American Sniper is an action movie with just enough intelligence to masquerade as a complex character study, a study of a man profoundly affected by the horrors of war and by the 160 confirmed kills built up over his four tours. Eastwood and co. are smart enough to recognize that there are other viewpoints to the war and that complexity can be compelling, but the problem is that they overlook what exactly made Chris Kyle’s story complex and compelling. As a result, everything becomes wrapped up in a generic, filtered, and crowd-pleasing bundle of a story with nothing new to say.
Shameless can be uncomfortable and disturbing and wacky and darkly hilarious, but what makes it special is its ability to turn those moments into something heartfelt, something poignant. It doesn’t just focus on the joke aspect of a situation; it also explores the ramifications of certain actions on certain individuals, and as a result, it creates a distinct style and balance for itself that is rare among television shows.
INSIDE THE NFL: As expected, the show tackles the Patriots’ deflated footballs controversy right off the bat, and it’s a solid opening to the show. Bennett and Killam both do fine work as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, respectively, but the real laughs are found in Bobby Moynihan’s Dougie Spoons; he goes on about Brady being the father of his child, he references A Few Good Men, and he’s the necessary energy in a pretty meh sketch otherwise. GRADE: B
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Justified, Archer, Wilfred, Community, 24: Live Another Day, Penny Dreadful, Arrow, New Girl, Homeland, Girls, Parks and Recreation, The Bridge, The Walking Dead
Other notable shows I haven’t seen: The Flash, Broad City, Over the Garden Wall, The Legend of Korra, Rick and Morty, Looking, Black Mirror, Bob’s Burgers, The Honourable Woman, Jane the Virgin, Manhattan, Enlisted, Peaky Blinders, The Missing
Special mention: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
When making a movie about an important historical figure like Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s easy to go through the motions and use a list of major bullet points as a stand in for an actual screenplay. What makes Selma compelling is its focus on a very specific time period in the history of Dr. King, a time period that was essential to the Civil Rights movement, but a time period that also echoes the state of our nation today. It’s a narrative that marches forward with clear purpose, but it also takes the time to reflect on who exactly made up this movement.
“I’m not just chaos. I’m better. I’ve changed. I think I could be really good for you.”
Last season saw Fiona Gallagher digging herself deeper and deeper into a dark hole, and although last week’s premiere displayed a happy and carefree woman, “I’m the Liver” delves back into the traits that led to that downward spiral. Although Fiona is laughing and flirting and smiling now, that doesn’t necessarily change who she is deep down; she may certainly be working to improve her life and her relationships, but she tends to overlook her more dangerous side in favor of a more optimistic viewpoint.