Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on April 7, 2018

Killing Eve is a new BBC America show that starts on Sunday but is already available on demand. It stars Sandra Oh, who I’m not normally huge on, but it’s adapted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge from a series of novels, and after Fleabag I’m willing to give a shot to most anything she writes. It’s an international espionage thing, with an MI5 agent (Oh) chasing an assassin (Jodie Comer who I don’t know), and while the story is treated seriously, the characters have a sense of humor (and humorlessness is a good way to make me lose interest in an otherwise decent show). It’s a good pilot. Nothing groundbreaking, but I liked it and I want to see more.

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Posted in movies by Bill on April 4, 2018

I’d heard about The Lobster a while back but by the time I got around to watching it, all I remembered about it was that it was some kind of weird love story and that Colin Farrell was in it. It is indeed weird. One might call it science fiction or fantasy, but in the way one might call Being John Malkovich some kind of SF, but it’s not about technology or magic or anything, there’s just something weird and impossible around which a story is built. I think the whole thing went over my head, because it just seemed weird as hell, and the style (in which all the actors speak in flat tones, saying everything matter-of-factly no matter how emotional they might be) was fairly off-putting to me.

It turns out to also star Olivia Colman, John C. Reilly, Ashley Jensen from Extras, Q from the latest Bond movies, the main girl from The End of the F**king World but playing an adult which is kinda strange (although she is in a bikini in one scene, and at that point I appreciate her being an adult), and Lea Seydoux. I also spent much of the movie trying to place the voice of the narrator, and purposefully avoiding Amazon’s X-Ray feature because I wanted to figure it out myself, but I failed and it turned out to be Rachel Weisz.

Posted in movies by Bill on April 4, 2018

I watched the first crappy TMNT movie to see Megan Fox wear hot outfits, only to discover that the pictures I’d seen were from the making of the sequel. So I figured I might as well suffer through TMNT: Out of the Shadows. It’s bad. The turtles’ noses are weird, their stunt sequences are seemingly endless (full of wisecracking but still manage to be fairly joyless), Will Arnett is phoning it in, there are a bunch of weird cameos… but Megan Fox is hot. Technically I could have watched a clip on youtube (she should have kept the glasses on) and probably gotten all the enjoyment out of this, but that feels kinda like cheating. And I liked TMNT as a kid, so I get to complain about it now that I half-watched it while playing video games.

For villains, they add Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, and Baxter Stockman (pre-transformation) to the mix this time, and you’d think the rhino guy, the warthog guy, and the brain in the stomach of a mech would be the tricky ones, but they’re actually fine (not particularly good, and goofy along with the tone of the whole rest of the movie). Somehow they fuck up “evil scientist.” Tyler Perry plays Stockman and… he’s not very good, but the dialogue they wrote for him is amazingly awful. He lists his science idols as Galileo, Newton, and Steve Jobs. He brags about how many digits of pi he knows (and it’s 15). Just shitty.

Stephen Amell and Laura Linney also join the cast as Casey Jones and some fed, respectively. Linney is obviously good at acting but it doesn’t matter, Amell is actually quite bad at acting and his part is really poorly written. Not quite as bad as Stockman, but not much better.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 4, 2018

The Crossing is a new ABC show with a scifi premise, kinda recalling The 4400 in reverse, starring Steve Zahn, Sandrine Holt, Dutch from The Shield, and some other people. It’s not great or anything, but had the luxury or premiering in a week when all the talk shows are off and no new streaming series dropped the weekend before, so I’m more open to giving a thing some time to develop into something.

The advertising is kind of annoying though. “From the network that brought you Lost,” or whatever, when it’s also the network that brought you Perfect Strangers, so why does that matter?

Posted in tv by Bill on April 2, 2018

Barry is Bill Hader’s HBO series about an awkward, depressed hitman who meets a cute girl who’s trying to be an actor and suddenly decides he wants to be an actor. I can’t really tell if he wants to act, or if he’s just reacting to people being friendly and welcoming to him, and he’s more interested in doing what he needs to do to be around them than he is in actual acting. Weirdly, this show makes me think I could fairly easily end up in a cult. If some cult had an attainably-cute girl shower me with attention and gently steer me to whatever stupid bullshit they were peddling, I think I’d react just like Bill Hader reacts to this girl and acting. Because I, too, am awkward and depressed.

But I digress. The show is more interesting than good through two episodes. I was hoping it’d be funnier, because Bill Hader is really funny in some stuff, but I guess jokes aren’t en vogue. It’s not bad, though I’m sticking with it because the story is reasonably interesting, and maybe it’ll have funny parts later or something.

Posted in movies by Bill on April 2, 2018

Ready Player One is a reference-filled celebration of pop culture that ends up taking it so seriously as to make it seem like a satire of the pop-culture-obsessed. The protagonist comes off like a gate keeper, everyone treats John Hughes movies and Atari Games like they’re super important shit to know. I dunno. It was fine, a decent enough story, and interesting enough to get me thinking about a lot of things after, but at some point it flipped from “oh look, it’s that thing from that thing I like” to “this is ridiculous.” More in the realm of disappointing than bad, though.

