Recommendations and Reviews

Review: Geography Club

Geophardy-ClubSixteen-year-old Russell is still going on dates with girls while having a secret relationship with football quarterback Kevin, who will do anything to prevent his football teammates from finding out. Min and Terese tell everyone that they’re just really good friends. And then there’s Ike, who can’t figure out who he is or who he wants to be. Finding the truth too hard to hide, they all decide to form the Geography Club, thinking nobody else in their right mind would ever want to join. However, their secrets may soon be discovered and they could have to face the choice of revealing who they really are.

Disclaimer: I’m not reviewing this as an adaptation. I have yet to read the book, so I’ll get back to you if I do. Also, as always, slight spoilers ahead. 

Geography Club attempts to tackle the struggles, internal and external, that come along with coming out of the closet. It has central themes of fear clearly represented in all of the major characters, as well as the difficulties that come with deciding to be yourself within an environment that all but demands you conform. In this endeavor, it was almost successful.

From the start of the movie, I was hooked. I identified and connected with most of the main characters. I am very much a character person, willing to forgive shortcomings of a movie or book or game if it has compelling characters that I can relate to. In that effect, the movie was solid. Each character had their own story; each character was interesting in their own way.

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Russell and Kevin

Russell, the lead character, had an interesting conflict. At that start, he is only mostly sure he’s gay, but the thought still makes him uncomfortable. He’s nervous to explore the possibility, and won’t even consider the idea of telling anyone else about his struggle. His story arch remains quite real, and does a great job at portraying the struggles of coming out. Unlike many films on the topic, his love interest is not on the opposite side of the coin. Kevin, star quarterback of the school, was raised in an environment where it was perfectly acceptable to be gay. Despite this, he is not ready to come out. He has many reasons, the chief being he knows he will be persecuted and he doesn’t want to have to deal with it. Also, it may actually ruin his life. Both of these stories were presented with real conflict and real sympathy. Each character, gay and straight, had their own interesting story, and that made the movie worth watching.

That being said, by the end of the film I was left wanting. Not wanting more at the end, as much as wishing that there would have been more throughout the movie. It did trouble me that Min, originally written as bisexual, was made gay for the purposes of the film. Brian, while his clear abuse at home and school sat comfortable on the sidelines of the story, it was eventually used as a conflict for Russell, and resolved in a ‘no consequence’ faction. The movie had time to take that extra step, to go just a bit deeper into each of the characters and give many more shades to the central conflict of the film.

As for the ending, while I was glad the movie avoided the ‘happily ever after’ scenario, the way the ending was portrayed left me feeling a little sick to my stomach. And by that, I mean I was angry.

The last twenty minutes of the film seems to do everything it can to belittle Kevin’s conflict, almost outright stating that what he believes in and what he loves do not matter. When Russell is ready to come out, he seems to lose all sympathy for Kevin, who still isn’t ready. This is understandable, as dating someone in the closet can truthfully be compared to being back in the closet. However, Russell never even considers the idea of supporting Kevin through his struggle. He tells Kevin that ‘if he really cared about him’ he would come to the GSA meeting after school. The film does nothing to question this statement, drifting over that fact that it is unreasonably selfish. When Russell comes out, he is kicked off the football team. If Kevin comes out, the same thing will happen. Unlike Russell, who has always been very strong academically, all Kevin has is football. Not only does he love it completely, it is essentially his only hope for getting into a good college. Russell asks him to throw it all away, and the film proceeds to make Kevin out to be the bad guy when he can’t do it. There is almost a scene of redemption for the filmmakers, as we see Kevin come to the hall to attend the GSA meeting. But, as much of the football team is standing outside the door to haze the people who enter, Kevin cannot go into the room and leave. This fleeting moment of sympathy for Kevin is all the film offers.

While I enjoyed much of the movie and connected with many of the character, the film missed many key layers of what it’s like to come out, even brushing over the fact that Goodkind High School is a dramatically unsafe place for people who are different. It had character and conflict, but it lacked consequence and a sort of depth it definitely had the potential to achieve. I would recommend it for the general fan of LGBT films and conflicts, and especially for fans of Glee.   

star 5/10

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The Seattle Sound (2014)

The Seattle Sound is a documentary aimed at revealing a closer look into the lives of some of the street musicians and buskers of the Seattle Area, specifically Pike Place Market.

This is a wonderfully made documentary by two students, Ryan Lee and Heather Accord. The film focuses on musicians Piper Foulon, Gary Reid, and Emery Carl.

I find this very interesting. Not because I’ve never given this much thought – I usually stop to listen and I always give them spare cash if I have any. I find this interesting because I have never seen these people play before. It seems I’m always at Pike Place at the exact moment they aren’t playing. My sister actually went to school with Piper, and her family has a doughnut booth at the farmers market during the spring and summer. I find this interesting because this is my city and I really feel like I’ve missed something.

