review

Review: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season One

There is something about Mrs. Maisel that draws in pretty much everyone who gives it a chance. Actually, there are several somethings:

  • The Gilmore Girls Pedigree
  • The bright and beautiful Period Costumes
  • The cast
  • The story inspired by Joan Rivers’ start in stand-up comedy
  • The core of lady awesome

All of this has been noticed and adored internet wide. Rotten Tomatoes has it holding steady at 96% Fresh. These components are all, I agree, part of the charm.

Something has been missed, however. The thing that has held me addicted. The reason that I feel compelled to rewatch and maybe rewatch some more, is the glorious peerless gift of arguments well-made.

No one knows how to argue anymore; it is a skill lost in an screaming world. I grew up with it, though. My family discussed everything at the dinner table, and if you had an opinion you better back it up. There was no mercy for meaningless words. Winning an argument against someone who is also putting careful work into their reasoning is one of the best feelings. Heck, just the back and forth is exhilarating. I miss it.

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This show brings it back. Midge and her parents live in a bubble of loving and understanding. And in this bubble they argue. Constantly. Not stupidly, or for no reason. It’s utilized for their main method of communication and I love it. The last show that made me so happy in the same way was The Newsroom.

Yes. Mrs. Maisel is my fluffier The Newsroom. It’s a sparkly, sweet, cotton candy version of the world. There is nothing too new about it. Familiar storyline (cheating husband, unsuspecting wife). Familiar kinds of characters. Nothing very revolutionary. But, so what?

There are nods and easter eggs aplenty for comedy nerds. Kevin Pollack gives so much to every scene and I adore him. Tony Shalhoub as Miriam Maisel’s father Abe kills me whenever he’s ranting. Which, thankfully, is a lot. Miriam is the star and it’s thrilling to see her come up with a set out of nothing, but you can tell she got this at least partially from her dad. Their sense of humor and intelligence connect them and basically every time they talk I get emotional.

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Does this lifetime of learning how to point by point delve into an issue and sell her side of things give Miriam an edge on the stage? I think so. I believe that her kind of stand-up is arguing. Here’s why my day was insane. I’m not crazy, it’s everything around me. Here’s what happened, and why I am right. She presents a point, she backs it up, she builds, and hammers it home. She basically discusses with the audience, and any laughter or lack of it is the level at which she wins it. Her simply being on stage as a woman in the late 1950s is the beginning of an argument, and her crowd howling by the end is the resolution of that. She’s that good.

Warning: In the pilot episode, the writing for Abe is much harsher and almost cruel. Not to worry, because they fix it in the second episode making him much more grumpy papa bear. So if you watched the first ep and this put you off, please give Tony another chance. You won’t regret it.

Other Warning: If you are not a comedy geek who grew up on classic stand up records, Johnny Carson, and finds the construction of writing comedy fascinating, there will be references that you may not get. Do not worry too much about this. Amy Sherman-Palladino has made it so that you are learning right along with Miriam and no one gets lost. That being said … do yourself a favor and find clips of the comedians that are referenced, you might just find a new vintage love.

Verdict: You have to try it. You have to give yourself a chance to get caught up in this because if you do, it is pure fantasy fulfillment. If you don’t or you can’t I will understand. You poor dear.

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review

Review: Tiffany Haddish on SNL

For the first time since the 43rd season premiere with Ryan Gosling, SNL flew true.

42 was a magically numbered season, when co-head writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly led Saturday Night Live back into prominent greatness (and ratings). They not only had Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, but were not afraid to think outside the box with sketches. They got totes weird with SNL, and for that glorious year, it had never flown higher.

Which is why when word came out the these now beloved head writers were bouncing on to other things, I was worried. Worried that skits about expansive sinks, John George the book assistant, and a back pack fashion show would become things of only fond memory instead of freaky cogs in a brilliant whole.

