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Chinese cartoon list: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls507499563/
[I'm not trying to be mean to the intellectually disabled, or mentally ill- I just find it fascinating when actors/Hollywood try to depict such a touchy, difficult subject as mental illness/intellectual disability, as well as the ever-changing public standards and attitudes towards the issue, from condescension, to mockery, to sentimentality, to woke lionization, to naive mis-representation, to using the disabled for shock value, or as something scary.]
[Had to make up these criteria, coz there really aren't that many half-decent Vietnam movies; A handful of absolute CLASSICS... And then the rest are 90% either (1) great movies, only tangentially/briefly about Vietnam (The Deer Hunter,Bullet in the Head, Forrest Gump, Dead Presidents) (2) Largely set in Vietnam, but kinda trash (Uncommon Valor, MIA, Rambo, etc]
Guy Martin's Spitfire (2014)
Guy Martin's sincere passion and respect is infectious.
I'll admit bias, here- Although I'm only a casual fan of motorcycle GP racing, after stumbling across Martin's YT channel, which lead me to his British TV work, I find him one of the most likable, genuine, sincerely humble celebs I've ever come across.
Martin rarely talks much about himself, unprompted. But ask him about his v12, supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin static engine (so, then engine from a Spitfire, and many other WW2 planes- But not MOUNTED in a plane; It's just on an engine-stand in his barn, where it doesn't do any work- He just runs it coz it's utterly goddam glorious), and you can see Guy's eyes light up with genuine passion, talking excitedly about the minutia of the Merlin's engineering- How they managed induction that can give consistent air/fuel ratio rightside-up, upside-down, in a zero-G dive, or barrel roll. How they designed the oil system, so it'd stay sealed idling hot on a tropical runway, or far below freezing, at 40,000ft altitude.
Martin's sincere enthusiasm for the history, and the engineering skill behind iconic machines like the Supermarine Spitfire is a thing of beauty- Especially if you're the type of person who's interested in the specific, technical aspects of the fighter-Nothing TOO dry, or in-depth, of course. But more detail than most similar docos- And Martin, like Jay Leno and perhaps James May, is one of the the few celebs, where you can see this isn't just a job, or a subject where he's trying to pretend to know/care more than he does- Although Guy doesn't try to pass himself off as some expert in ww2 single-engine fighters, you CAN see a very real love and respect for the nuts and bolts and below-the-surface guts of this glorious machine.
Copyright Criminals (2009)
More relevant now than ever..
In the internet age, the "remix culture" born with Dadaist painters and poets in 30s, and re-born musically in the late 70s and 80s, with the hiphop which would dominate for the next 40 years, has fully blossomed today, when cheap, available tech means that preteen kids routinely chop up pre-existing music, video, visuals, text etc, in meme culture, or relted forms like "Youtube Poops", "Nightwave", or even just the humble mix-tape. Hell, even pre-existing snippets of computer code are re-mixed and used for newb purposes by "script kiddies", or forms like "Machima", where video game assets are re-used, as a cheap, DIY way to make movies.
Copywrite law was created for a long-past age, before even the casette-recorder existed, when copying and re-arranging art just wasn't even physically possible, for most kind of media.
Disney became the media giant it now is, by taking advantage of pre-existing art (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, etc), taking advantage of the fact that copywrite vanished after just 25 years, in the era when Disney Studios got rich... but now Disney are one of the most vicious prosecutors of small/young artists, trying to do EXACTLY what Walt Disney did, when he made art from 50yo kid's stories. Now, Disney used their power, to lobby government to perpetually extend the time before copywrite lapses. If you re-mix 90yo Disney characters or stories, even obscure ones they barely use, Disney will sue into bankruptcy, for doing EXACTLY what Walt Disney did, with other artist's work that was 40 years younger, at the time.
Copywrite needs to be DRASTICALLY re-written, to allow small/young artists the same opportunities of artists in the past. An obvious, common-sense idea would be looking the length of time copywrite holds, which Disney extended from 25 years after publication, up to 75, 90, sometimes 125 years after publication, and insterad REDUCE it, in keeping with our fast-paced culture; Copywrite should lapse after 15 years, maybe even 10 or 5 years, to allow other artists to remix and re-use that media, while original artist keeps collecting royalties on the original recordings. This wouldn't significantly impct trhe ORIGINAL artistt's income, but it WOULD give young/small artists a huge amount more freedom, and opportnity to make a name.
The laws today were written to suit big business; The classic albums that pioneered the use of sampling, from the 80s like P. E's "Nation of Millions..." or Beastie Boys "Pauls Boutique" would be 100% impossible for a band starting out today, or even a multimillionaire, established star, because the legal hoops for those sample-rich LP's would just be impossible to negotiate.
