Oscilloscope Pictures via Everett Collection
It's the middle of the week, and your brain has all but lost its functional juices. You need an intellectual jump — a compelling lesson in history, science, or art, but without entailing that troublesome task of reading. What you need is a documentary. This week, our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for Docu-Wednesdays is Dear Zachary.
Get ready to feel like you've hardly ever felt before. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son from His Father is a singularyly haunting experience. A touching masterstroke of true crime storytelling that drills its way into your heart. The film is about Andrew Bagby, a promising young doctor who is allegedly murdered by his girlfriend after Bagby ends their troubled relationship. The girlfriend skips off to Canada to escape sentencing, and soon reveals she is pregnant with Bagby's child. Bagby's best friend, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, decides to go across the country to record every person that has ever known Bagby so that his son Zachary can one day understand the man that his father was and know how much he was loved by the world. The film is part touching love letter to a fatherless child, part obituary, and part court drama as Bagby's former girlfriend and alleged murderer tries to slip through the clutches of the law.
Don't get tempted to look up anything beyond what's here. Just watch it. It might seem silly crying "spoiler alert" for a documentary of all things, but the film hits you like a sucker punch. You'll be bowled over for hours after watching. This isn't a film for the faint of heart, but the pain is a small price to pay for what amounts to a great experience.
You can watch the movie on Netflix, and check back tomorrow for our Throwback Thursday recommendation.
Paramount via Everett Collection
This just in: nothing is sacred. That's right, Indiana Jones is possibly being considered for a reboot. The classic adventure series, created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg has become a classic in the cinema world, and according to a rumor from Latino Review, the series might come to resemble another classic film staple in the coming years. The site reports that while the original Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford, is still being considered for a possible Indiana Jones 5, the series could simply reboot with a new actor a la the James Bond series if Mr. Ford in unavailable. If all that wasn't enough, Bradley Cooper is at the top of their list of possible candidates to take over the role. Since a new crop of Indiana Jones films seems like a definite possibility (yes we live in that awful world), we decided to make the best of the situation and share our thoughts on what the new films should bring back, improve upon, or ditch with regards to the first four films of the series.
Things They'd Need to Bring Back
The SettingMr. Jones would do well to keep to his original decade. With World War II right around the corner, the 1930s were wired like a stick of dynamite ready to blow. With several conflicts brewing, and several chances for Indy to mix it up with different enemies, the decade was the perfect place to set a world spanning archaeological adventure.
The CostumeThe tan fedora, the leather jacket, those boots. Indiana Jones' outfit is a bona fide classic, and changing one iota of it would be pure cinema sacrilege. Several things need updating in bringing Indy back for a second round of adventures, but the outfit is off limits.
The Tone With the original Raiders, Lucas and Spielberg crafted the perfect tone for their hero. The first film of the series was loose and pulpy adventure that hearkened back to classic film serials, and dime store novels. It was a load of swashbuckling fun. Sure the series needs its darker moments (as we'll see later), but the camp should be plentiful.
The Exotic LocalesAlmost like a rustic James Bond, Indy was at its best when he was traveling to far off places in search for adventure, and uncovering the secrets history forgot. The new Indiana Jones should find himself going even further into the unknown than his predecessor did, going to places we've never seen Indy visit.
The MysticismThe Indiana Jones series has always blended history and myth into one, and things shouldn't change there either. The new films should have one foot in the past, and the other breaking ground on new myths to cull from.
The Darker MomentsIn the middle of all that swashbuckling, there still needs to be a real sense of peril in Indy's new adventures The series' darker moments like the terrifying images of melting Nazis in Raiders, or pretty much anything that had to do with the cult from Temple of Doom gave the films a sense of danger, and that danger should show up in the reboot.
The NazisIs there an enemy more fun to foil than the Nazis. They're the quintessential movie villain, and it's no coincidence that the series has gone back to that well for three out of its four outings. The series should explore some new foes, but it would be remiss if we didn't see at least one Nazi getting the business end of a whip to the tune of the classic Indy Score.
