Monday, January 01, 2024

Seen in November & December 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford contemplate their futures.

Mr Dressup
Amazon Prime

If you're Canadian you probably grew up thinking Mr. Dressup was the greatest Canadian. He was actually an American named Ernie Coombs and like his close friend, Mr. Rogers, he was just as thoughtful, imaginative and kind as the person you saw on your TV screen.

Derek S01-03

I’m still not sure how I feel about Ricky Gervais playing a neurodiverse individual but on the whole, this is a genuinely heartfelt comedy tinged with a dangerous drop of sentimentality. I still don’t like the unnecessary tinkling piano transitions but no one’s perfect.

The cast of the movie, based on the TV series, based on the books, based on the radio play.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I loved this series as a radio play. I loved it as a television series. I especially loved it as a series of books. Now I love it as a whole maligned feature-length film.

Big Mouth S04

Bawdy. Sophomoric. Crude. Gross. Juvenile. Also, absolutely hilarious and instructive animated series.

Laura Birn as Demerzel.

Foundation S02
Apple TV+

Thank you, Apple for making an insurmountable series of iconic science-fiction so entertaining, gorgeous and understandable. This series is to television what the Dune films are to the big screen.

Gary Olman as Jackson Lamb.

Slow Horses S02-03
Apple TV+

I love this spy series that successfully blends high drama and tension with gallows humour. These stories of failed MI5 agents who make a team of outsiders who wind up saving the day make for great action. It’s also a pleasure to see Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott-Thomas do their thing in the lead roles. If you don't think it's worth it to subscribe to Apple TV+, then find the books that the series is based on.

High Anxiety

This Hitchcock parody by Mel Brooks feels a little like a Mad Comics movie parody and a Hitchcock sampler. It’s fun to watch Brooks make fun of some of the more extreme Hitchcockian tropes while also paying homage to the master. The joke wears a little thin from time to time but it’s still fun to recognize the original references being satirized.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

One last kick at the can for Harrison Ford, who clearly felt he could still physically do the role. Generally, the de-aging of Ford is seamless and they do a good job of setting up Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a possible successor of Prof. Jones but the formula is tested by some repetitive plotting (Indy finds a clue which immediately falls into the hands of the Nazi enemies). Despite a poor critical reaction and some groaning by fans, this edition was an improvement over The Crystal Skull and the dud of the series, The Temple of Doom. That being said, it was a low bar that this film only barely clears.

Seeing the sausage and how its made in Smartless.

Smartless S01

This short series films the live tour of the popular podcast of the same name hosted by celebrity pals Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes. Each podcast episode features a special guest that only one of the hosts knows about, leaving the other two to think on their feet without prepared questions. The podcast has an easy conversational style and I’m not really sure why it works but it does. It feels like you’re just hanging out with these Hollywood insiders which, as a reviewer for The Guardian put it, is “a simple superficial pleasure”.


Will Ferrell is Buddy the Elf who leaves the North Pole to seek out his father in New York City. It has all the required ingredients for a successful Christmas movie: music; a mended family rift, Christmas in New York City and a dash of magic. I’m not sure anyone thought this would become a Christmas favourite but 20 years later it’s become part of the Christmas canon.

Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas
Apple TV+

Waddingham who found fame on Ted Lasso, shows her West End Stage chops and spectacular voice in this filmed seasonal musical show. It’s a broadly entertaining show with popular Christmas tunes and plenty of cameos.

Babette, of the title.

Babette’s Feast

One of my favourite films to watch during the holidays is about a French servant of two Danish sisters who takes an opportunity to create a masterful meal in the French style to show her appreciation to her employers. It’s a moving film about love, art and the families we make for ourselves.

What We Do in the Shadows S05

The series based on the mockumentary film of the same name continues to deliver laughs as the foursome of vampires attempts to fit into their Staten Island community.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Yes, the Disney chipmunk duo get a second life in this feature film that owes much of its DNA to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Chip and Dale reunite to find a friend who has been kidnapped to be put into service as part of a bootlegging operation. I’m not sure who the audience is for this film? There are plenty of insider, winking jokes to a knowing (adult) viewer but it’s there enough here for kids to enjoy? I doubt it.

A Christmas Story

Ralphie is a kid in the 1940s who dreams of only one thing: a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas. Will his dream come true or will he shoot his eye out as every adult has told him he would? From the prized lamp, running from and facing bullying, and frozen tongues, to an angry Santa, this film has been a Christmastime favourite for years.

Funny and Canadian.

I Like Movies

A "growing pains" story of high school film nerd Lawrence who fantasizes about going to the NYU film school while not really doing the work to make it happen. When he gets a job at a Blockbuster-like DVD rental store, Lawrence finds that balancing school, work, friendship and his relationship with his single mother is harder than it seems. Eventually, he is faced with the choice we all have, which is it’s better to make the most of what we have rather than dream of something that might never come. The fact the film is set in Burlington, Ontario only makes it more endearing to me.

Welcome to Wrexham S02

This documentary series follows the fortunes of a Welsh football club and their small-town supporters as they try to get the team promoted from a lower to higher league in the English football system. Of course, their chances of promotion are increased by the backing of some celebrity owners, Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The love the town has for the club cannot be understated as the trials of pro sport put the owners, players and fans through the wringer with the ups and downs (but mostly ups) of the club’s season.

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