Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Straight Outta Compton

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures)

Straight Outta Compton

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Written by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff

Starring O’Shea Jackson, Jr.Corey HawkinsJason Mitchell & Paul Giamatti

Straight Outta Compton is a poorly written and hopelessly wordy bio pic. There’s just too much talking. For a story about a rock band (yes I just called them a rock band… it’s all rock people wake up) they skip the fun parts to show the constant turmoil. It starts off good enough. Showing the forming of the seminal gangsta rap group, and that part is fantastic. I love the music and seeing them come together is loads of fun. But then they spend the rest of the movie on their feuds and battles and it’s not even interesting. It’s boring. They’re just talking. The direction and the story are garbage. The acting is not good enough to carry all the drama. And the only time I got excited was when they introduced another of their classic songs. That’s it. Not a good movie at all.

Verdict: SPOILED

NWA in the Studio from Straight Outta Compton

“That was dope, E” “I don’t know. It sounded more like E flat to me.”

SPOILER ALERT

It’s hard to spoil this one because like with the Amy Winehouse bio pic, you know he dies at the end. Easy E dies of AIDS. And this is the only true drama. The rest is bickering and contracts and a cavalcade of look-a-likes. Here’s Pac and Suge and Snoop. It’s like a wax museum exhibit called the History of Gangsta Rap.

Straight Outta Compton Snoop look-a-like

Snoop look-a-like. (fo shizzle)

I was a big NWA fan. But I kept it to myself. Always listened to them on my headphones. Not because they were controversial. Public Enemy were a thousand times more controversial and I blasted that shit as loud as I could. Nah. I grew up in New York. I wasn’t supposed to like the West Coast Rap scene better. But I did. I really did.

Dr Dre and Eazy E in Straight Outta Compton

“Whatchu talkin’ bout Melvin? I thought this was a movie review.”

The clever use of Parliament Funkadelic and George Clinton and James Brown and the swagger in the vocal tracks. This was my shit. Ice Cube’s lyrics were funny as fuck and the imagery was cool. The whole thing screamed “Cool.” Don’t shoot me but West Coast Rap was better. (sorry Atlantic Ocean)

Fuck Tha Police Straight Outta Compton

“We just wanted to inform you boys that there are some corporations in the area. You know how those ‘people’ like to break the law. Just be careful. Don’t sign anything without reading it first,” “Thank you officer. You have a good day now.”

A quick word on the East Coast. Everybody but Jay Z is shit. P Diddy is full on crap. Biggie was largely over-rated. It was sugary and fake. However, if you went back to beginnings. It was all happening in the East. I was a big fan of KRS one and Eric B & Rakim and like everyone else owned all the whack hits of Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC. (But I recognized that their rhymes were childish and their backing tracks were disco).

Tupac look-a-like in Straight Outta Compton

Tupac look-a-like (Tupac lives)

Then Dre started bringing the funk back and Ice Cube introduced bitter truth and not just bragging and trying to get laid. Sure they were still bragging and trying to get laid, but it was less bubblegum and more cigarettes and beer. So my East Coast was P.E. (political consciousness) and my West Coast was real stories from the street. And all the rest of rap can (in the immortal words of Ice Cube) “Eat a Dick.”

Straight Outta Compton Movie

“Did somebody out here just say ‘Eat a dick’?” “Yo homie that’s my line. I trademarked that shit. Just like Taylor Swift trademarked, ‘This sick beat.'” “You owe us some money, motherfucker.”

You may have noticed that I’ve spent this entire review talking about rap music and not about the movie. It’s just that boring. How do you make an NWA movie, about true musical geniuses (I put Dr. Dre in the same class as Mozart or Miles Davis in a heartbeat), and not make it feel like you’ve watched something that was a cross between Boyz in The Hood, Amadeus and Animal House… WTF.

Straight Outta Compton

“Are you the villain in this movie or is it me?” “I’m the only white guy so I think it’s me.” “There are other white people.” “And they’re all villains aren’t they?” “You have a point.”

The music is the only thing good about Straight Outta Compton. The music and the fact that all the actors looked so much like the real people (Ice Cube’s son plays his father in the movie). But they don’t play enough of each song. And these young dudes can barely act. I’m sorry. They’re not bad, but they’re not good enough to spend two hours listening to them talk about contracts and record deals and “bitches & money.”

