Travelers (Netflix)

Many centuries into the future, the Earth's population has dwindled to almost nothing -- but the survivors have discovered the key to time travel. The last surviving humans discover they can send consciousness back in time to the 21st century. Inhabiting seemingly random people.  Desperate to save humanity, a group of "Travelers" enter the 21st century on a mission to avert disaster.

I have to start off by saying, 'Thank you Netflix" for another surprising interesting series.  So, my wife knows I love anything that has to do with time travel and dream interpretation.  With that said, she told me I have to watch this series but take your time and let it build on you.  I was like, eh,  we'll see.  Surprisingly, this is what I got.  This series opened up with multiple instances of people dying.  Theres an on screen count down of time of death and it looks like they die.  All of a sudden the time is reversed on a positive side.  Numbers going forward. We don't know what happened, but they seem to be different people now.  Its still a mystery what just occurred, but these characters go back to their life and begin communicating via the dark net (the internet but with cryptic code.  These communications are  picked up at the FBI believing they are terrorist communications.  We see one agent go from house to house trying to speak to these people with no real answers.  When he finally gets a good lead at where this group that has been communicating on the web are  meeting up.  The FBI finally catches up to these changed people and they let him know that he was going to be killed by a criminal and throw down an elevator shaft.  But before he can get some real answers,  his count down to his death starts and I'm like .... WTH??!!!  But now we understand that all of these people who have changed are inhabited by the consciousness of other people from the future.  Their former selves are gone with a hint of what they were but mostly gone.  What we know about these characters are they're  specialist from the future. The main characters are:

  • Eric McCormack as Grant MacLaren (Traveler 3468), the team's leader who assumes the life of an FBI special agent
  • MacKenzie Porter as Marcy Warton (Traveler 3569), the team's medic who assumes the life of an intellectually disabled woman.
  • Nesta Cooper as Carly Shannon (Traveler 3465), the team's tactician who assumes the life of a stay-at-home single mother.
  • Jared Abrahamson as Trevor Holden (Traveler 0115), the team's engineer who assumes the life of a high school athlete.
  • Reilly Dolman as Philip Pearson (Traveler 3326), the team's historian who assumes the life of a college-aged heroin addict.

As all of these characters come together for missions to save their future.  The team lets us know there is chaos that occurred in the future and we are not quit sure what went on but we know that because of a chatostophic event, it changed what the future becomes.   What we also find out is there's someone called the Director that gives out orders through random people he takes over by moving his consciousness  to them and speaks to the teams.  What you find is there are multiple travelers on different missions and their directives are not to interact with each other unless authorized. Our main characters seemed to be the rebels of all the travelers and they keep breaking protocol to do what they want to.  One traveler keeps her baby thats not hers, another helps others that are going to die thus creating new time lines.  And another is trying to not be in a relationship but can't help it.  Eric McCormack does a good job with his crew of unknown actors and they do a good job distinguishing who they are through out the series.  

The fact that these Travelers are constantly breaking protocol makes this series a lot more interesting than others.  Their moral compass strays them towards compassion and normalcy.  As opposed to the others that either want to just live in the past cleanly and happily or follow the directors request and do as they are told.  But this is where things take a turn. During an almost botched mission that suppose to change the future for the good.  The team finds they are still alive and their consciousness is still in the present.  But we don't know what happens in the future (which becomes something different since they changed time).  But we find their is a alternate black ops travelers group who is reeling against the directors orders.  The Traveler team now has to combat them as well as the FBI and wait on orders from the director to assign them a new mission.  The story comes up with some good secondary story lines with these travelers and we feel for them and the families that have no idea that these people aren't their loved ones and friends.  Be prepared it drags at times and redundant with digging too deep into the past of some of these Travelers but a pretty good show thats is slated for a second season.  

So once again Netflix, Thanks for getting me away from my satellite TV programming and possibly getting rid of it in a year or two.  

   

3% (Netflix)

3% is a Brazilian, dystopian thriller series created by Pedro Aguilera, starring Bianca Comparato and João Miguel. The show is set in a future wherein people are given a chance to go to the "better side" of a world divided between progress and affluence in the Offshore, and devastation and poverty in the Inland, but only 3% of the candidates succeed. Developed from a 2009 independent pilot episode, it is Netflix's first original Brazilian production and the second produced in Latin America, after Club de Cuervos.

I came to this series by way of two recommendations.  Netflix and a friend.  Since I watch a lot of foreign language films,  they both thought I would enjoy this series (Netflix is pretty smart).  As you read the summary above, you might think its a bit interesting or similar to so many other movies or shows of earths segregation after some sort of disaster (mostly zombies but not this one thank goodness).  So I took the time to look at the episodes one by one.  First, a couple of take aways i got from the series. This was a very diverse cast.  Brazil consist of so many different cultures and races that it really represented the true people of the country.  This I believe gave this story a very broad appeal if you wanted to relate to the characters.  Then, it was the conscience approach to show how the separation of the 3% isn't based on color, race or religion.  But intelligence and the ability to contribute to the greater cause offshore. This was what the 3% of the choosen had to accomplish so they could move to the sacred offshore island.  That my friend kept me interested with where this was going.

To give you a reference point.  This was similar to the Hunger games or Divergent.  A battle to be the choosen or be the elite but in a mysteries way that wasn't clearly defined.  Biggest difference is not having to kill each other and not having a main character with some special appeal or power.  Th only thing you had to have was cleverness and intelligence.  It made it a worth while series to watch.  Even though people were being killed during the process, it didn't focus on that.  It had you thinking what was next for the qualifying teams and what had to be done to become the top 3%. One aspect of technology that was crucial to the story line was, In order for the 3% facility people to know who was selected and who the candidates were. Each person had a identification chip implanted behind their ears that had their complete information about them and you could tell when the individuals were scanned.  This is important because one of the story lines we find out is, like most other forced segregated societies,  their are rebels that are against the 3% process.  We see rebels trying to infiltrate the 3% process to destroy it and how the offshore militia are sent on shore to combat them.  Buuuut theres' also another plan that slowly comes to fruition as you watch the series. We find that their are some covert rebel operatives applying for the 3%. We find these characters struggling to maintain their cover throughout the testing period and try to get to the end to execute the ultimate plan.    And to make things a bit more interesting, within the 3% society, they're people within the Offshore government that wants to take over the 3% facility to make it a better functional place.  You begin to realize you are watching the internal as well as external battle within the offshore organization and at the same time you are watching the onshore people trying to become the chosen 3%.

Here is the great part i was totally into.  There are tests the candidates have to take that are mostly mental and requires them to work at times as individuals and other times as teams.  Depending on the situation, the teams have to rely on the weakest physical person or the strongest minded person.  They create an interesting mental game that kind of pulls you in and wonder what you would do.  There is violence but mostly mental fatigue and ethical dilemmas that has you wondering who will get through.  There is a real interesting character they placed within the mix of the challenge.  We are presented with a young man in a wheel chair that qualified to be part of the 3% enrollment.  You automatically think this can't work, he can not physically get through this.  Well, you see what he and the team goes through and realize what actually happens. This was a very good way of adding physically challenged people to an alleged physical challenge.

Overall this is a very good series worth seeing as well as experiencing.  Netflix gave the show a one-season order with an 8-episode first season. César Charlone, an Academy Award nominated cinematographer known for City of God and Blindness, served as director alongside Daina Giannecchini, Dani Libardi, and Jotagá Crema. The second season is confirmed.  I'm a big foreign language movie guy so I went with the subtitles.  Their is a dubbed english version  but it reminds me of the old Japanese Kung Fu movies.  The cadence and flow of the show doesn't even feel right with the dubbed version.  But I have to say, worth seeing. 