Things They'd Need to Fix Up a Bit
The Depiction of Other CulturesFor all of its efforts to be worldly and exotic, the Indiana Jones series could be pretty insensitive towards other cultures. More often than not, the Indiana Jones series fumbled when it came to displaying foreign cultures in a positive light, and many depictions of non-European people slipped into the realm of caricature. The Indians in Temple of Doom were either evil or too weak to help themselves until a white man came from on high to save them (and do these Indians eat some weird stuff or what?). Also, as much as we love Short Round, if we're being honest with ourselves, his image is a tad insensitive. But hey, it's a film set in the '30s and made in the '80s, so it was to be expected. This new reboot should try to steer clear of those pitfalls. Foreign cultures should be fascinating and strangely beguiling, not something to point and laugh at.
Add Some Satire/Self-referential HumorTo be frank, we already have a set of perfectly good Indiana Jones films sitting in our DVD cases already. In order to improve on what's already a terrific formula, this new movie should probably try to poke some fun at itself and the genre. The latest James Bond film Skyfall had some funny and poignant things to say about James Bond mythos, and this new Indy reboot should follow suit.
All New SidekicksThe sidekicks throughout the series range for terrible (Willie) to great (Henry Jones Sr.), but it's for the best if the film starts out fresh and abandons the lot of them for new characters. This new reboot needs to create its own legacy, and becoming a slave to the past is not the way to do that.
All New ArtifactsLikewise, we need all new artifacts for these new movies. That means no Holy Grails, Crystal Skulls, or Arks of the Covenant allowed (thought the melting Nazis will be missed).
A Deeper IndyThe film should be kept loose and fun, but a new series wouldn't hurt from changing things up, and delivering a deeper Indiana Jones for audiences to chew on. These days, our action films require a little bit more character in them. We don't want Indiana Jones 5 to turn into a deep character study or anything, but some more depth would be welcome.
Things They'd Need to Cut Altogether
The "Sword Swinging" SceneThe most prolific scene from Raiders should really be left on the cutting room floor. As funny and iconic as it is, the film shouldn't get to cute with the references.
Harrison FordNo one will be Indiana Jones quite like Harrison Ford was. He gave the character such a cool confidence that catapulted him into legendary status. With all that said, and with all due respect, it's time to put the old version of Indy to bed. We should only remember our heroes at their best, and having Harrison Ford do yet another version of the character would be a mistake.
Heavy CGI UseAs we saw in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, bad CGI can be a serious detriment to a film. The reason the original trilogy feels so timeless is because the actions scenes were created using practical effects. CGI in this new film should be kept to a minimum.
The Sci-fithe line between sci-fi and fantasy can be razor thin, but Indy’s adventures are better when they’re steeped in lore rather than science fiction. Crystal Skull tried to blur the lines, and came up short.
Paramount via Everett Collection
Two dunderheaded stepbrothers, a bigoted manchild news reporter, and the recent economic downturn. One of these things is not like the others. Adam McKay has built up a long legacy of idiotic comedy through his frequent collaborations with Will Ferrell, but his next upcoming project is going to be quite the departure from the director’s usual fare. McKay is set to direct an adaptation of author Michael Lewis’ The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, a book that sheds light on the housing and credit bubble. McKay is equipped with a directoral know-how more suited towards laughter, so a drama film is about the last thing we expected from the director. This is the guy that just made Anchorman 2 after all, and unless it's revealed that Ron Burgundy was the guy behind all of those fraudulent loans, we’re not sure what this upcoming feature will look like when all is said and done. With all that said, McKay’s sudden dramatic inspiration is not totally unheard of in Hollywood. Other directors have taken surprising left turns in their careers, and made films well outside of their perceived comfort zones:
In 1979, Francis Ford Coppola made Apocalypse Now, a tragic and surreal vision of the Vietnam war. Seventeen years later, he made the accelerated aging comedy Jack, which starred Robin Williams as a five-year-old in a 50-year-old's body. The horror, the horror.
In 1976, Martin Scorsese made Taxi Driver, a dark and gritty character study about an unhinged man trying to "clean up" the corruption of New York City. Thirty-five years later, he made Hugo, a whimsical family film about a boy living in a clock.