NWA Straight Outta Compton

One of the best albums of all time. (not just best rap album)

Straight Outta Compton is boring. But the album Straight Outta Compton and the part in the movie where they show the making of the album are awesome.

– Mel

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Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Sicario

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Sicario (Lionsgate)

Sicario poster

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Written by Taylor Sheridan

Starring Emily BluntBenicio del ToroJosh Brolin & Victor Garber

Sicario is a throwback crime drama. About the Mexican-American drug trafficking and kidnapping cartels. Emily Blunt is at her badass best and the film drips with suspense mixed with testosterone. This is good film-making. Good writing. And nothing is taken for granted. Sicario is violent and gritty and political and very cool. With an unflinching realism that may leave some viewers cold. Not me. I love that shit.

Verdict: SPARED

Sicario

First of all, Emily Blunt is becoming a top-tier action star. She still has that “Full Metal Bitch” body from Edge of Tomorrow, as she plays a FBI agent who is tasked with being the liaison between government agencies but she suspects the agency she’s working for is the CIA or worse.

Emily Blunt in Sicario

The acting is stellar. Jeffrey Donovan shows up in a small role. And this guy has found a second act that is going to be a joy to watch. With his role in Fargo and now this, I am pumped to see him in dramatic roles. After Burn Notice, I’m loving his choices. Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin play opposite Emily as operatives from an unknown agency and they are fantastic as always. In Sicario, there are great performances all around.

Benecio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Emily Blunt in Sicario

Sicario keeps us in the dark for most of the way, so we know no more than the agent, as she tries to do the right thing; to operate by the book. But she finds she’s always one step behind and still in the dark. The film is brutal in the way it treats her. Trigger warnings. She spends some time at the mercy of mean large men and it can be difficult to watch. But I applaud the film for its unflinching realism. It would be so easy to make her super-powered or unrealistically capable. She’s bad-ass but she’s not a superhero.

Sicario Mexican Border Crossing

Sicario starts out as one movie and then becomes something different. So if you feel that the first half is frustrating, the second half moves like a meditation. A meditation in violence and revenge. But it’s very satisfying. Sicario is like a 70’s cop drama. They were always hard to watch because of the suspense and the sinking suspicion that something extremely violent was always just about to happen. Sicario is the same way. Like something from early Al Pacino or Clint or Bronson but instead of a lawless American city. This is the border. This is Mexico. The tunnels. The drug war. It’s very good.

Emily Blunt gun Sicario

Sicario is gritty and violent and unflinchingly real and Emily Blunt is great in it. She makes a very believable female action-adventure, drama rock star. I want to see her do more.

– Mel

Songs That Define Me: Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell is probably my favorite songwriter. He writes from a place where I spend a great deal of my time. Former addict. Former asshole. Talented fucker.

As part of my Songs That Define Me series, here are five of my favorite Chris Cornell songs. Two solo. Three from Soundgarden.

I love his Temple of the Dog stuff too. Reach Down is one of my favorite songs of all time and the song I want played at my funeral. But that song doesn’t really define me. It’s more of an aspiration.

And I like his stuff with Audioslave… musically. But he phones it in lyrically on every thing they do. Still great songwriting. Great poetry. Just light on substance.

chris cornell

But anyway these are songs that mean a lot to me. They make me feel good. They make me feel like I’m not alone in my experiences and they get me pumped. All five of these song have been known to pull me out of depression. I include the lyrics with each. And for each I chose an acoustic version just because without all the extra production value you can really hear the songs.

The first two are self-explanatory and need no introduction.

Fell On Black Days by Soundgarden (from Superunknown)

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life.
Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life.
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile.
Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time. Now I’m doing time.

Cause I fell on black days. I fell on black days.

Whomsoever I’ve cured I’ve sickened now
Whomsoever I’ve cradled I’ve put you down
I’m a search light soul they say
But I can’t see it in the night
I’m only faking when I get it right. When I get it right.

Cause I fell on black days. I fell on black days.

How would I know that this could be my fate?

How would I know that this could be my fate?

So what you wanted to see good has made you blind
And what you wanted to be yours has made it mine
So don’t you lock up something that you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
Not tying, no not tying

I sure won’t mind a change.

I sure won’t mind a change.

I sure won’t mind a change.

I sure won’t mind. I sure don’t mind a change.

But I fell on black days. I fell on black days.