Best of Enemies

In the summer of 1968 television news changed forever. Dead last in the ratings, ABC hired two towering public intellectuals to debate each other during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. William F. Buckley Jr. was a leading light of the new conservative movement. A Democrat and cousin to Jackie Onassis, Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist. Armed with deep-seated distrust and enmity, Vidal and Buckley believed each other’s political ideologies were dangerous for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they pummeled out policy and personal insult—their explosive exchanges devolving into vitriolic name-calling. Live and unscripted, they kept viewers riveted. Ratings for ABC News skyrocketed, and a new era in public discourse was born

This documentary was what I believe was appropriate during the time of lies and unintelligent behavior within the political climate of today.  These two men were dangerous with their knowledge, their verbal arsenal as well as their hatred of each other.  Especially their parties affiliation.  These two intellectuals were powerful and very far to the right and left with their ideology that each were given a platform to express it.  This documentary showed each protaganist hatred for each other and their willingness to to provide great theater for the public during the political conventions that year.  It also provided the American broadcasting channel (ABC) a boast in their TV coverage during the time when ABC was falling behind NBC and CBS in the ratings.  As you watched the Republican and Democratic convention during 1968, the racial hypocrisy was so intense that you wondered if it was 1968 or 2016.   But what I will say about Buckley, he possess the charm and intellect that you have to listen to him whether he was right or wrong.  His wit and sass, kept liberals and conservatives on their toes ready to defend or combat.  But the overwhelming intelligence of Gore Vidal bit into the essence of the conservative arguments about the poor and race and made his distractors work harder to prove him wrong.  His sheer presence makes him still iconic today as he stands up to more than any democrat can do today.  Maybe Bill Maher or John Stewart would give him a run but not with the elitist attitude.  

This documentary goes into the history of these two gentleman and what they accomplished throughout their years in literary form or on Television.  With their two contrasting views, we finally see the two of them engage in intelligent debates that we long for at this time.  Not the unintelligent disrespectful childish behavior we just saw during our last presidential debates.  Its the biting factual, strong opinionated display of men prepared and ready to protect and defend their views.  We see a lot hasn't changed but we do see the debate being relevant on both sides.  During that election year, we see the effects of the Vietnam war on the people who oppose the war and those in favor.  The passion from these two started a point to counter point coverage going forward on network television and extended onto SNL.  But what made history wasn't the vitriol debate shared by the two participants.   It was the climatic explosion when Vidal lashed out during one of the debates and called Buckley a Nazi.  Buckley's face distorted and you can see his disgust and anger displayed clearly in his facial expression and his aggressive body language.  Buckley lashed out quickly and called Vidal a queer and threaten to punch him in the face right their on the air.  At that point, Vidal got what he wanted and showed the world that Buckley was unhinged and could not stand pressure when pressed to defend his opinions.  

From that point on these two men used publications and lawsuits to attack each other and their ideologies.  The amazing strategy used by both men was to use a TV medium and press to push their ideas and opinions,  An extrodinary commentary on what the political atmosphere was and actually still is today.  This is one of the documentaries that should get you to read history and see where we were as opposed to where we are now.  A very dangerous and sad place.  

O A (Netflix)

A young girl goes missing for 7 years and suddenly shows up in a hospital  with vague memories and mysterious scars on her back.  She is very reluctant to reveal what happened to her as well as where she has been.  But the mystery lies with why is she able to see now when 7 years ago she could not.

Ending the year out, I wondered what was new on the streaming sites (HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) that I could binge watch during my relaxing time during the holidays.  I was emailed this new series from Netflix that had some pretty good recommendations.  I never heard of the writer/directors even though they had some movies out previously.  But the story line seemed bland and the trailer sparked an interest.  But with the comparison to the other Netflix series "Stranger Things",  I said why not.

Basic premise was a lost blind teenager disappears for 7 years and suddenly finds her way back.  The big differences in her life besides being gone for 7 years was, she could see, she has some weird ass scars on her back and she is trying to get back to where she was being held.  You first think, hmmm Stockholm syndrome?  But we hear her life story from her memories as told to her band of misfits from her town.  O, I forgot. Who is her?  Well she is a Russian Barons daughter that changed her name twice, then to her adopted name Prairie then her new name OA.  I know, I know freakin weird right?  So lets talk about this in short form. OA is totally confused in the town she returns to and doesn't want to tell anyone anything until she runs into the town psycho bully (I still don't know what she did to the dog).  She bonds with him and tells him she'll help him with his problem of being sent away to a deservingly reform school if she get five people to come together to help her get back to where she was at.  WTF?  Yup she basically told him that she would keep his psycho ass out of teenage prison. But while she was hoping he would find people, she put out a you tube video to recruit on her own.  Of the million + mentally disturbed people who access the internet,  She got her 5.  Including the bully.  This is where we start seeing the life of OA.  

She tells her new founded team, in her previous life.  She was a barons daughter until she died in a school bus accident with  other children of the Russian Oligarchy.   When she died she had a choice to came back without the ability to see or stay within the mysterious realm she was in without suffering.  She returned and her father sent her away to a blind boarding school with her aunt because of the danger of her father's enemies.  OA stays with her aunt until her father presumably disappears and now her aunt gets no more money to protect her and keep her with the very expensive boarding school.  OA becomes the blind servant of her aunt at this house of ill repute.  Not longer after her arrival, an older couple adopts her and the little blind girl is brought  into a better life than living in a whore house with baby producing prostitutes.  Luckily we don't get into these details of her life and the going ons with the house.  Not really relevant to the story.  But while OA's life is being changed, from one household to another.   She has these night terrors and dreams of her past life and premonitions.  She wakes up with these random nose bleeds and in her mind.  These dreams are telling her that she needs to get back to her father.  When she gets older she dreams of meeting her father in this mysterious place while she is playing her violin.  She takes these visions and leaves her home and believes she is to meet up with her father in New york.  He doesn't show up and she feels if she plays her music in the subway.  Her father will return to her.  But there is a man that finds her.  A doctor that has been studying exceptional people who has had experienced with near death experiences.  He seduces her and this mad doctor captures her and brings her to an isolated place where she is with other people who had near death experiences (NDE) like her.  The story shifts to showing the relationships of these 4 but eventual 5 people in these glass cages and how they are being tested to figure out the secret to life after death.  It gets weird and we find that this maniac doctor is killing them over and over to see their reactions to gain insight to the experience.  The one thing OA does show us is,  she has an interaction with someone when she is dead which causes her to make a decision to go back to the world or stay with her and not suffer again.  With all of this being said.  She is telling this to her 5 band of misfits so they can learn the 5 movements to transition to another dimension where she believes her friends she was held as a prisoner are still being held.

Whew, that was a mouth full.  Not quite like stranger things, a little of Christopher Nolan's "The prestige and a touch of (my opinion) "12 monkeys" series.  Its not a wow you series that keeps you totally engaged or so mysterious it works your left and right brain.  Its interesting and very unique.  Lots of plot holes and vague interpretations of things that occurred but I will say a very interesting series.  Their is a lot more that went on that will get you to disengage or become more engaged.  Thats up to you.  I thought it was pretty good but not sure if season 2 will have something for me to continue watching it.  i will say, the 5 misfit characters had some interesting story lines as well.  They didn't touch them too much besides the psycho bully but good enough to see them more than just extras.  Worth seeing? I think it is, especially with the shows out now trying to be clones of each other.  sad, thoughtful and above all interesting.  

