Wednesday, December 30, 2020

People Suck in Indiana

Adapted from the stage musical, The Prom sends a group of Broadway performers (Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells) to Indiana looking for a cause to turn around public opinion about their narcissistic nature. What they find is a teenage high school student (Jo Ellen Pellman) denied the right to take her girlfriend (Ariana DeBose) to the prom.

Directed by Ryan Murphy, The Prom is a bawdy life-affirming story populated by mostly paper-thin characters walking through the plot to set-up the next song and dance number. While Corden has received the most criticism for a stereotypical performance, other than the two girls in love, none of the characters have any more depth than a damp sponge. Pellman turns out to be one of the best casting choices as the beautiful young woman who wants nothing more than to be herself, and DeBose manages to steal a moment with her performance of "Alyssa Greene."

The Terrifying Philosophy of Rudolph

Star Trek: Discovery - Scavengers

I'm growing weary of "Michael breaks the rules" episodes. In "Scavengers," Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) ignores her orders and goes off in search of Book (David Ajala) who was captured while searching for another black box, on a salvage planet (sadly not named Junkion). The facility makes use of The Running Man prisoner-control technology, and may have another box with information about the Burn. Michael and Philippa (Michelle Yeoh) are able to retrieve Book and the intel, while also rescuing other enslaved workers. However, the conflict makes Michael aware of Philippa's condition and also has lasting ramifications on her role on the ship as she finds herself demoted for ignoring Saru's (Doug Jones) orders and threatening the Federation's acceptance of Discovery. The only subplots, as the mission Michael missed isn't shown on-screen, are the ship's upgrades and the show setting up a friendship between Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) and Stamets (Anthony Rapp).

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Batman Beyond #50

The latest volume of Batman Beyond concludes with Batman framed for multiple attacks around Gotham City by Inque, one of which puts Bruce Wayne and Terry's younger brother in the hospital. Wonder Woman arrives to help solve the mystery, and clear Batman's name (thankfully we're saved from a lengthy heroic misunderstanding as Diana sizes up Terry in short order).

Tuesday with Tristin Mays

Tristin Mays is an American actress and singer. Mays currently stars as Riley Davis in the reboot of the MacGyver on CBS.

HBO's Perry Mason - Chapter One

Bearing little to no resemblance to either Erle Stanley Gardner's original novels nor CBS' long-running television show, the first episode of HBO's Perry Mason reimagines the famous defense lawyer Perry Mason as a low-rent private detective (Matthew Rhys) who only steps into the courtroom once, as a witness. Down on his luck, with questionable morals, and in need of money (that he unsuccessfully attempts to extort from a client), Mason accepts a job from an old friend (John Lithgow) to look into a case involving the kidnapping and ransom of a baby that goes horribly wrong.

News of the World

The idea of a man travelling from town to town to read newspapers may seem quaint in today's information age, but the collaboration between Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks offers a classic low-key western that is the dramatic equal to their previous collaboration, Captain Phillips. It may not be The Searchers, but Greengrass offers a wide-open canvas for Hanks to provide one of his better performances in recent years.

Traveling from town to town, reading his collection of recent newspapers, Captain Kidd (Hanks) comes across a lynched soldier and a young girl (Helena Zengel) who, as one character succulently put it, has been orphaned twice. Raised by the Kiowa people who killed her family, only to see the tribe wiped out by Union soldiers, Johanna's only living relatives live far south towards the home Captain Kidd has avoided since the end of the Civil War.

The set-up is fairly simple, the reluctant Kidd decides to deliver the wild girl no one else seems to be able to control, home. On the road, the pair encounter various obstacles while learning a bit about each other, themselves, and where they belong.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Action Comics #1028

Action Comics #1028 offers an epilogue to "The House of Kents," and really Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.'s entire run on the title. Most notable for some small moments, the issue works to both catch-up readers who may have not read every issue as well as set-up a new status quo within The Daily Planet whose new owner is... Jimmy Olsen?

