Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Seen in June 

Nick Cage is the dullest version of Freddy Krueger in Dream Scenario.

It turns out that when the NHL and NBA playoffs are done, you find you have more time to watch cycling races, and The UEFA European Championships rather than movies and televsion. It does seem lately that "going to the movies" is on the back burner. It used to be my first thought to escape the heat was to go to a cinema, but now I'd have to leave my comfortable home, and go out in the heat to escape the heat, which doesn't make so much sense.

The Little Mermaid
Having seen a live version performed by kids, I thought it was time to finally watch the original animated version. One of Disney’s big animated hits that kicked off a long run of box office successes, it’s strange to watch this 2D traditionally animated film now, especially one that isn’t in 4K. While feeling like a throwback to a time gone by it’s still a tidy 90-minute film based on the classic fairytale of a mermaid who falls in love with a human and has to choose between her love and her family. As this is a Disney film, characters can make difficult choices without compromise or repercussions while singing catchy tunes about it.

Dream Scenario
Nick Cage plays, Paul, the most uninteresting professor of evolutionary biologist to ever teach the topic. He’s not just unassuming but also unable to exert any particular control over his life. He isn’t unaware of his fecklessness. When a former colleague tells him she’s about to publish a paper based on research they worked on together, he’s unsuccessful in getting her to admit his contribution. Even one of his own daughters admits that he’s appearing in her dreams but is only a bystander when she is imperilled. This view of him as a disinterested nonparticipant frustrates him. Then it fascinates him when he discovers he’s appearing in the dreams of complete strangers. After briefly trying to capitalize on this unexplained phenomenon his life is turned upside down when those dreams begin to become menacing. The film is darkly funny and slightly disturbing. Is it a commentary on social media or our so-called “cancel culture”? Is it a warning about the gentrification of culture via the Internet? In his classroom Paul talks about how the natural camouflage of the zebra only works when the animals herd together and yet the same markings call attention to the animal that has strayed from the group. Can someone be so “normal” that they are abnormal? Can setting yourself apart from the crowd threaten your existence? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sheng Wang, who is a basketball-loving, Asian American who went to the same middle school as Beyoncé, also he's very funny.

Sheng Wang: Sweet and Juicy
Sheng Wang is an unexpected gem of a comedian. An Asian American who grew up in Texas and attended the same school as Beyoncé his low key humour delivered in the most low key manner reverberates long after the show is over. Highly recommended.

A young Steve Martin figuring out his schtick.
STEVE! (martin) a documentary in 2 pieces
Apple TV+
This documentary about the American comedian Steve Martin is in two parts. Part one is about Martin’s early life and struggles up until his huge success as a live performer and transition to making movies. Part two is how Martin combined all of his interests in a unique second act. Martin is an accomplished musician, playwright, magician as well as a standup comedian and comedy writer. He’s also gained a reputation as an insightful art collector. Much of part two also focuses on how his marriage and becoming a father as well as his partnership with comedic actor Martin Short has changed both him and his career. Seeing the span of his career helps you see his influence and impact over the last 40 years.

Genius of the Modern World
Knowledge Network
Through profiles of Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud, historian Bettany Hughes hosts this 3-part limited series to illustrate what an explosive time for intellectual exploration the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20 century was. Old ideas around culture, class and religion were tossed in the dustbin and new ideas of economics, philosophy and psychology from these intellectual titans formed the modern world. This series is a great introduction to the ideas, lives and foibles of these influential men, so if they ever come up at a dinner party, you’ll find yourself prepared to sound like you know a thing or two. Even if the ideas these men proposed are no longer considered accurate or accepted, they undoubtedly changed perceptions of our world and led to new questions and theories.

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