Arcane S01

Finished first season of Arcane.
This is not what I expected. But I think it was brilliant nevertheless.
The world feels bigger than the single city we’re shown.



There are things that are happening outside of it. Which is a great way to build a story.



Here’s just one example:

A mother, kind of a warrior-queen, exiled her daughter, Mel, for being too soft, to another city-state, Piltover.



But now her son is dead, and she needs the weapons that Piltover produces. We’re never told who she’s fighting. Because this is something outside of the story.


Being all “Spartan warrior”, she still enjoys the benefits of civilization:


And this is mostly shown, not told. Often in a single scene.

All the characters have their conflicts. Vi with being from a lower class, and her parents killed by enforcers. Jinx being torn between her sister the vigilante and her stepfather the mob boss, Silco.

Here Silco is being offered what he dreamed off, an independent state, in exchange for his step-daughter:



I mean, just look at those sequences. The offer, the contemplation, and the statue of the hero and his friend he killed in the background.

It’s so often that characters are given easy escapes. Not here. Even when Jinx eventually kills her stepfather to save her sister:


It only sets the scene for a larger catastrophy, the ultimate terrorist act, the attack on the Parliament, which is the cliffhanger for the first season.And I like the ineventability of this. The fact that you take a decission doesn’t mean you don’t end up hating yourself for it. Even if it was the right decission. The hate is still there.

It would again be easy for authors to make Silco point the gun at Jinx. Here, he was always using her! But he doesn’t. Adding the layer of ambiguity:

It wasn’t just an act, he does mourn her, he does try to do everything possible to save her.

And I could go on, on how Mel’s painting represents her longing for home.


Again, just a single shot, her standing, him almost laying down, the divide between.

And then we see in the last moments that she ruins it: telling the viewer that she rejects her mother offer. Again, “show, don’t tell” in the most brilliant form.

To me, it’s frustrating that they managed to pull this level of a story out of a universe whose entire purpose is to sell sexy costumers to teenagers. And then we have abominations such as Resident Evil movies, that do have excellent base material, but not the will 🤷‍♂️



Mortal Kombat (2021)

The Hanzo and Bo Han introduction is brilliant. The origin of the kunai, how Sub Zero powers introduces and all that.



They made the hero a descendant of Scorpion, and a MMA fighter. MMA is all the rage, so I’m not even angry.
Kano was a surprise. More of a comic relief character.


There are a lot of little references. Like Kano trying to jump over Liu Kang’s sweep kicks. Kung Lao saying “flawless victory” after dealing fatality to the flying lady nobody remembers (Nitara).


Speaking of characters nobody remembers, Reiko was a surprise. They even recreated Liu Kang dragon fatality and Sonia’s as well.




Then there are smaller references: Katana’s fan in the background, Kano trying to steal the Amulet, Motaro in Greek vases.


The way fighters need to discover their abilities is more of a superhero-like.


But then, they had to establish abilities of a lot of fighters in a very short period of time. Tonfas were a surprise as well. But it’s a new character, and the actor is master of those.
Then there’s the appearance of Scorpion, with the iconic music (if there’s such a thing) and even more iconic “Get over here!”



Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

It’s a strange attempt to mash together Resident Evil 1, Resident Evil 2 with a bit of Code Veronica on top.


There is some notion that they knew what they were doing. First Aid Spray, Umbrella logos, Dr Birkin, Spenser Mansion. They did reconstruct the original intro of Resident Evil 2, the one with the truck, quite faithfully. And the one from Resident Evil 1 is pretty accurate as well.


Leon S. Kenney is a bit more… Middle Eastern, than what I’d expect. And Jill is also a little more… black.

They made Wesker one of the regular cops, friend of Jill. And mostly a clueless guy.


Then there’s Chris and Claire Redfield that were kids in an Umbrella orphanage. Completely unnecessary, I think. What purpose does this detail has, except a way of bringing Claire and Leon to the underground train, really?



