Category: Film

*Memoria*

This is the new film directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and starrting Tilda Swinton in a broader artistic collaboration.  Weerasethakul, in case you do not recognize the name, is director of Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives, arguably the best movie of the last twenty years.

I won’t try to summarize the plot of Memoria, only to tell you it is set in Colombia (the director’s first film outside of Thailand), mostly in Spanish, has A+ cinematography, and it concerns how the revelation of Buddhist Enlightenment might begin to spread through the world.  I’ve read a half dozen reviews of the movie, but none are very insightful and they barely mention the Buddhist angle (and Hinduist animism), central to understanding Weerasethakul’s films.

This movie is almost certainly the best of the year, or more.  And it will cement Weerasethakul’s reputation as the most important director of our time.

Fortunately, it is not available on streaming services for the stay at home small screen barbarians.  It is being rolled out in an unusual fashion, one city at a time (more or less), and currently it is playing for this week only at AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland.  The roll out is poorly organized and publicized.

Recommended, don’t miss it.

Surrogates

Surrogates is a 2009 science-fiction movie starring Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike and Ving Rhames. On Rotten Tomatoes it’s rated at a measly 37% (tomatometer) and 38% (audience). When I first saw it I thought it was underrated and a recent re-watch cemented that conclusion.

Surrogates is about a slightly future world in which people predominantly interact with one another through surrogates, i.e. humanoid robots controlled from home. The premise should be familiar today in the Zoom, Metaverse, avatar age in a way it wasn’t in 2009. Surrogates touches on trans issues (your surrogate can be a different gender), the meaning of identity, age, aging and youth, the advantages of surrogates for creating low crime and even eliminating infectious diseases (good prediction!) and the sense of anxiety and fear we feel when interacting in the real world after becoming comfortable with surrogates and the sense of unrealness of interacting with avatars.

The world of surrogates is threatened when for the first time ever a human operator is murdered by “killing” their surrogate. Willis and Mitchell are detectives trying to solve the mystery and track down the killer. The film noir aspect isn’t Chinatown but it follows the formula and follows it well. A luddite cult is involved.

Perhaps one of the reasons Surrogates didn’t do well is that it’s low-budget. At the same time as this world has advanced robotics the cars are purely circa 2009! The surrogates are played by the same actors as the operators with only makeup and hair pieces to indicate the differences but in fact the make-up and surrogate acting is very well done! The contrast between young, perfectly coiffed and flattened surrogate Bruce Willis and the old, bloody, beaten but expressive Bruce Willis is well done. The ending is excellent.

A masterpiece? No. But Surrogates is an underrated gem. It’s available now on HBO.

surrogates | Where to Stream and Watch | Decider

How to find good TV shows

Chris asks:

You’ve written a lot about your reading habits in the past, but I’m curious to know more about how you find and watch TV shows. You’ve mentioned before that you watch very little TV (in explaining your productivity), and yet you speak highly of the shows you do watch. Do you have any strategies to find good TV, how to watch television “well”,  how to avoid getting sucked in to mediocre TV, etc.? And, I’d be curious to know what specific shows you think are worth the time sink to watch.

All of this comes from my somewhat-conflicting desires 1.) To not waste time and 2.) To enjoy the best art there is, in all of its forms.

Here are my rather brutal answers, noting they probably are not helpful for most people:

1. Most TV shows are not good.  The key problems are that too much quality scripting is required, and that the incentives are to try to get the show extended for another season.  Plus too much of the audience “just wants something to watch.”

2. Most TV shows that your smart friends tell you to watch also are not good.  See #1.

3. You should almost always watch a movie rather than a TV show.  If you have to, watch the movie in hour or half-hour segments.  Movies are better and smarter, at least if you can figure out which are the quality films.  But that is not so hard, as standard critical opinion does OK there.

4. “The Golden Age of TV” doesn’t change any of this, though Hollywood movies have become worse, due to tent pole franchises and pressures for serialization, which give them some of the problems of television shows.  At the margin, almost everyone should be watching more foreign films.  Do you really know them all?  How well do you know the best of African cinema?  Iranian cinema?  And so on.

5. I will try a TV show if two people I know, in the very top tier of smarts, recommend it.  Even then I usually don’t like it.  I thus infer there is at least a single dimension where I differ strongly from just about all my friends.

