Friday, September 30, 2016

Luke Cage 1.01

Moment of Truth

- this series seems to be set after the 1st seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones as there are at least a couple references events from those seasons
- During the day Luke works at Pop's barber shop sweeping up and keeping the place clean; at night he works in a night club; Pop is a decent person whereas Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes, the owner of the night club, is not, they are that different just like night and day
- Usually he works in the kitchen of the nightclub washing dishes but he gets an opportunity to tend bar when Dante, one of his coworkers, calls in sick; what Luke doesn't know is that Dante isn't at work because he is sticking up an arms deal with a couple of guys who Luke clashed with earlier in the day at the barber shop
- While tending bar Luke meets a woman who claims to be be an auditor but is later revealed to be a cop, but not to Luke at least not in this episode; I'm not sure if her name was revealed in the first episode but I just learned it from looking at IMDB: Misty Knight; Luke and Misty wind up back at his place; they share a sizzling hot love scene and the next morning steamy kisses before parting ways
- Cottonmouth isn't happy about the stick up; the money or the guns were his; his men find the leader of the trio and beats him to death when he won't reveal where the money is; I found that scene to be very cartoonish and over the top; it seemed a bit out of place in this episode
- Alfre Woodard plays the part of a city councilwoman who getting financial support from some shady characters including Cottonmouth
- the episode ends with Luke demonstrating his abilities to some local thugs who try sticking up his landlady's restaurant; this is the only fight scene that involves Luke

- Got to admit Luke Cage did not impress me in the 1st season of Jessica Jones; I was thinking of waiting before watching this but then I heard show runner Cheo Hodari Coker on Combat Jack and changed my mind and decided to give it a try
- I didn't love this episode  but I found enough to like that I plan to continue watching it
- really liked the music
- I'm still not sold on Mike Colter in the title role; he looks the part but I don't think he has the acting chops to make it interesting enough for me; thankfully, the show or at least the first episode is produced in such a way that it doesn't rest entirely on his shoulders

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pontypool (2008)

- I tried watching this movie; it got high marks from the Bald Movies podcast; I only made it about halfway through before giving up
- Almost all of what I watched and, from what I understand, most of the movie takes place in a radio studio in a small town during a zombie outbreak
- My understanding is that this was originally an audio play and it felt like that; there were times when I felt distracted by the visuals and wanted to close my eyes and just listen to the dialogue; it felt like possibly they didn't do enough when adapting it for a visual medium
- the reason why I didn't stick with the movie is because I didn't find it terribly compelling; neither the actors nor the plot spoke to me

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

UnREAL 1.10


- the season finale both for UnREAL and Everlasting; for Everlasting things seem to move extremely fast and fluidly; ultimately UnREAL is about what happens behind the scenes and not about what happens in front of the cameras
- Rachel goes through quite a bit; she leaves Jeremy for Adam but that turns south when Adam gets cold feet after talking to Quinn; Jeremy gets wise to what she and Adam were up to and tricks Adam into confirming it for him; then Jeremy embarrasses Rachel in front of the entire crew; for her part Rachel does what she can to poison Adam's well and it seems to work
- Quinn doesn't have quite as wild a ride as Rachel; Chet undercuts her in a couple ways early on; she returns the engagement ring; she pulls a stunt on the Everlasting season finale which is being aired live and goes to prove how invaluable she is to the show and how inept Chet is
- the show ends with Quinn and Rachel hanging out after the season finale; it's a nice character moment which highlights how similar they are and how good they are for one another

- got to admit to a little disappointment with the brief glimpses at the season finale of Everlasting; I guess it is no different that in previous episodes; Everlasting contained most of the comedic moments; the darker and more serious moments happened behind the camera and offstage
- there were lots of little moments that crackled with energy but they didn't really add up to a big explosive ending; the ending was definitely more muted than what I hoped for or expected; honestly I wasn't sure how they could end it in a way that would fully satisfy me; it did keep me guessing right up until the very end as to how it would wind up
- among the little twists that I enjoyed was the return of Britney even though I had it spoiled for me, although all I knew was that she would be back
- does Rachel know that Quinn is the one who talked Adam out of running away with her? it certainly seems that way but the way that final scene goes with Rachel and Quinn makes me think that Rachel secretly agrees with Quinn that romance of the sort she hoped to experience with Adam is a bunch of BS
- I'm ready for more but season 2 isn't available on Hulu just yet

