Movie Review: Parasite (2019)

Well hello there, friends of the interwebs! How are you? Welcome to 2021, where dreams are made and/or shattered, and where Markus catches up on movies that everybody already have seen. So let’s go, yo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Parasite”!

Shortly after young man Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) gains employment as a tutor for the daughter of a wealthy family, he starts scheming with his family to get them employed for these wealthy folks too. What’s fascinating about “Parasite” is that it spans more genres than the entire filmography of more directors. Is is a crime story? Yes. But it’s also a family drama. And a black comedy. And a thriller? But despite all of this, there never is any clashing as we flow through the movie. They blend together beautifully, held together by some of the tightest writing I’ve experienced in a film in recent memory. All of this making for a brilliant satire on class differences within modern day South Korea (and possibly other parts of the world), while in general also being a highly enjoyable narrative to follow on a surface level. The storytelling of “Parasite” can be enjoyed both as this deep, nuanced satire, and as a general piece of entertainment. It’s just great stuff.

The characters in this are incredibly interesting, because it’s clear that a lot of time and love has gone into making them feel as real and nuanced as possible. I believe every second of their characterization, and that makes them extremely compelling. And when you pair that with an excellent cast, featuring people like Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Park So-dam, Choi Woo-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Jung Ji-so, Cho Yeo-jeong, and more, you get some extremely engaging character work going on.

The score for the movie was composed Jung Jae-il, and it was terrific. It’s a fairly minimalist score, all things considered. It’s based mainly around piano, some strings, and light percussion, which helps give the movie a uniquely fascinating vibe that is equal parts fun and uncomfortable. And I love it.

“Parasite” was directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho, and I think he did a superb job with it. Few directors have as much control over every scene as he has here. Every moment is perfectly crafted and calibrated in a way that I seldom see in movies. I also have to take a second to praise the cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo, because it is not only ridiculously pretty, but it also adds so much to the overall storytelling, with each shot being able to convey so much about a moment. And when you take the superb editing into account, you get one of the most perfectly crafted movies I’ve seen. It’s insane how perfectly constructed this is.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 96/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #30 on their “Top 250” list. The movie won 4 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best director, Best original screenplay, and Best international feature. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best production design and Best film editing.

Yeah, guess I’m joining the choir in saying that “Parasite” is fucking fantastic. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Parasite” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Parasite” is now completed.

Not a bad start to my movie watching this year.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Final Part)

It’s time, ladies and gentlemen. The final part in my 12 Films of Christmas series. And honestly, it’s most likely not only for this year. While fun has been had with this series, I do feel that it’s getting a little stale. Plus, it is a little draining cranking out themed content at this rate. So consider this series retired… at least for the time being, I might get the urge to bring it back in a few years. But seeing as it’s the alleged final 12 Films of Christmas post, I thought it only appropriate to bring out the grandfather of all holiday films.

So today we’re talking about “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the acclaimed 1946 holiday drama. It follows George (James Stewart) and the many ups and downs of his life. Yeah, it’s basically this man’s life story from child to depressed businessman. It’s a fascinating little holiday tale with sads and happies and other emotions. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t find the story perfect. I do feel that it does drag a little at times, mainly in the first two acts. It’s not film-breaking, but it does bring it down a little for me. While I generally think George is a fascinating fella, and the story an intriguing and pretty nuanced one, I do feel that the film’s weird pacing hurts it to some degree.
But I can’t deny just how fucking good that final act is. That’s when the story truly kicks into high gear. That’s where the film really starting hitting me in the ol’ heart. The final act is perfect.
So yeah, I don’t love this as much as the rest of you… but I still think it’s really solid and I’m definitely glad I watched it.

On the twelfth day of christmas, this series it did die
But to this blog Markus he’ll never say goodbye

Merry fucking christmas, friends. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna take a few days off.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 8)

Hey there, friendos. Time for another christmas movie post. So yeah, let’s talk about it.

