Category Archives: Television/Short Subject Reviews

Lessons From The Screenplay (Youtube Series)

I’ve only watched two of them (One on suspense and ‘Inglourious Basterds’, the other on creepiness and ‘The Shining’) but from what I gather they’re well-made, well-researched, and interesting…the analysis is intelligent without being smug, sort of “I want to talk, right down to earth, in a language that everybody here, can easily understand”.

Recommendation: Watch the ‘Basterds’ one first. If you like it, give the ‘The Shining’ one a look-see, then maybe try some more if you’re impressed.

The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide To Knife Fighting (6 Episodes, 2013)

Australia Australia Australia!

Python comparison: None, nowhere near as good.

KITH comparison: Pretty close at times, but not quite.

Best Guess Reference: ‘The Vacant Lot’.

Basically it’s a sketch comedy show/series that sometimes has themes reappearing later in each episode.

I can’t see hating it, nor can I see loving it. But it is quite tasteless, while at the same time being moderately amusing/entertaining.

Mildly recommended to fans of KITH, TVL, and general tasteless comedy.

Kung Fury (2015)

This is INCREDIBLY silly.

Pay no attention to the back story, or the main story.

Just watch as some guy battles rogue arcade games, Der Fuhrer and other nasty foes.

Personally, I find it stupid enough to be amusing at times. Other times, just stupid.

But it’s short…if you like sh1tty movies, why not give this sh1tty short film a try?

Grade explanation: Not quite top-shelf enough to qualify for a sh1t-C.

Inspirational Quote: “Knuck-les.”

Grade: D-

Junk (2011)

Narrated-in-rhyme short animated film.

Creepy tale about a kid who eats junk food, then gets into really junky not-food.

Very visually creepy, and gets pretty dark.

It seems to be affectionately made for someone…

It’s interesting, I think…and it’s short. Worth a watch.

Now let’s get a f@cken snack!

Grade: B-

Black Mirror – Episode 13 (Hated In The Nation)

Starts off as a murder mystery, seems fairly generic and mildly futuristic (not the bees!!!). One of the future “hints” becomes possibly relevant.

But this is a waste. I want ‘Black Mirror’, not ‘CSI-without-the-goth-chick’.

A waste of time (yours, mine, the crew’s, the actors’), a waste of a decent basic idea, a waste of the last ‘Black Mirror’ episode in the series.

It’s competent, sure, but that seems to be the baseline for these (thankfully). It’s a little creepy and dark, but that also…

Basically it’s a pretty generic and predictable whodunit. It’s not worth half an hour of your time, let alone one and a half. If you insist on seeing every ‘Black Mirror’ episode, it won’t hurt. But you won’t be surprised, at least nowhere *near* the level of BM’s best. You’ll be: “Oh…mmmm…ah!…mmmm…ohhh…that’s creepy…hmmm…ahhh…oh. That’s it?”

The story is basically about unpopularity having fatal consequences; internet based/related, of course. The government doesn’t give a fck about your privacy in the future. (Errr…I can stretch my imagination). The internet/technology are used for bad purposes. (Ditto).

I’m not underselling it…I LIKE this series. This is just a huge disappointment as the last (for now), especially after ‘Nosedive’ and ‘San Junipero’.

Guest Review: “No, no…stop that. It’s gotten mediocre. It started off with a nice little idea about grannies attacking young men, but now it’s gotten mediocre. Those characters are pretty badly made…time’s too long for a vicar.”

Really…it’s not worth more. Watch or don’t, it won’t mean anything.

Black Mirror – Episode 12 (Men Against Fire)

It was bound to disappoint after ‘San Junipero’, but I’m disappointed it disappointed this much.

At first, you see what seems like a well-run, well-organized, spotlessly clean black and white fascist dictatorship (notice the highstep) that is hunting monsters they call “Roaches”; protecting “Civs” and keeping their order.

There are some things you’ll notice (if you decide to watch) that are decent touches…but by this show’s standards, they’re mediocre at best. Competent.

You’ll form opinions, you’ll make guesses. It’s good enough for that.

But it’s just too predictable. The coldness gives way, in a way…but I’m never caught by surprise. I mean, I SEE the idea; the warning, the contrast, the slow change…but it’s done poorly. It loses its (potential) power because it doesn’t compel.

