Let’s look at my favorite movies, tv shows and games of 2017

You already got to read the few albums and artists I discovered last year (and liked), so here’s (part of) the reason why I didn’t have more time for more music. Yes, I am a couch potato and I couch potatoed my way through last year.

  1. Claws

If I had to describe “Claws” to anyone, then I would say it’s a crime story centered around a nail salon, told with the ridiculous twists and drama/comedy-tonality of “True Blood”. So yes, it wouldn’t make much sense. I try not to think too much about the plot of “Claws” because for one, Niecy Nash, who plays the protagonist and nail salon owner “Desna” is so good that I actually don’t care about anything else. BUT! The styling of the show, the plot twists and especially the cast of women are so good (“True Blood” Kelly Preston, Judy Reys from “Scrubs”, Jenn Lyon and Karrueche Tran are such a good team, I could watch them without any crime stories or other plot just minding their business in the nail salon every day).

Usually, I am really not into these kind of shows. Did not get into “Breaking Bad”, didn’t care for “Weeds”, did not get into “The Wire”. The whole money laundering, drug, mafia-stuff is really not my cup of tea. But “Claws” really got me.

  1. American Gods

Like many, I really love the Fullerverse (the usually intertwined universe Bryan Fuller creates with his TV shows) and especially his aesthetic and use of music. The soundtrack for “Hannibal” and “American Gods” is absolutely amazing and so is the one for “Pushing Daisies”, for completely different reasons, though.

I read the book “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman about 10 years ago in a library sweep of all his graphic novels and novels but had forgotten a lot of details. So, I was generally interested to renew my memories. But the real reason why I eventually stuck with it were to cast-choices I absolutely adore: Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Stormare respectively as Easter and Czernobog. I first saw Chenoweth in “Pushing Daisies” (and actually would have preferred her as the love interest because of her intense, overwhelming charm). And I basically watch everything with Peter Stormare in it because that’s an actor who gives it his all and is always so mesmerizing, no matter the movie. I still would recommend “Smalltown Murder Songs” as THE Stormare-movie because it’s such a good performance and an overall perfect movie (the soundtrack, people!, is the perfect metaphor of the protagonist’s inner rage).

Ok, but “American Gods” is generally cast perfectly and all those little stories between the main plot are incredibly beautiful and occasionally transcending. I can’t wait for season two because I actually forgot how the novel ended.

  1. The OA (and particularly Alice Krige)

This weird, fantastic realism take on an abduction story is one of the oddest entries in this list because I still don’t know whether I liked it or not. Is it too ridiculous? Is it too cheesy? Still, it had an impact, a very emotional and visual impact on me and when I think of that show, I feel things and that’s, after all, something, isn’t it?

Most of those feelings and most of the reasons why I really loved the show came from Alice Krige’s acting. She plays the mother of the protagonist who sees her daughter after she has been missing for seven years. Every scene with Krige is absolutely beautiful and devastating.

In fact, she ranks amongst the most memorable acting scenes in the last few years for me:

(in no particular order):

Alice Krige – The OA (2016) (every scene in season 1)

Peter Abernathy – Westworld (2016) (episode #1, season 1)

Peter Stormare (see #26) – American Gods (episode #2, season 1)

Viola Davis – How to get away with Murder (episode #4, season 1)

  1. Insecure

I wish I had this show when I was in my twenties because it’s so funny and fun without dodging serious issues when you’re young, broke and full of self-doubt. I also love how the issue of racism is prevalent but never on the nose. There is a subtlety to it that is really effective because it portrays the micro aggressions that are difficult to address because “they’re not really racist, but …”.

Issa Ray’s fashion is also the best thing I’ve seen this year on TV (it’s a close race with that one Niecy Nash bodysuit in “Claws”, though).

  1. Survivor

My boyfriend and I got into “Survivor” recently and I have to give it to Jeff Probst and Co: this show is so well executed and thought out. I can live with the evil editing of some characters (I mean, that’s basically what makes reality TV interesting) and can tolerate some of the more forced emotional moments. But it’s in generally an excellence example how great editing can make the most inane premise thrilling and how devilish you can create drama with simple twists in the game formula.

  1. Channel Zero

I love this show. “Channel Zero” takes on a different creepy pasta (basically an urban legend born out of reddit or tumblr threads) each season and runs with it. The acting is amazing, the atmosphere is throughout unnerving and super creepy and the make-up and special effects are never over the top. The plot generally is pretty tight, so no “American Horror Story”-going-off-the-rails with this one. This is the horror anthology I expected when AHS started out.

