Posts Tagged ‘Media Update’

Media Update 2/14/19

February 14, 2019


Russian Doll

Last week I heard really good things about Russian Doll and after I saw the trailer, I knew it was something I wanted to watch. I’ve loved the star Natasha Lyonne since I first saw her in Detroit Rock City and I have glimpsed her in later works like But I’m a Cheerleader, Antibirth, and Orange is the New Black. She really transforms herself in this show. She is a cynical woman on her 36th birthday when things start to get weird. She is so good. She may be sarcastic and cynical but she is also endearing, a grounded woman who is trying to figure her life out while alternately also doing anything else. What made her journey even more interesting to me is that the show takes place on her 36th birthday which I recently had. She is supported by a great cast of actors who I really loved. Everybody who pops up was an interesting character who you get to see different facets of each episode, bit by bit. A special shout out to Rebecca Henderson who is just such an interesting character, an old artsy lesbian with an even older soul. I am only three episodes in and I am so interested to see where it goes next. The time loop in the show is more of a mystery than in most time loops stuff I have seen and I want to learn all about it. I definitely recommend this show.


Happy Death Day

Blumhouse Pictures has recently become a force to reckon with on my horror movie radar by producing such movies as Get Out, Halloween (2018), and Upgrade. I cannot deny there popularity with other horror franchises that I am not a fan of like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and the last 3 M Night Shyamalan films. So, they are kind of hit and miss but the trailer for this movie looked like a great mix of horror and comedy. The weight of the movie rests on the good writing which is irreverent but actually also both scary and touching. The movie would not have been nearly as good as it was without the lead Jessica Rothe who is so much fun whether she is being the bad guy or the good guy. She is backed up by Israel Broussard who is a grounding presence, a good guy who I could definitely empathize with. They are in turn backed up by an ensemble cast of college students who are fun to either like or hate. I actually expected the movie to be more bloody but they focused more on the characters and the situation for both comedy and humor instead of gore. The movie also felt like a good tribute to horror movies as it had enough twists and turns that made me wonder how it might end. I am intensely interested in what the sequel might bring this week (though I probably won’t see it until later). I definitely recommend this movie.


ARQ

Like Edge of Tomorrow, this movie tries to come up with a science fiction reason for the time loop. Of course, the reason for the time loop does not matter as much as the intricate plot and action. As the plot evolves, the characters act like they are in a chess match, trying to out-think each other but also the time loop itself. I found the mechanics of the time loop way more interesting than anything else in the movie. Sometimes it is just fun to watch a movie where I have no idea what is going to happen next. I am still trying to digest certain parts of the movie, especially the end. The movie stars Robbie Amell, the lesser known Amell brother but he did a great job here. He was very likable and believable as a mechanic trying to be a scientist but always falling a bit behind. Rachael Taylor (who I loved in Jessica Jones) is the other lead and she is great as the smarter, more cunning woman stuck with Ammell. The scenes between the two are really enjoyable to watch. I recommend the movie as it was enjoyable and it made me think.

Music of the Week:

Blue October – Hate Me

Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – My Shit

In This Moment – Call Me

The Sidh – Iridium

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Again!?”
– I finished Glitter Force Doki Doki
– I finished The Assassination of Gianni Versace
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4

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Media Update 2/7/19

February 7, 2019


Velvet Buzzsaw

When I heard about this movie out of the Sundance press, it was the first time in a while that I really wanted to see a Sundance film badly. The movie synopsis I heard takes a right turn right in the middle of it. This is a quirky drama about art, commercialism, and art critics. It is also a horror movie. When a painter dies penniless, his art is snapped up to be sold to rich people. Except the paintings have dark spirits attached to them. It is a seriously trippy movie from start to finish. It has a lot to say about the over-commercialism of art and how much we should value critics, especially those who profit heavily from putting down artists. There are so many good lines of dialogue showing exactly what’s wrong with parts of the art world. Then there are the trippy horror parts that are seriously troubling. The horror feels kind of cosmic and existential all at once. The visuals of it are fittingly beautiful and horrible. The cast is brilliant with Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Toni Collette, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, and John Malkovich all playing brilliant characters. The movie itself plays with art, leaving a lot of it up to the interpretations of the viewer. I definitely recommend it as it kind of blew my mind.


