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  1. Shopping Sucks Now
    vice.com

    Casey Johnston tries to come to terms with a problem that I, too, suffer from — if you’re trying to buy the right thing, there’s no longer any limit to the amount of work you can put into research:

    For a long time, our problem was there were not enough things to choose from. Then with big box stores, followed by the internet, there were too many things to choose from. Now there are still too many things to choose from, but also a seemingly infinite number of ways to choose, or seemingly infinite steps to figuring out how to choose. The longer I spend trying to choose, the higher the premium becomes on choosing correctly, which means I go on not choosing something I need pretty badly, coping with the lack of it or an awful hacked-together solution (in the case of gloves, it’s “trying to pull my sleeves over my hands but they are too short for this”) for way, way too long, and sometimes forever.

    The degree to which you feel this problem definitely depends on your income, or at least, being in the privileged position of not having to make do with the only thing you can afford. But for people with even a limited ability to make an investment purchase, if it’s worth it, there’s even more pressure to get it right. Knowing you wasted a big chunk of money on a cheaper, worse thing that falls apart when you could have spent a little more money on a thing that is good and lasts feels like failure. You’ve then wasted your money, wasted your time, you’ve contributed to global warming, and now you have to start the entire thing over again and hope you don’t somehow end up making the exact same mistake.

  2. Black Mirror: Smithereens

    Watched 16 January 2020

    The most boring Black Mirror episode yet. Did you know people look at their phones a lot?

  3. Fleabag, Season 2

    Watched 8–9 January 2020

    How can this show be both the funniest and saddest thing I’ve seen I a long time? How can it be so potent, accomplishing so much with just a few short episodes? Now that I’ve tasted the emotional high of Fleabag, I’m afraid I might never again allow a show to waste my time with padded out writing. I absolutely loved the first season, but I had to put myself back together after this one.

  4. Fleabag, Season 1

    Watched 20–23 December 2019

    “They shouldn’t have just locked him up.”
    “He pencil fucked a hamster.”
    “Yeah, but he’s obviously not happy. Happy people wouldn’t do things like that.”
    “Fair point.”
    “And anyway, that’s the very reason why they put rubbers on the end of pencils.”
    “What, to fuck hamsters?”
    “No, because people make mistakes.”

    Despite my incredibly high expectations, I was still blown away by this show in ways I don’t even quite understand. Exceptional in every way.

  5. How Bong Joon Ho Designed the House in “Parasite”
    indiewire.com

    Chris O’Falt interviews Bong Joon Ho and production designer Lee Ha Jun about Parasite’s brilliant set design:

    According to Bong, the challenge he gave his “Snowpiercer” production designer was not only to create a believably “visually beautiful” set, but a stage that served the precise needs of his camera, compositions, and characters, while embodying his film’s rich themes. In an interview with IndieWire, Bong described the home as “its own universe inside this film.” He added that he took pleasure in hearing that the famous directors on this year’s Cannes jury — which included Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Kelly Reichardt — were all convinced that the movie took place in a real home. In truth, Bong asked his production designer to create an “open set,” built on an outdoor lot.

  6. What Remains of Edith Finch

    Played 20 December 2019 on Nintendo Switch

    I wish I had been able to play this back in 2017, as it might have felt fresher. In a post-Breath of the Wild world I sometimes find it hard to appreciate linear experiences without wondering how much better they could be if they just let go of my hand. This game triggered that feeling a lot.

    Comparing it to Gone Home, a lot has evolved, but this game still feels stuck in the same uncanny valley: it’s not a true interactive experience as much as it is a museum exhibit. While that can be super interesting, video games seem capable of so much more. And now that Return of the Obra Dinn exists, we know that the valley can be crossed. I’m hoping that future “walking simulators” keep going in that direction.

  7. Knives Out

    Watched 19 December 2019

    As entertaining as they come. Will the numerous present day references date this film quickly? Well I sure hope so, because I can’t wait to watch it again as an even more charming old time classic.

  8. 6 Underground

    Watched 15 December 2019

    It’s grotesque and unrelenting, careless with death and violence to a shocking degree. While the premise is idiotic, even immoral, the writing shows enough self awareness to let you know that it doesn’t care. The action is at once vivid and artificial, grandiose yet somehow shot to feel claustrophobic. The whole thing clashes with itself, with good taste, with common sense; a bunch of absurd juxtapositions and contradictions firing at your eyeballs at extremely rapid pace. Watching it was both exhilarating and distressing, and judging by my headache, just too much for my feeble brain. I love it and I hate it. It is, without a doubt, an incredibly accomplished work of art.

  9. Ready or Not

    Watched 5 December 2019

    Very fun but not one for the ages. I feel like it could either have been campier or more grandiose, but it kept to a more normalized middle ground, never truly defying expectations. I keep imagining that had this movie been made in the 1980s (with all the differences that would entail) it would most likely be a cool as heck cult classic.

  10. Ad Astra

    Watched 5 December 2019

    2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my favorite films, yet I found this one very boring.

    Started out interesting — exciting even — but the story kept shrinking on itself, the ideas growing smaller and smaller. By the end, and much like the sad astronaut, I felt nothing. Please allow me to narrate to you how empty I feel, I’m such a sad sad lonely astronaut help me daddy

    Yeah this would have been a two star review if not for the moon rover chase sequence. That part was cool.