hot takes: vol. 1

i binged netflix for like two weeks, get READY for some HOT TAKES

CITY OF LOST CHILDREN was: REMARKABLE. delightfully bizarre. driven by a relentlessly creative series of events that play out within elaborate set-pieces. unique in a way that most films could never dream of.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was: DISAPPOINTING. Anthony Hopkins is a genius surrounded by peasants.

JESSICA JONES was: DECENT. desperately needed comic relief. creative use of an excellent villain. cool way to tackle gender issues, but left me feeling emotionless at the end.

LUKE CAGE was: ACCEPTABLE. felt really similar to Jessica Jones in pacing and tone. refreshing to see an all-black cast without tired racial stereotypes. relationships between characters mostly felt forced. better than most Marvel fare.

SPEED RACER (2008) was: SURPRISING. visually intense, hyper-exaggerated, massively eccentric both to its benefit and fault. charming enough to smooth over some of its failures. it knew what it was about and stuck to its guns. terrible casting for the main character, excellent supporting cast. not for everyone.

GOMORRAH (2008) was: MEDIOCRE. like City of God without compelling characters or relationships. has the trappings of a gangster/mob flick, but lacks the requisite insight into power structures or delightful confusion of empathizing with bad people.

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT was: UNCOMPELLING. it reminded me of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, where the novelty of the technique being employed merits credit, but is still mostly a distraction. couldn’t get myself to care about the main character or his arc.

PARKS AND RECREATION was: DELIGHTFUL. i originally had it boxed in as a different flavor of the Office, but it is far superior. every character is worth loving for different reasons, and each has a unique kind of relationship to other characters in the show. they significantly evolve without losing their core identity. the writing is consistently good. it ends on an incredibly high note – one of the finest conclusions to a series I’ve seen.

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 was: EHHH. lacked most of the oomph of the first.

LOGAN was: ADEQUATE. the first half of the movie was genuinely great. the banter between Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart is gold. the second half is worthless.


hot takes for your SATURDAY AFTERNOON

AMERICAN VANDAL was: GOOD. much better than you would imagine a mockumentary about drawing dicks to be. it’s fun to watch them squeeze eight full episodes out of it without going flat. the way it incorporates instagram / facebook / snapchat everywhere in its storytelling makes it a genuine product of its time. it’ll be fun to revisit this in a decade or two.

THE SOPRANOS was: STILL GOOD. my first end-to-end rewatch since it ended ten years ago. first few seasons are definitely stronger; as it gets into the 5th season, you can tell it’s wearing thin on a lot of interactions. but it’s still just fucking great television. deep, evolving characters and relationships, that delicious dissonance of empathizing with terrible people, even rooting for them. a slice of the 90’s with its high-waisted pants and a glance at the before-and-after of 9/11. i won’t defend the ending, but i still think it’s fine.

BABY DRIVER was: ECSTASY. my god i loved this. not a perfect movie at all – shoulda been much shorter and it’s more of an action flick than it needs to be. but it’s goddamn clever, stuffed to the gills with pop culture savvy and a love for music.

also wow the latest season of GOT was utter balls. it’s sad to watch the series sink like that, but ultimately i’m not that upset. they got 4 or 5 good seasons out there. it had its time, and it was a good while it lasted.


oh hey what’s that oh oh it’s more HOT TAKES

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS was: CREATIVE. i won’t tell you this movie is good, but it’s a visual feast and i will always enjoy a movie that shows me something weird and flavorful. it’s kind of in the neighborhood of Speed Racer or Pacific Rim.

CREED (2015) was: COMPETENT. it’s just a well-made movie. the characters have depth, the relationships evolve, and it feels like a fresh, modern update to an old story.

STRANGER THINGS S2 was: TIRED. the main villain is just a horde of feral dogs. the 80’s references felt more ham-fisted. that said, i really enjoyed the interactions between Dustin and Steve.

MEN IN BLACK (1997) was: CLASSIC. i hadn’t watched this in at least 15 years, and it has aged delightfully well. it’s gross and silly but, again, creative and fun. it’s also got a lot of cute New York humor that totally flew over my head as a kid.

MORTAL KOMBAT (1995) was: STILL FUN TO MOCK. it’s the right kind of bad movie for the non-stop peanut gallery.

CLOUD ATLAS was: INSTANTLY FORGETTABLE. a mess of cheesy dialogue and heavy-handed motifs strung together with a plot that offers no real engagement or thrill. i watched it like a month ago and honestly can’t remember the main arc.

WONDER WOMAN was: LIFELESS. i’m definitely burning out on superhero movies, that’s for sure. but i heard boatloads of praise for this as a feminist masterpiece and i don’t see it at all. she gets dragged around london getting dolled up as the beautiful-but-naive foreigner while all the men around tell her what she needs to do. as far as female empowerment in action movies go, this doesn’t come close to Mad Max.

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