sorry for extended absence, tons of life-stuff going on here. really. need to get caught up on what i've been watching, so here i go. first up, TV shows:
Gen V - this sister show of The Boys was way better than i expected it to be after watching the trailer. it has some wildly outrageous scenes, just like the main show, and does the tone of the main show proud. also, the ending ties directly into what i assume will be a major plot point for the next season of The Boys. yeah, there is some woke shit here, but it's not remotely preachy, outside of one or two brief scenes. if you like The Boys, you will like this. recommended.
Geddy Lee Asks: Are Bass Players Human Too? - very brief 4-episode show, and the episodes are short. you don't have to be a bass player to appreciate this show. if you're a Rush fan, this is obviously mandatory, but even if you're not, this will help you appreciate where Geddy is coming from as a human. i was far more interested in a couple of these than others, but still found it interesting. seeing him interact with Les Claypool was the highlight. Krist from Nirvana is absolutely as fucking weird a human as you might expect.
Slow Horses - season 3 was just as brief as the prior two, clocking in a six episodes, which is the bad news. the good news is, this season was fucking fantastic, just like previous seasons. this is the most under-the-radar show currently airing. if you haven't watched this, you are missing out. i love this show so much. in a novel move, the end of the final episode shows the trailer for the upcoming season, which looks to be totally complete. not sure what they're waiting for, but looks like it's dropping maybe mid-year? i can't fucking wait. watching this show makes me want to seek out the books. after doing some research, it looks like each season maps directly to one book. there are currently eight novels and four novellas, so here's hoping this show gets to do all of them. gary oldman appears to be in his natural element here and is a national treasure. watch this show.
Fool Me Once - pretty wild "whodunnit" mystery mini-series. tons of red herrings, tons of real twists & turns, very satisfying ending. surprise guest star - Thomas Shelby's house from Peaky Blinders. i knew it instantly. if you don't watch it, i can't say you are missing out, but if you're game for some decent entertainment, i'd say watch it. i dug it well enough.
now, moving on to movies:
Eyes Wide Shut - we've discussed this many times over the years. this year, i decided EWS was going to start my xmas film marathon, as it is an xmas film. (speaking of which, read a theory about nicole kidman's character and xmas lights which was quite interesting. google it.). if you've been here as long as this has been here, you'll probably remember i was not a fan of this film when i walked out of the theater. i'm here to tell you that i was incorrect, again. i'm sure i've mentioned that several times since, but i think i just really wanted kubrik's final film to be something else. once i got past that and started watching this for what it was, i liked it quite a bit. in fact, with each rewatch, i like it more. i think at this point i love this film. it's really quite amazing for what it's doing.
Die Hard - continuing the xmas film marathon, revisiting this classic next. every time i watch this, some other part of this film that i previously took seriously becomes hilarious. i think this film is slowly morphing into an unintentional comedy for me, not really sure why. there is nothing bad about this. it is a masterpiece of its time and i love watching it. what else can be said at this point?
Die Hard 2 - more xmas films. this one is far more overtly a comedy, which is why i think it's far less appreciated than the original. i don't think the fans wanted this tone. personally, i've always liked this, as i always found a lot of humor in the first one. i love the supporting cast here, and dig the over the top insanity and claustrophobia of this taking place almost entirely in an airport. of course the plot is ridiculous, but that's kind of the charm. again, it's an entirely different tone than the first film - this film knows it's unbelievable and barely even sort of plausible, whereas the first film was very believable and plausible, and it goes for it. it's entertainment, but not really in the same family as the first film.
When Evil Lurks - spanish-language horror that everyone is shitting themselves over. i don't get it. it's fine at best. don't see what all the hype is. no desire to rewatch this.
Saltburn - saw all the hype online about this so decided to check it out. it was very intriguing, wasn't really sure where it was going. the answer is, really, nowhere deep or philosophical. you might think that from the way it's done and presented, but when you take away all the twists and shocks, it's just a selfish, narcissistic fuckhead who ruins dozens of lives - including his parents' - to get what he wants, for no real explicable reason. that being said, the journey is pretty great. it has a very sinister tone and lots of horror-ish moments, it just isn't either one of those things in sum total. just go in knowing as little as possible and enjoy the ride. keoghan acts his ass off in this, which is a joy to watch.
The Holdovers - love me some giamatti, so when i saw this hit, i had to check it out. from the get-go, you'll know exactly what you're in for - the artificial film grain/noise over the '70s-style opening credits sets the stage for what is really a lovely throw-back film, back to a real character study, focused on three characters, carried by some excellent writing and very quirky performance from giamatti. i really enjoyed this film, and realized that it's been quite a long time since i liked what amounts to a "feel-good" film. it's just so well-written and acted, along with a subtle directorial hand and not showy photography, that you may not realize until it's over how deft it really was. i don't quite understand how or why they did that with paul's eyes, but it really did fit the character. very much recommended.
Killing Them Softly - finally filling in some gandolfini gaps in my viewing history. i had heard about this film many times over the years but it wasn't streaming anywhere. when i saw it hit streaming, i pounced. it was really quite good. brad pitt and james gandolfini sharing several scenes together was fantastic. james once again plays a real piece of shit. to be clear, he's not a main character in this, but has a decent chunk in the middle. this really ends up being a brad pitt film, which i'm quite fine with too. anyway, more of a throwback to the dirty Jersey mob films, not the glitz and glamor mob films. it's quite gritty in scenery, and no one in here is "rich", so it feels pretty goddamn real. pit's performance is fantastic. really did dig this. the backdrop of recurring political things happening on the TV sets the tone for the world these guys are dealing with. ray liotta, vince curatola, sam shepard, and many others round out the cast. if you haven't seen this, you definitely should.
The Drop - another gap in my gandolfini catalog filled. this one stars tom hardy and gandolfini dealing with the heavy hand of a foreign mob running what used to be their bar. everyone in the neighborhood knows everyone else, there is a lot of history here, and it's played very well by noomi rapace, hardy, ann dowd and others. this is also gandolfini's last released film, so watching this great performance was bitter-sweet. loved seeing this side of hardy as well. recommended.
Oldboy - i had heard how great this was for twenty years but had never seen it. it has not been on streaming, but finally landed on netflix, so i had to check out this park chan-wook legend. have to say, i was expecting this to be revenge porn with lots of crazy gore and kills. that's not at all what this is. this film starts somewhat normal then quickly becomes a wild surreal journey. it was very unexpected. i was pleasantly surprised! did not see where this was going that's for sure, way too much happening here. it's not exactly linear - lots of frequent jumps, unclear timelines, etc. i think it just really doesn't matter if what you're seeing is really happening or if it's what our main character believes is happening. eventually, you get to the end where it's (almost) very clear what happened. that twist ending i did kind of see coming. could have done without the dental torture scene. it does feature what is probably the most realistic depiction of a one-versus-many hallway fight i've ever seen - everyone gets very tired quickly, the sounds aren't crazy, over the top foley, and the way we watched it - like a side view of the entire hallway - was something i hadn't seen before either. there really is just so much going on in this movie that i feel like i need to watch it again. but now i'm kind of curious to see the hated US remake, haha.