Archive | September, 2015

The Martian Review

30 Sep


The Martian is mainly concerned with being entertaining, with using humor to combat the desperation that might accompany an extended stay on a paradise like Mars. There’s a lightheartedness that pervades the entire movie, and although that does weaken some of the bigger emotional moments, it’s still a fun change of tone after intense films like Gravity and Interstellar (both of which are superior, by the way). This is a celebration of human intelligence, of cooperation and a can-do attitude. What’s refreshing about it is that it’s not dominated by contrived suspense sequences that are the results of infuriatingly dumb character decisions. These people know what they’re doing, perhaps even too well. Mark Watney in particular makes surviving on Mars look like a stroll through the park, but then again, that’s part of the charm of the movie.

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Black Mass Review

25 Sep


Black Mass features an outstanding cast and intriguing historical context, but it’s all wrapped up in a by-the-numbers plod through various events in Whitey Bulger’s life. It has its moments, but this is one instance in which too much focus on the facts harms the rest of the movie. It’s like Scott Cooper looked at a timeline and found everything worth acknowledging, but nothing worth delving into. The running time is too short for the amount he tries to cover, and it’s about right for the method he should’ve taken: really diving into one period of Bulger’s life, into one particular aspect of his story.

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Sicario Review

18 Sep


Sicario is a movie built upon uncertainty: uncertainty about loyalties, motives, and purposes in our nation’s never-ending drug war, uncertainty that’s always one step away from descending into full-blown chaos. As is made clear throughout, right and wrong and black and white are all incredibly difficult to distinguish here, and any attempt to change the status quo–deep-seated corruption–will likely be met with deaf ears and lots of bullets.

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Battlestar Galactica “Daybreak, Parts 2 and 3” Review (4×20)

14 Sep


“If there’s one thing that we should have learned, it’s that our brains have always outraced our hearts. Our science charges ahead. Our souls lag behind.”

Battlestar Galactica is, at heart, a series about the ways we interact as a people, about the ways we define ourselves and move forward as members of a civilization. It has its ideas about religion and science and technology and conflict, but what it continually returns to is the notion of humanity, humanity at both its best and at its worst. Through this well-developed cast of characters, the writers have assembled a group of people who have faced unending pain and heartbreak throughout their lives, yet still find solace and purpose in the flawed individuals around them. And when the show uses those individuals to convey the dark side of human nature, it oftentimes does so with the possibility of something better on the horizon. The capacity to destroy each other, the capacity to love someone else, the capacity to redeem ourselves…human beings have the capacity to do so many things, and it’s up to us to choose where we end up. Even though the execution of the final set of scenes runs dangerously close to the show taking sides about technology, the ultimate point I see for the series is that technology is not inherently bad; rather, what determines our fates is how quickly our souls can catch up to the science.

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Veronica Mars “Ahoy, Mateys!”/ “My Mother the Fiend” Review (2×08/2×09)

14 Sep


EPISODE 8: “Ahoy, Mateys!”

The opening scene of this episode pretty much spells out where Duncan’s at right now. We open with a dream sequence consisting of an Angel/Devil image–Meg’s dressed all in white, Veronica’s dressed all in black–and the subsequent scenes serve to emphasize just how torn Duncan’s subconscious is at the moment. He sees Veronica and Logan talking to each other on the couch, but he essentially pays no attention to them and moves right on to the Meg letter.

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Veronica Mars “Rat Saw God”/ “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” Review (2×06/2×07)

12 Sep



Hey, it’s season one all over again! I’m happy that last season’s storylines aren’t going away, although it’s interesting how this season’s tapestry is already more intricate than last season’s, and we’re only six episodes in. I’ll wait to see whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but one thing’s for sure right now: “Rat Saw God” is a very tightly plotted and extremely entertaining episode that deftly brings Amelia DeLongpre, Clarence Wiedman, Abel Koontz, and Aaron Echolls back into the fold.

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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Joe Biden Interview

11 Sep

Because everyone needs to watch this.

Video credit: CBS, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

You’re the Worst “The Sweater People” Review (2×01)

9 Sep

YOU'RE THE WORST -- "The Sweater People" -- Episode 201 (Airs Wednesday, September 9, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler, Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly. CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

“Love is putting someone else’s feelings above your own.”

You’re the Worst might have a cynical outer shell, but it’s less a criticism of relationships and more an examination of the trials and tribulations of those very relationships. Stephen Falk and co. understand their characters extremely well, and there’s still quite a bit of warmth to be found beneath the layers of sarcasm and illegal activities; these are simply people trying to navigate themselves and their relationships, and the roadblocks they encounter are inevitable aspects of their shared experience. Rom-com cliches don’t drive this show. The characters do, and even though they might be “the worst”, they’re still extremely fun to watch.

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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Series Premiere Review

9 Sep


Stephen’s back, and it’s a wonderful sight to behold. What I love most about this first episode is the fact that we get to see a genuinely excited Stephen Colbert, a guy who finally gets to be himself after years and years of playing “a narcissistic conservative pundit”. Now he’s “just a narcissist”, and we can see in every movement just how happy he is to be here. This is someone who’s building a late night show around pure talent and personality, not around the generic celebrity gushing that seems to dominate much of the country’s cultural conversation. This version of The Late Show is a blend of old and new, and it’s exactly what the format needs as we move forward.

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Veronica Mars Season 2, Episodes 3-5 Review

7 Sep

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Attempting to juggle too many plot points can come back to bite a show, but as of right now, it’s pretty entertaining watching Veronica Mars break from its season one structure to try something new. We’re getting cliffhangers left and right, Aaron Echolls is being brought back into the fold through Curly Moran, and cases of the week are being interwoven with multiple overarching plots. Aside from a karaoke scene that goes on for way too long, this episode is really great, especially when it focuses on Cassidy’s relationship with his family or the tensions between Duncan, Logan, and Veronica (with some Kendall stuff now thrown in). On the Duncan-Logan note, it’s easy to see where exactly this conflict is coming from based on what we know about the characters, and we can probably draw a line connecting their relationship around the Jake Kane accusation period to accusations leveled at Logan recently. Logan prides loyalty, but he feels like he’s not getting any from Duncan.

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