How would I know that this could be my fate?

But I sure won’t mind a change.

———————————————————————

Blow Up The Outside World by Soundgarden (from Down on the Upside)

Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try.
Nothing is closing my eyes
Nothing can bring me down for your pain or delight. No.
And nothing seems to break me
No matter how far I fall nothing can break me at all
Not one for giving up though not invincible.

I know.

I’d give you everything I need
I’d give you everything I own
Then everything could at least be ours alone
I’d give you everything I could
To blow it to hell and gone
Burrow down in and
Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside world.

Someone tried to tell me something,
“Don’t let the world bring you down”
Nothing can do me in before I do myself
So save it for your own and the ones you can help.

I’d give you everything I need
I’d give you everything I own
I’d give in if it could at least be ours alone
I’d give you everything I could
To blow it to hell and gone
Burrow down in and
Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside world.

Want to make it understood
Wanting though I never would
Trying though I know it’s wrong
Blowing it to hell and gone
Wishing though I never could
Blow up the outside world.

Blow up the outside.

Blow up the outside world.

———————————————————-

This next one is probably my favorite of his songs. This is an acoustic version like all the others but the driving rock version of this song is exhilarating.

No Such Thing by Chris Cornell (from Carry On)

I saw the world, it was beautiful
But the rain got in and ruined it all
Then I tried to be invisible
It was impossible
Even for me

I laughed at love, it was a big mistake
In the absence of I filled it with hate

‘Cause there’s no such thing as nothing
Yeah There’s no such thing as nothing at all

I had the brains not to think at all
But the rain got in
And I thought too hard
On the world, and as usual
I saw too far into the void.

I tried to make everything meaningless
But the rain got in and made it a mess!

‘Cause there’s no such thing as nothing
Yeah there’s no such thing as nothing at all
Yeah there’s no such thing as nothing
But my finger’s on the trigger
And I’ll turn off the world

So what gives me the right
To think that I could throw away a life?
Even mine

And what makes you believe
That you could get away with getting old?
Overlapping me

Maybe to lose or to save your soul
Is a choice of how you fill the hole

But the rain got in…

‘Cause there’s no such thing as nothing
Yeah there’s no such thing as nothing at all
There’s no such thing as nothing
But my finger’s on the trigger
That’ll turn off the world.

—————————————————————–

This next song is political but very personal. It has a triple meaning for me (as an addict and as a schizophrenic). Doing something you know is wrong but doing it anyway. Doing something you know is killing you but doing it anyway. Silencing the voices that say no. At the beginning Chris explains the songs meaning. This is a terrible video but a great version of the song.

Silence The Voices by Chris Cornell (form Carry On)

There the soldiers, in the sunlight
Kill the center of a man in endless suicide.
By the night light, in forever sky
Is a holstered, bridled child spinning around the flame.
Each is loved now or remembered
By the mask they wore years before their future.
And the horse falls in the smoke filled riot
The center of a child grows a new disguise.

Where are the songs from the sane minds?
And where are words from the sound mouths?
I can’t understand how they silence the voices that say no.

It’s a new day, in the old life.
He looks healthy with a tan on the white sheet
Across the table, where the blood dries
Where infinity will greet these earthly confines.

Where are the songs from the sane minds?
And where are words from the sound mouths?
I can’t understand how they silence the voices.

That say no
That say no

It’s a new day, in the old life
In the silence of the absence.

Where are the songs from the sane minds?
And where are words from the sound mouths?
I can’t understand how they silence the voices.

That say no

I can’t understand how they silence the voices.

——————————————————————

This next song is one of those rare songs that make me angry-happy. Just an amazing anthem to the frustrations of banging your head against the wall of being alive.

The Day I Tried To Live by Soundgarden (from Superunknown)

I woke the same as any other day
Except a voice was in my head
It said, “Seize the day, pull the trigger,
Drop the blade
And watch the rolling heads.”

The day I tried to win
I dangled from the power lines
And let the martyrs stretch.

The day I tried to live
I stole a thousand beggar’s change
And gave it to the rich.

Singing one more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
(Might make it)
One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
The day I tried to live

The words you say never seem
To live up to the ones
Inside your head.
The lives we make
Never seem to ever get us anywhere
But dead.

The day I tried to live
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs.

One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
(Might make it)
One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
The day I tried to live

I woke the same as any other day you know
I should have stayed in bed

The day I tried to win
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs.

