What’s Good? (End of Summer… Spring 2017) Mega Post

Hello, dear readers.

I’ve been away. But I’m back now. Sorry about the wait.

“We missed you soooo much.”

Okay. Yeah. So I haven’t been on social media a bunch of late. I’ve been working on the way I relate to it. I’m addicted in a bad way. Addicted to likes. Addicted to views. And while it’s now no longer my only connection to the outside world, it serves an important purpose in my life and I’ve grown to like a lot of the people I’ve met on here.

You had me at hello, Tom?  “No.”

Especially people who follow and interact with my blog (you know who you are). And while I haven’t quite figured out how I will reconcile this, I have found that the people I meet in the real world (now that I go outside more often) aren’t really as interested in talking about movies and TV shows and books and games as you guys. So I think I’m here to stay. I just have to curb my attachment and stay away from politics.

“Did you get to the part where he says he’s gonna stay away from politics online? Isn’t that the cutest thing? Bless his heart.” “There’s no way.” “No fucking way.” “So cute with his little plans.”

While I’ve been offline, I’ve been watching a lot of good TV. And I also saw a lot of movies (good and bad). Thinking about it though, I haven’t read a book in years. (I don’t know what the fuck’s up with that). And as far as video games go… shit, I’m still trying to finish the first Bioshock (don’t judge me).

“No judgement. You suck at video games. Not a judgement. Just a fact.”

But anyway, there is so much good stuff to talk about from the Spring and the Summer just from TV and movies. So let’s get right to it.

But why don’t we get the bad stuff out of the way first this time around shall we?.

“You mean… that?”

Here’s a top ten list of the movies that I saw on my break that were pure shit.

THE WORST

Counting down…

10. Spider-man: Homecoming

Okay. That wasn’t Spider-man. Spider-man was in Captain America: Civil War. Russo Brothers gave us Spider-man. Whatever that was in Homecoming, I don’t know. Trying to start over with the web head learning how to use his powers is one thing. Having him hold his own against Captain America, Bucky, Falcon, et al and then having him go back to being inept is just confusing. Nope. Did not like what they did to my friendly neighborhood Spider-man.

9. Assasssin’s Creed

Ass-Ass-In’s Creed is fucking awful (double ass in). How could they not have known? Great action sequences and cool fights but little else. Confusing and infuriating and disappointing. (I absolutely love the video game series though even though I suck)

8. Sing

Let’s call this one Ringtones: The Movie (they cut off every song before they would have had to pay for it). This movie is annoyingly bad. And for a music lover, frustratingly music-less. Three second clips don’t make a musical. They make a medley.

7. Personal Shopper

Kristen Stewart is decent but the movie is boring as fuck. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. A thriller? A supernatural tear-jerker? A mystery? A stalker drama? A supernatural murder psycho stalker drama? Personal Shopper spends way too much time texting itself and not enough time making love to Kristen Stewart. This is like if Brian De Palma made a movie while he was asleep. Just directed the whole thing from bed. Never bothering to wake up at all. Personal Shopper was booed at film festivals and it’s easy to tell why. The main character spends most of the movie on her phone. Booooooooo.

6. The Dark Tower

Here is another perfect example of a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be and just ends up being nothing. Is it sci-fi… horror? Is it for kids? Is it not? Make up your damn mind. The film-makers have forgotten the faces of their fathers. (Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick… [The paterFILMilias])

5. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter vs Underworld: Blood Wars

I was going to do a film comparison game show of these two films because they are essentially the same movie. But I got bored because they both sucked ass… equally. If they don’t do a crossover then they have no idea how completely similar these franchises have become to each other.

4. Colossal

Great idea but horrible ending. Anne Hathaway is fantastic as always but the ending of Colossal is so damn sloppy. It ruins what was good about it in the first place. Worth a look but prepare to be let down by the end.

3. Silence

Long, boring, confusing and racist as hell. I appreciate the artistry of Martin Scorcese but every time he does a movie about religion he seems to lose his fucking mind. Silence is so fucking racist. And there is not a character in it who has a basic understanding of either religion. I hate the movie Silence. And I wish it didn’t exist. I’m angry with everyone responsible for making me sit through it. The film-makers, the actors and the historical figures. Fuck em all.

Missionaries are awful racist people with awful racist agendas in places they should not be. Awful. To call the evil that these awful people encountered as being done by Buddhists is a new kind of evil. Those Buddhists are as much Buddhists as these racist missionaries are Christians. I hope they all burn in the hell of the other’s religion. That would be Karma. If you don’t understand what Karma is, Marty, Google it. That would also be irony. And if you… you know what, just look it up. Look everything up.

2. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage

XXX The Return of Vin Diesel is an international mess. Culminating in an appearance by Ice Cube at the end where he’s not even in the same country as the other actors who are in the same shot as him and it’s so annoyingly obvious and bad. The writing is bad. The acting is bad. The stunts are unnecessary and the fight choreography is impractical. XXX is fucking awful.

And the number one worst movie I saw this Spring and Summer was…

1. The Mummy (2017)

Swing and a miss. Honestly. How do you have Tom Cruise in your film and then not give him a character to play. Who the fuck is he? Also, is he comic relief? Is he anti-hero? Is he romantic lead? What the fuck? There is nothing good about The Mummy. It is confusing and over-simplified. How can a movie be this boring while at the same time being non-stop mindless action sequences. How did they even accomplish that?

Okay that’s over with. You can breathe now. The worst part is done.

Those movies were bad. Just set them all on fire and start over.

Burn Bitches

Moving over to the small screen for a second…

There was a lot of good TV this Spring & Summer. Here are a few honorable mentions.

Doctor Who came back with a new companion and although this was the weakest season of the new series, it was still ambitious and entertaining. I enjoyed Peter Capaldi’s Doctor even though he “petered out” toward the end. And I am really excited about the gender switch. I hope that’s why this season was so weak. They were saving the best stories to introduce the new Doctor.

The Leftovers ended its run just as strong as it started. This was a hugely satisfying series that took on some major taboo religious subjects and didn’t get all holy and preachy and in fact was always amazingly non-denominational and spiritually trippy. Very good show.

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD gets a bad rap. I love this show. I enjoy the way every half season of this show has a different feel and theme. Drastically different from anything they’d done before. I love the characters and I love the quality of the writing. And of course the Fitz-Simmons love story is still getting the full Joss Whedon treatment. Meaning it’s FUCKING BRUTAL.

Fargo was sensational yet again. Here is an anthology series that keeps it tight while still being fucking insane. There were no performances this year like Kirsten Dunst in season two or Billy Bob in season one. but it was still thrilling and immensely entertaining. One of the best shows on TV.

The Americans is consistently good and in my opinion hasn’t lost a step. Things are coming to a head and this season mostly set up the end game but it was still great. Some of the best acting and writing on television.

Gotham is crazy. Crazy good. It wants to be ALL Batman versions at the same time and it does a great job. I really enjoyed the Penguin & Riddler story line this past season. I really liked the actress who played the young Poison Ivy but I’m fine with her having “sprouted” so to speak.

Sense 8 wasn’t as good as the first season and then it lost its Netflix funding. It’s an expensive show. Shot on location in several countries at once. Still one of the coolest concepts around but we can expect a finale movie and that’s it for Sense 8 (single tear). Season two was still quite enjoyable. Even if it had no chance to live up to the amazing first season of this sci-fi action drama.

