Indie Gems: Permanent

Middle school is hell. 

Aurelie (Kira McLean) is about to attend a new school and wants to get a perm. Her parents, Jeanne (Patricia Arquette) and Jim (Rainn Wilson) are tight on cash so she goes to a hair school and it goes horribly wrong. On top of Jim fretting about med school and Jeanne being kind of a spaz, Aurelie is at an awkward spot in life.

Whenever I rent an independent film from Netflix, I always make sure to watch the trailers. They usually have something that never got on my radar and Permanent is one of those films. 

The best way to describe it is "cute." It's nothing mind blowing. It falls victim to one of the most annoying tropes out there - over the top bullying - but McLean, Arquette and Wilson have wonderful chemistry and watching their family antics was a decent way to spend the evening.

I don't think you need to rush out to see this, but if it ever streams on Netflix or another platform, give it a go. 

Grade: C+

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "If you try to please all the dipshits of the world you'll be in an elevator going straight down." - Jim (Rainn Wilson)

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Spies

It's another TV edition at Wandering Through the Shelves and this week we're talking about spies. There's a decent amount of shows that are specifically about spies, but I wanted to think a little outside the box this week.

1) 13 Reasons Why

Tony was a semi-spy, watching Clay and making sure he listened to all of Hannah's tapes. Sure, he wasn't reporting to anyone but his creeper game was pretty strong. This series, though it dragged a bit was really good and was there for me during a really tough time. I'll always have a soft spot for it. 

2) Waco

This excellent mini series that aired earlier this year had a spy in Jacob Vazquez, an agent sent as a plant to get a look inside a cult. Of course, no one listened to him and know what happened.

3) Agent Carter

Now for a show where spies were a focal point. I absolutely loved Agent Carter and I cannot believe ABC cancelled it. Seriously? With all the other trash they air? This show was awesome. 

Review: Sorry To Bother You

Did I catch you at a bad time?

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is hard up for money and starts a new job as a telemarketer. Alongside his girlfriend Detroit, (Tessa Thompson) his friend Salvador (Jermaine Fowler) and their coworker Squeeze (Steven Yeun) they attempt to make a stand for more pay, but Cassius learns the secret of being a good salesman and ends up rising to heights he never thought possible.

This review is going to be spoiler free. The less you know before going into this, the better. I will say that it is an absolutely batshit ride. 

This movie landed on my radar long ago because of Steven Yeun, now that he's free from the dumpster fire that The Walking Dead has become. Back then, I wasn't really sure what this film was going to be about. This is one of the most original films I've seen all year. It's a comedy, social commentary and horror movie all put in one. Part of it almost plays like an episode of South Park. 

Stanfield is a wonderful lead. I liked that even though Cassius goes against his friends' wishes at various points throughout the film, there wasn't a dramatic fight or over the top tension like some films would tend to go. Everything is very mellow. The cast has wonderful chemistry together. There's plenty of things in here that anyone who has ever worked in a call center would appreciate. This film is also extraordinary in that I didn't think Armie Hammer was terrible. I'm not sure that's ever happened before. 

I wish I could say more about the plot, but you really need to see this. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable quote: "Fuck you, pay me!" - Salvador (Jermaine Fowler)

Rambling TV: American Crime Story - The Assassination of Gianni Versace

It took me way to long to watch the first season of American Crime Story. It was damn near perfect in covering the OJ Simpson trial. So I knew I had to watch season two right away. 

Season two follows serial killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) as he kills world famous fashion designer Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramirez) and three others. Versace's name may be in the title, but this is really Andrew's show. The way he probably would've wanted it.

I don't think I'm going to be able to see Criss as anything other than Cunanan again. He officially has one of the most punchable faces on the planet after this. He's just good. So is Ramirez. Penelope Cruz, who got a lot of hype playing Donatella Versace was surprisingly one of the weaker acting links, which I never would've expected.

Unfortunately unlike season one, the way they told the story didn't work for me. The first episode was Versace's murder, which I think was the right thing to do, the second episode followed the aftermath, another great choice. Then they started to get into the "why" of Cunanon's psyche..and they tell his story ass backwards. I hated this gimmick, because it made the middle episodes slightly confusing. There was a time when I went to my DVR to start one and I actually questioned whether or not I had seen that particular one already because they replayed scenes from the week before. I think they would've been better off starting with the beginning of Andrew in episode 3, and building up to where he got with Versace. Showing his murders backwards didn't help the narrative. 