And I learned that I was a liar

I learned that I was a liar

I learned that I was a liar

I learned that I was alive.

Singing one more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
(Might make it)
One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
On the day I tried to live

Just like you.

(singing one more time around)

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Amy

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Amy (Altitude Film Distribution)

Amy-poster

Directed by Asif Kapadia

Starring Amy Winehouse

Amy is the heartbreaking and tragic tale of a jazz singer. I was never a fan of her music. Although I, like everyone else, owned Back to Black. The album is amazing. I just wasn’t a fan of her style. I always thought it was contrived and derivative and a horribly pedestrian example of cultural appropriation. But after watching the movie. No scratch that. After watching the FIRST HALF of the movie, I’ve changed my mind on the subject completely. And I have a new appreciation for her genius. She was an exceptional songwriter. Amy is a gripping documentary on the musician… on the extremely talented musician and songwriter. And I was never a fan. But now I am.

Verdict: SPARED

Amy Winehouse Healthy and Talented

The Talent

Amy Winehouse becomes enormously famous. We all know that. Just obnoxiously overexposed and talked about. And her drug use. I make no secret that I had a decade or so of drug use myself. And like Amy, crack was my drug of choice. But I only had my “self” to blame. In Amy, we see a little girl crying out for help from the first frame to the last. From before she becomes mega famous. Even before she’d taken toke one or drink one. But the talent just pours out of her like a waterfall spewing from the side of a majestic mountainside. Wow. The sheer raw talent coming off this little girl. Just wow!!!

Amy Winehouse Healthy and Happy

The Muse

Amy is such a beautiful movie in the beginning. I mean, make no mistake, Amy Winehouse is a mess from the start. But she’s an artistic mess. She’s one of those personalities that you excuse being cruel or weird or abrasive because she is beautiful in every other way and you just want to be near her, near her even when she’s treating you like dirt. Amy is beautiful in the beginning. And the first thing I noticed was her weight. She was healthy when she made that first album. She was a drinker and partyer, yes. But she was a musician first. Music was her drug and you could see how it made her happy.

Amy in the studio during healthier times

The Artist

The second half of the movie, Amy, is just plain painful to watch. She gets every thing she wants. She gets fame and she gets love and she gets to meet her heroes and she gets awards and adoration. And she gets an eating disorder, a dysfunctional relationship with the love of her life, an entourage of enablers that include her family and closest friends, and she gets the love of music, her first love, ripped away from her. It’s fucking painful to watch and I’m crying even writing about it. The movie made me weep uncontrollably.

Amy and Blake

The Lover

But during this time, her writing talent takes center stage and she writes song after song about her relationships with drugs and her addict boyfriend and her tortured soul and her fucked up mind. And these songs are outstanding. Even more so when you see where they come from. Every word has meaning, a reference, a truth. She hides nothing. And you watch her create this magic. The entire movie is found footage, SO YOU GET TO WATCH. (this is the true found footage genre) A collection of personal videos from her manager and friends and family make-up the entire film. There is nothing added. Just a collage of moments in her life captured amateur-ly and sloppily on home video.

Amy and Blake on a boat

The Wife

In Amy, you watch her create this musical magic and at the same time you watch her waste away. And we know the ending. We already know what happens. It’s the beginnings that we didn’t know. And well, the beginning is beautiful. The beginnings of an amazing artist. All I knew was the spectacle at the end. So I had little respect for an artist that threw away that much talent. She didn’t. It’s right there on the tape. She cries out for help in every frame. With every note. With every powerful poem she writes. And they all love her but don’t know how to tell her no. And her manager and promoter don’t want the checks to stop and they can’t say no. And her friends can’t tell her no. And no one comes to her aid.

Amy Winehouse Famous

The Icon

Spoiler Alert but it’s well-known that at one pivotal point in her life she asks her father if she should go to rehab. She needs an adult. She needs guidance. She’s been crying out for it her whole life. So she asks her father if she should get that help, if she should go to rehab. But we already know what he says. Everyone in the world knows what he says.

Beautiful Amy Winehouse

The Tragedy

Amy is a wonderful film about a talented and strong woman looking for someone stronger. Someone strong enough to help her to tame her destructive nature. But she never finds it and eventually destroys herself. It is heartbreaking and hauntingly beautiful and I recommend it even if you’re not a fan… and by that I mean, not a fan yet.

