Posts Tagged ‘Media Update’

Media Update 8/17/17

August 17, 2017


Riverdale

When I was growing up and I was still fairly small (and yes, I am still kind of short), I had a bunch of relatives who knew that I liked comic books but understandably they did not know what I was buying with my allowance or what my friends were loaning to me. So, those relatives wanted to be nice and so they bought me Archie’s Double Digest comic books. These small books were chock full of Archie comic stories either reprinted or newly written. The Archie comics I read were full of puns and salt of the earth teenage characters trying to be happy in some decade long before I was born. It was simple and harmless and took a few minutes to read through. Now, they have released this new show called Riverdale which is an updated CW version of those characters and their adventures. All of the things I took for granted, like Archie not being able to decide between Betty and Veronica, Jughead’s apathy, and Reggie’s bullying are brought out in a different light. Reinterpreted, everything looks a little less innocent. Throw in a murder mystery arc and we have ourselves a darker version of Archie than I am used to. The show is pretty much a trashy soap opera but the mystery and characters have got me hooked. I have to praise the show for its cast diversity so far and their kind treatment of the LGBTQ community from what I can see. I recommend it but know you are heading into something less than dignified.


Vampire Academy

On a whim, I decided to check this out because I have loved vampire lore since I was pretty young and I am always up for checking out some different takes on the lore. Vampires vary so much in fiction and each take can be even just a little bit unique like a snowflake. This movie is apparently based off of a series of books. It adapts the rarely used dhampir legends instead of just using straight vampire lore. The story follows a school for both Moroi and the Dhampir. Moroi are vampires that must drink blood to live but are not physically strong or resistant. Instead, they all have magical power over the classical elements. They are protected by the Dhampir who are Half-Moroi/Half-Human and are physically tougher. The goal is to keep the Moroi safe from humanity and the Strigoi who are more like classical, bloodthirsty vampires like Dracula. The movie was actually pretty good as the acting was pleasant and they did not stray too much into the dreaded Twilight territory. It was also refreshing to follow competent, confident female characters in a vampire movie. I liked the different look at vampire lore and the various social and biological hierarchies. The romantic subplots did not seem to intrude too much on the mystery and the main plot and actually felt more organic than I thought they would be. A lot of the movie is about gossip and teenage angst while being vampires but it did not come off as annoying to me. I would recommend it but I would understand if it is not your cup of tea.


Reign

Since I grew up in the United States, I do not know a whole lot about British history. As you might imagine, there is way more written British history than written American history. So, when I first heard about Mary Queen of Scots, it was in an audio sketch from Monty Python and it taught me nothing about her (except that she was murdered). So, it was with some interest that I gave this show a shot. I have spoken about my studying (through film) of the modern royal family but I know nothing of French/British history from that far back. The show is full of intrigue so far. It is also full of teenagers trying to navigate the politics of royal/noble life, torn between duty and a pursuit of happiness. Since the show is about a time when there was no divorce, no media, and fewer social norms. All of this leads to a very chaotic atmosphere where everyone is sleeping with everyone and everyone is smiling while holding a dagger behind their back. I have not seen much so far but the show definitely has some substance to it. When I think of royalty, I do not think of them being young and reckless and emotional, I think of them as old and regal. Bringing humanity to these real life characters is an interesting way to go. I will most likely be watching a little more of this to see if I like it. I tentatively recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Paigey Cakey – Pattern

Volbeat – Black Rose

Shudder To Think – Speak

Jimin Park – CHEER UP

Boards of Canada – Dayvan Cowboy

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Teenage Drama”
– I started watching White Collar Season 4
– I watched more Criminal Minds Season 12
– I started watching Glitter Force Season 2
– I watched more of Supergirl Season 2
– I watched more Little Witch Academia Season 1

Media Update 8/10/2017

August 10, 2017


Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

Anybody who has read this blog in the last year or so knows that I am a fan of Wet Hot American Summer and I will be forever. The original movie was a funny, sweet and nonsensical movie about the last day at a Jewish Sleepover Camp in 1981. A while ago, they released a miniseries detailing the first day of that summer which was even crazier but awesome. At the end of the movie, there is a quick scene where the main characters promise to have a reunion in 10 years. So instead of the eighties, we get to see the characters’ adventures at camp as twenty-somethings in 1991. This series saw the closing of story lines raised in the prior two adventures and what appeared to be a wrapping up of the series. This one had a lot of zany things happening but, as usual, it also spent plenty of time focusing on relationships. The main cast from the last two returns with the exception of Bradley Cooper who is replaced by Adam Scott due to scheduling problems. We also see the addition of Mark Feuerstein and Marlo Thomas as two counselors who were apparently just off screen during the prior two adventures. There are also great performances by Alyssa Milano and Jai Courtney to add a little more conflict into the picture. I definitely recommend watching this and all the Wet Hot American Summer pieces.


