Sunday, July 24, 2016

BoJack Horseman Season 3 Review (No Spoilers)

I adore BoJack Horseman and Season 3 is fantastic.  It is one of my favorite TV shows right now.  It has fantastic, multi-dimensional characters and balances dark, dramatic storylines with quirky and hilarious jokes.

Season 3 at its core continues to explore happiness, how fleeting it is for the characters, and how they keep going through the same cycle over and over again, while also being extremely funny at the same time to balance out the darker moments.

My personal favorites of the season were: "Fish Out of Water" and "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew."  "Fish Out of Water" is an absolute delight and reminds us the power of cartoons as a storytelling device because I can't imagine live-action being able to tell a similar story in the same way.  "Fish Out of Water" is a very non-traditional BoJack episode in terms of storytelling and I applaud the show for branching out.  I hope they do another episode like this next season.  "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew" is fantastic due to its audacity.  Without revealing any spoilers, I've never seen any TV show actually *go there* though the topic does get discussed.  "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew" is bold and features one of the most hilarious, darkly humorous songs I've heard in a long time.  Honestly, though you really can't go wrong with any of the episodes this season.  All of them are great, and there were no fillers or weak episodes.

Season 3 starts just where Season 2 ended.  BoJack (Will Arnett) is on the Oscar campaign trail, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) is running her agency, Diane (Alison Brie) is working on her marriage to Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F Tompkins) and trying to find meaning in her work as a social media coordinator, and Todd (Aaron Paul) and Mr. Peanutbutter have ongoing shenanigans as usual.

I like how this season had even more of a focus on the past for all of the characters.  I especially like the glimpses we get of BoJack/Princess Carolyn's past relationship.  They decide to firmly break up early on in Season 1 but we never really get to see what their relationship had been like.

There's a lot of feminist themes this season as well, especially an episode that actually GOES there.  I also appreciate that there are so many great female characters in this show and all of them are well defined three-dimensional characters.  This season, we have past characters who pop up like BoJack's TV daughter Sara Lynn (Kristen Schaal) and popstar Sextina Aquafina (Aisha Tyler).  We also get new characters like star publicist Ana Spanikopita (Angela Bassett) and playwright Jill Pill (Mara Wilson).  I was also tremendously excited that the two main female characters, Diane and Princess Carolyn, spend more time together this season as Diane takes a job at Princess Carolyn's new agency.  It seemed strange before that these two main characters do not really get to interact, though they both play such pivotal roles in the show.

There is less BoJack/Diane hanging out this season, the two of them have one of my favorite relationships on the show since they really get each other, but it's been great to see the show dig into BoJack and Princess Carolyn's relationship and BoJack and his past Horsin' Around cast.

BoJack Horseman is really a magical show, and I can't wait to see the next season, especially excited that they've already been renewed for another year!

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Revenant

The Revenant 

     The Revenant is definitely not a movie for everyone.  It is brutal, harsh, and breath-takingly beautiful all at the same time.  The Revenant is about Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fur trapper who has to make his way back to camp after he is attacked by a grizzly bear and left behind to die by his fellow trappers: the villainous John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and young Bridger (Will Poulter).

     At its heart, The Revenant is very much a Western, and a very meditative one at that.  The Revenant does not gloss over how wild life is in the frontier- the large expansive distances that people have to travel and the solitude (sometimes loneliness of it all).  What makes The Revenant so hard to watch at times is how you see and experience almost everything that Glass experiences on his journey.    

     My favorite part about The Revenant are the visuals and the cinematography.  There are so many images of the haunting barren landscapes as Glass makes his way back to the fort.  One of my favorite images is when we see Glass walking through a clear snowy wasteland but we are so far away that we can't tell whether he is walking towards us or away from us.  The battle scenes are also such a treat- the scenes are so kinetic and alive- we really get brought into the moment of the battle, experiencing the chaos along with the characters and I can't recall a battle scene quite like this in recent memory.

     I am surprised by how much better this movie holds up the second day as I think about it some more.  Coming straight out of the movie, I was frustrated with the pacing and in my notes, had things written down like "troublesome pacing" and "wow, Leo really wants his Oscar."  But thinking back on the movie, I find myself liking the movie more, the whole experience of it, even the slower parts.  I am also amazed by how Hardy disappears, as he always does into his roles- Fitzgerald is no exception.

     If you want a non-traditional Western to watch or something intense and visually stunning, The Revenant is for you.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Short Term 12

Short Term 12

     Short Term 12 has been on my to-watch list for so long and and I am so glad I finally watched it today.  It is such a tremendous movie with memorable characters, fantastic writing and acting.  It genuinely broke my heart several times.  At the end of the movie, I wasn't ready to let go of these characters at all and would have gladly watched hours more of the kids and employees at the half-way home.
     Short Term 12 centers around Grace (Brie Larson), a supervisor at the half-way home, who has a chaotic week at work while her personal life falls apart.  Along with Grace at the half-way home, there is Grace's boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr), and the new hire Nate (Rami Malek).  The kids include quiet musician Marcus (Keith Stanfield), who is aging out of the home, and sarcastic newcomer Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever).
      What really struck me about the movie and what truly made the stories so sad is the pain that all of these kids had endured and how it continued to affect all of them, even though for many of them, the source of the pain was long gone.  There's Marcus, who is still haunted by his mother and expresses his pain through self-penned rap songs.  Grace is still haunted by her childhood too and she channels her energy through helping the kids at the home, finding a special connection to Jayden.