Deadshirt & Chill: April 7, 2017

Deadshirt & Chill is a weekly roundup of the TV shows, movies, soothing ASMR Youtube videos, et al our crew is streaming when it’s time to kick up our feet and relax. Consider this our version of hanging out on the collective Deadshirt couch after work.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Film)

Available on: Hulu

Hey so remember how Taika Waititi made What We Do in The Shadows, a.k.a. the one of the best vampire movies ever? And how he’s directing the new Thor movie where the Hulk presumably gladiator fights in space? Well, between then and now, he made a low budget adventure movie with Sam Neill that’s like pure weaponized charm.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (adapted by Waititi from the book Wild Pork and Watercress) boasts a pretty familiar set up: Bratty city delinquent  Ricky (Julian Dennison) is sent by a particularly incompetent child welfare worker to live on a farm in remote farm with a pair of survivalist foster parents (Rima Te Wiata and Neill). Without ruining the experience of watching the film’s first act, Ricky and Neill’s surly “Uncle” Hec find themselves unlikely partners on the run in the New Zealand bush.

Sam Neill’s Hec is a very intriguing performance from an actor who has made a career playing sarcastic loners. Hec is a long way from the caustic intellectuals Neill usually plays, a hard man who has lived much of his life on the road or behind bars. As Hec, Neill grapples with some pretty profound emotions while still delivering some well timed gags. Dennison’s Ricky is the star of the film and it’s the the Wilderpeople’s credit that Ricky is so funny and charming while still acting like a realistic pre-teen. (Max Robinson)

Wilderpeople feels like a great 80s’ movie you’d discover as a kid home sick from school in the way that, say, Princess Bride might. Waititi’s script perfectly balances a stream of rich humor—such as a loyal pet dog named Tupac or Waititi’s insanely hilarious cameo as a priest—with flashes of real world darkness that ground the film in a profound emotional reality. Moments like Ricky and Hec’s shared realization that they’re both facing down their own kinds of incarceration if the police catch up with them are earned and never feel overly sappy or mawkish. You know those rare movies you watch and then want to go around showing to everyone? This is one of those.

– Max Robinson

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“Arcade Pit” (Internet Show)

Available on: YouTube 

Did you ever watch Nick Arcade growing up? Do you miss it? Video game enthusiast Smite sure did, and with the help of a few of his friends, he set out to do something about it. Arcade Pit is a weekly 2v2 gaming battle show, where contestants take on gaming and gaming-related challenges including trivia and pictionary. (Many of these challenges, trivia questions, and prompts are submitted by loyal fans of the show.) The team with the most points at the end of the game wins fabulous prizes bragging rights.

It looks like a LOT of work to run, but Smite handles it with flair and makes it seem even more fun to play. As an emcee, he’s fairly subdued—his co-host, P.A. Master, handles hype duties—but his droll wit is a powerful tonic to the obnoxious hyperactivity that plagues most mainstream gaming culture. The show kicks off each week with the main title “music” for the legendarily bad Atari Jaguar “game” Club Drive. Contestants—all pulled from a pool of Smite’s friends who are experienced game streamers—come up with their own sarcastic team names like “Nice Boys,” “Boy & His Blob Fanfic,” and “Videogames killed Laura Palmer.” Each turn, said contestants move around a game board that occasionally reveals hidden bonuses but more often reveals “prizes” like An Empty Box. It’s obvious that Smite takes this game seriously, but he also understands that everyone is here to have fun and refuses to let the ritual of the game overwhelm the proceedings.

The result is bigger than a game show; it’s a respite from the poison that gaming culture actually is and a demonstration of the fun, welcoming place that it could and should be. For that alone, God bless Arcade Pit.

You could jump in with almost any episode, but Season 1, Episodes 10 and 11  puts together four of the bigger personalities to play the game: Slowbeef, Diabetus, Proton Jon, and TieTuesday. They’ve all got great senses of humor, they bounce off each other well, and they’re all pretty damn good at (and knowledgeable about) video games. Start there, get at least a half-dozen episodes under your belt, then check out the April Fools special, which is practically art.

– Chuck Winters

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DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (TV Show)

Available on: Netflix (first season only) 

Five latest episodes available for free on The CW app/website 

I love prestige television as much as the next viewer, but as the world’s gotten heavier and my work days have gotten longer, I’ve been leaning more and more on the kind of entertainment that, on principle, I used to shit on—the kind that asks you to stop thinking so much and just have a good time. And while most TV shows based on superheroes fall into that category (the cerebral and ambitious Legion is the big exception), lately the show I look forward to most at the end of an exhausting week has been DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is a spin-off of a spin-off of a show based on a B-list Justice Leaguer, but really more of a comixed-up American Doctor Who.

On Legends, the titular team of secondary characters cast off from Arrow and The Flash travel through time trying to prevent villains from mucking with history for their own personal gain. It’s not the most original premise in the world, but what makes Legends fun is that it while the team often rubs elbows with important figures in world history, they rarely visit specific important moments in history, and there’s always a larger story being served beyond just “hey look, there’s Albert Einstein.” Legends has never done a “Hindenburg episode.” What they have done is gone back to the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to find J.R.R. Tolkien so that he can lead them to a lost vial of the blood of Christ so that they can use it to destroy the Spear of Destiny, the piece of wood that pierced Jesus’s side and therefore has the power to rewrite all reality.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is a show that is consistently unpredictable, not only because the setting is constantly changing and it’s Silver Age comics-inspired mythology is wild and entirely unpretentious, but because the writing and acting performances will occasionally surprise you with a moment of powerful, genuine emotion, or a really cool science fiction idea. There’s a storyline in which Nate “Steel” Heywood (Nick Zano) and Amaya “Vixen” Jiwe (Maisie Richardson-Sellars), two characters that took a long time to grow on me, consider the consequences of engaging in a romantic relationship when one of them (Vixen) has been plucked out of time and already has a future with grandkids. The typically light adventure gets poignantly heavy without becoming grim, and provokes JUST A LITTLE THOUGHT about the nature of time, fate, and what you yourself might do in such a weird situation. Just a little. Mostly, it’s light entertainment, and that’s just what the doctor ordered for Deadshirt & Chill

– Dylan Roth

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