Pointless Nonsense

Posted in movies by Bill on June 14, 2017

Oh, Hello On Broadway is Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s comedy play thing where they play two old guys that Netflix recorded and put up. And I like the two of them ok, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Apparently these characters have appeared on Kroll Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Comedy Bang Bang, and Conan, none of which I watch, so I was until just now under the impression that they were original to this show. It’s kinda weird, it has a lot of jokes about New York stuff and theater stuff that I didn’t get, and a lot of stuff that the audience laughed at but I didn’t find very amusing at all, so maybe I missed out not knowing the characters already? But it also had a few really funny lines (paraphrased: OJ Simpson murdered those people so hard that they no longer make the Ford Bronco. Can you imagine doing something so fucked up that they quit making Toyota Corollas?). It’s a long show to watch for a few brilliant moments, so I’d have a hard time recommending it.

Posted in comics, movies, top10, tv by Bill on June 14, 2017
Belated annual top ten of stuff from June 2016-May 2017 (so Wonder Woman will show up next year).
TV Half Hour:
  1. Bojack Horseman – Still loving this show, and it started to get some real critical respect this year (Time named the mostly-silent episode the best TV episode of 2016).
  2. The Good Place – I found the show fun and funny at first, though I was a little iffy on how it would work long-term. The end of the season did an amazing job in… not exactly making me sure hot it would work, but desperate to know where it’s going.
  3. Master of None – Getting close to the line of taking itself too seriously, but fortunately it remains pretty full of jokes.
  4. The Detour – I feel like this show shouldn’t be as good as it is? And yet it has huge laughs in almost every episode.
  5. Fleabag – Downer comedies (aka “sadcoms”) are kinda my thing, especially when there’s a self-loathing protagonist.
  6. The Last Man On Earth – Also a running theme here is plot-heaviness. This and The Detour are as serialized as any drama.
  7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – First traditional sitcom on here, where the status quo is maintained after most episodes and the tone is generally upbeat. Andre Braugher continues to get robbed during awards season.
  8. Great News is the new 30 Rock. Also Briga Heelan is totally cute.
  9. Silicon Valley annoys me with the technical stuff this year (mobile networks lack the bandwidth and phones lack the uptime% to serve as nodes on a peer-to-peer network, even with fictionally good compression!) but it’s still really funny. The hot dog app alone is enough to make this season a win.
  10. The Mick – I kinda thought this would suck, but it manages to do It’s Always Sunny style comedy in a more traditional sitcom format. There’s a family learning lessons and all, but there’s also episodes that build up to a huge payoff of characters being shockingly horrible in hilarious ways.
Missed the cut: Veep, Archer, and Kimmy Schmidt are all still good, but none at their peak form. Veep has actually had some of their more memorable filthy insults this year, but the plot direction is… meh. I don’t give two shits about a library. Love had a solid second season, but it’s clearly a second-tier sadcom. Rick and Morty had only the one episode in the past year. Trial & Error was pretty good and is surprisingly renewed even though nobody was talking about it (or, judging by the ratings, even watching at all).
TV Hourlong:
  1. Black Mirror‘s first season on Netflix was ridiculously good. If I was doing top 10 hourlong episodes of the year, I think there would be 3 from this one 6 episode season (I’m not on the San Junipero bandwagon though it was pretty good, and Men Against Fire and Playtest were only ok).
  2. Better Call Saul – I heard an interview with Chuck Klosterman talking about the ethics of Breaking Bad – the main character starts as 100% ethically sound, but by the end of the series he’s 100% ethically corrupted, and the question is when do you, as the viewer, recognize him as a villain rather than a hero? I thought that was kinda interesting. And it applies some here too, though Jimmy/Saul starts out fairly ethically compromised already. It builds tension better than anything else on TV, which is even more impressive given that I know the fates of many characters.
  3. Westworld caused me to spend more time theorizing about what’s going on than any other show in a long time. Also I like seeing comics writers I like (Ed Brubaker in this case) break into higher paying gigs with a union and health insurance.
  4. Fargo probably wouldn’t be so high if Mary Elizabeth Winstead wasn’t so trashy-hot this season. It’s still very good, but not up to season 1 or 2 levels, IMO.
  5. Game of Thrones is still awesome, but it only had a half season in the 6/16-5/17 period.
  6. The Expanse didn’t have the breakout season 2 that I was hoping for, but it was still good.
  7. Sherlock kinda disappointed with the overarching plot, but it was still fun and had interesting cases of the week.
  8. Stranger Things seems like more than a year ago, but it was just last summer. Season 2 isn’t until this fall, so I figure at that rate, by season 4 all the kids will have deep voices and be tall and gangly and weird, so get ready for that.
  9. iZombie mixes the short- and long-term plots as well as any show currently running. Not surprising given the Veronica Mars connection.
  10. Luke Cage is the only superhero TV show here, which speaks both to the fading quality of most superhero shows, and to my own level of burnout on them. But this one was definitely good.
Missed the cut: Preacher is pretty good but I still don’t know how they’ll handle the big moments without losing every sponsor. I liked The Night Of a lot. Gotham has gotten highly entertaining, even if it still makes little sense.
Movies:
  1. John Wick 2 – Really my only complaint is that Bridget Regan wasn’t in it. Who would have thought my favorite movie of any year would star Keanu Reeves?
  2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I think might turn out to be not-essential-rewatching, but it really was well done and a fun ride.
  3. Arrival was really thought provoking and I always appreciate when a studio spends money on a non-franchise sci-fi movie.
  4. Logan is a nice conclusion to the original set of X-Men movies. I kinda wish they’d stop making them for a while, but that’ll never happen.
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 remains full of amusing wisecracking and whatnot.
  6. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping apparently only made $9.5mil at the box office, which is ridiculous. But maybe it appeals to the kind of people who would either pirate it or wait for it on netflix or something. As I did. Equal Rights alone is worth the price of admission.
  7. Doctor Strange and the ones below it are here because I don’t see enough new releases anymore. It was fine, but hard to get too excited about.
  8. All the Way, the HBO adaptation of the LBJ/MLK play, was pretty decent.
  9. Loving, about the couple that helped overturn interracial marriage laws, same.
  10. Swiss Army Man, I guess? I didn’t particularly like it, but I’m certain it’s the best farting corpse movie I’ve ever seen.

