Friday, January 29, 2021

The Top Ten Movies of 2020

2020 was a hard year, and an unusual one for the movie business at large. In the void of many larger films being rescheduled and pulled from theaters due to COVID, the vacancies left room for many smaller films to garner more attention than normal. While the year may not have given us all that we wanted, and left several movie houses on the verge of bankruptcy, the quality of the movies did not diminish. The list includes all films released up until this date (so it does not include 2020 releases which won't be available to the public until February or later). Here's a look back the best films of 2020.


Nomadland is a quiet, contemplative film not unlike Into the Wild or Wild in which a character leaves behind the conventions of society in search of something their former life can no longer offer. In the case of writer/director Chloé Zhao's tale, adapted from the book by Jessica Bruder, our character is an older widow who has lost nearly everything in the Great Recession including the home she made with her late husband when the town completely collapsed.

Taking to the road in a van, we travel along with Fern (Frances McDormand), meeting a number of other people in the same position searching for a way to make due with the little they have and hang on to the last of their independence. We discover a large community of the nomads, helping each other learn the tricks to survive. Bruder's book took an in-depth look at the real nomad culture of older Americans hitting the road in RVs of all shapes and sizes looking for work and a way to get by. We don't have to guess about the reality of these characters as many people play themselves in the film making Zhao's tale an unusual blend of dramatic character study and documentary with Fern acting as the audience's doorway into this world.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Vast of Night

Presented as something very similar to an episode from the original Twilight Zone, The Vast of Night offers a glimpse into a non-descript small town on a night when almost all are gathered for a high school basketball game and only a scattered few become aware of odd goings on in the night sky. The small town, set in the 1950s, focused on radio and reel-to-reel recordings, sets just the right mood for story which will slowly unfold. Self-financed, the low-budget film from writer/director Andrew Patterson is something to behold as it slowly builds before earning its final shot.

Our main characters are the night telephone operator Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) and her friend and local disc jokey Everett Sloan (Jake Horowitz) who become aware of an odd signal broadcasting across phone and radio lines. Putting the sound on the radio, in hopes others might be able to identify it sends the pair down a rabbit hole starting with the story of a soldier (Bruce Davis) about top secret military projects and including the account of an elderly shut-in (Gail Cronauer) forcing both characters to question what they believe.

Thursday with Keira

Prodigal Son - Alma Mater

"Alma Mater" sends Malcolm (Tom Payne) back to the boarding school where he attempted to remake himself to help solve the murder of the headmaster who expelled him. The episode presents three cheating students (Lily Ganser, Arthur Langlie, and Salena Qureshi) with obvious motive not only for the crime but the prankish presentation of the body, although a late redirect works as a red herring. It also allows Malcolm to revisit the cause of a vicious attack he suffered as a student and raise questions about what led to a traumatic event that followed. The episode is most notable for flashbacks which reveal the source of Malcolm's hand tremor, which has been a staple of the show, while also highlighting the similarities and differences between Malcolm and his father. Speaking of dear old dad, the Surgeon's (Michael Sheen) plans on escape take one giant step forward thanks to the help of one of his fellow inmates.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


The latest from writer/director Miranda July borders at times at being too quirky for it's own good, but it's also a surprisingly sweet story about one hell of a dysfunctional family and finding love in the most unexpected places. Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger, and Evan Rachel Wood star as a family of low-rent con artists in a perpetual desperate need of cash. When the latest attempt to bilk $1,500 out of the airlines fails to earn them the quick score to pay for one of the oddest apartments in the history of cinema, it also introduces the family to a new friend (Gina Rodriguez) on the return flight.

The script takes some twist and turns, as various cons go awry in ways that lead the absurdly named Old Dolio (Wood) to finally come to terms with who her parents are while finding friendship, and perhaps more, in Melanie (Rodriguez). While taking the place of a student (Rachel Redleaf) in a positive parenting class, Old Dolio begins to start to see the world differently while also becoming jealous of the attention her parents are showing Melanie (although they have ulterior motives).

