Some travelling streams

While travelling, catching up on recent films tends to get more difficult. But streaming services have changed the breadth of what I access rather nicely, though not always with my first choices.

This particular trip I queued up a few films and shows to rewatch and catch-up on and decided to capture some of the impressions rather than full-on discussions.

Hercules (1997)
This is the Disney mutation of the ancient myth. And that’s about the nicest thing I can say about it as a movie. I love the art. I even own some of the art. But the story? I don’t think I could have been more turned off than I was at the intoning of “that’s the Gospel truth” (which was clever) backing up utter distortions and awful changes to the recorded tale. This is also a film that was at the turning point for the studio in the types of stories they were aiming to tell… changes that led to the gobbling of Pixar and the triumph of Frozen. Admire the art, but run away from this one.

Moulin Rouge (2001)
Such a glorious and wonderful experience when I first saw it. Rich visuals, fun musical interpretations, good acting, huge romance. It was a modern opera that struck chords for a wide audience. Rewatching it again after so long, and without the high def always holding (another drawback of streaming), the tale fell flat for the first 30 minutes or so. That opening was always “shock and awe” so it wasn’t surprising this time through, but it was disappointing. Once the story found its legs, however, I found myself drawn back into the tragic love affair and the message. But I can’t recommend this one anymore other than as a curio of the Luhrmann opus or for the actors earlier in their careers.

Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no taizai)
An odd little anime that starts like a typical romantic comedy and turns into something more complex and dark. I can’t tell you exactly why it drew me in other than the odd humor and hint of the bigger story, but it did and I wasn’t sorry that I spent the time. My biggest disappointment is that there doesn’t seem to be a second series, though it is set up. On the plus side, this series pretty much wraps up… at least enough so that you don’t feel left hanging.

Black Mirror (Series 1 & 2)
It took me a long time to return to this series after its premier episode. It was so deeply disturbing, I couldn’t imagine watching several stories along the same lines. Fortunately, the remaining episodes were less, let’s say challenging, but that wouldn’t be quite fair. They are, each and every one, about the dark side of humanity, and particularly technology. The casts are very good and the writing, even when you know where they’re going, gets there in interesting ways.

Shadowhunters (series 1)
The original film, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, was underwhelming but with promise. The weakness of that promise killed it as a movie franchise but had it reborn as a TV series. Sadly, it is even weaker there. Utterly miscast and poorly written, it is painful to watch. I have read the books, so that isn’t helping my opinion. For all the issues I may have had with the original material, the characters were utterly clear and specific in look and attitude. The show has ignored a huge amount of those specifics to get a bunch of beautiful people in supernatural soap opera together. OK, the books are a bit of that too, but not nearly so much as this is. One episode was enough to send me running in despair.

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