Preacher is frustrating. I have to say, the first season of Preacher, the supernatural comic based crazy fest, really pissed me off. I couldn’t stop watching but it annoyed me, while still being intriguing and annoying and cool and annoying. The second season is a thousand times better, keeps the cool, drops the annoying. Well done guys.

Bosch continued its quality storytelling. This is a gritty procedural and murder mystery detective show with fantastic performances. If you haven’t seen it. Check it out. It’s very good. High on the cool factor. Like Justified meets True Detective.

Dark Matter wasn’t at its best this season either. There were a little too many running story lines and very little character development. But I still love these characters. Still love this show. And the character Porsche Lynn (or Number Two if you will) is a straight up goddess. Definitely wifey material. Just hot as all hell.

*And I just learned that they’ve cancelled it. YOU BASTARDS!!!

But anyway, that’s not why we came.

Those TV shows were entertaining but not the best. That’s not what’s good.

Here comes the best stuff now. I’m just gonna need for you to ask me the question before we get started… You know the one.

“What’s Good, Motherfucker?”

Don’t be shy. Say it out loud.

What’s Good?

I’m glad you asked.

Bring on the good shit.

THE BEST MOVIES

Zootopia (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Directed by Byron Howard & Rich Moore

Written by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Jim Reardon, Josie Trinidad, Phil Johnston & Jennifer Lee

Starring Ginnifer GoodwinJason BatemanIdris ElbaJenny SlateNate TorrenceBonnie HuntDon LakeTommy ChongJ. K. SimmonsOctavia SpencerAlan Tudyk & Shakira

Zootopia is a very good movie about racism and prejudice using cartoon animals to make its poignant points. We do a meditation in my Tibetan Buddhist class that imagines all sentient beings living in peace and compassion. By all sentient beings we mean animals too. It’s a difficult thing to imagine soberly. So for me I always default to cartoon animals in movies like this where different species live and work together and don’t eat each other. Something that really shouldn’t be that hard to contemplate seriously.

If humans had spent their time solving problems for peace on the planet instead of making problems for profit these last few thousand years, we could have created the very balance that I have to imagine as a cartoon. Oh my god. I’ve really gotten off on a tangent, haven’t I? Zootopia is a good movie. If you haven’t seen it… do.

Office Christmas Party (Paramount Pictures)

Directed by Will Speck & Josh Gordon

Written by Jon LucasScott MooreTimothy Dowling and Justin Malen, Laura Solon, & Dan Mazer

Starring Jason BatemanOlivia MunnT. J. MillerJillian BellVanessa BayerCourtney B. VanceRob CorddryKate McKinnon & Jennifer Aniston

Office Christmas party is a funny movie with a talented and very funny cast. I usually don’t like your basic make it up as you go improvisational comedy but this one has a great cast, like I said, and they keep it fun and funny and really enjoyable. They’re all extremely likable and good at their jobs.

Kate McKinnon (from Saturday Night Live) is really coming into her own comically. (She’s the best thing about the horrible Rough Night and probably the only reason it doesn’t make the worst list). Olivia Munn, Jason Bateman (more from him later. HINT [It’s Ozark. Ozark is so good. I can’t keep a secret]) T.J. Miller (from Silicon Valley) and Jennifer Aniston are in their respective wheelhouses here and they make the movie surprisingly good. Rent it.

Paterson (Amazon Studios)

Written & Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Starring Adam DriverGolshifteh FarahaniBarry Shabaka HenleyCliff Smith, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper & Masatoshi Nagase

Paterson is actually pretty good for a movie where nothing much really happens. Jim Jarmusch has created a little slice of a man’s life. Paterson is likable and affable and creative and his girlfriend is really creative and they are a fun couple to watch. Paterson drives a bus in Paterson New Jersey and he writes poetry in his notebook. He’s very Zen and very nice and while there are things that happen around him, he stays centered and it is enjoyable to watch.

His girlfriend, however, is a different kind of creative. She is a painter and a fashion designer and… I don’t know, a country music singer or something. They are an interesting pair. Paterson is a good movie. If you like James Joyce, you’ll like Paterson. It is a week in the life of an everyday creative, bar patron, dog-owning, bus driving romantic. Jim Jarmusch has done it again.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (Summit Entertainment)

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Written by Derek Kolstad

Starring Keanu Reeves, CommonLaurence FishburneRiccardo ScamarcioRuby RoseJohn Leguizamo & Ian McShane

Same old John Wick. This time the movie is a little light on substance. Not that the first one was deep or anything but I think I liked his motivation in the first movie more. They took his dog. However we don’t watch John Wick for the story. Do we? We watch it for the amazing Gun-Fu and John Wick Chapter 2 does not disappoint.

There are some epic battles in this movie. John Wick is wall to wall fight choreography much like the Raid martial arts movies (especially Raid Redemption). If you liked the first John Wick for the story. You may not like the second one. But also… what?

CHiPs (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Written & Directed by Dax Shepard  Based on CHiPs by Rick Rosner

Starring Dax Shepard, Michael PeñaRosa SalazarAdam BrodyRichard T. JonesKristen Bell & Vincent D’Onofrio

I read on the net that no one liked this movie. I don’t see why. It is what it is. And what it is… turns out to be very fucking funny. CHiPs is a lot of fun. It’s a little silly but with a really good heart. It is a direct reflection of its writer & director. Big, silly, good-natured, a little dumb, a little goofy (and married to one of the hottest women on the planet).

I enjoyed CHiPs because of the two stars; the amazing Michael Pena, who made Ant-man so funny, and the writer, director and star, Dax Shepherd. The two leads make the movie immensely enjoyable. And even though a few plot points are monumentally stupid, they are easily forgiven because of how good-natured and fun CHiPs turns out to be. I recommend it. It’s a fun and funny movie.

If someone told you that a movie based on the incredibly stupid TV show CHiPs was not going to be dumb, they lied to you. This is exactly what a CHiPs movie should be.

Kong: Skull Island (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Written by Dan GilroyMax BorensteinDerek Connolly, and John Gatins  Based on King Kong by Merian C. Cooper & Edgar Wallace

Starring Tom HiddlestonSamuel L. JacksonJohn GoodmanBrie LarsonJing TianToby KebbellJohn OrtizCorey HawkinsJason MitchellShea WhighamThomas MannTerry NotaryJohn C. Reilly

Wow what a great movie. Kong is a popcorn adventure with a great cast and story and some kick ass action. One of the best movies of the year. The soundtrack is phenomenal. The cinematography is gorgeous. It’s a throwback to the old monster movies and war films. One of the best over-sized monster flicks in a long long time.

Kong: Skull Island is like a cross between Apocalypse Now and Godzilla v Megalon. Skull Island is sensational. I was not expecting it to be as good as it is. And it plays itself down by not taking itself too seriously but that just adds to how good it is.

Kong: Skull Island is a sensationally fucking good movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Written & Directed by James Gunn  Based on Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Starring Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperMichael RookerKaren GillanPom KlementieffElizabeth DebickiChris SullivanSean GunnSylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell

I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. This is not your older brothers Guardians of the Galaxy. There was no godly way they could ever match the first film. This is the sophomore jinx at its worst. But it’s still a good movie. A lot more character development than you’d expect from a big budget blockbuster. And a lot of heart.

