Last year, I posted nearly every single Saturday reviewing all the movies I’d seen that week, and though that was amazing and fun for me for its entirety, What’s Joey Been Watching? was getting a little tired by the end of 2019. This year, you may have noticed that I have not been posting very much, and that’s because I’ve been driving myself insane by either not writing or writing projects that are far too ambitious and end up getting canned after thousands of words have already been written (looking at you, The Last of Us 2 review that I keep rewriting). Now, I think I’ve finally come up with a format that’s both fun, light, and relatively quick with What’s Up With Joey? The name could use some work but that’s what we’re going with for now. Every week I’ll be posting about whatever I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy over the course of the week within the categories of TV, movies, music, video games, books, and YouTube. Of course, I won’t always use every single category, but that’ll be the basic format from now on. I’m also going to be more selective with what I write about to avoid the filler reviews that padded out the word count of many a What’s Joey Been Watching?, although this particular post is rather long due to it being the product of a month of consumed entertainment rather than just a week. I hope you enjoy What’s Up With Joey, as well as the site’s funky new look!
The way Dark lulls you into its complicated world of time travel is masterful. The first two episodes introduce you to the wide cast of characters without even a hint of time travel in order to get you acquainted with the small German town of Winden. Once one character inadvertently finds himself in 1986, Dark spends an entire episode rooted in that time period to introduce you to the younger versions of established characters as well as introducing you to new characters not present in…the present. Slowly but surely, Dark keeps introducing new wrinkles and rules that would be stuffy and alienating if it weren’t for the show’s brilliant pacing. The time travel shenanigans get more and more complicated nearly every episode but as long as you’re paying attention (which you have to, since everyone exclusively speaks German), it’s easy, exhilarating, and incredibly rewarding to follow. I’m nearly finished season 2 and I haven’t been this enthralled by a show in what feels like forever. I suppose it’s only been a short while since Ozark’s near-perfect third season, but still.
Movies: Palm Springs, Roman Holiday
What is this? Palm Springs? A new movie? How exciting! There hasn’t been a good new one of those in so long; I thought we were all going to be forced to go into entertainment hibernation. Well Canada, it looks like we still do since there’s no way to legally access Palm Springs in our country! Yippee! Thank you torrenters, you’re the real ones for letting me see Palm Springs for free. Don’t tell my ISP.
Palm Springs properly quenches my thirst for new content. It’s cute and funny in all the right ways which makes it perfect for quarantine viewing. At the end of the day, though, it’s still just Groundhog Day. They didn’t even really try to do anything new with it; the only thing not entirely derivative about the premise is that Andy Samberg’s character has been looping since long before the film begins, which is not nearly enough innovation to pretend this hasn’t been done to death, especially lately. Russian Doll already did the whole “multiple people looping at the same time” gimmick, and Happy Death Day already did the “being hunted by a mysterious character” gimmick, so next to nothing about Palm Springs is even trying to feel any different than its contemporaries. But look, it’s a comedy, and all a comedy has to do is be funny and Palm Springs has hilarity in spades. It’s got romance too, but you already know the entire romance plot if you’ve seen any rom-com ever. Speaking of which…
Roman Holiday is the opposite of a new movie: Released in 1953, Roman Holiday was much of the world’s introduction to the entrancing and delightful Audrey Hepburn. This also happens to have been my introduction to her as well, embarrassingly enough, but what a spectacular introduction it is. Roman Holiday is often considered the rom-com that established many of the conventions we see in the modern rom-com, and I was worried about that prior to sitting down and finally watching Roman Holiday. What I failed to consider is that the rom-com conventions became conventions because of how perfectly they worked in the film they spawned from. Roman Holiday hits every beat of the modern rom-com because the genre was perfected in 1953 and never really innovated, at least in terms of the mainstream ones (not Crazy, Stupid, Love, of course, because that movie is a rom-com masterpiece). I feel as though every generic rom-com I’ve ever seen has been recontextualized; it’s like meeting the mother of raucous, annoying quintuplets and though she looks just like her deplorable kids, she’s kind, gentle, and endlessly charming. What I’m trying to say is that rom-com’s mom is the bomb.com.
