What I Watched May 2017

Movies

Baywatch – read review here. **

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – read review here.  ***

War Machine – A satire of the US’s handling of the war in Afghanistan that can’t maintain a consistent tone. Still, there are scenes when it is spot on; the movie is just too inconsistent. **1/2

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – read review here.  ****1/2

Small Crimes – I kind of really hated this movie.  It is a bleak look at bad people doing bad things until it costs them.  Like a Coen Brothers movie without the humor.  *1/2

The Handmaiden – A mind bending thriller with a couple thieves looking to steal an heiress fortune, but who’s conning who?  It is amazing. *****

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – read reviewish thing here.  *****

Coin Heist – a group of private school kids plan a heist to save their school after the Superintendent embezzled all the schools money.  It has a decent sense of character and plot, but it isn’t anything mind blowing.  ***

Casting JonBenet – Kind of a strange documentary that covers the death of JonBenet Ramsay by pretending to cast for a movie about the killing and asking local residents what they know or think about it.  It is an interesting experiment at the very least. ***

Take the 10 – Two punky young men do whatever it takes to go to a concert. I guess it is a comedy, but I never laughed.  *1/2

Handsome: A Netflix Murder Mystery – This feels like a TV movie, in a good way.  It is the simplest premise; it is just a murder mystery comedy. It is a detective investigating a crime, with jokes and the mystery given equal weight.  I loved it. ***1/2

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – read review here. ****

Tramps – A nothing kind of indie movie about small time crooks doing a very small time crime and maybe falling in love.  Ehhh. **

Mindhorn – This was a fun one. In the 90’s Richard Thorncroft was the star of a popular detective show, Mindhorn, but since then his star has fallen. When a delusion murder suspect wants to talk to Detective Mindhorn, Richard tried to use it as a springboard to return to fame. It is mostly jokes about how forgotten and delusional Richard is. I found it very charming. ****

Sahara – A middling animated movie about a couple of snakes. A rich snake girl and a snake boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The rest is as interesting and original as that.  **

Blame! – A 3D anime movie about the far future when humanity has created a super-advanced city but that city stopped recognizing them as residents and killed most of them. A couple of newcomers to an enclave of survivors starts a desperate attempt to wrest control of the city back.  It is fine.  ***1/2

Burning Sands – A ponderous look at hazing in specifically black fraternities, though it doesn’t seem especially different from any other fraternity.  I did not like or enjoy it, but I am not sure it is bad. It is just not for me.  **

The Most Hated Woman in America – This is a biopic about the life, and mostly the death, of Madeline Murray O’Hair, the woman who got prayer banned in school.  It is tonally all over the place, playing large parts for comedy in a movie that ends (spoilers for real life) with her and her son and granddaughter being murdered.  It’s just not very good.  *1/2

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – Still a genuinely great swashbuckler.  It works some kind of miracle and gets just about everything right. I’ll have more to say in the near future.  *****

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – Much more ambitious than its predecessor and it starts to sag under that ambition.  Still, it is a largely enjoyable affair.  Again, more soon.  ****

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – There is something in how just go for broke this movie is that I can’t help but enjoy it.  Again, more soon. ***½

TV

The Crown – This is a sumptuously produced Netflix show that doesn’t really have a point. It shows the early years in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. It is all well done, but the story being told is simply not all that interesting.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S3 – Kimmy Schmidt is still generally really great, though its problems remain consistent. Every episode still feels like a 30 minute episode designed to be edited down to a 22 minute one. Each episode has some dead spots or jokes that miss, keeping it from ascending to the lofty heights of greats like 30 Rock or Arrested Development. Still, the show remains hilarious.

Master of None S2 – One thing holding me back from loving this most recent season of Kimmy Schmidt is that it hit Netflix just after this. Master of None’s second season might be the best season of a TV show I’ve seen this year. It is still funny, but show creators Aziz and Alan Yang also brought the heart this season. It deals intelligently with real issues and layers on references to various film genres while still telling jokes. Episodes like “Religion” and “Thanksgiving” are some of the best of any show I’ve seen this year. This show is just so good.

Fargo S3 – I still have faith that Noah Hawley will bring this altogether in the end, but so far this series has felt a little slight compared to the last two. Thematically interesting, well-acted and well shot, but it seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. Up until this last week it still felt like we were in the rising action, even though we are past the middle of the season. I love to watch this show set up dominoes, but I also love to watch them fall down. It feels like we are running out time. Still, each episode has been really good.

Riverdale – The first season of this came to a close and it was very good. Real nonsense, but highly enjoyable nonsense. It does a great job of capturing the Archie characters and putting them in a heightened reality where the strange is more than possible. It is the perfect kind of trash.

Superhero Shows – I’ve got a full post about this year’s superhero shows coming up soon.

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