Rogue One

Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing down when the evil Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire's lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a vengeful Jyn joins forces with a spy and other resistance fighters to steal the space station's plans for the Rebel Alliance

I went to this new Star Wars flick with high expectations.  J.J Abrams previous addition to the Star Wars anthology was a good first effort for a come back.  But this was supposed to be a true jump off to the franchise with new directors and not the same old George Lucas, Steven Spielberg happy go lucky cutesy story line.  I'm a Star Wars fan but not a fanatic.  I got to see every addition to the franchise and 80% of the movies at the IMAX theater (not the first trilogy).  I was part of the group yelling about the prequels to be directed by someone else but still supported the franchise.  It was difficult to hope that Lucas would all of sudden change his direction with how the franchise would go but it never happen. We all cheered when he relinquished his control to Disney and they put it into the hands of J.J Abrams.  We began to submit our wish list of directors and people and story lines we wanted to see.  From the animated versions to the Star War books.  So when we heard that we were going to see a stand alone version of the franchise i was like O boy, what's going to happen now.  The story line? - rebels try to get the blueprints to the Death Star to give to rebel resistance.  So who could director a movie that could be suspenseful, stay within the Sci Fi genre and respect the fans to say thank you.  In comes Gareth Edwards!!

  I first came into contact with Gareth when I was given the recommendation for his movie he wrote and directed called Monsters .  Which made me watch his second epic which was Godzilla.  I know most of you are like Godzilla?  Really?  Yup Godzilla.  The way he presented the movie and the character was pretty amazing and modern.  One of the things he was able to show brilliantly was not focusing on the details of the special effects, but made you focus on the scene and the why.  His great feat was keeping you interested from within the shadows.  His movies are dark with great  altering back and forward to light atmospheres and dark.  So watching these two movies gave me a good image of what was in store for Rogue One.

The story tells us about a family that has history with the empire but made a decision to walk away.  But like every other Star Wars flick.  No one walks away from the empire.  They come for the father who is a scientist and they need him back for their Grand project.  The Death Star.  But his daughter Jyn gets away and joins a rebel group led by the brilliantly played Forest Whitaker.  We don't see her involvement with the rebels but we see her skills she picked up while she survives on her own.  We are introduced to a few other rebels that are ruthless and know they have to do things that aren't really kosher.   This is a definite change from the other Star War series.  We see the desperation and on top of all of that.  The strong power of the Empire.  You knew the empire was in control in the other movies but this movie you see the cruelness and cold destruction caused by the empire.  I actually felt more angry at their Nazi cold actions than before.  Jyn is picked up by the Rebel alliance and sent on a mission tells her we know who your father is and we need information.  The superficial mission was to capture him.  The real mission was to kill his ass. We see these rebel hunters as real hunters and anarchist.  They are hardened and loyal to the cause.  Not in a light hearted hero way but in a desperation to live and their people to live.  This movie if you haven't all ready heard it is a war movie.  Fighting and killing to survive or stay in charge.   Beach front battles and air to air combat.  No silly Ewoks to spoil the mood either.  You did see Gareth throw a bone to the Star War fans with some cameos and little easter eggs from previous movies.  I believe he did that to connect those back to the overall story instead of just creating a whole new one.  As the modern era of Star wars movies hit the screen.  This I feel is one of the best.  Light a times but forward and steady of what supposed to be accomplished at any means necessary.  Once again as the new series arise.  The movie had great diversity with its characters from lead to supportive.    Great fight scenes, good characters and great supporting story to the franchise.  This is a movie worth seeing and explaining the movie doesn't give the movie its just due.  The scope of the movie really was amazing in IMAX, but I don't think it really needed the 3D.  JS.  This will become a classic and like one critic already mentioned (Rogue One’s Gareth Edwards Shouldn’t Direct Another Star Wars Movie) He has done such a great job that they would place to high of an expectation to top this one.  I think he gets it but don't want his talent to be trapped in this never ending Star War series.  He has already dropped off the new Godzilla movie so hopefully he'll move to other things.    Worth the peso's and Euro's.  

Outcast

Created and co-executive produced by Robert Kirkman ("The Walking Dead"), the drama series "Outcast" stars Patrick Fugit ("Gone Girl") as Kyle Barnes, a man who has been possessed by demons since he was young. His search for answers -- and redemption -- leads him into a relationship with Reverend Anderson, a West Virginia evangelist who believes he is fighting in a holy war against Earth's evil forces. As Barnes sequesters himself from those he loves for fear of causing greater hurt, he begins to delve into secrets from his past. What he discovers could be life-changing -- and affect the fate of the world forever.

Some series I run into by chance, others are based on a Netflix, Hulu,or Amazon recommendation.  For some reason this one came from a list of most unique series of the year review.  The first thing I found out was this show was created for TV then a comic was created by the same name.  You should know by now, dark emotional comics are being brought to the screen as often as they can (Preacher, Walking dead).  I was cool with it and figured the premise sounded interested.  With all that said I decided to give It a try.  I'm not a big horror fan unless its made to be very interesting and captivating.  So when I found out that Robert Kirkman the creator of the "Walking dead" created this series and sold it to Cinemax before he put it into comic book print.  I was like damn.  Guess I better pay attention to this.  Basically this was a made for TV comic book series that happened to be sold oversees as well as locally.  But what you get from this show is a truly mysterious, creepy horror show like you wouldn't normally see on network TV.  Barely from cable TV.    I started reading the comic but found that since the show was written for TV.  The comic followed the same script.  Nothing deviating from the script.    But what the hell is Outcast about.  Funny you should ask.

We open up with a child watching a roach climb up a wall while he stares at it with a blank hypnotize glare.  He slams his head into the wall killing the roach and eats it.  WTF??  Yeah, he licks the wall and eats the damn thing.  O yeah, you got me now.    We switch to a man lying in bed while a knock on the door in the background disturbs his already disturbed sleep.  He's in a house thats pretty dark, disheveled and creeps you out with shit every where.  At the same time, we see flash backs of a closet and someone terrorizing a child constantly.   You are now introduced to Kyle Barnes.  This depressed, lonely ostracized man who was accused of beating his child and wife for no apparent reason.  He returns to the town he left to escape what happened to is family and his mother.  We'll get to his mother.  The creepiness continues when he runs into a preacher that has been exorcizing demons from people possessed in town.  The stories tells a different story about  Kyles memories of his mother that was possessed as well and is now in a coma.  You see her attack him and locks him in a closet.  The strange thing is Kyle has no idea what happen to her or why.  The show reveals very little but slowly pieces things together as the episodes go by.  Back to the preacher.  He has a tremendous ego feeling that he is doing gods work by curing these people from these possessions. But he finds that he is a useless pawn and Kyle is the key to overcoming these possessions.  The preacher encounters  Kyle while he takes while Kyle and his sister travels downtown Rome W. Virginia.  The Preacher convinces Kyle to help him understand a current possession he is dealing with which is the roach eating kid from the beginning of the show.   What we see at the house of the child, takes us through the complete first season with multiple characters and situations that the town, the preacher and Kyle begin to understand that this is bigger than one or two people that are being possessed.  They find during this engagement with this child that he is known by these demons that are possessing these people.  He is called an Outcast by these demons and he finds he has the power to release these demons from the bodies they possess.  

