Watch it now: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Mindhunter, Blade Runner 2049
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s whimsy & song back in season 3 premiere
Logline: Rebecca Bunch is the crazy ex-girlfriend in this musical revenge fantasy.
Verdict: Rachel Bloom’s weird, absurd, and wonderfully whimsical musical-comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returned for its season 3 premiere this weekend. Following a bombshell of a finale in its second season, this opener chronicles Bloom’s Rebecca Bunch’s breakdown in response to Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) leaving her at the altar. In the wake of this trauma, she takes it upon herself to recruit her circle of old friends, including Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), to undertake a revenge plot against Josh. The opening episode shows Rebecca struggling to formulate a coherent plan of attack against Josh while wrestling with the psychology behind exactly why she wants to get her comeuppance.
The show continues to explore emotional trauma in a substantive, mature way as Rebecca’s friends remain caring and fully supportive. Of course, it also features fresh and charming musical numbers, from the opening “Where’s Rebecca Bunch” to the episode’s closing highlight, “Let’s Generalize About Men”. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend excels at juggling several tones without sacrificing watchability, secretly a smart show that continues to be invested in exploring the messiness behind characters. One can already see this season shaping up to continue the show’s delightful streak.
Mindhunter is probably Fincher’s best thing maybe ever
Logline: Two FBI detective-pioneers gain killer insight from infamous murderers.
Verdict: David Fincher’s Netflix series Mindhunter dropped its ten episodes all at once for irresponsible people to binge all at once. Following the early days of the criminal behavior unit within the FBI, the series takes an often disturbing look at the birth of the classification of serial killers and the emerging psychological science that brought insights to light. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is an academy teacher-turned-arrogant prick who wanders about America talking to “sequence killers” trying to gain ideas and methods to employ in the field. His partner Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) is along for the ride to slap him across the face when Holden’s arrogance gets the better of him, as the two dive deeper into the minds of twisted serial killers to help save America.
Mindhunter is classic Fincher. From the first few bits to the last, its bleak desaturated grey-black color palette manages to evoke a feeling of eroding nihilism and psychological decay within its protagonists and the killers with whom they converse. The show is at its best when actors like breakout star Cameron Britton (as Ed Kemper) put in stomach-churning performances that manage to squeeze out a pulsating darkness to send actual shivers through you. This isn’t a depiction of banter between dudes – this is about boring Holden Ford poking serial killers with a verbal stick and being spooked when they describe their murderous feelings. The affect level nearly induces panic attacks in watchers.
Mindhunter still makes mistakes, repeating tired tropes in the way detective work places pressure on personal relationships, among others. The show unfortunately indulges the conceit of arrogant, self-pitying Holden Ford being unable to connect personally with others. Once you chew through the fat of its rough start, however, Mindhunter is a real Fincher thrill ride not seen since Zodiac.
Logline: What makes us human?
Verdict: Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to a thirty-five year old film about a maybe-robot-maybe-human guy who hunts origami and also something something question of humanity. Hot diggity damn. Sounds incredible, right? The original 1982 Blade Runner actually explored a dystopia in the grips of ecological collapse and riddled with existential decay, as its main character Deckard (Harrison Ford) tracked down Replicants (synthetic humans) in order to shoot them, but then failed at his job anyway. 2049 follows Agent K (Ryan Gosling) as he tracks down a techno-conspiracy that takes him through a disaster-scape of future Western U.S. That’s about as much plot as we can give away before spoilers kick in.
2049 is an utterly beautiful film, brought to sense-assaulting heights by cinematographer Roger Deakin (Skyfall). Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) once again brings his sharp sense for subversive storytelling and challenging filmmaking in 2049, conjuring the same weighty pace of the original, but with a story that manages to surprise and engage on whole new levels. Harrison Ford actually – gasp! – acts for the first time in decades, bringing an understated sadness to a role we thought long dead & buried. 2049 might just be the surprise of the year in satisfying the expectations of long-standing cult fans, chronicling a miserable search by its protagonist into a corporate-Orwellian milieu that resonates deeply in today’s surveillance-state political climate.
The sequel isn’t without its faults. 2049 has unfortunately inherited some of the sins of the near-universally acclaimed Blade Runner: a serious problem in its presentation of female characters, who are all either holograms, prostitutes, mercenary killers, or dead. One could also pick apart some plot holes in the film, simple logical deduction like: why are there zero guards at the police station? Why does Jared Leto (playing spooky genius Niander Wallace) do nothing of consequence, ever? However, the overlong 2049 is still a visionary marvel we’ll all need time to fully digest. That it manages to be its own thing while paying homage to the original is a feat in itself.