Thursday, August 08, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Side Effects (R):
This was an interesting story, which started out as a look at how pervasive pharmaceutical drugs are, and turned into a different type of movie altogether by the halfway point. It takes a little while to get rolling, but the slow burn is worthwhile. Not life-changing, but enjoyable if you're in need of movie night fare.

Final Grade: B

Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor by Caro Emerald:
Pandora only recently started playing tracks from this album on my stations -- otherwise, I probably would have discovered it long ago. Caro Emerald is a Dutch jazz singer who fuses jazz vocals over a variety of different styles, and each song is as strong as the one that precedes it. Among my favorites are Back It Up, and A Night Like This.

Final Grade: A

House of Cards, Season One:
This Netflix original series (a remake of a British miniseries) stars Kevin Spacey as a senator who feels slighted and passed over, and spends the rest of his term plotting and backstabbing his way to the top. The series starts strong, drags a bit in the middle, and wraps up nicely. Your enjoyment of the series will be strongly influenced by how much you might enjoy Kevin Spacey chewing on the scenery and breaking the fourth wall to trade barbed, sarcastic words of wisdom with the audience. It was also nice to see that Mahershalalhashbaz Ali has gotten new work since his role on The 4400 where he shouted "Isabelle!" and chased after his daughter like a parallel universe version of Michael and Walt from LOST. He's shortened his name to Mahershala Ali, much to the relief of the guy editing the credits screens.

Final Grade: B+

Arrested Development, Season Four:
As much as I loved the original run of Arrested Development, there were a ton of flaws with this new Netflix-driven season.

  • Filming constraints kept most of the cast apart, resulting in a "one episode per character" format. However, most of the characters aren't interesting enough to support a whole episode, and only really shine when they can play off of the others.
  • All of the stories overlap and take place in the same temporal space, which supposedly means that future viewings will result in "AHA!" moments of increased hilarity, but all it does is muddle the storytelling. I suspect that if I were to rewatch with knowledge of the whole season, the stories might feel more fleshed out, but definitely not funnier.
  • Each episode felt full of deleted scenes, since there is no arbitrary cap on episode length for online shows. Some jokes are strung out far too long just because the time was available. Less is more. Everyone needs a good editor, even Mahler.
  • The show relied a lot more on Hollywood in-jokes that I'm not privy to, not unlike that season of The Guild that relied on nothing but gaming convention humor.
The bottom line is that there are still plenty of funny moments (and the Gob episodes are the definite high point), but it's far from perfect.

Final Grade: C

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