Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What I Watched: May

I was reading The Avengers while you were still in cast-iron short pants, Mister

1. The Romanoffss, Season 1, Episodes 3-8

Kim and I watched the rest of Matthew Weiner's The Romanoffs, which we enjoyed very much despite my having spelled it incorrectly last month. Like any anthology series, casual views might find the episodes uneven--and they are lengthy, with most being "movie length", and the range of dramatic subject matter might leave viewers loving certain episodes and hating others. I've read some critical reviews of the series and many found fault with the pacing, but this was a common knock against Mad Men, the pacing of which, I thought, was one of the shows' chief appeals.

The show made me want to get into Weiner's creative headspace more deeply, and after listening to the 100th episode of Illeana Douglas's I Blame Dennis Hopper podcast with him I found a number of podcast seminars/interviews he gave during the various stages of Mad Men's run--he's is a fascinating speaker on what moves and motivates him in his creations and I'd wished I'd been able to locate more. I did discover he'd written a novel, Heather, the Totality, and have added it to my tbr pile.

Mad Men, full disclosure, gets my vote for greatest television drama, all-time. I like Breaking Bad, but I don't think it is a close race at all.

2. Avengers: Endgame

In early May, my father and I decided we would try and go to the movies together once a week, and we've kept to it except for a week I was away for business travel. Endgame was our inaugural adventure; we'd actually seen the previous Avengers movie together at the insistent and persistent urging of my son, an avowed Marvel Movie Universe scholar.

Endgame was the perfect launch point for weekly movie excursions for a number of reasons; in addition to having brought me to countless movies when I was a kid (1977-1982 being an especially halcyon time),my Dad was also the person who most fueled my desire to own and read every comic book ever published--he would often come home from a yard sale with boxes and boxes of comic books. One of my favorite title was The Avengers, and I managed to collect the entire first series except for #1 and #4.

My vast knowledge and lore of comic books of the 60's, 70's and 80's gets me in trouble sometimes with regards to the Marvel Movie Universe, as I can be hypercritical of things I feel are not within the spirit of the print MCU (an absurdity, I know), and there's all sorts of places where I could find fault with an Endgame story with Thanos--although I suppose it wouldn't be anywhere near as universally popular, I'd likely not be fully satisfied with anything less than a faithful adaptation of the original Jim Starlin material. 

Fortunately, though, I was able to just shut up and watch, and of course Endgame is a fun, exciting movie. I only really, really hate one thing (I am an enemy of the "Iron Spider" suit; I think Spidey is a much more interesting and engaging character without it. Yeah, I know he needed to be able to survive in space, I still hate it). And my favorite part really annoys my son--I think Fat Thor was the best thing ever and would queue up tomorrow for a Fat Thor movie. I'm considering writing a lengthy essay on why I find Fat Thor so relatable but I don't want to annoy him further.

My father's comment after the show made me realize I'd be including a quote from him on every movie we watch together:

Dad on Endgame: "I had no idea what the hell was going on, but I enjoyed it."

3. Tolkien
This was the second film Dad and I saw together; I'm afraid I liked it much more than he did. There were flaws, and if you don't have patience for Dead Poets Society type material you would likely hate it, but being familiar with Tolkien's work but not his life I found it interesting and well done. The later WWI scenes I especially liked.

Dad on Tolkien: "Next time we see an action movie."

4. John Wick Chapter Three: Parabellum
Wanting to make good on Dad's request, there's fewer actiony action movies than this. Probably my fault for not having seen the first two, suffice to say Dad liked this one more than I did. It would be impossible not to.

That isn't to say he loved everything about it: Dad on John Wick: (during a scene toward the end where John and friend are knifing/shooting/killing an interminable squadron of assassins) "Booorrrrr-ing!"

5. Fleabag Season 1, Episode 1 and 2

Watched these with Kim. One scene in the first episode had me laughing so hard I had to pause the streaming service. The actor playing the boyfriend (Hugh Skinner) had a much different role in the last episode of The Romanoffs and it was both jarring and interesting to see him play such disparate roles back to back. . 

My books can be found HERE for pennies a page.
None of these is a television show. Yet.

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