February 11, 2024

Beau is Afraid

This past week I signed up for Paramount+. The main reason I wanted access to the service is so I could watch the tv series “The Curse”. However, I was looking forward to also watching “Beau is Afraid” & “The Whale”.

My short review is that “Beau is Afraid” is not a movie you watch as much as you endure. It is 3 hours inside a man’s head with all of his fears and anxieties. It is at times funny, but also extremely troubling. There is no traditional plot or narrative, so you have to just buckle up and go for the ride.

For me this is a “one-and-done” type of film. I cannot imagine watching it again. Parts of it are what I would describe as “grueling”. I didn’t know what to make of it. What does it all mean?

So many “everyday anxieties” are depicted on screen during this movie. That was a novel aspect of the movie that I actually enjoyed. I found those moments “funny” when I had the realization that this ridiculous scenario taps into my own anxiety.

I think this movie is about a lot of things. It has so many little moments that could resonate. However, I think the main focus of the movie is about the guilt every child feels knowing they can never repay their parents for giving them life. No matter what you do, you will fall short of showing the proper amount of gratitude to the people who brought you into the world, and then took care of you for years.

January 13, 2024

May December

May December is a Netflix movie with some star power. Julianne Moore plays a woman inspired by the real-life Mary Kay Letourneau… the teacher from the 90’s who had a sexual relationship with a 7th grade boy. This movie imagines that all that happened 20 some years ago, like it actually did, and now a movie is being made about this family. The star of that movie is played by Natalie Portman. She has been allowed to come and stay with the family for a little while in order to accurately portray the character.

I didn’t love this movie as I watched it. It is strange. The tone is all over the place. It starts off with a family picnic. Suspenseful music plays as they wonder if they are grilling enough hot dogs. There were times when everything felt very silly, which seemed odd considering the subject matter. However, this film stuck with me. I have thought about it quite a bit since watching it. I have even considered watching it a second time to see how I feel upon a rewatch.

There is a lot going on. There are strange layers as we watch an actress playing an actress who is preparing for a role by watching another actress play a character. Both of these women are problematic. That whole dynamic is too much for me to process, especially considering what happens over the course of the film.

The reality of this story is that it all started with child abuse. The most interesting thing about the movie is the representation of this boy turning into a man, and what that would be like. A man who still lives with his abuser. That is a compelling story. It is interesting to consider. It is sad, but it is interesting.

I don’t know anything about the actual guy who was seduced by his 36 year old teacher as a 12 year old kid. I do know him and Mary Kay had kids and ended up marrying after her prison sentence. I doubt this movie is an accurate depiction of his story. I wonder how he feels about “May December”.

In the movie he is presented as not having much agency. He missed out on his childhood, and it would appear has had much of his life dictated to him. His maturity has been stunted in some way. He is able to function as an adult, but it doesn’t feel like he would know what to do if he were on his own. He is codependent. What must it have been like to be a father as a 16 year old? What was his mindset after being seduced by an older woman, and then having his life controlled by her? For me, the movie brought up a lot of questions for this guy. He is played as a tragic character. That aspect of the movie really stuck out to me.

Even though he was the most interesting character to me, the film focuses mostly on Natalie Portman’s character. There was some sort of commentary on the vampiric nature of actors. That is the stuff that I had a really difficult time processing on the first watch, and would be the reason I would want to watch this again. There is more to be wrought from the story, however unpleasant it may be.

“May December” is well made and extremely well acted. It feels like there is artistry at play. However, I need somebody to tell me what it was all for.

After watching the movie I became more interested in the real-life story that inspired it. It led me to this bizarre interview with Mary Kay Letourneau and it made everything worse. What a strange world we live in.

