The Morning After: October 3, 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 comments here about each of them as I see fit.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

The China Syndrome

This taut political thriller pits journalism against corporate interests in a showdown over the safety of a southern California nuclear power plant. Starring Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, the film explores the challenges of reporters as they attempt to expose cover ups that threaten public safety. Although we know now that nuclear power is one of the safest energy sources currently in use, there’s no question that the period of time in which this film takes place was well suited to this type of speculation. To me, the most important aspect of the film is showing us journalists with courage in action, fighting against those who wish to quash information in an effort to protect their bottom lines. Hard-hitting journalism has taken a back seat in the last thirty years since this film was made and although there are still generous exposés out there, none are as potent or invasive as the one depicted in this film.

Horrible Bosses

Bridesmaids isn’t the only comedy this year that had been laughing up a storm. I haven’t seen many this year, but Horrible Bosses along with Bridesmaids is one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in some time. The story follows Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Juno), Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock) as they gripe and eventually plot to kill their bosses. The bosses, played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston, are certainly among the most despicable bosses you could imagine from selfish, aggressive Spacey to cokehead Farrell to sexually harassing Aniston. They aren’t bosses you’d necessarily want to have, nor are you likely to have, but they represent idealized versions of the kinds of people we love to hate. The comedy is perfectly timed, the actors give solid, funny performances and the film never beats a dead joke into the ground. Some of the laughs aren’t particularly fresh, but they work in the framework of the film.

Community (Season 2, Episodes 1-6)

The hilarity continues unabated in the second season of Community this pop culture-heavy series following the misadventures of a Spanish study group (now an Anthropology study group having all passed Spanish), takes common stereotypes and adds depth and humor to each without being mean-spirited. The cast is superb and in these first six episodes, there are endless laughs, most notably in the sixth episode Halloween feature wherein the group is in costume at a school Halloween Party when a mysterious, secret government toxin infects everyone turning them into flesh-hungry zombies. It’s sheer lunacy from the outset, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find very much that’s more genuinely funny on television right now.

Dresden Files (Season 1, Episodes 7-11)

The show seems to be reaching its prime as the series goes on, with a hit-or-miss episode thrown in. Harry Dresden’s a charming character, even if those around him lack any appreciable acting talent (at least as in evidence in the show). The stories are a bit more interesting, though it shares some striking similarities with the Friday the 13th television series (which had nothing to do with psycho killer Jason, mind you). The supernatural film noir isn’t nearly as dark as it probably should be and while I’m not sure if the source material is at all like Mike Hammer, but the concept is interesting enough that it could work had it not resulted in a sometimes subpar set of visual effects. A second season might have shown some potential. There’s one episode left, but I doubt my opinions will change much on it.

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