Good Watch: The Last Blockbuster @blockbuster @netflix #Blockbuster #GoodWatch #movie

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I finally caught the Last Blockbuster on Netflix. It was an interesting telling of how Blockbuster failed. Absolutely nothing was a surprise. Blockbuster died because technology changed; everyone knows that. I was disappointed that they tried to spin its demise, refusing to admit that Netflix, et al. killed it. The argument is that Blockbuster died because they didn’t have the capital to invest in streaming technology. Well, yeah. Duh. We know that. When we say “Netflix killed Blockbuster,” what we’re all really saying is “streaming technology killed the video rental business.” Nothing in the documentary proved otherwise.

Great. Now I’ve developed another nervous tic.

Nevertheless, it was, as I said, and interesting telling. I love learning about history regardless of how recent it was.

No Nostalgia Here

What surprised me the most about the show was my own emotional reaction. I really don’t care. That is, despite renting videos being a huge part of my teenage life, it was kind of a pain in the neck. I’m not immune to nostalgia. Most of the people who have ever read this blog have done so only because nostalgia brought me back to D&D 24 years after the Satanic Panic took it away from me. I have the same love of childhood garbage food that all of you have. However, renting videos wasn’t without cost.

First, my parents had to get with the program and actually buy a VCR. That took a while. Second, it was about a 1.5 mile (each way) walk to get to the video rental store. There are also occasional war stories related to renting videos. For example, I’m a middle child, and when I say I’m a middle child, I mean I’m the middle child, as in the poster child of middle children. Look it up in your dictionary. If my picture isn’t there, buy a new dictionary. Ergo, I never got to pick what movies I wanted unless I took matters into my own hands, and even then, I had to wait my turn for the VCR, which sometimes never came. That leads me to a specific war story. My cousin and I once rented Bachelor Party. We were in high school and didn’t have credit cards, so to rent it (without our parents’ assistance), we had to put down (IIRC) a $75 deposit (that’s $187 in 2021 money . . . for a high school student). We were dipshits.

Overall, I suspect I have more fond memories of renting movies than poor ones, but I just don’t miss it. I can imagine how inconvenient it would be if I still had to do that. As I type this, Netflix proceeded directly to Stowaway. I like being able to just grab movies at the touch of a button … errrr, click of a mouse. Of course, you all probably agree with that, but nostalgia isn’t really about actually wanting to go back, but rather about remembering what was going on in your life at that point. Well, I’m a big movie theater guy, so going to the movie theater is still a far more enjoyable experience than renting and watching a video at home. I suspect that’s why this documentary didn’t pull at any heartstrings. Perhaps I’ll have a nostalgic reaction when and if movie theaters die. (Fuck you, COVID-19.)

Still a good documentary. As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: Excalibur @Tubi #movie #Excalibur #music #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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This past weekend, I discovered that John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) was available to stream on Tubi. In case you didn’t know, Tubi is a free streaming service with commercials, and it’s often useful for watching movies showing on pay services to which I don’t subscribe. I took advantage of a rare day of not working out and re-watched it.

To me, Excalibur is a classic, and it has a moderately funny story behind it (for me). My dad was always present but never paying attention. He left our upbringing to our mother, taking interest only when our interests collided with his. So, if you weren’t playing tennis, playing chess, or visiting the Renaissance Festival, you were a nuisance. He wasn’t cruel; just uninterested. When Excalibur came out, both he and I were interested in seeing it. I was a mythology buff, and he a history buff, and the movie appealed to both of us. Well, I was 13, and when my mother found out how much nudity was in it, she blew a gasket. Of course, my dad was pissed off at me because I was the one that told her.

That was a fun day.

My Impression

Nudity aside, I loved the movie. I was familiar with the basics of Authurian legends and wanted more. The next time I saw the movie was in high school, which were the days of VHS movie rentals. My cousin and I rented it, and my view had changed. I found the base storyline just as interesting but the delivery goofy at times. Also, being a high school kid, I was a bit put off by seeing Sir Lancelot’s nut sack. This weekend was the third time I had seen it, and it was fantastic, errrr … nut sack and all.

It’s a quick telling of the Arthurian legends, taking some liberties with the story in the interests of getting the story told in less than 8 hours. What’s not to love about that? I’m sure many readers agree, so I’m not going to dwell on any of that. Instead, I’m going to point out something I found interesting and unusual.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is, as one would expect, filled with grandiose, classical music pieces. However, what’s interesting about it is that the music never played (to my recollection) during the battle scenes. All you heard was the sound of battle, and that produced a chilling effect. Because I’m a nerd, I’m reminded of an observation Lt. Cmdr. Data made about alien poetry that often included pauses that could last for days. That seems ridiculous, but pauses do have value. They’re analogous to negative space used in graphic arts, such as the arrow in the FedEx logo between the ‘e’ and ‘x,’ and this effect was used very well by John Boorman here.

