Monday, December 19, 2016

What I'm Watching

TV Shows I'm half-assedly or whole-assedly keeping up with right now, and some that I really only like quarter-assed:

The Night Of

I'm hooked on this dark, gritty, crime-mystery-drama thing. The biggest draw for me by far is the main actor, who's this guy with impossibly big eyes and a terrified look on his face who <i>still</i> comes off as tough and dignified somehow. I really love that guy. I like that the show isn't like most prettified crime shows--this isn't a world where shit gets resolved in two weeks and investigations are easy. Everything takes forever, and it's hard, and people don't always know what they're doing. No one has really heard his full side of the story. They don't really care. It's fascinating and realistic and terrifying. I find myself having to watch something fluffy afterward if I'm trying this before going to bed. But I can't stop watching. I have no idea where it's going, and that's something completely unexpected in a crime drama. I love that. I also love that Michael K Williams is there kicking ass, and somehow John Torturro has made his gross-out lawyer character incredibly likable. It's just so good and totally different from every other crime show I've ever seen. I'm three episodes from the end and I can't wait to see where it goes.


I kinda fizzed out on this one. Can't really put my finger on it, because the season was pretty entertaining. I guess. I think it just wasn't nearly as fun as the first season, with the danger and grittiness of Scotland and Claire's complete unmooring. This season felt too safe, even though she was running headlong into trouble all the time, too pretty. The chemistry between them is still there, but as usual, the pursuit and the wooing is way more entertaining to watch a married couple. Specially if she's pregnant. It's just kind of there. And knowing exactly what happens somehow bothers me a lot more this time around. I'm really not sure why--something about the stakes being lower? Or the fact that their efforts to stop Charles are futile and everyone knows it? Whatever it is, it's just not very interesting. I guess I'll eventually finish the season, but it's not something I'm really looking forward to every day.

Ink Master

My nightly reality show! It's fun. It's artistic. It's making me want a tattoo, which is not so great. Love the judges and their thoughtful critiques. It's probably the most merit-based reality competition ever. You can't win this if you're mediocre. It's sad that that's so new and refreshing, but there you go.


Luke Cage

I think I want to like this a lot more than I actually do. It has a super hot male lead, amazing music, great visuals, a compelling villain aaaand...that's kind of it. There's no real story holding it together. For the first few episodes it really seemed like it was going somewhere, but then everything just completely fizzled out. Out came the spinning wheels, the long speeches and threats that go nowhere, the convolution of the plot...just a big ol' boring mess that's always too dark and is kind of forced to stay small. Because it's a Marvel show on TV. There's something frustrating about knowing that Luke will never go on to bigger and better things, just because he's on TV. We still haven't finished the first season, and I'm not sure if we will.


Now this one I blame my husband for not finishing already. I really love it. It's hilarious, it's dark, it's fast-paced and character driven and it's just insanely watchable. I might just finish it without him- I doubt if he'll even remember we need to finish it. Even though I think he liked it, too! He's just weird about stuff like that.



Eeeeh. I liked it for a while, I guess? Though "like" isn't really the right word. It was enjoyable and I liked the characters a little. But all their schticks got really repetitive and it was all just kind of exhausting.

Boardwalk Empire

It was halfway through the third episode that I realized I'm sick to death of shows about gangsters and mafias and crime bosses with the booze and the exploitation of women and the gratuitous nudity and the senseless murder. I might come back to it eventually but so far that's a genre I'm pretty much exhausted of right now.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Marvel Movies for Fig, part 1: Iron Man

Iron Man
I need to start this with a confession: I don't care for Tony Stark. Close your mouth, it's not attractive. I know, it's not the most original opinion in the world, but there it is. A big part of it is, I think, just the fact that I've never been a big fan of the Smartass Winner. I'm more of a fan of the Underdog Who Can't Think of a Comeback Until 4 Hours Later. I'd basically been a Captain America fan long before I knew Captain America.

Anyway, I remember watching this movie and being very quickly exhausted by how in love with himself Tony Stark was. I suppose that was part of the point of his journey, though--how he starts out thinking he knows everything and ends up deciding that maybe he didn't after all. But even if he does grow a heart and change his mind about his work, he's still a smarmy asshole at the end of the movie, right? And yeah, he's funny and he's charming, but I just don't <i>like</i> the guy, and I suspect I never will at this point.
Well look at that, I've gone and judged the dude instead of the movie. My bad.

The movie is actually a really great action piece, with a great character arc at the end. And yes, I can dislike the character while still admitting that he does go through an interesting journey during the film. I remember when I watched it I felt about it pretty much the same way I'd felt about other origin stories so far--yes yes, this beginning is interesting and it's fun to see the suit being made but OHMYGOD get to the flying superhero part already! You *knew* it was coming, so let's get the hell on with it! 

On rewatch I still think the scenes at the terrorist prison camp go on too long. It gets a little boring, and like I said, you just want to get to the good part. It is good to see his interaction with the scientist character, and I'm still sad that that guy isn't around anymore. I feel like he could've been a good sidekick,

But once that Iron Man suit comes on? Boy does that movie get fun! I like when he comes back to town, I love that Jeff Bridges is the obvious bad guy, I love his attempts at learning how to fly and to control the suit. It's a fun action movie, even if the ending is a little underwhelming. I wish it'd been a little more than just 'Guy tries to beat hero with his same weapon' ending, but it was still really fun to watch. As would be the case with so many Marvel movies to come, the villain starts out so promising (played by a great actor, fun lines, good look) and ends up such a sad disappointment (crazy plan! crazy weapon! stupid mistake, dead). 

Overall though, it did a great job of starting up a trend of fun, action-packed comic book movies that didn't take themselves too seriously. This is key in making a comic book movie work. Accept that your premise is a little silly. Accept that ridiculous things will happen. And then build a real movie around it anyway. This movie does it perfectly. It's got a tight script with some great lines, a stand-out character (that I'm still allowed to dislike even if I can see how he'd be so universally adored) played by a charismatic actor, some great visuals, good action scenes, fun side characters (I really love Pepper Potts and Happy, and don't even get me started on Jarvis) and a fluffy action script and you can't go wrong. Marvel would follow this formula pretty much to the letter and boy has it worked out well for them. 

Iron Man is a great beginning, and it's a very good movie on its own. Tony Stark might never be my favorite guy in the world, but I'm glad he's been Iron Man for so long. And I even have to admit that the guy's grown on me way more than I ever expected him to. But we'll get to that as we go on. Next up? The Incredible Hulk. Hmm.

Pros: Robert Downey Jr and his unstoppable charisma. One lines a-plenty. Iron Man FLIES. Learning to fly. Jarvis. Pepper Potts is cute. Chemistry between Potts and Stark. The professor dude. No stupid secret identity to worry about. Funny. Bald Jeff Bridges is strangely attractive. Good suits (Iron and non).

Cons: Smarmy Tony Stark. Tony Stark's weird facial hair. Prison camp scenes too long and premise doesn't make much sense, Takes too damn long for Iron Man to show up. Forgettable villain with cliche Evil Plot. Iron Monger fight is kinda lame. Terrence Howard, in general.