Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) is no average teenage girl. With her pallid complexion, black attire, matching pigtails and a personality overflowing with misanthropy, she’s every parent’s nightmare, except for Morticia and Gomez. They love their little viper, storm cloud, etc. and would do anything for her, including keeping her out of trouble when she exacts revenge on her brother Pugsley’s high school tormentors. When Morticia confronts her with the possibility of having attempted murder on her record, Wednesday replies, “Terrible. Everyone would know I failed to get the job done.” If you love droll humor, Wednesday (character and series) has plenty more where that’s coming.
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In a future that’s closer than you think, a company called Lumon Industries has invented a technology known as “severance”. Enabled by a chip that is inserted into the brain, it effectively severs your mind into two selves, referred to whimsically as “innie” and “outie”. Your “innie” is who you become when you’re working on Lumon’s “severed floor”. That self has no awareness of who you are outside of work, but it does remember everything else you’ve learned (how to walk, talk, eat, etc.) When you leave work, you transition back into your “outie”, who has no knowledge of what transpired during the day. Think of it as compartmentalization on steroids. If this technology had been invented by Apple, I’m confident they would have called something catchy like “iDissociate”.
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Mike Flanagan, the creative force behind The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, returns with Midnight Mass, a new limited series on Netflix. Similar to his two previous series, Midnight Mass is a combination of earnest performances, thoughtful, introspective dialog and stealth horror elements. This time around, Flanagan has decided to de-emphasize the scary stuff, and the result is incredibly underwhelming, to the point where the series should have been titled Tedium.
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In The Woman in the Window, Amy Adams plays Anna, an agorophobic-asexual-alcoholic child psychologist who’s life turns into a weak copy of Rear Window. The movie mainly exists as a device to persecute and torture Amy Adams’s character. If you enjoyed seeing Adams essentially repeat her character from Sharp Objects, you may enjoy this movie. As it stands, the movie doesn’t let her take any pleasure from her voyeurism, and instead repeatedly punishes Anna for her transgressions, past and present. She’s Joan of Arc with a telephoto lens. Not recommended.
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This limited series focuses on the mysterious disappearance and death of Elisa Lam while staying at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This story could have served as a fascinating single episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Unfortunately, what we get is four overly padded episodes that eventually confirm what I suspected all along. Worse still, significant time was devoted to talking head commentary that is irrelevant to the case, especially the commentary made by several self-described “YouTubers”, “web sleuths” and “journalists”. The commentary they made online at the time was entirely baseless speculation on what happened to Ms. Lam. The decision to include them along with the interviews of the actual detectives and forensic specialists involved in the case was a decision that turned what could have been a serious examination into the case into laugh-inducing material. Not recommended.
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Season 3 of The Sinner was broadcast about a year ago on the USA Network, and dropped on Netflix just recently. If you haven’t watched this series before, and you are a fan of detective series in general, I highly recommend it.
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A true crime documentary series where filmmaker Madison Hamburg attempts to figure out who murdered his mother. The series contains several moments that are very moving, while the segments constructed to induce tension come off as contrived. While only four episodes, the series feels brief and padded at the same time. Moderately recommended.
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As was the case with volume 1, the six episodes released as volume 2 of season 15 are a mixed bag. Back in 1981, the rock band Genesis decided to name their latest album after the grades they gave the songs contained within (ABACAB). I’ve used their simple but effective method of categorization on the episodes included in volume 2, and grouped them accordingly.
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This post is full of spoilers. If you have not watched all of season 2 yet, you have been warned!
The arc of Season 2 of The Mandalorian shows the title character slowly changing his ways, acting less like an independent bounty hunter and more like a collaborator and friend. From here on out, whenever I’m referring to the title character in The Mandalorian and not the show itself, I’ll refer to him as “Mando”. This seems appropriate since most everyone who talks and writes about this show on the internet refers to him as “Mando”. Heck, even a character within the show (Greef Karga) calls him by that nickname. Mando actually has a name, Din Djarin, but calling him “Din” all the time would sound weird. (Not as weird as calling someone “Greef”, but weird enough.) Rest assured, I’m going along with calling Din “Mando” out of expediency. I still think it sounds too much like Lando, as in Calrissian. Calling him “Man” would have been ridiculous. But I digress.
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What exactly is “The Queen’s Gambit”? According to Wikipedia, it is a chess opening by the white player. This opening is mentioned once or twice in the series, and pieces are moved on the board accordingly. Since I’ve never played chess, I couldn’t explain to you what the strategy actually involves if my life depended on it, however. Nevertheless, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed everything about The Queen’s Gambit: the acting, the direction, the characters, the story, the fashion and music, all of it. This has been one of the best, if not the best series I’ve watched all year. I highly recommend it, regardless of your understanding of chess.
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