TV Review – Better Call Saul Season 2

Better Call Saul Season 2 (2016)
Written by Thomas Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchison, Jonathan Glatzer, Gordon Smith, Ann Cherkis, Peter Gould, Heather Marion & Vince Gilligan
Directed by Thomas Schnauz, Terry McDonough, Scott Winant, Adam Bernstein, John Shiban, Michael Slovis, Colin Bucksey, Larysa Kondracki, Peter Gould, and Vince Gilligan

Our personal values can often clash with what we want to become. I taught elementary school for a decade and genuinely loved working with kids. It’s a special thing to watch students grow into themselves, gaining confidence in areas they once thought they were terrible at. But, with COVID-19 and the poor decisions made by my district’s leadership, I knew my personal values were not in line with the myopic view of those in charge of American public education. So I left. I say all this because Jimmy McGill goes through a similar experience, being forced to conform to a system that gatekeeps his ambitions. While me teaching children is not the same as being a slightly crooked lawyer, both instances are about staying true to oneself.

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Movie Review – I, Daniel Blake

I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Written by Paul Laverty
Directed by Ken Loach

Western civilization is nearing its end. Now it could be around for another 100 years or more. I don’t think we’ll see any Roland Emmrich-style explosive finale or Mad Max-ian wastelands ruled by marauders. It’s a sad, pathetic decline where the poor and working people will just be stepped on harder and harder. Cruelty will be further normalized, and society will be conditioned to accept less than crumbs as acceptable. Anyone speaking out who might bring out even a modicum of change will be pilloried and labeled a “hater,” a “traitor,” etc. And you’ll still be expected to keep going to work and paying bills during this collapse. They won’t let a day go by that you aren’t being squeezed like a sponge for all possible labor at the lowest possible wages. The slavery model in American prisons has been quite lucrative. 

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Movie Review – Tyler Perry’s Boo: A Madea Halloween

Tyler Perry’s Boo: A Madea Halloween (2016)
Written & Directed by Tyler Perry

In January 2020, while Tyler Perry was on his Madea Farewell Tour stage play performances, he talked very openly about his relationship with the character. When asked if he would miss playing Madea, Perry responded flatly, “Nope.” He went on to explain he never enjoyed playing Madea and that the costume & wig were uncomfortable. Perry would connect the success he saw Eddie Murphy having by assuming the roles of multiple characters and decided to lean into that too. Perry would admit that playing Madea created a $2 billion media empire but still hated the character. In June 2021, Perry & Netflix announced Madea would be returning to a film on their streaming platform. 

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Movie Review – The Greasy Strangler

The Greasy Strangler (2016)
Written by Toby Harvard and Jim Hosking
Directed by Jim Hosking 

What makes a film successful? The most common metric we use to measure success would be box office returns. However, there are plenty of movies that we consider works of art that were not tremendously financially successful. It doesn’t matter because we value them for artistic merits rather than economic ones. So, where do you place a movie like The Greasy Strangler? I had to give it five stars on Letterboxd because it does accomplish what the director set out to do. From that perspective, it unsettles and provokes shocked laughter, precisely what Jim Hosking is going for. Your specific taste in art may not mesh with Hosking’s, it likely will not, but you can’t say his film failed to deliver on his goals in the making. 

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Patron Pick – Tracktown

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

Tracktown (2016)
Written & Directed by Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher

The Olympics-to-movies track is not one populated with much success. You need only look at the quality of Gymkata (starring gymnast Kurt Thomas) or Can’t Stop the Music (starring track star Caitlyn Jenner) to see how dubious these pictures can be. In a recent pre-Oscars interview, when asked about what movies he’s watched recently, director Paul Thomas Anderson namedropped Tracktown as one he’d watched and liked. Intriguing, yes? I have to wonder how closely Mr. Anderson was paying attention to the film as it played on his television because there is something so off about Tracktown.

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Patron Pick – The World of Us

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

The World of Us (2016)
Written & Directed by Yoon Ga-eun

South Korean cinema consistently surprises me with how well-made it is. It shouldn’t because I’ve been seeking out and watching Korean films for around 14 years. Because movies are so dominated by American-made fare, it’s easy to forget how excellent other cultures are at producing films. The World of Us was a movie that was nowhere near my radar until suggested by Matt as his Patron Pick for December 2021. I did a little research before watching it, and it’s a film cited by Bong Joon-ho when asked about contemporary movies from his country that he recommends. I had no real idea what to expect but knew this would likely be another fantastic picture.

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Movie Review – Colossal

Colossal (2016)
Written & Directed by Nacho Vigalondo

You might think you know where this movie is going, but it will surprise you in the third act and venture into a wild new direction. I have loved Nacho Vigalondo’s work since I first saw Timecrimes so many years ago. I had circled Colossal hesitantly for the last few years because reviews were so mixed. The concept was intriguing, but I could also see how it could possibly fall flat. I think the trailer and descriptions did an excellent job of hiding what the picture was actually about, and that’s what made that third act twist so satisfying and suddenly injected the movie with life.

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Comic Book Review – Deadly Class Book One: Noise Noise Noise

Deadly Class Book One: Noise, Noise, Noise (2016)
Reprints Deadly Class #1-16
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Wes Craig

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Rick Remender, I spent half a year reading through and reviewing his entire body of work at Marvel Comics in 2018. As part of my look at Image Comics this year, I decided to check out his Deadly Class series, which had been turned into a now-canceled series on SyFy. I literally went in blind, not knowing the names of any characters or the premise of the series. I was surprised by what I read, enjoyed quite a bit of it but also had some moments that I didn’t care for. 

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Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine Book One

The Wicked + The Divine Book One (2016)
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson

Approximately every 90 years, there is the Recurrence. This is an event where twelve gods of the ancient world reincarnate in human bodies. These forms are usually teenagers who are gifted supernatural powers, particularly the ability to influence the minds of mortals. Their purpose to combat an ill-defined forced known as The Darkness. Two years from their arrival, they will die, as it has been forever and ever. This is the basic premise of Kieron Gillen’s The Wicked + The Divine.

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Comic Book Review – Jupiter's Circle Volumes 1 & 2

Jupiter’s Circle Volume 1 (2015)
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Wilfredo Torres

Jupiter’s Circle Volume 2 (2016)
Written by Mark Millar
Art by Wilfredo Torres & Chris Sprouse

While the present-day Jupiter’s Legacy is put on pause, Mark Millar takes us back to the glory days of their parents in the pages of Jupiter’s Circle. This mostly serves as a critique of the Golden Age of Superheroes with archetypes standing in for Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, et al. If you have read a postmodern comic in the wake of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, then I can’t imagine anything here will shake you up too much. It’s pretty much as expected, an emphasis on the personal lives and tribulations of the superheroes. This is essentially Mad Men as a story about men and women in capes and tights.

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