As always, YMMV, though how could you not like Excalibur?

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Historic Watch: Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan @Netflix #Japan #Samurai

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A new docuseries just dropped on Netflix this past week, and I watched all six, 45-minute (or so) episodes on Saturday. Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan discusses the quest for power in 1500s Japan. It’s presented through recreations narrated by historians. As you should expect, those from the 16th century seeking to rule a nation were often cruel and selfish. Some were arguably insane. All of them, however, were master tacticians, and some of their techniques have earned the respect of modern militaries.

I read a thread on Reddit in which several people stated that they didn’t like how the show was presented. For example, when the show cuts away to the historians, “who where paid to speak like stupid 9th graders,” the video goes to black and white for dramatic effect. Another stated he “had to turn it off with all this pandering.” I find all of this criticism to be at best inaccurate and at worst dishonest. Yes, the historians made sure to present the material as dramatically as possible, but they didn’t sound like they were in high school. The black and white shots provided a clear contrast between reenactment and dialogue. It’s a nice effect. Finally, I don’t see how there was any “pandering.” Japanese honor is often romanticized, and this show doesn’t do that at all. It clearly shows how cruel, deceitful, and selfish these leaders were.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the audience approval sits at 57%. Technically, I’m in the majority, but that’s considered a bad score. But none of the commenters disputed the truth of what was presented, and that’s what matters to me. Unless you’re a true student of history (I’m not), there are a lot of interesting, significant events in history of which you’ll never scratch the surface. This series helps in that regard.

As always, YMMV.

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Current Watch: Future Man @jhutch1992 @ImKeithDavid @futuremanonhulu #FutureMan

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I mentioned this past weekend that I’ve found my next streaming obsession, Resident Alien. However, that show is currently being aired, which means I can’t binge watch it. That leaves me with a hole in my viewing schedule. Well, I suspect many of you have repeatedly seen that same clip in a Hulu commercial where Abe Lincoln says he’s having the worst theater experience in his life, and Jesus thinks he’s an idiot for saying so. Some quick internet sleuthing informed me that the clip is from Future Man, so I decided I’d watch it.

I finished season one over the weekend and am about halfway through season two, which was easy to do because each episode is about 25 minutes (as opposed to 50 minutes). It was okay, but I’m still intrigued by the clip. It’s not getting better, but I’m confident it will because I learned Seth Rogan will eventually show up. (Believe it or not, I like Seth Rogan a lot.) Like Resident Alien, it’s a dramedy with a bit of science fiction. If you’re into video games (I’m not), that’s mildly relevant to the show and may make it a bit more interesting for you. If you’re into the Hunger Games, the lead is someone from that cast, Josh Hutcherson, but the supporting cast is pretty good. In fact, I love Keith David, and he plays an important role in season one. He’s worth the price of admission by himself.

Here’s a review from Looper that coincidentally hit my stream today. Google is watching me!

As always, YMMV.

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My Next Watch: Resident Alien @AlanTudyk @ResidentAlien @SYFY #ResidentAlien #SyFy

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I’ve found my next streaming obsession. I think. The SyFy channel has a new show called Resident Alien. It stars Alan Tudyk as an alien, Harry, living in a small town in Colorado. If, like me, you’re into science fiction and so-called dramedies, this could be for you as well.

But as I’ve said before, you shouldn’t care about someone else’s opinion about a show unless you understand why they hold that opinion. I’m a Star Trek fan (duh!), and one of my favorite aspects of the show is how they examine humans from an outsider’s perspective. Humans are stupid; even the smart ones. Our emotions make us do silly things. Spock and Data are both characters that make interesting observations about how this occurs, but they also show how such a thing can be a strength. Our emotional connection to others is the essence of what makes us “social creatures,” which leads to tribal cooperation and eventually to civilization. Harry, does this very well. If this is up your alley, then this may appeal to your interests.

I wish I had a psychology degree.

One thing that’s different: Harry is definitely a bad guy. Like Vic Mackie from The Shield, he’s an anti-hero, but being largely comedic and clearly involved in a moral growth process, my guess is that the resident alien will come around to the good side. We’ll have to see, because this is a new show, and as of this moment, only four episodes have aired.

As always, YMMV.

