Friday, January 18, 2013

Archer is back!

Archer is back! And not a moment too soon. Truth be told, I've been missing him and the rest of the ISIS gang pretty badly. The season 4 premiere has, so far, been the high point of a relatively crappy week.

As happy as I was to see Duchess back in action, it was not a particularly strong episode. For some shows, that would worry me: have they lost the magic? But Archer has a history of getting better as the season moves forward, so I'm not worried. I'm just looking forward to next week.

Also premiering last night was Jim Jefferies' Legit.

It's anybody's guess just how long this show will last. To put it mildly, Jefferies' comedy is not for everyone. It actually surprises me that FX -- which recently agreed to purchase 90 (no that's not a typo) episodes of Charlie Sheen's sitcom Anger Management, so they're not exactly Merchant Ivory -- agreed to pick this one up.

But the first episode was very strong, based on one of Jefferies' best schticks: it's the story of how he took the brother of friend to a brothel so he could have sex, said brother being immobile for most of his life due to MS. It's a raunchy tale that touches the heart. There's not a lot of television that does that.

The question I have is: how is episode 2 ever going to top it?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't Pirate "John Dies At The End"!

For your own personal safety, don't pirate this movie!

[But seriously -- I think the people behind this movie are moving in the right direction, making the film available to people online for a reasonable price (it's $10 on iTunes) and before it is released in theatres. And a fun viral video reminder to pirates about supporting independent films is a cherry on the top].

[BTW, I've seen the movie and it was tons of fun. The ending was a bit weak, but sometimes it's the journey that matters, not the destination]

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking Into The Future!

I think we all know that sometimes the trailer is better than the actual movie. Still, I find myself suckered in again and again. 2013 will be no different; below are trailers for a number of movies that - based on their trailer - look "interesting":

Oblivion - The SFX look really cool.

Elysium - More big-budget Science Fiction. Yay!

World War Z - The trailer makes this look damned amazing. Also: Brad Pitt.

Carrie - No, we don't need *another* remake of Carrie. But - I really like Chloe Moretz.

Dark Skies - Looks like Close Encounters meets Poltergeist.

Star Trek: Into Darkness - Rumor is it's Kirk vs Kahn. Did my pants just get tighter?

Europa Report - More Science Fiction!

John Dies At The End - Looks like they're trying to out-Dick Philip K. Dick.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone - I feel that this could be very funny.

Pacific Rim - Big Budget SFX applied to Japanese Godzilla films. Also: Guillermo del Toro.

Now You See Me - Looks like a fun caper. Also: Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson together again!

Warm Bodies - I'm a sucker for a good zombie comedy.

Upstream Color - I have no idea what this is about but it's from the guy who did Primer so it's probably pretty good.

The Collection - I'm not proud of this one.

The Host - I'm not proud of this one, either, but my kids tell me it's *way* better than those Twilight books.

The ABCs Of Death - Sick, I know, but also it looks like it could be solidly entertaining.

The Mulbury Project - You had me at those flying spider drones.

This Is The End - It looks whacky. Hopefully there's not too much Seth Rogan.

Insectula! - I loves me some good camp.

New Year, New Episodes

What with Thanksgiving, the Presidential Election, Christmas, and the New Year, it seems like a lot of my favorite television shows went into "hibernation" -- sometimes the season ended, but more often it seems like the networks didn't want to "waste" a brand new episode of a show on a day when they figured most of America wasn't watching television. And so we've been subjected to re-runs until things settle down in the new year.

But take heart: new episodes are on the horizon -- alas, some shows (Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother) are just showing the last 2 or 3 episodes of the season -- but other shows (Archer, House Of Lies) are starting up an entire new season. Here's a brief guide to the shows that I'm looking forward to - "!!!" indicates a show that I'm especially eager to welcome back.

