Posts Tagged ‘Media Update’

Media Update 3/21/19

March 21, 2019


Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

I only heard about the Fyre Festival after the whole thing had finally collapsed and people were putting out memes making fun of the people caught up in the scam. I was never the kind of person targeted by these sorts of things. I have never ever listened to an “influencer” and until recently I did not really understand that this was a job in itself. The Fyre Festival was a big attractive trap for the rich and naive. It is hard to feel sorry for people who have so much money to burn and choose to spend it partying instead of lifting up their fellow man. This documentary kind of exposes that shallow attention to brand over substance, image over reality. This sort of thing could have ended way worse than it did and it is only chance that saved many lives. I do feel sorry for some of the employees involved because a lot happened without their knowledge and consent which sort of ended promising careers and futures. If you did not know the story of the Fyre Festival, it was a music festival planned by people who had never had any experience in putting something like that together. They refused to give up and it was a disaster. I definitely recommend this documentary to pretty much anyone.


Robin Hood (2018)

I have always loved iconic stories and Robin Hood has always fit that mold. It will always be a story I go back to and Hollywood obviously has no problems going back to it either. So, Hollywood and I are in agreement. This time around they cast Taron Egerton (of The Kingsman and the upcoming Rocketman) as Robin of Loxley. Egerton is a fun actor who plays young, tough, and charismatic well. In this version, they use a lot of what came before including Robin being a war veteran and befriending an Arabian moor. The difference here is that they have Loxley playing a two-faced role of currying favor as Loxley while stealing as The Hood. He is befriended and mentored by “John” played by Jamie Foxx who is probably the best thing about the movie. Eve Hewson plays the first version of Marian who seems to have her own sense of agency and is less of a damsel in distress and more of a partner in crime. Finally, we have Ben Mendelsohn (of Captain Marvel) who plays the Sheriff of Nottingham as the insidious, fascist asshole he should be. The whole movie feels kind of like a mix between a Guy Pearce movie and an episode of Peaky Blinders (which had the same director). I definitely recommend this as well.


Elysium

Neill Blomkamp has a history of directing movies that attract attention but are usually not instant classics. The only one I have seen all the way through before this is District 9. He has been able to use a lot of the nasty history he saw in his native South Africa and apply that to creating science fiction worlds which are just extrapolations of our current culture. In District 9 he looked at xenophobia and colonization. In this movie, he explores class wars brought to an extreme level which do not seem all of that farfetched with the recent militarization of police forces. Like District, this movie creates an interesting world with interesting characters but it is a pretty grim movie. Post-apocalyptic world stories are rarely happy pictures but there is not much to smile about in this one for sure. The movie is gory and dirty and definitely not something for the weak of stomach. Still, Matt Damon is the star of this one and he is on top of his game as a likable criminal. He is opposed by Jodie Foster in what is probably the only villainous role that I have seen her in. It is a decent enough science fiction movie and the things it says about the rich and the poor line up with my philosophy. I recommend it but not that strongly.

Music of the Week:

Orville Peck – Dead of Night

Dirty Vegas – Days Go By

BATTLE BEAST – Eden

Caravan Palace – Miracle

Mustard, Migos – Pure Water

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Eat the Rich”
– I watched more Grimm Season 5
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Blindspot Season 1
– Kofi Kingston was screwed!

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Media Update 3/14/19

March 14, 2019


Captain Marvel

I was not a huge fan of Carol Danvers growing up but I think for good reason. Writers did not know how to use her and used her too infrequently. When Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy, and Emma Rios had their run on Captain Marvel with Jamie McKelvie’s redesign, they breathed new life into the character. This was the first time she called herself Captain Marvel and was the birth of a whole new fandom, the Carol Corps. After that, I really loved the character and when they announced this movie, I was excited. This movie absolutely does justice to the spirit of that character. Part of that is the absolute brilliance of Brie Larson in the lead role. She is just so charismatic and perfect in the role. It also does not hurt that we have Samuel L. Jackson as a younger Fury as her co-star. We also get great performances from Jude Law, Anette Benning, Lashana Lynch, and Ben Mendelsohn. Like most big Marvel releases, I saw this with my friends in a theater and I spent the thing either grinning or laughing the entire time. It was such a great adventure from beginning to end. This was a movie that cannot be denied. I cannot wait to see where they take this character next both in Avengers: Endgame and hopefully beyond. For now, I will bask in the joy of this movie. I wholeheartedly recommend it.


Battle Angel Alita

I was wary of another live-action anime adaptation but I heard some good buzz. I really liked the interesting mix of CGI and live action that created a somewhat unique art design for this movie. This is a world where humans coexist with cyborgs. Cyborgs are accomplished with a combination of CGI and practical effects. Similar to Astroboy, there are a sky city and a dirty city below which is a pretty common trope in science fiction. However, they pull off a gritty and lawless future city very well. This is a collaboration between two famous directors. The first is James Cameron who has awesome technical know-how but went artistically bankrupt a while ago. The second is Robert Rodriguez, a guy who was able to figure out this script and utilize the technical wizardry to create spectacle that also has a good story. Rosa Salazar plays the title character and her voice acting and motion capture are so charming. Christoph Waltz is on top of his game as usual as the hardened but kind mentor. Mahershala Ali gets to play an insidious and sneaky villain. Jackie Earle Haley plays to his strengths of being a psychotic villain. Jennifer Connelly plays a bitter and cynical woman. I also liked some smaller performances from Idara Victor and Keean Johnson. The animation moves seamlessly with the live action stuff and it all follows a great little story about self-discovery and the warrior’s way. I definitely recommend it.


Mary Poppins Returns

Over and over, I have proclaimed on this blog to be a big Disney nerd which is easier to be now that Disney basically owns everything. Mary Poppins is a movie I remember well from my childhood and I still listen to the music from it to this day. The Sherman Brothers were an amazing songwriting team. So when a sequel was announced, I was definitely interested in it. The trailer made the movie look a lot like the original. The original was whimsical but it had a lot to say about its characters, mostly the Banks family. This movie picks up the story years later with the Banks children now grown up and Michael has three kids of his own. Emily Blunt is an awesome Mary Poppins, strict but fun, confusing but enlightening. She is every bit the enigma she was in the original movie. Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a lamplighter who used to be Burt’s apprentice (with the same ludicrous accent). The three children are delightful as Michael and Jane were. Ben Whislaw plays Michael Banks, a befuddled and clumsy artist who is just trying to keep his family afloat. Jane (played by Emily Mortimer) has inherited her mother’s activist spirit and is supporting the labor unions. The music is so good. It feels like the Sherman Brothers songs and yet feels new as well. I was also really happy to see hand-drawn animation again. Not that I hate CGI but a movie like this just deserved a return to classic Disney animation. The art style felt like the original but with a little extra polish that new filming technology inherently brings with it. I definitely recommend this movie.

 

Music of the Week:

Wiley, Sean Paul, Stefflon Don – Boasty ft. Idris Elba

Bailey Bryan – Perspective

The Cranberries – All Over Now

Hozier – Dinner & Diatribes

Dorothy – Missile

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Women Heroes”
– I finished Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I finished Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I finished Unsolved: Biggie and Tupac
– I finished The Umbrella Academy
– I finished Lorena
– I started Grimm Season 5
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Russian Doll Season 1
– I watched more Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 1

Media Update 3/7/19

March 7, 2019


The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

I had heard so many good things about this show. You probably have too. This show has certainly won a lot of awards and praise. The show is about a woman in the late 1950s whose husband leaves her so she decides to be a stand-up comedian, that is a gross over-simplification of the plot. The show is absolutely amazing. It feels like a happier and better-acted version of Mad Men. The show has a big, talented ensemble of great actors. The top performer is obviously Rachel Brosnahan who plays the lead. She has a mischievous, wild edge to her that is so fun to watch. I was really surprised at how good Alex Borstein was since my only experience with her was Family Guy and MadTV. There are strong performances from Tony Shalhoub and Kevin Pollak who play the fathers. Marin Hinkle is wonderfully subdued and subtle as the mom. Then there is Michael Zegen, the louse of a husband who walks a tightrope of being both sympathetic but easy to dislike. The show is a funny and dramatic look at life in New York during that time. Really it is just good characters played by great actors with great dialogue. I wholeheartedly recommend it.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I was originally going to watch this with my mother but nearly a year later I decided to just watch this. I am a big fan of Tina Fey although her movie outings are kind of hit or miss. This one looked interesting. A woman goes to Afghanistan to become an embedded war correspondent without having any on camera experience or experience with violence. She deals with cultural differences, racism, sexism, religious issues, clashes of ideology, and a raucous college atmosphere. It is ostensibly a comedy but it is not exaggerated and goofy. It is mixed with drama and plays with a sardonic edge that Fey does well. Speaking of Tina Fey, she is on top of her game acting-wise. Margot Robbie is always an awesome addition to any cast. Martin Freeman was loveably jerky. Alfred Molina played on the edge of funny and worrying. The movie was surprisingly deep and funny and said a lot about war and what a human can get used to. I recommend this movie.