Then came the season starter with Gosling, and it was so good. Ryan was confidant and nailed his second hosting, and the writing was delightful. My favorite was the Avatar font skit (Papyrus), a thing of pure and ridiculous beauty. The Gal Gadot, Kumail Nanjiani, and Larry David episodes that followed were not completely awful. The tone was off, certainly, but there were moments of SNL magic in each. This is not a criticism that the show has fallen off a log and into a chasm of badness. This is a note that I am worried that SNL has devolved. It is as good as it was a couple of years ago, which is fine. However, the ground gained over the past season seemed to be fully conceded. So imagine my happy giddy reaction to the Tiffany Haddish episode, a return to that brilliance. My expectations have been adjusted and I now know what you crazy kids are capable of, so you guys have to keep it going. That Haddish was the first female African American stand up comedian host is sad, but she killed. She better be the first of many to come, as there is much ground to cover and talent to tap into.

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Saturday Night Live is captured lightning in a bottle. Or even a bug in a jar. A bug that has a lot of weird phases and likes to sum up the world around it. It’s like it just had a huge promotion at its bug job last year but then got fired, went on a bender, sobered up and threw up everywhere, and suddenly put on a dirty hilarious rendition of Hamlet that made us all cry. I know what you can do now, you freaky awesome bug. You better give me a Taming of the Shrew that will rip apart my soul but in a way that makes me laugh, or you are not living up to your potential.

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review

Review: Thor Ragnarok

Taika Waititi turned a Marvel movie into a cheese-filled neon-blasted 80s action comedy from whence the Thor franchise will never return. This is the new route; Thor has found the road which best suits his inner Chris Hemsworth and he shall traverse it evermore.

*Spoilers

Cate Blanchet has never been more gorgeous and it is distracting. She vamps. Tom Hiddleston’s dark prince charms pale next to her goddessness. This is good, because it puts him in his place and in the mood to actually become helpful. This leads to some old fashioned bro-downs and Loki being a trickster, but in more of a scallywag way. Like a fun pirate or a lawyer, and much less murderous. Anthony Hopkins playing Loki in the beginning of the movie is obvi having more fun than playing Odin ever was. All Odin (Loki in disguise) wants to do is eat grapes and watch his favorite play featuring Matt Damon, Sam Neill, and Luke Hemsworth. And who wouldn’t want that? I shall call this troupe “Emote Asgard”, and we better see them in every one of the future Thor movies.

All of the parts with Chris and Tom are the tops. The connection that these actors have and the chemistry that they have developed makes their scenes the deepest felt and the most addicting.

Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie given her timeline is the eldest and most experienced of the “hero” squad. Thankfully she is treated with the respect that her badass self deserves, especially by Thor. She is a compatriot and warrior. Who, yeah, has become a drinker given her circumstances over the last however many years that she has been stuck on trash planet, but this only points to her being a sane Asgardian in a crazy world. The success of Ragnarok hopefully means that we will get more Tessa, which could never be a bad thing.

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Mark Ruffalo turns out to be a sweet baby owl that eventually hatches from his Hulk cocoon. Before then, it is all “Hulk smash you, play with Hulk, no lies, I like and trust Valkyrie, you guys can all stuff it.” Banner pops out after an undisclosed amount of time (given that trash planet time is a bit wobbly) and it becomes “Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhhh! Wtf?!” as Thor has to herd his adorable baby birdedness through danger to get home. Well, home the roundabout way.

Jeff Goldblum is as advertised: Jeff Goldblum. He is the fun kind of evil mastermind, overthrown by too many darn goodie two shoes getting together.

Speaking of fun evilness, Karl Urban is a delight as the new gatekeeper back in Asgard, showing all the ladies his stuff. Where is previous gatekeeper Heimdall/Idris Elba? Well, he’s in hiding from Loki at first, then Hela, all while rocking a new Robin Hood look and some kind of psychic link with Thor. He helps the Asgardians, does a lot of covert good, and basically has the kingdom’s back.

