Sunday, July 24, 2016

Orphan Black (Serial)

Season 2 (10 episodes)

Pick up right where we left off. Sarah Manning is a clone. She knows of Casima, Allison, Helena. She saw Beth get killed. We are introduced to a couple others. Sarah is the only one who has had a child, while all the others are barren. This season is really about furthering the research into who created the clones, who is hunting them, who is interested in their well being or wants to control them. There are lots of concurrent stories here, but Sarah is the central thread that ties everything together. Tatiana Maslany is brilliant as Sarah, Casima, Allison, Helena, etc., playing all roles, very often against herself. Wonderful sci-fi, wonderful underlayer of "genetics morality" that pops up from time to time in between all the political thriller subterfuge.
5 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

I really do like this series, even though it is not new or ground breaking. In fact, the series is formulaic to a fault. But it is a good formula. New aliens, new problems to solve, same old overacting by Bones, bad science. Kirk and friends are sent on a mission into an uncharted nebula to assist in the rescue of a destroyed ship. They find that they have been drawn there for a purpose and are attacked. They then need to overcome all odds to save the entire crew and return to the space station to prevent it from being attacked. Woo hoo! 
4 stars (out of 5)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Boy Meets Girl

A story set is small town/rural Kentucky that follows a trans girl Ricky and her best friend since age 6 Robby. Ricky is beloved and supported by her father and younger brother, has a job at the local coffee stop and runs a youtube channel on fashion as she works at applying to attend the Fashion Institute in New York. She meets a new friend, encounters bias and confusion and hatred and love. And everything works out. This is an almost too sweet, too clean, too positive portrayal of how relationships  should work out. So much so that it is clearly not reality. Even the stereotypical conservative, white male, republican politician changes his mind in about 2 minutes. And still, I found myself liking the innocence and enjoying the world that "too positive" gives.
4 stars (out of 5)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Weird setting for a pretty traditional feel good movie about growing up and love. Set in Iowa in the context of butter carving, the 15 year champion carver is stepping down and opting not to enter the Jackson County contest this year. His wife (Jennifer Garner) finds this  unacceptable and enters herself. Turns out that a young foster girl new to the county (and new to her parents) discovers a natural talent in butter carving and enters as well. A couple others for comedic relief join the fray and we have ourselves a contest. The movie explores themes of race, the foster system, small town politics, familial honor and marital honesty. And uses butter to do it? Like I said... weird. But not bad.
3 stars (out of 5)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2

Finally the end of the series. Unfortunately, I had so lost interest by time they split the novel (which I had lost interest in on its own. So really I watched this as a way to close the series. So you can see, very low expectations. With that, I enjoyed this movie. In has been about 2 years since the last episode, so I only really remember vaguely the story points. But this film seems to hit all the right points, with out being overly dramatic or overly crass, etc. Just a solid action entry. The story follows Katniss as she and the rebellion move to take over the capital. And she does. There are decisions and losses along the way, and there are victories. In the end, war is awful (but worth the cost in this narrative). Very much follows a Just War theology, which we can take issue with if you want, but then you have to start the entire trilogy over with a different morality.
3 stars (out of 5)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Love Lily Tomlin. She plays the Grandma of the title, a poet, and estranged from her daughter. Her life partner has died in the past year and she is still struggling with the grief. Her granddaughter shows up at the door and confesses a need for $600 for an abortion that is scheduled for that evening. Tomlin has $40 so the two of them spend the afternoon traveling around trying to collect debts and encountering old memories (good and painful) and building relationships. Tomlin is perfect as the cantankerous, world-wise, hippie, poet who guides the granddaughter while learning about herself as well. Very Grace and Frankie feeling... which is a good thing.
4 stars (out of 5)

Hot Pursuit

Reese Witherspoon plays an uptight cop who tries too hard. She gets her big break when she is assigned protective detail on an important witness in the drug war. She is to escort Sofia Vergara (wife of drug kingpin) to the courthouse to testify. The two quickly find themselves on their own as Vergara's husband and Witherspoon's partner are quickly killed off and they need to get to Dallas on their own. Kind of buddy cop feel with its silly humor and physical comedy. Witherspoon was given the role of uptight cop, but she plays it perhaps too over-the-top and gets annoying quickly. Otherwise, average film. Don't spend money on it.
3 stars (out of 5)