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Week in Review: 11/27/16

Movies I Watched in the Last Week

1) Bachelorette - I'm going to write more about this one later.  Long story short: I'm still in shock to learn that this was written and directed by a woman.  It has all the condescending and reductive attitudes that men usually have, but with misplaced edginess that spoils the comedy.  If you're a fan of movies where terrible people never really have to answer for their awfulness, then watch Bachelorette.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

2) The Big Short - I already bitched about the part of this that I really hated, so it's only fair that today I emphasize the parts I liked.  This is overall a very well-made movie with a terrific cast.  Even though it's about a disgusting, aggravating, and often dry topic, the leads keep you invested from start to finish, which is no small feat.  There are better versions of this movie out there - see The Wolf of Wall Street - but that doesn't mean there isn't room for you to watch this one, too.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

3) Teacher of the Year - I'm surprised by the poor IMDb rating for this.  I'm going to blame misleading advertising - TotY was presented on Netflix as some kind of wacky comedy, with all the promotional materials highlighting Keegan-Michael Key's (relatively minor) role.  It's got a bit of that, mainly thanks to Key and also some great recurring bits with the Sklar brothers.

But ignore that. This is more of a character drama and an excellent representation of public high schools from the teachers' perspective.  The humor is less "laugh out loud" and more "smirk because it's too true."  Almost all of this hit home for me and reminded me of all the reasons I both wanted to be a teacher in the first place and why I also never looked back after leaving.  TotY excels at giving you an even-handed look at the ups and downs without settling on any simplistic messages.  Its ending is the perfect blend of mixed feelings, that bittersweet marriage of cynicism and hope.  I really liked this one and would highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

4) Man Up - File this one under "stick with it for 30 minutes."  Man Up starts out as a pretty generic romcom that neither impresses nor frustrates.  I was sure I'd walk away from it thinking it was an innocuous pick for a stay-at-home date night, helped out by the fact that I adore both Lake Bell and Simon Pegg.  Fortunately, there's a lot more going on here.  Instead of milking its contrivance and meandering to a predictable ending, it kind of just gives that up by the second act and spends the rest of the movie charting growth and frailty.  The ending drops a bit - it starts to get a little overblown in the last five minutes or so - but there's a really, really good hour in the middle here that deserves to be watched.

My Rating: 4 / 5

5) Man vs Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler - The easy comparison to make with this movie is The King of Kong, which I really dug.  In some ways, Snake does not live up.  The stakes somehow seem lower and there isn't as much of a compelling narrative arc going on.  In other respects, Snake is much better.  It's a far more intimate look at its principal gamer and dwells much more on the practical elements of its specific subset of competitive gaming.  Whereas Kong was more of a casually comedic / inspiring documentary, Snake feels a little bit more grounded and... well, I don't know if "gritty" is exactly the word I want, but it'll do.

My Rating: 4 / 5

Total: 5 Movies

Minutes I Spent Writing in the Last Week

1) Theresa Creegan (Possible Book Series) - About 1 hour of story planning.

Total: 1 Hour

The Winner: Movies...

Enjoying my first true break from work for awhile.  Hope everyone's enjoying their post-Thanksgiving coma(s). Or, if you're an international reader: hope you're enjoying laughing at fat Americans whose primary complaint today is that they ate too much.