Ghost in the Shell

I used to hate anime but at some point, it grew on me. The same actually goes for Science Fiction as I usually gravitated towards Science Fantasy and regular Fantasy. Of course, in the Venn diagram of those two things is the Ghost in the Shell series which I liked. I watched quite a bit of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as it felt like a cyberpunk/film noir/police mash up. This movie felt very much like a pretty solid adaptation of some episodes I remember. Much has been said about how Scarlet Johannson should not have been cast in the lead in an anime adaptation but she is a good actress. She did a good job of portraying a machine finding her humanity again. The movie was kind of slow but it picked up speed as it went along. It is a mystery and most mysteries start slow. There is plenty of technobabble and plenty of philosophical questions similar to those posed in Blade Runner and I, Robot. If you have seen the anime series then this will feel kind of nostalgic but if not, it is a pretty good movie on its own merits. This movie was pretty middle-of-the-road and inoffensive. I recommend it but frankly, I was working on other stuff while I watched it.


Passengers

This one got bad reviews but I decided to watch it anyway as I am a big fan of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. This was kind of a stripped down science fiction adventure without a lot of the adventure part. In it, Chris Pratt plays a man who gets woken up 90 years too early from suspended animation in a spaceship headed to colonize a planet. A lot of the movie is more about the psychological effects of loneliness, forgiveness, and what you would do with your life if you were effectively stranded. There are pretty much only four actors in the movie and it makes the movie feel lonely which I believe was the intended effect. The special effects were really good, I believed they were on a futuristic space ship. I found it interesting that the actors actually had working tablets programmed with a UI designed in UNITY as consoles throughout filming. There were a lot of good yet uncomfortable themes explored in the movie. The love story was definitely problematic and there is not much room to argue that point. It is definitely not a ‘nice’ movie to watch. I would recommend it but it is a little soul-crushing in its bleakness.

Music of the Week:
The Tarantulas – Bullrushes

Kings Of Leon – Reverend

Alyson Stoner – Sweet

Motionless In White – LOUD (F**k It)

Nadia Rose – Skwod

Weekly Update:
– This Week’s Theme is “The Future”
– I finished NCIS Season 13
– I started watching Criminal Minds Season 12
– I continued Supergirl Season 2
– I watched more of Little Witch Academia
– I started watching Rick and Morty Season 3
– It is awesome. Go watch all of it.
– Dan Harmon was on Game Grumps
– I want to go to the movie theater again

Media Update 8/3/2017

August 3, 2017


Spider-Man: Homecoming

I was a huge fan of Spider-Man growing up and therefore I bought a lot of Spidey comic books with my allowance in the mid to late nineties. So I got both good and bad storylines including my favorite Maximum Carnage. I do not read the comics anymore because I have fallen behind and the One More Day storyline kind of convinced me that I was done with Spidey comics for an indefinite amount of time. However, any animated or live action version is something I feel compelled to check out. Therefore, I was beyond excited to see the character in Captain America: Civil War. This is the first stand alone Spidey film in the connect Marvel Cinematic Universe. There was a definite John Hughes vibe to the non-action parts (and some of the action parts) which I read they were going for. Tom Holland is the youngest version of Peter Parker to date and he did a great job bringing out that part of the character. He was a kid, he made dumb decisions and made mistakes but with the purest of intentions. They also redesigned the costume to give it expressive eyes so that we did not get the action figure quality from the first Spider-Man film and he did not have to take off his mask to convey emotion. They had a great supporting cast with Robert Downey, Jr, Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Connelly, Zendaya, Jon Favreau and newcomer Jacob Batalon. Michael Keaton played an excellent villain with a blue collar vibe to him which felt like just the right inaugural villain for this new Spidey. I definitely recommend it.


