What I've Been Watching (Second Week Back)
Zodiac (2007) (Greatest Movie of All-Time Podcast) - Currently on Netflix
- Listen to the podcast on Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, Pocketcasts, and RadioPublic
Crash - HBO
This is know more by reputation as one of the most controversial Best Picture winners ever. For context, this is the surprise winner that beat out Brokeback Mountain, which only made us pick apart the rest of the pieces and themes of this movie even more as an "unworthy winner". I will admit that there are several parts of this movie that have not aged well especially in a BLM world as well as a #metoo world. Yet, this isn't as bad a movie as many would like to think it is. Yes, it reinforces bad racial stereotypes and is often clumsy around many difficult subjects, but I do also have to give it credit for at least trying to discuss them in a Hollywood of the time that was still over a decade away from #oscarssowhite. Since this has already aged poorly in 15 or so years, it will inevitably deteriorate further, but, to be fair, the Academy only gets things right every 3 to 4 years anyway.
Chariots of Fire - TCM
- Another week, another Best Picture winner off of the list. Yet, the 1981 winner leaves a lot to be desired. While I ultimately understood the story of the British running team from the 1924 Paris Olympics, I never felt as if this movie had something to say, knew what it was, or where it ultimately wanted to go. I understand that is pretty harsh, but it was a dragging movie that disobeyed most of the common sports movie tropes, created an often confusing narrative, especially in the beginning, and never tried to create a voice. At least I'll only have to watch this one more time for the podcast.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Showtime
- A Steven Spielberg classic that crosses another off of the AFI 100 list. This was a venture into Spielberg's tentpole entertainment and fantasy/science fiction through line. It's hard for me not to compare this to other movies that I have already seen like Arrival from a few years ago that I can't highly recommend enough, but I will try for the purposes of this article. The story holds together, and the first half an hour and the last 45 mins are the best. However, the middle portion of this movie seems lost, and drags because it feels like a transition between those two parts. Ultimately, I believe this is a good early attempt by one of the greatest filmmakers ever, but there have been better versions of this movie made since.
Caberet - TCM
Another off of the AFI 100 list, we have an unusual musical from 1972. A quirky musical that is the so-called "anti-musical", it took me most of the movie to even figure out what this was about. It wasn't a romantic, humorous, or dramatic movie. Instead, it was a whimsical libertine movie that was just what the tagline and opening number asked you to do: have no troubles or forget them. In essence, it invites you to live with no consequences or responsibilities despite the constant threat of them knocking on your door (i.e. an unwanted pregnancy or the impending threat of Nazism). Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest reason I didn't care for this. I've never been the shirk your responsibility person who identifies with those running from duty. I've been quite the opposite. And thus, despite a great and talented performance by Liza Manelli who won Best Actress for this role, it will not be an anticipated rewatch for the podcast.
The Americans (Season 4) - Amazon Prime
- I came back to this show after a few years away, and the tension, themes, and storytelling are still some of the best. Other than that I usually can't binge watch more than two seasons at a time anymore, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't finish this series or come back to it sooner. Season 4 deals with several stables characters leaving through death or otherwise, Paige being told the truth about her parents, and the breakdown of several developed assets. There are so many complicated stories and themes blended in such an entertaining way that I'm excited to pick up and finish this series now.
My Weekly Shows:
Perry Mason (Ep. 1.1)
An interesting beginning to a series I was generally unfamiliar with. Even those of my generation might have heard of the phrase "your Perry Mason moment". So, it is interesting that HBO decided to bring this back in a limited series starring a favorite actor of mine, Matthew Rhys. I would doubt, even though I've never seen an episode, that the old show ever had Perry Mason as such a flawed character as this, but I hope this is a redeeming show where we can see Mason slowly build into a heroic figure despite his flaws. We get the premise and the characters in episode 1, but not a ton else. I'm waiting on episode 2 to hook me into the plot.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Patriot Act - with Hassan Minaj - Netflix