Laws should be written, to ALLOW and PROTECT small, emerging artists gaining a foothold, where they can contribute to the economy, and the culture; Not to lock small artists out, in order to protect old, established wealth/big business. Technology means copywrite law is getting less and less enforcable, anyway, because any kid with a $150 phone can re-mix music and video into a new and unique (and copywrite-infringing) artwork, and anonymously distribute it around the world, seconds after it's creation, all without leaving their bedroom.
The main impact that copywrite law really has, aprt from shackling small artists, is making law-breaking routine for millions, probably billions of people who consume media online, often not even aware that something as simple as a jpeg file of some dopey meme may be technically illegal.
Copywrite law (in it's current form) is an outrdated relic, that's been abused by the lobbying power of big business, to criminalise normal people, stifle artists, and make the super-wealthy, even wealthier.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
So you're thinking of watching "The English Would Politely Form A Nice, Orderly Queue, To Their Own Execution: The Movie"...
This movie is an insult (but an accurate one) on film, about how inherently cucked the British are; You could NEVER set this movie in America (I'm neither British OR American, btw), it just wouldn't work... But it's EASY to believe that the British would politlely and obediently follow the most insane, inhumane laws imaginable, TERRIFIED of ever committing the most heinous, unforgivable crime that the Anglo can ever commit; Causing a fuss.
There are some nice touches in this movie- The bland, managerial NewSpeak, used to create bureaucratic euphemisms that hide the horrific reality of the main characters' situation; "Death" becomes a nice, neutral-sounding "completion". Forced, government-mandated harvesting of your organs becomes "a donation", and the disposable clones, created for spare parts are "donors", and the glorified battery-farms where they live are "Care Centres".
This insidious, creepy way that language was used, with new terms coined to re-define the most basic aspects of life, and then enforced by the government til they become "normal" and unquestionable, rang especially true.
Conceptually, "NLMG" is a very strong, thought-provoking movie, and it's beautiful-looking, and well-acted. That said, personally, I found the glacially-slow pace to be boring af. And the fact that the main characters never really actively fight their lot in life (beyond a plaintiff, impotent yell in on an empty beach. And whining to Mummy...), despite clearly being a deliberate authorial decision, was ridiculously frustrating, and just made me dislike the protagonists- Why should *I* care what happens to the characters, if THEY don't care what happens to themselves? Why wouldn't they just run away, rather than meekly obeying? Even if they had some built-in used-by date, that kills them with or without "donation" (which we're never overtly told, but it kinda seemed implied), in their situation, I'd much rather die and rot, alone, rather than let some vampiric senior-citizen bennefit from my corpse- but the protagonists never seemed to even question if this may be a possibity.
Deuce of Spades (2011)
Depends if you watch 'Deuce' as a hot-rodder, or as movie audience...
If you're looking for a movie with a buttload of genuinely cool hot-rod custom cars, with dozens of very nice-looking fan-service shots of desireable 3x2 bbl carburetor set-ups, and guide headlights, a drilled, dropped, nickel-plated front axels. And a bunch of 30yos playing teen-agers, dressed like an early-2000's set-dresser's image of the ULTIMATE cool-kids from the mid-late 50s, then 'Duece of Spades' is a 10/10.
...but for a general audience, just looking for a decent movie, well... This ain't it, chief; Honestly (despite being a hot rodder, genuinely imprerssed with the beautiful custom cars in 'DoS', and the fun cameos from Winfield and Hines), I feel like I'm being generous, giving 'Deuce of Spades' a 2/10.
For a low-budget first movie from an unknown director, running what seems to be basically a one-woman passion project, 'Deuce' isn't bad- The production looks slick and more proffessional than 99% of first-timers' efforts (tbh, it's pretty OVER-produced, in parts; It looks like a cheesy, soft-filtered ad for greeting cards. Or for insurance, pitched at senior citizens pining for 1963. Or a Celine Dione music video from the 90s. But over-production in your first movie is almost impressive, in a wierd way).
But despite having it's strengths (primarily cool cars, and slick production) the writing and dialogue are reeeally bad, even by "first movie" standards. The amateur actors are well... amateur. The fight-scenes are even worse. And probasbly most important- the story is just way too schmaltzy and over-dramatic, without the screenwriting skills to pull it off. The pacing is awful. And it's AT LEAST 30 minutes too long; Honestly, I think it would have worked best trimmed right down to maybe 45 to 65 minutes, condensed into a quick, punchy, fast-paced story, where the cars and slickness would be enough to carry a movie of that length, without dragging on long enough for it's short-comings to become evident.
