What We're Watching: July 23, 2021

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Brock: "Shaft (1971): While the plot is typical private eye stuff, the style and attitude of this classic 1970s blaxploitation film still jumps off the screen. Richard Roundtree's commanding lead performance, the strong independent film vibe in how it is filmed and presented, the great costume design, and of course the iconic music make this a movie worth experiencing, especially if you haven't seen it before."

Jakob: "Once I saw the trailer for Pig (2021) with Nic Cage looking his worst (which is really saying something) as he searches for his stolen truffle pig, I had to see it. The question for me was if this was going to be a John Wick ripoff with a man turning violent to avenge a lost pet. And, thankfully, it is not that; but, something so much deeper. While it focuses on the strange world of contemporary dining with its deconstructed overpriced meals, the film works as a rejection of detached ironic hipsterism and a call to rediscover one’s true passion. Cage gives a quiet performance. But also one that is so thoughtful that I was all in for his love of his pig and was choked up by his sincerity and the family drama that unfolds."

Arnie: "Before I see Snake Eyes this weekend I went back to rewatch the other G.I. Joe movies, The Rise of Cobra and Retaliation (no, I have not and will not rewatch that cartoon abomination). In listening to our old podcasts my opinions are about the same. So listen to those G.I. Joe reviews in our archives before our Snake Eyes comes out on totally free Tuesday this week!"

Stuart: "While I'm wary about committing to 86 hours of television, I think it's time I finally started watching The Sopranos. The HBO series feels like a seminal pop culture event that I totally missed out on twenty years ago, and remains a large gap in my mob genre knowledge. Plus I got to get cracking if I'm going to be ready for prequel film The Many Saints of Newark, arriving in two short months." 

Jason: "From the director of next year's The Batman, it's Under Siege 2: Dark Territory! This week I learned that Matt Reeves, who helmed Cloverfield and is polishing the aforementioned Batman update as we speak, co-wrote the script that became the 1995 sequel to Steven Seagal's biggest film. I'll assume Reeves' spec was brilliant before it was deflowered by [producer] Seagal and [director] Geoff Murphy, who turned it into 100 minutes of monotony in which the invincible martial artist snaps wrists up and down the aisles of a hijacked train. The one thing I enjoy about going back to Dark Territory is recognizing a ton of actors and stuntmen that seemed to show up in every 90s action movie. There's Zed from Pulp Fiction! There's that long-haired dude from The Lost World and John Carpenter's Vampires! I can do that all day, much to the chagrin of friends that I've held hostage after seizing the remote."

Heath: "I remember disliking the Eddie Murphy vehicle Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) when I first saw it when it was new on video but wanted to give it another chance to re-evaluate it. I really shouldn’t have bothered as this is a woefully flat horror-comedy that doesn’t do either genre well. Director Wes Craven would mix comedy and horror brilliantly just the following year with Scream, but this is deathly dull and is easily the most boring Murphy has ever been on screen, and the other two characters he plays here (a fast-talking preacher and a sleazy Italian mobster) are instantly forgettable. Give me the camp brilliance of Craven's Shocker and Deadly Friend any day over this snoozer."

Santiago: "Black Widow (2021): As a sendoff to a beloved MCU character, it sucks. It honestly feels like they had the script lying around and just forgot to make it until now. Once I accepted it wasn't going to be what I expected and just took the movie at face value, I had a lot of fun with it. David Harbour's comedy was hit or miss with me, but I really loved Florence Pugh's character, as well as her chemistry with Scarlett Johansson. I also liked Natasha's characterization in the film and the opening credits are surprisingly memorable and awesome (that song is so great!). Overall it's a fun, albeit middle of the road, MCU movie."

Adam: "Gunpowder Milkshake (2021) is the latest outing for Karen Gillan. I've liked her in everything she had done so far and the trailer looks amazing! Add to that the rest of the cast; Lena Headey, Angela Bassett, Paul Giamatti, Michelle Yeoh et al, and you have a recipe for a really fun time. I have a feeling this may be a milkshake I am going to want more of! I'll also be checking out The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard (2021), I thought the first one was OK, and the second looks more of the same. Ryan Reynolds has charisma for days, and Salma Hayek was one of the better parts of the last movie. More of her should surely help."