Series Review: S.W.A.T – Season 1 (2017 – 2018)

Fuck, there’s a lot of reboots these days. I mean, rebooting stuff is nothing new, but it’s almost gone overboard in the last ten years. Oh well, nothing we can do about it. So let’s talk about one of them.

Ladies and gentlemen… “S.W.A.T” season 1.

When his former sergeant is involved in a scandalous shooting, Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson (Shemar Moore) gets promoted to leader for his own S.W.A.T team. So we follow him as he tries to lead this team, stop crimes in Los Angeles, and at times also deal with personal problems. So now we have our cop procedural. And that’s all I can say really. It’s another case of the week cop drama. But I still liked it a fair bit. Partly because I have a soft spot for these cop procedurals, and partly because they put just enough effort into the writing to actually make me kinda care. Not so much about the A-plot (the case), as those are fairly standard cop-action stuff (which I enjoy), but the B-plots are often what hooks me, as they help develop the characters a bit. So yeah, the plot here is alright.

The characters here sometimes fall into archetypes, but then they’re pulled out of that pit and actually given enough development and personality to feel like proper characters. Shemar Moore plays Hondo (which is a nickname, but I can’t be bothered with the quotations all the time), newly appointed team leader of the main S.W.A.T team. He’s a kid from the hood who grew up to try to help his community, to be a good cop. And while he can be portrayed as perfect action man at times (damn his handsome face, damn it), he does get some decent development throughout that makes him an interesting lead. And Moore is great in the role. Next we have Stephanie Sigman as Jessica Cortez, captain of S.W.A.T and secret love interest of Hondo. She’s a tough and determined lady who’s trying to be taken seriously, as a high ranking woman in law enforcement. She’s an okay character. And Sigman is really good in the role. Next we have Alex Russell as Jim Street (actual name), a cocky kid and recent S.W.A.T graduate who is a bit of a punk at the start. But a we go on he gets more development and turns to one of the better characters on the show. And Russell is really good in the role. We also get performances from people like Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Jay Harrington, David Lim, Patrick St. Esprit, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by Robert Duncan, and it was fine. It’s kinda bland and forgettable, but it never detracts from a scene, while also rarely ever adding anything. It’s fine, it works decently well. Though I do have to admit, the updated version of that old theme is awesome.

Based on the 1975 series by Robert Hamner and Rick Husky, this new version was developed by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Shawn Ryan, and while I can’t compare this to that old one (as I haven’t seen it), I can at least say that the craft behind this new one is fine, slightly above average. There’s enough grit to keep it from being completely dull. In terms of action, it can be a mixed bag. At times it’s quite enjoyable, and a few times it’s bad because of bad editing and shot composition (guess it all depends on who’s behind the camera). But when it’s at it’s best, it can be quite enjoyable. It may be another CBS police procedural, but there’s enough talent and brains in here to make it stand out a little bit.

This show has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 45/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

While it often falls back on police procedural clichés, I still find season 1 of “S.W.A.T” to be a really enjoyable little series that gives me some decent entertainment. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and really good directing. Though as previously mentioned, the plot is rarely anything special, the music is a bit forgettable, and the directing at a few points wasn’t great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “S.W.A.T” is a 7,13/10. So while quite flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth watching.

My review of “S.W.A.T” season 1 is now completed.

At least the theme song is pretty awesome…

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Academy Award 2019: Music Nominees

Well hello there. Around this time last year, I teamed up with some really cool people to cover that year’s Academy Award nominees. And we decided to do it again, splitting the nominees between us and discussing it on our blogs. And just like last year, I am covering the music nominees, because I’ve barely seen anything nominated for an Oscar this year, and these categories are the only ones I can do from my room for free in a perfectly legal manner. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Best Original Score
Let’s start with the scores first. No real reason, just seems reasonable. But before we get into that, we have a comment here from the lovely Maddy of FiveThreeNinety regarding what she considers a major snub:

HOW First Man was not even nominated baffles to me the point of not being able to see the actual contenders. I was convinced that was a sure win.
Thank you, Maddy. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Now, on with the nominees!

