Monday, August 26, 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Burning Down the House

This is a recap of episode 11 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Confessions."

Not that I will actually do this, but from now on I am going to stop trying to predict every little thing that will happen on "Breaking Bad." That's because nobody can mess with Vince Gilligan and the gang's sheer brilliance and intricate plotting. I don't know how this show will end, which is why I am not a writer for "Breaking Bad."

"Confessions" opens with a scene that isn't addressed for the rest of the episode, but it will definitely come back to haunt everyone. It is important to note that one of the men that Todd met with also orchestrated all those prison murders at the end of last season and now he knows Walter's name. Also, that bloody tissue he wiped his boot with probably didn't flush all the way, as this show follows Chekhov's Gun very closely. 

Movie Review: The World's End

"The World's End" marks the end of the Cornetto trilogy, a trilogy connected only by theme and named after ice cream. It's as much about a trilogy of humans as it is about a trilogy of movies: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost have created a pitch perfect cinematic universe where the code of law is alcoholism and arrested development.

Clearly, I will stay away from all possible spoilers, yet it is important to know that "The World's End" comes full circle in the most, well, circular way possible: it starts and ends with people talking in a circle. In the beginning, it's Gary King (Simon Pegg), a man who is a former shell of himself. Gary is a recovering alcoholic who can't quite erase the memory of the best night of his life: The Golden Mile Pub Crawl.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer 2013: Movie Awards

Best Movie Directed by Someone with the First Name Woody: Blue Jasmine

Best Movie About Jews in The Rapture: This is the End

Best Use of Music From the 1980s: Frances Ha

Movie that Really Wants an Oscar: The Butler

Most Surprisingly Good Performance: Sandra Bullock (The Heat)

Best Against Type Casting: Kyle Chandler (The Spectacular Now)

Best Reason to Never Go Back to SeaWorld: Blackfish 

Movie that Most Resembled a Game of Dance Dance Revolution: Pacific Rim

Best Movie I Saw this Summer that Didn't Come Out this Summer: Bachelorette

Best Documentary I Saw this Summer that Didn't Come Out this Summer: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Most Believable Scoliosis: Liam James (The Way Way Back)

Funniest Tracheotomy: The Heat

Least Believable Use of Hacking: Elsyium

Most Believable Family Fight Over a Board Game: The Kings of Summer

Least Believable Family Fight Over a Board Game: The Way Way Back

Movie That Restored Some Faith in Superhero Movies: Iron Man 3

Biggest "Eh" of the Summer: Star Trek Into Darkness

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top 5: Summer Movies

We live in a weird time for movies. The phrase "TV is better than movies" gets thrown around constantly. While this statement is accurate most of the time, with "Breaking Bad" and "Orange is the New Black" providing hours of entertainment, there is still a beauty in telling a complete story in 120 minutes or less. While this summer had its share of mind-numbing blockbusters, it was also as good as ever. Summer is the time when all the movies that got distribution deals and big praise at Sundance get released so if you look closely enough, you'll find a slew of great films every summer. So here it is, the top six films of the summer of 2013. I chose six because numbers.

6. The Heat

"The Heat" was by far the best surprise of the summer. Then again, I was wrong to ever doubt the meeting of the minds of Paul Feig ("Freaks and Geeks," "Bridesmaids") and Katie Dippold ("Parks and Recreation"). The fact that this is a female buddy cop movie doesn't make it special, it's the fact that it holds nothing back. In its third act, "The Heat" suddenly goes balls-to-the-wall. Never in my life did I think a tracheotomy could be so funny. There are also scenes of never-ending banter that never feel too long. In the end, the surprisingly palpable chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy helps to keep the film afloat and funny.

5. Frances Ha

Note to the brave men and women out there who cut movie trailers together everyday: try and hold back on the ukelele scenes, they tend to be misleading. "Frances Ha" is less a pretentious little indie than a truthful look at the lives of confused, pretentious twentysomethings. "Frances Ha" is the most satisfying film of Noah Baumbach's oeuvre so far. Maybe it's because him and Greta Gerwig have such a natural chemistry as a director-writer-actress team, or maybe its because this is the first one of his films that has a satisfying ending. Also, listen for one of the most diverse and catchiest soundtracks of the year.

Soundtrack sample:

4. Blackfish

I cannot tell a lie: I'm not quite sure how to review a documentary. What makes a good documentary anyway? Is it because you agree with the point its making? Or is it because of the way it's gotten that point across? I guess it's a little bit of both. Regardless, "Blackfish" is one of the most terrifying documentaries I've ever seen. "Jaws" made people never want to go back to the beach again. "Blackfish" guarantees that you'll never want to step anywhere close to a Sea World for the rest of your life. "Blackfish" has an argument (keeping orcas in a tiny tank is dangerous on their physical and mental health) and it presents it in such a way that its impossible to dispute it. "Blackfish" has haunted me all summer long, but what people aren't talking about is the detailed way that it focuses on the beauty of the orcas.

