Sunday, June 4, 2017

Master of None, Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10, “Amarsi Un Po’” and Buona Notte”

The final pair of episodes in season two of Master of None focuses largely on the romantic potential established between Dev and Francesca in episode five, thoroughly exploring the bittersweet feelings created by loving someone unavailable. They walk a razor’s edge between bliss and heartbreak as they grow closer and confront the ramifications of their feelings. Ultimately, it’s a moving story about how your emotions and your rationality can come into conflict, and how scary it can be when you don’t know whether or not to trust your feelings. We’re incrementally taken along the path Dev follows from resisting his feelings to embracing them despite the risks they entail.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Master of None Season 2, Episodes 3, 4, and 5, "Religion," "First Date," and "The Dinner Party"

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve seen so far of season two of Master of None, and my enjoyment is exemplified very well by a trio of early episodes. One of the things I like the most about this show is how it addresses subjects that are often not addressed by other television shows, and that it does so in an offhanded, almost casual manner. Season one’s “Parents” is a good example: it’s about how first generation Americans shouldn’t take for granted the sacrifices their parents made to raise their families in America. This topic isn’t addressed in a didactic or moralistic manner, but is simply rumination on how the life experiences of each generation differ, based on where they were raised, and refreshingly, offers both the perspectives of the kids and their parents.

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.