Monday, December 28, 2015

This Week In Tickets: 20 December 2015 - 26 December 2015

Not many movies seen this week, because it was Christmas and my nieces require a lot of spoiling.

This Week in Tickets

Like I said, pretty quick week - on Sunday I finally caught up with Mojin - The Lost Legend, which turned out to be a fun action/adventure movie, even if it was kind of funny to see how hard the filmmakers and writers worked to make sure that the supernatural elements had rational explanations. I spent the next few evenings getting Christmas shopping done, then because I screwed up actually getting on the train to Maine, I had time to check out Mr. Six when it opened on Christmas Eve.

Still, that got me to Dan's and Lara's house in time to watch "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" with my nieces. As I get older, I find myself a bit more amazed by Sesame Street and its almost offhand diversity: A black couple are the main voices of authority and respected people on the block. The music teacher has a deaf girlfriend. There are a lot of Latino folks and that they often speak Spanish is no big deal (heck, the first song on the soundtrack to this special is "Feliz Navidad"). The main kid in the special is Asian-American. I am reasonably sure that the only time they ever mentioned that Mr. Hooper was Jewish was during the Christmas special, so that they could quietly acknowledge that not everybody celebrates the same holidays but it's no big deal because making the effort to be inclusive is so easy.

Sometimes I wonder whether Sesame Street is more responsible than we know for good attitudes being ingrained in those who grew up with it or if we've backslid terribly from a time when many people tried harder to do this kind of representation on national television. Whichever the reason, it's still a great hour, a worthy holiday tradition.

After that, I spent the next couple days hanging around with my family, giving nieces excessive amounts of presents that hopefully they'll like despite not necessarily having seen the like before (I am the uncle who spots weird games and makes sure my nieces get to see Song of the Sea). Then, it was back home, and time for another Christmas special, this year's Doctor Who: "The Husbands of River Song".

Then, on Sunday, a day well spent at the Somerville Theatre, but we're not quite back on the Monday-Sunday pages yet, so that will be material for next week.

Doctor Who: "The Husbands of River Song"

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 26 December 2015 in Jay's Living Room (off the DVR, HD)

I wish it were easier to get out to the theater in Revere that is showing the latest Doctor Who Christmas special on the big screen this week, not so much because it's the sort of extravaganza that demands that sort of presentation, but because the specials seem even more brutalized by commercials than the regular series. As miniature action movies that involve the Doctor and his companions reacting to a crisis rather than solving a mystery, they're always moving forward, and every ad break seems wrong.

Despite that nuisance, "The Husbands of River Song" is one of the best Christmas entries that the series has produced; one of the underrated aspects of show-runner Steven Moffat's tenure is that he digs into how Christmas is an aggregation of traditions that bring joy but can also really throw you when something is off. Here, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is mourning what can be seen as either a death in the family or a necessary but sad breakup (it's science fiction and thus complicated) but has little time to mope, as he's thrust into a new adventure with a different loved one (Alex Kingston) who seems to have moved on.

And it's a fun one; the Doctor hits the ground running and has to keep it up if he's to keep pace with River, who is apparently in one of her more amoral phases. It's a funny, energetic adventure, with plenty of jokes playing off River not recognizing the Doctor's latest regeneration, an angry severed head, a less-angry headless body, and the difficulties in getting a restaurant reservation on Christmas (something Brits do much more than Americans). Amid this frequently dark comedy, there's still room for a fair amount of sci-fi action, messing around with time travel, and melancholy that is explained just enough for newcomers and resonates for those who just finished watching Series 9.

It's not perfect - like Russell Davies before him, Moffat has an unfortunate habit of having characters be uncomfortably worshipful of the Doctor, and the action can often feel like lots of things happening but not to great purpose. It's easily forgiven; "Husbands" his the right emotional spots about 90% of the time, entertains enough to cover the gaps, and still feels like a good between-series check-in even coming just a couple weeks after the most recent finale.

Mojin - The Lost LegendMr. SixDoctor Who: The Husbands of River Song

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