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Movies – Blade Runner 2049

8 Oct

Blade Runner 2049 is the long-awaited sequel to the 1982 science fiction classic. The new movie takes place 30 years after the original and stars Ryan Gosling as “K”, a new-model replicant (a.k.a. android) Blade Runner — a police officer tasked with hunting down and “retiring” older model replicants. The movie also features Robin Wright as K’s boss, Jared Leto as industrialist Niander Wallace, Sylvia Hoeks as Wallace’s right-hand woman, Luv, and Ana de Armas as K’s girlfriend. The main cast is rounded out by Dave Bautista as a replicant who puts the main action of the movie in motion, and Edward James Olmos and, of course, Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, returning from the original movie.

I haven’t seen Blade Runner for years, but I remember it as an action sci-fi movie with some “what does it mean to be human” philosophy mixed in. This one…isn’t. It’s a visually beautiful, slow, talky movie with a few action scenes tossed in.

Ryan Gosling is good as a downtrodden cop trying to do his duty while battling his own personal questions. Screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green almost immediately take away one major (unresolved) subplot of the original movie, Deckard’s “is he human or replicant?” by immediately identifying K as a replicant, but that adds a new level of explicit questioning in terms of K hunting his own. De Armas as Joi, the one bright spot in K’s life, is beautiful and effective, and Wright bookends the summer with another strong woman warrior role (following her turn in Wonder Woman). Harrison Ford is…well, Harrison Ford, and dominates the relatively small portion of the movie he’s in. Jared Leto delivers a strange, Jared Leto-ish performance.

The visuals are stunning, both digital and practical effects. The neon-and-video-lit streets of Los Angeles from the original movie reappear in fleeting glimpses, though the city is mainly glimpsed from on high, from the rain-slicked windscreens of flying cars.

I really want to like this movie based on the visuals and a number of nice touches, including some callbacks to the original, but it feels much more like a Denis Villeneuve movie that shares some DNA with Blade Runner than a straightforward sequel, even though it hits a lot of the plot points you’d look for in a sequel. In the end, I think the movie succeeds in creating a vast visual pallet and a couple of interesting characters, but falls short due to a too-dense plot and muddled motivations.

I give Blade Runner 2049 6 Cheeseburgers.

 

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TV Shows Premiering September 18 – 24

18 Sep

Continuing our quick rundowns of which shows are returning or premiering in the upcoming week. Check your local listings for times. Note: As more shows premiere week-to-week, I’m not going to attempt to comment on all of them, just the ones I watch, or have something to say about. Others I’ll just note with the season and anything else that’s noteable.

source: The TV Addict

Monday, September 18

Dancing With the Stars (ABC). Season 25 Premiere.

Tuesday, September 19

Jerry Before Seinfeld (Netflix) Special. A Jerry Seinfeld comedy club special featuring never-before-seen material and childhood videos.

Wednesday, September 20

Channel Zero: No-End House (SyFy). Season 2 Premiere. The horror anthology series that isn’t American Horror Story kicks off its second run of six episodes, subtitled “No-End House”. From the SyFy Wire: “When four friends enter the house, they learn that it is more than a haunted mansion. Confronted with strangely personal horrors in each room, they must try to find an escape.” Based on the first season, this is a strong recommend.

The Good Place (NBC). Season 2 Premiere. The off-kilter sitcom featuring Kristen Bell as a venal woman who ends up in the wrong afterlife finished off its first season with a game-changing twist that totally flipped the script. Probably one of the returning series that I’m most looking forward to.

Big Brother (CBS). Season 19 Finale. The winner of Season 19 is crowned.

Thursday, September 21

Gotham (Fox). Season 4 Premiere. The Gotham City before Batman edges closer to Bruce Wayne becoming a vigilante in the Season 4 Dawn of Night sequence.

The Orville (Fox). Timeslot Premiere. After a number of airings on Sunday nights following football, the Seth McFarlane space comedy moves to its regular timeslot. I still haven’t watched it, but my daughter found it funny.

Friday, September 22

Fuller House (Netflix). Season 3 becomes available.

Transparent (Amazon). Season 4 becomes available.

Sunday, September 24

60 Minutes (CBS). Season 50 Premiere. The venerable news magazine starts its 50th season on the air.

Star Trek: Discovery (CBS). Series Premiere. Like last year’s The Good Fight (the well-reviewed spinoff of The Good Wife), the latest installment of the Star Trek franchise debuts on the network’s broadcast channel, only to have its remaining episodes air weekly on its CBS All Access subscription service. So if you watch the premiere and get hooked, it’s gonna cost you to see the rest.

Movies — MOTHER!

