Five Cool Things and Ready Player One

This week's cool things include Search Party, Castlevania, Stranger Things, and more.
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As I’m desperately searching for cool things to write about each week, I’ve come to realize that while I’m discovering a lot of new TV shows I’m rarely completing them.  Scroll through the archives and you’ll find me talking about starting a new show or a new season of an old show, but ask me if I made it through the season and likely I’ll be answering in the negative.

Once I’ve written about something, I have to move on and find something else.  This article would be boring if I just wrote about one show every week.  Maybe someday I'll write an article on all the series I've finally completed.  Until then, here's five new cool things I consumed this week.

Search Party 

search party season one poster.jpg

TBS dropped this mystery/comedy/drama without a whole lot of fanfare.  There was a little buzz about it and then we all got distracted by something bigger and shinier and let Search Party slip away.  You should definitely search it out. Alia Shawkat leads a pack of post-college Millennials struggling to figure out their lives.  When she sees a flyer for a girl she knew of in college that’s gone missing, a little spark goes off and she sets out to find her.

It's a sharp satire of Millennials and our whole culture of both being connected to the entire world through our devices and being unable to really connect to anyone.  But its also works as a quirky mystery.  Unsurprisingly I am only about halfway through it, but its good enough that I’ll probably finish it before my next article comes out.

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Movies of the Nineties

I know, I know, in this age of constant clickbait articles and listicles on the best fruit-flavored ice cream to eat while dancing, who needs yet another list?  But this ones a lot of fun.  The '90s were a really interesting time for the movies.  The independent film movement became mainstream, bringing directors like Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, Sam Mendes, and David Fincher to mass audiences. It also happens to be the decade I came of age and became a cinephile.

Rolling Stone has compiled a pretty cool list of the greatest 100 movies from the '90s.  While I might have quibbled with some of the placements, they’ve done a nice job making the case for each entry.  If nothing else, it's something fun to argue over with random strangers on the internet.

Contagion

Contagion Movie Poster.jpg

I love it when great directors - stylists and auteurs - make genre movies.  Often they are able to do something different and interesting to a type of film you’d usually not associate them with. In 2011, Steven Soderbergh made Haywire, an action flick, and Contagion a biological-disaster movie.  Both of them defy genre conventions.  Both of them are really good.

I watched Contagion this week and it's exactly what you’d expect from a Soderbergh disaster movie.  Clinical in tone, there are none of the racing down corridors to beat the countdown tropes or out-of-left-field cure discoveries.  It's deliberate in its pacing, realistic in its storytelling, and huge in scope.

There are a lot of characters from scientists to government officials to normal people just trying to survive.  Nearly all of them are played by movie stars and great character actors.  Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, and more fill the screen in smallish, non-flashy, non-movie star roles and they do it well.

It's not a great movie but it's a genre film done really, really well which is kind of cool if you ask me.

Stranger Things 2 Teaser

Stranger Things was a huge break out hit for Netflix last year.  The Duffer Brothers created a unique pastiche of '80s pop culture and turned it into something totally modern, and wonderful. They just released a new teaser trailer and a poster with an official release date of October 27.  I can’t wait.

Castlevania

Castlevania Netflix.jpg

I’m always leery of movies and shows that are based on games, but I’d heard good things about this new Netflix series and gave it a go.  I’ve played some of the early Castlevania games back on the original NES console but those were pretty much "hero kills monsters with a whip" games without a lot of storyline.  Having not played any of the later games, I can’t say if this series maintains any semblance to their stories, but it's pretty killer either way.

The story involves Dracula sending the demons of Hell to wipe out the citizens of Wallachia after they burn his wife at the stake.  It's up to Trevor Belmont and his band of friends to once again save the day.  The animation is evocative and effecting.  It is dark, very violent (definitely not one for the kiddies), and really good.  Season 2 has already been ordered and I’m already looking forward to it.

First Image From Ready Player One

Ready Player One.jpg

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the popular YA novel is set to be released in the Spring of 2018 and the first image has arrived.  The book is a futuristic novel about a post-apocalyptic society that has turned to the virtual reality world called OASIS for comfort.  When the creator of the game announces that whoever discovers a secret Easter Egg inside the game will inherit his fortune, the whole world goes mad looking for it.  Sounds cool to me.

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