Pop Culture Happy Hour #230: Jupiter Ascending and Chemistry


I was happy as always to join my buddies Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we dissect Jupiter Ascending, the “original” sci-fi epic from auteur siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski from which audiences flocked away in droves last weekend. (I reviewed the film for The Dissolve.) We also try to figure out what people mean when they talk about “chemistry” among performers onscreen.

As always, I thought of more stuff I could’ve mentioned after we taped. I must disagree with my Pal-for-Life Glen we he praises Jupiter Ascending as being light on exposition, wherein stuff is “asserted, not explained,” but I do believe in leaving some stuff on the table vis-a-vis world building.

One of the consequences of having sequels and prequels and reboots to almost everything now is that it’s very difficult to sustain any sense of wonder or mystery. (We really didn’t want to know about the Midichlorians, did we?) But the Matrix spinoff The Animatrix – shorts written and directed by animators handpicked by the Wachowskis – builds out the world of The Matrix much more satisfyingly than its own feature sequels do. These shorts are on DVD; they were released online for free in the run-up to the release of The Matrix Reloaded in May 2003, and you can still watch four of them gratis – including the best one, Mahiro Maeda’s “The Second Renaissance.”

For our chemistry experiment, I brought in a few more clips than we could use. This is an inexhaustible topic, but these are the ones I thought I might have something to say about on this particular day.

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick & Nora Charles in 1934’s The Thin Man and its five sequels. File under: Chemistry, romantic and spousal.

Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg as Steed & Mrs. Peel, from The Avengers, circa 1965-7. The show ran from ’61 to ’69, giving MacNee a succession of partners during that span, but the Rigg Era seems to be the most fondly remembered. It’s certainly my favorite. File under Chemistry, professional and sexual.

And of course, the Riggs & Murtaugh of film criticism, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. File under Chemistry, professional and adversarial.

Finally, I can’t believe I misidentified my own Justified viewing club, The Justified League of America, as the Justified Society of America. We’re Silver Age, not Golden Age. Chalk it up to nerves.

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