The Emmy Nominations (Or how the TV Academy doesn’t really understand quality programming)

It’s Emmy nominations times! Meaning, the TV Academy ranks things in a way that the normal viewer doesn’t understand. Here’s my Average Josie take on the nominations.

 

Yays

Kudos to the voters for seeing the value in Nurse Jackie with Edie Falco and Merritt Weaver both picking up Actress/Supporting Actress nominations though I’m kind of sad Peter Facinelli didn’t get any love.  I was glad to see Homeland’s Claire Danes and Dexter’s Michael C. Hall get Leading Actress/Actor nods, and Martine Freeman nominated for his work as Dr. Watson before he’s shot into American fame by the Hobbit. I looking forward to seeing what the outcome of the Drama Guest Actor, with Michael J. Fox going up against Mad Men’s Ben Feldman (you may know him as Fred the angel from Drop Dead Diva). A high point of the nominations? Seeing Bob’s Burger’s included in Best Animated Show.

 

Nays

The biggest snub had to be for Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead. While TWD was nominated for Prosthetic Make-up and Visual effects, it was left out of the Dramas category as well as all actor/actress nominations. The biggest of these crimes was shutting out Jon Bernthal in the Drama Supporting Actor. He managed to give depth to a character that would have been a flat out villain in any other actor’s hands. The second biggest snub? Charlie Hunam from Sons of Anarchy. While many critics and viewers are outraged by the Katy Sagal snub, Hunam is to me, the most deserving as he balances the complex emotions and morality as the biker’s game vice president. SOA has been constantly forgotten culminating in the non-nomination of Kim Coates in Season 2 for Supporting Actor. I was surprised that Hugh Laurie was left out for his last season of House M.D., and shocked to learned that neither Archer nor H. Jon Benjamin were  included in the nominations. Benjamin had both Archer and Bob’s Burger to his voice acting credits.

 

WTF?

The three biggest WTF moments of the year

  1. American      Horror Story as a Miniseries. According to Entertainment Weekly, because      it has a self contained story line in its first 12 episodes, AHS qualifies      for the Miniseries/Movie category even though it has a second season      already lined up. I find this unfair and a way for Ryan Murphy and FX to      get credit knowing that they couldn’t go head to head with Downtown Abbey      or Mad Men.
  2. Multiple      Show Nominations for One Award. Thanks to EW, we know that several      categories have six nominations due to ties, while this doesn’t anger me. The      fact that many of those and other categories have multiple nominations      from the same show. For example: Best Supporting Drama Actor has six nominees      with two being from Breaking Band and two from Downtown Abbey. This shuts      other supporting actors, such as Bernthal, who deserve a shot even if they      aren’t in the two previous shows. I understand how voting works and how      this can happen, but it doesn’t mean its fair.
  3. Psych.      Psych has been forgotten by the Emmy voters since its inception which is      quite sad. It’s a marvelous show and James Roday and Dulé Hill are always      top notch. While Psych was recognized this year, it was for Best      Interactive Experience.

 

The Academy has plenty of time to decide who will win each category and which of my shows in the Yays section will be underappreciated. Till then I hoping (stupid, I know) that the voters get some taste.

Check out my snubs gallery below

 

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The Dark Knight Rises for a Final Time

The first portion of this review contains no spoilers. The second portion under the pictures contains spoilers in order to review the movie as a conclusion to the series.

 

A better movie than the first, a different beat from the second, The Dark Knight Rises is an action packed thrill ride. This fantastic blend of insane comic like violence and fabulous special effects wraps up Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Bruce Wayne tale.

This go around, Bruce Wayne is a recluse with a questionable limp wallowing in self pity. As the city of Gotham celebrates the eight year anniversary of Harvey Dent Day and peace from organized crime, a master thief sneaks into Wayne manner unknowingly setting forth a terrorist attack on the city. Enter Bane, a largely muscled, masked villain who takes control of the money trading operations in the city. This leads to the fall of Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon being shot, and, ultimately, the Batman returning. Bane takes control of a bomb that can destroy the city, and he calls up the citizen to rebel against the government. He threatens to blow up the entire city if anyone leaves the island. Selena Kyle and Wayne must partner up to save the city.