– Mel

Fall TV Supplemental (or Ten More Shows I Forgot To Mention)

I put up a What’s Good with Fall TV shows Mega Post not too long ago but it was hard to post it because I couldn’t stop adding shows to it. Finally I just put the thing up and of course I forgot some shows. So here’s a supplemental to talk about those shows.

I stopped at ten. (It sounded like a nice round number)

Let’s get right to it.

Into the Badlands (AMC)

Into The Badlands

Into The Badlands is a martial arts show in a strange world with barons and factions and no real logic but some of the best fight choreography on TV.

Daniel Wu

I tried to like this show because the fight choreography is so damn good. But nothing else is. The costumes are the most egregious thing. They are so crisp. They look awkward. Attention wardrobe department: If a character owns clothing, they sometimes wear them. Only royalty can have crisp clean clothes each day. Like someone just made them that outfit for that day. Everybody else’s clothes should look lived in. It’s annoying.

Into The Badlands Cast

But also the fashion is awkward. With unnecessary collars and rips. The costumes are terrible. But then again, so is the acting and the writing and the premise. The only good thing about the show are the fights. And honestly the fight scenes are so good that it’s worth watching for the fights. So if they bring this back, I will still watch because the fights are so good. Too bad they didn’t have anything to go with them. I really wanted to like it.

Doctor Who (BBCA)

Doctor Who

Doctor Who took a strange turn this season when the Doctor experienced a crisis of conscience. And started acting silly again. He gives away his sonic screw driver and settles back into being a clown by inventing sonic sunglasses and running away from his problems. He meets a boy in danger who will one day be his greatest enemy and the doctor decides to not save him. Just to run.

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.

The season saw the end of two of the doctor’s most controversial companions and featured outstanding performances by Peter Capaldi. I can’t wait until next season.

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Downton Abbey

This season was nice and sweet and Downton Abbey-ish but the finale of the series was bittersweet. I’m going to miss these characters. Even though I have absolutely nothing in common with any of them they still felt like family. I really enjoyed the series. And it’s not my usual cup of tea but the characters were very real and the whole thing felt familiar even as it was completely alien to me.

The Expanse (SyFy)

The Expanse

What can I say? I like this show. It has the exact amount of space opera and political intrigue and science fiction goodness that I like. The acting is decent and the good performances sell the premise. It’s always the worst when bad actors make it hard to believe the sci-fi dialogue and it sounds all hokey, like the actors don’t quite believe it.

Thomas Jane in The Expanse

The Expanse is a well-acted and well-written sci-fi drama. I see good things on the horizon as long as they don’t get too ahead of themselves. There’s Mars, Earth, The Belt and possibly a fourth faction and that’s good enough. Let’s get deeper into these groups and their internal dynamics and their relationships.

The Expanse Crew

I have high hopes for this show. I really do. And I really like this crew. These guys rock.

Childhood’s End (SyFy)

Childhoods End

Chapter one of Childhood’s End was freaking phenomenal. I thought I was in for three nights of great entertainment after that. Especially after the reveal at the end of the first act. That was gloriously unexpected and surreal.

But chapter two was significantly worse and disjointed and confused. It never lived up to the first installment. And if it was half as good as the first (and I’m being generous) Chapter three was again half as good as that.

Childhood's End

The series ended with a thud when it started with a bang. So very disappointing. Ruined the whole thing.

Hemlock Grove (Netflix)

Hemlock Grove

Hemlock Grove is one those shows that I don’t talk about much but I really like. It’s weird. So it’s an acquired taste. Another monster mash. With vampires and werewolves and a Frankenstein-like creation. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The actors were hot. The premises were creepy and sometimes scary and very cool. And it’s over now. But it was pretty good. Definitely not for every one. But right up my alley with shows like Penny Dreadful and True Blood. I’m going to miss Hemlock Grove.

Master of None (Netflix)

Master of None

I really liked Master of None. And I’m not just NOT an Aziz Ansari fan. I hate him with a passion (The red hot passion of a thousand suns).  He was the worst thing about Parks & Rec. His stand-up is whiny and douche-y. But I really enjoyed his Netflix show.

