So, um, hi guys. Long time no see. Anything interesting happen since our last What I Watched, What You Watched? It’s been an interesting couple months for The Sacred Wall. Due to the current pandemic, things have changed significantly around these parts. Most states by now have issued shelter-in-place orders, mine included, resulting in a nationwide shutdown of theaters (a key source of article fodder for this site). Meanwhile, my other job has been deemed an “essential service,” meaning that I’m one of the few individuals still heading into work every day. And if all that wasn’t enough, my computer went down for the entire month of March, which meant dealing with an unprepared (and mildly unhelpful) Apple team as they bumbled their way through the repair process. But I am finally back, and in the coming weeks, I’m dedicated to making this site your ultimate reprieve from our current Hell on Earth.
So what does this mean? Well, I’m going to be using this time in quarantine to pump out as much content as I possibly can. Some of it may be currently useless or so-far-off it becomes unimaginable, like trailers and Oscar predictions. Some of it may just be for fun, like lists (I have a great one planned in the coming days). And some may be absolute lifesavers when bickering with the family, like reviews of the new rentals and Netflix films to watch when trapped on a Friday night. And of course, I’ll still keep up the usual What I Watched, What You Watched segment, which will inform you all of my quest to watch as many films and shows during this period as possible. In fact, I still have reviews coming for my last theatre experiences, including current rentals Birds of Prey and Onward, as well as future Oscar contender The Last Shift (it was a special theatre screening). I’m hoping to have reviews up for all three in the coming weeks, but I will say Prey is a helluva great time, while Onward is a bit predictable and boring (but free on Disney+). Make of these what you will.
At home, my tastes have been a bit more…eclectic. I’m sheltered in place with my family, which means alternating between my private arthouse films and…broader films for the family. Sure, this isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve seen Knives Out thrice because my family can’t get enough of its fun, silly plot and great performances. And I recently got to revisit Crazy Rich Asians, which proved my thesis statement correct a year ago that it is a film that literally anyone can watch and find something to enjoy (my brother loved the jokes, my mother the romance, and my father Awkwafina). But then there’s the tangents we went on. For example, Knives Out led to the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston film Murder Mystery, which was, for me, a disappointment. The jokes didn’t seem to be there, despite a fun plot and fun actors there to execute it. And in a late-night search of Disney+, we ended up stumbling upon the Disney Channel Original Movie The Thirteenth Year, which is the reason I became a swimmer for twelve years of my life. And if you’re wondering if it holds up…that’s a great question. I thought it was fine for children. My family disagreed. Vehemently. Listen, I sat through Adam Sandler for you, you can sit through boys who turn into mermen for me. However, my favorite moments of movie watching have been on my own. Even before the quarantine went into effect, I was already watching Lars von Trier’s impeccable end-of-the-world depression epic Melancholia, which instantly made the shortlist for my pending Best Of The Decade series. I also took in Steven Soderbergh’s pandemic thriller Contagion, just to see if it was as haunting and accurate as people have said it is. And you know what? They were right, watching it was a mistake, even if it is a masterful, powerful feat of filmmaking. And because I needed a laugh after such heavy dramas and dud Adam Sandler films, I closed out these past few weeks with a first viewing of the classic comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. And guess what? It’s terrible! Yeah, there are no good jokes, the final twist is offensive, and Jim Carrey’s detective is more grating than entertaining. They should have made him a buffoon or good at his job in any way – being an assh*le but claiming to be cool only appeals to the eight-year-olds that liked this movie. Oh, and ever since it came to Blu-Ray, I’ve had Cats on repeat. I’m not necessarily watching it, it’s just always on a TV in the house at some point.
Thankfully, while my film selection has been challenged or lacking, my television viewing has balanced everything out. Like everyone else, I binged Love Is Blind, which immediately found a sweet spot in my heart. It has the messy drama of a reality show, yet realistic fights and conversations that add a certain flair that The Bachelor or Dating In The Dark lack. I’ve also been trying to get caught up on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which really has had a terrific new season, thanks to game guest stars and Larry David’s demented brain. Obviously I finished BoJack Horseman during this period, and wept one final time over my dear depressed horsey friend as he finally came to grips with his own bad decisions and took responsibility. Modern Family came to an end, and while it never reclaimed its early glory, it still was hard watching the Last Of The Classic Sitcoms come to a close. And speaking of classic sitcoms, I’ve been spending my weekends pepping things up with some classic sitcoms, particularly Cheers and Taxi. I enjoy a lot of elements of Taxi, but honestly, if I’m going to pick between the two shows, it’s Cheers by a mile. That is the greatest ensemble in television history, and it’s not even close. Meanwhile, I haven’t watched nearly as much of The Plot Against America as I’ve meant to – I love the book, and the first episode was great, I’m just struggling to find the time to tune in. I did, however, find the time to show my brother one of the greatest TV episodes of the decade: The Chris Gethard Show’s “One Man’s Trash.” Give it a watch – its wild, David Letterman-esque zaniness will shock and win you over during its 40 minute runtime.
However, if there is one project that I am absolutely ecstatic about during this quarantined period, it is the tradeoff I’ve lovingly dubbed The Shot-Chaser. I’ve taken two highly regarded television shows, of very different style and substance, and I’m watching at least one episode a night until I’ve completed them. The first is The Wire, David Simon’s “greatest show of all time.” I’m almost through the first season, and while its writing and acting is second to none, I’ve gotta say I’m not quite sucked in the way I hoped I would be. There’s something about these “peak HBO” shows like The Sopranos that just aren’t sucking me in the way they did so many others. That’s why I find it so funny that it is my second binge show – “The Chaser,” if you will – that has truly won me over. That would be Grey’s Anatomy, which several of my female friends have finally worn me down about and gotten me to watch. And I’m shocked/pleased to say that, for at least the first two seasons, it remarkably holds up. This ensemble is fantastic, the characters rich, and the writing funny and sobering all at the same time. I love the world of Seattle Grace (something I never thought I’d say) and I’d go as far as to call Grey’s Anatomy the perfect quarantine distraction. It’s funny enough to distract you, romantic enough to release serotonin, and dramatic enough that you’re invested. It’s the perfect weapon against these trying times. Oh, and I’ve been playing massive amounts of Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s a gigantic world to explore, and a perfect release of stress after a long day.
Well, that about wraps up this newest edition of What I Watched, What You Watched. I hope you are all feeling safe and healthy out there, and I hope you’re all having a happy Easter/Passover. I’ll be writing as much as possible these next few days to keep you all distracted and up to date on pop culture as this quarantine continues to trek onward with no end in site. And in the meantime, feel free to comment below with the shows you’ve been watching, as well as you’re thoughts on what I’ve been watching. See you all next week.