Saturday, June 18, 2022

Seen in May 

A still from the animated documentary, Flee.

April showers bring May flowers, but May sunshine brings walks, bike rides, and many other things that do not always involve looking at a screen. It was a busy month and busy months mean less viewing and less viewing means shorter blog posts.

One of the many Moon Knights in, Moon Knight.

Moon Knight S01

Another entry in Marvel's streaming shows, and another thoughtful approach to fantasy and fanciful ideas. In this series, our protagonist Marc Spector/Steven Grant is suffering from dissociative identity disorder caused by a trauma in his childhood. Also one of these identities has the powers of an Egyptian god named Khonshu because it is a Marvel TV series after all. The series examines the character's mental health, faith and relationships in a much deeper, more meaningful way than say some superficial take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide. The story also treats the faith of Egyptian gods, and Judaism respectfully and easily creates an inclusive and international setting for the action to take place. Basically, it has all the fun of a super-hero film with all the mystery, mysticism and adventure of an Indiana Jones movie.

The excellence of Gary Oldman on display in Slow Horses.

Slow Horses
Apple TV+

Like a lot of Apple TV+ shows, this six-episode mini-series seemed to appear out of nowhere. It's a spy drama (but also a bit of a comedy) based in contemporary London where a right-wing group has taken an ethnically Pakistani but essentially British university student hostage with the intent of beheading him on a live video stream. The only problem is, it was really an MI5 false flag operation to ensnare and root out those extreme right-wing elements. When it goes sideways the director of the operation, played with chilly brilliance by Kristen Scott Thomas, and a higher-up at MI5 decides to blame a group of screw-up agents who are housed in a crap office across town. Those agents, known as Slow Horses, discover the set-up and do everything they can to sort out the mess by saving the university student and by extension, saving their own lives and careers. The Slow Horses are led by a jaded agent who is nearing the end of his own disappointing career, played deliciously by Gary Oldman. It's such a fine cast, filmed, written and directed like some combination of John Le Carré intrigue but with Armando Ianucci wit that you can hardly believe your luck that a thing like this exists.

Based on the book Show Time, there was no way an HBO show would be named that, so it became Winning Time.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

A not entirely factual retelling of the wild 1979-1980 season of the free-wheeling, high octane offence of the Los Angeles Lakers that led them to a championship in Magic Johnson's rookie season and changed the NBA forever. The series is filmed with a lot of unnecessary panache and flash while the story is told in unconventional ways. The actors often break the fourth wall, sometimes two actors in the same scene, (accountant to the camera: "I know where the bodies are." Other actor in the same scene also turns to the camera: "Because she buried them!"). I think this is entertaining whether you are a basketball fan or not, but I'm probably wrong. I grew up in the era of one of the finest sports rivalries of all time, between the Lakers and the Celtics, and I worshipped the hardcourt that Kareem, Magic and James Worthy played upon so I might be a little biased. What is undeniable is how the producers found incredible doppelgängers for Pat Riley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and notably, Larry Bird.


Amazon Prime

A harrowing documentary of a boy's journey from Afghanistan to Europe and the devastating effects of war on a family torn apart by violence, extremism and their escape by emigration. Beautifully and simply told as an animated feature length film.

Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in the Mel Brooks comedy Spaceballs. Spaceballs

Sometimes everyone needs a Mel Brooks Star Wars parody film that is so silly it's stupid and so stupid you can't stop laughing.

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