Congratulations, current viewer of this text: You’ve survived to the end of yet another work week, and you’ve retained some capacity to understand human language while doing so! (Presumably: If you’re just enjoying the shapes of the pretty letters, well, we apologize for not being able to switch over to Wingdings, because those babies would really blow your mind.) Given the screaming hellscape that is un-distracted thought, we’re here, as we are every week, to offer up a humble guide for appropriate weekend viewing/playing/all-purpose consumption, ranging from TV, to film, to video games, to complaining about the use of the hated “false range” in this particular sentence. But enough jokes about much-disparaged literary devices; let’s get to the good stuff, whether that means gambling vampires, campy Gerards Butler, or murder-heavy timeloops.
The movie to see: Copshop
Look, we get it: Maybe you just want to see Clint Eastwood in a cowboy hat for the first time in, basically, forever, in which case, Cry Macho is your jam. But if you want to just want to see some old-school Clint-style pulp—and Gerard Butler, going completely over the top—you might want to check out Joe Carnahan’s latest, Copshop, instead.
“It’s easy to turn a blind eye to logistics when there’s a masterfully choreographed and edited multi-phase firefight to keep audiences occupied, the climactic showdown between the four at-odds parties splayed out over a solid hour. Panes of bulletproof glass, prison bars, and impenetrable steel hatches pose narrative hurdles that Carnahan blasts through with imagination and finesse, his cast more than up to the agile stuntwork. Their gameness extends to the performances as well, a uniform willingness to go for broke that harkens back to a more colorfully ragged era of exploitation. The film only falters when trying to acknowledge the present-day awareness that the good old days were not always so good, as if it would rather seal itself off in its notion of the past. Those nostalgic for the time when Harry Callahan and his gristly cohorts reigned supreme will be all too happy to join it there.”
The TV to watch: What We Do In The Shadows, “The Casino”
The best episode to date of WWDITS’ excellent third season channels some of that classic “Jackie Daytona” energy by getting the vampires out of Long Island for a bit, sending them crashing into the mid-level debauchery of Atlantic City. The over-arching plot (which sees the vamps unable to rest after housekeeping sucks up their precious native soil) provides plenty of opportunities for the cast to get loopy, but “The Casino” is all about the joyful details: Big Bang Theory slot machines, bemused Frank Sinatra impersonators, and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) happily singing along to his “favorite show,” i.e., the endlessly looping hotel promotional video. Oh, and Nandor finds out the world is round!
“A casino is a perfect place for a vampire. They don’t have windows or clocks, so you can never really tell what time it is. The place is full of people cross-eyed on cheap liquor, despair, or both—easy pickings for a snack between rounds on the Big Bang Theory slot machine. And it’s got to be exciting for a vampire to be in the bowels of an operation designed to suck the life out of the unsuspecting and gullible en masse. A trip out of the house and away from their duties as heads of the East Coast Vampiric Council (such as they are) did invigorate this week’s What We Do In The Shadows, for ensemble comedy that found fresh inspiration in deviating from the larger season-three storyline.”
The game to play: Deathloop
The latest game from Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey), gives a comedic spin on those venerable sneak-and-stabbers, sending players into a bizarre time loop that can only be escaped through wonton murder. Luckily, nobody makes getting ridiculously wonton more fun than Arkane. Despite some structural issues, Deathloop is pure fun for most of its run, especially if you dip into its multiplayer mechanic, which task other players with invading your world and getting in your way—but in a fun, murder-y kind of style.
“The subsequent games of cat-and-mouse between two superpowered killers whose powers include invisibility, telekinesis, disguise, and more are the most thrilling moments that Deathloop has on offer—especially for a game whose other enemy variety comes down almost entirely to ‘this guy has a shotgun, this guy has a knife.’ Cribbing liberally from Dark Souls’ groundbreaking invasion mechanic, Julianna’s drop-ins force Colt players to expand their repertoire aggressively and consider new avenues of attack, contending with an opponent who likely knows the map, and all its attendants tricks and loopholes, at least as well as they do. Not even occasional problems with latency (hopefully alleviated once more than a handful of people have the game) can’t detract from the thrill of getting the drop on your opponent in the midst of an invasion, or putting together the perfect build to slip lethally into their blind spots.”
We’ve had plenty of great film coverage on the site this week, including A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife’s extended coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival—especially Katie’s thoughtful attempt to grapple with the issues surrounding the new Alanis Morissette documentary. But if we can only recommend one article this week (what a weird stricture), it has to be Dowd’s other great contribution to the pop culture discourse this week (month, year): His definitive, complete ranking of every song by pop-punk mainstays Weezer. As Dowd’s colleagues, we’re genuinely worried about him after accomplishing this mammoth task, while also in awe of his ability to both put “Beverly Hills” in its place—nearly dead last, as it happens—and to explain what makes the band so open to ride-or-die devotion. Here’s a quick snippet from said “Hills” pan—wouldn’t want to spoil anything closer to the top of the list—but seriously: It’s worth reading the whole, massive thing, if just to wrestle with the legacy of a band in such constant conversation with its own back catalogue (and Dowd’s apparently endless ability to tell you why so many Weezer songs are so mediocre without ever repeating himself).
“To this day, Weezer’s highest charting single—which makes sense, as it’s about as close to the lowest common denominator as the band has ever sunk. A lumbering monument to the pursuit of wealth and luxury, “Beverly Hills” matches its vapidity of message with a McMansion’s worth of painful musical ideas: the clumsy half-rapping of the verses, the annoying “gimme, gimme” rejoinder of the chorus, the talkbox solo of the bridge. Even louder than the caveman thud of Pat Wilson’s opening drum salvo was the sound of dyed-in-the-wool diehards stampeding for the exit, finally ready to accept that the glory days of Pinkerton weren’t coming back.”