HAIL SATAN? (2019)

The most fascinating thing about this documentary is that going into it you likely have these very entrenched cultural ideas about what Satanism is, and you very quickly learn that none of it is in alignment with what The Satanic Temple actually practices or stands for.

In fact, many of those who regard themselves as defacto Christians might actually be surprised to know that they have much more in common with a bunch of secular trolls who formed their religion on the principles of humour, postmodernism, performance, absurdism, community, transparency and the time-honoured tradition of Keeping The Bastards Honest.

Aside from a brief history lesson on the modern interpretations of Satanism and the formation of a fledgling religious organisation, the bulk of the film follows the group as they go about petitioning for the installation of a statue of Baphomet alongside a motif of the Ten Commandments that is being built in a public space — their argument running along the lines of religious freedom that no single ideology should take dominance over others, and should the Commandments be removed then they will withdraw their statue in accordance with their own principle.

It’s funny, in a seriously comical way that belies a mischevious streak to those who would call themselves Satanists while advocating for the right of others to call them out on their own bullshit. They don’t want to convert anybody, they just want everyone have the freedom to be themselves.

It’s a complicated worldview and well worth the watch because as strange as a foreign ritual can appear to someone on the outside, it’s actually far less challenging to grasp than you might think.

It’s on Netflix now. Recommended.

PROSPECT (2018)

A post-goldrush story on a micro budget that makes use of every dollar — the spacesuits and tech are charmingly analogue and cumbersome, medical treatment is harsh, the people are cruel and brutal and happy to kill for the possibility of a fortune.

Held aloft by the boundless charisma of a morally ambiguous Pedro Pascal and finding a resourceful lead in Sophie Thatcher, this is a frontier tale with a minimalist scifi angle.

Enjoyed it, worth a watch.

THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10

One of the things I struggled with most when compiling my top film picks for 2010-2019 was that the decade saw such a dramatic shift to a gilded era of television, much of which matched and even surpassed their cinematic bretheren.

There’s so much that is now possible in the episodic format that was unthinkable even a decade ago, and truly these last ten years represent a new high water mark.

As such, I’ve given my favourites their own list, in no particular order, here:

Continue reading “THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10”

THE WITCHER s01 (2019)

Takes a bit to come together properly, and in the end mostly establishes itself as a good base for more interesting seasons to come.

Cavill is pitch-perfect as the titular Witcher, the gruff and stoic Geralt of Rivera, and this would have worked well enough as a monster-of-the-week style creature feature show.

Better, then, that there is a whole dense world’s worth of politics and history and intrigue and lore running in parallel to all the magic and monsters, even if the arrangement of the first season sees parallel timelines come across a little jumbled.

If you’re a fan of swords and sorcery this is worth a watch, though be aware that it’s far more unabashedly fantastical than say, GAME OF THRONES is, so your mileage will vary based on your taste there.

Good action, mostly solid effects, brilliantly realised background/landscape artwork.

I liked it, I think it will get much better too. Lots of potential.

LIVING WITH YOURSELF s01 (2019)

What if MULTIPLICITY but Paul Rudd?

Feels like a drawn out BLACK MIRROR episode erring on this side of existential terror. It’s good, but didn’t delve into the scifi/identity crisis aspects as deeply as I’d have liked in any ways that haven’t been explored with more complexity elsewhere.

Still, worth a watch with potential for developments in seasons going forward.

TUCA & BERTIE s01 (2019)

Basically what would happen if you gave BROAD CITY a bunch of mushrooms and speed and then cast it with animated birds.

A rare thing to have a show about modern friendship told in such an irreverent, hallucinatory way that also highlights what’s possible with an animated medium when you skew hard for an adult audience.

It’s disappointing then that T&B didn’t get renewed and will remain a single season gem so full of energy and promise.

It’s fun and weird and really good and you should watch it.

BOJACK HORSEMAN s06 (2019)

As BOJACK goes this is by a wide margin the most existentially optimistic season, taking the time to explore each of the characters at turning points in their lives where they’ve mostly grown out of their old selves but are still feeling out where to go next and who they now are.

And knowing BOJACK one can’t help but feel uneasy, that this is the calm before some terrible storm, that all the work that’s been put in for everyone to pull themselves out of their black pits and to make genuine, earnest, earned progress… that all of it might be the setup for an even bigger fall. For a riotously funny show about anthropomorphised animals behaving more humanly than humans it always feels like it’s dangling over the edge of the abyss. It’s frequently a masterful exploration of the darker aspects of humanity and modern life, and a little reprieve from the earlier seasons’ heaviness is welcome.

So this season was emotionally hopeful, and if it ended here that could be enough in many ways. But, being BOJACK, something dark is waiting when the final stretch of episodes lands early next year. There are still consequences due.

IN THE TALL GRASS (2019)

Another one for the Golden Age of Stephen King adaptations.

Two siblings hear a voice calling for help from within the long grass by the side of a road, but stepping in they suddenly find they can’t get back out.

Really minimalist and strange, as to be expected from director Vincenzo Natali (CUBE). Some of the CG is wonky and I feel like they could have gone even more minimal and not lost anything of value.

Was kind of expecting a bit more of a twist to the end to really drive home some cruel irony inherent to the story, but even lacking that it was an entertaining, trippy 100min.

It’s on Netflix now.