TV Review – Best of All in the Family Part 2

Edith’s Accident (Original airdate: November 6, 1971)
Written by Tom & Helen August, Michael Ross, and Bernie West
Directed by Tom Rich

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a very significant episode and feels more like your typical sitcom fare. Edith is late getting home from the grocery store, and when she finally does arrive, she reveals her responsibility for causing damage to another customer’s car with her cart. It’s only when Archie learns that she left a slip of paper with an apology and their home address that he blows his lid. It continues the portrayal of Archie as an old skinflint. Archie explains his frustration and paranoia as an expectation that whoever the owner is will show up asking for an inflated estimate on repairs. Edith holds fast in her view that humanity is inherently good and that they will not be taken advantage of.

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TV Review – The Best of All in the Family Part 1

Meet the Bunkers (Original Airdate: January 12, 1971)
Written by Norman Lear
Directed by John Rich

It began as Til Death Do Us Part, a British sitcom. The premise is nearly identical with the main difference being moving the setting from the East End of London to the borough of Queens in New York City. Norman Lear came across an article on the British series, and he was reminded of the relationship between his own mother and father. The arrival of All in the Family on CBS marked a significant shift in the tone of programming. Previously the network was peppered with shows like Andy Griffith and The Beverly Hillbillies. All in the Family was not a show that made you feel cozy, and it intentionally challenged small-minded viewers confronting them with a different side of the argument than they were used to being exposed to. 

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Movie Review – Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood (2019)
Written & Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Fifty years ago on August 9th actress Sharon Tate and three of her friends were brutally murdered by three people sent to her home by Charles Manson. At the time, Tate was eight months pregnant with her first child by husband Roman Polanski. Polanksi was in London scouting locations for The Day of the Dolphin, a film he would have to abandon when word reached him of the massacre that occurred at his home on Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. This has become a horror story retold countless times when the dark side of Hollywood is discussed, an allegory for the nightmare that can bubble up to the surface in a town so closely associated with dreams. But, what if…?

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TV Review – Los Espookys Season 1

Los Espookys Season 1 (HBO)
Written by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, & Julio Torres
Directed by Fernando Frias

There is nothing else like Los Espookys on television. From the opening of the first episode, a fast-paced series of scenes that introduces us to Renaldo at his sister’s quinceanera which he decorated in an all horror/goth theme to moment we see Andres’ shock of tightly cropped blue hair appear on screen we know that our protagonists will be odd, to say the least. The most normal of the Los Espookys crew is Ursula who is technically genius, yet she’s saddled with her little sister Tati, who is competing with Andres to become the most esoteric character to appear on television since Agent Cooper. This is a fully realized and specific world, like ours but slightly askew.

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Movie Review – Sausage Party

Sausage Party (2016)
Written by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg
Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan

Sausage Party holds the rare achievement of being the first American computer-animated film to receive an R-rating. Despite the character designs and colorful marketing materials, this is most definitely not a picture a child should ever watch, and no adult should waste their time either. Our main characters, Frank the Hot Dog and Brenda the Buns dream of finally giving in to their carnal desires and being together once one of the gods (customers) chooses to take them to the Promised Land. The grocery store products’ ideas about what happens when you are chosen are skewed and much worse than they realize. Once Frank discovers this knowledge, he wants to do everything he can to stop his friends from being devoured.

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Movie Review – The Square

The Square (2017)
Written & Directed by Ruben Östlund

Modern art is the topic of many heated discussions. Once upon a time art was just landscapes and Greek sculpture but if you step into a museum of contemporary art now, you’ll find video installations and seemingly random assortments of clutter. The reason why modern art draws the ire of so many is that it doesn’t offer easy answers or even poses questions in ways that are accessible in a single glance. Modern art makes demands of the viewer to look beyond the surface and, sadly, so many people don’t like doing that. To look beyond is to be uncomfortable and enter a realm where you can never be sure of previous assumptions. However, there is a bizarre marketplace at work that injects billions of dollars into modern art and creates inflated value for these objects. In turn, a sense of elitism centered around wealth and prestige has taken old and twisted art into something to be hoarded rather than shared with all.

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Movie Review – Love & Friendship

Love & Friendship (2016)
Written & Directed by Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman has made a career of writing and directing comedy of manners films, so it feels like an inevitable match to have him adapt one of Jane Austen’s novels. The book is Lady Susan, a lesser known tome, and Stillman strips away the romantic notions associated with Austen and focuses in on the social manipulation and interactions. In movies like Metropolitan and The Last Days of Disco, Stillman spends large chunks of times on characters in conversation, and these exchanges are packed with wit and suspense. You may find yourself unsteady in the opening scenes, but once you get your footing and see the flow of the dialogue, you cannot help but find yourself cracking up.

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