I had zero expectations. But still, I mostly wished this would be over.


Arcane S01


Arcane S01

What can I say? It’s absolutely phenomenal. Everything. The storytelling. The visuals. The animation. The fact that they managed to make compelling characters out of a spinoff of a spinoff.


Chainsaw Man

If the first half of the season was impressive to say the least, the second half is mindblowing.


It’s an incredible muscle flex.
Basic principles of animation is that frames are expensive, backgrounds are cheap. You can have a single background for thousands of frames. That’s why you generally avoid “camera movement” in animation: it moves the background.
And that’s exactly what they’re doing here. They rotate the camera, in a rather mundane scenes, or show scenes from different angles. Something common to movies, although still not cheap. And extremely rare for anime.


What else did they do? Unique ending for every episode. Again, that’s something you just don’t do. Animation is expensive! So, you draw one outro, and use it for 6, 12, maybe even 24 episodes. But those crazy bastards decided otherwise.




Been planning to watch this for ages, without any particular reasons. Just stumbled upon a trailer, and I also like Jennifer Garner.
This is a Female Punisher, basically. Husband and daughter of a bank worker are killed by a gang of a drug dealers. Five years later, she comes for revenge.
There’s a strong influence from John Wick on how everything is filmed. Holding firearms close, shooting point-black, all that stuff.
The only interesting parts are how Jennifer treats her wounds. At one point, she uses a surgical stapler, then wraps it with a silver tape. At another point, she uses a sanitary pad to stop bleeding from a stab wound. She’s still very resilient, and survives even a bullet wound or two.


Chainsaw Man

Started watching Chainsaw Man, and I got just two things to say:

  1. Anime is not dead. Or it has been resurrected
  2. Attack on Titan changed the world forever. Like Berserk did before it.


Slow Horses S01

Finished watching Slow Horses.
What I can say is that it’s very British. Both the setting and the themes. “I’m not Pakistani, I was born in Birmingham”, “that’s a follie and not a medieval castle”.


Gary Oldman is brilliant, but that’s expected. He’s basically repeating Smiley’s role from “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. Which is ironic, because the characters also directly reference John le Carre novel in the series.


Storywise, I felt like they couldn’t decide if it’s a story about fuckups, as we’re constantly been told, or about superagents, as River character seems to be able to outrun a car and overtake experienced agents in hand to hand combat with ease.

I mildly enjoyed it, as I enjoy seeing London in movies, and I’m a sucker for spy dramas. But it’s probably not for everyone.


Euphoria S01

Watched the first two episodes.
Didn’t expect that this series will make me think. “Sex Education” or “13 Reasons Why” never did that to me.
Yes, it’s oversexualized, and that party from the first episode looked ridiculous.
But I also find that some parts strike very true. What do you do with your life if you can’t ever feel happy (unless you’re on drugs)?
Zendaya is indeed fantastic. Great range of emotions, and also great mix of them.
Another surprise: it shows what a true friendship is, in forms of Fezco and Lexi. When making a show such as this, it’s easy to paint it all black, or make unrealistically cool friends like the Latino dude from “13 Reasons”. But a true friend is someone who’s ready to piss for you in a bottle in the middle of the night.

Also, I discovered that those three are different actresses 🤦‍♂️

And that it is an adaptation of… an Israeli series 😬


13 Reasons Why

Reminded me of Sex Education in many ways. Same artificial school, with lockers, beer in red plastic cups, varsity jackets, everyone living in huge houses and all that.
I feel zero sympathy for both main characters. The girl, Hannah, neglects the Nice Guy and decides to date an athlete instead (because he has a nice smile and body).
Then complains that the friendzoned Nice Guy is not nice enough to her anymore.
The Nice Guy, in the meantime, decides to steal a walkman from what seems to be his only friend.
Also, not sure at whom all the nostalgia is aimed. Maybe Gen Z find Walkman appealing somehow?