I can already imagine at least two of you furrowing your brow. “But MAAAAAAARKUUUUUS, Lethal Weapon is not a christmas movie, it’s a detective thriller”. Watch and learn, kids.
It’s December in Los Angeles, and aging police detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) gets forced to team up with volatile detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) to solve a complex case. Okay, the immediate plot may not strictly be about saving christmas, but there’s holiday iconography littered all over the god damn place. Christmas trees, colorful lights, other stuff… yeah. Oh, and the movie opens with “Jingle Bell Rock” playing. That aside, I do love the story here. It’s exciting and suspenseful and surprisingly heartwarming. And in the end, isn’t warmth in our hearts something we want to feel during the holidays?
I think it goes without saying how great the characters in this are. They’re nuanced and endearing and I love them to death. And so must other people too, considering this god damn movie got three sequels. Part of this comes down to Shane Black’s pitch perfect script, a dark and emotionally charged affair with hints of black humor. But largely we also love the main characters because of the excellent chemistry between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. What they have in “Lethal Weapon” is unparalleled to this day. And the supporting cast is brilliant too, with people like Darlene Love and Gary Busey being standouts among them.
So maybe “Lethal Weapon” isn’t the traditional definition of a christmas movie, but I feel that it has enough iconography and relevant themes to warrant its status as one. It’s one of my favorite movies and I never tire of watching it.

On the eighth day of christmas, Markus watched a classic hit
 Meanwhile Danny Glover’s too old for this shit

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 5 (2000 – 2001)

Don’t worry, there will be more christmas content coming your way. Just thought I’d give you a palate cleanser. And what better than a continuation of my “Buffy” rewatch? So let’s go! Oh, and brief spoiler for the end of season 4 in the plot section.

Ladies and gents… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 5.

With Adam dead and gone, it seems that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends can finally go back to some kind of (ab)normal. This however does of course get a bit interrupted when a strange and powerful woman (Clare Kramer) starts causing chaos in the town. So Buffy has to find a way to stop her, all while dealing with the usual monsters of Sunnydale, and also trying to keep her mother (Kristine Sutherland) and sister (Michelle Trachtenberg) safe. People who’ve followed along with the show up until now probably ask “Wait, sister? Dafuh?”. And yes, Buffy has a sister now. While that seems strange and forced at first, over the course of the season we find out why she’s suddenly there, and I think that narrative thread is pretty interesting. And the stuff with Glory (the aforementioned strange and powerful woman) is pretty good too. It’s some of the one-off monster of the week stuff inbetween that isn’t great. The season does overall feel more focused than season 4, it’s a generally better package. But that doesn’t stop it from having some duds throughout, which does bring it down a bit. But I do still like this season’s story quite a bit. It has some great highs, and it has some really harsh moments that hit hard. Yes, the lows are definitely low, but the story this season generally has enough highs to be well into the positive side of things.

The characters in this remain the absolute highlight. The returning cast of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head, Nicholas Brendon, James Marsters, Kristine Sutherland, Emma Caulfield, and Amber Benson are all great, and they all (for the most part) do great stuff with them. So let’s talk about some newer people. First up we have Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn, Buffy’s little sister who totes mcgotes has been in the show all this time and wasn’t added this season for the sake of a new plot. Okay, I joke. But seriously, the way they implement the character is pretty interesting. And Trachtenberg does an okay job with her performance. Next we have Clare Kramer as Glory, the new big bad. She’s a chatty, charistmatic, and fun villain, a breath of fresh air after the dullness of the previous season’s antagonism. And Kramer is great in the role.

The score for this season was composed by Thomas Wanker (I do not envy that name), with a little additional help by Christophe Beck. And the music here is really good. It’s not as top tier as Beck’s older scores, and often falls back on slightly more generic stings and such. But it’s still enjoyable enough and works decently well for this season.

Season 5 of “Buffy” was written and directed by a whole bunch of different people, and they generally did a good job with it. Scenes flow pretty well, and shot composition is generally quite pleasing. There’s even some decently impressive use of restraint in a few certain moments in the season. You can tell that they’ve perfected their craft here. Even in the weaker episodes, the directin, effects, and such are still really good.

The show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 82% positive rating. On Metacritic the season has an audience score of 5.6/10. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.2/10.

While still not able to recapture the magic of seasons 2 or 3, season 5 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still a really good season of tv, and a major step up from the 5th iteration. It has a good story, great characters, really good performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 5 is an 8.32/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth watching.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 5 is now completed.

Two more seasons to go.

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 4)

Hey, I know you were planning to head out for a walk. But baby it’s cold outside, so you should instead stay indoors, get yourself a cup of your favorite warm beverage, and read this post of mine. Sound good? You got your warm beverage? Good, then let’s do this.