  1. Big Little Lies

Ok, so, I will start with a disclaimer: Given the ending, I feel like one particular actress should have been featured a lot more often and not pushed to the sidelines that much. But that actress also was able to tell her story in one singular scene without even speaking. Which means: if there is a season 2, give that woman more to do because she obviously is capable enough to even work with an undercooked character and breathe life into her.

“Big Little Lies” was so mesmerizing because despite its sometimes pretentious-leaning look it was so well made from the set, the camera, the soundtrack, the lighting and obviously, the acting.  I loved the fact that the scenes were given time to play out, that the characters could breathe and really get everything out of the performances. There are certain scenes with Nicole Kidman that convey so much that it breaks your heart (it reminded me of “Birth” where she was equally amazing).

I still wonder whether reading the book will actually expand that great impression or minimize it, that’s how good that show was.

  1. GG Gab and MrKravin

I have these weird phases were I can’t be bothered to watch TV or read a book but want to just lie there and watch Let’s Plays. But I generally prefer horror games and non-problematic Let’s Players who are not too loud and annoying which really decimates my choices. This year, though, I discovered GG Gab aka Evelien from the Netherlands who is not only a lady (hurray!) but also fun, swears without slurs and is entertaining without putting on a show. Plus, she plays a lot of games, so even when I want nothing but watch Lets Plays for a whole weekend, I will not run out of material. Thanks for that, Gab!

And it’s Evelien’s own fault that I discovered MrKravin aka Mike through her because she recommended him a couple of times. MrKravin is equally one of the more low-key players in that you can watch him and not get your ears shattered with every jumpscare-scene because the player just screams in your face in (mock) surprise. He’s also pretty funny and tends to go for even the shittiest horror games which can be quite entertaining.

(also: wordless commentary on tired clichès)

  1. Horizon Zero Dawn

I finally brought myself to buy a PS4, because I want to have it when “The Last of Us 2” comes out (don’t fight me on this, Muriel, I know you didn’t like the first one but that’s just how it is!). The first game I decided on was “Horizon Zero Dawn” which is basically an open world game with robot animals and dinosaurs. It’s visually striking, has a good storyline and a pretty awesome protagonist. You can’t get lost in it that long which was a shame once I really got into it but generally that’s quite good because as a working adult in a happy relationship and numerous interests I really don’t have the time to ever finish stuff like the Witcher ever (EVER!).

  1. The Big Sick

The weirdest thing about “The Big Sick” on this list is the fact that the last romantic comedy that I loved as much was “Obvious Child” and it’s equally about a stand-up comedian. Maybe that’s my kind of genre? I don’t know. Kumail Nanijani’s kind of autobiographical love story is really funny, very well plotted and superbly cast (give me Holly Hunter every day, even though I will have to scrunch up my face sometimes in concentration to really understand her). What I also love: at least for me, it didn’t have those weird, lengthy moments where I am wondering how long the movie might be till the end. That’s a good thing!

  1. Prey

“Prey” is a PS4 game set in space but without the great saga element of “Mass Effect” which somehow really puts me off (it sounds too time-consuming!). Instead, it’s a pretty fun sci-fi-dystopian story and you’re basically trapped on a space ship and have to fight an unknown (and evolving) evil. I know that it was originally supposed to be a remake of an old game with a similar premise and that fans of that old game were not too happy with the result but since I haven’t played that original game and don’t really care, I’m like … yeah, whatever.

Disclaimer: I played the game in easy-mode after two attempts to hack it in the normal mode. I am a casual player and can not be bothered with investing hours on end honing my gameplay before I can finally beat a single, measly boss. Shame me for it, I don’t care.

The game is beautiful, it plays up to my hoarding-tendencies that I have by making collecting crap to make other crap necessary to survive and the story might not be mindblowing but it is interesting, somewhat unique and makes for a fun 20-30 hours. In a way, it was a bit like “Horizon Zero Dawn” since it also is a somewhat open world with a very clear cut main storyline and a few fun side quests.

I also liked that I could choose between a male and a female protagonist, even though promo material and most reviews picked the male “Morgan”.

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Under the sea! Underwater horror movies

I love horror movies that play in confined spaces. And before any serial killer thinks that this is the best way to scare me: no, I am actually not very claustrophobic but anyone who doesn’t think that being trapped in a little metal box at the bottom of the ocean is not scary might be Cthulhu himself.

Anyways, so obviously, the underwater setting already is a good one. Submarines come with creepy sounds because of the pressure on the metal and also the stuff that goes bump in the night water. However, weirdly enough, there are not that many really great horror movies out there that play with this concept (somehow, space is more interesting – I beg to differ, though). So, here’s a list of a few favourites and a few meh-movies just to not make this list look sad and shabby.

