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An Enigma of Animation
What hinders the film is skin deep but obvious- the animation is ugly. It's cheaply made and produced, and it sacrifices a cleaner art style for cleaner movement. And unfortunately, it hurts the film badly. The funding this movie got came far too late, unfortunately, but its also one the things that makes it memorable. I honestly cannot decide if the film would be better off if it had had a bigger budget, or if it would've subtracted from its charm. I honestly think most of the budget for this film went into that one fight scene and Boingo's song and dance number (and that isn't a complaint, by the way, I actually think those scenes are genius). Ultimately, this movie is fun to watch as a child and as an adult. If you remember it from back then, watch it again now, even as a novelty, and if you've never seen it, give it a peak, you may be in for a good time.

Ugly Delicious

A show that holds its voice in many voices.
When it comes to reality television, the genre that always has interested me the most is food and travel. What I've always liked about the genre is it's ability to represent a culture and take me to a place I've never been, as well as introducing me to something I've never experienced before. Duh, right? Food TV has begun to represent the tastes (pun intended) of every reality television demographic, with different moods and personalities for each audience. But all of these suffer from usually one of two things: these shows are either boiled down to a basic, mainstream view of the culture and cuisine that is mainly targeted towards white middle aged moms and their children (think any show on TLC and a majority of the Food Network), or is aimed at a demographic that believes itself to be superior in taste with a level of pretension that either insults the culture that is engaging itself in or inserts an equally insulting level of appropriation. God forbid they end up doing both. The closest thing I've seen to breaking this mold was Anthony Bourdain's television efforts, and up until now, his entries were my favorites. But even then, these shows were coming from a white, upper class, gourmet male chef's point of view. No matter how much of a "cool dad" aesthetic Bourdain put on, he's still experiencing culture from a point of view that is entirely privileged. Until recently, Bourdain was the only celebrity chef host that was permeating the genre to a mainstream audience, whilst keeping himself mostly unpretentious (although his attempts to do this could very well unintentionally land him in the very direction he was clearly avoiding.) Then enter the new Netflix series from chef David Chang, Ugly Delicious. Ugly Delicious is a show that focuses on a different type of food each episode, dissecting the individual food's culture, its representation, its roots and history, and the reflections of it from various individuals. David Chang brings a new view that is unique to him particularly as a Korean-American chef, and his background and history is referenced frequently. Each episode of the show feels like it's own documentary, about Chang and his personal relationship with a different kind of food or tradition. Now, this isn't anything extraordinarily different. What is different, however, is that this show is not about David Chang experiencing food and culture exclusively. Alongside Chang is a revolving door of casually introduced food-world individuals; Restaurateurs, chefs, food critics, food journalists, cookbook authors, and even actors with a personal connection to the food that they're experiencing. This keeps the show incredibly interesting. Nearly none of these people (besides a brief appearance from Jimmy Kimmel and arguably Eric Wareheim and Aziz Ansari) are talking heads whom you've seen a thousands times before. These are all people who know their stuff because they're actively working on it away from television. This is what keeps the show from approaching the mainstream baseline that the Guy Fieri's of the food tv world so frequently engage in. What's more, there is a story to each episode that makes it unique from every other show of its kind. We jump between different times in Chang's food journey, varying between different company members, and even occasionally omitting Chang entirely. This show is about people, and about food, but does not focus on one or the other exclusively. Here's an example: In the first episode of the show, the Pizza episode, which is my personal favorite, we open to Chang and longtime friend and food writer Peter Meehan observing pizza chef Mark Ianco at his Brooklyn Pizza Lucali, talking about pizza and Ianco's personal craft, to then talking about pizza as a conceptual whole-what makes pizza authentic, what makes pizza, "pizza"?. But then we begin jumping around to different settings and stories. We see Chang and actor Aziz Ansari trying a unique japanese pizza, discussing the culture of japanese cuisine and what is fusion. This continues on the theme of what authenticity is when it comes to pizza and food as a whole, and continues into the following segments: Ianco trying Connecticut pizza for the first time, Meehan and Ianco visiting traditional and conventional Neapolitan pizza restaurants in Naples, Italy, Attilio Bachetti, of one of the oldest pizza kitchens in Naples talking about their tradition and techniques, a charming animated segment about all the ways to fold and eat pizza, Chang visiting Wolfgang Puck talking about his pizza and his freezing of it, Meehan and Ianco observing an italian mozzarella making process, Chang talking to Norwegian/Italian chef Christian Francesco Puglisi about his process and cultural background, trash food writer Walter Green attending a commercial pizza convention, Chang visiting a Domino's location and observing their process to then adouring the blue uniform himself and making deliveries. That is a lot of different content to fit into a fifty minute episode, and each of these segments is woven into each other, coming back anywhere between two to four times, all the while talking about what it is to be authentic, with various ideas presented throughout in a very conversational way that ranges from calmly neutral to incredibly aggressive. To a frequent food and travel television viewer, this approach is extremely refreshing, as it defies the convention of what food and travel TV is, and blends them both incredibly. It's not just about Pizza, and it's not just about New York, or Naples, or anywhere else Pizza is produced- it's about both. All the while doing so in a tone that doesn't avoid pretension specifically, but naturally dips in and out of it, leaving the show with not just one identity or voice, but many. Many of these people come from places of success and privilege, and some of them aren't even entirely aware of it at times, but this adds another layer to its tone. Whether its Chang cooking traditional "white people" Thanksgiving food alongside his Korean mother whilst she cooks Korean, interviewing restaurant chefs on cooking at home, debating on dumplings vs pasta, eating Donkey in china, ordering Taco Bell in car full of food critics, or in what is my favorite scene from the entire series, talking about Asian Americans making themselves more prominent publically with Steven Yeun, the curtain is being pulled back in many ways that we've never seen before in this kind of TV. The individuals who become mouthpieces for the discussion shape it, but they all think rather differently, and while Chang is always a voice in each episode, talking about almost all foods from an Asian American approach, he's not always the primary one, so different views are always being represented. You'd think by doing all this at once the show would be unfocused and even hard to follow, but it's actually quite opposite, being very organized, and cohesive, without ever becoming boring. Visually, the show ranges from creative, colorful, and cinematic, to pretty standard jump cuts and average doc shots that don't reach very far beyond the genre's standard. Each episode has an entirely unique introduction, many of them very cinematic and enjoyable, but sometimes have very little to do with the particular topic the episode is addressing. Some intros flair simply lies in the editing, going for very little further than the bear minimum of an introduction. Some episodes also have informative animated segments that never really feel to have any continuity between episodes, which I think is kind of the point, but this is never explored to its full potential. Much like Anthony Bourdain's productions, each episode of Ugly Delicious has its own thesis layden throughout, which almost always has to do with cultural, racial, and political history. This is the shows biggest strength, and also, its only true weakness. In watching this show, we very quickly learn that David Chang is both progressive and aggressive in his standing by his opinions. Whether it's all but berating a vietnamese New Orleans chef to cook VietCajun food in an area of the country that clings to its food traditions without question, or his asserting his views on working and immigration while in the home of an Vietnamese immigrant chef who believes in long term, vetted immigration, we see that Chang stands by his views that both food and politics should be continually moving and changing. But we also see that he does have a reverence and appreciation for long standing tradition in both respects. While I personally agree with Chang's approach, and what he says about it, I don't think the show ever tries particularly hard to reach an answer; sometimes leaving us floating with no real conclusion, whilst other times it belabors its point. I'm not saying I want to be told what the right thought is- we have Bourdain for that- but there's definitely something here that is extremely interesting and intriguing, but isn't bringing us far enough. Again, we see really good, unique ideas being brought forward, but they're not always explored fully. The show is defying convention, but occasionally stops halfway when it gets tired and relies on the crutches of that convention again. Hopefully, we can see these ideas pushed further in a second season, and really bridge this slight gap in the show. Overall, I really, really enjoy the this first season of Ugly Delicious, and hope to be able to see more. The direction in this show is incredibly refreshing, and is proving again that while you can't reinvent the wheel, you can still modify it. What David Chang has done is brought forth something that all travel and food audiences can nearly unanimously appreciate- something that isn't quite artsy, and yet not quite undignified. Ugly Delicious has a voice in that it is made of many voices, with many different views and backgrounds- and honestly, isn't that something we could use more of right now? 9.2/10

