Category Archives: Reviews
Doctor Who is back! It’s a good thing too, since I was starting to go through serious withdraws. The 8000 episodes of Star Trek added to Netflix helped the pain a bit, but it was still a long summer. So did Let’s Kill Hitler deliver? In a word: yes. In two words: F&$* yes! In three words: Yes and No.
Confused? Me too. Although I think this is my second favorite episode this season ( the first being The Doctor’s Wife ) it took several watchings to get me to that conclusion. At first I was just spent by the whole thing emotionally. I bought every red herring hook, line, and sinker, and because of that I couldn’t properly gauge how I felt till at least watch-through number 2.
At any rate, look below for my spoil-filled review.
“You named your Spoilers after your Spoilers.”
* HITLER IN A CUPBOARD - Although many people cheered and giggled at the announced title “Let’s Kill Hitler” when it appeared in epic bravado at the end of Episode 7 I cringed. I held out hope that the follow up to AGMGTW would be more River/Melody focused, and when the first 10 minutes of this episode seemed to be a standard historical romp with robot Nazi justice soldier I cringed even more. Then Hitler got put in a cupboard, Mels was revealed to be Melody (how did I not see that coming?), and the whole episode become beyond what I was looking for.
* Melody/River – I read somewhere that Russel T. Davies, who got the honor of casting River for her first appearance in the 4th season, originally wanted to cash in a favor to cast Kate Winslet in the part. I doubt the Oscar Winning Winslet would have ever returned had she been cast, and I wonder what the show would even look like now had that been the case. Alex Kingston was brilliant in this episode. It sort of reminded me of watching Buffy the Vampire after Angel lost his soul. We are forced to watch one of our favorite characters as evil, but unlike evil Angel, Melody/River has a certain innocence that comes with the sociopathic tenancies. Plus, she has the greatest line I think I’ve ever heard on Doctor Who “Well, I was on my way to this gay Gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought, “Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish. I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer.” Who’s with me?”
* TIED UP LIKE A BOW – We get to find out why River didn’t regenerate when she dies in the library. We get to see her first given the diary by the doctor. We get to (I think) see where she hears the Doctor’s name (if that is what he whispers to her as he is dying. We even get the first ever “Hello Sweetie!”
* CONFUSING EMOTIONS - So I am confused, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. I still want Rory and Amy to get their baby back. It’s really weird to see Rory and Amy doing so well after there baby was kidnapped so traumatically in AGMGTW, and I hope as we go back into standalone episodes next week that it isn’t just brushed under the rug. At the same time, do I really want them to find the baby? Because if they do then the River Song we know and love might never have existed, Mels wouldn’t have pushed Amy and Rory together, or given them the name to name herself. Again, it is confusing.
It took the Super Justice Robot Squad that long to check there instruments and find out they were in the wrong year? This seems pretty careless seeing as they had already spent a lot of time and resources killing a dude and assuming his identity. I guess I shouldn’t expect much of the group that thought it was a good idea to make a security system that would kill them if they forgot to wear their WWJD bracelets, but someone is paying a lot of dough for this. Transformers can’t be cheap. Otherwise, we’d all have our own Optimus Prime.
* You Accept and Know this to be true? So Silence will fall when the big, bold, first question will be asked. The question is said to be in plain sight. So our big question is what is that question? Moffat likes to mess with mistaken dialogue a lot. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that when Robot Amy confronts River/Melody by saying “You killed the Doctor by order of the Silence, the Academy of the Question. You accept and know this to be true?” That it actually meant “the Academy of the Question: You accept and know this to be true?” As in You accept and know this to be true is the question in question, and the “this” refers to all of life.
This was River’s episode, and after I knew that, I loved it. When the red car came darting through the corn field I expected River to come out. I was surprised when she didn’t, then surprised when I found out that she really did. We had a lot explained, and next week we get to some creepy stand alone romps, which honest-to-science I am kind of glad for. I have some plot fatigue.
