As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, TDYLF has been abandoned for some time. This is the first post since late August. It’s been a long, strange year. Lots of things- some good, some horrible, some that were just kind of things neither good or horrible- have prevented me from doing much with this site. But I miss it. This site afforded me a chance to work on both my writing and my design skills, all under the guise of watching lots of movies and television. Then I had less time for movies and TV, which meant I had less time to write about movies and TV. And that also meant that there were less ideas coming in, and therefore less ideas being converted into written word. As of today, I’d officially like that to change. I’m not making any promises, but I’d like to rededicate myself to this site, even if it’s just an article or two each week. It was too much fun to let it die on the vine.
So which movies and TV shows have I been dumping into my brain recently? That seems like as good a place as any to fire the ol’ Droid back up.
I’ve had two “holy shit, that was awesome!” movie experiences this year, both in the last month. Jennifer Kent’s Australian horror, The Babadook, is the most recent. I am not one to wilt under the weight of horror. It’s rare that a horror movie actually scares me. But The Babadook chilled me to the bone. It works because it’s so human. Anyone who has ever spent time around a child can tell you that it can be a trying experience. In the case of a single mother of a troubled child, it’s amplified. Kent’s film takes something rather ordinary- a child who tries a parent’s patience- and spins it into an absolutely horrific experience. It’s one of the better horror films I’ve seen in quite some time. Ba ba DOOK DOOK DOOK!
The first “holy shit, that was awesome!” movie experience was Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s the kind of movie that comes straight out of Hollywood’s 1970s golden age. In fact, Gyllenhaal’s warped protagonist- Lou Bloom- comes off as the millennial answer to Travis Bickle or Rupert Pupkin. He’s engrossed in technology, enormously awkward socially in an increasingly psychotic way, and he builds fame while spouting empty corporate platitudes. It’s a scathing critique of modern society aimed directly at celebrity culture and the new psychology of the 21st century. And it bears plenty of dark humor, even going so far as to use heroic soundtrack bits when Bloom has sprinted past any sort of ethical line. I don’t know that I’d put it on par with There Will be Blood (2007) or Black Swan (2010), the two best movies for my money in the last 15-20 years, but Nightcrawler is just a tick below.
The Strain book trilogy (The Strain; The Fall; The Night Eternal)
After enjoying The Strain on FX so much, I decided that I didn’t want to wait for the show to come back in a year. I jumped in on the books and never looked back. I won’t spoil anything for show-watchers, but I will recommend the books. It took me approximately a month to wipe out all three of them. Then I gave them to my friend and he knocked them out even faster than I did.
Showrunner Charlie Brooker describes Channel 4’s Black Mirror thusly: “each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they’re all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes time if we’re clumsy.” That’s a perfect description for a show that cleverly satirizes modern culture, specifically technology and celebrity worship. The first episode is a little shocking (let’s just say that it puts the best in bestiality) but the remaining episodes have softer edges. It’s streaming on Netflix right now, and the Christmas episode starring Jon Hamm will be airing on DirecTV this month.
British shows with “Black” in the title have struck twice in my home. I’ve knocked out two seasons over the past several months. Orphan Black sometimes hits me as mediocre, but it occasionally offers flourishes of greatness- enough for it to fall in the 4-out-of-5-stars range. The real reason you should watch Orphan Black is the star, Tatiana Maslany. She plays countless clones, giving each her own personal flair. Her performance is seriously impressive and she deserves bigger stardom moving forward.
The Walking Dead
The most recent half-season of The Walking Dead just wrapped up. It’s shaping up to be the best season of the show yet. I know I’ve said a lot of nasty things about The Walking Dead in the past but it’s never been as good as it is right now. Characters are growing and the writers are abandoning the tropes they’d come to rely on far too much in the early going. They figured out everything that was wrong and they spent this past half-season correcting it. It’s an exciting direction and I can’t remember a show finding itself this deep into its run. New Rick™ makes a huge difference.