6. Could I name twenty TV shows that I think are worth watching, relative to the best movies you haven’t seen and the best books you haven’t read?  Not sure.  Attention is that which is scarce.  But it shouldn’t be.  Just pay better attention and read that book or watch that movie.  There is also plenty on YouTube that beats TV shows, and if you are old you may not consume much YouTube content at all.

7. For sure, there are fifteen TV shows worth watching, but you really need to have very very strong filters.  Whatever your filters may be, make them stronger.  Don’t trust those friends of yours!

8. By this point, you are probably not very interested in knowing which are those fifteen shows.

Which Russians are getting cancelled?

The Russian filmmaker Kirill Sokolov has spent the past week distraught at the horror unfolding in Ukraine. Half his family is Ukrainian, he said in a telephone interview, and as a child he spent summers there, staying with his grandparents.

His maternal grandmother was still living in Kyiv, he said, “hiding from bombs in a bunker.”

Since Russia’s invasion began, Mr. Sokolov said he had signed two online petitions calling for an end to the war, an act that carries a risk in Russia, where thousands have been arrested for protesting the conflict, and some have reportedly lost their jobs.

Yet despite his antiwar stance, Mr. Sokolov on Monday learned that the Glasgow Film Festival in Scotland had dropped his latest movie, “No Looking Back.”

Here is more from Alex Marshall at the NYT.  Remind me again — why is this better than “simple racism”?  The Festival noted that the Russian government earlier had funded his film work.  Surely that could be grounds for cancelling anyone who went to public school in Russia?

*Atlantis*

Last night I watched this Ukrainian movie on AppleTV.  It was released in 2019 and is set in 2025, in the aftermath of a major war with Russia, which ended the year before.  Due to radiation and other post-conflict problems, the eastern half of Ukraine is essentially uninhabitable.  Ukraine, however, won the war because Russia underestimated Ukrainian guerrilla warfare, instead preparing for a war that the Ukrainians would fight with tanks (they didn’t).  The fundamental Ukrainian activity in this dystopian, apocalyptic postwar order is that of archaeology, uncovering wartime ruins and also corpses of Russian soldiers; I took that to be a stand-in for a broader understanding of Ukrainian history.

Originally this film had been marketed as “science fiction.”

Addendum: I thought the movie was excellent, though not for all tastes.  There are of course periodic visual references to Tarkovsky.  All the roles in the movie are played by military veterans and volunteers and paramedics, not professional actors.  Here is its Wikipedia page.  Here is the Variety review.

My Conversation with Chuck Klosterman

Excellent stuff, we had so much fun we kept on going for an extra half hour, as he decided to ask me a bunch of questions about economics and personal finance.  Here is the audio and transcript.  Here is the CWT summary:

Chuck joined Tyler to discuss the challenges of writing about recent history, the “slow cancellation of the future” that began in the aughts, how the internet widened cultural knowledge but removed its depth, why the context of Seinfeld was in some ways more important than its content, what Jurassic Park illustrates about public feelings around scientific progress in the ’90s, why the ’90s was the last era of physical mass subcultures, why it’s uncommon to be shocked by modern music, how his limited access to art when growing up made him a better critic, why Spin Magazine became irrelevant with the advent of online streaming, what made Grantland so special, what he learned from teaching in East Germany, the impact of politics on the legacies of Eric Clapton and Van Morrison, how sports often rewards obnoxious personalities, why Wilt Chamberlain is still underrated, how the self-awareness of the Portland Trail Blazers undermined them, how the design of the NFL makes sports rivalries nearly impossible, how pro-level compensation prevents sports gambling from corrupting players, why so many people are interested in e-sports, the unteachable element of writing, why he didn’t make a great editor on his school paper, what he’d say to a room filled with ex-lovers, the question he’d most like to ask his parents, his impressions of cryptocurrency, why he’s trying to focus on what he has in the current moment rather than think too much about future plans, the power of charisma, and more.

Whew!  Here is one excerpt:

COWEN: I see the world as follows. Every decade, to me, is super weird, but the 1980s and ’90s pretended they weren’t weird. The ’80s pretended to be good versus evil. The ’90s pretended that good won. But when crypto comes and persists, you have to drop all pretense that the age you’re living in isn’t totally weird.