The Stand - The End

The first episode of CBS' new adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand focuses primarily on introducing Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) and the object of his obsession Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) who are the only two survivors of Ogunquit, Maine and Stu Redman (James Marsden) who becomes a prisoner of the United States Government after he is the first person to show an immunity to the virus wiping out 99% of the world's population. 42 years after the book's publication and 26 years since the first television adaptation of the novel, the first episode jumps around a bit on the timeline before offering us a glimpse of the viral outbreak Charles Champion (Curtiss Cook Jr.) lets loose on the world.

Wonder Woman 1984

2017's Wonder Woman proved to be the pleasant surprise to shine some light in DC's otherwise gloomy extended universe. Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot reunite for a sequel set in the 1980s (apparently primarily for the purpose of making fun of the decade's fashion sense). Gadot seems more confident in the role, hits the right emotional beats, and the sequel taps into primary motivations of the character while introducing one of the Amazon's most famous possessions in the Invisible Plane. So why isn't Wonder Woman 1984 more successful?

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Croods: A New Age

The sequel to 2013's The Croods returns the cast of the original for a new adventure. The prehistoric family meet the more evolved Hope (Leslie Mann) an Phil Betterman (Peter Dinklage), friends of Guy's (Ryan Reynolds) parents, who have created a safe zone that all the Croods except for Grug (Nicolas Cage) immediately fall in love with (although their hosts aren't all that keen on their guests staying longterm).

The sequels offers much the same humor of the original with its conflict coming from the deepening relationship between Guy and Eep (Emma Stone) which threatens Grug's pack and the Bettermans' plan to steal Guy away from Eep for their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran). Eventually, danger will come to safe oasis and the two families will learn to work together.

There's some fun here, I did appreciate the choice to make Eep and Dawn friends instead of rivals, but for all its wackiness there's not much substance. The Croods: A New Age is a so-so sequel to a so-so film. Fans of the original will likely enjoy themselves, but the sequel doesn't do much to evolve past the limited appeal of the original.

Friday, December 25, 2020


Pixar tackles the meaning of life in Soul. Jamie Foxx stars as Joe, a lifelong struggling musician who dies on the very day he earns his big break. Refusing to walk into the Great Beyond, Joe finds himself trapped in the Great Before where young souls are prepared prior to their journey to Earth. Joe's fate will depend on helping a troubled soul (Tina Fey) find her one true thing.

Soul marks both Pixar's first African American lead character and its director in Pete Docter (who also worked on much of the film's development and screenplay). It's a fun film, which will remind you of a number of body-switching comedies once Joe and 22 (Fey) make it back to Earth (many of those developed by Disney). The film also confirms that beaurcracy doesn't end at death and Joe finds an entire new world to explore (and escape) if he wants to get home and claim his big break (while also teaching 22 about life).

Despite dealing with life and death, Soul lacks the emotional weight of previous Pixar films such as Up or Toy Story 3 due to how goofy much of the film becomes after Joe's death.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Batman: Black and White #1

Batman: Black and White returns for another series of stories featuring the Dark Knight Detective in black-and-white adventures. The standout to Batman: Black and White #1 is the final tale of the issue by G. Willow Wilson and Greg Smallwood which involves Batman tracking down Killer Croc to a woman's apartment. Along with a nice twist, "Metamorphosis" offers the best art of of the collection as Smallwood makes use of the shadows and the Gotham night to frame our leading man to maximum effect.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Midnight Sky

What went wrong here? Based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, The Midnight Sky is a mess of mishmashed themes from other films such as The Martian, The Road, Gravity, Apollo 13 and others (all of which work far more effectively than what we're given here). George Clooney directs and stars as the last man on Earth, a dying scientist in the Arctic who remains after the rest of humanity has fled to the stars when "something" happens to the planet (other than it being bad and having to do with radiation, the film never bothers to explain). I'm usually a fan of Clooney, particularly when he steps behind the camera, but The Midnight Sky never quite works.

Apparently none of the fleeing spaceships fare much better than those wiped out by radiation as our scientist turns his attention to one ship returning from a long mission on a moon of Jupiter. While most of the story takes place with Clooney is full grizzly mode, we get flashbacks to his past (where he provides the voice for Ethan Peck in some seriously disjointed scenes), and other sequences show life aboard the returning spaceship.


