Category: 2021

2021, Movies

The Rescue (2021, Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)

This is an absolutely incredible documentary about the 2018 rescue of a Thai soccer team from a cave in northern Thailand. It’s one of those documentaries that succeeds simply because the story it is telling is so unbelievably incredible. I was vaguely aware of this at the time – I don’t watch the news – …

2021, Movies

Subjects of Desire (2021, Jenifer Holness)

This is a thought-provoking and compelling documentary about the changing cultural standards around black women and black beauty in the US (and Canada to an extent) that is just too ambitious for its own good. Partway through my “first time feature director” radar went off and, sure enough, it’s her first feature length film as …

2021, Books, Non-Fiction

High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out (2021)

This is a great book about how people get drawn into feuds and other types of conflicts and some of the ways people get out. It’s a really good example of a journalist combining stories with a partial review of the literature. It’s a balance that doesn’t always work but Ripley does an excellent job.

2021, Movies

Werewolf Castle (2021, Charlie Steeds)

This is an extremely low budget fantasy/horror film that fails at both genres. It’s not scary and it doesn’t have any of the magic of fantasy. I knew that going in, of course, but this is one of those films that bad in many ways but it competent enough in terms of the production that …

2021, Movies

The King’s Man (2021, Matthew Vaughn)

It’s hard to exaggerate how much worse the third Kingsman movie is compared to the first two. It almost feels like one of those sequels made by someone else, like The Sting 2 or whatever. But, it’s made by Vaughn. It just feels like it misses the mark almost the entire way through. SPOILERS

2021, Movies

Summer of Soul (2021, Questlove)

I have been reading about popular music history since almost before I can remember. Before I had the internet, I had a Billboard book that I read and re-read for some reason. And, once I had the internet, and AllMusic, among other websites, I read everything I could about every artist and genre I had …

2021, Books, Non-Fiction

American Republics (2021) by Alan Taylor

This is the third Alan Taylor history of the early US that I have read and it’s just as valuable, eye-opening and depressing/maddening as the other two. Once again, his scope is far greater than the usual American history books, spending time on area of North America that were not yet, and in some cases …

2021, Movies

Django & Django (2021, Luca Rea)

This is a brief documentary about the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Corbucci that really feels like it was meant to be a DVD extra or something. I haven’t gotten around to seeing any of Corbucci’s films yet, so watching it might have been an odd choice. But I watched it because Quentin Tarantino was in …

2021, Movies

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021, Jon Watts)

The MCU Spider-Man movies are probably the best overall series within the whole massive thing, though there may be better individual movies. But this is the weakest – and longest (and most self-important) – of the three and, in many ways, reverts back to the usual Marvel crap. There is a difference here, of course, …

2021, Movies

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021, Andy Serkis)

So I liked this substantially more than the first movie and I think it’s for one main reason: Venom is present from the beginning. I don’t remember if there were this many wisecracks in the first film but, if there were, I was already pretty bored when they started. Here it’s clearly a comedy (in …

2021, Movies

No Time to Die (2021, Cary Joji Fukunaga)

I don’t quite no what to do here because I must admit that I have only seen Skyfall and Spectre once each. And I have very little memory of either, except the vague impression that I didn’t like them, and that they were going the way Bond movies always go near the Bond’s run, getting …

2021, Movies

Vince Carter: Legacy (2021, Justin C. Polk)

Vince Carter is not why I’m a basketball fan, that’s Steve Nash. But Vince Carter is why I paid enough attention to basketball to discover Steve Nash. And, of course, I was a pretty impressionable age when Vinsanity was happening. So I have a soft spot for him and for his story. (I am the …

2021, TV

Muhammad Ali (2021)

Burns and Co’s second documentary series focused entirely on one person is even longer than and more in-depth than Hemingway. But, fortunately, Ali’s life is, in many ways, a grander subject. At least for the first half, the series is in many ways an alternate history of the post war United States. And even when …

2021, TV

Hemingway (2021)

This 3-part series is, to my knowledge, the first time a single person has gotten the “Ken Burns Treatment.” Given how much stuff Ken Burns’ has created, I certainly could be wrong. But it’s the first of the prestige PBS Ken Burns’ series I am aware of that focuses on one person. (The Roosevelts is …

2021, TV

Only Murders in the Building (2021)

This is an inventive and consistently funny mystery comedy that pokes fun at our obsession with true crime podcasts. As Jenn said, it fees kind of miraculous, a show like this with a central relationship that is basically grandchild-grandparents, rather than a friendship, a romantic relationship or even a parent-child dynamic. It feels like a …

2021, Movies

Red Notice (2021, Rawson Marshall Thurber)

This is a fairly entertaining movie that would be actually pretty fun if it wasn’t so stupid. It’s a frustrating experience to watch a movie where a bunch of the jokes land really well but the script is bad and the plot is ridiculous. The filmmakers don’t appear to trust their audience and the film …

2021, Books, Non-Fiction

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (2021) by Patrick Radden Keefe

This is a well-written but maddening and saddening biography of the Sackler family, who are best known as the owners of Purdue Pharma and Purdue Frederick, i.e. the OxyContin people. It’s not really the story of OxyContin or the opioid epidemic, but rather just the history of the family. It’s a revealing story about how …

2021, Movies

Black Widow (2021, Cate Shortland)

Much like Captain Marvel, this is a necessary and needed corrective. And much more than Captain Marvel, we can legitimately wonder what took so damn long. Most of the other Avengers got their movies a long time ago. (The Hulk got his own movie, remember.) But being a necessary corrective to a patriarchal movie franchise …

2021, Movies

Schumacher (2021, Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, Michael Wech)

This is an extremely workmanlike documentary about the first part of the career of Michael Schumacher and a tiny little bit about the accident. Much like the Jacques Cousteau documentary I just watched, it feels sanitized but in this case even more so. It also feels incomplete.

2021, Movies

Saloum (2021, Jean Luc Herbulot)

My first Senegalese film (as far as I know), this is a tonally inconsistent horror movie which tries to trick you into thinking it’s something else more than once. It’s super stylized and some of my confusion with it likely stems from having never been to Africa and knowing literally nothing about this part of …

2021, Movies

Arthur Rambo (2021, Laurent Cantet)

This is the story of a rising French literary star (and YouTube personality) whose career is derailed right at the moment of his big triumph by his Twitter history. it’s something that happens seemingly every day in our world and yet I don’t think I’ve seen yet seen a movie that explicitly deals with this, …