Heavy Watch: Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak @netflix #science #virus #flu #COVID-19 #pandemic #PickleRick #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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I do not want to discuss politics on this blog (or the GSLLC twitter stream), so I always do my best to avoid it. I will fail miserably tonight.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak is streaming on Netflix, and it’s a good look at the work that the relevant health workers and scientists do to keep the next, big, contagious disease at bay. This involves both the natural and political forces that work against vaccines and other forms of treatment. It’s a limited series of six episodes, each of which is less than an hour.

Much of the episodes discusses influenza (i.e., “the flu”). During the debates over SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19, I hear many people reference the flu, asking, “How is this any different than the flu? Why don’t we make a big deal out of the flu?” Forgetting the medical differences between those viruses, the key takeaway from the discussions on the flu is that we really should be making a bigger deal out of the flu, if for no other reason that it will help us develop better strategies against even more serious diseases. However, the flu is certainly worth wiping from the face of the planet. It’s bad enough on its own.

I’m a science guy, but for what it’s worth, I thought this was an important show. As always, YMMV.

Pickle Rick!
Pickle Rick! (Seriously, if you don’t like masks, make them fun.)

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Good Watch: Fear City: New York vs the Mafia @CurtisSliwa @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Fear City: New York vs the Mafia is a 3-episode, limited-run series on Netflix. Each episode approaches one hour, so it’s a relatively quick watch. There’s nothing deceptive about its format; it’s a show about the mob in New York, but this show is from the perspective of those that fought back, including legal academia, law enforcement, and private citizens such as the Guardian Angels.

You either find these stories interesting or you don’t. FWIW, I find them interesting, and this show had my attention throughout. As always, YMMV.

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“Ummm, what?” Watch: Norsemen @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Season 3 of Norsemen just hit Netflix. Here’s the good news. Though produced in Norway, it’s in English. Also, there are only six, 30-minute episodes, meaning it’s a waste of only three hours of your time. You wouldn’t know this if I weren’t a completionist that has to finish what he started.

The show’s primary problem is that it tries to strike a compromise between drama and comedy. Many shows pull that off, but Norsemen fails at both. First, it wasn’t funny. I suppose that the jokes are funny in Norway, but there’s very little that garnered even a snicker from me. I could tell they were trying, though, but that somehow made it worse; cringe-worthy even. Second, it fails dramatically because the characters aren’t meant to be likable, but the attempts at humor prevent you from truly hating the bad ones (i.e., you don’t get any satisfaction from a bad guy receiving his comeuppance). There’s also some behavior that’s just plain weird. It’s hard to articulate why, but even though these characters are ancient Vikings from the other side of the Atlantic, cultural differences don’t explain it. They just do some stupid things that are not part of the comedic side of the story. Maybe if the show were funny, the stupid things would have a purpose.

I would suggest that you watch one or two episodes. If the drama and comedy don’t work for you in those one or two episodes, I guarantee it wouldn’t be any different throughout the show. The show doesn’t evolve in the slightest.

As always, YMMV.

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Clever Watch: Interrogation @petersarsgaard @Melinda_McGraw @vincentdonofrio @EricRoberts @CBSAllAccess #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Almost everyone who subscribed to CBS All-Access did so for Star Trek. I have no data to support that assertion beyond myself as a single data point, and I don’t care. As Bill Maher likes to say, “I don’t know it for a fact; I just know it’s true.” I can’t say that I minded having access to CBS during the NFL season when I first subscribed — I hadn’t yet replaced SlingTV with the far superior Hulu Live — but if it weren’t for Star Trek, I wouldn’t have subscribed. It turns out, that was shortsighted. Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone turned out to be pretty decent, and I was able to stream some movies that weren’t available elsewhere in my suite of streaming services. But now I’ve found something really good.

Interrogation was fascinating. It’s story premise is trite: A woman is killed, her drug-addict son is blamed, and his father believes his son didn’t do it. It’s methodology is just as simple but not so trite. With the exception of the first and tenth episodes that bookend season one, the eight other episodes can be watched in whatever order you choose. Each episode takes place somewhere between 1982 and 2005. Thus, episode 3 takes place one year before the murder, and episode 7 takes place one year after the last episode with the big reveal.

Why do this? Because over those decades, the case went cold, and when the police reopen a cold case, they don’t necessarily view the evidence chronologically. If they don’t, you shouldn’t. One thing I didn’t like is that I was given no guidance as to how to watch the episodes, making my choices completely arbitrary. I’d have liked for them to say, “If you want [experience X], watch in order [ABC], but if you want [experience Y], watch in order [CAB].” I’m not sure they could have provided meaningful alternatives in that way, but it’s something to work on for next season. While I started by watching them chronologically, I eventually settled on watching them in episode order. That was far superior.

You may be thinking, “Don’t other films and shows do this sort of thing?” Yes, but I don’t often see the time jumps as important at all to the story, and sometimes I find it distracting, bringing down the movie. That is, it’s sometimes nothing more than a cheap gimmick. Not so with Interrogation, which was a puzzle, and the back and forth through time was part of that puzzle. It’s the same thing, but still different. I see this as an example of a show that does time jumps correctly and with a purpose. In my opinion, that’s rare.

I should also mention that it has a good cast, including some solid veterans you’re bound to recognize (e.g., David Strathairn, Peter Sarsgaard, Melinda McGraw, Eric Roberts, and Vincent D’Onofrio playing a cop of course 🙂 ).

I really like this show and hope for a season 2. As always, YMMV.

