Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Media Update 1/21/21

January 21, 2021

Soul

I have been a fan of Pixar since they premiered their first feature film in 1995. Toy Story made me consider a job in animation for a short while as a teen. The company has a lot of hits and very few misses. When I saw advertisements for Soul, I was absolutely excited because people of color are still underrepresented in Disney fiction. This movie also corrected a lot of earlier mistakes by actually hiring on writers, consultants, and eventually a co-director who experienced and therefore understood black culture. That way they could tell a truly nuanced and authentic story and they succeeded. Jamie Foxx stars as a music teacher who is questioning his life. Tina Fey plays an unborn soul who has grown cynical. Graham Norton plays a hippie with a strange mystic background. The cast is rounded out by brilliant performances from Angela Bassett, Questlove, Richard Ayoade, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Donnell Rawlings and more. It is such a poignant story about what we do with our lives and how our plans change when life happens. I have heard people say that this was “Mid-Life Crisis: The Movie” but it is so much more. It is about culture, love, creativity, desire, and so many other things. I definitely recommend this movie.

Trolls World Tour

Dreamworks feels to me like it has more misses than hits but they are starting to pick things up in the past few years. Trolls was a movie that completely took me off guard. I was expecting a fun poppy movie (pun intended) with colorful animation and good music. The movie ended up being smarter than I expected. Trolls World Tour was a repeat of that phenomenon but to an even greater magnitude. This movie was way heavier than I thought it would be and had a great message. Ana Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return to anchor the movie again and are given a lot more to work with as it relates to emotional depth. Ron Funches returns with a much expanded role. Newcomers Anderson .Paak, Sam Rockwell, Kelly Clarkson, and Kenan Thompson really knocked it out of the park as new characters. Rachel Bloom plays the antagonist and does great as a heavy metal goddess. A special shout out to legends George Clinton and Mary J. Blige for rocking small but very important roles in the movie. The movie also displays more of a musical range as Pop is joined by Funk, Hip Hop, Rock, Country, Classical, Techno, Yodeling, Reggaeton, KPop, and even Smooth Jazz. It makes for a very interesting soundtrack which is mostly made up of good covers. I recommend this movie.

Over the Moon

Glen Keane has been an animator since the seventies and particularly worked for Disney on legendary projects like Beauty & The Beast, The Princess and the Frog, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Frozen and more. He recently left Disney and this is first time in the Director’s chair. He was joined by Audrey Wells, Jennifer Yee McDevitt, Alice Wu, and John Kahrs to create an authentically Chinese and human story. The movie follows a young girl played by relative newcomer Cathy Ang. She does such a great job of portraying a vulnerable yet headstrong preteen girl. Another relative newcomer plays a lovably annoying young kid who she is thrown together with. She has great chemistry with her family played by John Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles, Sandra Oh, Margaret Cho, and Kimiko Glenn. They all give such warm performances that I wanted to hang out at their dinner table. Ken Jeong plays a lovable yet fairly annoying goofball (really a Dreamworks staple). Finally, the great Phillipa Soo plays a headstrong woman who is hiding vulnerability and she is so, so good at it. The original songs are all very beautiful and/or catchy. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Aunty Donna – Chuffed (Dad Song)

Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood

Phillipa Soo – Ultraluminary

Seven Lions Feat. Runn – Calling You Home

Mashup of the Week:

Oneboredjeu – X Gon Give It To Ya Maybe

Weekly Update
This week’s theme is “Loss and Music in Animation”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
Special Shoutout to Jenny Nicholson’s 2 hour and 30 min video on The Vampire Diaries
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I finished watching Numbers Season 5
I watched City of the Dead (Rifftrax Version)
I watched House on Haunted Hill (Rifftrax Version)
I watched The Hideous Sun Demon (Rifftrax Version)

Hypnospace Outlaw

January 18, 2021

As the trailer above illustrates, the basic premise for Hypnospace Outlaw is what if somebody in 1998 had invented technology to allow people to surf the Internet while they sleep. Two brothers, a programmer and a money guy, put together a company called MerchantSoft that creates a device and platform to create webpages and send emails while dreaming. This is called Hypnospace and it quickly becomes the new fad despite rumors that the new technology might not be safe. With the surge in traffic, you are tapped to act as an “Enforcer” which is bascially a content moderator. You are given categories of content which is against the terms of service and must be elliminated. You mark things for review and are given Internet bucks for correct selections.

