Quick thoughts on ‘Boyhood’

I feel like I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said about this movie, besides one, it really is as good as they say it is and two, it’s so real … almost too real. The most common complaints lobbed at the movie are its length and lack of a traditional narrative, but I believe it succeeds because of these elements. It’s what sets it aside as an important work and one that feels so close to actual life. Its themes of change, growth, family and choices all hold it together. Linklater is so good at crafting specific yet immensely relatable scenes, which are played equally by his cast. The 12-year shooting gimmick makes the movie “epic,” but it’s the flourishes of continuity and character development that make it as wonderful as it is. I’m so behind on throwing praise at this thing, but even after all the hype, it still felt profound.

They’ve also greenlit, “‘Another Period,’ starring Riki Lindhome and Natasha Leggero as rich, vapid sisters circa 1902; and “Idiotsitter,” created by and starring Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse as, respectively, a rich woman under house arrest in her daddy’s mansion and the woman hired to keep her out of further trouble.”

Movie vs Book Review: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ | Lara’s Book Club
Here’s what you didn’t see on screen.

Spoilers within.

'Blended' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It will make your children stupid.
A.O. Scott in his review of ‘Blended’ | NY Times
‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is probably the 3rd best 'Spider-Man' movie. Better than its immediate predecessor and Raimi's third, but not Raimi's first two. With the origin story out of the way, Webb and company are able to stretch their ideas and present something new(ish). It still feels vaguely familiar and trapped in its own genre, but it brings a lot of novel elements.
Jamie Foxx’s Electro is easily the weakest part of the film. His over-performance is only matched by his underwritten role. The character’s motivation is murky at best and culminates in a climactic battle that seems to only be in the movie because that’s what has to happen at the end of these movies. (Likewise, the imminent plane collision felt forced and unbelievable.) Dane DeHaan, on the other hand, walks away with every scene he’s in. Though he wasn’t established by the previous film, he had instant chemistry with Andrew Garfield and a cunning smile that actually made you root for him as the villain. Put him in the center of a Sinister Six movie — even without Andrew Garfield — and I’m there.
Speaking of chemistry, Garfield and Emma Stone’s alone makes this movie worth it. They do everything right to build towards the emotional impact of the movie’s outcome. SPOILERS HERE IN Much credit should be given to the creative team for taking the big swing of killing Gwen Stacy. Though it was spoiled by production stills, the orchestration of this event was perfectly executed in writing, shooting, acting and editing. Also, just the sheer fact that they did it, deserves some attention. Even with the spoilers, down to the last second, it’s easy to believe that they’re not going to do it. These kinds of movies don’t kill off the love interest. And then they do. I can’t think of a similar comic book movie to pull off such a move. ‘Dark Knight’ killed the female lead but she wasn’t as important as Gwen Stacy. Agent Coulson is comparable but also not as major of a character (and it turns out, he’s alive). For that decision alone, this movie deserves a place higher up in the pantheon. Not near the top for most of everything else, but in the discussion, for having stuck with bold storytelling.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is probably the 3rd best 'Spider-Man' movie. Better than its immediate predecessor and Raimi's third, but not Raimi's first two. With the origin story out of the way, Webb and company are able to stretch their ideas and present something new(ish). It still feels vaguely familiar and trapped in its own genre, but it brings a lot of novel elements.

Jamie Foxx’s Electro is easily the weakest part of the film. His over-performance is only matched by his underwritten role. The character’s motivation is murky at best and culminates in a climactic battle that seems to only be in the movie because that’s what has to happen at the end of these movies. (Likewise, the imminent plane collision felt forced and unbelievable.) Dane DeHaan, on the other hand, walks away with every scene he’s in. Though he wasn’t established by the previous film, he had instant chemistry with Andrew Garfield and a cunning smile that actually made you root for him as the villain. Put him in the center of a Sinister Six movie — even without Andrew Garfield — and I’m there.

