What Wednesday #25

Today I get Strange, wonder about Westworld, and act Childish.

What Wednesday is where I talk about what I’m watching, reading, playing, etc, because for some reason I think you’ll find that interesting. If you have recommendations, I’d love to hear them :)

What I’m (And Everyone Else Is) Watching: Westworld (HBO)

Anthony Hopkins keeping a diagram of the plot

[NO SPOILERS] OK, literally every blogger in the world has weighed in with their thoughts on Sunday’s Westworld season finale, and every conceivable angle, theory, and counter theory has been exhaustively explored. I think it’s fair to say Westworld has become the most obsessively blogged about and picked apart show ever. Which I’m guessing is exactly what its creators were hoping for. To avoid adding too much more to that noise, I’m just going to sum up my feelings about the show’s first season in one sentence:

Beautiful and intricate, it was a pleasure to watch, but hard to get invested in with only a few characters worth emotionally connecting with, and like many of co-creator Jonathan Nolan’s previous works (Momento, Interstellar, The Prestige) I found myself loving the art and filmmaking skill on display, but was left unsure what, if anything, was actually being said: which is to say, the themes and moral questions raised at the start of the show were often neglected in service to the at times convoluted plot, and that it sometimes felt like a beautiful box with nothing inside, but thankfully the end pointed to a more straightforward and less gimmicky season 2 that could explore more of the exciting possibilities set up by the first episode.

Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be a short sentence.

What I’m Also Watching: Doctor Strange (Marvel)

He blinded me with magic

I’m not the biggest fan of comic book movies. Namely, the Marvel ones. Besides never having a satisfying ending (“Yay, the bad guy’s dead! Wait, there’s an even worse one coming! TO BE CONTINUED”), I generally find them to be safe, paint by numbers action movies. The lone exception for me is Guardians of the Galaxy, because it embraces its awesome weirdness. Easily the best Marvel movie so far. I’m so hyped for Vol. 2 and baby Groot!

Since I can dig weird Marvel, I was definitely intrigued by the trailers for Doctor Strange, because it definitely looked weird. A flying magician that learns to fight with mind weapons from a bald white lady in charge of an Asian monastery? I’m in!

Turns out, my faith was well placed. It’s a pretty great flick. Unlike many other drab looking Marvel movies, it’s visually arresting with bright colors and creative imagery. The action is equally as creative, with cool uses of time. The buildings moving and folding in on themselves is done in a unique way and isn’t just a total Inception rip-off. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as the doc and there’s even some solid laughs too. Officially now my 2nd favorite Marvel film, though a distant 2nd to Guardians. Go see it, preferably in 3D.

What I’m Hearing: Childish Gambino, “Awaken, My Love!” (Apple MusicSpotify)

So sultry

First, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) puts out easily the best new show of the year. Then, he releases one of the most daring albums of the year, “Awaken, My Love!” I can’t think of anyone else that’s operating at the level he’s at right now. What a career: going from writing for 30 Rock, starring in Community, to being Lando flippin’ Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo movie…yeah, he’s living the life.

Which is why it’s super exciting to see an artist this talented and popular take so many risks when he doesn’t have to. He has no where to go but down if he misses, so respect to him for taking shots. It’s unreal how good he is at so many different things: singing, rapping, directing, writing, acting. What’s next, a fashion line? (R.I.P. Kanye) For goodness sakes, the man co-wrote Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, the greatest song of all time. He’s a first ballot hall of famer, no question.

So yeah, the album: it takes the 70s funk that Kendrick Lamar infused To Pimp A Butterfly and blows it out to the extreme. A full on funkadelic wonderland, Glover puts away his rhymes and puts on some soulful crooning. It’s crazy how much out of left field this album is. I don’t think it’s perfect (To Pimp A Butterfly and D’Angelo’s Black Messiah are better), but the risks it takes more than makes up for its shortcomings. Defintely worth a listen in its entirety. Get to know this beautiful man, because he’s gonna be doing big things for a long time.