GateCrashers #FBF: November 2021

The Crashers want you to discover (or rediscover) these old favorites!

Journey back in time with us for another edition of Flashback Friday! The GateCrashers have a list of some old favorites from tv, movies, and literature that they’ve recently enjoyed and think you would too. So, strap in our DeLorean and forget about all the new releases crowding the highway to fun. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!

TV Show: Preacher

This month I’ve started to watch a show I put off watching for a long time; Preacher. Based on the comic of the same name put out by the imprint Vertigo during the mid to late 90s, the AMC adaptation is at heart a western. It tells the tale of Jesse Custer, who comes back to his hometown in Texas after a turbulent past before everything goes sideways and finds himself possessed by a celestial entity called Genesis, which gives him the power to control anyone in the world. With this enormous power inside him, he embarks on a quest with his ex-girlfriend, Tulip, a tough, doesn’t-take-shit-from-anyone badass, and his new best friend, Cassidy, a hundred-year-old Irish vampire.  

Although it could be considered edgy, with its amount of gore and tragedy and exaggeratedly horrible characters, I think it ends up walking a line. You get all that, but at the same time, you get a show that tries to humanize almost every character we meet, giving you a tridimensional and more realistic view of very interesting characters without excusing their actions. But if anything, Preacher is fun as hell, and if anything I mentioned here sounds even a bit like something you would be interested in watching, I would recommend you start watching right away.

Film: The American Friend

The American Friend is the kind of magic that only a select few films are able to conjure, the kind of magic that director Wim Wenders is more than adept at. Starring Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper, the film is a neo-noir that cares very little about the actual noir aspect, and more about the ways these men navigate through a complicated world of art and crime. Bruno Ganz works at a German frame shop living a quiet life with his wife and child when he finds out he’s got very little time left to live, and receives an offer to kill someone to ensure his family has enough money after he’s gone. Meanwhile Dennis Hopper plays Tom Ripley, a mysterious figure that befriends Ganz and may know more about his predicament than he lets on. In the hands of another director, this film would reek with the kind of masculine energy that many hard-boiled noir films tend to carry, and yet The American Friend has its eyes and heart set elsewhere. You can see it in the way cinematographer Robby Müller beautifully frames his characters traveling by train or car, the quiet moments when these men are alone singing (Bruno Ganz’ quietly singing Drive My Car is an incredibly memorable moment for me), taking polaroids of themselves, and the fragility of male friendship and how it grows in the most unlikely of ways and places. Those expecting anything resembling something along the lines of Double Indemnity or Out of the Past can leave those expectations at the door; The American Friend is nothing like the film noir of decades past, and that’s perfectly fine.

TV Show: Cowboy Bebop

Anime has always been my big blind spot in popular culture. Outside of stuff like Studio Ghibli and Akira there just hasn’t been anything that really clicked with me. But that’s not for a lack of trying. There’s always been one show I wanted to try out before giving up for good; Cowboy Bebop. But watching specific shows here in New Zealand is kind of a nightmare, so I had no real way to watch it until the last few weeks when Netflix released the show on their platform. I finally bit the bullet and dived in, and I’m totally in love. It’s such a flashy and stylish mash up of genres and style. It’s a bit of sci-fi, mixed with western elements and just a sprinkling of noir. Pretty much all of my favourite aesthetics in one. It’s an all you can eat buffet, with each episode feeling totally distinct stylistically and aesthetically. One episode might have the characters on a casino satellite and the others might have a dramatic duel in a church. Each episode offers a completely different flavour, but it’s all kept engaging and cohesive because of its strong characters. While so far, it’s very episodic, each episode reveals more and more of the characters, peeling back their layers so as to better understand them. I’m also a sucker for the show’s world. A lived-in sci-fi universe that feels real and grounded has always been my jam. So, it seems like I’ve finally found my way into anime. I’m really enjoying Cowboy Bebop so far and if you hadn’t given it a shot before I reckon you should try. See you Space Cowboy.

Book: House of Leaves

Books can be a safe place. A comfortable sport where you can relax, where you know everything is going to be ok. Books can be your best friend, someone you can trust, someone that can guide you through some wonderful adventures. House of Leaves is not like this, in fact it is the exact opposite. 

