Bill Nye Saves the World

Netflix has recently added a new show with Bill Nye. It’s a talk show that has a base in science in general it came out just in time for Earth Day. It sort of like Star Talk I guess but more focused on a single topic like the old Bill Nye, the Science Guy show. It takes a look at topics ranging from Climate Change and alternative medicine to sex and GMOs. Now this show has gotten some bad reviews as people are saying that it is uninformative, dumbed down, glosses over topics, political and not sure who the key demographic is.

Yet, this is what people in America need, most of us aren’t that scientifically literate to understand a lot of things. I mean look at the numbers of climate change deniers out there. Not to mention the current head of the EPA and President aren’t big fan of science. Science needs to be an aspect of all of our lives and we should understand it. Sure the simplicity of Bill Nye might be not what some people need but it gets some basic ideas out to people about the world and how science is all around us. If the show gets a second season perhaps the kinks will be worked out and it will be a better show which will help bring more science to the masses. More science would be great like that commercial with Millie Dresselhaus, It would be wonderful if we could name more than a handful of living scientist (Hawkings, Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson).

Five Came Back (2017)

The latest documentary Five Came Back on Netflix focuses on five directors who went to and fought in World War II and came back from it alive. This documentary was interesting as when it comes to World War II we some 70 years out all know the broad strokes of it, there Hitler takes power, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Holocaust, Bombings at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Sure HBO’s two brilliant miniseries focusing on the Army (Band of Brothers) and the Marines (The Pacific) telling the stories of the two theaters of war and there are a bunch of great films on World War II but this documentary tells an interesting story of the people who went to war and how it changed them.

Five Came Back focuses on John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens all of whom are directors who joined the War effort Ford joined the Navy while Wyler, Huston, Capra and Stevens all were members of the Army Signal Corp. All of them were involved in filming World War II. The documentary features famous directors all talking about one individual Steven Spielberg talks about Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola talks about Huston, Guillermo del Toro talks about Capra, Paul Greengrass talks about Ford, and Lawrence Kasdan talks about Stevens. In the first hour we hear about how they made names for themselves before the war, the second hours is about their time at war and the third hours from D-Day to after the war and what became of them afterwards. If you are a fan of film history this is a very interesting film to watch.

One of the coolest things that I’ve discovered after watching is that you can watch the films that they made during WWII which were talked about in the documentary on Netflix as they have a handful available to watch. If you have some time I would recommend that everyone watch this.

Netflix Ratings

According to Netflix they are replacing the star rating system with a thumbs up/down model. This is a good idea as it makes it a whole lot easier in a general sense, instead of debating if it was a 3 star or 4 star movie you just have to decide if you liked it or not. I was one of those people hoping that Netflix would add like half star ratings to pinpoint exactually how I felt about a film. Yet a thumbs up or down seems like a much simpler solution.Netflix is saying that this will lead to better predictions about what shows/movie would be of interest to you. It sounds better as I hardly ever watched what Netflix recommends that I could like based on the show/movie. It’s a nice move but it’s taken them long enough to figure out a better way to rate things.

Last Orson Welles film to be released by Netflix

This is some pretty cool news as that the final film Orson Welles worked on, The Other Side of the Wind will soon be released. It has taken a while for this film to get finished as filming ended in 1976 and it’s now 2017. This a a bizarre story but hopefully it will have a happy ending with the latest Welles film being worth the wait. The film itself is sort of a mockumentary on Hollywood of the 70s with the ‘Classic Hollywood’ of the 20s-60s passing away and being replaced with the new wave of avant-garde young directors in ‘New Hollywood’. The film is about a 70th birthday party of an director who wants to make a comeback. It is said to use a mix of still photos, and 8mm, 16mm and 35mm color and black-and-white film shot at the party, along with scenes from his unfinished movie, and the film would be a collage of all these various types of film. It sounds like a unique film as I can’t think of a film that uses all these different types of film gauges.