In 1991, John Singleton made Boyz n the Hood, a tragic look at the corrosive influence of gang life on inner-city youth. Twelve years later, he made 2 Fast 2 Furious, the most broey movie of all time.
In 2000, Ron Howard made a live-action adaptation of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas, starring the mostly rubber funnyman Jim Carrey. Eight years later, he made Frost/Nixon, a historical drama about a post-Watergate scandal interview with Richard Nixon, honing in on how the president's duplicity tore America apart.
In 1987, Rob Reiner made the loopy, enchanting fairy tale classic (and "kissing story") The Princess Bride. Five years later, he made A Few Good Men, a stirring courtroom drama about the violent murder of a soldier.
In 1979, Steven Spielberg made 1941, a zany comedy satirizing war with the antics of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Fourteen years later he made Schindler's List, a heart wrenching story about one man's efforts to save Jews in Nazi Germany... scientifically proven to be the saddest movie ever created.
In 2004, David Gordon Green made Undertow, a harsh thriller about two young brothers trying to escape their murderous uncle. Seven years later, he made Your Highness, a medieval stoner comedy featuring Danny McBride.
In 1973, Robert Altman made A Long Goodbye, a neo-noir mystery film. Seven years later, he made Popeye, starring Robin Williams as the anchor armed sailor with a serious spinach dependency.
In 2001, Steven Soderbergh made Ocean's Eleven, a fun and campy remake of a fun and campy Rat Pack classic. Four years later, he made Bubble, a pitch black, intense look at the dead-end lives of several lifeless doll factory workers surrounding a murder.
In 1996, Kenneth Branagh made Hamlet, an adaptation of one of Shakespeare's most revered, and most tragic, play. Fifteen years later, he made Thor, a film about a magical hammer affectionately called "mew mew."
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It's natural to feel a bit uneasy about the X-Men: Days of Future Past. For one thing, the film is clearly a large undertaking, flinging back and forth between different characters, settings, and even time periods. It all looks downright ambitious, but it also looks like a big heaping plate of mixed genre stew that could topple under its own weight. The newest trailer doesn't just show one movie, but several different films rolled into one. In one shot, dark spaceships are filling the sky, while in the next Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) is rocking a vintage bowl cut and '70s 'stache. Can all of these different elements coalesce into one great comic book film? We sure hope so. In anticipation, we've decided to outline all of the different films that make up Days of Future Past.
It's an apocalyptic science fiction film...Blackened skies, ominous aircrafts, and a city reduced to grey rubble. Yep, this is definitely an apocalyptic future. X-Men: Days of Future Past starts off in a possible future where mutantkind has been thinned out to some pretty dire numbers, while a squad of futurist sentinels hunt down the few remaining survivors indiscriminately.
And a time-travel film...In the vein of Looper or Back to the Future, this X-Men sequel is a true time-travel film. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is tasked with traveling back to the '70s to ensure that the war between humanity and mutants never happens. The film is looking to pick up on the classic genre tropes. Expect time paradoxes aplenty.
And a romantic drama...It turns out that espionage and mutant terrorism tend to make hearts grow fonder. The trailer shows Magneto (Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellen) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) growing even closer together, much to the dismay of Professor X (James McAvoy/Patrick Stewart).
And a period piece...Professor X is sporting a shaggy mane, while Beast (Nicholas Holt) probably has a whole closet dedicated to just bell bottoms. X-Men is nearing an almost American Hustle-level of '70s costume absurdity. Maybe we'll be treated to some ELO while Magneto is crushing humanity underfoot.
And a political thriller...The politics are looking messy for the upcoming X-Men film. Magneto is blurring the line between freedom fighter and terrorist, while Bolivar Trask is pushing forth his Sentinel program through the channels of Washington. It looks like everyone has an agenda, and the battle over government policy is being fought in the courts and on the streets.
But finally, it's still an X-Men movie.Beyond the apocalyptic future, political machinations, and loud '70s costumes, this is still an X-Men film at its heart, the world's longest running allegory to puberty is still marching onward. Expect a ton of plucky young mutants discovering themselves, and learning how to control their bodies and feel comfortable in their own skin. It's like regular adolescence, but with more accidental fires.
