I’m Your Opponent, Not The Clock

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Movie Post Season Round 7

Queen of Katwe Inspires Searching For Bobby Fischer

There’s a chess set sitting in my living room. It’s a heavy marble board and the pieces are plastic made to look like stone. It’s on a leather four sided gaming table that my father took from his older brother during a downsizing. The table is a beautiful piece of furniture, and it’s coming into our house inspired the purchase of the chess set.

I think maybe two games of chess have been played on that table.

Anytime I watch anything about chess, I want to learn the game, but I also don’t really have anyone to play with so, that makes it hard. Anyway, this is what was going through my mind as I watched Searching For Bobby Fischer, the story of a seven year old chess prodigy, his parents and teachers and the quest to let a kid be kid in the face of extraordinary talent.

I chose it to pair with Queen of Katwe even though, outside of chess playing, Josh Waitzkin and Phiona have little else in common, there’s a thread here of life outside of the game and choices that have to be made. It’s also a good pair because of the extraordinary performances put on film. Laurence Fishburne, Ben Kingsley and Joe Montegna are the adults who shape Josh’s world and manage to create a balance. Fishburn plays the street chess player who teaches Josh the thrill of competition, Kingsley the classical teacher who brings rigor and form and Montegna the father, a sports writer who understand the need to be the best.

Josh and Phiona both push to become the best they can be at Chess, though the struggles of a poor girl in Africa are a good deal different than those of a upper middle class kid from Manhattan, but I really enjoyed the way the three male role models approached chess and life for Josh. Also, this is an astonishingly restrained performance from Kingsley, who I always associate with scenery chewing (usually the good kind).

Overall, I’m glad I watched this movie, even though I probably never will again

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 2: Episodes 1 & 2

Guys! It’s time for Daredevil Season 2! AKA The Punisher is THE BEST! (Also Elektra!)

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Season 2: Episode 1: “Bang”

The premiere of season 2 is the first indication that this isn’t the same show that it was the season before. Everything’s just a little bit bigger and slicker and then there’s The Punisher. Who we don’t technically know is The Punisher yet, and we definitely don’t know is Frank Castle.

Anyway, we open with Daredevil stopping a mugging that leads him to a church. It’s bigger and more kinetic than anything we saw before, and we see Matt’s upgraded suit. Which I think is great, but I’m also a fan of the original suit, so apparently I am wrong.

Anyway, after her gets the bad guy, we see Matt and Foggy on their way to work, joking and laughing, talking about Foggy’s date the previous night, they get to the office and Nelson and Murdock is overrun with clients, none of whom can pay of course.

Karen’s busy managing the office and when the three of them go out for drinks that night, the sexual tension between her and Matt explodes. Foggy is not thrilled, but whatever. (I am also not thrilled. Mostly because I think pushing Matt and Karen together was super de super lazy)

The scene where The Punisher takes out an Irish crime family is so incredibly intense. It’s also hilarious in a weird way, and brilliantly staged. It’s so clear that the team is revelling in this new brand of violence, and the first chase between Daredevil and Punisher is exceptional and Matt getting shot in the head, the titular “bang” is even better. (These first three weeks are going to be fun!)

Season 2: Episode 2: “Dogs To A Gunfight”

Foggy and Karen are consistently my favorite not Claire parts of Daredevil, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that I actually really like this episode a lot. It’s basically the two of them maneuvering to get their client into witness protection so that The Punisher won’t get him. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Of course, there’s also Foggy dealing with the fact that Matt got SHOT IN THE GODDAMN HEAD and is still insisting that being Daredevil is necessary. The scene where Matt loses his hearing is so beautifully done and amazingly terrifying, I really enjoyed watching it again. Well, enjoyed is the wrong word, “was impressed by,” is probably better.

And that I really do love the fact that the fights between Matt and Frank, who we still don’t know is Frank, takes place sort of off screen and weirdly framed. It’s how most people see them, on the periphery of the real world.