Big Bang Theory: Season 6, Episode 12 - Thursday, 3 January 2013 (tonight!) on CBS

Don't Trust The B---- In Apt 23: Season 2, Episode 8 - Sunday, 6 January 2013 on ABC

The Good Wife: Season 4, Episode 11 - Sunday, 6 January 2013 on CBS

The Neighbors: Season 1, Episode 11 - Tuesday, 8 January 2013 on ABC

Raising Hope: Season 3, Episode 11 - Tuesday, 8 January 2012 on FOX

Go On - !!!: Season 1, Episode 12 - Tuesday, 8 January 2013 on NBC

House Of Lies - !!!: Season 2 - Sunday, 13 January 2013 on Showtime

Shameless - !!!: Season 3 - Sunday, 13 January 2013 on Showtime

Continuum: Season 2[1] - Monday, 14 January 2013 on SyFy

2 Broke Girls: Season 2, Episode 13 - Monday, 14 January 2013 on CBS

Being Human: Season 3 - Monday, 14 January 2013 on SyFy

How I Met Your Mother: Season 8, Episode 13 - Monday, 14 January 2013 on CBS

Archer - !!!: Season 4 - Thursday, 17 January 2013 on FX

Parks And Recreation: Season 5, Episode 10 - Thursday, 17 January 2013 on NBC

Rules Of Engagement: Season 7 - Monday, 4 February 2013 on CBS

Game Of Thrones - !!!: Season 3 - Sunday, 31 March 2013 on HBO

The Newsroom: Season 2 - "June 2013" on HBO

Wilfred: Season 3 - "June 2013" on FX

Breaking Bad - !!!: Season 5, Episode 9 - "Summer 2013" on AMC

True Blood: Season 6 - "Summer 2013" on HBO

666 Park Avenue: Season 1, Episode 10[2] - "Summer 2013" on ABC

Nurse Jackie: Season 5 - "Renewed for 5th season" on Showtime

[1] While Continuum has reportedly been renewed for a 2nd season, it is unclear to me whether SyFy is going to begin showing Season 1 or Season 2.

[2] Cancelled (*sigh*) but ABC plans to air the final three episodes.

Gee, that's a lot of shows. I never really thought of myself as a big fan of teevee, but I'm inclined to agree with the notion that we're currently living in a New Golden Age of television. There's a lot of really good programming out there. "It's raining soup!" Who knows how long this will last?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Short Takes On Random Movies

Cloud Atlas - I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this movie A LOT. But instead, I only like it a bit. Maybe it was the casting: Tom Hanks was just totally wrong for this movie. And the Hae-Joo Chang character -- I kept picturing some helpful creative consultant insisting that he be "just like Neo in the The Matrix." Or something. Maybe the film just tried to do too much. That said, I like it a bit more on successive viewings: there are a lot of subtle 'threads' that connect the different stories together, I seem to catch more each time I view the film. And I'm still trying to work out the "transmigration of souls" that is happening over the course of the movie. I've read that each actor portrays a different soul, but I'm not convinced that it's that simple.

Hit And Run - I can't put it any better than Shayne Lechelt's review at College Movie Review:

"Damn you, Dax Shepard. We had a good thing going. I had an unexplainable hatred of you; you had no knowledge of my existence whatsoever. I was used to this arrangement. Comfortable. Happy, even. So imagine my worry as I enter a movie written, directed, and starring that very man."
In addition to Shepard, the movie features Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold, Kristen Chenoweth, Bradley Cooper, Beau Bridges, and some really nice cars (Shepard and Bell did a promotional interview with Popular Mechanics, fer chrissakes. That kind of thing makes me melt -- in a gender-confident, guy kind of way, of course). It's a good, funny movie, and like Lechelt I came away thinking that Dax Shepard might not be so bad after all. The one caveat I'd offer is that it's a funny movie that requires a certain amount of concentration: a lot (but not all) of the humor is in the dialog. If you need your jokes telegraphed to you Three Stooges style, this is not the movie for you.

Decay - With a sub-$2000 budget (and you can download it for free), you might not expect a high-quality cinematic experience. As the only zombie movie ever filmed at (and inside) the Large Hadron Collider, it's worth seeing just for the shots of the LHC campus. But it's surprisingly watchable beyond that, with pretty decent zombie-gore effects and passable acting by people who, I think, are actual real-life physics graduate students.

