How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

enhanced-5359-1458489608-1
This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

maxresdefault
Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.

lead_960
You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

DJMAOQxW0AQDnJX.jpg-large
Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

The Best Post-Show Role From Each Friends Cast Member

This is being written on 19th August 2016, as such it’s the 47th birthday of Matthew Perry. He’s actually a lot more versatile than his reputation would make you think, as his stint in The Ron Clark Story shows. That’s the trouble with being in a long running successful sitcom, you get so heavily associated with the character that it can be hard for people to not see you as that and it can be hard to break out into something new. It took two successful shows (The New Adventures Of Old Christine and Veep) for Julia Louis Dreyfus to no longer be seen as Elaine Benes.

Jerry_Seinfeld
Although this guy constantly has fans of the show calling him by his character’s name

It’s quite sad as these actors often have fantastic roles outside of the sitcom. So for this reason, this week I’ll be discussing the best film from each of the six main cast members from Friends. So, let’s go.

Matthew Perry – The Whole Nine Yards

scr-1
Just looking at this you can tell what decade it was made

Made in a different era, when Bruce Willis was still bankable. It could be argued that Matthew Perry’s performance in this is basically his character from Friends, but the fact  it still worked over a feature is great news. Some characters work best in short easily digestible chunks, over a movie they tend to lose something or become annoying (this is less prevalent now of course as the majority of TV shows have at least one eye on the binge-watchers). Sadly this film was tainted by the release of a sub-par sequel, as is often the case. But for now, we’ll just watch this and laugh. Although I should point out, I consider this Amanda Peet’s film, she was amazing in it and easily overshadowed her more experienced cast.

Jennifer Aniston – Cake

141124_gma_cake_trailer2_mi_16x9_992

No contest, like most things in life, the answer to this is Cake. Even reviews which dislike the film point out how great her performance is. It’s heartbreakingly good, it’s so good you don’t even notice how good it is, because you don’t see it as acting, you see it as watching a real person. There’s no massive “this is the scene for the Oscar so I’m going to dramatically cry, dramatically, whilst acting, dramatically” scene, there’s just a complete performance from beginning to end that means you stop thinking of her as Jennifer Aniston, which for someone as well known as her, takes some doing.

Courteney Cox – Scream

Scream_TV_logo.jpg

This was the easiest choice, not because of how bad her other roles are, but because of how good these are. It’s not hyperbole to say that these films completely changed how people perceived horror films in the 90’s, and a big part of that was obviously because of how many people watched them. I don’t think it’s too far fetched that at least a few people watched it because they were fans of Friends (it was still in it’s infancy but had a reasonably sized fanbase by that point). Cox relishes her role in this, the trouble with being in a sitcom is the characters usually have to be somewhat likeable to make the audience want to sit down and watch them every Friday night (there are some exceptions of course, the main one being It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but that’s more cult than a mainstream success), whereas in a film you can play a terrible character, and she does so in this. Her character’s arc throughout the four films is one of redemption, one of acknowledging your role in disasters and attempting to improve yourself but always falling short. It says more about humanity than Friends ever did.

Lisa Kudrow – Bojack Horseman

owl

The first of two choices here which are basically glorified guest performances. But I had to put it in, her performance in this was heartbreaking. She delivered her lines with pure emotion and helped this show become more than just an animated show, she made it more human. There’s not much else that can be said about this that I didn’t already say in my Bojack blog. The show has actually been killing it with guest stars, it even got Mara “Matilda” Wilson in the third series, and she’s all kinds of awesome.

Matt LeBlanc – Episodes

This was also easy, but unlike the Cox situation, it’s because, truth be told, he hasn’t done that well since the show. He’s picked bad films which didn’t really help him at all, and then there’s Joey.

joey
Fun fact: it took longer for you to read this than it did for this show to get cancelled

Episodes, however, is fantastic. It’s beautifully meta about the entire industry, as such it’s never going to be a huge mainstream success, but people who watch it tend to love it. It has to be said that a lot of people watched this because of LeBlanc, they wanted to see how he was in it. Ok, they had to wait about 4 episodes to see him in a move which was either brilliant (as it allowed viewers to get to know the other characters) or stupid (as it annoyed people and made them leave). It was a huge gamble for the show to do it but it paid off, the show’s still running strong and has been nominated for Golden Globes, Emmy’s and BAFTA’s. LeBlanc is actually fantastic in it, playing himself with knowledge of what the audience thinks he’s actually like. This show is probably one of my favourite new sitcoms of the last 5 years, and unless it all goes Scrubs Season 9 on us, I can’t see that ending.

