Welp, it’s been a minute since I’ve posted movie/tv reviews, so let’s get some going again. Here’s the thing about my reviews ~ I’m not trying to motivate you to go see the movies I discuss. Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a Damien. What I’m interested in when I review a show (or read a review) is the writing, not so much the acting or the filming or the sets or whathaveyou. Writing jabber is my jam, and I hope you’ll join in. That said…
1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022). I’m throwing this one in only because I saw it recently in the theater (masked, of course). The writing is meh. I have nothing to say about the story except that it was predictable. But we don’t go to a movie like TGM, or any Tom Cruise movie, for deep philosophy or profound revelations; we go for fun. And TGM delivered. It was a fast-paced, exciting film with loads of action and fancy jets. I liked it a lot, but basically it was fluff, like a romcom on ‘roids. Anyone else?
2. Another Woman (1988). This is a Woody Allen film I watched on Prime ~ yes, I too am disgusted by him, but hey he is a good writer and we can’t deny that. Even better, he wasn’t actually in this movie; he only wrote/directed. My favorite kind of Woody Allen movie is one where I don’t have to think about him while I’m watching it, and AW was an extremely well-written, well-acted film. I meant to do some brainless database work while it was on, but I didn’t because it completely captured my attention, which is very rare. One of the things I really dug about this movie is how ordinary the characters seemed. None was particularly beautiful, and they all had major flaws. I totally felt that the main character was chatting with me about what happened; she was so believable, emotionally guarded, yet achingly lonely. I did have one issue with the ending, as I thought it should have gone another way to be more meaningful/interesting, but Woody never does the bait and switch like I do, so OK. Recommend.
3. Stranger Things (2016-current). I began watching this series because my youngest loves it so much, but I can’t recommend it. I watched Season One in totality, but bailed at the beginning of S2, partly from boredom and partly from grossedoutedness. To be fair, in general I am not a fan of the motif of children solving issues that baffle parents, police, etc. It’s too absurd. Every grownup in ST is a clueless dummy (or else evil), and it’s up to these silly boys to get to the bottom of the mystery. Naturally, they are misfits and bullied by other kids, but even the bullying is half-hearted and unbelievable. I’ve witnessed real bullying and how completely rotten kids are, and these Indiana rascals just don’t cut it. The first storyline reminded me of Stephen King’s Firestarter ~ two adults fall in love while the gobblement tests mindbending drugs on them, and then their child ends up with Special Powers. But that’s not enough for a whole series, so ST throws in a random parallel universe with a Scary Monster. Blah blah. Good soundtrack though.
4. Couple romcoms with Ellen Degeneres. Yep ELLEN! She’s really pretty and super funny, and no these are not gay movies (NTTAWWT). First, there’s Mr. Wrong (1996), where she stars as a woman who meets a guy who seems like a dream come true, but then he turns into a nightmare, as they do. Second, she stars as the funny (but cute) friend in The Love Letter (1999), which is an adequate romcom ~ not as funny as Mr. Wrong. Maybe they should have had Ellen play the lead. Anyway, these are both available on Prime and good background material while you’re doing something else. If you don’t enjoy the goofy qualities of a romcom, you won’t like these at all.
5. Better Call Saul (2015-2022). Yep, I gave BCS another chance this month, partly because everyone who loved Breaking Bad seemed to recommend it, and partly because everything else I tried sucked so much. I think I was too harsh in saying Bob Odenkirk wasn’t good enough to carry a whole series; the problem I discovered this round is simply with the writing. SPOILER ALERT!
OK, so we all know that Saul is a criminal lawyer in BB, and BCS is telling the story of how he got there. But I didn’t enjoy the flipflop of Jimmy/Saul first being a con artist, then going legit, and then turning back to flimflammery. I didn’t see enough motivation for most of this, the exception being that for a while he was “scared straight” when he got arrested in Chicago. But the slide back was perplexing ~ and what made him become a scammer back in Chicago anyway after having what looked like a reasonably OK childhood? Also, as an aside, he looked the same age throughout, even though the Chicago stuff was, I assume, while he was in his early to mid-twenties, then the mailroom in his later 20s, and finally his foray into actually working as an attorney in his mid-30s. I’m not sure of that timeline, but it seems right. It would have taken him years to get his law degree part-time, even via correspondence at American Samoa (lol). His brother looked way older, more like an uncle; I’m not sure why they cast it this way. Anyway, in my opinion, there was no motivation for Jimmy/Saul to constantly scam people for the flimsiest of reasons. Except that these elaborate, ridiculous cons were the whole point of the series, other than the boring violence of the drug cartel stuff.
Yeah. It was boring. I didn’t care about the war between Gus and the Salamancas and whoever else the way I did about Walt vs Gus in BB. Walt was a compelling character in BB with a fabulous character arc. Who gives a crap about these thugs in BCS? I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for Nacho, even though he chose his life of badassery, but I’m sorry he’s no Tony Soprano. I knew Nacho would die at some point because there was no other route for him and he never appeared in BB (yes, I read ahead to find out that he dies in S6). And Mike? Gah. I got so tired of seeing him onscreen with his dry wit and expressionless voice and face. I never summoned up any liking for Mike, who was a murderer from start to finish without any redeeming qualities except he loved his granddaughter.
But then there’s Kim. She’s ultimately what made the show watchable for me. She’s beautiful and brilliant and inexplicably devoted to Jimmy/Saul. I mean, we get glimmers of what attracted her here and there, and there are times when it appears she’s had enough of J/S’s shenanigans, but ultimately she seems deeply devoted to him, as if he’s the love of her life, though this is never said by either party (at least up until the end of S5, which is where I had to stop because I don’t have AMC and was watching on Netflix). Perhaps the final season will explain just WTF she sees in this criminal, liar, and all-around nogoodnik, but I doubt it because, out of the blue, Kim appears to want to join in on the scams at the end of S5. It just makes no sense. She’s exhibited a bit of recklessness here and there, but she’s always been all about the law, and suddenly she’s willing to throw it all away? And for no real reason either ~ oh, Howard’s a jerk. Sure fine. But let’s criminally ruin his life to get a settlement to help Kim set up a pro bono practice to represent scumbags? I mean, what? Even Jimmy/Saul seems taken aback by this.
I guess I would like to see what happens to her and why she never appears in BB. Prison? Death? Back to the farm? And it would be fun to see the conclusion of Cinnabon Jimmy/Saul. Does he continue slinging pastries, or what? But I’m not inclined to sign up for AMC, so I may never know. Or I can find out in a couple years when S6 moseys over to Netflix. Whatever.
So there we have it. Enjoy your Sunday!
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