Overall, 'Deuce' is pretty impressive for a low-budget first movie.... People who share Grainger's obvious love for hot rods, 50s nostalgia, and the retro Car Club scene may find the endless parade of dropped, channelled roadsters with Duvall windshields and pie-crust slicks, and the cameos from (custom car legends) Gene Winfield and Bill Hines are enough to carry the movie... But the general viewer (or anyone watching the movie-making, rather than the cars and/or vantiy-shots of the actors) won't...
Hells Angels Forever (1983)
A monument to both the naivety, and thuggishness of HA's
This movie was the hilariously inept attempt at "good P. R" from the Hells Angels MC, at a time when the club's president was facing a potentially heavy prison sentence, for a yet-to-be-determined laundry-list of criminal charges.
You can see that the director was TRYING to paint a positive (or at least, not TOO negative) picture of HAMC... but the Angels don't make that easy... Generally, they come off as habitually-violent thugs, indignant that they're expected to obey the same laws as the rest of us. Even in this (incompetently) white-washed version of HAMC, we see wife-beating, violence, strong implications of rape, and worse.
That said, although the HAMC are undoubtedly faaaaar from innocent, they also seem to be a magnet for drama- I wouldn't question that, in between the legitimate charges, there very likely HAVE been trumped-up charges levelled against HAMC. And both in the movie, and in real life, I've seen how wannabe tough guys love starting trouble with HA's and other 1%ers (which rarely ends well, for them). Buy hey, play stupid games, win stupid prizes, right? You go around talking about what a super-duper-bad-ass you are, and fly a patch that's basically a neon sign sayng "look at me!!", you can't complain, when you GET the attention you're asking for, can you?
But the timing of this movie was probably fairly good, really- The early 80s was the tail-end of the era when most Angels were still young enough to ride choppers and raise hell- If it was made 15 or 20 years later, you'd have a bunch of retirement-age guys, on stock bikes with big, cushy seats reminiscing about the era from the 60s to early 80s.
On the surface, it's almost spooky how much SOME aspects of these characters, resemble me and my peers, in 1995- I was the same age as the characters in '95. I was a skateboard-fixated, suburban trouble-maker, cutting school, smoking weed, drinking too much, hanging around with other punk kids like me. It's cringey in hindsight, but a huge amount of the clothes, music, brand names, comics, etc, as well as the places they hang out, etc in SOME ways, it feels pretty authentic, to what it was like being a "troubled" teen in the mid-90s...
But the same time, it feels EXTREMELY fake, and fear-mongering; They may have gotten the superficial stuff pretty on-point; Clothes, music, the way people look, etc. Which IS a big deal in your teens... But at the same time, this movie feels like a cartoonish portrayal, of what my parents WORST FEARS were, about what their pain-in-the-ass, rebellious kid was up to.
That's not to say I was an angel- I WAS taking drugs, and sexually active, younger than many. Younger than I should have done that stuff, probably, in hindsight. But I never encountered ANY teens, even 1/4th as openly sexually depraved, and orgy-prone, and promiscuous, and generally sleazy as these kids.
Like all guys that age, my friends did have SOME boasting about sex, or "locker-room talk" about which girls were hot, and whatever. But this movie was just crazy- Even the horniest teenage boys don't openly brag about r@pe, in my experience... and the ESPECIALLY don't openly, unironically brag about "Yo, I banged this mentally-disabled chick, bro!! Cool huh?" lolwut?!? Who would EVER do that?!? And I don't mean "who would have sex with a girl like that?" (although, I've never known of any guy doing that). But even if some little teenage weirdo WAS messed-up enough to do that, there isn't a teenager on earth who's going to BRAG about that, as if they expect high-fives from their buddies, for it. Hell, I was hanging out with drug dealers, kids in and out of juvie, habitual petty-crims, junkies, you name it- But even in THAT messed-up scene full of weirdos, any guy who was even SUSPECTED of r@pe, or banging some mentally disabled girl, would be totally shunned, and be at serious risk of a beating.
In short, 'Kids' is a weird mix, of superficially feeling pretty authentic, for that era- Clothes, music, etc is pretty on-point. But the main theme of the movie, the constant, sexual depravity, and general ACCEPTANCE of sexual depravity, to a ridiculous extent, just made it feel like a cheesy after-school special, or one of those old "don't shoot up pot, kids, or else you'll end up an LSD addict!!" weird fear-mongering public service films, from the 60s or 70s.
A strange, but reasonably-engaging film, designed to either scare old people (I guess that's me, these days, lol), or sexually titilate weirdos, by talking about these totes-real, crazy teens who'll bang anything that moves.
Behind the Curve (2018)
Dang!! Lucky we have these super-duper-woke deep-thinkers, to figure out how things REALLY work!!!
