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Josh Reviews Episodes 4-6 of Star Trek: Picard

I enjoyed the premiere of Star Trek: Picard but I thought episodes two and three were very mediocre.  Thankfully, I thought the next three episodes were a significant improvement, though the show is still far more flawed than I would have hoped.  Let’s dig in.

Episode 4: “Absolute Candor”

* I liked the time given to the lengthy opening flashback, and I enjoyed the sweet scenes seeing Picard’s connection with these Romulan women and especially with the young boy, Elnor.  It could be seen as out of character for Picard to be so close to a child — since the character, when first introduced on TNG, famously hated children — but Picard had already significantly mellowed by the end of TNG, and this flashback is set many years further after “All Good Things…”  So this works for me.  The real problem, though, is that Picard is coming off as worse and worse with each subsequent episode-opening flashback!  It’s HORRIBLE to think that Picard would abandon these people, and that child.  He never once even tried to come back to that planet ever again??  He never once even contacted them on subspace after he left Starfleet??  That’s what’s out of character for Picard (not his friendship with the boy)!!  The backstory for Picard on this show is a huge problem for me.

* I love the idea of Romulan warrior nuns!  And I really loved the actress, Amirah Vann, who plays the main Romulan woman (Zhani).  I loved the young kid who played Elnor as a boy.  Grown-up Elnor seemed OK, too, but it was hard to judge in this episode since we didn’t spend much time of him.  (Between his name and his look, he’s a little too Lord of the Rings elf-ish to me, at first glance…)

* I love hearing Picard say “Jolan Tru”.  (Nice callback to TNG episodes like “Unification”.)

* While the plot is still moving glacially slowly, I was, for the most part, more involved with this episode because the dialogue was better/more interesting than what we got in episodes two and three. If the plot isn’t progressing, I at least want good character moments, and we got some good stuff here.  I really liked the “secret meeting” scene on the holodeck (though, wow, what a transparent way to continue using the set of Picard’s home built for the first episode), and all of the character interaction there.  I enjoyed the funny banter among the characters.

* The idea that the rule of law is breaking down on the edges of Federation space is interesting.  But here again, the show needs to do the work of better developing the backstory of what’s been happening … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Rocketman

Rocketman tells the story of the life and career of Elton John, starting with his humble beginnings as a boy named Reginald Dwight, being raised by his mother and grandmother in Britain in the ‘50s.  Reggie’s piano skills quickly become apparent, and when he connects with song-writer Bernie Taupin, they form a friendship and a creative partnership that will last for decades.

Rocketman was written by Lee Hall and Directed by Dexter Fletcher, who worked on this film soon after helping to complete 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

The film leans into Elton John’s colorful public persona. My favorite sequences in the film were those when the film stepped outside of the box of a conventional musical bio-pic structure, and embraced a musical-fantasy element.  I enjoyed the song-and-dance numbers (an early sequence at a fair set to Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting was a highlight of the film for me) as well as the film’s framing device (in which an outrageously-attired Elton tells the story of his life, gradually stripping off pieces of his costume as we get closer to seeing the real Reggie inside).

But the film’s weakness is that, despite those trappings, it still hews fairly closely to the familiar structure of a musical bio-pic.  The film has a predictable structure of Elton’s rise and then his unhappy struggles and fall.  (I had a similar complaint regarding Bohemian Rhapsody.  And as was the case with Bohemian Rhapsody, I enjoyed the fun first half of Rocketman far more than the more somber second half.)

Taron Egerton is terrific as Elton John/Reginald Dwight.  Just like Rami Malek’s ferocious performance was, in my opinion, the main reason to see Bohemian Rhapsody, so too is Mr. Egerton’s charismatic turn here the best aspect of Rocketman.  I enjoyed Mr. Egerton’s work in the two Kingsman films (which were directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced Rocketman), but I didn’t know he had this type of performance in him!  This is a star-making turn.  Mr. Egerton is electric with Elton John’s charisma and energy.  He also, apparently, did all of his own singing in the film!  That is amazing, because there is a lot of singing in the film (no surprise), and Mr. Egerton does a fantastic job in singing so many of Elton John’s famous songs.  (Much credit must also be given to the film’s musical director Giles Martin — son of the famous Beatles producer George Martin — who did a terrific job incorporating so much of Mr. Elton’s great music throughout this film.)

Mr. Fletcher has assembled a terrific supporting cast.  Jamie Bell (King Kong) is great as Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics for most of Elton’s songs.  … [continued]

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Josh Reviews The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season Three!

