Aug 19 2016

Stranger Things Is All The Things

The Netflix series Stranger Things is all the things. I’m serious. I’ve never been affected by a television show like this before.

I’m going to attempt to explain. Please don’t get the men in white coats. I will also attempt not to spoil anything because you should watch Stranger Things and be amazed by it. There is a chance that I will mention something that happens on the show but I’m going to try not to.

DaddyTips, 'Strange'ified

 

(Make your own ‘Strange’ified text at MakeItStranger.com. But wait until you’ve watched the show.)

Everything about Stranger Things, including the pitch-perfect and totally brilliant fonts, is pure nostalgia. You can read about those aspects of the series everywhere. (Links are included below.)

What I haven’t read yet is what I think, which is the following:

Stranger Things is a dream I had but didn’t have, memories of a life I never lived but also did.

That’s harder to explain. I’ll give it a shot.

I grew up in the city. Lived in an apartment. Never learned to ride a bike. The kids in Stranger Things live in the suburbs, in houses, and ride their bikes everywhere.

Somehow, as I watched the series, especially the middle episodes (there are only eight in total, which is perfect both for your time and for the story being told), I found myself viewing the screen through a haze that I can only describe as memory, or a dream, or some combination of the two. The rest of my living room faded out and all I could see was my television. I mean this almost literally. It was an experience that I wish everyone could have because it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, at least when it comes to a TV show.

I suppose one could say that what I’m describing is what happens when you see a great movie, or at least what used to happen when you were younger and less jaded about entertainment. Maybe you are still less jaded, and if so, I envy you. In a world with so many entertainment options, it is difficult not to evaluate work differently than I once did. The sheer joy of seeing Star Wars for the first time is something that no one will ever experience again, if for no other reason than because no movie will ever come out of nowhere the way Star Wars did in 1977. That doesn’t mean the new stuff isn’t good. It is. (We all know how I feel about the first Avengers movie.) It’s simply different.

Stranger Things is different as well. Yes, the show taps into old movies, referencing specific ones. That’s not why I loved it. (If you’re interested in knowing what those references are, that information is very easy to come by.) What the show did for me was the following: it managed to be both entertaining and, in some very strange way, present a life experience that I never actually had. It’s the deepest form of nostalgia.

I want to repeat that one more time because it sounds so unbelievably odd: Stranger Things felt like something that happened to me, even though it obviously didn’t. (Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but trust me, Stranger Things didn’t happen to anybody.)

A person could argue that this is simply the movie references at work. This person may be right. I don’t think they are. Somehow, the Duffer Brothers created a piece of entertainment that sprang forth from my own brain, from my my own memories of something I never actually experiencedThat is an impressive piece of work.

A few specific things I loved about the show:

  • The moment when Winona Ryder, who is so good in this she deserves every award, is going to leave her house but decides she’s going to stay instead. It sums up her character, and it’s an astonishing piece of acting.
  • The kids. Where did they get these kids, a time machine? I didn’t think they made kids like that anymore.
  • No parents. Yes, the kids have parents. But they are rarely seen. That’s extremely retro, and so important to the artistic success of the show. As a parent, I would never allow my children to be on their own the way I was, which is the way the kids on the show are. It was a different time. And I’m not a ‘helicopter parent’. Mothers and fathers simply don’t allow children to do their own thing the way parents in the 80s did. That’s not a social commentary, it’s a fact.
  • The walkie-talkies.
  • The majority of the adults, in particular the two parents (other than Winona Ryder) that we see more often than others, and also the science teacher. Well, and the police officers. OK, I like everybody on the show.
  • Yelling through rooms. “Time for dinner!” “OKAY! (gets quieter) Now listen, here’s what we need to do.” (Not a direct quote.) The jump between jarringly loud and normal speaking voices is something that I don’t think we do anymore. I know I did it. It’s a small detail, one of many, that make Stranger Things possibly even greater than the sum of its wonderful parts.
  • THE KIDS. ALL OF THEM. Everyone is talking about the main group of kids, and for good reason. They’re amazing. I want to include every kid, even the ones with small roles. And speaking of small roles…
  • The characters, and the actors who play those characters. Every detail in Stranger Things has been picked over in numerous articles online. This is because those details were carefully chosen. (Apparently there is one car that isn’t the correct year. I can’t find the story but I’m sure you can if you want to.) Every character, even the small ones, gets something to do. The main characters each have so much going on that in a lesser show it would be distracting. On Stranger Things, it isn’t. Orange is the New Black, another brilliant (for different reasons) Netflix series, manages a similar feat. But Stranger Things does it in a shorter amount of time and on a show with kooky stuff. Orange is the New Black is brilliant in part because it is based on events that actually happened, and as it continues, on events that still are happening, even if it’s not these specific events happening to these specific people. (That is, prisons are super messed up places and horrible things are happening in them.) Stranger Things somehow is about things that happened even though there is no way they could have happened. And in real life, everybody has a story. EVERYBODY ON STRANGER THINGS HAS A STORY. You don’t get to hear about all of their stories, which is also just like real life. (Again, please don’t get the men in white coats. I am aware that Stranger Things is a television show.)
  • D&D

There are so many other pleasures that came from watching this show. A friend told me when I started watching it that Stranger Things had “all the feels.” I thought I knew what he meant but I didn’t. Stranger Things brought up emotions in me that I didn’t know I could still access. I frequently had to pause an episode because I found myself getting more than a little verklempt. Three times while watching Stranger Things, I ate chocolate. Not because I was hungry, because I needed it. That has literally never happened to me before.