I used to believe in the globe... but then I saw this yoga-teacher on Youtube, who told me that every single working engineer, pilot, surveyor, physicist, ship's captain, air-traffic controller, radar operator, meteorologist and surveyor is just dumb and brainwashed and indoctrinated!!!
So then I KNEW that earth is flat, coz I'm waaaaay too smart to be brainwashed, like all them dumb globe-heads who DON'T get their science from yoga-teachers on Youtube!!! Besides, if earth really WAS a globe, then everyone in Australia would be upside-down!?!
RESEARHC FLAT EARTH!!! SPACE IS FAKE!!!! SUNSETS ARE A HOAX!!!! THE FREEMASONS KILLED TEH DINOSAURS!!! STEAL FUEL CAN'T MELT JET BEAMS!!! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!
Y'know, sometimes I worry that flat-earthers like me are just TOO intellerjent, for all you gullible globe-tards.... But you'll figger it out, one day when you ain't looking where you're going, and you fall clean off the edge...
The Wire: Boys of Summer (2006)
The more things change, the more they stay the same...
The first episode of season 4 is pretty low-key, but it shows off one pf The Wire's greatest strengths- The way it portrays the generational, never-ending, "everything changes, but everything stays the same" nature of the "war on drugs".
In season 1, Bodie was just a hopper in the low-rise, but in season 4, he's running his own corner, calling the shots, but making sure he doesn't even handle drugs or cash. And now, we're introduced to a new generation of hoppers, including Namond, the son of Wee-bey, one of the heavy-hitters from s1. Both McNulty and Prez are burnt out from investigation, and being "real po-lice", with McNulty finally happy, doing the low-stress work of a uniform beat-cop, and Prez leaving the BPD entirely, to start working as a teacher. Sgt Carver has changed too, but in the other direction- Instead of the "bust heads- that's the Western District way" attitude he had in early seasons, Carver has taken Bunny Colvin's advice to heart, and is developing relationships, and an uneasy sort of trust with the street-level dealers on his beat.
This theme of "back to school", and everyone, both police and criminal, learning their place in the game, and bringing in a new generation to perpetuate business as usual, is all through this episode- Not just with the kids, starting class in their battleground school. But also in the police group-briefing, Carcetti finding his feet in the mayoral race, and the young kids in gangs, warring with fist-fighting and balloons of pee, when most of them will end up fighting for control of their corners with real guns, in a few years.
Plus, this season we get the series' coolest bad guys; Avon and String were great, and The Greek, Vondas and Eton may have been the most high-level, but Marlo, Snoop and Chris are the most cold, real, and scary of The Wire's targets, in my book.
Lazy writing, coasting off a braindead fandom, who'd pay to huff the farts from the original trilogy...
THINGS IN THIS EPISODE WHICH MAKE NO SENSE
-Fett randomly hires, for no apparent reason (except plot convenience) a bunch of skinny teenage theives (who he's never seen fight) as muscle. WHY?!? Has he needed extra hired muscle, recently? All he knows about the teens, is that 1. They steal, and 2. They mouth off alot. Do these traits somehow suggest they'll make good hired thugs?!?
-The thieves are unemployed, and too poor to afford water. Yet they have shiny, showy vehicles, a bunch of dopey, gimmicky cybernetic body-mods, and act like stereotypical snobby, rich kids. Are they poor and desperate? Or rich and showy and proud?
-The kids are indifferent to the offer of work, and treat Fett with a kind of sneering bemusement... yet the very next scene, they're putting their lives on the line to defend Fett against a deadly hired killer- So, are they aloof and disinterested? Or fiercely loyal and deeply commited to Boba? Or, did they go from one to the other, in that 5 minutes walking back to Fett's place?
-Fett already HAD the Gamorran guard, right? Who are meant to be elite, super-loyal soldiers, who's job is being Boba's personal guard? Yet the kiddies, not the Gamorans, are the first on the scene, when Chrysanthemum the scary Wookie turns up?!? So the Gamorrans are less capable, less alert, and less commited to Boba, than a bunch or waifish, unemployed teens that Fett only just met?
-The Hutt twins just admitted to trying to kill Fett- something they clearly STILL have a motive for (taking over his territory)... So Fett suddenly accepts a "gift" of a highly dangerous animal, and his mysterious trainer (Danny Trejo), from the twins- A trainer who Fett immediately trusts COMPLETELY, to the extent that he stands right in front of the rancor's mouth, on the trainer's say-so.
So is Boba Fett meant to be a street-wise, resourceful bad-ass? Or a gullible, bumbling rube, who constantly gets taken advantage of, in obvious ways, and trusts everyone he meets, immediately?
