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.
Ben’s Movie Pick: 8MM – This Nicolas Cage-led thriller is one that I’d recommend to fans of the neo-noir classic, Se7en. I certainly wouldn’t say that it matches the quality of David Fincher’s 1995 masterpiece, but the Joel Schumacher flick still manages to hit quite a lot of memorable (and bleak-as-fuck) notes. Cage plays a PI who is hired by a wealthy widow to unravel the mystery surrounding a possible snuff film in the possession of her recently deceased husband. It also has a shockingly – and I mean shockingly – good cast. Cage is great as always, and the supporting crew is rounded out by Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, Anthony Heald, and Joaquin Phoenix. While some of that acting talent gets more time than others, everyone is great every time they’re on-screen. Again, 8MM may not be the absolute best film in any of those actors or Schumaker’s careers, but I found it to be entertaining and engaging the whole way through.
Ben’s Movie Pick: Highlander – As someone who absolutely adores 80’s cinema, it took me way, way too long to watch Highlander. It had been on my mental watchlist for years, and I was pretty pleased with it when I finally gave it a go. I wouldn’t place it among my favorite films from the decade of its release, yet I can totally see how it has gained a cult following as I found it to be pretty entertaining regardless of its issues. It’s oh-so charming and cheesy, and the cast just vibes with it all. Even with the laughable bits of dialogue, occasionally silly moments in the action sequences, and uneven story beats, everyone seems so confident in what they’re doing and/or having so much fun that I couldn’t help but enjoy it overall. It also doesn’t hurt to have a surprisingly awesome soundtrack! All in all, Highlander is solid enough that I would recommend it to those who are curious about it like I was.
Lauren’s Video Game Pick: Horizon Forbidden West – Though I will never forgive Forbidden West for removing my crutch ability to whistle machines towards my silent takedown traps, there’s not much else that earned my ire when it comes to this sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn as it expands the scope of the story in ways I never expected. The main story feels slightly unbalanced and disparate as a surprise challenger steals focus from the conflict between the various tribes, but that’s likely because I spent a good 80+ hours gliding around the awe-inspiring expanse of this dying world (that feels a bit like Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule with all the corruptor carcasses littering the land), giving hope to any person who needed my help, utterly destroying those who didn’t with some awesomely brutal finishers, and falling in love with every new machine I happened upon – minus the one that inspired some Jaws theme allusions in certain tracks of the beautiful soundtrack. It scared the shit out of me and I refuse to forgive it for doing so – before finally returning to the last few main missions of the game. I’ve seen a complaint or two about Forbidden West being simply more of the same, but that seems far too reductive to me when considering all the tweaks and improvements: the updated combo-based combat system, putting more onus on the player to remove specific parts from machines for crafting upgrades and overrides, further branching skill trees to tailor combat more to the player’s liking, expanding to air and sea (snapmaws are even more terrifying now) from simple land traversal and exploration, and a storage system that freed me from spending 50% of my playthrough managing my inventory. Throw in the new and returning characters that help turn Aloy’s FOB from a cold facility into a home and it’s clear to see that Forbidden West is more than worthy of succeeding one of the best games of the last decade.
Lauren’s Video Game Pick: Until Dawn – Ignoring the constant praise sung by my friends, I continued to put off playing Until Dawn for years in the hopes that I’d eventually forget the story spoiler a podcaster dropped back when I originally bought the game. Bad news: my brain forgets almost everything, but it refused to let this spoiler go. Good news: though I still wish I hadn’t heard this bit of killer info until it was revealed through collectibles and plot points within the game itself, there’s still so much left to uncover as the complexity of this far from simple horror game is concerned. Other than the unskippable “previously on” chapter breaks, an extremely obnoxious character that doesn’t die immediately (curse your resilience, Emily!), and the game’s apparent desire for animal abuse (oh god, am I going to have to do this in my everyone dies run?), I have no legitimate complaints past one character feeling as if they’re missing a connecting arc to marry the two disparate bookends of their part. Other than that, Until Dawn more than lives up to my inflated expectations as it effectively uses quick time events and a lack of well lit environments to prey on my already fraying nerves thanks to the barrage of jumpscares littered throughout. Not gonna lie, the game got me good more times than I can count, but I kept torturing myself (and will continue to torture myself with no death/all death runs) because the game is so much fun.
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!