See the top three after the jump:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Analog This: Girls Season 3 Trailer

The season three teaser trailer for "Girls" was just released. It's noteworthy because there's no actual scenes here; it's just a slideshow of Instagram photos of the show's production. It's certainly a great way to get our attention and spare our attention spans. In related news, I heard that the season four "Game of Thrones" teaser is going to be a BuzzFeed list.

The trailer tells me absolutely nothing besides the fact that there will be a lot of beach scenes. Either way, I'm excited for season three, even if season two had a disappointing ending. I look forward to how else Lena Dunham intends to skew the half hour format, because she's done some spectacular things so far. Here's hoping that this season includes Allison Williams singing a cover of "Black Skinhead."

Analog This: Breaking Bad Recap- Belize Navidad

This is a recap of episode 9 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Buried."

Well, there was no way to top last week's episode.

Last week, the cat leaped out of the freaking bag, tore up the entire place, and pooped outside the litter box after Walt warned Hank to "tread lightly." This week's episode was also tense, but in a much quieter way. It was a linking and in-between episode, a nice valley between last week's eventful episode and what is sure to be another great one next week. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Movie Review: The Butler

"Cotton was all I ever knew."

Pop quiz hotshot: Is this quote from the opening of "The Butler," or a proposed sequel to "The Jerk." Surprisingly, the answer is the former. 

"The Butler" is a big historical drama that is filled with some shining moments, and some others where Lee Daniel is practically screaming "Give me an Oscar!" at the screen. 

"The Butler" is based on an incredible true story. It is one of those stories that chronicles history from a character who was always behind the scenes as opposed to the forefront. Those stories can often be the most truthful, as observers tend to be a little more objective than participants. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Movie Review: The Spectacular Now

Finally, here's a teen drama that has so many things that I never thought I was looking for in a teen drama, mainly because I never thought I was looking for a teen drama. First of all, it's not on CW or ABC Family. "The Spectacular Now" is not about petty problems but, well, the big things we face right now. Also, there's no vampires.

"The Spectacular Now" is based on a novel, as opposed to director James Ponsoldt's childhood. However, the one thing that the film actually has in common with his life is that it takes place in Athens, Georgia where he grew up. There is a strong sense of familiarity with the whole thing, as if he is reminiscing on all the spots he once called home.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad Recap- When One Garage Door Closes...

This is a recap of episode 9 of season 5 of "Breaking Bad." The episode is "Blood Money."

Last we saw "Breaking Bad," Hank made the discovery we've been waiting five seasons to see. Last night, all of that came to light and it did not disappoint.

Vince Gilligan has such an amazing grip on how the camera works, he is like a master filmmaker who runs a TV show. He is so skilled at misdirection, that I thought the opening shot of a bunch of kids skateboarding in an empty pool was an episode of "Rocket Power." Nice trying pranking America, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

This was actually yet another flash forward in the "Breaking Bad" timeline. Walt, with a full beard and a full head of hair, returns to his dilapidated home to get the Ricin that he hid inside an outlet last season. Remember, on "Breaking Bad" every little moment means something and will likely be mentioned again. So you can bet that old lady who nearly spoiled Walt's assassination attempt on Gus will be back.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Movie Review: Elysium

Futuristic sci-fi films wouldn't be much fun if they imagined the best possible scenario for the future. "Elysium" might be one of the bleakest versions of Earth's future shown on screen.

It's approaching the end of the 21st century, and Earth has become extremely overpopulated. Mankind is plagued by disease and pollution. Los Angeles, where the film is primarily set, looks like a third world country. The sleek, electronic buildings that lit up futuristic Los Angeles of "Blade Runner" are nowhere to be found. The tallest buildings we see are nothing but carved out skyscrapers now filled with shantytown homes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Analog This: Five Seasons of Friday Night Lights in One Post

This year, I am grateful that Netflix exists. It took me a while (well over a year, to be not-so exact), but I finally finished this show in its entirety. I was hesitant to watch it at first, because sports have never been my biggest interest and also I've been putting off watching "The Wire" for way too long. But this was the summer I finally decided to finish "Friday Night Lights." What a long yet rewarding journey it has been. "Friday Night Lights" is not just a compelling drama. It changed the way I view people who are different than myself. Most importantly, it made me realize that sports are about more than just competition; sports are about stories. A coach can do more than merely teach a sport. A coach can also be your personal hero. Especially if that coach is played by Kyle Chandler.

