0041: The Crowd (1928)

The Crowd.jpg

Rating: 6/10

Johnny and Mary, after knowing each other less than a day, get married. They’re madly in love and become perfect for each other, but this match made in heaven has problems of its own as Johnny tries desperately to find a job during the Great Depression.

The story centers around Johnny and begins at his birth on July 4, 1900 and follows his life until he meets Mary. They fall in love, get married, have kids. Johnny has trouble with work, then quits after a tragedy. This tells a story that is close to the people of the time period, those that struggled through the Depression, or lost a loved one in a tragedy, can relate to Mary and Johnny.

This movie was strange for me, but only because I started having familiar feelings when it changed suddenly from a comedic scene to a tragic one, and then back again, throughout the movie. Feelings I couldn’t quite place for a moment because I didn’t expect to see it in a film made this early. This film is Oscar-bait, not on purpose though. The first Oscars weren’t until a year later so how could they have known? But that’s exactly what it is.

Now, Oscar-bait is a term that gets thrown around a lot and probably means different things to different people. To me, it’s any movie that has a story that is so character driven it feels it doesn’t need an actual plot. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, per se, but I definitely recognize the formula when I see it. It’s a film that centers around one person. Sometimes two, though one is always more main than the other, like in this movie. And it’s about the person’s life, therefore the tone of the movie changes just as much and as randomly as the person’s life does. When done well, this type of movie makes you feel for the character just as close as you would had they been your best friend for many years and provide lessons to its audience about what it takes to truly live in this world. When handled poorly, they feel disjointed and at points nonsensical as things randomly seem to change and the only message to be obtained is “sometimes things happen for no reason at all.” That’s only in the most extreme cases though.

Here, the film does a decent job of telling us Johnny’s story. Though there are a few scenes that feel like they only happen because “life is random.” I guess being that this movie is super ahead of its time, and the Oscars weren’t even a thing yet. It’s just one director doing his thing without trying to win anything in the process. Though I may not like it when things happen for no reason on screen, I can applaud this film for its originality for its time.

Why you should watch it before you die: If you like character-driven stories, and don’t mind silent flicks, I’d recommend it quite a bit. Otherwise, I’d probably say you can pass on this.

+5: Decent acting, story is just okay

+1: Very good music

The Flash Season 2

The Flash Season 2.png

Rating: 8/10

The Flash takes on a Super-Speedster-From-Another-Planet named Zoom who’s so much faster than Barry he’s used his speed to take over an entire other Earth from another dimension!

This season is much better than the first. Not that the first season was bad, really, it just kept getting bogged down with certain things like relationship drama and scenes that didn’t do much for the overarching plot, but here those are gone, and instead as the Flash tries to get faster, it seems like he’ll never be fast enough to defeat Zoom.

Personally, I think this season of the Flash kicked season 4 of Arrow out of the water. Better twists and turns, also, where Arrow falters with a sense of hopelessness over the season, the Flash seems to flourish in it and it just makes us root that much harder for him. He’s the only person who can save the city from a threat as large as Zoom, but he’s not strong enough to do so. But, unlike Queen who feels like he’s on the brink of just giving up sometimes, Barry knows he’s powerless to stop Zoom, but at the same time he always rises up to try, even when he knows he’s going to fail. It’s just interesting to note that one show’s weakness can be another show’s strength.

SCORING:

+7: Fairly entertaining season with pretty high stakes

+1: Impressive villain

Arrow Season 4

Arrow Season 4.jpg

Rating: 6/10

This season of Arrow, Oliver Queen faces his greatest threat: Damien Darhk. A wielder of magic who’s so ruthless he’d destroy cities on his quest for more power.

The villain throughout this season is great, and it feels like the actor who plays him, Neal McDonough, is having the time of his life. It’s just as much fun watching him being evil and doing awful thing as the character seems to be just loving what he’s doing. I just wish I could say that about the rest of the season.

The major problem is that it’s just so frickin’ melancholy. It starts by cutting forward to a point in the future with Oliver mourning at someone’s grave. Something it keeps doing throughout the season as it keeps hinting that someone is going to die. Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but this series has a very bad habit of killing off my favorite characters. So if you like someone on this show, don’t get your hopes up that they’re going to stay alive. But you can also probably expect said dead person to come back in some way, even if it’s just them from another dimension for an episode or two, but still, dead but not gone seems to be the major rule of this show.

Outside of showing us an upcoming death constantly, Oliver spends an awful lot of time moping around in this season. So much so it seems to trickle out to every other character, even Damien Darhk a little bit. I mean, when Oliver’s mom died in the second season, we didn’t need the characters to mourn for her, and they hardly do from what I remember, though it is still sad. And that was a permanent death, something rare for any of these series. Here they have a cloud hanging over the whole season that just breaths depression, affecting every character to some degree, and this starts before anyone actually died! I know that Arrow has made a name for being the superhero show that’s darker with higher stakes than any of the other CW shows. I mean, you can pretty much expect at least one major character death per season.

Let’s consider Batman for a second. Batman, like Arrow, has no superpowers, is darker than most of the other comics in the DC universe, and you can expect the stakes to be higher. But Batman also has an iron will. He never gives up, even when he has to do something that seems impossible, like taking down Superman in the Dark Knight Returns or the Injustice series, he doesn’t quit. And one thing he never does is resort to hopelessness, and neither, as shown by this season, should Arrow. I know they’re obviously not the same person, but Arrow had a similar die-hard attitude in the first three seasons that he seems to drop out of here for a chance for him to be mopey and emotional so we can see a side of him, and pretty much every other character, that personally I could do without.