My main experience with buskers is what I affectionately refer to as the Piano Man. The Piano Man pulls a mini piano out to Pike Place and plays like a master. I remember once I sat for almost the full hour and listened to him play. I gave him some money, but I didn’t actually talk to him because I’m like that.

Anyway, take a look at this documentary. It’s well made, interesting, filled with great music, and it’s so, so, Seattle. Tell me what you think!

Review: Nebraska

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Nebraska is an American dramedy written by Bob Nelson and directed by Alexander Payne (also known for The Descendants). It Stars Bruce Dern, June Squibb, and Will Forte. It was released in the US November 15, 2013.

Nebraska tell the tale of Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) who is sent a pamphlet from an add and believes he has won 1 million dollars. To retrieve it, he has to go to Nebraska. He is repeatedly caught attempting to walk to Nebraska (much to the dismay of his wife and sons) and, eventually, his son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him to Nebraska. From there, the film chronicles a relationship between father and son.

This movie was slow. It was slow and nostalgic and lacked the big acting moments or spectacles prevalent in the front runners of this Oscar season. Despite this, it was nominated for six academy awards, including best picture. While i did not necessarily like Nebraska, while I would not have chosen it to be nominated, in retrospect, I really appreciate this movie and I really appreciate that it was nominated. It’s simple and, rather than showing us something big, it shows us something perfectly ordinary. We need movies like this.

There are parts that are outrageously funny (most of them belonging to the lovely June Squibb), but my favorite thing about this movie is the cinematography. Lead cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (also known for The Descendants and The Ides of March) puts something interesting into every scene. The camera angles and subtle moments, from the first to the final shot (which is my favorite shot), tell the story along with the words.

Overall, Nebraska was witty and perfectly subtle. The different elements came together quite nicely to tell a story, and they did a fabulous job.

star7/10

 

Review: American Hustle

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American Hustle is am American dramedy directed by David O’Russell and written by Eric Warren Singing and David O’Russell. It has a wonderful ensemble cast, starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and  Bradley Cooper. It was released in the US December 13, 2013. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

American Hustle opens with a black screen and the words, “Some of this actually happened.” Which is, I think ,a great way to start a movie. It tells the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his partner (and muse) Sydney Prosser (Adams) as they are forced to work for the unhinged FBI agent, Richie DeMaso (Cooper). To add to the fun, we have Mayor Carmine Polito (Renner), a great guy who Richie DeMaso has decided to screw over to further his career, and Rosalyn (Lawrence), who is Rosenfeld’s nutso crazy wife. The plot is fun, the opening is fun. I was very prepared to love this movie.

The movie is fast paced and ridiculous, but I was underwhelmed. It was certainly a good movie, but for all it had going for it, I thought it would be better. I will admit, I have never connected to David O’Russell films (I thought the Fighter was okay, but I did quite like Silver Linings Playbook). I appreciate how this story is told, in that sort of awkward quirky everyone-in-this-movie-is-nuts sort of way. It also had several great acting moments. For all the hype around Jennifer Lawrence (don’t get me wrong, I love her and she was really good), the best performance, for me, would have to go to Christian Bale.

The cinematography (by Linus Sandgren) was awkward and, at times, pointless. The screenplay was clever, the acting was great. My favorite thing about this movie was Louis C.K. He had kind of a bit part, appearing throughout the film as Bradley Cooper’s boss. Throughout the movie, he was telling Cooper a story about ice fishing. I was more interested in that story than the actual movie, and i was a bit disappointed that we never got to hear the end of it. But, as it was allegory, I think I can guess.

Overall, I really, really wanted to like this movie. As much as I disliked it, I do have to admit that it was, technically, quite a good movie. And for that reason, my rating is as follows:

star7/10

Favorite Cartoons, Part 1

When I sat down to write this post, I did not realize that I had something like 30 favorite cartoons. I cannot stress to you enough how much I love cartoons. I firmly believe there should be upper awards for voice acting. As in, an Oscar for the craft. At least and Emmy. I love and respect the craft of animation and so I shall now share with you my favorite cartoons in no particular order. A bit of a disclaimer: I am not claiming each of these cartoons is as ‘good’ as the last, simply that I have an extreme enjoyment of each of these in some form.

Adventure Time

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A human boy named Finn and his best friend Jake, a magical, talking dog, set out on their adventures in the magical Land of Ooo.

I love pretty much everything about this show. I like how, unlike many cartoons, this shows follows a sort of story arc. There are new relationships and friendships and they change clothes and they grow older. The show is ridiculous and magical and kind of secretly really dark (it takes place 1000+ years after ‘the great mushroom war’ and Finn is sort of the last human anyone can find) and I’m so into that. This is a great show to watch if you’re into a strange adventure and wonderful what-the-actual-fuck moments.

