What’s On The Grill – September 6th – 12th

Howdy, Exiles and welcome to another What’s On The Grill! This week, I dug into some good old fashioned television (no, actually, probably the exact opposite of old fashioned television), caught a few old favorite films and generally had a blast.

Right off the bat, let’s get into something that’s all-too-rare on What’s On The Grill…recent releases.

The Expanse Season 2: Hard sci-fi fans should be generally pleased that this show is ongoing; painting a realistic-feeling take on the future of humankind, we see political and personal power struggles jostle the lives of folks trying to make their ways through their days in the solar system.

This show is incredibly well written with a better budget than most Sy-Fy originals and every single drop of it shows in the production values and acting talent of the cast. In a parallel universe, this could almost have been Game of Thrones, with smart characters, an engaging and complicated plot and a good amount of bastards being bastards while the characters you grow attached to may not make it through to see a better day.

Spoiler

This season saw the end of show favorite Joe Miller, bought to full space-noir life by Thomas Jane. Even though I hated to see him go, it was at least in a suitably Sam Spade-ish way.

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This season also brought the hints that something mysterious was going on (apart from space politics and asteroid mining) into extremely sharp focus. I think this was smart; if the show has a fault it’s that it is exacting in detail and the momentum of the overall plot can suffer. It flows at an inaccessible pace where events can take a long time to be realized. That isn’t to say that the show is filled with fluff and unimportant side arcs; almost everything is relevant but it will punish the impatient viewer.

We finally get to know the Martian Federation this season too; no longer simply faceless minions of a vaguely Soviet-era space-Russia, we see people who love their world as much as Earthers love theirs; the extent of a new threat leads to an escalating cold war between Earth and Mars as well as segueing into some fantastic action sequences.

On that note, one of the other things that this show gets right (at least superficially) is how space flight and armed combat might happen in the void. While the Battlestar Galactica reboot finally started to move us away from the pop culture perception that space fighting is like WW2 dog fights (although that was a deliberate choice), The Expanse takes this trend towards realism even further while keeping the white-knuckle tension that makes it fun to watch alive. This show doesn’t deserve to be as underground as it is. B+

BoJack Horseman Season 4: So, you know how everyone age 5 and above is extremely excited about Rick and Morty right now? I’m not saying it’s not deserved, R&M is a great show, Duke. But are there other shows that deal with adulting against a backdrop of the wacky, hilarious and absurd? Maaaaaybe even do it better, if we’re just going on writing talent and the ability to elicit poignancy without ever turning into a soap opera?

BoJack season 4 starts off with one of life’s most hilarious pranks; in the absence of the main character in a story (that’s BoJack, but could be you, me or anyone else on the planet), life actually doesn’t give that much of a shit and just rolls on being life. Oh sure, his closest…associates are wondering where our famous-in-the-90’s hero went off to for a year, but not so much that Mr Peanutbutter doesn’t decide to run for Governor of California.

Feline Princess Carolyn (now a manager, not an agent) deals with a career in shambles and brick walls in her attempt to start a family with a charming mouse and Todd Chavez enacts probably the greatest hare-brained scheme he’s ever attempted. Yes, it’s better than Disneyland (remember, a trademark typo from Walt himself allowed him to claim the rights to the theme park and endanger the lives of hundreds).

So where is BoJack during all of this?

Spoiler

He’s doing the one thing that any character in his situation should be doing after three seasons of moping, self pity and self absorption: he’s getting his shit together.

Finally dealing with his dementia-addled mother leads us into some extremely dark territory where the history of the Sugarman family is explored through her eyes. His long-lost ‘daughter’ now lives with him, forcing him to look outside of himself and even in the company of this family mess, his own thoughts of worthlessness hammer away at his psyche like devils with sledgehammers.

Wait, this is a show about a cartoon horse, right?

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Back to the Labrador. Mr Peanutbutter’s campaign trail against his civic-minded opponent is the most brutal skewering of modern politics this side of Veep. Everyone’s an idiot and an asshole and are followed by legions of idiots and assholes. But we do get to see the lovely Jessica Biel (secretly supported by lobby groups that want to destroy the wetlands to build private prisons) enter the fray on the promise to keep the streets safe and do something about those wetlands.