I mean, I actually had a ‘Wolf Raiders from VALNA STAR!’ (sp?) flashback to one (poorly directed) scene, but by that point…ha ha ha ha ha ha…

I WAS STUCK THERE!

Easily the highlight, for me, comes at the end of the ending credits.

Now THAT is ‘Black Mirror’ at its best. But it’s…ten seconds? Maybe fifteen? Hell, if you turn it off at the “end”, you might never see it. But is that worth watching the whole thing? *shrug* Even at his worst Brooker is better than some at their best, so…

Is that a great statement on Brooker or a sad statement on everyone else? Or who cares?

A tolerable but completely unnecessary watch.

Inspirational Quote: “We oughta burn the whole forest down, huh? Give those Roaches nowhere to run.”

11/30/16: I think I gave the credits too much credit. Oh well…it seemed clever for a while.

Black Mirror – Evaluation And Suggestion

The main thing that I like about ‘Black Mirror’ creator Charlie Brooker – besides the fact that he can write and direct well, making his episodes worth watching in the first place – is that his style is generally similar to Rod Serling’s, host of another show that Brooker’s has been compared to.

And it’s this: He doesn’t tell you what to think, he *makes* you think.

He writes (at least some) very powerful scenes, in episodes that CLEARLY *could* make a definite statement, that could say “This is right, that is wrong, and here’s why…”

Instead he makes them as “real” as possible, as impressive as possible, as emotional as possible, as POWERFUL as possible…and then, when he could take all of that and very cleanly and tidily (and simply, easily, commonly) put his opinion on it with an end that says “THIS is the point”…he doesn’t. He just lets it go, as it was, and you watch and wait for the comforting, easy-to-understand and easy-to-agree-with ending, and it never comes. It just…ends.

Because of this, you *have to* think; you have to wonder about the different points, the different emotions, the different viewpoints, the different meanings.

Is yours, eventually, what his is? Or what he thinks it should be? Or what he wants it to be?

Maybe, maybe not. But because he doesn’t TRY to force an opinion on you, you are forced to come up with one. And that provokes thought. And sometimes, that provokes some serious thinking and emotion, and opinion. But that’s the point: it’s YOUR opinion. It’s your emotional/intellectual analysis of what has happened and how you view it, from your perspective.

And thinking is a good thing. Thinking, feeling, considering. All of these are good, and often one or more are missing in many shows/movies…because it’s easier (and more commercial) to write something with a definite and obvious opinion behind it; to make it clear *THIS* is the right and *THAT* is the wrong, and here’s why.

By not clearly defining an opinion, by leaving that fairly ambiguous, it provokes YOUR opinion. It makes you think. And that is a very good thing, I think.

Message to Brooker: PLEASE, PLEASE write a movie.

I want to add something to my A List. I want to be blown away, inspired. You certainly are *capable* of doing it, as you’ve proven three times already.

Do me, and the the world, a favor: MAKE A MOVIE.

Spend a little more time, flesh out what would make a great episode, and make a great movie.

Black Mirror – Episode 11 (San Junipero)

Wow. Very impressive.

Hard to believe I would start off with that, the way this started…but I was wrong. You fooled me, I admit. Good job, and thank you.

My first notes seem irrelevant after watching the whole thing, but here’s a bit of it:

Low-key and convincing from the start. I buy the lead; the wilder cohort is decent. The former stays good, the latter…in a manner of speaking, gets better – just give her some time.

There’s a scene where – based on my perception of the story – I felt it TOTALLY lost it: completely out of character, focus lost, destined for mediocrity at best. Fortunately I was wrong…give it a chance.

It “recovers” (even before I accepted the gaffe as…acceptable?) and stays on course for a while. Parts are low-key, calm, sedate…tranquil, in a comforting way. The music, the backgrounds, the acting, the silences; seem to, for parts at least, slide into this state, this feeling.

The futuristic twist comes with about a third left, and is interesting…and quite a changeup. The state, the feeling…they seem to make sense now, totally, as at times before.

I said in a previous ‘Black Mirror’ episode review that “I wouldn’t ruin it for you”. In THIS episode, I mean it. Don’t read the summary before you watch it, just watch it. It will produce a real experience, I think.

Magic Card for this episode (in multiple aspects): “Tranquility”.

