What I watched in June and why not a ton of films
Spoilers: it was a lot of TV
June was a very strange and fast month. It came and went like august would never be capable of. I got sick for two weeks, went back to college, back to my swimming practice in the middle of winter for crying out loud, and put out my new design services website. In the meantime, I did not watch a bunch of films. The theater releases were not a lot exciting and I did not want to pay to watch the new Jurassic Park or the new Liam Neeson film. And I lost timing of a very good festival in town with Capra films because of that week I had a flu.
That said, I took some time to watch a bunch of TV this month, and just really a handful of movies. June watch be like: Simpsons 13–17, Stranger Things 4, Russian Doll 1 and 2, The Boys 3, Grease, Maverick, Scenes from a Marriage, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction 4, I Think you should leave, The Inside Outtakes, Love Death + Robots 3, Spiderhead, It’s a Wonderful Life, No Time to Die, and a few more things. Let’s talk about it a little, shall we?
The Simpsons is an obsession of mine. I hope it never ends, they never stop doing it unless they reach a 50th season, they hope they get better despite getting worse from time to time, but to me, the show feels like a really good restaurant where you order food from the comfort of your home. Is it as good now as it was during their prime? No. Does it still deliver pretty solid food every single time? Yes. Seasons 13 to 17 flow like one giant thing. I loved every cameo from The Rolling Stones to Richard Gere to Bob ‘GOAT’ Dylan, the episode Bart discovers the Playdude magazine, every Homer and Marge flashbacks to High School and camp and how they were always each other’s love birds, the episode when Lisa causes the banning of guns in homage to a dead surprise cowboy, the Treehouse of Horrors and their antics (the Homer clones is the best). Not once, not twice but multiple times I took some clips to share with friends of hilarious gags. I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed Homer’s call to Domino’s in that episode he’s working out one arm only. They just deliver. It’s always a safe choice.
The new season from The Boys is as bold as ever and the goriest of all so far. So many people explode to their guts it’s literally mind blowing. And the constant nudity is off the park. The episode with the Herogasm party is just out of this world in the way they place an orgy as a non-distracting backdrop to the real drama going on. The stakes are as high as a group of college dropouts watching Ricky and Morty marathons. The execution is above and beyond and the extra budget is clear as fuck. Jensen Ackles shine in this even more than the first (and good) four seasons of Supernatural. And brilliant move from Prime on releasing weekly episodes, truly helps build the hype Netflix desperately needed for their crown jewelry Stranger Things 4.
Talking about the Hawkins franchise, this is all o we the place, literally. With too many plots to follow and too long episodes packed with unnecessary fillers, the new season feels like it wants its cake and eat it too. Half the main cast don’t matter anymore, Eleven’s story-line is a huge mess, and Hop and Joyce’s adventure in Russia is dull, until it tries to connect to the main story line of Season 2 and the demodogs, which raises the chances of it being good, only too late for that. But when I’m Hawkins, this season shine brighter than the previous two combined. Sadie Sink’s Max and Natalia Dyer’s Nancy are the standout of this season and episode 4 is the best the show’s ever made. The 30 million dollar budget is also in everything your eyes can see. And even if the hype benefits from the season being split in two parts, with yet two episodes to come, it could benefit even more from a weekly release, which has been working to some of Netflix’s best shows lately. At least the new season is not bating on 80’s nostalgia for nostalgia sake’s anymore and just inhabits the 80’s like season one did.
It’s important to add here that neither Stranger Things nor The Boys new seasons are over yet when I post this, so have to wait to really talk about the overall result in the next “What I watched this month” text.
And the epitome of the 80’s has definitely been the single best sequel made 30 years later ever. Top Gun Maverick won’t have the same cultural impact as the first movie did, that’s literally impossible, and won’t produce another film star like the original did for Tom. Thank God everyday forever and ever amen for Tom Cruise being still the movie star he is today. This movie gets it. From recreating iconic scenes(like the opening credits virtually identical) , showing all the nostalgia we needed with the classic Aviator Rayban, the jacket, Tom Cruise in a marine uniform, Tom Cruise piloting a Kawasaki 55, Tom Cruise piloting a jet upside down, Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise. But more than that, this movie adds gigantly to the universe this is part of. Every flight sequence is above and beyond, the mix of the original score with Hans Zimmer power to maximize anything, the practical efects, the love story, the beach footbal and queer coding, Goose reincarnated in Miles Teller’s performance as his son, the F14, Hangman’s redemption act, Val Kilmer’s amazing tribute that both acknowledges his throat cancer but honoring his legacy with the character. This is a movie that did the right thing in waiting 2 years due to the pandemic to be released in the theaters, cause that is the right way to experience it. The direction also honors the great Tony Scott’s tropes and decisions that made the original the classic it was, and even if Hold My Hand by Gaga will never be Take My Breath Away, it was a really solid addition to the whole thing. I loved this movie, was super hyped, watched with my dad as it was supposed to be done, and had the most entertaining and non-stop fun experience in the theater of my whole year.
I also watched Grease with my mom in her first visit to my new apartment, and we had a blast. Grease is legendary for many reasons. John Travolta is the biggest star of the 70’s and thank goodness for that. He is amazing in this, so as Stockard Channing, absolutely fantastic in her role as Rizzo (first name Betty, as my mom). The music and choreography of every number is astounding and the backdrop of the 50’s is the best frosting this cake could ever ask for. We laughed, cried (Rizzo’s There are worst things I could do is the best performance in the whole bunch), told the same jokes we ever do in every same scene and had fun like crazy.
