Is it fall yet? ALMOST! Is it time for September’s Staff Picks? Oh hell yeah!
Jason Soto (Host Whatever with Jason Soto, That’s Da Bomb, Yo!, Co-Host Between The Scares, CineGamer, I Have A Weird One & Musically Ignorant):
Nathan Fielder is a strange guy. I think we all know that if you’re familiar with him. He did some weird stuff on his old show Nathan For You. But now he’s back and stranger than ever. You ever have a situation in your life that you wish you were better prepared for? Enter The Rehearsal. Nathan looks for people who need to settle a situation and offers to practice how to fix this situation by coming up with every possible solution so they can be ready for anything. The interesting thing about this show though is there’s KIND OF an arching story? That’s really bizarre. This is a weird show to recommend cause I think it’s going to be off putting to some but at the same time, it needs to be seen to be believed.
Lisa Leaheey (Co-host Whatever with Jason Soto, Between The Scares, The SibList):
Two Girls and a Guy (1997)
Released on September 7, 1997, Two Girls and a Guy stars Robert Downey, Jr., Heather Graham, and Natasha Gregson-Wagner as a love triangle that unravels once two girls find out they’re dating the same guy. For the past 10 months, both Carla and Lou have been “exclusive” with Blake, and have decided to surprise him at his apartment when he returns home from a trip. The story unfolds like a play, as the focus is on Carla’s and Lou’s plans to confront Blake and how Blake tries to worm his way out of his responsibility for stringing along two separate women. Amidst a number more well-known releases such as G.I. Jane, Copland, and Event Horizon, Two Girls and a Guy could strike you as just another talky indie film. What I love about are the character interactions and performances, especially by Downey, Jr.. Blake is a slimeball, no question, and he uses his charisma to smooth over both ladies who are, rightfully so, really pissed. When talking doesn’t work, he employs some really out there ways of getting them to forgive him. He’s narcissistic, childish, and not at all sorry. However, one of the BEST sequences in the film is the scene when Blake returns home and thinks he’s alone in his loft. Downey’s talents really shine here, as he wanders the space, makes a few phone calls, and sings and plays the piano. I’m one of the 5 people in the world who bought and enjoys Downey’s album The Futurist, and it’s mainly because of what he does here in this scene. If you’re not a fan of character-driven films, skip this one; however, if you’re looking for a small gem (with some interesting portrayals from within two very different relationships), this is a title for you.
Rob Branch (Co-host CineGamer, Top 5 A Thru Z, Whatever with Jason Soto, Lyrical Innuendo, InfoBlast & I Have A Weird One):
Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)
As many of you know, I’m a sucker for films or television shows that are out there. Visuals that challenge the mind, as well as the eyes. I don’t care where it comes from, just as long as it elevates my life. With that said, let’s get on with the show. Today’s treat is brought to you from South Korea. Winner of 13 film awards, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds is a film that was shot in two parts (the other being Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days). The plot revolves around a firefighter Kim Ja-Hong (played by Cha Tae-Hyun) who dies tragically, in the line of duty. During Kim’s realization that he is dead, he is escorted into the afterlife by three guardians. At this point many would think, since he died in the line of fire, he would be greeted to the Heavens in his afterlife. Unfortunately for this tale, he’s sent to hell. He is told he must pass several trials in order to be reincarnated. Fail one, just one, and Kim is stuck in that level of hell for all eternity. There’s also one extra treat, in this story, but you’ll have to watch it to learn for yourself. Along with this amazing story, the visual effects are beyond stunning. Each level of hell pack with an amazing array of colors, tailored to that specific level. The trials are created to teach a lesson about what was missed in life. Finally, the lesson that are taught, meaningful and honest. If you don’t shed a tear while you watch this show, you’re not human. You can catch this on Netflix or any other streaming service and if you love this as much as I did, I recommend diving right into the second part of this story: Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days.
Pete Rangel, Jr (Co-host Top Five A Thru Z):
Thor Love and Thunder (2022)
Before I start my review on “Thor: Blood and Thunder”, for those all wondering how Jane Foster became Thor please read from a few years ago the Jason Aaron run of “The Mighty Thor”. Adding my review to what I just said, the comic story and “Thor: Love and Thunder ” movie is pretty close yet with changes to the source material. One of the funniest starts to a Thor film and great story. Bale nails it as Gorr the God Butcher too. Check this out definitely.