Netflix Master of None

The writing reminded me at times of Louie (Louis CK’s show) and the episode that Aziz directs (the one with the two dads) was spectacular. One of the best episodes of a great first season. He’s a very talented man. But the funniest thing about all of this is that, after watching this award worthy and amazing show, that stars him, is written by him and sometimes directed by him, I still hate him. I really really can’t stand him.

Luther (BBCA)

Luther

Luther’s back and I’m pleased. The show is still as suspenseful as ever. I don’t like that they killed off Alice but you know Alice. She won’t stay dead. It’s Alice. Without Ruth Wilson, Luther is not Luther. Don’t get me wrong, Idris Elba is great and he’s still got that huge manly hotness but Ruth Wilson makes the show for me.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy)

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

This new guy is very funny, likable and good-looking. And I’ve said many times over the last couple of years that Jon was phoning it in by the end. So Trevor has also injected the show with new energy and life and I’m digging it again. Once again The Daily Show is must-see, required viewing. And as is usually the case with a new talk show host, they are shit at the interviews, but Trevor isn’t. Trevor is great at interviews. He’s even better than Colbert ever was.

Which reminds me of the Late Show. I stopped watching The Late Show and I loved The Colbert Report but now that Stephen is being himself, he just seems so fake.

The Knick (Cinemax)

The Knick

Steven Soderbergh continues to make marvelous mini movies for every episode of The Knick and they are fantastic. If the series is over, (It seemed like it ended but Cinemax wants more and so do I) then it went out with one of the most dark and disturbing operating scenes of the series.

Operating Room The Knick

The Knick on Cinemax is known for its unflinching look at early 20th century surgery techniques. It gets in there. It gets way in there. It gets gross. It’s hard to watch but so entertaining. I’m not going to give it away but the last scene is to a level that I had no idea they could reach. It… I screamed at my TV through the entire scene. “Don’t do that. Please don’t do that.” and I was talking to the characters. The director. The TV. My eyes. Anyone who would listen. “Please stop doing that.” It was amazing… amazingly disturbing. And something I will not be forgetting any time soon.

The Knick

That’s it for Fall.

Coming Soon (this Winter): Black Sails is back. Also The 100, 12 Monkeys, Banshee, Better Call Saul, Broad City, Colony (I liked the leaked pilot), Legends of Tomorrow (honestly I don’t expect much), Galavant is back (no seriously it’s not as bad as it looks), Game of motherfucking Thrones, Girls (I love that show), Halt & Catch Fire (yay!!!), Hell on Wheels (??), House of Lies, Humans (hell yeah), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Last Ship, Lucifer (loved the pilot but I bet they retooled it), The Magicians (also loved the pilot), The Man in the High Castle (steady, Mel, steady), Agent Carter (yes, ma’am), Daredevil (I’m out of breath), Masters of Sex, Mozart in the Jungle (TODAY!!!), Mr. Robot (okay now you’re just fucking with me, Winter TV shows), Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful, Person of Interest, Portlandia, Ray Donovan, Sense 8 (okay okay I get it. I need another television), Shameless, The Shannara Chronicles, Silcon Valley, Turn: Washington’s Spies, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep, Vikings, The Walking Dead, and the new X-Files.

Plus all the old school shows that go from Fall to Summer.

So yeah. Winter shows kick TV’s ass.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The Little Prince

The rules are simple. The good get spared. the bad get spoiled.

The Little Prince (Paramount Pictures)

The Little Prince poster

Directed by Mark Osborne

Written by Irena Brignull & Bob Persichetti  Based on The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Starring Mackenzie FoyJeff BridgesRachel McAdamsPaul RuddMarion CotillardJames FrancoBenicio del ToroPaul GiamattiAlbert Brooks & Ricky Gervais

The Little Prince is an adorable film about a young girl preparing for her first day at a new school. A young girl with an overbearing mother. A young girl who befriends the elderly man next door, who tells her a story about a magical little prince. This is a great movie.

Verdict: SPARED

The Aviator and The Little Prince

“What have you got there?” “It’s a print-out of Mel’s review of our movie.” “Does he like it?” “I don’t know.” “Well what does it say?” “I don’t know. I can’t read.”

Everything about The Little Prince is amazing. From the beautiful old French songs to the animation style. It is a lovely little animated film about retaining your childhood wonder and not growing up too fast. The story is the classic, Le Petit Prince. And the American voice actors are all top-notch. It is touching, fantastic and enjoyable.