What makes this such an interesting story is the randomness of the people being possessed as well as who gets cured and who falls into a coma based on when and how the demons are released.  I really think these our aliens but the series never lets you know anything about their origin that clearly.  But the story lines keeps the spiritual aspect throughout the series.  The series also has very interesting characters supporting Kyle like his sister and her family.  His wife and his daughter.  The Black sherif in the town and the possessed people who now walk among them that are the same but really not.   A really dark almost depressing show with untold evil  that no one knows where its coming from and a reluctant hero that has no idea who he is to these demons and what is his purpose.  I binged through the 8 series 1st season in two days because it kept me so captivated by the mysterious demons and how Kyle had to fight with his past, family and realization that something is wrong and its not him.  Even though it really is him in a way he can not understand.  Worth the watch especially if you are a Walking dead fan or horror fan.  This I believe is top shelf writing

13th

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.  This amazing director, producer and film writer has cone an amazing job with this emotional documentary.  

I walked into this documentary with a mind set that I knew about the prison industrial complex and how businesses took advantage of the privatization of the system. So I thought I was going to be reviewing my facts and brush through this documentary like thanks for the review. Well the sad part is, you should never assume anything. You learn something new every day and history repeats its self in different forms. What I found out during the opening statements of the documentary was I didn’t really know what the 13th admendment consisted of. Here it is and what I missed:

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865

So as the documentary started showing how the south put in rules like the Black Codes. These laws passed by Southern states in 1865 and 1866, after the Civil War had the intent and the effect of restricting African Americans’ freedom, and of compelling them to work in a labor economy based on low wages or debt. Black Codes were part of a larger pattern of Southern whites trying to suppress the new freedom of emancipated African American slaves, the freedmen. The defining feature of the Black Codes was broad vagrancy law, which allowed local authorities to arrest freed people for minor infractions and commit them to involuntary labor. This period was the start of the convict lease system

That was the system of keeping African Americans in bondage to continue to make profits. The second system was the Peonage law. Southern business owners obviously wasn’t going to follow any laws against their profit marbins so they created a profitable arrangement of slavery with a system called peonage, in which (disproportionately African Americans) workers were stuck with loans and forced to work indefinitely because of their debt. Peonage continued through Reconstruction and ensnared a large proportion of African American workers in the South. These workers remained destitute and persecuted, forced to work dangerous jobs and further confined legally by the racist Jim Crow laws that governed the South. This brings us back to the prison system. Based on the highlighted portion in the 13th admendment. The government was allowed to have prisoners under the system of slavery or a nicer moniker, under involuntary servitude. The documentary goes into how the movie “birth of a nation” by d.w. griffith shows how the movie denegrated African Americans as sex craved animals with every sterotype known to black people. It also showed how the Klu Klux Klan showed up to be the heros to save the white women from being raped by a black man. The film was screened at the white house for Woodrow Wilson. So what do you think that sends to the country about African Americans? The documentary proceeds what African American had to go through during the time the government stood on the side line while people were being abused on the state level denying them equal treatment and their voting rights. During the early 1900’s, we see the lynching and abuse perpertrated by the Klan and others who wanted to curb the behavior of African Americans. Even during this time, African Americans were still be incarcerated for petty crimes but what turned the prison system into a targeted weapon for minorities was Nixon’s decision to go after criminal activity and drugs. Nixon advisors even stated they would be targeting black people. Then the next president Reagan, talked about having a stronger tone on crime and the drug war. What made policy so divisive is it centered on minorities and not all aspects of the drug war operations. The documentary shows the media showing African Americans being arrested for all types crimes that reenforced the new policies to go after this black criminal element. So when the politicians began running again for the presidency and congress, both parties stepped up with policies that would keep america safe and based on the rhetoric from the politicians and the images by the media, these policies were written. The democrates supported Clinton with his two most devastating polices. Mandatory sentencing and the 3 strike rule. The documentary showed that from the early 70’s to the current 2010’s. The prison population went from low 500k to over 2.2 million. Not because of the increase in crime but because of these draconian laws that not only stripped them of their voters rights but kept them in a system that left them eligible for forced labor.  

I stated all of this to bring you to the current situation. Businesses profiting from incarcerations and the privitatizing of the prison system that are currently using laws to have inmates work for businesses like Wal-mart and Victoria Secrets. It showed the impact of private companies over charging families, inmates and supplying shoddy services to inmates. It is frighting and uncomfortable to know that laws like these are holding back minorities and a system is in place that can be used for profit and reduce the voter roll by having more people incarcerated with criminal records. This is the harsh reality of understanding and doing more about who are your representatives as well as knowing the law when you are dealing with the law. A strong, sad and important documentary that should be seen by all. Understanding each other and what has been feed to all of us (regardless of ethnicity). This realization showed me this was very important and how this film has taught me a lot.

Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

The first thing I have to admit is I am not a reader of J. K. Rowling.  I enjoyed the Harry Potter series but I did not read any of the books.  Laziness or time or maybe a combination of them both.  But I did enjoy the fantasy and magical stories that were presented.  Like most people, the darker dangerous stories were the best.  Especially The Prisoner of Azkaban directed by Alfonso Cuaron.  At times you realized or came to grips with this being a pre- teen series but it was presented and created to be very interesting with its visuals and story lines.  So when I heard JK was coming back with a adult series that focused on the humans with no magical powers called the No -maj and the wizards that lived in the same city.  I was interested to see how this would turn out.

So, to me any way.  Eddie Redmayne is an extraordinary actor. The movies Jupiter rising and Les Miserables were average roles for him  but after I saw "The Theory of Everything" and "The Danish Girl".  I realized what a  amazing performer he truly is.  The natural way his odd interactions and emotional facial reactions is a joy to behold. He is this era's Danial Day-Lewis.  So I figured he would make the most out of the role he was presented.  But on to the movie.  I walked in with a premise of a wizard carrying a case of magical animals that some how gets loose in New york city and the local wizards have to help find them before it gets out of hand and cause chaos by revealing the wizards and magic does exist.  Seems simple.  But this movie is a lot more broad than that.  A wizard named Mr. Scamander travels to new york supposedly to acquire a gift but runs into some trouble when a few of his little and some big beast slip out of his case while he is walking through the city.  He runs into a few characters that you quickly grow to like that he accidentally involves while trying to recover his beast.  One of them is a lovable no-maj that is trying to open a bakery and presents a case full of parties to the bank where Mr. Scamander chases down one of his little beast.  Then its the two sisters that are wizards.  One of them works for the, I presume the white house of the wizard society as an investigator while the other as a regular worker their that reminds you of a Marilyn Monroe character  that reads minds.  The first sister tries to find answers of her own about some suspicious  activity going on through town that is demolishing buildings and killing no-maj's.  We then find their is a strong dark presence that is causing havoc throughout the city that the police are investigating as well as the wizards.  At the same time the wizard world is doing the Men in Black thing to blank out no-maj memories so they would not know what happened when they encounter a magical event.  

What rI found interesting was the parallel  world between the humans (No-maj) and the wizards that existed in the same city interacting everyday while the humans were not aware of the difference between the two.   They kind of walked around in their own world without knowing their was a separation.  The antagonist you find out a little later in the movie is very interesting and I am excited to see how they make this  character return.  A well done movie and a very exciting concept of this new magical world.  Humor and love interest is laid out within the film that wasn't over the top or gratuitous,  but It this really was a movie that anyone could enjoy whether you was a Potter fan or not. 

