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“Were the Spiders Really Necessary?” FARGO Episode 3- ‘The Muddy Road’

Fargo Episode 3 A Muddy Road Lester

There be lots of spoilers here, don’tcha know?

Three episodes in and Fargo the TV show is finally starting to take shape. Moments and exchanges from last week’s episode that felt tedious or non sequitur gain relevance and meaning, even if the whole affair still feels a bit like sequences from a long movie stretched to episode length. Each episode is more like a twenty minute section of a long movie than an episode in and of itself. There’s rarely a task introduced in an episode that is solidly resolved by the end. It’s a Game of Thrones-type approach to storytelling, one that plays more for long-term satisfaction than week-to-week gratification. Read more…

“A Wet Dream of an Episode,” GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Episode 4- ‘Oathkeeper’

game of thrones oathkeeper season 4 episode 4 brienne

This review is written from the point of view of someone who hasn’t read the books, so keep your spoilers to yourself and keep the criticism in your pocket because I can almost guarantee you haven’t read the book of The Godfather. This review is also littered with spoilers, like a chop shop for those cars from The Fast and the Furious.

It seems like every week, someone preps me for this week’s Game of Thrones by saying, “I hear something big is going to happen this week!” That would have been huge news a couple seasons ago, when the show was still cooking in the microwave, but now that the Hot Pocket is cooked and we’re just chomping into juicy bit after juicy bit, “something big” is sort of expected to happen every week. When something big doesn’t happen (like in last year’s season finale), it feels off. After you have a Red Wedding, it’s hard to go back to regular old blackmail. Already this season we’ve had the death of Joffrey (spoilers), the rape of Cersei, and a whole cavalcade of other terrible things that have happened to the Lannisters. One would figure that a Game of Thrones fan would be jaded at this point, just waiting for this week’s surprising development to take place in the last ten minutes. Read more…

“Treading Frozen Water,” FARGO Episode 2 Review- ‘The Rooster Prince’

Fargo Episode 2 The Rooster Prince Lester Nygaard Martin Freeman

Oh, hey there. This review has lots of spoilers, don’tcha know?

Have you ever met someone, whether at work, school, or a terrible family reunion, who won’t proceed in what they’re saying until they’ve restated themselves enough times to make sure that you heard them? That’s what tonight’s episode of Fargo felt like.

The show opens in exactly the same way, with a car driving down a snowy stretch of highway with the same four or five title cards over it. We spend the first quarter of the episode really only restating things from the pilot. For anyone who paid attention to last week’s truly stellar pilot episode, it was honestly a little dull. What really drew me to the show as how quickly the pilot episode shuffled its pieces around and made a real statement and name for itself. Over the course of an hour, the principle characters had been introduced, shuffled around on their own little asides or adventures, and thrown back together in a way that both set up the most important elements of the entire series and declared to the world that it wasn’t going to play by the rules its feature film predecessor had set because Fargo the show as going to be its own thing and doesn’t care much for your rules, man. Read more…

“What Makes a Good King? Ideally, Not This…” GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Episode 3- ‘Breaker of Chains’

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains Season 4 Episode 4 Wildlings

This review is written from the point of view of someone who hasn’t read the books. Don’t be mad and keep your spoilers where they belong: screaming inside of your brain at the ignorance of the masses.

Everybody has a fatal flaw. I have a friend who is one self-esteem boost away from going broke on condoms. Superman has Kryptonite. Oedipus has accidental incest. Game of Thrones has Jon Snow. There is always something- something- that stops a thing from being absolute perfection.

This episode of Game of Thrones is one rape scene short of being indisputably great and fun.

Even a lengthy Samwell section can’t spoil proceedings quite like… that. Much last like week’s exciting episode that featured a Joffrey poisoning (spoilers), there was an awful lot that happened this week, but all anyone will be talking about is one scene. I’m hesitant to even talk about it. I’m going to, of course. It’s my job (my self-appointed job that I could leave at any time but that I have too much unnecessary journalistic integrity to do so). Read more…

“Here We Go Again, Don’tcha Know?” FARGO Episode 1 Review- ‘The Crocodile’s Dilemma’

Fargo The Crocodile's Dilemma Billy Bob Thornton Martin Freeman

These opening paragraphs are safe from spoilers. A bright, blinking warning will arise before I do anything that will make any of you hate me.

There’s a poster on the wall of down-on-his-luck insurance salesman Lester Nygaard’s basement in FX’s new miniseries Fargo, obviously based off of the amazing movie of the same name. It’s a cookie cutter inspirational poster depicting a school of yellow fish swimming in one direction, and a single red fish in the middle swimming the opposite way. In bold type it says, “What If You’re Right, and They’re Wrong?” It’s exactly the sort of thing you’d find on the walls of a third grade classroom, next to a gorilla who tells you to read books and beneath the banner of cursive letters that stretches across the top of the classroom that you’d study religiously for weeks only to never use again. Lester (Martin Freeman in a damn fine performance) desperately wants to be the red fish, even if he is anything but. He wants the entire world that continues to beat him down to wake up to the fact that he is the red fish, who has been doing everything right. But he’s just another yellow fish that isn’t very good at anything. Read more…

“The Gross, Pukey Green Wedding,” GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Episode 2 Review- ‘The Lion and the Rose’

game of thrones season 4 episode 2 the lion and the rose joffrey margaery

This review is littered with spoilers that the Internet will probably have ruined for you by the time you eat breakfast on Monday morning. It is also written from the point of view of someone who has not read the books. If you have any spoilers you would like to share, don’t.