You have internet crypto, and everyone admits, right now, everything’s weird. And that, to me, is the fundamental break with the 1990s because everyone pretended most things were normal and that Seinfeld was your dose of weird, right? Jason Alexander — that’s a very manageable weird.

KLOSTERMAN: Oh, absolutely.

COWEN: Some guy in an apartment in New York City cracking sarcastic jokes — like, whoop-de-do.

And:

KLOSTERMAN: …this guy, Mark Fisher, who’s dead now, had this idea about the slow cancellation of the future. I feel like that’s one of the most profound ideas that I’ve come across in the last 10 years of my life, and it seems so palpable that this is occurring.

An example I will often use is, if you take, say, 10 minutes from an obscure film in 1965 with no major actors, and then you take 10 minutes from an obscure film from 1980 where nobody became famous, and you show anyone these 10-minute clips, they will have no problem whatsoever figuring out which one came first. Even a little kid can look at a movie from 1965 and a movie from 1980 and instantly understand that one predates the other.

But if you do that with a film from 2005 and a film from 2020 — again, an obscure film where you don’t recognize the actors — you’re just looking at it aesthetically and trying to deduce which one came first and which one came second. It’s almost impossible.

This phenomenon just seems to almost be infiltrating every aspect of the culture…

And:

KLOSTERMAN: Before I did this podcast, I listened to your podcast with Žižek.

COWEN: Oh yeah, that was hilarious.

KLOSTERMAN: Are you friends with him? It sure seemed like it. And if you are, what is it like to be with him when he is not in a performative scenario?

Recommended.  And again, here is Chuck’s new book The Nineties.

Netflix economics and the future of Netflix

Ted Gioia writes:

Netflix’s market share has been declining steadily, and has now fallen below 50%. One estimate claims that the company’s share of consumers fell more than 30% in a single year. Netflix’s recent quarterly report was a disaster, spurring a share sell-off. You could easily conclude that “Netflix’s long awaited funeral is finally here”—as Bloomberg hinted in its blunt assessment of the results.

Of course the company is still worth quite a bit, so my own view is no more or no less optimistic than what the market indicates.  Still, it is worth asking what the equilibrium here looks like.  There is also AppleTV, Disney, Showtime, HBOMax, Hulu, AmazonPrime, and more.  I don’t think it quite works to argue that we all end up subscribing to all of them, so where are matters headed?  I see a few options:

1. Netflix and its competitors keep on producing new shows until all the rents are exhausted and those companies simply earn the going rate of return on capital, with possible ongoing rents on longstanding properties of real value (e.g., older Disney content).  These scenarios could involve either additional entry, or more (and better?) shows from the incumbent producers.

2. Due to economies of scale, one or two of those companies will produce the best shows and buy up the best content.  We end up with a monopoly or duopoly in the TV streaming market, noting there still would be vigorous competition from other media sources.

3. The companies are allowed to collude in some manner.  One option is they form a consortium where you get “all access” for a common fee, divvied out in proper proportion.  Would the antitrust authorities allow this?  Or might the mere potential for antitrust intervention makes this a collusive solution but one without a strict monopolizing, profit-maximizing price?

4. The companies are allowed to collude in a more partial and less obvious manner.  Rather than a complete consortium, some of the smaller companies will evolve into “feeder” services for one or two of the larger companies.  Those smaller companies will rely increasingly more on the feeder contracts and increasingly less on subscription revenue.  This perhaps resembles the duopoly solution analytically, though a head count would show more than two firms in the market.

It seems to me that only the first scenario is very bad for Netflix.  That said, it seems that along all of these paths short-run rent exhaustion is going on, and that short-run rent exhaustion is costly for Netflix.  They keep on having to pump out “stuff” to keep viewer attention.  It doesn’t matter that new shows are cheap, because as long as the market profits are there the “bar” for retaining customers will continue to grow.  Very few of their shows are geared to produce long-term customer loyalty toward that show – in contrast, people are still talking about Columbo!

Putting the law aside, which economic factors determine which solution will hold?  My intuition is that there are marketing economies of scale, but production diseconomies of scale, as the media companies grow too large and sclerotic.  So maybe that militates in favor of scenario #4?  That to me also suggests an “at least OK” future for Netflix.  The company would continue its investments and marketing and an easy to use website, while increasingly going elsewhere for superior content.

WWBTS?