I have started listening to an excellent new podcast over the past few weeks. Listeners of Comedy Bang Bang will recognize the character Bob Ducca from his frequent appearances on that podcast. Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca has turned what I thought might have been a one-note character into a 5-day-a-week 3-5 minute dose of awesome. Seth Morris (the man behind Bob Ducca) is a comedy genius as far as I’m concerned.
Every weekday, Bob shares a story, gives us a health tip, responds to listener e-mails, or reviews a health product on the show. Every episode is funny, often in an unexpected way, like when Bob started recording an episode and got kicked out of the recording studio by the person who had booked it, or when his guided meditation turned into 2 minutes of the sounds of him removing all of his medical devices before he could begin.
I laugh out loud at this podcast more often than I do with any of the other comedy podcasts I listen to.
If you’re not listening to Affirmation Nation, check it out on iTunes or at Earwolf.com.
In Come On, God, Louie confronts a woman on about the morality of masturbation while appearing together on a Fox TV show. The two eventually form an unlikely friendship.
What’s nice about this episode is that the woman from Christians Against Masturbation isn’t portrayed as a hypocrite or as an idiot. It’s a pretty fair episode where really the only person who comes off as foolish looking is Louie…who masturbates chronically throughout the episode. And that’s really the strength of this show. Louie lets himself be seen with all of his flaws and in the most awkward of situations. It’s honest.
When I first saw the preview of 30 Minutes or Less, I knew I wanted the movie to be awesome. In fact, I was afraid of how awesome I wanted it to be. The cast looked amazing: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson. And the premise was ridiculous and a little violent: two weird, dumb, criminal, best friends, Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank so they can pay off a hit man to kill Dwayne’s lottery winning father to claim his inheritance.
Nick Swardson plays an unlikely straight man in his role as Travis, whose bomb making expertise is essential to the heist McBride’s Dwayne concocts after a money hungry stripper, Juicy, played by Bianca Kajlich, hints that she knows a guy who could get rid of his problem father and make them both rich. The only problem? Dwayne needs 100 grand to pay off the hit man and chaos ensues. Travis is somehow the voice of reason several times throughout the film, being a good person at heart and not really wanting to hurt anyone, yet still fearful of the strong and dumb minded Dwayne.
Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg also play a pair of best friends, Chet and Nick, respectively, since high school who are struggling as one has gotten his life together (Chet) and the other (Nick) is content in loserdom, delivering pizza’s and working for a total asshole. Nick (Eisenberg) is also hopelessly in love with his best friend’s twin sister, who just got a job in another state, sending him into a hopeless tailspin of self hatred that he projects onto Chet (Ansari) and after a particularly brutal fight, filled with harsh truths about their friendship, the two part ways. But their separation is brief after Nick is kidnapped, strapped with a bomb and realizes he has no one else to turn to but to Chet.
Both sets of friendships are put to the test in this intense and hilarious comedy, which, while it’s premise is about a dude who gets forced to rob a bank, it’s also about sometimes tumultuous friendships that develop and how in truth, you can tell when you’ve got someone in your corner, because they’re there when shit gets crazy.
The performances in this film are truly what make it work so well. While initially, Jesse Eisenberg delivers his lines with the same cadence and intensity as he did in The Social Network, he ultimately wins you over with the honesty of how his character got to where he is. Aziz Ansari brings the same, sharp tounged, wit that dazzles me to no end on Parks and Recreation, all the while bringing real emotion to the hesitation and liberation he feels as he helps guide his friend through a life or death situation. Nick Swardson and Danny McBride work so amazingly well as team, clearly headed up by McBride’s Dwayne. Their idiocy and uneven friendship work so well as their performances are, while brash and broad characters, still subtle and believable.
I wanted this movie to kick ass. I wanted it to be funny, and violent, and goofy and awesome. And it was. There’s even a little love story that includes Dilshad Vadsaria as Kate, Chet’s twin sister. So there’s a little something in there for everybody. I should also mention, the film was shot and set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was fun to spot the scenery I recognized. It also made me love the film even more.
