Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri * 2017 * Rated R  * 1 Hour 55 Minutes

😸😸😸🌑🌑 Rated 3/5 Happy lap cats

MAJOR SPOILERS

Let me start out by saying this won’t be a traditional review and it will contain spoilers. This film is difficult for me to write about, and I almost skipped it. But I set a goal to watch and write about as many of the 2018 Academy Award Best Picture Nominees as possible, so here we are.

This film is the epitome of what’s wrong with Hollywood, the system of film criticism, and the awards organizations in this century. It’s a prestige film by every measure, awards bait that’s worked. It was written and directed by Tony-nominated playwright Martin McDonagh. It stars three respected actors, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell in roles that call on them to give their all. It tackles some of the hot button topics of the day in a unique, original way. It’s a dark dramedy with a script filled with witty banter and poignant moments, as you’d expect from an acclaimed playwright. That’s why I looked past my anger enough to give it a 3/5 rating. I’ll probably debate with myself over that rating forever, and think it should’ve been a 2/5.

But it left me so angry that I had nightmares overnight, and I never have nightmares. The film should really be titled Two Racist Cops in the Good Old Boy Midwest, because that’s what it’s actually about. Sure, we see a lot of Frances McDormand’s Mildred, but she doesn’t get the redemption arc or the character growth that Sam Rockwell’s racist cop does. She’s a rage monster running around town ruining everyone else’s lives with her inappropriate anger.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 6: Man with My Face Recap

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In episode 6, Tak gets Kristin the treatment she needs for her wounds, and they continue their investigation, leading to a major confrontation with Dimi the Personality Fragged Twin. Vernon remembers how to be pretty good back up and a pretty good friend, though he’s an impatient dad. Lizzie makes some progress and reveals a new clue. Isaac is exonerated in the murder case, at least according to Tak’s Envoy intuition. We meet a new mysterious new character, Hemingway, and Tak’s sister Rei returns from the dead. Themes of family, protection and revenge run through the episode, culminating with Rei’s reveal.

The episode begins with a brief flash forward and a return of the Mad Mykola song. We see through Tak’s eyes, but his head is covered by a ragged black cloth. He looks down and sees his hands in cuffs and chains.

In the here and now, Tak and Kristin are being driven to the hospital, while Tak tries to keep Kristin alive. She’s bleeding profusely from her wounds. He keeps her talking so she doesn’t pass out. If her sleeve dies, he can put her in a new one, but her mother and the rest of her family, all devout Neo Cs, will never speak to her again.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 Episode 13: Nathaniel Is Irrelevant./Season Finale Review

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This is a photo of Paula, played by the incomparable Donna Lynne Champlin, as she sings a song from the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 finale about the glorious and joyful process of giving birth, to help Heather feel better about what she’s gotten herself into. The song sounds pretty, everything looks beautiful, and there are even laughs to be had. Champlin sounds like the talented, amazing diva that she is. But as the song continues the lyrics go off the rails, making birth sound more and more like an apocalypse on your genitals. It ends with Heather holding a fake, gray, dead-looking placenta in her arms instead of a baby.

That’s this season, and this episode, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in a nutshell. To write the song, Miracle of Birth, songwriter Jack Dolgen had the show’s female writers tell him their labor and delivery horror stories, then he and his cowriter Adam Schlesinger wrote the song in the studio in two hours, based on those notes. So, it’s a simplified, biased part of the experience, filtered 2nd and 3rd hand through the male point of view, turned into a rushed product. That’s season 3 of this show.

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Movie Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther * 2018 * Rated PG-13 * 2 Hours 14 Minutes

😸😸😸😸½ Rated 4.5/5 Happy lap cats

After a long wait (for the audience), the King of Wakanda has finally returned home to be crowned. The country he returns to is a glorious place, a perfect blend of environmental preservation and cutting edge technology. The people are strong, beautiful, and intelligent. The traditional culture is thriving as technological updates improve the quality of life. Women are front and center in Wakanda, in positions of importance. The King’s teenage sister is even the main inventor and scientist for the country. Imagine that- a teenage girl who acts like a normal girl, but is also one of the smartest people in the room at all times, and given the respect of everyone around her.

But Wakanda isn’t actually a utopia. It just appears to be, because it’s so much closer to it than almost any place else on earth, other than maybe some of the Scandinavian countries. And those are too cold and dark for most of us.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 5: The Wrong Man Recap

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Kovacs: “When everyone lies, telling the truth isn’t just rebellion. It’s an act of revolution. So think carefully when you speak it, because the truth is a weapon.”

Tak and Kristin spend most of episode 5 dealing with the aftermath of Tak’s torture. She tells him the story of how her partner and boyfriend, Elias Ryker, ended up on ice. They find a way to spin up the stack from Dimi’s disembodied head. Poe gives them a tip that begins to pull more of the disparate strands of the separate cases together. They grow closer to each other as they work together and learn they can trust each other.

And Captain Tanaka brings on disaster, just like I knew he would.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 Episode 12: Trent?! Recap

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Creepy stalker Adorable male ingenue Trent Maddock returns for a one episode blackmail plot love story this week. He forces Rebecca to blackmail Paula into helping her escape him reinvigorates Rebecca and Paula’s friendship. Josh’s one night stand with his karaoke machine back before the time jump has inspired him to turn it into a long term relationship. He wants to turn that into a business foursome with Beth and Valencia, but Valencia is going through the townie inferiority complex that she would have gone through when she was ten years younger if she was a real, live person. Nathaniel finally makes some decisions about his love life. Heather is still pregnant. WhiJo still has a dog and scraggly facial hair, causing me to fear for his overall health.