Justice League: Gods and Monsters

DC Comics loves its elseworlds stories and frankly, I like a lot of them because I like theories on alternate universes. In this story, we get an alternate Justice League caused by changes in the timeline. In this timeline, General Zod’s son is sent to Earth when Krypton explodes instead of Kal-El and his trajectory places him in the care of a pair of migrant workers (they seemed to be from Mexico). He grows up with a distrust of authority but a strong sense of justice and the desire to defend the weak. Bekka, the wife of Orion, comes to Earth to escape a massacre and names herself Wonder Woman with no Diana of Themyscira in sight. A young Kurt Langstrom tries to cure his cancer with a biological/nanite solution and accidentally turns himself into a vampire and he calls himself Batman. As far as we see, a lot of familiar faces from the comics do not make the move into becoming heroes and villains and the Justice League spends most of their time fighting terrorist cells. All three kill freely with varying degrees of regret. As usual, the animation and voice acting are on point for yet another DC Animated feature. There is plenty of action but the movie ends up being more of a mystery than a straight superhero thing. With the minimal cast, we get more time to explore each character in more depth. If you are a fan of these sorts of things then I definitely recommend it.


Van Helsing (2016)

I really like Wynonna Earp and I like vampire lore so I thought I would give another Syfy series about a famous ancestor a shot. As you might expect, this series follows the modern day (2019) descendant of fictional vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, Vanessa Helsing. She was born with special blood, a mystery I have not yet seen solved on the show. In fact, there are a lot of mysteries that have yet to be solved in the few episodes I have seen so far which is great. What is known in the first episode is that Mt. Saint Helens has exploded again, scattering ash over a large portion of the United States. As soon as the eruption happens, people mysteriously start attacking and trying to drink blood from other people. Without direct sunlight, these vampires have free reign of the outdoors now. Most of them are feral and attack like rabid animals without provocation. There are intelligent vampires but what their role in things is not yet clear. However, the rational vampires do fear Vanessa Helsing because she is said to be the key to eliminating all vampires. The show starts slow but picks up in the second episode as we start learning more character backstories and the driving forces behind the show. I am interested in seeing more. It is pretty gory as you might expect but I recommend it as a pleasant diversion if you are looking for something a little scarier.

Music of the Week:
The xx – Dangerous

Spankin – Smith and Pyle

Anilah — Warrior

PUP – Sleep In TheHeat

Against Me! – Crash

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “With Great Power…”
– I finished Season 1 of Glitter Force
– I finished Season 4 of Agents of Shield
– I watched more NCIS Season 14
– I started watching Criminal Minds Season <>
– I watched more Blood Drive
– It is August which means we are in the commercial Halloween season

Media Update 7/27/17

July 27, 2017


Welcome to Fear City

This was a matinee and I was excited to see the first show of our bunch of shows we had tickets to. Fear City is what they called New York City in the seventies. One of the points this show tries to put forward is that if Manhattan was considered Fear City, what was the Bronx? Terror Town? This was the area where the poorest black people lived at the height of disco, funk and the early days of the hip hop lifestyle. The show follows a mother, her grown son, her grown daughter and the son’s friend. Each has been through a hard journey and each still has a hard journey ahead. The show is stylized but also allows for fantasy bits like asides, monologs, and the appearance of a giant talking rat. Nothing good happens and I felt for each and every character most of whom had to keep dark, painful secrets. In the end, there is more to the story than this dark tale set in 1977. Afterall, things were hard for black people in 1977 but they were also hard from the 1500s and all the way to the 21st century. It is a great exploration of race, poverty, and morality. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend it.


The Niceties

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to language about race and minorities. I do recognize that I can still improve and I try to do that every day. We all have prejudices, even ones we do not realize we have until we are put into certain situations. This show is about the verbal battle between a student of color and a white professor and the different kinds of racism that can manifest in us and in society. It also explores how we look up to people from history who we find to be problematic later on as our perspective is enriched. The claim is made that as long as each generation is five percent better than the last, then we are still striving in the right direction. The counter is that this is not enough. The claim is made that white people are still trying to learn what not to say but the counter is that we should already know what not to say. It also explores how invisible whole groups are from history because they could not write down or pass on their history and therefore we are only left with a general picture of slaves rather than actual specifics. It is a very intense show and I wholeheartedly recommend it.