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange was a brilliant but egotistical surgeon. After a car accident destroys his hands and hinders his ability to perform surgery, he searches the globe for a way to repair them and encounters the Ancient One. After becoming one of the old Sorcerer Supreme's students, he becomes a practitioner of both the mystical arts as well as martial arts. Along with knowing many powerful spells, he has a costume with two mystical objects—the Cloak of Levitation and Eye of Agamotto—which give him added powers. Strange is aided along the way by his friend and valet, Wong, and a large assortment of mystical objects. He takes up residence in a mansion called the Sanctum Sanctorum, located in New York City. Later, Strange takes the title of Sorcerer Supreme.


Here we are at the third Marvel movie for 2016.  Full disclosure, I am not a big Doctor Strange fan or follower.  I read a few of his comics but I mostly saw him with the Defenders other small appearances as well as later own when he was part of the consulting genius group called the illuminati (tony starks, Reed Richards, Prof. Xavier).  So the movie prompted me to go back and read his origin story and how he became the master of the mystic arts.  Luckily like most of the Marvel hero’s, a simple story line of an arrogant surgeon who loses his ability to perform surgery when he is in an accident that ruins his hands.  He searches the world for a cure spending all his money swearing he will return to be the great surgeon he use to be.   All of this to no avail until he is told about an eastern remedy that helped someone else with a spinal injury returns to full form and function.  He travels to this unknown place and is humbled to the point that he has to conform or just give up.  He is welcomed by a splendidly acted Tilda Swinton as the ancient one.  She tells him to let go of everything you have learned and open your mind to everything new.  The graphics and special effects are amazing.  I saw it in 3D and IMAX so this was a special treat.   Here he learns the mystic arts and joins unwittingly a band of others fighting the enemies the Avengers are not aware of and is moved to be the best as he could be.  Whew.  I think that’s it.  So I came in with a small sliver of information and a few memories to what this new character was going to bring to the Marvel Universe.  But I came out very, very pleased with the outcome.

There are two things that make this movie pretty damn good.  The acting and the vision the director, Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Deliver us from evil, The exorcism of Emily Rose) had for this film.  This horror film director took on this movie and showed us he had a natural feel to what the film had to be.  You heard the buzz on the similarities of Inception and the look of it.  Yes he did an amazing job of warping reality whenever he had a chance.  He actually made the reality around them an essential part of the film.  Perhaps another character to play along side of them as the movie moves along. 

Next, the high caliber actors that played the starring roles in the film.  Tilda Swinton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel Adams, and Mads Mikkelsen does a very good job with their acting roles for a superhero movie.  Just like any origin movie, we go through the learning and the mental struggles of becoming someone they did not dream of becoming.  We are introduced to cosmic mystical juggernauts that have only been introduced in Fantastic four (Galactus) and Thanos with the GOTG. Dormammu lord of the realm of Darkness will give you a hint on what the cosmic universe has in store for us. But as a comic book fan, this is a welcome addition of larger than normal villains that can be defeated but can not be killed.  Easily. Looking at the future of this series, Doctor Strange dealings with the dead, other dimensions, demons and other outer dimensional beings, I wonder how Marvel will begin to introduce other characters like Morbius and ManThing.  They are doing a very good job with the second iteration of Ghost Rider on agents of shield but not to the extent of what a movie can do for that character or the rawness of the NetFlix characters. 

 

Doctor Strange is a good entertaining movie and a very good introduction to one of Marvel’s stronger leaders in their Universe. With great acting and directing, we should see lots of good movies from this character in the near future, plus some interesting special appearances. 

Arrival

Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.


When I saw the previews for Arrival I was captivated with the look and concept of what this Sci-Fi drama was going to be about.  But when I heard Denis Villeneuve was the director.  I knew I was in store for a really intense and methodical road ahead.  First lets talk about Denis.  I was introduced to him when someone suggested I watch the movie “Prisoner”.  All the previews and summaries told me this movie was going to be a typical kidnapping of a kidnapper movie that may have a twist or two.  This is definitely not what this movie was about.  He weaved a psychological ethical dilemma of what you or anyone would do if your child were kidnapped.  He presented contrasting couples of what one would do and what the other would.  So you stand there wondering which one you would be. Would you make the right decision?  Would you go too far?   But a signature technique I noticed with his movies is his jump editing technique.  Once he established a characters routine.  He doesn’t drag you through the whole sequence of events.  He also doesn’t need to show you all the graphic details.  He jumps to the next scene placing in your mind, You know what just occurred, don’t you?  He has done this with his succeeding movies as well.  He leaves you wondering, what did I miss or did I really miss something.  Overall, his tension building, character developing analysis is so good that by the end of the film.  You know who they are, you know why they did it and wonder.  What would I have done.  His movies that came afterwards Enemy and Sicario are so well made but so different from each other that they actually have an opportunity to stand on their own.

 

But, back to Arrival.  Here’s the interesting thing, I found before I even stepped foot in the theater.  I had these questions.  Most movies when Aliens arrive have different kinds of scientist to figure out where and how they came to be here (mostly to take over the planet) but this movie wanted to know how, with the help of a linguistic Professor could we talk to them.  This new direction told me that the writer and director wanted to use another conceptual way of making contact with these aliens.  So the entire effort was to bring together a team of scientist and military experts all around the world to determine what the Aliens were saying or can anything be determined to communicate directly to them.  This is where Amy Adams does a great job become this great specialist, leader and professor of linguistics studies.  Should would bring clarity to everyone on what they wanted.  Movie story line in short.  12 alien spacecraft’s arrive around the world and opens their craft up every 18 hours to let them in to attempt to make some kind of contact.  The military as usual are heading this project like it is all over the world.  But they come up with squat.  Forest Whitaker as Colonel Weber reaches out to professor Louise Banks and tells her they need her help to translate the sounds emitting from a tape recorder in the few minutes that they arrive at her office .  Not going to happen, as she clearly states that she has to be there to determine what would need to be translated.  They turn their collective nose up but have to return to bring her to Montana to meet the show (aliens). 

 

We move on to a slow but essential learning phase of the film to see that the communication needed from the aliens is not spoken but happens to be written.  We go through a few trial and error exercises with Prof. Banks and the other scientist in the movie played by Jeremy Renner.  With all that said, there is a second layer of the story that is some how connected to the complete story line.  We become privy to Prof. Banks thoughts that may be memories, images or projections.  We really aren’t sure, but they pop up all through the movie.  We start off with some and a few show up during her encounters with the aliens.  Some painful some joyful.  We sit back watching, waiting and hoping that they get to a solution before the world attacks these visitors in a military way which is being led by the Chinese in the south pacific.  There is an underline feeling of fear that is shown on screen by the American soldiers as well as people around the world. So as this all goes on, the real story is if we feel there is a race against time to come up with a solution.  But the whole objective of their arrival which we don’t realize is, time is the solution.  

This is a very intelligent metaphysical movie that uses the same technique like hisprevious movies.  It takes its time to give you everything you will need during your time watching the movie.  But it really takes paying attention and understanding what is being seen as opposed to what it truly means.  I’m being very vague with things because its worth finding out what this is all about on your own, but unless I’m a buffoon.  I did not see the conclusion and the true meaning of the the story.  Credit to Forest Whitaker and the scientist Ian Donnely played by Jeremy Renner.  Both injected quality and substance into their roles and into the story line.

A well directed film with a great story line.  It is based from a book called, “Story of your life” by Ted Chiang.  This film is visually beautiful, but don’t expect to see a big sci-fi Star Wars, close encounter effects in this movie.  It is about contact, not physical engagement or military and technical superiority.  it is about how we communicate and come to an understanding of what all our needs are individually.  

