Joe Blogs: The Return – What Have You Been Watching In 2021?

Welcome back to the world, cinephiles! It’s a mess but we love it/have no choice but to live in it. I’m not here to talk about vaccines, guidelines, and ‘hands, face space’ though, I have a far more important question to put to you: Aside from our waistlines, our neighbours, and the last, precious years of our youth needlessly slipping away, what have we been watching? It’s an interesting one because the bright lights of the cinema are once again tempting us out of the deep buttock indentations of our favourite sofa cushion, while our arsenal of streaming platforms are suggestively flicking our crumb dusted chins back in the direction of the TV saying, ‘don’t go, you haven’t seen the next episode yet. Look, we’ve already started it for you, and here’s that character you prefer to the person sitting next to you.’ In the end, who wins this tug of war? Will it be the classic big screen in a room full of strangers or will it be the familiar little screen in the room full of opinions? Settle in and let’s have a look-see.

I had my first post-lockdown cinema experience about a year ago when restrictions had eased briefly, and I went with some friends to watch V For Vendetta. I was amazed, given the theme of the film, at how compliant we all were in our masks, sitting there in a packed screen room, looking like we were badly cosplaying characters from Tekken. It was fantastic to be back though! Regardless of how many times I had seen the film before, the experience of being transported to a different place entirely with all these strangers was liberating and unifying at the same time. Also, Tango Ice Blasts, am I right?

When the dust finally settled from Lockdown, I actually did manage to get out and see a new release in the shape of Cruella. Not a film I would usually go to the flicks for, but then with limited releases available, I found myself stepping out of my usual patterns. Turns out the film was great: amazing soundtrack, rags to riches story, crazy little heists, bit with a dog – tick, tick, tick, tick, tick! I’ve always loved Emma Stone as an actor too, from Easy A, all the way to her mad fangirling of the Spice Girls, but she’s hit a new level in recent years, and I think the best of her is still yet to come.

Two members of the DMS tribe living on opposite sides of the Atlantic went all out and got unlimited subscriptions when cinemas reopened, with Emanuela Trapini (Media Insight Analyst) signing up to Odeon My Limitless in London and Jacqueline Baldoquin (Senior Versioning Producer) getting the AMC Stubs membership in LA. And boy, did they go on a binge! Between them, I don’t think there is a new release they haven’t seen, but here are a few that scored highly with them both. Jungle Cruise, Cruella, and A Quiet Place II all got the seal of approval, and I would be inclined to agree, had I managed to get around to watching A Quiet Place II as well. I mean I really wanted to but just couldn’t find the time. Shut up, I’m not scared, you’re scared! Talking of scary films, Emanuela and Jacqueline both seemed to be quite enamoured with The Forever Purge. I remember their eyes glazing over as they spoke about each dismemberment, and they seemed to gain momentum on the topic of the body count and the sound limbs made when they were separated from the body. On an unrelated note, we’re increasing the security at the DMS offices.

For those of us locked down or isolating, the many streaming services have become a staple in our lives (as I write this, the Friends theme plays in the background for the sixth time today). I binged the hell out of The Last Kingdom (my name is Uhtred, son of Rag Raggy Ragga Rag), which I would never have seen myself doing before lockdown but the more the walls closed in, the more I looked for wide, open spaces and adventure. I’m not alone in this, either. The second season of The Mandalorian got everybody hooked instantly and WandaVision came like a hit of LSD to actualise the love between human and machine that we’ve been lowkey playing out with our phones for years.

Sofia Kopolova (Senior International Media Analyst) took me to one side and said, “Bro, what have I not been watching(?) is the real question.” Sofia has seen everything! She’s so close to completing Netflix that she’s talking about starting season 1 of the CCTV tapes in the DMS office. A few of Sofia’s recommendations are Ted Lasso (“definitely the best show to come out in the past 5 years or so, if not ever” her words), Beforeigners, a must watch Scandinavian HBO show, and The Boys, which I also endorse due to Karl Urban’s accent, hair, and face.

I was actually rooting around Amazon Prime for news of a third season of The Boys when I came across what I thought was a trailer to Andy Samberg’s latest movie, Palm Springs. Turns out I’d hit play on the actual movie and ended up watching the whole thing then and there. I then watched it again the next day. It’s a perfect mix of dark cynicism and warm fuzzies, which is where I live. If you’re into that sort of thing, I highly recommend it, but if you’re not then keep it to yourself because nobody is interested, and you smell.

Aaron Truss (Senior Technical Team Leader) had a busy couple of months of binging when he discovered The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. He came to me with genuine concern on several occasions because he was worried about Caroline and Stefan’s relationship and how much he “just want(s) Elena to be happy.” It was about the third or fourth conversation before I realised these were not real people and he had in fact, gotten in way too deep with the show, such was the hypnotic power of the Salvatore brothers. Even now, the company records state that he is on annual leave in Italy, but I know that he is in fact scouring the state of Virginia for the sacred stone that will restore Bonnie’s powers and end the bloodshed in Mystic Falls. Dam, that’s good television.

So, who wins the tug of war between streaming and the cinema? We do! Us, the viewers. Look at how much varied and interesting stuff there is for us to enjoy for a very reasonable price. We win every time! And if you think this final verdict is a fence-sitting cop-out, you need to sit down, eat some popcorn, put on Palm Springs, and zip it. It’s just a blog.

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