What I’ve Been Watching – September 2018

Split

Let me preface this by saying if you liked the film Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson… do yourself a favour. Stop reading this and watch Split. Don’t read about it. Don’t Google it. Just go and watch it.

What follows are spoilers.

This thriller sees the brilliant James McAvoy play a man who kidnaps three teenage girls and locks them away in a building. Fearful of his intentions, the girls come to learn that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder and that only a couple of the personalities are responsible for their misery.

This is the kind of film that stands and falls on the strength of the main character’s performance. Fortunately McAvoy gives an excellent performance as several characters inhabiting the same body. Depending on which personality is ‘in the light’ as the film puts it, he is creepy, terrifying, charming, and even hilarious.

Yet the transitions between each character feels natural and somehow organic. I forgot after a while that I was even looking at the same actor as I got pulled into the drama unfolding on the screen… I was tense about what he might say or do next.

The real scene stealer, however, was Shymalan’s expertly edited ending.

Seriously, this is your last chance before I ruin it!

This film takes place in the same world as Unbreakable. McAvoy’s final scene sees the Unreakable theme tune slowly fade in before we cut to a diner… where David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) looks up at a TV as the news reports that McAvoy is now at large.

This changes the film in a significant way. The film seemed more pre-occupied with Kevin’s multiple personalities than getting us to feel empathy for the imprisoned girls. At first, I assumed it was just poor writing… but then it became obvious it was never about the girls.

This is a super-villain origin movie! Just like Unbreakable was a superhero origin movie.

I got chills hearing the Unbreakable music fade in. Actually seeing Bruce Willis in the final shot was the moment that made me lose my composure.

Well played, Shymalan. Well played 🙂

Queer Eye

I’ve actually been watching this for a while now… it landed on my radar thanks to my wife, Elle. I would describe it as a show that is unabashedly joyful in it’s celebration of friendship, fashion, lifestyle and love.

The Fab Five drive around small town America giving a makeover to people who have been sponsored by a friend. Generally, these are good natured people who have ‘drifted’ in some way, resulting in them living a life that is in need of a breath of fresh air.

The Fab Five then take turns to tranform their home environment, their fashion sense, and their grooming/personal appearance. It’s a wonderfully sugary show that proves to be an elixir to the toxic masculinity currently flowing around the world.

If I could point out a flaw, the editing does annoy me a bit. It does that thing a lot of American shows do… When something touching or emotional happens, the show cuts to an interview of someone talking about how they felt in that moment. It’s so dumb.

If the moment is touching, simply let me see it happen. I don’t literally need to be told what’s happening. When a son comes out to his family that he’s gay and hugs them in tears… let me appreciate that moment. Don’t rip me out of it by showing me an interview afterwards.

Anyway, bad editing aside this is a great show to put on after a difficult and serious day.

Uncharted: Live Action Fan Film

This 15 minute short film is available on YouTube, starring the ever watchable Nathan Fillion in a live action version of the hugely popular video game series Uncharted.

Fillion is in his element as the lovable rogue, Nathan Drake. In fact for years fans have been suggesting his name for a movie version of Uncharted… something that has been in discussion for about a decade now.

This film acts as a superb proof of concept. Fillion has clearly gotten himself into decent shape for a role as physically demanding as this.

The cinematography is cool and I found myself admiring some camera shots more than the events of the film.

The scene stealer is the one-take sequence that follows Nathan Drake through a shootout in an over-the-shoulder perspective, just like it does in the video game. I loved that idea and I thought it worked really well.

I would so love to see Nathan Fillion cast as Nathan Drake in a proper Uncharted movie. Alas, the last I heard was that they were doing a ‘young Nathan Drake’ story with Tom Holland (of Spiderman fame) cast as Drake.

Whatever happens, this fan film is a beautiful piece of work. Everyone involved should give themselves a well-earned pat on the back.

Aggretsuko

This is a quirky little show from Sanrio, the company that brought us Hello Kitty. Following the daily lifestyle of a red panda called Retsuko, it actually looks a lot like Hello Kitty in terms of it’s visuals.

But be warned… this is not like Hello Kitty!

Aimed at an older audience, the show focuses on how Retsuko is victimised at work. She is a diligent, hard working member of society who always wants to do her best.

She is constantly ridiculed and belittled by the superiors she seeks to impress.

With no confidence to confront the people causing her misery, she instead finds another way to voice her inner anxieties… by going to a karaoke room alone and singing hardcore death metal.

The show explores serious issues but in a jovial way. It holds up a critical mirror to many elements of modern Japanese society… office culture, drinking culture, and how women are perceived and treated in the work environment.

It’s a humorous show with a lot of heart. And with the episodes only lasting 20 minutes each, this is super easy to recommend to anyone looking for something different to watch.

Aggretsuko is available to stream and download on Netflix.

So that’s what I’ve been watching lately. Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, folks!

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