Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Stones and the Holocaust Lead the Pack of Stuff You Should Watch Now

I've been doing a lot more TV- and movie-watching lately than blogging. What have I liked and what has stunk, you ask?

Crossfire Hurricane (***** out of ***** stars), a documentary about the darker side of the Rolling Stones, including the drug busts, Altamont, and the death of guitarist Brian Jones, is hands down the best thing I've seen this spring.

The runner-up, although extremely sad and very difficult to take, is another documentary, called Night Will Fall (***** out of ***** stars). It's the story of British and American filmmakers who were given access to the final days of the Nazi death camps. They film endless horrors but also capture everyday moments of at-least-momentary sanity behind the camp walls. The Germans decided the movies would hurt their attempts to move on as a people and buried the footage for years until now. I began watching because of the promise that Alfred Hitchcock would be featured as the man hired to direct the films. I stayed watching because this part of the Jewish people's history is too important to all of mankind and it's our duty to watch.

I finally got around to Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (****1/2 out of ***** stars) and I have to admit it is pretty great. If this 2013 fictionalization isn't reason enough for Congress to reform the investment sector, then at the very least Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio have taken a step forward in helping us all realize the sliminess of the profession.

Three little films I didn't expect much from but ended up being pleased by include:

  • This Is Where I Leave You (**** out of ***** stars): I guess it's just too difficult for Jason Bateman to do any wrong. It helps that the all-star cast works really well together. It includes Tina Fey, Adam Driver, and Jane Fonda.
  • The Way, Way Back (***1/2 out of ***** stars): Fourteen-year-old shy kid Duncan has to spend the summer on Cape Cod with jerky relatives played by Steve Carell and Allison Janney. Luckily, he finds shelter with a new group of friends, including Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph, at the local water park.
  • Talk Radio (*** out of ***** stars): I haven't missed many Oliver Stone flicks over the years, but this one from 1988 slipped past me. Eric Bogosian turns in a powerful performance as the talk host who passionately and offensively argues against everyone who calls the station.

I thought I would like A Million Ways to Die in the West (*1/2 out of ***** stars), but Seth MacFarlane rips off Blazing Saddles with absolutely none of that classic's charm. Painful.

I also looked forward to the sci-fi Ender's Game (*1/2 out of ***** stars), but the story of a kid sent to military school to train for an alien attack is an absolute snoozefest. Even Harrison Ford's cool can't save it. In fact, Ford is pretty bad and seems flat-out uninterested waiting around for his turn in the upcoming Star Wars reboot.

Also worth mentioning are four TV shows I have really been getting into: Bloodline, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, and Bate's Motel. They're all well worth watching.

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