Byhalia, Mississipi

This was a story about how quickly your life can be upended by a single mistake. People build a life together but you never realize how fragile those relationships can be until they are shattered and you are left to pick up the pieces. The main focal point is a husband and wife waiting for a baby and then everything goes horribly and they have to figure where to go from there. The show is a comedy until it stops being a comedy and things get very real. Hovering around the edges of the tale are old enemies, old friends and a mother in law who all have an opinion on what needs to happen. I cannot talk much about the show without revealing too much about the sudden roadblocks. Check it out if you have the chance.

 

Music of the Week:
Beastwars – Realms

Ihsahn – Introspection

DM – Mueka ft. Cosculluela

Lacuna Coil – Trip The Darkness

Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Contemporary Arts Theater Festival 2017”
– The CATF will be ending this weekend so if you somehow see this before it ends, go see a show or more
– I also saw “Wild Horses” and it was great but not as impactful as the above shows
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 3
– I watched more NCIS Season 13
– I watched more Glitter Force
– I watched more House of Cards Season 2
– I watched more Blood Drive
– Not much this week since I was swamped with the festival

Media Update 7/20/17

July 20, 2017


Despicable Me 2

I liked the first movie, I talked about it somewhere on this site. Dreamworks is hit and miss so at some point I threw in with Pixar and Disney who have a higher success rate. Now, in the age of Rotten Tomatoes and audience scores, I felt like going back and watching more Dreamworks Animated films. The Despicable Me series is not really about a (now former) supervillain trying to save the day. Sure, that stuff totally happens but it is just the medium in which the real plot exists. To me, the real charm of the movies is how Gru (Steve Carrell) deals with the people around him. He is grumpy with lingering villainous tendencies but he has a good heart deep down. Watching him deal with his adopted daughters is funny and heartwarming. Of course, the now omnipresent minions are in the movie but they are limited to short gags and then are actually used for some fun major plot sequences near the end. Kristin Wiig plays Gru’s secret agent partner who tries to steer Gru further toward the side of light and she is edited and honed so that she is way better than I have seen her before, kind of like Ghostbusters. It was a fun romp of a film with a good heart to it so I definitely recommend it.


Kung Fu Panda 2

I am a big fan of Jack Black who I know can be a polarizing figure in pop culture. He has a goofy sense of humor that does not always land but he always gives a hundred percent effort. Kung Fu Panda looked like something that was going to fail and then I heard it was good. I gave it a shot. Jack Black plays Po the Panda with such honest naivete that I cannot help but root for him even when he acts dumb or lazy. The same goes with this movie. He has proved himself once but now he has to keep proving himself. Now we see the tight friendships he has formed with his team and even though they might not always fully trust him, they work well together. The jokes are subtle enough to be funny and it felt like there was less awkward humor than the original as Po was not a complete newbie anymore. It also felt like there was more meat to the story and things were much more personal for Po. On top of all of that, the action sequences are so beautiful and fluid. For some reason, watching animals doing kung fu is really pleasant especially seeing them do it in teamwork. I recommend it.


Storks

I remembered laughing at the trailer for this movie which is not a guarantee of a good movie but it gets me interested. I was also interested when I found out that Andy Samberg, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key are all in it. I seriously thought this movie was made by Dreamworks when it came out so I had to slightly adjust my theme this week. This movie was weird but in a good way. There were plenty of times where I would think to myself that a joke or a situation was so stupid but just as soon as I think it, the movie self-corrects. It points out stupid situations, the wolves make no sense, the main character played by Samberg is borderline insane but the movie tends to explain everything to my satisfaction. On top of that, there were plenty of smiles and heart-warming moments since the movie is mostly about orphans finding a family. From what I could tell, taking care of a baby and its effect on the parents was portrayed the most accurate that I have seen in an animated movie. But actually, the real star of the movie is <> who has a great mix of sweetness, sarcasm, and craziness. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Marshmello – Alone