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ghost World (2001)

- Having just finished reading the graphic novel a little over a week ago I decided to give the movie a try; the movie and the comic share some similarities but in many ways those similarities seem superficial
- there are a number of scenes that are in the comic that are also in the movie but quite often the tone isn't exactly the same
- to a large degree the book is about Enid growing up and her friendship with Rachel; Rachel is in the movie but does not play as important a role as she did in the book; instead, Enid develops a relationship with Seymour, an older man played by Steve Buscemi, who only appeared briefly in the book; in many ways this relationship felt artificial and forced and changed the story completely; it took me a while to figure out what exactly was going on
- I'm not sure that a faithful adaptation of the book would have worked as a movie but I'm definitely not satisfied with the movie that was made

Friday, September 23, 2016

Last Days in Vietnam (2014)

- an intense look at the last few days of April 1975 when the US embassy in Saigon was evacuated
- the story is told through interviews and film footage taken at the time
- the men who were interviewed for the film, and it was only men who were interviewed, were a mix of military and civilian, American and Vietnamese
- the music was used very effectively to build the sense of tension
- I first heard about this movie on WYNC on the Leonard Lopate Show just before it was released

Links: imdb - WNYC

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

UnREAL 1.09


- Where to begin?
- After having sex with Adam, Rachel gets Jeremy's text and seeks him out and winds up going back to his place with him; for a short while it seems like everything is going to work and she and Jeremy will be able to live happily ever after; they talk about quitting; everything seems great
- Quinn continues to work her little scheme; she tries going behind Chet's back to network to work a deal of her own; she does what she can to ensure that she doesn't get pregnant after having unprotected sex with Chet; she invites Rachel to become her business partner but Rachel turns her down; Rachel is still gaga over Jeremy and the life she wants them to have
- Chet's attempt to get Grace to "sex up" her date with Adam blows up in Chet's face; Rachel manages to smooth things over after Chet finally gets the message and backs off
- Madison is uncomfortable after Quinn reveals that she knows what happened with Chet and insists that the PA get and attorney and sue Chet; Madison turns to Dr. Wagerstein for advice and tells her everything; Dr. Wagerstein takes it to Chet and in the process reveals that Quinn knows all about what happened with Madison; these scenes are some of the funniest of the show; I love all the double entendres and miscommunication and reveals that happen in these scenes
- Quinn reviews the tapes for something of value and finds footage of Rachel and Adam having sex; she uses that to blackmail Rachel into coming to work for her; she threatens to show it to Jeremy who knows nothing of her having sex with Adam
- the episode ends with Adam suggesting that Rachel run away with him that night

- loved how fake the dates with Grace, Anna, and Faith are shown to be
- so much double dealing and backstabbing in this one
- sad as it may seem I'm not sure that Rachel is meant to be happy, certainly not in the silly romantic sort of way that she seems to crave; her desire for something along those lines seems antithetical to everything that came before it and her general nature as revealed in this show; I think she is just succumbing to the lure of something different that she might have once had briefly and is fooling herself into thinking it can last
- on the whole a wonderful episode; I really hope they stick the landing in the next and final episode of the season but either way it has been a fun ride from the beginning to now