Incredibles 2

When I first saw The Incredibles, it was during a fairly dark period in my life and the movie was such a great mix of optimism, adventure, and comedy that it helped lift the dark clouds. When I heard about rumors of a sequel, I was excited. The first movie was a complete story (like many superhero movies) but I was interested where they would go next. This new movie takes what they made in the first movie and expands the world and the characters. All of the characters have a lot still learn and they get a chance to grow. The worry from trailers was that they would play Bob taking care of the kids for laughs and continue the sexist myth that men cannot be homemakers. Thankfully, they did not really go that route. They showed each of the characters stepping up within their new roles and learning to appreciate the experiences of their family members. We get to see more of the world, set in an idealized 1960s United States of America with no racism and only a little bit of sexism. The cast returns from the first movie but we also get newcomers Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener who were both great. This movie definitely exceeded my expectations but I should not have been surprised as Brad Bird has been working on getting the story right for close to fifteen years. I definitely recommend it as it was both touching and exciting.


The Last Dragon

I had heard and seen a bunch of memes from this movie but I had never actually watched it. Being a very white kid in the eighties, this movie just never fell into my path and it was not super popular when it first came out. Now it’s a cult classic. This movie is a mix of action and comedy that has led to such great movies like Big Trouble in Little China. This movie is a pastiche of culture from the seventies and the eighties. It also has pretty good acting from some relatively unknown actors. But mostly, this is a movie with countless funny lines in between good, poppy music and fight scenes. Basically, a young black man idolizes Bruce Lee and is on a journey to become a Kung Fu master (practicing Chinese Goju which is fairly similar to Lee’s Jeet Kune Do). Along the way, he befriends a television DJ named Laura and has to face off against the mob (basically) and a gangster martial artist. The movie was silly but also a lot of fun. I also consider it to be a better tribute to Bruce Lee than those awful clones of Bruce Lee. The stars, Taimak and Vanity never really broke into fame but they did a great job. Julius Carry is the ridiculous and wonderful villain Sho’nuff the Shogun of Harlem. The essential white villain is played by Christopher Murney as a pathetic rich man who is used to getting what he wants. Their respective goons are wonderfully goofy. There is even a weird cameo from William H. Macy. I definitely recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Bebe Rexha – I’m A Mess

Aminé – BLACKJACK

The Sugar Highs – Kino

JINJER – Perennial

I DONT KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – Do It All The Time

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Legacy”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4

Media Update 1/31/19

January 31, 2019


Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

I was pretty young when Ted Bundy was executed (spoiler, I guess?) but as I grew up, his name was thrown around a lot. Bundy was not by far America’s first serial killer but he was part of a new wave of killers who changed the way law enforcement worked. He repeatedly crossed state lines and then moved across the country with a compulsion to kidnap and kill young women. He was good looking, he was charismatic, and many who knew him never would have believed he was capable of the horrible acts he committed. Yet, he did do those horrible things. There is truckloads of forensic evidence, a witness who pointed him out of a lineup, and he was sentenced to death in more than one jurisdiction. This documentary charts Bundy’s inexplicable success as a killer as he hid in plain sight and he lured many women to their deaths. However, it also tells a couple of other stories. It tells the story of two journalists who actually got in to see Bundy and had him explain why he did what he did while he was on death row. It also tells the story of the law enforcement agents and the lawyers who helped bring him down. It tells the story of his loved ones who were fooled into accepting the mask. It tells the story of his victims. It does not glorify Bundy. It details how he did it but it also tears his layers away and shows him for the monster he was. It is a disturbing documentary but a fascinating study of the media, human nature, law enforcement, abnormal psychology, normal psychology, the prison system, and how a courtroom works. I definitely recommend it.


American Crime Story 2: The Assassination of Gianni Versace

I was a big fan of the first American Crime Story (the story of OJ Simpson) which was a story I kind of remembered. This season was definitely covering a story I really had no idea about. I could probably count on one hand the fashion designers I can name. Back then, that number would have been zero. If the death of Gianni Versace was big news when I was a kid, I did not hear it. It probably goes to show how people in the nineties were afraid of gay culture that they did not really want to cover this. Or I’m wrong and this was all over the media. Either way, this season (and I’m currently on episode 5) is fascinating. It is not really about the death of Versace although that is a big part of it. Really, it is a study of his killer Andrew Cunanan who was a spree killer who often posed as a gay escort. It is also a look into the way gay culture and counter culture worked in the nineties. More importantly, it is a look in how a killer like Cunanan was actually protected by the way many gay people felt forced to hide large parts of their lives because of prejudice. Darren Criss is brilliant as Cunanan, an unhinged chameleon of a man. Some might compare Cunanan to The Talented Mr. Ripley but Cunanan bought every lie he told and the multiple lives he lived in his head seemed to warp him. The rest of the cast are each compelling as various victims, loved ones, and bystanders in a very twisted tale. It makes me excited to see what else they can do. I also recommend this.


