Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc!
Lauren’s Anime Pick: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – With Ben singing the praises of this anime for a while now and season 1 (the only season out currently) just being released on Netflix, I’d be a real jerk if I didn’t at least check out the show. Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro Kamari, a compassionate and incredibly driven older brother setting out to find a way to turn his sister Nezuko back into a human after his family was slaughtered by a Michael Jackson lookalike demon (an assault that turned Nezuko into a demon herself). With the scale of darkness and violence that often leaves scenes drenched in blood, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the show’s almost absurdist humor, just as I was equally shocked by its ability to turn many of these bloodthirsty murderers into sympathetic monsters in their final moments, thanks in large part to the lens that our protagonist sees the world through. So far my biggest complaints have been how often Nezuko is left out of episodes given that the relationship between her and her brother is the heart of the show, as well as an obnoxious character that is constantly at a screamingly emotional 16 out of 10 as he continually disrespects women and pees his pants in terror, but there’s so much about the show that more than makes up for this: from the competitive relationship between Tanjiro and fellow Demon Slayer Inosuke, to the beautifully illustrated combat with a graphically stylized flair, to the vast assortment of demon powers, and on and on. Seriously, move Demon Slayer to the top of your anime watchlist immediately if you’ve yet to watch it.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Live Free or Die Hard – Live Free or Die Hard is my favorite chapter of the Die Hard saga since the original film. Bruce Willis is still fantastic as an older, bolder, John McClane, and Justin Long does a great job playing the “everyman” to Willis’ hardened action veteran as the two try to foil a cyberterrorist attack against the United States. Along with awesome heroes, the long-standing tradition of great villains continues in the fourth entry with the tech-terrorist power couple that is Maggie Q and Timothy Olyphant dominating every moment they’re on-screen. The action sequences are on par for the franchise too, and even if they’re a little over the top at times, it’s hard to really complain when such sheer badassary is on display. I wish we’d gotten more/better stuff with John’s daughter (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but overall McClane’s fourth outing is yet another awesome entry in the legendary series.
Ben’s Movie Pick: The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy – Each chapter of this trio of swashbuckling adventures is a total blast. Even if the latter two, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, are a little longer than they need to be and have a few clunky story beats, they more than make up for it thanks to the charming heroes and dastardly villains, all portrayed by an extremely talented ensemble cast. The romance between Elizabeth (Kiera Knightley) and Will (Orlando Bloom) is great, giving the franchise its (figurative) heart, and the bizarrely endearing Captain Jack Sparrow is easily one of Johnny Depp’s best and most memorable roles. Geoffrey Rush’s Hector Barbossa is a stellar supporting character as well, and Davy Jones (played by Bill Nighy and brought to life by some genuinely incredible special effects) is probably one of the best movie villains of the past few decades. The action is amazing too, with each film delivering multiple setpieces that are equally elaborate, outlandish, and memorable. The series may have lost its way with the last two films, but here’s hoping the upcoming reboot can recapture the nautical magic of the first three.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Seven Psychopaths – Even though Martin McDonagh’s second feature-length film is his weakest to date, there’s still a whole lot to love about it. Like the writer-director’s other works, Seven Psychopaths has all the pieces that make McDonagh’s projects stand out in my eyes: razor sharp, bizarre dialogue, side-splitting laughs born from said dialogue, a bleakly comedic narrative, a handful of unexpected, emotional gut punches that floor you, and a pitch perfect cast. Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell are slightly less awesome than they are in their other collaborations with McDonagh, but they’re still great at all times, and Christopher Walken is just incredible. I wish Zeljko Ivanek (who’s been in all three of McDonagh’s movies so far) was given more to do, though. Hopefully he’ll get a leading role – or at least a more substantial one – in the next flick. And holy shit, Tom Waits makes the absolute most out of his small amount of screentime.
Oh, and this has one of my favorite opening scenes from any movie.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
- Jon’s written review of a Pup concert.
- Ben’s written review for Nicolas Cage’s most recent bizarre film, Willy’s Wonderland.
- A Middle of the Row podcast episode flashing back to Training Day.