Black Cat #2

A tie-in to Marvel's "King in Black" storyline which involves Knull arriving on Earth and sending an army of symbiotes to take down Earth's heroes in New York, Black Cat #2 features a mission for the Marvel Universe's best thief - steal one of Knull's most valuable prisoners from underneath the God's nose.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Legacies - We're Not Worthy

Legacies returns for its Third Season with Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) in a magical coma refusing to wake and Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) still dead, and his disembodied spirit refusing to return to his body in an attempt to keep the Necromancer (Ben Geurens) from acquiring a boatload of black magic. Set only days after the events of last year's finale, much of the episode deals with Josie's (Kaylee Bryant) role as a pariah within the school and Alaric (Matthew Davis) and MG (Quincy Fouse organizing a field day for the student body in an attempt to get back to normal. However, the arrival of Nimue (Theodora Miranne) and the Green Knight takes the day in a darker direction than planned.

Alyson Tabbitha's Jareth Goblin King (Labyrinth) Cosplay Tutorial

Tuesday with Lily Bowman

Lily Bowman is an Australian fitness blogger you can follow on Instagram and YouTube.

Which MythBusters' Result Impacted Your Everyday Life?

Adam Savage answers the question "What MythBusters' myth result had a direct impact on your everyday life?"

Monday, January 25, 2021

Every Lego Jedi Minifigure Ever!!!

BrickVault offers this look at Every Lego Jedi Minifigure Ever!!!

Heart of Batman

Originally included as an extra on the Blu-ray release of Batman: The Complete Animated Series, the documentary takes a look back at the beloved 90s cartoon with interviews from Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, Alan Burnett, Andrea Romano, Jean MacCurdy, Paul Dini, Kevin Conroy, Dan Riba, and others. You can now watch the full documentary online.

Vex'ahlia de Rolo Cosplay by Aigue-Marine

Aigue-Marine is a German costume artist and cosplayer. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, deviantART, and Twitter. Photo by von_nao.

Star Trek: Discovery - Terra Firma

The two-part episode allows Star Trek: Discovery allows the show to return to one of its more popular storylines: the mirror universe. It also offers a reference to the original Star Trek with the return of the Guardian of Forever which allows Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) to return to her past in the mirror universe and find where she belongs. The extended sequence, involving the more evolved Georgiou making changes to her previous actions while hoping for a different outcome, takes up the majority of both episodes. The return of the Guardian, with an updated design (and much more personality), not only allows the show to say farewell to Michelle Yeoh in style but also offers the chance to change the past if Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) discovers the cause of the Burn.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

55th Annual James Loutzenhiser Award Winners

This afternoon the Kansas City Critics Circle, the second oldest professional film critic organization in the United States which I have been honored to be a member of for several years, gathered to vote for the best in film for 2020. Nomadland and Promising Young Woman shared the top honor (with both films also taking home other awards as well).

First Look - Godzilla vs. Kong

King Kong versus Godzilla. 'nuff said. The film will be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on March 26th.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Miss Sherlock - Stella Maris

A severed ear and finger, from separate victims, sent through the mail to a politician (Yuki Saitô) piques Sherlock's (Yûko Takeuchi) interest in an unusual case. Each body part is traced back to a member of the police force, but each is adorned with an item that does not belong to either victim. Instead they belong to a hit-and-run victim of the politician years before, and it's the victim's father who has come after those responsible for covering up his crime. The unusual case is interesting to see unfold, although the episode is more memorable for Sherlock discovering that Dr. Wato (Shihori Kanjiya) can be useful on a case and the final scene in which she uncovers the existence of Akira Moriwaki who is the head of the secret organization known as Stella Maris.

Darth Vader #9

Darth Vader's fight for his life on Mustafar continues in Darth Vader #9 as the Dark Lord of the Sith stays one-step ahead of Ochi who has been joined by an army of killer droids who mistakenly believe Vader's parts are what give the Sith his power (and hope to steal a bit of that for themselves).

Prodigal Son - It's All in the Execution

Prodigal Son returns for its Second Season with Malcolm (Tom Payne) even "more brightish than usual." Still feeling the effects of helping his sister get away with murder, it's not until the final scene where the Surgeon (Michael Sheen), now reinstated back to the asylum, correctly diagnoses the true cause of his son's guilt. With Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) still recovering from his wounds, JT (Frank Harts) has done a solid job running the unit which catches a new case in a justice killer dispatching the guilty by obscure means (one by guillotine and walling another inside a literal dungeon while still alive).