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Meh Watch: Unsolved Mysteries (I’m soooo sorry!) @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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I never saw a single episode of the original Unsolved Mysteries, but many in my social media stream seem to love it. They seem very happy that it’s back and feel this iteration lives up to the old show. For that reason, I didn’t really want to post something that rains on their parade. I’ve done that enough sporadically through this blog. (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of the worst movies ever.) That said, I felt I had to talk about this one in order to offer up a huge mea culpa.

Mea Cupla!

The whole time I’m watching these episodes, I’m bored as hell, and that’s not a good thing. These are unsolved mysteries, one of which took place in Baltimore, which is relatively close to where I grew up. Watching these episodes is a public service. If there’s any chance of me helping to solve one of these mysteries, I’m going to have to watch them. So I did. All of them. But I was bored. I sincerely hope many of you disagree.

Except for the UFO episode. That’s bullshit. As always, YMMV.

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Below Average Watch: #Stardust @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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I had never heard of 2007’s Stardust before someone recently posted about it on Facebook. He said he loved it, and it’s streaming on Netflix, so I thought I’d give it a chance.

Bleck!

I was bored to tears. By the time it picked up a little bit, I was so un-invested (<- not really a word, but you know what I mean) in the characters that it was too late to win me over. The story follows a half-faerie guy who looks like Daredevil and goes on a mission to save Claire Danes, who’s really a comet or something. Ugh. So trite and poorly executed. It’s based on a 1999 book by Neil Gaiman, and the cast was incredible (Mark Strong, Robert Deniro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O’Toole, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, the best Superman, and so many others), so I really expected to like it. I didn’t, and I stand with but a few.

I know. “Bad nerd!” As always, YMMV.

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Bizarre Watch: #Rubber #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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What the hell was that? I just watched a movie about a car tire with supernatural powers that goes on a killing spree. Why? No reason. It was a movie within a movie, but not really. I dunno. Was this a horror movie? People and animals exploded. Was it a comedy? I laughed out loud only once when someone spoke. It cycled through the two genres. This is a bizarre film that spun me around, but it’s entirely self-aware, so that’s a good thing. In fact, it’s been a good year for streaming movies despite the occasional poison.

Rubber is streaming on Crackle, but those turkeys don’t appear to have their own Twitter handle. You can watch movies with commercials, but not once did a commercial pop up during the 80-minute (or so) runtime.

I can’t say it’s “good,” but I was driven to watch this, and so should you be. As always, your mileage may vary.

Wheel.

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Slightly Above Average Watch: #Anon @AmandaSeyfried @netflix #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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This is another movie that’s been sitting in my Netflix queue for years, but until the pandemic, I never bothered to watch it. I’m not into what the general public would call horror movies. To me, this movie is a horror movie. It takes place in a world in which all privacy is gone. Everyone’s experiences are cataloged digitally through medical implants, and that record is accessed by cops during interrogation. What happens? What do you think? A killer finds a way to hack the system, and that means there are false memories and deleted memories corrupting the evidentiary process. When they try to catch the killer, things get really bad.

This was scary fun for me. As always, YMMV.

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Worst Watch: Almighty #Thor @peacockTV #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Almighty Thor (2011) is streaming on NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock TV. It was absolutely horrible, which is to be expected. It has Highlander 2 numbers over on Rotten Tomatoes, with an 8% from the audience and a didn’t-even-bother-to-watch from the critics. It also stars Richard Grieco and Kevin Nash. Never a good sign.

Last Friday, I said I was an apologist for mythology movies, which makes that hard to square with my hatred of this movie. Let’s hammer that out a bit. When I say, “apologist for mythology movies,” I mean that I tolerate poor writing and the liberties writers often take with the source material in the interests of drama. But this is more than just “taking liberties.” This is more like “taking names.” That is, it’s like taking names from Norse mythology and placing them on characters from a completely different story. I hate to say this, but the guy who played Baldr wasn’t nearly qualified to play a god of beauty. Of course, he wasn’t actually playing Baldr because there was absolutely nothing right about this movie. We would have all forgiven the complete destruction of Los Angeles, but they didn’t even get that right. (Yeah, I said “Los Angeles.”)

This reminds me of movies that use the intellectual property for past movies in order to guarantee legacy viewership, but wipe out the original stories altogether, thus pissing off that legacy fan base. I wouldn’t say I’m pissed me off here (maybe at myself for watching it), because no one harms me by making a movie that I didn’t have to pay to see, but it was really bad, from the acting to the sound to the visuals to the writing. The reviews highlighted on the movie’s Wikipedia page are funny.

My preferred pantheon is that of the Norsemen, but that didn’t save this movie. As always, YMMV. Well, not really. You’ll agree. This objectively sucked. F-. They should all be expelled from film school and banned from watching movies ever again.

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Excellent Watch: The Old Guard #movie #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife @CharlizeAfrica @Netflix

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I was not expecting to like this movie because of how trite the premise is, but I absolutely did. “A group of mercenaries, all centuries-old immortals with the ability to heal themselves, discover someone is onto their secret, and they must fight to protect their freedom.” Seriously? Haven’t there been enough movies like this? None of you are going to improve upon the Highlander!

But this was really good. Charlize Theron plays the oldest among four immortals now acting as mercenaries. As their leader, she’s been guiding their actions in an unexpected way. In addition to what’s written above, the crux of the movie is that a new immortal is “born” for the first time in centuries. The movie has a few nice touches throughout, not the least of which is a horrific incident occurring in Ms. Theron’s backstory. Chiwetel Ejiofor is pretty good in it as well, but when is he not?

I know, I know. How could I possibly get behind this? Well, it’s all in the execution. There’s obviously going to be a sequel, and I’ll set a Netflix reminder for it.

As always, YMMV, but if you don’t like it, you’re in the minority.

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