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.
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Miracleman Volume 3: Olympus
Reprints Miracleman #11-16, Annual 1
Written by Alan Moore
Art by John Totleben
After the first six issues of Miracleman published in the United States by Eclipse, they got Alan Moore to return to continue the story. This was happening right as Moore was breaking out as the writer on the critically beloved Swamp Thing and Watchmen. Because so much time had passed between the events of the original UK Marvelman short comics and these reprints, the writer decided to use a framing device, jumping a few years ahead. Now Miracleman is reflecting on what happened while flying through a palatial tower. The reader would immediately wonder where he is and what led to this place, creating an evocative narrative hook.
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Second-Hand Hearts (1981)
Written by Charles Eastman
Directed by Hal Ashby
Second-Hand Hearts represents what might be the most baffling decline in a director’s output that I have ever seen. The blame for this disaster of the film is spread out based on online conjecture, ranging from Ashby’s developing cocaine habit to studio interference in the final project to the two lead actors refusing to take any direction. Second-Hand Hearts is a second attempt to capture the quirky love story of Harold & Maude that fails spectacularly and embarrassingly. In fact, the film was so bad it disappeared from circulation, never receiving a home video release and only becoming available in 2013 as produce on-demand DVD from Warner Brothers’ archive program.
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The Batman (2021)
So Warner Brothers are making another iteration of Batman because the Affleck version sucked. I am all for new interpretations of characters as long as the latest version brings something creatively rich to the table and isn’t merely a retread of things we’ve seen before. I am not a fan of most Batman films, and I definitely try to read them through a critical lens that is least favorable to the Batman character. Batman is a wealthy white man who is allowed to transcend the justice system and inflict violence on criminals, with the readers/audience being given the excuse that he had a lousy childhood. I think there is an excellent argument to be made that the same compulsive gimmicks present in the Rogues Gallery are just as present in Bruce Wayne’s psyche, but I digress.
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The Million Dollar Duck (1971)
Written by Ted Key & Roswell Rogers
Directed by Vincent McEveety
This was the first film that critic Gene Siskel walked out on. He would only do that with two subsequent movies (1980’s Maniac and 1996’s Black Sheep). The story is a stock Disney script for the time, one of the gimmick comedies, not rising much above a Disney Channel original movie. The production quality is at the television level as well. By the midway mark of the film, I was checking out, despite trying to stay engaged from the outset. There are only so many gags you can do with this plot before it wears out its welcome.
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Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
Written by Ed Graczyk
Directed by Robert Altman
Self-delusion is one of the scariest things you can experience. It’s a pretty big problem in our culture and has been for a long time. People become terrified of what they would have to do if they acknowledged reality, so they construct false realities that are more emotionally comforting. There is rarely a consideration of the harm these lies can have on the believer and the people around them; if someone is lost in their happiness, then we accept to some point that it’s okay. Media and the concept of celebrity have led to some particular types of self-delusion with fans becoming stalkers and some times even wishing violence on a figure they once adored. If a star dies tragically and/or young, they can elicit an even more fanatical response from admirers.
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Miracleman: The Red King Syndrome
Reprints Miracleman #5-10
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Alan Davis and Chuck Beckham
In 2012, researchers at the University of Cambridge did a survey of the British people about their beliefs in conspiracy theories. It was found that 60% of Britons believe at least one conspiracy theory. Some of those theories accepted by residents of the U.K. include the government hiding the exact immigration numbers in the country, a plot to make Muslims the political majority in the kingdom, and most telling, that while they are told their country is a democracy, everything is run by a power elite. (The Guardian UK). These theories about the actual workings of the world have percolated in Western cultures for centuries, but it was the 1980s and 90s where they came to full fruition, able to guide the momentum of elections and referendums. In this second volume of Miracleman, Alan Moore fleshes out a conspiracy related to the rulers of the world that speaks to some more significant metaphysical points.
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