Bingewatching the end of Civilisation
Or, The Year Without Summer Blockbusters
Greetings my fellow (in)voluntary shut-ins. We all live in Invisible Monasteries now. But, instead of dropping the last installment of those writings, I figured a good old fashioned DXC-style rant about entertainment at the end of civilisation might be in order, so here goes:
How are you? Are you well? That's how people greet each other in the classic UK TV series, Survivor. This show is even older than me, which is saying something lol. It’s also the kinda ‘return to the simple life in the countryside / English manor porn’ after the world falls apart that the guys who wrote the Dark Mountain manifesto prolly jerked off to every night while Damon Albarn sang ‘get out of cities / return to trees’ somewhere in the background. Also, it’s set in the aftermath of a ‘chinese flu’ - which is something about I definitely didn’t recall until looking over the wiki entry. Gotta love that long lingering xenophobia, huh? :/ Still, it’s def some content for our times.
While we’re playing way-back-machine, I can’t go any further without recommending the greatest tv show ever made: The Prisoner - ‘cause a kid in my writing class only got my reference to it via Austin Powers. Yet its DNA can be found in such almost-contemporary shows like Person of Interest - another great show to binge today if you misfiled it under yet another crime show procedural? You can see New York before the Fall etc etc. In another ‘nother timeline, The Prisoner - aka Patrick McGoohan - was a better, non-misogynist Bond (guess why he didn’t get the role?). In our I’M GONNA SING THE DOOM SONG reality though, the latest installment in that particular franchise won’t be out until at least November - when just maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll all be emerging from our respective caves, desperate for fresh shadows on the wall.
Right now though, the last movies to grace the big screens are being rushed to streaming - so, amidst everything else, we’re in this weird moment of getting new things delivered early, and then that particular supply chain drying up and a thousand over-stressed VFX artists polishing up 100+M movies that the studio execs are like, -snorts giant line of laced cocaine- dafuq do we even do with these Barry???
Of that batch, the most CGI-heavy is Vin Diesel being very Vin Diesel’y in Bloodshot. Which is like… fine I guess? Neither good nor bad. And not the worst attempt to bootstrap yet another cinematic masterpiece. By the start I was like, why aren’t I just rewatching GI Joe: The Rise of COBRA for the n’th time. By the end, I saw why Netflix was being very clever in giving Michael Bay a container full of cash to create his greatest work of vulgar cinema yet, in 6 Underground. Still, I would like a nanotech upgrade plz. And if that’s your jam, check out the Nietzsche reference laden Marvel Anime movie, Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore.
Speaking of failed attempts to kickstart franchises, maybe you suffered through Dracula Untold and still thought that Mummy reboot / attempt to reignite that particular universe might be good. Me too. Meeeee tooooo. You know who they should’ve tapped for that? Our local boy done good, Leigh freaking Whannell. Forget Saw (though I did like seeing him and James Wan present it way back in the before times) - unless you’re Chris Rock - and that other horror series, Upgrade was just my speed: frentic ultraviolent cyberpunk goodness. And you can see his asethetic in that carried over into his slowburn psychological horror #believewomen take on The Invisible Man - which was also dropped to streaming recently. Seriously, give Whannell a ton of money and a private island with a quarantined cast and production crew and let him show everyone how this is done today. Then let me know where the planes are taking off from, so I can sneak me and my dog aboard. We totally won’t go rogue and starting hunting people…
…that is, unless The Hunt turns out to be a work of prophecy, instead of Damon Lindeloff writing a very clever - how’s that working out for you guy? - version of the vintage Van Damme movie, Hard Target (and prolly a thousand other movies / books / comics / radio dramas and Greek plays). Still, it’s fun and Betty Gilpin is so freaking great in it she should storm the larger John Wick verse and go a rampagin’ with Halle Berry and her tactical-vested’ dawgs, should that actually continue to be a thing…
If that whets your appetite for more action, try Foxtrot Six as a taster for something a bit more exotic. It’s an English-language Indonesian dystopian future, lowkey cyberpunk action movie with fights sequences on par with The Raid (and FX on par with the original RoboCop lol). It’s also quite patriotic, but less on the nose about it than neighbouring Malaysia’s Paskal; both films having me mouthing the words ‘soft power’ too… and now that I’ve typed that, I have to give a shout-out to China’s Wolf Warrior movies. Also, by then you’ll be ready for a blood-soaked dessert like The Night Comes For Us. Or be in the mood for something completely different.
Two more items on the menu then. I dunno if Dark Gibsonian is a thing people say on teh Twitters, or whatever passes for a social network these days, but that’s definitely my two word summary of Alex Garland’s new (and final?) series DEVS. Again, it’s like… fine. I just keep waiting for it to break weird, and Netflix to come to their senses and uncancel The OA - which was weird and good and strange and hopeful and what we need more of in the world imho. Or whatever remains of it. ‘Cause the future, it looks a lot me running through the empty streets with my dog, finally LARPing I Am Legend for real, screaming ‘WALL-E WAS RIGHT’. And somewhere between now and the only Pixar movie I’m ever inclined to rewatch, sits Avenue 5. A cruise ship in spaaaaaaace… a dark, dark satire for the end times - where the oceans going toxic and the continued extinction of flora and fauana are casual conversational asides. If this show wasn’t a dire warning message to change course before the ‘Roana shockwave swept the globe, I’m sure those still quarantined on cruise ships around the world have a ready take for you.
Which is why I’ll be sitting in the room I once merely joked about being a climate bunker, watching something bright and joyful like Kipo and the Wonderbeasts tonight.
In the meantime, stay safe out there.. in there? everyone. Make friends with your neighbours, recruit for the coming revolution on dating apps, befriend a stray cat, summon a murder of crows to fight the COVID BLUES away. We’ll still be here when the dust clears, Inshallah.