The_CrownWatchability Factor: Background TV

A well acted, well done show about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II. In other words, it’s the visual equivalent of Muzak. A show about wealthy, uptight, privileged English White people and their “problems.” Sorry, but the fact that Prince Philip must give up Clarence House, where he and Elizabeth live before she becomes the Queen, to go live at Buckingham Palace isn’t a dilemma that moves me—call me crazy or call me an ex-New Yorker who knows you don’t complain when you get to live in more than one room AND at the taxpayers’ expense. Although, in Philip’s defense, I’ve toured Buckingham Palace and it’s not exactly comfy.

The historical aspects of the show are interesting. John Lithgow is great as Winston Churchill. I’d rather watch a show about him; someone who had to actually earn his position and fight to keep it. And, the scenes that center on Prince Edward who gave up the crown to marry Wallis Simpson are the most involving and emotional. He was an elitist brought down to earth by ultimately being human like the rest of us. Overall though, this is definitely not must-watch TV.

The OA

The OA

Watchability Factor – Must Watch

The OA is a strange, original and creative show that lends itself more to consecutive nightly viewing rather than an all night or weekend binge. You need time to ingest this weirdly intriguing show. OA does not move fast. It reveals itself at its own pace and is not action packed in the traditional sense, yet there is so much going on.

You have to intellectually and emotionally unpack and sift through the heady ideas proposed by this trip through the imagination of what’s possible. The series maintains an intricate balance of the spiritual, emotional, and cerebral which is extremely difficult to pull off but The OA succeeds.

3%_jpgWatchability Factor: Binge 3%

3% is Brazil’s answer to The Hunger Games. In this dystopian future world an attractive, multi-ethnic group represent the 97% of the slum dwelling population who at the age of 20 get to compete in an annual brutal competition called ‘The Process’ which determines the mere 3% who will make it to the utopian ‘Offshore’.

Except for one boring backstory episode that veers into weirdly cheesy Latin programming territory (yes, I’m talking about you chapter. 5), the series maintains a consistent mood and tone that creates a believable world and keeps you hooked with just the right combination of action and character development.

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.



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