Other Stuff

  • I must remember that there is not much Claire in this season. While everything is not as good when there’s less Claire, I understand the reasoning, she was off in Harlem filming a way better show.
  • The scene where Frank beats the crap out the guy selling child porn is so cathartic. We don’t even see the beating, but knowing it’s there is awesome.
  • I’d forgotten that the first few episodes take place during a heatwave. Such a great way to show tensions building.
  • Hey! That’s the same DA that threatened Jessica Jones.
  • Officer Brett Mahoney considers Foggy his friend now. Aw. Foggy also gets beat up by some bikers. He’s having a bit of a day.
  • Karen confronting Matt is great too. Look, I’m just saying that Karen is too good for him. Also he’s too good for her. I’m saying that this pairing is stupid and I don’t read their chemistry as romantic. Also Team Claire!

“I Like Todd”: Felicity Season 1: Episodes 11 & 12

Another two parter, and watching them as a set was really fun! Especially because this is a set of episodes that turn out very differently than I thought I would.

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Season 1: Episodes 11 & 12: “Todd Mulchahy Parts 1 & 2”

Ben: Felicity’s got a stalker.
Sean: Has or is?

So, one day, as Felicity and the gang go about daily drama a guy named Todd Mulchahy shows up and it turns out aside from being like, the best guy ever, he’s had a huge crush on Felicity since they were twelve. He insists that he’s come to New York to kiss her and begin their destiny together.

Felicity is freak out,  by this and it doesn’t help that everyone else who encounters Todd talks about how great he is. It turns out that he and Ben were friends, and he and Noel talk about computers and Julie thinks he’s nice. Elena might not encounter him, but she has her own thing going on. That is, telling Blair to go fuck himself after that whole, cheating on her with her best friend thing.

Oh, also, Felicity and Elena are trying to get into a seminar that’s basically “get right into medical school right after college,” class. It’s very competitive. They both get in, but not before Todd gives Felicity a crisis of conscience and eventually decides that she’ll continue pre med, but she’s going to start focusing on art more.

This crisis comes when Todd gets hit by a bus and it turns out that he’s engaged? This is a a weird as hell episode. Todd winds up OK, and like everything in this world it’s all about Felicity.

Oh, and it turns out that lady is not Julie’s birth mother, although, I think there’s something else going on there, but I could be wrong.

Other Things:

  • Why I Hate Ben: He gets a job at Dean & Deluca and is kind of a shit to Javier, but whatever, it’s just Ben being Ben. I do think his relationship with Julie is softening him.
  • Team Noel: He’s all adorable and confused and awesome here. He’s a good boyfriend. Everyone should love Noel!
  • Sean is inventing cereal. I think that I’m also Team Sean. He’s great. I mean, I knew that because Greg Grunberg and all, but still. I enjoy him.
  • The scene where Ben realizes that he and Todd used to skateboard together is probably me favorite Ben scene so far. Oh right, this dude is kind of charming and great.
  • The fact that when she’s worried about getting rid of Todd, Felicity runs right to Ben is insanely hilarious. Really, really enjoyed that.

But This One Goes To Eleven

Movie Post Season Round 6:

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping inspires This Is Spinal Tap

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This Is Spinal Tap looms so large in comedy consciousness, in the careers of the men who made it (except maybe Rob Reiner, who I kind of forgot about in the equation), and of course in the mind of anyone who enjoyed the best comedy of 2016 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, that I was a little nervous to sit down and watch it.

Spinal Tap started the comedy style of Christopher Guest, and his brilliant mockumentaries, and while I don’t think it’s the best of the genre, (WAITING FOR GUFFMAN!) being the first gets it some latitude.

However, the point of this review is mainly to compare it to Popstar, and in that vein, aside from being about the music business in all of it’s weirdness, is about something falling apart and then coming back together. The tensions of Spinal Tap are not identical to those of Connor4Real, but the end result is the same. The band is far less coddled, so their increasing reaction to the chaos provides a different sort of feel from Connor’s willful obliviousness.

