My wife and I are not party people. We are much more comfortable sitting at home, watching movies, playing games, or reading. But once a year we throw a great big pumpkin-carving party. We invite all of our friends over. We make big batches of soup and chili. I make a special Halloween playlist. We decorate the house. We go all out.
Except for this year. I don’t know if it was the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having all this Autumn or that I’ve been really busy at work or what, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it. It was just two weekends ago that we both realized that if we were gonna have one we would have to have it this past weekend or the holiday would be come and gone. We did have it but it was very low key. Most of our friends couldn’t come on such short notice but we had a few folks over and we did manage to cook up some chili. It was nice, it just wasn’t the big bash we normally do.
That’s kind of the way the rest of this week was as well in terms of my pop-culture consumption. I watched some things, but I just wasn’t feeling as excited about it as I normally am. And with that incredible intro that is sure to get you pumped up, I present you with five cool things I consumed this week.
Blade Runner 2049
My pop-culture secret is that I’ve never been a huge fan of the original Blade Runner. It's got some great visuals and asks some interesting questions about humanity, but in terms of its story, it's always been a big ‘meh’ for me. But my cousin is a big fan and I like director Denis Villeneuve’s other films so I went to see the new one. I liked it quite a lot but it had some of the same problems for me. Visually, it's fantastic and it's got some interesting ideas. It had more of a plot than the original (as in more stuff happens) but not all of it made sense. It's been a week since I saw it and I still haven’t figured out what Jared Leto was doing in it.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
One of the songs I always put on my Halloween playlist is Steve Martin singing “Dentist!” from Little Shop of Horrors. Its one of the few things I remembered clearly from the film which I’d not seen in decades before catching it on the big screen this past Sunday. The whole movie is a lot of fun and you can read my full review here.
I was a big fan of this show for its first three seasons, then I kind of stopped watching. It ran into all sorts of problems after that. Creator and show runner Dan Harmon was fired from the show. He was rehired for its fifth season but by that time both Chevy Chase and Donald Glover had left. It was cancelled by NBC after the fifth season but picked up by Yahoo for a sixth and final season. I never meant to stop watching but after all that and other scheduling changes, it was too hard to keep up. It's currently streaming on Hulu and after picking that service up in order to watch The Handmaid’s Tale, I kept it up so I could finally make it through all of Community.
It is a show made for binge watching. It's full of all sorts of inside and recurring jokes. Each season plays upon previous seasons so that it becomes even funnier and interesting the more you watch. Season 4 was a definite step down as it really feels like people trying to hard to do what Harmon was doing but never quite getting it, but Season 5 kicks it back up. I’m still sort of shocked a show as quirky and original as Community ever made it to network TV but am oh so glad it's still out there.
I’m continuing to work my way through Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography. Made in 1966, Torn Curtain is latter-period Hitchcock. He only made three other films before he died. Critics complained that Hitch couldn’t keep up with the times. That he was still making films like it was the 1940s. Apparently, he didn’t get along well with Paul Newman either. Hitchcock who famously treated his actors like cattle, wanting them to move exactly like he wanted them to, no doubt struggled to understand Newman with his 1960s cool and method-acting style. Julie Andrews feels out of place in a mostly thankless role. Still, it's got some of that Hitchcock style and a really nice scene in which Newman battles a German policeman in an old farmhouse. It's well worth watching but only after you’ve seen all of his better films.
Though it was created by Joe Penhall and based upon a book by John E. Douglas, Mindhunter feels very much like a David Fincher series. That’s not surprising as Fincher is an executive producer of the series and directed the first episode. It's got all of Fincher’s signature look and style. It's about the early days of the FBI’s behavioral science program in which they look at psychology and criminal profiling to catch serial killers. It stars Jonathan Groff as a young agent who continually butts heads with the Bureau’s stiff-collared bosses who feel their job is to catch killers not understand them. I’m only a few episodes in but so far I’m really digging the look and feel of it.
The Disaster Artist
In 2003, Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed and starred in a little film called The Room. It is considered one of the worst movies ever made. Entertainment Weekly once referred to it as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Despite that (or because of it), The Room has become a beloved cult hit. A book about the making of the film came out in 2013 and now James Franco has made a movie based upon the book. A new trailer for it just dropped and it looks great.