30 Minutes or Less
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Swardson,
My Rating (On a scale of A to F): A
I watched the latest episode of True Blood and tried to write snarky comments…unfortunately I ended up getting really involved. I liked Ugly Betty too. I grew up on Days of Our Lives…so soap operas are in my blood.
Jason stopped Jessica from going out into the sun and she reacted aggressively. Hmm. My wife isn’t a morning person either.
I feel like it’s been a good dozen or so years since I’ve been this excited for someone to release a new album. Maybe the last time it happened was Gwar’s “Carnival of Chaos” in 1997, but I already had that before it came out. You guys do know I’m a very important person, right?
This was another amazing episode of Louie. I’m not sure where the show ended and real life began. It starts out with Louie on the set of a terrible sitcom called Oh Louie. The sad reality is that a terrible show like that would probably last a lot longer than Louis CK’s previous television venture Lucky Louie that was on HBO. Lucky Louie was pretty awesome.
If you’ve never seen True Blood this is what you’re missing. It’s a soap opera about vampires, werewolves, and witches set in a small Louisiana town. There are a bunch of story lines that run concurrently and they overlap in one way or another. It’s a show based on a book geared towards ladies, so to keep the guys interested there’s lots and lots of nudity.
Here’s what happened in this week’s episode. Oh yeah….this is all just basically one big spoiler…so if you give a shit about that kind of thing, then don’t read more. Also you should note that I like True Blood, but I also think it’s very silly and I don’t see much of a difference between it and Days of Our Lives.
21 minutes in and Anna Paquin just finally got dressed. There was a lot of fucking going on between Eric the Viking Vampire and Sookie the Silly Southerner. I think I may have seen Alexander Skarsgard’s penis neck.
This summer, I loved Harry Potter and I really enjoyed Thor, but Captain America is what I’ve been waiting for since I was 7. I am an unabashed Cap fanboy, and have been for as long as I can remember. This summer has been a countdown to Cap for me, and my wait finally ended this last night. Holy crap did I love this movie. Do not expect a blow-by-blow story breakdown or analysis of the finer points of technique. I am about to geek the fuck out.
This movie made me giddy, like I wish the Star Wars prequels had. Every frame on the screen was my childhood coming to life. The special effects were phenomenal, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear they starved Chris Evans and shrunk him to play skinny Steve Rogers. The shield slinging was so cool, which was important, because without it, this wouldn’t have been a true Captain America movie.
The character were all spot-on. Captain America has always been my favorite because he was just a regular kid who was given the ability to be a hero, and always knew the right thing to do and how to do it. They pulled that off perfectly. Chris Evans was awesome in the role, both as the determined, awkward weakling, and as the great hero. Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull was brilliant, too. He was evil, menacing, and not too over-the top. The Howling Commandos were great, though I wish they had mentioned them by name.
I didn’t mind any of the little changes they made to the original story, everything worked for me, and I think allowed them to tell a cleaner story, rather than having to explain a lot of unnecessary back stories.
There were some cool nods to the comics, too, like the way we first see Arnim Zola. The Stan Lee cameo was quick, but funny and didn’t take away from the story. The use of the comic style Captain America uniform was also a great nod, and made great sense in the context of the movie.
The only complaint I have is that the movie was over too quickly. As it was wrapping up, I suddenly realized it was about to be over, and very much wished it was longer. Also, don’t forget to stay after the credits. The post-credits sequence is awesome.
One final note, I have never been to a movie where I have seen more people wearing T-shirts featuring the character from the movie. There was even a little kid wearing a full Captain America costume, who had his picture taken with me because he liked my Cap costume hoodie so much.
I’m not a fanboy of the Harry Potter persuasion because I’m not a young adult that grew up with the books, a female fantasy fan nor a poser trying to lure a fangirl out of her Hogwart’s uniform. I am a certified fantasy nerd and will not reveal any spoilers for those that are too cool to read the novels, but Harry wins in the end as you should expect. Read a book.
