Adam Brody’s Kid Detective is one of last year’s most underrated movies
Monday early morning started in a big method with the seismic statement that AT&T struck an offer with Discovery to spin off WarnerMedia into a new media business, integrating HBO and CNN with the similarity HGTV and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. BBC revealed that Steve McQueen, hot off the release of his five-movie anthology Little Axe in 2015, would be producing a three-part documentary series entitled Uprising, checking out 3 significant occasions in British race relations that took place and converged with one another in 1981. That’s not even pointing out the brand-new trailers for the G.I. Joe reboot/spinoff Snake Eyes and Netflix’s Craving For Sweets adjustment, which simply debuted!
On the other hand, the great folks at Polygon HQ have actually been hectic this weekend trimming our watchlists. Here are a few of the programs and motion pictures (and manga!) we’re presently seeing (and reading!) today, and what you may delight in seeing (and reading!) too.
The Kid Investigator
A couple months ago I signed up with Letterboxd, a social networks platform for movie geeks that lets us examine motion pictures, share lists, and see what our good friends have actually enjoyed. I was doubtful of another social app, initially, however figured I might utilize the database to track my watching practices.
An amusing thing took place en route through my stockpile. I discovered little movies I’d never ever become aware of slowly build up evaluations from my good friends. Curious by their sentence or 2 evaluations, I discovered myself attempting old movies like Midnight Run and brand-new movies like The Empty Guy — in spite of both having beside no marketing and very little press, a minimum of not just recently.
As an outcome, my Letterboxd-inspired watching has actually felt similar to a movie celebration experience, where I pick motion pictures by word of mouth, beginning each movie “fresh-eyed” without having actually seen a trailer or perhaps check out a summary. The most recent of these experiences is The Kid Investigator, a pitch-black funny starring Adam Brody as a previous kid investigator turned downtrodden adult desiring be a genuine private detective. If it hadn’t been disposed in 2015 in the middle of the pandemic, I picture this movie would have had a genuine minute. Which’s all I’ll state.
There’s something valuable about the chance to see a well-crafted motion picture with no of the buzz cycle. After all, how typically will you get to view a secret without understanding a thing prior to the opening credits? —Chris Plante
The Kid Detective is available to purchase on Amazon Prime and Apple TV and to stream on Starz.
And everything else we’re watching …
I find myself mostly over “coming-of-age stories” that all seem to hit the same beats, whether positive (“I found a mentor who helped me understand self love and creativity”) or negative (“I did a bad and maybe broke the law but now I see the error in my ways and I’m on the good path”). Girlhood renewed my faith.
Written and directed by Céline Sciamma (A Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Girlhood finds 16-year-old Marieme (Karidja Touré) at a breaking point. With her mom working at all hours to make ends meet, Marieme’s abusive brother commands the house with an iron fist while she cares for her two younger sisters. The situation at home takes a toll on her academics, and despite pleading for another track, her school kicks her out on to a vocational track. This isn’t the life she wanted … and when a gang of girls invites Marieme to run with them, she finds purpose and support that the traditional systems never provided.
Sciamma, a white woman, could easily stumble here, exploiting her young Black leads and seeing the project as a source of misery needed to be overhauled. But Girlhood never undervalues its characters or the world around them. When the head of the gang, Lady (Assa Sylla), anoints Marieme with her own gang name, “Vic,” it’s an ascendance. The group celebrates by dancing and lip-syncing to Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” When they find themselves in a fist fight against another gang, it’s not so Sciamma can trigger an act of violence that will define Marieme, but to show her as fully empowered, and knowing when to stick up for her friends. The men in their orbit are toxic — her brother won’t allow Marieme to date his friend because she might earn a reputation as a skank — but they can be outmaneuvered. With the help of her friends, Marieme pushes back against the forces that, in other movies, society would ask her to settle for or assimilate into in order to survive. By believing fully in Touré’s performance, and rendering her action with flowing photography and a prism of colors, Sciamma delivers a coming-of-age alternative that’s just a total knockout. —Matt Patches
Girlhood is streaming on Showtime Anytime and available to rent for $3.99 on Amazon; $4.99 on Apple; $2.99 on Vudu.
Godzilla vs. Kong (in a movie theater!)
This past weekend was the three-week mark since my second vaccine shot, so on Sunday, my (also fully vaccinated) wife and I celebrated that milestone the best way we knew how: We went to a movie theater, for the first time in something like 15 months. It was definitely weird, but it was definitely wonderful.
Dimmer-than-usual lighting lent the lobby an almost funereal atmosphere. A moviegoer said that he actually preferred this to dealing with crowded theaters in the Before Times; a concession stand employee shrugged in response. Discussing the remark, my wife and I thought how odd it must have felt for the person fetching that guest’s popcorn and soda to hear that some people might like it better if his job continued to be threatened by low attendance. But perhaps the saddest part of the experience, for the two of us personally, was the realization that Regal Cinemas had — since the last time we visited one of the company’s theaters — switched from Coca-Cola (and our beloved Coke Zero) to Pepsi products. (It’s almost enough to make us consider declining to renew our Regal Unlimited subscriptions.) And of course, we had to keep our masks on whenever we weren’t actively eating or drinking.