At first, the movie seems peppered with plot holes and unanswered questions, but these are leaving room for plot twists that change you perspective on the characters and their motives. The script works hard to make this entry a cohesive package winding the three movies together. The attention left on Harvey Dent gets old, and you wonder if he wasn’t meant to be yet another villain.  In fact, as with every Batman since Tim Burton’s first foray, the films have suffered from too many villains. But this script winds them together rather evenly making their stories mesh.

The movie is at its best when it is showing off the special effects and the well directed stunts. The best of these are Batman’s fight with Bane, a character that Batman can’t use all his gadgets to defeat. These slug fests helps round out Batman’s humanity as Bane pounds into him. Hans Zimmer continues to ramp up the tension with his pounding score. The visual ascetics add to the tone. It’s a brighter Gotham than we’ve seen implying that the city is at peace after Dent.

The majority of acting is top notch. Bale gives a wonderful performance, and his Batman voice has settled some. Speaking of voices, Tom Hardy gambles with a unique voice for Bane and scores. More coherent than many people will lead you to believe, Bane’s voice calls to mind a psychotic Sean Connery using an augmenter. In fact, fans of Hardy should be able to hear the distinct sound of his voice with in his Bane mumble. Anne Hathaway does well as Catwoman but her voice and sexuality are over done. You can tell she is trying hard to be sexy and seductive, whereas many other actresses could have just oozed the sexiness. Her version of Catwoman quickly becomes as normal as Bale’s Batman voice. TV fans will be excited to see Josh Stewart and Desmond Harrington from Criminal Minds and Dexter respectively.

The much anticipated conclusion to Nolan’s Batman trilogy lives up to the hype. Full of twists and complex characters, it’s the superhero movie of the year.

Read on past the photos for the spoiler filled part of the review.

 

Warning: Spoilers

The Dark Knight Rises wraps up the Nolan-directed trilogy excellently. With appearances from Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy, the villains are woven together in a way that gives a complete picture of the Gotham underworld. It seems odd to say about villains, but it’s like beloved characters coming back from the dead. Originally, when I read that they purposely left out the Joker, I felt it was the right decision. But after watching the film, it seems like he has been forgotten instead of being revered. Especially with Ra’s Al Ghul comes back from the dead and tying all the characters from the film are all linked together.

I was also pleased with the ending. I did see the ultimate ending concerning the legacy of Batman coming after reading Entertainment Weekly. Blake’s fate is beautiful. Not only is it hopeful and rounds out the Batman legacy, it proves that anyone can be a hero. I think this idea resounds more than the political rhetoric of Bane and Tate. What I really loved about the ending was that Batman and Catwoman finally go together. It’s something fans have wanted for a long time. Not only did this ending give Kyle’s character depth, but Wayne can quit whining about women which has always bugged me.

The only thing I was really displeased with was that Alfred left. While I’m not up to speed on all the comics, it still seems out of character. Alfred has always been a father figure that helped keep him safe. Then suddenly he leaves like the best friend that can’t watch a crack addict kill himself. And while there may be parallels, I never thought Alfred would do it.

The movie is probably the best third sequel since Indian Jones and the Last Crusade leaving Nolan’s reboot on a high note.

Brave Doesn’t Flex Its Adventure Muscles (but tells a great family story)

 Contains spoilers

I usually try not to include spoiler in my movie reviews because I want readers to be able to enjoy the movie after reading a review. But due to the way that Hollywood are creating trailers, it has become harder not to give away spoilers when talking about plot. Movies like Dark Shadows and Cabin in the Woods (to name a few) not only didn’t clearly portray the plot Dark Shadows didn’t even present the right tone! Disney Pixar’s Brave is the latest movie to keep the actual storyline out of the trailer.

