Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
wow, that first episode was really terrible
In the hilarious, short-lived sitcom The Grinder, the idea of a TV lawyer deciding to be a real lawyer is played for laughs. This is naturally what you would expect in any series in which an actor decides to be a real-life version of his role. So the first surprise is Carter plays it straight. This actor isn't an egomaniac out of his death; he's a smart guy with some skills.
The script of the first episode is an obscene collection of ridiculous coincidences and random incidents stacked up randomly. It makes no real sense. Meanwhile, the tone of the series is shaky and the series can't quite figure out how to keep it's light banter going smoothly while making you care about the characters. The acting is tolerable, but the actors are required to do things like all laugh awkwardly together to indicate camaraderie.
It's like someone fed a bunch of cliched detective series into a computer and it spat out this script.
Look, I understand that not everything on TV can be good, but it seems reasonable to ask writers to at least attempt to not be bad. But there is an alarming lack of effort put into crafting the show. It's clearly designed to float on charm and banter, but neither is that strong.
I can take a certain amount of stupid (I watched the whole first season of Deception, after all), but here the stupidity isn't balanced out with any redeeming features.
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
the ending just ruined it for me
I avoided Bridge to Terabithia because I heard there was some tragedy in it and who needs tragedy in their children's fantasy movies. But for some reason I recently took a look, and I wish I'd stuck with my original course of action.
There is much to like in this movie. AnnaSophia Robb is excellent as one of those impossibly wonderful people who, as in this film, appear as angels to help out sullen brooders like Jess (Josh Hutcherson). The fantasy sequences are excellent, particularly an extended sequence in the middle. The movie does a good job of portraying how children can create their own world and play off each other like an improv troupe.
There are also things to not like. The movie several times descends into musical-montage territory to ill effect, and Hutcherson's glumness is wearying (although no inaccurate; I myself was a glum and probably unlikable child).
But the big problem is that at a certain point the movie goes from a whimsical tale about the power of imagination to being a really upsetting bummer. And while I understand the genesis of the story (from wikipedia) and can see its value, I just don't want this experience. If there were exchange departments for experiences I would go back and get something different.
The movie's attempt to end on an uplifting note simply fell flat for me. But if you don't mind bummer twists, go ahead and watch this.
A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)
Clever, amusing bio
Just after watching the documentary "Drunk Stoned Stupid Dead" I discovered that there was also a TV movie covering the same period, focused on co-founder Doug Kenney. So I had to watch that, even though the reviewers were middling.
I don't understand those middling reviews, because I thought this was tremendously entertaining. It's basically a movie about very witty people saying funny things, held together by the protagonist's downward spiral. It is less reverential than the documentary, which tiptoed around the whole priveleged-white-male thing, and it does it's best to mock itself, as when a scroll points out all the discrepancies between the movie and the real story.
The movie does at times rely too heavily on its narrative devices, sometimes falling into a gimmicky cutesiness, and the ending feels like a flailing attempt to pull things together, but overall this is funny and very well acted. My advice: ignore the critics, watch the movie.
solid overview of the Lampoon's glory days
The edgy, twisted, often outrageously funny Lampoon died years ago, although I recall it continued as the walking dead for a few years. This documentary follows the magazine from its pre-creation with the Harvard Lampoon through its early success and then just the tip of its long, slow, painful decline. It is a talking heads documentary, but the talking heads are witty and illustrated with pages from the magazine that work as a Greek chorus and are often cleverly animated.
I probably started reading the Lampoon in the mid-70s - my favorite writers were Ellis Weiner and P.J. O'Rourke - but the documentary is most concerned with what it considers the magazine's glory days in the early 70s. Truthfully, the little bits of Lampoon stuff I've read by the early writers like Beard and O'Donoghue haven't really appealed to me, but the movie tells me they were amazing geniuses and perhaps they were.
The story the movie tells is a fairly superficial one. It gets into some of the drama and gives some nice background, but it sticks very closely to the geniuses-working-hard-and-having-fun. The decline is portrayed as the loss of geniuses to SNL and the movies, which seems simplistic, and there's not really much attempt to put the Lampoon into a larger societal context.