Ah, the horror of discovering Disney racism in movies that framed our childhood…

There may be Spoilers ahead: Continue reading

Don’t kill my Statson! Horror in the Wild West

My grandpa is a gigantic Western movie fan and I used to be one, too. But I guess that the appeal of dry skin, heat and sunburn combined with a dust lung and the combination burning days/freezing nights is not really my cup of tea. Also: racism and outhouses. I mean, the Wild West is a nightmare for everyone who’s not too keen on shooting things (and even that is more fictitious as you couldn’t just go around and shoot random people, but that’s for another blogger to discuss).

But obviously all the reasons why I hate the Wild West (I love cows and horses and coyotes, though, before anyone wonders) are perfect reasons for a nice, frightening horror movie setting (well, minus the outhouse, maybe). And there are indeed a few amazing pieces that really play well with the genre mix.

There will be possibly spoilers! Continue reading

Horror movie list: where are all the mermaids?

Hello folks! It’s Halloween and I decided to add horror movie/tv show/book-reviews to my never ending list of things I apparently think I can write about with no care in the world. Today, we’ll see not the best movies of a thing but just movies of a thing that I found because there are not many movies of that thing out there.

I am absolutely flabbergasted at how many horror movies about big foot – basically a big hairy dude – exist and how few deal with mermaids. Come on, mermaids! Creepy lady-fish-creatures from the deep that lure men out into the sea?! Also, the sea, the home of everything HP Lovecraft conjured up in his nightmarish tales. How is that less scary than that burly furry that casually walks through the woods?

That’s not creepy. That’s unintentionally hilarious at best!

Anyway, on my search for movies about mermaids I couldn’t even concentrate on the good ones, I had to take what I could get. So for today’s horror movie night theme, I present to you: the horror of the deep aka fishtail ladies aka mermaids aka this list has only one really good movie in it!

Disclaimer: I will not feature “mermaid in a manhole” because I generally won’t get into the gore fest of the guinea pig-series and others. It’s just not my cup of tea. If you want to check it and get grossed out, you are welcome.

Possible spoilers ahead!

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Pop Goes: Miley Cyrus ‘younger now’ album review – oh, what could have been …

Ok, so I felt like I should do this because I made such a big whoopy about “Younger Now” the single. So I listened to Miley Cyrus’ new album and I like it but I also have to say that it’s no “Lemonade”. But then again, there’s hardly any pop album by a major artist out there that had such an impressive tracklist and concept like “Lemonade”. I am talking about the big names like Lady Gaga, Adele, Katy Perry, etc. I own a few of their albums but I listened to pretty much all of them and there’s just something different to albums like Jamila Wood’s “HEAVN” and, in comparison, “21” (which I own and love, don’t get me wrong). I don’t know why but somehow the tracklisting usually contains some songs that just aren’t that strong or redundant and put the singles on a pedestal. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s lesser known singer/songwriters out there whose albums don’t require any skip-button at all. But with pop albums, there’s always a few songs I can live without.

Lemonade“, for me, was one of the first really big pop albums that managed to be an amazing listen without the need to skip a song (even though “Sandcastles” comes close).

(the voice is a little shaky at the beginning but I am constantly surprised how well Miley Cyrus does live – no backing singers trying to cover up her weak voice … I also really want that romper)

Ok, back to “Younger Now”. I think the first half of the album is stronger than the second. That might be because it’s all the singles plus the duet with Cyrus’ godmother and queen of country Dolly Parton. It also might be because the first songs all have an individual vibe whereas the latter tend to blend into each other now and then, interrupted by the occasional gem.

That’s a bummer because Miley has a voice that is unique and fantastic and can sing circles around some other dames, on record AND live. But somehow, the songwriting doesn’t always make use of it. With the exception of “Younger Now” and “Week without you” (which I love, even though it’s not necessarily fresh sounding), the country songs are better than the pop songs because you gotta have a voice to sing good country and Miley has it. She has a twang and personality and that translates well with heartbreak and yearning (staples of the good ole music of country).

(This song actually grew on me. I was a little disappointed because it felt like such a flashback to her Montana-days but it’s actually a lovely little road song)

“Miss you so much” is lovely, as is “She’s not him”. Along the way, though, I feel like the love songs overtake the album and somehow betray the album title and titular song. I really wanted other themes than the whole “Love you boo”-shtick because “Younger Now” is a great concept if it would have led to more songs in the like.