Black Panther – Ludwid Göransson

First up we have the score for Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther”, which I haven’t seen yet. I know, weird. Still, any thoughts on the movie itself do not matter, it’s what the music is like that matters. And not gonna lie, from what I’ve heard, the score by Ludwig Göransson is pretty stellar, mixing the typical superhero brass with a lot of African percussion and woodwind, and even a little bit of interesting electronica to create one of the more unique scores within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

BlackkKlansman – Terence Blanchard

Next up is the score from the latest Spike Lee joint, “BlacKkKlansman” (that stylization really fucks up my flow). A true story about a black police detective infiltrating the KKK. So what does Blanchard bring in for the music? Well, he gives us a score that mixes somber string work, march percussion, and even a little bit of blues guitar, creating an absolutely stunning sound that seeps into the soul and just creates a sense of dread. Yeah, it’s a good one.

Mary Poppins Returns – Marc Shaiman

From composer Marc Shaiman we have the score for “Mary Poppins Returns”, the sequel to the 1964 musical classic. And it’s a fairly standard score here. Not bad in the slightest, it’s just that we’ve heard this kind of stuff before in Disney movies for god knows how long. The sung songs are a lot of fun, and the main score is easy on the ears, so the music here is just a bit of good ol’ crowd pleasing.

Isle of Dogs – Alexandre Desplat

Next up, we have the score for Wes Anderson stop motion film “Isle of Dogs”, composed by one of my favorites, Alexandre Desplat. Mixing in a lot of Asian percussion and chorals mixed in with the occasional regular brass, strings, and piano, it makes for a fun and quirky sound that also has a nice emotional undertone.

If Beale Street Could Talk – Nicholas Britell

Next up we have Nicholas Britell’s score for “If Beale Street Could Talk”, Barry Jenkins’ movie based on the James Baldwin novel of the same name. And holy fuck, this score hits hard. Somber strings, emotional piano pieces, and a general sense of sadness makes it a stunning feast for the ears. But you know what it reminds me of at times? Nick Cave’s score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (still a mouthful), which has a similar sound. That’s not saying that “Beale Street” doesn’t stand out musically, because it really does.

And here’s a comment from Martin of Through the Silver Screen:

“Re-teaming with Barry Jenkins after his Oscar nominated work in Moonlight, Nicholas Britell did it again creating a score that was both beautiful and melancholic, capturing the joy and despair of the main characters beautifully. But by far one of the biggest snubs here was for Justin Hurwitz’s First Man score, which had it been nominated would surely have come back down to earth to win the statue. Ludwig Göransson’s wonderful work for Black Panther is also very much worthy of the gong, as it was grounded in the beauty of the continent of Africa.”

And here’s one from Nathan:

Best Original Score’s real winner (Justin Hurwitz’s First Man) inexplicably missed an Oscar nomination but Nicholas Britell’s If Beale Street Could Talk is a gorgeous, brooding composition that enriches the film’s tenderly melancholic exploration and portrait of love. It should, and probably will, win but faces stiff competition from Black Panther.

Biggest chance of winning: Isle of Dogs.
My pick: BlacKkKlansman.

Best Original Song
And now we move on to the second half of this post, the part where we talk about the best original song nominees. So let’s do it.

All the Stars – Kendrick Lamar/Sza – Black Panther

Man, “Black Panther”, raking in the nominations. So here we have “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA (apparently pronounced Sizza). I’m not the biggest fan of the style of music that this is, but I do also think that this sounds quite good and I can see why it was nominated. So yeah, it’s pretty good.

The Place Where Lost Things Go – Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns

Remember how I said that the sung songs were the better part of the “Mary Poppins Returns” music? This still applies, because this is beautiful. The minimalist composition gives it a nice emotional tone, the lyrics are beautiful, and Emily Blunt’s singing is stunning and it really reaches into my heart. So yeah, this song is very good.