As portrayed by the trailer, Princess Merida prefers horse back riding and archery to needle work and dinner parties. Her mother continues to prime her to be the woman she is expected to be for the kingdom their bickering comes to a climax it is time for the traditional games for Merida’s hand to commence. In an effort to change her fate, she wins the archery tournament claiming she would not marry one of the other tribes. This causes problem with in the kingdoms between the tribes, and Merida’s mother tries to convince her one last time to be make the best decision for the kingdom.

But what happens after the games is left out of the trailer. After escaping the mass commotion caused by her archery win, Merida gets some assistance from a witch–er–wood carver who makes Merida a cake that will change her mom’s mind. Merida offers the cake to Elinor as a peace offering. But instead of changing Elinor’s mind, it magically transforms her into a bear. She and Merida have two sunrises to reverse the spell and change the dynamics of their relationships.

For Disney Pixar’s first lead protagonist, the movie sticks with magic and familial relationship than action. Though you see Merida practice and shoot in the competition she has no Katniss moments of battles. Instead the movie centers on Elinor’s new life as a bear and Merida trying to figure out how to reverse this spell. Humors mother and daughter bond happens of their trek into the wild.

The movie contains many instances of humor that Disney Pixar collaborations have become famous for. The snappy humor that appeals to children and adults helps the movie from becoming too melodramatic. Often when mother and daughter are dealing with their relationship issues, Elinor’s inability to do things the same as a bear lightens the tension. The script deftly deals with issues like fate and familial duties while keeping the viewers enchanted and entertained.

The movie is, of course, visually stunning. Though I didn’t see it in 3-D, the ancient lush lands were vivid and sharp. Merida’s long red hair and arrow quick skills capture the eye. The animators did well with the subtle changing of Elinor’s “human” bear and her “wild” bear. This gives her character three distinct looks capturing her various personalities

Visually stunning, Brave doesn’t pack all the adventure the trailers promised, but the humor and the characters make up for it.

Jeff Should Have Stayed at Home

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Now on: Blu-ray, DVD

I instantly took a disliking to Jeff, Who Lives at Home. The title character played by Jason Segal is a useless stoner who could be autistic. Whether the writer meant to evoke this or that he is a free spirited dreamer is lost is unclear. Jeff is not cute and charming but overly babied with no sense of reality. His lives his life by signs. Signs that tell him what his fate is and what he should do with his life.

On his mother’s birthday, he sets out to complete a simple task of buying wood glue to fix his mother’s blinds. Jeff cannot manage this simple task. Instead he is sidetracked by a wrong number looking for someone named Kevin. He sees this as a sign, and it leads him to following someone who then corners him, beats him up and steals his money. He continues to follow these flimsy signs thought out the movie bring us to a climax that, while heroic, is not practical. This ultimate event is situational and does not lead to any kind of long term plan for his life.

The movie tries to be whimsical but fails. The subtle and dark humor misses its mark because of its absurdity and mishandling. Segal’s character is neither funny nor charming but is pathetic and/or developmentally delayed (and there is no funny in that).

Even the side story with Susan Sarandon is suppose to be an adventure with love, but is too superficial. The movie doesn’t have the time or the skill to deal with complex relationship of the secret admirer it’s fonder for its own full length movie as long as it’s not written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. The best part of the movie is the secondary story of Jeff’s brother and sister in law. Ed Helms and Judy Greer are fabulous as a married couple who are dealing with dissolution of their marriage. Greer and Helms get to use their dramatic chops and it shows their range as actors.

The camera work is amateurish. With quick zooms and sloppy cuts, it distracts from the story. The handy came is nauseating, and I would have donated money for the camera man to buy a tri-pod. While the handicam can work with certain movies like the Hunger Games giving it a documentary feel, it has no place in this familial drama.

Attempting to do so much, Jeff, Who Lives At Home fails on every account. It’s looses whimsy to drama and drama to absurdity.

The Walking Dead Episode Two: Starving for Help

PSN, X-Box Live, PC

Rated M

The eagerly anticipated second episode the Telltale Game The Walking Dead Series arrived on-line with a few issues for the Playstation 3. The errors were quickly corrected allowing PS3, X-Box and PC user to get deeper into the world of The Walking Dead. In this entry, the plot speeds up giving players more action and more gore.