As Spinal Tap’s gigs fall in prominence, and their guitarist quits and then returns, it’s not impossible to believe that this is a real band, which was, I think the point in making it. But to apply to much logic or linear storytelling to Spinal Tap would be a waste of energy, since anytime you started to get anywhere, one of the many genius gags would smack you in the face.

Whether it’s the fact that they can’t get an album cover they like approved, the classic, “but this goes to eleven” amp scene, or the tiny stone henge (which is my favorite). The main thing that I’d forgotten, or perhaps never noticed, about it, is that the band seems deeply aware of the fact that what’s going on around them is completely nuts, and their team seems to want to smooth it over. It’s a different takeaway than I anticipated (I’m fairly sure I haven’t watched this movie since middle school) and I kind of comedy that I’m always fond of.

While, as I said, it’s not my favorite for Guest, (Stool boom, stool boom…) nor Reiner, (The Princess Bride exists…and When Harry Met Sally…and A Few Good Men. My GOD that man has made some good movies…ooh, also Stand By Me!) it’s a solid beginning for two really great artists, so that’s something!

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episode 13

We’re done here. And I really do love this finale. (I actually watched it in the same run as the previous two episodes, in a bid to get ahead of things, I’ve got a big couple of weeks coming and I want to get as much done early as I can.)

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Season 1: Episode 13: “AKA Smile”

The finale, which is a very good episode in it’s own right, is now completely over run in my mind by the appearance of Claire.

I don’t know what it is, you guys, but Claire Temple is my favorite part of The Defender-verse, so anytime she’s involved it’s like nothing else matters. Not Jessica snapping Kilgrave’s neck, not Trish having a coming reckoning with her mom, not Hogarth defending Jessica to the DA, nothing, can dampen my love and deep belief that Claire is not only the most important character in the Netflix branch of the MCU, but in the MCU in total. (OK, maybe Coulson can hold a candle to her. BUT HE’S THE ONLY ONE!)

Moving on, the non-Claire portions of the episode, which are mercifully brief. Jessica and Trish make a plan to take on Kilgrave, and I really do love the headphoned, hoodied Trish fake out. It’s such a cool moment, and I love the look on Tennant’s face when he realizes that he’s been duped.

The ending itself, with Jessica realizing that she’s going to be a hero now, is another favorite, and I also love Malcolm and Claire interacting. (See how I brought that back around to Claire?)

Other Stuff:

  • Malcolm is Jessica’s Karen. Trish is her Foggy. Someday, I would like all four of these people to sit down and have coffee. Claire can arrange it. Also, I mean literally have coffee. Not in the Luke Cage sense. Maybe Trish can have them on her show, “My friends is a superhero, let’s chat!” I don’t know who from Luke’s world would be there, Misty? I guess? But she’s gonna be a cyborg at some point, and everyone else Luke cares about dies.
  • I feel like I should make some grand sweeping statement about the feminism of this show. I really did notice how few white dudes there are. (White women in abundance, and not many WOC, a valid criticism I saw early on when the show started) but I think Kilgrave might be the only white dude you see regularly. Which is pretty amazing. The show deals with rape, abuse, loss of control, asserting yourself and a hundred other issues critical to feminist thought and media that it’s almost impossible to pull out each element.
  • You see Claire and Luke’s easy chemistry birthed here, and while I do ultimately want him and Jessica to get it together, there’s something to be said for someone you just click with, over the angst and back and forth.
  • As amazing as David Tennant is, I really hope that Kilgrave’s death proves permanent. Ressurection will surely be a crucial point in The Defenders but I hope that Jessica gets to remain fairly grounded. You know, like how Iron Man solo movies remain about corporate intrigue and terrorism?

OK, so next week we dive into Daredevil season 2. Here’s hoping it holds up. (I doubt it will). I did watch that one at a slower clip to begin with, over the course of a week rather than 2 days, so, we shall see…

“You’re My First Boyfriend”: Felicity: Season 1: Episodes 11 & 12

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Season 1: Episode 11: “Gimme An O!”

