Archive for the ‘TV Shows’ Category

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January 2020 Movie Reviews

January 28, 2020

Parasite (2019, theaters) *second watch – I had to watch this one twice before I wrote about it just to be sure that it was as truly great as I thought it was the first time. It’s official now: Parasite is my favorite movie of 2019 and it’s unlikely that anything I haven’t seen yet will top it at this point. The film is just pure brilliance: it’s gripping, funny, surprising and beautifully filmed, all while acting as a commentary on the divide between social classes, plus the ensemble cast does a great (and mostly overlooked) job. Maybe the cast has been snubbed by American awards because Parasite is a Korean film and American audiences are spending a good deal of the movie reading the subtitles instead of watching the performances. You definitely can’t appreciate an acting performance to its full extent if you don’t understand what they are saying and your attention is elsewhere most of the time. I guess that’s understandable, but still… I thought the cast was great overall and, even without knowing the language, I could see that Kang-ho Song (poor dad), Yeo-jeong Jo (rich wife), So-dam Park (poor daughter), and Jeong-eun Lee (housekeeper) all gave standout performances. I think Parasite deserves the Best Picture Oscar (but I think 1917 is probably the favorite) and the Oscar for Best Screenplay should be a lock as anything else winning would be laughable. Parasite is the best movie of the year and possibly the only truly sensational film to come out of 2019.

9/10 (Sensational)

1917 (2019, theaters) – This movie is a technical marvel. It’s a war picture that’s presented to look like everything was filmed in one shot (it wasn’t). I think it’s a cool concept and while I could spot certain times where they probably made a cut (i.e. the actors disappear behind a solid object so there are no moving parts on screen), I think they sold it really well and I would imagine some of these sequences still had to be extraordinarily long and that’s pretty damn impressive, both from a filming aspect and the ability of the actors to carry out the scenes convincingly. The set designs in this film are unreal and I would imagine 1917 has a really good shot at the Production Design Oscar. The story follows two soldiers sent to the front lines to deliver a message to stop their attack, or something of that nature. The character development in this isn’t a strength but I didn’t mind. I may not have been emotionally invested in the story, but I was definitely blown away by how it was presented. I could see people that don’t appreciate the technical aspects of films thinking that 1917 is pretty meh, but I loved it and I think it firmly lands in my top 5 of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Uncut Gems (2019, theaters) – This one has polarized audiences – people either seem to love it or absolutely loathe it. I was in the former camp, as I was entertained the whole movie and thought it was borderline hilarious, but not in the in-your-face kind of way an Adam Sandler comedy usually is. Uncut Gems is much more subtle with the humor, possibly because a lot of the funniest parts are also a bit horrifying. I’ve heard this movie described as a two hour panic attack and that’s not a bad description. The movie opens with Sandler’s character getting a colonoscopy and that’s by far the most relaxing moment he has in the entire movie. After that point, he’s nonstop on the go and the tension basically never lets up. This movie is about a foul-mouthed (Uncut Gems has the 7th most “F-words” in cinematic history) NYC Diamond District jewelry peddler that bets big on sports and spends his life looking for ways to stay in action while dodging the loan sharks he owes. It’s grimy. It’s unsettling. It’s definitely disturbing. But I liked it a lot and Adam Sandler is great in it. I’m not sure he got snubbed for an Oscar nom, but I wouldn’t have found it alarming to see him get a nod. I’m hesitant to recommend Uncut Gems because so many people disliked it, but if we have similar taste, you might find yourself enjoying this just as much as I did.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019, rental) *second watch – My first review for this movie wasn’t that favorable but a second viewing made a huge difference. Maybe it’s all about expectations? I’ve gone from wondering what the heck I just watched to loving this film. Previously, I thought the plot meandered along with no meaningful connection between the multiple storylines and the climax rubbed me the wrong way (and maybe it still does) but now I can’t help but appreciate the sheer brilliance of everything that’s happening on the screen – from the unreal performances from both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, to the ridiculously detailed old school Hollywood set designs, to the music, to the wonderful cinematography. Also, there are multiples sequences in this movie that will probably wind up being iconic. I still think the ending of this movie is weird and probably disrespectful, but… it’s also kind of cool? Same with the Bruce Lee scene. Disrespectful? Yeah, probably. Hilarious and awesome? Uh… yes. I can’t think of too many movies that have grown on me this much with a second watch, but this is now one of my favorite films of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Little Women (2019, theaters) – I’ve never read the classic novel or seen any of the previous film versions of this story, so I have nothing to compare it to and that might be a good thing. I was excited to see Greta Gerwig’s follow-up to her excellent Lady Bird and the cast looked unreal. Unsurprisingly, the cast absolutely delivers. Saoirse Ronan is arguably the best actress under thirty and earned her fourth Oscar nomination in the last twelve years and it is well deserved. Pretty impressive for someone that hasn’t had their 26th birthday yet. Florence Pugh completed a trifecta of great performances in 2019 (the others being Fighting With My Family and Midsommar) and capped off her amazing year by getting an Oscar nod for this movie. I’m not even sure it’s even her second best performance of the year, but I’m definitely happy to see her get nominated… she deserves it. Maybe not for this role… but something. All of them? I was enjoying Little Women for most of the run time, but the last act really brought everything together wonderfully and kicked my rating up a tick. It’s a fun film about people that only cements Gerwig’s status as a top notch film director. I give it a strong recommendation, but it’s definitely not a bro movie.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Judy (2019, rental) – I did not enjoy Judy, but I do give credit to Renee Zellweger for her great performance and it’s definitely the highlight of the movie. I’ve enjoyed plenty of depressing films – and Judy Garland’s last few years on earth are definitely sad – but I just didn’t get into this one. It’s possible I just wasn’t paying enough attention, as I was multitasking while watching it. Zellweger is wonderfully unrecognizable and dives deep into character, convincingly selling herself as an old time celebrity trying to recapture the limelight while battling addiction and alcoholism and struggling to hold her family together. And she also bets out some impressive songs. I loved Zellweger’s performance. I did not love the movie.

