This post is a follow up to the one yesterday about TV shows I’ve been watching recently, but this one is about recent movies. Actually, there’s a dessert dish I snuck in to make it a four-course meal — I haven’t seen Hardcore Henry in a while, but it’s so unique and tasty I had to include it.
I have two entrées today, one an Amazon Prime original modeled after the great (but as it turned out not inimitable) Groundhog Day. The other, which I also saw on Prime, is an interesting and wry murder mystery with a great cast and an interesting twist on the whodunnit murder mystery.
The side dish is a Netflix animated comedy about the robot apocalypse.
Last Saturday, on Netflix, I watched Stowaway (2021) an engaging and compelling hard science fiction film by a new filmmaker, Joe Penna. The story, which has only four characters, is reminiscent of Gravity (2013) or Apollo 13 (1995), not only in how it involves a disaster aboard a small spacecraft, but in how it tries to respect physics as much as possible. (Apollo 13, of course, was a real story which made it a lot easier.)
It is, on both counts, also similar to The Martian (2015), in which it bears a third similarity — a connection to Mars. They differ, however, in that The Martian is about a guy trying to get away from Mars whereas Stowaway is about three people trying to get to Mars.
The disaster for them is the fourth person, the stowaway.
I’ve mentioned quite often in posts, and in comments to posts, is that I’m quite bored by superhero movies. Somehow though I’ve never been moved to post about exactly why in detail. A few recent conversations about it made me realize it might make a good Sunday Sermons post.
The thing is that it does go beyond being just bored. There is a cultural aspect to it that’s gotten under my skin more and more. It has to do with the massive violence and destruction inherent in these movies and with a fundamental aspect of these comic book superhero stories.
They center on fighting, and I’ve never been a fan of it.
Last night I watched a fun little film, Colossal (2016), written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Unfortunately it was a financial flop with a box office of only $4.5 million against a $15 million budget. That’s unfortunate, because it makes it harder for such creative efforts to get made.
It stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, both of whom, from a playground in New England, turn out to have the power to manifest and control giant monsters that appear in, and terrorize, Seoul, Korea. (It’s not quite as random as it sounds.)
It’s a very inventive story that delighted me, and I recommend it as more than worth seeing for any fan of interesting movies.
If you know me, you know I’m not much a fan of official holidays, especially those that seem a bit on the artificial side (although National Waffle Day is something I would celebrate). That said, I’m not entirely untouched by a holiday that demands chocolates. Or roses, one of the very few flowers I do love. (Rose gardens are awesome.)
So I was delighted to see that, not only do Minnesotans have good sensibilities when it comes to voting politically, we also have good sensibilities when selecting our favorite Valentine’s Day candy.
See full map below. ION: Saw a cool new SF movie last night!
It’s been a week since we all watched — stunned — as an army of cultist haters, fascists, racists, and thugs, invaded and raped our Nation’s Capitol. Since then the wind seems to have (at long last) shifted to a new quarter. Nothing in the last four years was enough, but this straw was too heavy.
How real that change is remains to be seen, but the House is set to move forward with a historical second Impeachment, and with McConnell now giving it his blessing, and many Republicans desperately wanting to buy redemption, it’s possible we might see a conviction in the Senate.
Which makes writing a post very hard to focus on.
Humans have long had fertile imaginations. It isn’t just that we see patterns everywhere, but that we see them and make up stories about them. Whether it be the forest, the wind, or the stars, we have long read into the world around us a rich tapestry of our own imagination.
A thread that runs through it all is the agency we ascribe to the patterns. The gods control our fates, the spirits reward or punish us, the stars foretell our future. Even the remnant of tea leaves in the bottom of a cup gives us an important and relevant message.
But what happens when we don’t exercise our imagination?
A Very Merry Christmas (or Seasonal Equivalent) to One and All! My wish for everyone is a peaceful and joyful day of good food, good friends, good relaxation, or whatever you wish this season. Ideally you aren’t traveling today, but if you are I hope your journey is swift, easy, and safe.
My wish to see the “Christmas Star” came true, and I also got a white Christmas (in the nick of time). There was also a wish about an election that came true.
So the year is ending nicely I think; worthy of some celebration.
I’ve said (many times) that when it comes to movies it’s the unexpected small gems I love most. The Art of Self-Defense (2019), starring Jesse Eisenberg, is definitely a small (dark) gem, and doubly unexpected.
Firstly, unexpected in the ordinary sense of having no idea what the film would be or that it would be any good. But secondly, because I’d recently seen Eisenberg in American Ultra (2015), which I saw as another unexpected small gem. This movie’s artwork (as you see) suggested to me it might be similar.
It couldn’t be more different, except that both are really good small gems starring Jesse Eisenberg. I’m thinking he has good taste in picking scripts.
They’ll be back!
Along with Black Friday, another of the more modern Thanksgiving traditions is the TV marathon put on by various broadcast, and some cable, channels. For example, what is now called the SyFy channel typically ran a Twilight Zone marathon, and BBC America often ran a Doctor Who marathon (I didn’t even think to check for that this year — one more sign of just how disturbing 2020 was.)
This Thanksgiving I decided to create my own marathon after noticing Hulu had all three of The Expendables franchise (although at this point it’s probably better just called a trilogy given how large most movie franchises are).
All three movies, despite being truly dreadful on many — perhaps even most — counts, are surprisingly watchable. Some parts are even really funny (although not always intentionally).