Jim and A.Ron have seen The Umbrella Academy and Lorena, Netflix and Amazon originals respectively. The Umbrella Academy is a smart, fun take on the X-Men universe with some Noah Hawley DNA mixed in. Lorena is a four part documentary examining the 1993 dismembering case of Lorena Bobbitt. While the case is no doubt interesting and probably a big landmark in the struggle for equality of the sexes, we’re not sure this production is doing a great job of raising these issues or presenting the facts in a straightforward way. We’ll be back next week to give The Umbrella Academy and Lorena another whirl!
Jim and A.Ron saw Alita: Battle Angel tonight, and declare it a mess, albeit a beautiful, groundbreaking one in terms of effects work. This feels like the first half of the third part of a movie trilogy; everything is mysterious, nothing makes sense, the world is being built hastily and right in front of our eyes, and the movie ends right at the beginning of what promised to be a kick ass third act. But if you want to see what state of the art CG looks like in 2019, this is a shining $170 million example.
We took a look at the latest Netflix original, High Flying Bird. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and shot on an iPhone 8, it tells the tale of NBA management squeezing the players for a reduced share of profits during a labor dispute, and one high profile sports agent that is caught in the middle. It works on the level of a heist film; instead of smooth talking con-man Danny Ocean, we have smooth talking agent Ray Burke. Instead of boosting millions off of a ruthless billionaire casino owner, we’re negotiating for millions off ruthless billionaire team owners. But it also works as a commentary on the power dynamics of labor in general, and on a meta level, the film industry itself. It’s a well made, well-acted, gorgeous film, and it’s final act is as thought provoking as it is fun to watch unfold.
Jim and A.Ron consider the latest episode of HBO’s True Detective; “Hunters in the Dark”. An episode that is largely carried by it’s powerful performances, we nevertheless get what feel like big puzzle pieces that fit into the Purcell case. On the other hand, this season has been thematically about unfair assumptions and prejudices, so while it’s probably true we have a lot more of the story than we did last week, it’s highly unlikely that we have all of it. With just two more weeks to go, will Old Man Hayes and West be up for the challenge of getting justice for Julie?
Jim and A.Ron have seen The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and it’s almost if not just as good as the first one. Father/son relational dynamics take a back seat to big bro/little sis dynamics for the sequel, but Everything Remains Awesome. This movie is bright, colorful, funny, inventive, and packs a lot of heart. Go see it unless your inner child is dead and your heart is gripped by icy black despair. In which case I’d recommend The Lego Batman Movie, instead.
Jim and A.Ron take a look at Netflix’s new darkly comedic take on the Groundhog Day concept, Russian Doll. Starring Natasha Lyonne, it offers a funny, inventive, and interesting take on the human condition, what being happy and connectedness means, and what obligations we have to our fellow humans around us. At a binge time of less than 4 hours, we both feel like it’s worth just about everyone’s time to check out. We also circle back around to Black Earth Rising, which is still phenomenally interesting at its core, but can’t decide which of a million sub-plots and character details it wants to focus on and remains a bit of a jumbled mess.
Special thanks to Hatorian, who by right of conquest in the Bald Move Fantasy Football leagues has won his prize; a commissioned podcast of his choice. He has chosen wisely, selecting the classic 1994 prison/drama/inspirational The Shawshank Redemption. This is a nearly perfect piece of filmmaking, with a confidence in pacing and direction from Frank Darabont matched by the nuanced work of the film’s two leads, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. We had a lot of fun watching and discussing this one Hatorian. Hopefully, it won’t be the longest podcast of your life…
Another excellent episode of HBO’s True Detective! We finally get to meet Old Man West in “If You Have Ghosts”, and the wait was worth it. Both funny and poignant, it appears that 22 years of bad blood and as yet unknown extra-judicial shenanigans have left a rift in their relationship. But Wayne’s memory gaps ironically serve to bridge the two men back together. At five episodes in, we’re still not really sure where the mystery is going, but the chemistry between Wayne, Amelia, and Rolland is so good that the case of the missing Purcell children is almost a distraction from “the good stuff”. That’s a pretty high compliment to pay a Detective show. We discuss all this plus lots of your great feedback. See you next week!
Jim and A.Ron checked out the latest Netflix original film, “Velvet Buzzsaw”. Directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. It functions well enough as a horror story, a farcical look at art criticism, as well as an introspective look at the creative process and the related critical process. We have quibbles here and there, but the film looks great, has some inventive/gruesome deaths, and the main cast has a lot of fun being terrible people.
Jim and A.Ron give their thoughts and opinions on the entire first season of Netflix’s Korean medieval zombie series, Kingdom, as well as the first two episodes of Black Earth Rising. Kingdom is much needed breath of fresh air in the mouldy zombie genre, with lush locations and sets, impressive costuming, excellent plotting and performances, and genuinely creepy and terrifying monsters. The boys both were very into the premise and promise of Black Earth Rising, but are worried two episodes in from the series penchant in getting distracted with Jason Bourne types of intrigue and assassinations as well as the complex and confusing personal lives of the main characters. Whether the excellent performances and important questions the show has to offer can overcome the clunky writing and execution remains to be seen.