The Polka King

Decent filler for the Netflix library.
Before watching this film, I watched the documentary on what it's based. If you want to actually know the true story of Jan Lewan, watch that documentary. If you want to have a fun, basic movie experience- watch this one. It's clear that this film is very far from relating to the actual events that occurred in Pennsylvania, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the twisting of the facts drastically change the viewers impression of who Lewan is. The Polka King is a film that can't decide what it is- is it a full out outlandish comedy, or an actual biopic? Some moments come off as truthful and sincere, which contradict other moments that are a bit too over the top and break the overall feeling of the film. We see that primarily in the portrayal of Barb (Jacki Weaver), a character that is clear and distinct but feels as if she belongs in an SNL sketch, alongside characters (such as Jack Black's portrayal of Jan Lewan) that are clearly meant to be more realistic. The performances in this movie that range from solid- Jack Black, as always, is giving his all and is fun to watch, to just not great and out of place- J.B. Smooth just doesn't make sense here. Overall, this is a TV movie. It's not a higher piece of art or anything like that, but if you're looking for something to just watch for the evening, this movie is perfectly suitable. 6.0/10

Expedition Happiness

A load of unoffensive fluff with little meaning.
This movie is like a youtube travel vlog pulled out to feature length. There's barely any conflict in the entire thing, and when there is, it's usually because of Salim and Felix's (the couple taking the trip) own carelessness. This movie is too well-off german hipsters, traveling around in a modified school bus, whining about travel and taking care of their mountain dog who repeatedly gets sick and injured throughout their trip. Very little happens apart from that, and it becomes grating after a while. There's no higher meaning in it, the cinematography (if you can even call it that) is just bland nature shots, and the only reason given behind this couple taking this trip is simply "we wanna be happy". There's nothing interesting there. The two of them are extraordinarily bland, and throughout the hour and a half spent with them, virtually nothing is learned about them. The soundtrack, which consist's of Salim's music, is some nice, bland indie tunes that don't amount to much. There isn't really a film here. It's harmless, I guess, and some of the people they occasionally meet are interesting but I really don't see a point in watching this film. If you want video of some pretty travel shots and a cute dog to play in the background while you do others things, then this movie would work for that, I guess, but other than that, you can definitely skip it. 2.8/10