I thought it would be hard to write a straight-up review of the entire series. Instead, I figured I'd recap each season to the best of my ability. There will be things I forgot (sorry in advance for the lack of Buddy Jr.), but that is because "Friday Night Lights" accomplished more and introduced more characters than the average drama that goes on twice as long as this show did.

To the best of my ability, here is my recap of five seasons, through good times and bad, of "Friday Night Lights":

Movie Review: Fruitvale Station

"Fruitvale Station" is based on a true story. I didn't know that before I saw it, given that I am an idiot who sometimes forgets to read the news. It's not necessary to know the story before you see it, but some knowledge would definitely help. In short, "Fruitvale Station" is about a standoff between some Bay Area cops and a few young black men at a train station in Oakland that ended in a tragic death.

That is just a short answer to what "Fruitvale Station" is about, and an answer that does not really give it justice. It's about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), which also happened to be on the last day of 2008. It is also about humanizing the dead and finding empathy by creating context. Oscar's final day is filled with little moments that normally wouldn't mean much in terms of one's entire life. However, they mean the world in someone's final hours.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Top 10: Woody Allen Films

10. Match Point

Sure, this is just the serious half of "Crimes and Misdemeanors" stretched out into an entire film. Yet, "Match Point" was a significant moment in Allen's career. It served as both a career revival, and a rare chance for him to leave New York and find a new footing in Europe. It turns out that he was actually a good match for adulterous English drama. As long as there are neurotic characters with twisted love lives, Woody Allen will be there to write it.

9. Manhattan

"Manhattan" is one of the most influential films Woody Allen ever put out. Its influence can be seen in everything from "Frances Ha" to "Louie." It displays his talent for balancing comedy and drama. While most of Allen's films are known for being shot quickly, you'd never be able to tell by the style of "Manhattan." The black and white is unforgettable. For once, the 59th Street Bridge actually looked beautiful.

Yes, that's Meryl Streep.

8. Hannah and Her Sisters

While not Allen's best comedy, "Hannah and Her Sisters" contains the funniest exchange from any of Allen's movies (hint: it involves the Holocaust and a can opener). "Hannah and Her Sisters" contains a lot of supposedly good people doing bad things, and then doing whatever they can to prove that they're not bad people. The ending of "Hannah and Her Sisters" is surprisingly life affirming. Allen said this was not intended, but nonetheless, it works so well.

7. Sleeper

There was a time when Allen was known for straight up slapstick. During that time, Allen was in top form with "Sleeper," a brilliant futuristic farce. Allen's impersonation of a robot as well as a sex orb (that's what I call it) are amongst the funniest moments in the film. Some of the jokes might require a little research (you had to be there, man), so hopefully you're in the mood to do some research on New York in the 1970s.

6. Midnight in Paris

"Midnight in Paris" is perhaps the greatest achievement of the latter part of Allen's career. It combines the whimsical fantasy of some of his earlier works with the wisdom of somebody much more experienced. Allen mines some great humor out of a pseudo-intellectual (Michael Sheen) as well as some of the most famous authors of the 20th century. "Midnight in Paris" is one of the best concepts Allen has ever come up with, and it is topped with nearly flawless execution. Not to mention, Owen Wilson does a better impression of Woody Allen than any other actor who has attempted it thus far.*

See the rest of the list after the jump

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Movie Review: Blue Jasmine

"Blue Jasmine" begins as Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) lays out the entire exposition of her life. It's a little odd because she's not talking to anyone. She's not even talking to the camera. She's just talking to herself, in hopes that some random passerby will accidentally be dragged into her delusional vanity.

Woody Allen has a drawer filled with hundreds of ideas in his room. I wouldn't be surprised if he just handpicked one at random every year. However, this seemed like a nearly perfect time to release "Blue Jasmine." It's context is the Financial Crisis. It came out far enough away to not seem like a cheap, timely story but close enough to it where it is still relevant.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Movie Review: The Way Way Back

Every time I catch myself wishing that I could spend a whole summer at a beach house, I realize I might have to deal with a lot of annoying summer vacation movie cliches. That's what "The Way Way Back" feels like: a first draft of a decent summer coming of age comedy. This might be acceptable on some occasions, except that this comes from Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who just won their deserved first Oscars for "The Descendants."

"The Way Way Back" opens with a promising moment of fine character establishment. Duncan (Liam James) sits slumped in the back seat as his mom's boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) asks him to rank himself from 1 to 10. Duncan says he'd be a 6 but Trent calls him a 3. It's an uncomfortable moment in a film that's filled with awkwardness. The moment works especially well because Carell, who plays against type, truly sells it by acting like he truly believes he's helping Duncan out. He's just one of the many oblivious parents that populate the film.