Issue #4!-- Richard on Political Movies --Brian Reviews The Infiltrator -- What's New in Streaming? -- Monthly Recommends
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Late, but Still On Time

Wow, 2 weeks late on this one, we are so sorry. There are various reasons for this (all of them are Richard's fault); however, we choose the blame the true villain for this delay: Zack Snyder. 

I hope everyone is having a fun summer. It looks like summer movie season is wrapping up, but we have plenty of goodies, throwbacks, and nonsense planned for the fall.

Enjoy the newsletter, it's a good one, ya filthy animals.

The Infiltrator - A Review by Brian Gill

A longtime US Customs agent with extensive experience undercover, Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) takes on the obligatory last big case before heading off into retirement. Somewhat begrudgingly, he teams with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and works his way into the cocaine conglomerate run by Pablo Escobar. Mazur poses as Bob Musella, a money launderer with big ties to the Mafia. Before long, he befriends a highly ranked figure in Escobar’s organization (Benjamin Bratt) but the operation hangs by a thread and puts both Mazur and his family in greater danger than he ever imagined.
I’m not sure what to do with Bryan Cranston post-Breaking Bad and I’m not sure Hollywood knows, either. Having completed one of the greatest runs in TV history in an era when TV actually has more sway than film, you would think the world would be Cranston’s blue meth-filled oyster. Few have the talent and the range that Cranston has displayed over his illustrious career. And yet, that has yet to truly translate since Breaking Bad ended. He is good in Trumbo but that movie is awful. Godzilla is a blast but he’s mostly a plot devise. All the Way appealed to critics but didn’t have any cultural impact. A look at what lies ahead for Cranston is highlighted by Power Rangers and Why Him?, a Christmas comedy that screams “Rotten.” I fear he may be stuck in an undesirable place where he is too big to do character work (which he is great at) but not big enough to lead material worthy of his skill.
The Infiltrator is more of the same. It’s watchable but not memorable. Cranston is good but not great. It aspires to be significant but does nothing to actually attain that status. The story itself (based on the biography of the real life Robert Mazur) is decent enough but more often than not, it plays like a greatest hits collection of other cops and robbers movies. I haven’t read Mazur’s book so I cannot speak to the realism of the plot and the events that unfold on screen but there certainly doesn’t seem to be anything original about what takes place. Most of the characters are really more like undercover crime movie tropes personified and few of the actors are asked to do much more than look the part. The pacing is disjointed, featuring too much exposition in some places and a complete lack of context in others. The Infiltrator looks good and director Brad Furman is solid with the camera but that does little to pull the movie out of mediocrity.
And look, that’s fine. I don’t expect every movie to be ground breaking or to bring a new perspective to the table. Some movies just are what they are and there’s nothing wrong with that. If nothing else, I’m happy to have an adult movie made for adults drop in the midst of all the summer blockbusters. But you can tell Furman wants his movie to be more than this, that he thinks he’s putting together something special, and for me, the weight of expectation became distracting. Furman’s most successful movie, The Lincoln Lawyer, worked because it accepted what it was (an R-rated John Grisham movie with a sleazy protagonist) and didn’t try to be anything more. There’s something to be said for a director who can consistently churn out movies that play just as well on basic cable as they do in theaters and that’s what Furman does best. The Infiltrator falls short of its goal of importance, especially in the extremely sloppy third act, leaving me with the feeling (fair or unfair) that my time has been effectively wasted.
Which brings me back to Cranston. If my time was wasted, then Cranston’s certainly was. His fame came late in his career so, in my book, he’s earned the right to cash some checks and take it easy if he’s so inclined. But he’s not doing The Infiltrator to get that money; he’s here because this movie should hold some water and instead, he is relegated to being the best part of a mediocre film and one that really isn’t worth his time.
Grade: C+

5 Movies to Watch This Election Season

First off, a disclaimer:

This newsletter is an a-political zone. I’m sincerely not trying to make a point in any direction with these choices. Any and all assumptions you make by these choices are your own. I’m not smart enough to hint anyway.
 As we head into the final 3 months of an endless election cycle (thank God) and the news seems to range from bleak to bleakest on all fronts, sometimes it is fun to pop in some movies to properly contextualize the season we’re in. Here are some suggestions!
5) Broadcast News – To be fair, if I make any list of movies, this masterpiece is likely to be included as it is my favorite movie of all-time. That being said, this romantic/comedy/drama is also a great time capsule of when news was great. The internet has done a lot of great things over the last thing—and although it’s existence is necessary for media—I can’t help but be wistful for a time when things were sourced, resourced, and removed of all opinion.
4) Election – I actually don’t like this movie that much. I mean, it’s not awful, but I think Alexander Payne has far better films on his resume. I think it’s actually illegal to make a list like this without this film. Regardless of my personal critiques of the film, I think there’s great insight into modern electoral politics in this film. There are tons of circumstance and personality analogies to me made. Feel free to pop in this flick and make them!
3) Michael Clayton – Although not a overtly political film, no movie better portrays the collision of the political and corporate spheres more than this truly great film from Tony Gilroy. This is my favorite movie of the 00s and I think it only gets better with age. Given the last 5 years, this also may be our last glimpse of peak Clooney which is always fun.
2) Citizen-Four – I still don’t know where I stand on the Edward Snowden saga. I can be completely convinced on either side (hero or traitor) depending on whom I’ve spoken with last. Don’t bother e-mailing or tweeting trying to convince me to your side. I will 100% agree with you until the next person does the same. Regardless of all of that, cyber-hacking and the issue of the necessity of transparency vis-à-vis security is a major looming issue in the modern world. This film is at least one side of that argument. It’s also a great watch. Watch it.
1) MacGruber – Kidding. But seriously watch it anyway…
1) Welcome to Mooseport – No movie—nay, film—fully captures the brutal marathon of politic… okay I’m kidding again. Last time, promise.
1) All the Presidents Men – A wonderful introduction into political journalism for you n00bs out there. Woodward and Bernstein are icons (as are Redford and Hoffman playing them) but Jason Robard’s Ben Bradlee steals the show (Bradlee is a personal hero of mine, so I may be biased). If you’re under the age of 40 this may be a gap on your pop culture resume, use this brutal election season to fill it up. You won’t regret it.