5/10 (Decent)

I Lost My Body (2019, Netflix) – Nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, this is a weird, but cool little film that finds a severed hand escaping from a laboratory to reconnect with its body. This was definitely an enjoyable movie with some pretty awesome animation and a quirky story. I accidentally watched the English dubbed version of this and the subtitles often didn’t match up with what was being said and that was kind of aggravating. I didn’t realize this is actually a French film, so if any of you choose to watch this on Netflix, I would recommend setting the audio to French and using English subtitles – the way it is meant to be watched. After Missing Link won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, I have no clue what to expect from the Oscars in this category, but I’d be pretty surprised to see this edge out Toy Story 4.

6/10 (Recommended)

The Mustang (2019, rental) – A long imprisoned man that can’t connect in any meaningful way with people, including his daughter, forms an unlikely bond with a stubborn wild mustang when he enters a rehabilitation program while doing outside maintenance at the jail. It’s a touching and sad film with solid performances from Matthias Schoenaerts and Bruce Dern. I give it a solid recommendation.

6/10 (Recommended)

21 (2008, Netflix) *second watch – It’s been over a decade since I watched this movie, long enough that I have mostly forgotten everything that happened in the Ben Mezrich book it’s adapted from. I really liked the book and thought the movie did a poor job of bringing the story to screen, either because they left stuff out or changed too much. I just know I didn’t like the movie because I didn’t think it did the book justice. But I don’t remember the differences between the two mediums now so I’m judging this second watch just based on the merits of the movie alone. I guess it’s a good sign that my friends started the movie and I didn’t leave the room or turn it off after they went to bed. That’s something. But it’s also pretty stupid. The concept is cool: a group of MIT students and their professor develop a card-counting system designed to avoid detection and take Las Vegas for heaps of dollars.

5/10 (Decent)

Yes Man (2008, Netflix) – A decent Jim Carrey movie that’s pretty similar to Liar, Liar in concept but not as funny. It was moderately entertaining while I was watching it, but it didn’t stick with me at all and was basically instantly forgettable.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Oscar nominated movies I haven’t seen yet: Jojo Rabbit, The Two Popes, Ford vs Ferrari, Pain and Glory, Bombshell, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Richard Jewell, Harriet, Honeyland, Missing Link

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December 2019 Movie Reviews: Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Knives Out, Christmas Movies

December 21, 2019

Going forward, this is how I’m going to review movies – unless I want to highlight a specific movie I think warrants more discussion (i.e. leaving Parasite off this list). You can expect quick, succinct reviews here that give you an idea of how I felt about a movie and a few strengths and weaknesses, if warranted. I’ll keep track of every movie I watch throughout the month and post my thoughts on them at the start of the next month. This will include rewatches and possibly rating changes. I’ll also post some thoughts on any TV shows if I finish watching a season during the month. My rating system for TV is a little different than for movies because… I’m a psychopath.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, theaters) – Geez. I’ve never proclaimed to be a big Star Wars fan, so it’s not like I’ve ever been super invested in these films, but… I think I’m over them. There have been eight Star Wars movies released since I was in high school and I’m a genuine fan of two of them (Rogue One and The Force Awakens) and none of them have been dear to me. That’s a lot of mediocrity. The Rise of Skywalker just adds to the list. It was mildly entertaining, but I honestly didn’t care about anything that was happening. As always, these movies are pretty good visually but I just can’t get emotionally invested in the story or find a way to care about these characters.

