Thursday, November 15, 2018

Seen in… October 

Anthropocene image via The Movie DB

This is yet another retelling of the murderous twin Kray brothers who ran an organized crime organization in 1960s London. Tom Hardy, through some cinematic wizardry plays both brothers, one of whom was a clever if violent fellow while the other was not clever but very violent. I heard so much praise for Tom Hardy in these roles but was disappointed. The story is told through the eyes of the young wife of one of the brothers and in that sense is a fairly sympathetic view. That in itself is tiring. I mean, I’m just tired of the glamorization of criminal thugs. There’s nothing clever about being the crazier sociopathic criminal in the room and Hardy’s depiction of both brothers seemed cartoonish and heavy handed. It was too dull to be an action driven film and too violent to be thoughtful. It was also full of typical swinging 60s gang tropes and clichés to have anything new to say so why bother.

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
This documentary traces the rationale made by a segment of the scientific community that due to humankind’s impact on the planet, we have entered an entirely new geological era. From how we have reshaped the earth, its climate, temperature and atmosphere we have pushed the planet to an irreversible and distinctly new phase. The photography is stunning and the argument convincing. Also, we are doomed.

Luke Cage is getting tired of getting shot at… via The Movie DB

Marvel's Luke Cage Season 2
This Marvel street level super hero set in Harlem has a lot going for it, but Alfrie Woodward is not one of them. In fact the non-Luke Cage storylines are halting, slow and uneven. However, when Luke Cage gets his “super” on by throwing around criminals and letting bullets fly off his brawny pecs that’s when the show is at its best. Each of these Marvel-Netflix shows like to have an underlying season long theme and one that lurks throughout this season is popular consensus through social media. Cameras are everywhere. A brother can’t catch a break. As the only Harlem based black superhero, Cage’s struggles also often take on the injustices black Americans face everyday and the limits of a hero to fight against a system titled against them. In the end however, it’s not a big surprise this show was cancelled as the 13 episode structure often felt like the storyline was being stretched to complete the season.

Big Mouth's, Andrew and his hormone monster, Morty. Image via The Movie DB

Big Mouth Season 2
This animated comedy of potty mouthed pre-teens in the throes of puberty is actually a lot better and more thoughtful than it sounds. The lead characters cover a lot of topics that people only talk about in hushed silence but should probably talk more openly about. If seeing cartoon kids cuss about trying to figure out their bodies as well as their classmates, then you won’t like this but if you’re already a fan of comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney then this just might be your thing.

Marvel's The Punisher
This is a well written, well acted series about a vengeful ex-special ops marine veteran, Frank Castle ploughing through his enemies with enough weaponry to make the NRA weep. This series could easily be renamed, “The NRA Presents, A Good Guy With a Gun.” Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, shouldn’t really be this compelling or complex a character but by combining themes of war vet support groups, post traumatic stress disorder, domestic terrorism, CIA conspiratorial power moves, privacy (or lack thereof) and most obviously gun rights, this show pushes a lot of buttons and does it well. The fact that he has no special abilities makes this show feel even more like an HBO like cable crime show than a typical “superhero” genre show. The shine became a bit of a patina for me however when I learned the Punisher is a beloved symbol for gun-loving alt-right bros and that the voice of the program definitely leans into that identity.

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