Monday, March 13, 2017

Don't worry, I still love some things

I can be a snarky critic, but when something impresses, I'm a natural enthusiast. I can't have you read my last post and leave you with the impression that I'm looking at everything skeptically. Here's a list of what's currently knocking my socks off on TV. (Check my Amazon profile if you want to see what I'm loving in books.)

Legion Oh my god, this show. We're five episodes into an eight episode season, I can't tell you exactly what's going on, but I can't stop watching. How much do I love this? I actually stay up to watch this at 10 PM because I might not be able to sleep anyway if I have to miss it. Dan Stevens, who's almost unrecognizable from Downton Abbey, is David Haller, a super powerful mutant whose power (consciousness? brain? reality?) has been food for some kind of creature (another mutant?) since he was a young boy, and it's screwing with his mental health. Is he imagining everything we've seen since the first episode? Or is reality this disconcerting to someone with so much power? I can't tell you yet--hell, I can't even tell you when this is taking place--but I can't wait to find out. 

The Americans Another series on FX that's taking a much slower pace of storytelling, but it's just as engrossing. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are "Elizabeth and Philip Jennings" in the early 1980s, but they're really Soviet spies who have been here for decades and have gone full-on into their covers, including raising a family together. It's 1984 now, and the Cold War tensions are escalating. Elizabeth is a true believer and is willing to do anything to serve her homeland, while Philip has always tormented himself with questions before he does the same things. Giving them pause are their children, particularly daughter Paige (Holly Taylor), who knew something was off and had her worst theories confirmed. Elizabeth thinks they can be both good parents and patriots, but Philip knows that something is going to have to give. And that's just for starters. 

"Knock, knock"
The Young Pope I was as skeptical as everyone else about this series, and I was just as wrong. It's absurdist in part because nothing stays sub rosa for long, but part of its brilliance is its acknowledgement that everything changes eventually, even the Catholic Church, no matter how much the young, energetic pope can force his possible supernatural will over his minions. Jude Law is amazing--I need to be reminded that he's in fact British--as the man who's neither good nor bad but pure in it's most ruthless sense. 

Westworld Another example of someone taking a piece of Seventies schlock and turning it into an artistic masterpiece. How much consciousness does something have to have before it becomes immoral to treat it like a tool? And what does it say about someone who needs to play at inflicting pain in order to feel alive? Rachel Evan Wood, Thandie Netwon, Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Hopkins are mesmerizing as the people (and androids) both grappling with those questions and living out those consequences. 

Finally, while I don't get to movie theaters that much, I did get to see The Lego Batman Movie, and I was legitimately impressed. The whole movie is one big wink at superhero storytelling period, but it's brilliant in addition to being hilarious. And can we give a big shout out to the casting department, if only for casting Kate Micucci as Clayface? 

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