I’ll Fight – Jennifer Hudson – RBG

Not every day a documentary has a best original song. But “RBG”, a documentary about supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had it, and it’s the kind of grand, sweeping, soulful pop tune that you’d hear everywhere a few years ago. And I like thos kinds of tunes, so this kind of appeals to me. Is it the best example of this kind of song? No. But is it still a strong contender? Hell yeah.

When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings – Tim Blake Nelson/Willie Watson – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

In 2018, the Coen brothers gave us anthology western “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”, and that movie gave us this song. The singing for Nelson and Watson is stunning and just fits the whole quirky western singing. The small amount of instruments also gives it a small intimate feeling that just works so well for the story told in the song. It’s a charming little song that I kinda love.

Shallow – Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born

How many versions of “A Star is Born” do we have now? 46? What, only five? Okay. Anyway, this version stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and people apparently like it a lot. And this song, “Shallow” is the song from it that got an Oscar nomination. So is it good? Very. I like this sort of ballad bordering a little on rock, pop, and country, as it makes it stand out with this nice blend of the three. And “Shallow” is a damn good example of it. And now, a comment from Maddy again:

If a Star is Born doesn’t win, I will shave my head. It is one of the best original songs for film in years, and that’s saying something looking at the past few winners.

We also just got in another comment, this from Martin of Through the Silver Screen:

“Though I love “All the Stars”, nothing is stopping Lady Gaga here. Given that the Best Actress statue will likely be out of her reach, this is one award Gaga will be deservedly holding at the end of the night. The moment in ASIB when she sings “Shallow” with Cooper in the film, just sends chills down my spine. Incredible.”

And here’s a comment from Nathan:

We’re not far from the Shallow now, where Lady Gaga will ascend to the stage to collect the award for A Star Is Born. You can’t really argue against it – it’s a fantastic, stadium-worthy song – despite my personal belief that Always Remember Us This Way is the movie’s crowning achievement. I’d be equally happy for Mary Poppins Returns’ The Place Where Lost Things Go to take it on the night, although A Cover Is Not The Book or Can You Imagine That? would have taken its place on my personal ballot.

Biggest chance of winning: Shallow.
My pick: When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings.

So now we’ve gotten through all the music nominations, and I gave some of my thoughts on them. But I’d also love to hear from you guys. What are your thoughts on the music nominees for the Academy Award of 2019? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.

The cool people I collaborated with:

Plain, Simple Tom

Through the Silver Screen

FiveThreeNinety

Perks of Being Nath (who also hosted our friend Ryan, because Ryan doesn’t do his own blogging anymore).

And that’s it. Have a good one.

Movie Review: Wings of Desire (1987)

Yes, sometimes I watch old foreign films too.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wings of Desire”.

The story follows Damiel (Bruno Ganz), an angel watching over humanity. However, he is growing tired of his task, desiring to be a human. So now we have our existential drama. And who would’ve thought that it took a celestial being to give us the most human look at life. It’s a slow-paced affair, focusing more on giving us a deep and thoughtful look at what makes us human rather than being a traditional fantasy. And I love that, as it gave me something to think about while also making me feel a bit emotional at some of the heart-wrenching observations being made within the movie. So overall this plot is great.

The characters in this are layered, engaging, and overall really interesting. Bruno Ganz plays Damiel, the angel at the center of this story who is questioning his existence. Seeing a story take such a human look at something so divine and impossible is quite fascinating, and he’s given a lot of depth throughout, making him a very interesting protagonist. And Ganz is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Peter Falk, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jürgen Knieper & Laurent Petitgand, and I thought it was great. Based heavily in strings, it’s an emotional score that often evokes a very dreamlike quality which gives a surprising amount of layers to the various scenes in the movie. So yeah, this movie has some good music.

This movie was directed by Wim Wenders, and I think he did a really good job with it. His direction is tender, bringing us in close to the people, making us feel like one of the angels watching over humanity. The use of different perspectives as well as monochrome is utilized very cleverly too here, as Wenders creates something quite unique with his different directing tricks here. It all really sucked me into the story even more than I already was, and that is simply great.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Wings of Desire” is a unique and beautiful drama that wonderfully explores humanity. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wings of Desire” is a 9,81/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wings of Desire” is now completed.

