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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Randall comes to terms with what he should have been in life, Kevin
comes to terms with his feelings over his dad, and Kate comes face to
face with a teenage girl who shares a lot of characteristics with her.
The follow the path that makes you happiest (but practice to be better)
storyline with Randall was heartfelt perfection, from Jack imprinting
his own feelings on his son's decision (but also in encouraging it to
be the kid's decision in the end) to Randall wondering if maybe he has
more of William in him than he really thought. The "Look away kid, look
away" line was fantastic and Sterling K. Brown is continuing to be the
star of this year. Also love the ending with him.
Kevin having to go to a stranger's memorial service to experience loss and grief (and reconnect with the feelings he felt during his dad's death) is good trickery on the part of Olivia (his co-star). If there is a relationship there, we'll have to see. There are depths to Kevin's talents that he seems to be waiting for someone to pay attention to and help grow, so maybe she is it.
And Kate's storyline of getting a new job as personal assistant and fat mentor to the very depressed teenage daughter of her employer seems like a work in progress. It gets one thing right so far. You can't expect a thin person to understand what you're going through as a fat person so Kate is really getting a chance to do what her mom, and her employer can't, and that's meet a younger person on their level. Expect life lessons.
Still a great show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's been a TV season of big moments so far and "Jane the Virgin"
promised us another this week. Jane and Michael could finally have sex.
This was going to be one of those episodes where if it didn't do what
was promised then I was going to be very mad at it and luckily, 10
minutes in we finally reach that big moment- represented in cartoon
form? Not what I was expecting or would have chosen.
Another big twist- she accidentally made a sex tape and sent it to her adviser, thinking she was actually sending a thesis paper on Alma to her professor. It's one of those really bad- sitcom level mistakes a character makes but luckily it doesn't take up a major part of the episode and leads to a solid critique of Jane's "romance" writing lacking passion.
Also lacking passion-her sex life. She saw Michael finish and, panicking that it wouldn't be perfect, faked an orgasm to "perfectly" time with his. They try pleasure gels and all types of different things, but they are both still in their heads. They soon agree that until they work out the problem, don't share details with anyone.
Xo is auditioning for the voice and is thinking if she doesn't get it, she should move on. She actually made a list of different careers, which she has never done before. Jane asks Rogellio to help with her confidence. That leads to cameos from none other than the Estafans, which again shows just how committed Rogellio has become to Xo in this season.
However Jane has a total breakdown in front of the Estefans. But it masterfully sets up this whole discussion about having an identity so long that it defines you. Both Xo, but particularly Jane, have been living with labels for so long that they have never gotten the chance to explore new dimensions of themselves. Now they can. It also will allow Jane to explore new levels of her writing, as evidenced by her character breakdown of Alma's supposedly "only" slutty sister Cecilia.
Meanwhile Rogelio was going to use his Estefan favor in bringing Passions of Santos to America on of course, The CW (Would totally watch that too). They like the show, but want Rob Lowe to star. He now has 6 months to get famous enough to start an American version.
And Luisa is still having sex with Sin Rostro, both hiding out in a submerged submarine, fulfilling her role as a total train wreck. Rose wants to be with her, even offering to change her face so that they can both be around Luisa's family. Luisa still fears her, particularly the fact Rose killed her father, and now wants to be around her family. In the end, Luisa inadvertently lets a murderer back into their lives like we knew she would.
Overall it was a solid episode for Jane, offering up enough life lesson, whimsy, and humor. Particularly it dealt with the big question of the title itself. Now it seems as though we are going to be watching a show about not just definition, but breaking out of molds.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So the way we left things last week, Caitlin looked like she was
turning into Earth 1's version of Killer Frost, who if you don't
remember, was first seen on Earth 2 and was kinda like a Rhonda Rousey
version of that chick from Frozen. There's going to be a lot more
coming down the pike with her, but this week, some family back story.