The Shape of Water

A gorgeously shot, classic yet original story.
Going into this film, I had already heard a lot of the award season buzz, so I knew that there were at least some really good parts about it. And that buzz was not wrong; this movie is spectacular. Literally, this film is a spectacle. The visuals of this movie are gorgeous- the colors pop brilliantly, the shots are stunning and unique, the lighting is dynamic and intriguing, and the effects are incredibly impressive. The Amphibian Man looks fantastic. He really looks like he's there, and the combination of CG and Prosthetics work incredibly well together. What carries this film, along with the effects, are the performances- the whole cast of this film is brilliant. Sally Hawkins gives an outstanding performance as Eliza. She's poignant and sympathetic and stunning, and the angle of her being mute really carries her performance, and also carries her relationship with the Amphibian Man. Michael Shannon's performance as well, as well as the reflection of his character against the setting of the 1960's, is really enlightening and interesting. His last line is my favorite line in the movie. The problem's I have with this film mostly stem from the third act, where things start to get a little cheesy and predictable, but the ending is still very well earned. This movie has elements of a a great fairy tale, and has a lot of potential to become a classic story. 8.3/10


A Poignant Look at a Great Man, as Well as Sean Penn's Greatest Performance
Milk is a biography drama film that tells the story of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist who became the United States' first openly gay elected official, up until his assassination by Dan fellow city supervisor Dan White on November 27, 1978. The film was directed by Gus Van Sant, and he does a really, really solid job. From the very opening of the film, it's clear what this film's intent is- to get you invested in Harvey's life, what happened to him, and the plight of the gay community in San Francisco at in the 1970's. This is all achieved, in quite a brilliant way. Harvey's political career was cut extremely short, as he didn't begin running for office until his forties and he was only city supervisor for eleven months, but his impact was felt. He was the leader of the movement that was taking place in San Francisco at the time. It is clear that Van Sant really does try to keep the film historically accurate, and it does not appear that there are any fabrications to the story, although it is clear to anyone with knowledge on Harvey and his life that some things have been cut out. The film opens with Harvey meeting Scott Smith, his longtime boyfriend, the night of his fortieth birthday, so anything that happened in his life before that point is not explored, although this really works to the films merit. The way this narrative is woven throughout the film is what makes it such a strong piece. In the beginning, it is explicitly said what is going to take place by the end of the film, so that the meat of the viewer's focus is brought to the events as they take place, and how we get to the eventual outcome. The performances here are fantastic, with Sean Penn's sincere and bubbly performance as Harvey Milk being one of the best of his career. His chemistry with James Franco as Scott Smith is also just fantastic. The people around Harvey, his political team and his friends, are incredibly likeable, interesting, and well acted. The story and time setting of this film is what really sells it. It is extremely engaging, very well thought out, and establishes an absolutely great symphony of different moods throughout its duration. The costume design and the way in which this movie is shot really establishes the time period of this film extraordinarily well. There's shots during scenes in which Harvey's giving speeches from a crowd, that are either shot from a crane overhead or from right in the crowd, which are incredibly engaging, and establish mood very well. There are a lot of very memorable scenes in this film that really compel the viewer to sympathize with the movement, and Harvey's dedication to being able to not just be gay, but openly gay in America. Harvey's occasional narration through tape recorder is a great technique to keep the story moving, and it adds great depth to his character. While the dialogue is pretty well written, every now and again it feels a little manufactured, with dialogue setting up the next event, but it's still very serviceable and not too distracting. It's not only a landmark in biography and LGBT film, but an important historical film as well. I absolutely love this film. 9.0/10

Lady Bird

Relatable, brilliant, and gorgeously rewatchable.
I was absolutely enthralled by this film. "Lady Bird" is a great look at the life of a teenage girl, with an earnest approach to storytelling that I appreciate greatly. The performances are what really sell this film- particularly that of the family unit. Saorise Ronan and Laurie Metcalf have such great chemistry in this film, and the reality in their performances are the basis for the film. Most coming of age stories that focus on a girl are about romance- about romantic relationships during the adolescence of the protagonist shaping her view of life and love in some way. And while there are elements of this in the film, that's not the focus. The love story is that of the mother and daughter, and is incredibly well done. Lady Bird's relationships with each member of her family (father, brother, and her brother's girlfriend) lend great shape to her background, so when we observe her outside of this setting, we understand so much more. The way this script is written is also so natural- scenes just kind of start or just kind of end, like we're being dropped in and out of the middle of things, and it feels so incredibly natural. It's shot pretty well, rather standardly, but there's still an interesting approach here and there, and it is very well directed.The way this film addresses all it's themes is so well done, it never comes across as preachy or moralistic- it's just life. Elements like Marion's work as a mental health professional, Lady Bird's first relationship (and how it ends, that scene at the coffee shop really sold me on this film), and especially the element of the catholic church really inform all of the influences on Lady Bird. The catholic school that Lady Bird attends isn't some harsh, unforgiving place, it's a realistic portrayal of the setting. The faculty at the school, particularly Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith) and Father Leviatch (Stephen Henderson) are friendly, kind, understanding people, and are complex characters, even though their roles are minor. The way that the drama club is utilized is so true of a high school drama club (as an actor, I can tell you that that audition scene was spot on), and is just another element that fills out the world of the film so well. As far as misgivings, I only have two main issues with the film. I think that the character's are played a little too young for the high school seniors they're meant to represent. This often happens when you have older people playing high schoolers, but I genuinely think that some of the attitudes and ways of thinking of these characters is closer to a high school sophomore or junior than a senior, but that's honestly a nitpick. The biggest issue is the use of a cliche we've seen in every high school movie- the "leaves best friend for the popular kids, only to realize that they aren't great friends after all, only to reunite with the best friend a short time later." This really could have been handled better in some way. Although it really doesn't bring it down too much for me. I really adored this film and can't wait to see it again, and I highly, highly recommend it. 9.5/10