Pale Blue Eye

Truly enjoyed the atmosphere and aesthetics of it all. Watched it almost in one go.
This is not the first time Edgar Allan Poe is made into a character. But Harry Melling is mostly comedic, as is Gillian Anderson.
Christian Bale is fantastic, as usual. Full range of emotions. And it’s interesting how he and Melling switch roles from one scene to another.
“Lenore” is a real poem by Poe, by the way.


Midnight Mass

Finished watching Midnight Mass.
One episode that struck me really hard was when the Old Lady, Mildred, gets cured of her dementia and recognizes her daughter again. And the daughter just asks her: “- Mom?”
We are our memories. Without them, we’re just bags of meat and bone.
In Episode 7, there’s an interesting continuation to the “monologs on the sofa” from Episode 4. Riley and Erin discuss the nature of death. Riley then presents death from the biological standpoint: organs failing, release of hormones. Erin presents the Gnostic standpoint: after death our soul raises that is wrapped in love. Finally, in Episode 7 Erin as she dies presents a third standpoint: from the “physicist” point of view, there’s no such thing as life or death, we are just a collection of atoms, and atoms are mostly empty, so we are walking emptiness. And from the Cosmos point of view, or “lives” are so short we may as well not exist at all.
By the end, Warren Flynn, The Young Brother, says another sharp bit:
“- If I’d known at that dinner,
the last dinner, I would have been different”. We rarely know that it’s the last time we see someone we love.
This is something Mildred already addresses, though, when she speaks with Father Paul in the church at the beginning of the episode.
“That’s how it’s supposed to work. It’s supposed to be over.”
Vampire stories are usually just a vessel. Often, just for erotic fantasies about “dangerous but handsome men”. This time: about coping with aging, mortality, addiction, guilt.


Under the Silver Lake

A parody on noir movies. Though I feel like I’m not educated enough to appreciate it. Or maybe I simply didn’t watch enough Hitchock?

There’s a dog killer everybody talks about. And a millionaire went missing. And a dude, that is a total dickhead, meets a girl, Sarah, that disappears the next day.

So he goes looking for her. In woman’s restroom, at one point.


He’s a total dickhead, as I said. I found the protagonist to be repelling (I guess this is on purpose, everybody mentions how he smells like a skunk).


The millionaire turns dead, burned in his car with a woman, and the dickhead suspects it’s the same girl he met. He starts obsessing over secret messages, that eventually lead him to an empty atomic bomb shelter and to a cult leader. Turns out the millionaire is not dead, not yet. You see, millionaires use those atomic bomb shelters as tombs. They bury themselves alive in those with their wives to eventually “ascend”. And Sarah is happy with her fate. Is that a commentary on how young girls in LA “sell” themselves to millionaires? Not sure.


Midnight Mass

This miniseries has a very Kingy feel, although Stephen King wasn’t very lucky with most of his movie adaptations.
A convict comes to his home island after spending 4 years in prison for killing a woman in a crash while driving drunk. The community is very pious, or to be precise, doesn’t have much to do except going to church. But he doesn’t believe in anything anymore, remaining a stranger.
The detail that really struck me is his room from back when he was a teenager: with posters of Seven, X-Files and Scream. Something that both sets the time and the athmosphere.


SAS Red Notice

Decided to watch this due to some interesting actors: Ruby Rose (John Wick 2), Tom Hopper (Umbrella Academy), Andy Serkis
The storyline is “back to 90’s”, and very similar to Die Hard or Under Siege: bunch of mercenaries capture a train that runs between London and Paris, that just happens to have a well trained SAS operative heading to his honeymoon onboard.
Female (sorry, genderfluid) villain is surprising nowadays, when the only evil comes from white men. Can a good guy kill a woman, even if she’s a terrorist?
The only interesting idea is that even the good guys in movies are sociopaths. Otherwise, you can’t kill 20 people in a day and just walk away as if nothing happened.


Alita: Battle Angel

Decided to watch it after stumbling upon some fan made music video and thinking “the fights are actually aren’t half that bad!”