Tesla is a lesser version of The Current War, which itself was far from a great film. Narrated by Anne Morgan (Eve Hewson) in the present (despite the fact she died in 1952), Tesla covers the career of inventor Nikola Tesla (Ethan Hawke).

Writer/director Michael Almereyda makes some odd choices here, both in a narrator using an Internet that was developed decades after her death and in some pretty cheap greenscreen techniques the culminate in a bizarre music video that closes out the film. While some of these make the film memorable, they don't do much for the quality of the final product. Nor does the plot's choice to largely skip over important events of Tesla's life. Those with even a cursory knowledge of Tesla won't find much here, and the film's meager budget doesn't offer the opportunity to showcase the scale of his inventions and aspirations.

Hawke is hit-and-miss in the title role and Kyle MacLachlan is entirely forgettable as Thomas Edison (who it waffles on as a villain). If the film has any real star, it's Hewson whose absence is felt in any scene in which she is not featured.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Mandalorian - The Rescue

Although Pedro Pascal will return for a Third Season, "The Rescue" is the culmination of The Mandalorian's two-year arc. Since his discovery of Grogu everything has led Mandalorian (Pascal) to this moment. And, once again, the show brings back a number of familiar faces to help Din Djarin in his attempts to rescue Grogu from the clutches of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). With the help of Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen, Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), and Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks), Din leads a rescue doomed to failure. Despite the Valkyries at his back, the group is no match for Gideon's Dark Troopers leading to the show's final surprise appearance and farewell to another fan favorite character. Spoilers begin here.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Memories of Murder

17 years after its initial release, Memories of Murder finally earns worldwide exposure. The film only received a token release in the United States a couple of years later. Given both the critical praise of writer/director Bong Joon Ho's Parasite and new revelations on the real-life events Memories of Murder draws from, 2020 becomes the perfect time to revisit the film (or, for so many, to get a first look at what some praise as the best Korean film of the century).

Bong Joon Ho's tale examines the search for an elaborate South Korean serial killer targeting young women in the rural city of Hwaseong in Gyeonggi Province. The film's two main characters are the local detective in charge of the case (Song Kang-Ho) and an investigator from Seoul (Kim Sang-kyung) who don't think much of each other's methods.

The film weaves the pair's antagonist odd couple dynamic into an old school detective story that ratchets up the tension with each new victim who is found. It also coyly uses misdirection and more than one red herring to keep the audience guessing about what will happen next.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

MacGyver - Thief + Painting + Auction + Viro-486 + Justice

I haven't watched much of the CBS reboot of the 80s MacGyver. What I have seen has been more MacGyverish or Team MacGyver compared to the original. The latest episode, and the first I've watched in several seasons, features not one but two art thefts. Ah, I just can't resist a heist. Aimee Mullins guest-stars as former art thief extraordinaire Jess Miller whose career was cut short by a horrific leg injury. Blackmailed into helping, Miller trains Desi (Levy Tran) to break into a weapon dealer's safe to retrieve a bio-weapon before it can be sold to terrorists. The heist, and training exercises, offers a host of challenges in terms of a locked room, safe, lasers, and sensors, all which need to be beaten within a minute. Oh, and then there's the twist.

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #276

Part 1 of "Untold Tales" kicks off a new arc for G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero with the original Snake Eyes, Scarlett, Stalker, Torpedo, Wild Bill, Lift-Ticket, Roadblock, and Scoop sent into Northern Trucial Abysmia to capture weapons tech Alpheus Hunzucker responsible for the region's poison gas program which has wiped out entire villages of ethnic minorities. Assisting the strike force are a pair of locals, one of whom is nearly as lethal with a blade as Snake Eyes himself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020


I miss blockbusters. Although far from Christopher Nolan's best work, TENET doesn't skimp on spectacle. Tackling perception as he did in Inception, this time around Nolan plays around with the idea of time travel and inversion. The concept is far more clunky than planting an idea within someone's mind. In fact, TENET eventually devolves into little more than super-spy pitting his skills against a villain out to destroy the world. Basically, TENET is Christopher Nolan's version of a Bond film.

