Thursday, December 22, 2016

Midseason break

We're in the midseason break after all the "fall finales" - when did that become a thing, by the way? - and all of a sudden I have all this time on my hands since I'm not watching all the television.  We (both Mr. Mouse and I) have enjoyed Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Search Party and People of Earth and as mentioned here previously, I found Sweet/Vicious to scratch an itch I didn't realize I had.  Westworld was decent as well; the latest run of Black Mirror was excellent; and while I didn't love Luke Cage as much as I did Jessica Jones, I would still rank it higher than Daredevil's second season.

I've also been able to watch a couple of movies, neither of which have moved me to do full reviews here but each which at least merit a mention.

Guillermo del Toro's mismarketed and under-watched Crimson Peak was gorgeous, with amazing set design, costuming and atmosphere.  It definitely suffered from a lack of plot, I thought, and was clearly more of a Gothic romance than a ghost story as the movie's marketing team would have had us think.

I did enjoy Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.  I am not a Tom Cruise fan but he was pretty good here, a darkly funny Groundhog Day-esque sci-fi thriller in which the day the European ground forces are annihilated by the invading alien menace gets reset each time Cruise's character dies.  As the A.V. Club said, there was something satisfying about watching the guy get shot in the head over and over and over again.  And I put Emily Blunt's "full metal bitch" character up with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor as kick-ass science fiction movie heroines; she doesn't get the depth the other two do (plus they have multiple movies/a television series to build on) but she's pretty great.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Walking Dead S7E8 "Hearts Still Beating" 12/11/16

Here's me complaining again about these extended episodes ... why? why? why? why? Is it just to sell more advertising?  Because this episode, while it had two great bits, one good one and ended on a hopeful note, was clearly stretched thin to fill out the running time.  I'm going to try to be succinct here, especially since there's not a whole lot of compelling dialogue.

Hilltop.  Sad Maggie visits Glen's grave before climbing to a lookout post on the Hilltop wall. Whatsisname Gregory comes out and gives her shit about how all the Hilltopians seem to treating her like a hero after that night with the bonfires and the cars and the zombies.  He says don't let it go to your head; she's like, don't let it bother you - seems like it bothers you.  He's about to bite into a tasty-looking apple when another Hilltopian chimes in, "Dude, you know she's pregnant."  Gregory tosses the apple to Maggie who bites in with a little smirk.  [That's the good bit.  She's totally going to end up running that place.

Alexandria.  Negan showers, changes and makes spaghetti dinner.  He's very skinny without his leather jacket and he's hardly scary anymore.  He just talks a lot and taunts people mostly.  He makes Carl set the table.  Outside, Spenser hands over his crossbow and some of the cache he found to the Saviors, sucking up to them a bit.  Because he's a weasel.

Sanctuary.  Daryl escapes his box, finds someone's room (Dwight's, I think) and changes his clothes, snarfing down a jar of peanut butter as he goes.  He sneaks into the motorcycle holding pen and, when he is surprised by a Savior, beats the guy to death with a stick.  Daryl takes the guy's gun just as Jesus pokes his head around the corner.  The two of them take a motorcycle (or two, it's not clear) and sneak away.  I guess nobody really pays attention to much at the Sanctuary when Negan is out on a run.  It's pretty brutal what Daryl does to that Savior but he's had a rough time lately - it's understandable.

Pond.  Rick and Aaron find a bullet-holed dinghy and paddle through the gauntlet of floating walkers towards the houseboat.  The dinghy takes on water quickly; they get attacked by walkers and Aaron gets pulled under.  But he gets away, swimming unscathed to the houseboat while Rick manages to get the dinghy there.  They find a fair amount of food, a taunting note ("Hooray: you win but you still really lose") and a bunch of guns, but no ammo.  They cut the houseboat's mooring and drift to shore, then load up their truck and head back to Alexandria.

Kingdom.  Carol catches Morgan leaving some fresh vegetables on her porch.  He didn't intend to disturb her but she asks him in, just for a bit, muttering that people are having a tough time leaving her alone.  When he turns to go, Richard (?) is on the porch: he wants them to help him convince Ezekiel to rise up and fight against the Saviors.  He says, "Carol, I imagine that violence and fighting is something you haven't been a part of."  The looks on Carol's and Morgan's faces are fucking hilarious.  [That's one of the great bits.]  But they tell him no, they won't have any part of it: Morgan because he doesn't want to kill people and Carol ... because the writers are making her not want to kill people right now.  We all know that she's going to come around and kick all kinds of ass, but in the meantime we just get sulking.  Richard pouts and leaves.

Out on the road.  Michonne tries to get some information from the Savior driving the car: why were you out there alone, how long you been with Negan, etc.?  But the woman won't talk.  She drives to an overlook: down below are many, many people.  She says to Michonne that it's Negan down there, they are ALL Negan down there.  Then she turns off the car, tells Michonne to ditch it where she likes and that there's a silencer in the glovebox.  Next is a long shot: we hear a muffled pop, then Michonne slides over into the driver's seat and drives out of there.  I guess we'll never know why that Savior was out there alone - it had to be at least a little interesting, seeing how the Saviors never go anywhere not in packs.

