“Slow Burn” Watch: Bloodline @lindacardellini @JacindaBarrett @NorbertLButz @OfficialChloeS @Netflix #GoodWatch

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As I recently mentioned, Bloodline was a suggestion from an internet article to fans of Ozark. I’ve learned not to take those suggestions (or ones directly from Netflix) seriously, but some further research disclosed an incredible cast. I had to give it a watch.

First off, Ben Mendelsohn gets better every time I see him. Rogue One is my favorite Star Wars movie, but Director Orson Krennic was fairly straightforward; dare I say one-dimensional. His portrayal of Danny Rayburn stole the show and won him an Emmy. Mendelsohn wasn’t the only actor to put on a memorable performance. Linda Cardellini, Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Jacinda Barrett, Sam Shepard, Norbert Leo Butz, and Chloë Sevigny all put in solid (or better) performances.

My problem with the show is, as I explained yesterday, that there was too much content within the season. When I binge a show, I’m looking to get through it fairly quickly; otherwise, I’d be watching network TV (which, of course, I still do). When the first season is 13 episodes of at least 50 minutes each, that drags for me. The more I’m forced to watch, the more I identify certain scenes as disposable, making it even worse. This doesn’t seem like a fair criticism. The creators are trying to give me my money’s worth, which I appreciate, but it just doesn’t work for me under the circumstances. Season one ended with a cliffhanger that isn’t enough of a hook to get me to keep watching. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but there are many other shows I want to watch, so this has slid to the bottom of my list of priorities.

Ultimately, it was a good show often with great acting; just one that doesn’t motivate me to keep watching. As always, YMMV.

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Good Watch: Dead to Me @1capplegate @lindacardellini @netflix @deadtome #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Dead to Me, season 2 just dropped, which has ten, 30-35 minute episodes, all of which I watched on Saturday. It’s both comedic and tragic. Linda Cardellini plays Judy, a complete screw up that brings tragedy with her everywhere she goes. This brings her to Christina Applegate’s Jen, and it spirals down from there. Saying anything more would require at least mild spoilers.

With respect to Ms. Applegate, this is literally the best I’ve ever seen her act. She’s phenomenal.  Ms. Cardellini’s Judy plays a naive and self-destructive character that usually frustrates me and keeps me from liking a show, but though her performance overall is really good, what most keeps me on board is her comedic timing. We’re all familiar with the notion of how difficult it can be to formulate and maintain a lie. Watching Jen and Judy navigate those waters made me laugh every time. However, this is far from a comedy. The tragedies follow one after the other, with the big ones self-inflicted and creating a snowball effect. There should be another season, and however many there are, I’m very curious as to how this series will end.

Dead to Me streams on Netflix.

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#Avengers: Age of #Ultron: The Flip Side of the #MCU Power Curve @JeremyRenner @lindacardellini

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In yesterday’s post, I voiced my only serious complaint about the MCU: The incoherent power curve. While that certainly annoys me, Avengers: Age of Ultron keeps me from forgetting that the least powerful original Avengers, Black Widow and Hawkeye, were certainly very important to the team. If the choice I was given was having a screwy power curve or eliminating them from the story, I’ll take the screwy power curve with a smile on my face every time.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye was instrumental in stopping Scarlet Witch from tearing the Avengers apart. He was the only one who avoided her powers, and he was the one to convince her, the person that would one day become the strongest Avenger, to join the team in a meaningful way. That was done with a speech rivaling any Captain America ever delivered. This was a believable effort on his part despite not requiring a superpower. Before that, however, he reinforced the message to the other Avengers of what they were fighting for by introducing them to his family. In fact, his non-hero wife, Laura, kept him from losing touch with his own importance. For a team that was falling apart at the seams, this was critical to the believability of the Avengers continuing to work well together.

Black Widow

I’ve written several times about how Black Widow is the glue of the Avengers. Except for Thor, she had significant, on-screen bonding moments with each of the original Avengers (as well as a few others) over the course of several films. This could explain her eventual inability to stick to one side in the Avengers’ “civil war.” With this movie, we saw the development of her most significant relationship, Bruce Banner, and the expansion of her most important one (from a story perspective), Hawkeye. I vaguely relate to Black Widow’s backstory, and how it shaped who she became, in a specific but personal way I won’t discuss; however, I think we can all agree that it’s compelling enough for her own movie. The story became a mission to rescue her, but not really. Far from the archetypical damsel in distress, she instead turned the situation around from the inside, leading the Avengers to Ultron. Without screwing with the power curve, Black Widow contributed in vital ways.

These two characters were as important to the Avengers as any of the others, and neither had a superpower.

Unrelated Note

In a cinematic universe filled with brilliant one-liners, one of my favorites comes from Age of Ultron.

“Oh, for God’s sake!”

James Spader is awesome.

Sometimes you must take the bad with the good. Black Widow and Hawkeye were really good.

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