Lackey (Co-Host Musically Ignorant):
The Sandman (2022)
This month’s staff pick is The Sandman, both the Netflix series and the 1989-1996 comic series it’s based on. Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman follows Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, as he repairs his realm following decades of imprisonment at the hands of an occultist. This is Gaiman’s magnum opus, dealing with many of his favorite themes (the nature of stories and myths, for example) and trademark quirky characters. The series is remarkably faithful to the source material, being visually rich and featuring many fine performances including a great turn by Kirby Howell Baptiste as Morpheus’s sister Death. This could be the next big fantasy franchise.
Marc Armstead (Co-Host Word of (Hell)Mouth):
The Sandman (2022)
Sandman, the seminal 90’s comic book, finally gets the adaptation it deserves. Dream, the ruler of his namesake, spends a hundred years in captivity. Once freed, the Lord of Dreams plans to regain his power, repair his kingdom, and take revenge on those who imprisoned him. The Sandman strikes that elusive balance between pleasing fans of the source material while being accessible to those new to the IP. Season one does a great job of world building without weighing the story down, all the while keeping the audience excited what they may see next. Definitely give The Sandman a watch on Netflix, or even pick up the comics to see what happens next.
Nick Jobe (Co-host Navigating the Multiverse, InfoBlast, & I Have A Weird One):
The Mistborn Trilogy
Over the last month and a half, I’ve binge-read this trilogy from Brandon Sanderson and loved almost every moment. The characters are great to where you want to find out what happens next (even in the slower moments). The magic system is really fun, it’s action-packed (often bloody), and everything seemed to be meticulously plotted out (and you have to read the snippets at the beginning of chapters). There are twists and turns you absolutely will not see coming throughout the whole thing. The first book is a fantasy heist story about trying to overthrow God. The second book is a political siege story. And the third is a war story dealing with the repercussions of the first two books. Most reviews will say the second book is the weaker of the three, though I didn’t find that (I basically rank them in order, though none of them are bad by any means). And the third book has a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy–great wrap up to the series for each character and plot line. If you like action fantasy (primarily human characters), check it out!
Bubbawheat (Co-host Lyrical Innuendo):
This month I’m going to hand it off to my fifteen year old daughter who has been wanting to watch this anime movie for a while called Belle. I had heard a little about it when it first came out and I’m a fan of anime in general so we watched it together. I had forgotten that it was basically a Beauty and the Beast story set in an online virtual world where your avatar is created by the system based on your biometrics. The setup is a little convoluted but it exists to work with this story about inner beauty. Belle in game is a beautiful singer, out of game she’s a middle school wallflower who can’t sing in public after the death of her mother. The Beast in game is a draconic and strong character that moved away from the fighting arena and into causing general chaos. Out of game, he’s a protective child with an abusive father and frail younger brother. The story is ok with an overly optimistic ending, but the world itself is fascinating and the music is wonderful and combined with absolutely gorgeous flourishes within this game world. Definitely worth a watch for spectacle alone.
The Vern (Co-host Tales From The RR):
The Miranda Obsession
This audio drama on Audible stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miranda. A woman who somehow cons her way into the heads of many of Hollywood’s most elite men. Including screenwriter Buck Henry, musician Billy Joel and director Paul Schrader She seduces them with her voice and gets to know many things about them but they know very little of her or even what she looks like. Based on the true life story and comprised entirely of phone calls. I found this to be a very entertaining listen. Right from the start I was hooked. All the actors do a fantastic job and the premise of having it be recorded phone calls is quite good. The ending lags a little but overall I recommend it.
Ryan Luis Rodriguez (Co-host Tales From The Double RR):
There are few things from my childhood that I enjoy returning to all these years later, but lately I’ve been rewatching one of the great classic Nicktoons: “Hey Arnold!” Beyond being an unfailingly sweet series, it has a strong humanist streak as the protagonist helps people of all shapes and sizes, different cultures and creeds. That’s probably a pretentious way to describe a TV show for children, but we could all stand to be a little more like Arnold.
Heather Baxendale-Walsh (Co-Host Word of (Hell)Mouth):
I grabbed it strictly on recommendation and couldn’t put it down. Nearly 600 pages in a week. (Thank you for five hours driving to our camping location and back for the time!)
If you liked the show, it runs very close to the first season and sets the stage for bigger things, but it works much better in this medium. The espionage, mystery, political maneuvering, love stories, and delightful dialogue were outrageously good. I didn’t like Holden initially on the show but living in his head here works. Also, Miller is a fantastic character that you want to root for. Highly recommend. I already bought the second book.