There’s a lot to talk about tonight, but all anybody is going to be discussing tomorrow is Joffrey. As he shuffled off this mortal stick up his ass and made his way to the Great Midget Fight in the Sky, I could almost hear the echoing calls of millions of Game of Thrones fans elating into the night. It might just be the single biggest cause for celebration since V-J Day.

But “The Lion and the Rose” was so stuffed with really good stuff that it’d be a shame for this review to only comment on Joffrey’s always-inevitable but much-fantasized downfall. Hell, that’s half the reason why I divide these reviews into sections, so that I can give every aspect of the show its due. That should prove particularly tricky tonight, as the vast majority of the episode takes place at the wedding reception of Joffrey, of House Baratheon and House Lannister, and Margaery Tyrell, of House Tyrell (which raises more than a couple questions about her lineage, but I’ve sort of just stopped asking questions about bloodlines as far as royalty is concerned, real or fictional). To keep things interesting (and short winded), I’m going to subdivide the events at King’s Landing tonight into a few different, smaller sections, and, by the end of this review, announce this week’s winner. But first… Read more…

“The Red Honeymoon,” GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Episode 1 Review- ‘Two Swords’

Game of Thrones Two Swords Daenerys Dragon

This review is rife with White Walking Spoilers, slowly, slooooooowly shambling toward you. Also, this is written from the point of view of someone who has not read the books, so please refrain from both spoiling future events/ telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about because I bet there’s at least one book out there that you haven’t read and I can rub my intimate knowledge of Pride and Prejudice right in your face.

Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re back!

As I’m sure your Facebook has made you aware, Game of Thrones is back for Season 4, which is actually the second half of Book Three, which is why last season ended with what felt more like a scene where Harry Potter breaks his arm playing Quidditch and less like a scene where he lucks into stopping Voldemort. The show has some mighty big shoes to fill, namely its own, as last season’s Red Wedding took the Internet by storm (the Internet apparently having never watched television before).

Obviously, nothing that happened in tonight’s premiere was going to match the severity of last season’s big Stark-slaying. This wasn’t only the first episode of a season of a television, but the first episode of a season of Game of Thrones, a show based off of books, a medium famous for taking a long time to do things. Read more…

“Shut Up, Peeta”- THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE Spoiler Review

Catching Fire Katniss Peeta Effie

The Hunger Games is an international phenomenon but if you somehow haven’t read Catching Fire, then you should know that spoilers lurk past this point, so dust off your daughter’s copy of the book and give it a read before scanning below.

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games book series has permeated the international consciousness, which is weird because it is both good and actually about something. Careful study of culture and Facebook statuses tells us that the books that transcend language and are read by tweens and warlords alike are either light, simple, and fluffy (Harry Potter) or boring, boring, and fluffy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The Hunger Games, for all of its leaning on a storytelling structure based on a love triangle, is about revolution, and the overthrow of a government. It is strange that these books are predominantly popular amongst twelve-year-olds, who generally like to think that their government is pretty all right and focus more on the important things, like the next big thing in bra-stuffing technology.

I have read the first two Hunger Games books, after growing weary of answering the question “Where are you from and why haven’t you read The Hunger Games?” with, “From under a rock, why? What are the Hunger Games? Wait—where are you going?”

The first Hunger Games book is a solid adventure and was interesting enough for the second installment to earn a reading. I remember absolutely loving Catching Fire, and don’t really remember much else about it really. Going into this flick was like reading the cliffs notes version of a book I probably enjoyed, if memory serves, which it doesn’t. Most of the good bits are still intact, with only one or two glaring omissions that I could find. There are probably more things missing, but I don’t have time to reread Catching Fire. Too busy rereading those Harry Potter books with the sweet new covers.

But this review isn’t of a book. It is of a movie. And since adaptations have to be more than just a Great Illustrated Classics version of the book, it must be judged on its own merits. So, let’s talk merit. . . Read more…

“Lots of Skinny People Coughing Up Blood”- THE DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB Movie Review

Dallas Buyers Club

In his recent tirade of giving really good performances in really good movies and thus making me regret all those effigies I once made, Matthew McConaughey turns in another hell of a performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club. Read more…

“Something Actually Happened in This One!”- THOR: THE DARK WORLD Review

thor the dark world

There are no spoilers to be found here that can’t be found in the trailers.

The first Thor was hardly even a movie. If we’re going by traditional three act structure, it was two hours of first act, followed by a quick ten minute reprieve of third act. That last bit was a nice break after an entire film of set up for an ending that wouldn’t happen for another 2 years, but hardly served to turn Thor into what we in the ticket-purchasing business would call a “movie.”

Thor: The Dark World seeks to remedy this transgression by doing exactly the opposite. The film’s three screenwriters seem to have as little interest in Exposition in New Mexico as we do, so this sequel takes off at a blistering pace.

Boom, Prologue! Boom, Thor faffing around on Asian Asgard! Academy Award Winning Actress Natalie Portman becomes possessed by cranberry juice! We’re in, we’re out, we’re done, the movie has started everybody! Read more…

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