I hope you watch Stranger Things and that you enjoy it. I realize I’ve probably oversold it to the point where if the show doesn’t give you a foot massage while feeding you peeled grapes it won’t live up to the type. I apologize for that. Watch it anyway. It’s really good.

Other articles:

(Warning: many of these stories will reveal details of Stranger Things that it would be better for you not to know before you watch. This may not matter to you, which is fine. The warning is because I want to do my part to give you the experience that I had, which is impossible. But I want to try. I’m getting verklempt again. OK, here’s the list.)

Stranger Things Is a Nerdy Story That Is So Much More Than Its References, io9

Gizmodo’s Stranger Things coverage

I don’t totally agree with this, but I’m glad someone did it:
Stranger Things, Side-By-Side With Every Excellent Film It Borrows From (Sploid/Gizmodo)

An article from The Guardian about Winona Ryder, who is SO GOOD ON THIS SHOW

Read this Business Insider article only after you’ve watched the series; I don’t even want to include the title because it’s spoilery.

Watch this after you’ve watched the show. It’s very funny. (io9)

A review of Stranger Things and another Netflix series, The Get Down (The New Yorker)

Here are even more articles. Some of them look cool. See the disclaimer, but also this one: if don’t want to know anything about the show before you watch it, wait until after you do to read these stories. It’s OK. We’ll wait. And if you want to talk about Stranger Things, leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.


May 26 2015

Robert Rodriguez Jonny Quest Movie? Sure, Why Not?

When we first saw the news about a Robert Rodriguez Jonny Quest movie, we said “what? why?” Then we quickly calmed down and said, “Sure. Why not?”

I grew up watching Jonny Quest, and I liked it well enough. I know there was a more recent reboot that I don’t think I’ve ever seen. Robert Rodriguez is a talented director; his Spy Kids movies are good clean family-friendly entertainment. Big Entertainment is constantly looking for old material that can be turned into successful megabucks multiplex gold. So why not Jonny Quest?

Commenters over at io9.com wonder what Mr. Rodriguez will do about Jonny’s sidekick/partner Hadji. Will he be a turban-wearing lad? Or is that culturally insensitive?

Another commenter offers this casting idea — Danny Trejo, aka Machete.

That, boys and girls, would be awesome.

(Also: there’s no H in Jonny — it’s not Johnny Quest, it’s Jonny Quest — OK? That’s mostly directed at me; I thought the young Mr. Quest spelled his name the regular way. I WAS WRONG.)

Watching the video clip above reminds me of how much I liked those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The intro to the original Jonny Quest doesn’t even show the title character until over a minute of whiz-bang neat stuff like dinosaurs, laser cannons, a mummy, and whatever the heck this thing is:

Jonny Quest One-Eyed Spider Thing

Watching that intro makes me think that this movie is actually a good idea. At least potentially. Rodriguez can do some amazing work with CGI, and Jonny Quest could be a cool canvas for him to create something fun.

From Dusk till Dawn and Sin City director Robert Rodriguez is no stranger to children’s adventure movies, having created the Spy Kids franchise. Now, though, he’s delving into an existing children’s series, bringing the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Jonny Quest to the big screen.

Source: Robert Rodriguez Is Working On A Jonny Quest Movie (io9)

 

 

 


Apr 29 2014

Max Von Sydow Cast in Star Wars Episode VII

The cast for Star Wars Episode VII (I can almost write that without cringing — almost) has been announced. One of the merry band will be played by none other than Max Von Sydow.

Visitad el blog del Zinemaldi en dvdenlared.com

I’m a big Max Von Sydow fan. Not a fanatic, but his presence in a film lends a certain something. This comment posted by Owmyback (great username) on io9 somewhat echoes my reaction:

Am I the only one who read this and was like “Max von Sydow is still alive?”

My thought was more along the lines of, “Max Von Sydow is still alive. Cool. And he’s going to be in the next Star Wars movie. Also cool.”

io9 commenter CindyLouCthulhu (again, great username) added the following:

The Seventh Seal must have been a true story. Dude clearly beat Death at chess.

Here is the rest of the cast that was announced today on StarWars.com:

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.

Peter Mayhew played/will continue to play Chewbacca, Kenny Baker was/is R2D2, and Anthony Daniels played/will play C3P0. Here’s a video interview of him for your viewing pleasure:

And just for yucks, a compilation of The Best of C3P0:

So? Are we excited? Do we care? Are we becoming overwhelmed by the amount of entertainment in the world today? The answer to all of these questions is… a little bit.

Star Wars Episode VII Cast Announced (io9)

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Mar 07 2013

Carrie Fisher Will Return To Star Wars, Is Very Funny

The always wonderful website io9 tells us that Carrie Fisher told Palm Beach Illustrated that she would indeed return to Star Wars for the upcoming movies. This is good news. It is also good news that Carrie Fisher is funny.

[Lego Star Wars Princess Leia Minifigure with Blaster]

Quote from the interview:

Q: What do you think Princess Leia is like today?

A: Elderly.

She says more, but the abbreviated version makes me laugh. Read the whole thing here.

Here is a video of Princess Leia insulting Han Solo, because really, why not? It’s only ten seconds. Watch it.

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Carrie Fisher says she’s returning to Star Wars (io9 via Palm Beach Illustrated)

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Jul 02 2012

Short Film About A Creepy Toy (DaddyTube)

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The title of this short animated video about a toy is “Alma”, written and directed by Rodrigo Blaas. You may find it creepy; if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Personally, I wasn’t too creeped out by “Alma”. Read more »