The only reason this show gets away with such dopey, lazy writing, is by exploiting a braindead, uncritical fandom, who are happy as long as they get their quota of "Hey!!! It's that thing I recognise from the OLD Star Wars!!!"
You could sprinkle a few Banthas and Jawa and womp-rats into a script from 'Law and Order: SUV', and most Star Wars fans would give it a minimum of 8/10, and write rave reviews.
Cor blimey, cobber!! 'Ow's them 'arf-arsed pommy accents?!?
You'd think that an Australian show would be more sympathetic to the pain of inept accents- We get it all the time, mostly from Americans, who seem to think Australians sound like a cross between a South African accent, and developmental impairment.
And all the old-timey slang is kinda fun, but it really doesn't help with the cringe factor, either.
The Tin-Pan Alley covers of Mental As Anything, and other old pop songs are cool, though. And the court-room scene was actually pretty funny.
Peaky Blinders did this era (well, a few years earlier) more competently, two years later, but I have to wonder if PB took influence from Underbelly; Razor- The era, the prostitution angle (s1 on PB focused a lot on prostitutes, which is fairly atypical, for crime shows), as well as the shared 'razor' theme, all make it look like the Brits saw the Aussie show and thought "I reckon we could do this, except better".
Ready Player One (2018)
"Hey!! It's that thing I recognise, from that movie/tv show/game I like!!!" is the laziest form of film-making...
Hey guys!! D'you remember that one classic Simpsons episode where the school has a diorama contest, and Ralph Wiggum just lazily brings in a box of unopened Star Wars figure? And Principal Skinner thinks it's a FANTASTIC diorama, because he LOVES Star Wars, and Ralph included Chewy, and Han Solo, and those are Skinner's favourite characters?!?
Well, Steven Spielberg is Ralph Wiggum, and everyone who gave this movie an 8 or 9 or 10/10, are Seymor Skinner, thinking that lazy references to pre-existing pop culture (even references to pre-existing, GENUINELY GOOD pop culture), are somehow skillfull, or artistic...
Spielberg is no doubt a skilled film-maker, and in his prime, from the 70s to early 90s, he honestly tops my 'Best Directors' list- Jaws, Raiders, Empire of the Sun, Duel, Jurassic Park, and CE3 are all goddam incredible... But seriously, how hard is it to list off a bunch of movies and games that are near-universally loved, and use that to fill out your movie's run-time, in order to try to farm all that goodwill-by-proxy?
(And ESPECIALLY when you're super-rich, and can afford to license the use of all these properties, that are off-limits for most, non-squilllionaire film-makers...)
It's the movie version of the kid who thinks that having all the toys and merch from the movies that everyone loves, is a valid substitute for actual personality traits, and being a decent human being.
To give RP1 a fair assessment, you need to look at EVERYTHING BUT the endless barrage of rented nostalgia for pre-existing pop culture; You need to strip away all the references, and look at the ACTUAL STORY, that's (supposedly) unique to THIS movie... and what you're left with, is a pretty unremarkable 2018 movie- Not terrible, but certainly not great, either; Another "epic adventure" that relies way too much on slick, latest-greatest digital FX that will age like milk, a plucky, #relatable hero who make snappy quips while facing insurmountable odds (which we all know, even before pressing 'play', that he WILL surmount, in the nick of time...), and a one-dimensional, evil, corporate villain.
But ironically, while the wall-to-wall pop culture references are certainly the most memorable aspect of the movie, I honestly think it would be better as a movie (but still pretty middling) without all that...
...but it would also be faaaaaaaaar less financially successful, because most people are goddam morons, and have this braindead, reflexive, pavlovian response, where they genuinely can't tell the difference between "seeing a reference to something I like", vs "actually liking the media, that the reference was made in..."
Someone who genuinely respected all the movies and games, referenced in this film, wouldn't just try to milk them all dry, and exploit them for cheap, lazy nostalgia, the way this movie does; A sly, well-placed reference here and there, often CAN add to a movie... but 37,825 sledgehammer-subtle references, once every 17 seconds, 99% of which are just copy-pasting the most widely-known,obvious images from the property, is NOT the same thing, and almost always adds no real substance, whatsoever.
"Boba Fett was one of the most beloved, enduring aspects of SW, because of his mystery... so let's remove that mystery, by filling in his back-story..."
Boba Fett was one of the last unsullied aspects of the original trilogy, that hadn't been milked to death, cheered on by the most braindead fanbase in pop-culture, paying for the privilege of seeing their favourite franchise run into the ground...
Key word "WAS"...
Up close and personal with the astoundingly silly, yet incredibly endearing hip hop legends, The Wu.