Cate’s Hela is chillin’ being Queen and killing folks, when the heros pop in after escaping trash planet. The most redeeming part of Hela’s character apart from the fact that her brutalness was used by her Odin father and then thrown away, is that she has a puppy. It’s probably more gigantic undead wolf than dog, but it is still a puppy, and that makes her way too likable. It’s Shakespearean, how conflicted of a character that Hela is. She is the most dangerous being ever, but she wants to be loved and accepted. Asgard is a land built on blood and violence, which moved on to a narrative utopia where no such past existed. That releasing the Ragnarok curse vanquished Hela along with Asgard is super fitting. First of all, the fire monster was voiced by Clancy Brown, Hell yes. And the two creatures of destruction ripping each other into non existence along with the world underneath them has the heftiness of right and balance. The ragtag band saved the people, which is what really matters, and now they have a new chance to start over. Probably in Norway.

The vibe is all hope and renewal until they get to Earth to see a big spaceship blocking the way. This path to the end of trouble just led to a lot more trouble.

Verdict: This was everything I could have hoped. Taika Waititi + Dash of Shakespeare’s best + A really good Hard Rock Show + Some D&D + Shit ton of Easter Eggs + Style from an 80s noir arcade apocalypse + Lady power with stabbing + Chris Hemsworth being hilarious = Ragnarok

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review

Review: Bojack Horseman Season 4

Spoilers*

Season four of Bojack has the unenviable task of coming after season three. There is no being better than season three, let’s just be real. One and two were solid and built up this crazy cartoon world, but three played fully in all of the glory and mess of that Bojack place to the point that it is not a television season. It is a fraking composition. Watching it, you can almost feel a conductor playing you through a perfectly formed story. One of the best seasons of a show ever.

But we must move on, I suppose. To Season Four:

Well, I get now why Bojack is how he is. There is a long line of dysfunction in the Horseman/Sugarman tree and next to it Bojack seems the picture of even keeled respectability. Sure he drinks to excess and is self-involved, but at least he’s never had someone lobotomized for showing emotion or poisoned someone for the sake of thinness. It’s ugly, and it’s hard to choose a winner for “most horrible”, but I’ll try. Hrmm, my vote goes to Bojack’s mother Beatrice (voiced by the fabulous Wendie Malik). She has moments, sure, where she seems like a relatable character who is forged by bad situations. But then she soaks them up. She thrives on her misery and handing it out to those around her. Her father does these sorts of things without comprehending the consequences, but she is very aware. It takes a dedicated horror of a human to do the things that she does while having dementia. The one thing that is unclear to me is why she was so upset about the babydoll? Does it tell of a nurturing instinct in her as long as the thing to be nurtured is silent and obedient? Is it her own childhood innocence that she is so desperate to save? The last seems more likely.

Unknowingly walking into this disaster is the possible daughter/definite sister of Bojack. Hollyhock is a cute and sweet 17 year old girl who just wants to know who her biological parents are. She possesses a dry sense of humor that makes for lovely moments between her and her father/brother. They bond over the season, and I truly hope that that will continue into the next, because they are funny and cute and I want more. Having grown up adopted by eight loving and supportive dads, Hollyhock has a heck of a good chance of breaking the Horseman/Sugarman curse and becoming a well rounded and whole woman/person.

Oh yeah, there is a thru line with Mr. Peanutbutter and some bits of political satire. Does this last long enough to be a real parody of the most recent presidential election or is it more of a blip that is kinda cute and a setup for jokes that really have little to do with anything political? And some Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter fights? I’m just saying, don’t go in expecting much in the way of Trump takedowns etc. A little bit. Not much.

The workmanship was gorgeous as always, and the rendering of emotion in animated form is impressive. Wanna feel depressed and concerned, while being periodically tickled? This is the season for you. This is not so much of a story as the fleshing out of it’s main character. It’s a flashback, and compelling as hell. Just be in the right mood to watch it.

