New Movies Weekend of February 19th

Nomadland represents the last of the 2020 awards contenders to cross the line into accessibility for home viewing. The major streaming services each have something to offer us this week, so let’s check them out.

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New Movies Weekend of January 8th

Under normal circumstances, the first few weeks of the year are light on new releases, and generally reserved for expanding the theatrical releases of the awards contenders that got a December 30th limited release to be awards eligible. Or we get a schlocky horror movie that no one was gonna see anyway and has no real competition in some markets, so might as well put it up against the 5th week of whatever mega-blockbuster had the mid-December release date. In 2021, we’ve got just two 2020 releases going to streaming, a festival winner and an Irish drama, and a generic looking erotic(?) thriller going to VOD/Home Cinema.

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How Hollywood Should Navigate Post-Pandemic Movie Releases

I originally sat down to write this piece back in early April, when everything was just untested waters, and no one really knew what was going on, and we legit thought we’d be back to normal by May. A lot has changed in the past several months. Fortunately, the past several months have only solidified the ideas I was formulating for this piece.

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Stuff That’s Streaming: Troll Hunter

Troll Hunter

Troll Hunter
Troll Hunter

The nicest thing I can say about the “found footage” sub-genre is that it exists. Cloverfield is its beacon of quality, while Oren Peli tries beat it to death every year with a “new” Paranormal Activity, and I didn’t even bother with Apollo 18 (did anyone?). But what started way back in 1999 with The Blair Witch Project (say what you will, I liked it), finally climaxed in 2010 with the Norwegian film Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter).

I say the sub-genre climaxed because this is the ultimate in found footage. One question I always raise is who, within the confines of the narrative, is taking these hours upon hours of footage of people being slaughtered (since this sub-genre is usually horror), and cutting it together into a 90 minute narrative? Whoever does is a terrible human being. But that wasn’t a big hang up for me in this one, I was with it all the way through and afterwards… it was only much, much later that the thought even crossed my mind.

Troll Hunter tells the story of a student documentary crew who trek out to investigate mysterious animal killings in Norwegian farmland, only to encounter the equally mysterious Hans. They’re able to convince him to let them join his hunt for whatever beast is killing the farm animals. While they’re all speculating that it’s bears or wolves, he reveals the dark truth: that he’s been in the employ of the Norwegian government to keep the Troll menace at bay. What ensues is a beautifully shot (easy on the shaky-cam) cat & mouse monster film.

Not to sound like a snob, but I’m one of those film nerds who can’t stand dubs, and will only watch foreign films subtitled. It’s a better presentation, and it helps get over the cultural hump. And because of this, I became much more invested in the film.

If you like monster films, this is definitely the one to check out.

Stuff That’s Streaming: X-Files, Supernatural, Warehouse 13

This is the maiden voyage of a new weekly feature here on the blog: A weekly suggestion of something cool to check out online. I’m going to start with Netflix, then expand to include Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime, to help you with the full online streaming experience.

I’m going to ease into this with a few TV shows that I feel are all kindred spirits (no pun intended), and are solid entries into the sci-fi procedurals. Clicking the images and headlines will take you to the Netflix page for each of the shows.

The X- Files

The X-Files
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny

I know, I know… “DUH! You don’t have to tell me to watch that. I already saw it back when it first aired!” So did I. I grew up on the show, as did many nerds of my generation. But I don’t think I’ve watched a single episode since it went off the air back in 2002. Not that I’ve been avoiding it, and I may have caught a random episode here or there over the years in the wee small hours the morning during local programming. But I’ve yet to fully revisit one of my all time favourite shows. And that’s what I’m in the process of doing right now (as well as another personally formative show I’ll discuss next week).