Near the end, there’s a fairly powerful speech, and a choice is made.

In keeping with recent posts, here is a movie clip.

FAIR USE: CRITICISM – A great clip from a good movie.

The choice made in the episode is FAR more difficult, but is has some relation.

Powerful ending. And perfect song. Watch the credits, too.

Truly touching, truly emotional. Truly…that is to say, REAL.

Like a deep puppy once said: these moments always come. They may be rare, they may be separated by huge gulfs of darkness and despair. But they are there, waiting for you if you wait for them. And that is worth living for.

Lots of deep thoughts here, potentially. And I can’t imagine making the decision made at the end, by the cohort. It’s made in the dark, and…somehow, as was wondered, TO ME…it cheapens reality.

If it MIGHT be as the cohort imagined…even MIGHT…I’d like to say I would decline. Fantasy or reality; how much can you live in the first, without making things in the second – things filled with pain, joy, sadness, love, hate…LIFE – meaningless?

Incredibly difficult, but…I would never cheapen the true emotions of my reality. No matter how tempting. And even if…well, it means a different, and total, end. The emotions and memories I have, that I cherish, are too powerful for that. Too real.

Inspirational Quote (from a book): “Our bodies are given life from the midst of nothingness. Existing where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase, ‘form is emptiness.’ That all things are provided for by nothingness is the meaning of the phrase, ‘Emptiness is form.’ One should not think that these are two separate things.”

Black Mirror – Episode 10 (Shut Up And Dance)

Interesting.

Better than 9, though nowhere near 8. Or 2.

Starts off harmlessly and normally enough.

The story seems more interesting; maybe that’s because it’s not expected to be anything as…”thrilling”? – no Ultimate Virtual Reality – and it keeps your interest, mildly, as it goes along. Mild but constant…and growing slowly, at least for a while.

Also, it seems quite plausible: it could happen. Today. (See “NSA”)

About halfway through it stops growing and starts fading. It tries to get more and more scary, like an action movie that just blows MORE and MORE sh1t up to try to stay “THRILLING!”…and it doesn’t, it just gets more implausible.

When it gets past that (when the hard part seems over), it gets back to being more human, more about human interactions and feelings and characters. And the ending is worth watching, I think.

Message: Never trust blackmailers.

Message Two: Noone is perfect…everyone is flawed. So “take great care” in what you judge, and who you judge, and how you judge yourself.

FAIR USE: CRITICISM – One of the best scenes from a very flawed but quite intriguing movie. Maybe I should re-visit it, in fact…

Inspirational Quote: “There’s no cure for the internet, it’ll never go away.”

Black Mirror – Episode 9 (Playtest)

*shrug* it’s…ok.

The first half – consisting of mediocre character development and totally un-gripping Basil Exposition – is worthless, except as setup.

I believe Tom Cruise sums my feelings up, to this point of the episode:

“What’s the point?? What’s the FCKEN point…”

Things start getting a little creepy in the second half (“the game”), but I mean…it seems uninspired, generic, completely devoid of impact. Like they scraped together bits here and there and patched together the-episode-after-the-really-good-one.

I would say “I won’t spoil it for you”, but there’s nothing really to spoil.

I mean, it’s kinda creepy, it’s competent, it’s obligatorily “dark”.

But there’s nothing here.

I thought this show was supposed to make you think? And feel? And care?

Inspirational Quote (from a Star Trek episode): “Where the laws do not operate, there is no reality. All of this, is unreal.”

Black Mirror – Episode 8 (Nosedive)

Take two.

Normally I only review ongoing series’ after they’ve ended, but in this case they made more after I thought they might be done. If I didn’t have any interest in the series, I wouldn’t bother, but I do (at least, did), so here goes.

A society absolutely dominated by mass-media in almost every aspect of one’s life. People don’t seem bothered by it, trying to escape it…they seem a seam (ugh) less part of it, and wanting to be accepted into the collective even more, and more…

Everything is enhanced to make grading others as easy and fast as possible. People seem either genuinely happy walking around spending as much time worrying about their grade/grading others as they do actually LIVING, or they do their best to appear so…for grading purposes, of course.

