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.

Addiction has been the subject of many movies but none has been as straightforward, honest, and unblinking about addiction as Flight. It is the best movie on the subject to make it to the big screen. Most movies about addiction are stylized, dreary, repetitive, and fetishize drug use without offering any insight. The beauty of Flight is that at no point does it glamorize alcohol and drug abuse yet it doesn’t paint addicts as those on the fringes of everyday life.

Society often dismisses alcoholics and drug addicts as losers on the bottom rung of the ladder but the reality is that they are our neighbors, co-workers, family members and in the case of Flight, an experienced and accomplished top notch airline pilot. Denzel Washington is Captain Whip Whitaker who manages to make a spectacular emergency landing after the plane he is flying experiences engine failure.

The fact that Whip has the ability to land the plane with a minimal loss of life despite being physically impaired by drugs and alcohol further drives home the point that a person can be high functioning and a complete mess at the same time. The contradictory circumstances force you to see Whip as a three-dimensional individual who is extremely talented and likable while at the same time arrogant, flawed and broken. Continue reading »

End of Watch follows two street cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) as they patrol the gang infested neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The film uses the now familiar device of showing the action through the lens of a camera. At first this overused gimmick is distracting but as Brian and Mike go about their day, the camera settles down and the technique delivers a voyeuristic quality and a sense of urgency to the unfolding action.

The camaraderie between Brian and Mike is the heart of the film. The relationship between the two feels lived in and authentic from the start. You believe these two guys are cops and best friends. Peña and Gyllenhaal both give natural and organic performances. They both are at times funny, charming, vulnerable and tough. There’s an unpretentious, stripped down quality to the dialogue and story that makes it feel real and immediate. Continue reading »

LouieLouie presents a fully defined world-view that feels totally real and relatable. The show has a matter of fact honesty that is stripped of any showiness or self-aware hipness and that may be its strongest point and the reason for its appeal. If you’re looking for a comedy loaded with witty banter and pop culture references, keep on clicking because you won’t find it on Louie.

What you will find instead is a character based show rooted in the experiences of an everyday guy who isn’t part of the cool, attractive crowd but one of the masses who just happens to be a comedian. Louie is a divorced dad of 42 with two young daughters trying to do his best as a father and a human being while suffering indignities big and small and occasionally messing up as we all do.

While Louie does present a three dimensional flawed individual who is socially awkward and often bewildered by those around him including his own daughters it also gives audiences one of the most nuanced and raw portraits of an adult male on television. As the season goes on, Louie emerges as a man with a clear set of principles rooted in a common sense and fair-minded broad view that the world doesn’t owe anyone anything. Continue reading »

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