March 2, 2023

What We’re Watching: March 3, 2023


At close to 90 years old, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (1935) still delivers. While we have seen similar plots since this movie’s release, and from other movies by Hitch himself, this movie is the full package: a seemingly a slow start that actually kicks off the ploy, the surprises and payoffs with no dangling plot threads, incredibly strong pacing, the right amount of humor at the right times, and as you’d expect from The Master, the ever-building tension and suspense. If you’re a fan of Hitchcock, definitely check this one out if you haven’t already.


Many called “bullshit” on NBC when they launched Peacock, and insisted they had enough streaming content to compete with Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu. But I’m not lying when I say new procedural Poker Face (2023) justifies the subscription price. Knives Out creator Rian Johnson has successfully retooled episodic detective show formula for brash and funny Natasha Lyonne. The American Pie star plays card sharp Charlie Cale, who’s infallible ability to spot fibs has her running from the Vegas underworld. The fun of the show lies both in watching goon Benjamin Bratt track down his target as she works deplorable jobs in forgotten corners of America, and in seeing the sassy redhead call out the murder plots of equally desperate celebrity guest stars like she was Columbo’s hipster niece. I recommend you be there as the series wraps up its first season this week.


As unpretentious as they come, The New Kids (1985) is an entertaining exploitation flick which sees newly-orphaned siblings Lori Loughlin and Shannon Presby going to live with their uncle in a small town, where they quickly fall foul of the local bullies, led by a truly vile James Spader. There’s not an ounce of substance to be found, but also not a wasted moment here, as Spader’s gang steps up their tormenting of the siblings to sadistic extremes, leading to a bloody finale. Director Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th) directs this with a no-nonsense, straight-forward approach, and if you enjoy ’80s schlock, this is worth a watch. Recommend.


Saw Pearl (2022), a film that’s more dramatic than scary but still effective. Mia Goth gives the character a lot of depth and sadness that makes her killings feel more sad than disturbing. I also really enjoyed the film’s many throwbacks to old Hollywood cinema. It makes me really wanna see X! Strong recommend.


I finally had the privilege of watching Frank Oz’s 1986 masterpiece, Little Shop of Horrors. I knew nothing coming into it, so imagine my surprise when I realized this was a adult-oriented musical! While not as sex-crazed as Rocky Horror Picture Show, this movie still had plenty of catchy tunes, cuss words, and dark, violent themes. Plus, some great cameos from the stars of the 80s. Who knew Steve Martin playing a woman-abusing, sadist dentist would have such a great musical number? I also was incredibly impressed by the puppetry. I could have sworn some of these scenes with the giant plant had to be CGI, but no, it was all practical. If you’re a fan of high-energy, low-brow musicals, then you can’t miss Little Shop of Horrors. High recommend.

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