The amount of old footage from the glory days of the early 90s, and even the 80s, plus interviews with the Clan themselves, as well as close associates, makes this series worth the price of entry. Especially the OBD footage, much of which I'd never seen before.
Sacha Jenkins does an excellent job of making this series feel very personal to The Wu, and capturing the raw, grimy, very, VERY silly, yet deadly goddam serious vibe, which made 'Enter The Wu Tang' and '36 Chambers' (and many solo albums) so magical, back in the day.
There's been other docos about Wu Tang Clan, made by outsiders. But this series is different- Here, we get previously unreleased home videos, family photos, interviews with the whole Clan, plus family and friends (Rza's brother/Wu manager Devine Diggs, ODB's mother, and widow, etc), reminiscing as they wander around Park Hill projects, and visit old haunts, from when the Wu were coming up.
So personal, that it honestly borders on cringey, at times (which is a good thing, considering the fake, manicured front that most rappers show the the world), 'Of Mics...' tells the story of The Wu, more authentically than anything else I've seen.
Sakigake!! Cromartie Kôkô (2003)
Cromartie is an aburdist, short-form comedy (roughly 10min episodes) which parodies of the Japanese 'Juvenile Delinquent' genre, that was extremely popular in Japan, in the 80s and 90s- in anime and manga, as well as live-action TV and gloriously cheesy, cheap b-movies.
If you ARE a fan of the JD genre (stuff like Sukeban Deko, Yu Yu Hakusho, Baki the Grappler, Initial D, GTO, or even Stardust Crusaders-era Jojo) you should enjoy this series, but you don't really have to know the genre, to appreciate the glorious, played-completely-straight absurdism of Cromartie.
It's hard to describe Cromartie; Other reviewers have mentioned britsh comedies like Monty Python, and although Cromartie has some huge differences, being a satire, set in High School for delinquent teenage boys, the overall style and quality IS comparable (which isn't a comparison I'd make lightly. Monty Python are some big shoes to fill). The Mighty Boosh and The Young Ones also have similar appeal.
It can be very hard to pull off this kind of absurdist comedy, without lapsing into forced, painful-to-watch, "lol so random" cringe. But Cromartie does it beautifully.
I've seen literally hundreds of anime series' (sad, I know), much of it goddam terrible, especially comedies, which can be hard to translate, across cultures- But Cromartie is in my all-time top 10, and has as much re-watch value as classsics like Cowboy Bebop, FLCL, or Evangelion.
Different people like different humour, but Cromartie is a solid 10/10, in my book (and I score shows pretty harshly)
Also, Cromartie has arguably THE greatest opening theme music, in all of anime... (well, on par with Bebop's... and Eva's.... and Space Battleship Yamato's... and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman...)
The episode where Breaking Bad hit its stride
In a way, this is like the first episode of the REAL Breaking Bad;
The first few episodes, the show was still trying to find it's feet- Walt was far more submissive, and brow-beaten than the Walt we know, who maintained a life as a suburban father, but at his core, he's a fiercely proud, ego-driven man who'll go to extremes to keep the upper hand; Virtually the total opposite of the meek, early-episodes-Walt. And at the start of season 1, Jesse was more of a comedic, 'Bill and Ted'-esque stoner side-character, who the writers intended to kill off, before the end of the season, very different to the three dimensional, central character he'd eventually become.
But in 'Crazy Handful of Nothin', we finally see the first appearance of 'Heisenberg'; arguably "the real Walt", and the driving force of Breaking Bad. And by now, Jesse has mostly lost his cartoonish quality of the first few episodes, and after the interactions with his parents and shielding his younger brother from drugs, last episode, and ending up hospitalized now, he's growing into a fleshed-out, sympathetic character... as well as a victim of Walt's hubris and ambition...
Hot Rod (1950)
Back in the day when the streets were paved with '32 roadster bodies and slingshot manifolds...
The writing and acting are deeply cheesy (but in an endearing way- It's actually pretty funny, at times) but the historic cars in the opening 4 minutes alone are worth the price of admission- The McGee Roadster, the Bill Burke Belly-tank, rare footage of the early, Lake Muroc SCTA trials.
The cars in the main storyline aren't show-rods; Really, the modifications are pretty basic- '32 flathead-powered roadsters with fenders removed, dropped front axle, a hot camshaft, a 2x2bbl, or maybe 3x2bbl manifold, and finned aluminium heads- chromed on the fancier cars. But they're realistic for what a teenager with limited skills and limited budget could do in 1950 California- Back when you could pay for a hot rod build, with the earning from a before-school paper-route... before you needed to OWN the newspaper, to afford an A-V8, or Deuce Roadster.
