Happy Sunday, folks! I’m back from vacation, although mentally I’m still hundreds of miles away, enjoying a healthy combination of writing, movie watching, and drinking. Of course, in my time home I have managed to see two movies that I’ll be reviewing early this week: Wild Rose and Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. Hobbs and Shaw will be an easy write-up, because the film is exactly what you’d expect: a dumb, fun action movie. Wild Rose, however, is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. You can expect a rave for it coming quite soon.
At home, I wrapped up the end of Criterion Channel’s July lineup with the 1969 swinger classic Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. Personally, I didn’t love the film – I thought it found itself smarter than it actually was. However, I loved the performances and the interactions, as well as the ironic use of “What The World Needs Now” playing over the credits. And because I was away with my family in a remote location, we spent our evenings watching three more Marvel films for our lineup: Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. Thor and Captain America were second and third viewings for me, and each the second time this year, so I don’t have any new thoughts to add (I enjoy Thor a decent amount, and I wholeheartedly dig Captain America), but The Avengers is my first viewing since 2012, and I honestly found myself in an interesting place upon my return. Personally, I still think Joss Whedon’s writing and direction really elevate the film, and I’ll go to my grave saying it’s the best comic book movie of all time (The Dark Knight is an elevated superhero film, while Black Panther is more Shakespearean James Bond than straightforward comic book). But much of the humor feels relatively 2012, standing out as more sitcom-heavy than I’d realized in the past. I stand by its ranking as the #1 Marvel film, but I can see it for its flaws now (as for my family, they were pretty “meh” on Thor, had major issues with Avengers, and loved Captain America, which is mostly where I’d expected them to land).
In the realm of television, I really just stuck to three shows, with varying degrees of love. I finally got caught up on CNN’s series on The Movies, which ranged from good (thank God “The Nineties” showed Waiting For Guffman) to great (“The Seventies” is one of TV’s best episodes this year). Last week’s Euphoria featured one of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever witnessed, with a manic-depressive Zendaya trying to solve the show’s central mystery by turning into a Dirty Harry-esque cop (I can’t tell if I loved or hated it), and I thought it had some interesting input on depression and the way it’s portrayed. However, it’s nothing Crazy Ex-Girlfriend hasn’t done better. And Nate Jacobs is the most hilariously over-the-top character I’ve ever seen on TV and I kind of hate it. Thankfully, my rage watching of Euphoria has been counteracted by my new relaxation project: getting caught up on The Good Place. It’s such an easy, breezy, short show, and I’m almost through Season 3 now. It’s an excellent way to decompress.
Outside of film and television, I went last night to see a regional theatre production of A Chorus Line that my friend was starring in. For my money, A Chorus Line is the greatest musical ever performed, and even if you don’t have professional-professional dancers (although this cast did a marvelous job), it somehow doesn’t diminish the power of the overall work. And I want to take a moment to talk about what may be the greatest podcast episode of the decade: How Did This Get Made’s episode on Drop Dead Fred. I’ve not seen the 1991 Phoebe Cates comedy, but I kind of want to check it out, as I am fascinated by the episode’s impassioned debate over the film’s merit. Four friends who normally agree on the terribleness of the films they watched engaged in the best, angriest, potentially marriage-ending conversation over a children’s comedy, and it may be the best piece of contending film criticism since Siskel and Ebert. It’s about two hours long, but it flies by. And while you’re at it, you should check out some of the show’s other episodes, as well.
That concludes this week’s What I Watched, What You Watched! I’ll be back later this week, hopefully with a few more reviews, another Oscar prediction, and maybe even a few of those Best Of lists I’ve been promising since February. Who knows! In the meantime, feel free to comment below on the films and shows I’ve been watching, as well as what you’ve been watching in the meantime. See you all next week!