College basketball and lots of reading slowed down the visual media I consumed last month. Or at least compared to the past two months. Still some solid recommendations if you’re looking to add to your watch lists.
Another entry in the gritty series revolving around the drug trade and its ramifications on society genre. This might be the bleakest damn show I’ve ever watched. Lots of wicked violence – including one of the most gruesome deaths I’ve ever seen (out of the corners of my eyes) – lots of good people getting sucked into horrible situations, intra-family murder, and a truly psychopathic character that I won’t soon forget.
So not uplifting, but a hell of a series. It follows a single shipment of cocaine from Mexico to Italy and shows all the little waves that spin out from that shipment and how they affect the world. It’s really well done, if you’re into this kind of show.
Re-upped with Disney+ for awhile in part to watch this. I heard wonderful things before watching, so my expectations were high. And it largely fulfilled them. It always amazes me how Pixar can take these stories that are rather simple at their core and make them so emotionally impactful.
Narcos: Mexico, season two
I wrapped up my viewing of the currently available Narcos seasons with this, the second that focuses on the 1980s drug empire built by Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo. This season takes a long time to get moving, but the final 3–4 episodes are very good. It struggles a bit because Felix spends long stretches of the show doing a “Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part 2” act of smoking and brooding.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Another past classic I’ve never seen. This felt like many Scorsese films: the first two thirds will floor you and then the final third is full of difficult moments. In this case I thought the final third was almost slapstick and goofy. That knocks the grade down just a hair. But otherwise, tremendous fun. Scorsese isn’t known for humor and this movie was full of laugh-out-loud moments. So, sure, a lot of Scorsese goodness, and a typically great DiCaprio lead. All of that is fine. But Margot Goddamn Robbie! Seriously…she should be illegal.
This was a bit of a surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original, animated movie. I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in watching this updated version, either. But we turned it on when a four-year-old nephew was over and enjoyed the first 45 minutes so much we started it over after he left so we could follow it without his questions and comments. Just a stunning visual presentation. Everything about the way this movie was presented was A+. We all enjoyed the story, too, although parts of it were pretty predictable.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive, season one
This seemed like the show of choice for a lot of podcasters last summer, when they were bored and looking for new things to watch and follow. I resisted, simply because I’m not an auto racing fan other than the last weekend of May. But I caved when it came up on yet another podcast and I was looking for something I could watch in a couple nights.
And it’s pretty, pretty good. The producers are obviously doing a lot of selective editing and storytelling to heighten the personal dramas that are involved in the story. Many of their choices are ridiculous. But they also make for a quickly compelling show for an audience that is largely ignorant to the sport it covers.
The photography of the actual racing is phenomenal. Super high quality cameras on and in the cars, long stretches of uncut video to give a real sense of the feel of racing on Formula 1’s road courses. It’s pretty spectacular.
The No Laying Up boys tried a Pandemic era Strapped season last summer in Peoria, IL. It was, to my eyes, by far the weakest season in the series’ history. Because of Covid protocols they couldn’t add the local flavor that has made so many of the previous seasons such great watches.
Although this was also shot during the pandemic, it was later when folks were a little smarter about being safe, in Florida where some people DGAF about Covid, and they had an excellent guide who opened some local doors for them. It still lacked the local food and bar scene elements. But bringing in a golfer and coach from Florida A&M University to tell the story of running a golf program at a historically Black college gave the season enough heft to make it feel closer to how the show felt in the Before Times.