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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M. Night Ranked

Never before have I experience the type of drastic shift from confidence to disdain for a director as I have for M. Night Shyamalan over the last twenty years. It was twenty years ago this week, on August 6th of 1999 that his third feature film, The Sixth Sense, opened in theaters. I haven’t watched his first two films and am saving those for a later date because from all accounts The Sixth Sense was a significant sea change for the creator. It was the movie that made him into the household name he’s become, for better or worse. In honor of this twentieth anniversary, I decided to rank M. Night’s pictures.

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Movie Review – After Earth

After Earth (2013)
Written by Will Smith, Gary Whitta, and M. Night Shyamalan
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

The best movies are conceived while watching Discovery Channel docudramas. This is apparently what went through the heads of the creators involved because After Earth was inspired by a show Will Smith watched on that basic cable channel. From this humble roots came a story about a father and son lost in a remote region after a car crash with only the son able to travel out and search for help before his father died. Then Smith decided to set the story a thousand years in the future and make it a science fiction venture. Also, this was supposed to be the first of a trilogy. The basic skeleton of this film isn’t horrible, but the individual decisions made about its presentation turned it into an awful mess.

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Movie Review – Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
Written by Drew Pearce
Directed by David Leitch

You might be asking, “PopCult, it’s not July now, it’s August,” and to you, I say it’s always July when I’m reviewing Fast & Furious content. This is the ninth official installment in the Fast & Furious film franchise, the Rogue One to The Fate & The Furious’ Force Awakens. This first spin-off features the famous characters of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), but you can almost imagine other spin-offs starring Roman Pearce, Tej, or maybe a prison film about Magdelene Shaw. Yes, Dame Helen Mirren reprises her role as the matriarch of the Shaw family for one all too brief scene. That is Academy Award winner Helen Mirren…in a Fast & Furious spin-off movie.

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Movie Review – The Farewell

The Farewell (2019)
Written & Directed by Lulu Wang

In 2013, Lulu Wang found out her grandmother was dying of cancer. Lulu knew this, but her grandmother did not. Wang’s parents, following a Chinese tradition, decided to refrain from telling the matriarch this until she was on her deathbed in order not to drive her into depression and ruin her otherwise upbeat demeanor. Finding this decision to be downright bizarre, Lulu conferred with her American friends and they assured her this was not the norm in the West. The experience caused Wang to contemplate her status as both a Chinese and American person, reflecting on her transition as an immigrant and return to mainland China. Out of this came a story for This American Life and now a feature film.

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Movie Review – Venom

Venom (2018)
Written by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel
Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Sony ran everything off the rails with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After handing over partial control of Spider-Man to Marvel, you’d think they would just coast on that and let the money come in. However, they began looking at the other characters they got as part of their licensing deal and settled on making a Venom movie and a Miles Morales animated picture. While the Miles Morales decision made sense to me, I was a little confused about a solo Venom picture. The Venom character exists as an evil version of Spider-Man, a trope that is present all throughout comic books (Superman:: Bizarro, Green Lantern:: Sinestro, Flash:: Professor Zoom). To feature Venom without the character, he’s defined in opposition to doesn’t sound like a formula for success.

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