Power Rangers

To be completely honest I’ve been a fan of this show since it came on, I watched it the first five iterations (MMPR to Lost Galaxy) and tuned in the Forever Red during Wild Force, but basically i didn’t watch it in high school, then in college Disney had the show and aired it at a great time so I watched the new series Ninja Storm-RPM and caught up on the older series I missed. When the show moved over to Nickelodeon I watched the first one Samurai but Megaforce and Dino Charge are a bit out there and never got sucked into these season. So with the new movie along with the new season Ninja Steel, and the comic book series It seems like a great time to be a fan of Power Rangers. However this news make it even more fun although it seems unlikely but remember that gritty violent Power/Rangers video from a couple of year ago, well it’s producer has said that he is working on an ‘R-rated’ Power Rangers. It sounds something like Akibaranger, the Unoffical Sentai series that was developed for adult who were fans of Super Sentai as children. This series was a parody of Super Sentai shows but the adult take on Power Rangers is something that seems reasonable. A couple of friends and I worked on a comic book version of this idea, Stronghold, it went through many iterations and never really did much but it was a unique idea and we all liked it.  So if Netflix would want to do some crazy adult version of Super Sentai, I would watch it and am sure that several others would as well.  Netflix already has a bunch of the older seasons that you can watch so there is that audience already there.

Netflix trailers

Holy Cow! Netflix US dropped a ton of trailers for upcoming shows check out their Youtube channel for all of them.

We’ve got our first look at Bill Nye the Science Guy’s new show about science and stuff, a first look at Iron Fist Netflix’s latest Marvel series, a trailer for season three of Chef’s Table which has an interesting grouping of chefs, a series based on the movie Dear White People and a series based on Anne of Green Gables. These on top of the Super Bowl Commercial for Stranger Things. Along with some more announcement date trailers for the new season of Orange is the New Black and Grace and Frankie. Netflix sure does have a bunch of show coming out soon and they’ve also got a whole bunch of movies coming soon as well. Some of this looks like it’s worth checking out.

 

Crackle and Movie Musicals

These are two separate points but both are in the same news cycle. To begin Jerry Seinfeld and his brilliant series Comedians in Cars getting Coffee will be moving from Crackle to Netflix in late 2017. Now the show is the biggest thing that Crackle has along with Sports Jeopardy. I’ve like Seinfeld’s series since it came out, as it is interesting to see the interactions between Jerry and his friends as well as other comedians and actors or related people (Lorne Michaels, Barack Obama). If you haven’t seen an episode yet, what’s taken you so long. Also involved with the deal is a couple of Jerry Seinfeld stand-up specials as well as series development deals. It seems Netflix is turning into the place for comedy as they continue to ink deals for stand-up specials, recently with Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. With the loss of its biggest show will Crackle still exist come 2018 or will it find life with some other show or just have the Sony movies.

With the popularity of La La Land, Hollywood is once again hoping that the movie musical can make a comeback. However this story seem to always come out when there is a super popular musical out but the genre hasn’t really left. Now the films that are coming out are more biographical like Straight Outta Compton, Love and Music or they are like Pitch Perfect where they fit in some pop songs into the film or they are just animated. Sure this is nice to see something different at the movie theater but it really depends on the quality of the film that comes out. As The New York Times notes there are several major studios devoting major resources to musical for the first time since the 90s. Some of these films are going to be bringing hits like Wicked and Matilda to the screen, Playbill has a nice list of rumored film adaptions. Now it seems Disney is remaking all their animated films as live action so we’ve got those to look forward to as well. There will be more original films coming out and it would be great if these turned out to be good movies. With the revival of musicals on television it seems like we are going to continue in the time where the average individual we get multiple chance to see a musical. Yet once again I would rather have a few quality movie musical every year over a large quantity of movie musicals.

Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street is the latest film from John Carney, director/writer of Once and Begin Again. This is the other musical which was nominated for a Golden Globe this year. Once again focusing on music but this time in the 80s in Ireland. We have a story of a boy who starts a band to impress a girl. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins at a family meeting where we meet Lawlor’s who are on hard time so they take their youngest son Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and place him in a free state-school, Synge Street CBS, run by the Christian Brothers. Conor’s older brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor) rubs this in, joking about pedophilia, but also laments about the state of the family which is in a rocky state. On Conor’s first day at school he runs into trouble with the school principal, Brother Baxter, who reprimands him for not wearing black shoes as indicated in the school dress code, Conor also run into the school bully. This leads Conor to met a budding entrepreneur Darren (Ben Carolan), who has also been bullied and Conor and Darren become friends. The next morning or so meeting up before school Conor ask Darren who the girl across the street is, Darren doesn’t so Conor goes over and talks with her, she’s an aspiring model named Raphina (Lucy Boyton) Conor asks her if she wants to be in a music video for his band, she agrees.

The only problem is that there is no band. Conor and Darren go about assembling a band from the school.  They start with Eamon (Mark McKenna) a multi-instrumentalist, who has all these instruments around, and round out the group with the black guy in school, and two other guys who sort of are just there to fill out the band. As they get together they begin as a cover band but after Conor brings a recording of the band for Brendan to listen to, and Brendan isn’t a huge fan as they are just a cover band and cover bands are a dime a dozen. This inspires Conor to begin writing his own music and with Eamon’s help they are pretty good at it as well. After the first song is written they film a video and Raphina shows up. With each new song the band’s style evolves while Conor and Raphina get close at the same time Conor’s home life implodes. However, the closer they get Raphina seems all to motivated to leave for London to become a famous model and one day she leaves. Conor is heart broken and can’t write or play music but Brendan inspires him to write so someone can get out of this place. Will Conor write or ever see Raphina again.

If you have a brother this is a wonderful movie to watch, even if you don’t have one or you are one it tells a timeless story of love and family. Fans of the music of the 1980s should give it a look as well as those who have enjoyed other John Carney’s movies I hope that you take the time to watch the film.

Paddington (2014)

Paddington is the movie about the famous bear from the Paddingtion Bear books. Now I remember the cartoon from the 80s and the books, but when this film came out I wasn’t sure it was going to be good especially with Colin Firth, originally cast as Paddington,  being dropped so late in the production. Spoilers to follow.

The film begins with a newsreel about an expedition to darkest Peru, where the explorer meets a unique clan of bears, the explorer befriends the bears and teaches them all about London and Marmalade. As the explorer leaves for London he promises that there will always been a warm home for them in London. Years later in Peru we meet Paddington living with his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo, it’s marmalade day and they are busy throughout the day but that evening an earthquake comes and destroys their home. Aunt Lucy goes to live in the home for retired and sends her nephew to London, after they can’t find Uncle Pastuzo. Paddington stows away on a ship with a lot of marmalade and when he gets to London goes and waits in a train station, like children during WWII did. Here is where the Brown family meet him and they name the little bear Paddington, after the station where they found him. Paddington wants to find the explorer who came to Peru and the Brown family helps him. We all basically know where the story is going, Paddington will eventually end up with the Brown family but it sure is a fun journey to get there.

Around the world this film has been met with praise. Sure, it’s a gentle parable about xenophobia, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it over and over again. If you have kids coming over for the Holidays this is something to watch, it’s great for the whole family as well.

 

Jedi Junior High (2014)

Jedi Junior High has got to be the coolest movie I’ve seen this month. Jedi Junior High is a documentary about the production of a musicalized version of The Empire Strikes Back with kids in California. Back in 2009 at the Arts & Learning Center in Costa Mesa they came up with an audacious idea make a musical version of Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back. This is a clever thing as it is something that would attract boy and girls. The documentary talks about the importance of children exploring the world of theater and how it can turn awkward kid a bit less awkward. As far as the musical aspects they took already written Showtunes and changes the lyrics to make it more “Star Wars-y”. sort of like how The Simpsons had “Luck be a Lady” turn into “Luke be a Jedi tonight”. Now the sad part is that we don’t get to see the whole show which would have been awesome. If you are a fan of Star Wars and musical theater this is a must watch. A clever thing is at the end we go back to some of the kids featured in the movie and hear about how they have changed in the four years since doing the show.