Which is fine, because it's an entertaining documentary, but for me it means people giving this 10 stars just have lower standards for a great documentary than I do. This is just a nice little history that fans of the magazine will enjoy. And it's probably pretty fun even if you don't know the magazine.
Castle Rock (2018)
intriguing so far
Everyone's got a mystery in Castle Rock. A lawyer disappeared as a child, and no one - including him - seems to know what happened. A woman hides when she sees him, and flashbacks show her as his stalker neighbor. A man is found in a cage and won't say why he was there.
Four episodes in, this series, which is apparently a pastiche of ideas from King's various Castle Rock fiction, is more mystery than horror. While other King adaptations like Haven and The Mist are supernatural in nature, Castle Rock is a little vague on the point. Some strange things have happened, but so far almost everything could be explained away by insanity and coincidence. Maybe there's the devil, maybe there's a psychic, but then again, maybe not.
So far I'm intrigued but not quite committed. I'm curious to see where they're taking this, but if I don't like the direction, or if the series continues to spend more time spinning its wheels than pushing the story forward, I could lose interest. On the other hand, there are some really solid scenes, like the one that ends episode 4, that will keep me watching. At least for now.
In Bruges (2008)
interesting, but feels more like an intellectual exercise than a story
Do really awful people have a strict moral code and deep conscience? I'm going to guess no, but In Bruges suggests writer/director Martin McDonagh might disagree.
In Bruges begins with two guys checking into a hotel in Bruges. They have come to wait an unspecified amount of time to speak to someone. They go sightseeing. One man loves Bruges, the other finds it tedious.
This is maybe the first third of the movie, which is sometimes amusing but doesn't give you much to hold onto. Then a flurry of things happen and an elaborate, ingenious story kicks in. And that part involves terrible people being shockingly full of scruples.
The film is very well acted and generally amusing with some dark and occasionally suspenseful moments, yet I was never fully drawn in. The ingenuity of the story and moral code of the protagonists felt like dramatic devices rather than something that comes from real life experience. A false clever plot and unlikely characters is not inherently unworkable, and I think the problem is less the script than that McDonagh can't quite figure out how to flesh that script with human complexity (something he successfully did in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.")
I enjoyed this well enough, but I wouldn't say it's something you should seek out.
The Sinner (2017)
compelling and downbeat
Season one of The Sinner (season 2 just started but I haven't seen it yet) was a strange thing. A woman inexplicably murders a stranger on the beach and has no idea why. A cop with issues of his own takes this open and shut case and refuses to shut it, instead pushing to find out what drove the murderous.
The answer to that is quite some answer, and it unfurls piece by piece, with weird twists and turns that somehow all pretty much hold together at the end.
This is not a happy-go-lucky series, and at times it is difficult to sit through the experience of damaged people floundering their way through life. But it's too fascinating to not watch.
This is an anthology series, so season 2 will be something else entirely. I'm looking forward to it.
American Ultra (2015)
zippy little action flick
I really enjoyed this movie. It starts a little slow, but once the leading schlub discovers he's a superweapon, well, things get pretty entertaining, with lots of intense, crazy action involving guns, spoons, and frying pans.
This is very much a movie that doesn't want to give you time to stop and think about the story. If you do stop you'll definitely see some issues; for example, the reason given to shut down the original program should still be a problem, but it's just ... not. That's so lazy.
But as mindless fun goes, this is a really good example of it. It's also amusing with a surprisingly sweet romance at the heart of it. Torn between giving this a 7 or 8, but because of the less-than-sensible parts I'll go with 7.
Hachi-gatsu no rapusodî (1991)
A quiet, thoughtful movie about aging, remembering, and war
Rhapsody in August is a very small movie. It has little of Kurosawa's bravura cinematic flare and could well, from its look, have been made for television. Yet there is something rather lovely about this little thing.
The movie is about children staying with their grandmother who learn that she has a brother living in America. She doesn't remember this brother, one of many siblings, some dead, and the children, eager for a trip to California, try and encourage her to remember.
