Stranger_ThingsI have been waiting for a new show that I absolutely have to watch since Breaking Bad and Justified ended. I’m talking about that series where you say to yourself, “I’ll only watch one more episode” and the next thing you know it’s 2am—Stranger Things is THAT show.

The story centers on the search for Will Byers a missing boy in a small Indiana town. Set in 1983, Stranger Things has an unmistakable Spielberg vibe and Will’s circle of nerdy friends are reminiscent of the kids in E.T. and the band of outcasts in Stand By Me. The series is a genre mash-up that manages to combine mysterious experiments, government bad guys, teen angst and romance, superpowers, struggling adults, the intensity of childhood friendships, bullies and integrates it all seamlessly while keeping you on the edge of your seat. Continue reading »

Please leave him on Mars

Please leave him on Mars

What is the best thing about The Martian? I believe no animals were harmed during the making of the film. Unfortunately, I can’t make the same claim about human beings unless you go to the movies to be bored. If that’s the case, then this movie is for you. What a huge, major disappointment.

There is absolutely no tension whatsoever in this movie. Matt Damon is Mark Watney, an astronaut who is accidentally left behind on Mars when his crew believes he has been killed in the storm that forces them to abandon the planet. This sounds like a great premise that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But, the light, spunky, throwaway “I Will Survive” tone of the movie not only robs it of any suspense but also makes it seem like being stranded on Mars is no biggie. There are tons of people back on earth at NASA wringing their hands and telling us how horrible it is and Jeff Daniels is apparently without warning woken up out of bed to appear in the movie and proclaim doom.

The problem is I don’t believe it for one second because I know I’m watching a movie the entire time. I also don’t care about a single character in this movie because they are all caricatures instead of fully developed, three-dimensional human beings. Which brings us to the 3D. There should be a special test or license that filmmakers, other than James Cameron and Alfonso Cuarón, have to take or get in order to be allowed to make a 3D film because almost no one on this planet knows how to do it. Like the recent Everest, every time there is a wide shot in the film that involves movement, it looks like we’re watching miniature toys on screen. Considering the exorbitant price of a 3D ticket, they should be able to get it right. Otherwise, why are we paying so much money??

I don’t fault the actors. They really aren’t given much to work with. When the defining trait of Jessica Chastain’s character is that she likes disco music and this is supposed to make us connect with her because she’s just like us, she listens to Vicki Sue Robinson instead of Mozart, you know you’ve got a problem. I’ve been told this is from the book—don’t care, it doesn’t work.

The best movie about astronauts stranded in space is still Apollo 13. I have seen this film countless times and it still sucks me in every time. I know they’re coming home alive, yet I’m still riveted by the story and the characters; the humanity and the emotion—no 3D glasses required.



Dear_White_PeopleDear White People gets off to a rough start. The first half hour is clunky and heavy-handed and comes off as a college freshman paper on every possible race issue in the U.S. The film starts with an inciting event and then flashes back to the people and forces that came together at an Ivy League university to set off the pivotal incident.

Dear White People centers around Sam White (I told you this movie is not subtle) who hosts the campus talk show of the film’s title where she rails against racist stereotypes and attracts the attention of the university president. As the story settles in, a few real characters emerge, the most fully developed, funny, and lovable of those is Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) the nerdy, aspiring reporter who as a gay Black male has been a victim of bias from his own community essentially branding him an outcast. Continue reading »

Gone_GirlI was not in a rush to go out and see Gone Girl because not only had I read the book and would know every twist that was coming, but I hadn’t bought into some of those surprises or liked the ending. The film directed by David Fincher stays true to the book with some minor alterations necessary in order to keep the movie from running ridiculously long.

Like most book to film adaptations, there is quite a bit of nuance that is lost. I won’t give specific examples so as not to give anything away. This much you already know from the title–Gone Girl delves into the disappearance of Amy Dunne, the beautiful wife of the equally attractive Nick Dunne. The book explores in much more detail and more effectively, the arc of Nick and Amy’s relationship. Continue reading »

Finch and Root

Finch and Root

Person of Interest continues to up the stakes and provide non-stop action without sacrificing story or character development. After Carter’s death I felt the loss you feel when a character you love is gone and also wondered how the show was going to keep the momentum going after such an emotional storyline.

The outstanding Episode 17 puts all those questions to rest. There’s a symmetry to the events in this chapter, which brings all the characters and divergent opposing groups together to set the stage for the next big showdown. All the players are in the game on this one including Vigilance, Decima, Team Finch and Root. Of course, there’s also the omnipresent machine that now has to contend with a second omniscient artificial intelligence called Samaritan that the dark forces of Decima are working to bring online. The Terminator never had it this good. Continue reading »

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