She goes to see her mom, who is this expert in Cryo science. Right away we can tell these two have been estranged, and then Caitlin goes full histrionic mode, slams her fist on the desk, her eyes go all white, the fill force of her power is unleashed ("i'm the patient"). Now we're getting serious.
Now we find out that Caitlin got this whole thing when the particle accelerator exploded but we know that's not how it was before Barry tried to play Mr. Fix-It with his family so Barry, you're not off the hook dude.
Caitlin absorbed a hell of a a lot of energy and is told if you keep using them, it's going to be harder to reverse. That brings me back to week 1 when Barry had the same problem- faster use speed, faster forget.
There's also a lot of reasons for Caitlin and mom not talking. Caitlin went to work for Wells when mom wanted her to work for her, dad died and mom became distant. Mom didn't even know Caitlin's husband died in accelerator explosion. Really, how could you miss that. Number one, it's your daughter. Number 2, the guy died in the biggest catastrophe to ever hit Starling City.
Is Caitlin gonna go totally evil? Are her fears and her anger going to overcome her? Will she use her powers for good? Who knows but for right now we have a whole new dynamic being brought to the story with the family stuff. Then add in that bit in the end with Cisco and her where he remembers his dead bro and it's the way The Flash usually handles drama- short and sweet.
Barry and Cisco are also living together. This is where we find out Cisco doesn't like New Wells, who has a bunch of ulterior motives but really just seems like a gigantic fool so far. If he left I wouldn't miss him.
One I am starting to like is Julian, who at first seems like the Draco to Barry's CSI Harry Potter. But then we realize it's not coming from jealousy so much when he bares his soul come later on. His power was always science, now with the meta humans he is completely lost and I sympathize with that.
And lastly, let's all say what we were thinking at about the 10 minute mark of this episode. "Hey, it's Mothra." I liked it to start because there should be more Metas than just human but it ends kinda poorly, and Joe giving this stupid kid a father son
But i'm encouraged by a lot of the Caitlin stuff and I think Julian is really poised to finally take on a meatier role in the next couple episodes. Definitely was not the best episode for the Flash particularly though.
Thanks for reading guys.
Those that had to get Fifty Shades of Grey out of their system did so
on opening weekend. Those who were curious did so the following
weekend. Those that are going this weekend are probably just going to
be drunks and guys who wear trench coats a lot (even in summer). We
need a new adult romance now and Focus fits the bill, and also puts way
more of an emphasis on the word "adult". It's also a return to form for
Will Smith, looking for a boost after that After Earth debacle in 2013.
He's still every bit the playa we want him to be in a movie directed by
Glenn Ficcara and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) that has a stylish
sexiness in almost every scene.
Smith plays Nicky, the kind of confident, well dressed mystery man who doesn't seem to mind eating at a fancy restaurant alone. He's approached by Jess (Margot Robbie), they get to talking, and soon they're both going back to his hotel room. It's a con but Jess is an amateur, leading to a scene of sly humor that Smith plays to perfection. But Jess wants to learn how to "dance in the dark" as Nicky puts it and so after learning a few tricks from him, she follows him to New Orleans where she finds herself a member of his team of pickpockets. Through sleight of hands and various scams, Nicky has a whole network of people focusing on gambling, credit card fraud, tricking adulterous married dudes and more. They clean up, which is part of the fun.
This movie is all about being smooth and it revels in that almost as much as it does in the beauty of its two stars and the vibrancy of the place they're in. New Orleans, from Mardi Gras to a casino to the Superdome, supplies a perfect backdrop as these two get frisky and flirty with each other. They have great chemistry, it's sexy but shows just the right amount of restraint for two people who are into each other but can't risk distraction in their line of work. By far the best scene in the movie though comes when Nick bets with an Asian businessman (an excellent B.D. Wong) during a football game. It's crazy just how out of control it gets and it ends awesomely.