American Dad 

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The random escapades of Stan Smith, an extreme right wing CIA agent dealing with family life and keeping America safe, all in the most absurd way possible.

I sometimes like this show more than Family Guy. Mostly because I like making fun of the hard right (Stan Smith) and the hippie part of the left (his daughter). Also, German fish and gay alien. So that’s a thing. My favorite episodes are the rapture Christmas episode and the episode about the gay republicans. I don’t think I’d put it in my top ten, but this is a thoroughly entertaining show with absolutely no story arc.

Avatar: The Last Air Bender

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The story follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations.

This is probably my second or third favorite cartoon. I absolutely love this show, and if you haven’t seen it yet, stop what you’re doing and go find a way to start watching this beautiful piece of art. It has a story, a really big story, and a natural conclusion. It doesn’t just keep going! As much as I want it to, the ending was great. I’ll give a special shout out to The Legend of Korra – I watched the first season and, while the first few episodes only managed to piss me off, it’s a good show. Anyway, back to Avatar. One of the many brilliant things about this show, other than everything, is the characters. Because they’re all perfect with each other. And they change and develop and guys this show is perfect.

Batman Beyond

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Fueled by remorse and vengeance, a high schooler named Terry McGinnis revives the role of Batman. Under supervision of an elderly Bruce Wayne, he fights crime in a harsh futuristic Gotham.

Oh look, it’s my childhood. I consider this required if you’re a Batman person. And I’m not sure I like the kind of person who isn’t a Batman person. This show is awesome. I mean, it’s not Avatar, but, you know, Batman. My favorite episode is the one with the flashbacks and then Harley Quinn is in it. I like that one.

Batman the Animated Series

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The Dark Knight battles crime in Gotham City with occasional help from Robin and Batgirl.

Because Batman, that’s why. This show used to be a really huge part of my life. The look that Batman has in the show, the look of Gotham, the voice of Batman – all that stuff is iconic. If you’re a cartoon person, like I am, You have got to check this one out. even if you aren’t that into Batman. Which, I mean, how could you not be? Look at that face.

Family Guy 

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In a wacky Rhode Island town, a dysfunctional family strive to cope with everyday life as they are thrown from one crazy scenario to another.

I love this show. I just find it really funny. All of my favorite episodes revolve around Stewie and Brian (the baby and the dog) who have a relationship that the show creator sort of repeated with Ted. This is the kind of show that has about no story and resets at the end of every episode. You can watch any episode at any time and pretty much get what’s going on. There are repeated jokes, like when a character hurts their knee, or how everyone hates Meg, and they make the show that much more enjoyable. They also break the fourth wall a lot, treating the show like they’re actors or something. Awesome show.

Flapjack

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The comical seafaring adventures of a young, enthusiastic boy, his pirate captain mentor, and the talking whale that raised him from birth.

Oh, Flapjack. The show is actually called The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, but nobody goes ‘hey! The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack are on!’ No. It’s just Flapjack. I was actually surprised this show stayed on as long as it did. It was really creepy and strange. Totally awesome, with Captain K-nuckles (he gets drunk on syrup) and Bubbie the whale. Flapjack was really friendly and super annoying and a little bit creepy. And someone was married to a lady made out of candy. If you’re into some really weird shit and enjoy creepy ugly-close ups, then this is the show for you, my friend.

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

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Eight-year-old Mac has outgrown his imaginary friend, says his mother, so he takes his buddy Bloo (a walking, talking security blanket) to Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.

I love this show. And you should too. Another one that’s a bit off-beat, I appreciate how creative this show is. I also didn’t realize Bloo was a security blanket until just now. This is actually a show about a mother who tells her son that he’s too old for his blanky. Which makes it that much better. If you’re looking for something quirky, fun, and actually super smart, I highly recommending this show.

Generator Rex

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A 15 year old boy with the ability to produce machines from his body via nanites is enlisted by the government to stop other creatures created by the same science.

I was really surprised that I liked this show. My brother and I used to watch Ben 10 a lot, and then the one where Ben is older. I always hated Ben, and I didn’t like Gwen until she grew up (I also liked Kevin), so I thought this might be one of those ridiculous shows about some asshole with superpowers. That is not this show at all. I actually really like Rex. And I like that he’s Mexican. That feels significant. In this strange distopia-like futuristic world, it makes for a really cool show. A lot of action, and a lot of fun.

Justice League/Justice League Unlimited

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Seven of the most formidable heroes form arguably the most powerful team ever.