You start pretty easy with the mission to enforce copyright violations. You go after the older generation of Goodtime Valley who have decided to stamp everything they own with popular comic strip character Gumshoe Gooper. You earn no friends as you basically break all of their JPGs because of their harmless violations of the rights of the cartoonist’s estate. During this phase you spend a lot of time getting to know the cast of characters in your jurisdiction. You also need to learn (or in my case relearn) how to navigate pre-2000s webspace.

Next on your todo list is stamping out harassment in the Teentopia section. A lot of it boils down to a feud between two teenagers named Zane and Corey. The two are merciless about mocking each other even though your detective work finds that the two are not as different as they seem. Zane is an ultra-edgy dude who draws comics making fun of Corey while Corey creates the Zane Sucks Club. It is really a pleasure to squash these squabbling fools.

You then are tasked with tracking down illegal software dedicated to extralegal commerce. Basically, a couple third-party businesses are using a banned form of currency called Capacash. These businesses have locked their paysites behind passwords or otherwise hidden their sites. In order to find them, you actually have to infect your set up with adware which creates popups that send you these sites.

After that it is on to more serious business as you must track down the source of a virus which is causing shock images. Since it is a teen who is behind it, the images are actually quite tame. Still, the virus is really annoying people on the platform and you have to track it down. You descend in the world of Tim who is a wannabe hacker who unleashes a virus in order to win back his ex-girlfriend.

You are back at it again when you must go after a bit of “malware” created to provide a speed boost to people’s surfing. It works but it is unauthorized and creates an annoying pop up. In order to track down the program’s source you have to infliltrate an unlisted section of Hypnospace created by disgruntled Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Video Games, Techie, and Comic Book fans. They are disgruntled because they have been brushed aside by MerchantSoft so that they could focus on the mainstream (forgetting that nerds and geeks were the backbone of the Internet at the time). This investigation leads to the firing of a MerchantSoft programmer who is the ringleader.

You then have to get to the really serious business of illegal downloading and uploading of music files. You need to stalk through a file sharing service called FLST. Every user has their own FLST site which works much like platforms like Napster and Kazaa. This is an underground solution for what was fomerly an official service that ran into too many legal problems. You start nailing these criminals and eventually find out that the head of MerchantSoft is engaging in a lot of this activity. Reporting Dylan Merchant pisses him off and you get fired.

Because of the continued chaos of traffic of New Year’s Eve, you are somehow rehired. Tim the Hacker is back at it again with another desperate attempt to win back Tiffany. This time he has created a virus called the Y2000 Mindcrash Attack which warns users of an imminent attack by Tim. The virus can only be shutdown if Tiffany performs a certain input into a webpage. The problem is that Tiffany seems to be nowhere around so you have to do it for her to save the rest of Hypnospace. You have to investigate more of Tim and Tiffany’s lonely corners of Hypnospace in order to solve the problem. Even when you succeed, Hypnospace still crashes which fries a lot of people’s brains leading to injury and death.

Flashforward to the “Present Day” where you are recruited to join four other members of the Hypnospace Archival Project. The project is tasked with cataloguing and saving what is left of Hypnospace. However, you are secretly tapped to instead carry out two investigations. The first is to prove that MerchantSoft knew the dangers that the technology posed. The second is to locate an admission of guilt from MerchantSoft that they caused the crash which harmed or killed people. You discover a hidden hacker collective existing on unlisted pages. They were trying to expose MerchantSoft and one of them managed to store a lot of evidence. It turns out that the year 2000 update from MerchantSoft actually caused the crisis. They cast blame on teen hacker Tim who was sent to prison for the remainder of his teens and was left with great remorse over his actions. This leads to a public confession from MerchantSoft and a proper memorial for the deceased.

The game is absolutely a fun parody of the Internet around the time complete with broken code and a lot of the goofiness of the Internet when it was truly the Wild West. They did a lot of worldbuilding by creating a lot of original content. I am especially impressed by all of the original music created for the game. You get both full songs and little commercial jingles which are all delightful (even the annoying ones). The game is entirely point and click and involves detective work and puzzle solving. It is a great game.