Lee and crew have are approaching about trading with a local dairy farm. The farm needs gasoline to keep the electric fences running, and Lee’s crew is short on food. Lee and a small task force head out to check the safety of the farm in hopes of moving away from the motel. While the farm offers protection from the dead, it’s not so safe from the living. A band of raiders attacks Lee and the new character Mark while they are repairing the fence. The rest of the group arrives with promised of dinner from their hosts, and Lee and Kenny start checking out the barn to see if it holds secrets. Of course, it does.

The game starts three months after the last episode ended leaving a few open questions (who was the woman screaming in the last episode? What else is around their hotel) and bringing in new characters. Mark is already integrated into the group with the game starts and you constantly wonder if he is literally going to stab you in the back. But the episode quickly amps up the action (and the gore). With in minutes of starting this installment, you must to decide whether or not to cut a guy’s leg off.

Players finally get to see how their choices affect the game. Relationships strain or build based on actions you do or statements to make. Characters remember remarks from the first episode and make judgments from previous action as well as current ones.

The tension and tone are the best part of the game. The game captures the psychological and physical horror the comic series perfectly combining the thrill with a perfect mix of human and zombie violence. The thought provoking choices and the excitement of the action causes players to use their reflexes and their critical thinking skills.

The biggest downfall is that this episode is recycling material. The Walking Dead, whether comic book, TV show or novel versions, have always been fresh breaking new ground in zombie violence and pushing the human psyche to the limit. But this episode starts to repeat material the fans of the show and comic have seen before. Lily really starts to sound like Rick, and the aforementioned leg incident is straight out of Season2 of the show, albeit with the best option left out. In fact, fans of the comic will see the dairy farm’s secret twist miles away because we’ve read it before.

Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead Episode 2 Starved for Help continues the innovation of its predecessor and kicks up the action a notch. Though several of the ideas have used in other formats, the episode is enjoyable and keeps players on the edge of their seat.

 

Magic Mike Unwrapped

Women of a variety of ages flocked to the movie theaters to see the likes of Channing Tatum. Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, and Adam Rodriquez take their clothes off in Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper drama. They got laughs, flesh, and a little drama.

Tatum plays the title character, an “entrepreneur” who strips by night to save for his life long dream of being a custom furniture maker. He brings in a college drop out (played by Alex Pettyfer) who becomes known on stage as The Kid. Mike takes him under his wing teaching how to dance and what male stripping is about: fulfilling women’s fantasies. Mike and the crew are working on opening their dance review in Miami but issue with The Kid and kid sister cause him to rethink his life,

The film includes a compelling plot, but it tries too hard. While it seems simple, screenwriter Reid Carolin throws in so many complexities the viewer gets bored. For example, Mike has three part time jobs as while trying to start up his furniture company. He also has not one, but two, lover interests. Carolin even throws in a little All About Eve context with The Kid. All this bogs down the forward action of the movie.

Magic Mike is strong on two levels. The first, of course, is that it is visually striking. The whole movie has been thoughtfully set up. The ecstasy scene is filmed in such a way that the audience wonders if they are tripping as well. Soderbergh also captures the men’s movements as they dance and gyrate making the dance sequences just as exciting as the clothing removal. There aren’t gratuitous crotch shots or close up of bare butts. The choreographer does a wonderful job of showing what the fluidity of the human body and the director captures this brilliantly. This culminates in Tatum’s routine to “Pony,” the best sequence in the film.

The second is that it is thought provoking. Stay with me here. The movie has a very sociological side as the audience delves into the world of male stripping. The boys actually dance and do acrobatic feats in an effort to facilitate women’s fantasies. While there are lap dances, there doesn’t seem to be an overlay of prostitution. Where as so many movies show off the sin and naughtiness of the female clubs, the male venues are more about full entertainment than a peep show.  Viewers watch Mike evolve as a character, and we see what these men actually think and do. They are regular people with an unusual job. Watching this and comparing the differences of the male strip world is actually very fascinating.

For all its flesh, laughs, and smooth dance moves, Magic Mike tells a story, a story about how we see our lives and what our life really is.