So today we’re talking about “Klaus”, a 2019 Netflix animated movie about Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a spoiled, lazy brat whose entire world gets flip turned upside down when his dad forces a job on him in hopes that he’ll learn something about responsibility. What job? Being a mailman on a remote island, of course. And while trying to come to terms with his new position, Jesper meets a hermitic bearded man (J.K. Simmons), and the two soon form a partnership to bring joy to the children of the island. All while the elders of the island try to keep this joy from happening, because it goes against tradition. So yeah, a lot of familiar tropes going on here. But familiarity doesn’t mean poor quality. Because the execution here is terrific. It’s filled with heart and warmth and hilarious humor. Mix the already enjoyable story with colorful and charming characters played by a stacked and perfectly chosen cast, and you get a movie that managed to dig itself into my heart.
But this delicious sundae isn’t complete with a little cherry on top, and for “Klaus”, that cherry comes in the form of some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. What’s even cooler is that it’s generally traditional hand drawn 2D animation, but then it implements some CG in the lighting and shading department, creating this uniquely dynamic style for the movie that is utterly breathtaking to look at.
So to try to wrap this up, “Klaus” is a nicely told little holiday tale filled with heart, great performances, and amazing animation. I can definitely see myself watching this next year too… and the year after that. It’s amazing.

On the fourth day of christmas, to my heart Klaus said hi
And later yours truly proceeded to cry

Movie Review: Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Yes, another alleged classic I hadn’t gotten around to yet. But now we finally fixed that. So let’s talk about it.

Boyz and girlz… “Boyz n the Hood”.

“Boyz n the Hood” follows the lives of three young men (Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut) living in South Central Los Angeles, and how they try to deal with all aspects of their lives. From race, to love, to family, to their futures, there’s a lot of ground covered within this narrative. And all of it blends together seamlessly to create one of the most nuanced and engrossing narratives I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing recently. There’s so much genuine heart and emotion within the narrative. Even though it isn’t based on an actual true story, it feels so raw and genuine, like they’ve at least pulled inspiration from real life situations. Combine this feeling of genuineness with a healthy helping of humor and a looming sense of dread, you get a narrative that feels like no other. It’s its own beast, and it’s a mighty one at that.

The characters in this are all flawed, nuanced, entertaining, and highly interesting. Our main trio of Cuba Gooding Jr, Ice Cube, and Morris Chestnut are all pretty different in personality, but they’re all equally compelling, and make for a great central group of protagonists. And all three of them are great in their respective roles. We also get Laurence Fishburne as Gooding Jr’s father, a solid, morally good centerpoint for our sometimes conflicted young man. And he’s a great character in his own right, with Fishburne delivering a great performance. We also get supporting performances from people like Nia Long, Regina King, Angela Bassett, Kirk Kinder, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson, and more, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Stanley Clarke, and I thought it was really good. Mixing traditional dramatic instrumentation with some hip hop/RnB percussion, to create a sound that blends well with the drama of the story, and with the urban setting. There’s also a handful of licensed songs throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes too. So yeah, this movie has good music.

“Boyz n the Hood” was written and directed by John Singleton (r.i.p), and I think he did a fantastic job with it. What’s even more amazing is that this was his debut feature, which he made at age 22. And yet, despite his low age and relative inexperience, he showed skill way beyond his years. His direction is very intimate and really brings you into the drama of the various scenes. There are also several scenes where Singleton builds a lot of tension, which put me on the edge of my seat. He really showed with this that he could be a master behind the camera.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best director and Best original screenplay.

I understand now why “Boyz n the Hood” is considered such a classic, it’s a fantastic first feature from John Singleton. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and fantastic writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Boyz n the Hood” is a 9.91/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Boyz n the Hood” is now completed.

John Singleton at 22: Makes a fantastic movie that gets multiple Oscar nominations.
Me at 23: How do I word good?

Series Review: Fargo – Season 4 (2020)

How I’ve waited for this season to drop. I am a huge fan of this show, loving every season so far. So I was of course anxiously waiting for this one to start airing. It was even supposed to air this spring, but then it got delayed. But it finally started this Autumn, and now it has wrapped up. So let’s talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fargo” season 4!

