Posts Tagged ‘Media Update’

Media Update 3/23/2017

March 23, 2017


Iron Fist

Everybody seems to say this show sucks but that is the problem with saying something sucks, somebody out there might actually like it. Marvel has created a lot of good television shows, especially through Netflix. My favorite has been Jessica Jones but Luke Cage and Daredevil have both been great as well. The plan was always to make a quintet of shows and this is the fourth. Iron Fist is Danny Rand, a young wealthy man who the world thought was dead but was instead training in another dimension. When he returns, he is naive about the world and unsure of where he fits in anymore. It is an interesting show as it shows an unshakably honest and forthright character trying to deal with a very dishonest world. Like Daredevil, we get a lot of cool martial arts fight scenes. Some of the coolest fight scenes star the awesome Colleen Wing who is a great character from the comics. In the comics, she often teams up with Misty Knight who was on Luke Cage. I am only a few episodes deep into the season but the show is really coming together. I really like it so far. It makes it a little insulting when other people say “it sucks”. I definitely recommend it. Do not let other people decide what you will and will not like. Check things out for yourself.


Justice League Dark

This was originally supposed to be a project helmed by the excellent Guillermo Del Toro. Unfortunately, that project did not work out because I would have loved to see it. Setting that aside, the animated films that DC Comics and Warner Brothers have been putting out have been really good. The only downside is we get the Superman who is a huge dick but he has maybe two scenes so it’s fine. The show centers on some of the more mystical characters in the DC Universe (a lot of whom came from other companies originally). The central character in the movie is John Constantine who has never really been a hero but often cannot stand by and let the world end. He is joined by Batman, Zatanna, Deadman, Etrigan and Swamp Thing. It is always great to see Batman out of his element, trying to gain his footing but never losing his cool. We get so much of Batman as an unstoppable hero that him being a fish out of water is always interesting. Zatanna featured heavily which makes sense as she is potentially one of the most powerful magicians on Earth. I loved the depiction of Constantine and Swamp Thing’s eternal feud and Felix Faust being a total magic bro. This made me miss the Constantine television show. I definitely recommend it.


Legion

I am a few episodes in and I am not sure what to think about this show yet. I am pretty sure I like it although there was some rough going for a while. This show seemed to be a lot of special effects and weirdness without much substance but it has settled down a little. If you got superpowers, would you recognize them as such? Would you just think that you were just going insane?  This is where David Haller (unknown son of Professor Xavier) is at. He has spent a long time self-destructing and also hanging out in a mental hospital, thinking he is absolutely nuts. He hears voices and sees things that are not there. However, a lot of those things he sees and hears are the thoughts of the people around him. Also, he can set fires and move objects with his mind. That and so many other powers. One of my favorite parts of the show so far is his weird friendship with Lenny. Lenny is played by Aubrey Plaza who I admire for her work in Parks and Rec and her awkward interviews on television. She plays a role originally written for a middle-aged man so she is wonderfully weird. I look forward to how this one will play out but I have not been fully hooked yet. I recommend it but be warned that it is really weird.

Music of the Week:
Levarslaysdragons – Game Over

Cirith Ungol – King Of The Dead

Cher Lloyd – Want U Back

DAZZLE VISION – Final Attack

Steely Dan – Any Major Dude Will Tell You

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is Comic Book Heroes Without Costumes
– I finished Season 3 of Blue Bloods
– I started watching Lucha Underground from the first episode
– I am getting close to finishing off Haven
– I continued watching Once Upon a Time Season 6
– I started watching a few MST3K episodes I missed
– I kept watching The Crown

Media Update 3/16/2017

March 16, 2017


La La Land

Yes, it is the movie that became controversial in comparison to another movie this year. People turned on this movie pretty quickly when the Academy said they liked it. Anyway, all of the controversy made me want to watch this movie even more than I already did. I like musicals and I like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone so it was probably something I would eventually see anyway. The movie is kind of a throwback to musicals like Singing in The Rain and Melody of Broadway 1936. Of course, those old musicals always had a happy ending. This movie goes out of its way to tell a story where everything is not wrapped up in a little bow. As the movie started, I was not immediately impressed. The movie crept into my heart as it continued and then it set up shop. I loved the jazz score and original songs. I always love Emma Stone and she was great in this. Her depiction of the audition process for theater (and television and film) is definitely what I heard from my colleagues in the theater. The story was definitely about her but Gosling’s story was also important and he was great as a miserable jerk. Both stories were about what you put up with to achieve your dream. I definitely recommend it as it was nominated for a lot of awards for good reason.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I first heard about the star of this show (Rachel Bloom) when she lent her voice to a Starbomb album a while ago as the singing voice of Princess Peach. I had not heard of her before but I thought she was a great singer with a good sense of humor. Flash forward to a year and a half ago when I saw that this show was a thing. I read the premise and dismissed the show as not my thing and moved on. Recently, Kate Leth started watching the show and tweeted about it and I was intrigued and decided to try it. The show is about a top-earning lawyer who meets her ex-boyfriend from when she was fourteen and has a crisis moment where she realizes she is not happy in her life. She decides to chase her ex across the country to California. The premise sounded kind of trashy and weird but the show is very self-aware. The character realizes how crazy she may be and the show is more about more than its premise. It is also a musical comedy that likes to address the realities of being a woman in the modern world. For me, a lot of the humor comes from how deep into the crazy Bloom’s character digs and then how hard she has to work to dig out of it. The characters are both likable but also terrible people who end up being a lot of fun. I definitely recommend it.


Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Marilyn Monroe is a famous figure mostly for the worst reasons. She was an outrageous woman with real problems but also amazing victories. Until Monday, I had never actually seen her act in anything. I had heard the recording of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend (which comes from this movie) but I had not seen her act. I had seen more parodies of her acting. In this movie, she adopts a very breathy acting style. Her character is a sweet girl who happens to be obsessed with money but is not a bad person. She comes off as dumb but is actually very intelligent when it comes to certain circumstances. Jane Russell contrasts as a very brassy woman who constantly speaks her mind and defends her ‘dumb blonde’ friend. The two of them are very funny together with consistently clever wordplay, great singing and funny line deliveries. The movie is supposed to be PG but, if you read between the lines, it flies a lot of stuff past the censors. After watching it, I can definitely see why people champion Monroe as an actress and why people kept working with her despite her difficult reputation. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
The Agonist – Business Suits and Combat Boots

Michelle Branch – Best You Ever

Meghan Trainor – Me Too

Nina Hagen – Smack Jack

Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Musicals Centered on Women”
– I watched more Haven Season 5
– I watched more Blue Bloods Season 3
– I kept watching The Magicians Season 2
– I watched some more of The Crown
– I watched some old and new Conan
– I liked Amy Schumer: The Leather Special
– 3/16 says I just watched some stuff

Media Update 3/9/2017

March 9, 2017


Hidden Figures

I told you on Monday that I would speak about this movie today. As soon as I learned that this movie was being made, I really wanted to watch it. I love it when tales of history that are either covered up or left to gather dust are unearthed and told. This story was obviously left behind (and never really told in the first place) because of prejudice against black people in the United States. This movie is about the black, female mathematicians (known as Human Computers) who were the backbone of NASA’s space program. Because this is Hollywood, the racism is almost assuredly toned down for the movie to keep it more lighthearted. Nobody ever stood up for these women and their story is inspiring. The movie follows three women who work hard to contribute and better their way of life through applied mathematics. Taraji Henson is the clear main character as famous mathematician Katherine Johnson. Although she is constantly belittled, she rises to the occasion and makes a difference. Janelle Monae is Mary Jackson, a sharp-tongued woman who becomes the first black female NASA engineer. Finally, we have Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn, who became the first black female supervisor at NASA. I really loved this movie and I wholeheartedly recommend it.


The Imitation Game

Alan Turing was a hero. What his own government did to him afterward is a great injustice similar but not equivalent to the injustices detailed in Hidden Figures. Alan Turing was one of the people who helped along the invention of the computer. He saw a problem and worked smarter rather than working harder. He invented the machine to do the codebreaking that would have taken the Allies millions of years to complete. He was also a human being who did not really fit in with human society of his time. Alan Turing was a very literal human being who did not understand how social interaction was supposed to work. I really identified with his social awkwardness. He was also gay at a time when it was illegal in England. The revelation and subsequent criminal charges ruined his career and his life. It was an absolute tragedy. Benedict Cumberbatch is so good as Alan Turing and Turing’s surviving relatives have all praised him for his accuracy. The movie is also good at depicting England during World War II and the inner workings of the military and MI6. The Turing Test (or titular The Imitation Game) is absolutely something created by a man who spent his life trying to be a normal human. I definitely recommend this one too.


The Theory of Everything

Dr. Stephen Hawking has been famous since I can remember. Next to Albert Einstein, he was always the go to name when you wanted a reference to a smart person. His intellect is obviously enormous. He has provided huge advancements in the field of cosmology and quantum physics. He helped us understand how our universe works and he continues to help science in general. This film is based on a book by Jane Hawking who was married to Stephen for a very long time. Dr. Hawking was tragically cut down by Lou Gehrig’s disease which has cut off his motor functions. His brain has remained not only intact but sharp as ever. Of course, this and Hawking’s personality made it hard for Jane to be married to Stephen. This is a story of a very smart couple. Stephen is incredibly intelligent and Jane is right there beside him the whole way. Besides the disease, there is some friction between science and Jane’s religion but they manage to make it work. Clearly, what they went through was hard and I will not lie, it was also hard to watch. It is an important story. Eddie Redmayne plays Dr. Hawking and he is impossible not to like even when he’s being an ass. His physicality is amazing. Mrs. Hawking is played by Felicity Jones and, even though I do not agree with her often, she is an inspiring woman. I recommend it as it is good but it was a hard watch.

