Thursday, June 08, 2023

Seen in May 

The pig and one of her piglets who "star" in the documentary, Gunda

It's been a funny old spring. At times freezing, at times hot, long periods of rain and now none at all. The world hasn't gotten much friendlier but at least there was something to watch.

John Mulaney: Baby J
John Mulaney went through some stuff. A star-studded intervention led to a stay in rehab. He'd like to discuss that some more.

Mandalorian S03
Grogu is still the cutest thing and the Dark Sabre is perhaps the most intriguing. This series picks up with The Mandalorian looking for redemption. I'm enjoying this show, and this season had a lot more to it than previous ones, but still I feel it is straining to fill its story with plot rather than character.

The Matrix Resurrections
It’s been said the third film in a trilogy is often the weakest, but maybe with The Matrix it’s really the fourth film in the trilogy (apparently a work consisting of four works is a tetralogy). The funny thing is, I really liked the first part of this movie where “Neo” is back in the Matrix as the designer of a successful interactive game called The Matrix but is struggling in therapy with this near perfect reality. I wouldn’t mind a whole movie of Keanu Reeves confused by what is real and what isn’t, maybe even leaving the audience to ask for themselves, were the first three films real or a game invented for the mass market? But this isn’t that kind of movie, that movie is called Solaris. Too bad. Solaris could’ve used some Kung Fu.

Gordon Lightfoot: If you could read my mind
A fairly standard recollection of Lightfoot’s career in music. This film almost senses Lightfoot is at the end of days as we see him speak of what worked, what didn’t, of his past and of his successes and failures. This documentary also was able to interview with Lightfoot’s contemporaries and peers, many of whom have also died. With some excellent archival footage, photographs and recordings this documentary captures what made Lightfoot the Canadian icon he was.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) with his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton) in a teeny-tiny dimension.

Ant-man & the Wasp: Quantumania
Disney +
My favourite line in the entire MCU is in the second Ant-man film where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) asks a couple of arguing “physicists” , "So you guys just put 'quantum' in front of everything now?" Enter Quantumania. This isn't just Ant-man and the Wasp, but also Ant-father, Wasp-mom and umm, Waspette? It's the whole family, three generations of Ant-based heroes taking on Kang the Conquerer who is blessed with inexplicable abilities. Paul Rudd still gets some punch lines in-between his actual punches. Fun, but not as fun as before. I suppose I'm late to this sentiment, but maybe Marvel is played out?

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis)and his boss Rebecca (Hannah Waddington) in the series finale.

Ted Lasso S03
Apple TV+
Somewhere in between the weirdness of the Internet either loving or hating this show, lies the truth. The creators took the idea of an absurd premise (an American football coach goes to the UK to coach an English football club) and made it "believe-able" (I think you saw what I did there). Somehow, they even made the idea of an impossibly positive character like Ted Lasso seem, not just funny, but likeable. Positivity, second chances, relationships, a stand against male toxicity, a healthy approach to mental health, father-son relationships, female friendship, and most of all, forgiveness were ongoing themes in what was basically a fish out of water/workplace sit-com. There were definitely times when the positivity became saccharine and sentimental, but those were the times I had to wipe the tears from my eyes. The final gave fans all that they wanted and perhaps too much of what they expected but Ted Lasso wasn't necessarily about surprising you, it was about the Richmond Way.

Imagine following farm animals for 90 minutes, with beautiful black and white cinematography, shot at their eye-level, with no narrative, no story arc, no voice over, no humans to be seen and no judgement. For most of the film we follow a pig and her litter of piglets simply go about their day. You will be surprisingly moved by the humanity you find down on the farm.

Spoiler alert: Wow. Bill Hader as the eponymous character, Barry, in Barry.

Barry S04
I was surprised this season even happened. Was it needed? For closure, perhaps, yes. Bill Hader, of Saturday Night Live fame, wrote, directed and starred as Barry, an ex-marine and hired assassin, who fell in love with acting and wanted to change his life but the only way he knew how was a murderous path cut through a jungle of killers and LA gangs. The last season finds Barry in jail but through a combination of his dumb luck and killing instincts, he escapes, finds his ex-girlfriend Sally and leaves town. Mid-season the show simply jumps ahead eight years when Barry is now a devout Christian and Sally is working in a roadside restaurant. The two have an 8-year-old son and they are not exactly succeeding as parents. There are so many moments in this series where Hader's comedy chops are on full display but so is his love of artful and eccentric cinema and it's this unique blend, along with a fantastic supporting cast that made Barry one of the best and most interesting shows of the last few years and one that only could have been made by HBO.

Sharon Stone being her most Sharon Stoniest.

The Quick and the Dead
For years I dismissed this Sam Raimi western as campy and corny, which I did for all of Raimi's films. Yet, as I've grown to appreciate his oeuvre, I've also wanted to see a film that I was misled to believe was a cheesy Hollywood cowboy movie made to capitalize on Sharon Stone's rising fame. It turns out this was a film Sharon Stone fought hard to get made and it's hard to believe a film with a cast that included Gene Hackman, Sharon Stone, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio would have to be fought for. On one hand, with its story of a desolate town run by a tyrant who runs a gunfighter competition each year, feels very much like a throwback to the Spaghetti Westerns made 25 years earlier. On the other hand, with Stone as a female gunfighter out for revenge, filmed in Raimi's unique, knowing, winking style, it is entirely unique. It has everything a movie like this should have and I'm guessing that's why it has become a fan favourite over the last 30 years.

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