I’ve watched this show since before I was even into comics. I always loved Batman and the Flash and Green Arrow. And Green Lantern. I didn’t even know that the original human lantern wasn’t black until later. What I like about this show is the dynamic of the team, and it’s the show that made me occasionally ship Wonder Woman and Batman and despise the entire idea of Wonder Woman and Superman. I don’t like Superman at all, but he’s pretty alright in this show. If you have no experience with the Justice League, this show is as funny as it is action packed. It’s a really great show.

The rest of the list is still to come. Do you like what you see so far? Let me know in the comments below! Have a nice day.

Favorite TV Shows

You can really tell a lot about a person based on the TV shows they watch. For example, my sister is a fan of reality TV. It’s not a guilty pleasure for her. She legitimately and outwardly enjoys it. She’s dramatic and likes the spot light, she’s vaguely judgmental, and very ambitious. But, she also loves various sitcoms an crime shows, especially true crime. She’s okay with reality, interested in stuff that’s actually happening. She likes to laugh. So, as a nice form of getting to know me, let’s take a look at my (rough) top 15 favorite TV shows. [Side bar: Animated shows are getting their own list so I don’t have to do a top thirty because wow I didn’t realize I watched so much TV].

15. New Girl

new_girl_wallpaper_1280x1024_08After a bad break-up, Jess, an offbeat young woman, moves into an apartment loft with three single men. Although they find her behavior very unusual, the men support her – most of the time.

I also thoroughly enjoy this program. The humor is quirky and off beat, all of the character are ridiculous. Again, I haven’t seen it in awhile, but the odd theme song is currently playing in my head. I am particularly fond of Schmidt. As well as being funny, this show has some emotional beats. But it’s only part romantic comedy – most of the episodes focus on the characters trying to accomplish something simple and failing completely because they are ridiculous people. This show is just ridiculous. I believe it’s also on Netflix instant watch. Give it a look.

14. Broadchurch

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The murder of a young boy in a small coastal town brings a media frenzy, which threatens to tear the community apart.

I am a fan of BBC. Also a fan of David Tennant and Arthur Darvill. Detective shows. All that. This show is a match made in heaven for me. The major thing I like about this show is that they don’t close the case in one episode – we spend the whole season trying to figure it out. And you really are trying to figure it out. I haven’t actually finished watching it yet because it disappeared from xfinity ondemand, but what I have seen so far is something smart, enjoyable, and completely addictive. It’s like there are actual drugs in this show. I love it.

13. The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

617120605062551335632BA-DUM-BA-DUM-DA – I know it’s cheating to put these together but you can’t ask me to choose between them, okay? There are few things quite as funny as a liberal democrat pretending to be a conservative republican to satire all of their ideas. One thing that is definitely funnier than the idea of the show is the fact that some people seem to really think he’s a conservative republican. Because they don’t actually watch the show. It’s brilliant. There’s a bunch of this on hulu – check it out if you want some political satire!

127_1the_daily_show_2What I love about this show is that Job Stewart makes fun of everybody. He’ll make fun of Fox news then have a go at the president. I love it. There are also correspondents used primarily for satire, which I appreciate. Just, I love this show and I can’t really tell you why. Well, I’m a dirty liberal. That’s why. It’s also on hulu. Go watch it.

12. Merlin

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Young Merlin is a teenager, discovering and then learning to master his magical gift. Magister Gaius, King Uther Pendragon’s learned court physician to whom he’s assigned as humble page, teaches him medicine, coaches his magical self-study, and warns him of Uther’s strong aversion to magic. Merlin becomes squire to the noble but imprudent crown prince, Arthur, whose fate is linked with Merlin.

When I first started watching this show, I hated it. I had no idea why I kept watching it. I am a slave to the characters, and seem to have fallen in love with them. The show started off good, then by the third or fourth episode I was banging my head against the wall. By the end of season two, though, it was actually really awesome and I got drawn into cool stories as well as cool characters. While there are about a million things I would have done differently, you cannot beat the relationships these characters naturally form with each other and the personal arch of each character. They all effect each other, and they all make really, really stupid mistakes. It has a rocky first season, for me, but the rest is pretty much worth it.

11. The Big Bang Theory

431311A woman who moves into an apartment across the hall from two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.

This show never fails to make me laugh. Because it’s funny. I haven’t watched it in awhile, but I still love it. I have the theme song playing in my head while I write this, and it will continue playing in my head until the theme song for the next show on the list gets stuck in my head. There is not one specific thing that makes this show for me. The jokes are nerdy and amazing and the characters are slightly perfect. I am particularly fond of Sheldon (Sheldon is one of my many nick names) and Howard. And Raj. And Amy Farrah Fowler. I cannot talk about her character without using her full name. Just, everyone is amazing. I recommended it for nerdy people who are able to get science jokes as well as comic jokes. If you fall into neither of those categories, you may still enjoy it. Just, ah. This show is great.

