Posts Tagged Entertainment

Movie Mayhem – Knives Out

Knives Out — 2019; Directed by Rian Johnson; Starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Ana de Armes, Tony Collette, Michael Shannon and Christopher Plummer

Murder mysteries have been a staple in storytelling for as long as storytelling has been in existence (or at least it seems). Why? Humans are a curious lot, so pretending to be a master sleuth for a couple of hours as we attempt to figure out what happened before the big reveal can be quite an exhilarating experience. When it’s done correctly, the pieces are placed perfectly throughout as to throw us off the scent, even when the clues are right their in clear daylight. When done poorly, you don’t have to be an eagle-eyed viewer to know who did it ten minutes into the story. Rian Johnson’s new film, Knives Out, slips somewhere in the middle — although the big reveal feels a bit anticlimactic, the ride getting there sure is a blast.

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Movie Mayhem – Frozen 2

Frozen 2 — 2019; Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck; Starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Jason Ritter and Evan Rachel Wood

Back in 2013, Frozen became a cultural phenomenon that led to a series of short films that didn’t quite live up to the majesty of the full-length feature. To put all of it into perspective, Disney was sued for one of the shorts that mirrored another animators story, and another was ridiculed for its length; apparently twenty-one minutes of Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad) running around doing stupid things is too much when your kids are anticipating the day of the dead. As a lesson to be learned from the disaster known as Minions, side characters like Olaf are so much better when they aren’t the focus of your movie. So it was nice to enjoy a return to Arendelle with Frozen 2, a film that doesn’t surpass its big sister in quality, but stays on par with with the magic we all expect from the franchise.

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Movie Mayhem – Last Christmas

Last Christmas — 2019; Directed by Paul Feig; Starring Emelia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Lydia Leonard and Michelle Yeoh

I like me a good brainless rom-com every now and again, and with Emma Thompson both writing and co-starring, Last Christmas was poised to be an enjoyable couple of hours. Thompson has written some very good movies in the past and has the ability to raise what could be subpar material to a new level with just her mere presence. However, with Christmas, something got lost in translation.

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Movie Mayhem – Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — 2019; Directed by Joachim Rønning; Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Harris Dickison, Sam Riley and Chiwetel Ejiofor

If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you may have read my review of Maleficent way way back in 2014. In that review, I was very critical of the film in many aspects, including the watered-down — or non-existent — relationship between Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and Aurora (Elle Fanning) that was supposed to be the crux of the plot, as well as the lack of character development to make the whole idea behind telling the story of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s perspective. The film was okay, and there was a lot to like, it just felt flat and uneven because it wasn’t executed to its full potential.

Changing things up behind the scenes was a good start for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Joachim Rønning takes over the directing reigns from Robert Stromberg and lifts the energy of the film to a new level, even while falling into many of the same traps the first film setup because everything on-screen is exactly the same.

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Movie Mayhem – Jexi

Jexi — 2019; directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore; Starring Adam Devine, Alexandra Shipp, Rose Byrne, Michael Peña, Ron Funches, Charlyne Yi and Justin Hartley

I wasn’t all that excited to see Jexi. With Adam Devine and a overlay of raunchy humor in the driver’s seat, for all I was concerned, the film could have been relegated to direct-to-DVD or on demand status. Or better yet, buried on some obscure streaming service to be seen by insomniacs browsing their feeds while high. But, CBS Films and Entertainment One decided to release it in theaters, and as I always say, you never know when a movie will surprise you. So I went to check it out. And boy, did Jexi surprise me.

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Movie Mayhem – Joker

Joker — 2019; Directed by Todd Phillips; Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen and Robert De Niro

Thirty years ago, Tim Burton introduced us to not only Michael Keaton as what many still say is the quintessential Batman, but to Jack Nicholson, considered for a long time as the perfect choice to play the manic, high-octane Joker. That is until Heath Ledger (who, much like Keaton, was originally criticized for being a poor casting choice) blew us away with his Oscar-winning turn as the deranged psychopath in 2008’s The Dark Knight. It didn’t seem like anyone would live up to Ledger’s unhinged frenzy, especially after Jared Leto’s utter butchering of the beloved character in Suicide Squad. Luckily, Joaquin Phoenix dispelled those fears by delivering yet another Oscar-worthy performance as the titular character in the gritty, dark character study, Joker.