Smack dab in the middle of your exciting weekend forays and your agonizing return to the work week, Sundays are best spend lazily. Even the movies you watch on Sundays should be slow, soft, and conducive to your passion for midday naps. Luckily, a whole mess of indie gems fit this description, and this week for Lazy Sundays, Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommends Safety Not Guaranteed.
Scientific mastermind or bona fide crazy person? That's the question at the heart of Sundance sensation Safety Not Guaranteed. When an odd classified ad requesting a companion for a time-travel mission lands in the hands of magazine editor Jeff (Jake Johnson), the journalist and his intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza) move to investigate the inquiry for a possible story. The trail ends at a lowly stock clerk named Kevin (Mark Duplass) who believes he's unlocked the secrets of time-travel in his shed in the woods. Darius goes undercover for the magazine and pretends to be on board for Kevin's mission, but after training with Kevin for the trip and dodging what looks to be G-Men trying to take control of the experiment, Darius starts to wonder if the seemingly dim-witted Kevin might really be onto something.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a crowdpleaser. It's wonderfully absurd, and despite its crazy premise, the film manages to be a romantic and wildly funny indie that's filled with some great and memorable character work. Duplass infuses Kevin with a vulnerability and dogged determination, while Plaza's trademark detachment works wonders. It's really uplifting, and the central mystery of whether Kevin is an off-kilter lunatic or scientific genius is one that plays it's final hand expertly.
You can stream Safety Not Guaranteed on Netflix, and make sure to check back tomorrow for our recommendations for the perfect Case of the Mondays movie.
Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection
It's Saturday night. The game is on. The town is yours. You're ready to go. But you need a little cinematic pep-talk. A movie that'll get your adrenaline rushing top speed. Something with action, adventure, excitement... hell, maybe even something fantastical every so often. This week, our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for Saturday Night Fever is Point Blank.
The term "breathless" gets tossed around for every action thriller out there, but French thriller Point Blank will truly have you looking for gaps in action to store up on oxygen. The film is a lean and taught actioner that follows Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche), a simple nurse who gets caught in a twisting web of criminal intrigue after he treats the wrong man during a shift at his hospital. Samuel's patient ends up being a thief who orders his lackies to kidnap Samuel's wife and forces the medic to help him escape from the hospital. Things only get crazier from there, and Samuel is thrown down a rabbit hole from which he might never surface.
Point Blank is brilliant at throwing its nobody everyman hero into seemingly impossible situations. The character, who's extremely ill-equipped to deal with the situation at hand, is certainly no John McClane, and the movie is better served for it. The film is oddly relateable, and will leave you wondering what you'd do in a similar situation.
You can watch Battle Royale on Netflix, and check back tomorrow for our Lazy Sunday pick.
A new challenger appears!
Just when The Hunger Games was getting comfortable at its place at the top of the young adult novel food chain, the Divergent series has come to give The Hunger Games a run for its money, and maybe become the new top dog in town. In Divergent, Shailene Woodley plays Tris, a teenaged member of a future version of Chicago that separates people into five factions based on their personalities, and as in all young adult novels, it's up to her to save the world. So how does Tris stack up with heroines from other novels. We wondered what would happen if Hermione from Harry Potter, Katniss from the Hunger Games, Bella from Twilight, all got into a Hunger Games-style battle royale. So down goes the gauntlet. Which Young Adult novel heroine would win in an all out, knock-down, drag-out battle for book-to-film adaptation bragging rights?
The pesky know it all, and loyal companion to the boy who lived, Harry Potter.
Weapons: Magic wand, bottomless purse full of plot contrivances
Strengths: Hermione has the distinct advantage of knowing everything that has to do with everything. She can pull out a life-saving piece of knowledge, or the exact necessary magical gadget for any given situation faster than you can say "deus ex machina." Also, she knows freakin' magic which should, you know, help considerably.
Weaknesses: This is a fight after all and Hermione Granger is much more of an idea person than a fighter. Throughout the books and movies, we see her mostly on the sidelines of the action, while Ron and Harry do most of the fighting. She would easily outsmart any of the other combatants on the list, but if things come to fisticuffs (or, to be more precise, wandicuffs), she might be in a spot of trouble.