17 Sep
I saw Mother! today. It’s not the movie the trailers make it seem like (the second movie this year to be radically different than its trailer, after It Comes At Night), but I’m not sure how it could have been promoted more accurately.
Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a May-December couple who live in an enormous house in the middle of a clearing in the woods.  He is a poet struggling with writer’s block and she is an artistic type who is absorbed with restoring the house. Their solitude is disrupted one evening when a doctor (Ed Harris) appears at their front door. He is, he claims, a doctor at a nearby hospital, and has been told that their home is a bed-and-breakfast where he might find a room. The situation becomes even stranger the next morning when his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) arrives. To say much more would be to give away the twists and turns of the first half of the movie.
It’s an unusual movie, an extended metaphor or allegory. 
 
Lawrence is very good throughout, channeling the viewers utter confusion at everything that happens around her. Bardem, Pfeiffer, and Harris are also good at doing what they’re asked to do.
I think its problem, though, is that it can’t decide which allegory or metaphor it is. There are a bunch of different things thrown in together, and the movie takes an abrupt left turn a little past halfway through. At one part during the extremely chaotic second half, I wondered if it was trying to be a viciously funny satire but wasn’t landing its humor, but it was being played so straight that I don’t think that was it.
I think the problem starts with Darren Aronofsky’s script and ends with his direction. He gets points for going bold in the middle of the movie, going way off the rails in a way that doesn’t make sense given what’s come before it, and doesn’t really follow from anything that has come before it. I don’t doubt that he knew what he was trying to do. But I think he fell short of communicating that to the audience. And when he did, explicitly, at the end of the movie, my reaction was “But that wasn’t one of the multiple metaphors I considered while I was watching the $*(%*%$ thing.”
I’ll give Mother! 6 Cheeseburgers for audacity
5 Cheeseburgers for the first half
and 2CB overall.

TV – Shows Premiering September 11-17

10 Sep

Continuing our quick rundowns of which shows are returning or premiering in the upcoming week. Check your local listings for times.

source: The TV Addict

Monday, September 11

Carol Burnett’s Golden Anniversary (MeTV). Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the premiere of The Carol Burnett Show, MeTV will be airing episodes of Carol Burnett and Friends (the show’s half-hour syndication version) featuring iconic characters and/or sketches. Monday features the classic Gone with the Wind sketch, Tuesday an Exorcist parody, Wednesday is Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins, Thursday highlights one of the sketches that eventually spun off into Mama’s Family, and Friday is an homage to Sunset Boulevard. And yes, I remember most of these from their original airings (or reruns during the series’ first run), and yes, I feel old. CBS, the series’ original home, will air a star-studded anniversary special in December. SPECIAL EVENT

Tuesday, September 12

The Mindy Project (Hulu). The Mindy Kaling vehicle airs its final season, its third on Hulu and sixth overall (it started out on Fox). I’ve never watched it, but understand it has quite a fan base. If you’re a member of that base, you probably already know about it. FINAL SEASON 6 PREMIERE

Wednesday, September 13

South Park (Comedy Central). The animated sitcom featuring foul-mouthed kids enters its 21st season. I’ve watched and enjoyed particular episodes, and think the spinoff movie is one of the most brilliant musical parodies ever, but have never been a regular viewer. Again, if you are, you probably don’t need a reminder. SEASON 21 PREMIERE

Broad City (Comedy Central). The much-acclaimed, female-centric sketch show starts its fourth season. Regarding my viewership: lather, rinse, repeat (never watched, heard very good things). SEASON 4 PREMIERE

Thursday, September 14

Better Things (FX). Pamela Adlon’s single-mom sitcom. Second season. Heard good things. Don’t watch. SEASON 2 PREMIERE

Sunday, September 17

The Emmy Awards (CBS). The second holiest day of the year at our house, after Oscar Sunday. The Emmys traditionally mark the start of the new television season. This year’s host is Stephen Colbert, which should keep the evening lively. With Game of Thrones not eligible due to the lengthy break between seasons, the path is open for a number of quality shows including This is Us, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and Big Little Lies. With the number of A-list movie stars appearing in Big Little Lies alone, the night should be even more star-studded than usual. What most people don’t know is that this will actually be the third night of Emmy presentations, with the first two (called the Creative Arts awards, but including acting awards for voice overs and guest stars) having taken place this weekend. Creative Arts winners are listed at the EW Online links below. SPECIAL EVENT
2017 Creative Arts Emmy Winners Night 1
2017 Creative Arts Emmy Winners Night 2

VICE PRINCIPALS (HBO). The second season of the HBO sitcom starring Danny McBride and Walton Goggins. Unlike the shows above, I’ve heard absolutely nothing about this show. Like the shows above, I haven’t watched it. YMMV.  SEASON 2 PREMIERE

TV – Shows Premiering September 4-10

4 Sep

In an effort to post more regularly as the summer television season runs down and the fall season starts, I’m going to try to post quick rundowns of which shows are returning or premiering in the upcoming week. Check your local listings for times.

source: The TV Addict

Tuesday, September 5

American Horror Story: Cult (FX). The latest season of the popular horror series features politics, clowns, and, apparently, bees. As the title suggests, a cult will develop around one of the main characters. AHS is considered an anthology series in the more modern sense, in that each season stands alone, with new characters and storylines, so if you haven’t watched previous seasons, you can surely jump on now. (IMO, more traditional anthology series change from episode to episode…think Twilight Zone or the current Room 104 or Black Mirror). SEASON 7 PREMIERE