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Relevant Watch: The Next Karate Kid @CobraKaiSeries @McSchlossberg @healdrules @jonhurwitz @ralphmacchio @WilliamZabka @MartinKove @Xolo_Mariduena @marymmouser @KarateKidMovie @netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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Cobra Kai inspired me to watch the often-maligned Next Karate Kid, which I recently learned is on Netflix. It wasn’t Highlander 2 bad, but it was bad, and I was happy when the final credits rolled. I just wanted it to be over. The writing was garbage, but you could still tell that Hilary Swank was going to become a good actor. I love when movies connect (perhaps explaining my obsession with the MCU), so despite its weaknesses, it would be great to see her in a future season of Cobra Kai. The primary villain, Michael Cavalieri, could return, as could Michael Ironside (who really sucked in this) and Jim Ishida. Ishida is the one still-living actor that played a monk. Hell, Walter Goggins could return. Walter Goggins! Despite all its flaws, I’d love to see this movie recognized in Cobra Kai.

After all, it’s not as if Karate Kid III deserved any awards, but we all want to see Terry Silver and Mike Barnes, right? As always, YMMV.

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“Screw You!” Watch: Surviving Death @netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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I’ve watched only one and one-half of the six, 50-minute (or so) episodes of this show. That’s enough. This is an important show to watch, but not for the reasons the show advances. It’s important to see how low humans can get. It’s important to see how assholes will take advantage of peoples’ trauma to make a buck, leaning on the trivial point that “we don’t know everything” to justify making up bullshit at which traumatized people will throw their money. Seriously, to hell with anyone who gives these charlatans a voice.

That’s not to say that this couldn’t be a good show. It could be. There are patterns to near-death experiences that are impossible to ignore, but they should be studied from a psychological perspective to know why we perceive what we do.

Screw you! As always, YMMV.

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Apocalyptic Watch: #Spycraft @eoneill @netflix #netflix #GoodWatch

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I just finished Spycraft on Netflix. At first, my thoughts were, “Great. Even more ways in which I have no privacy. Maybe I should take more seriously all these spam emails that claim to have me compromised.” It eventually got worse. Much worse. Now I’m thinking, “Oh, so Armageddon is a real thing. I didn’t know that.” Well, then . . .

“So murder and mayhem. Standard procedure.” (1:58)

This was quite horrifying and educational even though I’m apathetic and technically literate (if not a bit behind the curve after all these years of lawyering). The one thing I didn’t like is that they addressed Robert Hanssen without interviewing Eric O’Neill (or even mentioning him). Eric’s a friend and was the center of the operation that caught Hansen. But that means nothing to most of you.

This was far better than the Social Dilemma. I actually learned something with this one. As always, YMMV.

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Classic Movies: Top Secret @valkilmer @CBSAllAccess #TopSecret #movie #CBSAllAccess #ClassicMovie #GoodWatch

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The other day, I was thinking, “I’d really like to see Top Secret again.” This weekend, I watched the latest episode of the Stand, and afterwards went browsing through the movie list on CBS All Access and found — you guessed it — Top Secret.

This category, Classic Watch, is reserved for classic movies like Casablanca and Citizen Kane. Perhaps it was inappropriate to include the Nightmare Before Christmas, but I make no apologies for including this one. This movie is a classic as far as I’m concerned. It’s stupid fun. Some of the gags were dated, in part because younger people won’t get the references (e.g., the exploding Ford Pinto), and in other part because people today are far more sensitive than they were in the 80s. I must admit that the latter makes me snicker a little bit.

As always, YMMV.

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Improved Watch: Disenchantment, Season 3 @disenchantment @netflix #Disenchantment #netflix

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I watched the third season of Disenchantment this weekend via Netflix. The first two seasons were a big meh for me, but I kept going back to the well because I’m such a huge fan of Futurama. Just hearing, for example, the voice of Mom’s oldest son now recast as “Eyeball” makes me laugh a little bit. But this third season was a definite improvement. There were several gags that made me laugh out loud during the first two-thirds of the season.

That said, it wasn’t all good. The writing inexplicably returned to its stale, unfunny self by the last few episodes, relying instead on its cliffhangers to keep us watching. Why? Also, the fate that befell King Zog was supposed to be funny and sympathetic. It was neither. It dragged on way too long and became annoying quickly.

So, was it worth the watch? For the most part, yes, but it’s still having troubles. It’s taking far too long to hit its stride. If it keeps getting better, I’ll keep watching, but if season 4 is a step backwards, it’ll be the last season I watch. If it gets cancelled, I won’t miss it. There’s too much good content out there waiting for me.

As always, YMMV.

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