Manson Family Vacation

The title of this one kind of irked me when I first saw it but it actually ended up being a good movie. The movie is really about the relationship between two estranged brothers who reconnect just as one of their lives is changing. The background of the story is one brother’s obsession with the Charlie Manson murders. He has a dogeared copy of Helter Skelter, knows every detail by heart, and can recognize the crime scenes by sight. And yet, the movie still ends up being pretty funny and touching. Part of that is that it never uses the Manson stuff as comedy fodder. It is always used as a disturbing thing that happened and the victims are respected and the horror is preserved. All while we see footage of Manson, learn details of his crimes, and even learn about his attempted music career. The story between the brothers has heart and their scenes together are the point of the whole movie. Jay Duplass plays the straightlaced brother who is successful and happy with a family. Linas Phillips plays the more artistic, more charismatic brother who has never seemed to get his life together. The push and pull between the brothers feels very familiar as I have been both brothers at different times in my life. I am the weird brother and I am the hardworking brother. It is a strange juxtaposition of seeing this story of two brothers with a backdrop of the twisted reality of the Manson Family. I also recommend this quirky movie.

Music of the Week:
Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It

Pkew Pkew Pkew – 65 Nickels

Slothrust – Double Down

Paul McCartney – Who Cares

Battle Tapes – Valkyrie

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Charismatic Killers”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4

Media Update 1/24/19

January 24, 2019


Carmen Sandiego (2019)

I remember playing Carmen Sandiego games on our family’s Intel 286 computer and loving the adventure of learning about geography and history by chasing criminals. Later, I religiously watched the game show and the original cartoon which continued the playful feel and education of the game. (Plus it introduced the wider world to Rockapella). So I was excited when I learned that they were doing another cartoon, especially with smarter reboots like My Little Pony, She-Ra, and DuckTales. I was not disappointed. This version reframes the whole way we have looked at Carmen Sandiego in the past. She is still an International thief extraordinaire but she is opposing VILE instead of leading it. She is using her thieving skills (and linguistic and cultural knowledge) to steal from the bad guys for charity all while evading law enforcement. There are great nods to earlier incarnations. The goofy names and criminal personalities are back from the games and the game show. Zack and Ivy are back from the cartoon but now they are assisting Carmen instead of chasing her. She even has a hacker on her side nicknamed “Player” which is cute. The characters are so great and so much deeper than the previous cartoon (which I thought was good, for the record). Gina Rodriguez plays Carmen, as a younger, idealistic and ambitious criminal who is also funny and likable. Finn Wolfhard voices Player and his talent continues to increase as he ages. There are a host of other great voice actors such as Liam O’Brien (!), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Kari Wahlgren, Troy Baker, and more who add to the world. I definitely recommend this one.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While J. K. Rowling is a little bit problematic, she did create an amazing world to draw from and I love getting lost in the minutiae of it all (unless it’s about wizards crapping themselves). I am actually really glad that they decided to continue the Wizarding World franchise by going back in time instead of continuing Harry Potter’s story. This way we get to meet a lot of new characters and meet a lot of characters before they become background characters in the books. Additionally, the central message of the movies so far is that kindness and cleverness trumps violence and bureaucracy. The main part of that is Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Newt Scamander, an idealistic and kind man who only wants to do what is right. He is joined by Dan Fogler who plays the everyman sidekick to Newt and brings comic relief but also grounds the story a bit. Katherine Waterston plays the strong-willed female lead who is a wizarding cop in the US. Her sister is played by Allison Sudol who also brings some comic relief and a slightly different perspective. There is also Zoe Kravitz who plays a wizarding cop pulled between two different worlds. There is a lot to digest in this movie and it kind of feels like their version of The Empire Strikes Back. It also ends abruptly and left me wanting more which is probably exactly what they were going for. In that way, it felt a little incomplete as a stand-alone movie. Still, I would recommend it if you liked any of the Harry Potter franchise.