Rebecca meets with the girls at the Sugar Shack, where she crochets an afghan and decides to get a “buttload” of cats, now that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Because in Rebecca’s world, if you go more than 3 days without thinking someone is the love of your life, then you must not be capable of loving another human being and are doomed to be alone forever.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 4: Force of Evil Recap

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Gird your loins, kids, this is the torture episode. Tak’s in the virtual reality torture chamber for much of the episode. Though it was difficult to watch, it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, based on the warnings. The Outlander season 1 rape/torture episode was much, much worse. Maybe I’ve just seen too many seasons of creatively dragging entrails on The Walking Dead. Which isn’t to say this episode isn’t violent, gruesome, and, you know, tortuous. But it’s not very different from what we’ve already seen on Altered Carbon.

The real torture is in the emotions that the characters suffer over the course of the episode, especially in Tak’s flashbacks. We learn more about his life, his relationship with Quell, and how heartbroken he still is. We also get to see more of Ortega’s personal life, and begin to discover why she’s so interested in Tak.

So. Probably the most disturbing part of the episode is the Wei Clinic, an interrogation facility which specializes in “extracting data from unwilling subjects”. Torture is such an ugly word. The facility is large, clean, brightly lit, fully staffed, organized, and obviously part of a larger organization with franchises or branches. There’s a routine and a schedule for torture extraction sessions. The Nazis would be jealous.

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Altered Carbon Season 1 Episode 3: In a Lonely Place Recap

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Laurens: “In this world, the only real choice is between being the purchaser and the purchased.”

Kovacs: “We stick together, Rei. Never face the monsters alone.”

In this episode, Laurens invites Tak to a dinner party attended by all of Lauren’s closest friends enemies. Both spend the evening evaluating and testing people, though Tak is trying to assess how likely each is to be a murder candidate, while Laurens is assessing how likely they are to challenge his dominance or resist his authority. Laurens makes a point of publicly humiliating Tak, to remind Tak that he’s owned, because Laurens owns almost everything. Laurens also goes out of his way to humiliate Ortega, and to remind his wife that she belongs to him. He’s very possessive and territorial, and this hour drives it home.

Tak, on the other hand, begins assembling his own team in earnest, doing favors and making deals. Poe and Vernon are his first two prospective team members. He brings in another guest for Poe, Lizzie Elliot. Her virtual psychosurgery requires a large amount of Poe’s time and attention, just the thing for a lonely AI. That frees up Vernon to act as Tak’s back up at the party, once they’ve visited the friendly neighborhood arms dealer. Vernon gets to investigate Bancroft connection to Lizzie’s attack while he’s there, and Tak doesn’t have to face the monsters alone.

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Lena Hall Stars in New Musical Film Becks- Videos and Photos

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Becks * 2/9/18 (Theatres & VOD) * Unrated, probably R * 90 Minutes

Becks is an indie film based on the real life experiences of singer-songwriter Alyssa Robbins, who also wrote most of the songs for the film. It’s about a struggling singer in NYC who moves back to St Louis when her girlfriend leaves her to move to California. She moves in with her mother, a former nun, and starts singing at a local bar. She meets and becomes closer to a married woman, Elyse.

The lead character, Becks, is played by the fabulous Lena Hall, who won a Tony for her portrayal of Yitzhak in the Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and who played Hedwig herself briefly during the opening stops of the national tour. Becks’ mother, the former nun who tries to be supportive of her daughter, is played by Emmy, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress Christine Lahti. Elyse is played by Mena Suvari (Six Feet Under). Hayley Kiyoko, quadruple threat and all-around force of nature, plays Lucy, Becks’ soon to be ex-girlfriend.

This movie is worth seeing for the exciting female cast alone, but there were also women behind the cameras. Lena Hall gave an amazing, in depth interview to afterellen.com that mentions the largely female crew. From The Hollywood Reporter review:

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Agents of Shield Season 5 Episode 10: Past Life Recap

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This week, the Agents of SHIELD finally return to our present day, but it’s a difficult, winding journey to get there, of course. We say goodbye to the characters we’ve gotten to know over the future space arc, and learn more about the time loop, before the cliffhanger monolith jump at the end. Loyalty, the importance of making the best choice of who to align oneself with, and when to let go, always a focus on this show, continue to be major themes. Those themes are set up to affect the rest of the season, perhaps the series, in game-changing ways.

Also in this episode, Coulson proves he’s not the greatest leader when he treats Daisy like she’s his property to control. He may think he’s acting like a leader or father, but he takes Daisy’s choices away to the point of rendering her unconscious, while others risk being left behind without a word of complaint from him. That’s not the kind of caring he, or the writers, think it is. Overly possessive misogyny doesn’t stop being wrong because you convince yourself it’s for a good cause.

When the Zephyr pulls into the landing bay of the Lighthouse, Kasius and his guards are waiting for it. The first thing they see when the doors open is Sinara’s body, still hanging, impaled on the balcony railing. Kasius brain melts down. The lead guard orders the rest of the guards to search the ship.

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