David Schwimmer – American Crime Story

571667491900002e0056b999

I was going to put his stint in Curb Your Enthusiasm in here, but realised then I’d have two sitcom appearances, and two of them playing themselves. The truth is, Schwimmer has moved more into directing since the show ended, and has done a good job, not quite Afleck levels, but he has an eye for what’s important. As such I was going to have to settle for sitcom guest appearances, but then American Crime Story happened. Holy hell is he good in this, who’d have thought Ross from Friends would put in one of the television performances of the year? As one review said:

“Schwimmer stole every reaction shot, no more so than in the finale.”

His casting was a masterstroke that paid off, not quite in “casting Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad” levels, but certainly high up there. His performance was rewarded with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie, an award so prestigious that Ed Harris, Patrick Stewart and Michael Gambon have all been nominated, and lost! His next step is the crime drama, Feed The Beast, and no doubt his performance in American Crime Story has made it a lot more eagerly anticipated.

So, that’s our choices, where did we go surprisingly right? Where did we go horrifically wrong?

The 5 Best HBO Shows

The American television industry had shockwaves running through it this week as president Michael Lombardo left after 33 years at the network, 9 of them as network head. Lombardo has spearheaded some of the networks most loved programming, notably he was responsible for guiding Game Of Thrones into development. The future for the network is now somewhat uncertain, not in a “they’re going out of business” way, but in a “wonder what’s happening next” way. Longtime collaborator Terence Winter quit halfway through development of the second series of Vinyl, Westworld had production halted when it was decided it needed retooling, and Game Of Thrones is suffering from rumours that it will end after another two seasons (or in other words; the time it takes George R.R. Martin to decide on a verb). So let’s celebrate the network with this, a look at the best work they’ve produced. This isn’t ranked by order of popularity, or critical success, just personal preference, so statistically nobody will agree with this, if that’s the case, comment and tell us where I went wrong.

5. Sopranos

sopranos

One of THE shows of the 2000’s. It was almost like they saw Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and said “Awww, Britain thinks they can make gangster related media, how adorable” and reclaimed America as the centrepiece for gangster films and television shows. I said “almost like”, the pilot was actually ordered in 1997, so it’s just a coincidence. But meh, still an awesome show. The effect it had on television cannot be understated, it could easily be argued that it was this, not Breaking Bad that legitimised television as an artform, not as a stepping stone on the way to film. If it wasn’t for this there wouldn’t be Six Feet Under, there wouldn’t be The Shield. It was this, more than anything, that legitimised HBO as a network that provides high concept dramas, a network that will produce content you wouldn’t get anywhere else. This was a show that could only really be done on this network, it was too brutal, too uncommercial to be made by anyone else.

4. Game Of Thrones

c9lzmv4d3mgzpnyntz7s

A show so good it deserves its place here despite me having never seen an episode. A show once described (not by a critic, or anybody important, but by a woman behind me on the bus) as like “Merlin with muff”. Everyone knows roughly when Harry Potter was published, and it’s the same with a lot of book adaptations, but I think a lot of people would be surprised to discover the first book was published in 1996, yet most people weren’t aware of it until the TV series (the series didn’t really pick up until A Feast Of Crows in 2005). Without the show the book series would be highly regarded, but with it? It’s become a cultural phenomenon, and shown that you can do not just high concept, but high budget adaptations too. If the show was made sooner then the chances of Harry Potter being a TV series instead of film would be much higher, and we might have got Rik Mayall as Peeves, AS WE DESERVE!

