Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #114



TV

Black Mirror fourth season ***/****

I recently finished up the fourth season of the excellent Netflix Black Mirror series and thought it was the strongest one yet. There were a few episodes that didn’t quite work, but overall I thought from beginning to end Black Mirror is still one of the creepiest/scariest/prescient things on TV right now.

Hang the DJ

Metalhead”: “Metalhead” isn’t the typical episode of Black Mirror. Shot in black and white, this one is a straight-up action piece that’s kind’a sort’a a British version of The Terminator, and doesn’t let up until the end. I like that series creator Charlie Brooker feels comfortable enough with the universe that is Black Mirror in that there’s no one standard episode of the show and he can stretch out with a slightly different story than usual like with “Metalhead.”

“Hang the DJ”: Honesty, half the fun for me is trying to figure out where each episode of Black Mirror is headed and I couldn’t figure out where “Hang the DJ” was going at all. Even right up to the very end of the episode I had no idea what was about to happen and that’s part of the reason I liked this episode so much so much. Four seasons in and Black Mirror can still surprise.

“Black Museum”: The “Black Museum” episode is closest to the “Black Christmas” episode of a few years ago where a few different interrelated stories are all told under the umbrella of an overall encompassing story. Here, it’s a weary traveler touring the titular Black Museum that contains all sorts of forbidden knowledge and what happens when the disgraced museum proprietor reveals one too many secrets.

USS Callister

“USS Callister”: The episode that was announced first before the series had premiered and got the most hype this season was “USS Callister.” What everyone, myself included, thought was going to be a riff on the original Star Trek series turned into something that was darker and deeper in meaning that anything I could have imagined beforehand.

“Crocodile”: Crocodile is an interesting take on what extremes people are willing to go in order to keep their lives and lifestyle intact. And, since this is all taking place in the universe of Black Mirror, there’s an interesting price to be paid for those actions.

“Arkangel”: The one episode this season of Black Mirror that I didn’t think quite worked was “Arkangel.” This episode about a mother who implants a device in her young daughter’s head so she can see out of her eyes with something akin to an iPad goes pretty much as expected as the girl gets older and doesn’t quite care for the fact that her mom can literally keep track of her wherever she goes 24/7.

Westworld second season TV spot

Movies

Venom trailer

Avengers: Infinity War TV spot

Mission Impossible: Fallout trailer

Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer

Deadpool 2 trailer

Night of the Living Dead

One of, if not the most, influential horror movies in history gets a Blu-ray release this week. While there’s been many different editions of Night of the Living Dead released to date, everything from VHS to DVD both in original black and white and colorized, this brand new 2018 edition marks the first time since the movie was originally released that viewers can see the film in all it’s gory at home.

From The Criterion Collection:

New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director George A. Romero, coscreenwriter John A. Russo, sound engineer Gary R. Streiner, and producer Russell W. Streiner

New restoration of the monaural soundtrack, supervised by Romero and Gary Streiner and presented uncompressed on the Blu-ray

Night of Anubis, a never-before-presented work-print edit of the film

Never-before-seen 16 mm dailies reel

The Movie Chain: #6: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2012)

Last week: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Movie Chain is a weekly, micro-movie review where each week’s film is related to the previous week’s movie in some way.

One of my favorite TV mini-series of all-time is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that starred Alec Guinness as George Smiley from 1979. So I was kind’a predestined to like the 2011 film of the same name that starred Gary Oldman from last week’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the Smiley role.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy takes place in the 1970s within the “Circus,” or the code-name for British intelligence, where a Soviet mole has be discovered in their top echelon. Those in charge might know the mole’s there, but no one’s quite sure exactly who it is that’s feeding the Soviets all the British secrets they can handle. Enter Smiley who was booted out of the agency some time before and can be brought into investigate since he’s the one person everyone’s sure isn’t the traitor.

I like the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movie a lot, if I think it moves at probably a too fast pace to tell all its story. I think this comes after having read the novel movie was based on and having watched the six hour mini-series many times too. Scenes in the mini-series that take good chunks of hour-long episodes fly past in minutes, or seconds in the movie. However, this might not bother the casual viewer if they’re unfamiliar with the source material.

One thing I think other filmmakers can learn from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is that there can be a lot going on in a movie yet the material doesn’t have to be spoon fed to the audience. There’s quite a few characters and scenes in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the dialog is steeped in inside jargon and the pace of the film is fast yet since the underlying story is sound and it all works.

