Lists are a frequent occurrence on the internet - whether it be a best of, worst of, favorite this, or coolest that - and here at Fifty Bad Names we wanted to get in on the action. And so, in maintaining our tradition of naming things badly, we created The Doggy Bag.
We've each kept meticulous (Editor's Note: -ish) notes on all the various multimedia "meals" we have taken in over the past month, and The Doggy Bag is where we can discuss our "leftover" thoughts with you. The stuff we're really taking home, so to speak.
So please enjoy our new feature in this, our inaugural edition of The Doggy Bag!
A Cure For Wellness
I remember seeing the trailers for this movie and being really excited for it. The part that really stuck with me was the beautifully crafted setting and design of the world. The filmmakers put a lot of effort into designing the ‘Place out of Time’ retro feeling of the spa atop the mountain and the village down below. It almost had a “Bioshock” feel to it, the way that the main character was thrust into this secret place that had been protected and segregated from the rest of the normal world. I am left wanting to know more about what was normally going on in that off-putting mountain-top spa. How exactly did everything work? Who first figured this all out? Did the treatment really work?
What We Do In The Shadows
I had this indie movie on my ‘to watch’ list for a few years, but after watching director Taika Waititi’s amazing “Thor Ragnarok” in theatres, I didn’t want to waste any more time! What We Do In The Shadows took the expansive mythology surrounding vampires that everyone is familiar with and strips away all the pomp and posture and mystery, and leaves us just with a bunch of vampire roommates in an apartment in New Zealand, trying to get by. The scene where the guys are getting ready for a literal night on the prowl was my favourite bit because, as we all know, vampires don’t have a reflection. They skirt around this potential setback by putting on a mini fashion show ala “Pretty Woman”, and it’s just…it’s just a must watch.
Black Mirror, USS Callister
When we were deciding on the rules of The Doggy Bag, we settled on not including single episodes of TV shows, because it would just become too cumbersome. But this episode felt special somehow. It probably helped that it was extra-long; clocking in at around 76 minutes, it never felt like it was dragging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of “Black Mirror” in general, however most of the time I have to psych myself up to watch an episode. I’ve only watched three so far of the current season, even though they’ve all been available for over a month! The reason for this is because the tone of the series is typically very dark and depressing, and I just don’t want to put myself into that state of mind all that often.
But “USS Callister” was one of the rare episodes that ends on a somewhat good note. Sure, everything isn’t puppies and rainbows for the main characters by the time the episode is over, but the protagonist(s) get a win, and I’ll take it! A month after viewing this episode, I’m still left thinking about how close we are to actually experiencing a virtual reality world somewhat like the one depicted. Having the ability to see anything, do anything and be anyone…to have the ultimate control over your entire world…it’s a very enticing and attractive proposal. But who we choose to become when presented with this, or any other position of power is ultimately up to us. Will we create beautiful new universes full of happiness and hope, or will we turn on ‘Disaster Mode’ ala “Sim City” and watch our creations be destroyed just for the fun of it?
John Wick Chapter 2
I have a friend who is obsessed with John Wick. He is in love with any movie that involves explosions, gun fights and car chases, story and character development be damned! I enjoyed the first movie well enough, certainly not to the level he did, but I was intrigued enough to sit down and watch the sequel when it was available in my living room, on demand.
I was impressed with how the filmmakers were able to pull enough out of the first film’s mythology to create a whole new sandbox for the characters to play in. Suddenly little things that were alluded to in the first film came front and centre, and created a really interesting world that had some substance.
I cheated a little bit and jotted down some notes as I was watching, so I would have something to write about in this article. I was going to discuss the amazingly choreographed shootout in the museum exhibit with all the mirrors, and about how incredible that was and how difficult it must have been to actually shoot! (Did they have to digitally remove the camera reflections from every frame??) But now a month removed, I don’t really remember too much about this scene…
What I do remember, however, is how there was such an unrealistically-high percentage of the population of New York that was in reality secret assassins. Suddenly every single person that John Wick passed by had a bag full of weapons ready to attack. And that kinda spoiled all the good feelings I had built up from the wonderful camera work, writing and world-building. Oh well, maybe Chapter 3 will be better?
It may seem like I’ve been solely watching older movies this month, but that’s only because I had a baby in 2017 and I wasn’t able to watch these in the theatres! “Captain Fantastic” is another movie that was on my ‘to watch’ list for too long, that I finally caught on demand. I remember how enjoyable and refreshing it was to watch how Viggo Mortensen’s character respected his children as equals, by being completely truthful and honest with them on all topics. Even topics that some might consider taboo such as politics, sex and suicide. In reality, am I prepared to do the same with my new baby? I don’t know. I hope so.