3. Veep

2638fb30-0e70-0132-0821-0eae5eefacd9

A show so good that it’s replaced The Office as evidence that American adaptations of British sitcoms can occasionally work out. Is this better than The Thick Of It? Not quite, but is it worthy enough to be discussed on its own? Definitely. It wasn’t really the easiest show to adapt, ABC attempted it in 2007 with Michael McKean (of Spinal Tap and Better Call Saul fame) and Oliver Platt in the leads. They made the pilot, and by all accounts it was pretty awful, they turned it into a conventionally shot sitcom, removed all improvisation and swearing, and then were surprised when it didn’t work. It would be like if you remade Transformers and took out all references to any robots, removed baking from Great British Bake Off, or added jokes to Joey. So when a second adaptation was announced, people were kind of worried. Then it was announced that Armando Iannucci would be directly involved and people were excited again. Then it was announced that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the lead and I became very excited as I was a massive Seinfeld fan. I was slightly concerned how an American version of this would be, but it’s just as sweary and brilliant as the original. The original was good, but it didn’t have the line “That’s like trying to use a croissant as a fucking dildo, it doesn’t do the job, and it makes a fucking mess”. It’s probably helped not just by Iannucci as showrunner (at least until the 5th season when David Mandel took over almost seamlessly), there’s other talent behind the camera too. The list of director’s is like a who’s who of British television comedy: Chris Morris, Chris Addison, Tristam Shapeero etc. This show is a mesh of British and American talent, and is all the better for it. Long may it continue (still needs Peter Capaldi though)

2. Curb Your Enthusiasm

27a928150d637de403e90762c2f93a5c

Seinfeld is undoubtedly one of the biggest American sitcoms of all time (sadly, one which has never really got the love it deserves over here) so it was always going to difficult for the creator, Larry David to pull off that greatness again. Yet he managed it, this show not just matches his previous show, at many times it beats it. Seinfeld had a weak period, the last two seasons in particular are nowhere near as good as the earlier seasons, but Curb hasn’t suffered that problem. The first season is a little off as the show is still finding its feet, but the second one is just all kinds of brilliant and details the character attempting to make a show after the success of Seinfeld, so lots of meta-comments and the media, lots of in-jokes, and a season long story arc. Basically, all the pretentious stuff that film students love. Oh yeah, the cameos. Because Larry David plays himself, and he konws famous people, there’s a lot of celebrity cameos; Ricky Gervais, John McEnroe, Mel Brooks all send themselves up beautifully. The Ricky Gervais one is important because he also made a cameo-heavy sitcom: Extras. There’s one major difference between the way the cameos are handled thought: Extras is defined by the cameos, episodes can almost be titled after them. People think “oh, that’s the Samuel L Jackson episode”, or “that’s the Orlando Bloom episode” and that’s how they’re defined, in Curb, the story comes first, and it’s all the better for it. The best one is probably Michael J. Fox, where he uses his Parkinsons as an excuse to be a bit of a dick in one of the best “I shouldn’t be laughing at this” moments, of which the show has plenty (a highlight is the episode where a holocaust survivor has dinner with someone from the TV series Survivor, and they argue over which one is the true survivor).

1. Last Week Tonight

10294513_696103753784418_2682234352397692104_n

An odd choice for number one, I know. Not the funniest, not the best made, but definitely the most important. Like a surprisingly high amount of American political comedy, this owes its existence to The Daily Show. When Jon Stewart took a break from the show in 2013 to make Rosewater, he handed the show over to John Oliver, who filled the role admirably. That’s not an easy role to fill, as anybody who has been on the comments section of the facebook page of the show since Trevor Noah took over can attest (for the record, I think he’s doing an excellent job). John Oliver’s stint was so successful HBO offered him a series. Unlike the Daily Show this only has one episode a week, so isn’t really suited for extremely topical stuff. But what this does mean is the areas they do focus on, they REALLY focus on, aiming for them like US Military planes aim for terrorist training camps, only unlike the military, this show usually hits what it’s aiming for. Whether he’s creating Jeff The Diseased Lung in a segment on tobacco companies, or starting Our Lady Of Perpetual Exemption to show how televangelists should by all rights be told to go f*ck themselves with that knife-penis from Seven, this show constantly creates amazing segments which are perfect for sharing on social media. His reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris last year was particularly fantastic, basically telling ISIS “if you gigantic arseholes are hoping to win a war of culture with France, good fucking luck”. To me, a personal highlight will alway be his war of words with former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, which led to the corrupt former executive to respond, calling him a “comedian fool” in a really badly made video. It’s weird, you’d think a guy who (allegedly) diverted relief funds from a Haiti earthquake appeal, and illegally sold black market tickets (not allegedly, this definitely happened, and he was punished for this million dollar making fraud by being made to pay back $250,000) would have enough money to make sure his videos were of a better production quality.