Jake’s Picks: Stranger Things and Beyond

By Jake Myers

So, you probably just finished the Netflix Original Series “Stranger Things 2,” like me, and you are wondering what to watch next. First off, please tell me that you have watched “Stranger Things”? If not, find a friend with Netflix, or be like my friend, Dave, and pool your money with your brothers and sisters to pay for a subscription so you can experience it for yourself. I highly recommend this series.

The first season is really good with its Spielberg-esque storyline. There are homages to the movie “ET” (1982) which are fun, but mostly I enjoyed the characters and the chemistry among them. I am not one to give stuff away, so all I can say is this series has wide appeal; I feel like there is something for everyone to connect with.

The child actors/actresses are endearing in the first season, but really step it up in the second season. In fact, the second season exceeded my expectations in every way. There is much more character development all around and a bigger, badder villain is introduced. The graphics and music are even better. Some new characters were added including my favorite, Bob, played by Sean Astin. You probably know him as Sam in “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” (2001-2003) or movie junkies like me know him as Mikey in “The Goonies” (1985) as well. He gives a stellar performance and I feel like I have to throw the word endearing in there once again.

In addition, I think you would enjoy “Beyond Stranger Things” which is similar to “Talking Dead,” AMC’s after-show program about “The Walking Dead.” Each episode of “Beyond Stranger Things,” features different actors/actresses from the series along with a host and the creators/writers of the show, the Duffer Brothers who talk about various aspects of making “Stranger Things.”

Anyway, you learn things like how Sean Astin was only supposed to be in three episodes of season two but they liked his portrayal of the character so much they wrote him into the rest of the season. There are seven half-hour episodes of “Beyond Stranger Things.”

Moving on to a film that you might have missed, “The Book of Henry” (2017) directed by Colin Trevorrow, recently came out on DVD and Blu-ray. Although the critics panned it, I found it to be really compelling. The performances were great, particularly Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay and Naomi Watts. Don’t expect this film to be a run-of-the-mill crime drama. It elicits every emotion.

The main character, Henry, is an 11-year-old genius who imparts wisdom such as: “Our legacy isn’t how many commas we have in our bank account, it’s who we are lucky enough to have in our lives,” and “Violence isn’t the worst thing in the world, it is apathy.” You will probably recognize Lieberher, who plays Henry, as he has had lead roles in “St. Vincent” (2014), “Midnight Special” (2016) and “It” (2017). In addition, Tremblay who plays Henry’s brother Peter was nominated for an academy award for his role in “Room” (2015).

For those of you who watched the Netflix Original Series “Mindhunter,” I suggest you check out the YouTube videos of the actual FBI tapings with Ed Kemper titled, “Edmund Kemper documentary – In his own words,” and “Mindhunter vs Real Life Ed Kemper – Side By Side Comparison.” If you have not seen the series yet, please watch the entire first season before you watch these clips. These are actual clips of the real Ed Kemper. There is a holy crap factor here.

Lastly, with all of the bad publicity right now concerning Hollywood, I recommend that you watch the Netflix Original Documentary, “Five Came Back” (2017) directed by Laurent Bouzereau. I certainly didn’t know that directors Frank Capra, John Ford, William Wyler, George Stevens and John Huston voluntarily served our country during World War II in various branches of our military.

The film is full of actual footage taken by the five directors who risked their lives to document the war. There are also interviews with directors Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Greengrass and Lawrence Kasdan. The documentary is split into three one-hour episodes.

As always, I would love to hear from you so email [email protected]., if you wish to opine or use the comments section online.