Kansas City, 1950. We follow two crime syndicates, one an African-American group led by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), and the other an Italian gangster family led by Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman). And as we follow their struggle against each other, a bunch of other interesting figures get involved in both their own dealings, and the antics of the syndicates. From a nurse (Jessie Buckley) with some shady secrets, to a policeman with PTSD and OCD (Jack Huston), to a devoutly Mormon U.S. marshal (Timothy Olyphant), all kinds of colorful figures occupy this season of “Fargo”. The story in this is a lot more straightforward than some of the previous ones, being less strange than some of the previous outings. But with this said, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot going on. Because this season has more threads going on than one might at first assume. And while I am more often than not interested and entertained by everything going on, I do feel like the storytelling here is the weakest of all the seasons. That said, this season has a bunch of great parts, and when this season is on top, it’s fantastic. But then there’s a fair amount of times, especially towards the middle of the season, where it loses a bit of steam for me. It does lose some of its momentum in those parts, but never enough to be considered outright bad. The overall package here is till solid.

Where the storytelling falters at points, the characters remain the best part of this show. All are colorful and nuanced and really fascinating. And the cast is fantastic too, featuring top tier work from people like Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw, Timothy Olyphant, Jack Huston, Salvatore Esposito, E’myri Crutchfield, Andrew Bird, Jeremie Harris, and many more.

As with previous seasons, the score was composed by Jeff Russo, and as per usual he did a fantastic job. It’s a little eclectic in its instrumentation, creating a lot of different sounds for different scenes, and I love it, it works so well within the colorful canvas of this show. And the handful of licensed tracks used throughout work quite well too.

All episodes of “Fargo” season 4 were co-written by series creator Noah Hawley, with direction by a whole batch of cool people. And the craft here is just as stellar as before. There’s a lot of energy within the directing, crackling in a way that feels wholly unique to this show. All of it wrapped up wonderfully in some really beautiful cinematography.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 81% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.9/10 and is ranked #36 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

While it’s my least favorite iteration of the show so far, season 4 of “Fargo” is still a damn fine season of tv. It has a good story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Fargo” season 4 is an 8.78/10. So while it is pretty flawed, it is still definitely worth watching.

My review of “Fargo” season 4 is now completed

Is Olyphant gonna get typecast as a marshal for the rest of his career?

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 3 (2020)

This show is fascinating to me. It’s never been one of my favorites, but I always feel compelled to come back to it when a new season airs. It’s like Al Pacino says in “Godfather Part 3”: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. So let’s see if this third season is any good.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 3.

It’s summer in the valley, and everyone of the Dutton clan is slowly settling back into their lives after the tumultuous events of season 2. But just when the characters think they might be able to take a breather, a seemingly friendly, yet cunning businessman (Josh Holloway) starts making moves to get hold of the Yellowstone ranch for his own businesses. And as per the norm with this show, things start escalating from there, both for the Duttons themselves, and for the people around them. When this season started, something fascinating happened. I felt fully invested in what was going on. In previous seasons that was a little hard at times, either due to weird pacing or overbearing melodrama. But for the first few episodes there was no real sign of that. It felt like new life had been breathed into the show. But then towards the middle the show fell back into that aforementioned pit for a bit. But towards the end it really swung up to greatness again. But I do think the story on the whole this season is really strong. While the things I didn’t enjoy in previous seasons occur, there’s certainly less of them this time around. And when this season isn’t wallowing in some of that melodrama, then it is fucking fantastic. The dark moments are truly dark, the stakes feel truly high, and when a moment wants to leave a visceral impact, then it really does. Again, it’s still not a perfect line, but it’s damn close to getting there.

The characters in this are flawed, colorful, fascinating, and quite entertaining. The returning main cast of Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, and Kelsey Asbille all give great performances, and we get to see their characters develop in some really great ways. Returning supporting cast of people like Jefferson White, Brecken Merrill, Cole Hauser, Forrie J. Smith, Gil Birmingham, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, and Mo Brings Plenty are all great too. Let’s talk about newcomer Josh Holloway, who plays Roarke, a well spoken, outwardly friendly businessman who creates some tension for the Dutton empire. At first he seems like a breath of fresh air, compared to the sliminess of Danny Huston’s Jenkins or the intensity of Neal McDonough’s Beck. But then he barely has any real presence within the narrative. Roarke’s shareholders and attorneys and such take up more space than him, and it almost makes him feel like he has little place within the story. Holloway does a good job with his performance, but the characters just kinda fizzles out in interest over time. So main antagonist aside, the characters here are great.