Speaking of chemistry, Garfield and Emma Stone’s alone makes this movie worth it. They do everything right to build towards the emotional impact of the movie’s outcome. SPOILERS HERE IN Much credit should be given to the creative team for taking the big swing of killing Gwen Stacy. Though it was spoiled by production stills, the orchestration of this event was perfectly executed in writing, shooting, acting and editing. Also, just the sheer fact that they did it, deserves some attention. Even with the spoilers, down to the last second, it’s easy to believe that they’re not going to do it. These kinds of movies don’t kill off the love interest. And then they do. I can’t think of a similar comic book movie to pull off such a move. ‘Dark Knight’ killed the female lead but she wasn’t as important as Gwen Stacy. Agent Coulson is comparable but also not as major of a character (and it turns out, he’s alive). For that decision alone, this movie deserves a place higher up in the pantheon. Not near the top for most of everything else, but in the discussion, for having stuck with bold storytelling.

hugderekhaletoday said: I've got to ask: how did you feel about the finale??

Ok here goes. I’m not as mad as I thought I was going to be. Maybe that’s because I had braced myself for this ending for weeks, and though I tried to deny that they would do it, I knew that it was ultimately a very real possibility. 

Am I confused and angry as to why they would spend an entire season focusing on the do or die of a marriage that would eventually fail? Hell yes, I am. Do I feel that so much character growth in Ted and Barney was undone quickly and then restitched together in just this episode? Yup. Do I wish that the stories jammed into this episode had been told over half of this season so we could have gotten some more explanation for these choices? Yes, again. Do I hate the fact that the Mother Tracy died and Ted got his maybe happy ending with Robin? Not entirely.

There’s already a lot of outcry about the show not ringing true to the title, that the nine year quest to answer the show’s big question was just a long way to get him where we all thought he was going in the first place. I felt the same way immediately after tonight’s episode ended. Why was the show called ‘How I Met Your Mother?’ Did it mean nothing? And I think in the end Bays and Thomas just barely got away with having it both ways.

Ted got his happy ending twice. Just because Tracy died doesn’t mean she never existed. To me, the show presented plenty of evidence of happy times between the two of them. Their relationship was not a fraud or inconsequential, it was real and it happened and gave him believable happiness, but life is not a straight road. Tragedy comes even to those who deserve their happy ending. Tracy learned this way before Ted ever did. Rushing it all at the end makes it seem insensitive and yes, is manipulative, but not any less true to life.

The final scene tried hard for its full circle, and I found the imagery itself stirring. It’s also admirable that Bays and Thomas had this ending in mind for 8 years and that they stuck to it regardless. It leaves some messiness on the table, such as what’s Barney going to think of this and why are these characters doomed to repeat old habits? But maybe if we view everything that happens after Ted says “and that’s how I met your mother,” as the epilogue to the series, it would go down better. 

There were several things that could have been done differently tonight to keep everyone happy. But I think this ending is more challenging, true and rightfully tragic than all three couples growing old together and walking into the sunset. Despite all the low points over the years, ‘HIMYM’ built a sitcom that was anything but typical in so many ways. It’s unfortunate that this ending is going taint that in the eyes of a lot of its fans and television history.

Microreview: ‘The Lego Movie’
Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s batting average is kind of insane right now. They’ve presented an astounding comedic body of work, across formats and target audiences, that rivals any of their peers (Rogen & Goldberg, Judd Apatow, Pixar). ‘Lego Movie,’ while family fare, is so much more complicated than it lets on and often caters more directly to the adults in the audience than the children. Themes of freedom and oppression, individual expression and totalitarian conformity, corporate media and big government dominance are especially resonant up against the modern world. They also go about as far over the kids’ head as the meta humor that the movie uses in abundance and then (SPOILER ALERTS FROM HERE) builds its entire climax on.
Speaking of which, the third act reveal is a bit wonky and jarring. It unfortunately calls attention to itself and the rules of this world. In ‘Toy Story’ you understand the system of how the toys live when they’re not being watched, but here the mechanics of the Lego world and the real world are muddled and distracting. (The story is being made up by Will Ferrell’s son but then Emmett has a real-world consciousness and can move on his own?) That said, the climax of the movie works, and stirs up genuine emotion, even with characters we don’t really know much about. Or maybe we do and have been getting to know them the entire time? 

