Recommended/Not Recommended — March 2017

Here’s a new thing I’m going to try. It’s pretty self explanatory. I like to talk about the things I watch/read/listen to/eat and my opinion is very important.

Legion (FX) 

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Originally posted by submersivemedia

As far as I’m concerned, the last thing we need is more Superheroes on our screens. Every story is the same – I’m just a troubled man who is burdened with the power to save or destroy the world. Let’s defeat this forgettable villain or a neon light beam will tear a hole in the atmosphere. But there’s one thing Legion has that those other stories don’t: Noah Hawley. Similar to his other brilliant show (Fargo), Hawley uses an inside-out adaptation style that prioritizes mood and atmosphere over faithfulness to the source material, and the result is a wildly twisted, visually breathtaking study of the inner-workings of a damaged guy learning to live with his god-like abilities. (“Don’t give a newbie a bazooka and act surprised when he blows shit up.”) The evocative imagery, unconventional storytelling, and fantastic, vulnerable lead performance from Dan Stevens combine to make the best show of 2017 so far. RECOMMENDED

Table 19 (in theaters) 

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Originally posted by giffing-the-screen

This film has a lot going for it on paper – a charming cast (Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori, June Squibb), a writer/director whose work I admire (Jeffrey Blitz of Comedy Central’s outstanding Review) and a clever premise (misfits bonding at “the outsiders” table at a wedding). Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit together. Other than a few funny bits from Merchant, who uses his awkward physical stature and body language for more laughs than anything the script offers, nothing in Table 19 works. It’s tonally unfocused, bouncing freely from broad farce to rom-com clichés to half-baked emotional cues without a shred of relevant character motivation. I didn’t care about anyone and didn’t even know why they were at this sterile wedding in the first place. NOT RECOMMENDED

Medicine for Melancholy (streaming on Netflix) 

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The debut feature from Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning Moonlight (RECOMMENDED), Medicine for Melancholy is as bare-bones as indie filmmaking gets, made on a budget of just $15,000. The intimate two-hander follows the aftermath of a drunken hook-up between Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo’ (Tracey Heggins), who spend the following day connecting over their black experience in the rapidly gentrifying, overwhelmingly non-black San Francisco. Films like this don’t work without chemistry, and Cenac and Heggins are both brilliant in subtle, naturalistic performances that evolve in reaction to one another, careening every which way with beautifully calculated precision. RECOMMENDED

The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss 

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  • (That’s racist)

To commemorate both Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Special Person’s Day at the school in which my girlfriend teaches, I agreed to come in to read to some sweet, snot-faced kindergartners. Like any good performer, I did plenty of research for my role and studied up on the books available to me. Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now is an inherently hilarious tale about a narrator berating a guest for overstaying his welcome (relatable). Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? has a funky old man who throws about tons of dope onomatopoeia. But The Foot BookThe Foot Book is trash. Check out this poetry: “Left foot, right foot, left foot, right/Feet in the morning, feet at night.” You know from Page 1 Seuss phoned it in for the paycheck. There’s no arc, other than “everyone has feet.” It’s a shockingly uninspired effort from one of literature’s most beloved visionaries. NOT RECOMMENDED

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