Pointless Nonsense

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.

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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.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 3, 2018

Good Girls stars Chrstina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as suburban moms with money problems who become criminals. I enjoy the crime comedies in general, but this is one of those “every man is a piece of shit so let’s use girl power to stick it to them!” things. I imagine this would be pretty good if you like that sort of thing, but it’s not for me.

Posted in movies by Bill on February 19, 2018

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost is an anime movie set in the video game universe that I didn’t know existed until recently. It’s incredibly low production value… Vega’s the main character and they got Freddie Prinze Jr, but they have Anderson, Hackett, and Liara, but didn’t get their voices (Anderson and Hackett I get, they’re B-to-C-list celebrities, but Liara?). The ships in CG look worse than in the game by a lot, they frequently do a group conversation by showing all the people not talking holding perfectly still while the camera pans across them (so as to get a few seconds of “moving” footage out of a single still drawing), the lip sync is awful (it’s anime styled, but their mouths just move in patterns, usually something like “ba wa wa wa ba wa wa wa,” so it can’t be right in any language).

It’s set during the early ME2 period during which Project Lazarus takes place. It’s basically the long version of the story Vega tells you when you spar with him early in ME3, though having now played through the whole game after seeing it, there are a couple other spots where he makes references to this movie (having worked with a Krogan before, being into Asaris).

There’s a Dragon Age one too, about Cassandra sometime prior to DA:I, but if the quality is as low as this, I doubt I’ll waste the time.

Posted in movies by Bill on February 19, 2018

Black Panther is Marvel’s latest, from Ryan Coogler who wrote and directed Fruitvale Station and Creed, and stars most of the black people in Hollywood, plus Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis. It’s good, though I’m slightly puzzled as to why everyone is losing their shit over this like it’s the most amazing thing ever. I’d kinda put just above the middle of the pack as far as Marvel goes. Not up there with IM1, GotG1, Winter Soldier, or Thor3, but not near the bottom with Hulk, Thor2, etc. I’d actually consider it very average for Marvel if it didn’t have a rare good villain in the form of Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. He’s entirely sympathetic and more than a match for the hero. But the actual hero is a bit bland. I’d be more interested in seeing a Shuri/Nakia/Okoye movie than Black Panther 2. That’s all fairly nitpicky though, as it’s a good movie, I just feel compelled to compare it to the other Marvel movies, which are almost all good.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 19, 2018

Final Space is an upcoming TBS animated scifi/comedy series that didn’t have anything funny in the ads but I still thought might be good. They put the first two episodes online (here) and there was still nothing funny in them. The plot is pretty serialized and actually shows a lot of potential, but the jokes… the main character reminds me a bit of Will Forte’s character in The Last Man on Earth, but only the parts where he’s annoying and not funny. So if you’d like to watch a scifi series with no laughs about a guy who alternates between massive insecurity and bravado (that can’t be backed up), then this could be pretty great. But I can’t say I’m interested in that.