The best things that happen – either naturally, or more often artificially created or at least enhanced – are immediately captured on video/picture/text and uploaded to the collective, in the hope others will appreciate how good they are. This seems much more important than the actual things themselves…the joy of a moment seems to mean more as a way of gathering an up-tick in your rating than in actually ENJOYING the moment…sad.

Also sad that this is NOT totally “science fiction”. It’s science fact, in many ways. And some people probably can watch this and NOT see it as horror. But it is…this is a horror show of ‘Mean Girls’-as-society-ideal; the wonderful BEGINNING, of course…not the horrible, incomprehensible breakup of that ideal clique.

A lot of things are just down the road, sooner or later, if people continue to care more about what other people think than what THEY think, what THEY believe, and what THEY value.

Almost everyone is absolutely ruthless in pursuit of mass popularity…humanity is an afterthought to most, as are personal convictions, beliefs, opinions…’Mean Girls’ is baby-steps in comparison. Even genuine emotion mixes with fake, forced, artificial. It’s hard to tell the two apart…but don’t worry, soon it won’t be hard…it’ll be impossible.

Outliers remain, of course…but they just don’t GET IT…yet.

About two-thirds of the way through it lapses; it starts to explain everything you (For the Love/Lack of God, hopefully) already knew, as long as you were a non-computerized human.

“…no…NO…I…can’t…LEAVE.”
(emotions)

FAIR USE: CRITICISM – A great, powerful clip…and one that fits here, strangely enough.

There’s a slow decline, unfortunately. Terribly unfortunate: from near-perfect and rising, to human.

Oh well. Brave new world, indeed.

The outcome you know is coming…has so much potential.

I mean, 15 million merits of potential…

and…

hey…sort of, wow.

Great music, it builds (not as good as, but…) like ’28 Days Later’…and the emotion, you’ll find, isn’t so different.

The effects are very good and well-placed, the acting is convincing.

Great artistic touch when she looks up right before the end.

Very good ending; nothing maudlin about it…”there’s no vindication here, counselor. Or absolution, or benediction, or ANYTHING…”

Don’t miss the ending. It’s human.

Wow. It’s not ‘Fifteen Million Merits’, but it’s the first thing I’ve felt the excitement of NEEDING to post about in quite a while. I hesitate to praise it TOO much (perhaps two wows is a bit much), because the surprise of seeing something good after a lot of sh1t sometimes pushes the dial too high.

What’s my Alexa ranking now…F@CK THAT.

The best since 2.

Inspirational Quote: “You are just…too old to get it.”

P.S. – I enjoyed writing this…so it doesn’t matter if you like it, or not.

Dead Set – A Derogatorial

Almost-award-winning my a$$.

See ‘Dead Set – Episode 1’ for the only info (and episode) that really matters.

I read that Simon Pegg “disapproves” of the fact that these living dead run, not shamble like good old Romero zombies.

And my response is: What are you, a moron?

‘Night Of The Living Dead’ came out fifty flippin’ years ago. How long do you want people to re-create the same thing OVER and OVER again?

And since when was George Romero (f@ck the A) the “authority” on living dead? I mean, if a director/writer/idea-er’s first concern is “Is this Canon to Romero films?”, they’re either overly infatuated with Romero (a common failing…I’m split), or they are bereft of inspiration.

Which means that their “creation” will be either a redundant ‘Night’ imitation (because Lord knows we need more of those) or a sh1tty consumer-whoring tangent.

Dead Set – Episode 5

Things get intense…and more interesting. But it’s the END, and that’s the main reason for both.

Faint alliances form/are played briefly out.

An example of Chaos Theory: Even the smallest action – a word, for example – can have an eventual massive reaction.

Absurdly grotesque death scene…I don’t know if it was satire (?), ‘Dead Alive’ “humor”, or they just wanted to go out with some major blood and guts now that the necessity for a plot has ended.

Don’t care much for the ending. Generic. Yeah, I get the reference back to episode one. But the only thing THAT makes me think of is “episode one was pretty good, gave me some hope…oh well, generic “zombie” sh1t”.

If anyone tells you about the “overriding” message of the whole series, tell them it took WAY too long to tell it.

I can’t say it’s “bad”…not with the feeling it left me with. But I can say there is nothing after episode one that lives up to the promise.

For hardcore zombie/infected fans only.