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2019 Television Awards – Part 3

And finally, here is Part 3 of this year’s television awards. (Check out Part 1 and Part 2.)


Worst Editing: The Conners

The Conners — ABC

I noticed issues in the editing on the reincarnation of Roseanne last year, but it wasn’t so atrociously obvious as it is on The Conners. Everything about the editing is horrible, but the most egregious are the transitions between scenes, which seem as if the directors don’t know where to end a scene, so they just stop and fade into the next. On top of that, there are several moments when it’s clear they cut something out with placement of characters. It might not be as bad if the show itself was consistent, but with sporadic hints of excellence sprinkled about a mediocre attempt at finding the magic that was once Roseanne in its prime, it just tends to highlight the problems even further.

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2019 Television Awards – Part 2

It’s time now to begin the specialty awards in Part 2 of this year’s Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).

Best Multi-Character Performance: Janet (D’Arcy Carden), The Good Place

Multiple D’Arcy Carden’s (The Good Place)

I wasn’t the biggest fan of D’Arcy Carden when The Good Place premiered; I thought the character of Janet was odd and a little off-center (to be fair, I thought the show was exactly the same – not sure what to make of it early on). But as the show matured, so did my affection for everyone involved. Carden’s place as the powerhouse performer was cemented when she hit her pinnacle best in episode 9 of season 3 titled “Janet(s)”, in which Janet pulled the entire gang into her void to keep them from being sent to the bad place. In order to keep her void from literally tearing itself to pieces, each one had to become Janet. Carden took the ball and ran with it, picking up every little nuance from each character almost to perfection, no more so than Jason-Janet. Her interpretation of the dim-bulb was amazing and hysterically accurate in movement, voice, and reaction. (Tahani-Janet was a close second). In the same episode, we also got to meet Neutral Janet, which was also a riot in and of itself. I wasn’t a fan before; I certainly am now.

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2019 Television Awards – Part 1

The Emmy’s air this Sunday, which means it’s that time again to present my awards of the Best (and Worst) of the 2018-2019 television season. (See previous Awards – 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)

We start as always with more traditional categories, and over the next two days will continue with additional categories for moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the past television season.


Best New Series: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance — Netflix

I usually like to wait as long as possible before choosing the best new series of the year, as you never know when a gem will arrive. For the last several months, New Amsterdam was holding onto the top prize, and I was about to solidify its position as the number one show of the 2019-2020 season…. Then, at the tail-end of summer, I decided to try Netflix for the first time (mainly to see the new season of Lucifer) and discovered a glorious new show: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The 1982 film has slowly turned into a cult classic, and although there are good aspects to it, it can be extremely slow and meandering, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new prequel set in the time before the evil Skeksis wiped out all of Gelfling kind. It did take some time to get used to, but by the end of the second episode, the show truly hit its stride. From then on, I was hooked. Though we know where everything will eventually end up, the wonderfully distinct characters, masterful puppetry, terrific set designs, perfect flow, a brilliant mix of practical and CG that blend so well together you don’t know where one begins and the other ends, and wonderfully crafted scripts with plenty of twists keep your interest peeked and your investment worth every minute of time.

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Movie Mayhem – Don’t Let Go

Don’t Let Go — 2019; Directed by Jacob Estes; Starring David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Mykelti Williamson and Alfred Molina

Back in the year 2000, Frequency, a small film about a cop who begins to speak with his deceased father through an old ham radio, debuted in theaters. The movie was an intelligent, suspenseful, unique sci-fi thriller with terrific turns by Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid, who found a compelling chemistry together despite having no screen time together. Nineteen years later and we find our way back to a similar premise with Don’t Let Go, another smaller film that understands how to work within the bounds of the idea, but doesn’t know how to build the necessary suspense to sustain any amount of intrigue.

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