10. Supernatural

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Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

I love Supernatural. But it’s a love that quickly began to form into disappointment which became an outward loathing. Basically, I couldn’t get through season six. I read ahead through season seven and decided not to bother. By that point I was too far gone to make it to season eight or nine. It’s a sad story, my friends. Looking at the first five seasons, Supernatural is easily one of my top five favorite shows. The top three, even. But I could not in good faith include it on this list with my severe hatred for so much of the show. For me, Supernatural ended in season 5. My love of the first five seasons is large enough to make me want to forgo all hesitancy and just through it up on upper end of the list. I love the characters (especially Dean, Cas, and Bobby) and the stories leading to the bigger picture and the laughter and fun in the face of series issues (Pudding!) and now have a strange fondness for Carry On My Wayward Son. But then the rest of the show comes and round house kicks me in the face. And so here we are, a sad number ten filled with regret and disappointment based on what could have been in the face of what was. That being said, go onto Netflix and watch this show. Love the first five seasons, then give the rest of it the love that I never could.

9. The IT Crowd 

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Deep in the sub basement of the ambiguous company of Reynholm Industries, are not one, but two socially awkward IT guys. Moss, an electronics wizard and overly naive man and Roy, a lazy disgruntled co-worker have to provide support for Reynholm Industries with their inept boss, Jen, who doesn’t know the difference between hardware and software. The show revolves around Moss and Roy’s antics both at work and out socially, which always ends badly.

This show is pretty much perfect. I love every episode and it will always make me laugh way harder than I should. If you like the Big Bang Theory, watch this. I find it to be funnier in that it is much more ridiculous. Truly ridiculous things occur during this show. From the eccentric (to say the least) boss to the goth that lives in the boiler room of IT. And we can’t forget the ‘gay musical called Gay‘. This show it so funny. You can’t even comprehend. Just go watch it and come back and rave about it with me. Or, I mean, if you hate it I guess we can talk about that too.

8. Six Feet Under

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A drama series that takes a darkly comical look at members of a dysfunctional family that runs an independent funeral home. With the prodigal elder son (Nate) returning home for the holidays to shattering news, the family must learn to deal with a death of their own, while figuring out how to go ahead with the business of the living. A funny and emotional look at a grieving American family…that just happens to be in the grief management business.

This will probably end up higher on the list at some point, but I haven’t finished watching it yet. I love this show. I really do. I’ve only see part of the first season, but goodness I love it. It’s a dark comedy (perhaps you’ve already gotten the sense that I prefer my comedies dark or nerdy) and there’s a lot of substance to it. It tackles real issues in family relationships and it all feel very really. I love watching the show. Few things have made me laugh as hard while simultaneously causing me to feel emotions and stuff. It’s wonderful.

7. The Walking Dead

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Police officer Rick Grimes leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by zombies.

The emotional investment I have in this show is completely ridiculous. I don’t get emotionally invested with real people, mind you, just fictional ones. The show hurts so much. I think I might have actually had an emotional break down when the old guy died (spoiler alert: there are multiple old guys) and every time something happens to anyway I’m compelled to scream at the TV just to make sure they are okay. I’m particularly fond of Daryl and I haven’t watched the fourth season yet so don’t even try to spoil it for me okay? Anyway, this is a really great show, filled with painfully real moments and great twists. I can only handle it in small burst, but I love it nonetheless. And, if you need further encouragement beyond zombies and emotional investment in generally awesome characters (I hate Andrea so much you have no idea), know that the guy who creates this show was behind The Mist (great movie), The Green Mile (I can’t handle those feels), and the Shawshank Redemption (is perfect). So yeah.

6. Law and Order SVU

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This show is like my solid old friend. On any given day I can sit down to watch an SVU marathon, saying ‘Oh, this episode!’ one to ten minutes into each episode and occasionally – occasionally – find an episode I haven’t seen. I can recite the introduction off the top of my head. Because in the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad know as the special victims unit. These are there stories. DUN DA. I love this freaking show, guys. Side bar: Alex is my favorite ADA, and I pretty much love all of the other main characters (including Huang and Warner).