Weekly Music:
Fifth Harmony ft. Kid Ink – Worth It

Chance The Rapper ft. Saba – Angels

Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On

The Stranglers – Blue Sister

Darius Rucker – Wagon Wheel

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Applied Maths”
– I am now watching Haven Season 5
– I kept watching The Librarians
– I started Season 2 of The Magicians
– I started Season 3 of Blue Bloods
– I finished Season One of The Seven Deadly Sins

Media Update 3/2/2017

March 2, 2017


Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping

I have loved Lonely Island since I first saw their first music video. I had stopped watching Saturday Night Live at the time. I just was not feeling it and what I saw did not really excite me. However, their new digital shorts started to pop up on YouTube. I have since followed their channel on YouTube with interest and hastily devoured every album they have put out. Well, I have not watched Hot Rod, the other feature film they released. They are most known for their music and their sketches which are all always well-written and expertly performed. They have carved out their place mostly as a comedy rap group. This movie is basically about all that and then more. It follows a trio of rappers who hit it big and then one of them (Samberg) went solo. He lost himself along the way and his old friends are also slowly falling apart. It is a story of a meteoric rise, the fall and then another rise. I thought it would be a silly movie but it ended up having a lot of heart. Part of the reason for that is that it is self-aware. It ends up being a good story wrapped up in a parody of the music business and celebrity in general. The movie is jam-packed with songs that are pretty much all written by The Lonely Island which is like getting a new album from them. Samberg is great as a big star who never really learned anything but how to be famous, Jorma Taccone is great as the meek friend who is an expert at mixing music and Akiva Schaffer is the bitter ex-friend who is a good writer. Akiva and Jorma also co-directed the movie while Akiva and Andy wrote it. The rest of the cast is full of musicians that Lonely Island has performed with and Saturday Night Live alumni. I definitely recommend it, especially if you are a fan of their past work.


Keanu

I had wanted to watch this movie when it came out but I am on a limited budget while I have been taking classes and I do not go out to the theater lightly anymore. Thankfully, HBO decided to air the movie and I could not be happier. This movie is timely right now for two reasons. First, a couple of friends just got new kittens. Second, George Michael died over the holidays. I loved Key and Peele. It was a sketch comedy show that was often smart but was also never afraid to get silly. It was kind of a spiritual successor to The Chapelle Show and Kids in the Hall, two other great comedy shows. This movie is very much in the vein of Key and Peele but in some ways, it is even more mature. While things on the show were exaggerated, the movie had a lot subtler acting in it. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key have both shown how much they have grown and learned working on and writing for their show. There is also a great cast surrounding them that have a lot of fun moments including Method Man and Tiffany Haddish. There are action scenes but for the most part, you can imagine a real person acting the way our heroes act. I definitely recommend it as a silly comedy with a good heart and it is secretly pretty smart.


The Ten

I have mentioned on this blog a few times how much I love the movie Wet Hot American Summer and its prequel miniseries First Day of Camp. That movie was mostly made by cast members of an MTV sketch comedy show called The State. So it was inevitable that I would check out this movie made by ten out of eleven members of The State. I have not seen much of it but The State was irreverent and it did a lot of weird things just to tweak the nose of corporate. This movie is basically a sketch comedy anthology movie full of lengthier comedy sketches. Each sketch covers one of the ten commandments from the Bible in a comedic way. This premise made me nervous because I generally do not like watching anything religious because it is usually heavy-handed and bad. This movie feels like it used the commandments as a jumping off point and could probably be considered sacrilegious at times which is just fine by me. The movie is not without its flaws but I definitely do not regret watching it. There are ten separate stories but they start to melt together as the movie progresses. Characters from an early sketch might reappear in a later sketch and all of them get a curtain call of sorts at the end. The whole thing is tied together by having Paul Rudd introduce each sketch. However, his character eventually gets sucked into the sketches too. The whole thing ends up feeling like a mess but I think it is a good sort of mess. I would recommend it to fans of Wet Hot American Summer, The State or Kids in The Hall.