October 19, 2023


This past week I started watching Taskmaster, the British comedy/game show. It is available to stream full episodes on YouTube. The show immediately felt familiar to me, yet I am unable to pinpoint what else I’ve seen that makes me feel that way. It has a host (the Taskmaster) who asks a panel of five comedians/celebrities to complete tasks. The Taskmaster then awards points (1-5) for each round based on how those tasks were performed. The show is live with all of the comedians sitting together in the same room with the taskmaster, but the footage of the completion of the tasks was all recorded ahead of time. 

This is a funny show! I enjoyed it right from the start. I started with the most recent series; 16 I believe. I have watched the first couple of episodes then randomly jumped to another series from earlier on to see if it was different. It was the same. 

My favorite part about the show is how the panelists personalities come out as we see them complete the tasks. Most of the things are ridiculous. They are put into all sorts of bizarre situations that they have to figure out how to deal with. It is a unique premise that I find entertaining. 

I’d recommend checking it out. Everybody has access to YouTube. It is free to watch. You just have to put up with a ton of ads. 

October 16, 2023

David Spade - Almost Interesting

David Spade is one of those celebrities that everybody knows about, but hasn’t ever been huge. I clearly remember him from SNL, Tommy Boy, & Black Sheep[1]. My early perception of him was a grouchy sidekick to the uber-positive & extremely dopey Chris Farley. I had completely forgot that Spade was in the television series Just Shoot Me, but as soon as it was mentioned in the book I recalled the weird little slime-ball from that show. Then of course we have Joe Dirt. I definitely knew the star of that movie was the same guy, but for some reason I refused to associate him to the guy from Tommy Boy.

Anyway, Spade’s movies helped form the comedy sensibilities of my youth, yet I couldn’t tell you anything about him. I really enjoy reading memoirs and auto-biographies. I saw this book on the ebook deals list so I decided to buy Almost Interesting.

This book was an easy read. I enjoyed it. There wasn’t much to it. It was nice to hear about Chris Farley. It was interesting to understand more about the dynamics and expectations of being a write on SNL. Beyond that I didn’t take much away from the book. I think I bought it for $1.99. It was worth that. I think the book is accurately titled. 

1: As a middle-schooler I actually got tricked into going on my first date with a girl to see Black Sheep.

  1. As a middle-schooler I actually got tricked into going on my first date with a girl to see Black Sheep. ↩

October 13, 2023

Only Murders in the Building Season 3

I recently caught up and finished the 3rd season of *Only Murders in the Building* on Hulu. I think the first season was the strongest and it has degraded since. I think the show is fine. I enjoy watching. It is a joy watching Steve Martin & Martin Short act together in this series. I haven’t loved Selena Gomez’s acting efforts quite as much. 

There is a lot to like about the show. If they keep making them I will keep watching. It has settled in to this comfortable series with no real stakes. There has become a sub-genre of the murder mystery… it is the *cozy* murder mystery. There are books and movies that use the common mystery setup, but remove the tension and replace it with comfort. Only Murders fits squarely in this genre. It is a show that is easy and enjoyable to watch, but probably won’t have you begging for the next episode to find out what happens. 

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about this show. There isn’t anything deep or meaningful about it to me personally. It is a vehicle to bring stars together and deliver compelling scenes. It succeeds at what it sets out to be. Beyond that, I don’t know that it does anything extremely interesting. 

It has been confirmed that the show will get a forth season. I will be there to watch it. 

October 1, 2023

Welcome to Wrexham Season 2... So Far

The first season of Welcome to Wrexham was a big surprise for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a documentary about movie stars buying a football team from Wales. I assumed the show was going to be mostly about Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds. It wasn’t. It was about the people of Wrexham, and why the football club meant so much to them.

I think the show did an amazing job making the story of Wrexham into something extremely compelling. There were a couple episodes that didn’t land as well, but overall it was very strong. The second season has continued where the first season left off.

What is interesting now is that I already know what happens with the football team this season. It doesn’t factor into my enjoyment of the show at all.

