Holy February Movies, Lego Batman! February 2017 Movie Preview

E: Like January, February is a month I mostly reserve for seeing Oscar movies and writing about them.  There’s normally not much to see in the theaters that isn’t a Best Picture or acting nominee.  Expect more great box office for Hidden Figures and La La Land, for example – and see them if you haven’t already.  If you can only choose one?  La La Land will win the Oscar, but Hidden Figures is the experience you really want.

M: Which says all you need to know about the Oscars.

C: I really want to see it. I know I said that a month ago, so I need to get off my duff, but I really do!

E: Do it!  Do it now!

M: This month, we have mostly the usual February mumbo-jumbo: there’s a strong chance the more promising-looking films may under-deliver, otherwise they wouldn’t be opening in February. Except for Lego Batman. That might not suck.

C: I loved The Lego Movie (unexpectedly), so high hopes here.

E: It’s true. We can say that much for this February, because of Lego: it probably won’t all suck.

M: That aside, the movie news we’re really excited about this week is the announcement of the cast and crew for 2018’s Ocean’s Eight. Yes, it’s Hollywood again proving that it either has no original ideas, or that even when they have a semi-original idea they have to package it in something that sounds familiar so that it has a built in audience and (theoretically) less chance of total failure.

C: Normally I’d complain, but HEIST MOVIES. They never get old.

M: Right, plus: Sandra Bullock is the new lead, in the Sinatra/Clooney role, with Cate Blancheit, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna among the women filling out the other seven members of the heist crew. Gary Ross, who’s awesome and wrote things like Big and Dave and directed Seabiscuit and the first Hunger Games, is writing and directing. Awesomeness!

C: I totally freaked out when I heard about that. But let’s save our comments for that preview, huh?

E: Just noting that we are crazy excited about it, because the wait is soooo long!

M: And now, back to February.

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What’s Opening While You’re Busy Seeing the Stuff That Officially Came Out in December: January 2017 Movie Preview

E: Ah, January. A prime movie-going month in which almost nothing worth seeing actually opens.

C: Right, because some of us haven’t even seen all the things that opened in November yet.

E: And of course, because actual mega-blockbusters (hello, Rogue One) will continue to dominate the box office at least through this month.  And also because lots of cool movies faux-opened in December.

C: Meaning that they premiered sneakily on a few screens to qualify for Oscars.

E: For example, Hidden Figures and A Monster Calls — both of which look terrific to me and get great reviews from critics — expand into wide release on January 6th. We already reviewed them in our December preview, but they may not have arrived at a theater near you till now.  There’s Patriot’s Day, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Silence, and also Gold, in which Matthew McConaughey sports a Trump-ian comb over, going into wide release at the end of the month.

C: Wow, and I already thought McConaughey was unbearable to watch.

E: Yet it can get worse.  Also?  I guarantee you that both the true and faux-December flicks (including obvious blockbusters like Rogue One) are going to be far better movies than the few ones that actually come out in January.  Prepare yourself for an anemic preview, in terms of both film quantity and quality, and comfort yourself with the knowledge that there’s great stuff already out there.

C: Way to tantalize the people, E. Now read our post about the tepid losers you won’t see! At least it’s very, very short.

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Oscar Flicks and Rogue Blockbusters: December 2016 Movie Preview

M: Star Wars. Oscars. Assassins. December starts off slowly, but once it gets going it’s got it all.

E: If a film’s going to be eligible for Oscar, it has to play for at least a week before the year’s out.  So Christmas, particularly, is packed full of last minute contenders jostling for attention.

M: It’s been a few years since I voiced this complaint, so I’ll do it again now. I hate the system that allows movies to be released on literally two screens (one in NY, one in LA) in December, then get release wide right around when people are actually voting for the Oscars. My proposal is this: to qualify for Oscars, at the time of the voting deadline the total number of screens your film is being shown on must be equal or higher in the calendar year you are qualifying for. So, if you release on two screens in December, you can’t expand beyond two until after the voting is complete. If you want to be eligible in 2016, really be a 2016 movie.

E: Thanks, M; that was not predictable at all. You get that it’s strategy, right?  Studios want their movies to be fresh in voters’ minds when they vote. Almost never does a movie from the first half of the year get Oscar attention.  I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying, that’s the game.

M: That’s my point. The attention span of the Oscar nominators and voters is so insanely small that studios play to it, and movies that are really 2017 movies end up winning awards for 2016 because they play the game. I’d prefer to try to minimize the game playing, or at least punish people for the manipulation.

E: I’m not sure it really qualifies as manipulation.  That said, the real point is that there’s so much good stuff in December; it’s a heady mix of blockbusters and grown up dramas, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it.

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Movies: With Subtitles: The October 2016 Movie Preview

E: In addition to the usual slate of horror flicks, October usually sees the first salvos of the Oscar season, movies like last year’s Bridge of Spies and The Martian.

M: Ahhh, The Martian. I should definitely re-watch that!

E: Yes you should.  It’s some serious good stuff. This year bring us a little wow right out of the gate, but mostly stutters on substance.  Decent looking stuff aimed at the tween set, and any horror-loving teens will be happy too.

C: So what will be the memorable films of this month?