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Dissident

The Dissident examines events surrounding the government-sanctioned murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist and dissident living in Turkey and working for The Washington Post who entered the Sauadi Embassy one day and never emerged. Director Bryan Fogel provides a compelling narrative, outlining Khashoggi's work as a state-run journalist in his home country before being pressured to leave his family and start a new life abroad. In examining Saudi Arabia targeting Khashoggi, and other dissidents, the film explores frightening levels Big Brother technology. The film also, not so subtly, points out how Donald Trump, ignoring facts brought to light and sanctions from his own Congress, chose to turn a blind eye to the shocking events.

Fogel's presentation isn't without some curious choices starting with a bombastic score better suited to a thriller, or Christopher Nolan film, and some narrative choices which rearrange events out of order (such as Khashoggi's short-run television program). Such jarring choices undercut the natural tension of events which are shocking enough without the need of additional help.

Hendo Art's How-To: Self-Shoot

Hendo Art is a cosplayer from California. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also find more lewd content on Instagram and Twitter, and support her on Patreon and OnlyFans.

Monday, January 18, 2021

All In: The Fight for Democracy

All In: The Fight for Democracy tackles voter suppression in a documentary that examines both the racial roots of a practice to disenfranchise voters over the color of their skin and specifically Stacey Abrams' defeat in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election which led to her becoming a national voice on the subject. Tied both to Abrams' own account, who produced the film and appears multiple times on camera, while also tackling the larger historical look and voter suppression, at times the documentary from Lisa Cortes and Liz Garbus feels a bit fragmented.

Like Slay the Dragon, All In: The Fight for Democracy examines gerrymandering, but here the subject is tackled along with several other aspects of voter suppression including poll taxes, literacy tests, and modern examples such as Voter ID laws. The former feels a bit more targeted with time to go into further depth. However, the film is still quite informative and works as intended - as a rallying cry to fight for your right to vote and be aware of those who would try to take it away for their own selfish ends.

MacGyver - Jack + Kinematics + Safe Cracker + MgKNO3 + GTO

"Jack + Kinematics + Safe Cracker + MgKNO3 + GTO" picks up the long-dormant thread of the missing member of the team: Jack Dalton (George Eads). Eads, who left the show in the middle of the show's Third Season, doesn't appear in the episode other than in previously-shot footage to open the show in which Jack leaves the team to join a task force to hunt down terrorist Tiberius Kovac. The episode opens with Jack's body returned to the United States and the team's wake for their fallen friend. Nearly two-years since Dalton's exit, this episode has been coming for awhile. The only real surprise is how quickly things are wrapped-up in a single-episode storyline (rather than kick-off a longer arc).

Friday, January 15, 2021

One Night in Miami

Regina King brings Kemp Powers' award-winning play to the silver screen offering a fictionalized account of the gathering of four prominent Black Americans, - Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) one night in Miami after Clay beat Sonny Liston (Aaron D. Alexander) to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. The contemplative gathering, coordinated by Malcom X, is far from the raucous celebration the others expected, but it delivers dramatic tension aplenty as tempers flare over disagreements on the role of prominent black men in America.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs would fit perfectly in in a triple-feature nestled snuggly between Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow. When we meet Nyles (Andy Samberg), through the eyes of bridesmaid Sarah (Cristin Milioti), he's already stuck in a time loop around the events of the wedding of Sarah's sister Tala (Camila Mendes). A flirtatious night between the pair leads to Sarah accidentally becoming trapped in the loop as well (although her circumstances are a bit more complicated than simply being a guest at the wedding).