The grandma is lovely. The children seemed a bit unconvincing, speaking in stiff conversations and sometimes over-emoting, but maybe that's what children are like in Japan.
The grandma lives near Nagasaki, where she lost her husband, and the children do some downbeat sightseeing.
When I read user reviews of this movie, several were mainly just a description of the story, and I seem to be doing the same thing. I'm not sure what it is about this movie that makes one want to tell what happens, since really, not much does. It's an episodic film that is notable not for story but for lovely, quiet moments like the survivors of a school carefully tending the twisted jungle gym left as a memorial.
Perhaps one wants to tell the story because the movie is made up of little moments, like a search for a mysterious tree or ants crawling to a rose, that don't on their own seem to mean much and yet in the context of the film are striking.
There is something wandering about the movie, although since life does wander this may be a feature rather than a bug. Like the reviewers here, I don't know what to make of the final, overlong scene, and I would have preferred something else. But I am glad I saw this.
Never as good as its brilliant title sequence but generally fun
Bright has an amazing title sequence, using graffiti and posters to sketch out a contemporary Los Angeles where fairies and elves are real and Orcs are an oppressed race dealing with humans who fear and hate them. It's a densely packed sequence that promises something really cool.
The early part of the movie does a nice job of world building. Will Smith is a human cop forced to partner with the first Orc cop, who is hated by the entire department. Unlike our world where race is a constructed artifice, here race is very specific, and humans are all one. So Will is a mildly racist human who never experienced the anti-black racism of the real world.
We also get to see Will murder a fairy, which is basically a flying rat in humanoid form.
In this world magic exists, and certain individuals known as "brights" are able to wield magic wands, which will destroy anyone else who touches them. Will and Orc come across a scene of magical slaughter and find a young elf woman who has a wand. The lure of magic is strong, and the movie becomes a hectic run from magic-desiring cops and thugs, as well as the wand's original fairy owner, whose gang is an unstoppable force of murderous gymnasts.
To put it more simply, Bright is a mismatched/buddy cop movie (with a twist) involving a night of mayhem. It's predictable, shallow, and has some fun action sequences and light, somewhat amusing banter.
The critics hated this movie, but I'd say it's pretty standard as buddy-cop movies go. Lethal Weapon and 48 hours, big hits the critics like better than Bright, seem equally dopey. Honestly, I enjoyed it more than either of those "classics."
But I can't help but wish the movie had followed the path set by its title sequence, with more attention paid to the racism of a society that has actual races.
Also, why are all the thugs black? I mean, it's a world where presumably humans see themselves as one race, so why would poor neighborhoods have so few white people in them? It suggests that the premise wasn't really carefully thought out.
Anyway, Bright is fine. It's not the end of the world if you miss it, but it's got some fun stuff in it.
So, so wonderful
Everything I know about the world portrayed in Pose I learned when I saw Paris is Burning, and I don't really remember it at all. But even though I have no particular interest in drag queens, loud night clubs, vogueing, or gender fluidity, I absolutely love this series, which is wildly entertaining: funny, touching, inspiring, tragic, and filled with fully developed, eminently relatable characters.
Pose juxtaposes a created world of hilarity against a real world of AIDS, poverty, and prejudice. At times it is downright silly, as in a nonsensical scene involving a costume museum heist, and at times it is so real that you can't stand it.
The cast is wonderful, especially Dominique Jackson as a hilarious diva and MJ Rodriquez as a warm and caring anti-diva. The individual stories are engaging, all tied together by the frenetic balls where contestants pose and vamp for the judges before a rowdy crowd (in real life the idea of standing in a loud crowded club watching people sashay around in elaborate costumes strikes me as kind of awful, but it's lots of fun on TV).
The series does a good job of arguing that yes, trans women are women. This is because the actresses can, at least on TV, pass in a way the actresses on Transparent or the trans people I've met can't. I really do think of the trans women as women, because they look and sound and move like women. Sometimes I try to imagine them as men and I can't even do it.