Production wise, this show is gorgeous. It's bright, well edited, and so sharp. The acting as I said was wonderful, I just wish the episode order had been changed.

Did you watch season two? What did you think?

Thursday Movie Picks: Bad Parents

I think we've all been there with this week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves - bad parents. When you're a kid at some point you've probably thought your parents were the worst. But do they have anything on the parents in these three films?

1) Matilda

As soon as I read this topic, Matilda instantly came to mind. Her parents were so shitty that she some how got telekinesis as a coping skill? How else do you explain that? I really like this film, even though it made me not eat chocolate cake for years. 

2) Mommie Dearest

This film is so over the top and always good for a laugh, but I forever hate the Razzies for nominating Mara Hobel for Worst Supporting Actress. She was a kid, and she wasn't that bad. Fuck them. Back on topic, according to this Joan Crawford was a shitty mother. 

3) Happiness

I caught this on TV again recently and it really is one of the most disturbing films I've ever seen. While the other parents on this list yell and hit, Dylan Baker's father takes all of that to another level and ends up being one of the grossest characters in the history of cinema. He really took a risk with this role. 

2018 Blind Spot Series: A Streetcar Named Desire

What I knew going in: Nothing, really. 

Blanche (Vivien Leigh) travels to New Orleans to visit her sister Stella (Kim Hunter) after her property is seized. It's clear she's stressed and accustomed to living a certain way. Stella's husband Stanley (Marlon Brando) only seems to make things worse during her stay. 

This was another pick that I went off mostly by title. I've never seen nor read the Tennessee Williams play this is based on, so it was all new to me. The heaviness of it surprised me. I feel like the majority of classic films I've seen don't have the emotional weight that more films nowadays do. 

The actors are outstanding, especially Vivien Leigh who absolutely steals the show here. I think Blanche is written very sympathetically. At first glance, she could seem stuck up and naive but all I wanted was for good things to happen to her throughout. It made me wish someone would've just sat down and had an actual conversation with her. Brando's Stanley was a massive asshole and he played him perfectly. 

I kind of wish this film had been in color. The sets looked so beautiful on their own that I think this would've really complimented it. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable quote: "I don't want realism, I want magic!" - Blanche (Vivien Leigh)

Rambling TV: The End of the F***ing World

Speaking for myself, sometimes I find Netflix's tv options a bit overwhelming. There's just so many things to pick from and some look like trash. Thankfully every now and again you'll find a gem of a show, and that's what I found in The End of the F***ing World.

Based on a graphic novel that I have not read, this 8 episode series is a quick watch. (Seriously, the episodes are around 25 minutes each) and it follows two teenagers, James (Alex Lawther) who is pretty sure he's a psychopath. And a new girl at school Alyssa (Jessica Barden) who talks him into going on a road trip with her to find her real father. 

What caught my eye were the two leads. Lawther was tremendous in an episode of Black Mirror (Shut Up And Dance) and Barden I recognized from the wonderful Hanna.  Since it was so short, I ended up watching the entire season in one night. They were excellent. 

The show is very different. It's mostly a dark comedy. Some pretty awful things happen, but the mood is kept fairly light due to the laid back nature of our leads. I'm a sucker for narration in stories and this is one that gets multiple narrations right.

I don't know if this will get a second season. With the leads already being in their early 20's I'm not sure if this is something they could do long term, but I'd definitely watch a season two if they made it.

Did you see this? What did you think?

Indie Gems: The Insult

I'm sorry.

Tony (Adel Karam) is a Christian in Beruit who gets into a row with a contractor and Palestinian refugee, Yasser. (Kamel El Basha) When Yasser insults him, Tony takes him to court and the complicated case blows way out of proportion. 

I'm quite ignorant of the conflicts between Palestinian and Lebanon. All of that was new to me and that's one of the things I love about foreign films. You learn new things, even though this is a fictional account.

