Butcher's beef diagram with movies and podcasts instead of cuts of meat

Curated Beef, April 2022


The movies are back, baybeee! This April features three projects that I’ve been awaiting forever. I am extremely excited to watch them, and, well, you’ll probably catch a whiff of that excitement as you read through this.

April in Pittsburgh can be beautiful. It is quite brisk out (as in, it snowed yesterday) but there are flowers and buds on the trees, and the few living honeybees emerge from wherever honeybees hide for the winter. Major League Baseball is back after a lockout that threatened to derail the season. I can’t pretend to have a shred of optimism about the Pirates’ chances, but PNC Park remains a beautiful place to spend an afternoon and I look forward to doing that very soon.

In another sign of spring/renewal/change, I decided that I’m now a denim jacket guy. Please be patient as I slowly accrue the number of buttons needed to make me look cool.



Moving Pictures

The Northman

In Theaters April 22, 2022

There are four things that I will pitch to you about The Northman.

  1. The first two movies written and directed by Robert Eggers are The VVitch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), two of the most interesting horror films that I’ve ever seen. Both films feature incredible locations, batshit moments of sheer terror, and a fearlessness to jump headfirst into symbolism, into myth, and into the sublime. The VVitch is the scariest movie that I’ve ever seen.
  2. A danged bad guy (Claes Bang from the uneven but fun Dracula series on Netflix) murders a king and takes over his lands, enslaving the people and capturing the king’s widow (NICOLE flippin’ KIDMAN). The king’s son escapes bondage and sets out on a quest for vengeance, aided by a seer (Any Taylor Joy).
  3. BJORK IS IN THIS MOVIE. Yes, that B J O R K.
  4. If you watch the trailer for this movie and your blood isn’t pumping in your veins, what are you even doing spending time on a movie website like this? Holy toledo, that’s a good-ass movie trailer! Alexander Skarsgard catches a spear and throws it back at a guy!
  5. BONUS selling point: Alexander Skarsgard is the titular Northman. Yes, this is the second Northman he has played, following his run as Eric Northman on True Blood. Consider this some Grade A Alleged Beef, and I’ll be pretending that his spirit of bloody vengeance eventually became the bored vampire in Bon Temps, Louisiana.



The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

In Theaters April 22, 2022

Alleged Beef is secretly a Nicolas Cage fan-site. There, the secret is out.

Cage has strewn incredible performances across four decades in the biz. There is a narrative among–I guess I’d say casual—moviegoers that Cage is a ham, and sure, I’ll concede the point if your memory of him is The Wicker Man (2006) and National Treasure (2004) and a string of paycheck performances like Jiu Jitsu (2021). However, that is like viewing The Pietà and complaining that there is a scuff on its base. Cage did some bad movies.

He also did:

<deep breath>

Pig (2021); Mandy (2018); Colour Out of Space (2019); Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018); Drive Angry (2011); Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009); Matchstick Men (2003); Adaptation (2002); Bringing Out the Dead (1999); Snake Eyes (1998); Face/Off (1997); The Rock (1996); Red Rock West (1993); Wild At Heart (1990); Raising Arizona (1987); The Cotton Club (1984); Valley Girl (1983); Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982); and MOONSTRUCK (1987).


I think such an odd public figure with such a diverse filmography is entitled to one meta-performance. In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nic Cage plays Nic Cage, washed-up actor who is paid to attend a rich guy’s birthday party (Pedro flippin’ Pascal!). Cage is approached by the CIA (Tiffany flippin’ Haddish!) and informed that the rich guy is a dangerous mobster and that they want Cage’s help to bring him down.

Heck yeah. I’ll take two tickets.




HBO Max, April 7, 2022


As with Nicolas Cage above, you should know that Alleged Beef digs Michael Mann. He has written and directed some of the most iconic films of all time (Thief (1981); Heat (1995)), as well as personal favorites like The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Collateral (2004), Blackhat (2015), Manhunter (1986), and Miami Vice (2006). His name is shorthand for the philosophical professional, his aesthetic is icy blues and metallic greys just like his obvious forebear Jean-Pierre Melville.

After Blackhat was abruptly yanked from theaters, it was uncertain where Mann would go next and frankly whether he’d go anywhere. The Chicago workaholic is 79 years old and has seen multiple projects get absorbed by the studio system in recent years (Ferrari and Howard Hughes biopics) and he has a book imprint (which includes his Heat sequel, due out this fall!).

Enter Tokyo Vice, his new HBO series about a journalist in Tokyo who gets tangled up with the clash between Toyko police and the criminal underworld. Despite the odd casting of Ansel Elgort in the lead, this show is gonna kick so much ass thanks to icons like Ken Watanabe and one of the most dazzling cityscapes on earth.




Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

PS4, PS5, XBox, PC, etc.

I have a conflicted relationship with the Borderlands franchise. On one hand, the jokes are puerile, the poop-and-rust aesthetics are unpleasant, I cannot stand loot-box game design, and it takes far too long to get through the glorified tutorial part of every single game in this franchise before one reaches the town where players can upgrade their characters and stash all of their loot.

But there’s the other hand, and it’s a much bigger hand. I don’t know how that works. I’m not a hand doctor. On this other, larger hand, the Borderlands franchise is one of the few remaining bastions of couch co-op gaming. So much of modern videogaming is individuals isolated in their homes, playing games with players across the universe. (Yes, I know that Nintendo basically has the market cornered on multiplayer party games, but I’m choosing to ignore the Switch). The Diablo series and the Borderlands series are rare examples of games that you can play cooperatively with other players on the same TV, on the same couch, on the same system.

And as someone married to a videogame fan, this trait is worth more than gold-pressed latinum.

Borderlands, if you are unfamiliar, is a sort of Mad Max in space, where everyone is sorta trashy and sorta radioactive, and the weapons are all rusty and the buildings are all crumbling, and everyone shouts all the time. Wonderlands is wonderfully different in aesthetics from the normal games in this series. It takes place in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign of some of the characters from the Borderlands franchise. And rather than mutated rats and inbred space pirates, Wonderlands features monsters like a neverending skeleton army, wyverns, and giant crabs.

And rather than poop and rust like I mentioned above, this game is rainbow colored and shiny. It is truly a breath of fresh air that I desperately needed after Borderlands 3.



With Gourley and Rust

“An easy-listening cozy horror podcast.” This is the premise of Matt Gourley and Paul Rust’s movie podcast. Two of the most laid-back people on earth chatting about scary movies. Doesn’t get any better than that. The podcast is about two years in at this point, and they are currently in the middle of their Spring King Fling season, in which they cover ten different Stephen King adaptations. The Misery (1990) episode is a great entry point into the show, featuring some great tangents, as is the Dead Zone (1983) episode. And Misery being an excellent film makes it a lot easier to stay motivated during those long tangents.

If you are unfamiliar with the hosts, I think that you’ll just have to take my word for it. However, if you’ve ever enjoyed SuperEgo, James Bonding, Pistol Shrimps Radio, or I Was There Too, you’ll be on Gourley’s wavelength, which is a chill-ass place to be.