Five Cool Things and Goodbye, 12; Hello, 13

Cool things this week include a Stephen King detective novel, a new Netflix show, and more.
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Hope everybody had an excellent Christmas.  I kind of hope it was a little dull pop-culturewise or I’m about to look a little silly.  We are visiting my wife’s family this week and like a good little Sentry, I got my posts in ahead of time (I wrote them last Wednesday).  So if anything amazing dropped in the last few days don’t expect any commentary from me about it.  But if it's been as boring as the week between Christmas and New Year's usually is then pretend you didn’t read this paragraph and imagine these are the things I discovered this week.

So let's get to it.

Whales of August

The story of this little drama about a couple of elderly sisters who have grown bitter with years of bickering is a bit on the slow and unimpressive side, but the acting is super.  Of course it is, it stars Lillian Gish and Bette Davis (with Vincent Price and Southern in supporting roles).  Watching those gems of the golden age of cinema in a film together is a delight.  You can read my full review here.

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Mr. Mercedes

Randomly picked up this Stephen King audiobook from the library. Its the first part of a trilogy starring retired cop Bill Hodges.  King has said it was his attempt at writing a hardboiled detective novel.  The writing doesn’t really fit that model but King’s clearly having fun with the genre’s tropes.

It's about a psychotic killer who plowed a stolen car into a crowd of job seekers one early morning. Months later he begins taunting the retired detective for not catching him in the first place.  Its a classic cat and mouse game from there with King playing some games of his own.  I’ve already started the sequel.

Dark

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This German series now streaming on Netflix is like a mixture of Stranger Things and the first Season of True Detective as directed by David Fincher or David Lynch.  Some kids go missing from the woods outside a sleepy little village much like they did some 30 years ago.  There’s nuclear power plant towering over the town that’s about to be shut down.  It might involve time travel.  It definitely involves lots of creepy darkness and a creepier cave.  I’m only two episodes in but I’m totally hooked.

The Detectorists

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I adore this series.  The Detectorists is about a lovable group of eccentrics who, as the title implies, detect, with metal detectors.  What they detect is mostly old junk - bottle caps, Matchbox cars, loose change - but they dream of something bigger.  Lost treasure, historically significant artifacts.  The comedy is very British and very droll and very marvelous.  The characters are kind of losers - nerdy nobodies who take their hobby way too seriously - but the show never mocks them and, indeed, is really rather fond of them.  Their is a sweetness running through it that is reminiscent of Parks and Recreation.  I’ve just started the second season and it's fast becoming my favorite comedy on TV right now.

Detroit

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Kathryn Bigelow’s docu-drama about the 1967 Detroit riots and the Algiers Motel Incident is an intense, thrilling piece of filmmaking.  It falters a little by not giving it a big enough scope or really developing its characters enough, but it's really puts the audience into the moment.  And what a moment it is.  After hearing what they think are sniper shots, Detroit police officers descend onto the Algiers Motel and bully, torture several black men and two white women leaving at least two corpses in their wake.  Bigelow and writer Mark Boal have clearly done their research and use that moment in history to draw a straight line to the various modern incidents of police violence against black men and women.  You can read my full review here.

The Twelfth Doctor Regenerates: Peter Capaldi to Jodie Whittaker

"So if anything amazing dropped in the last few days..."

"If," he says.  Mat was clearly focused on getting his writing done and preparing for his road trip because if he had taken the time to consider what amazing things might happen this week, he certainly would have realized that the Doctor Who Christmas episode, featuring Capaldi's final (for now) turn as the Doctor and Whittaker's first, would offer something amazing.  I don't know if he watched it on Christmas night, but he was supposed to have seen it at a movie theater on Thursday, and I bet he'll think it was cool. - GSM     

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