Music of the Week:
Bella Thorne – Call It Whatever

V8 Wankers – You Hate Me, I’m So Glad

Silly Wizard – The Queen of Argyll

Roxy Roca – Try My Love

Conner4real – I’m a Weirdo

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Dumb Movies That Are Kind of Smart”
– I finished watching Parks and Recreation
– I watched more of Season 2 Blue Bloods
– I watched more Season 1 of Seven Deadly Sins
– I am done with Season 4 of Haven
– I continued watching The Crown
– I continued watching The Librarians out of order
– I started The Magicians Season 2

Media Update 2/23/17

February 23, 2017


The Queen

I was only fourteen when Princess Diana died in Paris, France. Officially, the cause of death was a car accident but the paparazzi were the cause. I am an American citizen so I was not really in touch with the British monarchy. However, as Princess Diana rose to prominence, even us Americans started to take notice. From all appearances, she was a woman of the people and a huge celebrity. She did a lot for charity which won her all sorts of praise. She continued to spread goodwill even after she “escaped” the stuffy, old royals. In a world where we need there to be good guys and bad guys, Diana became the good guy and the royals the villains. When Diana died, the whole world mourned her and that is the starting point of this movie. The movie follows Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and the rest of the family as they deal with the death of a former princess. Additionally, newly elected prime minister Tony Blair tries to deal with the Queen and the public relations and logistics of the upcoming funeral. It is the story of old protocol conflicting with modernization. Also, it is a story about how one person can be seen in many different ways. Helen Mirren is excellent as Elizabeth II. She is really good at portraying the burden of a duty she believes was handed down by God. Dealing with Diana’s death is not only personal but it has to do with centuries of tradition. I cannot recommend this enough.


The Crown

After watching The Queen and a short film on the abdication of Edward VIII, I became intensely interested in the Royal Family of England. The show covers the early life of Elizbeth II who was forced to take the throne when her father, George VI, died of cancer. Much like The Queen, it also follows in parallel the inner workings of the Prime Minister’s office especially as Churchill dealt with the new Queen. As the show begins, Churchill has just been elected as prime minister for the second time. George is riddled with cancer but nobody is aware of how bad it is. Elizabeth has just married Phillip who is eager to get back to serving as a naval officer while his wife is asked to take on more responsibilities for her sick father. The show is absolutely beautiful and the acting is great. I was absolutely surprised to see Matt Smith as Phillip and he has an interesting story of a man who must stand behind his wife in her time of need. John Lithgow plays an older Churchill, an old war hero who is still sharp but may be past his prime. Claire Foy is great as Elizabeth II as we watch how vulnerable she is in private and strong she is in public. It is an amazing show to watch paired with The Queen as it dovetails really nicely with that movie. A lot of what I said about the crown above goes double for this show. The weight of the crown is really a huge focus here. I recommend it either before or after watching The Queen.


The King’s Speech

It was only natural that I would be interested in watching a movie about Elizabeth II’s father. George VI had a very similar situation to his daughter. He never wanted to be King but his brother was a nazi sympathizer who was engaged to a nazi spy. The English government used the fear of public relations and the rules of the Church of England to make Edward VIII abdicate the throne. This was good for the country but George VI was put into a position he never wanted to be in. He was happy being a prince where he could be out of the public eye. One of his biggest problems was a speech impediment, a stammer that apparently hounded him all of his life. I can definitely understand some of this. While I never stammered, I did see a speech therapist at one point because I was so shy about speaking in public. The very first scene is George making an appearance at a public function and having to deliver a speech and the utter hopelessness on his face brings up similar memories in my own life. Even today I hate speaking in public. The movie stars Colin Firth as George VI who is excellent as a vulnerable man who is trying to be better not only for his family but for his country. He interacts with a speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush who is so entertaining to watch. The King’s wife Elizabeth (who will become Queen Mother) is played by Helena Bonham Carter who is refreshingly subtle compared to the work she usually does. Finally, King Edward VIII is played by Guy Pierce and he is such an asshole that you want to hate him immediately.

Music of the Week:
Hollywood Undead – Bullet

Jay Verze – Feelin’ Important

Sick Puppies – Stick To Your Guns

Ty Segall & The Muggers – Squealer

San Quinn – SF Anthem

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “British Monarchy in the 20th Century”
– I started watching the final season of Parks and Recreation
– I started Season 2 of Blue Bloods
– I am still watching The Librarians out of order
– I watched a whole lot of Youtube
– I just got back from the West Coast this morning
– Boy are my arms and my whole body tired from the red-eye flight

