What I Watched in November 2020

Movies

Yes, God Yes – A really fascinating and accurate look at Christian youth groups and communities. Judgment instead of support and values as cudgels, even for people who really believe. ****

Holidate – I’ve got to be honest, I watched this near the start of the month and only remember largely disliking it. It just felt kind of sour and tired. *1/2

Back to the Future – Its great *****

Back to the Future Part 2 – It is also great. *****

Over the Moon – Netflix trying to do a Disney movie, directed by a veteran of the Disney animated renaissance. It didn’t quite work. It looks good, but the songs are painful and the jokes really don’t land. It’s just a bit of a miss. **1/2

Hillbilly Elegy – This is getting savaged, and that feels a little unfair to me. The book definitely has some problems with how it frames things, and some of that is carried over here, but it is a better made movie than it is getting credit for. I don’t know that it actually has much to say, though. It just appears to. **1/2

The Princess Switch, Switched Again – There is nothing here. It is an excuse for Vanessa Hudgens to play three different characters, but the actual switching is disappointingly brief. Otherwise, it is just a lot of Christmas nothing. **

Aladdin – I watched this with my brother, who hadn’t seen it. I actually still like it quite a bit. It is not the animated movie, and not nearly as good, but there is still fun to be had here. ***1/2

TV

Truth Seekers – I love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I don’t know if I would have given this show a shot had they not been involved. I liked it, though. It isn’t the best thing ever, but there is some pretty great supernatural spookiness in most of the episodes and it builds up well. This was a solid way to spend a few hours.

The Queen’s Gambit – This might be the best show of the year. It is a lot of really interesting stories. It is a sports story, a coming of age story, a story about addiction and about changing values in the 50s and 60s. At the center of everything is Anya Taylor-Joy’s Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy orphan. She learns chess from the janitor at the orphanage she spends her early years in. She also gets addicted to tranquilizers handed out to keep the kids docile. When she is adopted, it is by a troubled, stifled woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. Her personal life is constantly in turmoil, but her professional life flourishes. It is riveting to watch.

The Liberator – There is a lot that is really good about The Liberator, but I really didn’t care for how it was animated. It is a kind of traditional WWII story; it hit s all the beats you expect and there are some really gripping sequences. It builds to some true horror near the end. I constantly struggled with the look of the show, though.

Fargo S4 – I want to have a lot to say about this newest season of Fargo, just like I really wanted to like this newest season of Fargo. But I neither have much to say about nor liked it all that much. I expect both of those things might change with a rewatch, where I am paying closer attention to themes rather than just anticipating the plot. There is a lot here that I liked; on its own I liked basically every piece of this season. However, I am not sure it really coalesced into a coherent story. It was much looser than the previous three seasons. Even the somewhat (and wrongly, in my opinion) maligned Season 3 told a fairly tight story of one series of crimes. This is a broader, more expansive look at warring crime empires, but the stakes are never quite as clear as you would hope. I enjoyed watching Fargo S4, but so far I don’t think it will stick with my like the previous seasons did.

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