My Israel-only Conversation with the excellent Russ Roberts

Here is the audio, video, and transcript, here is the CWT summary:

In this special crossover special with EconTalk, Tyler interviews Russ Roberts about his new life in Israel as president of Shalem College. They discuss why there are so few new universities, managing teams in the face of linguistic and cultural barriers, how Israeli society could adapt to the loss of universal military service, why Israeli TV is so good, what American Jews don’t understand about life in Israel, what his next leadership challenge will be, and much more.

We didn’t shy away from the tough stuff, here is one question:

COWEN: Let me ask you another super easy question. Let’s say we think that under current circumstances, a two-state solution would not lead to security either for Israel or for the resulting Palestinian state. Many people believe that. Let’s say also, as I think you believe, that a one-state solution where everyone votes would not lead to security for a current version of Israel or even a modified version of it.

Let’s say also that the current reliance of the Palestinian territories on the state of Israel for protection, security, intelligence, water — many important features of life — prevent those governing bodies from ever attaining sufficient autonomy to be a credible peace partner, guaranteer of its own security, and so on. From that point of view, what do we do? We’re not utilitarians. We’re thinking about what’s right and wrong. What’s the right thing to do?

Do read Russ’s answer!  (Too long to excerpt.)  And:

COWEN: Now, the United States has about 330 million people, yet there are more Israeli TV shows I want to watch than American TV shows. There’s Srugim, there’s Shtisel, there’s Prisoners of War, there’s In Judgment, there’s Tehran. There’s more. Why is Israeli TV so good?

ROBERTS: I’m glad you mentioned Prisoners of War, which doesn’t get enough — Prisoners of War is in my top five. If I had to list my top five, I’d pick Shtisel, Prisoners of WarThe Americans, probably The Wire, and The Crown. Do you have a top five that you could reel off?

COWEN: The Sopranos would be my number one. Srugim and Prisoners of War plausibly would be in my top five.

We then consider the Israeli topic at hand.  Interesting throughout, a very good dialogue.

What to Watch

Some things I have watched, some good, some not so good.

Cobra Kai on Netflix: A reliable, feel good show, well plotted. It plays like they mapped each season in advance covering all permutations and combinations of friends turning into enemies and enemies turning into friends. Do I really need five seasons of the same thing? No. But I still watch. Popcorn material.

Maid on Netflix: I appreciated the peek into the difficulties of managing the welfare system and pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps when your family is pulling you down. Margaret Qualley (Andie MacDowell’s daughter who plays her mother on the show) has an odd charisma. It’s been noted that she is an impossibly perfect mother. Less noted is that she is a terrible wife, a poor daughter to her father and a bad girlfriend. Everyone deserves a break is the message we get from this show, except men. Still, it was well done.

The Last Duel is one of Ridley’s best. Superb, subtle acting from Jodie Comer–deserving of Oscar. Slightly too long but there are natural breaking points for at home watching. N.B. given the times it can’t be interpreted ala Rashômon as many people suggest but rather the last word is final which reduces long term interest but I still liked it.

Alex Rider on Amazon: It’s in essence a James Bond origin story. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, you will. I am told the books are also good for YA.

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible: A mountain documentary following Nimsdai Purja as he and his team attempt to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in seven months. In many ways, the backstory–Purja is a Gurka and British special forces solider–is even more interesting. It does say something that most people don’t know his name.

The Eternals on Disney: Terrible. Didn’t finish it. A diverse cast with no actual diversity. Kumail Nanjiani, Dinesh from Silicon Valley, plays his super hero like Dinesh from Silicon Valley. Karun, the Indian sidekick, is the most authentic person in the whole ensemble. Aside from being boring it’s also dark, not emotionally but visually. It doesn’t matter the scene, battle scenes, outdoor scenes, kitchen table scenes–all so dark they are literally hard to see.

Wheel of Time: It’s hard to believe they spent a reported $10 million per episode on this clunker. The special effects were weak, the editing was bad, the mood-setting and world building were poor. The actors have no chemistry. Why would anyone be interested in Egwene who shows no spunk, intelligence or charisma? For better in this genre is The Witcher on Netflix.

The French Dispatch (theatres and Amazon): I loved it. Maybe the most Wes Anderson of Wes Anderson movies, so be prepared. Every scene has something interesting going on and there’s a new scene every few minutes. A send-up and a love story to the New Yorker. Lea Seydoux is indeed, shall we say, inspiring.