Another great film by Denis Villeneuve and I look forward to his reboot of “Blade Runner”.  

Sample this

A documentary that reveals how a forgotten record by the Incredible Bongo Band helped cement the foundation of hip hop when DJ Herc extended its percussion by playing them back to back, creating an anthem on the streets of the Bronx.

This documentary was a surprise because I thought I would jump into the hip hop era and see how the Bronx took this record and made it their own.  What we see in this documentary is an idea from a man that the hip hop community embraced and extended the life of.  This is all about the song "Apache" from the group the incredible bongo band.  This song was a fixture as I grew up as a budding DJ in the South Bronx.  Following the blueprint from Grandmaster Flash and The Grand Wizard Theodore.  This was a beat you had to have and make the most of because it had everything needed for a party.  But this isn't a total hip hop story.  This is the making of the incredible bongo band and the many studio musicians that recorded and played the music live during its time.  and by the way, made this song great and the band iconic.  

This story starts with Michael Viner.  as weird as this sounds, this guy worked with the Kennedy administration back in the late 60's where he connected with so many people that are featured in this documentary.  After the death of Kennedy he left for California and started working in the music industry with no musical talent but was able to successfully influence people to get in to places most wouldn't be able to.  Michael and Rosey Grier worked together with Kennedy and they both came to California to find their way.  Rosey went into film and Michael tagged along with him gaining more influence.  Both played in a cult movie "the thing with two heads" and Michael had the brilliant idea of creating the soundtrack for the movie.  This is where we are introduced to the remake of the song "Bongo Rock".  So the someone had to credited.  So the fictitious "Incredible Bongo Band" was created.  The song was a hit in Canada that they had to do something to finish a complete album.  What made this incredible was the artist that toured as the incredible bongo band wasn't the artist that recorded the album.  It is so amazing how Michael Viner strung together everything about this group and continued to recreate it to get it played on the radio and in live concerts.  We see a lot of his connections and great know artist that had 6 degrees of separation from each other and what influence it did for the band.  

But the biggest take away that actually put this band into the hands of hip hop was the great percussionist King Ericsson.  This Jamaican born talent was the best studio percussionist in the industry at that time.  And if you follow hip hop in its infancy.  You know the leaders have been the Jamaican DJ's that used their island technique to bring it to a whole new level.  This is how DJ Kool Herc found the Apache cut.  From following the beats of King Ericsson.    We see lots of Hip Hop old heads like Africa Bambaata, Grand Wizard Theodore and great artist speaking to there relationship to Michael and the group.  Very interesting to see and worth the time as an artist and hip hop follower.  Worth the look.   

Jack Reacher: Never go back

Investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) springs into action after the arrest of Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), an Army major accused of treason. Suspecting foul play, Jack embarks on a mission to prove that the head of his old unit is innocent. After crossing paths with the law, Reacher must now go on the lam to uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy that involves the death of U.S. soldiers

Sooo, I had the pleasure of seeing this Movie at a advance screening.  I choose this over "Boo! A Madea Halloween" (do I have to explain myself?). But watching the first Jack Reacher movie.  I was kinda excited to see where they would go after the first one.  I realized after the first movie, that there's a book series by an author named Jim Grant (pseudonym Lee Child) that has, give or take 17 books about Jack Reacher.  None with the name of Jack Reacher.  But any who, this Kick behind, no nonsense drifter carries out justice in a way that takes you along the lines of most vigilante series or movies.  But as we all know, Tom Cruise is a little bit weird and has taken on roles like this in the past (night and day,).    This movie opens up with the infamous scene  that is on the trailer that gets your mouth watered up for so much more.  Jack in a dinner with guys sprawled inside and out the diner unconscious while he sits at the counter drinking coffee.  Watching the trailer tells you what occurs after that.  There he reaches out to someone he has built a relationship with and plans out meeting up with her.

 With that, the movie goes to Reacher reaching out to the female Army Major that is involved with some military intelligence and other dealings, but some how she gets caught up with a conspiracy that puts her in jail for treason.  Since the new world criminals are government contractors, you find out quickly that Reacher and the woman he is now involved with are in for a very high level down fall.  Cobie Smulders who plays Major Turner, is kick ass and holds her own throughout the movie and is smart and assertive as well. Quick note, many male viewers didn't see this movie as good as the first one and I've noticed that female leads in action or drama movies ( Gone girl, New Ghostbusters, The girl on the train) aren't being perceived favorably.  Even in this movie the male hero perception is challenged when Turner states you don't think I can handle whats going on?   This trend will continue and looking at the quality of the writing and direction, Movies should be the rated based on that and the quality of the actor or actress.  Just saying.  Sorry for the soap box.  Back to our show.

The investigation and man hunt for Turner and Reacher runs to how do they skip to security, how do they get money and what will it take to stay undercover until they can clear their names.  This sequence runs pretty good.  Here is where they lose me.  There is a young girl in the equation that may or may not be Reachers daughter.  She gets played as a pawn to get  Reacher to back down but it seems very very unnecessary and something that doesn't work with the story line and the previous Reacher movie.  It plays itself out but this slowed down the action and the cat and mouse play of finding out who is the cause of all of this.  It goes to different cities and that was pretty cool too.  Another highlight is how and why the contractors were involved and is there an underline reason for the high level cover up.  It answers these questions like typical bad guy plot lines but very anti climatic.   

I put this under the category of Jason Bourne, John Wick and The Equalizer.  Could be a good series going forward, but this movie was worth the trip to the theater and a good seat for an exciting ride.   

The Girl on the Train

Commuter Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott and Megan, from the window of her train. One day, Watson witnesses something shocking unfold in the backyard of the strangers' home. Rachel tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning that Megan is now missing and feared dead. Unable to trust her own memory, the troubled woman begins her own investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.

This movie reminded me of a similar movie and book Gone Girl.  Gone Girl also had an amazing actress in the starring role Rosamund Pike.  Rosamund plays the female psychopath in her movie and you follow her trying to figure out what the hell is her motive. In the Girl on the train, we have the anti heroine played by Emily Blunt that we try to figure out as well with conflicting consequences.  The previews and reviews gave me some idea of what I was in store for so I was looking forward to seeing it.  With all of this info in hand, my thoughts about this movie was, a recently divorced woman turns into an alcoholic  because of her failed marriage.  She stays in the town where her husband still lives in the house she help build with him.  We see her ride the train everyday while she watches a young couple from the window of the train.  Some how the woman is killed and she believes she knows who the killer is.  But with her alcoholism, she is not sure she is seeing what actually happened.   This is what I walked into the movie with.

Buuuuut, here is the movie.  We open the movie with Rachel riding the train into New York narrating what she see's and a portion of her life.   Nothing out of the ordinary until a lady and her baby sits next to her and Rachel begins talking to her and the child.  What you begin to notice is her voice slurring and her actions a little awkward.  The camera pans to her water bottle and back to the woman's disturbed face as she looks at Rachel. This begins the flashbacks of vodka in her water bottle and justification of why she is acting this way.  The baby has great significance  as you find out more about Rachel.  The movie does a good job with juxtaposing her inner thoughts and then her true voice. It is amazing change of perspective as you begin to hear how an alcoholic hears themselves as opposed to her speaking voice which you can hear out loud.  You think is this is what they hear even though they are totally drunk?  The story then shifts to two other central characters.  The new wife of Rachel's ex-husband Anna and Megan, the woman she has been watching from the train.  We find the that Megan worked for Rachel's ex-husband as a nanny and hated children (her inner monologue states this clearly but you find out there is a tragic reason for this as well).  Anna we find is Rachel's ex-husbands mistress before he married her and they have a child.  Tom her ex-husband is shown as a thoughtful man that didn't give up on his ex-wife and continues to take care of her regardless of her erratic behavior.  At the same time Tom promotes himself as the victim to everyone as well as freely letting everyone know, Rachel is mentally disturbed.  Watching the scenes and following the dialogue, you believe he's telling the truth and you see Rachel as a disturbed, substance abusing, stalking sad woman.  Even though the movie takes you every where within the town and from house to house.  The movie centers on these characters and a few other characters that supports the narrative that  fits in well with the main characters.  Megan's husband, her psychologist, the investigator of the murder and a few others.  