So far the highlight of Season 2 is the episode about autism. It is short. It is hardly about the team at all. It didn’t matter. I loved it. Hearing the parents of autistic children talk about the guilt they feel totally broke me up inside. Parenting is difficult. It is typically a very humbling experience no matter what. I have felt plenty of guilt because I am not prepared, willing, or able to provide my child with what she needs at every moment. When extra challenges are added to that dynamic it creates an immense test of character & patience for parents.

I don’t know how long Welcome to Wrexham will go, but they definitely have something here. I continue to be impressed by the style of the show. They have done a great job telling personal stories that are easy to connect with despite the extraordinary nature of the situation.

September 3, 2023

Deadloch on Amazon Prime

Deadloch on Amazon Prime Streaming is one of those small-town murder mystery shows. It reminds me of Broadchurch and Top of the Lake in a lot of ways. But Deadloch is different. It isn’t satisfied with being an entry into this category of show, it also wants to satirize the genre. It wants to tell a compelling murder mystery and be funny at the same time. For the most part it succeeds.

The attempts at humor cause the tone of Deadloch to be all over the place. There are characters that seem to be from completely different shows interacting. Initially I found it maddening. I wasn’t sure I would make it through the first couple episodes. Then it seemed to be self-aware enough to know how antagonistic it was being to the audience. The show got itself under control and started moving the plot forward. 

Deadloch is set in Australia and has tons of fun curses and insults. Mostly funny, sometimes stupid. Generally the dialog in the show is a mix between being sincere, awkward, and bizarre. Every characters seems to be an over-exaggerated version of whatever they are playing at. It was difficult to take anything seriously, but I’m really not sure we were supposed to. 

There is the character trope of a loose cannon cop from a larger city coming in to solve the small town murder. That character is always so brash, but deep down they have this pain they are trying to escape from. All that stuff exists in this show also. I got worried when everything started lining up. Thankfully they didn’t spend much time on it. It felt like there was an entirely separate subplot that was mostly cut out in the edit, and I am thankful for that. 

I think Deadloch is worth a watch, mainly because it is different. It makes an attempt at balancing the somber tone of a murder mystery with humor and absurdity. It doesn’t always work, but it created an interesting experience that I enjoyed. 

August 5, 2023

Silo on AppleTV+

This show started off with such promise. The first episode set up this big mystery that I wanted to learn more about. I was ready to invest in this story. After the strong start the story slowed way down to the point where I questioned why I was even watching anymore. If I hadn't been able to binge the last 5 episodes there was no way I would have been able to stick with it. The ending was sort of compelling, but it took way too long to get there.

I cannot recommend the series. I was hooked from the beginning and yet by the end I felt like I wasted a lot of time. It has a strong premiss but then totally fumbles the execution. 

Silo is a hard sci-fi about a future society that lives underground in a silo. There is a video feed of the outside that shows a desolate landscape. If you request, you are allowed to go outside and you are asked to clean off the camera sensor. You will never be given the opportunity to come back in. Everybody who goes out makes the choice to clean the sensor, then as they walk away they collapse and die. 

What?!? It is a pretty interesting mystery. Everything gets off to this fast start with lots of action and murder. Then the entire story comes to a grinding halt after Rebecca Ferguson becomes the sheriff of the silo and ignores her duties to try to figure out what happened to her boyfriend. 

I cared nothing about any of the characters in this show. I think they wanted us to care, but they just did such a bad job of making anybody likable that none of it worked. There was so much focus on the mythology of the relics from the before times. None of it was compelling. None of it seemed to amount to anything. 

When we are first introduced to Rebecca Ferguson she seems awesome and extremely competent. Then the rest of the show she sucks. I really wanted to like this show, but as I sit here reflecting on the season I just have bad feelings about it. 

It has been renewed for a second season. Weirdly, I am probably going to watch it to see what happens. I am actually interested in reading the book this show is based on. If I get through the series before the second season starts maybe I will not feel the need to watch anymore. 