Wednesday, September 6

You’re the Worst (FXX). The FXX anti-romantic comedy starts its fourth season a while after the end of the third. The characters are self-involved and rude, but I find the show extremely funny. Previous seasons and episodes have dealt realistically with such topics as depression and PTSD, but don’t let that put you off. Give it a try. SEASON 4 PREMIERE

Friday, September 8

Bojack Horseman (Netflix). An animated comedy which revolves around Bojack, formerly the star of a family-oriented situation comedy, now a depressed and jaded alcoholic, as he attempts to make a comeback. Oh, and he’s a horse. I haven’t tried this series yet, but it’s on my (way-too-long) “too watch” list. SEASON 4 PREMIERE

Sunday, September 10

The Orville (Fox). The latest from Seth McFarland (Family Guy, American Dad) is a live-action science fiction comedy which riffs on the original Star Trek. Early reviews indicate that the show can’t decide whether it’s a spoof or a send-up, but I’ll watch at least a couple of episodes. SERIES PREMIERE

Outlander (Starz). The time-travelling historical romance returns to its faithful fans. I haven’t watched it, but know a number of folks who swear by it. SEASON 3 PREMIERE

The Deuce (HBO). A new series which charts the rise of legalized porn in the 1970s. Early reviews are good for the series and stars Maggie Gyllenhaal (Jake’s sister) and James Franco (Dave’s brother). Franco plays twin brothers. The first episode is currently available on HBO’s streaming platforms and on-demand. SERIES PREMIERE

Fear the Walking Dead (AMC). The second half of the third season picks up where the first half left off. If you’re not watching now, this isn’t a particularly good place to start. HALF-SEASON PREMIERE

 

Movies – Marcus (formerly Wehrenberg) Theaters Sunday Movie Pass

4 Sep

Marcus Theaters is offering a Sunday Movie Pass: $25 for 5 movies, one per week, any time on Sunday between 9/3 and 11/12. I took a look, and there looks like there’s a new movie that I want to see (or at least that I wouldn’t mind seeing) every week during that span except this weekend. In fact, the only week between 9/8 and the end of the year without something I want to see is 12/1.

I actually got my pass today, and was finally able to see The Big Sick, a wonderful autobiographical sort-of-romcom from comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani. It also includes 20% off on all concessions on Sundays. The pass takes the form of a kind of bulky folded cardboard pamphlet (for lack of a better description), but the savings are quite real.

My want-to-see movies for the rest of the year:

9/8 – IT
9/15 – Mother! / All I See is You
9/22 – Kingsman: The Golden Circle
9/29 – Flatliners / American Made
10/6 – Blade Runner 2049
10/13 – The Foreigner
10/20 – The Snowman
10/27 – Suburbicon
11/3 – Thor: Ragnarok
11/10 – Murder on the Orient Express
11/17 – Justice League
11/22 – Molly’s Game
12/1 – <nothing>
12/8 – The Disaster Artist or The Shape of Water
12/15 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
12/20 – Jumanji
12/22 – Pitch Perfect 3
12/25 – The Greatest Showman

TV: Twin Peaks: The Return

4 Sep

Tonight, Showtime aired the penultimate and final chapters of David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, marking the end of the polarizing twenty-five years later follow-up to the polarizing cult favorite, TWIN PEAKS.

While a number of fans bailed out over the course of the 18 episodes, I stuck with it, figuring that, after all this time, there would be some payoff, some resolution, some reason to keep with it.

And my reaction, upon viewing the whole thing?

Meh. Like the entire “Return” series, these last two episodes contained some good moments and a lot of stuff that seemed to be weird for weird’s sake. And it ended on a pretty good but pretty predictable cliffhanger.

There was some resolution to what most people would consider the main storylines, Agent Dale Cooper’s return from the Black Lodge and his confrontation with his evil Doppleganger (a.k.a. DoppleCooper). And some of the characters who appeared to be digressive or “weird for weird’s sake” did play their parts, or have their parts revealed, but too much remained unexplained or never tied in to the main narrative.

It wouldn’t surprise me if, in post mortem interview, Lynch fessed up and said “The actual story was only 4 hours long. We just wanted to see how much sh!+ people would sit through.”

I think this series is a good example of both the good and the bad that comes of letting an auteur have free rein. There were some moments of beauty and straight narrative payoff, some moments of challenging, though-provoking imagery, and way too much of the aforementioned weirdness for weirdness’ sake. With a firm hand keeping Lynch coloring within the lines, however Daliesque or Escherian those lines might be, the series might have been transformative or, at least, satisfying. It might have reminded us of the good parts of waiting for each new episode of the first season of the original Twin Peaks. Instead, it reminded us of the frustrations of the second.

I’ll give it 4CB