New Releases for Tuesday, February 18, 2020
The Twilight Zone (2019): Season One
Genre: Horror TV
Created by: Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg, Marco Ramirez
Run time: 443 minutes
The Lowdown: If ever there was any doubt about the lasting legacy, and creative genius, of Rod Serling, the fact that The Twilight Zone continues to inspire new iterations should put that to rest.
The latest, and third overall, effort to relaunch The Twilight Zone following brief television revivals in 1985 and 2002, also shows the enormous influence that Jordan Peele has been able to leverage on the heels of his one-two power punch of Get Out and Us.
Peele’s The Twilight Zone, which debuted in 2019 as an anchor on the new CBS All Access streaming service, featured 10 episodes, including new versions of classic Twilight Zone stories like “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
Peele appears in each episode as The Narrator, but surprisingly did not write any of the first season’s stories.
However, the series is rich in creative talent, both behind the camera (Ana Lily Amirpour, Simon Kinberg, Richard Shepard, Greg Yaitanes) and in the writer’s room (Glen Morgan, Marco Ramirez and Alex Rubens).
The individual episodes are good, if not ‘instant classic’ great.
“The Comedian” does a better job showing the lonely life of funny people, and the lengths that they will go for a laugh, than past feature films like Punchline or Funny People.
“Not All Men” is an effective post-apocalyptic gender thriller, but it fails to form a singular, original vision.
And, honestly, there’s just no real reason to try and replicate “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” even with a slightly tweaked title, especially given that the 1963 original is considered an all-time classic from actor William Shatner, director Richard Donner and writer Richard Matheson, and the 1983 redo in Twilight Zone: The Movie showcased a standout turn by John Lithgow.
The reason society loves The Twilight Zone is because it has historically challenged perceptions, skewed expectations and delivered substantial food for thought on a host of social issues.
I have no doubt that Peele and Co. will find their footing with their revival’s second season. And that’s not to say that the first season of this version isn’t worth checking out.
More than anything, it serves to whet our collective appetite for what’s (hopefully) still to come.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No. Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Your own subconscious.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
We: Unrated Director’s Edition (Artsploitation Films, 95 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Dutch writer/director Rene Eller channels his inner-Larry Clark with Wij (released in the U.S. as We), and Artsploitation Films has gone all-in with a graphic, unrated director’s cut that firmly establishes Eller as a social observer who gets the carefree mindset of young adults today.
We is shocking, sure, but not so much by today’s standards.
Eller focuses on eight friends, conveniently divvied up as four boys and four girls, who decide one summer to start making amateur porn as a get-rich-quick scheme.
They all don elaborate masks so their identities are not revealed on-camera, and Eller doesn’t miss a single thrust, putting viewers squarely in the middle of a full-on orgy at times.
Ultimately, We suffers a bit from its methodical pacing, and the use of flashbacks to flesh out its narrative, which includes a very public trial involving several of the young adults after their law-breaking Bacchanalian summer of excess.
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