Director Max Barbakow and writer Andy Siara team-up to deliver an incredibly smart, engaging, and charming film centered around the two leads (and to a lesser extent J.K. Simmons as the only other person aware of the loop). Time is rebooted once they fall asleep, lose consciousness, or die. Unable to break free of the loop, Nyles and Sarah struggle to find meaning in a meaningless existence where one day literally is the same as the next. Although it doesn't break new ground with the concept, Palm Springs knows how to make the most out of each day and delivers the best comedy of 2020.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Star Trek: Discovery - The Sanctuary

"The Sanctuary" introduces Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) to Book's (David Ajala) home world of Kwejian which is under attack by Osyraa (Janet Kidder) and the Emerald Chain because of Book's role in the events from the previous episode. The takeaways from the encounter are that the Emerald Chain is a lot less impressive in action than in rumors (its flagship is beaten by the limited firepower of Book's courier vessel) and that Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz) may prove to be a valuable ally for Discovery and the Federation. The disappointment of the Emerald Chain is a reminder to the underwhelming reality of Voyager's journey through the Delta Quadrant giving us new races such as the Kazon. Going where no one has gone before sounds great... until you need to fill it with interesting aliens.

Thursday with Emeraude Toubia

Emeraude Toubia is a Canadian-American actress and model, best known for her role as Isabelle Lightwood on Shadowhunters.

The Hardy Boys - Secrets and Lies

While the Hardy Boys have finally started sharing information, "Secrets and Lies" continues the trend of them working separately. It also reveals the the Tall Man (Stephen R. Hart) survived his electrocution. (Who is this guy, Wile E. Coyote?) The discovery of the thief's tent on the beach leads to a frantic Joe (Alexander Elliot) scheming on how to steal evidence from the police station which might incriminate him. He ends up enlisting Biff (Riley O'Donnell) on his scheme, who does end up being a help (but not enough to get him out of the station without being caught). While the plot deepens the friendship between Joe and Biff, and provides a scenario where the Hardys could get their hands on a certain police file, there's no reason to believe Joe was in any real trouble for his actions and what he does in this episode would be much more troubling that what he was trying to cover-up to avoid "kid jail."

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Mank tackles one of cinema's most legendary controversies about who should get credit for the script of what many believe to be the greatest film ever made. By the name of the film, the friendly nickname given to writer Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), you can guess which side director David Fincher takes. Using the screenplay from his father Jack Fincher, Mank delivers a story from the perspective of the writer hired by Orson Welles (Tom Burke) to anonymously write the screenplay for a thinly-veiled take on William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) which would become Citizen Kane.


Writer/director Brandon Cronenberg's Possessor is a gory techno-thriller set in a world not unlike our own where a company has devised a method to enter a person's mind and take control of their body. Rather than use the technology for good, it sells it for profit by making assassins out of anyone they can get their hands on. Andrea Riseborough stars as agent Tasya Vos, although mostly we see other actors playing the bodies she has been given control. As the film opens we can already begin to see the effect of the body swapping on Tasya both in detachment to her real life and during her job which foreshadows larger problems to come.

Possessor is at times a brutal film, and Cronenberg never shies away from gore (even going so far to hold scenes longer than necessary to illicit a response from his audience). Jennifer Jason Leigh also stars as Tasya's handler, whose team scrambles when something goes wrong with the latest assignment leaving her agent trapped in another body.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

On the Rocks

I'm a huge fan of Sofia Coppola, but On the Rocks is easily her weakest film to date. It doesn't help that the repairing of Coppola with Bill Murray reminds us of the far superior Lost in Translation. For a writer/director that has most often looked to tackle stories from a dramatic point-of-view, On the Rocks's broader comedy is unexpected.

While Coppola was able to pull some terrific comic moments out of social commentary for The Bling Ring, the wacky adventures of a middle-aged woman (Rashida Jones) and her father (Murray) hoping to catch her husband (Marlon Wayans) having an affair sputters along not unlike the ridiculous sports car Murray's character drives around New York City. Murray certainly provides some charm, and all of it is needed to save the film from completely floundering.

Jones is fine in the role of Laura, but the character is little more than her questionable insecurity. I wouldn't go so far to call On the Rocks a bad film, but it's average to the point of being completely unremarkable (something I wouldn't have expected given the talent assembled here).

Happiest Season

Happiest Season puts a twist on your typical meet the parents film as Harper (Mackenzie Davis) invites her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) home with her for the holidays. However, on the road, Harper reveals her conservative parents (Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen) don't know that she is gay or that Abby is her girlfriend. This leads Abby to play the role of roommate in need of a place to stay over the holidays. It doesn't take long for the role to weigh heavy on Abby as the film's romcom shenanigans also give Harper's parents the wrong impression of her.