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Casual 2.13

The Great Unknown

- Alex and Val's father is suffering from serious internal organ failure and has decided to end his life; his wife, their mother, can't deal with it so she is nowhere to be found
- Val ponders what to do next while Leon helps her get her car back; should she try to get back together with Drew, it doesn't seem like a realistic option if for no other reason then because he's remarried; she ultimately decided that she needs to move out and stop living with her brother
- Laura ponders why she feels the way she does about Spencer and his miraculous recovery while trying to pick up the prescription that her grandfather plans to take to end his life; ultimately she seems to find something to latch on to that allows her to feel better about herself despite the fact that she wasn't ready for Spencer to recover
- Alex isn't prepared to experience his father's death in his house; at first he doesn't even want to talk to him; after a little nudge from Lisa, Alex starts talking to him although it isn't clear exactly what he gets from the experience
- after the drugs are obtained; Val, Jack, and Laura jointly prepare the cocktail that will end their grand/father's life

- it was a very emotion filled episode, in large part because of the central theme
- it will be interesting to see where the show goes in the third season
- I have yet to lose interest in watching Casual, even though or possibly because it it a difficult show to classify

Friday, September 16, 2016

Community 1.25

Pascal's Triangle Revisited

- It's the end of the school year and Greendale is having a a dance to celebrate those students that are moving on to 4-year universities: Transition Dance
- Troy wants to move in with Abed but Abed changes the subject each time that Troy brings it up; Pierce invites Troy to come live with him; Troy resists Pierce's offer until the end of the episode when he comes to understand that living with good friend (Abed) might not be a good idea because you can get too much of a good thing
- Britta gets nominated for Transition Queen; at first she resists the notion of participating in the competition but later changes her mind
- Professor Slater, Jeff's ex, returns and wants Jeff back; Britta isn't completely over Jeff; Britta and Slater get into it over Jeff; it all comes to a head with both women declaring their love for him; Jeff doesn't know what to do and leaves the dance
- Outside Jeff runs into Annie who wasn't at the dance because she left with Vaughn; they were going to move to Delaware; Annie changed her mind and came back; Jeff explains his dilemma to Annie which somehow leads to them making out
- Shirley is also in this episode although she doesn't have a lot to do; I think Dean Pelton might have had more lines than Shirley

- Season Finale
- great ending to the season; love how it leaves things open for the 2nd season
- on the whole I think the 1st season ended strong with 4 of the last 5 episodes being solidly good or better in my book
- loved the Jeff-Britta-Slater triangle; I laughed a number of times at the way it developed and the participants reactions to the circumstances they got themselves into
- there was a number of cameos by characters who had only appeared in an episode or two prior to this one
- I'm not always crazy about each episode but I like the continuity that the show has going and look forward to seeing how it evolves in the next season

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Samurai Jack 2.06

XIX: Jack Remembers the Past

- opens with an aerial battle; riding on the back of an insect that is almost as large as he, Jack is being pursued by catlike villains that are later identified as Cossacks
- the rest of the episode follows Jack as his traveling brings him to his homeland; everything is in ruins, and overgrown with weeds; he remembers things from his boyhood: (1) chasing a grasshopper with a friend, (2) meeting a man and his son who very much resemble the main characters from Lone Wolf and Cub, and (3) learning how to deal with a bully who is bigger and stronger than he is

- on one level there isn't much to this episode, it is just Jack remembering moments from his youth but it is done so beautifully and adds to Jack's background
- there is very little dialogue in this episode and it totally works
- love the scenes of Jack climbing up the mountain and the one where he comes to a chasm and has to turn back; there's something about these scenes, the images, the way they are paced, and possibly the sounds effects and music that fires my imagination
- nostal-Jack; love the facial expressions as Jack begins to realize where he is; which makes the episode about discovery for both the viewer and Jack, as much as it is about experiencing the past
- love the final image of Jack's parents, it isn't the first time they've been shown, but likely the first since the opening episode of the show
- definitely one of my favorites from season two

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Casual 2.12


- Val turns 40 and has a fling with Drew (her ex-husband who is now married to someone else); the fling goes great until it doesn't, that would be when Drew tells her that he wants her back
- Laura and Spencer get tattoos; later he finds out that whatever it is that he's got is in remission; he seems to be getting better; they celebrate at his place in bed; his family is nowhere to be found, which struck me as weird; convenient but weird; Laura doesn't say much in reaction to the news so it is hard to gauge her feelings but from the look on her face it doesn't seem like she is overjoyed that Spencer is getting better
- Alex tries to apologize to Val by throwing her a surprise birthday party; he invites over some of her friends, including Jack and Lisa; he spends some time shooting the breeze with Jack, they seem to bond; Jack even arranges a business opportunity for Alex; then Val comes home; she doesn't want the party but she puts up with it until she can't anymore; just as she is about to leave an EMT shows up at the door; he has their father with him