The story involves an unnamed spy (John David Washington) introduced into a secret war involving those using entropy to travel backwards in time and alter events in their favor. The science is mostly gobbledygook, but the set-up does allow for some interesting sequences involving characters moving backwards through events a second time. Kenneth Branagh is fine as the evil mastermind, although his evil Russian act isn't as much fun as it was in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

True History of the Kelly Gang

True History of the Kelly Gang takes liberties with the history of Australian outlaw and folk hero Ned Kelly (George MacKay) for "entertainment" purposes. I put "entertainment" in quotes because True History of the Kelly Gang is anything but entertaining. The film is a slog through Kelly's cheerless childhood to learning the outlaw ways and eventually running his own gang (while skirting issues of his sexuality and motivations at every turn). I'm not saying you couldn't find a way to make an entertaining movie about a crossdressing cowboy, but this certainly isn't it.

Adapted from the novel of the same name, the script adapted by Shaun Grant spends quite a bit of time on Kelly's relationship to his parents (Essie Davis and Ben Corbett) and offering an explanation for where his later violence was born, but it doesn't have much to say about Kelly as either an outlaw or a man. The tone shifts wildly from dark and brooding to at times nearly whimsical leading to an uneven experience that leaves me disinterested in learning anything more about Ned Kelly (or ever seeing this film again).

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

S.W.O.R.D. #1

Marvel resurrects the Sentient World Observation and Response Department with S.W.O.R.D. #1 with Special Agent Abigail Brand in command of the space agency looking outwards to threats to Earth from among the stars from the space station known as the Peak.

NCIS - Blood and Treasure

NCIS investigates a murdered sailor who had a treasure map cut out of his stomach the night he died. The case leads to an eccentric former businessman (Thomas F. Wilson) who buried one million dollars in gold leaving coded clues to its location. Treasure hunts are always fun, even if the one presented in "Blood and Treasure" is a bit goofy as the map worth killing for doesn't lead to the treasure leaving the killer in need of further assistance. When the killer kidnaps the man's daughter (Mariana Klaveno) for answers, he's forced to chose between family and keeping the treasure's location a secret.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #112

Whereas several of the previous issues have focused on how well things are going for the reunited Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #112 shifts to examining the cracks in Mutant Town. Picking up on the pain of rejection Mona Lisa felt after revealing her mutation to her parents, this month's issue continues to feed that theme by introducing the sullen Jay whose mutation into a venomous frog has made it impossible for him to touch another living soul.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery - Die Trying

"Die Trying" offers the crew of the USS Discovery the opportunity to prove their worth Fleet Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr), the current head of Starfleet, who is reluctant to trust a group of time travelers from the distant past. Despite the initial frosty reception, Discovery is given a mission with Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) in command that shows off the usefulness of the ship's Spore Drive and offer a strong argument for the ship's crew to remain together rather than be dispersed across other ships of Starfleet. It seems the crew has found a new home, as something as a mascot for Starfleet, but it also offers foreshadowing concerning Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) playing well with others in their new surroundings.

The Mandalorian - The Believer

In an episode that brings back another familiar face, which has become The Mandalorian's bread and butter, the quest to rescue Grogu begins with Cara Dune (Gina Carano) using her clout to get the cutthroat Mayfeld (Bill Burr) released from prison into her custody. Using their captive's knowledge of Imperial codes and procedures, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and his pals hope to locate Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). However, in another constant theme of the show, things turn out to be a bit more complicated from the firefight just to get into an Imperial facility to Din's latest compromise when deciding how far to go to rescue Grogu.

