Saturday, January 28, 2023

Stubs - The Automat


The Automat (2021) Starring Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elliott Gould, Colin Powell, Carl Reiner, Howard Schultz. Directed by Lisa Hurwitz. Written by  Michael Levine. Produced by  Lisa Hurwitz. USA Run Time: 79 minutes. Color. Documentary.

In 1902, Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart founded the first automat in the United States in Philadelphia. An automat, for those who might not know, are fast food restaurants wherein food and drink were served via vending machines. Inspired by Max Sielaff's AUTOMAT Restaurants in Berlin, Horn and Hardart would open their first in Philadelphia before opening one in New York City in 1912. At their height there would be in excess of 100 restaurants, as well as a popular chain of retail outlets.

Footage, not from the film, showing life at the Automat.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time


Note: This review contains spoilers for Samurai Jack.

As an avid Cartoon Network watcher growing up, one series that I consistently tried to watch every Friday, and one that would consider one of the network’s greatest shows, was Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack, about a time-displaced Japanese samurai trying to get back to the past to defeat an evil entity known as Aku. When the series didn’t make it that far in its initial run, with the IDW comic holding me over in the interim, I was excited when [adult swim] finally brought it back more than a decade later for a fifth and final season to give it proper closure, a season which I found ultimately satisfying. When I heard about a new video game based on the series, Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, and that it would take place during the final episode, I eagerly played it after a lengthy wait from Limited Run and ultimately enjoyed it, which then led me down a Cartoon Network nostalgia trip. Upon going through another nostalgia trip, I decided to revisit the game and found it to be just as good on my second playthrough as I did the first.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

While Aardman’s feature film output is generally uneven for the most part, one of their better films is Shaun the Sheep Movie, a film based on the Shaun the Sheep stop-motion series spinning off from Wallace & Gromit. I had first heard about a sequel, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Farmageddon), through a trailer in front of a screening of Early Man, however I was unable to watch it because it distributed through Netflix in the US and I do not have an account. That changed, however, after the US received a home video release following an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, though it wouldn’t be until recently that I obtained a copy. While its quality compared with the first film can be debated, it nonetheless retains the same spirit as the original animated series.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures

Of the shows in Cartoon Network’s classic roster, one of their heaviest hitters was Ed, Edd n Eddy, following the exploits of the titular trio of Eds as they try to scam other kids in the cul-de-sac in a never-ending quest to obtain jawbreakers. To this day, this series remains Cartoon Network’s single longest-running show, even beating out the former juggernaut that was Adventure Time, and has since become a reliable source of internet memes. Though I did watch some of the show as a kid early in its run, my parents ultimately dissuaded me from watching it any further, though the show remained in the back of my mind and I became curious about playing the console game based on it, Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures, after seeing it on store shelves. Years later, while on a classic Cartoon Network nostalgia trip fairly recently, I finally sought out a second-hand PS2 copy, which I was fortunately able to get at a reasonable price, and even streamed a few episodes through HBO Max to remind myself what the show was actually like (and realized what I missed out on). Despite my general inexperience with the show itself, I found The Mis-Edventures to be one of the best licensed games I had ever played, due to how well it managed to perfectly translate the series to video game form.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Shaun the Sheep Movie

One of Aaardman’s best-known works is the popular Wallace & Gromit franchise, which endures to this day. Notably, the third installment in the series, A Close Shave, introduced audiences to the character of Shaun the sheep, who would become popular enough to warrant his own spin-off series, the appropriately-titled Shaun the Sheep, which itself would warrant its own spin-off known as Timmy Time. The popularity of the Shaun the Sheep series would eventually warrant its own theatrical film, Shaun the Sheep Movie. While I’ve only seen a handful of Shaun the Sheep episodes and liked what I saw, my interest in the film came from already being a Wallace & Gromit fan, and after watching the film on home video, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation: V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E.

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Note: This review contains spoilers for Codename: Kids Next Door.

As a kid, I grew up watching a lot of Cartoon Network, and so the long-running Fridays block was something I would forward to at the end of every week. One of the many shows that premiered on that block was Codename: Kids Next Door (KND), which I will admit was one of a number of shows that I used to watch religiously for the longest time. Despite this, I was somehow unaware of various merchandising endeavors, one of which was a console game appropriately named Codename: Kids Next Door - Operation: V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. (Operation: V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E.), though around the time it came out I had not formally taken up gaming as a hobby. While on a classic Cartoon Network nostalgia trip, this game was one that I actively sought out, opting for the Xbox version due to current aftermarket prices. Though I generally enjoyed it, I decided to revisit it while on another nostalgia trip and still found it to be an enjoyable, if not flawless, experience.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Weathering With You

Note: This review contains spoilers for Weathering With You.

Back in 2016, Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name. put him on the map, with some critics hailing him as the next Hayao Miyazaki (whether or not this comparison is justified is up to you). At the time I had seen it, during a 2017 theatrical screening, I found myself not only loving it, but also curious in Shinkai’s other work, even if it would take me a while to do so. This would include his follow-up film, Weathering With You, which came and went in 2019 without quite the same level of fanfare. Still, my interest in seeing it didn’t go away and, three years later, I finally got my chance through the Blu-ray release, which, while enjoyable, ended up feeling like an odd step down from its predecessor.