What We're Watching - June 4, 2021

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Brock: "For family movie night this week we watched A League of Their Own (1992), which still plays beautifully for the most part due to the good story and lead performances by Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Lori Petty. The director's 'message mallet' lands hard at times, especially in the third act coda. Yes, they are appropriate and good points to make, no doubt, but presented with a lack subtlety, to put it nicely. My daughter requested this summer we make time to watch additional movies that she is ready for, but her brother isn't quite at the age for yet. So my wife and I chose Legally Blonde (2001) to start, and that was a great choice; made for some good conversation afterwards about some of the movie's themes, character's actions and motivations, as well as gender and society stereotypes. Will keep you posted on what other titles the three of us watch in this new summer initiative." 

Jakob: "Since our donation series is currently covering the thrillers of David Fincher, I decided to watch the only film of his I haven’t seen and isn’t a part of our retrospective, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2007). While I thought its aging effects and makeup were great (can we get a horror movie starring that shriveled up CGI baby?), it was so slow I felt like I was watching Brad Pitt age (or reverse-age, I guess) in real time. Take Forrest Gump and remove all the humor, and you’re left with this quirky, but dull, life story of an outsider that can’t justify this nearly 3-hour slog."

Arnie: I never want to do a Friends rewatch. But that reunion special really got me. I watched the first episode of Friends the first night it aired because I knew Cox from other things. I identified perhaps too much with Ross, making me feel personally invested in the Ross/Rachel relationship. The years went on and I think the show lost its spark. The characters devolved into caricatures of their early season selves. Pairing up 4 of the 6 seemed a bit trite. But I never missed an episode. I even had a girl get pissed with me because I wouldn’t go out with her on a Super Bowl Sunday...because there was a Friends episode after the Super Bowl. So I may roll my eyes a bit at callbacks to a specific outfit in Season 2, but these characters were just a few years older than me and I related to their Gen X struggles of career, romance, and identity. So to see them in an obviously self-aggrandizing “weren’t we special” special, it broke through my cynicism. I may not remember the season 2 dress episode but I remember the show making me laugh and feel good. So to have that remembrance made me feel nostalgic...and old. Between Friends and The Real World reunions, these shows that hit me at a pivotal time in my life coming back together...I’m eating it up I hate to say.

Stuart: You'd think I wouldn't be eager to consume more Stephen King TV projects than already required by Now Playing, but I'm actually curious to sample Lisey's Story. King called the 2006 novel his best work, and he's written all 8 episodes of the new Apple + miniseries premiering this week. Julianne Moore feels like an inspired choice to play the widow of a successful novelist who digs up secrets while rummaging through unpublished manuscripts. Hopefully director Pablo Larrain can achieve the same haunting melancholy of the Jackie Kennedy biopic he made with Natalie Portman. And if it's as bad as Langoliers and Tommyknockers, I'm happy to wait and finish the thing when the podcast gets there in three years."
 
Jason: "All this Friends business sent me back to ‘97’s Fools Rush In, in which ambitious workaholic Matthew Perry gets free-spirited photographer Salma Hayek pregnant after a one-night-stand. I realized I was watching a completely different cut on Netflix, because the version I'd seen long ago was heavily edited for TBS. But I think this movie was always bad. Romantic comedies often have lapses in logic, this one really pushes it. I spent most of the movie second guessing the characters and rewriting Perry's dialogue (and redoing his delivery) in my head, because so much of what he says and does makes so little sense. I know how these movies work, but there’s NO way on Earth this guy would choose his career, or anything, over Salma Hayek. That’s inconceivable. The movie wastes too much time with foolish contrivances designed to push them apart, when we know they'll be together in the end. This was done better as Knocked Up but I keep imagining the film remade as a weighty A24 romantic drama. It could work."

Heath: "I got Freaky and checked out the horror/comedy released last year, which turned out to be another terrific effort from director Christoper Landon, following on from his Happy Death Day movies. Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton are both fantastic in this body-swap tale in which a serial killer swaps bodies with an unpopular teen. Leaning more on the comedy than the thrills is a good idea given the goofy premise, but this zips along at a swift pace and has enough laughs and over-the-top kills to make it a fun watch for slasher movie fans."

Santiago: "Unknown (2011) is one of the better Liam Neeson action movies, before he really started phoning them in (I think around Taken 2). The premise is actually really interesting and Neeson and co-star Diane Kruger are pretty good in it. January Jones is fine, but underserved by the role (between this and her turn as Emma Frost in X-men: First Class, 2011 was not her year). The film stumbles when it gets to its 3rd act twist, but the well done action scenes and, again, Neeson and Kruger help make this movie a nice, easy watch."

Adam: "With news that Thor: Love and Thunder has wrapped filming, I decided to revisit 2017's Thor: Ragnarok. I love Taika Waititi, his films have been some of my favorites in recent years, and this one didn't disappoint! The visuals are great and there is a strong current of comedy that allows for Chris Hemsworth to do something a little different to what he had been used to in the franchise. Some may say that the movie has aimed itself squarely at a younger audience, but I believe you should have fun any age! This is by far the strongest of the Thor trilogy and was a delight to revisit. If you haven't seen it in a while, or missed it entirely, do yourself a favor and make time for this; though it's not one for those new to the MCU.