Dead Set – Episode 4

An interesting tidbit: I don’t think I’ve ever seen an evacuation/rescue coerced in such a way before. It’s a nice touch.

But otherwise: the characters don’t have enough depth to make this interesting, the novelty is long gone along with the satire, the mini-stories go nowhere fast, and I’m looking forward to it ending.

Dead Set – Episode 3

The living dead don’t like water. I guess they didn’t see ‘Land’.

This is marginally better than two, enough to make me watch four, but I was waiting for it to end more than I was enjoying watching it. And I predict four will be JUST good enough to make me watch five. F@ck it, I’ll watch five anyway. But I think this was over after one.

Dead Set – Episode 2

Test: The novelty’s gone, the first-creation (GRIMMSY!) inspiration is gone. Will it stay any good?

Don’t know. This is a neutral bridge episode, at best.

Meaning if the rest is any good, you might want to watch. If the rest sucks, episode one stands as a good infected “short-film”. I’ll keep you posted.

Dead Set – Episode 1

A fast-moving dead people scenario unfolds along with an episode of ‘Big Brother (UK)’, until the two begin to collide more and more obviously and directly.

They’re not zombies: I classify them as “living dead”, rather en”rage”d.

In fact they act very much like ’28 Days Later”s infected, and are filmed in much the same way (by the real cameras).

The setup is about as “fresh” as you’re gonna get for this sort of thing (by now).

Not a comedy: a dark satire, in parts, perhaps. But mainly (so far) a horror show.

Acting is solid or better, effects are very good; it’s quite convincing, actually.

I like the female lead especially: because she’s cute, but also because her character is convincing and at least slightly noble.

There are five of these. Basically, if they’re all at least as good as this, you’ve got a really long new (if you haven’t watched it yet) decent zombie/infected movie to watch.

I’m actually quite glad and very surprised; it’s been a while.

10/18/16: After watching all of them, I can say that this episode should be regarded as a good “short subject”. Only hardcore zombie/infected/etc fans need go any further. Maybe the second half of episode five, if you must. I’d apologize but it’s not my d@mn fault and I’m probably as disappointed as any of you are.

Dead Set (One Season, 2008)

Basically this brief UK series shows the “real” life of some people on a real(ity) show as documented by a “real” crew who are actually all being filmed by a real crew.

Then the zombie apocalypse starts.

I don’t think I’ve seen that before. Not that I had any choice.

So a watching I go. Stay tuned…

Any good? Answer unknown, I shall analyze…analysis complete: insufficient data to resolve problem. See entry ‘Dead Set – Episode 1’.

World Of Tomorrow (2015)

I have a lot of admiration for Don Hertzfeldt.

This was, of course, met with universal acclaim.

But it’s no more meaningful – to me – than any other random generation of nonsense. Mixed with some sense.

How much of each? What PRECISELY for each? What music should play? What has to happen EXACTLY when to make it a five-star film?

Maybe Don Hertzfeldt knows the answers to these questions. But it’s a d@mn sure bet noone else does, and Don has already opined about the future before. Coherently.

I see no value in this; if you see the positive reinforcement near the end as visionary you need to get out more.

Upped a notch because I’ll assume Don isn’t just throwing random sh1t on the screen. But his rabid fans have jumped off the deep end if they meticulously analyze this. And they do.

This is as much a joke on artsy-craftsy excess and dumb mass acceptance of it as ‘Rejected’ was on consumer whore-ism and selling out to it.

Inspirational Quote: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Grade: D-

Same-Day Edit: Ok, I’m going to give Don all the benefits of the doubts. I’m going to assume that this was painstakingly pieced together from a large collection of ideas. I’m going to assume that there’s a purpose behind the order, the series of messages, all the different images. I’m going to give him credit for intentionally making most of this as odd and fantastic as possible so that the future-woman’s choice of the one memory she wants most to comfort her in the time she has left is a touching statement of enduring humanity. All that, maybe more. I’m going to assume all of that. The fact is, the “story” is still far too jumbled and incoherent: it simply is a poorly crafted mini-movie. And while I suppose it’s possible EVERY SINGLE THING about it was in fact meticulously formed to generate EXACTLY the reaction it has in me, to make me consider this and ponder that, etc…and it’s a work of perfect genius, I don’t think so. I think Don had some nice ideas and a good message or two, and just threw everything together and hoped it’d stick. Far too chaotic and – as noted – poorly crafted, this is crying out for a story editor or two. And a script consultant. And a continuity expert. And to those rabid wombats that suggest that any of that would be “artificial”, that this is “pure” in some way…well, so are my movie reviews when they’re scribbled notes in incomplete sentences, thought fragments, etc. But when I edit them it’s called “working for coherence so it looks better and people have a better idea what the fck I’m talking about”, not “selling out” or “destroying the pure, initial thought structure”. I even edited this…more than once! Oh well, I’m just another corporate bastard. Grade: D+

