Ilove the way Javed (Viveik Kalra) loves Bruce Springsteen in “Blinded by the Light.” The Pakistani-British youth sings and dances in the street once he gets the Boss bug. He smiles when listening to the lyrics. He writes about the Boss for his school paper. He wins an essay contest and a trip to America by waxing poetic about Springsteen.
Thanksgiving plays a small role in “The Vicious Kind” (2009). There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turkey dinner, and one character sleeps through the holiday. But the fall Connecticut setting is prevalent and it’s ultimately a sweet-and-sour indie film about family, making it a good (if not always good-natured) under-the-radar Turkey Day pick.
Although “Big Mouth” Season 3 (October, Netflix) ultimately delivers enough good episodes that I give it a soft recommend, it is a clear step back from its first two seasons. In the worst episodes, the writers get so caught up in their timely messages about sexual identity, dress codes and objectification of women that they forget to make those episodes funny.
After Melinda Metz’s 10-book YA series “Roswell High” (1998-2000) handed the baton to the TV series “Roswell” in 1999, Jason Katims and his writing team took the teens in a different direction from the books. So when the book line returned in May 2001 with Greg Cox’s “Loose Ends,” it was of course a tie-in with the TV series. Written as Season 2 was airing, and hitting bookshelves during the season’s homestretch (which is also when it takes place), “Loose Ends” became the first of 11 novels that fill in gaps and ultimately take the story beyond the end of the TV series.
As “Roswell” fans, we often lament that we only got three seasons. But a positive way to look at it is that we got two bonus seasons after the commercial failure of the first season, entirely because of the small-but-passionate fanbase. Season 1 is the only season where “Roswell” achieves greatness, and that’s the season that most sticks in my mind – and I’m guessing that’s true for other “Roswell” fans too. But the sequel seasons never sink so low that I regret their existence.
The eight-episode Hulu series “Looking for Alaska” shatters the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope while also being one of the best MPDG stories ever told. Walking a delicate tightrope from start to finish, showrunner Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl”) – who writes or co-writes five of the eight episodes – gives us the teen male perspective of Miles “Pudge” Halter (Charlie Plummer). Through his eyes, Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth) is beautiful, quirky and mysterious. Yet — without sacrificing those ethereal qualities that Pudge might be projecting onto his first love/lust — “Looking for Alaska” also makes Alaska into a fully realized person.
Veronica Mars” Season 4 (July, Hulu) had me so deeply invested in the people more so than the mystery – and it’s still a top-shelf mystery – that I wondered “Has it always been this way?” It’s been a few years since my last rewatch of the UPN/CW seasons, and while the father-daughter relationship between Keith (Enrico Colantoni) and Veronica (Kristen Bell) has always been central to the series, I had a sense that other players were chess pieces more so than characters, and that the mystery always reigns supreme.
Filmmakers generally don’t aim to create a time capsule when they make a contemporary film, but some turn out that way. A case in point is writer-director Cameron Crowe’s “Singles” (1992), the title of which has three meanings: 1) It explores what it’s like to be a single person in a time when it’s becoming less of a societal stigma, and dating is becoming scarier due to knowledge of STDs; 2) It’s set in an apartment complex of single-occupancy units, a notion that also worked for TV’s “Melrose Place” that year; and 3) It’s about music singles – particularly songs by Seattle bands at a time when hair metal is giving way to grunge, and lyrics are becoming more infused with meaning.
Booksmart” has a lot going for it. It’s the centerpiece high school comedy of 2019, and it represents modern times well despite fitting firmly into the genre. But perhaps we use the word “comedy” too automatically in stories about high school graduation and teenage romance, because “Booksmart” isn’t all that funny. Really, this film is about best friends – Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, who resembles Robin Tunney at that age) and Molly (Jonah Hill’s sister Beanie Feldstein) – and that part is fine. But director Olivia Wilde’s debut never connects on a big or gut-busting moment. It’s too low-key and casual, regardless of what genre label we put on it.
The 2010s have been the decade of nostalgia, so much so that a genuine feeling of nostalgia doesn’t come up much anymore. The existence of – and the experience of watching – “BH90210” (Wednesdays on Fox) is a case in point. Seeing all seven major living actors from “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000, Fox) on screen together, as well as Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth watching the original show late in the pilot episode, does indeed kind of make me want to rewatch the original.