5/10 (Decent)

Knives Out (2019, theater) – This probably deserves a formal review but here we are. It’s a slick whodunnit with a great cast and plenty of memorable characters and is wildly entertaining the entire way. I give it a strong recommendation and would be happy to watch it again. I can actually see this growing on me and giving it a higher rating in the future.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Thoroughbreds (2017, HBO NOW) – Interesting, entertaining and a bit disturbing with some quality performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. Also features the late Anton Yelchin in one of his better roles. I recommend it.

6/10 (Recommended)

Klaus (2019, Netflix) – A worthy addition to the staple of Christmas holiday films with a fresh take on the legend of Santa and some unbelievably crisp animation. I thought this was top notch, but I want to see it again before labeling it a Must See.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone (1990, Disney+) – The most amazing thing about Home Alone is that I’ve probably seen it more than any other movie in my lifetime and yet, I still enjoy it. Even as I enter my late 30s I still don’t mind watching it every single year around Christmas time. This movie is full of plot holes, nonsense, and unbelievably dumb characters, but I still love it and it’s charm is undeniable. A true classic, even if it isn’t exactly a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Disney+) – I can’t blame anyone involved for making this, but it’s basically just a retread of the first film set in New York City under even more unbelievable circumstances. I guess it’s still kind of fun, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the magic of the original.

5/10 (Decent)

Fatal Attraction (1987, Amazon Prime) – A movie that has always intrigued me but I never got around to watching. I always thought it was probably just softcore erotica, but Fatal Attraction actually got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture! Seeing it streaming on Prime, I finally watched it and it was… pretty good! Glenn Close totally makes the movie and plays unhinged and obsessed really well. It didn’t strike me as a film that should be in anyone’s top 5 of any year, but it was definitely worth watching.

6/10 (Recommended)

Us (2019, HBO NOW) – I’ve seen it three times now. After two viewings, I was pretty confident labelling it a Must See, but after a third viewing, I think it’s just a pretty good, but not great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable) [revised rating]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Netflix) – I thought this was really mediocre and bordering on bad the first time I saw it, but after being convinced to give it another chance (plus wanting to refresh before the new movie) I found it to be enjoyable this time around as some of the things that bothered me (i.e. Rose) didn’t anymore. I still don’t think it’s good enough that I’d recommend it though.

5/10 (Decent)

The Santa Clause (1994, Disney+) – A forgotten Christmas classic. Whenever the best holiday movies come up, I don’t seem to hear The Santa Clause get mentioned much, but it’s far too enjoyable to be omitted like that. Tim Allen is somehow great casting and this movie oozes charm and holiday spirit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018, HBO NOW) – Total trash. Like… absurdly dumb. It gets called a Final Destination ripoff a lot, but I thought the movie it really wanted to imitate was It Follows. This is almost certainly the single worst movie I’ve watched in 2019 (but note it is a 2018 release).

2/10 (Painful)

Noelle (2019, Disney+) – Apologies to Truth or Dare, this is the biggest piece of shit I watched in 2019. Unbearably cheesy, misguided, and not even remotely funny, my wife and I both thought this was unwatchable. I’ll give Dina credit for making it to the halfway point – and I was going to power through if she wanted to – but when she quit it, I figured I probably shouldn’t spend my last hours of 2019 watching the worst movie of the year, and I turned it off about 50 minutes in.

2/10 (Painful)

TV SHOWS

Big Mouth (s2, 2018, Netflix) – A guilty pleasure, I guess? It’s raunchy animation focused on middle school kids going through puberty and all the emotional and physical craziness involved when your hormones start taking over. This show is NOT for kids though. It’s a hard rated-R – and possibly even worse – with absurdly graphic sex talk and even shows the kids naked sometimes. I almost feel bad even watching it. Some of the characters are way too over-the-top and gross (Jay, Coach Steve, the Hormone Monsters). On the other hand, it’s also pretty damn charming and plenty funny, plus I think it does a good job of really digging into the difficulties and wonders of discovering your bodies at that age. Nick Kroll does some excellent voicework and I really liked the addition of The Shame Wizard in this season. I’m a bit ambivalent about how I feel about this show, but I guess I like it overall and have to admit I enjoy it.