Korede Bello ft. Tiwa Savage – Romantic

Post Malone – Congratulations

Hex Girls – Earth, Wind, Fire and Air

Suggs – I’m Only Sleeping

Update of the Week:
– This week’s theme is “Non-Disney Orphans”
– I finished Arrow Season 5
– I started House of Cards Season 2
– I finally finished watching GLOW
– I watched more Glitter Force Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 2
– I started watching NCIS Season 13
– I finished watching iZombie Season 3

Media Update 7/13/17

July 13, 2017


American Gods

I read the original novel American Gods a couple of years ago. Written by Neil Gaiman, it was a page turner that I found hard to put down each day. It is a fantastic tale of gods and monsters but a lot of it is hidden just below the surface. These are copies of the old gods who migrated to the Americas with immigrants (and slaves). No culture is off limits which is fascinating to me because from my first exposure, I was a super fan of mythology. The various pantheons, demigods, heroes, and creatures are the stories folks told each other to explain how the world works or to impart morals. That is not lost here as we meet these mysterious beings of power. In addition to all of that, it is the story of Americana and traveling through our country and seeing both the good and the bad. Seeing how people who used to rely on the old gods are dealing with their life. It is also about grief and finding your place in the world. At the same time, it is also about the new world clashing with old tradition. There is a lot going on but each episode is pretty simple, only letting slip a few clues as to what is actually happening so you can digest them and wait eagerly for more. Everything about the show is fantastic but the acting and the artistic direction stand out ahead of everything. I definitely recommend it.


Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I was nine years old when Beauty and the Beast came out and I imagine I saw it pretty close to that date. Disney’s version fo the story has been burned into my mind by now. Of course, like most people, my favorite part was Jerry Orbach’s charming performance as Lumiere. As I grew up, I realized what a special character Belle was. She was a strong, confident, and smart female lead at a time when kids really needed to see that. Sure there were others but she stands out among the original line of Disney Princesses. This version was every bit as fun as the original and then some. We mostly got the original movie but they added bits here and bits there that added more depth to the characters. Overall, they added about forty extra minutes which is a lot but it did not feel like too much. It made me feel like I knew the characters more than the original animated version. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens were stronger leads than the original not only thanks to good acting but more to work with. Supporting actors like Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen. Emma Thompson and Audra McDonald really helped as well. I definitely recommend this new version even if you missed the fully animated version.


Power Rangers (2017)

I was a big fan of the first few seasons of Power Rangers. I was an older kid but at that point, I was already a fan of Sailor Moon and Ronin Warriors so another show about young transforming fighters was welcome. The first seasons were goofy affairs with the rare dramatic moment outside of life or death battles. It was a great show to watch bad dubbing over a Japanese actress, costumed martial arts, and cool robot versus kaiju battles. My mom had to go on a waitlist to get us Power Ranger action figures for Christmas but I treasured them. This movie borrows cues from the original seasons but it also delves more into character like later seasons of Power Rangers (I’m thinking RPM). This movie is basically the Breakfast Club meets a superhero origin movie. We actually get a good long bit of the movie before the supernatural stuff starts happening. It was actually kind of refreshing to get a good hard look at our heroes before they become heroes. Instead of the original origin, we get to see the Rangers train up and bond as a team instead of all of them instantly being friends. It made the inevitable victory through teamwork all the sweeter. Throw in some fun supporting roles by Elizabeth Banks, Bill Hader and Bryan Cranston and some shout outs to the original three seasons. By the way, Bryan Cranston did voiceover work for the original season of Power Rangers. I recommend it but it might not be up everybody’s alley.

Music of the Week:
From First To Last – Ride The Wings Of Pestilence

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

Kimberly Korn – Bad Girl Good Boy

The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming ft. Daft Punk

Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Transformation”
– I started watching iZombie Season 3
– I watched more Arrow Season 5
– I finished Flash Season 3
– I watched more Supergirl Season 2
– I finished Blue Bloods Season 8
– I watched more House of Cards Season 1

Media Update 7/6/17

July 6, 2017


Wonder Woman (2017)