Microreview: ‘The Lego Movie’

Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s batting average is kind of insane right now. They’ve presented an astounding comedic body of work, across formats and target audiences, that rivals any of their peers (Rogen & Goldberg, Judd Apatow, Pixar). ‘Lego Movie,’ while family fare, is so much more complicated than it lets on and often caters more directly to the adults in the audience than the children. Themes of freedom and oppression, individual expression and totalitarian conformity, corporate media and big government dominance are especially resonant up against the modern world. They also go about as far over the kids’ head as the meta humor that the movie uses in abundance and then (SPOILER ALERTS FROM HERE) builds its entire climax on.

Speaking of which, the third act reveal is a bit wonky and jarring. It unfortunately calls attention to itself and the rules of this world. In ‘Toy Story’ you understand the system of how the toys live when they’re not being watched, but here the mechanics of the Lego world and the real world are muddled and distracting. (The story is being made up by Will Ferrell’s son but then Emmett has a real-world consciousness and can move on his own?) That said, the climax of the movie works, and stirs up genuine emotion, even with characters we don’t really know much about. Or maybe we do and have been getting to know them the entire time? 

I reviewed last night’s ‘Big Bang’ for Huff Post, it was a mixed bag.

There is no science behind comedy. Ironically, this is why the Sheldon plot of tonight’s Big Bang Theory is supposed to be funny.

His quest, though noble, is a fool’s errand meant to annoy his friends and tickle the audience. He can try all he wants, but he’ll inevitably fail. Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly tickled by tonight’s episode. In terms of a typical Big Bang, it had far fewer laugh out loud moments than usual, but what it lacked in big humor, it made up for in drama and emotion. I was genuinely surprised and pleased by the Penny-Leonard storyline, and am glad there is more forward momentum for these characters.

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Review, co-created by and starring Daly, will debut Thursday, February 27th at 10pm. Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, a TV critic who reviews life experiences like stealing, drug addiction, and sleeping with a celebrity. The supporting cast includes Jessica St. Clair as his wife, Fred Willard as his father-in-law, and James Urbaniak as his producer, with Andy Richter, Ashley Tisdale, Jason Mantzoukas, Rich Fulcher, Emo Phillips, Andy Blitz and Maria Thayer set to guest star.

On ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘The Day of the Doctor’

What a day. Quickly some thoughts.

Catching Fire' is a vast improvement over 'The Hunger Games'. This is mostly thanks to the fact that it doesn't need to waste a lot of time on exposition, but it also managed to solve the problem of 1st person vs. 3rd person perspective. The first film departed from the book in that it gave us a much broader world view of Panem. This was fine for establishing the universe, but in the process it lost the emotional connection to Katniss and the whole point about it being her specific experience. The sequel wisely doesn't leave Katniss very often and does so only briefly and with great reason to. This means that the emotion between the characters, her frustration, the tension of the games, her confusion and lack of knowledge and the twist ending all work. The Capitol felt much more menacing in this installment which added an unprecedented gravitas, but that has more to do with the source material I'd say. regardless, the movie looked amazing in IMAX. When the top and bottom of the screen opened up (you'll need a true IMAX screen for this experience) during the Games sequence, I was giddy. I was so very glad I saw it on the biggest screen possible. 

The Day of the Doctor’ had massive, impossible hype to live up to, but left me feeling satisfied for what it was. It struck the right balance of clever plotting, frightening monsters, touching emotion, self reflexive references both big and small and humor. Despite a deus ex machina ending that practically rewrote the modern era’s origin story*, it didn’t get bogged down by too much timey-wimey Moffat intricacies. Hurt gave a standout performance that makes me wish he had his own ‘Who’ series. I’m interested to see how the fans react to Billie Piper’s role, as it wasn’t really “Rose” and may not have been what many were expecting. Regardless, they opened up the door for an endless possibility of stories both backwards and forwards in time, and isn’t that what good ‘Doctor Who’ is supposed to do? Plus Tom Baker and Capaldi. Amirite?

*Except not really because Gallifrey instead of being destroyed is now missing and the Daleks are still nearly wiped out. Same place as we were before, but there’s a chance Gallifrey could be found.