Archive | January, 2015

Saturday Night Live “J.K. Simmons/D’Angelo” Live Blog and Review (40×13)

31 Jan


Public Service Announcement: Whiplash was the best movie of the year, and J.K. Simmons gave the best performance of the year. Go watch it if you haven’t already.

SUPER BOWL SHUT DOWN: First of all, I urge you to read Marshawn Lynch’s reason behind not talking to the media; it’s excellent, and I respect him for it. As for this opening sketch itself, it’s not very surprising that we’d get a Super Bowl segment to begin the episode, and it’s definitely not a bad one. Pharaoh and Thompson are both very entertaining throughout, and they help move this sketch along quite well. I still prefer Key and Peele doing this, though. GRADE: B

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Parenthood “May God Bless and Keep You Always” Review (6×13)

29 Jan


In a TV landscape filled with “dark and edgy” dramas, Parenthood has spent the last six years as a light shining bright in the darkness. Yes, it was willing to explore sadness and heartbreak and conflict, but there was one element that anchored the show throughout its ups and downs: that focus on love and family, that focus on what exactly makes us human and how we interact with others. It was a show not without its flaws, but it consistently found beauty in the simplest moments, and it wrapped everything up wonderfully in its series finale: “May God Bless and Keep You Always”.

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The Americans “EST Men” Review (3×01)

29 Jan


What makes this show so special is its ability to tackle larger thematic ideas through very intimate character dynamics. It regards the human capacity for emotion with the same care and nuance afforded to its explorations of institutions, and the sociopolitical and political aspects of the show never outweigh the importance of personal relationships. It walks a fine balance between the individual and the state, and it’s a very complex show as a result; I’m extremely glad that it’s back.

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Justified “Cash Game” Review (6×02)

27 Jan


Even in episodes that mainly serve to introduce new characters and to set up the storylines for the remainder of the season, Justified is one of the few shows that can still deliver hours of television that are just as–if not more–entertaining than their other efforts. “Cash Game” flies by on the wings of its dialogue, delivering a classic episode by doing what it has always been doing: giving wonderful actors and actresses impeccable dialogue and watching the magic unfold.

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American Sniper Review

26 Jan


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.

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Shameless “The Two Lisas” Review (5×03)

25 Jan


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.

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Saturday Night Live “Blake Shelton” Live Blog and Review (40×12)

24 Jan


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

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The Top 25 Television Shows of 2014

21 Jan


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

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Justified “Fate’s Right Hand” Review (6×01)

21 Jan


“You’re a card in fate’s right hand. Don’t you see how it’s going to play out?” 

The notion of past vs. present has always played a role in Justified. Our characters continue to grapple with their roots as we move into the final season, with how those roots do or do not define them in the present. For example, during a scene in which Garrett Dillahunt’s Ty Walker approaches Raylan and offers to buy his land, the show makes it a point to emphasize the fact that Arlo–through death–still lives on. Arlo is a reminder of Raylan’s past, of what he wants to leave behind; yet, it’s difficult to completely distance yourself from the past, no matter how much you may try.

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Selma Review

19 Jan


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.

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