Grade: 7 out of 10. Hermione is like the Sun Tzu of this list. She dwarfs the rest of the field in terms of intellect and strategy, but she doesn’t have the killer instinct like the rest of the YA heroines. Magic is obviously a huge advantage, but we doubt she’d ever cast out an unforgivable curse if things get really dire.
Bella Swan is the love sick protagonist of The Twilight Series
Weapons: Vampire strength, extreme yearning, shiny skin
Strengths: In the latter half of the series, Bella is turned into a full-fledged vampire, and her transformation comes equipped with all the benefits that come with being a member of the undead: increased strength, super speed, sharp fangs, sparkly daytime tan. All the classic vampire powers are there. Honestly, it would be terribly difficult for any of the other fighters to best Bella Swan... well, except for one thing...
Weakness: Bella would be the top dog in this fight, if it she weren’t so darn distracted all the time. Seriously, she spends so much of her time hemming and hawing between Jacob and Edward, or just staring vacantly at things, she probably wouldn’t notice arrows being flung at her. It also doesn’t help that she’s easily entranced by shiny objects like Edward’s sparkly abs, disco balls, and jingling keys. She's also constantly tripping or falling over everything so there's that.
Grade: 6 out of 10. Given her super vampire powers, Bella would and should absolutely wreck her competition in the battle, but she spends so much of her time pre-transformation not doing much besides pining for her would be suitors. We don't know how much of an actual fight she would put up if she really had to get her hands dirty.
Katniss Everdeen is the central character in the latest YA explosion The Hunger Games.
Weaponry: Bow and arrow, the country's affection
Strengths: Katniss is an incredibly gifted archer who can sink an arrow into a dastardly career tribute at 500 paces. She also has a steely determination to do what’s right, and is wonderfully resourceful when push comes to shove, as it often does in her frequent brushes with death.
Weakness: For all of Katniss’ strengths in the arena, she isn’t the most sociable, or even likeable, person to be around. She has a pretty prickly personality, and even though her dispostition changes ithroughout the series, she’s never what we’d call charismatic. In addition, her pretend boyfriend Peeta is pretty useless, and she has to spend about half of Catching Fire making sure he didn't die.
Grade: 9 out of 10. She probably couldn’t talk her way out of a sticky situation, but Katniss is a deadly fighter who will put you down in an instant if need be. This girl has a wicked killer instinct. If you want to defeat Katniss, focus your energy on Peeta. Give him an easy sudoku puzzle or a mildly difficult crossword, (basically anything not cake related) and he’ll find some way to put Katniss’ life in danger. She’ll be like putty in your hands.
The multifaceted heroine of the upcoming film Divergent.
Weapons: Knives, her hands, having more than one talent
Strengths: Being a member of Dauntless, the warrior class of future Chicago, Tris has received training in various types of weaponry, including throwing knives and guns, which makes her a adaptable fighter. She is also divergent, which allows her to control her fears in a way that the other YA heroines simply cant.
Weaknesses: Unlike the other combatants, Tris doesn’t seem to have any one debilitating weakness. She’s equal parts brave, intelligent, and selfless. Her boyfriend Four is infinitely more useful than Peeta (though he can’t bake, so score one for Peeta), and she doesn’t need to spend any time locked in a love triangle, since she only ever set her sights on one guy.
Grade: 8 out of 10. Tris’ main advantage is that her being such a well-rounded person. Her being “divergent” means she can adapt her personality to fit a number of situations. She’s not the strongest of the competitors, nor the weakest, but she’s darn capable and rests firmly in the middle of the pack
So after some brandishing of teeth, a couple nasty wingardium Leviosa's, and a flurry of arrows, it looks like Katniss Everdeen has the advatage. She has the right mix of experience, training, and resourcefulness to topple some of the more supernaturally gifted participants in the battle. But this is just one opinion. Who do you think would win in the battle for book-to-film adaptation supremacy?
