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Friday, August 14, 2015

The Nicsperiment's End of Summer Movie and TV Show Season Mini-Reviews, 2015

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The summer has come to a close, and here are a bunch of two-sentence or shorter reviews of all the movies and TV shows I watched during its second half. You should read them because I didn't just subject you to something like, "Check out these hot takes!" as the Nicsperiment does not go in for fad phrases, though it does go in for non-sequiturs. Platypus.

The Americans: Season Three -- 9/10
More quiet, slow-burning intensity from this vastly under-appreciated Cold War drama of spy-work and familial disintegration.

Ant-Man -- 7/10
Good, goofy fun with a performance from Paul Rudd that hits just the right tone of "I'm taking this seriously, but not too seriously." Honestly, if they took out the small handful of profanities (which actually don't fit the tone of the movie), this could be billed as a "family film," and work just fine.

Bates Motel: Season Three -- 7/10
Norman Bates' slide down the slope to that Norman Bates grows ever steeper. The show grows darker by the second, and the performances between leads Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga are mesmerizing, but all of the over-dramatic subplots seem unnecessary in a show that will eventually end with a man killing people in the guise of his mother, while his actual mother rots upstairs in front of the television.

The Bronx is Burning -- 8/10 
Deftly combines traditional cinematic techniques with actual television footage from the summer of 1977 to dramatize a pretty crazy time in the history of New York City. The main focus, though, is the volatile relationship between New York Yankees manager Billy Martin and team owner, George Steinbrenner--John Turturro's performance as the troubled Martin is virtuoso.

Inside Out - 10/10
Pixar is a natural treasure, and their newest computer-generated film sits somewhere near their best, touching on deep wells of emotion that the majority of films geared toward adults can't come close to tapping. As much as I grumble about the death of traditional animation, I can't think of any traditional animation studio outside of Ghibli who has been this consistently great for this long.

Jurassic World -- 5/10
Entertaining about 50% of the time, but stupid 100% of the time. Dinosaurs are so awesome--why can't these people make a good movie about them?! (and how has this made so much money when it is sooo dumb?)

Justified: Season Six -- 9/10
Delivers anything long-time fans of the show could want on a character level, as well as one last jaw-dropping, quick-draw showdown.

Louie: Season Five -- 7/10
Louis CK drops pretty much all of the French New Wave filmmaker aspirations he had for Season Four, and delivers a short, humorous, but relatively lightweight and forgettable fifth season of his namesake show.

Mad Men: Season Seven - 8/10
A satisfying, if not mind-blowing final season of television that probably should have swung for the fences, but instead settles for a "life goes on" vibe, particularly in the series finale. That final episode doesn't match the near superhero origin story developed over the past six seasons for main protagonist, Don Draper--it's like the showrunner was scared to aim big and possibly fail, so was instead satisfied with just doing OK.

Menace II Society -- 8/10
It seems a bit aimless, but then that completely uncompromising ending hits and shines a new light on everything that came before, and just what kind of movie this is. Tough to watch, but worth watching.

Minions -- 5/10
Well, there's Pixar, and then there's everybody else, everybody else in this case producing silly dopey computer-animated films that can't hold a candle to the short films that open Pixar's features.

Rick and Morty: Season One -- 8/10
Finally, a successor to the first run of Futurama, but darker, more cynical and post-modern.

Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation -- 8/10
Outside of the first film in the series, which came out when I was a proud high school member of the Columbia House VHS club, I've seen all of the Mission: Impossible films once, usually in the theater, enjoyed them, and never watched them again. Number Five delivers all of the double-crossing, action mayhem, and escapist fun I desire from this series--not least because of Rebecca Ferguson's ass-kicking, Tom Cruise equaling performance--and has me re-evaluating and jonesing to watch the other four again.

Silent Running -- 4/10 
Despite Bruce Dern's best efforts, this movie is really, really, really silly.

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