What You Should Watch Today – Hung Over or Not

multiplex Traditionally, more Americans go to the movies on New Year’s Day than any other day of the year.   So if you’re not too hung over from last night’s celebratory activities and you’re thinking of heading out to see one of the many holiday season releases, here’s my recommendation.  Don’t.

I don’t mean don’t go to the movies.  Absolutely go.  Especially if you live near a multi-plex that offers extra-wide reclining seats.  Maybe I’m behind the times, or maybe I’ve just been frequenting the cheapo movie house with chairs so old and uncomfortable, sitting in them should have been included in the recently released congressional report on torture.  A few days ago I went to the 15 theatre-plex at the local mall and discovered an oasis of creature comfort in the form of cushy recliners.  It was nothing short of a revelation and an easy New Year’s resolution – see more movies.

So yes, absolutely go to the theater.  When I say, “Don’t” I mean don’t see a holiday release.  We must travel back in time all the way to November 7, 2014 for the release date of my New Year’s movie suggestion. You may have already seen it.  But if you haven’t, please forego going Into the Woods, eschew the new-fangled Annie, and skip the sure-to-inspire-your-New Year’s resolutions epic, Unbroken.  Instead, buy a ticket for Chris Nolan’s Interstellar.

interstellar_a

The sci-fi survival epic stars Matthew McConaughey.  If you’re still reeling from his unendurable Oscar speech and can’t fathom watching him on screen for 2 and a half plus hours, fear not.  I have always found him to be one of those actors whose off-screen antics fade from memory the moment he dons a character. Plus in the movie, he drives a space ship, not a Lincoln.

At its core, Interstellar is all about family, relationships, and what human beings bring to the universal table – love and how the power of lower is unlimited.  And if you don’t like the mushy stuff, there’s plenty of thrilling visual effects and enough debatable science that you’ll walk out of the theater feeling smarter than when you went in.

Also released on November 7th,, and highly recommended is the Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything.  If you decided to stay in last night, wisely retaining massive amounts of brain cells, I encourage a Theory of Everything/Interstellar double feature.  One film posits the theoretical marriage of quantum physics and relativity, and the other attempts to prove it.

But if the concept of leaving your couch today is harder to grasp than E=MC2, here are two TV options you may want to check out. The Babadook, currently playing at local art houses, is also available on Pay-Per-View.  While I did not find it particularly scary, and am a bit flummoxed by the gushing reviews, Jennifer Kent’s performance is Oscar worthy, and the metaphor at the heart of the film is psychologically stimulating and in a creepy way, actually uplifting.

media_babadook_20140815

The real gem I discovered over this holiday season, however, is Miranda, a British sitcom available on Hulu starring comedian Miranda Hart in the title role.  The short-lived BBC series is sort of a mash up of Ab-Fab meets Mary Tyler Moore (if you’re too young to remember MTM, well, you’ve got Hulu.  Check it out).  Engaging characters, witty dialogue, hilarious prat falls and Hart’s frequent breaking of the fourth wall make for perfect New Year’s TV binge material.

miranda-hart-825902633

There’s also the Walking Dead marathon on AMC.  Relieved that 2014 is finally over?  It might be nice to watch the endless shambling hordes of decomposing corpses and reflect that 2014 could have been worse.  But whether you’re heading out to the cinema or hunkering down at home, I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Advertisements

Carol or Carrie? Who’s Going to Watch the Kids?

It’s election season again. In a few weeks we go to the polls and pull the lever for the person we think will best represent our interests in the various arenas of government. I remember one campaign years ago when a Bush was running for president. Bruce Willis gave an interview explaining his method of choosing a candidate. “I just turned to Demi,” he said (I guess it was the elder Bush) “and I asked her, which one of these guys would you trust to watch the kids?”

Seems like a pretty good litmus test. Security is always one of the biggest concerns when backing a potential leader. In a contest of Sunday night TV heroines, there are two contenders vying for our viewership and loyalty. But which one would we select to protect those near and dear to us when zombies and terrorists come knocking?