Hilltop.  Enid reads people well and she picks up on the fact that Sasha is planning to kill Negan but is keeping it from Maggie.  Enid's like, what if you had help?  It isn't just you.  And while we in the audience know Enid is referring to Carl, Sasha doesn't and she's all, it sure feels like it's just me.  [And Michonne, and Rosita ...]

Alexandria.  Speaking of Rosita, Father Gabriel finds her in the chapel.  She feels alone after Abraham's death and she's willing to risk her life to take Negan's.  He tells her she's not alone, that the group needs her and that they will fight back - just maybe not today.  He asks her not to throw her life away.  She seems unconvinced.  In another part of town, Spenser cleans up and takes a half bottle of scotch over to Rick's house where Negan is holding court.  He weasels his way up onto the porch and they drink, and then later Spenser says the guy across the street has a pool table in his garage and they drag it out and start playing pool in the middle of the street.  A crowd starts to gather, Saviors and Alexandrians, watching.

Rick and Aaron arrive at Alexandria and the Saviors unload their haul.  Unfortunately, Aaron left that taunting note in one of the crates and the Saviors decide that he's being disrespectful.  Then they proceed to kick the shit out of him, although they don't kill him.  Back at the pool table, Spenser thinks he's getting on well with Negan and makes a play for Negan to get rid of Rick, who "has a history of not working well with others," and setting Spenser up as leader of Alexandria.  Such a weasel.  Negan may be crazy but he's not actually stupid - he knows Spenser is a weasel too.  So he takes out a giant knife and unzips Spenser's belly.  The guts LITERALLY spill out onto the ground.  Ick.  Ain't nobody going to miss that guy.

This obviously raises the tension in the general area.  The Saviors start waving their guns around; the Alexandrians - including Carl, Olivia, Rosita, Tara, Father Gabriel and Eugene - are shocked.  As Negan yammers on and on, Rosita can't take it anymore, hauls out her forbidden gun with its handmade bullet and fires it at Negan's head.  And even though everyone on this fucking show can take out a zombie with a pistol headshot from fifty yards away, she MISSES from a distance of ten feet, hitting Lucille (the barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat that Negan is all weird about) instead.  This of course makes him really crazy.  Rosita gets tackled, a knife held to her face.  Negan picks up the shell and wants to know who made the bullet. Rosita says she did.  He doesn't believe her and tells one of his Saviors to kill somebody.  Poor Olivia gets a bullet between the eyes just as Rick and Aaron stagger up.  Tara speaks up that she made the bullet.  Negan doesn't believe her either and is all about to kill someone else and then Eugene, terrified out of his mind, shrieks that it was him, he made it.  Negan believes him, so he bids Alexandria farewell, taking Rick and Aaron's scavenge haul with him (noting that it isn't enough) and also taking Eugene.  Guess we all know what Eugene's job is going to be at the Sanctuary.

When Michonne gets back, she finds Rick (who has been trying to process the fact that both his son and Rosita separately tried to kill their oppressor) and tells him that even though there are way more Saviors than they thought, they have to figure out a way to fight Negan.  Rick's all, yeah, you're right, we can't keep on like this.

Hilltop.  Sad Maggie visits Glen's grave before climbing to a lookout post on the Hilltop wall.  Then she smiles and yells to Sasha and Enid because someone has come to visit: Rick, Carl, Michonne, Rosita and Tara.  Everyone hugs and then Daryl and Jesus come out from around a corner.  And this is the other great part: the looks on Daryl's and Rick's faces as they walk to each other and embrace, Daryl burying his face in Rick's shoulder.  [God, I love Daryl.  Remember how sketchy he was at the beginning?]  And then this group all stands around and sappily smiles at each other before walking en masse towards the Hiltop mansion.  This is the group who will rise up against Negan.  They won't all survive, of course, but this is who'll do it (plus Morgan and Carol).

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Walking Dead S7E7 "Sing Me a Song" 12/4/16

Oh dear holy humping hell - why the FUCK are they doing all these extended episodes?  Negan talks and talks and talks and talks and fucking talks and a few other things happen around the edges but there is NO WAY that it merited 90 minutes.  I've bitched before that Andrew Lincoln/Rick isn't a strong enough actor to carry a whole episode.  Well, Chandler Riggs/Carl is soooooooooo not good enough an actor to lift so heavy a load.  At least Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Negan is around to talk and talk and talk and talk ....

Michonne goes out on her own.  She whistles to attract walkers, calmly slices their heads open with her sword and then drags them off.  From the bloody smears on the road, it's apparent that she's done this before.  Rosita drags Eugene off to that workshop he and Abraham found however long ago: she is going to force Eugene to make a bullet for her.  Spencer and Father Gabriel try to get them to come with on a scavenging run but Rosita is focused and tells Spencer to leave her the hell alone.  Spencer is too busy whining about how much Rick sucks to worry about her too much.