- pretty good stuff; it feels like the season is winding down; I guess I'm ready for the season to end; it seems pretty clear that there will be a third season; not everything is going to get resolved in the final episode of this season
- Alex just doesn't seem to learn, or at least he hasn't, yet; will he ever; it would be nice if he did and in a natural feeling sort of way; I don't expect him to get it all; I would just like to see him overcome his selfcenteredness or change in some way, following this season

Sunday, September 11, 2016

UnREAL 1.08


- the network wants the season to end with a marriage, Adam and Grace; Chet suggests that they could also do a spin off show about Adam and Grace; the trouble is that Adam wants out once the season is over and doesn't want to marry any of the remaining contestants
- Rachel has something to gain from all this; after bargaining with Chet he agrees to make her the show runner for the spin off if she can get Adam to change his mind; she suggests to Adam that he could marry Anna instead of Grace; he warms to the idea of being with Anna but still balks at the notion of marrying her; he doesn't come around to the idea of the spin off until Rachel suggests that he only go along with the spin off deal if they film it at his vineyard and center the season around fixing up the vineyard
- Although Rachel spent the night (that began at the end of the prior episode) with Adam, they didn't have sex; Jeremy seems to want Rachel back now; he goes so far as to tell his fiancee that he is having doubts about the chances of them getting married; he tries to get another night with Rachel but she ends up in bed with Adam (again) but this time they do have sex
- everything between Quinn and Chet seems very rosy: first he announces he is divorcing his wife, then he proposes to Quinn, but then she catches him getting a blowjob from one of the production assistants; instead of letting him know that she knows Quinn smiles and agrees to marry him as soon as the divorce is final

- loved the spa date scenes; once was awkward, another was silly, the third and fourth ones ended badly but for different reasons; Grace flipped out after most of her body was covered in mud in the the third one; the fourth one, with Anna, seemed to be going well until Adam realized why she was warming up to him so much
- there is definitely some set up here for future developments; things between Quinn and Chet are going to change it is just a matter of when; Anna is going to find out about Rachel sleeping with Adam from someone, possibly Jeremy; these are just guesses, of course
- I was a bit worried after waiting two weeks between episodes that my interest might have faded but I enjoyed this one quite a bit; will the other show ever drop for me? dunno

Friday, September 9, 2016

Community 1.24

English as a Second Language

- Better than the last episode, which was a lot of fun but also a bit of a gimmick; this one was much more solidly set in the reality of the show
- Annie doesn't want the group to break up; she learns that Senor Chang doesn't have the proper credentials to teach Spanish and rats him out; the dean brings in a real Spanish teacher to administer the final; it looks like the study group will be retaking the class next semester
- loved the group dynamics in this one
- the scene where Jeff reveals what Annie did and tells them not to look at her for fear that they will fall pray to her sad face and forgive her is priceless
- the subplot with Troy and the plumber did nothing for me; it felt like it was trying to reference something else, probably a movie, but I'm not sure what if anything it was calling back to
- possibly my favorite episode of the season, if not it is right up there very close to the top
- just one more to go in Season 1

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Casual 2.11

Death and Taxes

- Alex continues in a downward spiral; he doesn't seem to want to listen to anyone or seriously examine his life; he maybe incapable of doing either of those things; it's hard to say whether he makes any progress in this episode; he certainly flails about a lot and tries approaching a number of different people
- Laura hangs with Spencer; they visit a mortician and then a factory where caskets are made; everything seems okay until Spencer suggests that she can be his social media guru after he passes; that seems to have an affect on her; maybe it finally sinks in that he won't be around forever and she realizes that she is going to miss him; hard to say for sure but it was a good character moment
- Val spends a day with Drew, first getting their taxes done and then stalking one of her former patients; they share a moment in a restaurant and then again outside the restaurant; they discuss how relationships get stale; good stuff