Green Book

I heard a bit of the criticism for this one before watching and I agree with it and it was useful information going into the movie. The movie is about a black professional piano player who hires a white driver to drive him on a concert tour from the midwest and down into the deep south. The main theme of the movie is something I have actually pushed for which is the idea that exposure helps destroy prejudice. Which I still believe is true but it is an oversimplification. Still, the movie is definitely worth seeing even though its historical accuracy is questionable at best. The story in the movie did happen but many believe (and I happen to agree) that the writers softened the movie to make it more palatable to white viewers. The movie is told from the perspective of Tony Vallelonga, an employee of the Copacabana who rubs elbows with the Mafia often. He later went on to be a professional actor. However, he gets offered good money to drive Don Shirley on his concert tour. The movie is more or less about Tony’s journey in confronting his racism and his anti-intellectualism. There is a subplot about Don Shirley being caught between the world of wealthy whites and poor blacks in the sixties. The actual historical Green Book is not really talked about much which is a shame. There is an argument to be made that the movie could have been improved by making Shirley be the main character but we did not get that movie. Tony is played by Viggo Mortensen and he did a really good job. He comes off as an asshole but over time some of his edges get worn down by exposure and education. Mahershala Ali was so good as Don Shirley, so serious but with a wry sense of humor and a smile that felt so good because it was withheld often. The acting was in no way a problem in this movie as everybody knocked that out of the park. The central story was actually really good and it did address a lot of issues we are still around today even if the movie kind of skimmed over them. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:

Masked Intruder – No Case

Sympotico – Therefore I Am

BHAD BHABIE feat. Tory Lanez – Babyface Savage

A Perfect Circle – So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

TWICE – LIKEY

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Travelling”
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3

Media Update 1/17/19

January 17, 2019


Venom

I was not expecting much from this movie since it felt kind of like an orphan to me since Disney (rightfully) took Spider-Man away from Sony. Instead, this movie made me realize how much divorcing the character from the Spider-Man mythos works. Venom started out as a Spidey villain but has since had a rich history of being an anti-hero. The past with the Spider books complicated the character going forward and the further he was away from Spidey, the more the character could shine. The strength of this movie comes from the connection between Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote. Tom Hardy is brilliant in both roles, As Brock, he comes across as a vulnerable and likable guy who is still kind of a dick. He is so relatable as a guy who lost everything and is struggling to move forward. As Venom, he is aggressive and really funny as a single-minded organism who is adapting to a new situation. The melding of the two characters as kind of a buddy film/superhero/horror story is the point of the movie. It is also a redemption story for both characters. Michelle Williams plays Brock’s ex and the more intelligent and more ethical counterpoint to Brock’s scrapper personality. She is a lot of fun and I was glad that there was no love story there. Riz Ahmed played the perfect corporate snake villain who was a great smarmy foil for both Williams and Hardy. Jenny Slate played a small but great role as a scientist. The movie definitely followed the modern superhero tactic of combining a superhero film with other genres. Here, they used horror stuff and a dark comedy similar but also distinct from Deadpool. I definitely recommend this one as it stands on its own.


Solo

I have loved the new direction that Star Wars has gone in. As you saw last year, I loved The Last Jedi and I also loved Rogue One the year before. I was somewhat skeptical about this one based on my doubts that the origin of Han Solo would be a compelling story. However, I was wrong. Because the previous movies had left these stories vague, they had a lot of creative freedom. On top of that, they hired one heck of a great cast. Alden Ehrenreich did such a good job taking Harrison Ford’s performance and building backwards while also making the role his own. Woody Harrelson was on top of his game as an ambiguous character and mentor to Han. Donald Glover was as brilliant and charming as always as Lando Calrissian and he took what Billy Dee Williams did and expanded on it. Emilia Clarke was great as Qi’ra and she really has grown a lot since I saw her last. Her character was really striking and I was left wanting to know more about her. Phoebe Waller-Bridge had a different take on what a droid is and provided comic relief. Paul Bettany was the perfect imposing asshole psycho villain without going over the top. I really liked this movie both on its own merits and as a prequel to a franchise I have loved since I was a kid. I definitely recommend it as it was exciting and fun.


Vice

I absolutely detested George W. Bush and his cabinet. At best they were screw ups and at worst they were war criminals and I kind of lean toward them being both. This movie is about the rise and retirement of Dick Cheney, the true power behind the throne during that presidency. Cheney has always been shrouded in some mystery which is evidently how he likes it. He does not talk much but his actions speak volumes for him. The movie kind of felt like somewhere between I, Tonya and The Death of Stalin. Christian Bale played Cheney from when he was thrown out of Princeton for drinking until Barack Obama was voted in as president. Bale absolutely transformed into Cheney and I really believed I was watching the man himself. The movie shows Cheney’s beginnings as a hard-hearted opportunist who played to win instead of trying to serve the public. I watched as he slowly let his heart turn completely to stone (though it was pretty rocky at the beginning). He turned his back on anybody who ever helped him and he smiled while doing it. The one potential soft spot in his heart is later completely stamped out for political expediency. That moment also paints his daughter (and current member of the House) Liz Cheney as a monster as well. The wonderful Amy Adams plays Lynne Cheney, his right-hand woman and perhaps the driving force behind his greed. Special shout out to Sam Rockwell as Bush Jr. and Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld. The movie seems exceedingly well-researched but beyond that it was both entertaining and horrifying. The dark humor was like a worm that made me laugh despite my growing horror at learning new information. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Weekly Music:

