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The Top 15 Television Episodes of 2017

3 Jan

15. Mr. Robot, “eps3.5_kill-pr0cess.inc”

14. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

13. Veep, “Blurb”

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The Top 15 Television Performances of 2017

1 Jan

I cheated with some of these.

15. TIE: Timothy Olyphant, “Santa Clarita Diet” and Andy Daly, “Review” – Daly would be much higher if he didn’t have only an hour of screen time this year, but I figured I’d still sneak him on here somehow. It may not seem like it at first, but he actually gives one of the most psychologically complex performances on television. As for Olyphant…I just love Olyphant, and he’s a ton of fun in “Santa Clarita Diet”.

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Stronger Review

27 Sep

Finally. Finally a biopic that doesn’t treat its story beats like attention grabbing headlines. Finally a camera willing to linger in the right moments without reveling in or dismissing pain. Finally a “true story” film that recognizes that themes like strength, perseverance, and even patriotism can absolutely be expressed through personal, intimate human moments. I’m not saying Stronger is a pioneer in those areas, but I’ve been conditioned to expect a certain type of film with these biopics, i.e. a sanitized, rushed, and ultimately dismissive Greatest Hits reel that does a disservice to real life struggles. Thankfully, that’s not what we get here.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

22 Sep

Bloated and a bit draining, but still lots of fun due to Vaughn’s stylized, over the top gore fests. There’s nothing here quite as memorable as what we saw in the first film, but there’s a slapstick swagger to it all that can be infectious at times. A great villain can also go a long way in any film, and Julianne Moore’s Poppy certainly fits that bill. She plays her character like a drunk, slightly unhinged evil genius, and it’s very fun to watch even if the writing fails her at times. Other standout performances include that of Pedro Pascal, Elton John (in a ridiculously hammy role that would only work in something like this), and the always dependable Mark Strong. Unsurprisingly, all of the cast members deliver the charm even amid the screenplay’s myriad questionable choices. Continue reading

Orphan Black “To Right the Wrongs of Many” Review (5×10)

13 Aug

“I survived you. We survived you. Me and my sisters, together. This is evolution.”

I don’t have much to say about this finale. It’s not that I don’t want to say anything; it’s simply that there isn’t all that much to unpack. This is a crowd pleaser, a thoroughly satisfying series finale that dispatches of its villains in the first third of the episode so that it can focus on the themes that drove the series. The main one? Sisterhood, the bond that never broke through the trials and tribulations these people faced, the connective tissue that transcended mere biology. You could see it shine through in each and every episode, even if Clone Club wasn’t completely intact.
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The Leftovers “The Book of Nora” Review (3×08)

4 Jun

“I’m here.”

In the end, a simple game of Mad (Matt) Libs might be the perfect encapsulation of what this show is all about. You have a framework, a scenario, something you’re working within the boundaries of even though there are endless possibilities to choose from. The most important part is the choice: what word do you choose? Does it have a special meaning? Do other people choose similarly? Differently? How do you deal with the blanks that pop up in life? This show is not about providing those blanks; it’s about “letting the mystery be”, following people as they go on journeys that might never be logically parsed but still maintaining a sense of empathy and compassion toward them. It’s about exploring how people’s belief systems are crafted in response to a lack of answers, and it does it so goddamn well.

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The Leftovers “The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)” Review (3×07)

28 May

“It doesn’t make any sense!”

“International Assassin Part 3” opens with Kevin and Nora in a bathtub, back in the good ‘ol days when they could joke about how they wanted to dispose of their bodies post-death. It’s a wonderful little scene, and though the subsequent hour goes on twists and turns of epic proportions–something this show is familiar with–it all comes back to that scene in the end. Of course, it may not be that scene in particular, more so what that scene stands for: the pairing of Kevin and Nora, two people who are perfect for each other precisely because of how messed up both of them are. And thus, by circling back around to the Kevin-Nora relationship at the end of this wild, surreal adventure, The Leftovers once again makes it very clear that this is a character-driven show about grief.

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