Volume 2 of the franchise is primarily about family. Fathers and Sons, Sisters, and Brothers in Arms. It’s a good movie considering that it will always be the lesser of the two cinematic siblings. But don’t talk to me about the music. There were a lot better 70s songs to choose from and the only stand out this time is Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain which is over-used. Still it’s good. Really it is.

Atomic Blonde (Focus Features)

Directed by David Leitch

Written by Kurt Johnstad  Based on The Coldest City by Antony Johnston & Sam Hart

Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy & John Goodman

Atomic Blonde is an epic spy thriller with some of the best fight sequences since The Bourne Identity. Charlize Theron is amazing. Like with John Wick, there isn’t a lot here except the kick-ass action. But that’s all you need.

Atomic Blonde fucks shit up. It also has one of the best 80s soundtracks around. The music plays a major role in the movie that takes place around the falling of the Berlin wall between the two halves of Germany at the end of the cold war.

As with all (good) spy thrillers, there’s a lot of twists and turns and intrigue and double and triple crosses and sexy sexiness and it is far from perfect but still pretty fucking good. And again, the fight scenes are amazing. Truly truly spectacular.

Wonder Woman (Warner Bros. Pictures)

What? You think I wasn’t gonna talk about it.

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Written by Allan Heinberg  and Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs  Based on Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston

Starring Gal GadotChris PineRobin WrightDanny HustonDavid ThewlisConnie Nielsen & Elena Anaya

Yes yes yes. Wonder Woman is the best thing since sliced bread… if sliced bread made you shit money the next morning. The bar was lowered by what came before it but honestly it didn’t have to be. I’ve seen the movie several times and it’s just a really good movie. Crowd-pleasing and exciting and fun and it doesn’t talk down to its audience. And yes it also had to make a lot of money to make sure that we get more like this and it has. It continues to break records. Do not hate it because it’s beautiful.

Wonder Woman did very well. So the Amazonians had to be more sexy than fierce. It had to have a big superhero ending. And if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, I think this may save Warner Bros from itself and its massive “bro” attitude. I think they’re going to try to be a little more women friendly with their comic book movies.

Maybe they’ll give Lois Lane a bigger role next time around. I hear they’re making a Harley Quinn & The Joker movie. (The Sid and Nancy of comic book villains will get their own title). And they’re allowing Joss Whedon to do some character based re-shoots of Justice League to add more heart and give Wonder Woman a more central and leading role. These are all good things. because you know 300 boy, Zack Snyder, isn’t known for anything but testosterone based action. So Joss is the best thing to ever happen to DC and Warner. And I’m excited.

And yes yes yes, Wonder Woman is a very good movie. But at this point you really didn’t need me to tell you that. Do you?

Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets (STX Entertainment)

Written & Directed by Luc Besson  Based on Valérian and Laureline
by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières

Starring Dane DeHaanCara DelevingneClive OwenRihannaEthan HawkeHerbie HancockKris Wu & Rutger Hauer

Okay this is a tough one. Valerian and Laureline (what the movie should actually be called) is a well written and beautifully cinematic and picturesque space adventure. It reminds me of Fifth Element in a lot of ways. And it would be just as good if not for the bad casting. The casting is bad. They went for youth over experience this time around and the movie suffers because of it. The two stars have ZERO chemistry in their original language, Though they are fun to look at.

But I’m including it with my good movies because it can still be good with a little work on your part. Yes I’m talking to you.  I’m going to let you in on a little trade secret. All it takes to make this movie go from crappy to pretty fucking good is to watch a foreign language dub (preferably French)… with English subtitles. You’re welcome.

You see, sometimes when a director is working in a language that is his second or third, they can, while paying attention to stunts and marks and effects, let bad performances and crappy line readings slip through. A lot of it is left up to the performer. This isn’t Gary Oldman and Bruce Willis. This is two kids who made really bad decisions. So turn off their voices. Listen to the French (better line readings) and read the English subtitles. Now these two have gone from whiny little brats to cool young prodigies with just a flip of the switch. Again… you’re welcome.

Now somebody hand me the fucking remote…

“There it is again.”

This is where the good shit lives.

THE BEST TELEVISION

Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC)

Based on Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose

Developed by Craig Silverstein

This brilliant show only lasted four seasons but we knew it wouldn’t be around long. it was about the American Revolutionary war. We know how that ended. We know when that ended. They didn’t drag it out. Four seasons. It was perfect.

I talk about TURN a lot because it’s really that fucking good. Turn: Washington’s Spies might have a strange name but it is one of the best shows in TV history. Fantastic from start to finish. This is one to binge and dive into head first, feet first, ass first, whatever.

The characters are amazing. The situations are suspenseful. This is some early American spy craft, thriller, drama, espionage shit. And some of the best writing and coolest story telling around.

American Gods (STARZ)

Based on American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Developed by Bryan Fuller & Michael Green

American Gods is sensational. I don’t know if you know this about me but I am a polytheist from way back. My step-father (I refer to him most of the time as my father) was a worshiper of the old gods. The Egyptian gods and also the gods of the east. He knew them all. And he knew what they wanted from us in order to make them dance. I always respected that. There was a lot of power in the old gods. They made themselves known. Most people I meet are still waiting for Allah to say something. Still waiting for Jehovah to open his mouth. The so-called ONE gods. You don’t have to wait for them.

In fact I believe there are more gods than there are humans. Let me repeat that. I firmly believe that there are more gods NOW than there were ever human beings on the planet. But anyway. That’s not why you come here. (or is it?)

Do you guys like it when I start talking about spiritual stuff? Or am I just making you uncomfortable? I guess it doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t stop me either way.

But seriously, I love this show. I love Neil Gaiman. He’s responsible for several of my favorite fictional worlds. And responsible for some of my favorite TV shows (and Doctor Who episodes and comic books).

But American Gods is so fucking good, it’s like… It’s like… Well it’s like it was made by the gods. I would not be surprised if Neil Gaiman were a demi-god himself.

The Tick (Amazon)

Based on The Tick by Ben Edlund

Created by Ben Edlund

The Tick is one of my favorite absurdist comic superheroes. He’s an indestructible good guy with not much in the way of brains but the purest heart one can have. Ben Edlund created a character and a world that is and has been the source of hours and hours of amusement for me. The animated series was amazing. The first live action series was amazing. And this too is amazing.

However Ben has pulled a fast one on us and only released half of the first season. he doesn’t like binge watching and well he’s done something about it. FUCK YOU BEN!!! Please put out the second half of the first season, you incredibly talented pain-in-the-ass. No seriously I love you. I love you madly.

Now stop being such a dick.

Fleabag (Amazon)

Created by and Starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Fleabag is sensational and heartbreaking and funny and not funny and well-acted and well-written and so fucking good it hurts. And it also hurts because it hurts. It hurts.

First you fall in love with the character and then… and then you get to know her. And Fuck. You’re already in love with her. Fuck. What a great show. I swear I went to High School with this girl. You know who I’m talking about.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

Based on The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Created by Bruce Miller

I get that it’s not as good as the book. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite books. A bit dated now. So if you’re reading it now you might ask now how is this so different from what we have now. And I might answer by screaming until my voice went out and then silently screaming until my jaw locked up and then quietly crying until my eyes went blind. And then banging my head until I passed out.

