Weekly Wonderings – April 5th

It’s hard to believe the first quarter of 2021 is already over. It felt like those three months zoomed right by us. Tomorrow, my wife and I will be getting our second COVID vaccine shot. We’re both ready to brace for what might be a rough ride for the following couple of days. But that’s fine if it means our chances of having severe symptoms are significantly reduced. From what my research on the vaccine has been, it’s not that it keeps you from contracting or even spreading COVID (though newer research is showing that may be happening), but it will make the symptoms markedly less severe if you do acquire it. Since the pandemic started, I’ve never been someone who balked at wearing masks. I plan on continuing to wear them even after they tell us the pandemic has passed. I didn’t get sick once this last winter, and neither did my wife. We attribute this to both continuing to shelter in place 90% of the time and wearing masks when we went out. Honestly, I get sort of annoyed with people who go on and on about not getting to see strangers’ smiles. No stranger owes you a smile, weirdo.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

I overwhelmingly disliked this third entry of the series for a multitude of reasons and I’ve been reflecting on some of the race issues brought up by the first two episodes. We’ve reached the halfway point in The Falcon and Winter Soldier, so now we have an idea of what this is shaping into and I have to say it is not looking great. This episode especially felt like a mess in every possible aspect from dialogue to characterization to the plot. 

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Movie Review – Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Written by Eric Pearson, Max Borenstein, Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty, and Zach Shields
Directed by Adam Wingard

No one ever thought the Godzilla films had great human stories, even going back to the original Toho productions. I’m not kidding myself that we ever had some person on the ground that delivered a compelling character arc. However, I feel like we are at a point where you could do that? But this movie certainly doesn’t achieve that, and I would be hard-pressed to recall a single name of any human character in this movie. Below I will include them when I summarize the plot, but that will only be after googling the cast list because they leave no impression whatsoever and probably should have just been deleted from the final cut.

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Comic Book Review – Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2

Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2 (2021)
Reprints Superman v2 #5-11, Action Comics #588-593, Adventures of Superman #429-435, and Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #37-38
Written by John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, & Paul Levitz
Art by John Byrne, Jerry Ordway, Erik Larsen, and Terry Austin

One of the things that were always a bit confusing during this era of Superman was how much the character remembered the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis had been DC’s way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the company and was used to condense the elements of the Multiverse into one cohesive reality. Part of that was John Byrne’s reboot of Superman, erasing certain sillier Silver Age elements from the characters and reducing his powers. A significant piece of Superman’s backstory that was axed was his early days in Smallville as Superboy. Under Byrne’s version, Clark Kent’s powers developed slowly, and only when he was an adult did he have them all. His costume wasn’t made until then, so Superboy never existed.

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Movie Review – Send Me No Flowers

Send Me No Flowers (1964)
Written Julius J. Epstein
Directed by Norman Jewison

Norman Jewison isn’t a name you hear listed among the great film auteurs, and for the most part, he was fairly a journeyman filmmaker. A studio paid him, and he made the movie. But in doing that, he still managed to make each picture feel special. You could never tie him into a single genre or style. Jewison just made good movies. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1926, and despite his last name, his family is not of Jewish descent. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. After being discharged, he wandered through the American South, where he witnessed acts of segregation that would impact film projects he chose later in his career. Back in Toronto, Jewison got his bachelor’s degree and worked on a variety of theatrical productions. He eventually became part of the crew that launched CBC Television, working as an assistant director. 

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Movie Review – Violence Voyager

Violence Voyager (2019)
Written & Directed by Ujicha

Gekimation. A new word for me and one I won’t soon forget. It describes the very unique style of animation seen in the work of Japanese filmmaker Ujicha. Characters are paper cutouts moved & posed in real-time against paper backgrounds. There’s no stop-motion animation here. It’s hard to compare this to any other animated works because it is so unlike anything else. There are hints of early South Park with the DIY-paper aesthetic. Storywise we’re in Junji Ito/David Cronenberg territory, a very retro body horror atmosphere. But Violence Voyager will be a shock to your senses no matter how many things you know inspired it.

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts

For a little while there, it looked like this movie might be made by Sony and take place outside of the MCU. Thankfully Marvel and Sony talked, and so we get this Spider-Man and one more appearance in another property before they go back to the negotiating table again. Marvel cleverly weaves Spider-Man even deeper into the MCU lore with this picture almost as a failsafe to keep the IP integrated. I think you’ll agree there has never been such a cameo-heavy MCU film to date, and it’s almost to the point of frustration. So many characters show up for a scene but then don’t feel integrated into the overall story.

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Movie Review – Her Smell

Her Smell (2018)
Written & Directed by Alex Ross Perry

I don’t think I have felt this sort of whiplash on my feelings about a filmmaker in a long while. When Alex Ross Perry is writing about literary people (Listen Up Philip), he’s nailing it. After watching Her Smell, I am curious about how much research he did when writing this picture. It felt like a cliched musician biopic and was absolutely grating by the end. It does have high points, but overall, I was pleased when the movie was over because it was so unenjoyable to watch. This is one where my wife had a lot to say and articulated some of the things I disliked so intensely about the movie—more on that in a bit.

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Patron Pick – Limitless

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Limitless (2011)
Written by Leslie Dixon
Directed by Neil Burger

If you could take a pill that would make you a super smart guy, would you do it? This month’s patron pick was explicitly chosen to irritate me, and I love it for that. Would I have ever voluntarily chosen to watch Limitless? Hell no. Am I looking forward to writing this review? Of course, I am! This film is what a stupid person thinks an intelligent person is like. It’s Michael Bay’s concept of what a genius would be. The people that fawn over Elon Musk and think he’s a god among men while ignoring that he’s the child of privilege probably rank this picture as one of their favorites. It is absolutely hilarious in how much it gets wrong and in its perception of succeeding is. 

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