Media Update 1/14/21

January 14, 2021

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun

I had never heard of this Australian comedy group before so I did not know what to expect beyond the above trailer. Whatever they were doing looked fun but I had no idea what I was really in for. The show is legitimately insanely funny and it is one of the rare comedy series where I legitimately did not know what was going to happen next and was blindsided repeatedly. Each of the six episodes gets a theme and a series of sketches follow that theme at least tangentially. Broden Kelly, Mark Bonnano, and Zachary Ruane are the three rambunctious guys who are equally at home being zany as they are being each others straight man. As they throw on different personas they change in unexpected ways. They are really good at parody, satire, and surreal humor. They also have a host of guest stars like Ed Helms, Michelle Brasier, Kia Stevens, Weird Al, Karan Soni, Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Thompkins, Antony Starr, Ronny Chieng, Kristen Schaal and more. The boys are almost always on screen and dominate the show, of course. I cannot recommend this show enough.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me

If you know me in realspace, you would have heard me rave aout the podcast with the above nname. It is a comedy advice show where the three McElroy brothers (Justin, Travis, Griffin) dispense horrible advice to half-serious questions from listeners and insane questions from Yahoo! Answers. This show is an extension of that while putting the zany yet awkward comedy stylings of the boys on screen. Each episode is devoted to answering a single viewer question. They get the question and then they run around their hometown of Huntington, WV to try to research the problem or try to prove something to themselves and each other. The three brothers have chemistry not only from growing up together but also from being on a weekly podcast together for several years. (Also, two of them worked together for Polygon). The show also features their father Clint McElroy, a DJ for a local Country station who tries to give them advice. It also introduces the comic stylings of the Mayor of Huntington, Stephen Williams. The boys often visit him to get permission for some stunt or another and he does a really good job of keeping up with their improv comedy while getting in a few lines of his own. I recommend both the podcast and this show.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

I was a fan of the View Askewnaverse and I own a lot of the movies on DVD. I was a big fan of Kevin Smith but I feel lately that I have parted ways with what he is doing. Still, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back still has a place in my heart. This movie was a callback to the heyday of Kevin Smith’s career from his present day. It had cameos from a lot of Smith’s old friends and coworkers and his family. The movie attempts to tackle what it is to be middle-aged and a father. Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith return as the main characters and they have a lot of the same chemistry as they always did. Harley Quinn Smith (Smith’s daughter) plays Jay’s estranged daughter and really proves that she is taking this acting thing seriously. She is surrounded by delightful original characters played by Aparna Brielle and Treshelle Edmond. Cameos appear from Dogma, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and a few new additions. The movie was alright as a shot of nostalgia but lacked the quality of the movies it is calling back to. It also winked too much at the audience to focus on actually entertaining. I do not recommend this movie except for huge fans.

Music of the Week

Missy Elliott – Why I Still Love You

Poppy – I Disagree

FiSHBORN 『夜を抜けて』

Nasty Cherry – Win

Mashup of the Week

Angel Munoz – Boys Bringing Sexyback (Lizzo/Justin Timberlake Mashup)

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Them Boys”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more AGDQ 2020
i watched more Elementary Season 3
I watched Rollergator (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Sharkado 2 (Rifftrax Version)
I watched A Talking Cat!?! (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Terror at Tenkiller (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Ator the Fighting Eagle (Rifftrax Version)
I finished Numbers Season 6
I finished Marvel Agents of Shield Season 7 (and thus the series)

The Swarm (1978) – Spoiler Review Pt. 2

January 11, 2021

When we left off last Monday, I was talking about loose plot threads and padding.

  1. Patty Duke is Single and Pregnant

Early in the movie, we hear a recording of the soldiers who were attacked on the base and one of them is bragging about his girlfriend who he is about to propose to. He mentions that she is pregnant and working as a waitress. We actually meet her later and visit her throughout the movie as she struggles with grief and then the chaos around her. She is about to get on the doomed evacuation train when her water breaks and she is brought back to the hospital where she has her baby and starts to fall in love with the head doctor there. It is kind of a sweet story that shows the aftermath of a death in the military but it also has zero impact on the movie.

  1. Maybe Eat Something Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda plays an immunologist whose main contribution is to figure out the lethality of the bee’s venom. He tries to develop an anti-venom throughout the movie after they find living bee subjects. Out of nowhere, late in the movie there is a plot where we find out that he is working so hard that he is not eating meals. He is lightly chastised by Caine who tells him he will get him any meal he could want. At that point, Fonda decides to test the anti-venom on himself. In a very long and tense scene, we watch as Fonda suffers the pain of the venom and then injects himself with the experimental anti-venom. He dies when his vital signs go out of control, proving just how deadly the bees are. He does the test on himself because he correctly reasons that human volunteers for trials would be hard to find on short notice. Except, shouldn’t he have eaten a meal before carrying out this test? He injected himself at his most tired and hungry. No wonder he died.

  1. Richard Chamberlain Goes Boom

A brief thing but Chamberlain plays a scientist who is sent to a nuclear power plant to convince them to shut down and join the evacuation of the path to Houston. They hem and haw over it and the bees end up causing the plant’s destruction leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths (which are only related to the viewer on a news ticker). How much padding is in this movie when a nuclear explosion is a footnote?