Karam and El Basha were both wonderful in their roles. You find it easy to be on Yasser's side given the circumstances but Tony isn't a character that you can exactly hate either. They've all gone through things, and had they not been in that fight, or had those prejudices, they would likely get along.

I love courtroom dramas and this one did not disappoint. It's very worthy of the Oscar nomination it received this year. If I had one complaint, I thought the use of flashbacks was kind of sloppy. I'm sure they were going for a disjointed fever dream type presentation but it just felt very jarring with the rest of the film.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Let your daughter speak." - Judge Colette Mansour (Julia Kassar)

2018 Emmy Nominations

The Emmy nominations snuck up on me today. For some reason I thought they were on the 16th. As usual, the Emmys are a weird bunch. Here are the main nominations plus my thoughts. 

The Americans
The Crown
Game of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
Stranger Things
This Is Us
It feels like an eternity since Game of Thrones was on the air. This is exactly what I figured the drama nominees would be. It's a good bunch, though I'd personally throw Mr. Robot in there. 

Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
BARRY?! That's a shock to me because I tried to watch it and found it to be incredibly boring. Shows like Atlanta and GLOW are ones that are on my current watch list.

The Alienist
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Genius: Picasso
Patrick Melrose
No Waco is disappointing, but I'm glad to see The Alienist here. 

Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve”
Keri Russell, “The Americans”
Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld”
Claire Foy! This is a strong list of nominees. Moss won last year but I'm hoping Foy takes it this year. It would be the perfect send off for her final season of The Crown. 

Jason Bateman, “Ozark”
Sterling K. Brown, “This is Us”
Ed Harris, “Westworld”
Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
Milo Ventimiglia, “This is Us”
Jeffrey Wright, “Westworld”
I'm glad to see Wright and Harris here for Westworld. I tried watching Ozark but I never made it past the 6th episode or so. It didn't work for me. I wish Rami Malik would've been nominated for Mr. Robot. 

Jessica Biel, “The Sinner
Laura Dern, “The Tale”
Michele Dockery, “Godless”
Edie Falco, “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers”
Regina King, “Seven Seconds”
Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story”
The only one I've seen here is The Tale and Dern was outstanding in it. I'm in her corner. Really disappointed Dakota Fanning didn't make it in for The Alienist

Antonio Banderas, “Genius: Picasso”
Darren Criss, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “Patrick Melrose”
Jeff Daniels, “The Looming Tower”
John Legend, “Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert”
Jesse Plemons, “USS Callister: Black Mirror”
I knew Darren Criss would be here and he'll probably win. Jesse Plemons is a nice surprise as well, but I hate that Daniel Bruhl and Taylor Kitsch missed out. If John Legend wins he'll complete is EGOT which is exciting. I kind of want him to win on that basis alone. 

Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Allison Janney. “Mom”
Issa Rae, “Insecure”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”
I don't watch any of these, but Insecure is on my watch list. 

Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Ted Danson, “The Good Place”
Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
Bill Hader, “Barry”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game Of Thrones”
Peter Dinklage, “Game Of Thrones”
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Matt Smith, “The Crown”
Joseph Fiennes, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
It's about time Nikolasj Coster-Waldau got a nomination. He should've had one for season three of GoT. I'm happy Joseph Fiennes is in here too. If anyone ever wonders why people don't leave abusive relationships, please watch how Fred treats June on The Handmaid's Tale. It's one of the most realistic depictions of an abuser I've ever seen. I wish Noah Schnapp would've gotten in here for Stranger Things. Harbour is great, but Schnapp is so underrated. 

Lena Headey, “Game Of Thrones”
Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”
Vanessa Kirby, “The Crown”
Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Alexis Bledel, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Holy Handmaid's Tale, Batman. I'm so happy Stahovski is in here. She was outstanding this season and it's a huge surprise to see Vanessa Kirby as well. I'm going to miss her on The Crown. I'm always happy to see Lena and Thandie here too. Millie Bobby Brown I still think is massively overrated. 

Brian Tyree Henry, “Atlanta”
Henry Winkler, “Barry”
Louie Anderson, “Baskets”
Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”
Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Kenan Thompson is not a name I'd expect to see here. Good for him!