3.5/6 (Decent/Good)

The Mandalorian (s1, 2019, Disney+) – I’m going to say it… this is the best thing to ever come out of the Star Wars universe. I’ve already mentioned I don’t hold any of the films dear to me, so when I make this statement, it’s not coming from someone that is in love with the franchise. I kind of went into The Mandalorian wanting to not like the show, but it didn’t take long to win me over. Everyone knows about Baby Yoda by now and that was a goddamn stroke of creative genius. Baby Yoda is a level of cuteness that has possibly never been seen before and adds a serious mystique to the show. It’s not a spoiler to say that this character is never referenced in the trilogy that just wrapped up, so… I’m extremely curious to see where this story is headed. I think Baby Yoda makes the show, but there is plenty to love about The Mandalorian. From a technical standpoint, it’s as spectacular as any show I’ve ever seen. The sets, sounds, costumes, and creatures are all elite. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Jon Favreau and co. have in store for season 2.

5/6 (Must Watch)

Rick & Morty (s4 pt. 1, 2019, Adult Swim) – I got into Rick & Morty either this year or last year, so I was late to the party, but it didn’t take long to win me over. I devoured the first three seasons and by the time I was done with them, I was on board with the sentiment that the show was all-time levels of awesome. Season 4 is the first time I’ve watched the episodes as they came out and I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the first half of season 4. They have released five episodes so far and I thought two of them were great (episodes one and five), while episode four (with dragons?) was one of the worst of the whole series. To be fair though, the bar for the series is insanely high, but that episode was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The other two episodes I was a bit lukewarm on but still liked overall. Considering the consistent level of greatness this show has operated on for three seasons, having two cool episodes and a weak one in the first five of season four seems like a step in the wrong direction.

4/6 (Good)

Don’t F*** With Cats (2019, Netflix) – An insane story about how a bunch of internet nerds formed a Facebook group to track down some kid that made a video of himself torturing and killing a cat and then posted it online. It’s pretty crazy how the group figure out who the person is and then watch in horror as he escalates to actually murdering a human (also posted in a video online). I guess I’m confused about how the internet works because it seems like it would be extremely easy for law enforcement to find out exactly where a video was posted and track down the person that made it, but maybe these are advances in technology that have mostly be fine-tuned in the 7+ years since these events took place. Still, this is an unreal and extremely fascinating story. There are three episodes and once you start the first one, you won’t want to stop watching until you are done.

4.5/6 (Good/Must Watch)

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Molly’s Game, The Shape of Water, A Ghost Story

January 9, 2018

I’m pretty far behind on posting my thoughts on entertainment content, so I’m just going to pump it all out right now.

Molly’s Game (2017) – This is a rare occurrence where a movie is significantly better than the book it was based on thanks in large part to Aaron Sorkin’s uncanny ability to translate stories to the big screen with his ability to write snappy and entertaining dialogue-heavy scenes. There’s a line in the movie where Idris Elba’s character says something about the best part of Molly’s story taking place after her book was published; he’s not wrong. In fact, his character didn’t even exist in the book. All the court drama is fresh material and it is quite great. Jessica Chastain and Elba are wonderful in their roles. Michael Cera’s character is actually the actor Tobey Maguire and while he’s painted pretty slimy in this movie, he plays a much bigger villain role in the book. For instance, Tobey insists on using his own personal Shuffle Master for the games and charges Molly to use it. I wasn’t moved by the book at all. I thought it was an interesting story, but I didn’t feel bad for Molly Bloom. This movie made me feel something. Kudos to Aaron Sorkin’s writing and directing and a great cast.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The Shape of Water (2017) – This movie blew me away. Guillermo del Toro directs a wonderfully beautiful film with a fun (but kind of weird) love story about not judging a book by its cover. Sally Hawkins is ridiculously good in this movie, playing a mute that works in a secret government building as a cleaning lady and falls in love with a Sea Monster/Man they are holding captive. This is a film that is firing on all cylinders: visually, musically, and technically. Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins are great in supporting roles and Michael Shannon is terrific as the story’s main villain – goodness that guy can make you hate him. The Shape of Water might not wind up being my favorite movie of 2017, but it is almost certainly the best all around 2017 film I’ve seen so far. This movie is highly artistic and a little out there, so it might not be for everyone. My friend I saw it with had the audacity to call it “alright.”

8/10 (Must See)

A Ghost Story (2017) – This was an experience. I had no clue what I was getting into and was totally floored by the direction this movie takes. Casey Affleck plays husband to Rooney Mara, but passes away after a car accident early on in the movie only to return as the stereotypical-looking ghost in a white sheet. He returns to their home and watches her grieve – including an uncomfortably long four minute scene of Rooney Mara devouring a pie – and eventually move on. There is no interaction between ghost and grieving wife and even though the spirit was able travel from the morgue to their home, it remains behind after she moves out and other people begin to move in and out, and a serious amount of time passes. It’s a weird movie. There is very little dialogue after Casey Affleck’s character dies, as most of the film is music and a ghost observing. And yet, it was incredibly entrancing, moving, and quite thought-provoking. I really wanted my wife to watch it but I’m sure she’d hate it, so I didn’t even bother suggesting it. I’m hesitant to recommend this movie, but I loved it and I wanted to watch it again right after I saw it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Raw (2017) – Technically, this movie was viewed at film festivals in 2016, but I don’t think it was released in theaters until 2017. This is a pretty bizarre French-language film about a young vegetarian girl forced to eat meat while getting hazed during orientation at a veterinarian school and develops an insatiable desire for meat and discovers that humans are quite tasty! There’s lots of weird stuff in this movie – it’s overly gross and sexual at times – and I would not recommend it to more conservative audiences. I thought it was pretty fun though and fans of horror movies from other countries shouldn’t be put off by it’s boundary pushing.

6/10 (Recommended)

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) – Happened to watch this on Netflix and thought it was a pretty fun, but not great horror movie with a twist. Tucker and Dale are harmless “hillbillies” that a group of teens mistake for murderers and the teens accidentally kill themselves one-by-one while the survivors blame it all on Tucker and Dale. There’s a don’t judge a book by its cover theme here too, but it’s pretty superficial and this film is just a light horror comedy that’s worth a watch if you have some time.

5/10 (Watchable)

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So Many T.V. Shows!

October 24, 2017

Ratings
5 – Must Watch
4 – Good Stuff
3 – Decent
2 – Not Recommended
1 – Terrible

I’ve powered through a number of seasons of various T.V. series recently, but haven’t shared my thoughts yet, so here they are:

Game of Thrones, Season 7: The biggest event show on television is still must watch stuff. Season 7 featured a bit of ridiculousness (like, travelling to and fro is no longer an issue for anyone in Westeros – they might as well be apparating), but there were plenty of long awaited moments and lots to cheer about. It’s hard to say too much about this show without spoiling things, so I’ll just say I still find Thrones insanely entertaining and I can’t wait to see how they end this thing. 4.5/5

Iron Fist, Season 1: I hated it. Easily the worst of the Netflix Marvel series so far. The biggest problem is Finn Jones just has no charisma in the lead role and, as such, Danny Rand is not someone you can wholeheartedly root for. I really had to force myself to finish this season so I could watch… 1.5/5

The Defenders, Season 1: How could they mess this up? By making The Hand the main enemy, I guess. It’s fun seeing the four heroes interact with each other (although Iron Fist is still lame), but at the end of the day, the agenda of The Hand just doesn’t make any sense. I literally have no idea what the end game was for them. And who is Sigourney Weaver’s character? She’s the leader of The Hand and she’s supposed to be important, but we are never given any reason to fear her and have no idea why she’s in power. Certainly someone like Madam Gao seems a more formidable leader. Shrug. I thought this long awaited series was good for about four episodes and then it lost me completely. People that are going to watch are going to watch it anyway, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. 2/5

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later: If you aren’t already familiar with this franchise you should acquaint yourself with the 2001 film and the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp first. There are too many back stories and running jokes to fully appreciate this show if you haven’t seen the previous installments. I admittedly did not revisit the film first and I think it dampened my enjoyment ever so slightly. I kind of figured things out and remembered as the new story unfolded, but not having everything fresh didn’t make everything as funny as it should be – and it was still hilarious! Absolutely my kind of comedy, but certainly not for everyone. This shows gets pretty ridiculous and out there, but I’ve really enjoyed both series streaming on Netflix. 4/5

Gotham, Season 3: As a dedicated Batman fan, I can’t stop watching this series no matter how ridiculous or bad it gets. There are just so many things to complain about. To some degree, Bruce Wayne finally begins his actual transition into becoming The Batman, but most of his biggest villains are already fully formed – despite the fact that, traditionally, Batman is the reason his rogues gallery exists in the first place. There is a lot to gripe about but I’d like to highlight a couple of things: 1) So Jerome isn’t The Joker? I really liked Cameron Monoghan as Jerome even though his portrayal was a weeeeeeee bit over the top. I don’t understand how someone that looks and acts exactly like The Joker isn’t actually The Joker. The idea that the real Joker is someone paying homage to Jerome, or a copycat, really doesn’t sit right with me. 2) My goodness, how bad did they botch Mr. Freeze? He looks and sounds absolutely TERRIBLE, plus they turned a formidable anti-villain with a tragic back story and turned him into… Penguin’s lackey? 3) This season has a Penguin-Riddler love story. No joke. 2/5

