Dan’s Quarantine Theatre, Vol. 3: Electric Boogaloo

Speed Round!

Here’s some things I watched that I just don’t have a full page of thoughts on.

Frances Ha

Image: Pine District LLC

A collaboration between should-be Hollywood power couple Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, who wrote the film together. Baumbach directs, and Gerwig plays Frances, an apprentice dancer trying to get by in New York, and learning how much her tenuous life in New York has hinged on being able to live with her best friend, Sophie. But as Sophie begins to move forward in life, Frances is left bouncing between temporary living situations (the movie is broken into chapters identified by her current address), trying to find some sort of stability while chasing her dream… but also repeatedly blowing up her life with impulsive decisions. It’s an engaging and entertaining character study, and Greta Gerwig is an impressive performer. Just like she’s an impressive writer and director. She’s intimidating, that one.

This one’s from 2012 so maybe you’ve seen it?

Also Mamie Gummer is in this, and she’s great, she’s just great, let’s move on before I start talking about how good she is in Mr. Robot and we’re here all night.

Upload

Image: Amazon

I could maybe have discussed this more but honestly it feels like I was the last one to the party on this show. A bunch of my friends finished it ages before I did and were pressuring me to catch up… then when I did, the rules had changed and all they wanted to talk about was Jelle’s Marble Runs. Damn you, moving goalposts.

In case you’re somehow behind me, Upload takes place in a future where a digital afterlife is becoming commonplace, but late-stage capitalism is all over it, and thus silicon heaven has become a ruthlessly for-profit industry. Nathan Brown (played by Robbie Amell, who all of us remember as Firestorm from the first season of The Flash) is a programmer who’d been developing an affordable, accessible digital afterlife for all… then his self-driving car speeds itself into a truck, and despite feeling basically okay, his girlfriend convinces him to upload (Eh? Eh?) into her upper-echelon afterlife. Soon he’s torn between his vapid girlfriend, who as the account holder has the authority to re-kill him at will, and his growing affection for his “angel,” Nora, basically a customer service agent back in the real world… and Nora’s looking into the suspicious circumstances of Nathan’s death.

As a satire of late-stage capitalism, it works. As a sci-fi murder mystery, it works. It’s basically a ten-episode Black Mirror episode with more humour and less… not none but less… soul-crushing pessimism? No, wait, it’s funnier, sure, but it’s actually more pessimistic? Because Black Mirror’s episode on the digital afterlife, “San Junipero,” not only had the happiest ending in that show’s history (not hard, that show had, charitably, five happy endings), but it didn’t dig into how aggressively this technology could/would be monetized, and only briefly touched on the existential questions surrounding uploading your mind to a computer. Such as “does your soul upload with you,” or “are you just a digital replica of someone who is now definitely dead.” Roof stoof.

Good show, overall, solid cast, interesting premise, and Greg Daniels, creator of the US Office, knows what he’s doing with ensemble comedy.

I hope. At time of writing, I had not started Space Force yet.

The Great Canadian Baking Show

I mean would The Great Canadian Bake-off have been so bad? We know you’re adapting a British series, all reality shows of note are adapting British or European series.

This one is so relaxing. And so wholesome. After devouring several seasons of Nailed It, it’s a nice change of pace to move from rookie bakers given insanely complicated tasks with ridiculous time limits in order to ensure their hilarious failure, to skilled bakers asked to make something impressive and encouraged all the way by the hosts and their fellow competitors.

There are three seasons on Netflix, and watching it brings me the closest to feeling normal as anything in Plague Times has.

Okay, that’s it for now… volume four is no doubt a-coming, but we’ll meet back here in a few days for Best of Comic TV 2020!

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