  1. Lee Grant Action News

We briefly follow a reporter played by Lee Grant who has been assigned to the Flower Festival and ends up in the middle of a bigger story. She has very little impact on the story except as another body out dodging the swarm during the big Maryville attack. She also has a big scene where she interviews Caine but Caine refuses to comment and they move on. Another great waste of time.

  1. That’s a Big Bee

A small point but in two separate scenes we see a victim of the bees (the boy and Ross) hallucinate a giant bee while suffering. It is a very silly element as you see what looks like a bee the size of a Buick hovering in the air grooming itself. A lot of time is spent on these two scenes. I wonder if they would have been less silly if the victims instead hallucinated that the swarm had gotten into the hospital. That would have been terrifying.

Overall

My mother and I really enjoyed this movie even though it was very, very goofy. A lot of the acting was very good or at least better than it had any business being. I also want to note how ruthless this movie was. There are so many scenes where the bees kill a lot of people including little children. There are several times in the movie where it feels like they should have filmed more takes. For example, Caine is a great actor but sometimes when he was shouting he was unintelligible. Ross delivers a scream in one scene which ended up being comically bad (although really good lung strength). The script needed a bunch of revisions to tighten it up and the various plot threads should have been tidied up and made to actually tie together. However, I feel like that would have made the movie less enjoyable. It is a great B-Movie because it was so bonkers and I would not have typed this much if it was a tight, serious science fiction movie.

Media Update 1/7/21

January 7, 2021

Wonder Woman 1984

I really liked Wonder Woman. Even though it was a bit of a flawed movie, it was still fun. DC received a lot of criticism for their movies being dark so I think they over corrected with this movie. I really wanted to like this movie but it felt like it had absolutely nothing to do with the first movie. This is not necessarily a bad thing but the movie also had very little internal logic in it either. Gal Gadot is once again Wonder Woman/Diana Prince who is personable and charming yet has had no friends for about 65 years. Chris Pine has an unnecessary return as Steve Trevor. He’s fine but why? Kristen Wiig was miscast as an “ugly duckling” character when she is not even Hollywood ugly and she did her usual mugging and running her mouth. Pedro Pascal plays the villain as basically the love child of Nathan Fillion and Kyle MacLachlan. Nothing makes sense within the movie, the pacing is off, and the tone is weird. There are a lot of good parts to this movie but they just did not fit it together well. I do not recommend this movie. Watch Birds of Prey again instead.

Stargirl

I fell in love with the Justice Society of America comics and absolutely loved the revival in 1999 which showed more of a merging of the older JSA with a new generation. Those books popularized Courtney Whitmore being passed the torch from Starman and the Star-Spangled Kid. This show is an adaptation of that story. Brec Bassinger is great as Courtney, a girl kind of lost in life who finds superheroics and a purpose to carry her through. Luke Wilson plays her stepfather, a link to the past and an all-around good guy. Courtney’s mom and her stepbrother (played by Amy Smart and Trae Romano) are great comic relief. There is an ensemble cast which is just starting to play a role three episodes in. The show has a great throwback feel to it while still being modern. It helps to bridge the feel of the old days and the new generation. The chemistry between Wilson and Bassinger is so good as well. I definitely recommend this show.

Titans

I have read every incarnation of the Teen Titans and I will continue to watch any adaptation of them. This show seemed to be kind of an adaptation of when the original Teen Titans reformed in their adult years mixed with an origin story. The show follows Robin (Dick Grayson), Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven, Hawk, Dove, and more. I am only three episodes in but the show has a manageably dark tone with a fun cast. Brenton Thwaites is a great Dick Grayson, a little dark but with a good heart much like the early Nightwing days. Teagan Croft plays a sarcastic yet vulnerable Raven who feels like the heart of the show. Anna Diop plays Starfire, more of the badass she was in the comics than the carefree spirit in other adaptations. Minka Kelly and Alan Ritchson play Dove and Hawk, a pair of hardened superheroes. I like how the story is turning and twisting and slowly weaving together so far and I look forward to three whole seasons of it. I recommend this show as well.