Pose portrays a world that I should find alien in every particular, and yet this white, straight, cis, club-music-hating, middle-aged, white guy absolutely adores these wonderful people.
Sweet Charity (1969)
Bob Fosse's brilliant directorial debut
I love this movie, and I always figured everyone must love this movie, because it's written by Neil Simon, has some wonderful songs and stunning choreography, and Shirley Maclaine is adorable. So I was a surprised to come here and find that a lot of people are underwhelmed. How is that possible?
Maclaine plays Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess (a bowdlerized version of the prostitute from the film it was based on) whose search for love leads her through adventure and heartache.
Bob Fosse was a stage choreographer who seemed to complete understand how to use film to expand his choreography. Compare this movie with Damn Yankees, a Fosse-choreographed movie in which the director planted the camera and filmed the stage show. Fosse re-imagines his work for a different medium, removing the staginess when possible but keeping it when necessary (as in the brilliant Big Spender, which is still mainly just a line of women at the bar) .
Fosse did try a few unfortunate gimmicks, like the still-photo montages that add nothing to the film, but overall he showed a tremendous command of the medium.
And of course Fosse was a brilliant choreographer and there are some amazing numbers, including the fabulous Rich Man's Frug, a wondrous 60s-themed number that is as Fosse as anything he has ever done (and which some idiots here describe as "dated" - is no different from calling a Fred Astaire Fox Trot dated).
The songs are, overall, terrific, with some classics (Big Spender, If They Could See Me Now) some fun but less well known songs (I Love to Cry at Weddings, I'm a Brass Band) and, unfortunately, some filler (My Personal Property is an unfortunately bland way to begin the movie).
As is typical of Hollywood, the production's Broadway star was swapped out for a Hollywood celebrity. But unlike Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Maclaine had worked in musicals before her Hollywood stardom and could actually sing and dance. Judging from a youtube video of Gwen Verdon doing Hey Big Spender on stage, Fosse had to ease up on some of the trickier moves, but Maclaine is still a solid dancer and a personable singer.
I also found her mix of lower-class awkwardness and romanticism instantly likable, although when I watched the film with my girlfriend her comment after the first song was, "is she supposed to be annoying? Because she's really annoying." So your mileage may vary. (My girlfriend liked her better by the end.)
I don't care what anyone else says, and I don't care that this movie, from what I've read, bombed. This is a brilliant classical musical from the guy who went on to make the even more brilliant Cabaret, and if you haven't seen it, you should.
Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980)
interesting concept that kind of works
Alain Resnais' Mon Oncle d'Amerique is an interesting intellectual exercise that sometimes works as a movie. It centers around the concepts of scientist philosopher Henri Laborit, who sees human actions as programmatic reactions based on physical phenomenon; thousands of tiny instructions and visceral reactions that create what we believe is free will. Some IMDB reviewers find that cynical, but I find it quite convincing.
These ideas are laid out through the lives of three people. Laborit explains how mice react in experiments while we watch mice, then we see how human beings react in seemingly analogous ways. Sometimes to drive the point out human dramas are played out by humans wearing mice-head masks.
At the same time, the dramas in the characters lives are juxtaposed with brief film clips. This puzzled me for most of the movie until I realized it was a way of comparing how people see their own actions - as big, dramatic moments full of fury and passion and despair - with Laborit sees them.
Resnais' films are all, from what I've seen intellectual and experimental. But some, like Hiroshima Mon Amour, are also dramatically and emotionally compelling. In the case of Mon Oncle d'Amerique I never felt a strong connection to its characters. Take away the Laborit framework and you've got a pretty conventional slice of lives movie.
Resnais is always interesting but not always enjoyable. This movie is, for me, fairly interesting and mildly enjoyable. It's worth watching, but not something I would watch again.
American Made (2017)
Often interesting yet never completely grabbed me
This fictionalized account of smuggler Barry Seal has much to recommend it. Cruise is his usual charming self, the film is interspersed with these interesting montage moments, and there is breezy humor and an intriguing story of criminals working hand in hand with the U.S. government.