Better Call Saul, Season 2: Creator Vince Gilligan (also responsible for Breaking Bad) is truly a master. I wasn’t really sold on a Saul Goodman spinoff when I first heard about it, but both seasons of the show have been stellar. The show has amazingly rich character development and plenty of fun call backs to Breaking Bad. Arguably the best show currently airing right now, I can’t wait to watch season 3 and be all caught up. 5/5

Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Season 1: This series picks up 30 years after the events of Evil Dead 2 (I think it ignores Army Of Darkness) with Bruce Campbell reprising his role of zombie/demon slayer Ash Williams. The first season is hilarious, spectacularly gory, and wildly entertaining. Ash picks up a couple of compadres on his quest this time around and they are admittedly still growing on me but at least they give someone for Ash to verbally spar with. This isn’t genius stuff here, but it’s definitely something fans of horror and the original franchise will love. 4/5

Shameless, Season 2: This show is wild, and dirty, but it’s also a lot of fun. The Gallaghers are a crazy bunch and everyone has plenty of flaws, but they somehow still come across quite lovable. I still don’t understand Fiona’s interest in Steve/Jimmy though. It really makes no sense to me. Season 2 is still pretty grounded but I have strong suspicions this show is going to get totally bonkers, to the point of completely unbelievably. Here’s to hoping it keeps its heart and doesn’t turn every single character into a total scoundrel. 3.5/5

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September 2017 Fall TV Series Premiere Dates

September 20, 2017

I’m a little late in gathering this information, but I wanted to post a collection of the premiere dates for TV series I either watch already or want to watch.

Narcos (September 1st, Netflix, Season 3) – I haven’t seen any episodes of this Pablo Escobar series yet, but I’ve heard enough good things that I want to watch it eventually.

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. (September 4th, A&E, miniseries) – I didn’t know this existed until 30 minutes ago. I guess it’s an authorized biography told documentary style over two hours. As a huge fan, I’ll watch it whenever it becomes easily accessible.

American Horror Story: Cult (September 5th, FX, Season 7) – I’ve only seen season one and parts of seasons two and three, but I plan to watch the whole series eventually. I will be walking through the American Horror Story: Roanoke maze at Halloween Horror Nights next month.

BoJack Horseman (September 8th, Netflix, Season 4) – I haven’t watched an episode of this either but I’ve read some stellar reviews.

The Deuce (September 10th, HBO, Season 1) – HBO series about porn and prostitution in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Haven’t heard much about it so far, but it’s on my radar.

American Vandal (September 15th, Netflix, Season 1) – Not sure what this is all about, but the trailer I’ve seen looked pretty funny.

Vice Principals (September 17th, HBO, Season 2) – Haven’t seen this HBO comedy series starring Danny McBride yet, but might watch it some day.

Jerry Before Seinfeld (September 19th, Netflix, Stand-Up Comedy Special) – A Jerry Seinfeld stand-up special is obviously must watch television.

Gotham (September 21st, Fox, Season 4) – I’m a huge Batman fan, but this show is still kind of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s not particularly good – there’s plenty of things horribly wrong with it – but I can’t stop watching either. Judging from the teaser images, it seems like Bruce will be starting his Batman journey this season, so that’s something to look forward to. I have a few more episodes to watch in season 3, but I’ll be recording season four and staying up to date.

Fuller House (September 22nd, Netflix, Season 3) – Another guilty pleasure. This show has been more entertaining than I was expecting it to be. It’s perfect for watching with my wife.

DuckTales (September 23rd, DisneyXD, reboot, Season 1) – A childhood classic comes back! I don’t even know what DisneyXD is or if I even have it in my cable package, but a DuckTales reboot is notable stuff!

The Big Bang Theory (September 25th, CBS, Season 11) – I think I stopped watching this show after four or five seasons and it’s not because I didn’t enjoy it – I just didn’t have cable or make the time. I have no idea if it’s still good, but any series that gets eleven seasons is noteworthy.

Young Sheldon (September 25th, CBS, Season 1) – This is a Big Bang Theory spinoff focusing on Sheldon Cooper’s childhood. I watched the trailer for the series and the tone was really weird. They don’t appear to be doing a sitcom format, but rather a somewhat serious dramedy with no laugh track. I’m kind of intrigued, but I have a feeling this will bomb.

