Snowpiercer Is the Pick of the Week

My in-laws have been spending the week with us. Mostly this is just swell as they are wonderful people who have been very kind to me in the 14 years that I’ve been involved with their daughter. They make great sitters for my daughter as well. It really is nice to have them around, but it does wreak havoc on parts of my life.

This is especially true of my entertainment consumption. There are lots of things I cannot watch when they are around. Part of this is simply that I’m in the middle of a series and they won’t want to be thrown into the middle. My wife and I have recently been binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and we’ve had to put that on hold while the in-laws are around (this especially sucks because the next episode in our queue in the famous musical one and I’ve never seen it!). But the bigger part is that they are conservative, old, and religious which makes them quite unwilling to watch tales with copious amounts of violence, filthy language, or sex – all things that tend to sit up high in my queue.

It’s always a bit of a fun challenge to find things that I can watch with them and still enjoy. Usually, I dig into my classics vault and find something with Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, or John Wayne. This week, remembering that my wife spent much of the ’80s and early ’90s without a television and never going to the theater, I’ve dug out some not-quite-classics from my youth. Namely Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Congo.

As I’ve been looking through the list of new releases this week, I’ve filtered them through that lens of “Can I watch it with the whole family?” The answer has been about evenly split, but a decided “No” goes to this week’s pick.

Snowpiercer is one of those films that I’d not heard a thing about when it first came out, but slowly it built up a lot of buzz so that it’s now become something of an absolute must-see. The sci-fi concept sounds the sort of thing you might catch at a Saturday matinee with nothing else to do, but apparently the delivery is really quite excellent.

It’s set in 2031 after a failed attempt to stop global warming kills off all life on the planet except for the passengers of a train called Snowpiercer. As with all good science fiction on this train the haves are separated from the have-nots. Those without get tired of living in the slummy back cars and start a revolt by slowing taking over each car to the front of the train.

Seriously, that sound really kind of terrible but with Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, and Ed Harris taking the major roles and Bong Joon Ho (who has made several acclaimed films in South Korea) at the helm it’s apparently risen above a cheesy concept and become really good. I’m anxious to find out if this is true.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

La Dolce Vita (Criterion Blu-ray): I hate to admit this, but I’ve attempted to watch this Fellini classic twice and never made it all the way through. The weird thing is I really rather enjoyed what I did see. But both times I paused it for whatever reason and the pause turned into a long break and I never made it back to it. Maybe with this new upgrade I can try it again.

Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series (Blu-ray): Paul Reuben’s manic, psychedelic, and absolutely brilliant kids show was cut down in its prime due to Reuben being literally caught with his pants down in a porno theater. The usual groups freaked out about this and petitioned to have the show cancelled. It worked and the world was a lesser place for it. We can now rejoice with this new boxed set that includes every single episode newly upgraded to HD and full of interesting extras.

Borgen: The Complete Series: This 12-disk set contains all the seasons of this acclaimed political drama from Denmark.

The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years 1951-1955: My uncle used to berate me as a kid for not knowing who Red Skelton was. Eventually I broke down and had to berate myself as he’s hysterical. This collection contains 90 episodes of his television show.

Billy Crystal – 700 Sundays: An HBO special in which the legendary comic speaks about his childhood and the 700 Sundays he shared with his father.

Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 1: I just realized the other day I’d not yet watched this. I love the series, but between a new job, moving, and a million other things it just slipped my mind. Rest assured, I’ll be remedying this soon.

Earth to Echo: A fun-looking family film that seems to have come and gone and the box office. Still, I’m always in need of flicks I can watch with the daughter (and when the in-laws come for a visit.)

Mat Brewster

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