Media Update 2/16/17

February 16, 2017


Blue Bloods

Do not let the title fool you, this show has nothing to do with nobility or the upper crust of society. It is mostly about what it is like to be a cop and in a cop’s family. The show follows a family that includes a former police commissioner, the current police commissioner, a detective, a police officer and an assistant district attorney. I thought nothing of this show until my mom showed me an episode or two while I was visiting her. Of course, that means I watched some later season episodes first but I do not usually sweat that sort of thing. I started to watch this show from the beginning and I really like it. While I am familiar with Tom Selleck’s previous work, I have not really watched it. He is great as a level-headed, fatherly police commissioner and is a great anchor of the show. Donnie Wahlberg plays his son who is a hot-headed, rule-bending detective. His other son is a rookie police officer in Season one but graduated from law school previously so he is very intelligent and a natural cop. His daughter, played by Bridget Moynihan, is a brilliant lawyer who often has to butt heads with her hard-headed father and her rule-bending brother. Every episode includes all of them and their spouses and children sitting down for Sunday dinner where the issues of the episode are discussed from multiple viewpoints. It really is a pretty interesting show and I definitely recommend it.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I had seen gifs (pronounced like gifts) of this show several times on Tumblr and Twitter and I know there are a lot of fans of it. I had been interested in the show since I found out that Andy Samberg was on it. Samberg is one-third of The Lonely Island and a very funny comedian. Unfortunately, he has allied with Adam Sandler but outside of those movies, he is great. This show looked a bit stupid but the gifs I saw made me think I had judged it too quickly. I would compare this show to one of my favorite short-lived cop shows, The Unusuals. It is about a misfit precinct that somehow still closes cases trying to adjust to a new no-nonsense captain and fight crime. Samberg is a flippant, goof of a detective. That character can be annoying but becomes less so knowing that he often gets his comeuppance and ends up looking like a fool. Terry Crews plays a police sergeant who is now gunshy and it is a fun twist to see a friendly giant as a police officer. Stephanie Beatriz plays a tough, intelligent detective who has to put up with Samberg. Andre Braugher is great as a tough police captain who is the first gay captain with a command and wants to prove himself. The show is pretty funny so far and I will definitely watch more of it once I get access to more than the first three episodes. I recommend it.


Ripper Street

The identity of Jack the Ripper is a mystery that still exists today. As time goes by, it is less and less likely that that mystery will ever be solved. In the time directly after those murders, Whitechapel must have been a very scary place to work or live. That is largely what this show is about. In the shadow of those horrible murders, a cop vows to make the streets safer and protect the city from the possible return of The Ripper or anyone like him. He enlists a surgeon who used to work for the US Army and The Pinkertons (and almost worked for Johns Hopkins) to be a medical examiner and forensics expert. The cops also form an unspoken agreement with a local brothel to get information about what is happening in the underground of Whitechapel. After the Ripper, the prostitutes have a vested interest in keeping killers off the streets of London. It is a brutal time period when forensic science was primitive and beating information out of suspects was not exactly frowned upon. As one expects, it is a dark and dirty series. They deal with their own broken lives and an area shattered by the legend of the Ripper. I have only seen a few episodes, but I like the chemistry of the cast. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:

Garbage – Special

Big Sean – Bounce Back

Memphis May Fire – Carry On

The Specials – Ghost Town

Halsey – Ghost

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Fighting Crime on the Streets”
– I continued Season 4 of Haven
– I watched more Law and Order: SVU
– I loved Lady Gaga’s Halftime Show
– I started watching The Librarians from the beginning
– Sorry that this is late, I fell asleep and forgot to post

Media Update 2/9/17

February 9, 2017


The Librarians

I have seen the first Librarian movie and I liked it well enough that I have seen bits and pieces of the sequels. I love the idea of a secret organization that must protect the world from the myths and legends that are usually dismissed as fiction or urban legend. It is a very similar idea to Warehouse 13 but with a slightly different flavor. The show was created by the very awesome Dean Devlin who also created Leverage. It has a lot of the feel that Leverage had with a mix of action, intelligence and comedy with a few moments of emotion thrown in. I have to step in here and admit that I only started watching this show halfway through season two because I am late to the show and I have not obtained season 1 and 2 to watch it in order yet. Still, the show was really easy to pick up right in the middle of a major story arc and they did a good job with the characterizations that made them easy to understand.

Like Leverage and Warehouse 13, every episode is epic but manageable. Noah Wyle returns from the movies but is more of a special guest and not guaranteed to be in every episode. Instead, we get a team headed up by Rebecca Romijn who is an excellent ex-military character. Previously, I had only seen her in blue makeup in the X-Men movies. She is joined by Christian Kane, who is always awesome. John Laroquette is great as their mentor. I absolutely fell in love with newcomers John Harlan Kim and Lindy Booth. More than anything, I love how the show is a celebration of learning things through a love of research. I definitely recommend it.