Next week: “You can practically see it from here.”

Rumor Control

Looking at upcoming TV series premieres it seems as if things are going to be pretty light the next few weeks which I couldn’t quite understand at first. On the one hand there’s supposed to be 500 series all premiering in 2018 which would mean that right around ten shows need to debut each week to hit this number. But I figured out why things are so light — I think everyone’s trying to keep out of the way of the Olympics since any series going up against that the next few weeks is sure to be caulked in the ratings.

Then again, if you’re like me and have no interest in the Olympics, having a few series premiere against it might be some genius counter-programming to gain a few more eyeballs to your show than might normally get since there’s not really anything much going on those two weeks of the Olympics.

I’m just sayin’.

Cool Movie & TV Posters of the Week




Direct Beam Comms #104



Rumor Control

Rumor Control

I’ve been working on my yearly “best of” TV series column for the Fort Wayne Reader the last few weeks and I’m amazed at how many great series there are out there. Depending on what all gets printed due to space limitations, right now I’ve got seven shows on my “best of” list. And I could pretty easily find seven more shows to put on the list and then seven after that. There’s so much great TV on nowadays it makes “good” TV series look average. These days I find myself watching one or two episodes of shows that just a few years ago I would have watched full seasons of simply because there was nothing else on. And I still wonder how many shows other people love that I end up skipping altogether since I just don’t have enough time to watch everything I should?

There are shows I don’t watch because I don’t have enough time and there are shows I don’t watch because I don’t get whatever streaming service or cable outlet they happen to be on that I don’t get. I’d love to watch shows like Star Trek: Discovery, The Runaways or Ash vs Evil Dead, but because I don’t pay for CBS All Access, Hulu or Starz means I don’t have an opportunity to check out those shows.

But honestly, though, I’d rather be in the position of there being too many good things to watch than what it was like a decade ago. To be sure there was good, no, great shows on then too — there always have been. The difference was the good things to watch a decade ago were few and far between. Looking back at my “best of” list even from a decade ago there are a few shows I’d consider “great” even by today’s standards, but the majority of the shows on that list are simply “good.” That’s not meant as a knock against those “good” shows, just that when I was building my list back in 2007 I had to put a lot of “good” shows on it when there were just a few “great” ones airing.

Now it’s an entirely different matter. There are so many shows that are “great” the problem is I don’t have enough room to list them all or time to write about everything. I have to think that there’s surly some “great” shows these days that don’t get critical acclaim since today shows can’t just be “great,” they also have to be “innovative” or “ground breaking” or “unique” too to get loads of people to watch them.

I do wonder where this all ends? There are so many networks, channels and services all creating original content and there are only so many eyeballs available to watch said original content, what does the TV landscape look like 10 years from now? I think we’ve already caught a glimpse of what’s coming with WGN. This year the channel which had done some original content of its own in the past with the likes of Manhattan and Salem cancelled all their original series and instead decided to focus on cheaper syndicated fare. In 2018 the channel will begin running series from Canada and Sweden instead of original programming. And that’s not saying those Canadian or Swedish shows might not be interesting, but they’re not being created by WGN.

It’s happened in the movies already. The 1970s were considered a high watermark of cinema in the US yet by the mid–1980s things had devolved to the point where everyone was chasing big box office successes rather than wanting to make interesting movies. For example, in 1976 a movie about Watergate All the President’s Men was the third highest grossing film in the US that year. By 1986 the third highest grossing movie was Platoon, but that was overshadowed by the likes of Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee as the two highest grossing movies that year.

I feel like we’re living what films went through with TV series right now. There’s a lot of really great stuff on, but right now that “great” stuff isn’t attracting as many viewers as the creators of these shows would like. Oddly enough that doesn’t matter since everyone’s in the same boat as it were ratings wise. I figure someday some network will “crack the code” and create some lowest common denominator (read “bad”) show that gets lots of viewers that’s easy to emulate that other outlets will start copying. We’ve kind’a seen that with reality TV already that’s very cheap to make that in a few cases lots of people watch. But I think it’s only a matter of time the same thing happens on the drama/comedy side of TV too.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out someday. My only hope is that when everything does come crashing down and all networks start running repeats of Big Bang Theory and whatever hot new show from Croatia everyone’s talking about, that I’ll have missed enough of the “good” shows over the years that when all this happens I’ll have the chance to go back and check them out.

Movies

Avengers: Infinity War trailer

The Reading & Watch List

Cool Movie & TV Posters of the Week