Well this is certainly outrageous. Director John M. Chu, best known for helming G.I. Joe Retaliation and the Step Up films, is teaming up with Scooter Braun and Paranormal Activity producer Steven Blum to create a live-action film version of the cult 80's classic Jem and the Holograms. If that wasn't crazy enough, the trio is asking the internet to help make the film.
The original Jem television show was created by Christy Marx, and was developed alongside a line of toys from Hasbro. The show followed the adventures of Jerrica Benton, who transformed into Jem thanks to a mini holographic computer that could change her appearance on the fly. In a video uploaded today, the filmmakers are asking the most gifted members of the Tumblrverse to show their talents, and possibly earn a spot in the upcoming movie. Jem fans have taken to twitter to celebrate, and some have even given suggestions as to who they want to see as their favorite characters. They also want to hear any suggestions, casting or otherwise, in regards to the film. We decided to round up some of these casting ideas...
Jerrica "Jem" BentonJem is the enigmatic lead singer of the rock band Jem and the Holograms. By day, Jerrica Benton is the owner and manager of Starlight Music, but by night she becomes Jem, the lead singer of the all-girl rock group "Jem and the Holograms." Jerrica becomes Jem thanks to a holographic computer system named Synergy that is located in her earrings.
Twitter's Picks for Jem: Diana Argon, Jaimie Alexander
@jonmchu Also, casting wise - @DiannaAgron for Jem #JemTheMovie gets my vote.
— Darren (@DazzaField) March 20, 2014
@JaimieAlexander can you please play #jem in #JemTheMovie? I believe you and your knife collection would be #trulyoutrageous
— Tyler & Ross (@superheropod) March 20, 2014
PizzazzPhyllis "Pizzazz" Gabor is the lead singer and guitarist of The Misfits and often serves as an antagonist to Jem. Throughout the series, she frequently tries to upstage her rival. Pizzazz is spoiled by her father who neglects her emotionally. She dreams of becoming famous one day.
Twitter's Picks for Pizzazz: Lupita Nyong'o, Kesha, Miley Cyrus
Campaign for Lupita Nyong'o to play Pizzazz. #JemTheMovie
— Arya (@artboiled) March 20, 2014
If @KeshaRose doesn't play Pizzazz in #JemTheMovie I'm going to be livid. @scooterbraun @jonmchu
— Jesus Maroney (@JesusMaroney) March 20, 2014
My suggestion: Give Miley Cyrus a fright wig and cast her as Pizzazz. #JemTheMovie
— Terry Estep (@terry_estep) March 20, 2014
StormerStormer is the songwriter for The Misfits. She's the most kind-hearted of The Misfits, and often feels bad about her band's attempts to sabotage Jem and the Holograms.
Twitter's Pick: Lindsey Lohan
Also, a few years ago, Lindsay Lohan would have been a PERFECT Misfit.
— jennifer abella (@nextjen) March 20, 2014
Eric RaymondSly and manipulative, Eric Raymond is the central villain of the series. He is a ruthless music executive that continually tries to sabotage Jem and her band.
Twitter's Pick: Jon Hamm
@JoyDanielle61 @MisfitsTamara @reelsistas @ReelTalker Have we discussed who will play Eric Raymond? I'm thinking Jon Hamm for some reason
— BlackGirlNerds (@BlackGirlNerds) March 20, 2014
RioRio is Jem's childhood friend and boyfriend. He serves as a manager for the Holograms but doesn't know Jem's true identity. He develops a crush on Jem which, as you can imagine, makes things a bit awkward.
Twitter's Pick: Justin Bieber
@jonmchu @itsRyanButler justin bieber is talented at singing, dancing, and acting so.. @justinbieber #JemTheMovie
— FOLLOW ME AUSTIN (@XNASHBROWNX) March 20, 2014
Here's the video:
We've got another year of Pawnee on our hands people! NBC has just officially announced a seventh season of Parks and Recreation. NBC Chairman Bob Greenblat gave a preliminary announcement at the TCAs a few weeks ago, but the network announced the renewal officially last night. Thanks to NBC's recent dire straits, in just a few years Parks and Recreation has gone from teetering on the edge of the cancellation abyss, to improbably becoming NBC's guaranteed renewal. And while Parks and Rec obsessives might be excited for the prospect for more episodes, we can't help but worry about our one-time favorite comedy.
