First Pass - Week of November 29th, 2019

Every Friday is new music release day. I dig through new release lists from sources like All Music, Metal Injection, Pitchfork, and Bandcamp to put together a queue of releases from bands and labels that might interest me. As I listen through the list, I add the stand out albums to a playlist for revisiting. This list is what I refer to as the First Pass. Some of the albums make it to my best of the month playlists. Others get tossed upon further review. Below is a list of albums from this week that made the first pass.


Tony Hawk Breaks Down Skateboarding Movies

This is super good. Tony Hawk talks about skateboarding in various movies. His insight into the skateboarding and those involved in the stunts is fascinating.


First Pass - Week of November 22nd, 2019

Every Friday is new music release day. I dig through new release lists from sources like All Music, Metal Injection, Pitchfork, and Bandcamp to put together a queue of releases from bands and labels that might interest me. As I listen through the list, I add the stand out albums to a playlist for revisiting. This list is what I refer to as the First Pass. Some of the albums make it to my best of the month playlists. Others get tossed upon further review. Below is a list of albums from this week that made the first pass.


Quick Review: Dollface

Dollface

Jordan Weiss

Were you one of the lucky people to see the incredible television series Man Seeking Woman? If so, Dollface is for you. It has a similar surreal style of comedy that seamlessly works into the overall world and narrative of the story.

The series revolves around a recently single woman trying to reconnect with her girlfriends. I love the strong female cast. It is a perspective that is often overlooked in media. The actors have great chemistry. There is a diverse set of personalities on the screen, making it easy to relate. The humor is excellent, and I love that the show does not fall into expected tropes. The second to last episode of the season is also a spoof / homage to The Wizard of Oz. That gives bonus points to anything in my book.

I have no complaints about Dollface. I enjoyed the Hulu series from start to finish. Heather and I were laughing together at scenes, making it an even better viewing experience. The show is refreshing, relevant, and well done. If you like the series, and have not seen Man Seeking Woman, be sure to check that one out too.


First Pass - Week of November 15th, 2019

Every Friday is new music release day. I dig through new release lists from sources like All Music, Metal Injection, Pitchfork, and Bandcamp to put together a queue of releases from bands and labels that might interest me. As I listen through the list, I add the stand out albums to a playlist for revisiting. This list is what I refer to as the First Pass. Some of the albums make it to my best of the month playlists. Others get tossed upon further review. Below is a list of albums from this week that made the first pass.


Brain Dump: Survivor

I am having a hard time getting last week's double episode of Survivor out of my head. It upset me a lot, and has me considering not watching the series anymore. I am disappointed in several of the players, the producers, and Jeff Probst. I have a million thoughts in my head and need a place to get them out. Warning: there will be spoilers for the episodes.

In episodes 8 and 9 of Survivor: Island of the Idols, one of the cast members (Kellee) breaks down crying about her experiences with one of the male contestants (Dan). She details his unwanted touching of her, and how it continues even after she has tried to stop him. This is something that has been highlighted in previous episodes also. During the double episode, we see her talking with another contestant (Missy). Both of them share a similar experience with the unwanted touching and uncomfortable experience. They discuss talking with the other women to vote off the offender. Several other women agree that they feel the same way and that he should be voted off. One of the older female contestants (Janet) takes it upon herself to completely drop her strategy for the game so that she can help protect her fellow women in the game. Strategy talks go on throughout the day, including Kellee looking to vote someone other than Dan off. Apparently, strategy is more important than feeling safe in the game. By the end of tribal council, Kellee is voted off instead of Dan. Janet is shocked. The next episode sees the contestants dealing with the fallout of what happened, including several of the women lying to Dan about what they said and reversing their stories about his behavior. There is a discussion that happens in the next tribal council around the issue, and the most intelligent, socially woke members of the game (Jamal) gets voted off after being the only one to seem to have any true grasp of the seriousness of what happened.

There are a number of reasons why I am upset by these episodes:

First, Dan should not have been allowed to continue in the game, and should not be there now. When Kellee is breaking down talking about the experience, the producer says if there are issues that need to be addressed, she should come to him so they can stop it. It is exactly what she is doing by talking about it to the producers, and the show should have addressed the issue right then. Instead, they allow things to continue, and simply give the equivalent of an HR harassment training off camera. In an interview after the episodes aired, Jeff Probst talked about how Survivor reflects reality, but that the difference is that the game allows people to be voted off. Somehow that takes the responsibility off the shoulders of the show itself? How far do they let things go before taking steps outside of a vote? What happens if someone is having an issue, but no one is willing to believe them? It is fucked up. It is not how anything like this should be handled. It was a disaster on the part of the producers and Jeff.

Second, the women who exaggerated what happened to them as a part of game play crossed a line. Sexual harassment / assault is not a game. It is serious. People deal with it constantly, and it is still hard to be heard in this day and age. Even when heard, there is little consequence for those who did the harassment / assault. It is disgusting that anyone would make that part of their game play. That is no way to advance such an important cause in front of millions of viewers.

