Shows and Movies

Cobra Kai, season four
See here.

B+

Narcos: Mexico, season three
A very good wrap-up to the series’ three-year look at the Mexican drug cartels of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Typically great casting and writing. This had some similar themes as season five of The Wire. It pulled in the press, which is an important part of any story of the Mexican drug wars. The most compelling angle of the season, Mexican cop Victor Tapia’s quest to find who is snatching and murdering women who work at factories near the US border, somewhat mirrored Jimmy McNulty’s search for who was murdering prostitutes in the final season of The Wire. Both felt out-of-place. Tapia’s timeline was staggeringly emotional, especially as you saw it slowly wearing him down (he looked like a sad, Mexican Aaron Rodgers). But the writers never really connected it to the main story, even by making Tapia share info with the DEA in exchange for help with his investigation.

Word is Narcos as we know it is complete after six seasons. However, the creators do have a new series in the works that will feature Sofia Vergara as Colombian drug queen Griselda Blanco. ¡Sí, por favor!

A-

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible
Nepalese climber Nimsdai Purja attempted to climb the 14 tallest peaks in the world in seven months. This is the story of that quest. It’s pretty badass. I bonded with my girls’ orthodontist because we both watched it the night before I took L in and we started talking about it.

A-

The Bourne Legacy
I tried to watch this on one of our flights home from Hawaii, but the HBO Max app kept glitching and I gave up. It does not stand up to the level set by the Matt Damon Bourne movies. Jeremy Renner doesn’t run as weird as Damon, but he still runs kind of weird.

B- for the movie, B for Remmer’s running

The Power of the Dog
This got crazy critical buzz. It was too arty, slow, and oddly sexual for me.

B-

Eastbound & Down, season two
Stupid, stupid shit. But good stupid.

B+

Red Sparrow
I guess it’s been too long since I read this novel, one of my favorite spy books of recent years, because a lot of this seemed unfamiliar to me. Or maybe they changed a lot. Man, was this violent. Like uncomfortably violent at times. I liked the book, so I liked this, although reading the critical response section of the movie’s Wikipedia page it seems a lot of critics did not like this movie. Jennifer Lawrence was spectacular, though. The critics and I agree on that.

B+

Killing Them Softly
A slow burner of a crime movie about two deadbeats who rob an illegal card game and have to face the consequences. Scoot McNairy, who was terrific in Narcos: Mexico, plays a completely different and unexpected character here. Brad Pitt is solid. Ray Liotta does Ray Liotta things. But James Gandolfini’s aging, alcoholic hitman steals the show. As a whole, the movie tried to be too artsy at times.

B

Station Eleven
Based on Emily St. John Mandel’s critically acclaimed novel, which takes place during and after a flu pandemic wipes out much of the world’s population. I read the book several years ago, and am pretty sure I enjoyed it. Apparently I didn’t remember much, because a lot of this was new to me. I guess that’s what I get for reading 50-ish books a year.

Turns out, after reading some articles about the show, there were a lot of changes made, including two MASSIVE alterations, when adapting the novel for TV. All came with Mandel’s approval, which I found interesting.

It was wonderfully shot, has amazing music, and does an excellent job working on the viewer’s emotions. The entire series leads up to a specific moment, and that moment is amazingly restrained and should absolutely slay anyone with a heart. It also had one of the most delightful scenes in recent prestige TV history. This was a creepy, strange, and beautiful television experience. I don’t think everything totally worked, but it was very good.

A-

Apollo 13
I stumbled across this one afternoon and was transfixed for the next two hours. Even though I’ve seen it plenty of times and just watched it a year or so ago. Never gets old.

A

All Madden
Ostensibly a summation of John Madden’s professional life – it first aired about a week before his death – it also felt like a 74 minute homage to my generation’s childhood. So many memories bubbled up as I watched.

A

Curb Your Enthusiasm, season eight
I had heard Curb lost its mojo after season seven. Still, I decided to give season eight a whirl one night and was pleased I did. Clearly not as good as season seven, but it was still pretty, prettttty, prettttttttty good.

A-


Shorts

Our Universe is SO big, it’s mindblowing!
Science!

A

Hear the Otherworldly Sounds of Skating on Thin Ice
L and I watched this old favorite after she made cool sounds on the ice in our front yard one morning.

A

25 Facts You Didn’t Know About Seinfeld
Most of these were old trivia to me, but I still learned a few things. I dock it a full letter grade, though, because the narrator doesn’t know how to pronounce Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ name correctly. Come the fuck on, dude.

C+

Springboard: the secret history of the first real smartphone
I had a Handspring Visor and loved it. This is a great look back at how the Handspring company defined what handheld technology would be in the 21st century, and how it laid the groundwork for the iPhone-led smartphone revolution.

A

The Vega Brothers | Official Trailer
There have long been rumors that Quentin Tarantino planned on doing a movie centered on John Travolta’s and Michael Madsen’s Vega brothers. Here is a brilliant fake trailer for said movie, using footage from other films.

A

One-Minute Time Machine
Hilarious. Also don’t fuck with time.

A

Exit Strategy
Speaking of fucking with time. This short is creepy and touching.

A-

Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs Breaks Down “Occasional Rain”
Since I have no musical talent, I’m always fascinated with how artists get from an initial thought to a recorded song. So I love shit like this.

A


Podcasts

The Prestige TV Podcast: Station Eleven Final Thoughts
First time listening to a Spotify podcast. This was a useful tool when collecting my thoughts about Station Eleven.

A

The Prestige TV Podcast: Ozark: Where We Left Off
I fired this up before I dove into the final season of Ozark. Not as helpful as the Station Eleven episode, but still a decent refresher.

B+