Netflix – Luke Cage

Luke Cage (A+)

I was late onto the Marvel Netflix group.  The tried Agents and Carter on ABC but those shows didn’t hook me like the movies had.  I wanted to like them but it was just another example of how superhero TV shows really had yet to make a mark.  ABC wasn’t alone.  The CW programming like Arrow or the Flash where shows I could not get on board with because they are over 20 episodes per season at an hour length, and that is if you are watching live.  Sadly I am now 34 and do not have the time to waste time away on the sofa, nor do I want to, to watch all of these.  In comes Netflix though.  13 Episodes? Ok I can take a week and get through this.

So I watch season 1 of Daredevil.  Amazing.  I watched it in a few days to be ready for season 2 in about a month.  Then season 2 comes and I finished it in less than 2 full days.  Now you are probably saying but wait, why havent you mentioned Jennifer Jones?  Here is the thing.  Luckily I heard of the great reviews and acclaim for Daredevil so I jumped in.  Jones on the other hand, I had heard too much mixed reviews to say ok I can devote some time to this.  More on that later.

So all the hype, especially at comic con, gave us a glimpse at Luke Cage.  I never read one comic on this person and since not having watched Jessica Jones had no familiarity with the character.  I wiki’d the comic to give myself some background and even then I had some reservations.

I am a white man who grew up in a mainly white community.  Now that being said I knew persons of other colors, especially through sports, so I was not sheltered from associating with another race.  As children though, from a suburban town and not a city center, the children of color I was around were not as the same children from tough inner cities.  So of course being in the MTV generation I had the L.A. hardcore, gansta rap scene to give me this education.  I am a rock guy through and through.  Pearl Jam in 1991 changed my life, even though I had already memorized most of the Beatles and Stones albums.  Heavy Metal was cool but it was not the soul grabbing music I yearned for.  Rap, was the same.  I did not hate it but I did not love it.  Gangsta Rap especially.  I am the son of a now retired policeman.  Safe to say that bumping these those types of tunes around the house would have given to a lecture or questions that at the age of 11-14 I was not ready to have with my father.  So I listened with friends at their homes or on a walk-man with my headphones on, always knowing that only I could hear the harsh terms coming from the MC.

You are probably asking what the hell does this have to do with Luke Cage.  Well,, this is why I had some apprehension.  Even though through my life I have listened to and watched items about American inner city black and other minority race cultures, I had never really experienced it until I went to college in a major city and even then since that was not my scene I was still not fully emerged in the lifestyle.  So with Luke Cage embracing that style, would I be able to relate or even enjoy knowing that what I hear might make me uncomfortable or make me not understand.

Well i can safely say that this show is one of the best TV programs I have ever watched.  yes it is a superhero show.  Those are not being known for having the hard driven plot lines and sub context of an NYPD Blue or other shows that embraced race and other inner city factions like this show does.  The music, the cinematography, the acting, it is all first class.  Even with bit players, the production got it right because it was smart enough to get actors from the best law/crime TV series ever, The Wire.

Unlike at times where I wish Daredevil had only been 10 episodes each season, Luke Cage never once made me feel that way when I got around the 8th or 9th episode.  The show just makes you want to watch another and another and that is the first Netflix show to actually make me want to do that.  Sure we say there are shows that make us just want to keep watching and all, but we know we can usually take a break and we will be ok.  Luke Cage though, makes me say, screw sleep!  Now that being said, out of the 13 episodes, only 1 made me want to say “ok, enough, moved ahead.”  That wasn’t until near the very end.  Could this show done everything in 10 episodes.  Of course.  Marvel likes the number 13 for some odd reason for their TV shows.  Must be trying to defy bad omens in their face.  The reason though why I am still ok with the 13 episodes in this show, is because it uses the slow build technique properly.  You are not having major battles and fights right away.  Characters are built to allow you to get a better understanding.  The action comes when it should and the story telling fills in the rest of the majority of the screen time with wonderful acting all around.  The action, is good.  A few times if you get anal on every single thing might say, umm what are the actual limits of people’s powers and like most Marvel properties, that is left somewhat unclear.  The villains though, like the other TV series, are captivating.  One day I hope the movie side can follow this lead.

So you are now wondering where does Jessica Jones come into all of this.  Well I just started it today and have gotten a third of the way through.  I am enjoying so far, though even with its maticulous buildup, this, like Daredevil, could be sped up just a bit.  But 13 episodes it is  and that is ok.  I am now excited for the Defenders, which will be next for Netflix’s Marvel group.

Discovered on Netflix – Elstree 1976

Elstree 1976 – B

If you love Star Wars like I do, you are always looking to find out more behind the scenes scoops, even if they are from the prequel era.

Well, look no further than here.  Elstree is not a fully loaded behind the scenes, all secret telling documentary.  It is a brilliant little film that focuses on the small role bit actors and some extras.  It tells views from a handful of the most recognizable nonstars and one big star that was hidden from us because his voice was not used and the voice that was is forever etched into our memories.

Greedo, Darth Vader, Bigs, Stormtroopers, and more had actors that like many in the Star Wars universe come out of nowhere to help shape and bring to life the movie that changed movies.  From their backgrounds into the acting world and where it took them to present day, it gives a glimpse that this world gave and took.

I will say again.  If you are looking for “scoops” look elsewhere.  This film gives you a small glimpse into how life could be as a working actor or extra and if your film hits the big time what the fandom can bring about in your life.

I wish I could have donned a bucket on my head for a few days in that hot summer of ’76.

 

Narcos season 2 review

Narcos Season 2 B+

So this will be quick and short….ike if i just snorted a hand full of that pure Colombian cocaine. I kid, I do not do drugs, well except binge shows.

So for those who have already seen season 1 you will know that many thought the Escobar story could be told in one season and then the next season move on to another cartel.  While I agree for tv purposes that could have been done, I am ok with two seasons worth of Pablo.  If you really look into the history and see the many atrocious things this man did, then you are ok with two seasons even if at times in each season the pacing got bogged down.

So we start where we left off.  Pablo has just escaped his luxury resort jail and immediately shows his power over the local army.  He then returns to his jungle hidden home to his wife, children, and annoying mom.  Pablo wants to control everything again and finding it more difficult than he thought it would be.  Now he has to have his henchmen try to run the city while dealing with the side cartels that have popped up into business since his incarceration.  Also the other cartels around the country now want to put him out of commission.

Steve and Javier are back as well.  Steve isn’t having the best of times as his wife and child have left him for the safety of America now that Pablo is free.  Javi on the other hand is beginning to lose his faith in the system and goes against the book with some sketchy people to help get results.  The new bosses from the DEA and now the CIA are once again are in form and not working together but for each owns interests.  The Colombian national police is being murdered at every turn and the President has to figure out just who the hell he can trust because Pablo is either manipulating officials or the USA is.

As last season, the acting is spot on.  Wagner Moura may be Brazilian but he played a Escobar to a T.  The cinematography is beautiful.  Shooting in the actual country where all this actually happened makes you feel the authenticity of the show because it is not some built up set made to look like a slum of Colombia.  The story and writing are tight.  Ten episodes are all you need at times.  I grew up with serialized dramas and comedy tv shows.  Some I adore and love because they were so good that 24 episodes was not a big deal.  Now with all the great programming across streaming, cable and some off cable channels, you can’t have long series, even though some are great and we crave more, less is more now.

Narcos has been extended for 2 more seasons.  They foreshadow the next cartel.  I do hope that they make that an anthology series now and do multiple cartels because South America is big on drugs, no doubt, but Europe and Asia I am sure could provide us with some really amazing stories as well and keep Narcos going for the forseeable future.