But by the midpoint I was just feeling kind of disengaged. I wasn't quite sure what the point was. And Cruise felt slightly off in a role that would make more sense to me if he seemed a bit stupider and trashier; it seemed the equivalent of casting George Clooney to play Lyndon Johnson.
In the end, I would say American Made was perfectly fine, but it's the sort of movie I will have completely forgotten in a month.
Zack Snyder brings his dark pretentious and action sense to a Nazi owl cartoon
This very dark kid's cartoon tells a trite and predictable good versus evil story, with owl-enslaving owls who talk about conquest and purity set against owls who just go around being noble because that's just what they do.
There are really good moments in this movie, including a terrifically exciting escape scene and an amusing bit with a porcupine soothsayer, and the animation is technically very well done, even if I find this sort of hyper-realism rather dreary, but overall this is a rather dull Star Wars wannabe.
The Alienist (2018)
grim serial killer thing, if you like that sort of thing
This first episode has the same grim humorlessness that turned me off of True Detective. It's very focused on atmosphere but not so focused on character, at least to start. Even Teddy Roosevelt just comes across as part of a generic group of serious men being serious about a serious thing.
To be fair, I'm also not big on serial killer stuff. I almost *never* like series and movies about serial killers. I know some people find them fascinating, but for me to be interested I need Silence-of-the-Lambs quality level. And this is nowhere near that.
A filmed stage play distinguished by terrific performances
Few movies make as little effort to disguise their stage origins as Fences. Director/Star Denzel seems to have no interest in turning Fences into a movie; he just wants to present the play on film.
This is offputting at first, but as the movie proceeds the strength of its performances and the powerful words pull you in.
Denzel plays a bitter, colorful guy so obsessed with the harm the world has done to him that he is blind to the harm he's done to others. It is an excellent, powerful performance; he is awful, yet you can see the charisma that keeps him from, at least at first, repelling the world.
I had heard a lot about Viola Davis' award-winning performance, but her early scenes aren't all that impressive, perhaps because she doesn't have much to do. As the drama ramps up though, her performance becomes mesmerizing; a confrontation with Denzel is so searing one expects the film to melt.
The rest of the cast is excellent, especially Mykelti Williamson as Gabriel.
This sat in my queue for a long time, because I don't really have the interest in intense dramas I had in my younger days. But it is a deep and remarkably compelling drama well worth watching.
Still, I feel a director more interested in making a movie than a filmed play would have been preferable.
Ready Player One (2018)
Spielberg tries to do a Spielberg-tribute film and can't quite pull it off
Like the TV series Stranger Things, Ready Player One is suffused with nostalgia for the sort of movies Steven Spielberg was making in the 80s; big fun movies with spunky kids and cool special effects.
Set in a dystopian world where people escape the grim real world for an exciting virtual one, the movie resolves around a virtual-world search for keys that will grant ownership of the entire enterprise to the finder. The hunt is undertaken by amateurs like protagonist Wade and by a mega-corporation with hundreds of gamer employees. Who will win out win out, the plucky teen or the resource-heavy corporation? (Hint: it's a Spielberg movie.)
The movie is full of 80s music and movie references, but the movie never makes clear why (it wasn't until I read a plot synopsis of the book that I understood it's because the virtual-world's creator was a big 80s geek) nor , with maybe one exception, makes the 80s integral to the plot.
The script is frustratingly lazy. The first brilliant thing Wade does is the sort of thing someone would have done by then anyway. After a major crime, there's no investigation and no one even calls the police, yet the movie never establishes a world where people would react that way. While the competition between Wade and the corporation is portrayed as of great consequence, the reasons it's so important are vague, forcing the movie to rely on the CEO being horribly evil. In a scene that particularly aggravated me, Wade sends out a call for help to a world even though it's never been established that anyone understands the stakes or even that there are stakes. Spielberg is too experienced to make a movie that simply assumes everyone in the film knows everything the audience does.
Yes, there are exciting special effects, and I probably would have enjoyed this more on a big screen where I could fully appreciate the crazy mix of avatars, but a movie has to be more than it's special effects. And outside of an intriguing performance by Mark Rylance, there's not a lot outside of the effects.