The Young Girl from The Little Prince

“Well this doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would he call it the seven deadly sins? He abandoned that format years ago. Just lazy I guess.”

The young girl is a little genius but her curriculum leaves little time for fantasy and fun. Her next door neighbor is an adult child; An elderly man who tells her a tale from his adventurous past, the tale of the little prince. He is a disaster. She is constantly in danger from his contraptions and his absent-mindedness and from his over-blown sense of adventure for a nonagenarian feeble-minded fool. Someone needs to alert the authorities.

The Old Man from The Little Prince

“Alert the authorities? Someone needs to alert your authorities. I’m perfectly capable of taking… oops. I soiled myself.”

But this is a fantasy and the police do a bad job of protecting the youngster. I’m being too practical and it’s a children’s fantasy. But sometimes I step outside these kids movie and think Amber Alert or at least “Can we get an adult please?” But he’s harmless and lovable and fragile and feeble and she’s constantly in danger. Seriously can we get an adult?

The Young Girl and her mother from The Little Prince

“… mmm. hmmm.” “…mmm. hmm.”

The Little Prince is so sweet and fun and such a nice little film with a clever and cute message, so I can’t fault it for a little child endangerment. It’s a cartoon. I know. I know. I’ve been searching for plot holes in my writing and it’s spilled over into my film appreciation skills. Of course at one point a man gets hit with a bowling ball dropped from a great height and isn’t pronounced dead instantly. So yeah It’s a fucking cartoon.

The Little Prince and his Rose

“I’m a kid sitting on a planet that’s too small for him talking to a flower that grew in space. So yeah, It’s not supposed to be realistic is it.”

I’m trying to say I liked it. But for some reason when I started writing I just started complaining for some reason. It’s a great film. No tears shed, but it is extremely touching and sweet. It’s very French and not just because of the wonderful soundtrack. The soundtrack had me dancing in my seat. But because one of the main characters is ninety something it also touches on death in a brilliant way. I recommend it highly as an adult. Well… as an adult child anyway. Ignore what I said before. It’s whimsical and fun.

The Little Prince

“I say. This review has confused the hell of me. I must be off. Ta.”

The Little Prince is sweet and funny and cool and beautiful and touching and heartwarming and very French and very sad and very happy at the same time. A wonderful movie.

– Mel

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Thoughts (after a 2nd & 3rd viewing)

Spoilers!!

If you haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, I hope you’re feeling better soon, but this post is full of spoilers. This is sort of a follow up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilers and other Galactic Funk  I’ve seen it three times now and I would like to share some random thoughts. Very random.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Walt Disney Studios)

Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens poster

These are just notes. They are not in chronological order.

First I found this pretty cool:

When Rey tries to use the blaster for the first time and makes that cute mean shooting face but nothing comes out because she has the safety on, she looks down at the blaster. And then the stormtrooper shoots at her. And Rey dodges the blaster bolt without even looking up. It’s very cool.

Rey and Han from The Force Awakens

Another cool Force related no look move:

When Han Solo enters Maz Kanata’s bar she knows he’s there without turning to look. She has her back to the door but she senses his presence. She may not have been born with the Force but after a thousand years she’s picked up a few things.

Like when Maz tells Rey how to feel the force by closing her eyes and calming her mind, Rey remembers her advice when Kylo Ren tells her she needs a teacher (and that it should be him), But Rey remembers that she already has a teacher and tries what Maz showed her.

By the way, Maz Kanata is awesome. “Where’s my boyfriend? I like that wookie.”

Knights of Ren

Here’s an easy prediction:

I think the Knights of Ren are actually the students of Luke. And Kylo Ren, Luke’s best student, turned some to the Dark Side and killed the others. We should see them a lot in the next movie.

Instead of prequels, I hope this time around Star Wars finally uses flashbacks. I’d like to see some flashbacks to stories from Rey’s past and Kylo Ren’s past.

BB-8 Rollin'

“They see me rollin’. They hatin.” Suck it Neil Degrasse Tyson

Droid stuff:

It’s BB-8 who wakes up R2D2 when he arrives with the rest of the map to Luke. He bangs on R2 with his head. It just takes R2 a while to boot up after being in low power mode for so long. And I don’t care what Dr. Tyson says I think BB-8 is heavy enough not to skid on the sand. He’s very heavy even though he looks light as a soccer ball.