This Is Us (September 26th, NBC, Season 2) – I haven’t seen this show either, but this is another show that has had some stellar reviews and feels like a must watch for me. I will record season two and try to catch up quickly.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (September 26th, Fox, Season 5) – I don’t watch this Andy Samberg cop comedy, but I have seen some episodes and they were funny and enjoyable enough that I feel like the premiere date is worth mentioning.

The Blacklist (September 27th, NBC, Season 5) – I’ve seen the first season and maybe the second season – I’m not sure. This was a show my wife and I were watching together, but it’s more in the guilty pleasure category and it’s not super important to me that we continue on. If she wants to pick it back up some day, I would be will to keep going.

Modern Family (September 27th, ABC, Season 9) – This show is brilliant, but last time I watched it Ariel Winter was a dorky, young teenager – not an Instagram model. I would very much like to catch up with this show, but we will probably wait until it’s finished before marathoning through the whole series together.

Grey’s Anatomy (September 28th, ABC, Season 14) – What? Season 14?! I stopped watching this show a decade ago! I think I watched the first 4-6 seasons, but this was a guilty pleasure for me, at best. I have zero interest in what has happened over the past 7+ seasons, but I had to list the premiere because I’m absolutely stunned that it’s still on the air. 14 seasons is incredible.

Marvel’s Inhumans (September 29th, ABC, Season 1) – This is noteworthy because it’s Marvel, but I have read HORRIBLE reviews, so I’ll mention here, but I do not plan on watching this show.

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The Defiant Ones (2017) & Friends From College: Season 1 (2017)

August 11, 2017

The Defiant Ones (2017), HBO – This is four part documentary series on HBO that tells the stories of famed record executive Jimmy Iovine and gangster rap pioneer Dr. Dre. It’s a must watch for hip-hop fans and really anyone that truly appreciates music would probably enjoy it. It covers a lot of the stuff we already saw in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, but fills in some of the holes and tells a much more authentic story. And really, this is an era of music that I grew up on and love to death, so I don’t mind revisiting its roots multiple times. Jimmy Iovine’s story adds variety to the hip-hop stuff as he has also worked with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Marilyn Manson, and No Doubt to name a few. But what both of these moguls did was push the boundaries of what was thought to be acceptable – or even possible – in the music industry and have reached levels of success that are astronomical and extend far beyond merely making music. The Defiant Ones is very engaging for the viewer and quite a breeze for a four part series. Highly recommended.

Replay Value: I would watch this again like… tomorrow.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Not sure where this would fall in the Oscar categories, but it should have some Emmy potential, which I’m far less familiar with.

Grade: 4.5/5 (Close to a Must Watch)

Friends From College: Season One (2017), Netflix – A Netflix original series starring Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Colbie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), and Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) about a group of old friends that reconnect as adults and… act like total assholes 100% of the time. There are multiple affairs, abundant drug and alcohol abuse, and basically every major character makes horrible decisions – and honestly, I’m not even sure this is a comedy. There are definitely moments that are meant to be funny and most of the actors have a comedic background, but the tone of the show comes across as serious and dramatic a lot of the time and I have to say it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t help that none of the characters are likable, with maybe the exception of Billy Eichner’s Felix. I’m not one to start a show and not finish it, so I made it all the way through the whole season, but if you look at this cast and think the show should be funny and enjoyable, you will probably wind up as disappointed as I was. I guess I’d watch a second season, especially if it’s only another eight episodes, but it would be more akin to looking at a car accident as you drive past it than something I’m actually looking forward to. The first season wasn’t good and there’s a lot of wasted talent in this series.

Replay Value: None.
Sequel Potential: The show hasn’t been renewed yet and if the rest of the world felt like I did, it might not get a second season.

Grade: 2/5 (Not Recommended)

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August Movie/Music Preview

August 1, 2017

Anticipation Meter
6 – Epic
5 – Very High
4 – Strong
3 – Moderate
2 – Low
1 – Nonexistent

MOVIES

The Dark Tower (4th) – I never read the Stephen King novels and I wasn’t all that excited about this movie, but the casting of Idris Elba as The Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as The Man In Black is intriguing and the trailer looks interesting enough. My dad was always trying to get me to read the novels when I was growing up and I feel like I heard the later books got weird/bad and I never wanted to invest myself in an epic series that wasn’t strong throughout. This seems like a good way to start. I never knew The Dark Tower series had anything to do with our world, so that’s another surprising element that makes me want to see this movie. Anticipation Meter – 3

