Time to catch up with things I’ve been watching/enjoying! I am shamelessly copying Kottke’s format, with some minor changes. It was a very strong month for TV shows, with Never Have I Ever, Normal People and The Great being its highlights.
Weathering with You (Tenki No Ko, 2019): I’ve long been waiting to watch this and had high hopes for it, as it was created by Makoto Shinkai who also made one of my favorite animes ever, Your Name (Kimi no Na wa). The animation is gorgeous, but the story left me sorely disappointed and I bailed halfway through.
Popstar: Never Stop Stopping (2016): This was loads of fun. Way more fun than I expected. I already liked Lonely Island so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Anyways, I loved it. It’s the This Is Spinal Tap of the 2010s. (A)
The Losers (2010): Very dumb, but also, mostly very fun. (B)
The Lovebirds (2020): This was fun. I mostly background watched it, but I did focus more when it was necessary and in the final 30 minutes or so. There is nothing special about this movie, but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes. (B-)
New section! I started doing jigsaw puzzles, and I needed something to play in the background and/or during work. These are the ones I’ve seen so far. I’m probably not going to give these a proper rating.
Star Trek II (1982), III (1984) and IV (1986): These were okay, I guess. It’s been a long while since I watch them. It’s startling just how much the Klingons are a stand-in for the Soviets. The highlight of these is definitely the 4th movie.
Star Trek: Voyager (season 4, episode 25 “One”): I try not to watch too much pandemic-related content, but I felt the urge to rewatch this in the background, and it was pretty good.
The Death of Stalin (2017): Meh. I barely paid attention.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011): I couldn’t even get through it as a background watch.
Top Gun (1986): Ok so the thing is, in 2020, Top Gun reads like a parody of itself. The dialog is so incredibly cheesy and over-the-top that it is nigh impossible to take the movie seriously. I’m still excited about the coming sequel, though.
Billions (season 5, episodes 1-4): This show has long reached its natural endpoint and now it’s just a soap opera disguised as prestige television. But also? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very entertaining and I have nothing to complain about. (A-)
Defending Jacob (miniseries): This is not a bad show (it has some strong performances, including Sweater America as one of the protagonists) but at the end, it felt like a pointless one. Does it have a message? I guess. But it’s mostly a very depressing much with basically no rewards. Skip it. (C)
Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (season 1, episodes 1-4): This is an excellent behind-the-scenes series about the show. Instead of going through episode-by-episode, they choose to focus on different aspects each time, and I think that format works well. (A-)
Halt and Catch Fire (season 2 episode 6-10): Still extremely good. I’m saving the last two seasons for harder times. I love this show to bits. (A)
Killing Eve (season 3, episode 4-7): The third season continues to be a massive improvement over the second one, and in episode 5 they deliver the best one they’ve ever made so far. This season does feel weirdly unfocused in specific ways. I think the show also suffers from the fact that they kinda got to a good natural endpoint at the end of season 1, they had to make more of it. In any case, a lot hinges on the last episode; we’ll see how it goes; I’m moderately optimistic. (A-)
O.J. - Made in America (miniseries, episodes 1-2): This is a well-produced documentary, and it gave me a lot of background on the, uh, pre-murder days of O.J. But once it gets to that, I had to stop because that bit is just too gut-wrenching.
Never Have I Ever (season 1): This is the best new TV show I’ve seen in 2020 so far. A smart teen dramedy about grief and being South Asian in America, among other things, created by Mindy Kaling, who’s fantastic. (A)
Normal People (miniseries): Actually, no, THIS is the best new TV show I’ve seen in 2020 so far. It utterly destroyed emotionally. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, it’s all perfect. Go watch it immediately. (A+)
Run (miniseries, episode 4-7): So overall, this was good; the side-story with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character made it even better. But I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed by its final, somewhat anticlimactic episode, and the fact that tonally it was all over the place, and not in a good way. (B+)
Snowpiercer (season 1, episodes 1-2): Yikes. The movie was great, but this has way too much torture porn and not much else, really. The pilot ends with the most predictable twist in the history of television. I bailed in the middle of episode 2, and I won’t be missing it. (F)
The Great (miniseries): This is, well, one of the best new TV shows of this year. A pitch-black satirical dramedy, a fictionalized tale of the early beginnings of Cathrene the Great that made me laugh more than anything else in 2020, probably. But they don’t quite stick the landing, which is a shame. Nevertheless, It’s heaps of fun, and I highly recommend it. (A-)
The Last Dance (miniseries, episode 1): Eh, this wasn’t my jam. I’m not that into basketball. I bailed after 30 minutes or so.
Trying (miniseries, episodes 1-3): I started watching this, and I don’t know, there is nothing wrong with it but it feels like the story is a bit too thin to hold everything together? I might finish it. Or not.
Westworld (season 3, episode 8): Yeah, this sucked. The whole season was terrible. (F)