The movie can only go downhill from a scene as audacious as this and it does. Nicky and Jess suddenly go separate ways only to reunite three years later in Argentina where Nicky is helping out a grand prix owner (Rodrigo Santoro) that Jess just happens to be dating. Do these two share real feelings or is one or both just playing the other? Who knows, but we're pretty sure that Ficarra and Requa lose the playful spark between these two in Argentina and there's an ending plot twist that I'm not sure really works. Gerald McRaney has a few good scenes as a hard-ass, suspicious bodyguard here but it's Smith, playing a guy with a gift of gab, and Robbie, a beauty with not just a great smile but also poise, charm, and humor, who keep Focus afloat even when the movie doesn't seem quite sure of itself.
"Song One" is the musical equivalent of dead air. I've had problems with movies like "Once" and "Begin Again" in the past, so interested in creating ach-y musicals about wounded characters, all to the tune of whiney songs, that they never rise above predictable and dull. And yet I'm tempted to praise those after watching "Song One", a film that seems to have even less conflict, even more sullen-faced characters, and almost no energy to its straight-forward story telling. It's the kind of romance that would make a Kathryn Heigl film look like it was made by Stanley Kubrick. Anne Hathaway produced this first feature from Kate Barker-Froyland and also stars in it as Franny, a humanitarian called back to New York when her subway-musician brother's accident leaves him in a coma. During her time back, she meets her brother's hero- James Forrester (Johnny Flynn), a musician who hasn't recorded in the five years since his girlfriend left him. He needs inspiration, she needs to forgive her brother for dropping out of college to become a musician. There ya go in a nut shell. It's a plot so simplistic that Hathaway couldn't even promote the thing on "The Daily Show" last week without giggling. Notice she didn't do that with Les Miserable's Fantine (although "hahaha she loses her job, sings a song with a bunch of tears and snot on her face, then dies hahahaha" would have been hilarious). Anyway, we know where this is all going, James and Franny are nothing more than lost, wandering bores whenever they're not together, a scene where James serenades her unconscious brother is meant to be beautiful but just looks clumsy, and there are no insights, from the creative process to the grieving process, other than both work better with a sex buddy. Franny is a role that gives Hathaway nothing to do other than practice crying and giving looks of concern. Johnny Flynn is a talented musical performer but that doesn't change the fact that you forget the music, which comes courtesy of Jenny Lewis (from the indie band Rilo Kiley) and her boyfriend Johnathan Rice, almost immediately after it ends. Otherwise he's kinda glum too, unless they're together, in which case sometimes they smile. It's a romance built on almost nothing other than needing whoever is in close proximity. Showcasing some really talented performers around the city, it's too bad "Song" has to keep its proximity closest to these two.
Al Pacino's Simon Axler says that the hardest point for any great actor
is when you can tell the talent is starting to recede. I'd say the
hardest for any movie critic is having to watch a great actor do a
movie like "88 Minutes." Thankfully HBO has been saving Pacino's cred
over the past decade, which sadly still takes another wallop with
another lousy theatrical film, this an adaptation of Philip Roth's
novel scripted by "The Graduate" screenwriter and renowned comedy
writer Buck Henry. The fact that Henry is even still alive comes as one
of the few pieces of good news in director Barry Levinson's very
sloppy, very irritating, and altogether labored look at something
"Birdman" managed to do so easily.
Axler is first seen looking into a mirror, chastising himself for not sounding believable enough before the curtain call for his role in "As You Like It". He winds up having a nervous breakdown (Pacino never once looks like he's not in serious bender mode); exhausted and convinced his view of reality is falling apart, he keeps a shotgun in the house because he wants to be like Ernest Hemingway if that tells you anything. But before he can off himself, Pegeen (Greta Gerwig), the lesbian daughter of one of Simon's old actor friends, shows up at his door, wanting desperately to play out a long-standing crush she's always had. It's creepy and makes no sense, but nobody in this movie seems based in reality.
