A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Reviews: Hunters, High Fidelity.
Trailers: Penny Dreadful, Amazing Stories, I Am Not Okay With This.
Last week in the US a TV show remaking High Fidelity dropped on Hulu. I think the show looks great and has a fantastic cast. The problem that the show has is that it is so slavishly devoted to being an explicit remake of the movie (with the book obviously an influence as well - but with so much dialogue and performance lifted direct from the film, that’s the obvious source material here). There’s so much about the show I would like to love, but it is a hollow viewing experience. It’s basically a cover version that has a new arrangement with zero pulse.
I talk more about the High Fidelity reboot in this week’s Always Be Watching podcast that will drop in the next day or so.
The review of the show over at Pitchfork gets to the heart of why this reboot feels wonky:
A generous reading might consider the show a corrective to the original, particularly because women, people of color, and queer folks now work the stacks at Championship Vinyl. A more skeptical take is that even this well-meaning shift is morally suspect. As the New York Times’ Amanda Hess wrote two years ago of Hollywood’s thirst for gender-flipped remakes, “These reboots require women to relive men’s stories instead of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to fix these old films, to neutralize their sexism and infuse them with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics, too. They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals.” Why spend all this time, money, and energy updating and changing the gender on source material that, in hindsight, is pretty dodgy about women? Is High Fidelity really so beloved (or its brand name so powerful) that they couldn’t have started from scratch on a series about music obsessives who aren’t exclusively straight white men? What is the point of paying homage to all this ephemera?
Meanwhile the couple of reviews I have read of new Amazon Prime Video series Hunters feel at odds with my own thoughts on it. Universally, critics seem to have liked it (the general consensus being it’s a 7.5/10 kind of show), but most seem to have taken exception at the loving approach the show has taken to genre storytelling - the show feels like a love letter to grindhouse 70s movies. This is what I really enjoy about the show, but the critics I’ve read view it more as overkill.
The show feels to me like an adaptation of a Vertigo comic book that has taken its inspiration from 70s grindhouse. It isn’t, but there does feel like there’s some creative appropriation prisms at work in the show.
Here’s Alan Sepinwall on the show:
Produced by Jordan Peele and created by David Weil, Hunters takes place in a 1977 vision of New York ripped more from the movies of the era than from reality. The afros are big (particularly on Roxy Jones, a member of Hoffman’s team played by Tiffany Boone), the clothes loud (especially the ones worn by the team’s Lonny Flash, an insufferable actor played by How I Met Your Mother‘s Josh Radnor), and the disco and soul music pumping. In one scene, Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman), a young Jewish man whose grandmother (or, as he calls her, safta) Ruth (Jeannie Berlin) was in the camps with Meyer, gets high in Coney Island with his friends and performs an elaborate production number to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” It has no bearing on anything that happens before or after, but Weil and his collaborators are surely fans of Saturday Night Fever, so in it goes. Heck, even Pacino’s own movies get quoted, like a scene where Lonny attempts to distract some bank guards during a heist by doing the “Attica! Attica!” chant from Dog Day Afternoon. (Or maybe he’s quoting John Travolta’s homage to it in Saturday Night Fever?)
Hunters debuts on Amazon Prime Video this coming Friday.
The Amazing Stories reboot series debuts on March 6. Apple TV+ has finally pulled off the covers and given us the first look at the show with this trailer. The show will drop new episodes weekly.
Next week sees the debut of I Am Not Okay With This - a new Netflix YA series about a teenage girl who develops telekinetic abilities. It’s based on a book by Charles Forsman who wrote The End of the F***ing World. Today there is a trailer…
Michael Bloomberg is running for President. Think about the richest person you can think of and then realise Bloomberg has more money than that guy. (I just assume we are both thinking about Mr Monopoly).
Now also think about the fact that Bloomberg has made his money through his financial media empire which employs a lot of journalists. The New York Times explores how Bloomberg TV and online journalists will cover their boss as he runs for the White House.
But Mr. Bloomberg’s presence looms large for the 2,700 journalists at his financial data company. New employees receive a copy of his autobiography, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg,” and company guidelines prohibit coverage of his “wealth or personal life.” In 2018, Mr. Bloomberg told an interviewer: “I don’t want the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me.”
That policy proved awkward during Mr. Bloomberg’s three terms as mayor of New York City and in his subsequent life as a billionaire philanthropist and political donor. Now it is bordering on untenable, according to interviews with half a dozen Bloomberg journalists who requested anonymity, citing fear of retribution from bosses who emphasize discretion.