Comics (I used to split these up into superhero and non-superhero but I’ve really cut back on my reading):

  1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – Nothing is more reliably entertaining. Marvel’s in the midst of a really ill-advised crossover event, and this is one of the few of their titles I haven’t stopped reading.
  2. Injection – Literally 3 issues this year, but I don’t care. I really like this series.
  3. Saga had only 6 issues but it’s still very good too.
  4. Sex Criminals only 4 issues, thanks to artist Chip Zdarsky taking on a bunch of writing gigs and becoming a bit of an internet celebrity (I don’t follow his (or anyone’s) twitter, but when I do see things reposted from it, they’re very funny…. “going to go see Wonder Woman and if it turns out Wonder Woman’s mom isn’t named Martha I’m fucking leaving”).
  5. Black Widow had a short run by the Waid/Samnee team that did a killer Daredevil run. This wasn’t at that level, but it was still a good read.
  6. Invincible is wrapping things up and has kinda renewed my interest in the series (that never completely waned, but it was for a while kinda low priority reading).
  7. Kill or Be Killed is the latest Brubaker/Phillips thing, this one a supernatural (maybe?) revenge story.
  8. Ms. Marvel is avoiding (mostly? so far?) the crossover business, and it’s still light and fun.
  9. Lazarus – The TV section’s theme was sadcoms and serialization, the comics section’s theme is “6 or fewer issues for the whole year.”
  10. Clean Room turned out to have a short run that ended this year (I’m still not entirely sure if it was always intended to be 18 issues or if they wrapped it up quickly due to sales). Not was good as I’d hoped given a promising start, but I liked it.

Posted in movies by Bill on June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman had a lot of expectations hung on it, being the first female superhero movie since the genre exploded. Elektra and Catwoman managed to tank superheroines for over a decade, so if this sucked, we might not see another for a while. Fortunately, it’s perfectly fine, and is really better than any of DC’s movies since they set their sights on a movie universe.

Wonder Woman is a tough role to pull off, and while I was never feeling like Gal Gadot was great, I also never felt like she was bad, which I guess means she was right for the part. Chris Pine ends up doing most of the heavy lifting and was actually quite impressive in it. Being a stranger in the world of men, Diana is the fish out of water, and he has to show her around, which is the source of both the comedy and the thematic stuff. It’s a lot to do, and he manages to carry it without grating on me at all.

The story’s just fine, the action is decent, a little bit shaky on some of the CGI but not a big deal. Themyscira didn’t really give me paradise vibes, but it was nice enough. The villains weren’t too exciting. Basically, Diana and Steve worked, and that was enough to make the movie pretty decent.

Posted in movies by Bill on May 13, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of the Camelot legends with Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law. It’s not very good. 30 minutes into the movie, I believe literally every woman who appeared on screen was either fridged (killed to make the male characters sad and motivate their subsequent actions) or they are prostitutes (and one of the prostitutes would later be fridged!). And there’s a really irritating David Beckham cameo. The only good scenes were the ones that felt completely out of place in a King Arthur movie, the Lock Stock/Snatch type scenes involving telling of stories that jump between the person telling the story and the story itself and frequently interrupted by the people hearing the story.

But really it’s mostly notable for how I amazingly misunderstood a major element of the story, which will contain significant spoilers, because I’m still trying to dissect how it happened:

(more…)

Posted in movies by Bill on May 7, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 brings back everyone from the first one, throws in some famous old guy actors, and it’s good again, though not quite as good. Cast is still good, and they throw in Kurt Russell and a bunch of random celebrity cameos. Soundtrack is good, though not as good as the first one. Marvel’s made it difficult to judge these movies. Something like this, which is better than 90% of big budget movies, manages to feel a little pedestrian, because it’s what I’ve come to expect from them.