The Hardy Boys - Where the Light Can't Find You

"Where the Light Can't Find You" follows up on the mysteries introduced in the show's first episode as Fenton (James Tupper) leaves to look for a source who may know what his wife was working on that got her killed, only to run afoul of some mysterious figures. In Bridgeport, Joe (Alexander Elliot) has an adventure with Biff (Riley O'Donnell) helping out a thief (Atticus Mitchell) hiding out just outside of town after stealing a golden statue from an airplane while in flight. The man he stole the statue from is the mysterious Tall Man (Stephen R. Hart), the same odd character who Frank (Rohan Campbell) and his new pals Callie (Keana Lyn), Chet (Adam Swain), and Phil (Cristian Perri) run into while searching for Ern (Sean Patrick Dolan).

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Far Sector #9

The focus of Far Sector #9 stays firmly on Green Lantern Sojourner Mullein's current assignment in the City Enduring and solving the mysteries of the alien world which she's still struggling to fully understand. It's also the first issue in which she's out of uniform for the entire issue (although she does end up borrowing one from someone else to do a little snooping). Even with as alien as it is, the politics of the City Enduring at times remind her of Earth.

NCIS: Los Angeles - Raising the Dead

NCIS gets played big time in "Raising the Dead." When two dangerous convicts escape, NCIS must deal with the prisoner who is quickly captured in order to find the other who is obsessed with assassinating the President. However, the criminal with information is a sociopath (Frank Military) who used the breakout solely to maneuver his way to a Presidential pardon allowing him the freedom to terrorize the object of his obsession, Kensi (Daniela Ruah), once more. The episode attempts to sell a master criminal and set-up an entire backstory for one of its regulars with mixed success in a very short period of time.

Red Sonja #22

Red Sonja #22 offers the introduction of a mysterious new character in the Bird Overlord while focusing on Red Sonja's quest to kill the child king Cyril, son of Dragan the Magnificent. Most of the action centers around Sonja barely making it out of Cyril's throne room alive by wounding the giant and then escaping when Cyril uses his magic to nearly squeeze the life out of the She-Devil with a Sword.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Painter and the Thief

The Norwegian documentary by Benjamin Ree examines the unlikely friendship that develops between artist Barbora Kysilkova and one of the thieves, Karl Bertil-Nordland, who stole paintings from her exhibit. While Barbora is at first mostly concerned with recovering the missing artwork, she soon becomes drawn to Karl as a subject for her work. Barbora's curiosity, rather than anger, towards the thief sets the stage for all that is to come.

With the lives of both subjects documented, and their time together, Ree uses some creative editing to decide how and when to provide certain information to the audience giving The Painter and the Thief a more narrative structure than most documentaries. The result gives us an inside look into the human flaws of both characters while beautifully showcasing how such an unlikely friendship could blossom under difficult circumstances. One of the most unexpected films of the year, The Painter and the Thief is a story of friendship, humanity, forgiveness, and struggle. It's an inspiring tale that I'm not sure could have been made anywhere else.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Batman/Catwoman #1

Writer Tom King and artist Clay Mann continue their idea of a Batman and Catwoman couple that dissolved at the end of their run but is now back in force in the first issue of this twelve-issue maxi-series as part of the Black Label imprint. Told across three timelines, we see Batman and Selina working together, an earlier timeline with Catwoman still working as a thief but having begun a romantic tryst with the Dark Knight Detective, and a later timeline with Selina as Bruce Wayne's widow.

Dungeons & Dragons Card Trader - Hendo Art Edition

Monday, December 7, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery - Forget Me Not

Hoping to find answers locked away in the symbiote of Discovery's new passenger Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio), the ship travels to Trill in hopes that Adira's memories could be accessed and answer questions about her past as well as Starfleet. What they find is divided civilization on decline, a faction of which is disgusted by the mere thought of a symbiote being joined with a non-Trill (which, until the previous episode, was as likely as a human male spontaneously giving birth). However, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Adira are able to find a sympathetic ally to help Adira make a connection with the former hosts.