Emerald City

There are two stories that I will always go back to that have a goldmine full of great imagery. One of them is Alice in Wonderland and the other is the Oz books and movie. The Wizard of Oz has been adapted over and over and I have checked out the majority of those adaptations. I really enjoyed The Wiz Live and Wicked particularly. So when I saw a trailer for the new show coming out that would be adapting the Wizard of Oz, I knew I would have to check it out. The show is set in modern times which is not exactly a new idea (Tin Man) but it is definitely interesting right off the bat. Dorothy is not a young girl but is instead a highly competent nurse. Wicked was given a good name because it was clearly a look at the story through the eyes of The “wicked” witch of the west.

I think that it is fitting that this show is called Emerald City because it deals more with the politics between the Wizard, the witches, the land of Oz and the newcomer Dorothy. It includes a lot more characters from the books and has very little to do with the 1939 movie. I am fine with that because I love adaptations that bring some new energy to the table. So far, the writing has been on point and I really have no idea where the story is going next when I watch each episode but when things do happen, they feel right. Much respect so far to Adria Arjona as Dorothy and Ana Ularu as West. Both of them add new facets to familiar characters. Vincent D’Onofrio is great as The Wizard, showing that simmering crazy energy that he has made his trademark lately. I definitely recommend this one as it is just beginning.


The Last Witchunter

It is interesting to me that I finally watched this movie just before starting my first ever Dungeons and Dragons game with my friends. Vin Diesel is an avid D&D player (he apparently even taught Judi Dench how to play) and has been playing the game for years. This movie was kind of his dream project. The main character is based on a character he rolled up years ago who was a custom ranger build that included some other spellcraft. The opening of the movie even looks like a D&D party going after the big villain of their long campaign.

We fast forward to modern times and Vin Diesel is so good in this movie. It is clear that he really liked the character and plays it with subtle humor and depth. I quickly fell in love with Rose Leslie’s character who had an interesting take on witchcraft and was anything but just a side piece for Vin Diesel. Michael Caine and Elija Wood were also great but both of them have never turned in a bad performance. At least, not that I have seen. I thought the visuals were really good. Where possible, they did practical effects but the digital effects were really smooth and felt like they had weight. It felt like a more expensive version of the great effects that I have seen in The Magicians. I really liked the feel of the story. It concerned itself with how to deal with the past and how that past affects the future and if somebody even belongs in the future. I definitely recommend this movie. It was trippy but a fun ride.

Music of the Week:

Adelitas Way – Ready for War (Pray for Peace)

Sick Puppies – Gunfight

LazyTown – Dansa, Áfram Dansa!

The Dresden Dolls – Backstabber

Chris Dane – Shine on Me

Weekly Update:
– I’m on Season 4 of Haven
– I finished Season 6 of Parks and Recreation
– I’ve watched more Law and Order SVU that I had not seen
– I have been watching Conan again
– I am starting to plan for April’s A to Z Blogging Challenge
– I am also starting to plan for my annual Halloween event as well
– I have been watching a new show that I may reveal soon
– I did not watch the Super Bowl. The Ravens were not in it.
– This week’s theme is “Policing Magic”

Media Update 2/2/2017

February 2, 2017


Presumed Innocent

I found a little thing on the American Bar Association’s site called their Top 25 Movies list while I was watching My Cousin Vinny (Number 3). I settled in to watch this movie which is 11th on the list because it stars Harrison Ford and Raul Julia, two actors I admire. Both of them have ben in good movies and bad movies and both are usually the best part of the movies they are in. Ford plays a prosecutor who is the ultimate boy scout who gets tangled up in one big mistake. It was interesting to see Ford in the role of a no-nonsense lawyer when his most famous roles are rogues and rulebreakers. His character, Rozat “Rusty” Sabich, is socially awkward but incredibly intelligent. Raul Julia plays a brilliant and calculating defense attorney with a very dry sense of humor that I loved. Raul Julia’s voice is just fun to listen to no matter what role he is in but here he was cunning and interesting. There were a lot of points where I thought I knew where this movie was going but it created enough reasonable doubt to keep me guessing. In addition, I loved the depiction of the politics that happen after an election that sweeps a lot of things away and cause people to lose their jobs. I definitely recommend this one as there were a lot of fun quirks and surprises.