These fuckers made reading uncool. Nobody reads anymore. And now we’re stuck in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s 1984 and slowly sliding into Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 because nobody reads those fucking books.

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Created by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

This season of Game of Thrones was satisfying as all hell. So good. You know what I’m talking about. I started watching reaction videos on YouTube just to see other people see what I saw when I saw that awesome shit. So incredibly satisfying.

Game of Thrones has gotten so good since they caught up with the books and they don’t have to wait for George to write. Hell…  you want to know what’s taking him so long. He’s sitting in a dark room crying to himself. Realizing they made something better than he could ever do. Sorry Martin fans.

And it is my understanding that most of what happens in the last two books will be different than what we see on the small screen. But really why bother George. Why bother. The show is amazing.

Book fans, hate me all you want. But really I don’t give a fuck. I probably won’t read the books anyway. Reading is for suckers. You heard me. (and yes I heard myself).

The Defenders (Netflix)

Based on  Daredevil by Stan Lee & Bill Everett  Jessica Jones by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos  Luke Cage by Archie GoodwinGeorge TuskaRoy Thomas & John Romita Sr.  Iron Fist by Roy Thomas & Gil Kane

Created by Douglas Petrie & Marco Ramirez

One of the best things I’ve seen this year so far. The Defenders did not disappoint.

I especially loved Jessica Jones and the way she made fun of Danny and Daredevil. The Defenders was the right amount of light-hearted fun and action. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, the Netflix Marvel shows are pretty heavy on the heaviness.

I’m hoping The Defenders will be the occasional respite from all the drama, plus some kick-ass team-up action. Now bring on Jessica 2 and Daredevil 3… and Luke 2 and believe it or not I wouldn’t mind seeing Fist 2. The Defenders even made Iron Fist better.

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)

Created by Christopher Cantwell & Christopher C. Rogers

One of the best shows on currently, in its fourth season (but honestly you can start any where) with some of my favorite characters on TV. Like Mad Men for the computer age, Halt and Catch Fire is some of the best drama on TV.

I love these characters. Joe and Cameron especially are amazing but so are the other three. AMC makes good TV. Like HBO good but without the fee. I love this show.

Ozark (Netflix)

Created by Bill Dubuque & Mark Williams

These next two shows are the best things I’ve seen in ages. Artistry level in the brilliant spectrum. Ozark is like if Breaking Bad started in the middle. You know. When shit was already crazy. Jason Bateman has created an amazing crime drama.

Ozark is phenomenal. Great acting. Great writing. Superb directing. Start lining up the awards. Ozark is going to sweep. I kid you not. It is as good as Breaking Bad (of course Breaking Bad was consistently good and this is just Ozark’s first season) and Breaking Bad was the best thing to ever appear on a television set since its invention.

Don’t sleep on Ozark. It’s pretty damn good. That’s an under-statement. Jason Bateman launders money for the Mexican mob and… It’s one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. Watch Ozark before it wins all the awards and everybody’s pretending they been watching it from the start.

I Love Dick (Amazon)

Based on I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

Created by Sarah Gubbins & Jill Soloway

I Love Dick is not a TV show. It is an art installation. It is a sexual and sensual performance that is hard to watch and at the same time makes you hard while you watch it. It is juicy. I’m sorry if that word offends your sensibilities.

Juicy like a ripe melon. Juicy like a plucked peach being slowly peeled. (Do we peel peaches or am I mixing metaphors?). Juicy like the first bite. The first damn bite of anything. The first bite of fucking ANYTHING. But it’s not a TV show. So it doesn’t belong on this list. Ozark is the best TV show. I Love Dick is something else entirely.

I need you to force yourself to watch I Love Dick. I need you to tie yourself to the bed and watch it all. Take it all. I Love Dick. Say it. I Love Dick. Take it all.

You can thank me later.

Or don’t.

I don’t care.

Do what you want.

———————————————-

And that’s it. That’s all for the Summer (and Spring)

Fall TV shows are back. But of course they’re not just Fall shows. They’re Fall Winter Spring TV shows. The CW heroes are back. Dirk Gently is starting up again. FOX has got a couple of sci-fi and comic book shows that they will undoubtedly cancel before it’s even next year. It’s god damn FOX.

And before you know it, the Christmas movies will open and just you try to keep me from blogging about them. Go ahead. No wait. Don’t. That won’t end well for anyone.

Right, Jess?

Just click the like button and we’ll call it even.

I’m so addicted.

– Mel

 

“Y’all got any more of them likes?”

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Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: Kubo and the Two Strings

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

Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features)

kubo-and-the-two-strings poster

Directed by Travis Knight

Written by Marc Haimes, Chris Butler and Shannon Tindle

Starring Charlize TheronArt ParkinsonRalph FiennesRooney MaraGeorge Takei & Matthew McConaughey

What a fantastic movie. Kubo and the Two Strings is the tale of a young guitar player & storyteller and his epic adventure to find the end of his own heroic story. I loved this movie so much. It is lyrical like an epic poem and melancholic like an ancient sonnet. And although sometimes its need for comedy can hamper the melody, it’s not enough to ruin the music. And this movie, good god, this movie has everything. A kid with a huge chip on his shoulder, who likes to tell stories and play his guitar for passing strangers, while dreaming of one day being a god. Throw in a mentally ill mom and a tall-tale about his father, and it makes me have to ask, Who the hell’s been reading my diary? But I’ll say it again, this is a fantastic movie.

Verdict: SPARED

kubo-and-his-axe

Kubo wears that guitar like a Katana across his back. Kubo is Japanese for bad-ass.

Kubo & the Two Strings is a tale about family & honor. It’s a fable about love & courage. It’s a story about memory & redemption. But at its core, it’s a meditation about loss and about vision. It is wonderful.

paper-samurai

Paper Samurai is gonna give you a nasty paper cut. You will respect.

Kubo is a young busker, blind in one eye but skilled at the art of story-telling. And blessed with an origami magic he inherited from his mentally disturbed mother. He collects coins he earns from playing his guitar and spinning his stories at the marketplace by day. While at night he hides in his mountain cave… from the moon.

kubos-mom

Kubo’s mom wailing out. (voiced by Charlize Theron)

This is just the beginning of what turns out to be an epic tale full of heroes and villains and love and adventure and sacrifice and discovery and I would surely throw the kid a few coins because this boy can tell a story. Kubo and the Two Strings is well-worth the price of admission.

kubo-and-the-two-strings

Villainous twin sisters (voiced by Rooney Mara)

The animation is a gorgeous combination of stop-motion and conventional artwork. The music is amazing. A beautiful, sparse, traditional Japanese music that creates a reverence for its morality tale. Even the end credits song, a Regina Spektor version of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps, is fucking incredible in its instrumentation and that same traditional Japanese lyrical beauty. The movie is gorgeous to watch and gorgeous to hear.

kubo

Kubo, he’s a born showman. (voiced by Art Parkinson)

Kubo is perfect. The story. The voice acting. The music. The animation. An amazing movie from top to bottom. With a lovely moral center. Not too sweet. Not too childish. A work of fine art to be displayed in the museum of animation. Is there a museum of animation? If not, somebody please build one so we can put this damn movie in it.

kubo-and-the-two-strings

Beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) has taken offense at something I said. Whatever it was, I take it back.