Music of the Week:

MF DOOM – One Beer

Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire

Carpenter Brut – Beware the Beast

Billie Eilish – Therefore I Am

Mashup of the Week

DJ Cummerbund – Play That Funky Music Rammstein

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “A Heroic New Year”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I started watching AGDQ 2020
I watched more Marvel Agents of Shield Season 7
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched When a Stranger Calls Back (Rifftrax Version)
I watched Hillbillys in a Haunted House (Rifftrax Version)

The Swarm (1978) – Spoiler Review Pt. 1

January 4, 2021

Rundown of the Main Plot

The Swarm is a Science-Fiction horror movie about a swarm of Africanized Killer Bees that have been scooped up from Venezuela by a series of hurricanes and deposited in Texas. The movie opens with a military reconnaissance team discovering a United States ICBM base where almost the entire duty roster has been killed. At first they suspect a chemical attack but a scientist (played by Michael Caine) appears and claims that it was a swarm of bees. He is arrested for being a foreigner on a military base in the midst of an attack but the base’s doctor (Katharine Ross) backs his claim. The President’s science advisor assigns the surly general (Richard Widmark) to follow Caine’s lead much to his dismay. Caine calls in a group of eccentric scientists (Richard Chamberlain, Henry Fonda) to try and solve the problem without harming the surrounding ecosystem.

After a local boy is orphaned when his family is attacked by the swarm, the local town of Maryville is involved while in the middle of their annual Flower Festival. Caine and Ross struggle to protect the town while working toward a solution to their problem. It turns out that receiving any more than three stings is automatically fatal to victims. Victims who pull through after less than three stings can still suffer a cardiovascular failure out of the blue. The surviving boy tries to avenge his family with firebombs but only pisses off the swarm and causes them to attack Maryville head on. Suffering major casualties in the town, the military decides to evacuate the town but the train used derails and explodes. Meanwhile, the bees have started to advance across the Texas countryside and end up in Houston. At the eleventh hour, Caine figures out that the bees were originally driven to attack by the sound of an alarm on the military base. They throw together a plan of action and the military is able to lure the bees out into the gulf and firebombs them all straight to Hell.

Be Kind to the Bees

I watched this with my mother (who is a beekeeper) and we were both pleasantly surprised that the movie made a huge effort to protect the reputation of bees. Caine stresses repeatedly that the American Honey Bee is not to blame for any of the carnage. In fact, the movie correctly asserts that we rely on the bees for pollinating our crops and thus our agricultural system depends on bees. The scientists try to come up with several plans that would prevent the death or destruction of the environment. The villainous bees are depicted as fairly innocent as well. They are just insects driven to attack through their interaction with human beings, something that should not happen. Of course, the movie neglects to talk about how the real-life Africanized bees were created by humans through selective breeding in Brazil.

Loose Padding

There are numerous plots added to the movie that feel like they were written in for two reasons. A) They wanted to add more movie and television stars to the cast B) This was a television miniseries and they needed to fill two and a half hours. These plots get absolutely ridiculous and I have to detail them all.

  1. Fred MacMurray and Ben Johnson are both thirsty for Olivia de Havilland

At some point early in the movie, we cut to Olivia de Havilland who is arranging flowers for the festival. She is approached by Fred MacMurray (the town’s mayor) and Ben Johnson (a retired engineer) who are both dating her. The two men snipe at each other but Olivia laughs it off. Throughout the movie, they both propose to her but she avoids answering either one. She points out that since she is the School Superintendent, she is a working woman and will give them their answer at the end of the school term. The three of them board the evacuation train together and are on it when it crashes and explodes.

This was a completely extraneous plot as the three rarely felt like they were in a movie called The Swarm. They were in a separate romantic comedy the whole time. MacMurray and de Havilland are present at a strategy meeting with the military and de Havilland witnesses the deaths of several small school children. Other than that, they don’t seem to act like there is a deadly threat anywhere near them. They also never cut back to them after the train crash so we never discover if any of them survived much less whether Olivia made up her mind about who to marry if anybody.

  1. Slim Pickens Steals a Dead Body

Sometime after the deaths at the ICBM base (the inciting incident of the movie), they have examined all of the dead bodies and placed them in a makeshift morgue. A county engineer played by Slim Pickens shows up outside of the fence at the base and threatens to shut off the base’s utilities if they do not let him speak to his son. The military quickly discovers that this man’s son was one of the many who suffered horrible death from bees. They let the man onto the base and show him his deceased son’s body bag (they never open it). Slim reaches down and picks his son up and cradles the body in his arms and starts to walk out with it. He is told that he will be shot if he tries to take the body. He dares them to follow through and they back down and he leaves with his son’s body. It is actually a really touching scene because Slim Pickens sells the heck out of it. However, Pickens never appears in the rest of the movie and the scene has zero impact on the rest of the film.

Check Part 2 for more craziness!