The Mandalorian - The Tragedy

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, "The Tragedy" is primarily an attempt to make Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) cool again (albeit and older and fatter version, maybe we can call him Boba Fatt?). While the character had quite a history in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, with the introduction of the sequel trilogy all of that history was wiped away. While on Tython, allowing Grogu to make a connection through the remains of a Jedi Temple, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is surprised by unwanted guests in an episode that marks a turning point for the season from returning Grogu to the Jedi to saving him from the Imperial remnant. Teased in an earlier episode, it was expected that Fett would eventually show up for his armor (although you wonder, if he could get his ship back why did he need to wait so long to retrieve his armor?). The surprise here is the not-so-dead Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) who was saved by Fett.

Monday Morning Montage - Footloose "Let's Hear It for the Boy"

The Hardy Boys - Welcome to Your Life

"Welcome to Your Life" is all introductions. We meet the athletic Frank (Rohan Campbell) and his younger brother Joe (Alexander Elliot) who are whisked away to the town of Bridgeport following the sudden death of their mother (Janet Porter). On the first couple days in the small town, the Hardy boys are introduced to some new friends (Keana Lyn, Adam Swain, and Riley O'Donnell) and a pair of mysteries. The first involves the destruction of their grandmother's boat for something valuable found at sea. The second involves the circumstances of their mother's death which may not have been a car accident after all.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Dear Santa

In a year of quarantine, social distancing, and both political and social unrest, Dear Santa is the salve we need. Not to be confused with the 2011 film starring Amy Acker, the documentary from Dana Nachman highlights the work being done in several cities around the United States to get Christmas presents to families in need. The documentary focuses on the United States Postal Service Operation Santa program which collects letters sent to Santa and allows anyone to adopt and send gifts on behalf of Santa Claus.

Nachman's documentary highlights the history of the program, those currently in charge in multiple cities, how the program works, and volunteers from an elementary school classroom to a group of friends to an organized coalition who work every year to identify and offer Christmas cheer to those who need it most. In a year about what pulls us apart as a nation, Dear Santa reminds us of what can be achieved when we come together. If you are looking for some cathardic holidy schmaltz to make you feel better about where we stand, or if you are interested learning more about the program and helping out on your own, Dear Santa might be the right gift for you this Christmas.

Black Bear

A filmmaker (Aubrey Plaza) facing writer's block travels to a remote house in the Adirondack Mountains hoping for inspiration to strike. What happens next is subject to debate as any or all of the events could be nothing more than the actress turned director's dark musings and may or may not have any connection to reality. Written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine, Black Bear is primarily a vehicle to showcase Aubrey Plaza who owns the screen playing two different versions of the same character each trapped in a situation spiraling out of control.

In one version, Allison (Plaza) is greeted by the house's owners (Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon) who are stuck in a failing marriage with a baby on the way. Allison's arrival only further exacerbates the couple's problems by introducing an attractive unknown variable into their lives. In the second storyline, Allison is an actress starring in her husband's (Abbott) small independent film. With shooting nearly complete, he uses Allison's jealousy towards her co-star (Gadon) to force the best possible performance no matter what his psychological games to do her emotional state.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Totally Under Control

Totally Under Control is an indictment of President Donald Trump and the national mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's both a chilling and enraging experience to have the months of inaction, series of missteps, casual disinterest, politicization of a health crisis, and frightening ineptitude chronicled with such precision. Interviewing medical professionals, scientists, and whistleblowers from within the CDC to Jared Kushner's volunteers, Totally Under Control highlights the many, many places where the United States went wrong in its policies towards COVID while comparing them to South Korea's far more aggressive early measures which avoided the large death tolls continuing to rise in the United States.

One idea shared by directors Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger is that every health crisis could have been handled better. However, the staggering failure of the United States with COVID runs the gamut from a President not willing to hear the truth, experts fired for telling the truth, and policies put in place making it harder to get life saving masks and drugs to medical professionals until Trump was able to personally profit.

The Philosophy of Community

Black Widow #4

After failing to properly end their bizarre experiment, the villains behind Black Widow's fake life bicker on whether to run or fight. Neither option appears to have much success. Now in full command of her memory, Nat is able to piece together the truth about her family (which she still cares deeply for). She also knows if they are to have any hope of a future they will need to stay as far away from her as possible.

