Archive for the ‘Violent’ Category

Sense8: The Finale

June 10, 2018

Never have I loved such a flawed show as much as I love Sense8. The plot can be ridiculous, the story lines impossible to follow, the back story baffling, and the violence over the top gross. And yet, in-between lives an arc of love, connection, compassion, and a sense of wonder. Gloriously filmed in Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Nairobi, Reykjavik, San Francisco, and Seoul, this finale movie wrap-up lands in Paris where the sensates gather to do battle with the Chairman and save their race from enslavement and extinction. I forgot much of the plot between Season 2 and the wrap-up movie. I sure wish Netflix and other streamers would create “last season on…” trailers to remind us where we left off in the previous season. Instead I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride. There’s way too much violence for me, and Daryl Hannah’s face work never stops being distracting. Still Sense8 imagines a world of possibilities for love and friendship. And for that I will end this series content and fulfilled. What’s not to love about a kooky, over-the-top, sex positive TV show that has a HEA ending? My girls found their moment after the battles ended. 4 out of 5 for the ambitious Sense8 from the Wachowskis.


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

January 27, 2018

Spoiler alerts: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is perhaps the last nominated film I’ll watch before this year’s Oscar Awards. There are films I haven’t seen and I’m fine with that. I’ve caught six of nine, a better percentage than usual for me. My first reaction to Three Billboards is how modern the story feels. When people look back on the film historically, they will see topical themes of police brutality, rape culture, white male domination, and women struggling with how to confront and extinguish injustice. Each of these issues could fill up a lifetime of research and discussion. To meld them into one film speaks volumes for screenwriter and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges). Couple this with breath-catching performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell and you’ve got an outstanding film worthy of its Oscar nod for Best Picture. But it is McDomand’s role and her character Mildred Hayes’ journey which captivates and keeps Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri lingering in your mind long after the final scene. While chock with action and plenty of violence, the film manages to ask important questions: Is there ever a good reason for an eye for an eye response? How far should one person go to seek justice? Is vengeance an acceptable form of justice? Can we forgive our neighbor for crossing a line due to grief? The interplay between characters makes these questions not necessarily important to answer, but important to ponder, to discuss, to give importance to as a community trying to make the world better. The film truly feels like a post-Trump election movie. It showcases what happens to a small community when people are ignored and some in charge are allowed to act in immoral and illegal ways. And it certainly questions the right for what is an appropriate response to all of this injustice?

There’s controversy surrounding the film (see Vox article). I didn’t feel like the racism was swept under the carpet, although there’s no denying this was a white-centric film. In the end, the comment from Harrelson’s character Bill that Rockwell’s Dixon is good underneath all his hatred and violence felt naive to me. The fact that Bill never suspended Dixon in the first place tells you all you need to know about his outlook on life. And the final scene where Mildred and Dixon take a road trip together is left open-ended. I didn’t think they rode off in the sunset together after the film ends. To the contrary, I thought there were many possibilities to the ending all of which included Dixon never becoming the good man Bill thought he could be. I was satisfied with the story arc and ending. McDonagh did a great job telling one woman’s tale. 4 out of 5 for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Better Call Saul: Season 3

January 24, 2018

I watched the first three episodes of Better Call Saul: Season 3. I nearly called it quits on the series. A work friend quietly convinced me to continue watching. I’m so glad I did. The stories blossomed slowly over time this season. What impressed me the most was the subtle way this turned out to be Rhea Seehorn’s story of Kim Wexler. Kim’s been there from the start with Jimmy. But this season, we see her make decision after decision which adversely affect her professional and personal life. We also see Michael McKeon’s Chuck unravel in unnerving ways. And we continue to see how Jonathan Banks’s Mike, Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus, and Michael Mando’s Nacho come into play in Jimmy’s life. And finally we find out how Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy becomes Saul Goodman. Continued outstanding writing and acting. 4 out of 5 for Better Call Saul.

Westworld: Season 1

December 16, 2017

So a while ago, I watched a couple episodes of Westworld, ok maybe just one? Anyway I forgot to blog about it and now my memory is foggy. What I do remember about this adaptation based on the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton is that it’s a near-future story with a Western theme. I thought the idea was genius. A kind of billionaires’ playground where any and all fantasies can be acted out in a safe place populated by robots. What wore me down – wait for it, did you guess it? Yup, the Western theme. I just can’t stomach it. Not sure whether the series really deserves a review from me based on my Western-aversion. Still I gotta say what I like and don’t like. Westworld bored me. 2 out of 5. Next.