Carol Peletier of AMC’s The Walking Dead has suddenly emerged as the “it” girl in action show badassery. She wrestles the crown away from Carrie Mathison, the surviving protagonist of the Showtime thriller Homelandcarol2

A quick scan of the internet reveals a clear media bias for Walking Dead’s Carol, who not only infiltrated the gated Terminus in a cloak of walker guts and gore, she ignited the explosion that freed her friends and whipped Star Trek’s Tasha Yar in hand-to-hand combat.

In the wake of her season premiere heroics, I googled just the name “Carol” to see what would come up. Sure enough, the first three hits were Walking Dead-centric, with headlines like, “Carol Is the Hero of the Zombie Apocalypse” and “Walking Dead’s McBride Takes Pride in Carol”.

Carrie Mathison didn’t appear until the second page of results when googling just the name “Carrie”. In contrast to Carol’s glowing reviews, the CIA’s embattled savant garnered headlines like “Carrie Mathison is Homeland’s Biggest Problem” and “The Case Against Carrie Mathison”.

Clearly, Carol’s stock is up. Even the shippers have abandoned the Homeland ship in favor of The Walking Dead, rooting more than ever for a Carol/Darryl consummation while the prospect of a Carrie/Quinn romance draws a yawn and a shrug.  Carrie

But suppose you woke up tomorrow in a fictitious one-hour episodic drama. The world you know has been thrown into chaos and danger lurks everywhere. You have to make a run to the highway to syphon fuel from abandoned tankers, or cross the border to help a double agent escape a hostile regime. Who are you going to leave the kids with? Carol or Carrie?

It’s only been a week since we anxiously watched Carrie battle the temptation of infanticide. As she held daughter Frannie’s carrot top precariously above the bath water, it was clear Carrie wasn’t suffering from post-partum psychosis, or a manic episode brought on from being off her meds. What else are we to conclude from the wild look in her eyes? Carrie was internally debating the conflict of job versus motherhood, and for a split second, drowning Brody’s kid seemed like a viable option. Fortunately for Frannie’s sake, Carrie realized there was another out. As long as she had her sister to dump on, her career and her child could continue to co-exist, at least for this season. Still, it’s hard to shake off Carrie’s Medea moment. Even Walter White wouldn’t harm his own child.

When it comes to dealing with inconvenient children, however, Carol doesn’t win any prizes. Will Walking Dead fans ever be able to look at flowers again without first checking to see who’s standing behind them? In last season’s most powerful episode, Carol started out as co-caretaker of three children, Rick’s baby daughter Judith, and the pre-adolescent sisters Lizzie and Mika. By the end, two out of three were dead.

Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that Carol chose to end Lizzie’s life rather than risk managing the girl’s psychotic tendencies. You could argue that Carol didn’t have a choice, since having killed her younger sister, Lizzie represented a continuous threat to Judith and any community of survivors she ended up with.

carol flowersBut in a world where zombies or marauding humans could pop up at any second, how do two adults go off by themselves and leave three small children alone?  I don’t care that the writers needed to have a Carol and Tyrese bonding moment. This was the worst case of on-screen caregiver neglect since three-year-old Drew Barrymore was left home alone to draw her own bath in E.T. Sure, we knew E.T. was in the house, but Gerty’s Mom didn’t know that when she left to pick up Elliot at school. Psychopath or not, Lizzie and Mika would both be alive in season five if Carol or Tyrese had been doing their jobs. You would think having lost Sophia, Carol would have a better handle on this.

So, as much as I am currently riding high on the “Carol Rules” bandwagon, I would have to think twice before asking her to babysit on Saturday night. If Carrie Mathison had been tasked with minding The Walking Dead kids, she would have had Tyrese stay with them while she went solo into the woods and killed the deer herself. Then she would have returned to the cabin and given Lizzie some tips on ugly crying. In a fight for survival, perhaps cunning intelligence trumps maternal instincts. As long as the children are already bathed, I have to go with Carrie. She can protect them better, even if the greatest threat is herself. Carrie baby