Lorena

I was ten when the incident between Lorena and John Bobbitt happened. I was definitely old enough to know what was going on. At the time, the whole thing was treated as a national joke. People were too nervous to confront the real, difficult underlying issues. This documentary tries to fix that. It discusses spousal abuse, immigration issues, the media circus, and more. It does use him or but only to keep the story light in the face of such dark subject matter. It uses interviews and footage from that time period and also modern interviews. I also recommend this one.

Music of the Week:
J. Cole – MIDDLE CHILD

Phantogram – You Don’t Get Me High Anymore

Poppy – Voicemail

Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl

Karen O and Danger Mouse – WOMAN

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “A Woman’s Life Changes”
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Russian Doll Season 1
– I watched more Unsolved: Biggie and Tupac
– I watched more of The Umbrella Academy
– I watched more of Grimm Season 5

Media Update 2/28/19

February 28, 2019


Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I have been a big fan of Spider-Man comics since I was little. The idea that anybody could be under that mask was an important thought even at a young age. When Marvel kind of ruined Peter Parker with the One More Day storyline, I was excited when they created first Miles Morales and then Spider-Gwen. Both are fresh new takes on Spider-Man while staying true to the basic principles of the mythos. The movie is mostly an exploration of Mile Morales, the young Brooklyn boy with both Latino and Black heritage. He struggles with going to a private school when he really connects to the street culture he grew up in. When he gains powers, he struggles with yet another burden. The movie explores his relationship with his family (mostly his Dad and his Uncle) and how each person we are raised by effects who we are. The Peter Parker in the movie is the best version which is the one with the dad bod who has seen just about everything. Gwen Stacy (aka Spider-Woman) is as much fun as she was in the comics. We also get appearances from Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker. A lot of praise has to be given to newcomer Shameik Moore who had to literally introduce himself at the Academy Awards. Except I already knew him from The Get Down. The rest of the cast was superb but he had so much heart that it would be difficult not to fall in love with the character. The movie is funny as well and includes quite a few easter eggs and references for comic book fans. I wholeheartedly recommend this.


Umbrella Academy

I am a sucker for retro “mystery man” type of superhero stories. This is about a team of young superheroes who have grown up into dysfunctional adults. They all have problems stemming from being both crimefighters and famous as children. The show is also full of a lot of weirdness. Besides masked hitmen, time travel shenanigans, talking to the dead, and otherworldly creatures, there are plenty of other weird things going on. Some of it is funny and some of it is tragic but it is all entertaining. The grown-up kids are played by Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, and Aidan Gallagher. There are also great performances from Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, and Adam Godley. The show is wonderfully strange and I never know where the plot is going to go. I recommend it a lot.


Astroboy

I never really watched the anime but I always saw pictures from it in magazines and online. When I was looking for a movie to complete this week, I was originally gunning for Battle Angel Alita but I did not get out to the theater to see it yet. Then I realized that I had not seen this movie yet and it definitely formed a good theme. This was a surprisingly good movie. The movie follows a little robot boy who goes on a quest that involves robot rights and economic disparity. I really liked the world building of the movie. They created two very different worlds that still worked together well. I also really liked the art design and especially the character designs. It also has great voices from Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eugene Levy. They all played characters that were instantly clear, fully formed, and entertaining. I especially loved Freddie Highmore (Astroboy) and Kristen Bell (Cora). Although, it should come as no surprise that I adored Kristen Bell once again. The movie was pretty deep and endearing for what looked like a throwaway PG animated movie. I recommend it.