Verdict:

My heart hurts and my sides are not even slightly weak from laughter. I feel like I watched something that was very good that I did not love as a whole but I did in moments.

Episode 2 and 7 and 9 have the most of these moments.

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review

Captain America: Civil War Review

At first, I had a very clear plan for watching this film. I was going to wait a while until the crowded theaters calmed down a bit, and see it on May 20th. This specific day was decided upon because as the release day of the Jane Austen comedy Love and Friendship, it would enable me to see one hell of a double feature. The order would not matter on this magic day, only the components. Captain America + Jane Austen + Alamo Drafthouse + Margaritas  +  Green Hatch Mac and Cheese = My Ecstatically Happy Self.

This did not end up happening for a couple of reasons:

1. The Bucky and Plums Meme

It drove me nuts seeing all this fanart pop up about Bucky really wanting some plums. I needed to know what on earth that was about.

2. The newest episode of S.H.I.E.L.D

A few seconds in I realized there would be spoilers for Civil War, so I needed to suspend all Agents of Shield episodes until after I saw the film. Boooooo. This was the last straw after all the spoiler and plum dodging, so I paused the ep and went out to watch the josh darned movie already.

*****Spoilers*****

Tense. That is the best word to describe what Captain America Civil War made me. Super tense, like a ball of tangled wires that will never unwind no matter what you do. At the end of the showing, I felt curled up in a ball, even when walking out to my car, and I really wanted to punch someone in the face. Namely, Tony Stark, but I would have accepted a proxy at that moment.

What the hell, Tony? Why you gotta do these things to me? I mean, to a point, I get you, but damn. All of those people and ideals that you supposedly want to protect, you went a long way here to destroy. And in the end, it’s heartbreaking because there is no way back.

Let’s break it down.

We have two players here, Captain America and Tony Stark. From the beginning, Tony is broken. Casualties, guilt, and lack of Pepper have left him hollow. Yet, he’s still in charge of The Avengers, and maybe that was a mistake. In this state, he should probably not be in charge of anything; that’s how bad stuff happens. When the U.N. comes to him with an agreement to basically take that responsibility and load off his shoulders, Tony agrees. Because of course he does, and seeing things from his perspective I really do not blame him. But then, he loses me. When Tony signs away any power of actually thoroughly negotiating the Accords or how they are enforced. When he listens to Cap’s concerns, which are very valid and reasonable, and tells him to sign it anyway. When he leaves the “rebels” of his team locked up without even attempting to speak to General Ross about it. In all of the many, many ways that Tony done lost his sense of self or view of a bigger picture beyond the guilt of the past. Past that unfortunately can not be changed, and all you can do is move forward and try to be better. Tony wallows in all the things that cannot be controlled, and I could forgive this if he did not drown everyone else in it.

Then we have Captain America, and by extension, Bucky. How Cap feels about Bucky’s situation really drives home to me how he views the whole enchilada.

How Captain America sees Bucky:

  • Bucky was stolen by the Russians
  • Russians brainwashed and programmed Bucky’s brain a’la Manchurian Candidate
  • Russians sent Bucky, now turned into The Winter Soldier, on missions of evil
  • Bucky kept trying to buck the programming, and fought to get away
  • When Bucky finally got free, he just wanted some plums
  • Therefore Bucky was used as an instrument, not his fault

It is very simple to Cap, because it is not just about protecting a friend. It’s about the right thing. Bucky taking the hit for those truly in charge is wrong. Period. He’s a great scapegoat, but that’s about it.

How Captain America sees the Avengers:

  • Bunch of crazy and/or superheroes with issues coming together to do good
  • Sometimes this means people get hurt or killed in the crossfire
  • Sometimes a moment of stupidity or hesitation can also get people killed
  • Sometimes while just fighting about a plan of attack, people get killed
  • They will mourn these people, after the threat is down
  • As long as they try as hard as they can, not their fault

You can not control an outcome or a team, but you can drive them. The Avengers will fight until the evil is taken out or passes out from exhaustion running away from The Hulk. They will never be perfect, but they will do what they can. That has to be enough, because no amount of legislation or oversight will make it more than what it is.