In the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge is on tour, opening up for the popular singer Shy Baldwin.  Susie remains at her side, while also working to keep her second major client happy: famous female comedian Sophie Lennon.  Sophie wants Susie to turn her dream of starring on broadway into a reality.  Midge’s parents, meanwhile, are starting to feel the financial crunch with Abe’s having lost both of his jobs, while Joel Maisel pursues his new dream of opening a nightclub.

I was pleasantly surprised by how thoroughly I enjoyed this third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!  I felt the first season was a very satisfying complete story.  While of course I understand the realities of television, I wasn’t sure any further seasons were necessary.  I enjoyed season two, while also feeling at times that the main story of Midge’s leap into independence and the world of stand-up comedy had already been told.  But season three demonstrated to me that there are still many more stories to be told with these characters.

The show looks amazing.  The production values are top-notch, and I love how the show so effectively recreates a bygone era.  I was delighted by season two’s recreation of the Catskills resorts that were so central to the lives of Jewish families of a certain financial class for so many years.  Here in season three, it was a pleasure to see nineteen sixties Las Vegas brought to such vivid life.  The show’s sparkly clean, peppy vision of the sixties is, in many ways, a fairy tale version of history… but wha a fairy tale!  I am continually impressed by the scale of the series, from the full-blown USO show from the premiere through to the Vegas hotels in which we see Shy & co. perform.

Rachel Brosnahan continues to impress as Midge Maisel.  Ms. Brosnahan has great comedic timing, and she effortlessly sells the series’ distinct (fast) pacing and rat-a-tat-tat rhythm.  There were times in the first two seasons in which I found Midge’s self-absorption to be tiresome, but for the most part here in season three I quite enjoyed watching her journey.  It’s fun to see her able to perform comedy successfully at a high level.  I was annoyed, though, to see the season-ending climax hing upon Midge’s putting her foot in her mouth in a disappointingly foolish way.  I didn’t buy that Midge, at this stage in her career, would be so clueless.

Alex Borstein has long been the series’ comedic secret weapon as manager Susie Myerson, and she got lots more gold material to play here in season three.  I loved seeing how good she was at her job, … [continued]

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Star Trek: The Captain’s Oath

Christopher L. Bennett’s fantastic new Star Trek novel, The Captain’s Oath, serves as something of an origin story for Captain James T. Kirk.  But whereas J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek movie, and its sequels, told a story outside of established Star Trek continuity, The Captain’s Oath embraces continuity, beautifully weaving between established backstory to tell an exciting new tale.

The Captain’s Oath is wonderfully structured to take place across several different points in the career of Captain Kirk.  In 2265, we see Captain Kirk just after assuming command of the U.S.S. Enterprise from Christopher Pike (so this part of the story is set after the events of the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” and before the events of the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”).  In 2262, we see that Kirk is posted to the Vega colony, following a disastrous mission on board his first starship command, the U.S.S. Sacagawea.  It is here that Kirk first meets Leonard McCoy, who will become his stalwart friend for the rest of his life.  And in 2261, we see Kirk as the newly-minted Captain of the Sacagawea, with his old friend Gary Mitchell at his side.  As the novel unfolds, we see how these events in different times & locations draw together, and we’re given a fascinating picture of how Kirk built the skills, and close circle of friends and comrades, that would serve him so well as the captain of the Enterprise.

This is a fantastic book, and as a long-time Star Trek fan I particularly love how this story doesn’t toss out established continuity in order to tell its story, but instead how it pulls together the pieces of established canon to create a story that is new and unexpected while at the same time being perfectly in synch with pre-established continuity.  It’s a beautiful balancing act, one that Christopher L. Bennett has made look very easy.

It’s fun to see characters from the early days of Star Trek brought into the novel.  We read of the retirement Dr. Piper (Captain Pike’s Chief Medical Officer from “The Cage”), which of course creates the opening that Leonard McCoy will fill.  I quite liked the small story given to Lee Kelso (the helmsman from “The Cage”), and how he reacts poorly to Kirk’s assignment as his new commanding officer.  I thought that the character of Janet Miller, with whom Kirk has a brief fling in this novel, was a new character created for the book, but after reading Mr. Bennett’s fantastic annotations to his novel, I was pleased to discover that was was the Janet referred to in the TOS episode “The Deadly Years”.  I also enjoyed seeing … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury.  We follow Freddie all the way from when he was a nobody, working at an airport hauling luggage, through Queen’s meteoric rise, and on to his early death of AIDs at age 45.  I’d read a lot about this film last year; I’d heard it was a solid film, despite all the behind-the-scenes turmoil of its making (in which credited director Bryan Singer was apparently removed from the film late in production, with the film completed by Dexter Fletcher).

