TV: Glow S1 – (3.5/4)
This was a pleasant surprise. “Glow,” a Netflix original series, may go down as one of their best shows yet.
Jenji Kohan is showrunning, known for her success with “Orange is the New Black.” She does something really special here with ensemble-storytelling. Alison Brie’s Ruth Wilder is in the role like Piper Chapman, a lead role that often falls supporting to flesh out the rest of the ensemble.
There are plot-driven shows and character-driven shows – “Glow” is the ladder. Everyone of these characters prove to be interesting in this season. Some aren’t as fleshed out as others, but their quirks still keep them intriguing.
Alison Brie nails this role. Knowing her work well from “Community,” I was nervous that her comedic style would be too bombastic for a show like this. She, like the rest of the cast, feels authentic and real in her performance.
Authenticity to it’s characters and it’s comedy lead me to really enjoy “Glow.” I binged it quickly and enjoyed almost everything about it. I also enjoyed the pace at which it moved as well as the history behind the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
There’s a lot to love here and I can’t wait for season 2.
TV: Friends from College S1 – (1.5/4)
This was a fun little show. With some pretty funny moments and few gut-splittling funny moments. However it’s about 30/70 when the comedy works.
“Friends from College” strives in situational and cringe comedy. We have a cast of truly despicable characters and the comedy blooms when they’re trapped and forced to address their despicable actions.
In the meantime though, we just have to sit and watch them be despicable with little to no comeuppance. “It’s Always Sunny” is a show that often works well with despicable characters, but they are often given the karma they deserve. We laugh because it feels like justice, and we assert ourselves over them.
Not enough justice came of our characters in this season and all of them, every single one, needs a dose of more karma for the show to work.
I don’t mind sticking with the show, because in those comedic moments – it really works. I laughed a lot. However it’s the rest of the show and it’s execution/pacing that meander.
The show would’ve fallen harder if not for the taleneted cast. Keegan Michael Key does some great “reactionary” comedy here.
It’s also hard to understand why any of these characters want to be around each other in the first place. It almost never goes well for them, and they all have little to no chemistry with one another. They’ll need to repair this motivation in the next season if Netflix isn’t so cancel trigger happy. It deserves another chance.
TV: Castlevania S1 – (No Rating)
I’m pulling a Roger Ebert-Human Centipede reiview here and refusing to give this first season of “Castlevania” a rating.
The four episode first season was too small a sample size to gauge the quality of the show entirely up to this point.
I normally review by season. I do this because there are many episodes of any given show that serve as nothing more than to build up something in a later episode. Does that episode work on its own? Often not, but it does a great job getting us to the next, big, episode.
Even reviewing seasons is rough because sometimes they are catalysts to something bigger in a following season. And here’s the category “Castlevania” falls into.
Does season one stand on its own? Not at all. It’s entirely first act material. We only begin to know our characters and plot by the end of the fourth episode.
I will go ahead and review the seasons first act capabilities. A lot of what we saw here, at least in episodes 1-3, was an attempt at establishing atmosphere. This show is ultra-violent and had some unfortunate moments of gratuity through this violence.
The violence serves to help establish the atmosphere, but there are sequences primarily in episode 2 where you just want to say – Okay, we get it.
It isn’t at all for children or the squeamish. Episode four laid back on the violence a bit to focus more on character and the next big plot point. It was easily my favorite episode of the four.
As a 4-episode first act, I can’t judge if any of this exposition is building to something or if it will all be lost in subtext later on. So I refuse to review this shortened season, and hope we can establish something fuller in the second season.
Emmys: Updated Predictions – July
No real surprises this year in nominations. It’ll be tough contest in drama with “Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Crown” going at it. “Atlanta” is all but locked for Comedy. “Feud” will probably sweep a lot of the Limited Series categories as well. Go to this page to get the most updated predictions.
Here are the predictions:
Outstanding Drama Series
The Handmaid’s Tale
This is Us
Better Call Saul
House of Cards
Continue reading Emmys: Updated Predictions – July
TV: Fargo S3 – (3/4)
Season 3 of “Fargo” is much more low key than the previous two seasons. In that way, it because the closest film to the Coen brother philosophy.
Essays upon essays have been written dissecting the “Joel/Ethan Coen philosophy, but one common theme is absurdism. With the original film “Fargo” we are asked to observe, sit on the sidelines, as opposed to take part in the story.
We aren’t revealed details later on that were kept from us, we see any and everything going on in the situation. We are asked to judge, and critique the character’s actions. And much like “A Serious Man” or “Inside Llewyn Davis” in the end we are left telling ourselves “the world is just complicated sometimes.”
Seasons 1 and 2 were great homages as well where we were sidelined, but they were almost overly bombastic when compared to the stylings of the Coen brothers’ comedic work. Season 3 nails the philosophy of its source material in a much more significant way.
We’re not just judging the characters and laughing at the absurdities, questions are being raised about meaning, and the search for meaning.
Many philosophers have written books upon books about absurdism, and no filmmakers have ever brought it to screen the way Joel and Ethan Coen have.
Is this season perfect on its own though? A minor glitch here and there in narrative and pacing. For the most part we avoid gratutious homage, the camerawork exceptional here as well.
All in all it may be the least action-oriented seaon of “Fargo” and maybe the least entertaining on the surface, but it nails the philosophy and works perfectly as an homage to its source material.
Film: Baby Driver – (2.5/4)
I’m a huge Edgar Wright fan. I revisited “Scott Pilgrim” about a year ago at one of my favorite bars and, more recently, saw a 35mm print of “Hot Fuzz” at my local independent theatre.
He excels at visual humor in all his prior films, but with “Baby Driver,” a more serious film, we don’t get to see him play to his comedic strengths.
As an editor, I’m enamored by his filmography and the pace of his movies. “Baby Driver” is no exception. There isn’t an out-of-place shot or edit in the entire film. It maintains a moderate pace throughout. Even during expositon where other action flicks usually meander.
As an action film, and a racing film, it is borderline master class in its execution and filmmaking. The action scenes reminiscent of Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
My unfortunate issues with the film fall on the screenplay and the character motivations. A few moments edge on becoming plot holes because of this. Without spoilers, Lily James’ Debora had odd motivations for sticking around as long as she did and Kevin Spacey’s “intellectual” character makes some odd, misguided decisions before the third act. His resolution also feels a bit random, given what we knew about him.
One day Edgar Wright will hold up his first “Best Director” Oscar and it will be well-deserved. I believe “Baby Driver” to be his weakest film and that says a lot because I still enjoyed it immensely.
Film: Okja – (2.5/4)
Similar to my emotions toward Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer” I felt there were a lot of things to admire about “Okja,” but it had a few misfires to keep it from being truly great.
One thing it nails is its ambitious plot. The story is wholly original without ever feeling preachy which, given the subject matter, could have easily happened. It’s also a colorful film filled with interesting characters.
My issue lies in the ever-shifting mood of the film. It plays both quirky and straight-faced intermittently and it sometimes feels uncomfortably jarring.
The characters grow with the ebb and flow of this mood, which doesn’t work at all with Gyllenhaal’s character. Not sure if what went wrong here was Gyllenhaal’s performance or Joon-ho’s direction, but it didn’t work.
There’s a moment at the midpoint of the film that meshes one of its most serious, defining, moments with the quirkiness of Gyllenhaal’s performance and it is cringe-inducing. I reiternate – It didn’t work at all for me.
The conclusion is the best part of the film. Being a satisfying “happy” ending while the hard truths we’ve recently discovered still loom in the back of our minds unresolved.