New to Home Viewing in August

Each month in this space, we take a look at what movies and TV shows you’ll be able to (legally) watch in the comfort of your own home in the coming weeks. I recommend a couple of properties I enjoy, highlight one I haven’t seen but I’m looking forward to checking out, and something I desperately want you to avoid. I’m just doing my part to help you make smart decisions with your precious free time. Am I a hero? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
WHAT I’VE SEEN AND YOU SHOULD, TOO: The Nice Guys – Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Angourie Rice (Available on Blu-Ray and DVD August 23rd)
 In what has been perhaps the most disappointing summer I can remember, The Nice Guys stands out as one of the few bright spots. I’m still not sure why it didn’t get a fall release where it likely would’ve found a little more success but regardless, the Gosling-Crowe-Shane Black combo at work in Nice Guys delivers an unbelievably fun romp.
For our full thoughts, check out our episode:
MAY I ALSO RECOMMEND: Midnight Run (Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray) – Robert de Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto (Available on Blu-Ray August 23rd)
Midnight Run is almost 30 years old and it doesn’t often make the rounds on TV so if you’ve never seen it, you get a pass. But now’s the time to remedy that gap in your movie soul. This is the kind of movie that you discover has a 96% Rotten Tomatoes score and you think, “Wow, four percent of critics are REALLY wrong.” De Niro has better performances to his credit but outside of his connection with Pacino in Heat, the chemistry he creates with Future American Treasure Charles Grodin is unmatched. This is an all-time great movie in my book.
WHAT I HAVEN’T SEEN BUT INTEND TO: The Lobster - Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman (Available on Blu-Ray/DVD August 2)
I would wager I attempted to get to a theater for The Lobster at least 473 times but each time, my attempts were stifled. I’ve heard so many good things about this one that I’m almost willing to just give it an automatic A and move about my week. Colin Farrell deserves good things, you guys. Many good things. All the good things. I really hope this is one of the good things.
I was going to put Mother’s Day in this space, sight unseen because, I mean, come on. But then Garry Marshall died and it felt in bad taste. There’s nothing out this month I’ve seen that feels truly worthy of this anti-recommend if you will. But for the record, I am fervently against Once Upon a Time, The Blacklist, everything related to NCIS, and the aforementioned Mother’s Day.
August 2nd Batman: The Killing Joke, Keanu, Mother’s Day, The Bronze, The Blacklist Season 3, The Knick Season 2, The Blindspot Season 1
August 9th11.22.63, Supergirl Season 1, A Hologram for the King
August 16thOnce Upon a Time Season 5, Hell on Wheels Season 5, God’s Not Dead 2, Gotham Season 2, The Burbs, The Money Pit, The Great Outdoors, Patch Adams, The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
August 23rdAsh vs. The Evil Dead Season 1, The Hunstman: Winter’s War, The Walking Dead Season 6, Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, Roots
August 30thStar Wars Rebels Season 2, The Night Manager, Arrow Season 4, Shameless Season Who Cares
NETFLIX – An Inconvenient Truth, Big Daddy, Blue is the Warmest Color, The Family Man, The Fast and Furious, The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift, Final Destination 3, Law & Order Special Victims Unit Season 17, Let’s Go to Prison, NCIS Season 13, No Country For Old Men, Once Upon a Time Season 5, Pay It Forward, The Road, Sleepy Hallow, Sliding Doors, St. Vincent, Star Trek Nemesis, The Wedding Planner, What Women Want, Young @ Heart
AMAZON – Inside Llewyn Davis, A Clockwork Orange, The Others, The Piano, Cloverfield, Kalifornia, Marathon Man, The Matrix 1-3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1-3, You’ve Got Mail, Shaun the Sheep, No Country for Old Men, American Ultra, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Blue Ruin, Goon, Elvis and Nixon
Monthly Recommends
Brian Gill
Stranger Things - Netflix

Kent Garrison
Stranger Things - Netflix

Double duh.
Richard Bardon
Your Song Changed My Life - Bob Boilen
A great read about what inspired 30 different musicians. Wonderful inspiration for you creative types out there. 
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