Paperman (Disney Short Film, 2012)

Review for people that think I’ve turned into an unrealistic softie:

Yeah, sure, it’s cute. So what?

As much as your hormones compel you to, and -even if- it was more than just hormones, and -even if- you knew you’d live happily ever after (which you don’t, and you won’t)…there’s nothing “real” or “romantic” about a “love” based on throwing away everything you have (literally) because you wanna fck someone.

Ask ‘Jenifer’.

I’m not jaded enough to think that’s the most common outcome.

But I’m not blindly, hormonally stupid enough to think this is, either.

Reality tends to be somewhere in the middle.

Positivists and Negativists are both just fooling themselves; realists have it right more often than not. And reality is somewhere in the middle, more often than not.

Accepting reality isn’t morbid or pseudo-gothically stupid (Negativists), neither is it everything-is-rainbows stupid (Positivists). It’s somewhere in the middle, NOT stupid.

“Do you like…these things…?”
“No, I don’t. But that’s life.”

Isn’t it?

AND NOW…

Review for everyone else:

“Fiction, Stiles. FICTION.”
“This is, reality-” *KNOCK KNOCK* “Hear that? REALITY.”

Godd@mn fcken right I’m a romantic.

“Romantic” has nothing to do with gender. As EVERYONE knows, plenty of people with male genitalia are romantic, and plenty of people with female genitalia are not. And vice versa. And who cares?

But sh1t like this just doesn’t happen, no matter what the storybooks say.

Even in ‘The Princess Bride’, which is as plausible as I could even -possibly- accept as possible, your “true love” (in *that* case; you have NO IDEA in other cases) doesn’t just blow you a kiss (accidentally) and you then live happily ever after.

Is it sweet to think of that feeling as you’re watching this with someone you hope you feel that way towards and feels that way towards you? Sure.

But are you likely to find them? I mean, really?

No. And wanting’s got nothing to do with it…because “deserve”‘s got nothing to do with it.

Yeah.

I mean, the feeling? Wanting to meet someone, and you both just KNOW you’re gonna spend the next 40 years together?

I’d like to think there’s nothing special or unusual about wanting that.

And watching this, and aching for it (the feeling) to be true, and last forever? Well…

“…Isn’t that what you want?”
“With all my heart and soul…but I haven’t found it yet.”

Grade: B-

Black Mirror – Episode 7 (White Christmas)

At Christmas time, two relative strangers (chatty-guy and quiet-guy) sit down in a deserted cabin and share stories. It flashes back regularly to these two as the stories go on, as they explain the backstory of each story and interact a little.

Story One:

Dating coach of the future (chatty-guy) can help in real-time…making dating apparently far more successful and far less real – but the thought-provocation THERE is: if it WORKS, and it gets two people together who REALLY DO CLICK beyond just sex…is it worse to be fake to get something real, or be real to stay alone?

Said question is made slightly more complicated by the twist.

A good one, which slowly morphs into…

Story Two/Story Three:

Brief tale of a woman trapped as a “cookie” version of herself and subject to the whims of chatty-guy. This goes nowhere fast and stays there for a boring while, until a transition to…

Quiet-guy as he used to be: apparently happy and MUCH different, with a woman he seems to love.

The happy relationship turns very much for the worse when the woman discovers she’s pregnant, and after a big argument she “blocks” him from her life (a real-life adaptation of the FB thing).

After a while there’s the twist, and then the focus goes squarely back to the two men.

Decent twists to end it all.

Overall: The setup through story one are first-rate, just a notch below episode two. The rest is second-rate, somewhat interesting but still at the bottom of the barrel for these.

Please, let it be re-inspired, or let it end.