no explanation of why they weren't in it. Asked about it later, Keanu says, "I think the work speaks for itself." Michelle Yeoh will only take questions about Point Break. That's what should have happened.

  • Pom Poko (1994): Somehow I had missed that there was a Studio Ghibli cartoon about those raccoons with the enormous shape-shifting testicles. And also they're eco-terrorists.

  • V for Vengeance (2022): A couple of sisters who are also vampires go on a revenge road trip, for fambly. It's fun.

  • Angelyne (2022): This story is nuts, I loved it. Also, wow, the prosthetics! Not just the obvious, but also the aging makeup on the various characters was really well done.

  • The Man Who Fell To Earth (2022): I don't remember the original movie at all, except that it was really long and really boring and went nowhere and Bowie being in it did not redeem it at all. This show is the same, except that Bowie has been replaced by wink-wink references to Bowie lyrics.

  • Tom Swift (2022): This might be the worst thing I've ever seen on television, and I watched like a season and a half of Arrow.

Previously.

Tags: , , , ,

39 Responses:

  1. slz says:

    Missed the opportunity to watch EEAAO at the cinema. Can't wait for EEAAO to come out on streaming services, or VODs.

    • Mister E. says:

      Everything Everywhere All at Once is still playing in a lot of cinemas, so you might not have missed it.  boxofficemojo.com says it's still in the top 5 earners on a per-theatre basis, so I imagine it'll be around for a few more weeks in many areas

      • Jason S. says:
        1

        EEAAO is truly amazing. Just saw it last night for the *third* time in the cinema, so look to your second-run theater for the chance!

        I believe you can stream it from Amazon and YouTube now.

        It's basically everything I want from a film, and I'm so happy it exists in what is clearly an uncompromised vision.

        The only thing that worries me is that it's been soooo successful that I'm terrified of the knock-offs that are sure to be greenlight. This movie is great because it's different. Do different things.

        • Phil! Gold says:

          It's only available to buy⁰ on Amazon and YouTube.  I don't think there have been dates announced for its availability to rent, let alone availability on subscription streaming services.  Physical medium copies are slated to be available at the beginning of July.

          Streaming video has made me far more selective about actually buying movies and TV shows.  There are plenty of things I'm happy to watch once and then not worry about losing access if I drop my subscription (or my subscription drops the content).  I will be buying this movie.

          ⁰To the extent that you can own a piece of content licensed to you at the whim of a company that mediates all access to the media you nominally "own".  But that's a topic for another time.

  2. BC says:

    Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
    > it was really long and really boring and went nowhere and Bowie being in it did not redeem it at all

    I felt the same when I saw the '76 film, but something about the manner in which it was awful made it clear in the middle of viewing that the story couldn't have been a screenplay written for that movie.

    I sensed there must've been a pre-existing good book that had been butchered on the path to making that film, complete with the odd editing choices that are the fingerprints of a tortured movie adaptation.

    It caused me to search out any original source material (before wikipedia); sure enough, one existed. Walter Tevis' novel The Man Who Fell to Earth was actually a great read.

    Thanks for saving me the time of consuming a blah 2022 film version, which had piqued my interest.

  3. Waider says:

    I had never heard of Angelyne until this interview showed up. Seems she's not too happy about the series. Or maybe that's part of the gimmick.

  4. CSL3 says:

    Your Obi-Wan takes reminds me that I haven't missed out on a goddamn thing by skipping all the Star Wars tv shows.

    Definitely making Everything Everywhere... high priority after all I've heard.

    Have you seen the HBO(-distributed; it's actually a British project) show The Baby? It's a supernatural dark comedy about how having a baby is a literal fucking curse. I found it imperfect (especially the last ep), but really dig its sensibility - and I'm someone who actually likes kids.

  5. Elusis says:

    If I had any idea you didn't know about Pom Poko, I would have told you.  "Racoon-dogs with giant magic testicles" is very on-brand.

  6. Martin says:

    Thanks as ever for the reviews!

    Here's one suggestion:

    Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes

    This was a great way of spending 70 minutes last weekend. Made on a budget of pennies, it is yet another original take on time travel that puts The Time Traveler's Wife to shame by leaning into predestination paradoxes in a much funnier, and about 5 hours shorter, way.

    BTW I know it's the house style to provide a link to the trailer, but this is one where going in blind was great for me.

  7. me says:
    1

    Obi Wan has me yet again shaking my fist at clouds, muttering under my breath about how great movies and TV set in the Star Wars Universe could have been and what utter trash everyone who has worked on any since the original trilogy has produced. I could be talked into making an exception for Solo, but even that's a bit of a stretch. The unfunny bit is how much really well crafted and consistently thought-through source material there is in the many novels.

