What I Watched August 2019


Focus – This movie is a really unfortunate near miss. It stars Margo Robbie and Will Smith as con artist. They work together for a while, but Smith feels they are growing too close so he leaves her. A year or so later, they encounter each other elsewhere, with Smith in the middle of another con and Robbie apparently with the mark. The movie just never quite hits with the force it feels like it should, like it is jogging instead of sprinting. Still, it is pretty enjoyable. ***

Dora the Explorer – read review here. ***1/2

The Kitchen – read review here. **

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw – read review here. ****

Carol – This movie is excellent. It is a kind of languorous romance between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. It is just really, really well made. *****

Ready or Not – read review here. ****

Angel Has Fallenread review here. **


GLOW S3 – This has always been a show with a strong ensemble, and this season really puts the focus on that ensemble. For once, the show’s best moments aren’t really tied to its main characters, but instead to the supporting crew. It doesn’t all work, I don’t think RHonda and Bash get more interesting with more time devoted to them, but for the most part it makes GLOW a deeper, more interesting show. It isn’t like Marc Maron, Betty Gilpin and Allison Brie stopped being excellent, but they are excellent in slightly smaller quantities this season. I hope we get more of this show.

She-Ra S3 – This show continues to be really good children’s entertainment. I am not sure I like the strategy of doing short, relatively frequent releases of batches of episodes. That is pretty much how I lost track of the second half of Voltron, a show I was really enjoying. So far, the first 25 or so episodes of She-Ra have been really strong. It feels like things are about to undergo a major shift after this; the relationship between Catra and Adora seems well and truly broken at this point.

Fleabag S1&2 – I heard so many good things about this show that I felt like I had to give it a watch. I am glad I did, Fleabag very nearly lived up to its lofty reputation. Since I am writing this post, I kind of want to compare it with Friends from College a few shows down, as that shows primary flaw highlights how good Fleabag is. This is a show about flawed characters, but it manages to nail the melding of comedy and drama. The characters are occasionally awful, but the show shows you them either trying to be better or reveling in their awfulness. You may laugh at their flaws, but you still want to see them do better. Friends from College has bad people who can’t admit that they are bad people and is unclear if you are supposed to root for them or laugh at them. This is an excellent show.

The Tick S2 – I kind of lost track of this show after the first half-season, but I caught up with the rest of it a couple of weeks ago. For a show titled The Tick it sure does lose track of the character The Tick for long tracks of time. I am not complaining about the focus on Arthur, but really there didn’t seem to be much for the Tick to do for much of this show. For the most part, it is a more serious, more focused superhero parody than the previous version of this show. It is mostly a lot of fun to just hang around on the world of the show, but I found that it didn’t really stick with me after it ended. That is how I ended up losing track of the show for the better part of a year. Still, it was good enough and I am sad that the show is gone.

Dear White People S3 – I don’t know what to say. The first two seasons of this show were favorites of mine, but this season feels a little unfocused. It felt a little less trenchant and incisive. Not bad in any way, but the excellence of the first two seasons is a hard standard to maintain and I feel like this one slipped a little bit. I don’t really have anything else to say. Watch it; it is still good.

Last Chance U S4 – I have only been vaguely aware of this show until now, but this latest season was pretty interesting. It is a tragedy; it starts with a team with title aspirations that collapses completely. It is pretty hard to watch at times, with the coach really making himself look like a heel. It is both sad and really entertaining.

Rocko’s Modern Life Static Cling – This feels like it should be more. It is good, but it feels like a couple of episodes of Rocko jammed together. That is not a bad thing, but it is kind of odd for a cartoon that has been over for twenty years. It was a good pair of episodes and had a good message, but they felt pretty insubstantial. Hopefully this gets some youngsters to watch Rocko’s Modern Life. It was a favorite of mine growing up.

Veronica Mars S4 – I didn’t really watch the first three seasons of Veronica Mars. I’ve seen bits of it, way back when, but I didn’t really watch it. I did watch season 4, which is close to everything I want in a TV show. It is a big murder mystery with fun characters. It manages to do both lightness and heaviness without either feeling like they are straining the tone. I didn’t really care for the ending, which felt kind of cheap. I feel like there is a lot I am missing having not seen much of the previous Veronica Mars stuff, but I enjoyed what I saw here.

Friends From College S2 – I absolutely hated the first season of this show, but people told me that the second season was a major improvement. I guess they weren’t wrong; season two is better than season one, but it is still not good. Not one of these people are likeable. The drama and comedy in this series don’t meet, much of it on the unlikeable characters. The drama requires the viewer investing in their stories, but the comedy comes from their inherent awfulness. It just doesn’t work.

Mindhunter S2 – I am not quite as in love with this show as a lot of people seem to be. I mean, the show is good, but this season seemed to get kind of lost in a plot it had no way of solving. Maybe it is just that I didn’t pay as close attention as I should have, but my mind wandered. Maybe my mind wandering says enough about what I thought of this season. The Atlanta child murders do not make for a satisfying case, mostly because of how unresolved it remains. The highlights of the first season were the highlights, there were very few of them in this season. Still, people seem to really like this show.

Magnum PI S3&4 – I’ve written about this show in a post that will be going up soon. I love it more than I should. This show is just about perfect comfort food.

Cannon Busters – I watch some anime, but not a lot. When this showed up, I was pretty interested. The trailers showed echoes of shows like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo and Trigun, which make up a large portion of the anime I really like. The show is fine. It is almost exactly what I wanted, but the parts where it isn’t quite what I wanted are a big miss. The show never quite grows out of being an echo of other shows, and never actually becomes its own thing.

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