The score for this season was composed by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian, and I think they did a really good job with it. The score retains that pseudo-western vibe that we’ve come to expect, and uses it to create a compelling soundscape that works really well for the show. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work pretty well too.

As with the previous two seasons, all episode of “Yellowstone” season 3 were written by Taylor Sheridan, with some other cool people directing. And the craft on display here is of course top notch, they’ve really come into their own in this department. The direction is confident and bold, really capturing the sweeping scale of the setting, all without sacrificing the intimacy to the characters. And this helps keep every scene feel somewhat interesting, even if the writing may dip a little bit. And the cinematography by Jim Denault and William Wages is terrific. It’s just well crafted, yo.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.5/10.

While not perfect, season 3 of “Yellowstone” is still a massive step in the right direction for the show, giving us the best season so far. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” season 3 is an 8.88/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 3 is now completed.

Yeehaw.

Series Review: Castlevania – Season 3 (2020)

Took me a bit longer to get around to this than I originally wanted. But now we’re finally here. So let’s talk about this show for a bit. Oh, and there will be some spoilers for season 2… so you have been warned.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Castlevania” season 3!

A few months have passed since Dracula’s demise, and everyone’s kind of gone their separate ways. The peace isn’t kept for long however, as the various characters all run into their own share of problems. Trying to break down the narrative of this season in a well-written and concise way without getting into too many spoilers is difficult, as there are about as many threads as a season of “Game of Thrones”. But I’ll do my best. First off we have Trevor (Richard Armitage) and Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) who find themselves visiting a mysterious village that seemingly holds more secrets than they at first let on. Then you have Alucard (James Callis) adjusting to the solitude of living in Dracula’s castle. Then there’s Carmilla (Jaime Murray) and her fellow vampires scheming to take over the world. And then there’s Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), building his army of night creatures and traveling across the world. But then there’s also the mysterious newcomer Saint Germain (Bill Nighy) and his schemes. Like I said, there’s a lot, and I didn’t even touch on all of them, either due to spoilers or fear of overextending this section. But believe me when I say that the ten episodes of this season cover A LOT of shit. But despite covering so much, it never gets confusing. This doesn’t mean that all aspects get treated with an equal amount of care and devotion, which at times can make this feel like a little bit of a middle chapter, but I do still find the narrative very engrossing. You get this epic fantasy tale, which also mixes in clever mystery, some gruesomely dark horror, a lot of heart and humor, and even a bit of enjoyable human drama. It’s great stuff, yo.

The characters in this, both old and new are colorful, flawed, layered, fascinating, and highly entertaining. The older ones get a little development, and newer ones do too. All of them are highly interesting and I loved seeing them. And the voice cast is fucking phenomenal, featuring such talented folks as Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, James Callis, Jaime Murray, Adetokumboh M’Cormack, Theo James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jason Isaacs, Navid Negahban, Ivana Milisevic, Rila Fukushima, Toro Uchikado, Bill god damn Nighy, and more.

As with the previous two seasons, the score here was composed by Trevor Morris. And he absolutely knocked it out of the god damn park. He manages to cover so much ground with the various tracks in the show. From big bombastic brass, to more subtle strings, to even a bit of really intense synth, the dude did a fantastic job.

All episodes of “Castlevania” season 3 were written by Warren Ellis, with direction being handled by brother Sam and Adam Deats. And not that previous seasons were slouches in the animation department, but fuckin’ hell, the animation this season is the best it’s ever been. In quieter moments it looks really good, but it’s really in action scenes where it shines. Really captures the intensity and insanity that would happen from these battles. The final two episodes especially show this, as they have some of the best battles I’ve seen in animation. It’s one of the most well animated shows I’ve ever watched.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has an audience score of 7.2/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 is another winning batch of episodes for “Castlevania”, giving us more of what I’ve come to love from the show. It has a great story, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Castlevania” season 3 is a 9.92/10. Which does mean that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Castlevania” season 3 is now completed

This remains the best video game adaptation.

Series Review: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.