I’ve read none of the books, but I have seen all the Potter movies to see what the fuss was about. Overall, they were decent but not moving. Owing to being a series for kids, I forgave them for not having balls – which for most of the characters hadn’t dropped yet. All the while, I’m waiting for Harry to come into his own and stop being a Harry Sue character – constantly protected from heroic sacrifice by magical creatures, competent adults and ugly red-headed sidekicks written as less important.
I watched Deathly Hallows part two directly after watching part one, I’m a vet of the Lord of the Rings Extended version – yes, my life is that empty.
Part one established a dark high stakes tone in the beginning with so many supporting characters deaths, then it winds down to a magical hide and seek scavenger hunt around the world with Hermione doing research. The cutaways to show the effects of the Death Eater take over where good, but too far in between. It has a slightly more dreadful feel than when the Republicans took the House.
Finally, there’s some magical intervention that gets things moving when they can finally start destroying horcruxes (horcruxi? whores’ crotches? Is that where Bellatrix was hiding them? That’s Lastrange.)
We learn what the Deathly Hollows are, but not why they aren’t the “Deadly Hallows”. These are English speakers, right? The story arch peaks with the death of the cutest character to date, more sadness then a tonal shift to “AW SHITTLEBERRIES! Now, it’s personal!”
Part 2 had the much more quicker pace that a finale should. Action, tension, action, tension – you know, like a movie. Voldemort is made gradually weaker with each destroyed horcrux with the backdrop being a magical war I’ve been much anticipating. Harry and Snapes’ relationship is fully revealed, which satisfyingly transforms our view of the headmaster. Our “hero” fated to save everyone is going to actually have to take one for the team, team being the world – about time.
Potter goes forth to die and is merely knocked out by a loophole in wand etiquette. This bothered me. Voldemort’s entire goal is to kill Harry, yet he doesn’t check the apparent body himself? He could feel whenever a horcrux was destroyed, but not this most important one in the series? That’s as dumb as a Jedi Chosen One taking a Sith Lord at his word.
Dumbledore’s ghost tells Potter he can stay in Heaven’s subway or go back and make sure all those deaths for his sake were’nt in vain. What kind of asshole would stay, especially when there’s a Weasley wet for him?
Harry survives. Neville Longbottom comes through amazingly, then Potter shows Voldemort how to kill an enemy. Flash forward: Harry knocks up Ginny and Ron does the same to Hermione, kids go to Hogwarts, the Circle of Life plays in your heart and the end.
So, again, somebody else makes it possible for Harry to succeed. Neville fills his shoes to destroy the last horcrux with Hermione and Ron serving their usual role as bait. As soon as Voldemort is mortal, it’s a done deal? Wasn’t he a badass before all this? There’s a likely stated reason for this that I missed in previous exposition, the point is I didn’t find Harry’s victory all the heroic, but I guess its par for the course.
These are a good pair of movies, and I’m sure emotional investment in the series will make it awesome, but for me it was worth the price of admission: $5 bootleg.
Okay, this wraps up two weeks of comedy albums. We go out with a bang from a Detroit power house. It’s time for Mike Green “Burnt”.
Mike Green is endearing and instantly likable. His joke writing is sharp as a blade. It’s hard to beat the amount of jokes that Mike squeezes into each sentence. I bet you’d be hard pressed to find one sentence on this album that doesn’t end with a punchline. Mike is the master of comedy efficiency.
My favorite jokes are “Strip Clubs” where he talks about gentleman’s entertainment with a real childlike view. Somehow he makes it sweet. I also really enjoy “D.U.I.” when Mike finds the humor in what in real life was what I can only imagine a pretty traumatic time in his life. That’s the therapeutic thing about Mike Green’s comedy and the educational speaking engagements he does at schools, Mike lets you know that what seems like the end of the world at the time, really isn’t, and that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
The disc ends with a musical mix from the show. I don’t know if it’s a secret or not, so I won’t name the name, but I pretty big time Detroit musician did that for Mike and it’s an oddly infectious groove!