Poppy – Play Destroy feat. Grimes

Nicki Minaj & Anuel AA (Feat. Bantu)- Familia

Murmur – Funeral of the Hunt

King Tuff – Psycho Star

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Dark Origins”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3
– I started a new job so I watched far less stuff

 

 

 

Media Update 1/10/19

January 10, 2019


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Walt Disney Animation Studios has been really knocking it out of the park lately. It feels like they saw how good Pixar was doing and decided to up their game to keep pace. They started to make smarter, more enjoyable movies which is saying a lot since their library was already really great. One of the movies that convinced me of this was Wreck-It Ralph which was a sweet movie about finding your place in life and being at peace with the things you cannot change. It also cleverly explored the tropes of video games and applied them to actual rounded characters. So, when I heard that there was going to be a sequel and it was going to expand to the Internet, I was excited. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are back as the two lead characters, this time exploring their friendship that was formed in the first movie. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch are also back in smaller roles but equally enjoyable as the first movie. We also got newcomers Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Henson who bring new energy to this new story. I felt like the movie was an accurate depiction of what the Internet is through the eyes of somebody who has no clue how it works. The Internet is insanity but it is also a very magical place and the movie showed off a lot of its different facets. The movie was very heartwarming from the beginning and some scenes (especially early on) reminded me of my own anxieties which I have worked to get better at. I recommend this movie wholeheartedly especially if you are a Disney fan since there are so many Disney references.


God Friended Me

So I was very wary of this show because of the title because it sounded like the name of a hokey Christian movie. However, my mom was watching it and I decided to sit with her and watch it since she spoke highly of it. I was pleasantly surprised. First, to reassure anybody who had similar fears, there is next to no actual Christianity (or religion in general) to be found. The show seems to be more like Person of Interest where a mysterious person (or entity, I guess) has programmed an artificial intelligence to cue the main character into helping people. They get a scrap of information each episode which leads them to find somebody who needs their help. The episodes I have seen, the help they deliver is not life-saving but it is life-changing, usually leading to a happier life and self-realization. In that way, it is less about “God” and more about zen and general philosophy. There is a central cast that works together to solve the mystery each episode and then the series arc of discovering who is behind the program. I think that the thing that really makes the show work is the interaction between the characters and the quirky people they meet. I have not seen much, but I liked what I saw. If you are looking for something easy to put on, I recommend this.


Halt and Catch Fire

So I had heard this title and it was not very alluring because I had no idea what it meant and without a descriptive title (or buzz) I was not going to be pulled in. Then the thing dropped on Netflix and I was curious and then I read that it was about developing computer technology in the Eighties which was a magical and wild time for computer technology. I decided to check it out but I ended up not really liking it. It felt a lot like Mad Men. There is a lot of slick dialogue and interesting characters but the show felt like it was infused with nasty, dark energy (just like Mad Men). No offense to fans of either show but both shows just felt too dark and uncomfortable for me. I thought the show was going to be full of the wonder and passion of discovering the cutting edge and trying to market it to the people. Instead, it was a lot of characters sniping at each other and angry yelling. Maybe the show got better after the first few episodes but I lost the desire to find out. Coupled with the fact that none of my friends or family have ever talked about watching the show and I was done with it. I do not recommend it unless you were a fan of shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Music of the Week:
DJ Format & Abdominal – We’re Back

The HU – Wolf Totem

Lessthanamonster – Honey Sweet Thing

AFI – Miss Murder

Miya Folick – Stop Talking

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Technology As Our Friend”
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I started watching Lucifer Season 3
– I started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3
– I watched more The Magicians Season 3
– I got a PlayStation Classic
– I watched more My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season 1