Least of which the constantly self-absorbed Simon, who has some confusing, depersonalized disorder, falling in line with being this "creepy old man" out of obligation to giving an audience (who i'm assuming is Pegeen) what it wants. Yet he seems to not be rehearsing when talking with a psychiatrist (Dylan Baker) and when another mental patient (Nina Arianda) wants him to help her kill her cheating husband (because she saw him do it in a movie once) he is very unwilling to "go along with the script." "Humbling's" look at mental illness is flimsy at best, but mostly just seems like bullshit altogether.
It also doesn't make much sense to keep adding all these unnecessary, secondary characters. The contrived and impulsive Pegeen. Her harassing, crazy ex-girlfriend (Kyra Sedgewick). Her other crazy ex-girlfriend turned transsexual man (Billy Porter), who now finds it interesting she likes men and won't leave until getting his shot too. And the Nina Arianda character. At times it's like this thing just exists to jam in as many delusional people as possible, it's hard to even remember that when we started, this movie was about achieving emotional honesty. By the time we get to the ending, honesty from any of these people just seems like an afterthought.
Alien invasion movies are going to keep coming; no matter how god awful
the recent stock of them have been ("Battle LA", "Battleship") it seems
like there is still money that financiers still think should be thrown
at blowing E.T out of the water. But if we're going to keep going down
this road, it's clear that we could do much worse than the
kinda-different "Alien Outpost" from writer-director Jabar Raisani.
Raisani, a visual effects supervisor on quite a few mainstream projects
(most recently "Game of Thrones"), gives us his first feature here, a
combination of "Starship Troopers" and Sebastian Junger's war
documentary "Restrepo." So the Earth gets invaded in 2021, a year later
the alien Heavies have almost all been extinguished except for some
stragglers who are being taken care of by military outposts around the
world. 10 years later those outposts have been defunded and the men
fighting the war have been forgotten. As if the real-life comparison
doesn't hit you over the head enough already, a film crew has been
assigned to document the efforts of Outpost 37, situated between
Pakistan and Afghanistan. (That's all that area needs- Jihadist
"Outpost's" approach is kinda cynical. Remember all those foreign kids Michael Bay has running around, celebrating when the Americans stop the Earth from getting destroyed? Well, that only has a "few-year" shelf life. The soldiers are at risk not just from aliens but also the locals, both of which likely to pull an ambush on the rocky and rough terrain. There are moments when things get intense, and there are moments when the guys just sit around/contribute to film crew interviews- bullshitting with each other, cleaning weapons, practical jokes, telling war stories, trying to add some sense to the mayhem. Despite every character being given a "bare-bones" personality, it's surprising how much a lot of this comes off as genuine, especially like in a scene where a soldier honors a fallen friend.
It's a shame that Raisani doesn't have as much confidence in his alien creations. We're either given brief glimpses or shots from far away. I want to say they resemble the Orcs from "Lord of the Rings" but I just couldn't tell. They also don't really do much besides attack during gun battles (machine, electric, laser, lot of different types of guns here), any other reason for having them inhabit this region makes about as much sense as the Sunni-Shiite conflict does to most Americans. We get a few decent battles and ideas but Raisani, along with co-writer Blake Clifton, mostly just gives us an under-baked war-documentary where aliens are just there for target practice.
