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Friday, January 21, 2022

10 ways to feed your fandom (s)

This is a great time to be a nerd – trust me, a fan of your life. Fandoms are one way to mark the year in the range of entertainment genres that I use every day. Here’s my list of 10 favorite TV shows, movies, and plays that thrilled me as a comic book fan, pop culture fan, literary nerd, and drama fan.

As a longtime Cowboy Bebop fan, I was cautiously anticipating the Netflix adaptation of the anime. While the series, a sci-fi western noir about a ragtag gang of bounty hunters in space, is fantastic when good and damn terrible when bad, the music, style, and performances of the perfectly crafted top stars create the show. through and make it indispensable for bebop fans. But more importantly, the show brought me back to the original, helped me re-evaluate what makes Cowboy Bebop a timeless classic. (Broadcast on Netflix.)

Far from being a history enthusiast, I would love to talk about Tudor England, especially when it resembles a school drama. So Six, the glamorous Broadway musical about the wives of King Henry VIII, is my lane. Six was on my list in March 2020, and its absence when the pandemic closed Broadway was one of my biggest disappointments in those first few weeks of isolation. But now that he’s back, he seems like the show’s perfect Broadway comeback with flamboyant costumes, big lights and even bigger musical numbers. (Read our review.)

Fun, cute and playful, this animated film also has a cultural meaning as it follows a wacky family that is humanity’s last hope after robots took over the world. The film is superbly layered, mixing standard voice-over dialogue and internal monologues, as well as 3D animation combined with hand-drawn illustrations. And mentions – Apple products, YouTube and Furbys, among others – are enough to appeal to both millennials and Gen Z. (Broadcast on Netflix.)

I first saw Up on the Heights over ten years ago, on Broadway; this was my introduction to the miracle that is Lin-Manuel Miranda. The flamboyant adaptation of John M. Chu was my return to the precious realm of overpriced candy and fake butter popcorn – the movie theater. In Chu’s hands, the story of a wine cellar owner named Ousnawi, who longs to leave his beloved New York and embark on a Caribbean dream, is replete with color and movement. And the cast – including Anthony Ramos, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Christopher Jackson and Miranda herself – is full of fun for theatrical nerds. (Read our review.)

As a poet with two literary degrees, I cannot resist a strange archaic poem about Celtic mythology or the adaptation of this poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The Green Knight, eloquently staged by David Lowry, has accomplished a magnificent feat in translating the tone, style, and even rhythm of written text into the visual environment. Actor Dev Patel splendidly plays Sir Gawaine, a young knight who, in his quest for greatness, becomes a participant in a deadly game against the mysterious Green Knight. With eloquent cinematography, brooding scores and a plot that takes flights into the surreal, The Green Knight resists traditional storytelling in order to teach viewers to perceive the work as a poem: slowly, with more space for symbolism, atmospheric shifts, etc. silence. (Read our review.)

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Who are you going to call to revive the classics of pop culture? Apparently, the son of the first director. After the banal reboot of the franchise in 2016, Ghostbusters: Life After Death shows the difference when the project is a family project. Director Jason Reitman picks up where his father, Ivan Reitman, left off in the 1980s, and even put together an old cast for this sequel, in which the late Egon Spengler’s family moves to Oklahoma to inherit his farm. His grandchildren stumble upon his legacy and destroy ghosts to prevent the apocalypse. I watched this movie in the impatient nerds room at New York Comic Con in October. While There is a lot of fan-indulgence and nostalgia-baiting in Afterlife, I still found it absolutely cute. There were tears. (Read our review.)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded so much that clever storytelling and character development often fade into the background when compared to big battles and alliances. This is what made this Disney + series about Wanda and Vision living a home life that is actually an illusion so addicting. Hints at different sitcom eras and an exploration of Wanda’s grief after Avengers: Endgame make this series one of the most rewarding dives in the MCU. Oh, and Katherine Hahn as the winking Agatha Harkness is absolute perfection. (Broadcast on Disney +.)

Two black men wait at a street corner, hoping to leave, but inexplicably find themselves trapped. When my friend and I stepped out of Antoinette’s stunning play Chinonye Nwandu — my first Broadway show since opening — she said, “I’ll never forget this.” I felt the same way. There were problems (I was picking on the finale), but they weren’t enough to undermine the miracle of Nwandu’s performance, staging and clever nods on Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. (Read our review.)

The cancellation of this animated show has become one of the greatest TV shows of the year. The last season premiered this spring; I jumped aboard late, but happily watched all 40 episodes of the surreal anthology series about characters who have been called on a fantasy train and must travel from car to car, overcoming their trauma and pain through strange ordeals to get home. A corgi car, a chrome car, a car with a map, a cross-eyed duck car – the show’s creative twists and turns have always amazed. But it was the depth of the story, which explored existential and moral issues and was not afraid to step into dark territory, that made the show unforgettable. (Broadcast on HBO Max.)

The magic of this film is so alluring that as I watched it, I kept thinking how much I want to step into this world. A Colombian family with special abilities lives in a house mysteriously threatened. The animation is breathtaking and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music is memorable. However, the essence of the film is the message about the importance of the family. Like my uncle-prophet of the film, I have my own vision of the future: there will be many revisions. (Read our review.)

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