Also, there's just a lack of ... something. One of the film's most notable set pieces takes place in a virtual Overlook Hotel, and while it's cute, it feels a bit wan. I think the actual 1980s Spielberg would have done it so much better.
And that's a lot of the problem. Spielberg is an old man whose best recent movies like Bridge of Spies and War Horse are from a mature director. Spielberg is simply the wrong person to make a Spielberg tribute film.
While I hate movie reviews that talk about the different movie that could have been made, I would have been more interested in a movie that considered the way in which escaping to a virtual world would cause people to let their own real world collapse. It's such an obvious take that it feels like the movie is purposely not pursuing it because they want to keep things light.
And yes, they keep things light. This movie is as light as air. It is pure fluff. For all its grand scale, it is a very slight movie. But a perfectly watchable one.
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)
fascinating blend of stand-up, Ted talk, art history lecture, comedy deconstruction, and diatribe
It's fascinating how almost everyone here gives this 1 star or 10 stars, but in a way it makes sense. This is billed as a comedy special, but it goes far afield of that, which means if you don't want to follow when she veers from comedy then you'll hate it (likewise if you don't find the comedy parts funny), but it also means if you admire things that break all the rules and try to find a new way to tell stories then you're likely to be thrilled. Although I can't help but suspect there's also an element of politics in which some people are rating one star because they're offended by who she is and other people giving it 10 stars because they love who she is, with neither of these groups actually considering how this works as a piece of theater. Which, from my point of view, is quite well but not perfectly.
For maybe half the show it's a very funny stand-up routine. I've never seen Gadsby before, but she's sharp and clever and genial and very good at what she does.
But she's also questioning what she does, and begins to explore the ways in which comedy, in going for the laugh, can hide or distort the truth. It's not funny, but it is fascinating, and the way she tells you the story as joke in the first half then revisits the full truth of it in the second is rather amazing.
But she goes beyond both comedy and deconstructing comedy. She gets into the experience of being the "other," she gets into her considerable anger, and then explains why she doesn't really want to just appeal to anger, and she makes some fascinating points about art and the way we mythologize artists.
At times I thought it was a little slow. At times the seriousness wore on me. But it's brilliantly structured and she's an incredibly smart and insightful woman. And she can be both very funny and searingly, powerfully emotional.
In the special she says she's considering giving up stand-up. If she does, I'll be very eager to see what she replaces it with. She has a lot to say.
This is well worth seeing, but if you just want to see someone telling jokes for an hour, you might want to skip this. Cause it sure ain't that!
Take Two (2018)
sort of watchable, I guess
In spite of generally poor reviews I wanted to check this out because I like dumb detective dramas, sometimes. I figured maybe it would be like Deception; dumb but entertaining. But this one just has the dumb part down.
The unoriginal but serviceable premise has an actress cast as a detective shadowing an actual detective. The actress has some backstory about having been a star who went down in drug-fueled flames, but she comes across as so bland and perky it's hard to believe that.
The series called to mind Remington Steele, which had a cleverer premise (woman detective disrespected because of sexism hires an idiot actor to play her partner) but which also featured an actor who was sometimes an idiot and then would have moments of inexplicable brilliance. The difference is Pierce Brosnan was very funny. Here there's little humor and it's basically two bland, good-looking people sniping at each other for an hour.
The lead guy is a shade better than the lead gal, but neither can carry this mess.
Only watched the first episode. No need for more of it!
smart, character-driven superpower series
Impulse is about Henry (aka Henrietta), a teenager prone to seizures who discovers these seizures can cause her to transport elsewhere.
A general question of superpower series is how much time to devote to the characters and how much to supernatural action. Impulse starts with some flashy transporty action from a peripheral character, but for the most part the series focuses on character.
The danger of this approach is that you can wind up with something like Cloak and Dagger, a series I sampled right before Impulse that was almost entirely teen drama with just hints of superpowers. But Impulse handles things much better, both because it never forgets that it is a series about superpowers and because it does the character stuff really, really well.