Media Update 1/3/19

January 3, 2019


The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

I like a good western (although not as much as my stepfather) so it was with great excitement that I heard that the Coen Brothers were returning to that genre. Their version of True Grit far outshines the original and their period pieces are always fresh and interesting. The Coen Brothers have had my love ever since I first watched Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? This movie felt kind of like a mix between the two movies. The movie has six stories that run a fairly broad spectrum of tones. From happy, to dismal, to heartwarming, to exciting, to sad, and on to scary there it felt like a story buffet. One of the things that I found they all shared was a certain dark comedy. Each story is pulled along at a good pace toward its inevitable conclusion. Of course, each story’s pace matches its tone so the darker tales feel longer and the happy ones feel quicker. However, this actually worked for me. All of the stories were compelling and all of the characters were interesting. With great actors like Liam Neeson, Clancy Brown, Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Stephen Root, Harry Melling, Tom Waits, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, and Tyne Daly this is definitely an ensemble work. However, with the star power divided into six parts it does not feel too crowded at all. While I usually get turned off by darker movies, this one did not have that effect. I definitely recommend this movie.


A Serious Man

Some of the Coen Brothers films are not as well received, like Burn After Reading. I feel that since I had never heard about this movie before stumbling on it on Netflix, it was definitely not a huge hit. I would compare this movie with one of the Coen Brothers’ less popular films, Barton Fink. Like that movie, it is a character study where we view a character being pushed further and further out of their comfort zone. The movie is about a Jewish physics professor in the 1960s whose life starts to fall apart around him as he tries to navigate an increasingly bizarre set of situations. It stars a lot of relative unknowns because almost all of the characters are Jewish and the Coen Brothers wanted a departure from using their regulars. Pretty much the only exceptions are Fred Melamed and Richard Kind, two brilliant character actors whose names most would not recognize. The rest of the cast they did find are also excellent and special kudos go to the star Michael Stuhlbarg who later went on to become a bigger star with The Shape of Water, Doctor Strange, Call Me By Your Name and a lot more popular movies. He is a great character to follow. He is very sympathetic and likable so it is heartbreaking to root for him in his sisyphean tasks. I would also say that I felt some influences from other directors like David Lynch and Wes Anderson as there is plenty of quirky weirdness. I also recommend this movie.


Inside Llewyn Davis

This one was another character study. This one is also set in the sixties but follows a down and out folk musician in New York City just trying to scrape by and pursue his dream. Things have started to get desperate and it is literally just a slice of life story about a few days in linear time. Oscar Isaac plays the title and lead role and, although he is a little bit of a dick, he is really easy to root for. The other two major parts in the movie are played by Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake and they are also pretty likable. There is a history between all three characters and it is just fun to watch them interact. Also, thee is just so much fun folky music from a time where musicians were really starting to branch out. There are also great smaller parts from Adam Driver (yup they were in this together first), F. Murray Abraham and John Goodman. This movie has even less of a plot than A Serious Man but it is full of good actors just doing what good actors do. At the same time, it feels like a great little story about moving on with your life. I feel like watching both movies is a great contrast as they take place in the same decade but take place in completely different communities. I recommend this too.

Music of the Week:
The Killers – The Man

Pretty Vicious – Are You Entertained?

The Dollyrots – Walking On Sunshine

Deca – Mammon’s Mantra

James Chance and the Contortions- Designed to Kill

Weekly Update (Two weeks full!):
– This week’s theme is “Coen Brothers”
– I finished Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I finished Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 2
– I watched more The Dragon Prince Season One
– I started watching The Magicians Season 3
– I started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 6
– It’s a new year and I feel ready for it

Media Update 12/20/18

December 20, 2018


Mercy Christmas

Most people who observe Christmas as a holiday want to spend it with people who at least tolerate them. I spend every Christmas with my mother and at least one of my brothers and some combination of other family members. The one year that I had to work in another state while other people were back home celebrating was painful. So, I can understand somebody wanting to be loved on Christmas and jumping at any chance to be together with anybody on Christmas. In this movie, that feeling leads to bad things for our loveable hero. While this was a simple horror movie, it actually had a lot of heart. It is about family dynamics, office politics, and Christmas. It is also about cannibalism. It is obviously cheaply made but I could not help but like the actors involved as they tried their best on a low budget. That low budget did not impede a fairly good story and an interesting concept. The movie has a momentum to it that made it hard not to love by the end of it. The ending is chaotic and fun and totally earned and strangely fitting for Christmas. Remember, Christmas is as much about the family you choose as the family you are born with or marry into. I recommend this movie.