Media Update 12/31/20

December 31, 2020

Letters to Satan Claus

This movie is a parody of Hallmark Christmas movies in the best way. A reporter, Holly Frost, must return to her hometown of Ornaments to cover the annual Christmas hullabaloo. Holly is bitter about Christmas after her parents were murdered on Christmas morning when she was a kid. However, the town of Ornaments has plenty of sexy guys and booze to pass the time. However, her past is rising up to haunt her and a simple transposition of letters may spell doom for Holly and Ornaments. The movie touches on all of the annoying cliches by either playing them straight or turning them on their ear. Karen Knox is great as the embittered yet ambitious reporter. Joseph Cannata plays a somewhat oblivious ruggedly handsome attorney. His cute yet dumb daughter is played brilliantly by Jessica Clement. Jana Peck is delightfully dark as the title character, cracking one liners as she stalks her victims. The rest of the cast does great as too dumb to live small town denizens. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie.

Black Christmas

I remember liking the original Black Christmas but the 2006 version was not very exciting. I wanted to see this version because Blumhouse is really knocking it out the park with their remakes and reimaginings. This movie took the basic premise but fleshes the characters out more and adds more to the story. The sorority getting stalked is now a feminist sorority with a bone to pick with the biggest frat on campus. The movie has a great air of mystery as we watch the young ladies get stalked by unseen predators. Imogeen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Brittany O’Grady, and more are all great as very likable college students. Director and writer Sophia Takal does a really good job of staging the movie to make me feel anxious during every scene. The movie is beautifully shot and a lot is left up to the imagination to make you worry more for these girls. I defintiely recommend this movie.

Better Watch Out

I had heard a lot of good things about this movie so it was time to finally watch it. This movie is a babysitter home invasion story set during the holidays. However, there are some touches that really made this different from standard faire like When A Stranger Calls or The Strangers. The Christmas season does not have much impact on the story but it does make for some fun props and a pretty background. Olivia DeJonge plays the babysitter who is taking one last job before she goes off to college and is definitely a confident and cool young lady. Levi Miller plays her charge, a young boy almost too old to need a babysitter but his parents worry about him. Ed Oxenbould plays the stoner friend of Miller’s character who decides to visit and add more on DeJonge’s shoulders. The movie is very playful and had a lot of twists and turns that I did not expect. The acting was spot on and the action sequences really delighted me. There is also an undercurrent of dark humor and an actually interesting message. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Psychostick – Zombie Claus

New Years Day – Kill or Be Killed

Pop Smoke ft. Dread Woo – Woo Year

Scrawl – 11:59 It’s January

Run The Jewels – Out Of Sight

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Christmas Horror 2020”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I finished Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults
I finished EVIL Season 1

Cozy Questions Pt. 3

December 28, 2020
  1. You Can Spend 24 Hours Anywhere, Any Time, Where Do You Choose?

I would take this deal solely as an intangible observer in order to lessen any impact on the timestream because there is no reason to go anywhere but the past. Anywhere else I can just choose to go to in the future. It is a hard question to ponder because obviously the possibilities are endless. One of the first ideas I had was to pick a movie or television studio to just sit and watch the filming taking place. I would love to walk the town of Tombstone on the day of the fight at the OK Corral. It would be horrible and violent but fascinating. There are a lot of moments in history that I would love to be present for. Speeches and appearances that rocked the world. Maybe pick a random day in Time’s Square to just watch all of the people. Oh! I know! I would just like to be a fly on the wall at the Algonquin Round Table.

  1. If You Were a Ghost, Who or Where Would You Haunt?

I am guessing that a ghost cannot really interract with the world around them physically beyond maybe flickering lights and making a door creak. So, I would want to haunt somewhere where people actually believe in ghosts might frequent so I would ocassionally have somebody to talk to. I think I would either like to be the ghost sidekick in a Hanna-Barbera kid detective show (Scooby-Doo, Jabberjaw, etc.) or like one of the ghosts in Harry Potter. I would just like to chill and chat when I felt like it and float around and observe when i didn’t feel like talking to anyone. If interraction at that level was not possible, I would like to mess with mediums who claim to speak to the dead but cannot. I would haunt the crap out of them and then do nothing when they tried to show it to other people.

  1. What Is Your Family Ancestry?

I only have bits of pieces of my ancestry since it has never been very important prior to our country’s arrival in the United States. I do know that my ancestry goes back to Scotland, England, and France to name a few. France is a huge part of my ancestry through my mother and one of our forbearers came directly from France. He was actually a member of Blackbeard’s crew for a time before receiving a pardon along with much of the rest of the crew for assisting in naval battles. He eventually became a fence for Blackbeard’s stolen goods when he couldn’t quite go straight. I have been informed that due to my family name being Portuguese that there were probably some ancestors from there. However, my slightly racist family member informed me that it must be from somewhere north where vikings invaded because we’re not that dark. Ugh. I refuse to take one of those genetic tests because A) I like my family stories and don’t want them to be disproved and B) I don’t want to give my genetic code to a private corporation.