A strange but enjoyable piece of the "Batman" film library.
"Batman" is a franchise with a gigantic mythos that has spanned across various mediums with hundreds upon hundreds of contributors over the years, so naturally with each iteration there are going to be new ideas and variations. Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" film is no exception, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of this is done very right- the scene design is very classic Gotham, and very intriguing, maintaining that signature gritty and gray smoggy city image while still architecturally interesting. The costume and prop designs are very comic book, Joker and Batman really pop out and look how they would in a comic, instead of having their colors muted to be more "realistic". There are some choices made here and there that are just kind of brilliant to me- when the news anchors have to not wear makeup and hairspray, I thought it was such a nice and darkly funny touch. As far as the acting goes, the performances here range from okay to phenomenal, with Jack Nicholson being the standout. His performance here is absolutely fantastic, and the range he maintains as Joker is amazing. Kim Bassinger's performance as Vikki Vale is also very good, and she makes good use of her plentiful screen time, with Robert Wuhl, Michael Gough, and Pat Hingle deliver solid performances as Alexander Knox, Alfred Pennyworth, and Commissioner Gordon, respectively. Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne, however, doesn't do much for me. Keaton is by no means a bad actor, but he fails to deliver a lot of the personality traits that make Wayne and Batman so interesting as individual parts of the man's personality, and the way that these roles are portrayed are both very level with very little variation between the two. Keaton barely talks throughout the whole film, which doesn't help as he's on screen almost the entire time, and when he does speak, he doesn't really say anything that's very interesting or helpful. This becomes a problem as the film mostly just cycles between focusing on Wayne/Batman, Joker and his gang, Vikki Vale, or Knox, and because Joker is the most fun to watch, I found myself just waiting for him to be on screen again. My whole impression of this film is that it's just strange. It makes a lot of variations to the Batman mythos (no spoilers here, don't worry), that aren't necessarily bad choices, but they don't add a whole lot, particularly the changes made to Bruce's origin story. I do like some the changes that they made to the Joker, although the whole "secret identity" piece for him doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I actually didn't realize until AFTER I watched it that it was intended that people except for Bruce didn't know who he was- that really makes no sense. Come to think of it, the way that Bruce Wayne's identity is handled really makes no sense to- especially from the people in his inner circle (Alfred, seriously?) The biggest thing I had with this film is that I couldn't figure out the tone it wanted to have. Nicholson's Joker is great, but he's not extremely menacing per say, as he's just a big goof with a gun. And chemicals. And a bunch of goons. We can tell he's dangerous, but he's still kind of predictable. He mugs at somebody, makes some jokes, and then kills them, rinse repeat. The film has a gloomy tone, but it's shot a lot like a mainstream film, not doing a whole lot particularly new in the cinematography department, and the tone is kind of all over the place, so the emotion that's trying to be instilled is never really achieved, but this kind of seemed on purpose? This is what really confuses me. There's a lot of quiet talking, and then all of sudden Joker just kind of pops up with a bunch of dudes playing some Prince music and dances around, and you can tell Nicholson's really putting in his all here, but it just doesn't hit the mark I think that they should have been going for. He's not scary, really, he's just fun. There's also a handful of plot inconsistencies, as well as full on plot holes, that don't necessarily bring the film down, but they are certainly there. With the addition of a few hammy lines, a runtime that feels a little bloated, as well as some under utilized supporting cast (it feels like Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon are just here because you're supposed to have them for a Batman story, and I really think Dent could've been dropped altogether, although I did want to see more of Gordon), the movie gets dragged to just being a strange, yet fun time. Really what this comes down to, for me, is style over substance- the design is great, and fits the intent well, but the acting is just overall good, not great, and the plot really couldn't get me to care a whole lot at all. I would recommend this film for any Batman fan, and any film fan, really, if not just to see Nicholson's performance, because as I keep saying, he is SO fun to watch. 7.2/10

The Disaster Artist

An incredible REAL Hollywood MOVIE
The Disaster Artist is absolutely incredible. I don't want to go into detail because honestly this is one of those movies that is best seen relatively blind. What I will say is that the performances are great, the chemistry between Tommy and Greg is pitch perfect, and Seth Rogen and the rest of the supporting cast do an excellent job. The tone of the film is absolutely spot on. The last scene of this movie, and what comes after the end card, absolutely blew me away; this film is so much fun. I just saw this movie, and I already want to see it again. I rarely say this, but I can't think of literally anything this movie could've done differently that would've made it better. Everything it set out to do is done incredibly well. I highly, highly recommend this film. 10/10

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Muppetiest Christmas You Could Ever Ask For
This is probably my favorite Christmas special of all time, and I never even saw it as a kid. I have a weakness for the Muppets, and this special literally just hits you with all the muppety goodness you could ever ask for. The crossovers with Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock are so well done, and the little relationships they build with the characters (Oscar and Rizzo, Big Bird and Swedish Chef, Animal and Cookie Monster, Kermit and Doc) are just so sweet and funny and incredibly heartwarming. That's the best word to sum the whole thing up- heartwarming. The music is wonderful, the jokes are actually kind of hilarious (the scene with Fozzie and the Snowman is INCREDIBLE), and it's just a lot of fun. My favorite bit in the whole thing has got to be the scene with Ernie and Bert and Doc ("where we're from, this is small talk), and the whole plot line with Miss Piggy trying to get to the farmhouse and her big entrance at the end is so CLASSIC Piggy, and that cameo at the end has me in tears every single time. I can't ever not watch this special, as it's the biggest and best crossover the Jim Henson Company ever did, and it's just DRIPPING in Christmas magic. I absolutely love this special, and I highly recommend it. 9.5/10