Red Christmas

I was attracted to this movie because it stars Dee Wallace, a veteran of so many horror movies. She was in both The Hills Have Eyes and Critters, both of which I watched for the first time this year. When I found out she was in this new Christmas movie, I felt I had to check it out. Ultimately, I am glad that I did. However, I was about to shut it off at first. By ten minutes in I kind of hated the family together on Christmas who would not stop bickering. Also, it was inexplicably set in Australia even though half the cast was not Australian. I stuck with it and it got better. Once the actual horror elements started, I saw that the family stuck together when the chips were down. Also, there were so many low key good elements to the movie. For one, I loved how they depicted panic with the camera shaking and going out of focus. I also liked Dee Wallace who was the shining star of the film. I also liked the action that kept guessing what was going to happen next. I feel that it is rare when I am too surprised by horror films anymore. The movie felt kind of like The Hills Have Eyes in that a defenseless family is caught off guard and besieged by a superior killer. The cinematography very much reminded me of seventies classics like Hills or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie kept me guessing here and there and was utterly brutal but kind of fun. I definitely recommend it as well.


The Elf

I find the whole tradition of the “Elf on a Shelf” to be really, really creepy. The concept of Santa always watching you is unnerving enough but to have something in your house watching, judging, and reporting is crazy. I always thought it was a natural subject for a horror movie and finally, somebody tackled it. Of course, they had to use a different doll because the official one is trademarked. However, this movie is plagued with problems. The acting is so wooden that I wondered if I was not watching a bad dub of a foreign movie. The plot makes little sense mostly because almost nothing is explained. They drop the viewer into the middle of a weird story without really giving any lore or explanation. The characters come up with some of it but the viewer is not shown how they come to these conclusions. The camera work is very shoddy and uninteresting as well which is sad. The actors’ audio is not properly recorded so the dialogue is muddled. Although considering the acting, that might be doing them a favor. The only thing I found interesting was the brief bits of puppetry or animation done with the doll. Except that the doll’s kills are not shown and instead we see them through jumpy, confusing camera shots from the doll’s point of view. It was a bit of a letdown and it made me hope that somebody else tries this concept again. I do not recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:
Gwen Stefani – Cheer For The Elves

The Dollyrots – Because I’m Santa

Lindsey Stirling ft. Sabrina Carpenter – You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Aloe Blacc – Funky Ass Christmas

Fantasia – The Snow Is Falling

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Blood for Christmas”
– I finished Hilda Season 1
– I finished Happy! Season 1
– I watched more Lucifer Season 2
– I watched more Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I started watching Designated Survivor Season 2
– Merry Christmas!
– RIP Joseph Van Tiem

Media Update 12/6/18

December 6, 2018


The Rookie

I have been a big fan of Nathan Fillion since I first saw him in Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I then came late to Firefly and finally fell in love with that too. Castle was absolutely great as well. However, when I saw the ads for The Rookie I was not sure about a more serious role for him. However, it is not exactly that. The Rookie casts Fillion as a man who enters the police academy during a midlife crisis and he takes to it. The show follows him in his rookie year as a police officer and it is pretty good. The show is actually about three rookies and their respective training officers. Like Castle, the show leans on comedy but has plenty of drama. They get into some serious situations but also approach the lighter side of policing, mostly through segments on public relations. Each episode, the three trainees learn new lessons about how to be a better officer and a better person. As with most shows about the police, it is an idealized version of the police with relations between the public and the police force being relatively stable and almost no racism. The cast has a great mix of people who approach policing from different perspectives and it is an interesting cross-section of what a police force should be. I recommend this show.


The Good Doctor

This was something I recently sat down and watched with my mother as we relaxed after filing a complaint. It was not a show I would have chosen to watch as I had previously dismissed it as a pale imitation of House. However, that was doing it a bit of an injustice. The show stars Freddie Highmore as an autistic kid who proves himself to be a skilled surgeon and is hired by a hospital. Highmore plays it well, giving the character a lot of heart while also having him not understand a lot of human interactions. He is mentored by Richard Schiff who is a great, accomplished actor. He is backed up by an ensemble cast of interesting actors who play doctors and nurses. The show is paced pretty well and it has more heart and thought in it than I thought it would have. What helps is Schiff’s awesome performance and how people react and act around Highmore’s autistic doctor. Everything is handled with care and it provides a lot of interesting character moments. I may start watching this at some point. I recommend it.