Ray Donovan

December 13, 2017

I’ve been wanting to try out Ray Donovan for years now. Not sure why I never got around to watching it until this week. I like the cast a lot. I especially love the casting director who decided Liev Schreiber and Eddie Marsan look like brothers, which they do. The dead pan, no-nonsense violence does nothing for me. The idea of a Boston working-class family – this time transplanted to Los Angeles seems worn out to me. I suppose people in other parts might be fascinated by the accents and the thuggishness. Honestly, it makes me yawn. I’ve seen enough Irish Catholic heavy accented Boston working class characters for one lifetime. At least for now. I get why Ray Donovan would be addictive for many. I am simply not connecting with it. It’s not bad, it’s just not my taste. 3 out of 5.

War for the Planet of the Apes

October 29, 2017

Watched much more of this third film in the latest Apes franchise than I honestly needed to. War for the Planet of the Apes presents predictable, formulaic, and just plain boring. The CGI and location shots are breathtaking. Combine those with a kick-ass screenplay and you’d have cinematic gold. Meanwhile War is simply more of what makes these franchises profitable – predictability within the framework of safety. Plus there’s a creepy subplot involving a young white girl who helps save the apes. White people always save the day. Not particularly inventive for those of us craving better stories. 2 out of 5. Next.

Tin Star

October 20, 2017

Amazon Prime airs the British-Canadian crime series, Tin Star featuring Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks. I love the play between the family members. The bad guys creep me out and not in a good way. Over the years I have enjoyed many inappropriate laughs from bad guys doing bad things ala Fargo. For some reason, the back and forth between good and evil in Tin Star doesn’t work for me. 2 out of 5. Yes, I stuck around for the big death. I still wasn’t convinced. Next.

Wonder Woman (Blu-ray)

October 2, 2017

Congratulations to Wonder Woman for being the most successful DC comic book adaptation of all-time raking in over $820 million dollars worldwide. That makes director Patty Jenkins the most sought after female director in Hollywood. Wonder Woman is what the comics call an origin story telling the story of where Wonder Woman came from and how she came to be a super hero. I enjoyed some of the story. Especially the beginning with the Amazons in their all-female world. Considering the editors were able to sneak in a number of conversations about sex between men and women as well as a scene where Gal Gadot’s Diana goes to bed with Chris Pine’s Steve within a PG-13 framework, I was hoping for some same-sex relationships in Amazon. Of course the original Wonder Woman is written as bisexual and that never came out in the film either. So much for diversity. I get why the film was so popular. Again, I will repeat what I always say about these super hero films – I am not their target audience. The formula feels as tired as Broadway to me. The music, the build-up, the inevitable fighting with thousands of people killed and global destruction. The ending tied up in a neat bow. Are we all immune to war and violence because of this? Perhaps it’s not as complicated as that. Perhaps Wonder Woman is simply a fun super hero film that takes on the patriarchy. And I’m definitely behind that. 3 out of 5.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

August 29, 2017

So I really loved Guardians of the Galaxy so much I gave it a 4 out of 5 which is enormously generous of me for a big Hollywood blockbuster film. I came into the sequel hoping for fun and distraction from our cruel world. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 started out hopeful with some good dialogue and outstanding special effects. Soon it morphed into too many battles and the same old shtick. Even Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls) couldn’t save this. Too bad because the franchise started out strong. Oh well, the curse of the sequel. 2 out of 5. Next.

The Night Of

August 25, 2017

Another great HBO limited series that deserves and looks as if it’s been set-up for a potential Season 2. The Night Of follows a college-aged Pakistani-American young man living in Queens played by the dreamy Brit Riz Ahmed through the thrills of a night out in Manhattan. As police procedurals tend to do, the night doesn’t go exactly as planned. Arrests happen. Jail time, a trial. I’m certainly not giving much away. John Turturro stars along with Ahmed in a gripping, by the book eight-part series. Really enjoyed this and hope there might be a second season. 4 out of 5 for The Night Of.

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