Murder on the Orient Express

Not awful, but not great either. Just a decent, probably unnecessary remake.
I saw this film at the request of a friend, and was less excited going in than I usually am when I go to see a new movie, as I saw this movie getting mediocre reviews. That being said, this is a very decent film. If you like movies that are shot and acted in a very traditional way, you'll like this film. That is to say, it's a murder mystery, which isn't done much these days, as well as mostly shot in one small location, which doesn't happen in most films as of late. It has some really great talent in it as well, but does do that thing where there's big name talent that doesn't do much (like, Judi Dench is great as always, but WHY IS SHE HERE SHE HAS LIKE ONE SCENE). If you already know the story of this film, as it is a remake, you could probably skip it, as from what I can tell there really isn't anything new done here. It's very well shot, with the acting and directing performance from Kenneth Branagh being very notable, he does a great job in both roles in this. The whole cast does a pretty good job (Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad, Judi Dench and ESPECIALLY William Defoe are all favorites here), although there are a few corny line deliveries and the computer effects and makeup are sometimes kinda distracting (at one point I turned to my friend and asked; "It's 2017, why does the train look like the Polar Express?"). Overall, I'd say if you're a fan of old movies, you'll like this film. It doesn't have anything offensively bad with it, it's just not the best film in the theater right now. 6.8/10

Man on the Moon

An underrated, poignant, and essential biopic
I just finished watching "Man on the Moon" for the first time, and it's already one of my favorites. I had a tiny amount of knowledge on Andy Kaufman before now, and I'm sure not everything in the film is 100% accurate, but as a film, this really really holds up. Kaufmans whole character, and Jim Carey's portrayal of him is absolutely fantastic, wildly funny and brilliant. I really appreciated how many of the people in this film were portrayed by the people who actually were there at the time (Loren Michaels, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Belzer, and ESPECIALLY THE MAN THE MYTH THE LEGEND JERRY THE KING LAWLER) Paul Giamatti and Danny Devito are class acts as always, and really lend a great weight to the film, balancing Carey out wonderfully. Carey in comedic/serious roles strikes me in all the right ways. Everything about this movie strikes me. I love entertainers like this (both Kaufman and Carey's portrayal of him) and this film just really played my emotions in all the right ways. The only time I ever was slightly disappointed with this film was during the milk and cookie scene, as the closeup on Carey's face and the music swell was a little too intentionally sappy and "redeeming" for my taste, but it's a nitpick really. Usually I don't bend backwards for "feel good" stories, but the way that this story is depicted before it gets to that point really had me, and it's one of the only times that the ending of a film made me emotional: I highly recommend this film. 10/10

How I Met Your Mother

One of those things that you just NEED to see
"How I Met Your Mother" is a ride. It's a sitcom that checks off all the boxes, characters you grow to love, and jokes and stories that are both entertaining and iconic. The main cast is absolutely fantastic, and the side character's that come in and out over time compliment the main cast very well. The added elements here- that of the mystery of who the mother is and the really poignant dramatic undertones (that eventually turn into overtones) are, for the most part, very successful. That being said, the show has drawbacks. The laugh track is sometimes distractingly fake, the plot lines can sometimes be repetitive and predictable, and there are some minor inconsistencies that can be really distracting. The last season is also, objectively, the worst one, and that's quite a large disappointment (WHAT IS WITH THAT GREEN SCREEN LIKE SERIOUSLY?). That being said, this show is still so worth your time. The acting, particularly from Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, and Cobie Smulders is phenomenal, some of the best performances I've ever seen on television. They play all types of moods and styles while maintaining their characters very well, they are at home in these characters. Character pulls this through. You really grow to love these five, and you want to see them do well and succeed, despite their shortcomings and mistakes. Give 'How I Met Your Mother' a binge watch, I highly recommend it. 8.0/10

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

An excellent look at the classic hip-hop group that is an excellent experience for any music fan.
"Beats, Rhymes, and Life" does a very good job of exploring A Tribe Called Quest's beginnings as well as it's influence, and is the type of music documentary that all others should look to when trying to tell an artist's story in a impactful and informative way, and it checks off all of the boxes that one should expect such a movie to go through, but it doesn't just cover the group as a whole- it covers all of the members personal lives in a good yet relevant way. The reason why it works better than many other films in this genre is that it covers the bands breakup and fallings out as those things are actually happening; not everything is current and not everything is in hindsight-it's a really healthy and good mix, and that's something I really admire it for. In addition to that, interviews from other musicians that've been impacted by the group's influence do a decent (albeit sometimes generic) job of informing the viewer on the impact the group has actually had. My biggest issue with this film is that it feels a little too long, and sometimes there are interviews that don't feel entirely necessary, and become a little boring and inflate the running time, when what I really want to see is more info from the actual members of the tribe. Overall, I really enjoyed this film and would easily recommend it. 7.4/10