I had been wary about seeing this movie because of the horrible job that DC Comics has been doing with their movies as opposed to what Marvel is doing right now. I am not a fan of the darker, edgier tone combined with muted colors and muted acting. Believe it or not, Suicide Squad was actually a step in the right direction. So I hemmed and hawed but heard fantastic reviews not only from Rotten Tomatoes but from independent voices I follow on the Internet. So this past July 4th weekend, I stepped into a theater on a whim and sat down and caught an afternoon showing. I am very pleased that I did. Wonder Woman was never really a hero that I connected with. I connected more with Wonder Girl. Still, it was an iconic character who finally got a live-action movie beyond the pilot for the TV show. Gal Godot was great. I have only seen her in Fast and Furious movies but she poured everything into this role and really embodied a Wonder Woman I felt I could finally connect with. Chris Pine played Steve Trevor with just the right tone. There were laughs, sad moments and plenty of action. It also had a lot to say about gender roles, forgiveness and accepting the flaws in a person and hoping their strengths ultimately win out. I wholeheartedly recommend it but I will probably not be seeing Justice League (at least, that is what I say right now).


Glow

I think it has been well-documented how much I love pro-wrestling so predicting that I would watch this Netflix show would have been a no-brainer. Throw in that I already knew that the show starred Alison Brie and had cameos of some of my favorite wrestlers and I was eagerly awaiting the premiere date. The show is really great and it captures the feel of a fledgling pro-wrestling promotion trying to get off the ground. It also charts a whole lot of actresses who know nothing about the business, learning the art of pro-wrestling. This is great for the viewer who does not know this stuff because they learn along with the cast. For the pro-wrestling fans, there are great cameos from John Morrison, Joey Ryan, Lauren James, The Addiction and more. We watch these ladies train to put on a show while dealing with their personal issues in a very real way. There are also debates on the show between style and substance and also simple story and complex motivation which mirror several different periods in pro-wrestling. All in all this show pays tribute to the real ladies of the first seasons of GLOW and what it must have taken to get to where they could try and elevate women’s pro-wrestling to its place in the mainstream. I definitely recommend it and if you are not a pro-wrestling fan I think you can still get a lot out of it.


Blood Drive

I love a little bit of grindhouse and this show has grindhouse in spades. In post-apocalyptic 1999, oil prices have skyrocketed and resources are scarce due to a cataclysmic event. Society has become brutal as the cities struggle to remain civilized while psychopaths and mutants roam the countryside. Behind it all there is a bigger conspiracy to unravel. In the middle of it all, a determined woman is forced to pair with a cop on a deadly race across the country in a car fueled by blood instead of gas. The show is full of insane characters, brutal violence, and twisted humor. Each episode so far focuses on a new setting and the two main characters trying to escape danger and make it to the next finish line. If they reach the finish line last, they are dead so they must escape cannibals, monsters and the other racers to get there in time. I have only seen a few episodes but so far even the most horrific characters are really amusing. I definitely recommend this if you are a fan of gore and fun action.

Music of the Week:
Stereopony – Hitohira No Hanabira

The Front Bottoms – Funny You Should Ask

Kim Boekbinder – HBIC

Ween – Voodoo Lady

Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Women in Combat”
– I started watching Blue Bloods Season 7
– I continued Arrow Season 5
– I continued The Flash Season 3
– I continued Supergirl Season 2
– I continued Agents of Shield Season 3
– I started Little Witch Academia Season 1
– I watched some more Glitter Force

Media Update 6/22/2017

June 22, 2017


House of Cards

I have heard over and over how good this show was but the longer I did not watch it, the more there was to watch and I felt overwhelmed. I always said ‘I’ll watch it next week’. This is the week that I finally decided to watch it, disregarding that there are multiple seasons out and just focusing on watching it from the beginning. Kevin Spacey is a great actor and he pours everything into every performance I have seen from him. This may be his greatest role yet. This show is exactly how I imagine politics normally operates. People have goals to accomplish but they also want to amass power to accomplish those goals. They do horrible things to amass that power and to achieve those goals. Frank Underwood is a very charismatic character and is a lot of fun to watch. He is also a lot of fun to hate. In fact, I have yet to see a “good guy” character on the show and I think I never will. This show is about living by the laws of the jungle and who cares who gets run over. I definitely recommend it. It is also partially filmed in my hometown.


