Dallas Buyers Club stars what appears to be leather stretched over the skeleton of Matthew McConaughey as an AIDS patient who smuggles FDA unapproved drugs in from Mexico. It’s an interesting story, and apparently true. I was actually a little underwhelmed by McConaughey’s performance, though. He’s perfectly good, but he’s been much better in other roles. I feel like he won the Oscar largely for the physical transformation rather than for his actual acting.
Elsewhere, Jennifer Garner, Griffin Dunne, and a guy I remember from some Law & Orders (but apparently he’s in a lot of stuff I don’t watch) are his doctors. Herc from FNL and Steve Zahn play his friends. Jared Leto plays a transgender patient, and he looks like Katy Perry after the “tragic downfall” part of her Behind the Music episode that may exist in 30 years. He gives a very good performance, though. And weirdly, Adam Dunn is in it for a second. Apparently he helped finance the movie.
12 Years a Slave is pretty much as advertised: a movie about slavery that feels pretty authentic, and is depressing as shit. It’s rough to watch and I can’t imagine ever watching it again, but it’s good.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose name I still don’t know how to pronounce, stars as Solomon Northup, a free man from New York who ends up a slave in Louisiana. A whole lot of random people appear in it: Taran Killam, Omar from The Wire, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong’o, the gay guy from Mad Men, Garret Dillahunt, and Brad Pitt. It’s bizarre that Taran Killam is in a movie that won Oscars. I just kinda hate him. It makes me feel crappy that I only recognize a few of the black actors but like… just about every white person in the movie.
Random aside: for some reason I thought the director Steve McQueen thought it would be clever to change his name to be that of a dead movie star’s, but it’s his actual given name.
I hopped on the HBO Go kinda intending to watch 12 Years as a Slave but saw Rush and… it’s hard to be in the mood to watch a make-you-feel-horrible movie when you could instead watch some movie that has Olivia Wilde and Natalie Dormer looking hot in it. Which is probably not the standard reason people watch this, but I don’t really give a shit about cars or racing. I probably would have preferred a biopic about the Canadian prog-rock trio, or a scathing criticism of the rotund conservative talk radio host.
It’s not bad, but unremarkable.
Sadly, Natalie Dormer is only in it briefly. But she is super-hot while she’s around. Olivia Wilde is a little disappointing. Blonde, and I don’t really like her British accent. She’s obviously still lovely, just not as I like her best (though dressed up in her Tron costume would probably be inappropriate for this movie, I’d still prefer it).
The one thing I expect from a Ron Howard movie is that it’s well-crafted and professional, but the racing scenes were pretty clunky. They use the pretty traditional device of having a TV or radio announcer play over the action, but it’s not done well at all. The way the audio is recorded, the announcer sounds like he’s in a 21st century recording booth, rather than in a 1970s broadcast booth at a race track. He also doesn’t narrate it in a way that feels like he’s broadcasting a race, he just sounds like he’s narrating the movie for us. It feels extra fake.
I didn’t know a thing about either driver going in, but the portrayals seemed overwhelmingly in favor of Hunt. Lauda is an asshole with daddy issues who drives for money because he has no other talents. Hunt is passionate about racing, and is lauded for his sexual prowess, devil-may-care attitude, and likability.
As with most of this things based on historical events that I know nothing about, one of the most entertaining parts is going back after to read up on what parts were made up for the movie. Apparently they got along just fine, and the personal rivalry was made up for the movie. The real Hunt apparently had drug and alcohol issues that are kind of glossed over by the movie.
Mulaney is comedian John Mulaney’s new sitcom, which I was disappointed to see in the commercials has a laugh track But I do like his stand-up and Nasim Pedrad, so it’s worth a shot.
A kinda neat thing in the beginning, Ice-T does the “filmed before a live studio audience” thing, which I assume is because of Mulaney’s SVU routine.
The pilot is kind of all over the place. Nasim Pedrad and a guy I don’t recognize are his roommates. Elliot Gould plays a dude across the hall who I assume is gay but I’m not sure they ever said. They do a thing based on one of his stand-up bits (about trying to get xanax). Martin Short is an eccentric comedian who he gets a job writing for. They intersperse some stand-up in there too, but oddly he’s doing it for the studio audience, under a spotlight standing in front of the darkened set of his house.
It’s not entirely un-funny though so I’ll give it another couple episodes to see if it grows on me.
Locke is for some reason a movie that I made a note to myself to see at some point. I don’t remember the trailers or anything. And plot-wise it is definitely not my kind of movie, so who knows.
It stars Tom Hardy as some kind of contractor concrete expert, husband, and father, who had a brief affair 9 months earlier, and takes off the night before a huge construction project without telling anyone, to be with the woman while she delivers their baby. So on the way, he tells his wife about the affair and the baby, he tells his boss that he’s not going to be there for this huge concrete thing that they need him there for, and he talks his assistant type guy through the construction project.