Kubo is definitely the best animated film I have seen from last year. But granted, I haven’t seen them all yet. However, Kubo and the Two Strings (…and oh my god, the title is so powerful. So perfect. So bad-ass.) Kubo and those mother fucking Two Strings will be a hard one to beat.

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 Movies on DVD (Bad Movie Edition)

So sure. I’m calling this a Bad Movie Edition of my 5 Quick Reviews series but it’s more of a Sci-fi Fantasy Edition or a Five Movies That Are Bad But You’ll Probably Still Check Them Out Edition.

The Queens

“Did you hear that, sister? Mel wants us to check them out.” “Why aren’t you dead?”

This is a strange quintet. All five films could be considered sequels or part of a series. They all have great casting. But every single one has a fatal flaw. So maybe I should have called this the Fatal Flawed Movie Edition.

Joker

“I’ll show YOU a fatal flaw.”

But to tell you the truth, I’ve been so busy, I didn’t give it much thought. I have so many reviews on my hard-drive. I’m so far behind. I didn’t even bother to give you a recrap of these movies. Recrap is my own word. It’s when you try to do a recap of a shitty movie like it was good. Recrap. So this is the phoning it in edition. Yes! That’s it. All five directors knew, going in, that they had an audience because fans of the source material were already going to see these films. So they phoned it in.

And so did I…

This is the Phoning It In Edition.

(but honestly I’m too indifferent to get up the energy to even change the title)

To the reviews…

X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox)

X-Men Apocalypse

Directed by Bryan Singer

Written by Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris  Based on X-Men by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring James McAvoyMichael FassbenderJennifer LawrenceOscar IsaacNicholas HoultRose ByrneEvan PetersTye SheridanSophie Turner & Olivia Munn

Wow! what a bad movie. Bad writing and bad directing. There’s really nothing more I can say. A disappointing display. People knock the X-Men original series but all three are better than this piece of shit. X-Men Apocalypse is awful.

X-men Apocalypse Cerebro

Love this cast. Honestly, what a group. With the welcome addition of two of my favorite young actresses; Olivia Munn and Sophie Turner. There is nothing wrong with the cast. But that’s the only thing good here. The rest is shit.

Cyclops and Jean Grey from X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse is the worst X-Men movie ever made. It is horrible in every way imaginable. This stellar cast deserved a lot better than this.

Skip it.

NEXT!!!

Allegiant (Summit Entertainment)

Divergent-Allegiant-Movie-Poster

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Written by Stephen Chbosky, Bill Collage, Adam Coper & Noah Oppenheim  Based on Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Starring Shailene WoodleyTheo JamesJeff DanielsOctavia SpencerRay StevensonZoë KravitzMiles TellerAnsel ElgortMaggie QBill Skarsgård & Naomi Watts

These movies are pointless but this one has some decent tech and an interesting story. I’m guessing these are better books. Allegiant is better than the second one at least but the whole idea of factions was what made the first one just a little more interesting even though it was just as bad as the next two. Am I making any sense? It’s bad. Okay?

The-Divergent-Series-Allegiant1

I’m glad it’s over. It’s over right? Tell me it’s over. I also have a strange observation. I like the actress, Shailene Woodley, but her body grew up and her face did not. She looks like a baby head on a grown woman. The body of a thirty year old well-fit woman and the head of a toddler. It’s disconcerting.

Shailene Woodley from Alegiant

That’ll be enough out of you, Divergent Series. You’ve over-stayed your welcome.

Skip it.

NEXT!!!

Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount Pictures)

Everybody Wants Some!!

Written & Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring Will BrittainZoey DeutchRyan GuzmanTyler HoechlinBlake JennerGlen Powell & Wyatt Russell

Everybody Wants Some!! is classic Linklater and in my book that’s just fine with me. The man is one of my cinematic heroes. An artist with entirely his own style. I love everything he does. Everybody Wants Some!! is a sort of sequel to Dazed and Confused.

Everybody Wants Some Matthew McConaughey

My big problem with Everybody Wants Some!! is one of the central jokes or themes of it. In it. About it. Whatever. Everyone… Every mother fucking person in this movie is playing Matthew McConaughey. ALL OF THEM. The women. The men. Everybody is doing a McConaughey impression. It’s funny at first then becomes a bit creepy as it continues for the entire film.

Everybody Wants Some Alright Alright Alright

Everybody Wants Some!! is an amazingly entertaining film where little to nothing happens but “Life” happens. You know… classic Linklater but I need to tell you that everyone in this thing is playing a version of Matthew McConaughey from movies or appearances throughout his life and career. That’s the joke.

Everybody Wants Some

ALL of the characters are Matthew. But I still loved this quirky piece of shit. Linklater can do no wrong. The man is a god.

Rent it.

NEXT!!!

Batman: The Killing Joke (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Batman The Killing Joke

Directed by Sam Liu

Written by Brian Azzarello  Based on Batman: The Killing Joke by Brian Bolland and Alan Moore

Starring Kevin ConroyMark HamillTara Strong & Ray Wise

ATTENTION: IT HAS COME TO MY ATTENTION THAT I WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION AND I SPOIL THIS MOVIE AND THE COMIC BOOK TERRIBLY IN THIS QUICK REVIEW.

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THIS FILM OR DON’T KNOW THE STORY OF THE COMIC THEN DON’T READ THIS REVIEW.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

This is a mistake. You can’t screw up a great story like this. I know it’s a little too dark for the animated world but it’s the whole point of the story. Batman finally realizes that it’s pointless. Joker’s too dangerous to lock up. Too unpredictable to leave in Arkham Asylum. Too smart to underestimate. And too sadistic to let live. He paralyzes poor Barbara just for shits and giggles, so Batman kills him. Batman kills Joker. He breaks his neck at the end. You don’t have to agree with Batman’s decision but don’t change the story. Then it’s not the same story and you just piss me off.

batman-the-killing-joke-batgirl

The ending is not ambiguous in the comic book. No matter how uncomfortable it makes you because Batman kills someone, it is a great story. The only thing uncomfortable about the animated adaptation is that Batgirl sleeps with her boss. It’s kind of weird.

Barbara and her gay friend in Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke is just that… a joke; They could have really told a dark and powerful Batman story but they didn’t and it kills me. And yeah the whole first part with Barbara Gordon and her awkward relationship with The Dark Knight is strange at best but I was thinking they were adding an extra layer to the final joke. Nope. She’s annoying. Her gay best friend is annoying. And it doesn’t change the fact that they wimp out in the end.

The-Killing-Joke

I’m watching that first part thinking okay this is good they’re making it more personal so they can justify the final act. But no. But no such luck. But go ahead and rent it anyway. It’s a wonderful story after the initial 30 minutes of Bat-Girlyness are over.

Rent it.

and Lastly…

The Huntsman Winter’s War (Universal Pictures)

Huntsman-Winters-War-poster

Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Written by Evan Spiliotopoulos & Craig Mazin  Based on Characters by Evan DaughertyThe Snow Queen by Hans Christian AndersenSnow White by The Brothers Grimm

Starring Chris HemsworthCharlize TheronEmily BluntNick FrostSam ClaflinRob Brydon & Jessica Chastain and Narrated by Liam Neeson

I think I liked the first movie. I didn’t like this one very much. It plods along awkwardly. It starts off as a prequel and then suddenly turns into a sequel. It’s almost like they want you to pause the film and watch the first one because it’s easy to get lost and they just jump over the events of the first Huntsman movie and if you don’t remember it you can get a bit lost. I got a little lost but it’s gorgeous to look at.

