Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall TV Preview: 6 New Shows to Watch

I'm a little late with this post - I usually post about new Fall TV shows in early September, and by now some of these shows have aired one (or more episodes). Life has been busy, which I guess is a good thing, but I'm still going to be making some time for some promising new shows!! 

1. Speechless - Minnie Driver is a great actress who never really got the credit she deserves. Hopefully this is a stronger platform for her to showcase her talent. I'm watching this show mostly for her, but also if this show is successful, it could be a huge step forward for people with disabilities within the television industry. Diversity doesn't always mean race or gender; it just means showing real people. The first episode aired already, but I haven't caught it yet (it's one of the many shows on my filled DVR), but it seems to be getting some good reviews.

2. This is Us - I wasn't planning on watching this show, but then I saw many people on Twitter comparing it to Parenthood and then everyone on Twitter flipped their shit when the twist was revealed at the end of the pilot episode, so obviously I became intrigued. I have to say, the twist is great - and while I expected all of the characters to be connected in some way, I definitely didn't see that coming. The cast is excellent; especially newly minted Emmy winner, Sterling K. Brown. This is a perfect step for him. Plus, Mandy Moore is perfectly sweet and cheesy (although Scrubs ruined her for me - I will never NOT think of "that's so funny" when I see her in anything). It's not even close to Parenthood (and I don't foresee that happening), but it's still very promising.

3. Atlanta - Donald Glover is a genius. While I saw his comedic talent along with everyone else during his run on Community, it was his first rap album (as Childish Gambino) that I really took notice. It felt so different from every other rap album out there, and no, I'm not a rap connoisseur or anything, but usually when I see people rave about a rapper, I'll listen to a few songs and lately (as in the past 10 or so years), I've been very disappointed. Camp is probably my favorite rap album since Kanye West's debut. It's powerful, honest, and poetic - everything that rap used to stand for. This is exactly what Glover has brought to television - a powerful, honest, and poetic voice that is under-represented in the entertainment industry. Every episode has been perfect so far.

4. Designated Survivor - I just watched the pilot episode and I am definitely intrigued. It could really go either way, but I'm hopeful it doesn't go the way of other recent shows like The Blacklist, Quantico, and Blindspot, where it's just one twist after another until none of it makes sense anymore. I love Kiefer Sutherland, so I will probably watch no matter what, but it would be nice if it were actually a great show, right? The plot is pretty interesting (and surprising that it hasn't been done before, really), and I love the supporting actresses - Natascha McElhone and Maggie Q. I kind of feel like I already know who the "bad guy" is - and I won't spoil it, but I feel like it's really obvious (it's the same bad guy in every movie).

5. The Great Indoors - IT'S JOEL MCHALE. I miss him so much. I watched The Soup every week and I miss seeing him on my television every week (and it used to be twice a week with Community). This show looks dumb, but I don't even care. Also, McLovin is in it too. He's the very definition of adorkable.

6. Better Things - This will probably be my favorite new show of the season. I love Pamela Adlon so much, and I'm so happy that she is finally getting her due. This show is basically a female version of Louie, which is a fantastic idea. I almost wish they played together back-to-back because it's wonderful insight into the loneliness that comes along with being a parent, and also being famous - whether male or female. It's one of those shows that make you laugh, but then you feel bad for laughing. I'm in love with it.

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Nice Guys - I knew this movie was going to be ridiculous, but the question was if it was going to be good ridiculous or bad ridiculous. It's good ridiculous. Very good. The perfect amount of dark humor, laugh-out-loud moments, and a whole lot of heart. There are so many brilliant and witty moments that this movie just shoots right up into my top 10 of the year. Sure, there are also parts that are bad ridiculous - Russell Crow as an Irishman? STOP IT. Also, as much as I loved the focus on a father/daughter relationship that wasn't angsty, the daughter needed to be saved way too many times. She's supposed to be intelligent, but she does some very dumb things several times in the movie. It's still all in good fun, though. I also felt like it was about a 1/2 hour too long, but I don't know what could have been cut because there are so many pure gold moments that I would hate to lose. Gosling was the highlight (as always). His comedic timing was on point. I really like Shane Black's style. This movie definitely lives in the same universe as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and that is a very good thing. There was something very retro about it - not just in setting, but also in the production. It felt like it came from the 70s with a modern twist.