The set-up of a strong conservative patriarch with a family too scared to tell him the truth reminded me of Merry Happy Whatever with Stewart playing a combination of the Brent Morin and Ashley Tisdale characters. Although the film is primarily centered on Harper, her sisters (Alison Brie and Mary Holland) also have their own secrets and resentments. The cast is further filled out by Dan Levy as Harper's support line, Aubrey Plaza as Harper's secret high school girlfriend, and Jake McDorman as Harper's high school boyfriend who Harper's parents are cluelessly trying to set-up with Harper over the holidays.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Great North - Sexi Moose Adventure

The series premiere of The Great North has a Bob's Burgers feel which makes sense as the series is the brainchild of longtime Bob's Burgers's writers and producers Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin and Wendy Molyneux. "Sexi Moose Adventure" introduces us to the Alaskan family the Tobins on the 16th birthday of of Judy Tobin (Jenny Slate). The family also includes her father Beef (Nick Offerman), her brothers Wolf (Will Forte), Moon (Aparna Nancherla), and Ham (Paul Rust), and Wolf's fiancé Honeybee (Dulcé Sloan). The conflict of the first episode focuses on Beef's inability to deal with change, whether it be his wife running away or his daughter getting a job at the mall. There's also a wacky hunting of a moose through the woods which gives the episode its title.

Movin' Right Along to 2021 with Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear

MacGyver - Banh Bao + Drill + Burner + Mason

"Banh Bao + Drill + Burner + Mason" offers two stories. In the first, MacGyver's (Lucas Till) uncomfortable meeting Desi's (Levy Tran) parents (Michael Paul Chan and Page Leong) turns into a mission to save Desi's brother (Paul Yen) from those attempting to scare the medical examiner into falsifying a report. The storyline features your basic meet the parent moments while also cluing them in on both what Desi really does for a living and her boyfriend's unusual skill set. The other involves Russ (Henry Ian Cusick) and Matty (Meredith Eaton) attempting to woo the next generation's MacGyver, Eli Brown (Ben Wang), and then enlisting some unlikely support (Peter Weller) when government agents target the kid. I'll be curious to see if we'll get more of Eli or if this was a just a one-off performance. The idea of Team MacGyver introducing a talented kid into the group, and someone for MacGyver to mentor, offers some new avenues for the show to explore.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Pieces of a Woman

Pieces of a Woman offers impressive performances by Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf as a couple who lose their baby during a lengthy home birth that kicks off the movie. The extended sequence, like the rest of the film, is too long while putting the performances of its actors over any narrative or plot.

Adapting their own play, director Kornél Mundruczó and writer Kata Wéber attempt to sell us on the situation rather than the underdeveloped characters with the idea that we should feel for the couple regardless of any of their other actions. While it is interesting to see the actors hit their marks, Pieces of a Woman works more as an acting exercise than a film.

The film viscerally explores how both characters deal with their loss. In so doing, it produces several strong individual scenes which are loosely tied together by a lot downtime as the film meanders absentmindedly to the next big moment. While Kirby's character shuts down, LaBeouf and Ellen Burstyn look for someone to blame starting with the midwife (Molly Parker) who was unable to keep their child alive while waiting for EMTs to arrive.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Miss Sherlock - The Missing Bride

While Dr. Wato (Shihori Kanjiya) is distracted both by her feelings for Moriya (Ryôhei Ohtani) and her PTSD which complicates things, Sherlock (Yûko Takeuchi) takes a case involving the search for a missing bride who disappears between her wedding and reception. It doesn't take long for Sherlock to see several people are keeping secrets. "The Missing Bride" offers some nice twists involving a sudden reappearance of the man suspected of killing the missing bride's best friend and the reveal of the real reason behind the marriage. As for Wato, despite her feigned disinterest Sherlock helps push the woman she refuses to call friend toward Moriya helping smooth some momentary trouble between the pair.

Usagi Yojimbo #16

Usagi Yojimbo #16 offers the opening chapter of a new story of Miyamoto Usagi helping his old friend and teacher Sōjōbō, a dai-tengu, fight off lesser wood spirits known as guhin tengu who are jealous of Sōjōbō's position and status and have returned to plague him once more.