****End of the moral breakdown, time to fangirl:)

Omg, did you see Paul Bettany as Vision hover around Wanda in his sweaters and polo shirts?! That was so freaking adorable. I am trying to forget about their not so happy ending in the comics so that I can fully enjoy all that is Scarlet Witch and Vision. Please do not go on the comics in this instance, Marvel Studios, they are so perfect together and I need more.

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Black Widow’s trenchcoats were so on point. Loved it. Especially since the Captain America trilogy has been very 3 Days of the Condor with all the noir feel, it is very appropriate. It’s also nice to see a bit of a costume change, just as a refresh for Scarlet, and it looks badass in her fight scenes.

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The new casting was perfect, and I definitely join with many others in praising Black Panther and Spiderman. I have not heard a lot of props for Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, however, which is a crime! She was not in very many scenes, but damn if she didn’t steal them. I love the chemistry with Robert and Marisa, hoping for more of that in the future. By the way, there is a nineties era romantic comedy called Only You with these two as the leads. So if you’re feeling their sparks like I am, this movie begs to be seen:tumblr_o6hxjhW5vT1qzkdnwo1_540.gifAlso, Daniel Bruhl playing Baron Zemo was the absolute right choice. The only other thing I have seen him in was Inglorious Bastards, and he does very well with this type of role. I really felt for Zemo, and I could not help but admire the efficiency with which he put his revenge in play. He was also a very plain dealing villain. Zemo laid out what he did and why it was still going to work in very clear terms.

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The Steve Rogers/Sharon Carter kiss was a bit underwhelming for me. I knew it was coming, but I did not feel the romance there. I am glad that I watched Civil War before the news broke about Agent Carter being cancelled, cause that would have pissed me off. Oh, really, guys?! Peggy is fresh in her grave both literally and serieswise, and her niece is going to up and kiss her Steve? Dudes, not cool! Peggy deserves better. Maybe they’ll do some more flashbacks with her on Agents of Shield. I can hope:) Actually, you know what was weirdly much cuter and had more feeling that the Sharon Steve kiss? Bucky and Sam’s reaction to it.

And that’s all I have to say on the subject. Great movie, and I am sure there are bits that I am forgetting. It was chopped full of goodness. Tense making goodness. I will say that watching the new Shield episode afterward and seeing where Coulson stood with everything was the cherry on top that made my world right again, so I recommend doing the same.

Verdict:

Not as wholly good as Winter Soldier, but there were some moments burning with the pure feeling light of The Avengers.

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Manhattan · Marry Me · movies and tv · review · Romantic · tv

Marry Me vs. Manhattan Love Story

There have been a number of so-called Romantic-Comedy television series scattered across the networks this season. As I sampled Manhattan Love Story, A to Z, Selfie, and Marry Me it became clear which ones felt well done and which felt like producers threw darts at a wall of things they think women like and then forced them together to create a Frankenstein monster of a show. The two that illustrate these two sides best to me are Marry Me and Manhattan Love Story.

Marry Me:

This show is so good in every way, and is what happens when a real life couple with writing talent and charisma make a show together. David Caspe and Casey Wilson were also the driving force behind Happy Endings, and they bring their talents full force all over Marry Me.
Annie and Jake have been dating for six years, and after a lovely Mexican vacation where she keeps waiting for him to finally propose, she snaps when they get home. However, it turns out that Jake was literally trying to propose to her on bended knee at the moment she explodes into her well deserved tirade, and she would have known if she had turned around instead of frantically searching for some Skinny Girl wine. This creates a bit of an awkward situation, especially since family and friends are in the next room for the surprise proposal. As the episode goes on, you get to see how right these two are together, and how strong their connection is. It is an honest and hilarious portrayal of the realities of being in a relationship. A huge reason for this working so well is that it is based on the real relationship of David and Casey, who are brave enough to put it out there, in all its’ majestic glory. Well done guys.

