Thursday, November 5, 2015

Best of September/October 2015


Cinema Paradiso is a movie in love with movies. The screen is bathed in rich colors and takes place in an atmospheric Italian cultural milieu, much like Coppola's Godfather Duology or Leone's Dollars Trilogy. The first third of the story is utterly enchanting, as young Toto is introduced to movie magic. The subsequent romance plot is, to me, less interesting, but it's hard not to get swept up in the nostalgia of the film.

Back to the Future is everything great about the 80's: it's Ferris Bueller and time travel and skateboards and nostalgia and bad special effects and Huey Lewis and the News. In the film, the reason the story is so self-consciously about life in the 80's is because Marty McFly's an ambassador to the past, showcasing the 80's as the Future. Now, it feels like Back to the Future preserved the period in a time capsule, rather than a time machine. In addition, it's blessedly free of the angst of modern teenager films and instead of using the common Disney Parents As Villains trope, it attempts to see life from their point of view. Marty's mom and dad are almost more important than he is to the story.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a bumpy start back in 2013, but its second season made a dramatic turnaround to become one of the best shows on TV. Now, well into its third season, it's eliminated almost all of its original problems. Chloe Bennett has completely come into her own as Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Quake. The FitzSimmons cutie-pie team has been given some real stakes, and Simmons carried the best episode of the show thus far on her own: 4722. Ward is definitely more dynamic as a villain, and even Lincoln is a bit more complicated. The central threat, as of last week, has a face, and what a face it is! Lash will be a villain to watch. This is a show I won't miss. (that said, I really miss seeing Kyle MacLachlan on a weekly basis. Even so, come quickly Twin Peaks 3.)

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries has been hovering around on the edge of my detective viewing for some time. It's Australian, but very much in the same mold as the Golden Age soft-boiled mystery. That's not to say it isn't without its modern sensibilities - the Honorable Phryne Fisher is happily promiscuous and uninhibited by any of the vestiges of Victorianism hanging around the rest of the cast. She's glamorous, impeccably dressed, and incredibly fun to watch. Her co-stars are sufficiently old-fashioned to ground her in noir-ish 1920s Melbourne, particularly the marvelously dour Nathan Page as Inspector Jack Robinson, Phryne's companion-cum-love-interest. Read more.



  1. Back to the Future … "bad special effects"?

    I am going to assume that, in your tribute to the 1980s, you mean this in the sense that the great rap band Run-D.M.C. did when they rapped on one of the great rap albums of the '80s, "Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good."

    1. Generally speaking. I don't mind kitschy special effects in a good story.

  2. It has been too long since I've visited your blogs! I haven't seen Cinema Paradiso yet, but Back to the Future has been a lifelong favorite. And you're right on the nail about the parents! Granted you usually are. ;) I haven't seen Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries yet, but I have it on my list!

    1. It can be a bit racy at times, but it's a fun show.


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