Thursday with Whitney Thornqvist

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A Call to Spy

Set during WWII, Stana Katic stars as Vera Atkins charged with finding and recruiting women to be spies for the Special Operations Executive in order to obtain vital information in Nazi-controlled Europe. Trained in sabotage and subversion, the SOE's agents are sent in to build spy networks and relay information back about the enemy.

Based on true events, A Call to Spy focuses on two of Vera's recruits Virginia Hall (Sarah Megan Thomas), who would become known to the Germans as "the most dangerous of all Allied spies," and Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte) who became the first female wireless operator sent into occupied France.

A Call to Spy is an old school spy thriller about normal people standing up to do the extraordinary when called upon to serve a country that doesn't value them as much as it should. Director Lydia Dean Pilcher and screenwriter Sarah Megan Thomas not only shed light on the women's accomplishments but also highlight the sexism and racism they fought both abroad and at home by those questioning their loyalty and usefulness as part of the war effort.

Black Beauty

Anna Sewell's Black Beauty: His Grooms and Companions, the Autobiography of a Horse has been adapted a dozen or so times over the past one-hundred years to both television and film. Disney+'s new version centers mostly on the relationship between the wild mustang (voiced by Kate Winslet) and an orphaned teenager named Jo (Mackenzie Foy) who bond at her uncle's (Iain Glen) horse sanctuary following the death of Jo's parents.

Recasting Beauty as a mare rather than stallion allows for writer/director Ashley Avis to reframe the story, in part, as female empowerment (with a bit of class struggle thrown in for good measure). It also, not so subtly, highlights the comparisons between Jo and Beauty who create a lasting bond that continues long after they are separated. The script highlights the themes of animal cruelty from the book as the script touches on Beauty's later owners, a ranger (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), a farmer (Jacques Wuister), a carriage driver (Greg Parves), and finally an unscrupulous carriage business owner (Deon Lotz) who treat Beauty with varying levels of care before the horse comes back into possession of Jo at the end of the film.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Director Armando Iannucci's The Personal History of David Copperfield is a light and breezy affair filled with familiar faces like Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie. and Hugh Laurie. The film takes a more theatrical stage view than Hollywood approach to casting the project, ignoring any racial overtones and simply casting the best actor available for any particular role (such as throwing together Benedict Wong and Rosalind Eleazar as father and daughter). While initially appearing odd on-screen, the color-blind approach turns out to be quite freeing to both the film and its actors.

Dev Patel stars as Charles Dickens's David Copperfield (from the novel of the same name). We're introduced to young David (Jairaj Varsani) who is yanked from his idyllic childhood to London after his widowed mother (Morfydd Clark) marries the villainous Murdstone (Darren Boyd). The dastardly devil is only missing a moustache to twirl to make his effect complete. Putting David to work in one of his factories, that is where he remains until his mother's death when he escapes and strives to find a new life for himself as a gentleman.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

FBI - Unreasonable Doubt

Ghosts from Jubal's (Jeremy Sisto) past come back to haunt him when the discovery of a serial killer's dumping ground makes him question the conviction of a man (Ari Fliakos) for a similar crime eight years ago. While Maggie (Missy Peregrym) and OA (Zeeko Zaki) find no holes in the original case, despite their similarities to the current murders, Jubal can't fight the hunch that he missed something during his heavy drinking days leading him to reach out to his former partner and mistress (Kathleen Munroe).

Usagi Yojimbo #14

"The Return" concludes with Miyamoto Usagi and Kenichi fighting off a horde of misguided former Mifune supporters hoping to damage the honor of Lord Hikiji with an attack on the shogun’s agent. Usagi Yojimbo #14 offers a couple of more surprise guest-appearances as Mariko arrives with the help of her son Jotaro and Usagi's old master Katsuichi.

How The Cylons Changed

Once and Future #13

With the Beowulf misadventures now complete, Duncan, Rose, and Bridgette prepare for the next move by Merlin and Zombie Arthur. They don't have to wait long as a murder of crows show up to deliver dark warnings to Bridgette, which she doesn't take kindly to.