    • jwz says:
      5

      I thought Solo was terrible, but Rogue One was quite good...

      I think that if you combined the right parts of Mandalorian and Boba Fett you probably end up with a good 10 episode show.

      • CSL3 says:

        Is it true the Obi-Wan provides an absurdly elaborate backstory to Luke's model ship (the way Solo did the same with the pair of dice Han had hanging) ?

        I mean, the Star Wars EU was always absurdly detailed with minor characters, but Disney's obsession with over-explaining minor objects? Oy...

        • CSL3 says:

          Oh wait - I see you already answered about Luke's ship.

        • jwz says:
          1

          I mean it wasn't elaborate, it was even brief, but it was absolutely unnecessary.

          Is that thing even in the gift shop? I mean it must be.

        • George Dorn says:
          1

          This is the sort of eating-their-own-tail that a lot of very large franchises do.  Star Trek felt the need to explain the Klingon Forehead problem, for no good reason.  Marvel revealed the truth behind Nick Fury's eyepatch, which was also entirely unnecessary.

          OTOH, the Star Wars prequels were basically "Filling in the confines of the backstory: The Movie" and probably still win the Entirely Unnecessary award.

          • jwz says:
            3

            And everybody remembers that scene where Henry Plissken Senior says, "I named the dog Snake."

        • Rodger says:

          I mean at least they haven't - to the rage of the fans who think that the Space Nazis are the good guys - pulled in the "actually, Hitler was right" EU books. Although I see they are bringing in the Good German stories so perhaps its only a matter of time.

      • Rodger says:

        I enjoyed the first season of Mandalorian, but the second fell down with comics crossover disease.

      • me says:

        Good point - I did enjoy Rogue One, largely due to the ending and the way it led into IV. Wasn't too sold on the short lived Blind Monk thread, the weird imperial mining and the "this is just another battlestation/shield/pluck fighters movie" subplot.

        Solo definitely had it's weak moments, but I liked the focus on the smaller picture as opposed to yeat another Ep 4 remake.

  8. Thomas Lord says:

    Oh, speaking of.... I wonder how many have seen Harry Shearer's "Nixon's the one" which are naturalistic re-enactments of stuff found on the wonderful online archive of Watergate tapes:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEQFt3mO2-I

  9. Hylyx says:

    I just finished "Outer Range" the other night, and it was ok. It also had the unfortuante combination of "a bunch of cliffhanger-bait in the last episode" and "most of these problems could be solved if y'all stopped keeping secrets for no reason". But it was really beautifully shot. If they make a season 2 I really hope they up the weirdness factor, which the entire *main plot device* should have done from the start, but I guess pointless drama sells ratings.
    Worth checking out, still.

    EEAAO was a masterpeice. Went into it knowing nothing about it and it was absolutely the correct way to do it.

    Also continually happy about my choice of deciding never to watch another Star War after "Episode 1" which I don't even think I finished.
    " I feel like this is a bit too heavy-handed a metaphor for the entire franchise." Still has me giggling!!!

  10. Zygo says:
    1

    I didn't think the political systems of Star Wars were incoherent or unusual compared to e.g. British politics.  Sure, there are princesses, and they have some celebrity status and sometimes do real jobs, but politically they're just daughters of extremely rich people.  Real government in that universe is done by whoever has the bigger gun anyway, and they have guns at planetary scales--anything smaller than a star system is basically the equivalent of a town council or a school board.

    Strange New Worlds is what TOS could have been if Gene Roddenberry wasn't hobbled by the politics and technology of his day (and maybe also the Gene Roddenberry of his day).  It's what we'd expect to see if the producers of the other Star Trek shows had ever said "wait, here's a radical new idea, what if we just made some episodes of Star Trek based on the original pilot?" and it is glorious.  Anson Mount as Pike is amazing casting.

    Meanwhile, The Orville stopped trying to be a comedy (or just stopped being funny?), so it is now showing us what TNG would have been like if the casting was...less amazing.

    • jwz says:

      I think you're projecting your knowledge of British politics onto the Star War. There might be something coherent under there, but they for sure have not shown it, quite the opposite. Oh, maybe there's some fanfic FAQ out there that retcons it all, but I'm not interested in doing that much work.

      I watched the first episode of The Orville and what I saw was, "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.'"

      Since then people have said, "Well, but, it gets better." Nooooope. Nope nope nope. Not giving it a second chance.

      • Zygo says:

        Well, they're not wrong:  Orville did get better than earlier versions of itself.  Also, you're not wrong:  those earlier versions were an extremely poor start.  I keep forgetting season 1 exists, let alone anything that happened in it.