Music: JPEGMAFIA’s assorted new tracks/HTBAR
Over the past few months, my beloved JPEGMAFIA a.k.a. Peggy has been dropping incredible track after incredible track and he shows no sign of stopping. Peggy never adheres to a single style or tone, constantly changing and evolving but excelling no matter what. BALD! sounds like it would fit perfectly into Peggy’s second album Veteran’s tracklist, while BODYGUARD! is a soft, sweet, and heavily autotuned single that sounds like nothing Peggy has ever done. COVERED IN MONEY! is the most fun and hype new track, with some of Peggy’s most Peggy-esque lyrics ever: “If you do dirt, keep it quiet like Pootie Tang/Lose it all for the nut like Louis C.K.” CUTIE PIE! and THE BENDS! are more traditional Peggy fare but are great nonetheless, showing that Peggy shines even when he isn’t showing off his versatility. ROUGH 7, possibly my favourite of the new singles, is a collab between Peggy and Tommy Genesis that works wonderfully, their outlandish and irreverent styles complementing each other perfectly on a track that’s sexy as hell.
HTBAR, or How To Build A Relationship, is Peggy’s 10 part vlog, a series of loosely stitched together moments from Peggy’s life, frantically cutting between candid moments of Peggy with his friends, random unreleased/unfinished tracks, and semi-formal interviews with industry folks like Kenny Beats and Ariel Pink. This is why I adore Peggy so much: He’s not just a groundbreaking and endlessly talented artist, he’s a genuinely interesting character, and I love peeking under the hood and seeing what he’s all about.
Video Games: Filament
Think The Witness meets…well, it’s pretty much just The Witness with a slightly different core mechanic. But that’s a good thing! While it wears its inspiration on its sleeve design-wise, Filament takes an entirely different approach to storytelling. The Witness’s story was cryptic, bordering on opaque at times, while Filament is entirely upfront, bombarding you with information at every possible moment. Each set of puzzles you complete will reward you with an assortment of old emails shared between the characters within the game, crafting an entire story through mundane interactions. It’s a charming and unique method of storytelling that accentuates the position of video games as a storytelling medium.
Unfortunately, the game also employs a narrator who will not shut up and never has anything interesting to say. She is effectively explaining in vague terms the content of the emails you’ve just read, as if the game expects most players to ignore the lore. That would be fair if the game didn’t put such a heavy emphasis on its story, but the primary reward for completing the puzzles is the chance to learn more about the game’s world. Regardless, Filament is a challenging and rewarding experience with a unique narrative presentation, and I can’t wait to continue unravelling its mysteries.
Dune will be the only book in this category for the next few months. It’s nearly 900 pages and I’m a slow reader. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, though. Sci-fi is not a genre I tend to gravitate towards and yet Dune has engrossed me with its deep world building, a trait I often criticize for undermining a good story *cough* Lord of the Rings *cough* but in Dune it functions both on its own and as a complement to the layered characters. I don’t have much else to say for now, but I can’t wait to keep exploring the vast and deadly desert planet of Arrakis.
Youtube: Innuendo Studios
I’ve immersed myself in inarguably the least toxic and most entertaining corner of the cesspool known as YouTube: Video essayists. Lindsay Ellis, Dan Olson, and Jenny Nicholson all make incredible film-related content among other odd topics, but Ian Danskin of Innuendo Studios covers such a diverse repertoire of disparate subjects that I have to highlight him as the most talented.
His first video is an exploration of fame framed within the context of former video game developer and industry pariah Phil Fish. Fish was the punching bag for anyone even remotely familiar with the indie video game scene due to his outspoken assholishness and general standoffishness, and Ian does his best not necessarily to defend him, but to provide a perspective that upsettingly few people – including myself – ever considered: Fish is a man who never asked to be famous. I recommend checking out this video regardless of whether or not you know who Phil Fish is, as Ian makes his videos accessible and fascinating to all.
Ian’s other stand-alone videos include many dissecting the adventure game genre, while others take on everything from what art really is to the conflicting feminist readings of Joi in Blade Runner 2049. The most notable collection of videos is Ian’s longest series, titled The Alt-Right Playbook. This 11 part series (so far) goes into immense detail on how the alt-right functions, from their methodology for arguing to how they indoctrinate and radicalize the modestly right-leaning. Though I have yet to watch every single video, I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the divided world we live in and how you can make it just a little bit better.
This week’s shoutout (yes, I’m doing this again) goes to the Blu-Ray copy of Pitch Perfect that sits on my desk, taunting me as I write this. Why do I have it? Nobody knows. I’ve never seen the movie. I don’t plan on seeing it. It’s just there and I can’t get rid of it, like a benign mole.