"Justified" and "The Aeronauts" are this week's picks.
Get excited: Next week is the beginning of a new theme month here at Binge Blog HQ.
That's right, for February we will be bringing you the first installment of Hinge Blog, a monthlong exploration of Secret Romance Movies. These are films that purport to be of a different genre but really have a specific relationship at their heart.
("Hinge," like the dating app, but also like a hinge, which keeps things held together. Get it? I hope so!)
These are films that purport to be of a different genre but really have a specific relationship at their heart. If you have any recommendations for this topic, feel free to email me (link in bio).
Now that housekeeping is done, let's get on with the show.
Hulu, TV-MA, 45 minutes, 78 episodes
I recently started watching “Justified” for the first time.
Holy shit, how did I not watch “Justified” sooner? I’m disgusted and frankly offended that none of my so-called friends told me to watch it.
“Justified” is everything I want in a television program. Seriously, what’s not to like: It stars Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who gets transferred to his hometown of Harlan, Ky., after he gets in trouble for shooting a high-profile Miami fugitive and questions arise about how *cough* justified *cough* it was. Back in Harlan, the place he spent his life trying to escape, Givens has run-ins with the Crowder family, a local crime syndicate run by Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey), with help from his son, and Givens’ chaotic frenemy, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). He’s also struggling with being around his ex-wife, Wynona Hawkins (Natalie Zea) ,and his childhood crush, Ava (Joelle Carter), who is now married to one of the Crowder clan.
What else does it have? Wisecracks (lots), backwoods accents (heavy), rocket launchers (large), deep conversations held on porches (emotional), hostage situations (tense), Americana music (wonderful), backstabbing (metaphorical), smirking (constant), cowboys hats (tall), meth labs (explosive), grifts (clever), backstabbing (literal), hook ups (hot) and sweet tea (ice cold, I’m assuming).
That’s all in season one, by the way. Then you still have five more! You also get some wild guest stars including Chadwick Boseman, Kaitlyn Dever and Margo Martindale.
“Justified” is great for those superficial reasons and for deeper ones. No character on the show is morally clean, even Givens, who has to reckon with why he’s hell-bent on shooting the people he’s tracking down. He’s not a police officer, and the people he’s hunting have already been convicted of felonies, but it’s an interesting approach to tackling brutality and power structures nonetheless.
It’s also great because it actually feels serial. Each episode has a clear theme, a beginning, middle and end, while also advancing the overarching story of the series. That seems simple, but too many modern shows are actually nine- or ten-hour movies chopped into pieces for my liking. Movies and television should be two different things, two different ways to tell a story. “Justified” gets this. It even has a lovely “Previously, on ‘Justified’” segment at the beginning of each episode. I forgot how much I love those things. I can’t wait until the days of binging are over, and we get back to the good old days. (Based on the success of “The Mandolorian” and its release strategy, that’s happening sooner than later.)
I said this in a roundabout way earlier, but I want to put a finer point on it: Walton Goggins, who is the best, plays a devilish, swampy, chameleon of a man and plays him as if his blood was made of thunderbolts. Every scene of his is electric.
“Justified” y’all. Good show.
“The Aeronauts” (2019)
Amazon, rated PG-13, 101 minutes
I almost went a different direction with this pick because, in all honestly, “The Aeronauts” isn’t a great movie; it’s half of a great one.
There’s a “present” storyline following hot air balloon pilot Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) and scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) as they attempt to make the highest hot air balloon ascent in human history. (At the time, anyway; the movie takes place in 1862.) This is the good stuff. The pair gets on the balloon within five minutes and is in the air for the rest of the movie. Every shot of Rennes and Glaisher looking out of the balloon, not holding on to much, is at once beautiful and terrifying. This movie gave me a ton of anxiety because I thought they were going to topple of of the balloon every few seconds. It’s quite effective, especially once they travel high enough, and the weather begins to turn against them.
Then there’s the other half of the movie, meshed with the first, which is a series of flashbacks explaining why the pair decided to get in the balloon in the first place. I won’t sugarcoat it: This stuff is insanely boring and does nothing except show how one-note these characters are.
I still think the movie is worth watching, though, if only for the balloon’s final descent, which is completely unnerving and has Felicity Jones, who is wonderful in this role, acting her guts out and doing things that would make me curl into a ball and give up. Tom Hooper’s eye for composition makes things even more exciting, and there are unique flourishes that make the movie stand out, like a laid-over graph of the balloon’s altitude as you watch it rise. (It sounds nerdy, but it works.)
This one’s cut and dried: If you’re itching for some heart-pumping, pretty action scenes that feature a terrific lead performance, you could do a lot worse than “The Aeronauts.” Just try not to fall asleep in between them.