Pointless Nonsense

Posted in movies by Bill on April 26, 2021

stowawayStowaway is Netflix’s movie about a mission to Mars with an unexpected extra passenger, and the challenges they run into as a result. Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim, Anna Kendrick, and a Canadian guy who’s been on a ton of sci fi shows but didn’t make enough of an impression for me to remember.

It might have been better suited as like an anthology episode. I’m not sure the story merits just shy of two hours, but it’s pretty decent.

It reminded me a bit of Away, the Hillary Swank series that got axed after a season, but without the back home aspect. I am kind of a sucker for the ship environment as a setting for drama. Extremely competent people trapped in a claustrophobic space where small problems can easily turn catastrophic? Good stuff.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 24, 2021

shadowandboneShadow and Bone is a new Netflix adaptation of a YA book series that is essentially a mix of The Hunger Games and Avatar: The Last Airbender, with a veneer of late 1800s Russia. Kids get tested when they’re young to see if they have magic powers, magic powers come in different types (fire, wind, healing, and gadgetry or something, plus a couple rare special ones), there’s a war going on, and there’s a big black void called The Fold in the middle of their continent put there by a magical fuckup a long time ago. 

I was drawn in by the Russian theme (it gives everything a different flavor than typical fantasy, and even separates it from The Irregulars and The Nevers which are set in a similar time period/technology level), a good score, and some actresses who are easy on the eyes. I found it decent, but it didn’t really improve much as it went, so I think if you’re not hooked early on it’s not worth sticking it out to see if it grabs you later. 

Despite the Russianness everyone has all kinds of British accents, and that combined with an often mumbly sound mix made it unwatchable for me without subtitles. 

It’s a YA story with a female lead, and though I haven’t seen a ton of those movies/shows, I am amused at the familiar story beats. Being taken away from familiar surroundings and the handsome dude who represents home, arriving at a fancy place and getting a makeover, hair and makeup and clothes and making a good impression at fancy parties are somehow important even though there’s life and death shit going on, and everyone being divided up into cliques and the protagonist getting bullied for not fitting in. 

Posted in tv by Bill on April 23, 2021

Rutherford Falls is a new Peacock comedy co-created by Michael Schur, which at this point means I automatically check it out. Ed Helms is the descendant of the town founder who runs a local history museum, and his friend runs the comparably dinky American Indian tribe’s cultural center. As far as jokes go, it’s not that great, making me think Schur pitched in on the pilot and bailed, but it’s funny enough to get me invested in the plot, which is actually pretty good.

The rest of the cast has a lot of Indian actors, but with one exception (the dad who runs the diner in Resident Alien), it’s not the same familiar faces. Ted from Schitt’s Creek plays a supporting character, and a comedian I always thought was hot plays the girl who is into Ed Helms and we’re supposed to find her unappealing in her unbalanced desperation but I still find her hot.

Posted in movies by Bill on April 18, 2021

Nobody applies the John Wick formula to Bob Odenkirk as a seemingly dull suburban husband and father, resulting in a perfectly entertaining movie that nonetheless fails to capture the magic of John Wick. It doesn’t feel unfair to make the comparison, since it’s written by John Wick‘s writer and has such a similar concept. 

Odenkirk is joined by Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, RZA, and an old-looking Michael Ironside that makes for a pretty good cast. The soundtrack is a nice selection of familiar but not too familiar (more chase scenes should have Pat Benatar songs). 

I liked the movie, but it lacked the mythology that left me wanting to know more about the world of John Wick. I’m not particularly interested in a Nobody 2

Posted in tv by Bill on April 11, 2021

The Nevers is the show Joss Whedon created and exited just before his reputation went to shit. It is basically exactly Victorian steampunk female X-Men. The first episode is kinda disappointing. There’s plenty of potential, but it was fairly humorless, introduced so many characters that none of them had time to make much of an impression.

It’s high production values superpowers with talented writers (Whedon only appears to have written the pilot, with Jane Espenson and the guy who did Netflix Daredevil and The Defenders taking over from there), so I’ll be watching, but I was hoping for more.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 7, 2021

chadChad is a new TBS cringe comedy where Nasim Pedrad plays a teenage boy. PEN15-style, the other teenagers are played by actual kids. 

It alternates between making Chad an insufferable prick and a sympathetic figure, which is a weird dynamic. I mean, Michael Scott, but I don’t think The Office would have worked if it was all Michael Scott all the time, and this is Chad all the time. 

There are some laughs, but some of it is really painful. The good parts are interesting enough to give it another episode or two, but I’m ready to dump it if it doesn’t improve. 

Posted in tv by Bill on April 6, 2021

birdgirlBirdgirl is Adult Swim’s new series that’s technically a spinoff of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, but it is a big departure from the original. Twice the episode length, no Hanna-Barbera characters, characters’ emotions treated seriously. It’s a very different show.

I don’t like it as much early on, but if the emotional stuff actually works, the payoff would be longer term (Bojack Horseman or Moral Orel’s approaches take until late in their first seasons to really connect), so maybe it’ll end up better. But I’m not particularly optimistic.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 6, 2021

madeforloveMade for Love is a new HBO Max sci-fi dark comedy (I guess?) series with Cristin Milioti about a woman on the run from her tech billionaire husband. The story and jokes aren’t great. I feel like it should lean more into comedy or make the husband more sinister, or maybe even both, but it has the feel of something where she’s having a bad day, rather than trying to escape from an extremely fucked up domestic situation. Milioti is good enough to keep me watching (I still haven’t seen her in a ton, but I’m becoming a fan), but I hope they figure out a tone or plot direction that’s more appealing to me.

It also stars Ray Romano, that guy who I can never remember what he’s from but who looks like a caricature of a handsome guy, Ray Romano, Dan Bakkedahl, and Ione Skye.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 30, 2021

invincibleInvincible is Amazon’s animated adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s excellent superhero series. It’s quite good so far.

It stars basically every famous person. About the 30th most significant character in the first three episodes is voiced by Mahershala Ali, and just about every one of the 29 in front of him is a famous actor. Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Gillian Jacobs, Walton Goggins, and Zachary Quinto among the major characters.

It follows the comics pretty closely so far, which is good, but also pretty ambitious. My recollection of Kirkman’s plan in the comics was “now that we’re popular enough not to get cancelled, I can introduce a million subplots!” So while I can imagine where it ends in season one, it will probably be on a cliffhanger, and it’ll almost certainly need a season of advance notice to wrap things up without a mess of loose ends.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 14, 2021

The One is a new Netflix series from the creator of Misfits and Crazyhead and Future Man (and of the superior but less famous Dirk Gently series) but it is nothing like those at all. Not funny, it takes a premise similar to AMC’s Soulmates where in the near future people can get a scientifically accurate test to find the right romantic partner for them, but it goes in a totally different direction: part murder mystery, part corporate intrigue, and the social impacts on people matching are kind of a side plot. Hannah Ware, who played Kelsey Grammer’s hot daughter on Boss, is a scientist who invents the technology and becomes the head of the company that sells the service. I must have known she was British, but forgot. She’s probably the main character, but they show her as two very different people between the present and the flashbacks, but her transition from one person to the other isn’t much of a character arc. Or if it is, I missed the point of it.

I finished it, but it’s pretty disappointing. There was a lot of potential, but I think it should have focused more on the technology and what it meant for society. The whole corporate intrigue angle had a few tangential connections to the matching tech, but nothing about it really depended on the matching tech, so it felt almost like an unrelated corporate story. Like it could have been an Elon Musk character and didn’t need this scifi angle at all.