Great premise. Strong start. Really disappointing execution over the second half of the season. Watch at your own risk. 

August 2, 2023


I hadn’t been to the theater to see a movie in months… maybe even over a year. But nothing could keep me away from Barbie. Actually my wife and daughters decided a movie would be a good afternoon activity on a 97° summer day so I decided to tag along.

There is a lot of buzz about this movie. Generally the reviews have been positive. I thought it was great! I laughed more than I expected to. It was fun, but also interesting. It looked amazing, especially at the beginning in Barbieland. It referenced films from 2001: A Space Odyssey to The Matrix to Justice League.

Barbie had a strong start but faltered several times on the way to a lackluster ending. I definitely enjoyed the movie, but in the end it’s reach exceeded its grasp. I liked that it challenged the cultural legacy of Barbie, but just asking the questions was not enough for me. I didn’t get the ending. I also understand that I may not have the right perspective to appreciate what the ending was trying to say.

There are a lot of people that have written much more thoughtful reviews of the movie. Here are a couple…

➞ Barbie Is Very Pretty But Not Very Deep 

➞ Why Barbie Must Be Punished

Both of those reviews have plenty of criticisms of the plot and the ideas presented therein. I agree with a fair bit of those criticisms, but I think it is all about perspective. It is a really funny comedy that digs into the psychology of a mid-life crisis. It is a witty farce that explores the modern-day mother/daughter relationship. It is so successful in delivering an extremely entertaining story.

At the same time, the movie references a lot of stuff that it might not agree with in the world, but it doesn’t seem to want to make an actual statement about them. Maybe I missed them. Maybe another watch will clarify the social commentary.

A movie doesn’t have to make a strong political statement to be good. I don’t need a lot of meaning out of a comedy. But it feels like Barbie is getting some sort of weird credit for merely bringing up the fact that something exists in the world while cracking jokes in its general direction. I think I would like to listen to an interview or two with Greta Gerwig and then watch the movie again. Would it make more sense? Would it have more meaning? I don’t know. Either way, I would surely enjoy the experience of rewatching.

May 21, 2023

Fleishman in in Trouble

I watched Fleishman in in Trouble on Hulu. Each episode is around an hour long. There are eight episodes in the first season. I would be surprised if this show came back for a 2nd season. Not saying it is bad. I think the story has been told and I don't see a need to continue it. 

This is a tough show. I can't say that it was an enjoyable experience, but I was enthralled by it. It was heartbreaking. Some parts hit really close to home. It is about a group of people the same age as me. It introduces this idea that even if everything has gone well in your life and you find yourself in a good spot, it doesn't change the fact that you chose a path and now your options are limited. You can't help but look back and think "what if". 

When things are going well in life it is easy to avoid thinking about the possibilities of all the other lives that you didn't pursue. But when things start to fall apart in life, it is hard not to question every decision you have ever made. Fleishman is in Trouble gives us a perspective into both scenarios. 

The other theme that really stuck out to me with Fleishman is in Trouble is how much power other people have to hurt us. As soon as we open up and get close to someone, we give them so much power. Even if they don't mean to, the little things they do can rip us apart. Relationships fall apart a little bit at a time... and then all at once.

I loved how the first 70% of this show focuses on Toby's story, but then completely turns everything on it's head by telling Rachel's story. Perspective is everything. It was heartbreaking when Toby was presented with the pain that Rachel was going through and he showed no compassion. I didn't know what to make of that. I don't know what will happen when they talk again. I am not giving either one of them enough credit to believe they are going to do the right thing. 

Overall Fleishman is in Trouble is well constructed and thought-provoking. It was never "fun" to watch. Most of the time I could only do one episode at a time and then needed to move onto something else to lighten things up a bit. 

As a 40 year-old married man I found it compelling. I probably identified most with our narrator, the Lizzy Caplan character. Her search for meaning in life was familiar. Her realization that she got what she wanted and she still wasn't satisfied was haunting.