Now You See Me 2

I really liked the first movie in this franchise. I remember reading a few things online indicating that a lot of people did not enjoy Now You See Me. I can actually imagine why. The first movie was kind of unfocused and involves a lot of flash and misdirection before finally revealing the mystery at the end. Kind of like a magic trick which, not so coincidentally, is the subject matter of both films. There is more of the same in the sequel but the plot itself feels more personal and focused with recurring themes from the first movie along with new folds to the mystery. I have been fascinated with stage magic since I was little and in a lot of ways that fascination has never faded. I am not a fan of Criss Angel or David Blaine but guys like Penn and Teller still rock my world. This movie, like its predecessor, has a lot of fun stage magic but it also has a lot of action sequences combined with magic tricks. The characters use stage magic in heists and in combat and it is awesome. While they do not mention a lot of the old magicians by name (probably for legal reasons) but the respect feels like it is there. Everybody does a great job but special shout outs go to Daniel Radcliffe, Mark Ruffalo and newcomer Lizzy Caplan. I definitely recommend this one too.


Grand Budapest Hotel

I have not seen all of Wes Anderson’s films but I have seen a few now. I really liked Rushmore and The Royal Tannenbaums but they both had a deep air of sadness even at its funniest. Everybody in a Wes Anderson film has a very flat tone even when the world has turned to chaos and no rational person would be calm. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori have an interesting subtlety and urgency which is hard to describe. This strange rhythm is one of the things that makes this movie so surreal. Another is the strange color palette that the sets and costumes have. Everything clashes but somehow works too in the way that a Picasso or Gaugin painting is somehow still pleasing. The story itself is a lot of to do about a contested will as war ravages the surrounding country but that hardly describes it. It is part mystery, part farce, part romance and so many other little things. It is very artsy and yet it has the high star power of three or four normal-sized films. I recommend watching it as it was a pleasant experience.

Music of the Week:

Migos – Bad and Boujee

Wasteland – Wasteland

Rob Cantor – Shia LeBeouf

TWRP – Food Bar

Kite Base – Soothe

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Twists and Turns”
– I finished Season 7 of The Office and I might be done with it
– I am on Season 6 of Parks and Rec (Kristen Bell!)
– I watched some more Law and Order: SVU
– I am finished watching Season Three of Haven
– I watched more Season 3 of The Following

Media Update 1/26/2017

January 26, 2017


Florence Foster Jenkins

This was a movie that I knew I might watch eventually but I was hanging out with my mom who is on a kick watching movies based on real events. This movie had every possibility of being painful to watch. Hugh Grant almost always walks a thin line between being charming and annoying. The third-billed actor is on The Big Bang Theory. Also, I never really got into making fun of bad singers behind their backs (i.e. William Hung and Rebecca Black). The movie is really well-crafted. Hugh Grant is very charming and is very good at portraying a man in a difficult position that he created for himself out of love. Meryl Streep plays a very fragile but positive character who makes you want to cheer on and not laugh at. From my research, the movie seems to be pretty accurate to the true events and they are pretty amazing. The story shows the good will that being a good person and a valiant defender of the arts gets you. As for Simon Helberg, he was alright but often a little over the top in his portrayal. Still, some of the laughs in the movie come from his reaction to the proceedings. I definitely recommend this one as it was a pleasant surprise.


Big Eyes

I have stated again and again how much a fan I am of Tim Burton but how leery I am of his later work. However, watching Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children gave me hope that he may have rediscovered a little bit of subtlety. When I found out that this movie starred Amy Adams, I was on board in half a second. I have been in love with Amy Adams since watching Enchanted and I have loved her career since. As the opening credits rolled, I saw such great names as Krysten Ritter, Christoph Waltz, Jason Schwartzman and Terrance Stamp. This is another movie based off of a story in the real world. Margaret Keane was apparently an artist in the fifties and sixties who painted big-eyed portraits (among some other styles) that are pretty stunning pieces of artwork. I had no idea her artwork existed but the artist certainly had an interesting story. The story is one of mankind trying to control and manipulate a talented woman and that woman finding her strength. Amy Adams is brilliant as always as a passionate yet insecure woman Christoph Waltz is magnetic and unsettling all at the same time. This was the fifties, with the rise of modern art which is still kind of baffling to me but there is no accounting for taste. The movie is bouncy and happy but with a shadowy undertone that left me wondering what was going to happen next. I definitely recommend it.


The Girl on the Train

I had not heard of this one but the blurb describing the plot interested me. Of course, the description does not do the whole plot justice but that is par for the course for a mystery. In this movie, we follow a normal woman who turns herself into a detective (hmm familiar) in order to solve a mystery. In a lot of ways, the movie reminded me somewhat of the movies of Alfred Hitchcock. It especially reminded me of Rear Window and Vertigo. I love a good mystery story and this movie did not disappoint. Of course, there is so much I want to say about how it all fits together but I also do not want to give it all away. That is what makes talking about mysteries so difficult. Emily Blunt is, of course, the strongest thing about the movie as she is a great actress and every seen with her felt strong and on message. The movie is also really well-shot and every shot was full of the blend of dark emotions that pretty much every scene had. Pretty much my only two gripes are that the pacing felt slow in places and there are just a few too many exploitative ‘sexy’ shots. I recommend it but I have a feeling this one is not for everyone.

