Everything’s Going To Be Different Now

Movie Post Season: Round 8

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Inspires Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire

In which we all learn that the world is a little bit bigger than we thought.

There are a lot of reasons why I think that Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire is the most important story in the series. The idea that it finally zoomed out on the world we’ve seen in the past, the idea that it finally brings about the return of Voldemort, fully corporal and in terrifying power, (I truly believe that “Flesh Blood And Bone” is the best writing that Rowling puts forward in the series.) and of course, the death of Cedric Diggory, a burned bridge beyond any before.

There was death in the Wizarding world before but never so direct, so impactful on our main character, never in his view. It was in the margins, but with Cedric, he’s dead, and it’s over. There is nothing else, no way to bring him back, no last moment of clarity. His death is useless, petty and sad. It can’t even be called tragic, there’s no narrative to clean it up. He was a good person, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Tragedy is to be saved for the next iteration and Sirius Black)

And this changes things. It changes the tone a trajectory of the series. It changes Harry’s opinion about who he is, why he is, and what he can do moving forward. It’s this moment that moves him from being a passive protagonist, someone who plot happens to, to an active one, someone who acts thus creating plot, and it’s a brilliant spot to put him in.

So, why does this make it a good match with Fantastic Beasts? Mostly the world expansion, it’s unlikely anyone would have wondered “what’s up with Wizards elsewhere?” in anything more than a passing fandom way if we hadn’t been introduced to Beauxbatons and Durmstrang here. It’s an important change in the way we all see the series.

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Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 2: Episodes 3 & 4

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Season 2: Episode 3: “New York’s Finest”

While Season 2 in total is no where near as effective as season 1, this episode is among the best in the entire Defenders run. Frank has Matt chained to a water tower on a roof, and they talk about heroism, murder, Matt says Franks name like seven million time, “Frank, you don’t have to Frank! FRANK DON’T!” And then, after getting out, Matt takes part in The Hallway Fight 2.0.

But that basic summary really doesn’t do the conversation justice, especially not when you take fandom into consideration. There’s an ongoing conversation in fandom circles, only magnified by a certain director on the other side of the fence, about whether Superheroes should kill. And here’s that conversation, in detail, by two characters basically on opposite sides of the spectrum. Daredevil doesn’t kill, and beats him self up mentally and spiritually when he thinks about the pain he inflicts. The Punisher kills first, asks questions later, or, for the most part not at all.

“You’re one bad day away from being me,” is such a chillingly true statement, and I love it so much.

The other part of this episode is Foggy following Claire around asking her to help him find Matt and her basically being like, “I like Matt, but he’s a pain in my ass, so I’m cutting a running,” which, I can’t blame her for, but also CLAIRE! DON’T GO!

Karen decides that justice can only be served by Karen Page being nosy, so she does that and finds an x-ray of Frank Castle’s skull, with a bullet lodged in it.

Season 2: Episode 4: “Penny And Dime”

This episode is not as good as the last one, but it’s still really good, and has that epic shot of Daredevil standing in the rain on top of a church, which is pretty damn great. It also, unfortunately has the stupid, Karen and Matt rain kiss which is just. UGHHHHHH.

Anyway, Matt manages to corner Frank and Frank tells the amazing story of coming home from war to find his daughter in school. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and awesome and I love everything about the scene, from Matt, sitting on the ground beside him, to the explanation of “one batch, two batch, penny and dime,” to now Sergeant Brett Mahoney apprehending The Punisher. YAY!

Matt, Foggy and Karen celebrate with beers and shots, and then Matt and Karen make out in the rain, but their chaste happy joy is short lived, as Matt gets home and Electra is sitting in his apartment, ready to throw things at him.

Other Stuff

  • Jon Beranthal can deliver a speech. That is all
  • Rosario Dawson is the best. That is also all.
  • I’m mean about Karen’s snooping, but it is actually well done, I just hate the relationship between Matt and Karen and wish that it didn’t happen. And her finding Frank’s house is really a cool moment.
  • Matt trying to get his priest to forgive him for shit that’s not his fault is both very sad and hilarious.
  • The Irish mobsters kill Frank’s dog, because apparently these men have not seen John Wick. Which is a shame because killing an unstoppable killers dog. Also, because John Wick is a great movie.
  • Guys! ELECTRA’S HERE!!!!

“I’m Marrying A Gay Guy Too”: Felicity: Season 1: Episodes 15 & 16

OK everyone, I’m done hesitating about this show, I’m completely in love with it. It’s so perfect in every possible way.

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Season 1: Episode 15: “Love And Marriage”

So, Javier is getting deported, and he asks Felicity to marry him for his green card. She agrees because she’s a people pleaser. Noel isn’t thrilled but is sort of dealing with his own crisis, in that his older brother Brian has come to town and come out of the closet.

So Noel’s freaking out about that, and his girlfriend marrying his older gay man. These two stories don’t really dovetail at all, but it’s sort of a weird queer themed episode. Anyway, as Felicity learns that a green card marriage is way more complicated than she thought (no duh).

Meanwhile, Ben has been swimming and wants to try out for swim team and also he’s being kind of a jerk to Julie, but he does tell her that he misses being part of a team, so she encourages him to try out. He makes it! He also makes friends with a couple of people from the team, which becomes more important next episode.

Anyway, Javier’s boyfriend basically calls off the marriage, which is a huge relief to Felicity, and Noel comes around, kind of on his brother’s gayness and even meets his boyfriend, which is nice.

Season 1: Episode 16: “The Fugue”

Hannah’s back! (Jennifer Garner, SO CUTE) And Noel is confused, so is Felicity. She’s even more confused as she starts to talk to Eli, a cute painter boy who she’d met previously when checking out the art studio. Even Elena thinks he’s cute and that is high praise.

Meanwhile, Julie is getting ready for an open mic night and also she’s kind of over Ben’s swimming friends, who apparently are kind of the worst. Ben is less than sympathetic. But Sean’s really nice about the whole thing. Seriously they’re cute. Then it turns out that Ben’s annoying swimming friend is actually really cool and helps Julie tune her guitar and is actually quite nice. Ben, however, still the worst.

Noel breaks up with Felicity because he’s confused about his feelings, and starts to get back together with Hannah but decides he’s too confused for that.

I am rapidly becoming annoyed with Noel. Meanwhile, Felicity hangs out and then makes out with Eli. GO GET YOURS FELICITY!

Other Things

  • Why I Hate Ben: I cannot possibly hate how dismissive he is of Julie and Sean now that he’s on the swim team more. DUDE, these people like you and are there for you.
  • Team Noel: This ship is sinking fast. Though adorable, his “I can’t choose between Felicity and Hannah” thing better not go on long because I have NO interest in seeing beautiful wonderful ladies like Jennifer Garner and Keri Russell fight over that dummy. I still like him more than Ben Though.
  • Crystan Says: “There’s a couple that you’ll never see coming that you’ll absolutely love.” CRYSTAN IS IT JULIE AND SEAN????? Because I love them.

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!