Star Trek: Discovery - Unification III

With Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) in search of answers about the Burn, "Unification III" picks up the thread from Star Trek: The Next Generation of a unified Vulcan and Romulan. Discovery travels on a diplomatic mission to Ni'Var where hopes of her connection to Spock may grease the wheels to having the former Federation members release valuable scientific data. When their hosts aren't obliged to share, Michael invokes the T'Kal-in-ket and must prove her case in front of a panel, although she is unprepared for who their hosts send to be her advocate - Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn).

Thursday with Ashley Newbrough

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Truth

Mothers and daughters. La vérité, or The Truth, is your basic wacky family tale involving Lumir (Juliette Binoche), her English-speaking husband (Ethan Hawke), and their daughter (Manon Clavel) visiting her famous mother (Catherine Deneuve) who has just released an autobiography and is now working on an avant-garde sci-fi film (which coincidentally also deals with the relationship between a mother and daughter).

The cast elevates what is otherwise a rather straightforward film from Hirokazu Koreeda about the little moments between family members, the struggles of an actor, familial disapproval, the burdens of living with a self-absorbed celebrity, and the scars of memory. Deneuve is obviously enjoying herself as the over-the-top Fabienne Dangeville and the supporting cast forced to put up with her is solid. So too is the unexpected relationship with her co-star Clémentine Grenier which, along with the publication of a book that plays fast and loose with the truth, forces both confrontation and reconciliation between mother and daughter.

Promising Young Woman

Referring to Promising Young Woman as revenge porn may be apt, but it's also doing writer/director Emerald Fennell's devilish film a disservice. Mixing revenge, genuine dramatic underpinnings, and a dark sense of humor, the story twists and turns to squealish delight. Once promising medical student Cassie (Carey Mulligan) now lives with her parents and serves coffee at a small café. And in her spare time she targets men who take advantage of women in compromising positions.

Fennell is careful early on not to show us too much of Cassie's tactics after she's sprung her trap, allowing our imaginations to fill in the blanks about what this woman is up to as well about the reasons driving her behavior. The later is hinted at as the script drops breadcrumbs before confirming the events which led to Cassie leaving school. Cassie's more general attacks become focused as she targets those connected to medical school (Adam Brody, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, and Alfred Molina). However, her plans are complicated by her first relationship in years and a boyfriend (Bo Burnham) who causes her to question the dark turns her life has taken.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Flight Attendant - In Case of Emergency

The opening episode of The Flight Attendant introduces us to stewardess Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) who works and plays hard. After a fun night out in Thailand, Cassie wakes up next to a dead body of a passenger (Michiel Huisman) from their flight to Bangkok and spends the rest of the episode frantic while attempting to cover her tracks and jumping another flight back to the United States before the body can be discovered. Only able to remember fragments of the night, Cassie's freak-out isn't helped by the arrival of the FBI to talk with all members of the flight crew.

Dungeons & Dragons: At the Spine of the World #2

Runa, Saarvin, Patience, Amos, and Belvyre continue their trek across the icy Icewind Dale in a second issue that offers quite a bit of bickering among the group prior to them taking shelter in a cave and then getting a good look at the Zombie Frost Giants following them.

Sound of Metal

Riz Ahmed stars as one-half of a heavy metal band whose life is turned upside down when the drummer starts to lose his hearing. A recovering heroin addict, Ruben (Ahmed) agrees to go to an insular community for deaf recovering addicts to appease girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) while still refusing to come to terms with what has happened to him.

The film from co-writer/director Darius Marder is one on personal struggle, loss, acceptance, and transformation as Ruben struggles both in finding a new life and his refusal to let go of what he had prior to his hearing loss. Even discounting the imparement, Ruben practices selective hearing in what doctors and others tell him both about the state of his hearing and about the limited help he might receive from expensive cochlear implants.