5. The West Wing

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When the erudite Democrat Josiah “Jed” Bartlet is elected U.S. president, he installs his administration. He places confidants from his electoral campaigns in the White House. Each of these people play a significant role in the Washington power game: the Chief of Staff (Leo McGarry), his deputy (Josh Lyman), Communications Director (Toby Zeigler), deputy (Sam Seaborn, and later, Will Bailey), and press secretary (CJ Cregg). Also in key positions are the assistants of each of the power players. We follow these people through many political battles, as well as some personal ones.

love this show. There are politics, it’s funny and it’s serious and I mean come on Martin Sheen is the president of the United States. The show is not just about the president – it’s about his senior staff. The president is in every episode, and he certainly has a huge role, but it’s called ‘The West Wing’ not ‘President Josiah Bartlet’. It is essential my idea of the best case scenario for a president of the states. I want Josiah Bartlet to be the real president, and I want the Democrats and Republics he deals with to be as open to working with him. don’t get me wrong, they aren’t really open to working with him. But it’s better than what we have now. Also, the president is an economist. Not a lawyer. So you can trust him with the actual budget of the country. He spends a good chunk of time in one episode correct the official economy people. He’s an idealist (a good man and a good president), and his staff is perfect (I mean, they’re flawed but they are also idealists and very good at what they do). It’s one of those dream scenarios that probably will never happen. Well, I guess, a dream scenario if you’re liberal. Or really into that bi-partisan thing. I’m not saying it’s accurate, but I am saying it’s great. Republicans and Democrats getting along, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. This is a really great show. 

4. American Horror Story

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An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a haunted house, an insane asylum and a witch coven.

This show is an absolute freakshow. It’s wonderful. It’s an anthology series, and it’s pretty much the same cast taking on different parts every season with wonderful regulars such as Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy, and Jessica Lange. The first season will always have a special place in my heart (my favorite characters were Tate and Patrick). The second season is probably my actual favorite because it is so completely left field. There were so many what-the-actual-fuck moments. It was wonderful. Interracial relationships, serial killers, rapists, lesbians, nuns, a demon, an insane asylum, aliens – just, what. The third season was also thoroughly enjoyable, giving my closure on a relationship from season one (the characters weren’t there, but there were the same actors and they have amazing chemistry). Basically, this show is slightly addictive, really weird, and totally awesome. I’m super excited to see what they do next.

3. Dexter

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Meet Dexter Morgan. By day he’s a blood spatter pattern expert for the Miami Metro police department. But by night – he takes on an entirely different persona: serial killer. But Dexter isn’t your average serial killer as he only kills people who fit a very prolific and precise “moral code” taught to him by his late father Harry (he didn’t kill Harry, honest), and developed very thoroughly throughout each kill.

My current binge is focused on Dexter. I just re-watched the first four seasons and can finally move on because they put the rest of it on Netflix. I’m really excited because I completely love this show. I was warned against the 5th season, but I actually really like it so far. The first two episodes are emotional, and it seems to be continuing with this sort of offbeat emotional feel that we didn’t really get in the first four seasons. Anyway, I love this show. I love the characters. I basically know what happens, but it’s still great to watch. it’s especially interesting if you’re into psychology and/or philosophy. This is kind of me filling up space that i don’t need to fill because i can’t really describe why I love this show so much. It’s just so wonderful.

2. Sherlock

TV Sherlock 4

A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London.

I love this show with all of my heart. I connect so hard with Sherlock I can’t even and his relationship with Watson is perhaps the most beautiful thing. On top of that, the show is funny and generally cool. The cases don’t discount the complicated forensics we do now as most of them are logic puzzles and it’s really not one of those things where it seems the incompetent police have a new case for Sherlock ever single day. If you haven’t seen it yet, and people have told you you’ll love it, be warned: there are nine episode total. And there is often a long hiatus between each three episode long hiatus. the show is addictive and I am completely emotionally invested. The first episode is when Sherlock and Watson first meet, and from there you get to watch their relationship grown as they basically actually connect to someone for the first time (at least, in a long time in John’s case). It’s interesting and thought provoking and generally a very well made show. My favorite episode is the second episode of the third season. Sherlock’s best man speech. I can’t handle how much I love it.

1. Doctor Who

doctor-who-logoYou really had to see this coming. If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you would know that when I get going about Doctor Who, I really get going. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to copy and paste the snippet I keep using that describes my love fro the show in the best way I am capable, I am going to link you to my posts in which I discuss the insurmountable love I have for this show, then I’m going to cover the basics. Here we go.

The love I have for this show is incredible. Incredibly geeky, but incredibly pure. Because, for me, when it comes down to it, in each incarnation of the Doctor I see that desire to run, to be anywhere but where they are now. I see someone who is slowly going numb to things they once thought to be incredible, someone trying so hard to move forward from all the pain, only to face more every day. Someone who is lonely. Someone who can still smile. I am all about that life.

For more on that, check out my post Ode to Doctor Who.

Time for the lightning round.