I quite enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody!  Freddie Mercury has a very interesting life story; he’s a great subject for a film.  I had no idea, for example, that his real name was, Farrokh Bulsara, and that his family were Indian Zoroastrians!

This film succeeds primarily because of Rami Malek’s exuberant, exhilarating performance as Freddie Mercury.  Mr. Malek’s passion for this character and this project really shows through.  Freddie Mercury was such a unique figure, with such a distinct voice, that I’d have thought it’d be an enormous challenge to portray him on film, and yet Mr. Malek thoroughly inhabits Mr. Mercury on screen.  It’s quite astounding, doubly so because Mr. Malek (despite the fake teeth and various hairstyles used in the film) doesn’t really look much of anything like Mr. Mercury.  And yet, he FEELS like Mr. Mercury.  Mr. Malek is incredibly magnetic on screen.  This is a full-throated, movie-star caliber performance.  I have been a fan of Mr. Malek’s ever since his strong work in the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks miniseries The Pacific; but this work is several large steps above above anything I have ever seen him do before.

This film is packed with so much fun music.  They have done a great job weaving a ton of classic Queen songs into the film, beautifully recreated by the cast.  When we hear Freddie sing in the film, it’s apparently a collaboration between Rami Malek and singer Marc Martel.  The result is really great!  This is one of the most impressive aspects of Mr. Malek’s overall performance.

The film culminates in a lengthy recreation of Queen’s 1985 performance at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium.  This sequence is a bit indulugent (it’s longer than in needs to be), but I can easily forgive that indulgence because the sequence has been so skillfully created.  The filmmakers clearly went to a lot of trouble and expense to mount this recreation of this enormous live concert.  The film’s cast/band is at the top of their game, brilliantly recreating this iconic Queen performance.  It’s a joyous, exhilarating conclusion to the film.

My main complaint about Bohemian Rhapsody is that it sticks rather closely … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Uncut Gems

February 17th, 2020
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In Uncut Gems, a fantastic film written and directed by Josh and Benny Safdie (the script was also co-written by Ronald Bronstein), Adam Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a jewelry store owner in the Diamond District in New York City.  He is buried in debts, but the fast-talking Howard has a series of plans within plans to get the better of everyone who is after him and to get a big payday.  It all revolves around an opal — a special, valuable rock — that Howard has recently acquired.  He plans to sell the opal at auction in order to score the money he needs to pay off his debts and finally hit the big time.  But it’s not going to be nearly as simple as Howard hopes…

Adam Sandler is absolutely electrifying in this film.  I have enjoyed Mr. Sandler’s previous turns in more serious films (Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish, Funny People), but his work here is head and shoulders above anything I’ve ever seen him do before.  In Howard, Mr. Sandler has created a rich, unique, instantly memorable character.  Howard is a scum-bag, but Mr. Sandler plays the role with such empathy, and a twinkle in his eye, so that I found myself rooting for Howard throughout the film, even while cringing as he made one ill-advised decision after another.

The rest of the cast was super.  Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) is Howard’s fast-talking equal as Demany, whose job seems to be finding big spenders and convincing them to come into howard’s store to spend a lot of money.  Idina Menzel is a study in frustration as Dinah, Howard’s much put-upon wife who seems like she might finally be ready to jettison him.  It was an unexpected surprise to see the great Judd Hirsch (looking a heck of a lot like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld) as Gooey, Howard’s well-off father-in-law.  Julia Fox plays Julia, the beautiful young woman working in Howard’s shop, with whom he is having an affair.  (I loved how important Julia wound up being in the film’s climax!)  Possibly the biggest surprise in the cast for me was just how great Kevin Garnett was, playing himself!  I appreciated how well-developed all of these people caught in Howard’s orbit were.

The film is a magnificent exercise in sustained tension.  From practically the first moment until the last, the Safdie brothers skillfully ratchet the tension up and up and up.  I can’t recall another film quite like this!  (Perhaps only certain extended sequences from Quentin Tarantino films.)  It’s an incredibly stressful experience watching this movie!!  And, at the same time, so much fun!!