Young Frankenstein

A subtley funny gem of a classic.
Young Frankenstein is macabre genius. The performances in this movie are odd and brilliant, from the townspeople and constable to Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman (both of whom absolutely steal the show), with really odd, strange, dry-yet goofy humor pushing the story along beautifully. My favorite part of this film is it's premise. The idea of Dr.Frankensteins grandson going mad following in his footsteps is a very original one, and I really enjoyed it. It's also one of the first movies in a long while that I can tell went over my head. Very few of the jokes are delivered in a way where it's obvious that they're jokes, they kind of just fit into the movies overall conversational tone between characters; the best example of this being Igor, whose presence in the movie is absolutely fantastic. The biggest problem for me, and I'm aware that it's a personal problem, is that when a joke is too obvious, I feel like it kind of breaks the tone that was already established, and therefore it doesn't get a laugh out of me. I also feel as if the monster is maybe introduced a tad too late, and I'd like to see more of him in the film as he is very entertaining. However, this is all really negligible. This is the type of spoof movie that all others should try to imitate, subtle and original, and able to stand up on its own without having much prior knowledge of the original, and is entirely worthy of its classic status. 8.8/10

American Anarchist

An unfair disappointment.
American Anarchist is a documentary that doesn't understand what the purpose of a documentary film actually is. Documentaries, as I see them, are not meant to pass judgment on the subject they are documenting, but simply explain the subject and details from all sides around it, and let the viewer draw their own conclusions. American Anarchist does not do this. The interviews with William Powell are actually really interesting and good; he's a really interesting person and his stories are really enjoyable, no matter what your thought on his actions are. But once the filmmakers questions are introduced, the film takes a nosedive, by seemingly blaming Powell for every bad thing in the world. I really wanted to like American Anarchist more than I did, because I feel like Powell's thoughts and feelings are really important, as well as the feelings of his wife referring to the subject of the Cookbook, and I feel like from a historical standpoint this movie should be viewed by a lot more people. But because of the conclusions the film draws for the viewer in such an accusatory manner, I can't in good conscious recommend this film to people who can't understand nuance. If the topic interests you, definitely check out this film, but if you don't enjoy poorly executed documentaries, you can skip this one. 4.3/10

Oh, Hello on Broadway

Weird, Hilarious, and Beautiful
I went into "Oh, Hello" knowing very little, and I think that's the best way to go into this. "Oh, Hello" is a weird and stupidly brilliant mix of stand-up and theatre, and as a passionate fan of both of these mediums, I absolutely loved the way Nick Kroll and John Mulaney blended and created this performance. "Oh, Hello" is unique, original, and interesting, and should be considered essential for theatre and stand-up fans. The characters of George and Gil are well executed and extremely fun to watch, and I absolutely love this special. It is one of the most quotable pieces I have ever seen. Don't get me wrong, there are flaws here. The show tries to tackle a lot of different things; an interview, standup, a story, a "ballet", and all these elements are well meaning and pretty well executed, but sometimes, particularly during the interview, they feel a little bit like lulls in the performance. A lot of the jokes, as well, are very New York based, about specific parts of living in and being in New York city, and if you're not familiar with NYC then these might go over your head, even though they're quite poignant and funny. That being said, the elements that Kroll and Mulaney introduce here are extremely interesting and entertaining, and make the show incredibly unique and fun to watch, and if you like performance art of really any form, you'll probably enjoy this. "Oh, Hello" is an excellent example the great kind of creative content a platform like Netflix can provide, and is definitely deserving of at least one watch. 9.5/10

The Founder

A decent biopic with an interesting premise and characters, but flawed pacing.
Going into "The Founder", I was really looking forward to watching it: the idea of telling a biographical story of the start of the worlds most notorious fast-food giant was extremely appealing. And for the most part, I got what I wanted. The story is about traveling salesman Roy Kroc (Michael Keaton), who is always out looking to make himself famous and revered for the "next big thing", studying the art of persistence. Through his travels in selling, he finds Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman) McDonald, two brothers in California who have created a revolutionary system of serving high quality food to customers very quickly. Kroc partners with them, and begins franchising out the rights to the restaurants. Over time, however, Kroc and the McDonald's begin to have feel a lot of strain on their relationship, with Kroc's insatiable hunger for control and power making the relationship fairly toxic, until eventually, he completely screws the brothers out of the institution they created. The parts of the story that focus on the relationship between Kroc and the McDonald's are the strongest elements of this film, with Nick Offerman's performance being the standout. The relationship between the brothers is very interesting to watch, and the sympathetic eye the movie puts them in isn't overdone and really does help the viewer form a connection with the two. Michael Keaton's performance as Roy Kroc is also excellent, and all the nuances of this selfish, power hungry man are really felt through his acting, you really feel as if he's mastered this character. However, where this movie falls apart for me is the way it's paced and how it handles all the characters that aren't the McDonald's and Kroc. When the movie begins, it's relatively fast paced, showcasing Kroc's struggle to sell this one particular milkshake mixer to different drive-ins across the Midwest, him discovering the McDonald's, driving out to meet them, and the McDonald's telling him their story of how they created the restaurant, leading up to him becoming a partner in the company. All of this happens in less than 45 minutes, and after that, everything just seems to really crawl. The entirety of the McDonald's creating their company is told through narration and flashbacks with the character's just sitting at a table and talking, and suffers from too much telling and not enough showing. After that point, various rich white guys in suits are introduced as footnotes, and then rarely mentioned again, with their characters never having much weight to the ultimate story being told. No joke, at the end of the movie there's pictures and text showing where all the people ended up in real life, and I barely knew who most of them were, because they were introduced once or twice and then just kind of hung in the background for the rest of the film. The relationship between Kroc and his wife doesn't do anything new, and doesn't add very much to the impression of his character at all, and uses time that could've been spent on other characters.This movie honestly just needed some tightening up. There's a lot about it to praise- all of the acting in this movie is actually pretty good, and the shots are perfectly suitable (albeit pretty standard_ for this kind of film- it just needs some tightening up to really push it into that higher quality territory. 6.8/10


