WiW: I'm So Behind Edition, Part I

Ok, I'm going to be honest. I am addicted to media. I am ALWAYS watching, listening to or playing something. I have this need to constantly consume creative works. It's just kind of my thing.

As such, I was over at Social blathering about what movies and shows had my attention as of late and a few lovely folks asked me what else I am enjoying at the moment. Naturally, it seemed like a great opportunity to make a post to the good ole blizzog. So, onward to Part I of What I'm Watching: I'm So Behind Edition!

Movies

Headshot

For my money Iko Uwais is the top guy in action right now. I know, I know, I can see you starting to disagree already, but the combination of story, character building and wildly dynamic action sequences in all of his projects result in a wildly compelling product for me time and time again.

Headshot continues this streak of Uwais projects that are a must watch. While not as developed as the amazing Raid and it's equally fantastic sequel in terms of story and characters, the on screen charisma of Uwais and the airtight cohesion of him with the stunt crew in action sequences more than makes up for the film's other inconsistencies.

And I gotta give a special shout out to Sunny Pang who plays the deliciously diabolical Lee, who is the primary antagonist to Uwais protaganist. He is arrogant, violent and wholly absurd. I loved to hate this character and Pang fully commits to making sure you keep watching every evil thing he does.

Blade of the Immortal

What can be said about the gawd Takishi Miike that has not been said about one of Japan's best cinematic exports. The dude just knows how to make movies, especially ones that elevate on screen violence to a ballet of gore, color and light.

I'm usually pretty hesitant about live action anime remakes cause lets be honest most of them are awful, but on the strength of Miike's catalog, I decided to check it out. Of course, his interpretation of the classic doesn't disappoint.

At its heart, Blade is brutal retelling of the story of Manji, a skilled samurai that is cursed with immortality and has vowed to kill 1000 evil men so he can break the curse to earn the rest only death can provide. I know, man. But what appears to be a dark narrative about the unrelenting punishment of everlasting life slowly and carefully morphs into a story about the human experience and what people will and won't do when they are pushed too far. And in classic Miike fashion, it's build on gallons of blood and a stack of body parts.

The Villainess

No one does revenge movies quite like the South Korean cinema scene, so The Villainess staring the amazing Ok-bin Kim who I know from the wonderful vampire noir Thirst immediately caught my attention.

The plot is reminiscent of Besson's La Femme Nikita, so you are going to see some familiar references in Byung-gil Jung project, but the tapestry of colors, characters, intrigue and ridiculous action provides a very clear point of delineation between the two stories. Even if the spectacle of action wasn't as beautiful as it is manic, Ok-bin's display of range in expressing the many emotions of her character are worth watching in and of itself.

Shows

Hajime No Ippo

Before Kuroko No Basket, I never really cared for sports based anime, mostly because I'm such a huge fan of sci fi and fantasy. However, after watching that series, I began to search for other quality sports anime that I could sink me teeth into. With the enduring popularity of Hajime No Ippo, I didn't have to look for long.

Yes, it is a show about the sweet science, but the most captivating part of the episodic is how it uses the sport as a framework for showing how a boy who has experienced trauma at too young an age becomes a man and the many cast of characters he comes into contact with along the way that have an influence on his development. Sometimes it's silly, sometimes is intense, sometimes it's brutal. The show is a lot of things, but all of the myriad themes mesh into a show that you will find yourself sticking with just to see what happens.

Mindhunter

Mindhunter is a serial based around the arduous process of pushing the field of criminal science investigation forward in the FBI. Jonathan Groff is the lead and he does a very fine job, but the reason to watch for me is the venerable Holt McCallany (I'm still pissed about Lights Out too, bro) who plays the veteran FBI agent to Groff's fresh shiny new guy.

The show is about the pair's many travels and interactions with with law enforcement around the country who grapple with grisly crimes they don't understand and some pretty chilling conversations with people tht commit them. This provides the setting, but the narrative is pushed forward by the development of the relationship between Groff and McCallany and the slow reveal of what influences both of them individually in an unflinching and honest light.

The thing I really appreciate about the show is that it takes it's time to tell the story. It doesn't rush or hop around to get to those 'gotcha' moments that are so prevalent in tv today. It's a show about people in all spectrums, the good, the bad, the bigoted and the murderous. And it approaches this with a very high level of care and execution.

Preacher

As we all know, comic book shows and movies seem to the all the rage now, which is just fine for me being a live long fan of the medium. However, being such a long time fan of it, I find a lot of the stories translated from the page to the screen generally rely on our nostalgia rather than quality film making to build an audience. I'm not entirely opposed to this, but yes, I do find a lot of the stories I loved in my youth to be lack luster when the find their way to film.

Preacher, thankfully, is an exception to this. The show is a re-telling of the story based around the comic's main protaganist Jesse Custer gaining the power of Genesis, which is the ability to command any being with a soul to do his bidding with but a word and the moral implications of giving a person like Custer such an awesome gift.

Understandably, the show is not as brutal as the comic for obvious reasons. There just some things you can't show on television. That said, the careful balance of the macabre with humor works surprisingly well through out. The up and own nature of the writing in the show reflects the difficulty of maintaining this balance, but stellar performances by the Ruth Negga and Joseph Giligun really minimize the impact of these inconsistencies to make a very watchable and downright fun show.

Whew, ok that's a good place to stop Part I. I'll drop Part II in a day or two go check those out and I'll feed you again soon!