With that said, the movie is layered so deep that I came to a full understanding of what the story was telling me on so many different levels after I left the theater.  The movie is written by a woman and you really have to give the male director credit because he captured the female essence of the movie in my opinion.  Now, I didn't read the book so I do not know why the readers disliked the film. What the story created for me was this.   A short back story of the new wife and where she fits into the relationship with Tom and Rachel.  We are introduced to the sexual escapades of Megan and the mental struggles she is going through other than being a spoiled beautiful wife not getting what she wants out of life.  Then there is Rachel. Her struggles with not being able to bare children, her alleged outburst during her alcoholic blackouts and struggling with her self worth after losing her husband which she believes is her fault.  We watch Rachel beat herself up about her actions and regrets.  Wondering if what she remembers is actually real or is it images she is not aware of after she has blacked out.  The editing is amazing because you aren't sure of what she is remembering is real or not as well.  So when she tells everyone that she believes Megan was killed and she was having an affair with some strange man.  You aren't sure if this is a figment of her imagination or reality.  What we find is its a combination of the two.  For example a flashback memory of her attacking Megan is shown as reality of a memory and she comes home the same night bloodied and tattered.  The supporting characters help fill in gaps needed throughout the movie so Rachel would not have to walk us through many of the memories and validation of them.  When the investigation begins she starts her own and causes problems for everyone because of her jumble of thoughts that she can not decipher as real.  Telling the husband things she is not sure of as well as going to see the psychologist that Megan was seeing.  It complicates the whole investigation with Rachel some how in the middle of it

What you don't realize (if you do then you are a much better observer than I am) is this movie and story shows how the abused are abused even when they don't realize what is happening.  Women become victims of men that manipulate what ever they can, to get what they want and this story shows how this can happen and honestly what is happening.  Strong social messages and twisted perception of how people see others with emotional challenges to be unreliable, and should be ignored.  This movie has so many great life lessons and very good commentary on the way society sees women and the how the assumption of guilt is dictated by the those in the position to judge. The acting from all three female characters really stand out. Overall I feel this movie comes across as a very suspenseful thriller.  If you enjoy suspenseful stories that you have to follow closely and be rewarded with a good twist, this is it.     

The Get Down (Netflix)

Baz Luhrmann and a team of collaborators -- Oscar-winner Catherine Martin, legendary MC Nas, Grandmaster Flash, Pulitzer-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, and hip-hop historian Nelson George -- have created a music-driven drama that documents the emergence of a new art form. Set in the late 1970s, when New York was at the brink of bankruptcy and disco was dying out, the rise of hip-hop is told through the lives, art, music and dance of a group of young people in the South Bronx.

"The Get Down" is a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to a new art form. Set in New York in 1977, this music-driven drama series chronicles the rise of hip-hop and the last days of disco -_ told through the lives, music, art and dance of the South Bronx kids who would change the world forever.

Listen to our podcast for our review of the show thus far with a round table of thoughts and experiences from that era.

One Mississippi

Tig Notaro’s half hour comedy One Mississippi dropped its first full season on Amazon Prime this month, and it’s well worth a watch. The series follows Notaro as a fictionalized version herself as she returns to her hometown when her mother dies very suddenly. Much like the real-life Notaro, her character has recently experienced an avalanche of tragedy and bad news, having lived through breast cancer and a double mastectomy, followed immediately by a debilitating intestinal disorder, C-Diff. As Notaro sifts through her mother’s belongings in her childhood home, she must reckon with her painful childhood, her mother’s secrets, and the distance of those family members closest to her, like her socially awkward stepfather, Bill, who reminds her, “We aren’t legally related anymore.” And yes, this is a comedy. One with a dark humor and fewer laugh lines than you might expect, but still a comedy.

I'm a big advocate of dark comedies.  Especially away from network TV.  I didn't know too much about this comedian actress named Tig Notaro.  But when I saw that Louie C.K was the executive producer on this, I knew I was in for some dry dark humor that would make you pay attention to as much of the interaction and conversations as possible.  Why, because you are likely to miss something.  Tig is an interesting character that exudes a cool laid back demeanor and it goes well for the environment she is in.    She kinda has a style like K.D Lang (country singer), not because she is gay but because she has this ambiguous look and feel to her that fits her and only her.   Tig is struggling with multiple things at once and you can see it weigh down on her through out the series. Family, health, relationship, career, you name it.  Again dark comedy, not laugh out loud stuff.  The other characters in the show are well presented and aren't just fillers.  They are part of her story and compliment her well.  I like the way some characters come in temporarily and show up here and there and not appear as partners and side kicks.  The only one that does is her younger brother who has problems of his own.  The biggest take away I got from researching this show is how Tig has this show resemble her real life  which makes it looks so natural.  Well written, quirky and a very odd show.

As the summary states above, a radio host comes back home to be with her family as her mother is taken off life support.  She walks through the show from beginning to end with a very miserable unexcited demeanor that you are undecided on whether she is angry, sad or what ever.  You just don't know.  recovering from Cancer, clingy girlfriend, C-Diff, childish brother and an emotional detached father in law. I guess, what would you expect?  What's so crazy is there are other smaller issues that changes her life on top of these things that keeps coming up while she is home.  But Tig's dry humor carries the show making it amusing and dramatic.  Sad at times but hopeful as well. You watch and hope that life will get better for her.  Based on the first 6 episodes, I'll be finishing the series and hopefully see more if they renew it. 

Snowden

Disillusioned with the intelligence community, top contractor Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) leaves his job at the National Security Agency. He now knows that a virtual mountain of data is being assembled to track all forms of digital communication -- not just from foreign governments and terrorist groups, but from ordinary Americans. When Snowden decides to leak this classified information, he becomes a traitor to some, a hero to others and a fugitive from the law.

I came to this movie with an open mind and a little excited to see what they would present about Edward Snowden.  I watched a lot of stories about him from the press, 60 minutes, internet articles and what ever.  But mostly with a negative spin to it.  So I wanted to know who the man was behind this  story of the century.  But first, lets talk about the director Oliver Stone.  If you followed his movies over the years, you know he's had directed plenty of controversial films and some of his films that made you respect his directing style.  Lately he has kept with that controversial theme but his direction has been weaker than his previous work (see Spike Lee's latest movies).  Here are the stand out movies he has directed or produced during his career"

  • Platoon
  • Wall street (greed is good)
  • Talk radio (underrated)
  • Born on the 4th of July
  • JFK
  • Natural Born Killers
  • Any Given Sunday (Fan favorite)
  • World trade Center

Now we have Snowden.  Stone gives you a total background of Snowden as he begins his career trying to be in the special forces but because of a freak injury that reveals deeper problems with his health.  He switches to the CIA.  We find that this young man is not only a genius but a true patriot to our nation.  Die hard conservative and borderline tea party advocate.   Stone present the human side of Snowden  throughout the movie to let us know this guy isn't a felon or an opportunist but someone who saw government running amuck and waited  for years before he made a decision the reveal these programs the government has created to spy on everyone.  Because of his ability to program, assess problems and just been a tremendous asset, Snowden is used in so many ways to assist the government new surveillance program and take down ordinary citizens that may be potential threats. Or as the movie shows us, leverage people by using their data to get to others.   Stone directs this so each opportunity you get, he makes sure you know this wasn't a premeditated effort to steal anything and Snowden throughout his career, continued to struggle with his conscience, his optimistic and free minded girlfriend while supporting his country.  