Third, the tribal council that addressed the issue was a joke. Jeff talked about putting everything out there, but does a piss poor job of actually stating what happened. No one has the guts to come out and use concrete terms for the harassment  / assault. They skirt around the issue. Several of the contestants are clearly the kind of people that do not understand the complexities of an issue like this and try to brush it off. Jamal is the only one to speak up in an intelligent way. He has done the same for other issues around race this season. It is awesome to hear him talk about social justice issues. Too bad he gets voted out, so we will not have a voice of reason left. During the whole discussion, Dan is asked questions several times and simply wants to let it drop. He gives an apology that is not an apology, and like most men, is oblivious to his own behaviors. It is sad, but especially because it is framed as if it is going to be a deep, no bull type of discourse.

The whole turn of events was bullshit. It was handled in the worst way possible. I think CBS and the Survivor execs believe they deserve some kind of accolade for handling the situation the way they did and giving airtime to it all. Why else make it a double episode with a viewer warning at the beginning? They are as oblivious as everyone else who lets people like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Louis C.K. get away with their heinous actions for so long. In the last few years, we have made progress. We still need to make so much more.


Impressions: Disney+

Disney+ launched a week ago, and with it came a slew of reviews and hot takes from all over the internet. Is it worth the price? Will it be a Netflix killer? Can it bake the perfect loaf of bread? At this point, it feels like a mixed bag.

The Pros:

  • Lots of classic Disney material and a decent selection of recent releases.
  • Apps for most major hardware.
  • 4K UHD content available for those who can take advantage.
  • No ads.
  • Great for kids and family content.

The Cons:

  • Not a lot of new original content, and the stuff that is there is just okay.
  • No watched indicator on already seen content.
  • The add to watchlist button always shows + even when the content is already added.
  • Some of the content listed is not even available now. Certain movies say that they will not be available until the end of 2020. It is misleading to have them listed in with all the content. Make a separate section for things coming soon (and not so soon).
  • Some content is split into separate series instead of one show (i.e. Forky Has a Question and Spark Shorts).
  • No rating system for better recommendations.
  • No mature content.
  • The bundled services are all separate apps instead of being incorporated all in one (e.g. channels in Amazon Video).

I am not someone who rewatches a lot of content, so Disney+ does not have a lot to offer me. The price is low enough where it does not matter though, so it will sit there and be sporadically used. I am excited for some of the upcoming original shows, but given how hollow The Mandalorian feels right now, I am leery of future offerings. I am frustrated by the little issues in the app, but am sure that will all be tweaked in time. If you have kids that want to watch the same stuff over and over, this is probably a no brainer. If you prefer binge watching shows and are looking for new content, then this is not the place to be. Netflix has a ton of great original content, and right now Disney+ cannot compete when it comes to my viewing preference and experience.


First Pass - Week of November 8th, 2019

Every Friday is new music release day. I dig through new release lists from sources like All Music, Metal Injection, Pitchfork, and Bandcamp to put together a queue of releases from bands and labels that might interest me. As I listen through the list, I add the stand out albums to a playlist for revisiting. This list is what I refer to as the First Pass. Some of the albums make it to my best of the month playlists. Others get tossed upon further review. Below is a list of albums from this week that made the first pass.


Quick Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep

Mike Flanagan

I should probably start out by saying that I am not the biggest fan of The Shining. I read the book and thought it was okay. I was let down by some of the over the top elements like the living hedges. I saw the Kubrick film as an adult, and felt it was too long and drawn out. The trailer for Doctor Sleep had me worried that it was going to throw a bunch of different elements together that would never click to form a cohesive story.

After watching it, I was pleasantly surprised. The disparate elements within the trailer made sense in the context of the whole movie. It never felt unbalanced or like wild ideas were being introduced out of place with everything else. Ewan McGregor is great in the leading role. His acting prowess helps to ground the movie, and his interactions with the various characters come off as authentic and meaningful. I enjoyed the antagonists way more than expected. Rose The Hat is a strong character, and her band of magic vampires are eclectic and intriguing.

I have seen several reviews talk about how the movie was too long or that it was boring. I never felt that way. I was engaged throughout the entire film. There were a few places that I was genuinely caught off guard by the direction of the plot. In fact, there were several times as I was watching that I thought to myself, “I cannot believe how much I am enjoying this.” The movie might not be for everyone, but in a happy turn of events, it is definitely a movie for me.


Quick Review: Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit

Taika Waititi

I had huge expectations for this movie, and sometimes that can lead to disappointing results. Fortunately, this movie was better than I had anticipated. It is hard to imagine how a studio came around to green lighting a movie like this, but I am glad FOX Searchlight did. Jojo Rabbit is funny, heartbreaking, uncomfortable, and necessary. Waititi is masterful both as director and writer, creating the anti-hate movie the world needs right now. Roman Griffin Davis is masterful as Jojo. They interplay of being a zealous Nazi youth and a young boy coming to terms with a world he has never fully understood is a wonder to watch. Waititi as Jojo’s imaginary friend, Hitler, is hilarious. And neither detracts from the other great performances of Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and the rest of the cast. I loved every moment of this film. I have no doubt it will be near the top of my favorite movies of the year. It is the kind of movie that makes you immediately want to go see it again. I hope it reaches the large audience that it deserves.