Zazie Beetz, “Atlanta”
Laurie Metcalf, “Roseanne”
Aidy Bryant, “Saturday Night Live”
Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”
Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live
Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Megan Mullally, “Will & Grace”

Jeff Daniels, “Godless”
Brandon Victor Dixon, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert”
Ricky Martin, “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Edgar Ramírez, “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Finn Wittrock, “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Michael Stuhlbarg, “The Looming Tower”
John Leguizamo, “Waco”
I'm not sure which is the bigger joke here. Ricky Martin for Versace, where he did jack shit. Or Leguizamo for Waco where he did jack shit? I don't see how voters landed on him out of all the other Waco nominees. Rory Culkin and Paul Sparks had far more to do than he did. 

Adina Porter, “American Horror Story: Cult”
Letitia Wright, “Black Museum (Black Mirror)”
Merritt Wever, “Godless”
Sara Bareilles, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert”
Penélope Cruz, “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Judith Light, “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
Letitia Wright! She's my favorite nominee here. I'm surprised Judith Light went in supporting instead of guest.

F. Murray Abraham, “Homeland”
Cameron Britton, “Mindhunter”
Matthew Goode, “The Crown”
Ron Cephas Jones, “This Is Us”
Gerald McRaney, “This Is Us”
Jimmi Simpson, “Westworld”
Jimmi! I love him. So happy he got a nomination here. I'm also happy for Matthew Goode. He was great in The Crown. 

Diana Rigg, “Game Of Thrones”
Cicely Tyson, “How To Get Away With Murder”
Viola Davis, “Scandal”
Kelly Jenrette, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Cherry Jones, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Diana Rigg should win for saying the line "Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me." alone, but it's absolute bullshit Karin Konoval was looked over for her guest episode in The X-Files. Say what you want about the quality of this season but she was outstanding in it. Aside from Samira, those Handmaid Tale guest nominations are really strange. 

Wanda Sykes, “black-ish”
Tina Fey, “Saturday Night Live”
Tiffany Haddish, “Saturday Night Live”
Maya Rudolph, “The Good Place”
Jane Lynch, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Molly Shannon, “Will & Grace”

Katt Williams, “Atlanta”
Sterling K. Brown, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Bryan Cranston, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”2
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Donald Glover, “Saturday Night Live”
Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”

“Fahrenheit 451” (HBO)
“Flint” (Lifetime)
“Paterno” (HBO)
“The Tale” (HBO)
“USS Callister (Black Mirror)” (HBO)
It's still so weird to me that Black Mirror gets submitted as individual movies and not as a limited series. It just feels off. 

Thursday Movie Picks: Characters Magically Aging Up or Down

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is all about magically aging. It's too bad this isn't a TV pick so we could add all the times someone replaced a baby with a toddler and acted like no one noticed. Since this category is very specific, there wasn't a lot to choose from. I had to cheat a bit

1) 13 Going on 30

I haven't seen this in years but I remember thinking it was pretty cute after initially writing it off. Jennifer Garner really shined.

2) Freaky Friday

Yes, I'm talking about the 2003 version. I haven't seen the original. Tess and Anna switch bodies so mother becomes daughter and vice versa. Ahh man, remember when Lindsay Lohan had it? I actually jammed out to Ultimate quite a bit. (The song she sings at the end)

3) Orphan

This one is a bit of a cheat as there's no magic involved, but really. That twist with Esther..did you see that coming?

Review: Incredibles 2

Who's watching Jack-Jack?

With Superheros still being illegal, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is given a chance to make a case for their abilities by a rich brother/sister duo Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) who add a camera into her suit to capture all the good moments. Mr. Incredible (Craig T Nelson) meanwhile is left behind to be a stay at home dad.

The first film was released nearly 14 years ago, but fans have still been thirsty for that sequel. Personally, I was never head over heels with The Incredibles. I liked it, but it wasn't one of my favorite Pixar films. I went in with an open mind but I landed about the same place I was before.

It really annoys me when films make dads look completely incompetent at parenting for comic relief. It's such an overdone trope and unfortunately we get a dose of that here. On top of that, Violet and Dash, even though they get to save the day at one point really get shafted character-wise. Violet gets another overdone trope, the emotional teenager eating ice cream because of boy problems and Dash is completely obnoxious from start to finish.