The Huntsman Winter's War

I liked the story of Winter’s War, even the true-love elements which can seem a little corny. Like a romantic fairy-tale and that’s the point. So I don’t blame the story for the movie being bad. I blame the direction. Instead of playing up the fairy-tale elements, thus making the true-love theme fit the movie, the director plays up the epic quest a little too much and it feels like the romance is weirdly out-of-place.

The Lovers The Huntsman Winter's War

Winter’s War is a tough movie to like. But I did like the story. I just thought it was badly directed. I guess it’s worth a look. But in my opinion, the first one, with Snow White, is way better. Though Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain are both amazing.

Rent it.

So To Recap…

There were two movies about awkward love affairs between bad-ass warriors shoehorned into classic stories; Batman: The Killing Joke and The Huntsman Winter’s War. In one case I wanted to see a lot more of the romance, In the other, a lot less.

There were two movies about a group of awkward teens with special powers on the run from an oppressive government and a powerful enemy; Allegiant and X-Men Apocalypse. One of them a below average ending to a great series, the other, a welcome ending to a bad series.

And one movie where absolutely nothing happens in it. And it stars Matthew McConaughey; Everybody Wants Some!!. Except that a lot happens and Matthew McConaughey isn’t even in it. So yeah…

And that’s it.

I’m playing catch-up so there should be a bunch of posts in a row, if everything goes according to plan (but when has Everything been known to do that?)

Never, that’s when.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica knows what I’m talking about.

Wish me luck.

– Mel

My 5 Favorite Fictional Women in 2015 (Film & TV) Mega Post

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a late End-of-Year list ALERT.

My Five Favorite Female Characters in Film and on TV in 2015

Everyone’s done with their end of the year lists except for me because I couldn’t think of anything I hadn’t posted already. Or anything mildly interesting or even a little different.

So I decided to stick with a subject that I know something about: Women.

Jessica Jones on the Subway

Okay that’s a joke. But 2015 has been the year of the woman in movies and on TV. So I’m surprised I didn’t think of this one sooner. Here are five lists of five women in my favorite films and TV shows from the year 2015.

And because I’m an habitual rule breaker (even my own rules), I included, at the end, a list of my five favorite real people. Some women who have kicked ass in 2015.

To the lists…

and speaking of kicking ass…

Top Five Female Leads in Action and Sci-fi Movies

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Force AwakensDaisy Ridley as Rey

I have to start with Rey. She was resourceful. She was tough. She was strong (with the force). She was independent. She was good-hearted (saving BB-8). And she was the best character in the best film of the year.

*Star Wars side note: Everybody’s got to knock The Force Awakens now that it’s the highest grossing and best film of all-time. It’s a sickness. “Everybody likes this thing, but I don’t, so I must be better than it and them.” Oh shut up. Or the idea of just hating something because it’s popular. My least favorite is the bad guys need to find a better way of terrorizing the galaxy besides destroying an entire planet or system. That doesn’t even make any sense. They can destroy a planet. There is no better way to terrorize the entire galaxy… except maybe destroying a star… oh wait.

I also like the way Rey knows that by removing the fuse on an electric door, it opens the door automatically. That every engineer in the galaxy would make the doors open by default when the power goes out. And to have it otherwise would be a fault in design. Because no engineer would ever make a death trap for themselves…

Ex Machina

Ex MachinaAlicia Vikander as Ava

I give this movie a hard time because of the ending but, make no mistake, Alicia Vikander deserves all the awards she will surely win for her performances in Ex-Machina and other films in 2015. She is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses (female actors). And my thoughts on the film change (slightly) when I realize that she’s the lead character. That she’s the main character. And it is essentially a movie about her. She’s the one being tested by her maker. However, I still think the ending is dumb.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road Charlize Theron and Nicholas HoultCharlize Theron as Furiosa

This movie surprised me in so many ways. But the happiest surprise was Furiosa. The movie may be called Mad Max but the lead character is Furiosa; the one-armed, truck driving, sharp-shooting, bad-ass that rules the road and the wasteland. Charlize already has an Oscar, and with very little dialogue her performance in Fury Road might be over-looked by the academy, but in my opinion it was one of the best performances of the year… in an action film. Best performances in an action film.

Sicario

Emily Blunt gun SicarioEmily Blunt as Kate

I really liked this movie. It’s dark and it’s violent but it’s also tense and suspenseful. Emily Blunt makes a fine FBI agent and the realism in Sicario, as well as her performance, makes you fear for her life from the first frame. But our hero can take care of herself.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Mockingjay Part2

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss

If I’m allowed to drop the “Part 2” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 then it is an excellent film. The story suffers from being split into two parts. It becomes disjointed and it ruins the pacing and the symmetry with the other two films. But what is consistent throughout the series is Katniss. The lead character in The Hunger Games played by Jennifer Lawrence is a symbol, within the movie and with out. She is pure-hearted and fearless. She is compassionate and emotional and a great leader. Showing how these traits aren’t necessarily a weakness in leadership. She should be at the top of this list. And if it were an all-time squad she would be. But Katniss comes in fifth on this list because the movie that came out this year was half a movie.

Next up…

Top Five Female Leads in Comedies, Cartoons and Musicals

Amy

Amy Winehouse Healthy and HappyAmy Winehouse as Herself

I had to put Amy first because of how much respect I gained for her after watching this found footage biography. Amy is the star of the movie. We watch her grow up and we watch her ascend and we watch her fall. But I didn’t expect to like her as much I did. It is a cautionary tale. So she isn’t the strongest female character in any of these movies by a long shot. But we see her artistry. We see her stubbornness when it comes to her career. And we see her capacity for love. And her fearlessness when it comes to putting all of herself into her words and her music. And this also makes her the strongest female character in any of these movies by a long shot.

Inside/Out

Inside Out crewAmy Poehler as Joy

Speaking of movies that made me cry my eyes out. Inside/Out is a triumph of emotional honesty. A wonderful film and my pick for best animated feature. The lead character, the emotion of Joy, ironically, is one of the saddest characters in the film. While, Sadness is one of the most content. And it’s this emotional depth and maturity that makes Inside/Out one of the best films of the year… period.

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in TrainwreckAmy Schumer as Amy

What I like about the character of Amy, in the incredibly funny Trainwreck, is not only her sexual appetite, although it is a large part of who she is. And it’s not only her wit and sense of humor, even though Amy Schumer has written (and starred in) one the funniest movies of the year, portraying an amazingly witty magazine writer. But it’s how she’s such a mess otherwise. With the drugs and the alcohol and the fear of intimacy and lack of self-awareness or responsibility. But still somehow Amy makes us fall in love with her. (and by that I mean the character and the writer). 2015 was the year of Schumer.

The Little Prince

The Young Girl from The Little PrinceMackenzie Foy as Young Girl

In the little prince we see a young girl with her life mapped out in front of her. She is already an adult at a young age. Already responsible and organized, with no room for fun or imagination. It reminds me of the little women around the world who never get to be children for… reasons. But here we have a young girl who, first chance she gets, grabs adventure by the short hairs and runs with it.

