The GardenA blog by yours truly

Stuff i watched recently, Marchuary edition

Letterboxd screenshot of a list of “movies about spice worlds”, with the two adaptations of “Dune” and “Spice World”
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, season three. How did i let myself not get around to this earlier‽ This is soft sci-fi running at peak performance — a crew of hyper-competent and endearing1 people on a starship, sometimes just going on wacky space adventures, other times using science fiction as a lens through which to view our own world. 10/10. My three favourite episodes so far:
    1. “Tin Man”. Our character actor of the week, Harry Groener, plays a member of a mildly telepathic species who has a small problem: he has Space Autism, thus can’t turn said telepathy off. Man, does this episode get it. Every little thing about him is painfully relatable, the ending reduced me to tears, and i would like seven seasons of a buddy cop spinoff show starring him and Data right now, please and thank you.
    2. “The Survivors”. The third episode in the season, this is the one that made me sit up and go: God damn, that’s good television. Our character of the week, John Anderson, is the man of the house for an elderly couple who are the only ones left after the decimation of their planet. I can’t reveal anything more than that, but he sells it like noöne else could.
    3. “Deja Q”. This one’s just funny.
  • The Revenant (2015). Stepdad’s pick for family movie night. When the credits rolled, i thought it one of the best films i’d ever seen… but a few weeks on, i’m not so sure. The cinematography is epic, and Tom Hardy’s brilliant, no doubt, but i really feel more could have been mined from the premise. Leonardo DiCaprio’s half-Pawnee son in particular is the heart of the film, and the key role through which to interpret the conflict between the three warring groups, but he gets unceremoniously killed off halfway through, for no other reason than to bolster Mr Hardy’s villain cred and, i am left to infer, because the writers had no idea what to do with his character for the rest of the story. Mr DiCaprio himself goes completely overboard and could really take Lawrence Olivier’s advice to heart: “My dear boy, have you tried just acting?” 6½/10.
  • True Stories (1986). My pick for family movie night. This sweet and mild-mannered musical comedy is David Byrne’s only director credit, and that’s a damned shame. Most places call it a satire, and i can’t help but think they’re projecting. This is a genuine ode to small-town American life, whatever its pros and whatever its cons, and next time i’m sick, i know exactly what i’ll be putting on. 8/10.2
  • The Wicker Man (1973). Figured i’d watch a whimsical musical from the seventies in preparation for the next one on the list. Great vibes, great music, great ending, great showing from the legendary Christopher Lee3, but good heavens, is our main character ever an unsympathetic, bigoted prick. He’s stumbled on a conspiracy to murder, and he just won’t let go of the fact that he saw some NEKKID WIMMEN prancing around a henge! 7/10.
  • Wonka (2024). Mama’s pick for family movie night. This is a bad idea for a movie and they should not have made it. That’s fine, though: lots of good films make poor ideas on paper. This isn’t one of them. Timothée Chalamet is terrible! You never once buy him as anything other than Timothée Chalamet in a hat. He’s far too much of a goody two-shoes — not a droplet of the sinister nature of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s4 Wonkæ is anywhere to be found. 3/10.
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981). Stepdad’s pick for family movie night. A bit of a throwaway, but there’s some good stuff in here, especially the titular American Werewolf (Who Went Hiking In The North But For Some Reason Is Taken To A Hospital) In London’s zombified friend. 6/10.
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020). Shades of Tenet and Asteroid City here: it’s not Charlie Kaufman at his best, but it is Charlie Kaufman at his most, and he may have finally metatexted too close to the sun. Some really interesting stuff spread out over a turgidly paced first and second acts and a completely nonsensical third. I presume Jesse Plemons’s directions were just “pretend to be Philip Seymour Hoffman”. 5/10.
  • Dune Reloaded / Dune 2: Dune Harder / D2NE (2024). Seen in Imax. A titanic achievement that improves upon the often unfeeling first in every way. I take back everything i said about Wonka — Mr Chalamet is magnetic in a way that cements him as the zoomer generation’s first true movie star. Every gushing ten-star review you’ve heard is true. See it now on the biggest screen you can, with bass that shakes the leather in your seat, because you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t. 9/10, with that final point conditional on the inevitable third part hitting the mark.

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