(This movie is so early in the hot rod era, that there isn't even a Deuce Coupe in the whole film- Why would a kid bother with a big, heavy, undesirable 3-window coupe, when you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a 32 roadster, selling for under $100?)
Frontline: The Siege (1994)
A beautifully insightful look at journalism, still relevent almost 30 years later.
Possibly the best, most hard-hitting episode of the series, and a beautifully on-point deconstruction of the trashy, notoriously-manipulative 'current affairs' shows of the era.
Of course, the dominance of TV journalism portrayed in the show is a thing of the past today, with the internet dramatically changing the journalistic landscape. But while the specifics may have altered in the last few decades, the general theme, the manipulation, the ethical bankruptcy, and the cynically dishonest, self-serving nature of the majority of the "journalism" industry, is just as relevant today, as ever.
And the other thing that hasn't changed, is the intellectual lazyness of the audience that has fueled terrible "journalism", from the 90s til today- It's easy to just blame the TV stations and websites selling this trash, but ultimate responsibility lies with US, the consumers/viewers who support bad journalism, because it plays to our emotional biases; Channel 9, or Fox News, or Huffpo, or Breitbart would all go bankrupt within a year or two, if viewers actually stoped watching the news/current affairs, which virtually everyone accepts as dishonest ...until we see a story that plays to OUR OWN emotional biases...)
The Cove (2009)
A very strange, arbitrary line in the sand...
So, keeping dolphins in captivity, slaughtering dolphins, eating dolphins, hunting dolphins, and capturing wild dolphins is totally unethical, inhumane, and immoral... but captive cows, pigs, sheep, lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), chickens, monkeys, ducks, geese, llamas, goats, camels, horses, rabbits, deer, fish, wolves, snakes, turtles, donkeys, chimps, tapirs, gorillas, koalas, kangaroos, mice, rats, possums, cats, and dogs are all A-OK, huh?
The self-righteous, performative moral indignation in this review section, from people who virtually all will (exactly like myself) happily eat intelligent, social, empathetic animals like pigs and cows, and who (again, like myself) have no problem with intelligent, wild animals captive in zoos, and (like myself) probably have intelligent, social animals captive in their own homes (cats, dogs, and other pets), is goddam hilarious.
For thousands and thousands of years, literally EVERY culture routinely hunted and ate wild animals, the way the Japanese hunt dolphins and whales, today. And even just a single century ago, I'll bet money that YOUR nation, dear reader, was slaughtering whales on an industrial scale, and that YOUR great-grandparents were fueling that industry, by lighting their homes with lamps burning whale-oil... so what is Japan's great crime here, specifically? Doing EXACTLY what every other developed nation did, but being a few decades behind the trend? Sticking to their own values, rather than caving in to international virtue-police, who try to puff up their own ego, by demanding that everyone else adhere to THEIR arbitrary moral standards?
I love animals as much as the next person- In the past year, I've spent considerably more money on vet bills for my elderly, cancer-riddled cat, than I have on my own healthcare. And I'm as repulsed at needless cruelty against animals, as everyone else is. But I'm also a pragmatist, and a realist, and someone with little tolerance for hypocrisy; Cordoning off one single species as being "immoral" to kill (in broadly comparable conditions to those under which deer, pigs, cows, etc are killed), just because they're cute, and look fun and happy on-camera, and because we grew up watching 'Flipper', while we happily scoff down bacon, pork and ham from pigs that are EQUALLY INTELLIGENT, is just arbitrary, hypocritical, irrational, emotion-driven nonsense.
(And I eat bacon too, btw. I'm not being some preachy vegan- I'm saying that we shouldn't break our arms, from patting ourselves on the back, for how enthusiastically we threw those stones, from here in our giant, glass house...)
This movie is a study in empty self-congratulation, and in the power of emotional manipulation, over rationality- Dolphins (of the species discussed in The Cove; primarily Bottlenose) ARE NOT endangered. Generally, cetaceans have been booming, for decades. Many of the larger whale species WERE threatened... 50 to 100 years ago, when the effects of the international whaling industry of the 1800s were still being felt... But the crude oil rush if the 1900s made whale-oil obsolete, and since then, 90% of cetacean species have been booming- Which begs the question of "Wait... specifically WHY do we have all these special laws and groups, protecting whales, when the whales are doing fine?"