In the arms of an angel…

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Happy valentines day, my friends. Hope you’re showing the love today. Whether for your significant other, your friends, your relatives, your pet, it doesn’t matter. Just show some love. Anyway, since it’s the day of lovey-dovey bullshit, let’s talk about a romance movie of sorts.

Ladies and gents… “The Adjustment Bureau”.

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a congressman in the state of New York. One day he meets professional dancer Elise (Emily Blunt) and starts falling in love with her. But their relationship gets halted at every turn by a mysterious organization hellbent on keeping them apart. So now David has to try to outsmart them and take control of his own destiny. And I thought the plot here was… fine. It has a damn good concept, and I did enjoy the chain of events along with some of the fairly unique world building they did throughout. It did however never fully grab me. It felt like they only really scraped the surface of the idea to try to appeal to the broadest audience possible. It’s like if “Dark City” was a bit bland. So overall, the plot here is fine, if a bit toothless.

The characters in this I found to be decently enjoyable. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a congressman with dreams of moving up in the political world, but can’t quite do that while dealing with this whole Elise situation. And we see him get some decent development throughout as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on. And Damon is great in the role. Emily Blunt plays Elise, the woman that Norris meets and falls in love with. She’s a tough, charming, and overall pretty interesting lady that I liked following a bit in the movie. And Blunt is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like John Slattery, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for this movie was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was fine. It was a bit bland, while still being decently enjoyable to listen to in the background of the film. I guess it worked well enough for the various scenes throughout the movie, even though it didn’t bring any real oomph to it.

Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick (why am I not surprised), this movie was written and directed by George Nolfi, who I think did a pretty good job. His direction gives the movie a decent bit of energy and helps it from feeling stale. Sure, the plot is a bit so-and-so, but the directing is still good enough to slightly elevate it.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 71% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

While it has its fair share of flaws, “The Adjustment Bureau” is still a fairly enjoyable little romantic thriller. It has a fine plot, pretty good characters, great performances, fine music, and good directing. Though as previously mentioned, the plot didn’t really stick with me, and the music didn’t really bring anything for me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Adjustment Bureau” is a 7,87/10. So while it is flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Adjustment Bureau” is now completed.

Nothing like stories of forbidden love.

Movie Review: The Godfather Part III (1990)

Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finish this damn trilogy. I watched and reviewed the first part all the way back in 2015. Then in April of last year I finally got to Part 2. And now, nearly four years after that first one, we wrap it all up. So here we fuckin’ go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Godfather Part III”.

The year is 1979. An aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is working to fully go legitimate, after all the sins in his past. But that turns out to be more difficult than anticipated as he has to deal with the other families, as well as reluctantly take his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia) under his wing. So now we have our third and final “Godfather” story. And god damn, is it a mixed bag. I was actually quite invested at first, as the story they present towards the first act of the film is reminiscent of the other films in the series, and presents a compelling narrative around lineage, atoning, and the various other themes one would expect from the franchise at this point. Then shit hits the fan and it all gets quite uninteresting for a while. It’s not awful, but it’s just kinda boring and mediocrely written. Then towards the end it kinda picks up again. The entire thing is kind of a mixed bag.

