Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Wire (Serial)

Season 1

Set in the Baltimore police department homicide division in the mid 2000's and told from the perspective of both the police and the drug dealers. The police find that a major part of the drug trade on the West side is controlled by a guy that they have never really heard of. They set up a task force to break this ring up when a witness is killed in a drug trial. This is a gritty drama with not a lot of flash. the police are setting up wire taps on public pay phones and pagers while sitting on rooftops with cameras trying to make connections between who is calling whom at what time and with what information. The task force is really a bunch of misfits who are detailed just so that the police commander can tell a pesky judge that they are paying attention to his pet issue. But in the end the task force comes through.
5 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children

In some ways, a softer version of Dr. Xavier's school for the X-Men. At least, less explicitly violent visually. But in other ways, this is still pretty scary. We follow Jacob on a trip with his dad, where he discovers a special school. Actually, he discovers a house that is full of kids with special powers. And he discovers that he too has powers. And of course, he is the one that is able to save the kids from the scary monsters. A fun mixture between carefree kids and powerful monster hunters that mixes these worlds seamlessly. Nicely done.

4 stars (out of 5)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Bad Moms

I am sitting in the theater with a demographic breakdown as follows: 90% middle age women in groups (presumably moms day out), 9% men with a couple other women (the tagging along dad) and me. I personally found the film mildly entertaining. I found the crowd hilarious. The stereotypes and predictable laugh gags all worked, which does make for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Mila Kunis, is a working mom with two kids, a dog, and a husband who does nothing. When she finds him internet cheating, she kicks him out. She already does everything, but has reached her tipping point and opts out of the "perfect mom" treadmill. In reality, this is a film with a message telling parents that they are actually serving their children better by jumping off this treadmill. It pushes them beyond the entitlement and helps them grow up. At the same time, it gets parents some of their life back. The 'Bad Moms' of the title is recognition that all parents are bad parents, in as much as they are not perfect. But recognizing that, and loving your kid at all costs, means that you are a good parent. The mid-credit outtakes included interview vignettes with the actresses and their real-life moms, which was also cute and heartfelt. Everybody walked of that theater feeling better about themselves.
3 stars (out of 5)

Mechanic Resurrection

I am not sure what people expect of a movie like this, or how you could possible give it a bad rating. You know exactly what you are going to get, so in my opinion if you don't want to see that, don't go. But going to the film, getting what you know it is going to be, and then critiquing it for not being something else is simply not good for your formulaic-tentpole-summer-action-movie-karma. What you do get is Jason Statham reprising his role as The Mechanic. Here he is a retired hit-man who has faked his own death to be left alone. He gets found, and gets coerced by a weapons dealer to assassinate said weapons dealers competition. The coercion in this case is the lovely Jessica Alba, former military operator turned rescuer of children from the Cambodian sex trade. How could you not rescue that? The action is solid Statham (hand to hand, clever chases, impossible break-ins, several opportunities to remove shirts), and the plot is so standard that even the twists are straight up formula. What more could you want?
3 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sex and the City

Watching it again on HBO as hotel time filler. It has been at least 5 years since watching any of the series or films, so it was fun (nostalgic) to watch again. All the girls helping each other cope with NY and with relationships and with themselves. In many ways, revealing the best parts of true friendships (laugh together, cry together, fight but always make up, etc.) and exposing the insecurities that arise (or continue to exist) as we grow older. Definitely felt dated, in as much as it made me remember a particular phase of life when we watch the show.
4 stars (out of 5)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Catch Me If You Can

The based-on-a-true-story telling of part of Frank Abagnale Jr.'s life as a con man. He started with check fraud and moved on to impersonating pilots, doctors, lawyers and police. DiCaprio plays Abagnale and Tom Hanks plays his nemesis from the FBI. This is a cat & mouse game where the conclusion is foregone (remember: based-on-a-true-story) but the joy is in the journey. 
3 stars (out of 5)