Todd’s plan to

Spoiler

have dentists and clowns train one another goes…awry. Failing to satisfy the Better Business Bureau that his new company are accomplished dentists or entertainers leads to him releasing his employees into the woods, by the lunatic asylum and the school where a tussle with a rabid raccoon nearly escalates into a full blown zombie clown-pocalypse. Zombie clowns that are armed with crude dentistry equipment.

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All I’m saying is that while everyone’s “wubba-dub-dub”ing and praising themselves for liking the smartest show on television, this thing exists. A+

The A-Team: Speaking of Biel, she’s in this movie. It’s about hilarious badasses who do wildly improbable things following a convoluted plot to an impossible destination.

No seriously, this might be my all-time favorite action film (just barely topped out by Die Hard). It’s hard to write a coherent review because its faults are, in my eyes, the things that make everything about the ridiculousness totally worth it. Deadpan adherence to the concept from Liam Freaking Neeson, Bradley Freaking Cooper, Sharlto Freaking Copley, Quinton Freaking Rampage Jackson and director Joe Freaking Carnahan sell this movie in a way that no one else could accomplish.

Patrick Freaking Wilson proves he’s got great acting range by being the douchiest CIA dirtbag to ever grace the screen. That a sequel won’t happen for this movie is a dumb, horrible fact of life.

Watch this flick.

Or, you know, don’t. I ain’t your boss. A+ (for me). B (for everyone else).

Knock Knock: I’ve skirted towards not saying kind things about Eli Roth in the past. It’s not that I don’t like gory films; I don’t in general despite not being offended by them either. I have however wondered in the past if he had anything worth saying.

This movie came so very close to being brilliant and then popped like a balloon literally five seconds before the end credits.

A Keanu Reeves-looking architect is alone for the weekend in his expensive Hollywood hills domus when two attractive young ladies stop by, stranded by the rain on the wrong street while trying to get to a party. So the Keanu Reeves-looking guy loves his wife and his kids and despite how obviously attractive and flirtatious the two girls are, is a perfect gentleman; he calls them an Uber and lets them dry off.

Then they rape him.

I won’t go into the incredibly difficult subject of woman-on-man rape, not only is it outside the purview of this website but also general conversation. What I was impressed about was that so many horror tropes that deal with sexual assault were deftly and smartly flipped. He becomes powerless and helpless and his sexuality is turned against him; half-way through the film, I had a greater appreciation by far about how well Roth knows the genre he works with and how everything that someone expects out of a horror movie can be so effectively subverted and shown to be the romanticization of the monstrous. It seemed to be a distinct attack on his own genre of film.

The two women were monsters, as bad as the dirtbags in I Spit On Your Grave; they mercilessly tormented their prey with accusations of pedophilia and lectured him in psychotic rationalizations of morality. They destroyed every inch of his home, every possession that was important to him. To say this is an uncomfortable movie is an understatement.

Then, buried in his backyard with only his head above ground, the women offer a final indignity: they share a video of their ‘love-making’ on Facebook and as the stream of horrified comments roll in, they walk away never to be seen again. A completely out-of-place gag caps the film and I’m again left wondering if I didn’t just imagine that Roth knew what he was talking about at all. D

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Yep, I’m a Star Wars guy. Empire was the first movie I ever saw and I had a ton of action figures when I was a kid. But at the same time, I’m not at the fan fiction level or ever felt the need to donate money towards a billboard hoping to get George Lucas to direct again.

There’s this impossible tightrope that post-trilogy Star Wars directors have to walk; add to the universe, but not so much as to change the universe and out of the last five films, I think Rogue was the closest to being the best of both worlds. Set in the most grounded way possible, a footnote between the original films, it still manages to flesh out the universe organically.

I love the lived-in setting of Tatooine way more than pseudo-mystic melodrama about The Force and care way more about Han Solo scraping enough together for fuel than another lightsaber duel. This is a universe I’d want to live in, to see with my own eyes baffling small wonders that I’d never glimpse again. I care about stormtroopers, scrappy rebels and weird aliens on bizarre worlds. Alien towns atop giant mesas, blisteringly cold worlds still rife with a strange ecosystem and planet-wide cities that go down for miles. So yes, Rogue One was completely my jam.