How to watch movies

Fergus asks:

Having enjoyed your posts on how to read canonical Western literature and how to get started with opera, I’d like the same thing but for film, and perhaps for architecture.

Today let’s do movies!  I am hardly an expert, but here are my tips:

1. Yes there are some movies made for the television, but for first-rate movies you really do need the big screen.  Do whatever you must, and no your home studio arrangement is not a good substitute.  Good cities for seeing movies on a large screen are NYC, LA, Paris, London, and the DC area (Silver Spring, MD in particular, AFI).

2. Choosing with whom to go is very important.  And you should see a fair share of movies alone, so you are not swayed by the views and reactions of the other parties.

3. The best prep for watching a particular movie is to have watched a lot of other movies already, and from a wide variety of sources and countries.  Knowledge of the Bible can be helpful too.

3b. If you don’t “get” a classic movie with good pedigree, 3/4 of the time the fault is yours.

4. I don’t like to read reviews before seeing a movie.  I might read just enough to see the evaluation, but then I stop.  I don’t want the movie “explained to me,” and furthermore very few critics have an adequate mix of travel, linguistic facility, knowledge of the classics, etc.  Critics can stop you from seeing what is there.  That said, after I’ve seen the movie I try to read as many reviews as possible.

5. If a movie is good, you should watch it again.  Then a smaller screen might be OK, or at the very least necessary.  You should have seen your favorite “deep” movies at least four times.

6. You want to have good peer groups to discuss movies with.  And get a movie mentor!

7. The classic movie critics — not always on-line! — are worth reading.  Buy a book of Pauline Kael essays, and then keep on buying books of essays by movie critics.  Don’t rely too heavily on Google.  My favorite movie critic used to be David Denby of The New Yorker.  Buy books on the history of movies too.

8. Now go watch more movies.

By the way, here is an interesting review of the best movies of 1931.

What else?

The Jeff Holmes Conversation with Tyler Cowen

Jeff is the CWT producer, and it has become our custom to do a year-end round-up and summary.  Here is the transcript and audio and video.  Here is one excerpt:

HOLMES: …Okay, let’s go through your 2011 list really quickly.

COWEN: Sure.

HOLMES: All right, number one — in no particular order, I think — but number one was Incendies. Do you remember what that’s about?

COWEN: That is by the same director of Dune.

HOLMES: Oh, is that Denis Villeneuve?

COWEN: Yes, that’s his breakthrough movie. It’s incredible.

HOLMES: I didn’t know that. I’d never heard of it. French Canadian movie, mostly set in Lebanon.

COWEN: Highly recommended, whether or not you like Dune. That was a good pick. It’s held up very well. The director has proven his merits repeatedly, and the market agrees.

HOLMES: I’m a fan of Denis Villeneuve. Obviously, Arrival was great. I can’t think of the Mexican drug movie off the top of my head.

COWEN: Is it Sicario?

HOLMES: Sicario — awesome.

COWEN: It was interesting, yes.

HOLMES: He is one of the only directors today where, when he now makes something, I know I will go and see it.

COWEN: Well, you must see Incendies. So far, I’m on a roll. What’s next?

HOLMES: All right, number two: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

COWEN: Possibly the best movie of the last 20 years. I’m impressed by myself. It’s a Thai movie. It’s very hard to explain. I’ve seen it three times since. A lot of other people have it as either their favorite movie ever or in a top-10 status, but a large screen is a benefit. If you’re seeing the movie, pay very close attention to its sounds and to the sonic world it creates, not just the images.

There are numerous interesting observations in the dialogue, including about some of the guests and episodes.

Self-recommended!

*Don’t Look Up*

You won’t find many accurate reviews of this one, in part because it is so brutal about media, not to mention American politics.  The core message, however, is that everything is downstream of culture.  And that we are incapable of taking our own decline seriously.  Think of it as an update of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy.  And Trump and Hillary blend into one character, played by Meryl Streep.

At 2.5 hours, the movie is overly long but about 2/3 of it hits the target head on.  These days it is rare to see a Hollywood movie of actual social import and insight.  Science/politics is but one of the significant themes, another is Bruno M.’s claim that America has become a “virtual society.”

The ending also shows the film has the courage of its convictions.