All of those concerns left my mind the moment I saw a haymaker from Kong connect with Godzilla’s jaw, and let out an involuntary “YES!” as the two “alpha titans” duked it out on a flaming aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Is Godzilla vs. Kong a work of cinematic art? I dunno. Could I utter lines such as “Kong bows to no one” with a straight face? Certainly not. Why does the home of the titans — at the apparently hollow center of the Earth — feature a throne room, complete with a Kong statue hewn out of rock and a titanic ax that can be charged with radioactive energy? Beats me.
But of course, those are the wrong questions to ask. For 113 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, my wife and I emptied our brains and had an unbelievably good time at the movies. Because despite the undeniable convenience of streaming the latest blockbusters at home, nothing quite compares to seeing a cinematic spectacle on a big-ass screen. —Samit Sarkar
Godzilla vs. Kong is currently in movie theaters.
Great Pretender Season 1
If you’ve seen a pitch for this show, it’s probably been “Ocean’s 11 but anime” and it’s not an inaccurate simplification. A group of international confidence men and women plan and execute elaborate heists involving drug lords, air racing shows, and art forgeries. But The Great Pretender contains multitudes. For starters, it’s the kind of show that would make its credits theme song Freddie Mercury’s rendition of The Platter’s song The Great Pretender.
The show’s main characters all display that effortless sort of cool that Steven Soderbergh deftly exploits in his movies, aided by an impeccable dubbing on the Netflix release. The mini arcs of the first season each focus on the backstory of one of the main characters, which completely reframe your understanding of their motivations for living the life of a con artist. Even the side characters and marks involved in the heist are given some depth.
The show’s backgrounds are also notable for their use of a strikingly bright color palette, a direct contrast to Wit Studios other recent works like Attack on Titan and Vinland Saga. They evoke the neon skin of a poisonous animal: gorgeous to look at while simultaneously broadcasting the dangers within.
The main character Makoto is typically left in the dark about all of the heists’ plans so the audience can simultaneously be surprised right alongside him when things seemingly spiral out of control. Even though you know the crew is probably going to find a way to pull off their heist in the end, you’ll still be thrilled by how it’s pulled off. Even more surprising are the emotional packed storylines weaved into these conclusions that make the show feel like way more than just anime plus Ocean’s 11. —Clayton Ashley
Great Pretender seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream on Netflix.
I had dismissed Jennifer’s Body without much thought when it released back in 2009, understanding next to nothing about the film aside from the fact that it starred Megan Fox of Transformers fame. What can I say, I was a teenager and had other media I was more interested in at the time (Halo 3 and The Orange Box being chief among them). Now, as an considerably older, wiser, and far more generous cinephile, I decided this weekend it was well past time to give Karyn Kusama’s comedy horror satire a chance. Turns out yeah, it’s pretty good!
Aside from being a solid horror flick about a self-involved cheerleader who transforms into ravenous succubus-like demon after being sacrificed by a secret Satanist boy band with aspirations of stardom, what most stuck out to my partner and I while watching it was how much of an inadvertent time capsule the film was of that first decade of the twenty-first century. From low-rise jeans and clamshell phones, Fallout Boy posters and 9/11 tribute shooters, I felt myself uncannily drawn into the psychic space of a time period I had long since locked away in the darkest chasmic depths of my mind palace. Man, high school fucking sucks. Anyway, Amanda Seyfried was great in this as Jennifer’s unfortunately name BFF Anita “Needy” Lesnicki, a shy yet stalwart young woman who both defies and defeats the demon-possessed Jennifer while ultimately avenging her murder during the end credits montage. If you, like me, had ignore this film prior to now, I highly recommend setting some time aside and giving it a shot. —Toussaint Egan
Jennifer’s Body is readily available to rent on Amazon.
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster
This weekend I finally started reading some manga for the first time as an adult. As a kid, I’d read some Shonen Jump, which had just started to pop up in supermarkets when I was growing up, but I never kept up the habit, since other manga wasn’t readily accessible to me. But manga is everywhere now, and the only thing keeping me away was my own trepidation — there was just so much, you know? But I also don’t let the sheer amount of books being published keep me away from the novels I really want to read. (Shoutout to the Lauren Groff hive, this fall belongs to us.)
So thanks to the dual recommendations of a critic I follow on Twitter and Polygon’s own Toussaint Egan, I picked up the first volume of Naomi Urasawa’s Monster, a slow-burn thriller about a doctor who saves the life of a child in post-war Germany, only to find years later that the child has grown up to become a serial killer. What I like about Monster is that, despite the pulpy hook, it takes its time to sink into protagonist Dr. Tenma’s moral universe — like the petty office politics of working in a hospital, and the way the business interests of a hospital can clash with a doctor’s mission to value every life equally.
Right from the start, Monster has a little bit of whatever — drama, horror, and political intrigue — and Urasawa’s cartooning is top-notch, with panels that expand in your head to let readers sink into the texture of a scene, judiciously flowing from more minimal linework to richly-detailed moments that stop me in my tracks. There’s a lot of comic left to go — the edition I’m reading is the first in a nine-volume set — however I’m definitely connected. —Joshua Rivera
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.