Music of the Week:
Carly Rae Jepsen – Boy Problems

Japanese Breakfast – Everybody Wants To Love

Skylar Grey – Kill For You

Made Out Of Babies- Swarm

THE AGONIST – The Hunt

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Women Overcome”
– I watched more of Season 3 of The Following
– I am now on Season 7 of The Office
– I am on Season 5 of Parks and Rec
– I am nearly finished watching Season 3 of Haven
– I finished Season 1 of A Series of Unfortunate Events
– Fun fact: Margaret Keane’s art inspired The Powerpuff Girls

Media Update 1/19/2017

January 19, 2017


A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)

I have never read the books by “Lemony Snicket” because I did not hear about them until well after they were released. I think I might have liked them if I had had the chance but instead, my introduction to the franchise (because it is a franchise now) was the 2004 movie. When I was growing up, I was a huge Jim Carrey fan. The 2004 movie was something I watched in 2006, while in the wilds of New Jersey and affirmed that Jim Carrey had grown up a little bit. I thought it was a good movie. This series is so much better. They replaced Carrey with Neil Patrick Harris who knows when to ham it up and when to play it darkly serious. As a result, the whole production shifts into something darker and more disorienting. Even knowing the rough plots of the first three books, I felt like I might not know what was happening next. On top of that, the kids playing the Baudelaire Orphans are awesome. The character actor’s playing Count Olaf’s acting troupe/henchpeople are really brilliant. There are a ton of great actors swooping in and making great cameos or two episode runs. Patrick Warburton (as Lemony Snicket) is the best I have ever heard or seen from him and that includes The Tick. There is a weird rhythm to the show which is both funny and unsettling and they lean into the gimmick hard. I definitely recommend this one.


Hugo

When I first saw the posters for this movie, I thought it was a cheap kids movie with some bland yet whimsical premise and moved on. However, I have discovered a regularly updated list called 1001 Movies to See Before You Die and this movie made the list in 2011. When I found out that it was on Netflix, I decided to check it out. The Netflix description is horribly bland and would have confirmed my suspicions but thankfully I pressed on. This movie is actually a bit of historical fiction based on a book called The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is set in the early 1930s in Paris, France. Like most parts of Europe, many adults were still rattled by the Great War but were enjoying a period of relative peace. The movie actually took a while to get into but after a bit, the movie grabbed me and never let go. The movie concerns itself with the early film industry (predating movie stars and the glitz and glamor of Hollywood) and specifically Georges Melies who directed silent films and worked with Houdini’s mentor Robert Houdin. The movie is directed by Martin Scorsese and it shows. The thing is put together in such a way that it builds and builds into an emotional crescendo at the end. I have to give all the credit in the world to Ben Kingsley and the legendary Christopher Lee. Sascha Baron Cohen appears and actually delivers a pretty subtle performance that I did not think he was capable of. I recommend this as it surprised me although be warned that it is a bit long.


Trollhunters

I believe I have spoken here about my love for Guillermo Del Toro and the intricate worlds he crafts. He is one of the best writer/creators at building worlds simply by including a lot of background detail and creating beautiful/horrifying imagery. I was surprised when I found out that he had teamed up with Dreamworks to create an all ages show. When I found out what the show was, it made more sense. If you take the Troll Market scenes out of Hellboy 2 and extrapolate that into an animated television show then you can see where Trollhunters comes from. Of course, that is not the whole story. Del Toro is also good at creating relatable characters who talk to each other like human beings. We get a lot of story about the main character’s life as a middle schooler (I assume) who is living with his single mom. His story is actually kind of touching. The other aspect of the show is what made me jump at watching this show this week. The main character’s story is basically the same as a magical girl story (from anime) but he is male. The main character uses magic to transform into fighting form and has to deal with self-doubt, fear and a whole list of swirling emotions so that he can stay in fighting form. I am interested to see where this one goes as I have not watched the entire first part yet but I will. If you like Del Toro and you like stuff similar to How to Train Your Dragon then I recommend this one.

Music of the Week:

Lily Allen – Fuck You

Charlotte Church – Back to Scratch

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Concrete Blonde – Everybody Knows

Frank Sinatra – High Hopes

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Kid Power”
– I am onto Season 6 of The Office
– I am into Season 4 of Parks and Rec
– I am halfway through Season 4 of Arrested Development
– I am still watching Season 2 of Dusk Till Dawn
– I want to see Hidden Figures so bad
– I’m looking forward to pulling from the 1001 list more and more


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