Elsewhere, it is hard to know what to make of the utterly failed Bergman Island.  Under what theory of the world does this cinematic outing make any sense whatsoever?  Perhaps it is best interpreted as a self-referential punishment for those who, circa 2021, still think they ought to be watching movies titled Bergman Island.  In that regard it succeeds beautifully.

Best movies of 2021

Listed in the order I saw them, noting that foreign releases get classified by their USA release year.  And sometimes you will find a review of mine behind the link.

The Dig.  Archaeology and British restraint, circa 1939.

Minari, Korean immigrant family in Arkansas.

Promising Young Woman, black comedy, wow, brutal.

Another Round, Danish film about alcohol.  Against it.

Sweat, fame, social media, and gender, but insightful rather than the usual b.s.

Old, Shyamalan, plot twists and conceptual thought experiments about the biomedical establishment.  Imperfect, but delivers in some significant ways.

Green Knight

Night of the Kings, Ivory Coast prison movie.

Nine Days.  If you were choosing who gets to be born and walk on the earth, which interview questions would you ask them and how would you evaluate their answers?

Ich bin dein Mensch” — should you date a robot?

The Many Saints of Newark

McCartney 3, 2, 1 (Hulu).  Self-recommending and consistently interesting, the best segment is when you get to hear just how much value Paul’s bass line added to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Lamb (Icelandic), one of my favorites for the year.

Dune

Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson.  Amazing and epic, my pick for best of the year.  And the whole world is responding.  And read this on the miracle of the production side.

Cinema is not back to where it used to be, but this list is way better than what last year was able to deliver.  And as always I will let you know if I see anything notable between now and the end of the year (notable films often cluster in December, though they tent not to be my personal favorites, furthermore the release schedule remains somewhat disrupted).

What else was there?

*Get Back*, I

Everything that gets done runs through Paul.  As Adam Minter put it (excellent thread more generally):

Nothing would get done if Paul weren’t there. But it’s a fine line, because he’s irritating. also – Ringo, in my opinion, has deep deep reservoirs of patience. I don’t know how he go through some of those days.

In this “prepping for a no overdubs, pure live performance” setting, the studio doesn’t matter.  And control over studio production was how Paul exerted an increasing authority over the Beatles.  “Let’s work on this more together” de facto meant “let’s give me, Paul, greater influence over the proceedings.”  Yet without his studio expertise as a Williamsonian trump card, Paul has to be more of a pain in the ass to induce effort and focus from the others.

“I’m scared of me being the boss, and I kind of have been for a couple of years,” or something like that, is what Paul says.  “I know it’s right, and you know it’s right” comes shortly thereafter (remember this?).

“Whatever it is that will please you, I will do it” responds George.  John in turn mutters something about maybe they should improvise the whole thing.

George Martin is rendered irrelevant, due to the studio production being omitted, and mostly he stands around and looks like a guy who used to do ads for bad British cars in the 1960s.

Two highlights are Paul singing a mock version of “Gimme’ Some Truth,” and John singing a mock version of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”  Doesn’t the film show it was actually George who broke up the Beatles?  (Or Ringo in 1968?)  Doesn’t the person who leaves first split up the relationship?

What is quiet Yoko thinking the whole time?

And from Dave Bueche:

  • It’s surprising to see them digging around for material.  You’d think they would have had a lineup of songs before they started the project.
  • Twickenham [the studio] seems like a drag.  You can tell they don’t love it either.  It’s big and cavernous and a few colored lights doesn’t change that.
  • There’s a certain sad nostalgia in them playing all the old standards they learned in Germany and Liverpool.  Like they know this the end and they’re sort of reliving the beginning one last time.
  • Paul is clearly more invested than the others.  George seems like he’s trying to just learn the songs, do his bit, same with Ringo.  John seems like he’s a good sport, but other than Don’t Let Me Down – he seems to be going through the motions.
  • It’s fun seeing them cover Dylan and other contemporaries.

The reviews are all “oh, this shows the Beatles loved working together until the very end.”  That’s a pretty superficial read of the material.  To me, Get Back is much more about “how the main value adders control small groups in a somewhat tyrannical and mostly efficient manner, and why this isn’t always stable.”  Mancur Olson remains underrated.

“All Things Must Pass” just wasn’t that good a song, and it would have been worse as a Beatles song.

Here is a very good Jonathan Freedland review.