Time to catch up with things I've been watching/enjoying! I am shamelessly copying Kottke's format, with some minor changes.
Kimi No Na Wa. (Your Name.): This is still one of the best animes ever made. There is one particular plot point that requires some serious suspension of disbelief but if you can get past that — and I certainly can — it's a beautiful story. (A+)
A Beautiful Mind: I rewatched the ending when I wanted to cry, because the first time I've seen the movie, I was bawling by the end. It didn't quite do the trick this time but still, powerful.
Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator: A decent documentary about Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, also a sexual predator. I knew most of the story because I listened to 30for30's podcast series about the same topic, but it was still a good watch. (A)
Let it Snow: One of Netflix's new Christmas movies, this time with teens. It's surprisingly watchable and comes with a great homage to Empire Records, which is an amazing movie and you should watch it immediately if you haven't yet. Where was I? Yes, so Let it Snow is sort of passable entertainment, as long as you don't expect too much from it. (B-)
Mortal Engines: An absolute garbage of a movie. Terrible. I knew that going in but I was hoping for a "so bad it's good" outcome but no. It's just bad. Very bad. Don't watch this. (F)
Pretty Woman: This is the second time I tried watching it and got to about halfway through and turned it off. The leads have no chemistry — even though we're talking about Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, two great actors — and the story is boring and cliche. I don't get why this movie is such a big deal.
Spotlight: This is an amazing movie, with a great story, acting, characters, writing, everything. Is it Oscar bait? Arguably, yes, but it rises way above it. Loved it. (A+)
The Irishman: A 3.5-hour movie where the first 2.5-3 hours are a build-up for the payoff in the last half hour-hour. The payoff is significant; I almost cried by the end. But it still feels too long — I watch it through the course of several days — and the CGI de-aging. while an amazing feat feels uncanny valley in the first 45 minutes or so for me. (B)
The Lake House: This was a rewatch and wow, this movie is much worse than I remembered. The side-plots are uninteresting, the time travel makes zero sense, the whole movie is just a drag. (C)
The Social Network: I tried rewatching it and turned it off after less than an hour. I just couldn't get into the story.
The Post: I can't help but compare it to Spotlight, and it's not nearly as good. It's Oscar bait, nothing more, nothing less. The story is also a bit of a drag. (B)
The Princess Switch: Okay so I'm clearly not the target audience for these Netflix Christmas movies. I only watched this because I had nothing else at the time. It's bad. Just... bad. Barely watchable. (C-)
Dublin Murders (Season 1): There's a lot to like about this Irish murder mystery/psychological thriller hybrid. Great leads, visuals, and a good story. But I'm not 100% on board with the ending. Still, well worth watching. (A-)
For All Mankind (Season 1, eps 1-7): The Apple TV+ shows! They are here! And they are... a mixed bag. First up is For All Mankind, which asks, what if the space race never stopped because the Russian got first to the moon? It takes three episodes for it to get anywhere close to good and by episode 7 (with three remaining) I'm quite enjoying it, but it's uneven, the episodes are frequently too long, and several characters start out as almost caricatures and barely develop a second dimension. We'll see if things continue improving for the rest of the season. (B)
His Dark Materials (Season 1, eps 1-4): I almost never want a TV show to be slower but that's the case here. Every episode is incredibly dense, throwing new information at you left and right, you can barely catch your breath. Nevertheless, I'm enjoying what I'm seeing so far. (A-)
See (Season 1, eps 1-7): God I wanted to like this show so bad. And there are things to like! Absolutely gorgeous visuals — almost everything was shot in the woods around Vancouver, BC —, great actors and a strong concept: the apocalypse happened, mostly everyone died, and who didn't went blind. Fast-forward a few centuries and vision is just not a thing anymore. Until two kids are born from the mysterious Jerlamarel who can see. It's very interesting to watch a show where almost the entire cast is blind, but it's dragged down by terrible, terrible writing and weird decisions from the creators. Too bad. (B-)
Silicon Valley (Season 6, eps 2-5): A mixed bag. It feels like the show has overstayed its welcome. There are two episodes left and I have no idea how they can wrap this up but it's going to be a mess. (B-)
Star Trek: Short Treks ("Ask Not"): This was fine? I liked it, but nothing special. (B+)
The End of the Fucking World (Season 2): I loved this so goddamned much. The first season was already perfect and somehow they made an even better second one. I wrote about it more here. Go watch it. (A+)
The Good Place (Season 4, eps 6-9): Episode 8 was the first good episode of the season, and then came episode 9 which was one of the best they ever made. It made my cry. I really how they can keep the quality up for the final episodes come January. (A)
The Man in the High Castle (Season 4): It's clear that the creators needed two seasons instead of one to finish the show and it shows. It's uneven and rushed. But I still enjoyed most of it and I really appreciate how they didn't make the show about the current US politics, even though they had plenty of opportunities to do so. (B+)
The Mandalorian (Season 1, eps 1-4): Like millions, I am also extremely into Baby Yoda, but the show itself doesn't get good until the fourth episode. I hope it only gets better from here. (B+)
The Morning Show (Season 1, eps 1-7): Look, after seven episodes, I'm still not sure if this is a good TV show, but it's extremely entertaining, and what more can I ask for? I love it, so much. (A)
Jack Ryan (Season 2): Look, this show is literally literally CIA propaganda. What makes it even worse is knowing that, they made some very weird choices with this season. It was still kind of enjoyable, but again, not great. (B-)