And then it brings it all back in the last few episodes when Darhk really raises the stakes and both Arrow and Oliver Queen have to be heroes to save their city. So, kind of a mixed bag, some of the best and the worst things I’ve seen in this show so far come from this season.

SCORING:

+5.5: I’m feeling fairly mixed right now

+1: Damien Darhk is just damn fun to watch

-2: why is it so damn melancholy throughout this season?

+1.5: really intense and exciting finale (too bad it takes so long to get there…)

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1.jpg

Rating: 7/10

Rip Hunter collects heroes and villains from both the Arrow and the Flash to travel through time in the hopes of stopping one possible future.

Though this show feels a bit like Doctor Who meets Justice League it quickly becomes my favorite show amongst all of them. This season has a bit of a slow start, but it starts combining humor, internal character drama, and any genre they want that week, in such an entertaining way, it’s hard not to love the formula. But, for anyone starting this show, I would humbly tell them that “later seasons are better…” before letting them go through the episodes.

I only have two real complaints though, but they both bog this season down in major ways. The first is too much focus on relationships between the characters (especially when it’s this redundant) and the second is the overarching bad guy of this season, Vandal Savage. Also, both these things revolve around the character of Hawkgirl oddly enough.

Okay, SPOILERS after this point. Hawkgirl is meant to marry Hawkman, and everytime they die, they will meet in the next life, remember all their lives, and get married again. However, this time, Hawkman is killed early on, so Hawkgirl and the Atom start dating, but she’s always like “oh, I’m supposed to be with Hawkman, otherwise my love is doomed to fail.” But then Atom is like, “Ah, Come on!” Then she’s like, “oh okay,” and it happens at least once per episode for a large chunk of it just to annoy me.

Then there’s Vandal, who’s an immortal creep (seriously, I feel like the character goes around flashing elderly women everytime he says anything. Most. Disappointing. Immortal. Ever.) and his character just never changes or grows in any way. He’s meant to hunt down and kill the Hawk-people every time they’re reborn, and he doesn’t seem to gain any wisdom or personality for that matter, no matter how many centuries he’s lived. I mean it, they show him at the beginning in ancient Egypt, and he’s in no way different from his present day self. It’s just weird, and lazy writing. Maybe that’s how it is in the comics, but I don’t think it’s forgivable even if he is. The fact that he’s able to take over the world later is just astonishing. The way he does it doesn’t make any sense either, not even in a comic book way.

SCORING:

+10: Superheroes and time travel?! Sign me up!

-1.5: a bit too much of the “will they, won’t they, oh wait, they are already are so who cares?”

-2.5: Seriously, this guy is an immortal demigod? This guy!?

+1: One of the best deaths I’ve ever seen in a superhero show, or anywhere on TV, no not Vadal Savages…

Supergirl Season 1

Supergirl season 1

Rating: 7.5/10

Supergirl is one of the new shows of the 2015-2016 season that Arrowverse’s head producer Greg Valenti couldn’t get CW to buy so they produced this season on a competing network for the first season only to bring it to the CW the following year.

This tells the story of Supergirl, Superman’s cousin (something this show likes to remind us of at least once per episode) and she works undercover as Kara Danvers at Catco Media, a huge media empire, and as Supergirl she works alongside her adopted sister as Supergirl for the DEO.

It has a bit of a rocky start, but once it starts adding more aliens and every side characters starts slowly becoming superheroes in one way or another. It slowly gets better and by the end of the season is just as good as the rest of the Arrowverse. It takes a bit to get there though, so be warned.

One thing that makes the first season of this show though is Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), the woman in charge of Catco Media, who built it from the ground up and is one of the strongest, smartest, and funniest women in all of the Arrowverse, it’s just too bad this is the only season she’s in, outside of a few cameos after this.

My biggest complaint is how much this season focuses on Supergirl hooking up with someone. First Winn had a thing for her and then Jimmy and both times all I can think is well, “This succeeds at wasting my time and little else.” I think this would have been better if it was more something like Supergirl questioning the moral implications of dating a human, or what it could mean for the furtherment of the Kryptonian race. Instead they just kind of gloss over everything and she just wants to bang someone, more or less. I guess I just see something that could have been interesting, and instead it’s just typical for what you’d expect in a drama about relationships.

Awesome finale though.

SCORING:

+6.5: Good, after a very rocky start

+1: Cat Grant!

-1: Too many parts in this season that’s focused on Supergirl’s relationship with men

+1 Sweet ending

0693: Airplane! (1980)

Airplane!

Rating: 10+/10

Ah, Airplane. The movie that started every off-the-wall parody movie that’s come out since, more or less. From the people who brought you Kentucky Fried Movie, the triple-director team, Jerry and David Zucker along with Jim Abrahams, bring you a movie so crazy and hilarious, nothing quite like it had ever come before, with nothing is quite as fun or funny as this movie. You might think “Surely, with so many parodies that have come out since then there must be something that had hold a candle to this.” to which I would answer, “You’re wrong, also, don’t call me Surely.”

This isn’t the first movie that parodies others. Mel Brooks was already making a pretty good living making movies doing what this one does. But this movie takes it up to a new level in terms of ridiculousness, and ironically they do this by hiring a cast of people that were almost all typically serious actors up to that point, including Leslie Nielsen who hadn’t been in a single comedy up to that point. He ended up making a name for himself as a purely comedic actor after starring in this film.

Why you should watch it before you die: With impressive comedy, great pacing, and a precedent set by this film for every parody movie that’s comes since, Airplane is uniquely funny and recommended for all.

SCORING:

10+: A totally unique vision that parodies disaster films that no one even remembers anymore, yet this film will be enjoyed forever for its utter over-the-top and ridiculous humor and storytelling