It’s been a quiet week around these parts. Without theaters, and with my essential worker hours what they’ve been, new reviews and watching films to do so has been a bit of a challenge. Still, I’ve still managed to see a few “new releases” thanks to the online rentals studios are providing. I ended up having a horror movie double feature just this week, thanks to The Hunt and The Invisible Man. Of these two releases, I have reviews pending, but for now I’ll say that one is a half-bad, half-great schlockfest while the other is a genuinely great example of genre filmmaking. I’m sure you can guess which is which.
At home, my family is mostly spending its time alternating between films we own and whatever’s on TV that evening. I’m pleased to report that a recent viewing of Little Women was a massive success in our household, with everyone loving the acting, writing, directing, and production design (although it took my father several attempts to figure out the editing structure). We also decided to give Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle a go, as I (correctly) assumed it would be a straightforward, enjoyable two hours for the family. While not necessarily great, Jumanji does know how to tick all the boxes to be a passable, enjoyable blockbuster. Meanwhile, while flipping through channels, we all found ourselves sucked in by TCM at least twice for two dark, brilliant classics: Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, one of the greatest film noirs of all time, and Elia Kazan’s A Face In The Crowd, which features one of the greatest performances of all time from an amoral Andy Griffith. If you haven’t given them a chance yet, check them both out – they’re classics for a reason. I do want to note that some of the funniest revelations to come out of this quarantine are the random choices each family member comes up with whenever we’re searching for something to view. For example, my father finally succeeded in his quest for us all to gather around the living room to watch She’s All That, the Rachel Leigh Cook/Freddie Prinze Jr. teen romantic comedy from 1999. And on my own, after the terrifying realization with Ace Ventura that many 90s comedies were actually bad, I found a few of my favorites on TV to see if they hold up. Thankfully, the two I ended up viewing, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Tommy Boy, both hold up – both by 2020 standards and universal comedy standards.
On television, most of my viewing has come through Netflix, as I continue binging Grey’s Anatomy. I’m nearing the end of season three and I’m still impressed by this ensemble, even if the writing is getting a bit, dare I say, silly. I’m also still trying to maintain my viewing of The Wire, even though, despite its clear, dense storytelling, I’m struggling to feel invested. With Community arriving on Netflix, I’ve been checking out a few of my favorite episodes (Paintball and “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons”), and I’ve been in love with USA’s Psych reruns every Wednesday night. Oh, and I’ve gotta say, the SNL At Home specials have been absolutely brilliant so far. The creativity and DIY comedy the cast has been forced to come up with in less-than-ideal circumstances has created some of their most memorable shows in ages. However, some of my favorite memories from the past week or so have involved non-cinematic forms of pop culture. For example, I finally finished Red Dead Redemption II, which has been one of my favorite video game experiences ever. I’ve also developed a strange habit of finding recorded productions of Broadway show original casts (sanctioned or…otherwise) and reveling in their production design and performances. The two I watched in their entirety, and most enjoyed, include 2018’s production of Carousel starring Joshua Henry and Jessie Mueller and the original 2002 production of Thoroughly Modern Millie (that Sutton Foster can sing). Oh, and I’ve been rereading my favorite Harry Potter books and remembering why I love them so, including Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. Incidentally, my biggest takeaway on rereading these books is how badly the films screwed over Ginny Weasley. This is not a slight against Bonnie Wright, who did everything in her power to make the character sing. It’s just that the films never captured the fact that Ginny had Harry’s bravery and skill at Quidditch, Hermione’s brains, Ron’s heart, or McGonagall’s wit She’s easily the best character, and this is often ignored in favor of her being Ron’s sister or Harry’s love interest. Just some general thoughts.
That wraps up this week’s What I Watched, What You Watched. While this week’s article may have been a little light, don’t expect that to be the case going forward. Due to personal health reasons (no, not that one), I am currently spending some time working and resting at home. Hopefully this means some mental health boosting pop culture, a good deal of writing, and time spent exercising body, mind, and soul. In the meantime, feel free to comment below with your thoughts on what I’ve been watching, reading, and playing below, as well as what you’ve been watching during your time in quarantine. See you all next week!