While I enjoyed the performances of the leads and felt that they had generally strong motivations, I think they fell a bit short from being as memorable as other Star Wars characters; instead they became a part of the story rather than the focal points of it. I think the issue was directorial rather than script-related and perhaps intentional; this movie felt like as much of a fated conclusion as the meta indicated. This is a story, the characters are important; brave, courageous and chock full of hardbitten grit that shines (seriously, I love the rally speech near the third act) but they are players in something larger that they can’t see just yet. There could be nothing but a grim finality punctuated with a From Here to Eternity reference and the much-vaunted Vader scene which is effective for not dropping the tempo of the film until the credits roll.

So, like, the third-best Star Wars film? I’m sure many if not most will disagree, but this trumped Return of the Jedi. If it’s the fate of Star Wars that they’ll keep releasing ‘mainline’ films and if this is an indication of what the ‘side’ films are going to be like, then I’m way more on board with these than another ripping yarn about Skywalker family issues. A-

 

What about you, Exiles? Did you catch anything good this week? Any movies that grabbed your attention or TV shows that had you bingewatching ’till way past bedtime?

Let us know in the comments below!

  • *blank stare*

    That’s hilarious. Nice catch!

  • He plays Young Simon Tam in a flashback in episode 4 (in proper episode order)

  • *blank stare*

    He is?

  • I’m game for a revival. Not like any of the cast has become uber famous. And Castle is over.

    Also Zac Efron is in Firefly?! Wtf!

  • sailor monsoon

    I’ll rank it as one of the best films ever made and i think hauer gives one of the greatest performances of all time but I’ll never watch it again

  • sailor monsoon

    It’s literally a haunted house film set in space.
    Replace the ghosts with a murderous alien and it’s the same thing

  • I’m not saying it’s not a good film. I’m just saying is it scary? Is it a horror film? No all around.

    Sci fi? Yea.

  • Shoot me an email man. AFI100@filmexodus.com

  • Kemosabe

    Perhaps.

  • Kemosabe
  • I logged on to write a post on that. We should get you a log in made. You’re up on the newsss

  • sailor monsoon

    It’s a beautiful work of art but i find it incredibly boring

  • Kemosabe
  • Kemosabe

    “i’m with you on blade runner”

    Fucking excuse me?

  • sailor monsoon

    I’m with you on blade runner
    Took me over a decade to finish but alien?
    Alien!?
    Perfect.

  • I watched Alien months before those. Same with Blade Runner. Boring. I’m giving BR a chance at redemption tho since 2049 looks amazing.

  • sailor monsoon

    Jesus.
    The prequels fucked your brain

  • Barely held my attention that film.

  • sailor monsoon

    Get out.
    Right now

  • So to clarify that 5/8/10PM EST for your roast. Same times for Saturday (why not just 3/8PM EST?) and then 6PM EST for DBMI?

  • Boring

  • sailor monsoon

    It’s a perfect horror film

  • Cmon y’all being serious?

  • sailor monsoon

    “Alien ain’t scary”
    Insert get the fuck outta here gif here

  • doubtfull.

  • Oh boy Alien? That movie ain’t scary.

    I’m one that’s particularly hard to scare in a movie. I don’t count jump scares tho since that’s like cheating. The Conjuring films friends were saying “sleeping with the lights on”. I watched it and couldn’t understand why.

  • King Alvarez

    It’s a very odd show. I watched it for the first time after Season 1 of LOST finished. But its been a while and I felt like I needed to revisit it for some reason. I am only 1 episode in right now. But I was doing some research, I know originally they aired the shows out of the intended order of McGoohan, and the DVD/Blu Ray corrected that, But apparently there is another viewing order out there that turns it into a 2 series event with 13 eps in 1 and 4 in the other. I’m thinking of trying it in that order this time around.

  • *blank stare*

    That’s an endorsement I can get behind.

    So few horror movies are actually scary. Shocking, gory, uncomfortable or unpleasant, sure…but scary is a benchmark that rarely gets hit. Alien, The Conjuring or The Exorcist are three rare examples for me.

  • sailor monsoon

    And that’s what you’ll be doing as you watch them

  • lol

  • sailor monsoon

    You will watch them all

  • Name the worst and best episode of Rick and Morty. I shall watch them and get back to y’all.