Posted in movies by Bill on April 2, 2018

I started watching The Cloverfield Paradox shortly after it was released, and then something came along and I don’t remember what, and I picked it back up again when I finally ran out of things to watch after that overstuffed weekend when Jessica Jones, Sneaky Pete, and Love all had new seasons. I wasn’t hooked early on, but I got far enough in that I just wanted to finish it off, and watched it in pieces over about a week when I had nothing else to do. It’s not very good.

Like the last one with John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, its connection to Cloverfield is minimal. Also like the last one, it was originally written as a non-Cloverfield thing and they shoehorned in the tie-in aspects. I think the movie would have worked quite a bit better without, especially because the tie-in plot thread I think may have included scenes that were actually reassuring to the predicament on the space station. Minor spoilers, but I think it would have worked better if the action had stayed on the station the whole time, and they just had an insane ending with a crazy reveal.

It stars Gugu MBatha Raw (who is British but I think this is the first time I’ve seen her not playing an American), David Oyelowo (who is also British but plays an American here), Zhang Ziyi (Star Wars-style just speaking Chinese and everyone else speaking English and they all understand each other), Chris O’Dowd, that sinister looking German guy from the Thor F1 racing movie, that Cuban guy from the Miami Vice movie, the blonde girl from The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and in a bit part, Donal Logue.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 29, 2018

Roseanne took about 20 years off and is back now at ABC, and even though it’s a dated-seeming multi-camera sitcom, it’s still pretty solid. It’s not great or anything, but it’s still got likable characters (John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf are kinda great in anything) and makes relatively bold choices over what issues to cover (trans/gender type stuff, politics, healthcare, and general working class issues all pop up in just the first two episodes) compared to other multi-camera shows. The laugh track isn’t great, but it would honestly feel weird without it, both because that’s how it always was, and because most single camera comedies are aimed at relatively educated/wealthy audiences, and this is not that.

The politics are handled surprisingly well. Roseanne Barr is a Trump supporter, so they made Roseanne Conner a Trump supporter, but Jackie is vehemently anti-Trump. They don’t attempt to really take a side, and Jackie gets in as many good barbs as Roseanne does, so it doesn’t come off as a pro-Trump show at all. And it ends up feeling honest, because I’m sure many families are divided like that, and Roseanne is really just the kind of poor white voter that would have voted Democrat for years but gone for Trump.

Basically the whole cast, other than Johnny Galecki and the late Glenn Quinn, returns. And actually, Galecki and Quinn’s characters were kinda retconned into one (Gaclecki’s David was Darlene’s boyfriend and Quinn’s Mark was with Becky, until the finale when the retcon said that Mark was actually with Darlene, and I dunno if that meant David never existed? I forget) and they run with that, even though they abandon the idea of Dan being dead. So Darlene has a Mark Jr., which is a little strange. And Sarah Chalke appears not as Becky but as someone else, though they do make a decent fourth wall joke about it.

The one thing it isn’t is for new viewers. It assumes you know the old show, and relies a fair amount on existing dynamics and nostalgia. But I liked the first several seasons of the old show, and the return works well.

Posted in Uncategorized by Bill on March 26, 2018

Pacific Rim: Uprising ditches a lot of the main cast of the first one to feature John Boyega and a kid. Some of the charm was lost by dropping some of the more charismatic actors, and not having Guillermo del Toro at the helm, but it still has giant robot fights. So it’s not a bad way to spend some time.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 7, 2018

Electric Dreams is an Amazon anthology series based on Philip K. Dick stories. Very much attempting to be Amazon’s Black Mirror.

It has been airing on Channel Four in the UK since late last year, but Amazon just started showing it recently. Interestingly, they chose a different episode order. Channel Four opened with a Robb Stark episode, but Robb Stark is apparently Scottish in real life, and his accent in his episode is completely unintelligible. I almost never had to do this, but I had to turn on subtitles for English to English translation. So I completely get Amazon not opening with this in America. Instead, they chose to go with bigger celebrities (Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard) and to aim for that San Junipero market with some lesbians (Paquin and Rachelle Lefevre) in the episode they opened with. But I don’t get why the order is so radically different, Amazon went with 5, 8, 6, 4, 1, 9, 10, 2, 3, 7.

Solid casts throughout, with Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Juno Temple, Janelle Monae, Davos from GoT, the title actress of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Maura Tierney, Greg Kinnear, the main lady from The Killing, Mel Rodriguez from The Last Man on Earth, Vera Farmiga, and Benedict Wong.

It suffers a bit from being adaptations of sometimes 50+ year old stories. They do update them some, but the themes and ideas from the original stories were likely so influential that by 2018, they seem cliched (is there a name for this? in my mind it’s the “Rebel Without a Cause effect” since by the time I saw that movie in ~1998 it just seemed like a special episode of 90210). It invites comparison to Black Mirror, and Black Mirror has fresher themes and newer ideas and is generally more relevant to the 21st century. But it’s not bad, just not as good as something more fresh.