Ms. Sloane

This movie kind of had its box office killed by the gun lobby which is actually a pretty good illustration of why this movie needed to be made. The movie covers how corrupt the political lobbying industry is in America. The issue that they choose to use to illustrate this is a gun control law heading towards a vote in the Senate. The movie actually tackles the gun control issue from multiple sides, providing a pretty balanced argument for both sides. However, it is a useful tool in the main drive of the film in covering the lobbying industry. Jessica Chastain plays a hired gun lobbyist who decides to back the gun control bill instead of following the money and fighting for the NRA. Her performance as a workaholic Machiavellian strategist is fascinating to watch. The twists and turns in the story were at first predictable and then the movie started to surprise me. The movie gets more and more powerful as it goes on. It goes from scrappy political movie to thriller to courtroom drama. It is a shame that this one did not get the attention it deserved because it really should have gotten a bigger audience. It still can so I definitely recommend it.


In the Loop

This movie is insane. It is about the communication between the English and American governments during the events leading up to the Second American War in Iraq. Obviously, the main consensus now is that launching that war was a titanic mistake caused by ineptitude, outright conniving malice, and greed. That is what this movie is about. We follow a minor British PM who is a weak-willed politician who gets caught up in everything because he makes a gaffe in an interview. He and his staff stumble through relations with their own government and the American government. Meanwhile, the Americans are pushing hard to start a war. There is a lot of political jockeying and bullying as the people involved are more interested in ending up in a dominant position rather than doing what is right. The two main stars I recognized were James Gandolfini and Peter Capaldi but the whole cast is awesome. Capaldi, in particular, might set a record for f-bombs dropped by a single character but somebody might need to check that. This movie is a spiritual successor to Dr. Strangelove as it is driven by a lot of absurdity and chains of events that rational thought should have stopped. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
Junior – ‘A House That’s Not Quite Home’

Electric Six – Synthesizer

Of Mice & Men – Never Giving Up

NF – Real

Alyson Stoner – Dragon

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Politics as Usual”
– I finished Supernatural Season 12
– I watched more Arrow Season 5
– I watched more The Flash Season 3
– I watched more Supergirl Season 2
– I watched an episode of Bones I had not seen
– I still have not seen Wonder Woman and now I want to
– Happy Birthday, Mom!

Media Update 6/8/17

June 8, 2017


The Book of Life

While it should be obvious by now how much I love Halloween, I have also long been enamored of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. It is not just Mexican Halloween, it is so much different (but also a little different). Day of the Dead is a celebration of remembrance for all dead loved ones. It has a festival atmosphere as candy and good food are shared with the living and with the dead. The Day of the Dead evolved an artistic motif which is well-known even here in the United States. Chief among the symbols is the sugar skull which I am sure you have seen. This movie takes a trip through the customs and legends of the Day of the Dead (with a few tweaks, of course). The movie is so pleasant to look at. The animation is CGI but it reminded me so much of movies like Kubo and The Boxtrolls. The art style just made me smile over and over. It is a tale of a love triangle threatened by supernatural forces from the realms of the dead. It is such an interesting story in the style of a folk tale of gods and mortals. It was exciting, touching, and so incredibly funny. Not surprising since it was directed by Jorge Guttierez (a man deep in the Mexican animation game) and produced by the legendary Guillermo Del Toro. I cannot recommend this one enough.


Wanted 18

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been going on since before I was born. The clash of cultures is one that is incredibly hard to untangle and nobody is completely innocent. This is the true story of a Palestinian town that bought eighteen cows so that they did not have to buy Israeli milk. Their town was Israeli-occupied and they had had enough. The movie is a mixed media documentary with reenactments, interviews, and animation. The animation is mostly about what the cows must have thought of being the focal point of a rebellious act. The talking cows add some humor to a pretty tense story about the Intifada/Israeli conflict. There are also some comic book-style drawings to help illustrate the story. It is a story about a town banding together as a symbol to a people who felt that they got a raw deal. It is an intensely interesting story. Now, I do not know how much is true. I also cannot tell you who is ‘right’ in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As I said, it is a difficult knot to untangle. This movie is worth a watch, though. So often, the United States is only told the story from Israel’s side. It is easy to vilify Palestinians but the conflict is not so black and white. This was a non-violent civil disobedience that is so much more powerful than any fighting. I definitely recommend this.