  • sailor monsoon

    They’re two of the best written shows on tv.
    That’s not hyperbole.
    I’d put the worst episode of either against 90% of anything on tv right now

  • sailor monsoon

    I wish the movie was as good as the songs because that should’ve been nominated for an Oscar

  • “Duke, watch Rick and Morty”
    “Duke, watch Bojack”
    Duke says “I watch what I want”

    But I’m toying with watching a few episodes of R&M just so I can than bash it without you guys saying “You can’t bash it until you’ve watched it”

  • sailor monsoon

    My top 10 is controversial but not THAT controversial.
    And bojack is amazing.
    You need to watch it

  • Oh cmon! If it makes Top 10 im outta here!

  • It is the first true horror movie to literally scare me.

  • Dude Richie from It (and Stranger Things) looks exactly like you in that movie!

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    Power Rangers needs a sequel!
    Im still waiting for it to happen. Also why did people let Popstar bomb?

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    IT was scary, creepy and I loved the kid actors and Pennywise! So glad it broke records.
    Saw Voltron Legendary Defender season 3 which hit me so hard with the feels and is still so good!
    Watched Envangelion 1.1 then watched Neon Genesis after to cleanse my eyes.
    Started watching The Defenders and I loved it!
    Watched the new Power Rangers movie and it was Morphinominal!
    I can’t wait for my 17th birthday on Friday! 🙂 It will be the best! The roast of 16 Wishes is at an early time at 5 PM EST and 8 PM EST and 10 PM EST! Yeah 3 roasts! Along with the main ones on Saturday same time then DBMI’s Birthday Roast Of Buckaroo Banzai at 6 PM EST and the other 2 times will be determined since both our movies are short so more screenings can be held!

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    The horse have some Spirit!

  • sailor monsoon

    Oops.
    I guess the horse is outta the bag

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    I hope we get a rebooted TV show that would be awesome!

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    Yes Bojack is on his list!

  • *blank stare*

    I’ve got to watch The Prisoner. I have no idea how I’ve avoided it for this long.

  • *blank stare*

    It’s the only series I absolutely recommend watching right to the end. I think a lot of the character groundwork does need time to develop.

    I’m also probably one of the only people who likes that it was cancelled well before it outstayed its welcome.
    A revival would be amazing, but the way the show got killed off was totally in the spirit of Firefly.

  • *blank stare*

    I kind of figured Bojack would be.
    You know, to avoid a miscarriage of justice and all.

  • TheDeadFellow
  • This comment alone made me want to buy Popstar

  • It’s a bit confusing lol

  • TheDeadFellow

    It’s available as a 99 cent rental on Amazon, so I’ll probably tackle it that way.

  • Kemosabe

    Song to Song…someone I met described it as an movie length Calvin Klein commercial. I don’t know how accurate that is, but please let me know as I’ll never watch.

  • TheDeadFellow

    Not so much what I’ve watched but I have planned for this week: Personal Shopper, The Lost City of Z, Power Rangers and maaaaaybe Song To Song. Mum also wants to watch The Accountant again this week, which I’ll oblige.

    I’ve also been rewatching Popstar almost non stop repeatedly and goddamn why does this movie have so much rewatch factor to it? Every fucking song in this thing is the bomb.

  • I think next time I watch it I’ll do so in the order Fox aired it. Should be interesting.

  • About 3 episodes in it really hits its stride. Didn’t help Fox aired them out of order.

  • sailor monsoon

    Loved me some A-team.
    Knock knock should’ve been called free pizza
    And bojack is very high on my list

  • Making my way through Firefly. Starting to dig this group of characters.

    Knock Knock was such a disappointment.

  • 2017 Stephen King’s IT
    College Football – Pitt vs Penn State AND Notre Dame and Georgia
    SNF – Dallas vs Giants

  • Kemosabe

    The A-Team is a great movie. I hoped more would follow, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

  • King Alvarez

    I finished up Hot Wet American Summer: 10 Years Later and I think it really paid off in the end. Completely ridiculous. Still going through The Tunnel, with 1 or 2 episodes left of season 1.
    And I just started rewatching The Prisoner (1967) and of course playing Galaxy of Heroes like a nerd.