Pointless Nonsense

Posted in movies by Bill on August 4, 2017

Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s film about the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II. It’s quite good. On the one hand, it’s very cinematic and probably best seen in the theater, but on the other hand, there are a few moments I wished I could have turned on subtitles due to incomprehensible British accents so waiting for home viewing might be better in that respect. Either way, worth seeing.

It’s unusually structured, showing the event from three perspectives, and over three different amounts of time, so that one storyline covers an hour and another covers a week, and when two of them cross over, you may see the two versions of the intersection pretty far apart. But once you get the hang of it, it works. Tom Hardy and some guy who isn’t a movie star yet but will be feature in the air story; familiar older British guy and Cillian Murphy on the boats; and Kenneth Branaugh, James D’Arcy, and Harry Styles on the beach. But a lot of the major roles are played by nobodies.

Posted in movies by Bill on July 31, 2017

Atomic Blonde stars Charlize Theron as a spy in Berlin just before the wall fell. The plot barely matters (it’s twisty for the sake of being twisty, and it all wraps up far too neatly), she’s chasing a McGuffin, frequently changing outfits, dropping bodies left and right, all set to 80s moody synth pop. It’s stylish and full of action and pretty good for what it is, though it’s a little disappointing that it didn’t have more of a story or more interesting characters.

Posted in movies by Bill on July 11, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man movie to date. I never liked Tobey Maguire, and while Andrew Garfield was fine, the movies themselves weren’t all that good. Tom Holland is a better match for the character than either. He’s believably unpopular at school, genuinely funny and awkward, and manages to pull off at least one scene that could have been really corny with some other actor.

Knowing RDJ’s Tony Stark would be involved, I’d worried his presence would overshadow the title character, but it really didn’t. This is definitely a Spider-Man movie. It spends almost as much time on high school as it does on superheroics. Most of the notable high school characters that I know from comics and cartoons make an appearance (including someone who’s not Miles Morales’ friend Ganke, but basically is).

Implied spoiler: there’s a plot development in the movie that I might have seen coming if I didn’t assume certain things matched the comics, so foreknowledge in this case helped lead to a nice surprise. And there were some things I missed because I don’t know Spider-Man as well as some other characters (although I also missed a thing about Donald Glover’s character that I definitely should have picked up on, but I’m bad with character names).

Posted in movies by Bill on July 5, 2017

War Machine is Netflix’s new-ish movie that is about neither Marvel’s James Rhodes nor the MMA guy who almost killed his ex-girlfriend, but rather the war in Afghanistan and one General’s misguided attempt to win it. Brad Pitt stars as the General, and he does some kind of voice, maybe it’s an impression of the real guy, or maybe it’s just gruff like how he thinks a general ought to sound? Either way, it’s distracting.

The movie seems like it’s trying to be a dark comedy, but it’s not all that funny, and fairly depressing. Since we know they don’t actually win the war, it’s like watching a bunch of smiling people march off a cliff. I didn’t make it to the end.

Posted in movies by Bill on July 3, 2017

Baby Driver is Edgar Wright’s first major movie that is entirely his creation (his previous four being three co-written with Simon Pegg and an adaptation of Scott Pilgrim). The result is good but a little odd. It has a great soundtrack, a lot of action, a few good jokes here and there, and it’s both filmed and set in Atlanta so I spent a good amount of time trying to recognize where they were filming and whether it matched where they said they were.

His other movies were much funnier, this was more of a straight action movie, but it does get a little too cute for me in places. There’s an early scene that’s almost a dance sequence, which is not my kinda thing. Also, Ansel Elgort has a ridiculous name and I didn’t really like him. I dunno if it’s just his face or if it’s the way the character was written or what, but I liked the side characters and kind of hated the guy I was supposed to root for.

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.