- not sure how to rate this one; it wasn't great but it wasn't awful either; I think maybe if Alex wasn't making such a mess of things I would probably feel better; I wish someone or something would point him in the right direction; by contrast Laura and Val's lives don't seem perfect put they seem to be a little more solidly in control that their brother/uncle

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mad Men 7.14

Person to Person

- final episode
- mostly focuses on Don, Peggy, and Joan but just about everyone that is still part of the show gets at least a scene or two
- Don is still on the road; after talking to Sally he decides to come home but she wants him to stay away and he respects her demand; he heads to California where he finds Stephanie, the daughter of the real Don Draper; she takes him to a spiritual retreat but then runs off leaving him stranded there; at first he doesn't seem to know what to do but by the end of the episode he seems to have a break through and find some sort of peace at the retreat
- Joan gets bored being out of work, even though she doesn't need to work; after getting approached by Ken Cosgrove, who needs some help with a promotional film, she decides to go back to work; Joan sets up her own production business; this doesn't sit well with Richard, who leaves her once she makes it clear that what she wants is to go back to work; she also reaches out to Peggy to join her as her business partner
- Peggy wants to accept Joan's offer but decides to stay at McCann Erickson; Stan tells her he loves her; not crazy about the suddenness of this ending for Peggy and Stan; we don't know if they live happily ever after but in the absence of evidence to the contrary that seems to be implied

- As beautiful and moving as this episode is I'm a little disappointed that the firm was dismantled never to exist again in the last few episodes; on one level it seems appropriate and on another it is deeply disappointing; it is kind of like the death or end of a dream or an era; it couldn't go on forever and I can accept that but to see it happen on the screen removes some of the luster that I got used to seeing

Friday, September 2, 2016

Samurai Jack 2.05

XVIII: Jack and the Ultra-robots

- Jack wanders from town to town, all of which have been destroyed, looking for those responsible
- Eventually he finds the robots who have wrecked so many towns; much to his dismay his sword seems to have no effect on them, it can't even cut them
- Jack runs and hides; while he is hiding for the robots who are hunting him he is approached by a scientist who (a) created the robots, and (b) offers Jack a solution to his dilemma: a bionic arm
- with the bionic arm Jack is able to defeat most of the killer robots but then, when all but one of the robots have been destroyed, the bionic arm runs out of juice
- Jack prays to his ancestors and a bolt of light shines down on him and he is granted the strength enough to defeat the final robot

- not great but there were some nice touches in this episode that I really liked
- in the first act, when Jack was wandering from village to village, I liked how the story was split between Jack and scenes of the scientist's lab
- the robot were made of adamantium, according to the scientist who built them, and powered by Aku, who showed up briefly but did not confront Jack himself
- I feared for the scientist when he asked Jack for a high-five and Jack was wearing the bionic arm, lucky for the scientist, Jack had no idea what the scientist was talking about
- I have no recollection of this episode but I must have seen it before
- many of the robots carried swords so there were some nice sword fights, although they also used other weapons

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Community 1.23

Modern Warfare

- Jeff wakes up from a nap only to discover that the campus of Greendale Community College is in the midst of a paintball war; there is paint everywhere; the campus seems deserted but there are pockets of people who haven't been eliminated from the game yet
- at first the men and women of the study group are on separate teams but then they join forces to fight other groups like the rollerskating disco fanatics and the glee club
- Senor Chang even gets in on the action while the dean hides out in his office
- Britta and Jeff hookup in the midst of the paintball war but agree afterwards that it was a mistake that shall never be repeated again or mentioned to anyone else; although Abed senses that something has changed

- one of the best episodes yet
- too many nods to movies and tv shows for me to begin to name them or recognize them all
- episodes like this and Contemporary American Poultry give me hope for the subsequent seasons