How much of a surprise is "Cabin in the Woods"? Well even its fairly
basic title masks a much more elaborate and smart horror film, one
where writer-director Drew Goddard (writer of another awesome horror
film "Cloverfield) and his writing partner Joss Whedon (one of the
great geek kings, both for creating "Buffy" and currently directing
"The Avengers") have tweaked and twisted the genre to do as they
It starts off predictably enough with college kids heading off to a relative's cabin for a weekend of fun. Smart-girl Dana (Kristen Connolly), her bland possible love-interest Holden (Jesse Williams), sex-pot friend Jules (Anne Hutchison), Jule's jock boyfriend Curt (Chris Hemsworth), and the lovable pothead friend Marty (Fran Kranz) all pile into the RV and on the way up meet the creepy old gas station attendant who warns them about the cabin. Fairly straight-forward horror so far, right? But why does there seem to be a force-field around the cabin? And who are these big brother scientists (played with both seriousness and harsh humor by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) who seem to be watching them, modifying the things around them, pushing them to make choices? The desensitization toward violence and bloodlust of the scientists will remind you a lot of "The Hunger Games" but "Woods" is actually laying in wait to unleash a wild and crazy mash-up of horror clichés that pull the audience one way then another and, by God, I sat there with a smile on my face the whole time, waiting to see where Whedon and Goddard were willing to take me next. Plus it's sexy, it establishes a terrifying mood, it's eccentrically funny (Kranz is right there with Jenkins and Whitford in the laughs department), and the blood is here and then some. It has all the horror movie conventions, yet does something unique by subverting where you think the plot, the characters, and basically Whedon and Goddard are choosing to go.
So now we have a movie that wants us to laugh at the disabled. Can this year get more depressing? "Dinner for Schmucks" is a painful remake of French film "The Dinner Game". Steve Carell plays Barry, a taxidermist who likes to present dioramas of dead mice. Tim (Paul Rudd) needs to bring an idiot to his boss' dinner of laughing at idiots and Barry fits the bill. Before that even starts, Barry sets off a wave of destruction that is at best smirk-worthy, at worst just plain dumb. From Barry's doing, Tim's apartment and relationship with his girlfriend (Stephanie Szostack, playing an art dealer working with a guy who seems to be ripping off Russell Brand's Aldous Snow) are ruined, a crazy ex (Lucy Punch) is back on his tail, and the IRS wants to audit him. This was all done accidentally, of course, because Barry is really just a simple-minded guy. In all honesty though, the guy is mentally ill. He shouts when he talks, has no idea what to do with a woman (he even tried to find his ex-wife's clitoris under the sofa), he takes the phrase "stay in the chair" literally, and he lets himself be swayed by the "mind-control" of his equally-mentally ill boss (Zach Galifianakis). Tim meanwhile is made to look like a jerk even though the movie claims he's a nice guy, and yet, there is nothing likable about Tim, nor is Barry-the-manchild anything but a destructive force. Director Jay Roach has the unenviable task of turning this into a sweet buddy comedy but in the end, you just want Tim and Barry to get away from one another. And then comes the dinner, where the blind and other disabled people are ridiculed. That "Schmucks" claims to be a "good-natured" comedy is really the biggest laugh here.
Another summer, another "Shrek." This time Shrek (Mike Myers) is unhappy with the monotony of marriage and fatherhood and goes to Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who promises to magically give Shrek a day in his old ogre lifestyle if Shrek willingly gives up a day in his childhood. What Shrek doesn't know is that Rumpel has been after the throne to Far Far Away ever since Fiona (Cameron Diaz) was locked in the tower and Shrek signing his life away is the perfect opportunity for the crazy little dwarf to take power. Not only that but since Shrek technically never existed, nobody remembers him, not even Donkey (Eddie Murphy) or Puss (Antonio Banderas), the kingdom has been ravaged by Rumpel, and Fiona has given up on finding a knight in shining armor and become one herself. This all amounts to some harmless stuff for the kids basically, which is kind of sad since the first two were such clever fairy-tale satires. This fourth and last installment in the series plays out predictably, relies on the same stale themes (love conquers all, life was never meant to be a fairy-tale), goes for the easy jokes (poop, pee, belch, and Puss has let himself go for the fat gags), and also relies way too much on characters with funny voices or who sing and dance to pop culture songs. This is also the first in the series to be presented in 3-D but the unremarkable action doesn't even come close to warranting a 3-D viewing. While not as bad as "Shrek the Third", "Shrek Forever After" nevertheless feels something like a direct-to-DVD knock-off that might excite kids looking for some mild entertainment, but I think even they'll notice that Shrek has lost a step.
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