What We're Watching: May 21, 2021

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Brock: "The Invisible Man (2020) is a really well done 21st century update of the Invisible Man story. Suspenseful, exciting, plays with the audience and their expectations, great use of special effects, and tells this plausible yet implausible story well. Shades of Gaslight, Sleeping with the Enemy and even Terminator 2 at times combine into a lesson of what all modernizations of a classic story should be. And most importantly, it is entertaining to watch. Strong lead performance by Elizabeth Moss keeps it together, even in the scenes when she is pantomiming getting attacked. A really good time at the movies - Green Arrow from me!"

Jakob: "I went back to 1986 for some extreme sports with Rad and Thrashin’Rad is more bogus than awesome. However, there is a real delight in seeing Lori Loughlin use a BMX to ballroom dance; a scene so bad it should have damaged Aunt Becky’s career more than her college admissions scandal. If you need an excuse to get drunk, just take a shot during every montage with 80’s rock that wishes it was as good as Joe Esposito’s You’re the Best Around from Karate Kid. I found Thrashin’ staring a young Josh Brolin totally more tubular. Its skateboard mosh pit scene during a live Red Hot Chili Peppers performance destroys the BMX slow dance. The movie's theme song is performed by Meat Loaf—how he ended up singing “Tear it up today/Thrashin’ USA” both confuses and delights me. Throughout there are bodacious skateboarding stunts and the final downhill race has some gnarly wipeouts. I guess its only real downfall is that it is just straight sports competition story and we'd have to wait a few more years until a film dared to show skateboarders handling real world problems--like 1989's Gleaming the Cube finally tackling the very real problem of weapons smuggling into Vietnam."

Marjorie: "I’ve been enthralled with the Netflix series Halston starring Ewan McGregor as the once (sort of) famous fashion icon. The series charts the creation of his brand, a little bit of drug use and promiscuity. Halston made a splash when Jacqueline Kennedy wore one of his hats to her husband’s inauguration. Halston, once a couture brand seen on celebrities, lost its appeal when he signed a deal to design clothing for JC Penney. I was a little leery about it halfway during the first episode when it seemed that like it was Obi-Wan Halston. But it soon found its footing and McGregor is mesmerizing. The series is well made and keeps a good pace. It doesn’t linger too long in any time period which keeps it interesting. The Battle of Versailles, a legendary event, had a lot of energy that makes the viewer feel part of it."

Stuart: "It's easy to see why Showtime cancelled On Becoming A God In Central Florida (2019), a grotesque comedy series about losers conned by a flimsy pyramid scheme involving off-brand toilet paper and self-help cassettes in 1992. But what keeps me watching is Kirsten Dunst's endearing lead performance as a water park employee left in financial straits after husband Alexander Skarsgard is eaten by an alligator trying to move up the ranks. I wish I could stop myself from binging all 10 episodes this weekend, because I know the cringe-inducing motivational lingo and excessive Paula Abdul tunes will leave me feeling so sick."  

Jason: "The latest DC Universe Animated original, Batman: Soul of the Dragon (2021), doesn't have a whole lot of Batman, and that's okay. Here, the Dark Knight plays more of a sidekick to DC's cadre of martial arts characters -- Richard Dragon, Bronze Tiger, Lady Shiva, etc. -- as they take on familiar villains Kobra and King Snake. There's a supernatural sword involved too, which reminded me of Katana's one-line introduction in that Suicide Squad debacle. Animating martial arts is a tricky thing because the action just doesn't hit as hard as watching a real-life master pull off the same feats. Still, there's good voice talent here, including top-billed Mark Dacascos (cc Brock), Michael Jai White, and GOAT James Hong as O-Sensei. Weak recommend."

Heath: “It’s always a risky proposition to check out an Alan Smithee movie, but Let’s Get Harry (1986) ranks alongside Hellraiser: Bloodline as one of the better films directed by the auteur “Smithee”. The incredibly dumb plot sees a group of blue collar buddies (including Thomas F. Wilson and Glenn Frey) who mount a mission to Colombia (despite having no discernable combat experience or training) to rescue one of their buddies (Mark Harmon), whose been kidnapped by a drug cartel. Along for the ride are a mercenary-for-hire (Robert Duvall) and a used-car salesman (Gary Busey). This is idiotic but surprisingly enjoyable trash if you enjoy '80s action flicks, elevated by the work of Duvall and Busey, who give better performances than the film deserves."

Santiago: "The Dark Knight (2008). This is one of those genre-defining movies. You know, the ones that do a lot of things that are cliché, but they originated here (remember when EVERY villain wanted to get caught on purpose?). So you don't need me to tell you this movie rocks, it's Heat with superheroes thrown in, great acting, great story, well shot action scenes, and a killer soundtrack. Also, props must be given to the Director of Photography Wally Pfister. I know when Hollywood execs think 'grim and gritty' they immediately want a movie with a gray-ish color palette (looking at you BvS!), but this film reminds us that a film can be thematically gritty while having... you know... a color palette of more than one color. So, if you have the time, give it a watch and be reminded why this film is a modern classic."

Adam: "I’m looking forward to finishing my own retrospective of Mission Impossible films with 2018’s Mission Impossible: Fallout. It will be interesting to see if the role that caused “moustache-gate” just couldn’t be done without that majestic piece of facial hair Henry Cavill is sporting. In other news, I’ve been recently made aware of the film Money Plane (2020) and cannot wait to spend time allowing this experience to wash over me!