I’m genuinely impressed how much of the original manga they managed to squeeze in.
Grewishka, Zappan, Hugo, and the motorball. Even a bit of Mars. It seems that they’ve altered the sequence of events quite a bit, but I read the manga some 20 years ago, so I might be mistaken.

Fight sequences are absolutely amazing. Especially the second fight with Grewishka.

The face capture is seriously impressive as well:

Surprised they left a lot of brutality intact. Zappan splitting a street urchin in two, Grewishka’s eye poked out, Alita’s first body literally diced. Characters being cyborgs is what made that brutality possible in the first place, and back then, it was grounbreaking, someone fighting without legs.
Dialogues are sharp, which is refreshing, after so many movies narrating everything. Here a lot is left unsaid, or at least said only once.
Funny how they use Razer Orbweaver to reconstruct Alita:




Absolutely fascinating. Watched in one go. Although certainly not what I expected. I expected more scares.
There is no one evil mastermind. Instead there is a web of lies that also evolves over time.
It’s easy to look at everything with a modern cynical eye. But it’s important to remember those people honestly believed in things like Hell and Purgatory.
There’s a lot of subtelty in the dialogs, without them being vague. Like: “He went to school, and I didn’t”. In 1860, 40% of women in the UK were illeterate.
Poor box is an interesting detail. The local church may be monetarily benefiting from a local Saint or miracle, but not the family. The family gets the house at best.
Another interesting detail: chickens in the main room. Although I guess the family could be considered a lower-middleclass: they have chickens, and a maid!



Midsommar does all the usual horror movie things: plenty of gore, cult village you cannot leave alive, bunch of outsiders (different clothing, speak English instead of Swedish) that get picked off one by one. Not much screamers, but they do have corpses that open their eyes. But it does a lot of things also differently.

Most things happen during daytime. Or, to be more precise, it’s hard to distinguish between day and night. I learned that there’s even a name for that: “daylight horror”.
Turns out that we watched the regular version, which is already 2:30 hours long. But I can’t complain: watched it in one go, and the amount of detail and characters do make up for the length.
There’s also a Director’s Cut, which is almost three hours.
Sharp transitions. Danni walks into a bathroom in Christians apartment, and she’s in the bathroom of the airplane. Josh is sitting at the table during day, then he’s sitting on his bed at night, thinking of sneaking into the temple.

Reflections. Danni sees a scary reflection after taking the mushroom tea. Josh sees the reflection of what he thinks is Mark. The table they use for celebrations is reflective.

Bear. There’s the bear poster, a live bear in the cage, bear in the Matron’s house, and of course the bear ending.

Distortions. When heroes take hallucionogenic mushrooms, viewers experience this as well, from a 3rd person view.

That goes with the 4th wall stares: different characters have that long stare into the camera, when there’s nothing for them to look at.

Things I didn’t get at all: Scissors under the pillow and inbread oracle.
Although maybe oracle supposted to be vague: can the Elders really interpret his drawings? Or are they just using him as an excuse to promote their own plans?

One thing that Director’s Cut explains, though, is why the British girl is shown drowned and in some kind of a fishnet with pictures in the last scenes of the movie.
There’s another scene, when a ritual of sacrifice to the river happens. And one of the boys is offered, wearing a fishnet (he is sacrificed to the water) and probably the most precious things (pictures of his relatives and child toys, I assume). Then the ritual is interrupted. Guess that’s because they found a replacement.



DRC was ruled between 71-97 by a dictator. Then from 2001-2019 there was a “President”. 2019 was the first time of peaceful transition of power.
Rwanda’s “President” rules since 2000, indefinitely.
In between those two countries, there’s the Virunga national park, protected by a bunch of dedicated rangers.
The most impressive part of this documentary is the undercover filming: Congo official trying to bribe the rangers, corporation mercenaries, sorry, contractors, discussing between themselves how Europe should recolonize Africa. What you get when you scratch the civility.