M: For my money, Girl On the Train is the only real contender.

C: With that, let’s jump right in.

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Fall 2016 Television Preview: Sunday

E: Welcome to the best night on TV, the night when cable pulls out all the stops.  Want prestige adaptations?  We’ve got ’em. Costume dramas?  You’re on.  Movie stars?  Check.

C: And I… don’t think I watch anything on Sundays. I’m the low-brow one on this gang, I guess.

M: Something tells me I’ll give you a run for your money there. In Thursday’s post we mentioned how that night has fallen off as the most competitive, best night on TV. Well, Sundays was always up there, now it’s the king of the hill (though, not Hank Hill). But it’s become a weird hill. NBC has football (which until about 5 years ago was on ESPN), CBS decided to go with a slate of similar-but-different, law enforcement-y procedurals, with acronym-happy NCIS:LA, Madam Secretary and Elementary. FOX, as it has for years, has gone all comedy on Sunday, and ABC is kind of schizophrenic, with the fantasty-ish Once Upon a Time, followed by the very heavy Secrets and Lies, and ends with the extremely soapy Quantico. What a weird night.

E: Two things you won’t get this fall? Game of Thrones (it’s such a long wait until April) and The Good Wife (sigh).

M: Poor E, her long-time favorite show has come to an end. Was it at least a satisfying end?

E: Confession time: I have still not actually watched the final two episodes.

M and C: WHAAAT!?  whaaatminion

E: I know.

C: Okay but seriously, that is shocking.

M: Like, “end of The Sixth Sense if you hadn’t heard there was a twist” shocking.

E: I know! I was really glad they were ending it (boy it got really dark and unsatisfying in later seasons, even though it still gave us the most brilliant, topical cases of the week and the most vivid characterizations on television), and I was glad it went out on the creators’ terms, but I don’t know.  It’s too emotionally fraught.  What if I don’t like it?  I heard mixed reviews, and I just could not — still cannot — bring myself to watch.

C: Well, I can’t say I don’t sympathize. I’ve given up on some of the shows I was the most emotionally invested in because I couldn’t handle the loss of the things I liked about it. But, you know, usually with a season or two left, not two episodes. Poor E 😦 Continue reading

Fall 2016 Television Preview: Friday

M: Ahhh, Friday: once a TV graveyard, now an odd mix of the “pity-move” where shows get sent before they get cancelled, and steady medium ratings earners. In other words, shows that aren’t going to get great ratings but, without costing too much, keep enough eyeballs (and advertisers) that the networks are willing to keep renewing them, yet aren’t willing to move them to more popular nights.

E: Friday Nights: lower your expectations.

C: I think Fridays have been like that for a while now, actually.

M: Yes, didn’t mean to imply that was brand new, just newer. There was also a trend (started by Grimm a few years back) of spooky shows on Fridays that seems to have come to an end, at least on the broadcast nets. However, this year there are some interesting new offerings.

C: I’d say it started with The X-Files… but maybe that wasn’t a trend so much as a lone beacon of Spooky in the night.

M: X-Files spent most of it’s life on Sundays, though.

C: Now a waning Vampire Diaries is trying to be that beacon…

E: Huh — I hadn’t noticed the lack of spooky programming, but you’re quite right.  Is that just happening now?

M: Seems to be.

E: Friday night’s the night I catch up on the TV I watch with my kids, so I’m never watching live, personally.

M: In past years we had combined Friday and Saturday.  However, in a development this year, it appears that the nets have given up on Saturdays completely, so we’re just mentioning one BBC America show…

E: And one cartoon, because my family is all about it!

M: …but that’s it for Saturday. So we’re not giving it a whole post, as we didn’t feel the need to tell you that most of the nets are showing news magazines and college football (including the very narcissistic-ally titled “FOX Sports Saturday: FOX College Football“).

C: LOL. What channel is that on, I wonder?

E: I haven’t a clue – but I can tell you that our other previews are here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Again, new shows are in blue, red asterisks (*) mean we’re watching. Continue reading

Fall 2016 Television Preview: Thursday

M: Remember when Thursday nights were the hands-down dominant TV night? Well, now there’s not a lot that even looks interesting to me here.

E: And I’m sure that’s nothing to do with the fact that it’s a soap-heavy night.

M: There have been a lot of factors going into that (Shonda *bleeping* Rhimes, shows that ran their course and ended, DVR’s, the advent of Thursday Night Football, etc), but what’s left is a slate of shows most of which are either past their prime (Grey’s, Supernatural), never had a prime (How To Get Away With Murder, Legends of Tomorrow, Mom) or are new shows the nets are hoping will become the next big thing (Pitch, Pure Genius, Great Indoors, Good Place). There are still a few big shows like Big Bang, for example, but that’s not even on Thursdays until mid-fall.

E: Several other popular shows have delayed their premieres until 2017: Scandal will return after star Kerry Washington’s maternity leave, and Bones has 12 episodes to finish up the series.  So we’re not covering them.

C: And we already discussed Big Bang. In case you need to catch up, here are the links to the previews of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

E: Also, if you see a show in blue that means it’s new this season, and a red asterisk (*) mean one of us will be watching. Continue reading