The characters in this are mostly quite good. There’s one or two that I just had trouble giving a shit about. I just went “Oh yeah, you’re here too, I guess” any time I saw one of them. First up we have Al Pacino reprising his role as Michael Corleone, head of the Corleone family. He’s a lot older now, getting tired of all the shit going on around him. And he’s still probably the most compelling character in this whole thing. And Pacino is great in the role. Next we have Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, Michael’s nephew and now protegé. He’s a bit of a hothead who often gets into trouble, but still wants to really impress his uncle, showing that he can be useful. And aside from one subplot that is just… wrong, he actually has a good arc here. And Garcia is great in the role. We also get Eli Wallach as Don Albotello, a fellow Godfather and generally interesting man with an interesting little plot of his own here. And Wallach is great in the role. Next we have Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone, Michael’s daughter. She has a character arc in this that is weird, uncomfortable, and not the most well written, making her a character I didn’t care for that much. And Coppola isn’t very good in the role… at all. We also see the return of Talia Shire and Diane Keaton, both doing very well in their roles. We also get supporting work from people like Bridget Fonda, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Raf Vallone, Franc, D’Ambrosio, and many more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Carmine Coppola, and it was quite good. IT has that intimate and emotional style of the previous “Godfather” scores without just sounding like the exact same thing being used. It has its own flourishes, and I liked most of them. What I don’t get is the frequent use of a mouth harp. Is this a movie about an Italian-American crime family, or is it about a wacky clan of hillbillies? Other than the weird use of a mouth harp, the music here is damn good.

“The Godfather Part III” is as expected from the title, the third part in the “Godfather” series based on Mario Puzo’s book of the same name. But unlike the last two, this had no real source material, so it was written from scratch by Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. And while the writing leaves a bit to be desired at times, Coppola’s direction is still (mostly) as tight as ever, giving us an intimate, engaging, and suspenseful look into this world. And the cinematography by Gordon Willis is quite good too, giving us some real eye candy throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 68% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best supporting actor (Garcia), Best Director, Best cinematography, Best set decoration, Best film editing, and Best original song.

“The Godfather Part III” is a bit of a disappointing end to this trilogy, but it’s overall an enjoyable crime-drama. It has an okay plot, okay characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, the movie suffers due to a large chunk of the plot being uninteresting, a few uninteresting characters, and one distractingly bad performance from a major player. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Godfather Part III” is a 7,87/10. So while heavily flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Godfather Part III” is now completed.

Sometimes the mighty fall. But then they give it one last push.

Movie Review: Mystic River (2003)

I had no real reason to review this movie. It was on tv last night, and that rewatch made me wanna talk about it. So no proper reason. I mean, I could tie it into Eastwood’s new movie “The Mule”, but… nah.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mystic River”.

After one of them suffers a horrific family tragedy, three childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon) find their lives change in some dark, shattering ways. So now we have our crime-drama. And I loved the story here. It’s a slowly burning, somber, and contemplative drama, focusing more on showing what happens within people’s minds after they experience something horrific, rather than a typical murder mystery. This is what I meant with the somber and contemplative. Yes, you do have the murder investigation, but it’s really more of a character drama than a police procedural. And I find it all extremely engaging, gut-wrenching, and incredibly well done.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, damaged, and just overall really interesting. First up we have Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum, a former criminal turned legit businessman. He’s the man who suffered the family tragedy that kicks the plot into gear, and to see him try to deal with it, especially as a former criminal, is quite an interesting journey. And Penn is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle, the second of the main trio. As a boy, something happened to him that changed his life forever. And recent events put some of those memories back into his mind, which really gives him some interesting character development. And Robbins is fantastic in the role. And then we have Kevin Bacon as Sean Devine, a cop and the third of the childhood friends. He’s the one investigating the death of Markum’s family member, while also kind of dealing with a personal thing in the background. He probably has the least interesting arc of all the characters, but I still find him to be quite interesting. And Bacon is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Spencer Treat Clark, John Doman, Tom Guiry, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a good job with it. It’s emotional, it’s a little eerie, and it just works very well within the various scenes that it can be heard. Yeah, it’s good.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (AKA my favorite author), this movie was directed by Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a fantastic job on that front, directing it with an emotional intimacy that brings us close to the characters, while still allowing for a sense of scale to capture every element of this sweeping tale of personal tragedy. He also brings a decent bit of suspense to it, especially at a certain point in the movie which had me fully locked to the screen.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie won two Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Penn) and best supporting actor (Robbins). It also got an additional four nominations in the categories of Best picture, best director, best supporting actress (Harden), and best adapted screenplay.

“Mystic River” is a fantastic crime-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mystic River” is a 9,89/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mystic River” is now completed.

Tragedy hits us all in different ways. Hug your loved ones while you can.