Finally, a new movie! See, new parents can still go to the theatre! Oscar season is approaching, and we didn’t want to be too out of the loop once the nominations hit. A movie by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in a very timely story about government secrets, cover-ups and the freedom of the press? This was one we knew would be in the running for a few awards!
Unsurprisingly for a Spielberg film, everything from the settings, the wardrobe, and the performances were all top notch. As children of the 80’s some of this history was news to us, so we were left entertained throughout, always wondering what was going to happen next. And leaving the theatre, we immediately knew that Meryl would be getting a Best Actress nomination for her performance as the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. What sticks with me from this movie though is the frustration. Why is it that governments and people in power feel like they can simply lie to their constituents about whatever they want? Why do the worst people always seem to gravitate to politics? Why does all of this have to always be so difficult? And why does it never seem to improve?
Another ‘based on a true story’ movie, this time about the brilliant and brave women who broke both gender and race lines to help safely return an astronaut from Earth’s orbit. Very strong performances by everyone; I’m not surprised this film garnered a few Oscar nominations. What it must have been like to grow up in those days…
I can’t help but be saddened now, when I think of the current state of the Space Program. What happened to our generation? Why did we stop dreaming big, and trying to reach for the stars? It’s been almost 50 years since we first set foot on the moon, and it’s been 46 years since we’ve been there at all – what made us stop exploring?
Rick & Morty Season 3
Ok more TV here, but I binged the entire season in 2 days so I think that I’m safe. I was so excited when we switched cable providers last year, because now we actually got Cartoon Network, meaning that I wouldn’t have to watch horrible bootleg versions of “Rick & Morty” on YouTube anymore – I’d actually be able to PVR them live and watch them in all their original glory! But for some reason, even though I get the right channel, the episodes didn’t air when they were supposed to! Damn you, CRTC!
As the weeks and months passed by without me being able to watch, I succumbed to the fact that I’d just have to wait until the Blu-Ray release to watch this season. But then a friend from the States showed me a completely legal (I assume) website that allows you to stream any episode of any cartoon you’d like – for free! The next night, the binge began…
Of course this season was wonderful and entertaining in its absurdity, sprinkled heavily with nerdy pop culture references from all my favourite properties. I left each episode thinking about where I would go if I had the ability to go to any possible universe, or what I would do if I had access to some of Rick’s awesome inventions. Pickle Rick was perfect. The return of Evil Morty was all that I wanted it to be. Possible clone-Beth is such a great quasi-cliffhanger. But what I’m still thinking about today? Will we ever actually get to see what happened in Atlantis?
Ultimate Beastmaster Season 2
I absolutely loved the first season of Ultimate Beastmaster, and I think I might hate the second. I won’t actually find out though, as I’ve decided to stop watching it.
I think the change that was the most striking to me was the change of the announcers. The first season had Terry Crews and Charissa Thompson as the main hosts in the North American version of this series. The atmosphere they created for the show was one of pride for their own country, but also an appreciation and respect for everyone else. While I don’t think the new season goes against that feeling, it is certainly diminished. The new hosts, Tiki Barber and Chris Distefano, seem to be focusing more on attempted humor than what brought me to love the original, and the series as a whole just seems to lose its charm.
With that said, watching these incredible athletes compete at such a high level is still just as thrilling as before, and if I hadn’t been so thrown off by the change in tone I likely would have stuck around.
The Black Company by Glen Cook
What struck me about this book series was the sense of time it created. For the first book, you experience the story entirely from the perspective of a character named Croaker. Over the first half of the series, new perspectives are added in but the main voice is still the same. Eventually, Croaker becomes just another character in the world, and then he disappears entirely, existing only as another figure within the mythos of the Black Company (the mercenary company of which he was a part).
My time away from Croaker was spent in the company of a new batch of protagonists – such as Sleepy and Murgen – and I become just as attached to them as I had to Croaker.
With the final book, I was returned to Croaker’s perspective. Characters that we both had loved were gone, and we were worlds away from where we had started, both geographically and emotionally.
I had spent so much of the series in Croaker’s point of view that it was quite easy to fall back into the same mindset I had when reading from his perspective in the first book. I found that his worldview reflected my own in regards to the books – so much had changed, I was surrounded by new people and strange worlds, and just as I was on the edge of understanding it, I was thrust back into this old (although familiar) body.
In a sense, I felt like I had aged alongside Croaker. The way in which the books force you to confront change is so close to that experience in real life that I have found myself thinking about it constantly since setting the series down.
The Nintendo Switch
Near the end of last year I got myself a Nintendo Switch, and have been enjoying it thoroughly. It is less so about the games, and more about the design of the console itself that has me so infatuated. The portability of it, along with the ability to quickly play a multiplayer game through a combination of splitting the Joycons and utilizing the kickstand, have made it a staple in my bag.