That's not to say it's all bad. Most of the comedic heavy lifting is from Jack-Jack, the baby who just discovered he has several powers. Thankfully they do so much with that that it keeps it interesting throughout. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) also makes a few appearances to keep things lively. 

The big "twist" you can see coming from a mile away but this is still a fun family film that's on par with the original.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "That is freaky." - Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson)

Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Do you just put "quantum" in front of everything?

Two years after the events of Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is still under house arrest. He's been building elaborate forts for his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) learning magic tricks, and trying to start up a security business with his friends. When he has a strange dream about Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfieffer) he notifies Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) and they reluctantly take him out on another mission.

It's still hard for me to believe that I almost didn't go see the original Ant-Man in theaters. I just wasn't hyped for it. It wasn't until they started advertising Falcon's cameo in it that I decided to give it a go. Is there really another Marvel property that makes you feel the love quite like Ant-Man? Scott's love for his daughter is abundant. His relationship with his ex wife and her new husband is kind of adorable. And then there's his trio of friends. Scott's just got a ton of love to go around and that's what makes these properties so much fun. 

Marvel seems to have been taking the "villains suck in super hero movies" critique seriously because this time, Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen has a very good motive. She's not really a villain. Antagonist for sure but can you really blame her? I also love how the film fleshed out Hope. I wasn't crazy about her character the first time around but I liked her so much more here and she and Scott make a great team. 

I know the stinger has been getting a lot of well deserved complaints about a huge tonal shift, but it didn't bother me at all. I like how all the MCU films tie into each other and this didn't ruin anything for me, it only enhanced it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "You dad went to Germany to draw on the wall with Captain America." - Jimmy Woo (Randall Park)

Rambling TV: The Alienist

Last week I talked about another mini series I watched this year that I adored in Waco, and today we're talking the captivating series The Alienist

TNT aired this during the winter. It follows an Alienist Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl) a police secretary Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) and a newspaper illustrator John Moore (Luke Evans) as they attempt to assist police in catching a serial killer that is murdering young boys.

I never read the book in which this is based, and it took a lot for me not to Google spoilers while watching this. I was so impatient! I wish I could've binged this show all at once because waiting week after week was torture. I loved how the series used fictional characters but wove them in with real ones like Theodore Roosevelt. (Brian Geraghty) We got to see them talk about early psychology and see things we take for granted now like taking a match of a finger print. The entire series was fascinating.

Bruhl is an actor that might give Kitsch in Waco a run for his money in Emmy season. It was refreshing to see him play someone that isn't a villain or a massive asshole, though Lazlo is a bit of an asshole in this. Fanning was wonderful as well as Sara Howard. A woman who is sick of being treated as a second class citizen. You can see how done she is with a good majority of the men in this series at times.

If it has one fault, I really wanted a bit more out of its ending, but it did end the same way the novel did apparently, and I can handle that. There was a sequel written, so the jury is still out on whether or not this gets a second season, but I will definitely watch it if it does.

Indie Gems: The Death of Stalin

Who's going to replace him?

When dictator Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) passes away, his cabinet members  (including Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor) scramble to replace him amid chaos, arguments, and his pestering children. (Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend)

My theater had this film for about a week this past winter and I wasn't able to see it. It's yet to hit Netflix either, so I was pleased when this was a choice on a recent flight I took.

The first thing I need to do is publicly apologize to Rupert Friend for referring to him as "poor man's Orlando Bloom" for years. He was hysterical in this movie. I laughed so loud at one point people turned and looked at me. (whoops) His character is just so over the top and ridiculous. It's glorious.

I really liked the cast in general. Of course this film doesn't take itself seriously at all so everyone is speaking in their normal accents and it absolutely works. It kind of loses direction in a few places and a few jokes don't land, but it always gets back on course. This is one of the better dark comedies I've seen in ages.

Grade: B

Watched on: Delta Studios

Memorable Quote: "Sit the fuck down. Don't worry, no one is getting murdered." - Andreyev (Paddy Considine)

Thursday Movie Picks: Long Awaited Sequels

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is a long time coming... Long awaited sequels! I used The Force Awakens in an earlier pick, even though it would've fit here perfectly. Since I can't go with one of my favorite franchises, here's three other sequels I enjoy

1) Blade Runner 2049

It's ballsy as hell to do a sequel 35 years after the original which arguably wasn't that popular in the first place. But I liked 2049 far more than the original and it was beautifully shot. Roger Deakins is a gem.

