Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access) Season One, Episode Five – “Stardust City Rag” Written by Kirsten Beyer Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Now, this is an episode I enjoyed. After setting the pieces up on the board for the first month of the series, Picard finally has our characters getting into dangerous situations and dealing with both interpersonal and external conflict. I wonder how someone utterly unfamiliar with Voyager would understand Seven of Nine’s part in this story. I think you need at least a rudimentary understanding of who she is and what happened to her on that series. Of all the episodes we’ve gotten thus far, I think this one does the best in blending contemporary elements with the world of the Federation.
Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access) Season One, Episode Four – “Absolute Candor” Written by Michael Chabon Directed by Jonathan Frakes
At first, I have been annoyed with the lack of Next Generation characters in Picard. But after doing the math, he was captain of the Enterprise for twenty-one years, which is almost the same number of years he’s been retired. I expect he’d drifted apart from his original crew as they received promotions and new assignments. These new people are lower on the totem pole and thus have less to lose. They lack extended family and therefore, can hop on a ship and journey out into space, not knowing exactly where they are headed and what they are in for.
Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) Written by Christina Hodson Directed by Cathy Yan
I am not going to pretend I was excited in any way to see this movie. With the foul taste of Suicide Squad in my mouth and my opinion that Harley Quinn is not nearly as interesting a character as DC Comics is trying to make her, I knew I was going to dislike most of Birds of Prey, and I did. I won’t even go with the statement that “this movie wasn’t made for me” because it sort of was. I have loved DC Comics since I was a kid, especially the B-tier or lower obscure characters. Birds of Prey is chock full of them, and seeing a version of those characters on screen was mildly amusing.
We’re starting off the short film showcase this year with a trio of fantastic animated films.
The Hill Farm (1986, directed by Mark Baker) Mark Baker is the creator of Peppa Pig, but before that he made some fantastic animated shorts that played at festivals. This one tells of a few days in the life of a farmer and the visitors who come to their farm.
Servant Season 1 (Apple TV+) Written by Tony Basgallop Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Daniel Sackheim, Nimrod Antal, Alexis Ostrander, Lisa Bruhlmann, and John Dahl
A few months ago, I posted reviews of the first episodes of a handful of Apple TV+ shows, and overall I wasn’t very impressed. The entire slew seemed very derivative of already popular shows from the past (The Newsroom, Game of Thrones, etc.). I was intrigued by Servant, a horror series produced by M. Night Shyamalan. Despite my intense disappointment with that director’s recent output, I figured he was producing so he couldn’t screw the show up too badly. The first couple episodes were a little rough going, it took some time to get a feel for the tone the series was going for. By the end of the season, they had me hooked, and I am ready for season two to get here.
So there were a few more movies coming in 2020 that are worth mentioning. Extremely excited for these.
Annette (TBA, directed by Leos Carax) Leos Carax gave us the remarkable Holy Motors in the last decade. He looks to kick off this one with a musical starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Plus, this will be Carax English-language debut. Driver plays a stand-up comedian married to a world-famous opera singer, plated by Cotillard. They give birth to a daughter who has some unique ability. My guess is that it will have something to do with her voice?
2019 was a year of changes with the shutting down of Google+, a venue where I grew the current iteration of the blog starting back in 2015. My views recovered and they grew by 3% from the previous year. I had my longest consecutive streak of 1,000+ views per month (June through November). Here’s what I have planned looking ahead into a new decade.
The Grudge (January 3, directed by Nicolas Pesce) I quite enjoyed Nicolas Pesce’s 2016 horror flick The Eyes of My Mother. It was disturbing and gory in just the right ratio for me, there wasn’t an over-reliance on the violence, and when it happened, you definitely felt the impact. I didn’t realize he was directing the reboot of The Grudge, which makes me much more interested to see the film than before. If Pesce is allowed to inject some of his own style into this picture, it could rise above a throwaway January release. It also helps that Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, Mandy) has a prominent role, and she always does a great job.