A lot of credit for this must go to the spectacular and unusual … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Booksmart

February 14th, 2020
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Booksmart depicts the last 24 hours of high school for best friends Molly and Amy.  The two girls have worked hard in high school and gotten into good colleges.  But when Molly realizes that the party-loving classmates she always looked down on were also able to get into good colleges, without sacrificing fun the way she and Amy did, she is horrified.  She decides that she and Amy have to have some fun on their last night before graduation, so they make a plan to attend fellow classmate Nick’s house-party.  But getting there won’t be as easy as they think, and a wild night of shenanigans ensues.

Booksmart is the first film directed by Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens, Drinking Buddies, Her).  Ms. Wilde has done a terrific job; you’d never know this is her first feature.  She’s able to get tremendous performances out of her ensemble of young actors.

Beanie Feldstein was terrific in Neighbors 2 and Lady Bird, and she does a great job in her co-leading role here.  She’s very funny, and she is excellent at playing super-intense.  Her performance here skirts the edge of being a bit one-note with her self-superior attitude in the film’s early going, but Ms. Feldstein is always able to keep this character funny and real.

The film’s biggest discovery, for me at least, was co-lead Katlyn Dever as Amy.  Wow, I was bowled over by how great Ms. Dever was in the film.  Whereas Ms. Feldstein was playing something of a caricature (albeit a very funny one), Ms. Dever’s Amy felt incredibly real.  I really admired her subtle, naturalistic performance.  For much of the film, Ms. Dever’s Amy is the straight-person to Ms. Feldstein’s Molly, but when the time comes, Ms. Dever kills in some comedic moments in the film’s second half.  And both she and Ms. Feldstein are fantastic in a wrenchingly intense argument the two girls have late in the film.  (That moment is an interesting gear-shift from raunchy comedy into real drama.  It’d be easy to screw up, but Ms. Wilde and her actors sell the moment, and make it into one of the most memorable moments of the film for me.)  I love that Amy’s sexual orientation is treated as a complete non-issue by the film, and all of the characters in it.

Ms. Wilde has assembled a strong supporting cast.  I wish they were all better fleshed out, as I’d have loved to have been allowed to get to know these kids surrounding Molly and Amy on a deeper level in the film.  But the cast does solid work with what they’re given.  Billie Lourd (who has popped … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Star Trek: Picard Episodes 2 & 3

I quite enjoyed the premiere episode of Star Trek: Picard.

Unfortunately, the next two episodes (“Maps and Legends” and “The End is the Beginning”) were rather disappointing.  The same thing happened with Star Trek: Discovery — I really enjoyed the premiere and then things immediately took a downward turn.  I’m hoping Picard can rally.

I have two main problems so far.  First, almost nothing significant has happened in these last two episodes.  Picard at the end of episode three is in basically the exact same place he was at the end of the premiere: ready to leave Earth in an attempt to find and protect Dash’s twin sister.  Yes, we’ve met a few new characters (Raffi, Rios), but basically it’s been two episodes of narrative wheel-spinning.  That’s a LOT of wasted time in an eight-episode season.

More problematically, I’ve seen what to me feels like the exact same sort of lazy, muddled storytelling that so often beset Discovery.  What do I mean?  Here are a few examples:

* Why are the Romulan bad guys having trouble finding Soji when she is WORKING AT A ROMULAN FACILITY??

* We have all sorts The Force Awakens type of problems with the show being unnecessarily muddled with regards to the status quo of the universe and the characters.  Why is the secretive, paranoid, militaristic Romulan empire allowing Federation civilians to operate inside their salvaged Borg cube?  Wouldn’t they keep that technology to themselves?  What in fact is the status of the Romulan empire following the destruction of Romulus?  Does the Romulan empire even still exist?  Who are the Romulan bad-guys and what are they after?  Why do they hate Synthetics?  Have the Romulan bad guys infiltrated Starfleet or are they working with Starfleet?  (I have grown very weary already of the mustache- twirling Commodore Oh and her EVIL Romulan side-kick.)  (Also, do the writers know what a Commodore is?  That rank doesn’t make sense to me for the head of Starfleet Security.)  It’d be helpful to have some clarity on these story-points; I’d enjoy the stories more if I better understood what was going on and who wanted what.