This is a smart series and it makes observations in a smart way. After Henry is almost raped in the first episode, the second episode shows her sorting through her memories and laying out the events differently. The series never says, trauma can lead to confused, complicated memories, it just shows it.
Similarly, there is a black female cop, clearly the smartest person on the force, who is ignored by her boss. The series doesn't attack race directly though; the closest thing is when her boss says "you grew up in the inner city, right" and she says, "well, I grew up in a city."
Even the bad guys are portrayed with complexity. One loathsome character is horribly injured, but the writers never let you feel, goo, he had it coming. Instead they show how horrendous his situation is without every pretending that he's not pretty awful.
Henry herself is interesting in that she is so caught up in her (admittedly huge) problem that she lashes out at the people trying to help her.
There have been some things I didn't care for, places where a character did something more dumb than seemed realistic, for example, but overall I'm very impressed with this series at the halfway point.
Hair High (2004)
more surreal, imaginative, often gross animation from Bill Plympton
Hair High is a take-off of retro high school dramas, as a mild-mannered student finds himself being tortured by the top echelon at his new school. The story is little more than a frame for a series of insane set pieces that range from flies having sex to a crazed car battle.
This episodic, gag-first approach keeps one from caring much about the characters or events, but it's pretty consistently funny.
Bill Plympton has a weird sense of humor, but his mix of surreal cleverness and outrageous is always lots of fun. Hair High isn't quite as good as his shorts, but it is thoroughly enjoyable.
I Kill Giants (2017)
Not what I expected, but I really liked it
I watched this movie based on an extremely misleading description, which was "A teen must face her fears in increasingly dangerous ways when horrible giants threaten to destroy her small town." So I was surprised to soon discover the movie was about an odd loner trying to deal with trauma through elaborate fantasies.
After some brain adjustement, I began to like this almost immediately. Madison Wolfe is wonderful as the bunny-eared Barbara, who is strange and distinct and imaginative and fearless. One of the puzzles is whether she is just a hyper-imaginative girl or going nuts.
The rest of the cast is quite good, and the occasional fantasy sequences are nicely done. It's not the movie I had meant to watch, and judging from the reviews I'm not alone in that, but I think I probably would have enjoyed the movie as described less than I did this one.
informative hagiography needs a little balance
Ken Burns wants you to know the Roosevelts were really awesome. Noble hardworking, intelligent people who devoted their lives to public service. And yes, they were. But they also had some serious flaws, and the only way you'll know that after watching this documentary series is if you knew it before watching it.
FDR gets more time than anyone else, and while the series spends endless amounts of time on political minutia and his love life, it spends about two minutes on the greatest stain of his presidency; the Japanese internment camps. When it is mentioned it's cheated by focusing on Eleanor's rather mild early objections to the program.
I have read elsewhere that, like most white people of the time FDR told racist jokes and seemed put off by other peoples, such as Asians and Jews, but there's not a hint of that here.
The approach to Teddy is similar, obsessed with stories of his strong will and good deeds, but TR was a decidedly problematic character and we see little of that.
This doesn't mean there's not a lot of interesting information, nor that the series doesn't make it's narrative compelling, but simply that I don't trust that narrative. To me there's something problematic about spending hours on a World War II president without looking at American antisemitism and those times when America rejected refugees just as we are today. The world is a complex place full of complex people, and I don't see the point in turning politicians into Prince Charmings.
As Ken Burns documentaries go, I didn't find this one as engaging as my favorites, like Jazz and The Dust Bowl, but overall it's worth watching, even if it loses momentum towards the end.
okay, nothing special
Just watched the first episode. It was fine, basically, with a few laughs.
It's also nothing you haven't seen before. Guy without much nurturing in him suddenly has to take care of a kid and is torn between his good and bad instincts. There's someone more nurturing to help out; in this case a brother.
The kid is gay, out, and a bit stereotypical. He's going to a school for musicians, and he is *heavily* autotuned, which really bugs me although I think people under a certain age just think that's how singers sound.
I did not mind the show. I would not be horrified at the idea of watching another episode. But I feel no need to watch another episode.