Very cute idea that does nothing new.
LOU is a great example of a great idea not given enough room to breathe. LOU is about the Lost and Found bin at a school or daycare that is somehow sentient, with all the items inside the bin forming a its own mismatched being, One day, LOU sees a bully on the playground taking things from other kids, and in retaliation steals back the kids lost toys through an adorable slapstick-filled chase scene, and barters with the kid to give back all the items that have been put in the lost and found over time, in exchange for the bully's lost stuffed puppy. As more and more items are given back, LOU disappears, as there's nothing left in the lost and found for him to inhabit, and the kid learns a lesson about being nice. It's perfectly fine and a tad sad, but it's not doing anything that kids animation hasn't done before, which is what holds it back, and also is completely ripped apart by the simple question "why did one kid have to return everything, why didn't the kids just get their lost toys themselves"? However, the core idea of this short, the idea of a Lost and Found come to life, has a lot of potential and is representative of the creativity Pixar is known for. Definitely a cute short, just nothing super special. 6.5/10

Cars 3

A better "Cars" movie than the previous, but still pretty basic
I went into this movie expecting to not like it a whole lot, and I wasn't wrong, as the Cars movies are notorious for being the worst that Pixar has to offer. This movie is simply just 'okay'. Some of the best choices in this film were moving away from the last one and moving back towards the "strengths" of the original film, focusing less on Mater and more on Lightning McQueen and his racing career. This sounds like a positive, however the first half of this movie is an absolute SLOG, with the pacing of a Saturday morning cartoon, introducing new characters that are supposed to be longtime friends of Lightning that we've never met before, trying to form some kind of sentimental connection that was never there to begin with. The plot is relatively predictable, and operates as a comeback story, but the way it executes it toward the end and the message it brings through is actually pretty positive. The whole film is centered around Lightning not being the fastest car anymore, and him training with his new trainer Cruz to become faster, while along the way forming a personal connection with Cruz, who really wants to not be a trainer, but rather desires to be a racer. Lightning eventually realizes he can't be the same racer he used to be, and following in the footsteps of his former race coach, puts Cruz in the final race and moves on to a new stage of his life, accepting his old age and moving forward with something new. I really like this, however the execution could've been a whole lot better, as the jokes really aren't too funny and the story is pretty predictable, and really holds the hand of the viewer, as well as including a whole lot of side characters that never really do a whole lot. As a kids movie though, it's perfectly suitable, and I can definitely recommend this for any family to see. 5.2/10

Tales of the Tinkerdee

A cute little puppet show that is essential for any die hard Henson fan.
I have definite bias in the fact that I've been a giant muppets and Jim Henson fan for my entire life, however, I need to say that going into this, after have knowing of its existence for many years, I had very low expectations. Early Henson work is typically not as good as his later work, as the production value was naturally much lower, and the crew and resources available were a lot more lacking than they were later on. However, this production is actually extremely enjoyable. The story is simple and easy to understand, built in traditional fairy tale archetypes, but the humor brought to the story, particularly by the witch Gruntilda, doesn't come across as babyish like one might assume, but in a very entertaining, witty way. Other characters in the special also provide comedic slapstick and the pacing is very good, so it never becomes dull or boring and always stays entertaining. The musical element brought by Kermit, while sometimes a little flat, still adds another element to the special that keeps the viewers focus, and is clever and entertaining enough that it never becomes grating. Definitely give this a shot, especially if you're a Muppets fan, you won't regret it. 7.7/10

Life Itself

A Documentary that can make you sympathize with a person, even if you never knew their work.
Now admittedly, I was not very familiar with Roger Ebert's work or career until right before I watched this film; I actually was surprised to learn that he had passed away, due to the fact that I still see reviews from his website everywhere. My only real knowledge of him was that he was essentially the go-to film critic, and the primary face of film criticism. But after watching this film, I don't feel like I know every single bit and piece of the man's work, and because of that I feel like this movie did exactly what it wanted to do, for better or for worse. "Life Itself" strikes the perfect balance between informing the viewer on its subject while still not spoon feeding the viewer; we aren't given every little detail of Ebert's life, but a flowing narrative that informs us on his character and his career. This movie serves more it seems as a visual companion piece of his autobiography, as many excerpts from it are used in the film, and in that regard I think it really works very well. This film never paints Ebert as perfect, but it always shows the right balance of sympathy and realism to really feel like Roger Ebert as a person is encapsulated well in this film. This movie isn't about a movie critic as much as it's about a man's life. A man who just happened to have a deep passion for film criticism. And ultimately, this film does an excellent job of representing a man whose impact on the realm film criticism very well, albeit with the occasionally pacing issue or interview that feels a little unnecessary. Overall, I can definitely recommend "Life Itself" to any movie fan. 8.7/10