Favorite Doctors: 10, 3, 4, 11, 7, 8 (also the war doctor)
Favorite Companions: Sarah Jane Smith, Donna Noble, Rory Williams, Captain Jack Harkness, Ace (also K-9 and Handles)
Favorite Episodes: Blink, Midnight, The Girl in the Fireplace, Spearhead from Space
References: *I’m definitely verbally making the TARDIS noise right now*, *Time to sing the theme song with noises I’m making with my mouth* [join me]

Okay. I’m done. For now. Please note that this list is imperfect. I managed to completely forget about House and Community (tis a mystery). What are you favorite shows? Do you like any on my list? Do you dislike any? I’ll never know if you just keep staring at the screen. Leave a comment, and have a nice day.

The ‘Best’ Films of 2013

I say ‘best’ because I don’t pretend to be an expert. The Gods of Film did not bestow on me some great sight that gives me special authority to truly decide what is ‘great’. And, until Grandmaster Yoda himself descend from the heavens and personally bestows onto me such power, I will remain humble and open to other ideas and opinions.

Also note, I have not seen all of the movies of twenty-thirteen. This list is based on my experiences and what I have seen this year. In depth thoughts on each of these films will come soon.

Honorable Mentions: American Hustle and Gravity

gravity-posterTo be perfectly honest, I hated Gravity. We were thrown into an absolute mess before having any chance to get to know any of the characters – Sandra Bullock’s character especially. While my enjoyment of a film does not always hinge on my ability to connect with a character, in this instance it was so important because,  without it, I lost my willing suspension of disbelief. Everything seemed farfetched – we focused on the spectacle when we should have focused on the character. That’s what made movies like Apollo 13 and Inception so brilliant – we didn’t lose the characters to the spectacle. That being said: visually  speaking, Gravity is absolutely brilliant. This is definitely not Alfonso Cuaron at  his best – but his ability to make a film look to amazing, to put us in the scene and  really show us space – that’s an amazing feat. For that reason, this film deserves  just about all of the technical Oscars it is definitely going to win. This is the film  of the effects department and the technical team, and I appreciate it for that, if  nothing else.

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I wasn’t nearly as disappointed with American Hustle as a was with Gravity – I know that I don’t really get into David O’Russell movies, and that’s okay. I thought I would like it more than I did, but I was entirely underwhelmed. I will watch it again at some point and see if it’s better the second time but, in general, I’m not a fan. That being said: The performances in this film were great, and the ensemble work was brilliant. Every actor onscreen had such great chemistry with the other actors, I could really believe their story and I could really start to get into it. It was definitely a good movie, extremely popular with the acting community, especially. And I have to give it props for having one of my favorite opening statements in film history – ‘Some of this actually happened’.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street

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This movie was completely hilarious. Brilliantly acted and, as expected from Mr. Scorsese, brilliantly directed. I came away from this movie with one thought on mind mind – ‘That was a really good movie’. What the movie does, is it brings you a sort of connection with DiCaprio’s character – Jordan Belfort – from the start. He’s poor, he’s just looking to become rich, he has morals and does not do drugs. About thirty minutes in, he’s done a complete 180 and you’re with him every step of the way. This movie is completely ridiculous, and most of this stuff actually happened. It’s hard for me to really explain how good of a film this is. Like most Scorsese films, it simply causes me to wave my hands around in the air making strange noises in a futile attempt to explain. Everything just comes together in a way where I lack the capacity to really pick out and discuss the individual elements – as a film, it was wonderful. That being said: This movie was originally second on my list, but got bumped down as I watched more and more movies – I even prompted my resident Movie Guru to take it down a couple of notches. While this film is brilliant and enjoyable, a lot of the things that make it so great is the shock of what your seeing, the shock that someone could be so completely ridiculous. It’s portrayed in a way that is so shocking, it might lose a lot of it’s value for some people the second time through. Overall, though, it was a great movie.

4. August: Osage County

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I want to take a moment  to appreciate this poster; it essentially sums up the movie, depicting the longest and arguably best scene in the movie. There are many things I love about this movie. One of my favorite things to see in a film is honesty – and this movie is starkly honest. The script was great, penned by the the original author of the play. The cinematography was great, the acting was brilliant, and the story was amazing. What some people dislike about this movie is actually what I really like about it: the honesty, the almost slap-in-the-face anger and sadness. These people are unhappy. This movie is so emotionally dark, watching it, you will root for the incestuous relationship to work out. Even the ending, while everyone technically escapes from the things that are destroying them, it presents the honest melancholy of such an escape. I really loved this movie – as much as you can love a movie like this. Every scene is brilliant. It’s criminal this didn’t  get a best picture nod. Great movie, completely underrated in my humble opinion. Note that while this does not seem as excited as my comments for number five, a movie with this type of content is nearly impossible to explain in a couple hundred words in a blog post. I highly recommend viewing this film for yourself.