Pitch Perfect 2

Anna Kendrick in Pitch PerfectAnna Kendrick as Beca

I put this here because I couldn’t think of a fifth one. And I liked this movie. I liked the songs and the singing and Elizabeth Banks does a great job directing. And I like Anna Kendrick. But to be pitch perfectly honest, it’s because I couldn’t think of anything else.

Next up… Television

Five Favorite Female Leads in Science Fiction/ Superhero TV

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Jessica Jones and Kilgrave

Krysten Ritter as Jessica

There was no contest. Jessica Jones is the best. All five of these TV super heroines kick much ass, and take many names, but Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones is the sexiest, most kick-ass, most bad-mouthiest, most likable, most enjoyable hero on TV… man or woman.

Supergirl (CBS)

Supergirl

Melissa Benoist as Kara

Am I the only one that loves this show? Because I love this show and I don’t see enough people raving about it. It reminds me, appropriately enough, of the show Smallville, and I loved that show too. In that one, the hero was trying to find his place in the world before becoming Superman. In Supergirl, she’s already… Supergirl, but she too is trying to find where she fits in the larger scheme.

She struggles to find a balance between being a sister, a daughter, a friend, a hero, a savior, an alien, a human… an administrative assistant? She struggles to find a balance between work and home and saving the day and saving the world. A balance between her emotional strength and her physical strength. Her emotional shortcomings and her physical ones. And I love it.

While Melissa Benoist plays the invulnerable pretending to be vulnerable, it’s quickly turned on its side when she puts the cape on. It’s the other way around when she’s Supergirl. It’s then when she pretends that nothing hurts her.

But maybe I’m the only one who loves this show.

iZombie (CW)

iZombie

Rose McIver as Liv

iZombie is fun and funny and cute and crazy. Our hero Liv takes on the personality of the person whose brain she eats. Oh yeah, she’s a zombie who’s also a medical examiner. And as long as she eats brains she doesn’t lose her own personality to the zombie inside her but she also inherits the personality traits of the dead person for a while.

izombie brain noodles

But my favorite part of the show is when she cooks up the brains each week. I’ve always loved cooking, and they make the food look so good. It’s a different recipe every week and I don’t know if there’s any significance to how she prepares it. But it always looks incredible and makes me want to eat some brains.

Spicy Brain arial w soup iZombie

Okay that last part is a joke but the food looks amazing. They make brains look so good.

Agent Carter (ABC)

Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter

Hayley Atwell as Peggy

Agent Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, is a little too efficient at times but what impresses me about the super agent is the sheer amount of sexism she has to overcome. And the way she does it. So it’s incredibly satisfying when she proves not only is she as good as the male agents but better. And then of course it’s frustrating because there’s always another way they marginalize her. In a weird way it reminds me of Mad Men. Early Mad Men reminded us of the sexist attitudes of the fifties. Allowed us to see how much things have changed and forced us to realize how much things haven’t changed… from Agent Carter’s time period to Mad Men… (in the seventies this entire TV list would be Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels and that’s it) until today where there are many more women superheroes to choose from.

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)

man in the high castle

Alexa Davalos as Juliana

I’m obsessed with this show. The story is so good. The lead character played by Alexa Davalos is an Aikido Instructor who gets caught up in an underground film smuggling ring. The films? Nothing too racy. Just old news reels about World War II. She gets caught up in this illegal trafficking years after the war ended. Years after Germany and Japan won the war against the allied forces and occupied the United States. Dividing the country into a German state in the east and a Japanese state in the west with a lawless zone somewhere between. But what makes these illegal films so special? Well, they don’t show the war quite right. They show the allied forces winning the second world war and America dropping bombs on Japan. And… well… that’s just not the way it happened.

Next up…

Top Five Female Leads in a Drama on TV

Empire (FOX)

Empire

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie

Has anyone else noticed that while Empire started off as one thing, it quickly became the Cookie Lyon show. Although they’ve softened her a bit (she’s been out of prison for a while now), she’s still a tough Cookie (and yes I did just type that). Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon tops my list for female leads in a Drama on TV because she not only stole the show but she stole the show. Long live the queen.

Fargo (FX)

kirsten-dunst-fargo

Kirsten Dunst as Peggy

People might argue that Kirsten Dunst isn’t the lead character on Fargo but I beg to differ. Peggy is the pivotal character. She is the reason for it all, and every thing runs through her. It would be a crime if she didn’t get the Emmy. But who knows about these things?

I do. I know about these things. She is amazing. In a show full of great performances, I would sit there week after week waiting for her to come back on the screen. She was just so enjoyable to watch. Truly an amazing performance. Give her an Emmy.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

American Horror Story Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga as The Countess Elizabeth

Speaking of truly amazing performances. Lady Gaga. Honestly, who knew she was this good. With one more episode to go, this season of American Horror Story has been my favorite, purely because of Lady Gaga. Like really, Jessica who? She has made me forget how great Jessica Lange was every year. The Countess is so many things at once and it shows on her face and it’s a sensational performance.

Scandal (ABC)

Scandal 2

Kerry Washington as Olivia

Okay. I like Scandal. I never liked Olivia Pope. This season, however, my opinion is changing. Seeing her out of her element. In power but powerless. It’s made me feel sorry for her. Before I was always sorry for everyone around her. The people she used. The people she hurt. The little people she trampled upon. Kerry Washington is doing a great job bringing more depth to a character that frankly I considered to be a bit of an asshole… and kind of a spoiled brat. I’m still Team Mellie (#TeamMellie) all the way but now that Olivia has walked a while in Mellie’s shoes, she’s not so smug.

Scream Queens (FOX)

Emma Roberts in Scream Queens

Emma Roberts as Chanel

The character is awful. She’s an awful person. Self-centered and vindictive. Not to mention homicidal and disloyal and… she’s just awful okay? But she’s so funny. Along with the other girls that she named after herself because why would she learn anyone else’s name, she made me laugh my ass off. And the nicknames she gives to other people are offensive and hysterical and because she has such a big personality, soon that becomes their name on the show. Scream Queens is very funny. I know I put it with the dramas but that’s because it’s an hour-long and people die. It’s pure madcap though because it’s silly as fuck. And the dialogue is so good.

And Billie Lourd (Carrie Fisher’s daughter) who plays Chanel #3 comes in a close second for funniest and best deadpan delivery. Great show.

*another Star Wars side note: I noticed while watching Force Awakens again (this time in IMAX) that nearly every time you see General Organa, almost every shot of her, there’s her daughter in the background.

Billie Lourd in The Force Awakens

In this shot we see General Organa’s back and her daughter in the background. When they show the general from the front, her daughter is still in the background. She’s in nearly every shot.

I don’t know if she plays her Administrative Assistant or something but it just struck me as funny. There’s always Leia and right behind her mini Leia. No matter the angle of the camera. Leia from the left side, there’s her daughter behind her. Leia from the right side, there’s her daughter again. Leia from the back, her daughters in front of her.

She’s always in the shot.

Next up…

Top Five Trans Women on TV

I want to make a special case for the wonderful leaps forward we have made with trans characters on TV. Only the first two are played by trans actresses (female actors), however (they just happen to be my favorite two).

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Sophia from Orange is the New Black

Laverne Cox as Sophia

This season there was only one Sophia-centric episode because they spent more time this year fleshing-out the other characters. Telling the back story of other women in the prison. But there was still a lot of Sophia to go around. I like the character enough but Laverne Cox is one of my favorite people.