Get Out

A horror movie that makes you think instead of groan
As a self-proclaimed horror movie avoider, I was hesitant about "Get Out". I usually believe that often times modern horror movies really don't do much to tell an interesting story or prove a point, and really serve little of a purpose other than to make a lot of money at a low production cost, but "Get Out" isn't that kind of horror movie. I would argue that it isn't really a horror movie at all, but rather a comedic thriller with so many fantastic twists and turns that you'll have to watch it a second time just to put the pieces together. This movie portrays race in (at least from my view as a pasty white person) in a realistic, nuanced way, while still remaining poignant and funny. It doesn't portray white people as inherently evil, but does show the flaws that everyone can have when it comes to the subject of race, and anyone who tries to tell you that this movie has some kind of deep political agenda are people who are looking for something to be offended by. The performances offered by the entire cast are excellent, but the standouts here are definitely Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Lil Rel Howrey, for being smart and tragic, believably insane, and absolutely hilarious, respectively. The amount of fresh new talent in this film is fantastic, and Jordan Peele has certainly proved himself as not only a competent director and dramatic writer, but a potentially prolific one. The biggest issue I'd have with this film would be the occasional unnecessary jump scare, where a loud noise plays for absolutely no reason, just to spook the audience. But this happens very rarely, and is easy to ignore after the moment passes. Overall, I can easily recommend this film, and think that everyone should keep an eye on the career's of everyone involved here, I think you'll be rewarded royally. 9.2/10

The Smash Brothers

Turns out nerds are people too! And this film showcases that fact brilliantly.
"The Smash Brothers" is a documentary that does all the things all good documentary's do, and it does these things extraordinarily well, especially considering that this was a kickstarter project. Firstly, I'd like to make it clear that there are two ways to watch this documentary- both on Youtube, you can either watch this episodically or all at once, and I would recommend watching this episode by episode, as I did, purely for the reason that "The Smash Brothers" can become very dense. I think that's the best way to describe this, dense but extremely interesting. As someone with a small introduction to the SSBM community, I had no idea how big and expansive it was and is, and the way this film explains the stories of different members of the community really well, either through the narrator, or through interviews with members of the community. These interviews are by far the best parts of the film, particularly the parts where Prog and Wife explain things, because they do them in a very introspective and truthful way that is really enjoyable to watch. The biggest issues with this film is how it either under introduces things (slang, community members, etc) that the common viewer wouldn't understand, or how it jumps around in the time line (ie: someone is talking about 2006 in one episode, the next episode it's 2008, now it's 2006 again) but these things are negligible, as you understand why these choices were made. The music, which to my knowledge was primarily community chosen, really compliments the moods and tones the film goes through. This movie really knows how to sympathize with the kinds of people that are often underrepresented in media, and it presents them not as basement-dwelling nerds, but as real people with passions and desires, and I really, really, appreciate that. It's hard for me to recommend this all at once purely because of how long it is, but I would certainly recommend the first episode to see if it's something that would strike you. I really enjoyed "The Smash Brothers", and I wish I could forget all the information just so I could rediscover this community again. 8.0/10

Ernest et Célestine

An underrated piece of art.
Ernest & Celestine is one of the best animated films I've seen in the past five years. It's art style and character work is absolutely beautiful and charming, and nearly everything it sets to achieve is achieved. This is the classic story of two clashing worlds coming together, but done in a way that is not cheesy; the film doesn't end with the Bears who live above and the Mice who live below coming together and singing "Kumbayah" and everything is hunky-dory, but done in a very realistic, nice way. The first thing I need to say is that this film is very similar to the story and themes of Zootopia, but done in a much quieter, nuanced way, with no punchy pop song to pull tween crowd. The story focuses on Celestine, a little mouse who doesn't believe in her society's mantra that bears are terrible creatures to be feared, and instead has a cautious belief that the can be friends, and Ernest, a poor musician bear who is always in the search of a meal, and is generally a little selfish. Over the course of the film, we see the two begin to work together, but not in the way that films like this usually handle this. We see Celestine already possessing a friendly sympathetic respect for Ernest, while Ernest, though not mean-spirited, only helps Celestine out of convenience, more than compassion (that comes later). The movie really knows how to draw comparisons between it's world's view of prejudice and the real world's view of prejudice without screaming "HA! SEE WHAT WE DID THERE!", and instead flows very naturally. In terms of technical elements, the music of this film is beautiful, and compliments the water colored artwork and lower frame-storybook animation style supremely well, and it's physical slapstick and comedic dialogue carry it well, and the American voice dubbing is fantastic; Forest Whitaker as Ernest is simply brilliant in this film. My biggest gripe with the movie is its ending scene, where the two societies both bring Ernest and Celestine to court to hold them accountable for the "crimes" (Ernest in the mouse world, Celestine in the bear world). Instead of having the people who doubted or were negatively impacted by Celestine and Ernest, such as the Mouse Dentist or the Bear Family be the ones that see the error in their ways, it's simply the judges of the courts, who had not been introduced to the movie before then, to be the ones to realize this, so the impact is less. Even then, it's still handled so well. The two societies don't come together after this (at least, if they are, it's not shown), but they simply let Ernest and Celestine to go off and live together how they'd like to. They don't change the world globally through their actions, they only change it for themselves, which is something I wish a lot more films would do when talking about these types of subjects. Because of these things, this film is a work of art. I would highly recommend this film for young children, as I think it could easily become a modern animated classic, and it's a shame this film isn't more well known. I just watched this film, and I already want to watch it again. 9.0/10

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