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

Curated Beef, November 2022


As readers can probably tell, I missed my October deadline entirely. I also didn’t do a Halloween 2022 feature, and I have five other features sitting partially finished in my Drafts folder. This site is a labor of love, and as such its priority is somewhere a thousand miles south of most other things in my life. releases will be on a normal schedule in January, as I’ll be done with my degree in December.


Moving Pictures

For theatrical releases, November is usually a dead zone. Summer and early fall blockbusters are gone and Halloween movies have rotated out. Awards-season bait and huge franchise movies are all dumped in the two weeks leading up to Christmas.


Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

(in theaters November 23)

Can we first acknowledge that this is a stupid subtitle to the film? Glass Onion is not a Knives Out Mystery. The first movie was called Knives Out. If a subtitle is needed, this is a Benoit Blanc Mystery as he is the connective tissue. I mean, it isn’t like there is 150 years of naming conventions around the detective story or anything. Everyone remembers the famous stories The Hound of the Baskervilles: A Study in Scarlet Mystery, and of course the classic Maigret and the Tailor’s Wife: A Peter the Latvian Mystery.

Anyway, Benoit Blanc is back in a new Benoit Blanc mystery, and this time he is invited, Hercule Poirot style, to a private island full of wealthy people who all have motives to kill each other. Then someone ends up dead, and now the detective must start detecting. Instead of the Trumpian dynastic syncophants of the first movie, our characters are now tech bros and socia media influencers. I guess this is how one ports the classic literary detective into the hellscape of the 21st century. The heavyhandedness of the first movie hurt its rewatchability for me, but we’ll see how it goes this time around. The presence of Dave Bautista and Kathryn Hahn make me optimistic.

If nothing else, at least Daniel Craig is done being in overwrought and mediocre Bond sequels and instead gets to be a cheery ham in movies like this.

(Seriously, just call it Benoit Blanc and The Glass Onion. This isn’t rocket surgery.)


Moving Pictures, Home Edition

The staff of the White Lotus resort greet their arriving boats

The White Lotus, Season 2

(2022, HBO Max, October 23)

I can’t quite recommend The White Lotus from a place of love. I didn’t especially love season 1. Sure, there are positives. Steve Zahn (Sahara, Saving Silverman) is value-added to any project. Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch, San Andreas, True Detective S1) puts in her best performance to date as a woman torn between her principles/independence and her husband’s wealth/expectation. Hawaii is one of the most scenic places on earth. But the show left me cold. It lacks the sharp bite of The Righteous Gemstones, it is not as funny as it thinks it is, and its premise (“the rich are shitty but don’t you want to be them?”) is exhausting in a world already stretched to its breaking point by how much wealthier the wealthy have become in the past 40 years and how much poorer the working class have correspondingly become.

So don’t watch the show if you want to laugh at terrible people getting their comeuppance: this isn’t that. Mike White (writer,director,producer) opts for gentle prodding of his wealthy characters, and his worker characters all come across as clueless and desperate for crumbs of charity from their betters.

But it is hard not recommending a show starring Jennifer Coolidge and Jon Gries and, with the new season, Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation), Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisante on Sopranos), and Tom Hollander (Thick of It; In The Loop).


A Christmas Story Christmas

(2022, HBO Max, November 17)

This is where I come clean about something: I don’t like A Christmas Story. The narration is saccharine, the quotatable lines overquoted, and I would be happy to go the rest of my life without seeing another “things were better in the 1950s” movie. I first heard of A Christmas Story some time in the last 15 years but everyone acts like it is some eternal classic. No thanks.

That being said, I know that many people, including some close to me, love them some Ralphie and this recommendation is for all of them. Ralphie is all grown up and, Clark Griswold-style, is hosting a good old-fashioned family christmas just like the ones he used to know. Hijinks will ensure and hopefully everything comes out fine as he reflects on the fact that he’s now the Old Man in the house.



(2022, Netflix, November 17)

This looks to be a fun one and I’m surprised that it didn’t come out in October. This Netflix show is from the creatores of Dark, a spooky scifi / horror show that a lot of people have recommended to me but I’ve yet to watch. HOWEVER, I heard good things about it. And this follow-up show seems sweet.

It appears to be a cruise ship that is haunted or going through some kind of wormhole, or some other supernatural thing is happening to the crew and passengers. And like the best examples of the genre of confined horror (The Shining (1980); Midnight Mass (2021)), isolating the characters is a surefire way to ratchet up the stakes and tension.


In unison, five of the main characters drink the broth of their noodle soups.


(1985, HBO Max)

A cowboy stops at a humble ramen shop. He is dismayed by the poor quality of the food but, like all good mythical drifters, agrees to help a person in need. So he immediately aids the titular Tampopo in her quest to make the perfect noodle shop. What follows is one of the most delightful movies that I’ve ever seen, a lighthearted romp that highlights the interconnectivity of food and sex and life and death, and gently skewers some of our more absurd notions of propriety (you slurp this noodle because it is Japanese but you quiety chew this noodle because it is Italian). Prepare to be ravenous for noodles for the next month.

Tampopo reminds me of True Stories (1986) and Mon Oncle (1958), two other stone-cold classics that lovingly poke at the conventions of modern life.


Recent Notables

  • High and Low (1963, HBO Max): A detective thriller about a kidnapped child, set in 1960s Japan. One of the great procedurals, aided by a brilliant premise and a frankness about social hierarchy. And of course masterful direction by Akira Kurosawa. Also one of the rare movies where Toshiro Mifune’s otherworldly charisma is fully dampened in the name of playing against type.
  • Some Like It Hot (1959, Criterion blu ray): One of a handful of movies that can reasonably be called the greatest American comedy (in the interest of starting a discourse, I’ll say the top 10 are: Some Like It Hot; Dr. Strangelove; Young Frankenstein; Raising Arizona; Modern Times; This Is Spinal Tap; Blazing Saddles; Being There; Duck Soup; Airplane!). Despite a premise that could be rife with cringe, the movie is fresher and more tactful than the dozens of lesser films that have outright stolen its premise and jokes in the 60 years since it was released.
  • The Bad News Bears (1976, HBO Max): Beautiful, crass, and better than most other snobs-vs-slobs movies that followed. Bad News Bears also feels very accurate to how adolescents really talk to and behave with each other, a rarity on film. And of course Walter Matthau puts in a perfect performance and has amazing comedic timing with the cast of kids.
  • La Piscine / The Swimming Pool (1969, HBO Max): You’re either immediately down for a movie whose premise is “Alain Delon and Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin screw in and around a French Riviera mansion’s swimming pool” or you are unfamiliar with the above-mentioned people. This is a very good sex thriller that loses steam in its final act but is quite excellent up to that point.
  • Widows (2018, 4k disc): Tense heist thriller where the widows of a recently-deceased thievery crew are told that they must pay back the money stolen by their husbands or they will also be killed. When the entire world around you is steal or be stolen from, what do you do? One of the great Chicago movies, which is high praise given that city’s use in countless classics. The cast list runs like 15 famous actors deep, with Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, and Brian Tyree Henry as the standouts.