Sense 8 (Netflix)

Nomi from Sense 8

Jamie Clayton as Nomi

Sense 8 is one of the best new shows from 2015. And Nomi was one of my favorite parts. The bad-ass hacker chick we know from all the shows. But with a gorgeous girlfriend and horrible relationship with her mother. Not to mention being a part of a cluster of unique people able to share their experiences and talents over great distances. And being a trans woman. She was very cool.

Impatiently waiting for Sense 8 to return.

Transparent (Amazon)

Maura from Transparent

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura

Amazon Prime is the new kid on the streaming block but comes into the market with a lot of cash and some talented writers. I already mentioned how much I love The Man in the High Castle. Transparent was their first major success. Award winning performances all around especially from Jeffrey Tambor who plays a trans woman who finds the courage to be her true self later in life. It is a very funny show with no shortage of LGBT representation but even as that’s what the show is about, it really isn’t what the show is about. It’s about family. Fantastic show.

American Horror Story: Hotel (FX)

Liz from American Horror Story Hotel

Denis O’Hare as Liz

There are two bad-ass bitches on AHS: Hotel. We’ve already talked about The Countess but there’s also Liz Taylor who is such an amazing character. A bartender at the murder hotel, if this season had a protagonist, and it’s hard to find one each year, I’d say it was Liz. The sweetest, the kindest, the most identifiable character on the show. And yes she’s a trans bartender who works for a vampire in a hotel full of murderous ghosts but, that’s about as identifiable as this show will ever get.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime)

Angelique from Penny Dreadful

Jonny Beauchamp as Angelique

Jonny Beauchamp’s Angelique is heartbreakingly innocent in a show full of monsters. Like Liz before her I suppose. I love a good monster mash. A bunch of my favorite shows are just a collection of monsters. From Hemlock Grove to True Blood to American Horror Story to Penny Dreadful. I love a good monsters team-up. But always there’s this flower that grows in the desolate wasteland of horrors. And always it’s heartbreaking. Penny Dreadful is a great show by the way.

and Lastly… Real People

My Top Five Female “Characters” in American Culture

Hillary Clinton: The Politician. The next president.

Hillary Clinton

For taking the constant attacks from the Right and from the media and from Congress this year. (And the attacks from Bernie Sanders). And coming through it all looking presidential and clearly more qualified than anyone else for the job. #ImWithHer

Serena Williams: The Athlete. The greatest of all-time.

Serena Williams Sports Illustrated Sportsperson-of-the-year

For being the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson (athlete) of the year and the best woman’s tennis player of all-time. And honestly they wanted them to give it to a horse. WTF

Misty Copeland: The Dancer. The trailblazing ballerina.

Misty Copeland ABT

For becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater and for being a fantastic athlete as well as an amazing artist.

Michelle Obama: The First Lady. (my boo)

Hillary Clinton And Michelle Obama Host Int'l Women of Courage Awards

For her continuous grace and strength under constant attacks from the right-wing media, even when they get personal and nasty and wholly disrespectful. And because she would be on this list every year for the last seven years.

And The Role Models:

The last entry is for the actresses who have changed the definition of Hollywood starlet to supreme bad-ass. Every generation has their young stars and up until now it’s been mostly a collection of boozers and party-ers and bad girls and really the worse of Hollywood’s spoiled brats.

Emma Watson (25) For already being a young feminist icon.

Jennifer Lawrence (24) For standing up for equal pay in an industry that some people think is already over-paid (but that’s not the fucking point).

Amandla Stenberg (17) writer, activist, all-around bad-ass. At 17. Good god slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

For all three (and others.. Lena, Taylor, Kristen) for being a fearless and refreshing call to change and for actually being role models without really trying to be.

And that’s my year-end list… Women

I hope you enjoyed it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Film Reviews: Mad Max – Fury Road

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

Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Mad Max Fury Road Poster

Directed by George Miller

Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris

Starring Tom HardyCharlize TheronNicholas HoultHugh Keays-ByrneRosie Huntington-WhiteleyRiley KeoughZoë KravitzAbbey Lee & Courtney Eaton

Let’s get right to it. This movie was amazing. The best of the year so far. The best Mad Max movie and having said that it goes without saying, George Miller’s best as well. Beautifully shot from the first frame to last. Great acting. Wacky as all hell. Exciting as all get out. Fantastic. And never was a movie more made for 3D than Mad Max: Fury Road. It is amazing. Wow. This is just my first paragraph. Where do I go from here? Well obviously I’m not gonna spoil it. I guess I’ll just talk about the elements that really work and how George Miller just became one of my favorite directors. Yeah that sounds about right.

What a Lovely Day

Verdict: SPARED

Fury Road war party

Hot rods, Muscle cars, Mack Trucks and Motorcycles… What a lovely day.

My three favorite elements of Mad Max: Fury Road are the Photography, Performances and Music. I’m gonna start with the music because outside of a movie musical or band bio I’ve never seen music handled in this way. George puts the band on-screen. (maybe I have seen it done that way before because now that I think about it sounds familiar) It’s mostly heavy metal riffs and Kodo drums played over light orchestral strings but it is a beautiful and powerful and, because the guitarist and the Kodo drummers are in the movie, it’s pretty damn wonderful and kind of freaking cool.

Mad Max Fury Road Tom Hardy Muzzled Blood Bag

“I’m not the one who needs the muzzle.”

Tom Hardy (slated for two more of these bad boys) takes over for Mel Gibson and does a stellar job although he’s three down the list of the best performances in this movie. He brings a little of Mel to his take on Max but makes it his own. The Mad Max movies are wacky. It’s a post- post- post apocalyptic desert-scape where the human race has been affected by radiation and the world is inhabited by tons of crazy characters. Some of them quite Mad. We’re all mad here.

Mad Max Fury Road Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult

“Who’s he calling mad?” “I think he’s referring to you, baldy.”

Nicholas Hoult plays a “War Boy”. An infected kid destined to live a half-life, used as warriors and hunters. He is outstanding. And Charlize Theron is great as well. She doesn’t have to earn her Oscar every time out. But she can still act her ass off. But then also there is this rogues gallery of hideously hysterical and over the top villains. Like something out of Frank Herbert. (George Miller needs to direct ALL the Dunes… after he directs all the sequels that is)

Fury Road

“Direct all the dunes. Direct all the dunes. Direct All The Dunes? Are you mad?”

And the weapons and contraptions and gadgets and modifications and the cars and the chases and the stunts. And cool death after cool death at high speed. WHERE DO I SIGN? This is my new favorite driving movie. And the character development at break neck speeds. Relationships and rivalries and the way they change and evolve and how survival and a lack of resources effect everything everyone does. And it’s all unspoken. I loved this fucking movie.

Charlize Theron one-armed bad-ass

“We get it. You liked the movie. Now shut it.” 

Let me just make a list here. Great writing. Great performances. Beautiful imagery and music. Great directing. Funny, wacky, exciting, explosive, loud as hell. Cool. Interesting. I think the only time George stumbles is when he tries to bring the sexy. “Add a few scantily clad models.” Check. (I’m not complaining) And I forgive him. You hear that George? I forgive you for putting hot girls in my action movie.

Nicholas Hoult

“You shut the hell up!”

Mad Max: Fury Road is phenomenal.

I’m done.

– Mel