2) Finding Dory

14 Years after Finding Nemo we finally get to find Dory. I actually like this one a bit more than the original. It was one of those films my son had to watch every day for three months straight and it didn't drive me insane. That's always a plus. 

3) Mad Max: Fury Road

This counts, right? There were a lot of Mad Max sequels but in my opinion, this one is the gold standard. I never expected to enjoy this film and it was wonderful. 

Review: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

This is the land of wolves.

When the cartels start smuggling terrorists into the United States, federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is once again called in to take some drastic measures. His idea this time is to get the cartels to fight each other, so he recruits his favorite hitman, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) to help kidnap the daughter, Isabel (Isabela Moner) of one of the cartel leaders. 

There's no mention of our heroine of the last film Kate Macer, played by Emily Blunt. Not only are we missing her, but former director Denis Villeneuve, former DP Roger Deakins, and former composer, the late Jóhann Jóhannsson all sat this one out too. Because of that, it feels very derivative of Sicario because new director Stefano Sollima put some effort into trying to recreate everything exactly as it was. 

Unfortunately just because you can do a decent Villeneuve impression doesn't mean the story is still strong enough to stand on its own two feet, and that's where Soldado fails the most. It starts off looking like some MAGA propaganda and then just becomes flat out boring. Something Sicario never was. Kate was the perfect avatar for the audience because she was layered. She was interesting, as was her friendship with Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) and ultimately her interactions with Alejandro. Well he and Graver don't have the friendship Kate and Reggie have and Isabel isn't a worthy substitute for Kate in the scenes with him either. The film also never really establishes why Alejandro is so hellbent on protecting this child. Because she reminds him of his daughter? So did Kate. And he still did his job.

Like Sicario, it also has a side story. Only instead of working as a way to transition scenes, we follow Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez) a young boy getting caught up with the cartel and it just adds minutes to a film that's already dragging. It feels like a waste of time, then they actually have the balls to tease ANOTHER possible sequel with this kid involved.

When this sequel was announced, many said it would be okay because Taylor Sheridan is going to write it. I half jokingly said I'd sell out and write a crappy script for a bunch of money too, and that's essentially what he did. It's not bad, but it's dull. There is exactly one interesting thing that happens in this entire film, and it's a revelation about Alejandro's daughter. That's it. 

We all knew it was going to have a hard time following its predecessor. But I never expected it to be so boring and uninspired.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "I could throw a stick across the river and hit fifty grieving fathers" - Cynthia (Catherine Keener)

Rambling TV: Waco

As Emmy FYC season ramps up, I wanted to talk about a mini series that I hope doesn't get forgotten come Emmy time this summer. Paramount Network's Waco. What caught my eye initially with this mini series was one of my favorite actors, Michael Shannon. I was only six when the Waco standoff happened. And I realize after watching this how little I actually knew about what went down there.

Shannon plays FBI negotiator Gary Noesner with Taylor Kitsch playing cult leader David Koresh. The rest of the cast is rounded out with Rory Culkin, Shea Wigham, Paul Sparks, Andrea Riseborough, Julia Garner, Melissa Benoist and John Leguizamo. A talented bunch all around.

Who surprised me the most? You probably guessed it...Taylor Kitsch. This guy is awful in 98% of the things he stars in but after being pretty damn good in season two of True Detective he blew it out of the park here. He was charming and scary at the same time. He really captured what I knew of Koresh.  Shannon is brilliant as always, with Sparks, Culkin, and Garner also giving some of the best work I've seen on TV this year. 

At six episodes, it's not a long series you need to dedicate a lot of time to. This was the perfect amount of time to tell the story. It doesn't take a bias approach either. I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to paint the FBI/ATF agents as saints for those not familiar with what happened, but they don't. They show the good and the bad on both sides. Because it's such a short series, there's not a lot, if any filler. Everything had its purpose.

I hope this isn't forgotten come Emmy time. There's two more mini series that came out this year that I'm going to talk about in the coming weeks that will likely get voter's attention before this one, but I'll hold out hope.

Did you see Waco? What did you think?