  1. What Scares You?

This is cozy? I fear death but who doesn’t? I also fear public speaking although the edge of that has been filed off by anxiety meds. I used to shake and get nauseous as I was headed toward any public speaking situation. I was in a few children’s theater performances as a kid and I literally blacked out until it was over. Apparently, I said all my lines and did my blocking correctly but I had no memory of it.

Media Update 12/24/20

December 24, 2020

The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again

Two years ago I was enchanted by a simple Christmas version of The Prince and Pauper starring Vanessa Hudgens. Hudgens was so good at playing two distinct characters, one who felt like they had emerged from The Crown and the other who felt at home in Riverdale. This movie revisits the characters from the first movie while upping the ante as all great sequels do. This time there are three identical people played by Vanessa Hudgens and the swapping leads to a very fun and interesting Christmas story. Hudgens uses about four or five accents in this movie and it is delightful. She is so good at it that I felt like I immediately knew who was in each scene without getting confused about which of the three was present. Sam Palladio and Mark Fleischmann return as the love interests and are given more to do to flesh out their characters. It also shows how happily ever after is not so simple as kissing just before the credits and that you really have to put in the work to make relationships that matter and last. I definitely recommend this movie.

The Shop Around the Corner

This is a Christmas classic that I had heard about before but it took my cousins for me to actually check it out. This movie was later remade as You’ve Got Mail but honestly the movies are fairly different. The movie is about two strong-willed workers at a department store who start a correspondence relationship. There is also an intrigue plot but it focuses mainly on the two. The guy is played by James Stewart and his earnest delivery really serves him well as the ultimate good guy with a playful streak. The gal is played by Margaret Sullavan, she plays the epitome of the fast-talking go-getter who is able to turn any situation in her favor. Frank Morgan plays their boss, a kindly old department store owner. The movie is very sweet and much of it falls on the shoulders of Stewart and Sullavan whose chemistry is electric. The main draw of the movie is watching a cat and mouse game with kind of an old sitcom comedy style. The movie does not go as heavy on the holiday stuff and instead focuses on the interactions between the characters with Christmas as more of a backdrop. I recommend this movie.

The Bishop’s Wife

This is an odd sort of movie that goes hard in the paint for the holidays. The basic premise is that a bishop asks for holy guidance for how to raise money to build a new cathedral. His prayers are answered with the appearance of an unassuming angel who does not directly answer the bishop’s question. Instead, he moves into the bishop’s house and cozies up to the bishop’s wife and daughter. As the bishop is busy with work, he is frustrated that this stranger is suddenly very chummy with his family. David Niven plays the bishop, a frustrated and somewhat uptight individual. The wife is played by Loretta Young who is good at being the dutiful yet neglected wife. Cary Grant plays the goofy yet debonair angel. This movie actually rubbed me the wrong way. Cary Grant’s character came off as kind of sadistic and I felt that the plot was made needlessly cruel for that reason. Your mileage may vary. At least Elsa Lanchester was in it. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Kurt Russell and Darlene Love – The Spirit of Christmas

Sarah Jeffery, Jadah Marie – Audrey’s Christmas Rewind

Sabrina Carpenter – It’s Finally Christmas

Panic! At The Disco – Feels Like Christmas

China Anne McClain – This Christmas

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Misrepresentation on the Holidays”
I watched more Watcher videos
I watched a lot of Twitch and YouTube
I watched more Doctor Who Season 12
I watched more Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults
I watched more EVIL Season 1
I started watching Bob’s Burgers Season 11
I watched My Little Pony: The Best Gift Ever
I watched The Last Shark (Rifftrax Version)

Top 5 Christmas Movies

December 21, 2020

I tuned in last week to watch the above video from one of my favorite YouTube channels to hear the thoughts of two of my favorite perfomers (Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara) and their guest. As with most lists of this kind, I disagreed with some of their choices. Instead of tearing their lists down, I decided to make my own. I decided to exclude a lot of what I consider joke answers to this question such as Die Hard, Batman Begins, and Gremlins. I also put Christmas Horror in a completely different boat. Also, even though I love the movie dearly, I do not think of A Nightmare Before Christmas as a Christmas movie even though it uses a lot of the assets.

