The Dark and The Wicked (2020)
Written & Directed by Bryan Bertino
I don’t think I like Bryan Bertino’s films. This is the third movie by this director I’ve watched, with the others being The Strangers and The Monster. He simply has no depth to his work. It’s all surface level, atmospheric, yes but with no meaningful character development. The Dark and The Wicked may be his absolute worst film to date. I love horror, especially slow-burn horror; however, it must be building to something. I need to understand and sympathize with the characters to feel something for them when they are tormented. We learn almost nothing about these characters, and so we ultimately don’t care.
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The Kid Detective (2020)
Written & Directed by Evan Morgan
When I was a kid, I was a fairly regular reader of the Encyclopedia Brown book series. Brown was a middle school student who worked as his neighborhood’s local kid detective. Each book had around ten interlinked stories that end on a cliffhanger. The reader is expected to notice an inconsistency in a suspect’s dialogue that hints at their guilt. I can say only once do I remember solving the mystery before checking the back of the book for the answer. Brown has served as an inspiration for many other kid detectives and many satire pieces on the genre recently. I recall The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno and Donald Glover’s Mystery Team as pieces of media that touch on the concept of child detectives turned adults.
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2021 is the year I make a big push to grow PopCult into something beyond what it has been. Readership jump tremendously in 2020 with a 29% increase in page views and a 32% jump in visitors. Part of our growth will be centered around Patreon. I don’t expect I will live independently off of Patreon, but I think I could generate enough to pay a couple of bills a month. For more on what’s going on with me at the start of the year, read up on last week’s Weekly Wonderings.
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Well, that was a rough start to 2021.
One week in, we have already had a Nazi terrorist attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. My mom is a full bore QAnon Nazi, I haven’t spoken to her in over a year now, and I just don’t see much hope for them. I got too much on my own plate to have to try and reason with people who have made plugging their ears and saying “lalalala” a permanent state of mind. And this is about as much time as I’ll be spending on this topic here. I have certainly ranted my fair share in other corners of social media since Thursday. Check out this week’s playlist, and I’ll jump right into my wondering.
Continue reading “Weekly Wonderings – January 11th, 2021”
Written by Samuel A. Taylor, Alec Coppel, Maxwell Anderson, and Thomas Narcejac
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
In my opinion, Vertigo is Hitchcock’s greatest film. It contains all those elements associated with his work but perfectly distilled to their most impactful essence. Hitchcock collaborator Jimmy Stewart gives his best and final performance for the director. Bernard Herrmann composes a gorgeous musical score that haunts the picture. Vertigo is also Hitchcock’s most honest film about himself, revealing many of his own obsessions and the way he tormented his actresses, especially foreshadowing what was to come with poor Tippi Hedren in just a few years.
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I am surprised how little I could find about the creation of Amazing Stories on the internet. It wasn’t the most popular television series, running for two years, from 1985 to 1987, and doesn’t often come into conversations about 1980s pop culture. Having rewatched many of the episodes now, it feels like an imperfect but completely perfect encapsulation of how the Spielbergian 1980s felt. I noticed that story credits often go to the filmmaker, who was a co-creator, producer, and sometimes directed episodes. You can feel his influence on American films at the time, with each episode centered on a sense of wonder and often humor. Unlike the later Tales from the Crypt, which had its own stable of 1980s directors in producer roles, the stories here are very in line with E.T. or The Goonies’ tone.
Continue reading “TV Review – The Best of Amazing Stories Part 1”
The Wrong Man (1956)
Written by Maxwell Anderson & Angus MacPhail
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
You know something is immediately different when Alfred Hitchock himself appears on the screen, in the shadows, to tell us this film is based on actual events, unlike his other pictures. The picture is in black and white and, while the credits tell us the score is by Bernard Hermann, the music is more sedate than we expect from that composer. Events happen on screen in almost methodical fashion, people walking from one place to the other, little emotion. The first display of emotion by a character, fear, leads to everything falling apart for one person whose life ends up in tatters by the end of our tale.
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Wonder Woman by Phil Jimenez Omnibus (2019)
Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #164-188, Wonder Woman Secret Files & Origins #2 & 3, Wonder Woman: Our Worlds at War, DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy #1-4
Written by Phil Jimenez (with Devin Grayson, J.M. DeMatteis, George Perez, Joe Kelly)
Art by Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Travis Moore, Cliff Chiang, Jamal Igle, Buzz, Lan Medina, David Yardin, and Jose Luis-Garcia Lopez
I absolutely adore this collection of Phil Jimenez’s run on Wonder Woman while acknowledging this isn’t life-changing material. Instead, this is Jimenez’s tribute to the era of comics he loves and a celebration of every iteration of Wonder Woman. He manages to fold in the concepts established by Perez and Byrne in the post-Crisis continuity while also bringing back faces not seen since the Golden and Silver ages. This is one of those instances where letting a fan of the character write the book doesn’t turn out to be a terrible idea. Jimenez doesn’t always bring closure to every single plotline, but he grows the Wonder Woman family to make it rival what Batman and Superman had going on at the time.
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Written & Directed by Lee Isaac Chung
I personally find the American Dream to be a complete fantasy, and it basically always was. This fantasy of bootstrap independence leading to wealth & success is a myth. People achieve wealth in the United States on the backs of workers who toil for very little. Now, this is what our culture labels as “success,” but I would that most of us know that the acquisition of money, while definitely alleviating stress tied to providing for our families, crosses a line at some point into exploitation. I would like to define success as creating a life collectively with family and friends. But for so many native-born people and immigrants, the allure of that capitalist myth is so strong they get lost in it and become consumed.
Continue reading “Movie Review – Minari”
Blossoms Shanghai (directed by Wong Kar-wai)
This is one of the rare projects that moved over from my most anticipated films to television shows over the last two years. Wong Kar-wai hasn’t directed anything since 2013’s The Grandmaster and is returning with this series based on a novel set in 1990s Shanghai. The story follows a mysterious self-made millionaire, Mr. Bao, and his path from rags to riches. In his life are four women that play crucial roles at different points, and it is those relationships that will be the focus of the narrative. This is also a way for Wong to showcase the city he was born in, and I expect the plot will take some more complicated detours than the premise presents. Wong’s In the Mood for Love is one of the best films ever made, so he always has my attention when a new project rolls out.
Continue reading “My Most Anticipated Television of 2021”