House of Leaves is a challenge, it’s like a minotaur chasing you through an impossible maze, it’s a journey into madness itself. This book will try to fight you, it will scream at you, and it will definitely bite you. The more you go into this book the more confused you will be, and by the end this book will stay with you, it will haunt you forever. 

So why should you read it? Why should you go through this challenging read? The answer is easy. You should read House of Leaves because it’s one of the best books you will ever read. You should read it because it will change the way you think of books. You should read it because it is one of the most amazing haunted house stories of all time. You should read it because it’s beautifully horrible, and horribly beautiful. You should read it because it will make you feel things that you weren’t aware you could feel. You should read it because I honestly think it’s an experience that will change you forever. 

This book requires effort so don’t get discouraged if in your first read you can’t finish it. It took me three attempts to finish it myself. If you start it and never finish it, maybe it wasn’t for you. I don’t think this book is for anyone. But sometimes it takes an innocent reader as its prisoner and haunts them forever. It happened to me, maybe it will happen to you

TV: Haikyuu!!

I love sports. Every two years, I set aside weeks of my life to take in as much of the Olympics and Paralympics as possible. After this year’s delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, I found myself in a bit of a post-Games slump. What better way to keep my sports momentum going than starting a bunch of sports anime? So, after years of recommendation from the algorithms on my streaming services and some very persistent yelling/threatening from my friend Amanda, I decided to finally sit down and watch Haikyuu!! Produced by Production I.G, Haikyuu!! follows the boys’ volleyball team at Karasuno High School in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, who once had great success on the national level, but have fallen into a slump since then. Enter first-year Hinata Shōyō, whose infectious energy, despite his short stature, leads the team in chasing their former glory. I know what you’re thinking, “But Patrick, I don’t like sports!” You don’t have to! You don’t even need to know how volleyball works! What is so ingenious about Haikyuu!! is that not only is the story told with all the hallmarks of any shōnen, but with an incredible attention to the mechanics of the sport of volleyball. But the sporting itself is not unwieldy to its non-sports-inclined viewers; in fact, the characters make a point to explain how the sport is played in such a way that any viewer could go and watch a real volleyball match and understand what is happening. And even if there is absolutely no way that I could convince you to watch irl sports, the boys of Karasuno High School are so lovable and engaging that the volleyball framing of the plot is often secondary to the friendship and character growth that happens along the way. Hinata and his teammates will prove to you that sports anime deserve a spot on your watchlist.

Haikyuu!! is available to watch on Crunchyroll and HiDive. The manga is available to read on Viz.

TV: Seinfeld

            I was merely a toddler when this show premiered, and then a middle-schooler when it ended, so there was no infatuation on my part when it came to NBC’s Seinfeld. Now, that’s not to say my mind wasn’t subjected to the rest of the ‘Must See TV’ that was the Thursday Night lineup: Friends, Wings, Mad About You, or even ER, but Jerry and the crew were always missed. Years later, when re-runs began to run on TBS, I found myself sitting down and watching this half-hour sitcom, and being amused, but not totally “getting it.” To my surprise, Netflix released the entire series, and with What We Do In The Shadows done for the year, and knowing another re-watch of 30 Rock will do me no favors, I gave Seinfeld a try. Now, I am jumping around the seasons, but I’ve sampled enough to know that I am at the right point in my life to actually enjoy it. Some of the episodes completely outshine the others, i.e. The Chinese Restaurant (season two, episode eleven), The Sniffing Accountant (season five, episode four), and my absolute favorite, The Marine Biologist (season five, episode fourteen), but the entire series is well-written from beginning to end. Seeing this collection of thirty-somethings act as complete sociopaths, yes, sociopaths, highlights my love for the show as the characters are not supposed to be likeable, just watchable. Some of the comedy is dated, and perhaps even offensive by today’s standards, but for nostalgia’s sake, this series does hold up. Perhaps it’s better that I was not subjected to these four individuals in my younger years, for I would have only tried to emulate their assholery, and nothing good could come from that. For those on the fence, I suggest watching The Subway (season three, episode thirteen), and if it doesn’t tickle your fancy, then no soup for you!

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