* The idea of another Romulan secret organization hidden inside the Tal Shiar (a Romulan secret organization) seems silly and unnecessary to me.  (And the idea that they have hated Synthetics for “thousands” of years seems like a mistake to me.  “Thousands” sounds cool, but really that should have been “hundreds” of years, right?  The Romulan are at about the same level of technology as the Federation, so does it make sense they’d have had Synthetics on their world to hate and fear THOUSANDS of years ago?  On the other hand, the Romulan did … [continued]

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Josh Reviews The Good Place: Season Four

February 10th, 2020
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I’m not sure I am emotionally ready yet to bid a final farewell to The Good Place, which has been one of my most dearly-loved TV shows these past few years.  And with the beautiful, devastatingly emotional series finale, Mike Schur’s show about four dim bulbs in the afterlife who somehow become responsible for saving the fates of all humanity has cemented itself as one of my very favorite TV shows of all time.  The show was funnier than almost anything else on television.  It created a vast, Simpsons-like universe of supporting characters.  It had a main cast of brilliant actors doing the work of a lifetime, creating six characters who I grew to love incredibly deeply by the time the series ended, in the way that happens sometimes with special characters on special shows.  And, most important of all, The Good Place was a show with something to say.  This was a show that often tackled deep topics of ethics and morality and theology.  Again and again and again, it reminded us of the simple lesson that there is nothing more important in this world than simple acts of human kindness.  Who’d have thought, when the show began, how radical and how critically important that would be in our lives today.

Here in this fourth season, and especially in the poignant series finale, Mike Schur and his amazing team of writers brought this story to a deeply satisfying conclusion.  I am so pleased that the show was able to end on its own terms, at a time of its creators’ choosing.  The result is a beautifully complete four-season story, one that not only charts the personal journeys of our six main characters (the four human morons, plus immortal beings Michael and Janet), but also, in the end, the destiny of all mankind.

I love these characters, and I am now a fan-for-life of all of the wonderful actors playing these roles.  Let’s start with the two already-known stars.  I have, of course, been a fan of the great Ted Danson ever since the early days of Cheers.  One might have thought he could never top Sam Malone, but he has been amazing in a host of wonderful subsequent TV series.  One of my personal favorites was the noir-ish comedy Bored to Death.  But he has found yet another “role of a lifetime” here as Michael, the immortal being who designed and oversees the Good Place neighborhood in which our four human characters find themselves after they die.  At first, Michael seemed like a constant, unchanging character, but actually, his journey towards humanity has been one of the richest on the show.  Mr. Danson’s innate goodness shines through, … [continued]

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Josh Reviews The Mandalorian: Season One

I loved the first episode of The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV show, and the rest of the eight-episode Disney+ series did not disappoint!

Creator Jon Favreau (who wrote six of the eight episodes) has accomplished an incredible feat.  He has created a series that feels completely, 100% like Star Wars, while also telling new stories with new characters.  This is what I want from my Star Wars, and it’s a needle that the movies have often failed to thread.

I love the retro feel of the show’s episodic structure.  It’s weird, I spent my childhood watching sci-fi and fantasy TV shows and longing for more continuity, rather than the “everything back to the status quo” episodic structure that was standard for most television for so much of its history.  But, as I have written about here before, I think many modern streaming shows have leaned too far into that direction.  The “10-hour movie” approach (or 8-hour, or 13-hour) results, too often in my opinion, in series that sag in the middle because they don’t quite have enough story to sustain viewer interest throughout the entire season.  And so I loved how The Mandalorian mostly told 1-and-done stories, with each episode having a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.  There were of course stories and charcater arcs that carried across all of the episodes, but each individual episode felt satisfyingly complete.  By the way, I also was very happy with the individual episodes’ relatively short run-time.  (Most episodes ran about 40-45 minutes.)  I appreciated the concision and efficiency of the story-telling.

Mandalorians and their armor have fascinated Star Wars fans since our first glimpse of Boba Fett.  I love the concept of this show’s main character being a Mandalorian bounty hunter, and I enjoyed the way the series explored and fleshed out the world of the Mandalorians.  I loved getting tidbits of information about Mandalorian society, their beskar armor and the rituals surrounding that armor.  I loved seeing the Armorer (the first female Mandalorian character we’ve seen in live-action).  I was delighted to see a group of Mandalorians in action and kicking ass in the climax of episode three.  (It was awesome getting to see them use their rocket packs!!)  We’ve barely scratched the surface in these first eight episodes; so I look forward to more.

The series was filled with memorable characters.  Pedro Pascal was very strong as the titular, unnamed (until the last episode) Mandalorian.  It’s amazing that “Mando” has characteristics that we can understand and connect with, despite Mr. Pascal’s face being entirely covered by his mask.  What a bravura acting performance!

