A show whose politics are as progressive as Transparent always confronts the potential for indulgence. The showrunners’ own progressiveness can blind them. They can fall into a self-congratulatory hole, where once they dare to be politically savvy, they don’t bother to dare anymore. But Transparent, whose subject matter really is as progressive as they come, never stops daring. Rather than offering flat characters solely defined by their marginalization, we are given real people who struggle with their identity and who, like all of us, often feel unfulfilled, question themselves, and fear the future.
2015 was truly a great year for television. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu released a slew of original programming, veteran series came to an end, and consistent fan favorites delivered exciting new seasons. Check out what the Buffer Editors loved to (perhaps binge) watch this past year.
We at the Buffer understand that some films, despite our glowing reviews, haven’t gotten all the attention we think they deserve. So in case you missed them, we made a list of the films that made cinema worthwhile in 2015.
Midway through the movie, I realized that Sisters, the newest collaboration from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, was not made for me. My first hint should have been the movie theater crowded with women in their 40s and 50s. While the Generation Xers cracked up at 80’s reference after reference, I—the only person under 40 in the theater—was left out. Sisters will be a great family movie night rental with parents, but for the college kiddos hoping for another Girl’s Night In addition to the repertoire, you will be disappointed.
Adam McKay’s The Big Short opens with an image of a Salomon Brothers’ bond trading floor in the late seventies. At that time in history, the voiceover explains, working at the bond department of a bank was “downright comatose.” Bankers were no different from accountants. That perception drastically changes with the invention of the mortgage-backed security, a financial innovation that renders bonds sexy. The images on the screen fast-forward thirty years, and suddenly, we see people lining up at a job fair during the 2008 economic crisis. The boring trading floors of the seventies somehow precipitated a financial catastrophe. The voiceover asks, how did this happen? How did a bunch of stodgy traders cause a global meltdown? And what, in heck, is a mortgage-backed security?
While anticipating its release back in November, I awarded Joy’s trailer an uninspiring D on our P/D/F scale. Following the success of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, I assumed that lackluster promotional content must have done a poor job of portraying yet another winning effort by Mr. David O. Russell. Unfortunately, it seems I was quite mistaken.
Before seeing Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant, I had to look up the word “revenant.” According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, it means “a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.” This dictionary entry succinctly sets the stage for the film: The Revenant centers around Hugh Glass—an explorer, tradesman, and military man played by the ever-popular and Academy Award-nominated Leonardo DiCaprio—and his incredible survival in the harsh wilderness of the Midwest after being mauled by a grizzly bear and subsequently abandoned by his troops. The film also features British actor Tom Hardy, who plays John Fitzgerald, the dishonorable and cruel member of Glass’ platoon who abandons Glass. While the film succeeds in highlighting the tenacity of the human spirit and the unforgiving environment of the American landscape, it unfortunately suffers from a rigid storyline, a muddled use of Glass’ memories, and, for much of the film, a surprising lack of suspense.
“The past three seasons have been very dark,” they said. “For this season, we’ll use a lighter tone,” they said. They lied. Working on the fourth season of Arrow, the writers and executive producers decided to sprinkle the show with less doom and gloom than in previous seasons. Not only did they have these self-imposed restrictions (or delusions), but they also had to create a plot captivating enough to let their audience forget the overhyped and utterly lackluster third season, with its glamorous promise of a great villain and its failure to deliver on that promise. Yet, with these high hurdles in place, nothing stopped them from creating the mesmerizing midseason finale, “Dark Waters,” and boy did I forget season three! Continue reading Diving Into “Dark Waters”
“A Weinstein Company Production. The 8th Movie by Quentin Tarantino” begins The Hateful Eight, introducing the film and its legendary director in the same moment. We are not just seeing a movie called The Hateful Eight or even a Western; we came to the theater to see Tarantino’s latest masterpiece. And this film does not disappoint.
“Ask me things, please.” The eager request, posed gently by the titular character in Todd Haynes’s film Carol, embodies the spellbinding atmosphere of the film. Its main characters, Carol and Therese (played by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, respectively), begin to question their claustrophobic, routine lives. Both open and concealed, dangerous yet careful, Carol juxtaposes daring pursuits of love and independence with the tedium of everyday life as it follows Carol and Therese searching for when, where, and how they might be free to love one another.