And there IS a pretty clear answer to that question- The reason is, that the birth of the modern environmentalist/animal rights movement was in the early 70s- the "hippy" era, which was the culture this movement grew out of. And in the hippy/psychadelic scene, there was a pretty big fad for using whalesong in music, and for theories about cetaceans being psychic (and even experiments giving dolphins LSD, and having sex with human women, to coax out their "psychic powers"... I swear I'm not even making that up. The 70s were pretty wild...)- Basically, the hippy scene ALREADY revered whales and dolphins, so we got "SAVE THE WHALES" bumper-stickers, and dolphins/whales were used as a symbol for endangered animals... even though they'd ALREADY recovered from being endangered-
And to this day, that (completely false) cultural association between whales, and the urgent need for protection from extinction, still stands- People will spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars, on "saving" animals that haven't been threatened for a century.
So, of the reason we're meant to care about dolphins is environmental, then Yayyy!!! The problem is solved because they're not even close to be threatened, so the Japanese can safely harvest them, right?
Or, if the reason we're meant to care is ethical, because dolphins are so clever, and smart, and empathetic, well then pigs and cows are COMPARABLY smart and social and empathetic to dolphins- So me, you, and everyone else who isn't vegan, is EXACTLY as guilty as those evil, cruel Japanese men, slaughtering those poor dolphins....
So which is it? The problem that was solved 50 years ago, making the dolphin-killing A-OK? Or the problem where we're exactly as guilty as the Japanese, which would require YOU to change YOUR OWN behaviour, before you start waggling your finger at the Japanese, as if you're blameless?
Or... maybe we could just ACCEPT that the Japanese hunt dolphins, the same way that people in the US and Canada hunt bear, and Australians hunt Crocodiles, and people the world over 'hunt' fish- all on a far, far greater scale than the Japanese dolphin-killing? Because to me, it looks like that's the only rational, non-hypocritical option...
(Production-wise, The Cove is a competent-enough documentary, and 'gonzo' element of the film-makers getting directly involved in the story, is fairly well-done. But let's be real; This movie is about the supposed "ethical/enviromental issues", not the film-making)
Little Britain (2003)
it's incredible how fast social values have changed- today, the cast would be 'cancelled' in a heartbeat.
Little Britain is an interesting show- It's run was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I think it started off EXTREMELY strong; potential to be comparable to Red Dwarf, Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, etc. But it's true that by the 3rd season, what were once new, unique, boundary-pushing characters, had become incredibly repetitive, with the whole season being basically the same episode, with the exact same jokes repeated every week, but just transferred to a different location, or with trivial details changed. Sad- If they'd had the guts to retire characters at their peak of popularity, and replace them with something new, rather than just running the same jokes into the ground, the show could have had much more longevity. I WOULD still recommend the series- but if you were to start getting irritated with the repetition, and drop the show at season 3, I'd understand.
But the most striking thing for me, about re-watching Little Britain in 2021, is just how "edgy" this super-popular, BBC show is, by 2021 standards; Jokes about men insisting that they're actually women, despite being laughably unconvincing. Or about a gay man who blames every imagined injustice in his life on his (imagined) persecution for being "the only gay in the village". Jokes about/using cartoonish racial stereotypes, or over-the-top parodies of stereotypes of gay people, fat people, etc- In the early 2000's, audiences understood that the whole joke was ridiculing the STEREOTYPE, and those who saw the world in those terms- But today, the most vocal (but arguably not the largest) section of the audience have consistantly shown they'll assume that ANY joke about minorities CAN ONLY be assumed to be maliciously targetting the group portrayed, and motivated by bigotry.
In the early 2000's the people most offended by shows like Little Britain, were conservatives, offended that openly gay characters were being shown at all, and by the "obsceneity" of the crude humour... but today, those offended are from the exact opposite side of the political spectrum, offended because certain groups CAN ONLY be shown in a positive light. (and I won't go into detail, because it's not the point, but I'm in more than one of the minority groups, these actions are intended to "defend"- I'm not the evil, spooky "straight white man", that critics of this stuff are always assumed to be).
Despite Little Britain's flaws, I think it represents the least censored era in pop culture- a brief gap between the conservative-driven censorship of the mid-20th century, and the liberal-driven censorship that's taken hold in the last decade or so.
Xavier: Renegade Angel (2007)
To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Xavier: Renegade Angel
The humour is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of Southwestern Native American culture most of the jokes will go over a typical viewers head. There's also Xavier's enlightened outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation- his personal philosophy draws heavily from Apache Shamanism, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these jokes, to realise that they're not just funny- they say something deep about WHAT DOTH LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Xavier: Renegade Angel truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the humour in Xavier's existential catchphrase "Frittata," which itself is a cryptic reference to Italian egg dishes. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as PFFR's genius wit unfolds itself on their television screens. What fools.. how I pity them. And yes, by the way, i DO have an Xavier: Renegade Angel tattoo. And no, you cannot see it. It's for the ladies' eyes only- and even then they have to demonstrate that they're within 5 IQ points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand. Nothin' personnel kid.