As the truck nears the Saviors' Sanctuary, Jesus tells Carl how to jump out of the truck and roll into the driver's blindspot so as not to be seen.  Carl's like, cool, you go first.  Jesus jumps out, rolls away and hides; Carl gives him a little wave and then fades back into the truck, picking out a choice semi-automatic rifle as he hides.  When the truck stops for unloading, Carl fires at will, killing two guys and shouting that he's only here for Negan.  Negan strolls up and Carl is quickly tackled, Daryl warily watching from behind a chainlink fence.

Negan decides that he will try to turn Carl to the dark side because it'll be fun.  He walks him through the complex, an old factory of some sort, showing off as people kneel before him, being benevolent as he promises fresh vegetables for everyone for continuing to follow the rules.  He shows Carl his harem - eight or so attractive women that Negan calls his "wives,' all wearing little black dresses, sitting in a fairly well-appointed room.  Dwight and Daryl stop by, having prepared a crudite tray (I shit you not).  Negan sends the two of them off to fire up the furnace and fetch a mop, then has Carl carry the crudite tray off to his private rooms.

Spencer and Gabriel drive and Spencer can't stop talking about how much Rick sucks.  So Gabriel tells him he's a shithead and that he's walking back to town.  Spencer: ???  Then Spencer hears something, runs out into the woods and finds a zombie - a former survivalist/hunter, still wielding a compound bow and stuck in a tree in a deer stand.  Spencer tugs the zombie out of the tree, collects the weapons and discovers a list in the dead man's pocket of all the supply caches hidden in the woods.  Score!

Negan talks and talks at Carl.  He makes the boy take the bandage off his wounded eye socket, makes Carl "sing [him] a song" while Negan dances around, swinging Lucille like a maniac, switching from menacing to cajoling to jovial on a dime.  Carl still has a little backbone in him but all he can do is tread water here, wondering WTF is coming next.  What's next: Negan brings Carl down to the furnace room.  Everyone is there, including a bound man ("Mark") who broke the rules and is due for punishment.  In this case, it's like how Dwight got punished: by having Negan press a red-hot iron into the side of Mark's face while he screams and then passes out.  Carl and Daryl trade quick looks, like holyshitomigoddidyoujustseethatpsychoshit.  Negan has made his point. I suspect the people living at the Sanctuary will toe the line, at least for a while.

At that workshop. Eugene doesn't want to enable Rosita in her seemingly suicidal quest to kill Negan.  She yells at him and says some mean but true things and repeats, over and over, "Make me a bullet."  Eugene makes her a bullet.

Negan talks and talks at Carl some more, then decides to take him back to Alexandria.  Just before they leave, Daryl is all, "If you do anything to [Carl] ..." and Negan's all, "Dwight, Daryl needs a time-out.  Put him back in his box for a while."  But while he is in his box, someone slips a piece of paper under the door.  There are some keys (?) taped to it and it reads, GO NOW.

Michonne has dragged enough walker corpses into a pile in the middle of the road that one of Negan's people (a red-headed woman) can't drive past.  Michonne ambushes her, taking her gun and her knife and forces her back into the car.  "Take me to Negan," says Michonne.

Back at Alexandria, Negan makes Carl take him to his and Rick's house.  Olivia is there, babysitting Judith.  Negan bullies her, makes her cry and then suggests that they go bone a while, just to pass the time.  Shocked, she slaps him in the face.  Negan just laughs, then leans in and tells her, "I am about 50% more into you now." He tells her to go make him and Carl some lemonade.  After she scurries off, he makes Carl take him on a tour of the house.  Carl tries to avoid his little sister's bedroom but Negan isn't to be put off.  He seems quite taken with the toddler, picking her up and cuddling her.  He and Carl sit on the porch, drinking lemonade, Judith in Negan's lap.  Negan is finding this suburban life all quite pleasant, actually, and he muses that maybe he should just kill Rick and Carl and move in.  Carl just glares daggers at him.

What, you ask, has Rick been doing all this time?  He and Aaron are out on a scavenging run.  They find a place with a big sign basically telling people to go away or they'll be shot ... and at the bottom, if they've read this far, then [the guy whose place it is] is dead and they can "have at it, assholes."  Rick and Aaron climb the fence and walk in, thinking they might find guns and ammo.  What they find is a pond with a houseboat moored in the center and dozens of walkers floating and moored around it.  Pretty clever, actually - still protecting the supplies, even after death.  Guess they'll go after it next episode.

I mean, I get all this.  Negan is an asshole, a sadist, an utter lunatic, but he verges on charming as well.  He's certainly the closest thing this show has to someone who is interesting - which is awful because he's a bad person.  But he's more interesting than Rick, certainly, so even though he is a crazy, scary, sadistic motherfucker, so he's almost becoming the main character.  I just find his schtick exhausting.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead