What I Watched in March 2016

I saw a lot of movies in March, I don’t expect that to be repeated in April. For one thing, I am running out of unwatched DVDs to toss in and finally clear off my list. For another, I’m feeling a little burnt out. There will likely be an uptick in TV entries, though, with new seasons of Trailer Park Boys and Bob’s Burgers hitting Netflix, and my resolve to start clearing out the TV portion of Netflix queue. I will have more to say about some of the stuff here. Once their seasons end I am going to do a round-up of this year’s superhero shows. And once I watch Life Aquatic and Bottle Rocket, the last two Wes Anderson movies I haven’t seen, I’ll want to write up something about his work.

Movies

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – read my review here. ***
  • Blade Runner – This movie is great. I don’t know how I hadn’t seen it until last month. I saw, I believe, the theatrical version; whichever one was on Netflix. The voiceover doesn’t quite work sometimes, but the rest is comfortably excellent. It is one of the greatest true science fiction movies. *****
  • The Eagle – A somewhat labored story about a Roman legionnaire’s quest to redeem his family name. It is just another example of movie in which Jamie Bell is the best part of something that is otherwise mediocre. **1/2
  • Justice League War – read my review here. **
  • Man Up – A fun little romantic comedy starring Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. Bell’s character takes the place of a woman who is supposed to be meeting Pegg’s for a blind date. From there things proceed just about how you’d expect them to. Still, it is well executed and funny, largely thanks to the likeability of both Pegg and Bell. Definitely worth a look on Netflix. ***1/2
  • Moonrise Kingdom – I watched a ton of Wes Anderson movies this month, starting with this one. It is his usual idiosyncratic style focused on a much younger set of protagonists. The intense stylization works well recreating the slight unreality of childhood. Movies about children often rest on the shaky acting performances of children, but the two stars of this one do great. The subject matter here is a great fit for Anderson’s style. *****
  • Grand Budapest Hotel – another Wes Anderson movie that has a setting the perfectly fits his visual style. A Hotel Concierge inherits a valuable painting from a wealthy patron and must fend off a murderous relative of hers to claim what is his, all set against the backdrop of the start of the second world war. It is playfully, yet dark at times. Really, just a stupendously entertaining film. *****
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradoxread my review here. **
  • Kung Fury – A delightful little experiment in how much craziness someone could shove into 30 minutes. It is high weird, but fortunately it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. To those with the right sensibility it is hilarious. ****1/2
  • Turbo Kid – This operates along a similar premise to Kung Fury, but it is actually a good movie on top of being a spot on pastiche of the stuff like Mad Max. It wears its inspiration on its sleeves, but underneath the jokey premise and absurd gore is the core of a very good movie. *****
  • Son of Batmanread my review here. ***
  • Killing them Softly – A brutal takedown of the American spirit, as expressed by our love of Capitalism. This is a movie about bad people doing bad things. But most of them do it with a quiet dispassion that makes it all the more awful. ***
  • Bronson – A pitch black look at the mind of a criminal. I didn’t like it. There is no story here, just the vile acts of a vile man. **
  • In the Name of the King – Dear God this movie is terrible. It is full of people who wanted some of that LotR money (Or who got it, John Rhys Davies) but made by someone with no clue how to tell a story. It is comically terrible throughout, with little or no attempt made to be anything other than complete, unrepentant shit. 1/2
  • American Hustle – Great movie. The all-star cast really plays off each other well. Bale and Adams play small time grifters who get caught up in an FBI sting that keeps getting bigger and bigger until it gets completely out of hand. It moves from catching a Mayor to congressmen to the mob, and the protagonists are just trying to find a way to extricate themselves. It is great. *****
  • Kingdom of Dreams and Madness – This isn’t something that would normally be up my alley, a nearly two hour long foreign language documentary, but I am a big fan of studio Ghibli and it is all but impossible for me to pass up. It is full of insight into how they do their business. Knowing that the studio is currently winding down production makes this all the more touching. This is just a great look into the workings of maybe the best animation studio to ever exist. ****
  • Enemy at the Gates – This is a highly uneven movie. There are some truly great scenes, but there is also some generic crap mixed in. I loved most of the sniper fights. They were tense and riveting. On the other hand, the love triangle and romance were poorly done. It makes for an uneven but not unenjoyable viewing experience. ***
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – read review here. ***
  • Rushmore – Anderson again, this time dealing with the difficulty of growing up. In it a student falls for an elementary school teacher and ends up competing for her affections with a disillusioned businessman. Things end up getting kind of nasty before it ends, but it is ultimately a story about growth. *****
  • The Darjeeling Limited – this is widely considered one of Anderson’s lesser films, and I can see that, but the interplay between the three central brothers in the movie rings very true to me. It is much like how my brother’s and I get along when we haven’t been together for some time. It does kind of meander and not really get anywhere, but it is an enjoyable trip. *****

TV

  • Daredevil S2 – I was initially wowed by the first season of Daredevil, but I cooled on the show considerably before it ended. I still came out with largely positive feelings, but gore and violence got to me. And its utter self-seriousness. This is a TV show about a blind ninja lawyer who fights crime; there is room for levity. These are all problems that the second season could have and looked to fix, but it didn’t. The gore was, if anything, even worse. I tapped out during The Punisher’s prison fight and stopped watching the show for more than a week. Despite adding a host of downright silly elements, like warring ninja factions and reviving ninja magic, the show still treated every element with the utmost seriousness. The parts of the first season that were unimpeachably good, like the strong plotting, were lost. The last few episodes of this were nonsense that barely even attempted to pull the various plotlines this season set up together for a conclusion. Maybe the biggest problem is that Matt became the least interesting, most static character on the show. Everyone around him is growing and changing, but he is stuck where he is. With its second season, the show lost both me and its main character.
  • Poirot S10 – Another month, another series of Poirot finished. This one had an episode with Michael Fassbender, which was a highlight. I don’t really have anything new to say about this show. It is well-made but largely unexciting. I’ll finish up the last few series shortly.
  • Broadchurch S2 – The first season was a gripping murder mystery, this season spent its time tearing everything the first season built up to down. It ends up being largely unsatisfying. The court stuff mostly seems like an excuse to wallow in misery, something even the first season was prone to do but it was especially bad here. The other half of the season had the two stars looking back into the murder that Det. Hardy supposedly messed up before the first series. That portion of the show mostly works, though it does have some ridiculous twists.
  • Flash – Only two episodes this month, and they were fine. Nothing too mind blowing in either of them, but still solidly entertaining hours for the show. The first one had the team coming to the realization that Jay was Zoom all along and the second has another attempt by Barry to learn to go faster with time travel. They do skirt around the rules of time travel, but both episodes work. Now it’s another two week break before the show comes back for its last half dozen episodes.
  • Arrow – Two good episodes of the show this month, despite dealing with a frustrating plot twist in the break-up of Oliver and Felicity. This show has pivoted into being more like the Flash this season and the results have largely been good even if it has been uneven.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – The March episodes of this were strong; it really felt like the show finding somewhat stronger footing. They fought time pirates and the league of assassins. There are still flaws, Vandal Savage has never lived up to his potential and characters keep getting lost in the shuffle, but it is still more entertaining than not.
  • Supergirl – After the series low point in in Solitude, the last three episodes have been really strong. The little too quick fall of Siobhan Smythe was actually a fun bit and the status quo has been shaken up in a good way. The real highlight was Worlds’ Finest, the crossover episode with the Flash, which didn’t do a lot with its villains but was otherwise completely delightful. This show still hasn’t been picked up for another season and it will be a damn crime if its not.
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