Verdict: Winner

Manhattan Love Story:

The hearing what the sexes are thinking thing would work better if I cared at all about these people. She wants purses to the point of almost humping each one that she sees on the street. He, of course, wants to have sex with all of the women that walk anywhere near him as the two leads pass each other in the same area of Manhattan. This is not a good start, and the pilot continues on in the same direction until I want to smash its’ fake ridiculous face with something.
There is nothing that redeems this show; no character that is funny, or real, or a well thought out representation of an actual person. This is everything that is wrong in the genre of romantic comedy. A needy, pushover, naive, will do anything you want for a slight hint of approval girl. She has an apparent need to get a cat, hiccups when she cries, and worst of all sees this guy as a romantic prospect. Sweetheart, you may be a lazy caricature of a woman, but you deserve better than this guy. He is an ass. Just because a guy has a goofy amount of stubble and is forced to say he is sorry to you does not stop him from being an ass. No. Big no thank you on this one.

Verdict: Loser

Garfunkel and Oates · movies and tv · review

Garfunkel and Oates Season One

The power of Garfunkel and Oates has now been fully unleashed on IFC. It is what Unikitty from The Lego Movie might have watched while working on a bottle of wine at the end of a long day. Sometimes a lady’s inner rage kitty needs to be satiated with laughter and maybe even some blood sacrifices.

kitty5The great thing about this show is I do not need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it. There is a girly energy that gets super cute and imaginative but their honest perspective keeps it from becoming too cloying.

Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci do the whole hilarious comedian thing tapped into by an impressive amount of natural talent. On top of this, they write beautiful music to their bald and well thought out observations of the human experience.

Examples of the Garfunkel and Oates humor:

  • Man balls are usually droopy and also things to be avoided if possible.
  • It is a wonderful thing when a guy does not take it  personally when you write ideas down for a song during sex.
  • They know they should be honest and break up with you, but would rather ignore the problem until it goes away. Fadeaway!
  • Everything has a porn version of itself, and they might become more successful than you.
  • Chris Hardwick has a non pale penis.
  • As a tribute to our generation growing up to The Little Mermaid, lets be honest about it. She gets the guy by not talking, and this sadly works in real life.
  • There are a number of men that protest women having anything to do with comedy. And Riki and Kate have nowhere near the time required in this lifetime to give them all the attention these men need to stop being an ass.
  • Facebook is full of possible acquaintances with Birthdays etc. so all Birthday reminders get a message whether they remember who you are or not. And they blame you, so stop being boring and forgettable!
  • Blonds are treated with an amount of hostility by other women,and Riki is willing to relinquish this power of being semi hated by women and lusted after by men through the use of wigs.
  • If you are topless in a horror movie, the director will only be feeling it if you are a blond.
  • “I felt your vagina fall asleep on my penis!”
  • Weed cards make fun legal, and everyone has enough wrong with them to warrant a prescription. All you have to do is be honest with yourself about the many things wrong with you. Also, if there is nothing wrong with you, you have led an empty life.
  • “Meditation is like giving a bullhorn to all the thoughts I have quieted with television.”
  • If you wait too long to have a baby your eggs might turn into an “Of Mice and Men” situation. At least in Riki’s fearful yet eloquent imagination.
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  • Riki used her actual experiences with the process of freezing her eggs for the last two episodes of the season. Watching these, I felt they were incredibly cathartic and genuine. After they have learned about themselves through difficult yet enriching experiences, the season ends in an emotional and triumphant kazoo parade.
Throughout the first season there are appearances by Ben Kingsley, Natasha Leggero, Ari Graynor, Busy Philipps, Abby Elliott, Kevin Pollack, and Jason Ritter among others.