My Cultural Diet for October 2022: The Rings of Power, Die Hard, Attack the Block, Star Trek: Lower Decks
A quick rundown of last month’s cultural experiences.
In order to better track my various cultural experiences (e.g., movies, TV shows, books, restaurants), I’ve created the Cultural Diet. Think of it as my own personal Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp, all rolled into one (more info here). Every month, I recap everything that I watched, read, etc., in the previous month.
Star Trek: Lower Decks, Season Three
I still enjoy Lower Decks’ poking fun of Star Trek tropes, but this season didn’t click for me as much the previous one did. Perhaps the constant references and throwbacks are wearing a bit thin now. Hopefully, they can inject some fresh life into the series for the already-announced fourth season.
Zany, over-the-top, hilarious, and heartfelt, or basically, what you’d expect from Philip Lord and Christopher Miller, the duo behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Lego Movie, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
I’ve been wanting to see this Roger Corman sci-fi/horror classic for awhile now, and it didn’t disappoint (it’s currently streaming for free on Tubi). The storyline, about a doctor who enhances his vision with unpredictable and insanity-inducing side effects, is lean and mean (only 79 minutes long!) and very satisfying as “B” movies go. Come for the trippy psychedelic visuals, stay for the creepy Don Rickles cameo.
It’s probably been ten years since I saw this in the theater, but this action film about a group of London teens defending their apartment building from an alien invasion was still as enjoyable as ever. It works on several levels (action adventure, social commentary, dark comedy) and John Boyega’s performance as gang leader Moses is so strong, you’ll be mad all over again that the Star Wars sequels obviously didn’t use him to his full potential.
The Rings of Power, Season One
I had some quibbles with this first season, due mainly to its attempts at juggling four different storylines and keeping them balanced and cohesive, dramatically, chronologically, and geographically. (Just how, exactly, did the Númenóreans travel upriver and arrive in Tirharad so quickly?) Also, its efforts to feel appropriately Tolkien-ish (e.g., dropping in references like “always follow your nose”) got a bit ham-handed at times. But the series’ heart is clearly in the right place, there’s lots of heartfelt talk about loyalty, sacrifice, and fellowship (e.g., Elrond and Durin), the steady religiosity was a nice touch, and of course, it looked absolutely fantastic. So yes, bring on Season Two (which has already begun filming). (Read my review)
Some of the best BBQ ribs I’ve had in a long time. We were a little underwhelmed by the brisket (which, though flavorful, was a bit on the dry side), but those ribs were topnotch.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the SAC Museum over the years, but every time I go, I’m still fascinated by the planes and the world history they represent. In addition to the planes, there are several excellent exhibits on topics ranging from the early days of the Space Age to the Berlin Airlift to the Holocaust.
I’m not sure any synopsis can do justice to this strange movie about a pair of CIA agents trying to stop a Russian plot to take over a virtual world. There’s talk about pizzerias and kickboxing academies, kung fu battles, and an African president running around in a Batman outfit. It’s deliberately nonsensical and bizarre in a Midnight Madness sort of way, so your mileage will definitely vary.
I really liked this place when it was called AmuManu Ramen, and it’s still just as good. I had the Stir Fry Ramen tonight, and it was pretty filling with just a slight hint of spice to liven things up a bit.
This “family” superhero comedy has a few laughs courtesy of Owen Wilson and Michael Peña, but overall, it’s pretty forgettable.
Decorum is more an exercise in world-building than a “normal” comic. The hardcover is filled with notes on far-future worlds, societies, and religions, all brought to life via Mike Huddleston’s incredible artwork and Sasha E Head’s intricate graphic design. The storyline — a group of assassins are hired to find a cosmic relic for an AI religion — is promising, but unfortunately, underwhelming. Given all of the world-building, I kept hoping for something more fantastical.
Works as both a love letter and deconstruction of fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons as well as the fantasy genre as a whole, but only by someone who understands both really well.
One of the great action movies of all time. 3+ decades have done nothing to diminish its thrills. This time around, I was fascinated by the gorgeous set design and surprisingly (at times) lush cinematography. The themes of bureaucratic nonsense and police incompetence (e.g., when they storm the building) hit even harder in light of recent police-related controversies. But mostly, Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, and lots of awesome explosions.
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