Posted in movies by Bill on April 19, 2017

Morgan is another movie that I think made it on my “to watch” list from a reddit post of underrated movies or of scifi movies, and I suspect my reaction was “you had me at Kate Mara.” Though she has kind of a boyish haircut that doesn’t look good on her (but it is character appropriate) except when it starts to get a little messed up (pictured).

The basic premise is that a genetic engineering company makes an artificial (super)human, but there’s an incident and a risk management specialist (Mara) is called out to assess the project. It also stars Rose Leslie, Brian Cox, Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, the guy from Narcos and Legion, and the title role is the actress who seemed from the trailers like main girl from Split, but creepy looking.

It’s simultaneously disappointing and surprisingly good. It builds up in the first act like it’s going to be this heady scifi thing, but there’s no decent payoff there at all. But the third act is straight up action and pretty good.

Posted in movies by Bill on April 10, 2017

The Discovery is Netflix’s original movie with Robert Redford, Jason Segal, Rooney Mara, and Jesse Plemons about the scientific discovery of an afterlife. (spoiler alert for about 1 minute into the movie) people start killing themselves left and right, because I guess if life is going terribly, but you know there’s something after, why not shortcut to the next thing? That’s about the last interesting thing that happens. It turns in some kind of weird romantic thing with an ending that (spoiler alert for the last ten minutes) turns into a Quantum Leap sorta thing for some reason? Pretty boring.

Posted in movies by Bill on March 31, 2017

I keep a list of movies I’m interested in seeing, and sometimes I forget why a movie is on that list. Such is the case with Under the Skin, which my best guess is that it came from one of those lists that shows up on reddit every once in a while, an imgur album full of movie recommendations. I remember ones for movies that “flew under the radar” (most of which looked pretty lousy) and another for “scifi movies that will blow your mind” (most of which I had already seen, because I seek those kinds of movies out). So, this was probably on one of those.

Scarlett Johansson stars… and either she really likes scifi or she’s been pigeonholed as scifi girl lately. This, Ghost in the Shell, Lucy, Her. Also, I would have thought I’d have heard of this movie (even though it only made $7 mil at the box office), since Ms. Johansson is without clothing for a fair amount of it, and normally the internet freaks out over that kind of thing.

It is an art house type movie. Apparently well-received by critics. I thought my audio was messed up because of the first minute or so of dead silence, but then the 2 minutes of ambient strings told me it was working, but that the movie would be weird. A prediction confirmed by the 11 not-action-packed minutes before there was any dialogue. Excruciatingly slow-moving. I would think that unless you go for that sort of thing, this is not for you. And I do not go for this sort of thing.

Scarlett plays a… something (alien?) who lures men with her hotnesss to their deaths. That’s basically the first hour. A little more happens after that, but… not a whole lot. There’s like 3 minutes dedicated to her getting a piece of cake at a restaurant and not liking it. But I stuck it out all the way to the still-not-very-interesting end.

Posted in movies by Bill on March 15, 2017

Don’t Think Twice is Mike Birbiglia’s movie he wrote/directed/starred in about an improv group. It’s a small group of friends working a shit theater for peanuts, but then one gets cast on a show that resembles-but-is-legally-distinct-from SNL, and they have to watch their friend succeed and deal with professional jealousy and all that.

Gillian Jacobs is starting to feel omnipresent to me right now, since she’s in this, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 which I watched yesterday, and Love season 2 came out over the weekend. Key, Kate Micucci, that guy from Making History, and some that guys/girls also star, along with cameos from Ben Stiller, Pete Holmes, and Lena Dunham.

There’s something weird about watching people perform improv in a movie, which you know is scripted, so it’s not actually improvised? I mean technically it still might be, I’m sure these are all performers who could do two hours of improv, and you could get 15 minutes of good footage to fill in the movie… but knowing it’s filmed and possibly scripted kinda ruins it anyway.

So the comedy parts aren’t very funny, which just sorta leaves a drama behind. But it’s an ok drama? Not exactly recommended, but it’s not bad.

Posted in movies by Bill on March 14, 2017

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 follows up a movie that was self-aware and surprisingly good, with a sequel that is mostly just dumb. John Cusack didn’t come back, so he’s replaced by Adam Driver, and with no Cusack there’s no need for Lizzy Caplan (and she might not have done it anyway), so Driver gets a love interest in Gillian Jacobs.

Likable as they all might be, the plot of the movie is weak and gives few opportunities for comedy. The first movie was structured to make references to 80s movies, let the characters take advantage of their future knowledge, and had some jokes like Crispin Glover losing his arm. In this one, they travel to the future, and… basically nothing funny happens there. There is a segment at the beginning showing what the characters are up to that’s funny, and a montage at the end of time travel hijinks that was pretty good, but the whole middle of the movie was a drag.