Everyone’s back from Christmas break, and Felicity and Noel have not only decided to be a couple, but Felicity is determined to have sex for the first time. Noel, being a red blooded twenty year old male, is ALL OVER this plan, and so hilarity ensues as these two dorks try to come up with time to bump uglies.

First they arrange an elaborate sex date at Noel’s room, but a confiscated Christmas tree catches on fire and the mood is ruined. Then they get a hotel room, but a BIG SECRET comes out and they wind up having a fight instead of sex. Whoops.

The BIG SECRET by the way is that Julie and Ben have been hanging out. She’s been sleeping at his place, they went away together over break, and they haven’t hooked up yet. (Man, for two hot people who are deeply into each other, Julie and Ben move glacially.) Julie admits that this is a little bit because she’s afraid that she’s hiding from recovery with Ben.

In the end Noel and Felicity agree not to rush the sex thing but they’re going to be a couple. YAY! Team Noel.

Season 1: Episode 12: “Friends”

So, Blair is cheating on Elena with her best friend from back home and that really sucks a lot. I don’t have much else to say about it, except that of course, Felicity is the one to find out about it, because isn’t life just like that sometimes? Anyway, she moral dilemma’s her way through whether or not to tell Elena, and decides not to. She does confront Blair who tries to get out of it by invoking “oh, so you’re saying all black people look alike?” Which of course throws ultimate well intentioned white girl Felicity off her certainty.

Blair and Tara (said best friend) wind up fessing up, though not completely and Felicity goes into investigator mode (WHY, Felicity? Why do you do this?) and learns that they weren’t being honest. She tells Elena who refuses to believe her, and says that Felicity is not that close a friend. Ouch.

Meanwhile, Noel has an adventure with a vending machine. It’s adorable and I love him. Julie finds her birth mother and applies for an internship at her company, which I’m guessing, just, will not end well, like, at all.

Other Stuff:

  • Team Noel: I understand that there’s three more years of show left, but at the moment Team Noel is winning! HOORAY!
  • Why I Hate Ben: Gah, where to begin, the lying, the being a dick about Julie feeling bad about the lying. The being weird about Julie finding her birth mom, just, all of it. He’s the worst.
  • Actors I Love Who Are One This Show: Donal Logue!  He’s there as an exasperated dude in the library who bizarrely remembers everything about anyone he’s ever seen making out.
  • Things Fall Apart: So the Elena and Blair breakup is kind of crushing isn’t it? Ugh, it just sucks a whole lot, because I liked them.

Impressive, Most Impressive

Movie Post Season: Round 5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story inspires Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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I barely had to pay attention, I have watched this movie so many times. But what to focus on, when comparing it to it’s new younger brother. (Which, I now hold as like, my fifth favorite Star Wars movie.) And while there are lots of things in Empire that I think could directly correlate with Rogue One, I think that main one is the legacy of fathers and children.

Both Luke and Jyn are out to outrun and live up to their father’s legacies simultaneously, and both wind up learning about something that they didn’t expect about said father. A) That he’s alive, and B) that he’s not on the side that they initially thought he was.

In Rogue One, Jyn has convinced herself that her father is dead, but in fact he’s alive and working for the empire, but then, twist! Turns out he’s trying his best to be a good guy. Luke, has always believed his father was a great hero, a powerful Jedi, and of course, that he’s dead. His father, like Jyn’s, not dead, and is in fact the villain to end all villains.

While Jyn gets half the movie to deal with this information, Luke gets, well, a whole movie, but it’s not this one. Both are huge bombshells that matter in not only the hero’s relationship with their father, but in their entire identity. Jyn becomes a hero because her father wanted to save the universe for her. Luke, on the other hand, considers himself the son of Anakin Skywalker, the hero, the greatest Jedi to ever live, or whatever, and instead, he learns that his father is Darth Vader and that his mentor lied to him.

That’s a lot of disillusionment for one little farm boy and one badass space pirate? (What was her deal exactly? Seriously, I was less into that movie than others…) But either way.