We have some intrigue here and there but nothing to get you riled up and enjoy the suspense.  This movie felt as though Stone created this out of respect for Snowden.  And it was all about Snowden.  Not the pressure the reporters went through.  The countries that shielded him as he moved from one to the other.  Nothing focusing on WiKileaks founder Julian Assange assisting him and how he was attacked with allegations that put him in the cross hairs of the government and the media.  This i believe was to sway public opinion about this guy as not being a traitor.  My next effort is to watch citizenFour which is the documentary on Edward Snowden when the reporters came to Hong Kong to interview him.  With this I want to see if this will given me the level of details about how everyone around him sacrificed their lives and careers for this man and this story.  

Big screen movie?  No, TV or short film, I would say yes.  If Stone wanted to make this a movie he should have added in more suspense and intrigue.  If he wanted to tell the story he should have made another documentary type film.  This was average and not a memorable piece that will be remembered long after it goes to video.  But great ode to Snowden who made us realize, Big Brother is watching, listening and collecting everything.

 

Sully

On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) tries to make an emergency landing in New York's Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation.

For those who didn't hear or know about this story or perhaps felt this was nothing more than a reenactment of the event back in 2009.  This was a larger story about the tribulations Capt. Sullenberger went through  beyond what was written, celebrated and seen on TV.  The news back in 2009 ran this story on Captain Sullenberger as a hero who saved 155 passengers when birds knocked out both engines on their plane.  Cheers and rejoicing was heard throughout the nation.  Especially when we find out there could have been another plane crash in New York City reminiscent of 2001.  But that is not what this story is about.  This story turns out to be about the struggle a man went through, wondering if he really made the right decision and as he went back over his life (through flash backs and dreams).  He wondered did his experience really help him with that decision.  Also on top of all of his internal struggles,what we see the FAA, the airline owners attempting to blame someone for this incident that occurred and directing all their energy to point it to the captain.  All of this and likelihood that his illustrious career and retirement will disappear with their decision on who to blame. 

Clint Eastwood once again directs an emotional experience you go through with this reserved professional airline pilot.    He shows you the emotional interaction with his wife that seems to anguish over every little thing.  A reoccurring daydream Sully has about the plane crashing because he didn't land in the Hudson.  But most of all how the Government investigators try to shift blame to someone other than the airline.  Very somber but visually exciting by way of realistic memories of what happened.  This is an oscar nominee on many levels (actor, supporting actor, picture and perhaps screenplay).  A little slow for some who don't go to the movies to balance emotional experiences and excitement.  But a very good movie of a strong man sticking to his morals, professionalism and experience to show the world that you must look after your fellow man.  Very good movie.   

Batman vs. Superman

Batman vs. Superman

It's been nearly two years since Superman's (Henry Cavill) colossal battle with Zod (Michael Shannon) devastated the city of Metropolis. The loss of life and collateral damage left many feeling angry and helpless, including crime-fighting billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Convinced that Superman is now a threat to humanity, Batman embarks on a personal vendetta to end his reign on Earth, while the conniving Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) launches his own crusade against the Man of Steel.

The Chronicles of Evil

Highly decorated homicide detective Choi Chang-sik has an enviable record and the respect of his peers. Days before a promotion, he dozes off on his way home after a celebratory drink with his colleagues. He wakes up to find that his taxi driver has taken him to a remote mountain trail and has pulled a knife on him. The two struggle, and Choi manages to kill the taxi driver in self-defense. Afraid that the incident would negatively impact his career, he covers up the crime scene and flees. The next day, the taxi driver's dead body has been strung up on a crane in front of the police station, and Choi is assigned to the case amidst widespread media attention. Choi's ordeal begins as he tries to misdirect the investigation and remove evidence, to the growing suspicion of rookie detective Cha Dong-jae. Then a man claiming to be the killer turns himself in and threatens to reveal the truth unless Choi reopens an old case.

This movie starts off with detective Choi Chang-sik enjoying his possible promotion with his officers.  But an old case comes back to him by way of a killer disguised as a taxi driver,  tries to kill him.  During the ordeal, detective Choi kills the man.  He leaves the body where it is a finds his way home.  But the next day the body is found swinging from a crane.  The station now asks, who is the killer?  Detective Choi is thrown into this dilemma with all the evidence pointing to him.  But as he tries to clear his name by finding as much evidence linked to him to eliminate.  While he is doing this, he finds more and more evidence of his past creeping up on him and having to hide one thing on top of another.

But as all Korean revenge movies come to fruition.  The plot that develops shows you the complicated plan by the criminal executing it. I like a good story with the foreshadowing throughout the movie that you can begin to realize as it shows up in different ways in the movie.  This was a very good directed, and edited movie.  Not very intense as other Korean movies but a good strategic and sad set of circumstances that ends with more sadness for almost everyone that was involved.    

One Punch Man

On an alternate unnamed world in the metropolis of Z-City, strange monsters have been mysteriously appearing and causing disasters, resulting in the world's superheroes rising to combat them. Saitama, the protagonist of the series, is the strongest hero who easily defeats the monsters or other villains with a single punch. However, due to his immeasurable strength, Saitama has become bored with his power and is constantly trying to find stronger opponents who can present a challenge to him.

As Saitama is active as a hero, he meets various other heroes and villains. He gets a disciple in the form of the cyborg Genos and consequently joins the Heroes Association in order to gain official recognition. Despite defeating many strong monsters that even the Heroes Association’s top members are unable to defeat, Saitama struggles to gain respect. Most people look down on him due to his plain physical appearance and some accuse him of being a counterfeit hero. Only a small number of individuals in the series recognize his talent and humility towards others

When I read about this show and saw some short previews.  I didn't think this was worth the time and it had longevity.  But this show was rated high amongst the anime shows.  I have a list of the top ten rated anime shows that I needed to check out so I had to at least see a show or two.  Again, I was wrong and waited too long to start watching this funny, creative series.  The series opens with this guy fighting a monster as he leaves his boring job.  As he uses the only skills he knows to defeat it.  It was all about saving a child with a chin that looks like testicles (yup, testicles).  What makes his journey ridiculous and interesting to become a hero is what he says he does to get this extreme power.  100 Push ups, and sit ups everyday. Thats all.  He works out so hard he loses his hair.  The animators are so cool when they show him as a plain guy that is bored with anyone or thing that challenges him.  His dismissive nonchalant look and attitude is entertaining.  But when he feels he finally gets a challenge from one of these creatures, his appearance changes and you see him more as a hero that a small bald character.  Then its the one punch that destroys his opponent and frustrates him more because he once again has no one to challenge him.  Along the way he picks up a student, and deals with other registered heroes in the city, but he continues to feel he doesn't fits in.  His student tries to challenge him constantly but continues to be frustrated because he never seems to come close to even defeating him.  I am about done with the first season but I am totally enjoying this series.  Very amusing and exciting.