What I Watched September 2020

Movies

Psycho – Peacock has a collection of Hitchcock movies and I am trying to eat my movie vegetables and watch them. Of course, watching Hitchcock doesn’t really feel like eating my vegetables at all. I’d never seen Psycho, but I knew most of it through cultural osmosis. It is really good and entertaining. *****

Marnie – I found this to be significantly less good than Psycho. I like Connery and Hedren, but large parts of this come off as amazingly sexist and the psychological explanations are simplistic. ***

Draft Day – I ignored this movie when it came out, but thanks to some persistent talking up on the podcast FThisMovie and a desire for both some sports related content and Chadwick Boseman performances, I gave this a shot. It is tremendously entertaining. Boseman is great in a small role, Costner is great in the lead. ****

Mr. Right – This sounded like it should be good; I like Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell and the concept sounded good. But almost none of it works. It is just miserable. *1/2

Don Verdean – Another movie I wanted to like, but it just didn’t work for me. There is a lot of fertile ground for comedy here, and a lot of talented people trying to find it, but it just kind of doesn’t work. **

Love, Wedding Repeat – A romantic comedy that plays what if with the seating arrangements and hijinks at a wedding, show several variations of the same basic scenario. There is a really good idea here, but this movie executes it competently at best. I just never found anything to really latch onto as these scenarios played out. **

The Babysitter: Killer Queen – I liked the first Babysitter; I thought it was a clever premise, kind of a reverse slasher, that was presented in a fun, exciting way. The sequel tries to run it back, with a new group of cultists and returning nearly every character from the first. There are parts that work, but it mostly feels like a tired retread of the first. **

Molly’s Game – There is a lot of well written dialogue, but I don’t know that it comes together all that well. It is close, but not quite there. Worth watching, but not all that memorable. **1/2

Sergio – A biopic about UN diplomat and humanitarian Segio Viera de Mello, who died in a bombing in Iraq in 2003. It’s fine. ***1/2

Bill & Ted Face the Music – read review here. ****1/2

Onward – I didn’t hear great things about this movie when it came out, but I liked it a whole lot. It might not rank in that pure top echelon of Pixar movies, but it does land squarely in the middle, being equally enjoyable and affecting. It is just a really good movie. ****

The Italian Job – This is the most 2003 movie I can think of. Just everything about it, from all the Napster jokes to the uncritical sexism. I loved this movie when it came out and still mostly enjoy it, if only because it is the movie that introduced me to Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and Mos Def. ***

American Assassin – Just kind of dull. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, and the politics of the story are kind of gross. *1/2

Cuties – There was a lot of hubbub about this movie supposedly promoting pedophelia, but what it really is is a heartfelt look at the difficulties of growing up, with forces encouraging young girls to act more adult than they are and the struggles of immigrants to adjust to life in a new place. ****

Tombstone – This movie is fantastic. Just a who’s who of ‘that guys’ in the cast, anchored by a thoroughly badass Kurt Russell and an out of his mind Val Kilmer. It is just so much fun. ****

Desperados – The cast tries hard, but there really isn’t anything new or interesting here. It feels tired before it starts. **

I Am Thinking of Ending Things – A very weird movie, with a pov that shits constantly and is just deliberately unsettling throughout. I think I liked it, but ***1/2

Enola Holmes – This was pretty delightful. Millie Bobbie Brown plays Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, who attempts to solve the mystery of the disappearance of their mother. Which gets her tangled in another mystery. It isn’t particularly deep, but it is a lot of fun. ****

The Devil All The Time – Its a movie about how people corrupt religion, or about how people are corrupt in spite of religion. I thought it mostly worked, with good performances all around. ***1/2

American Murder The Family Next Door – A woman and her children disappear and the husband and father is soon pinpointed at the culprit. This whole documentary is constructed out of social media posts, telephone messages and videos taken from police and the court. The fact they can construct a complete story out this is a little distressing. ****

TV

The Great Pretender – A really solid anime about a group of conmen. It starts with its protagonist, a small-time japanese crook, getting taken/recruited by the team and then they do several other heists by tricking other crooks. It is just a lot of fun that looks and sounds great.

Young Wallander – An okay cop show, following Detective Wallander, played by Kenneth Branagh on the previous tv series, on his first case as a detective. It deals with a lot of current political topics, though focused on Sweden, and is pretty well done, but nothing particularly spectacular.

Peaky Blinders S1 – This is fun. I’ve said it before, but the between the world war setting is one of my favorites, and this is just really well done. I want to watch more, and then maybe I’ll have more to say.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9 S4 – Season 4 of Deep Space 9 brings Worf onto the station. This show keeps getting better; it keeps getting deeper. I was kind of ambivalent about the first couple of seasons, but I really liked S3&4. I hope the upward trajectory continues.

The Boys S2 – Most of this season aired in September. The second season of this show seems more focused than the first; it knows what it is and is more confident. It also doesn’t really need to explain its characters much any more. It can still be a bit on the nose, like having its neo-nazi character use the name Stormfront, but it mostly uses its sledgehammer satire to smash things that could do with smashing.

Narcos Mexico S1 – Knowing how this ends doesn’t really make it any easier to watch as it gets to that end. Michael Pena is great. The show also does an excellent job of establishing a setting, in this case 1980’s Mexico, and just kind of letting the viewer live in it. I need to get to the second season sooner rather than later.

Challenger: The Final Flight – This is a solid look at the institutional failures that lead to the Challenger disaster. It explores just how it could happen. What’s more shocking are the people who defend the failures that led to the Challenger disaster. This is just well done all around.

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