What I Watched on TV in March

If there's one thing social distancing has been good for, it's for catching up on a lot of TV. Here's what I watched last month, and I imagine April will be full of shows as well.

The Outsider

Talk about going out with a fizzle. I still really liked this season but I was not impressed with the finale at all. The way the entire finale was shot made all the sets look so cheap and it was confusing for no apparent reason. Why did Holly say "Who's Terry?" When did she get scratched? wtf is going on?

Mcmillions


I loved the last episode of this where they talked about who the informant was. This was really interesting. HBO has been killing it with documentaries lately.

Better Call Saul

I'm getting so frustrated with Kim's story so far. She's one of my favorite characters and seeing her make these horrible decisions with her job and bringing Jimmy into it when you know that shit is going to backfire is just hard to watch. Then when she finally tries to stop it, and Jimmy shows his true colors, she proposes marriage....what?!?!

Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

This was another documentary I found on HBO about a 12 year old boy who was murdered in his own home and how the police focused on his mother's ex boyfriend, Nicholas Hillary. Why him? Because he was guilty of being black in a mostly white area. This was interesting because it's still asking that question. Who did kill him? Not Hillary, who we watch get completely rail roaded but still continue to fight his way through. They do slightly hint at another man possibly being responsible, but they didn't elaborate on it much. I had to fall down a reddit rabbit hole for that.

The Boys

I finished this at the beginning of the month, but now towards the end I'm struggling a bit to even recall parts of it. It was fine, but it's not something I'm dying for the second season.

Westworld

After last season was so underwhelming the first few episodes (minus that awful D&D cameo) have been really promising! Many questions haven't been answered yet, but they have my attention.

The Plot Against America

We're only a few episodes in on this one as well and honestly, it's like watching the 2016 election all over again. Horrifying. Great cast and production design, but horrifying.

Insecure

I finally got around to watching this show after putting it off for ages and it's so funny. It absolutely stresses me out about dating though. Is that what it's really like now? I love all the ups and downs Issa and Molly have though. Easily becoming one of the most interesting female friendships on TV.

The Dark Side of the Ring

I've been an on-off wrestling fan my entire life, and I had forgotten that Vice had this series to begin with. To kick off their second season, they went back to arguably the darkest time in professional wrestling history with the Chris Benoit murder/suicide. I thought it was very well done, they had interviews with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, etc and they talked a lot about how Eddie Guerrero's death affected them. They even interviewed Benoit's son from a previous marriage (though they inexplicably pretend his daughter doesn't exist. Maybe that was her choice not to appear but it was so strange) I liked it enough to go back and try to find some of the earlier episodes from last season online. I watched the one about The Fabulous Moolah, who I've never been able to look at the same since hearing about those stories years ago. Hopefully I can find more.

Thursday Movie Picks: Seven Deadly Sins - Greed

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is another Seven Deadly Sins edition! This week we're talking about greed. There's plenty of that going on in film so here are a few of my favorites.

1) The Wolf of Wall Street

Can you get any greedier than Jordan does in this film? I'm not sure but this is one of Scorcese's best and is the film Leonardo DiCaprio should've won his Oscar for.

2) There Will Be Blood

Daniel Plainview is so greedy that he'll take all your land to drill oil on AND drink your milkshake too.

3) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

This documentary follows one of the biggest corporate greed scandals of all time. Kevin recommended this to me long ago and I'm glad I watched it as it's one of the most fascinating documentaries I've ever seen.

Review: Lost Girls

They deserve answers

Based on a true story, we follow Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan) whose daughter Shannon (Sarah Wisser) goes missing while working as a prostitute. On a coincidence, police uncover several bodies of other missing sex workers but refuse to take Shannon's case seriously even though she's checking many of the same boxes. Mari is forced to take things into her own hands and press for answers.

It's a sad reality we live in that people treat sex workers as less than. The cops in this movie (and in real life) are a special kind of inept at their job. They lose evidence, don't take anyone seriously, and refuse to search basic areas. It's frustrating, and if this were fiction, Mari would swoop in and single-handedly save the day.

But it isn't fiction. This really happened, Marie doesn't get her answers easily. In fact she doesn't even get all of them. The film doesn't make anything more straightforward for the benefit of entertainment. It very plainly tells it like it is. In regards to the real thing, the film does take some liberties. Mari technically had four daughters, her daughter Stevie is omitted and daughters Sherre (Thomasin Mackenzie) and Sarra (Oona Laurence) are aged down to teenagers. 

Amy Ryan has always been good at playing these "hard" type of characters. She's good here, but it's not a huge stretch from her other work. The standout for me was Thomasin Mackenzie, Sherre is the audience's eyes. She has insight to Shannon, she questions her mother and immediately grows found of the group of woman who lose their sisters, daughters, and friends. She also comforts Sarra, who is greatly affected by all of this.

Which brings me to the end of this movie. I suppose it's not a spoiler because this is a true story, but I did not know anything about Mari Gilbert before watching this and it's absolutely horrifying what happened to her after the events of this film. I'm honestly at a loss for words, it's not the first time I've had the text at the end of the movie surprise me, but never as much as this.

For a Netflix film, I think this is a solid watch. It didn't blow me away, but it didn't bore me either. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I will not be silenced." - Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan)

Indie Gems: Love, Antosha

A look into a life cut short.

Through plenty of home footage and interviews with both his parents, his friends, and several co-stars. This documentary explores the short life of the extraordinary actor, Anton Yelchin. It follows his start in the business, his private battle with cystic fibrosis, and his many hobbies including photography and music. The title of the film comes from how he would sign most of the letters he wrote to his mother. 