Detroit (4th) – Kathryn Bigelow has been one of the strongest filmmakers of recent memory, with both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty receiving overwhelming critical acclaim. Her next film, Detroit, boasts a strong cast that features John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, and Will Poulter, plus a trailer that hooked me in the first time I saw it. This film looks like a gritty, gut-wrenchingly good time at the movies.
Anticipation Meter – 4

Kidnap (4th) – You don’t really think about it, but Catwoman ruined Halle Berry’s career. Before that, she had a three year run where she got cast as Storm in the X-Men franchise, played a Bond girl, and won an Oscar for Monster’s Ball. Since then, her best role has arguably been as herself in a theatrical introduction to a Kevin Hart comedy special. This movie doesn’t look to be breaking the cold streak. Anticipation Meter – 1

Annabelle: Creation (11th) – I haven’t seen the original Annabelle, which was spun off from The Conjuring, but this sequel is currently sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Horror movies typically get a bad wrap from the critics, so when a sequel to a spin off is getting rave reviews, it’s hard not to take notice. I probably won’t see this in theaters since I haven’t seen the first one yet, but I’m definitely interested in checking it out. Anticipation Meter – 3

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (11th) – Nope. Anticipation Meter – 1

The Glass Castle (11th) – I’ve seen the trailer for this drama starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts a couple of times now and it looks like it could be Oscar fodder… or really boring – I’m not sure. Writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton is responsible for Short Term 12 which is one of the most lauded films of the past decade that I still haven’t seen, so I suspect it could be pretty good. Brie Larson is definitely an actress I’m checking for right now. Anticipation Meter – 3

Ingrid Goes West (11th) – Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen star in this offbeat satire of social media. I just watched the trailer and it looks kind of crazy and Plaza has proven she can do crazy pretty well (see: “Parks and Recreation”). This probably won’t get a wide release, but I’m curious to see it. Anticipation Meter – 3

Good Time (11th) – This will probably be another limited release, but it’s getting incredibly strong reviews and the trailer looks good to me. The story centers around a young man racing around New York City trying to get his brother out of Riker’s Island. Robert Pattinson is getting rave reviews for his performance and I’ve never really liked his work, so I think it would be cool to see some great acting from him. Anticipation Meter – 3

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (18th) – The premise of the world’s top protection agent being assigned to protect the life of one of the world’s most notorious hitmen is kind of interesting and so is the combination of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, but the trailer looked pretty weak to me. My interest will depend entirely on word of mouth for this one. Anticipation Meter – 2

Logan Lucky (18th) – Another heist movie from director Steven Soderbergh except this time his group of robbers are headed by a couple of slow-witted brothers played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver and the plan is to rob what looks like a NASCAR race? Daniel Craig seems to be playing very against type in this movie and I’m not sure it’s going to go well. There’s some pedigree here but Soderbergh’s peak was about 15 years ago. Anticipation Meter – 2

Patti Cake$ (18th) – I saw the trailer for this for the first time today and it kind of shocked me. It’s basically 8 Mile except instead of the one of the best rappers of all time in the starring role, we have an unknown big white girl? I’m willing to keep an open mind and the film has gotten some good praise, but I’m also a hip-hop snob, so for this movie to have any chance of hitting home with me this girl better be exceptional. I’m wary, but an underdog movie centered around rap music is something that definitely interests me. Anticipation Meter – 3

Birth of the Dragon (25th) – A Bruce Lee biopic set in 1960s San Francisco and centered around an epic fight between Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man. Trailer looks good. Anticipation Meter – 3

Polaroid (25th) – A horror movie along the lines of The Ring in which anyone whose photo is taken by the camera in the movie… dies. Doesn’t seem very groundbreaking and the trailer looks okay at best. Anticipation Meter – 2

Tulip Fever (25th) – A period piece set in Amsterdam about a young woman that marries a wealthy merchant to escape poverty but falls for an artist hired to paint her portrait. Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, and Judi Dench headline a very good cast. Vikander and Waltz have done some really good work in the past decade and that’s enough reason for me to see this movie. Anticipation Meter – 3

MUSIC

There are literally zero albums listed for August that I’m interested in. I’ve been on a Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott kick the last week or so because I’m seeing their show at the Tacoma Dome tonight. I have a pretty busy August coming up, but maybe I’ll finally get around to doing my next profile write up and catch up on some 2017 album ratings.

Notable Netflix Additions

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (1st)
Jackie Brown (1st)
The Matrix (1st)
The Matrix Reloaded (1st)
The Matrix Revolutions (1st)
The Founder (2nd)
Marvel’s The Defenders: Season One (8th)
Death Note (25th)