The Donut King (2020) Written by Carol Martori Directed by Alice Gu
When my patron Matt first picked The Donut King, I wasn’t sure what angle to take for the review. This was before I watched the film, but it became evident to me how to talk about the documentary during my viewing. The film centers around the “too good to be true” promise of “the American Dream” and the impact chasing this unattainable myth has, particularly on immigrants & refugees, desperate to make something of their lives and raise up their families. The cost of the pursuit is poison in the veins, a direct product of the ravenous inhumane Capitalism American specializes in fomenting.
Baby Done (2020) Written by Sophie Henderson Directed by Curtis Vowell
Baby Done is a 2020 film of a young couple who work as arborists and plans to live their lives as much as possible. Zoe (Rose Matafeo) tries to hide from her boyfriend Tim (Matthew Lewis) that she’s pregnant, but he finds out either way.
My interest in this film was the knowledge that Taika Waiti had produced it. He’s putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to presentation with Matafeo being half-Maori and hiring regulars that have been in Taika Waiti’s movies such as Rachel House.
Starstruck (HBO Max) Written by Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden Directed by Karen Maine
As we continue with me watching things, you might be looking at this and wondering ‘another romcom?’ and my answer would be: If you pay me (link to patreon), I might consider something else, but for now, mama’s gotta do what feels right.
Starstruck is a BBC-Three show picked up by HBO, starring Rose Matafeo as Jessie and Nikesh Patel as Tom Kapoor. It feels like one of those fan-fics you would encounter on Tumblr while bored one night, except Jessie would be either ‘you’ or Y/N (your name) and has less sex in it.
The Lovebirds (2020) Written by Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall Directed by Michael Showalter
We’ve all been there, scrolling through Netflix and wondering what to watch. Sometimes it’s like playing Russian Roulette to find what’s right for you. With some of us lucky enough to work from home, sometimes being entertained during quiet times is necessary. Honestly, why work more? The work environment within the USA doesn’t bring us reason to go above and beyond, especially when the benefit doesn’t trickle down.
Caveat (2020) Written & Directed by Damian McCarthy
Lynchian is a term that gets thrown around a little too liberally. It’s meant to denote that something is reminiscent of the work of filmmaker David Lynch, but it is often applied to either tv shows set in strange small towns or for media that is esoteric & quirky. The Lynch aesthetic is much more specific from my perspective, a way of telling stories in abstracted settings brimming with emotion & passion. People often behave in strange ways, and stories have elements of melodrama that take bleak turns. Not much I’ve seen has genuinely reminded me of that, but Caveat is actually a movie that lives up to the term. I won’t say Caveat is as masterfully delivered as Lynch’s films, but it is a decent horror movie that builds a unique atmosphere.
Bad Trip (2020) Written by Dan Curry, Eric Andre, and Kitao Sakurai Directed by Kitao Sakurai
When you are watching a film like Bad Trip, a fictional narrative where unaware participants are being pranked and filmed, a certain balance has to be maintained. People have come to see the movie based on the pranks’ outrageousness and in anticipation of seeing how the bystanders react. This means, if you lean too far into the narrative, people are disappointed. But you certainly don’t want to just put a prank compilation in theaters because that doesn’t justify the ticket price. This balance is crucial for a movie like Bad Trip to work, and I am happy to say it’s probably one of the best in this subgenre I’ve ever seen. I had a clear understanding of every character and their motivation, and the pranks were fantastic.
Hawkman: The Awakening (2019) Reprints Hawkman v5 #1-6 Hawkman: Deathbringer (2019) Reprints Hawkman v5 #7-12 Written by Robert Venditti Art by Bryan Hitch
Hawkman: The Darkness Within (2020) Reprints Hawkman v5 #13-19 Written by Robert Venditti Art by Pat Olliffe, Tom Palmer, and Will Conrad
Hawkman: Hawks Eternal (2021) Reprints Hawkman #20-29 Written by Robert Venditti Art by Fernando Pasarin
How do you solve a problem like Hawkman? As I laid out in my Superhero Spotlight on the character, when you take on Hawkman, you are taking on a writing chore. There have been so many conflicting attempts to “simplify” the hero that led to him being a toxic continuity bomb. DC Comics are obsessed with continuity, so this results in a conundrum. I can’t say I am a fan of Robert Venditti. I read his X-O Manowar revival for Valiant, which was fine. I definitely didn’t enjoy his Green Lantern run, but he immediately followed Geoff Johns, who raised the bar so high it was nigh impossible to top. As this Hawkman series went on, I began to hear some surprisingly positive buzz, and when it was announced, it was coming to an end; I realized it was the perfect time to read through it.
Moonbase 8 (Showtime) Written by Fred Armisen, Tim Heidecker, Jonathan Krisel, & John C. Reilly Directed by Jonathan Krisel
On the surface, I should love this show. I’ve been a big fan of Tim Heidecker’s whole career, John C. Reilly is terrific, and I have enjoyed all the Armisen/Krisle collabs (Portlandia, Documentary Now). Krisel has also directed episodes of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule and Baskets. All of this is precisely in my comedy wheelhouse, mainly through the 2000s and 2010s. Ultimately, I enjoyed Moonbase 8 but didn’t necessarily love it.