The big secret of the show was “baby Yoda.”  I am so impressed … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Prospect

February 5th, 2020
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Prospect is a brilliant, low-budget sci-fi film, written and directed by Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell.  When the film begins, a teenaged girl named Cee (Sophie Thatcher) and her father (Jay Duplass) are dropped off on a jungle-filled planet.  Cee’s father is prospecting gems that he is able to extract from the flesh-like pods that are found — if one knows where to look — on that planet.  But Cee and her father are not alone on this alien world, and they soon run afoul of two ruffians who are also prospecting for gems.  When things turn ugly, Cee finds herself forced to pair up with one of them, Ezra (Pedro Pascal), in order to try to survive… but she knows that Ezra cannot be trusted…

Prospect is a magnificent achievement, a wonderfully original sci-fi story.  The film looks fantastic; I am staggered at how Mr. Earl & Mr. Caldwell and their team were able to execute this film without the resources of a big studio behind them.  I don’t know how they did it.  There are space-ships and alien worlds and it all looks great.  Nothing in the film looks cheap or unconvincing.

I love the retro, tactile, analog feel to all of the sci-fi elements in the film (the ships, the atmospheric suits, the tech).  It reminds me, in a very positive way, of the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s original Alien film.  (I’m also reminded of Duncan Jones’ wonderful film Moon, another fantastic original low-budget sci-fi film.)

The film has a very small cast, and each actor excels.  Sophie Thatcher is spectacular as the main character, Cee.  Ms. Thatcher is in pretty much every moment of the film, and she effortlessly carries the film’s story on her shoulders.  We experience the events of the film through her eyes.  Cee is smart and tough but still very much a kid.  I am glad the film doesn’t require her to do anything too super-heroic.  She remains a believable young girl throughout, even as she’s incredibly brave and heroic.  This is a great role, and a great performance.  I’ll be paying close attention to what Ms. Thatcher does next.

Pedro Pascal was great in Game of Thrones, and he’s made quite a splash this year as the lead of The Mandalorian.  He’s terrific as Ezra.  I love this character.  He’s written to be just like Mal Reynolds from Firefly, using flowery, archaic language (no one else in the film speaks like this), and he has that Han Solo-like mix of danger and good-humor.  His sounding so much like Mal Reynolds made me laugh — I have to assume it’s intentional.  The combination of the unusual dialogue … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

February 3rd, 2020
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I was saddened to read of the recent passing of comedy legend Terry Jones.  There are some moving tributes to him up here.

This is cool — Uncut Gems was one of my favorite films of 2019, and Adam Sandler and directors Josh & Benny Safdie have already reunited for a short film, Goldman v Silverman.  You can watch it right now:

I don’t think that short is entirely successful (it didn’t come together into any sort of real ending or resolution, in my opinion), but I love the idea (and the revelation of what the title means), and I enjoyed how strange it was…!  (If you haven’t seen Uncut Gems, I highly recommend checking it out.  My full review will be coming soon.)

I am super-excited for the return of The Clone Wars!  This new trailer looks terrific:

This is interesting — after years of controversy, Hank Azaria has said that he will no longer voice Apu on The Simpsons.  I dearly love the character of Apu, but I can also understand why many found that character unfunny and offensive.  Three decades later, the character’s time has come and gone.  Good for Mr. Azaria for stepping away.  If you want Apu, there are THREE DECADES worth of Simpsons episodes to go back and enjoy…!!

I’m excited by this announcement that Oscar Isaac will star in a film adaptation of the terrific comic book series Ex Machina!  The series, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Tony Harris, tells the story of s superhero who becomes the mayor of New York City.  I hope film this actually happens…!  Oscar Issac would be PERFECT as the main character.

It looks like one of HBO’s Game of Thrones spin-off projects is really happening, though it apparently won’t arrive until 2022

On the other hand, Amazon is apparently not going forward with their planned Dark Tower series.  They actually went and shot a pilot!!  But apparently it has been shelved.  (I’d love to see that pilot!!)  This is another blow for Dark Tower fans like me…

I’ll leave you with this: two brothers apparently spent years recreating Toy Story 3 in its entirety, using stop-motion animation (and some live-action).  This is astonishing!!  You can read more about it here, and you can watch the entire film right now:

I’ve only had a chance to watch the first twenty minutes so far, but that is amazing.  It reminds me of the kids who remade Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Astonishing.… [continued]