2. Keanu - The trailer for this movie made me cry with laughter (and ohmygod cuteness!). The poster is one of my favorite posters ever ("Kitten, please"). The movie, however, just doesn't live up to my expectations. All of the cute kitty stuff is in the trailer (and I watched the trailer so many times I could practically recite it). And I don't really know Key and Peele. I've always heard great things, but I don't really see it. They were cringeworthy during the MTV Video Awards (yes, I watched that. And yes, it was a very, very painful experience) and they were kind of boring in this. Again, all of the good stuff was shown in the trailer; otherwise it was just dull. I did like that they address the different comedic tropes in movies that feature different races; they try to break the stereotypes in a very amusing way. There are some funny moments, too - Anna Faris saying she was in "Scary Movie 1,2,3,4, but not 5...too old". Also, the gang sitting in the SUV, listening to George Michael, and sharing stories made me giggle ("I stole a ring pop" "How old were you?" "22"). I just wish the kitten was featured more. Like, a lot more.

3. X-Men: Apocalypse - I wasn't expecting to like this movie. I really didn't hear much about it at all this summer. It was like it was released to slightly critical reviews and then forgotten about. I liked it. I felt like it was a much cleaner X-Men movie compared to the last few (which I also liked, for the most part). Mostly because the timeline was linear, so I didn't get confused. The plot was clear and concise. The villain was the weakest link of the movie (which is my issue with almost all superhero movies), but at least it made sense. Some of it didn't work - like Sophie Turner as Jean Grey (seriously, who thought that was a good casting call?). Jennifer Lawrence spent the entire movie as if she were bored to death. And Olivia Munn had one line in the entire movie?? How awkward is that? The young cast is great, though - Ty Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters are among the best young actors working today. The biggest highlight of these movies will always be James McAvoy, though. He's just wonderful in everything. Plus, Rose Byrne.

4. Legend - I believe in Tom Hardy. He doesn't always succeed, but I'm confident that he gives it his all with every performance. He does an excellent job portraying London's notorious gangsters, the Kray twins. His performance, along with the always stunning Emily Browning, is the only reason to watch this movie. Otherwise, it is slow and dull, painfully predictable, and somewhat annoying. The voice-over by Browning is a disservice to the story (and it doesn't make sense - how does she know all these insights into their crimes if she wasn't there?). The sub-plot with her being unhappy in her marriage has been done so many times and this film doesn't offer anything new. married a gangster, and are surprised when he is an abusive asshole? *rolls eyes* I think they could have focused her story in a better way by showing more of her relationship with her mother - her mother states "the reason I have a boring life is because I gave up my life for you", which becomes even more disheartening when her daughter marries a gangster. Hardy does a fantastic job at giving each twin a different voice and personality; I definitely "forgot" that it was one actor playing both parts. And man, that fight scene between the twins must have been really difficult to film - it was excellently choreographed. I wish the film just moved quicker and gave us more insights into their lives instead of the obvious. You know a film about gangsters is boring when all you can focus on is the costumes - I want every single outfit that Browning wore. So gorgeous.

5. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - I re-watched the first one directly before the sequel so I can confirm that I love the first one so much. This one, is okay. It's safe to assume that I would appreciate the feminist movement that happens within the movie, but I think the first one already conquered a feminist issue by having the wife not be the "nag" of the movie. They had a true relationship/partnership and it is lovely. I can't get behind any kind of sorority - I don't care if it considers itself feminist or not. The whole point of a sorority/fraternity is to be exclusive and uphold traditions, so if you want to break away from that, then don't join one. I don't really think a comedy like this can really get to the roots of how oppressive sororities are and still be funny, but they tried and for the most part it worked. Although, their "version" of a sorority was minorly offensive (they sit around watching chick-flicks and talk about their feelings. Gag me with a spoon.). There were some very funny parts - and the obvious highlight is Rose Byrne (once again). Zac Efron is also hilariously pathetic - I like the realistic story arc for his character. I also like that they are terrible parents. I mean, not actual terrible parents, they are very realistic parents, but for movie parents, just awful.

