The Morning After: August 29, 2011

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what I’ve seen over the past week either in film or television. On the film side, if I have written a full length review already, I will post a link to that review. Otherwise, I’ll give a brief snippet of my thoughts on the film with a full review to follow at some point later. For television shows, seasons and what not, I’ll post an individual comment here about each of them as I see fit.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Bridesmaids


One of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in the last decade, Bridesmaids doesn’t just shoot for cheap laughs, it tries to generate genuinely hilarious moments that coincide with a solid story and amusing performances. It’s a raunchy, language-filled comedy, but it doesn’t push itself too far past the bounds of good taste. There are enough pleasant and unassuming scenes to keep the film grounded. Kristen Wiig does what Tina Fey could not: launch a successful movie career. Although her Saturday Night Live alums Fey and Amy Poehler have done fine work on television, Wiig has managed to create a hysterical movie that strangles a movie like The Hangover with a deliciously sweet pastry bag.

The Grifters


Stephen Frears’ story of three con artists struggling to make a success plays out like any good crime film should but takes an unusual path that bypasses a number of staid genre tricks. And when you’re dealing with cons, it’s surprising that, in the end, there isn’t a grand scheme in sight. John Cusack stands firm against Anjelica Huston who plays his mother. They play off each other like a well oiled machine, with a sabot named Annette Bening thrown in. Not that Bening is bad, she plays selfish hellcat well, but this film belongs to Huston and Cusack. It’s an unconventional story told well.

Weeds (Season 6, episodes 10-13)

It’s surprising how far Mary Louise Parker and her show have come in six seasons. It all began with her as a traditional soccer mom with an unfortunate, but necessary side business as a pot dealer in suburbia. After getting involved with drug cartels and now going on the run after her son Shawn murders her arch rival, the show wasn’t proving to have long legs. After the last three seasons, I began to wonder if the show would ever find its stride again. After all, the suburban drug dealing mom concept had gotten outrageous, outlandish and a bit far-fetched. In this sixth season, they have finally returned to their comedic roots and given the audience a believable and fulfilling story, some great laughs and some truly scary situations. The season-ending episode was one of the best to date. So, they have me hooked for a seventh season at least.

The IT Crowd (BBC, Season 1, episodes 1 & 2)

Having only watched two episodes so far, I can’t really say this is a show I will love or not. It had some promise in its first episode, but the characters are quite grating and the situations seem a bit unrealistic. There are slivers of possibilities here or there, but without some serious improvement over the next couple of episodes, I’m not sure I’ll keep going.

Leverage (Season 3, episodes 1-3)

You don’t pick up a series like this and not expect every episode to feature similar situations and themes. Leverage has done a decent job distinguishing its con jobs from each other without much effort. The third season seems to be recycling some elements while embracing new ones. The first episode suggests that we’ll have a season-long arc that carries from story to story. The second and third episodes so far seem to have little bearing on the master storyline. Maybe more episodes will deal with it, or it will just pop up periodically. They had a better option, which would be to do something in the vein of Veronica Mars, but they haven’t found that kind of style yet and I’m not sure it would work for them. The show is still interesting trifle and little more.

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