The Dark Tower – read review here. **1/2
Opening Night – Topher Grace plays a failed actor working as a stage manager for a musical. This is all about the struggles backstage as they get ready for opening night. It is a reasonably well made movie. It is just funny and charming enough to get by during its hour and a half run time. I like Topher Grace; I like several other members of the cast. It is fine, but forgettable. ***1/2
Logan Lucky – read review here. ****1/2
Naked – A take on Groundhogs Day where a man has to keep reliving his disastrous wedding day until he finally gets things right. I can’t say I hated it, but it never did enough with its premise. It wasn’t touching or funny enough to really be worthwhile. **
The Incredible Jessica James – This is a pretty solid indie comedy/drama starring The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams. It works. It is funny and charming. Definitely worth watching. ***1/2
What Happened to Monday – This movie isn’t bad. I liked it. But it is really disappointing how much it squanders its premise. It stars Noomi Rapace as seven identical sisters in a world that has a one child rule. So each sibling is named after the day of the week they get to go outside in the identity of the one child. It is a neat concept, but the movie pretty much immediately starts taking sisters off the board in favor of a fairly standard chase movie. There is just so much unrealized potential here. When it plays with that premise it is really enjoyable. ***
The Founder – This is the perfect American story, about how if you work hard enough there is nothing you can’t steal. It’s itself up as a sort of Ray Kroc hagiography, but lets you see the complete emptiness inside of the man. He cares for no one and nothing other than himself, sparing no regard for the people he destroys along the way. It is just great. *****
Beautiful Creatures – I watched this to see Alden Ehrenriech after loving him in Hail, Caesar! This is clearly a movie made to capitalize on the success of Twilight and it isn’t the best. However, it has enough fun performers, like Ehrenriech and Jeremy Irons and Voila Davis and Emmy Rossum, having fun with the movie that it remains watchable. **1/2
Ozark – The show hits the ground running, but it takes a little time to warm up anyway. Many have compared it to Breaking Bad, but it starts in a much different place, a place where the protagonist, Jason Bateman’s Marty Bird, has already made the decision to work for the bad guys. Other than the fact that his job is illegal, he remains a mostly forthright guy. There is trouble with his marriage and he is in no sense of the word a good guy, but it is endlessly entertaining to see his reaction to trouble being to simply admit the truth. I don’t know how good the show actually is, but I do know that I kept watching until it was over.
Friends from College – This show is miserable. It has an excellent cast, but they play the least likeable/least funny bunch of ingrates I’ve ever seen in what is supposed to be a comedy. You can do comedy with unlikeable, terrible people, Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been making hay with for years, but that show doesn’t try to make you care about characters this fundamentally awful. This show thinks its viewers will care about what happens to these goblins. It also is only rarely funny. It is really just the worst.
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later – I doubt I’ll have the time, but I’d like to write a fuller review of this, or a full review of both season of Wet Hot and the movie. This show is brilliant. It has a great cast and is incredibly funny. Also Chris Meloni steals the show.
Voltron S3 – This show keeps getting better as it doles out little chunks of goodness. Knowing that the people behind it have a plan or roadmap for how things will progress makes it easier to go through with the episodes as they come. Still, this is a lot of fun. Good action, good character work and some good sci-fi concepts. I’m not going completely crazy about it, but it maintains a very high quality level throughout. I just wish they’d release more at a time.
The Get Down Part 2 – I am going to miss this nonsense spectacle of a show. It is so big and so grand, but also muddled and inconsistent. It is just too much, which is both likely why it cost so much and got the axe and why I kept watching it despite its flaws. It didn’t quite work, but I’m glad that I got to experience it.
Little Witch Academia – It has been an unfortunately long time since I got into an anime. I just haven’t really attempted to do so, and the few I have checked out haven’t really clicked with me. Also at the risk of enraging purists, I don’t have the time and inclination to read while watching cartoons. Little Witch Academia, a charming mix of Harry Potter and Kiki’s Delivery Service, is pretty entertaining. It isn’t the deepest show out there, but it has some nice animation and is free of the creepiness that tends to infect these sorts of shows. It is all around a good time and worth checking out on Netflix.
Defenders – Had I written this immediately after seeing it I think I would have been more positive. Now that I have had a week or two to let it settle, I am feeling less charitable. All of the Marvel Netflix shows have shared a problem: they are 13 episodes long, but don’t have 13 episodes worth of story. Even the best of them (Jessica Jones for my money) feels pretty saggy in the middle. Defenders is only 8 episodes, which should have done wonders to fix that problem. Except somehow the show has the same ratio of content to filler as the longer shows. This is a superhero team up show that doesn’t even start the team up portion until halfway through the series. It isn’t like there is a lot happening in those first few episodes; it takes three full episodes to introduce its four protagonists. I don’t know. There is mild amusement here, but it doesn’t leave any sort of positive impression.
White Gold – This show has its moments, but it is stuck between showing awful people be awful and trying to make them characters. Mostly it works, there is a lot of humor here, but sometimes it just doesn’t work.
Dear White People – Often powerful, often funny, occasionally a little bit stuck in between. This is not a show that is afraid to be messy, but the message generally shines through. It is really, really good.