The Resident

This show was kind of confusing but granted I jumped in at a later point in the show and would probably need to go back and watch in order to figure out what is going on. The hands down best part of the show is Malcolm-Jamal Warner who plays a sage and calm surgeon. He mentors a rising star surgeon who is over from Africa to learn how to be a better surgeon and she is played by Shaunette Wilson. However, the actual focus of the show is Matt Czuchry who plays a doctor in his residency whose father owns the hospital he is working for. His colleague (actually a nurse but overqualified) and girlfriend is played by Emily VanCamp. There is a slew of other characters all involved in a lot of melodramatic, soap opera dangerous shenanigans. The show was a bit much for me but the acting was at least interesting and there was a boatload of charisma in it. I may check this out later but it is going way down my list. I cannot recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Gateway Drugs – Night Swimming

Tell Me a Story – Mischief Brew

Ariana Grande – thank u, next

Kayo Genesis – Rich Lives Matter

Baskervillain – It’s A Love

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “The <Blank>”
– I watched more She-Ra and the Princess of Power Season 1
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 7
– I watched more Chilling Tales of Sabrina Season 1
– I watched more Hilda Season 1
– I finished MST3K Season 12

Media Update 11/29/18

November 29, 2018


Hurricane Heist

When my friends and I saw this trailer in theaters, a lot of them expressed their disgust but I noted at the time that it was made by some of the people who made the Fast and the Furious and the XXX franchises. The main one is Rob Cohen who directed XXX, The Fast and the Furious, and Dragonheart. So, if anything, I knew I was going to get some fun stunts and some interesting characters. I was not disappointed. The movie is about a group of criminals who use a hurricane as cover to attempt to rob a United States Treasury installation tasked with shredding old money to take it out of circulation. The heroes are an ATF agent, a meteorologist, and an ex-military mechanic. The bulk of the movie takes place in Alabama during a Category 5 hurricane (although it is kind of insinuated that it may be a Category 6). None of the actors were known to me (although the ATF agent was on Lost which I did not watch much of). That was kind of refreshing as I got to watch some new faces go about crafting a familiar story in unique circumstances. There is very little actual storm science actually used in the movie but what is there is interesting. I was also interested that they decided to put a much-needed climate change message about storms worsening as time goes on. It is a movie that very much does not get in its own way and it never felt like it dragged. The character development was interesting (and sometimes heartwarming) and the action was a lot of fun. I definitely recommend this one.


The Spy Who Dumped Me

I have loved Mila Kunis since That Seventies Show but I have enjoyed her more and more as her career has proceeded. I am a huge fan of her in movies like Bad Moms, Black Swan, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She has great comic timing and she has off the charts charisma. Also, Kate McKinnon was the best part of the Ghostbusters remake a while ago. Justin Theroux plays the titular spy and he is sufficiently rugged. There is also the wonderful Gillian Anderson as well.  The movie follows the ex of an international spy who is forced to carry out spy missions along with her crazy best friend. The bulk of the movie rests on the dialogue between Kunis and McKinnon. The dialogue felt a lot like a Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino movie. The characters get caught up in trivialities even in the middle of danger. This movie is very much in the style of fish out of water comedies where the people tasked with something, are way over their heads. I had a lot of fun watching this movie, it was not laugh-out-loud funny to me but it was delightful. The movie was directed and written by Susanna Fogel, a relative newcomer, and I look forward to seeing more from her. I definitely recommend this one too.


Game Night

This was not a movie that I picked but it was upsold before Thanksgiving dinner and so the majority chose it for a movie night. I am familiar with Jason Bateman through Arrested Development but not much else. He is just as good in this as he is in Arrested Development, basically playing the same character. Rachel McAdams is the other lead and she is even funnier than Bateman. Jesse Plemons plays a comic relief cop who belongs in a horror movie. Billy Magnussen plays an absolute idiot, paired with a very witty Sharon Horgan (who I would love to see in a better movie). Kyle Chandler is great at playing the cool but scummy older brother. The movie is basically a combination of The Man Who Knew Too Little and The Game. Like those movies, the twists were expected and it was fun looking for any evidence of what was real and what was fake. It has some clever twists and a lot of movie references but the comedy was kind of hit or miss. Overall, I liked it but it had so much potential if it had been just a little bit smarter. I would recommend it as a dumb movie to watch with friends.

Music of the Week:

Caballero & JeanJass – Dégueulasse

The Vitriots – I Don’t Wanna Watch The News

The Dig – Nothing in This Town

Rifflord – The Other Side

Baco Exu do Blues – Flamingos

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Zany Intrigue”
– I finished Designated Survivor Season 1
– I finished The Haunting of Hill House Season 1
– I watched more Hilda Season 1
– I watched more American Vandal Season 1
– I started watching MST3K Season 12
– I watched more She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 1
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2


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