Back to the 2020’s, I watched the two seasons of Russian Doll, and god damn, Natasha Lyonne is a master. The first season of the show, that I took too long to finally watch, is the most creative thing I’ve seen in a long time. That episode 5. The end of the season just blew my mind so much I had to go out and walk around the neighborhood for a whole hour before I was able to do anything else. The writing is solid, the premise is original, if not original, super fresh, the execution is flawless, great cinematography, sound design and the acting, the chemistry, the casting, just beautifully made and gut punching. When it comes to season two, that was a huge step up in both budget and bold storytelling, but even if not so compelling or deep as the first one, it is still one of the greatest post pandemic television so far. It was good to see the show expand on its ideas and crazy antics. I really missed more from Charlie Barnett’s Alan in season two, he really stands toe to toe with Natasha in the first batch. But the concepts of death from the first installment and family history in the second really shines when the series put together some of the best psychological analysis a TV show can get with great elements from comedy, drama, suspense and damn, even horror. That was a huge and grateful surprise for a friday night to go so big.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction might need some introduction if you don’t know the show. It is Dave Letterman interviewing really relevant people over a 45 minute episode usually shot in front of an audience in a heart to heart type of conversation, inter cut with pre recorded footage to show the guest’s personal life in some way. Setting out with Barack Obama, Jay Z, Kim K, Malala, George Clooney, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld and other big names, the new forth season is really a great step. From the intimate conversation with Billie Eilish (and Finneas) to the revealing pre-Oscar interview with Will Smith, the season is not the greatest batch so far, but really just keeps doing. Letterman has a remarkable talent and is backed up by his own name and importance in the business, and the show has found a format that is engaging and pretty much fail proof on delivering what you want from a talk show. If this might be your deal, you’ll enjoy a lot, specially if you are a fan of “that week” celeb (it’s Netflix, so everything is just out there for you). The ones I cited by name in this paragraph are personal favorites from all seasons so far. And his new special, That’s my Time with David Letterman, in which he puts together a great batch of up and comers new stand up comedians is also a great addition to the Netflix lure on comedy specials. His cold opens and selection of comedians, and every single joke the man himself tells about the post pandemic world is pretty solid. Although, his joke in the first one about Will Smith sounds corny, considering the amazing conversation they had on his other show, that I just talked about a while ago. Continuing on the comedy lure, I Think you Should Leave is a really great sketch comedy show, probably the best one to come out in the 2010’s. Tim Robinson just has what it takes. The show is so fantastically written, the episodes are short enough to be easy to watch and every single concept is outrageously great. You won’t get bored and will have the best re-watches. I just hope they do a third season for this, you never know. Another comedy legend is Bo Burnham, specially after his 2021 special Inside, that now has a new layer to it with his brand new The Inside Outtakes. Despite the title and the fact that this came out on Youtube, Outtakes is not only Inside’s leftovers. There is deep to it in its own merit, as Bo expand many of the themes of the first special by acknowledging its existence and sense of cultural relevance. Questioning how philosophical the work of a comedian can be while criticizing and bringing a sense of grandeur and importance to its own work seems to be the tone, so it might sound too egocentric or self-indulgent, but it could be that we are actually supposed to be laughing at his (Bo’s) own sense of ego and indulgence.
Then I watched No Time to Die and damn covid for not allowing me the chance to see this in theaters back in the day. Craig Bond is the best one. Rami Maleck is always a creepy win. More French Lea Siedoux. Pddington Q is everything. Billie Eilish kills. What a goddamn score. The practical stunts are a spectacle aside. What a time to be a 007 fan. The first time in 50 plus years was in the franchise they make it serialized, brings their best into play with game changing Casino Royale, astounding Skyfall and now this incredible finale. Yes, Quantum is sort of a downer in comparison, and Specter died out of trying too hard. But still, it is inconceivable to me to have it any other way. Serialized Bond is the best way to do it. And the final installment for the fifteen year Craig tenure is a thrilling farewell just enough to the series as a whole. It’s just delightful to have lived through this era of Bond and know I’ll become an uncle that defends tooth and nails the majesty of 007 as we know it today. Concerning the plot, yes Heracles and a world wide mass destruction threat is kind of a tired old trope, but the execution is flawless, so hit me with more of it. And they finally gave him the chance to sacrifice himself for love. The humanized him as humanely possible for such an entity. I’ll have Bond over any superhero film any given day.
Then Thalles and I went to the theater to watch a special screening of It’s a Wonderful Life and it is just everything you’ve come to expect. The 1946 movie is a perfect classic, the best Christmas movie ever and blueprint for so many stories since (Shrek Forever is a big rip-off of this movie’s concept). James Stewart is an avalanche and the whole world just spins around him. You will cry a few moments too many. I’m just glad this is the one we chose to keep in schedule to go see.
Spiderhead is better than the story it was based at (from The New Yorker) but not so deep as the story is. The movie has a good pacing and is extremely entertaining. You won’t feel the runtime. It tries to be the new Ex-Machina, and it fails. Miles Teller is the perfect casting. Hemsworth would never be your first choice but good to see him out of his many Thor costumes. Too many concepts were left at the script table. The sex scenes are better in the original story. Light as a feather if you enjoy sci-fi thrillers. A tad too much if you never seen any before. I enjoyed it.
I also watched Casablanca, which is a flawless classic flick that immerses you into the World War context and the love story in between. The most New Yorker thing I could do in a Sunday night is go watch a classic 1940’s film in a indie theater and ride the subway for two stations to do so. The script is amazing and the execution hits every single perfect note, but it is such a larger than life classic, you can’t help but be aware of watching a movie during the whole screening. And even if the movie is too great, I wasn’t able to be taken by suspension of disbelief at any moment. That was a chance of a lifetime to watch it in the big screen.
Not gonna talk about Love, Death + Robots yet (wanna write something specific about each), but damn, this show is good. Same for Scenes from a Marriage (I lack the courage I need to finish it). Go watch some of these and form your own opinion.