3 Thoughts on Suicide Squad

1. Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and...everyone else - I have a lot of problems with this movie and I'm one of the few who refused to listen to the critics. I went in with an open mind and a hope for a good, fun, summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, it was a mess. And that's putting it lightly. The biggest issue is that the movie only focuses on two of the "squad" - Harley Quinn and Deadshot. Given that Will Smith is the biggest "star" in the movie, I guess this makes sense, but I was expecting an ensemble superhero movie and that's not what was presented. Harley Quinn was heavily featured in the ads, but I thought that was just because of the sudden popularity of Margot Robbie. Instead the movie was just really about them, while everyone else just kind of stood next to them shouting out throw away lines. And it's set up that way from the very beginning with Amanda Waller (the usually spectacular Viola Davis who was the blandest she's ever been) summarizing her group of bad guys (and gals). She gives in depth details about Quinn and Deadshot and then glosses over the entire rest of the group. And since they were never really given any real material, I can't even decide whether I like the rest of the group (Diablo seemed the most interesting of the bunch, to me). But I can fully stand firm in my complete dislike of Harley Quinn. I know nothing about the comics - so this is my only source of information about her, and man is she really fucking annoying. I don't find her empowering for women at all, and yet so many women idolize her. I just don't get it. Also, I love Margot Robbie, but this was not her best work. I know she *can* do a NY (Brooklyn) accent, but it sounded AWFUL here. I think it had to do more with the combination of the awful dialogue and the accent that made it so much worse, but it was horribly distracting. Her relationship with The Joker was intercut between scenes in a really awkward way, and it was all very vague - glossing over the abusiveness of it all (as expected). Leto was an interesting Joker; not necessarily good, but at least interesting. Also, does Quinn not have any powers or abilities? Is her bat a super bat? Because that tiny woman swinging a bat wouldn't really do much damage to someone twice her size. It's just dumb, especially compared to other characters who have actual abilities.Will Smith was probably the highlight (if there was a highlight...).  I liked Deadshot's story, I liked his abilities, his intelligence and his dialogue was easily the least cheesy of the bunch.

2. The Musical Cues - I admit, I am a sucker for a great musical cue. The ones in this movie, though, really bothered me. In particular, using Leslie Gore's "You Don't Own Me" to introduce Harley Quinn. The song itself is one of the greatest feminist songs of all time and describes literally nothing about Quinn. It's a song about independence and not being "put on display", while Quinn spends the entire movie attached to Joker (mentally & emotionally), and she is literally put on display several times - she is the epitome of the "male gaze". I thought maybe it was supposed to be ironic, but no-one else got ironic intro music, so that doesn't really make sense. Plus, I think her first intro song was "Superfreak" which makes much more sense. And the bigger problem, she got several "intro" songs. The whole movie was just one song cue after another. It was like they realized they had a shitty movie, and they tried to distract the audience by copying off of Guardians of the Galaxy, which had fantastic music, but it complimented the movie instead of creating a distraction.

3. The plot - I'm not sure it made much sense. I mean, it definitely lost my attention around the middle, so maybe I just missed some important plot points, but I don't understand the whole Enchantress story - wasn't she introduced as part of the Suicide Squad? So how did she suddenly become the "bad guy"? And is Amanda Waller a "bad guy"? They didn't really make that clear. Why was the Suicide Squad's mission to save her instead of stopping Enchantress? If they stopped her earlier, then Waller wouldn't have needed to be rescued...right? And where were the "good" guys? You know, Batman? Wonder Woman? The Flash? (he was shown for a second, but not when it actually counted). It wasn't like the squad was called as extra reinforcements or the "good guys" were captured, they just weren't mentioned at all when it counted. The whole thing is just really dumb.