3. Her

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This, ladies and gentleman, is great scifi. It’s the movie that bumped August down to number four. I was very prepared to like this movie when I first sat down to watch it, but I wasn’t prepared for exactly how much I would love it. This is easily my favorite film of the year, but as for actual ‘best’, it’s a solid number three. The script was the best original of the year – I hung on every word and every scene. And within every scene there was that stark honesty I am so, so fond of. The cinematography was absolutely brilliant – perhaps the best of the year. Even the editing – the way he cut in the little scenes without dialogue just to show you the true emotion behind this man. The performances were brilliant. The concept of this movie was absolutely brilliant. A friend told me, before I watched it, ‘I want this to win best picture. It doesn’t deserve it, but I want it’. I took his word for it, and moved on. But then I actually watched it, and I am now in that exact boat. I don’t think this should win best picture, but I want it so bad. I’ve never been in that boat before. You can see the main character falling in love with his AI as they build a true relationship (and no one really cares or judges him for it), you see him pulling out of his depression with her love, and when she disappears at one point, you’re at the edge of your seat. Because the AI, Samantha, is a person – grappling with her new found ‘humanity’. There are a million metaphors and it’s just perfect. Go watch it – you’ll understand a new found capacity to love a film completely, and the seeming contradiction of this film being a ‘solid number three’.

2. Dallas Buyers Club

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This was definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. But, I really think it was also one of the best. Because it was brilliant. The cinematography was brilliant, the direction was brilliant, the characters were brilliant – their development was even better. Again, this movie was very honest. Not honest in a way that is unsettling, but honest to the point of subtlety – subtle pain, subtle connections. Even though this movie, the characters especially, were pretty far from subtle. Matthew McConaughey gave a truly brilliant performance – he’s going to win the Oscar. And even though I still maintain he was second best, I will not be upset when he wins. Rather, I accept and appreciate it. Jared Leto is also going to win the Oscar – rightly so, because he was brilliant. Many, many things make me love and appreciate this movie. For one, we’ve done an AIDS-centered movie without the main character being black or gay. In so many movies it’s ‘other people can get aids too’, but we don’t really see it. And it wasn’t all doom and gloom – they wanted to live, and that’s what they did. One of the major things that made me love this movie so much was the huge character growth. McConaughey’s character, Ron Woodroof, was a piece of shit at the start of the movie. But the end, he’s so human – calling his development a 180 or 360 or what have you would be completely inadequate. But these changes happened over time, he didn’t suddenly see the light. Then, of course, there was Jared Leto’s character: Rayon. Trust me when I say that rayon was perfect, and then go watch the movie and see for yourself. Because Rayon was perfect. Ron and Rayon initially meet in the hospital in a very funny scene, and months later enter into a business deal that forms an extremely unlikely friendship. Like, really unlikely.

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Their scenes are some of the most heartbreaking and heartwarming scenes I’ve seen on screen. Because they really do become actual best friends – the best friend either one has ever had. It’s beautiful, man. I love this movie, and I don’t think this bit in a blog post really does it justice. Go and see it for yourself.

1. 12 Years a Slave

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If you’ve made it this far, you know I love an honest film. And this move is…well I don’t know if I can properly describe it. For me, it’s easily the best film of 2013. There is no competition. This film is truly brilliant. I cannot stress that enough. The cinematography was brilliant – they had one camera and 35 days to shoot and they produced something completely brilliant.  The script – brilliant, and it’s going to win the Oscar. Michael Fassbender gives a brilliant performance, but all praises belong to Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Eljiofor. Lupita Nyong’o was simply amazing in this film. She’s going to with the Oscar, and I am going to be very happy about it. She gave the superior performance in her category – easily one of the best of the year. And Chiwetel Eljiofor was absolutely incredible in his portrayal of Solomon Northrup. I connected with him as I got to see his family, his life, and as it was all taken from him in the course of one night. As he was dehumanized and broken each and every day – right alongside Nyong’o’s character, who was broken from the start. This film is the chief portrayal of American slavery. Everyone knew it was bad, that slaves were whipped, that they were not considered human. But they never tell us how bad, they never go into the extent of the pain of the actual slaves. So often in movies, the slaves become one massive, faceless character. They are slaves, they are suffering. This film offered an actual perspective into the inhumanity of the whole thing. They are human, and they are dying. This film is tough to watch – people were leaving the theater, even I had a it of an emotional collapse after watching this movie. Nothing has moved me quite so deeply, and I don’t think anything will again.

I’d like to leave you with a short scene from 12 Years: One of my favorite scenes in this movie brilliantly displays what I like to call the birth of soul music – as someone without hope allows himself, for the first time, to feel that hope, to consider that he may get out of this, that he may see his family again, that hope is the only thing that will keep him alive until his does. And it’s all on his face.