Sadly, Parks and Rec feels like a pale vestige of its prime seasons. What once was a triumphant workplace comedy now feels like a show that's just going through the motions. Ever since the show hit its high watermark in Season 3, each subsequent season has brought diminishing returns, and each return to Pawnee is less joyous and gleefully hilarious than the last. Now we find the show deep into its sixth season, but seemingly scared to commit to making any drastic changes. After the inspiring city council race, Leslie is back at the Parks Department, Tom has another failed business venture under his belt, and has dreamed up yet another, while April and Andy are doing... something. Every time a character takes a chance and makes a reach for something greater, the show spring 'em back to the status quo like a rubber band. If the next season of Parks and Recreation is its last, like it should be, then we want to see several things happen before we say goodbye for good.
The show should end with Leslie and Ben leaving PawneeEven Leslie Knope herself is realizing that she needs to leave Pawnee for good sooner rather than later. Leslie has abilities and aspirations that reach far beyond the confines of small-town government, and it's made worse by the fact that only a few people even recognize all the good that she's done. Leslie needs to pack things up and move on to bigger and brighter pastures. After seven seasons of dealing with the people of Pawnee and Eagleton, she deserves it.
And Pawnee needs to recognize Leslie's accomplishmentsIt's a long running joke of how dimwitted and unappreciative the citizens of Pawnee are. Despite the jeers from residents, Leslie has always given them what they didn't know they wanted or needed. Unfortunately, funny has turned to aggravating, especially after the city council storyline. Not that Parks needs to get all shmaltzy and cloying, but the town should be sad to see Leslie move on. She deserves something after all of the crap she's put up with over the years.
Tom finally needs to find a stable business ventureTom's multiple failed startups are one of the biggest indicators that the show is just spinning its wheels. Entertainment 720 was doomed, and for good reason since it showed an inexperienced Tom creating a business with all flash and no substance. It was a learning experience for him, and one that he needed. Next was Rent-a-Swag, which was actually a great idea, and actually showed Tom using good business sense, but the show saw fit to rip the business right from under him via Henry Winkler. Parks is setting up Tom with these new projects and knocking them down again just so Tom has something new to do each season. It's all starting to feel too repetitive. The writers should actually give Tom the business he deserves and let him keep it for at least a while.
Andy and April should find a causeOne of the problems with Parks and Recreation's characters is that few characters besides Leslie seem to have any specific goals that stay relevant after more than a handful of episodes. Tom leapfrogs from one new dream project to another, while April similarly feels like she's just going through the motions of progressing though city government. We hope that April finds a personal and fulfilling goal to work towards, and that Andy might do something else. Actually we wouldn't mind if Andy just played Mouserat gigs forever.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
By the time Thursdays roll around, you're probably exhausted from a long week and looking for something familiar and comforting to help you forget about everything that's stressing you out. If the Internet is any indication, the best cure for this kind of fatigue is nostalgia, and the warmer and fuzzier it makes you feel, the better. This week's Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for Throwback Thursday is What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
When does family become a prison? In the curiously titled What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Johnny Depp plays Gilbert, the de facto patriarch of the Grape family after his father commits suicide. Gilbert has aspirations that extend far beyond the borders of his small town, but needs to put his dreams on hold while taking care of his family of misfits. His mother is housebound due to her extreme weight, while his brother Arnie (Leonardo Dicaprio) is mentally disabled and unable to take care of himself. When a free spirit named Becky (Juliette Lewis) blows into town, Gilbert feels the pull of the outside world that much more.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a tender, sad, and charming little movie about small town life. Revisiting the film all these years later makes you wish Depp would put away the makeup and play more naturalistic characters a little more often. Five Oscar nominations later, it's also nice to look back at what a fresh young talent DiCaprio was back in 1993. The actor recieved his first nomination for his role in this film, and it's certainly well deserved. Keep the dream alive, Leo!
You can stream What's Eating Gilbert Grape on Netflix, and make sure to check back tomorrow for our recommendations for the perfect Freaky Friday film.