Humungus
Movies. TV. Feelings.
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Art: HBO Max

HBO Max’s creepy new sci-fi series about a future holy war is worth streaming

I don’t want to give too much away about Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves because you should watch it. There are androids wearing silver bodysuits. As a rule, any show about androids wearing silver bodysuits is worth checking out.

The first thing you should know about Raised by Wolves is that, in the future, things don’t work out on Earth. An apocalyptic war between religious fanatics and devout atheists devastates the planet and forces survivors to explore the stars for a new home.

The next thing you should know is the first refugees to arrive on a new world are a pair of life-like robots and a half-dozen human embryos. The robots are called Mother and Father. They are programmed to raise, and protect, the future of the human race. The show is a haunting existential drama but it would also work as a dark sitcom — My Mother, The Android!


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Art: Paramount Pictures

And neither should you

“Hello, I must be going.” That’s the title of a silly Groucho Marx song. Do you know who he is? He was a comedian from the last century who loved making fun of powerful people.

Hello, I must be going. And then, like that, we are dead.

I knew two men when I was growing up. One man was a teacher, the other a judge. They did not know each other. One died before his time. One died after a long life.

The teacher and judge were members of different tribes. There was not much love shared between these two tribes: one was weak, the other strong. …


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Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Every few months a new story comes out about how this guy is the worst — but that’s not news. Or is it?

When I wrote this in April, there were almost 10,000 COVID-19 deaths. Right now: 198,000 Americans have died from the virus.


Tarot cards spread on a wooden surface; the main card that’s visible is the Four of Pentacles, green with a bee on it.
Tarot cards spread on a wooden surface; the main card that’s visible is the Four of Pentacles, green with a bee on it.
Photo: Jen Theodore/Unsplash

This happened long ago, before they were cool

She taught me to read tarot cards long before they were cool. I’m really not one of those annoying know-it-alls who can’t wait to explain how they liked this band or that fashion before it was cool. I once worked with a guy who stood behind me and said, apropos of nothing, “I liked Sriracha before everyone else,” as I was squirting the hot sauce on my reheated leftovers in the kitchen.

I’d like to mention he also used to wear his long, greasy hair in a bun around the office. He was a lawyer, I think. So let me be clear: I am not this type of person. …


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Art: Netflix

A few thoughts on Netflix’s controversial new movie

Netflix’s controversial French movie Cuties ends with 11-year-old Amy skipping rope. She is so happy she seems to float. Amy is a Muslim Senegalese immigrant growing up in a suffocating apartment complex in Paris. She is pulled in one direction by strict religious traditions and pulled in another by modern secular society.

But, for that brief moment skipping rope, she exists in neither world. She is a child at play. It’s a lovely grace note that left me hopeful Amy, defiantly portrayed by newcomer Fathia Youssouf, will find herself, one day.

So I finally watched Cuties, a movie that has taught streaming giant Netflix’s marketing department a valuable lesson: when promoting a brutally honest coming-of-age-story that goes out of its way to criticize the sexualization of young girls don’t lean into the sexualization part to the point that the movie poster looks like a cross between reality television show Dance Moms and Larry Clark’s Kids, the infamous, and superficial, 1995 documentary-style drama about New York teens doing drugs and having sex. …


Jack Nicholson as President James Dale looking disgustedly at a robotic Martian device perched on his shoulder.
Jack Nicholson as President James Dale looking disgustedly at a robotic Martian device perched on his shoulder.
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The aliens are the good guys is this movie’s best punchline

There’s a scene near the end of Tim Burton’s gleefully anti-human 1996 sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks! where the President of the United States (Jack Nicholson at his oiliest) tries to make peace with the invading Martians by with a beautiful speech about Earth and Mars working together. “There is nothing that we could not accomplish,” he says.

The speech clearly moves the Martian leader — a single tear forming in one of his giant, lidless bug-eyes. As a gesture of goodwill, the Martian extends his hand in friendship and President Nicholson accepts but surprise! It’s a fake hand! …


Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) walking in the desert with two aircraft in the cloudy sky behind him.
Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) walking in the desert with two aircraft in the cloudy sky behind him.
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

I just watched the spicy new trailer

I love David Lynch’s 1985 blockbuster adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic about holy men in rubber pants drinking hallucinatory worm juice, Dune. Depending on your point of view, it’s a perfect example of why beloved, and valuable, intellectual properties should be re-imagined by singular artists or a warning against the practice.

The new Dune is a new studio betting on a visionary director, again. Although this visionary director isn’t quite a genius.

Lynch’s vision isn’t for everyone. His Dune was a legendary flop that wrecked him creatively for years. And yet, it’s one of those movies I watch to recharge my emotional batteries. It’s like a song I never get tired of hearing. Recently, my girlfriend offered me a special birthday gift. …


Two characters sitting in a car that’s covered in snow except for where the windshield wipers have cleared it off.
Two characters sitting in a car that’s covered in snow except for where the windshield wipers have cleared it off.
Photo: Netflix

Charlie Kaufman’s new movie is a long, awkward trip backward and forwards in time

Oscar-winner Charlie Kaufman’s haunting new movie I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is the story of an awkward young woman on a winter road trip to meet the parents of her boyfriend, an awkward young man she may not be in love with.

The woman is thinking of ending the relationship. We can hear her thoughts. We’re in her head. She is the main character except, maybe she isn’t? …


A still from “Starship Troopers,” showing rows of grinning soldiers.
A still from “Starship Troopers,” showing rows of grinning soldiers.
Photo: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The ’90s cult classic is a savage satire of fascism that’s required viewing now

The sci-fi war movie Starship Troopers bombed when it opened in 1997. Both audiences and critics hated it. They saw a shallow, gratuitously violent CGI cartoon about giant alien bugs dismembering sexy space marines.

But I saw a different movie than everyone else. Yes, it’s a gruesome special-effects-stuffed spectacle where, for instance, a human’s brains are sucked out by a giant intelligent worm. Starship Troopers is also more complex than most thought at the time.

I sat in a movie theater during the waning days of a century that saw the birth of a new empire — an empire of the people, by the people, for the people — and beheld a big-budget blockbuster preach the truth. …

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