Woah hey, did I write something this month? (One sentence in, and I’ve already re-captured the tone I used to do all these in, while simultaneously rolling my eyes as hard as I can at it.) Two of my resolutions for 2022 were to keep better track of the media that I consumed, and to actually sit down and do some writing about some of it. Let’s get to it.
Ranged Touch is a podcast network that I’ve been following for a while - I got into them through “Just King Things,” their ongoing podcast covering the works of Stephen King in publication order, and then really got into them with their Baldur’s Gate show “Mages and Murderdads.” I recently moved, and spent most of my time packing and carrying boxes listening to their excellent monthly Patreon podcast, and I really just don’t have enough positive things to say about the whole thing. Ranged Touch is a fantastic collection of shows that fills the void in my heart that Idle Thumbs left - there is truly nothing better than listening to a few friends making incredibly inside jokes while talking about things I am too dumb to understand, whether it’s DND computer games from the 90s, the webcomic Homestuck, the academic field of Game Studies, or Magic the Gathering. Unfortunately, I am exactly dumb enough to understand the works of Stephen King.
I think this show is better than all of the Marvel shows that came out in 2021. Part of that is that I’m a big James Gunn fan, but a larger part is that I think the material here is just so much more interesting and better written, and isn’t so concerned about advancing the state of the media universe it inhabits. Also, the soundtrack is perfect, and has made me want to be a glam metal guitarist. Outside of that, I think all the performances have been really good - especially John Cena, who proves once again that he can knock comedy out of the park, while also sticking the landing on some of the more emotional stuff. Freddie Stroma, the actor who plays Vigilante, is an absolute delight - and I cannot wait to see him in more stuff. I’ve mentioned to Jarrod a few times that this feels like a different more modern take on the Joss Whedon nerd TV dramas that defined fan culture in the early 2000s - not sure if I’ve got that take fully baked yet, but I might come back to it once the show wraps. Two thumbs up till then!
I saw this movie near the beginning of the month, and felt really strongly about it while I was watching it and immediately after - but writing about it now a lot of that passion has kinda faded. I think this is a really good movie - and like a really cute romantic comedy/drama about characters that I loved and related to, that has some depth and complications to it, but I don’t think it’ll stick with me the same way some other films of this genre have. I’d love to see it again, because it was just such a joy to watch - both leads have this sort of magnetism to them, and seeing them in both dramatic and mundane scenes, running into each other’s arms again and again and again while the music swelled - to me, that’s the absolute best that movies can be. Who knows, I may have re-convinced myself that I love this movie!
On the other hand, I have not been able to stop thinking about this movie since I saw it, and I don’t even think it’s very good. I came late to the Scream franchise, but thought it was extremely fun and smart, even 30ish years later. Scream (2022) felt like it hurt itself by trying to be all of the things the original was, and also all of the things we now understand it to be. It felt like a good movie and a bad one thrown into a blender, mixed up, and then poured out - a funny film and a serious one, a “meta” take and a conventional one - polar opposites slammed together and then parceled out; and the mishmash tone was super weird. It starts out promisingly enough, re-doing the Drew Barrymore sequence from the original, while kinda poking fun at the fact that a lot of people trip over themselves to label popular horror movies as “arty” and “smart,” rather than just good pieces of scary popcorn cinema. Unfortunately, after that I thought the “meta” discussions completely fell apart as they shifted to being about remakes and fan expectations surrounding them. I thought most of the characters were sketchy at best, and most of the kills were wholly uninteresting. The motivation of the killer was good while it was being revealed, and then immediately felt tacky as they continued to monologue. There’s one reveal near the end of this film that I realized was coming a few minutes before it happened, and I think the fact that it could do that is maybe the smartest part of the whole movie. I’m disappointed that this movie was not as good as it could have been, while simultaneously fascinated by the ways in which it was bad. You should watch it.
So far, this is my favorite piece of media from 2022. I am more than a little concerned that they’ve apparently got 5 seasons of this show mapped out, but I’ll be along for the ride. I’ve jokingly made the hot take that this show is “what if LOST was good,” but on a more serious note, I think it does a lot of the same good mystery box + character investigation drama stuff, splitting between an absolutely horrifying “survival in the woods” plotline, and a positively conventional “prestige TV midlife crisis” plotine, somehow making both of them extremely compelling through the really truly good performances it delivers, and its seemingly unique decision to make Melanie Lynskey a lightly despicable character that you can’t help but root for, rather than one that you just feel sorry for. Good show, can’t wait to see where it goes.
Love wordle. Hate the New York Times. Enough said.
I think that's it for January 2022 - I swear I started writing this thing before the month actually ended, even if it took me till February 12th to put it out! I'm planning to keep doing these, so thank you for reading - and I'll see you next month!