As a former child star and Disney darling turned femme fatale chaotic turned songwriter Miley has more to talk about than her relationship. “Younger Now” (the song) does exactly that. I wonder what would have happened, had the album tried to get more into the theme of change, reinvention and trying to come to terms with who you were and who you are now (and who you might be in the future). That’s such a rich well to draw from and it feels like a lost opportunity that in the end it’s just not as prominent a theme. Especially, since “Younger Now” (the single) also uses this theme musically (and in the music video). Gosh, I get a little sad thinking about the Miley Cyrus album that could have been.

I still like the album and might even buy it as the one big pop album I buy each year (2016 – Lemonade; 2015 – 21) but damn, I expect more because I know that there is more. Maybe next time.

Horror movie list: Old people are creepy!

For a hot minute, I had another secret horror blog. And then I realized that it’s pretty stupid to have a different blog and try to get readership, if I already have a blog that really suffered from me not being a single lady with a lot of time on my hands anymore. I mean, I have few readers as it is, I don’t have to make this even worse by dividing my time and posts between two unsuccessful blogs.

So, I decided to take the existing blog posts and copy them on here and delete the other blog. This means less hassle for me but also more weird (creepy) stuff that you might not even be interested in for you. Sorry!

But I figured that my blog is like that since years. Occasionally I get super excited about a certain topic and put it on here and then either my interest runs out or it becomes a part of this blog. It’s my Frankenstein’s monster-blog and that’s just how it is. And even though I don’t write a lot about it on here, I am a sucker for horror movies and TV shows.

And since it’s October, I decided to start this now and because when if not now? Ok, so let’s begin with the first post which is a movie list (which you know because you can read and it’s literally in the title of this post) about horror movies with old people.

Disclaimer: old people aren’t actually creepy, at least not more than most other people. I really think that old people that are creepy always have been creepy. But they make for amazing horror movie antagonists because you think they are sweet or at least harmless and then they suddenly chain you to their ritualistic wheel of pain to sacrifice you to an elder god.

So, in the following I have a list of a few horror movies with and relating to old people that really scared or at least entertained me enough to recommend them. And yes, there might be spoilers ahead. I won’t necessarily explain the whole plot but the first third of the movie will be spoiled (how else can I suggest any movies for you?).

Alternative title: Too old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, too young to die, old enough to scare the crap out of you

Continue reading

Pop goes: Miley Cyrus ‘Younger now’

I don’t know why but I am again obsessed (like, “loop that 24/7”-obsessed) with a Miley Cyrus song. Her previous single “Malibu” of the upcoming album “Younger Now” was just like the video a pretty little thing with no real meat on its bones. It also gave us a Miley that is not believable anymore (flowery hippy country girl who is everybody’s darling).

However, “Younger Now” is the kind of aesthetic sound-wise and visually that might be the real true Miley that has been peeking out during her wild phase a few years ago (and sadly resulted in a few appropriation- and “why the hell work with Terry Richardson of all people”-issues that are far more problematic than the nudity).

The Miley that plays with gender expectations and somehow is such a professional in the world of pop but at the same time just not quite as caught up in it like, for example, Katy Perry, shows herself in a video that is all Rockabilly but with the nostalgia factor playing the main character. This is not the dream of how it was back then but how it is now. The Grease brigade, creepy puppet play (a typical symbol of 50s children’s tv shows – also in Germany, by the way), the Elvis costumes and the glitz – the video in itself is mesmerizing.

The song is a lovely goodbye (?) to her wild phase (and quite possibly also to the Disney phase, but obviously no one will acknowledge that because so many people think that her twerk/tongue-phase was worse than being stuck in Disney’s fake smile wonderland that messed up so many of our current and past pop stars).

The lyrics are standard pop:

“Feels like I just woke up
Like all this time I’ve been asleep
Even though it’s not who I am
I’m not afraid of who I used to be”

But the sound is quite interesting. We start with frogs and water singing in the background and a lower guitar tune slowly easing us into the song before Miley sings covered in a subtle echo effect. The song slowly turns into the sort of pop that does well on a dancefloor but still feels calm and melancholic. This is actually a song you would rather hear from a popular rock group like Kings of Leon instead of Miley Cyrus but that’s exactly the sound that suits her (kid has still one of the most amazing and unique voices of any white female pop star out there). I really hope that her album delivers more of this and less of “Malibu” but you never know. With stars of her caliber, conceptually tight albums like Beyoncès “Lemonade” are so seldom, so I expect a few other strong singles and a few fillers.

But then again, Miley’s coop with The Flaming Lips and her resulting Her Dead Petz-album was a fantastic and weird piece of pop. I still believe that she could be one of the greats in the long run.