        There's a gap between "it's not awful any more" and "I can't name more than 100 better shows" and Orville hasn't crossed it yet.

        Babylon 5 pulled itself out of its hole in year 3, after changing actors playing the captain.  Maybe Orville could do something similar, if it somehow survives another season.

        • Eric TF Bat says:
          1

          The thing that made B5 kick into gear in season 3 was when the writer (there was only one, apart from a Neil Gaiman guest episode in season 5) thought the show was going to be cancelled after the end of season 4, so he took his carefully plotted rewrite of The Lord Of The Rings In Space and crammed all of it into the two remaining years.  All killer, no filler.  It made for a game-changing show.  The shame of it was that he then got a final year, and he had nothing to put in it.  Also, the best character in the show left because someone's agent fucked up.  Still, two fully flawless seasons out of five is a lot better than most shows manage.

      • So let me get this straight - you watched more than one episode of Tom Swift (I noped out mid-way through the first episode it was so bad) but you won't watch a few more episodes of Orville?

        That said: it does get better, but I won't pretend it's great or anything.  Still pretty simple plots with no stakes and mediocre performances.  

  11. granville says:

    I REALLY enjoyed Angelyne and I didn't think I would! It was probably stretched a bit thin, though that's not exactly an uncommon complaint with any streaming series these days. By the end I did not want to know the reveal. I am completely content believing this amazing creature created herself.

  12. Rodger says:

    Shining Girls was so disappointing to me. I found the early episodes - say the first 3 - really engaging. Kirby chasing the mystery of what was going on, and given that I spent the late 90s doing IT in newspapers the newsroom environment was like catnip.

    Then it just starting pivoting more and more to the serial killer and I am so bored of the point of view of serial killers in popular fiction. I do not want to see what Kirby doesn't know. I do not care about his back story. It just turned into a huge, unpleasant struggle.

  13. nooj says:

    I'm a huge fan of HBO's Minx, which is hilarious and well-written!  It's a very NSFW story that reportedly follows the development of Playgirl.

  14. Gort says:

    [Warning: SNW Spoilers!] ST:SNW episode 1 sent a total of 3 people in a whole starship for something ostensibly important like a first contact mission, only to find out a non-spacefaring civilization reverse engineered warp drive and accurate photon missiles when they have zero space enemies after less than a year of effort just by by observing at a large collection of ships THROUGH A TELESCOPE that were a light year away (so those images haven't reached that planet yet), and then Pike throws the classic Trek inspiration of hope in a better future on the fire to moralize the aliens about how Jan. 6th in the US caused WW3 on Earth.  Fast forward to episode 7, and with the whole Trek universe to choose from, they decide to bring up Sybok, from the worst Trek movie of all time, instead of I dunno -- maybe exploring Strange New Worlds?  While the revised namesakes like Uhura and Chapel are great characters, they should have new names instead of the names of their TOS counterparts (for example TOS Uhura wasn't a brilliant linguist, that's Hoshi from Enterprise).  And the writers need to include Hemmer more; he's only had significant time in one episode to date.  So forget in-universe logic, canon, and consistency -- and instead go off on another Vulcan sibling story they'll probably tell us about instead of showing us like what bridled Star Trek: Burnham.  These things are really sad, because the casting, acting, and sets have all been great, but the writing is way off baseline on canon and can be weak in other ways.  ST:SNW has a lot of potential but I'm afraid it's trying to cut the tips off its own ears despite itself.

  15. CSL3 says:

    Finally saw Everything Everywhere All at Once over the weekend. I think the final minutes try too hard for a happy ending, but everything preceding it was wonderfully batshit.

    Also watched The Northman, from the director of The VVitch and based on the Scandinavian legend that inspired Hamlet. I thought it was... okay. It's beautifully shot, but one's enjoyment will be based on their tolerance for two hours of screaming Vikings, including 15 min. of Ethan Hawke doing a bad "Bale Batman" voice (which was already bad when Bale did it).

    • jwz says:
      1

      Yeah, I noped out of Northman after about 20 minutes, which means there were about 3 hours left.

      • CSL3 says:

        Having recently seen the Sam Raimi-directed Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, I'm genuinely interested what you thought about it. Personally, I thought it worked best when Raimi was clearly wrestling the story from Feige's hands, forcing it to become a bug-nuts horror flick in Marvel cosplay.

  16. packetslave says:

    Random fun fact, re: Obi-Wan:  the toy spaceship that Luke had in the garage in ANH (and which re-appears in Obi-wan) was the original design model for the X-Wing, created by legendary designer Colin Cantwell (who just died a month or so ago).