C3P0 mistakenly calls General Organa, Princess when Han first shows up. I think it’s because Han Solo reminds him of those old days.

star-wars-the-force-awakens Daisy Ridley

Back to Rey: (I told you these wouldn’t be in any order)

When Rey is selling parts for portions, she first gets one-quarter portion and seems okay with it. But are they measured by human portions? I’m guessing not. She makes a pretty good meal with it.

When offered sixty portions for BB-8, Rey responds, “The droids not for sale.” I like to think this is more like a slogan than a response. Droids Lives Matter. Droids aren’t second class citizens. The droids aren’t for sale.

My favorite part now is when Rey asks Finn if he’s with the resistance and he thinks and then answers, “Obviously.” and then stands up and says it emphatically, “I’m with the Resistance.” and then whispers it confidentially, “I’m with the Resistance.” That’s my new favorite part. John Boyega is excellent.

Rey and Kylo Ren

Rey and Kylo Ren’s saber fight is pretty spectacular, if you ask me. But it isn’t a “Yoda man” type prequels saber battle with the combatants flying around. And I’m glad it isn’t. The wasted movement is completely un-jedi-like in my opinion. Regardless of how much it makes the audience yell. I prefer a realistic fight with fantasy weapons.

The only good saber battle in the prequels is Darth Maal versus Qui Gong Jin and Obi Wan Kenobi. In fact that’s my favorite saber duel in all the films (sadly it happens in Phantom Menace). The others in the prequels are terribly flashy and with tons of wasted movement. My second fave is Luke vs Vader in Empire on Bespin. The fight between Kylo Ren and Rey is the best one since those two and probably my number three.

Another hope for the next movie. Because Rey uses a staff on Jakku, I hope when she makes her light saber that it’s like Darth Maal’s and has two blades and she wields it like a bo staff. That would make me so happy. That was always my weapon of choice.

Maz Kanata's Bar

Here’s a “no good swindler” thought:

When the Guavian Death Gang and Kanjiklub tell Han Solo that there are no more people in the galaxy that he hasn’t swindled when they’re on The Eravana freighter, it rings true. Han Solo is old and not at all trustworthy. He throws that one guy into the mouth of that Rathtar without hesitation. This is the Han that shot Greedo before Greedo could get a shot off. He’s a bit of a dick, if you ask me. And when he tells Finn that he used to have a bigger crew, I don’t think it’s because the Rathtars ate them. I think it’s because Han was being a dick. (Can’t believe I wanted to be that guy)

The two Han Solo Millennium Falcon maneuvers, the first where he takes off from The Eravana at light speed and the second where he enters Starkiller Base planet’s atmosphere at light speed to avoid the shield, are reminiscent of Star Trek Enterprise maneuvers. Maybe it’s something J.J. got from his time with the franchise.

BB8 and Rey

Here’s something that made me laugh:

When the stormtroopers attack the village on Jakku in the first scene they come off the transports (like so much Normandy beach invasion). And one of the troopers accidentally shoots the guy in front of him in the back. And it’s clearly friendly fire because they put cover in front of him to let you know he’s not being shot from the front. Stormtroopers can’t shoot for shit (except for Finn).

Kylo Ren using the force

Here’s something I shouldn’t admit:

It took me three viewings to realize that Han and Leia named their son after Obi Wan Kenobi. Wow, I’m slow. Ben Solo… nice.

Quick note. I’m serious about this. Adam Driver should be considered for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. I kid you not. His performance and it’s nuance and just everything about it, is better every time I see it. Fantastic work, young man.

Rey The Scavenger

Really the entire movie gets better every time I see it. I guess that’ll reach a peak saturation point and it will level off but I’m guessing not any time soon and by that time I’ll probably be able to recite the whole damn movie by heart.

“So who talks first? Do you talk first? Do I talk?”

Rey and Finn from The Force Awakens

Noticed more recognizable bit player:

The girl who plays Chanel #3 on Scream Queens is on the Resistance base and has a line but then I looked her up (her name is Billie Lourd) and it turns out she’s Carrie Fisher’s daughter. Star Wars Nepotism. I love it.

The guy from Heroes who plays the telepathic cop is also a Resistance officer. Don’t know his name.

And Daniel Craig is the stormtrooper who Rey influences with the force (but everybody knows that one by now)

That’s all I got  I’ll probably have more after the tenth time I watch it.

– Mel