  1. White Christmas

To be fair, this is the Bing Crosby Christmas movie without the blackface. I watched this with my mother a couple of years ago and we both really enjoyed it. Bing and Danny Kaye are army men who finish their tour of duty and head back to the States. They become successful performers as a singing and dancing duo. They meet up with two performing sisters played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The four end up heading to the middle of nowhere Vermont to spend the holidays at an inn where the girls are booked to perform. However, the inn and the town are in trouble without any snow so the four of them decide to put on a show to save the day. It is an endearing story of four witty and artistic people who have such great chemistry with each other. The movie is full of great songs like “Sisters”, “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)”, and starts and ends with “White Christmas”. Bing Crosby became synonymous with Christmas and that is probably a big reason why this movie made this list.

  1. A Christmas Prince

This was the second movie that helped launch my getting back into watching Christmas movies. I chose this movie originally because it stars Rose McIver, an actress I loved so much in iZombie. In this, she stars as a reporter tasked with getting the scoop on a prince’s coronation in a foreign country obsessed with Christmas. She stumbles into a lie which gets her close to her subject but when feelings develop, she starts regretting everything. McIver really makes the movie as she is at times sarcastic, wide-eyed, clever, and just plain funny. She is paired with Ben Lamb who plays the titular role with such playful wholesomeness. His sister really steals a lot of scenes (played by Honor Kneafsey) walks the edge of what could have been an annoying character and makes it into a very smart and funny one instead. Theo Devaney is so great as the smarmy “villain”. However, the movie very well could have failed if they had not been given a really great supporting cast. The two sequels are even better though this is the one I kept coming back to.

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol means a lot to me. When I worked professionally in live theater, we did the same production five years in a row and the story never got old. This is a story that I have experienced starting at a very young age and this version may have been the very first. It came out when I was nine years old at a time when I had already experienced The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Seeing these familiar characters acting out this story was truly magical. Michael Caine as Scrooge is almost the only human character and that made it feel like an extended episode of The Muppet Show. Caine acts so earnestly in the movie and always reacts to the Muppets as if they were fellow performers which, in a sense, they were. The movie adheres to the original story very well but also adds in much needed laughs along with what is essentially a Christmas ghost story. The movie is also a musical which helps to keep the story bouncing along in what can be a very long-winded story. This was absolutely a marriage of three things I have loved since I was a kid: The Muppets, Horror, and Christmas.

  1. Klaus

I am a sucker for Santa Claus lore because I have been fascinated with (ahem) research about the man, the myth, the legend. This movie is a throwback to the more traditional two-dimensional animation comparable to the Disney Rennaisance period. It utilizes 2D drawings with a new 3D lighting software design which really produces a breathtakingly beautiful movie. The story follows a young mailman-in-training who is sent to an island town to reopen their post office. In order to do that, he befriends a hermit in the woods and basically invents the man we know and love. The movie is such a touching portrayal of a world similar to ours but with some invented politics and geography. It is also wildly funny at the same time. Jason Scwartzman plays the excitable Jesper, a young screw up who now has to make good. JK Simmons plays the titular character, an emotionally wounded man who just wants to make good. Rashida Jones plays the clever school teacher who gets sucked up into the madness. Joan Cusack and Will Sasso play the heads of two feuding families that has absolutely destroyed the town. Norm Macdonald basically plays his usual sarcastic self. The production also involved actual Sámi people with authentic Sámi language in a very touching manner.

  1. The Christmas Chronicles

This movie absolutely caught me off guard. It felt like an entirely different kind of Santa Claus tale which managed to shine a spotlight on Santa while making him a supporting character in his own movie. The movie follows two kids played by Darby Camp and Judah Lewis. They are a brother and sister who have grown apart due to the death of their father. Lewis plays a teenager who has grown cynical too early and is annoyed by Camp’s optimistic and sunny character. A chance run-in with Santa Claus sets the two on a whirlwind adventure that will teach them about themselves and realign both of them on the right path in life. Santa is played by Kurt Russell and it is the coolest portrayal that has ever appeared in a movie previously. This is a Rock and Roll Santa who absolutely loves his job. The lore building that they created in this was absolutely a draw for me. They explained a lot of the Santa stories without explaining too much or getting too detailed. The spotlight remains on the two kids as they learn together and separately the true meaning of Christmas. The movie is an exciting rollercoaster from start to finish while still allowing for a lot of heartwarming moments that directly confront the dysfunctionality and bonds of family.

Honorable Mentions:
The Year Without a Santa Claus
The Knight Before Christmas
Shop Around the Corner
Let It Snow


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