Although much of it takes place with a couple of montages, we do witness Ruben's role from outsider to productive member of the deaf community over the course of the film. But despite the help Joe (Paul Raci) and others give to Ruben, the drummer can't let go of returning to life on the road with Lou.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Hardy Boys - Of Freedom and Pleasure

With each continuing to separately investigate different threads of the same mystery, the Hardy Boys hit the carnival in "Of Freedom and Pleasure" which offers the return of the Tall Man (Stephen R. Hart) and J.B. Cox (Atticus Mitchell). Frank (Rohan Campbell) gets a history lesson from the carnival's psychic Anya Kowalski (Joan Gregson). Meanwhile, Joe (Alexander Elliot) discovers what the thief hid in his room, and even more importantly what was hidden inside the bust which somehow seems to improve Joe's luck at carnival games and allow him to survive being pursued by the Tall Man. It's only at the end of the episode that Joe and Frank come to realize they know things which could help the other, suggesting that we might finally see the Hardy Boys work together to solve the mystery about the odd artifact and how it relates to the murder of the boys' mother.

Firefly: Blue Sun Rising #1

Firefly: Blue Sun Rising #1 concludes the Blue Sun arc that gave fans a look at the operations of the Blue Sun Corproation which was set-up in the television show's original run but never fully developed. The arc, which takes place before the events of Serenity, also sets up the location of Haven as this issue marks the departure of Shepherd Book from Serenity as well of the temporary departure of several other members of the crew.

The Stand - Pocket Savior / Blank Pages

The second and third episodes of CBS' new adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand focus on introducing more of the novel's long list of characters. Here we get musician Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo) who spends some time with the tragic Rita (Heather Graham) before continuing west on his own and coming across Nadine (Amber Heard) and Joe (Gordon Cormier). We also meet Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) who is the first character we see approached and successfully recruited by Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård) for his community in Las Vegas and the deaf-mute Nick Andros (Henry Zaga) who refuses Flagg's offer and becomes Mother Abagail's (Whoopi Goldberg) voice in Colorado. We also see the first meeting of Stu Redman (James Marsden) and Harold Lauder (Owen Teague) and Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) on the road which doesn't turn out as Stu planned, but he does make another acquaintance in Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear).

Friday, January 1, 2021


Set in the near future, the small Brazilian village of Bacurau suddenly disappears from maps, satellites, and cell towers not long after the death of the community's matriarch and the return of another member of their community (Bárbara Colen). Far off the beaten path, no one outside the village seems to notice.

While already dealing with a water crisis caused by a crooked politician (Thardelly Lima), tensions begin to rise. As the community slowly becomes aware something is wrong, there is also an odd appearance by a UFO and attacks on both a water truck and at a nearby farm.

Without giving too much away, Bacurau centers around two groups - those in the village and a second group who is slowly revealed to be the cause of Bacurau's recent problems. While the town looks to local heroes (Thomas Aquino and Silvero Pereira) to protect them, we learn about what the other group led by Udo Kier is after, ultimately leading to a climactic conflict in the village.

MacGyver - Eclipse + USMC-1856707 + Step Potential + Chain Lock + Ma

When one of their own (Henry Ian Cusick) is kidnapped by Leland (Tobin Bell) and Ramon (Zach McGowan), Team MacGyver is blackmailed into breaking a murderous psychopath turned pacifist (Joe Pantoliano) out of prison to exchange. Pantoliano is fun here in an otherwise forgettable episode, although MacGyver (Lucas Till) creating a makeshift bazooka out of a telescope in the unrelated opening sequence is a highlight. Although Leland and their kidnapped prisoner both manage to escape (apparently not earning any animosity to the Phoenix Foundation from any other agency), a discovery of what Leland was ultimately after provides Team MacGyver with valuable information to halt a possible resurgence of Codex. Their time alone with the reformed killer offers MacGyver and Desi (Levy Tran) a chance to deal with the lingering issues for their stalled relationship.

Big Sky - Pilot

David E. Kelley's latest ensemble is adapted from the novel The Highway by C.J. Box. The "Pilot" episode of Big Sky introduces us to our core characters. We've got hot-tempered former cop Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick), her separated husband Cody (Ryan Phillippe) and his partner at their private detective firm Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury). Much of the drama in the first episode concerns Jenny confronting Cassie about sleeping with her husband. On the road, we're also introduced to state trooper Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch), trucker Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty), and a pair of teenage girls (Natalie Alyn Lind and Jade Pettyjohn) traveling from Colorado into Montana.