The whole movie takes place in his car on the way to see the delivery, which is kind of a neat gimmick. Just a series of phone calls with his wife, kids, the mother-to-be, his boss, his assistant, and various others, and sometimes talking to himself. And it completely works. Somehow, these conversations about construction and marital infidelity and giving birth, things I normally don’t give a shit about, are engaging as fuck when you’re trapped in a car with this guy.
Star Wars: Rebels is the new CG-animated series Disney’s putting out. It seems to take place not long before A New Hope, since Tarkin is a big deal guy in the Empire still. It’s basically Firefly in the Star Wars universe. A crew on a ship, kinda just smugglers and thieves, but also with an anti-Empire agenda.
The main character is a street hustler teenager who gets picked up by the crew when he tried to steal the same stuff as them. The crew is kind of a predictable cast of stock characters: the somewhat motherly pilot woman, the anti-heroic leader guy, the older gruff guy, and the badass hot girl who presumably our main character will end up banging.
Except the hot girl is super weird looking, she has really angular eyes, like somehow both Asian caricature and cat eyes. It just makes her look creepy. Also, their wookies look weird as hell. Hairy/fuzzy is tough to do in budget CGI, but that just makes me wonder why they didn’t just decide to not do wookies.
Anyway, aside from those visual gripes, the premiere movie was pretty good. The music and pace and tone evoke the original trilogy pretty strongly, and there’s setup for some interesting things going forward.
Bad Judge is the new NBC comedy starring Kate Walsh. She’s a judge who drinks a lot and bangs dudes and drives around in an old van with a mural painted on it and gives unconventional sentences to people, but also she goes the extra mile to help a kid who’s parents she put away, so, you know, heart of gold. Weirdly, it was co-created by Anne Heche. Possibly while watching Bad Teacher because both the title and premise are pretty damn similar. I think. I never saw >Bad Teacher. But Kate Walsh is better looking than Cameron Diaz, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Ryan Hansen plays an expert witness psychiatrist guy, which is kinda interesting because I would have thought after Veronica Mars and Party Down he’d be typecast as idiot dudebros. But he plays just some regular relatively smart guy here. He’s also not particularly funny, much like everyone else on the show. It’s not bad or anything but nothing made me want to watch another episode.
Gracepoint is FOX’s new 10-part miniseries with David Tennant and Anna Gunn. It’s incredibly grim, but it’s about the murder of a kid so that’s to be expected. I didn’t completely love the first episode, and if it were an ongoing series I might not bother. But it’s only 9 more episodes to find out where it goes, so I might as well go for it. Plus Jessica Lucas has a small part, and she’s still hot.
Stalker is CBS’s new show about stalkers and cops that stalk stalkers. I’m sure over the course of the series, the cops stalking stalkers will themselves get stalkers, so stalkers stalking stalker stalkers.
They open the show talking about how stalking is all about social media and stuff. But then the case of the week is just some dude in a black hoodie hiding behind trees and in parking garages. Basically, trying to terrify the audience, because I’m sure a shadowy figure lurking around every corner is exactly what the fear parts of our brains imagine when we’re a little bit spooked. But on a cop show, it’s not actually frightening at all. At least not to me, but I’m not the type to fall for those home security commercials about a guy kicking in a woman’s front door either.
It’s pretty much like every other procedural, stalker theme aside. So it’s really the characters that make or break these shows. Maggie Q’s character is fine, a generic serious cop. Dylan McDermott, who I feel like has been desperate to find a new series since The Practice, always wears a tie but slightly loosened with his top button unbuttoned, because that’s a TV character thing to do. “I’ll technically follow your dress code rules, but I’m a rebel at heart.” I want to punch him in the face. He’s not the guy that we’re supposed to like, I don’t think, but I’m so hostile to the character that I’m not going to watch the show again.
How to Get Away with Murder is an ABC series about a law professor who hires first year students from her class to work for her in murder cases. I didn’t really expect to like this very much, but the pilot is surprisingly good. It’s fast paced, has some surprises, tells an ok case of the week story, and presents several mysteries to play out in future episodes. I have no idea how well this will all work going forward, but I’m quite interested to see where it goes from here.
Viola Davis stars as the professor, the young guy guard from Orange is the New Black is one of the students, Paris Gellar from Gilmore Girls is one of Davis’ associates, and no one else is particularly familiar. The one thing I don’t like so far is that the POV character, who apparently was in the Harry Potter movies as what I would assume was the only black guy (I didn’t know there were any), he kind of sucks. I assume he’s British and maybe his American accent is slightly off and I’m subconsciously bugged by that? I didn’t actually notice anything wrong with his accent. I just kind of want to punch him in the face for some reason.
I was a little surprised by the sex. There’s a scene clearly of Viola Davis receiving oral sex from a dude, and another of two dudes where they’re kissing in bed and one is like “turn over,” both of which are things I would not have expected to see on a network TV show. I mean, I don’t have a problem with either, I’d just expect some religious parents groups to get their members (who never even saw the show to begin with) to write angry letters to the FCC.