I could’ve picked any album from today’s comedian, but I chose Louis C.K. “Chewed Up”.
The reason I chose this album over any of his others is simply because of the opening track “Offensive Words”. Louis deconstructs language with a passion like the great George Carlin. This album starts off strong and there’s something to be said about opening not only with such a weighty subject as taboo words, but having the confidence to know that you’re not going to lose the audience and you’ll be able to follow with equally strong material. Okay, granted, this was recorded with an audience probably made up entirely of Louis C.K. fans who knew what they were getting into by buying tickets for the show, but still…it’s harsh starting a set with exploring offensive words.
I love Eddie Murphy “Delirious” when he wraps up all the lose threads during his closing bit. When Louis hits “I Hate Deer” half way through his act and calls back to the opening, I was literally gasping with excitement over the sheer brilliance of his writing. “I Enjoy Being White” talks in a funny way about the white privilege that I wrote about on this site a couple months back.
Louis C.K. is arguably the most prolific comedian working today. He’s certainly a master of his craft. I strongly urge you to check out any of his albums. They’re all pretty amazing.
I unfortunately discovered today’s comedian only shortly before he died. Let’s listen back to Mike DeStefano “OK Karma”.
I heard Mike DeStefano first on the story telling podcast The Moth. It wasn’t until he appeared on the WTF podcast that I actively sought him out as a comedian. I’m glad I did. I can’t think of a comedy album that starts off better than “OK Karma”. DeStefano had a strong point of view and the confidence to back it up. Yeah, it’s not always politically correct. Okay, it’s hardly ever politically correct!
I think the line that sums up DeStefano best is in the track “Fake Optimism” when he says, “Some people think I’m dark. I think you’re too light.” Mike DeStefano was a punk rock poet/preacher and I’m bummed that there won’t be more wit and wisdom from him.
Okay, full disclosure, Bob Phillips is one of my closest friends in the whole world. Let’s take a listen to Bob Phillips “Live From Fargo”.
Bob is a cock sure single dad who knows how to weave in and out of the audience with an act that’s endearing at times, biting at others, but always engaging. I’ve worked with Bob probably more than I’ve worked with any other comedian and what’s great about this show is that the audience is hot and you can hear it in Bob’s voice how much fun he’s having. My favorite moments in Bob’s act are when he’s either talking about his kids or when he’s talking about the frustrations of being a single guy in his 40s.
My favorite track is “My Left Nut”. The greatest thing about this version is he manages to sneak a little bit of social commentary at the beginning. It’s a fun story that he tells and I’ve often wondered how much of it is real. I’ve always hesitated to ask, because I’ve sat in the chair from that bit!
Unfortunately Don Reese “It Came From Iowa” is not available on iTunes. It doesn’t seem to be available through his website either. If I remember right, he didn’t have it the last time we performed together either, but when I did a google search for an image to put with this review, I found this cover, which is not the cover of the CD I own. So maybe he’s printed more.
Don Reese is one of my all time favorites. Like Jackie Kashian from yesterday, Don is a big kid! I had the pleasure of working with him when I was going through a lot of self doubt, but watching him do a set of material where I could tell he loved each and every word that came out of his mouth renewed me with excitement for the craft of comedy.
Don is like the 10 or 15 year older version of me. Where I have a passion for Star Wars, Don loves old science fiction monster movies. You would never guess by his ominous head shot that hangs in every comedy club across this country, but Don is a giant lovable guy. Aside from the nerdy stuff, the thing that I enjoy most about Don is the fact that he’s super complimentary when talking about his wife on stage. That in itself was a bit of an eye opener to me when I was starting. Like Chad Daniels who I wrote about on the 20th of this month, Don Reese speaks about familiar topics without falling into any of the overused cliches. And that’s what makes him great!