Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on December 16, 2018

Tidelands is apparently the first original series from Netflix Australia. I’d just seen it as an upcoming show on my TV calendar as being supernatural and from Netflix, so I was curious, but it turns out to be something like if the CW had no content restrictions. Good-looking people, poorly-written and poorly-acted melodrama, supernatural crap, and nudity.

In this case, the supernatural element is… mermaids? Or maybe sirens? I dunno. It’s set in a coastal town where the local elite are also some kind of sea people, and the ordinary people have some kind of bargain with them. Elsa Pataky, an actress who appears to be only famous for the Fast and the Furious series and yet somehow I recognize her name, plays an antagonist or something, but everyone else is unfamiliar. But as much as I like topless women with Aussie accents, it’s really not enough to make this watchable.

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Posted in tv by Bill on December 10, 2018

Schitt’s Creek is a CBC (Canadian) series co-created by and starring Eugene Levy about a rich family that loses everything and moves to a small rural town. It apparently airs on something called Pop in the US, but the first four seasons are on Netflix ahead of the fifth starting up soon. It has a pretty silly fish-out-of-water premise, where the family never paid any taxes and has all their stuff repossessed except for the small town Eugene Levy bought for his son as a joke, so they move there, and I kind of appreciate that the pilot just spends a couple minutes setting it up (rather amusingly) and doesn’t worry about it making sense, it just moves on.

It’s not laugh-out-loud funny all that often, though there are occasionally some big laughs, but it’s consistently amusing. An odd humor tick they have is dropping weird “did you know?” type things that turn out to be true, like how Avril Lavigne is battling Lyme disease, or that Rosa Parks appeared on a Touched by an Angel episode. Catherine O’Hara plays Levy’s wife, Eugene Levy’s real life son and co-creator plays the son, a kinda cute girl plays the daughter. Chris Elliott is the small town’s mayor, and I thought Parker Posey was a motel clerk but it’s actually Emily Hampshire from 12 Monkeys. She’s actually really hot in this, with kind of an April Ludgate thing going (I also once thought Elizabeth Banks was Parker Posey, so clearly they should play a trio of sisters in something).

Posted in tv by Bill on December 10, 2018

Detectorists is a BBC series written/directed/starring Mackenzie Crook, the guy who played Gareth (equivalent of Dwight) on the original The Office and had the missing eye in Pirates of the Caribbean. I’d heard it was funny in a really unusual way, so seeing that it was on Hulu I figured it was worth checking out.

It is about people in rural England who go metal detecting as a hobby. It is very subdued. That and the accents and the cultural references I don’t understand meant that… if there were more than a couple jokes in the first two episodes, I wasn’t aware. So either it’s not funny to me or it’s not funny at all? I dunno. But not for me in any case.

Posted in tv by Bill on December 3, 2018

Nightflyers is a new scifi/horror series on Syfy based on a George R.R. Martin novella. It’s set in 2093 on board a ship sent to make first contact with an alien ship passing near Earth. And things go terribly wrong, obviously, or it wouldn’t be scifi/horror.

It’s… ok? I’m not actually that engaged in the story, but I am impressed by the atmosphere. They definitely spent a lot on the set. Syfy’s airing the 10 episodes (of the first season? or entire miniseries? I have no idea) over two weeks, and it’s a relatively light TV period so I’m more willing to see where it goes than I might be in early November.

Posted in movies by Bill on December 3, 2018

Colossal seemed interesting from the premise where Anne Hathaway discovers that a giant monster terrorizing Asia is inadvertently caused and controlled by her. It also stars Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson, the guy from Legion, and a guy that looks like Eli Manning. I didn’t notice it was from the director of the clever Spanish language scifi movie Timecrimes or I probably would have looked to see it sooner.

What looked like a kind of cutesy SF/romantic comedy is most certainly not. It’s much darker and more serious than the trailers let on, and not entirely in my area of interest, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. The ending is a little too… metaphorically appropriate but literally a deus ex machina.

Posted in tv by Bill on December 1, 2018

Castle Rock is Hulu’s series set in the universe of Stephen King. It’s not an adaptation of any of his stories, nor does it feature, to my limited knowledge, any of the characters from them, but it borrows some locations and briefly mentions events from other stories and matches the tone of King’s stuff, kinda like the Fargo series takes inspiration from its source but goes in its own direction. The premise is kind of a humorless Gravity Falls, where something supernatural about the town is the reason all this weird shit happens and so many people kill themselves and all, and presumably if I’d kept going, people would be trying to find the cause and stop it. It was just too horror-y for my tastes. Occasional jump scares, spooky music, kids talking all creepy, etc.

Jane Levy is in the cast but through the episodes I caught had the smallest part. If she’d been in more I might have been better hooked into the series (hot take: she’s the hotter version of Emma Stone and should be a huge star).

Posted in tv by Bill on November 29, 2018

The Little Drummer Girl is AMC/BBC’s miniseries adapting John le Carre’s novel of the same name. Essentially a follow-up to The Night Manager from 2016. Michael Shannon plays an Israeli guy with an accent that’s close enough to his Russian Room 104 character that spontaneously rapped to a confused Judy Greer that it was a little bit before I could take him seriously. Shannon and Alexandar Skarsgard make for less compelling leads than Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, and I didn’t entirely love The Night Manager anyway, so I didn’t make it too far in this. It moves at a glacial pace… I think the first hour’s plot could be condensed into six minutes without losing much.

Posted in tv by Bill on November 29, 2018

Continuing my run through Hulu’s content, The Handmaid’s Tale is their series based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. It’s obviously well-made and all, but watching the first episode just filled me with dread. I’ve been in a “this country is doomed” mood for a while, and seeing what is, from a gender perspective, a worst-case nightmare that still feels all too plausible, it only makes me feel worse about everything. So somewhat ironically, I might enjoy it if it weren’t so relevant, but as things are I don’t think I can stand do watch it. Plus, since learning that Elizabeth Moss is a Scientologist, I find her considerably less likable.

Posted in movies by Bill on November 29, 2018

Sorry to Bother You stars Atlanta‘s LaKeith Stanfield as a telemarketer who learns to use his “white voice” (provided by David Cross) to rise up the ranks at his company. It’s a very clever concept and the first half of the movie is pretty great. Like a lot of these types of movies, it kind of goes off the rails towards the end. When you start with an outrageous premise, it’s hard to rise to a climax without getting absurd. Though I will give them credit here for going absurd in a rather ballsy way.

Tessa Thompson plays his artist girlfriend, Danny Glover his coworker who teaches him the white voice trick, Steven Yeun as an activist coworker, Armie Hammer perfectly cast as the rich douchebag in charge, Terry Crews as his uncle/landlord, and Patton Oswalt provides another white voice.

I don’t regret missing this in the theater, but on Hulu it’s about right. Worth seeing, good in parts, strange.

Posted in tv by Bill on November 28, 2018

Homecoming is a new Amazon series from the Mr. Robot creator and starring Julia Roberts about a facility trying to help returning soldiers from the Middle East transition to civilian life. It has an intentionally odd style, with weird closing credits, lots of silence, and a timeline designated by a heavily-reverse-letterboxed 1:1 aspect ratio.

It’s a bit reminiscent of The OA, where the early episodes are setting things up and you’re left with a sense of not knowing what’s going on but that something is going on. Fortunately, the payoff is not as ridiculous as the former show, in that it made sense and did not involve dancing.

But it was a bit of a chore to get through. Ten 30 minute episodes took me almost a month, not because I didn’t have the time (clearly I have no life), but because it was neither a fun experience to watch nor an addictive I-have-to-know-what-happens mystery.