Monday, April 10, 2017

Girls Season 6, Episode 9, “Goodbye Tour”

This penultimate episode of Girls could have very well served as the series finale: Hannah accepts a professorship at remote New England or upstate college; Hannah and Jessa make up and resolve their longstanding feud, and the four eponymous "girls" actually share a scene together for what might be the first time since the start of season five. Given the way that scene pans out, it will almost certainly be the last scene between them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

La La Land


La La Land has a lot going for it: catchy songs, winning performances, intricate staging and framing, and complex, nuanced storytelling about the compromise that comes with striving for your dreams. It’s also one of the few films I’ve seen that’s moved me to tears.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Arrival

Arrival is the rare science fiction film that manages to execute a nifty science fiction conceit while also telling a gripping character story on a human scale, as well as commenting broadly on the state of humankind. The film does an excellent job of cycling through sequences of curiosity, suspense, and poignancy throughout its length, while at the same time dropping hints about the nature of its time travel conceit. Moreover, it also gracefully weaves its science fiction premise – aliens give humanity the gift of a language which unlocks time once you learn it – into the emotional development of the characters, providing a touching emotional cocktail at the film’s conclusion.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The People v. O.J. Simpson

I’m coming to this a bit late, but The People v. O.J. Simpson is masterful television. Not only does it manage to nail the drama of the trial itself, including all of the blunders of the prosecution and the ingenuity of the defense, but it also manages to address the many, many larger issues surrounding the trial, and that made it such a phenomenon in the first place.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Girls Season 5, Episodes 9 and 10, “Love Stories” and “I Love You Baby”

What a marvelous pair of episodes to close out this season of Girls. I was particularly moved by the penultimate episode, which had emotional breakthroughs for both Hannah and Marnie, and to a lesser extent Shoshana, but the finale was also excellent, particularly Hannah’s open mic story and Adam and Jessa’s scary fight. Each of the characters did a lot of growing up this season, courtesy of a series of experiences each of them had that made them reflect on the choices they’ve made.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Better Call Saul Season 2, Episode 9, "Nailed"

It’s been an interesting experience to watch the creative team behind Breaking Bad apply the same storytelling acumen and suspenseful trappings to a story with significantly different premises, particularly Breaking Bad’s slow, deliberate pace and attention to detail. In both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, these qualities often manifest in an emphasis on processes, particularly characters concocting and executing plans, and then dealing incrementally with their ramifications (or perhaps more accurately, their fallout). Rather than Breaking Bad’s drug world, in Better Call Saul it’s (mostly) the legal world; in season one, rather than showing the humble beginnings of a meth empire and drug kingpin, instead it’s the origins of crooked lawyer who cuts corners and is “colorful,” as Jimmy McGill has described himself.*

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 1, Episode 11, “That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!”

Some quick thoughts on this week’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was in top form. First off, the episode managed to breathe new life into the relatively tired trope of the errant text message by having the strangers surrounding Becca (including a lawyer working on the opposite end of Becca’s case) not only adamantly agree about the severity of her blunder, but gladly put off the their work so that Becca could rush off to remedy the situation. Also amusing was the argument those ancillary characters get into over whether Becca is having a “textmergency” or a “textastrophe” ("textastrophe" is way better).