Music of the Week:
While She Sleeps – ELEPHANT

Cardi B & Bruno Mars – Please Me

Jennifer Hudson – I’ll Fight

Alex Lahey – Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Blackbriar – Arms of the Ocean

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Young Heroes”
– I finished The Punisher Season 2
– I finished Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Russian Doll Season 1

Media Update 2/21/19

February 21, 2019


BlacKkKlansman

I really need to see more Spike Lee movies. His movies are controversial but always have a powerful message and I have appreciated what I have seen so far. This may just be his most commercially accessible movie dealing with the true story of cops who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. At a time when law enforcement was focused on the Black Panthers, the Ku Klux Klan’s recruitment was seeing new surges. Organizations like that never truly go away because the hate and ignorance never go away. The movie also explores how groups like this are able to infiltrate law enforcement, the media, and other positions of power in order to further their agenda. Some of that is weeded out but the roots remain and the poisonous plants eventually grow back. The movie also explores the Black Panthers, the Black Power movement, and various leaders (such as Kwame Ture) in the black community and the ongoing civil rights movement. John David Washington was great as a rookie black officer (the first in Colorado Springs) who is discovering the Black Power movement for the first time. He outsmarts the KKK at every turn. Adam Driver plays his partner, a Jewish undercover cop who acts as Washington’s avatar in the KKK. Laura Harrier is fun as a hardline Black Power activist who helps to educate Washington’s character. Topher Grace plays David Duke perfectly, so sure of himself yet falling on the sword of his own arrogance but still suffering no consequences. I definitely recommend this movie.


Bohemian Rhapsody

I have been a fan of Queen basically since I was in diapers which was about the midpoint in the original line-up’s run. Queen is one of those bands that has something for everybody. They were so innovative that most people can find at least one of their songs that they like. The band had a frontman in the extremely popular but wildly controversial Freddie Mercury. However, the other members Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor all had equal parts in the success of the band. The reason why they had so many songs with different sounds is that all four members wrote songs and brought them to the group. This movie explores that story. The story of their rise, their falling out, and their return. It also focuses on the life and struggles of Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek played Mercury beautifully, showing him as a complicated man with complicated issues. For the most part, the movie is a lot of fun and pretty inspiring. However, the movie comes out as kind of biased. It glosses over a lot of Freddie’s life and suppresses his homosexuality a bit. It also inaccurately hangs a lot of the band’s problems on the two people who can no longer tell their side of the story, Mercury and his ex-lover Paul Prenter. They also massage the facts to make Mercury look worse than he was in real life. This is really unfortunate and I hope one day a better movie will be made about Freddie Mercury. However, this movie was still great and I had a lot of fun with it. I still recommend it.


The Favourite

This movie kind of threw me a bit. The movie is a bit of historical fiction set during the days of Queen Anne’s rule over England (in the early 1700s). She is played by Olivia Colman in a very honest way that is very un-glamorous yet very endearing. She is in the middle of a lesbian relationship with Rachel Weisz’ character Lady Sarah, allowing Sarah to control England through their relationship. When Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) appears at court, it becomes a battle of psychology, sexuality, and power dynamics between the two of them. The strength of the movie comes from scenes between Colman, Weisz, and Stone with so much dialogue that has hidden meanings and subtext. At first, I did not think I really cared for the movie. The pacing is a bit slow and the dialogue is a bit formal. However, two days later I realized that I remembered the entire plot and I began to appreciate the movie better. While there is no evidence that any of what happened in the movie actually occurred, it is really just a good setting for the particular power dynamics on display. Also, it is a good reason to break out all of the beautiful period dress and elaborate make-up and hairstyles. The movie is a bit strange but it is also pretty interesting. I recommend it with the caveats that I discussed above.

 

Music of the Week:
ELUVEITIE – Ategnatos

OOMPH! – Im Namen Des Vaters

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Snow Tha Product – Gaslight

While She Sleeps – THE GUILTY PARTY

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Award Season Catch Up 2019”
– I finished The Magicians Season 3
– I finished The Dragon Prince Season 1
– I finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
– I watched more Lucifer Season 3
– I watched more Fate/Apocrypha Season 2
– I watched more Carmen Sandiego Season 1
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I started watching The Punisher Season 2
– I watched more The Seven Deadly Sins Season 3
– I watched more Russian Doll Season 1

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

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

 

 

 


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