AndyO Blog

Saturday, May 16, 2020

May 2020: Films and shows

As one would expect, I've watched a lot of films and shows during the pandemic lockdown. Here are a few with my reviews:

Rambo: Last Blood: A paint-by-numbers revenge film. Could have been called “Rambo goes to Mexico"—because he hasn’t done that yet. And from a demographics perspective, it makes good marketing sense. But it becomes even more obvious when actors speak in Spanish, but Rambo always responds in English (Although, I have to say, with Stallone's unique delivery, there were times I wondered which language he was speaking. (1 star out of 4)

Tales from the Loop (Amazon): A thoughtful, often beautiful series of eight episodes that explore a rare kind of sci-fi—where connections aren't always obvious and plots aren't always resolved. Based on a book of paintings by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, there's a Euro sensibility running through most episodes. The glacial pace will undoubtedly turn off some viewers, but in the end I thought this style fit well with the themes of time, loss, parenthood, and legacy. As I was watching, I was reminded of pieces of Stranger Things, The Twilight Zone, the X-Files, Hanger 18, and Eureka. Like Eureka, most of the residents in the town are devoted to working at "The Loop," which appears to be a kind of particle accelerator facility. Rebecca Hall leads the cast as one of the employees, but there are strong performances by almost everyone, as well as a hypnotic, clock-like score by Phillip Glass marking the progression of time. (3-1/2 stars out 4).

The quiet, cold beauty of "Tales from the Loop"

Knives Out: Directed by Rian Johnson, who most recently directed the polarizing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Knives Out is a murder mystery that somehow seems to expand and improve on the genre. While there are loads of stars in this film from multiple generations, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, and Christopher Plummer, the film belongs to Ana de Armas (whom I first saw in Blade Runner: 2049). Have fun figuring this one out. (4 stars out of 4).

Upload (Amazon): What if instead of dying, you could upload your consciousness into the cloud? Girlfriends, family, and friends can still visit you. You can even carry on relationships if you like. What I liked about this series was the way it explored the commerce side of being uploaded. For example, wealthier people can go to a better location. There are constant upcharges. It's not difficult to see things going this way. (3 out of  4 stars)

The Lighthouse: Directed by David Eggers, who also directed The Witch, this is a film spools forward like a dream (or nightmare). Shot in a claustrophobic 4:3 ratio in black and white, you're often left with more questions than answers--especially by the end. But the key, as I found out, is diving into the mythology and symbolism--specifically around Prometheus and Proteus. (3 out of 4 stars) 

Midsommar: Seeing the trailer for this film, it looked like another forgettable horror film. But after watching, I can say now this is a much more original disturbing story, led by the actress Florence Pugh. Like Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit and The Witch), Pugh appears to have extraordinary range. Looks like Marvel is paying attention, as she'll now be the forthcoming Black Widow. (3-1/2 out of 4) 

Florence Hugh in "Midsommar"


posted by AndyO @ 5:55 PM   0 comments

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Pandemic 2020: Birthdays and broken dishwashers

Wed, May 6, was my birthday. My first present was waking up to a dishwasher running its pump (which started intermittently on Tues, but then continuously in the middle of the night). I turned off the circuit breaker and left it for later. I had a busy day at work and no time for a new project.

Later on Wed, the kitchen flooded. Turns out there was a leak somewhere in the diswasher, and the basin was full. After my birthday dinner of bratwurst (and National Treasure 2), I started working on the dishwasher again until the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, this meant I missed all my meetings on Thursday morning.

By now dishes were stacking up in the sink. Big time.

Friday, I used the shop vac to vacuum out all the water—maybe two gallons worth. This was right before the military flyby over many Seattle area hospitals with two C-17 Globemasters. It wasn’t too exciting, however, since the planes were a mile away. (I guess we always expect the Blue Angels.)

Saturday--like all Saturdays during the pandemic--I rested. Late in the afternoon, Brenda and I washed every dish by hand. Then we watched Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. This was my third time, and somehow I didn’t hate it--as much as the second time, anyway. Later, I did some stargazing with Drew.

Sunday, I tore apart the dishwasher even more—and eventually lacerated my finger on a sharp edge. No stitches, but a lot of blood. Time for a new dishwasher, even if we are in lockdown. No Swedish Asko, a specialty brand with very little support. (The store that sold it to us went out of business long ago.)

Oh, and it was Mother’s Day. Of course, I failed with that, too, on multiple levels.


posted by AndyO @ 11:57 PM   1 comments

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Pandemic 2020: Quarantine fatigue

It’s clear that everyone is getting quarantine fatigue. Despite the danger, and the continued lack of federal leadership, some states are a starting to reopen. Protesters, many armed with semi-automatic rifles, say they’re fighting for constitutional freedoms that have been denied under a lockdown. But like a lot of things like this, it’s just an excuse to amplify lost causes that most people don’t care about. Because if we open too soon, all this social distancing will have been for nothing, and we’ll see new waves of this devastating virus. This is exactly what happened with the 1918 Flu. 

Trump isn’t helping any of this. He continues to push magical thinking and conspiracy theories that have fanned the flames of the unhinged and uninformed. Last week, at a press conference, he wondered aloud whether people should drink disinfectants like bleach, or use UV light to defeat the virus. It caused a spike in calls to poison control centers. 

This is truly an “Emperor has no clothes” moment—and something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It’s clear that Trump and much of his administration don’t know what they’re doing—and don’t really care about the people. But this shouldn’t be surprising: a game show host and failed businessman was never a good choice to run the executive branch of our government.
posted by AndyO @ 11:16 PM   0 comments