Looper - A really good science-fiction movie. I'm extremely picky about science fiction, but this was good enough in terms of narrative, pacing, production design, acting, etc, that I'll forgive some of the more glaring holes in its premise.

Premium Rush - Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bicycle messenger in NYC? Given the chance, I would have invested in this movie. Luckily, I did not. Which is sad, because the general premise sounds like it could be killer. But for some reason, the film just didn't work. It lost momentum early-on and the storyline sorta fell apart. Too bad.

I Spit On Your Grave - It's actually pretty rare that I consider a movie a complete waste of time and celluloid, but this one qualifies. I watched it to the end -- no mean feat, that -- to see if there might be something that, somehow, made it worthwhile. But no. It's simply a hateful, stupid movie with *no* redeeming qualities. Note: it's apparently a remake of a 1978 movie with the same name; reading some reviews I'm led to think that the original film might be better. But I'm in absolutely no hurry to find out.

Frankenweenie - An outrageously unoriginal, emotionally manipulative animated movie by Tim Burton. It probably would've swept the Oscars back in 1995, but nowadays it's just another children's movie that's trying to be "hip" by being "macabre".

Dredd - Extremely violent and rather pointless, IMHO. I guess Judge Dredd and 2000 AD have been a Big Thing in the UK for many years, so maybe I'm missing something. Also, I didn't see it in 3D. Mostly I just thought those helmets the Judges wear are really, really stupid-looking.

Silent Night - Even Malcolm McDowell as a semi-insane sheriff couldn't save this one.

Total Recall - I was not a fan of the original (which, I'll note, portrayed Arnold Schwarzenegger as the jerk that he reportedly is in real-life), and I can't really say I'm a fan of this remake. Although I enjoyed Schwarzenegger's absence and the production design / SFX were first-rate. And a surprise appearance by John "Harold" Cho!

Home Alone - Yeah, I'm probably the last person in North America to see this movie. I thought the primary attraction was Macauly Culkin inflicting damage on Joe Pesci and Daniel Sterm, but (to my surprise) that was only a smallish part near the end, located after over an hour of boring stuff. I know a lot of people think this is a Christmas Movie to rival It's A Wonderful Life, but give me We're No Angels anyday.

Savages - A rather pointless movie with a shameless "and then the little boy fell out of bed; it had all been a dream"-class ending. Oliver Stone, you should be embarrassed.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World - A thoughtful, charming little movie about the end of the world. Probably a good "date night" movie.

Godkiller: Walk Among Us - Definitely not for everyone, it's an "illustrated film", which is sorta like La Jetée but occasionally stuff actually moves around on the screen. It's post-apocalypse cyberpunk with something about alien invasion and / or gods walking the Earth, with some great voice-work. I liked it, even though it ends without fully resolving (or fully exploring) what could be an extremely interesting world. It's not "hentai", but the MPAA would probably give this movie an NC-17.

Sinister - A modest horror / mystery, not bad but also not great. It managed to establish and maintain a "spooky" atmosphere -- but otherwise it lacked memorability.

Nuclear Family - OMG, it's a SyFy Original Movie that doesn't suck too badly! I guess it's intended as a pilot for a television series (current status unknown), Corin Nemec (aka "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" is believably bad-ass, but Ray Wise steals the show as the scenery-chewing Bad Guy. I was taken aback by the extreme levels of violence in this movie -- there were none of those annoying tropes where Good Guys don't kill Bad Guys, or Women can't kill Bad Guys without a huge emotional reaction, etc.

Ted - How could a film adaptation of Neil Swaab's Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles not be funny? Well ... I guess the fact that it was more of a "rip off" than an "adaptation" probably had something to do with it.

The Dictator - I guess I should just admit to myself that I've got a better chance of liking a movie if I begin with "lowered expectations". This movie, for instance. I thought it would be crap but instead it was delightfully engaging, with a lot of extremely crude and / or politically incorrect humor. I like that sort of thing.

21 Jump Street - I was never a fan of the television show, but this "reboot" is full of rude, lewd, and inappropriate humor -- which is to say, I loved it. Surprisingly, R and the kids loved it, too! Look for a hilarious cameo role by Nick Offerman aka "Ron Swanson".