A Monster in Paris

This was a strange little movie. Set in 1910, a flea is exposed to a chemical mix that makes it into a human-sized monster with a beautiful singing voice. From there, it gets mixed up with a colorful cast of characters in a Paris cabaret. The premise is strange but the characters and the music really make it work. The movie is also alive with Parisian and 1910 culture in general. References to people like Melies are always welcome. There is a lot of action, music, and a ton of great comedy. The second half is non-stop zany action which I really enjoyed after the heavier subject matter in the above movies. As I look down the list of voice actors, I do not recognize anyone (except Catherine O’Hara) but everyone was just as good as any Hollywood star. The animation was really expressive and the art style was just different enough to really set it apart from the multitudes. It was light fare but entirely enjoyable from start to finish. I definitely recommend this one as well.

Music of the Week:
-M- Matthieu Chedid – Je dis aime

Tytan – The Watcher

Bad Seed Rising – Wolves At The Door

Lil Dicky – White Crime

Diamanda Galás & John Paul Jones – Skótoseme

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Animation from Foreign Lands”
– I started watching Arrow Season 5
– I started watching The Flash Season 3
– I started watching Supergirl Season 2
– I watched more Season 12 Supernatural
– I watched more Fairy Tail

Media Update 6/1/2017

June 1, 2017


Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

After finally watching Pirates 4 (see below) the night before, I went off to meet my friends at an IMAX matinee. I was excited for the movie in the same way that I get excited for Fast and the Furious Movies. I love the familiar characters and the impossible antics and this movie showed promise of being that again. Like some reviews have said, the movie is a little long. However, I only noticed that after the movie and I was surprised that two and a half hours had passed. I never looked at my watch once during the movie. It was pretty much a nonstop adventure full of comedy and some poignant emotional moments. Depp, Geoffrey Rush and a lot of character actors return to do what they do best. We also get a new couple for Jack to assist in breaking yet another curse. They were great, played by Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario who were both totally new to me. We also got a great villain in Javier Bardem who is making a good living playing great villains. If this was the last Pirates film, it was a fitting send-off as it felt like it called back to the first one while looking forward. I definitely recommend it.


Treasure Planet

This was one of the Disney animated movies that I missed because I was off at college and I just fell off from watching Disney movies. I had already read Treasure Island so I am sure that this one would not have interested me so much. It has been probably about twenty years since I have read the book so the movie actually sounded a little attractive. I was right, I had forgotten enough of Treasure Island to be unsure of what was happening next and what parts were added in and what parts were from the book. This is an update, of course, putting the story in space in a setting where extraterrestrials freely mingle with human beings. The animation is really pretty as you would expect. What really got me was the art direction and the character design which felt a little fresh to me which is hard to do with aliens. As the movie went on, I started to remember the book but by then I did not care so much. The voice acting is fun, the animation is fluid and the plot is classic. None of this is surprising from the Writer/Director team of The Little Mermaid and Moana. The music is a little bit too much butt rock to me but it was fine. I recommend it.


Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides

So when I decided to go with my friends to Pirates 5, I knew I finally had to watch Pirates 4. This was something I had wanted to do despite hearing it was a bit of disappointment. My motivations to watch the movie were the same as above. Right away, the movie felt like the rest of the Pirates movies. There was Captain Jack and he was going to have an adventure. It did not take long for me to realize that this was not a normal Pirates movie. Most Pirates movies are about the other characters (for the majority Swann/Turner) doing stuff and Captain Jack trying to do stuff with or against them. This movie was more of a personal story for Jack. For once, he was the male romantic lead and it felt a little weird. Still, as much as I love Jack being a degenerate reprobate, the moments where he actually cares are powerful. I did feel it was a little weird to bring in Blackbeard as the villain but it worked. Penelope Cruz was a pretty strong character as well. It just felt like maybe this one rambled and meandered a bit too much. There were a lot of great moments but the movie lacked the emotional punch the other movies had for me. Still, I would recommend it if you are a completionist like me.

Music of the Week:

Nina Hagen – Naturträne

Amandititita – La Muy Muy

Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’

Run The Jewels – Legend Has It

B.E.R. – The Night Begins to Shine

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is obviously “Disney Pirates”
– I finished Season 3 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
– I watched more Fairy Tail
– I watched more Glitter Force
– I finished watching The Get Down and I’m pissed that they canceled it
– I started Supernatural Season 12
– I watched more Lucha Underground
– I don’t know if I want to trust Wonder Woman
– I am planning Halloween


susanne matthews

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