Anton Yelchin has always been an actor I loved to watch. And when I read about his death in 2016 I was shocked. It was so random and cruel, but one thing this documentary made very clear was the love for him radiating off of everyone who participated.

His parents especially showed a lot of courage here. It can't be easy talking about the loss of your only child, and it was very clear how much Anton loved and admired his parents too. I loved the little stories some of his co-stars like Chris Pine and Jennifer Lawrence told. Anton seemed like a very deep individual who had some very interesting side hobbies. It's impossible to leave this film with only one emotion. I was mixed with sadness, amusement, and even more interest in catching a few of his films I haven't seen. 

If there's one thing I didn't like about this, it was the overuse of home video from when he was a child. I find home movies in general so awkward to watch, no matter who they are of. It just feels so awkward and I was grateful when we moved past that part of it.

Anton fans out there, this one is for you. It's available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I'll always dance with my mother." - Anton Yelchin

Kid Shows I'm Being Forced To Watch

How's social distancing going for everyone? How are my fellow non-teachers adjusting to now being official homeschooling parents? It's been an interesting couple of weeks. While I've been fortunate enough to work from home, my 8 year old has been watching a plethora of garbage while I'm doing my job. I thought I'd share my observations for the shows he's choosing to watch right now.

1) Boss Baby: Back In Business - Yes, there's a Boss Baby series on Netflix and my kid has watched all three seasons more than once. He loves it. He says it's "funny" and I cannot for the life of me understand why. I will say the voice actors are pretty good at sounding like the ones they got for the movie, and I suppose I should credit this show with helping him understand the concept of "seasons" but this is unbearable every time it's playing when I'm in the room.

2) We Bare Bears - I'm not going to lie, this show is pretty amusing. It's on Cartoon Network but all the past seasons are also available to watch on Netflix. This is one of those cartoons like the Amazing World of Gumball where you can tell the creators were children in the 80's/90's. It just feels more balanced on being good for kids, while not driving adults my age insane. I appreciate this.

3) Teen Titans Go! - I hate to admit it but this show is growing on me. I feel compelled to hate it because the Teen Titans cartoon that aired in the early aughts was really good but I'd be lying if I said this show didn't make me laugh out loud several times.

4) The Angry Birds Movie 2 - They must pay these actors well because I cannot believe they're all in something as painfully unfunny as this movie.

5) Trolls: The Beat Goes On - Yes, Netflix also has a Trolls series that has gone on for EIGHT SEASONS. My son had a big ol' crush on Poppy when the movie came out and even though he insists that's not the case now, I'm sure that's why he watches it. 

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Docu-series

It's another TV week at Wandering Through The Shelves and this theme is one of my favorites - docu-series. This is my favorite way to consume true crime in media. I know plenty prefer podcasts but I like this format. Here are three docu-series that I highly recommend

1) The Staircase

I believe this one is available on Netflix now, but when I watched it years back, someone had uploaded it to Daily Motion. It follows Michael Peterson who is accused of killing his wife. This case is so bizarre, on the face of it, you think he has to be guilty but after watching this doc go look up the "owl theory." It's either the greatest reach of all time or the answer to everything depending on where you land.

2) The Keepers

Making a Murderer is probably the most popular true crime series Netflix has to offer but I always suggest giving this one a watch. The frustrating thing about it is that I feel like this case will never get solved and that's awful because Sister Cathy deserves more than that. 

3) I Love You, Now Die

This is a fairly new one from HBO but I chose it because it actually changed my mind on the case. It follows one you've probably read about, a girl who was tried for manslaughter for egging her boyfriend on via text message during his suicide. I'll admit, based off the articles I read I judged this girl but the case is so much more nuanced than that. 

Review: Miss Americana

You're the only one of you.

This documentary follows singer/songwriter Taylor Swift over the past handful of years, particularly through the writing process of her album Lover.

I suppose if I had to put a label on myself regarding Swift, I'd classify myself as a former fan. I really enjoyed her first three albums. I'm not a fan of country music, but I liked her poppy-country sound. When she went full pop, I just wasn't as into it and chalked it up to me just getting older. I'd like a single or two - like 22 from Red, but otherwise I'd say my opinion of Swift for the past few years has been lukewarm at best. The phony squad thing, the Kimye drama (and boy that took an interesting turn last week, didn't it?) Because of all that I wanted to see how someone like me would take this documentary.

I actually enjoyed it overall. One thing I'd never take away from Swift, even if I'm not into her music anymore is the fact that she writes her own songs. They might sound repetitive at times but she still puts in the work and plays her guitar and piano and that's far more than a lot of other singers can say. I liked seeing her songwriting process. Though I felt a bit strange that she would say she has "no one to share this with" when she won her second album of the year Grammy after they had just showed us a decent amount of footage of her working with a sound mixer who helped build her lyrics into a fully realized song. If anything, the only negative thing I could say about this is how privileged Taylor is, but she grew up rich. Rich and wanting to be the "good girl." It's probably normal of her expecting to get nominated for Grammys at this point, then being disappointed when she found out Reputation got none.

I had sort of expected this to be about Taylor the victim but it was really honest and was just about her trying to find her voice in the industry, understanding that she doesn't always have to beg for that approval and stand up for her beliefs. I really liked the parts where she talked about being afraid to tweet about politics but feeling as if she couldn't stay silent anymore. It's nice to see someone with a platform realize they should use it for good. I walked away from this documentary not thinking she's a massive wolf in sheep's clothing, but just that she's a complicated person like the rest of us, only in a massively different situation than most.

And what I've heard from Lover is far better than anything I heard from Reputation so hopefully she's proud about writing a better record.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I'll just write a better record." - Taylor Swift