I’m a little over halfway through the first season (I only recently started this endeavour), the exploratory season. You can definitely tell that Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are finding their footing on this groundbreaking series. It was a unique program to join the line-up of the then 6-year-old FOX Network, which was still trying to stake a claim in prime-time, and had already found some success with Married… With Children, 21 Jump Street, Beverly Hills 90210 and, of course, The Simpsons. But that’s always been the fascinating thing about FOX, they’ve always been just a step ahead, and quite bold with their programming choices. A prime-time animated sitcom which led to a whole block of animated program. Roseanne got the glory, but Married… with Children beat it to the punch on blue-collar dysfunction. Even into the 2000s, if it wasn’t for both The X-Files and later 24, we probably wouldn’t have seen Lost. But I digress, back to The X-Files

As long as there’s been TV, there’s been cop shows, Dragnet started all the way back in 1951. The X-Files took that long tradition of solving cases and threw aliens, ghosts, monsters and demons at it, but rarely strayed into the truly ridiculous. OK… there were a few episodes (mostly in the admittedly uneven 1st season) that got a little off topic, but once you push through the muck and WTF moments, the show really hits its stride.

What always kept my interest was the balance between “Monster-Of-The-Week” episodes, the stand alone stories, and the ones that fell under the purview of the running narrative arc – Mulder’s quest for the truth, specifically as it pertains to his sister’s disappearance, and the alien cover up conspiracy. The addition of the  fantastic Mitch Pileggi in the second season gave Mulder and Scully an authority figure to both clash and commiserate with. Skinner was both friend and foe, but not out of inconsistent writing, but out of the intricacies of the character. His arrival was when the show really started to pick up, and just a year after that, Vince Gilligan joined the writing staff, and he would go on to create Breaking Bad, one of the best TV shows of the past decade.

Say what you will about the first season, and there’s a lot to be said about it, but it’s a landmark show and I’m thoroughly enjoying the trip down memory lane. All 9 seasons are available for streaming on Netflix by clicking here. Run through the whole series, or just catch up on your favourite episodes.

Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13
Saul Rubinek, Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock

I spent a lot of time talking about The X-Files, so I promise to keep the next two relatively short. I was first introduced to Warehouse 13 by my dear friend Joel. I believe his exact words were “Dude, you gotta check out Warehouse 13.” It had just started, so the first few episodes were there for my viewing pleasure on Hulu. I marathoned them all and became an instant fan. I remember discussing the show a few days later and referring to it as “X-Files: The Next Generation.” Federal agents in a sci-fi show tracking down the weird and unexplained… I think it’s an apt description. It’s a little heavier on the comedy than The X-Files was, but it works.

I was attracted to this show because of its pop culture references. Not pop culture references the way Community and Psych (both great shows, Psych is on Netflix, Community is on HuluPlus) make Star Wars jokes. Pop culture references like… Victorian era authors. Centuries old world leaders. The show really hit the ground running, and I think benefits from the shortened seasons of cable. It’s definitely worth a watch, with seasons 1 & 2 on Netflix which you can watch here, season 3 will be released soon, and season 4 starts this summer. Also worth a watch: their sister show, Eureka, which is coming back this summer for its 5th and final season. All 4 seasons are on Netflix.

Supernatural

Supernatural
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki

Admittedly, I initially dismissed this show as “Great… another Buffy retread featuring guys who are way too good-looking, and it’s on the CW, so whatevs. GIRL SHOW!” But then I started hearing really positive things about it. From people whose opinions I trusted, and I wouldn’t have normally pegged to have enjoyed my perception of what kind of show Supernatural was. Then the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon kicked into high gear, and I started seeing it recommended on Netflix, on Hulu, I saw it mentioned a lot on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, it even showed up in Fark. So I said, “FINE! I’ll give it a shot!”

Holy shit! I totally should have been watching this from the beginning. It’s a damn good sci-fi/fantasy/horror show that very much follows the mold of The X-Files in that it does the aforementioned “Monster-Of-The-Week,” but also balances it with an overall arc. Since I’m watching this one in tandem with The X-Files, I’m still only on the first season with this one, as well. Though there are a few later season episodes I’m looking forward to, including the S5 finale set in Stull, KS, which as any good Kansan (like myself) will tell you, is allegedly one of the gates to hell. And there’s a S6 episode that gets really meta, which I’m looking forward to watching.

Mostly I’m disappointed I ignored this one for so long. It’s a really good show and if you aren’t watching it, catch all 6 seasons on Netflix here, and it’s currently in its 7th.

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