For “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fans, it’s kind of incredible to contemplate — new episodes are coming next week. A new 14-episode season will debut on Netflix on Friday, April 14.
While there are the inevitable jitters about whether the new version can live up to the old episodes, mostly what I’m hearing and seeing from fans is excitement. And one thing i’m definitely not hearing is any trepidation over how new host Jonah Ray is going to do.
Pick of the Week: “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou“ (Netflix) — And to think that back in 2004 this was thought of as something of a misfire after Wes Anderson’s first three masterpieces. It’s still one of my favorites of his, gently sending up those old “adventure” TV shows like “Wild Kingdom” while telling a quirky and funny story for the 11-year-old in all of us. Because it’s the perfect age.
Look, up on your streaming service. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s all the “Superman” movies leaving Netflix on March 31.
Just as Superman is missing from the new “Justice League” trailer, he’ll be gone from Netflix in April. The original “Superman: The Movie” and the even-better “Superman II” will go, along with the lesser-regarded sequels, including the painfully bad “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” Even “Superman Returns,” the 2005 reboot with Brandon Routh, will go back to Krypton (or some rival streaming service that bought the rights, more likely.)
Here’s a few other good movies you might want to catch before they skedaddle on April 1:
Pick of the week: “Pete’s Dragon” (Netflix) — I’m not sure who saw David Lowery’s ’50s crime drama “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and thought “That guy should totally reboot a ’70s Disney movie featuring an animated dragon.” But I’m glad they did, because Lowery’s take is refreshingly old-fashioned storytelling that they don’t do much in family films anymore, relying on heart and emotion as much as effects. Although that is a pretty good-looking dragon.
I used to think it was pretty special that I got to age along with the Richard Linklater’s “Before” series. When “Before Sunrise” came out I was 26, when “Before Sunset” came out I was 35, and when “Before Midnight” came out I was 44. Tracking, more or less, with the aging of the characters, getting a surprise visit from them every 9 years.
It was special for watching the movies, but also for those nine-year gaps in between. Linklater’s preoccupation, from “Boyhood” to “Dazed and Confused” to “Slacker” has always been about time, how it shapes us and how we shape it in memory. These nearly-decade long intermissions gave me the chance to age, too, and track my own trek into middle age along with Celine and Jesse.
But the occasion of the release of all three films in a boxed set from the Criterion Collection has me rethinking that specialness a little. Because, as valid as it is to see the films over an 18-year span, seeing them all together reveals new things to the viewer, reveals them not just as an ongoing project but a single, unified work of art.
Pick of the Week: “What We Do in the Shadows“ (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. Before “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and making Thor funny in the upcoming “Ragnarok,” New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi co-created and starred in this hilarious mockumentary about a group of vampires living together in a flat. The usual roommate run-ins are heightened when all of the tenants are immortal, and not cleaning up after yourself involves geysers of blood all over the walls. Jemaine Clement and Rhys Darby of “Flight of the Conchords” also appear.
“Always Shine” screens at 10:30 p.m. Friday night at the Union South Marquee Theatre, 1208 W. Dayton St. as part of the Directress Film Festival. FREE.
And you thought Emma Stone’s auditions in “La La Land” were rough. In the opening scene of Sophie Takal’s “Always Shine,” an actress named Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald) is auditioning for a sexually humiliating part in a lousy horror movie, sobbing as she offers an unseen killer her body in exchange for sparing her life. We hear the producers leering off-camera as she debases herself, chortling as she all but strips in front of them to get the part.
Then we see what’s shot like another audition, this time an actress named Anna (Mackenzie Davis) seeming to audition for the part of a pissed-off customer at an auto repair shop. Only, when the scene ends, we realize that she’s not auditioning for role — she really is at an auto shop, really is pissed off.
The pairing of those two scenes is key. “Always Shine” comes off in many ways like a brutal commentary on Hollywood sexism, on the way the industry uses and disposes of women. And that’s part of it. But, ultimately, “Always Shine” is about the way society in general looks at women, how they are often forced to perform roles for men in certain ways — to play submissive, or flirty, or the “cool girl” — in order to be seen and heard.