Media Diet on Easter
Jesus Came Back To Bring You This Newsletter
Media Diet will be off-air next week.
Tokyo Vice brings the Heat to your home screen; a sexy and solemn French title written by Celine Sciamma; and some ideas on what to watch when you need crowd-pleasers for your dysfunctional family.
Movies To Watch With Your Parents During The Holidays
The Social Network (2010), Steve Jobs (2015), Molly’s Game (2017)
all written by Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin1 screenplays are vicious, sharp, verbose, and, if directed without a soft touch, hopelessly overwritten. He created “the walk and talk”2; his multi-layered characters are always a snappy one-liner away from becoming power-users on Twitter. And speeches! Boomers love the absolutism of well-written speeches, hence his movies are ideal for watching with parents who persistently want someone to tell them what to think, feel and do.
But if you have to choose one movie out of the line-up, choose the Steve Jobs biopic-adaption directed by Danny Boyle3.
“Steve Jobs” is the ultimate synthesis of bold storytelling, incredible performances (by Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet) and kinetic direction. Sorkin does his thing - lots and lots of fast talking - but Boyle colors the walls in restrained but significant style, showing Steve Jobs’ most important moments in his lifetime as Apple founder4, and his failure to communicate with the people that love him. Don’t mistake this for a cradle-to-the-grave story - Steve Jobs is a magnetic, cut-throat anti-biopic, and certainly a masterpiece.
Sent From iPhone, White People Arguing, Boomer Porn, Movies That Should Have Been Plays
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Tokyo Vice (Season 1, HBO Max, directed by Michael Mann)
Tokyo Vice is a crime drama and loose adaption of the experiences of American journalist Jake Adelstein. During his work on the Tokyo police beat, Jake is drawn deeper and deeper into the city's shadows.
Astounding finesse and an eye for finer detail have flowed into the production of Tokyo Vice. Michael Mann - you may remember him as director of Miami Vice, Heat and Collateral - returns to television with a police procedural that juices everything visually available from the Tokyo underworld: dojos, love-hotels and seedy night-clubs. While I’m indifferent about Ansel Elgort as an actor, his Japanese scenes are very convincing. I’m not so indifferent about Ken Watanabe (Inception, Letters From Iwo Jima) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), who take it away with their exceptional performances.
HBO Max kindly blessed us five episodes so far, so Tokyo Vice is suitable for a high-intensity holiday binge.
The Mare of Shinjuku
I’m still enjoying Winning Times, which has thankfully eased up on the eccentricities and is now in solid mid-season mode. A-
Watched Infinite Storm starring Naomi Watts, a wilderness movie by Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska. Although based on real events, they’re apparently not screen material. D
Les Olympiades (eng: Paris, 13th District, 2021) by Jacques Audiard
Émilie meets Camille who is attracted to Nora, who crosses paths with Amber. Three girls and a boy – They’re friends, sometimes lovers and often both. Screenplay was co-written by Celine Sciamma (“Portrait Of A Lady On Fire”), enough reason for me to keep this high up on my list. Streaming on Plex and VOD (AppleTV, Amazon)
From the Steve Jobs soundtrack.
📚 The Premonition by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis (The Big Short, Moneyball5) wrote yet another non-fiction thriller about the pandemic - or rather, about the people who were supposed to be prepared for it. As immersive and terrifying as ever. He talks about his new book on the most recent SmartLess episode (see below).
🎙️SmartLess Podcast with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes
(Listen to the Michael Lewis episode on Apple Podcast)
SmartLess is a pandemic baby (just like this newsletter), but still running strong two years in. In each episode of SmartLess, one of the hosts reveals his mystery guest to the other two. I love Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Ozark) and Will Arnett (Arrested Development). “It’s just four idiots — well, three idiots and a respectable guest — having a conversation onstage. People pay money to see singing, dancing, stand-up … It’s just us talking.”
Writer for The West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Trial Of The Chicago 7 and The Newsroom
Basically, this Seth Meyer sketch is a parody of the fact of how much Sorkin’s walk and talk has become a trope
Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later
The three acts all take place in the backstage area of Apple (and NeXT) product launches. Each act has a distinct cinematography and score, moving from analog to orchestral to digital.
Moneyball was also, incidentally, adapted as a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. Full circle!