- Master of None, season 2: Just like season 1, I loved this. Funny and touching, with a difficult love story threaded through it all. It’s not “heartwarming” — it just feals real.
- Orphan Black (seasons 1 and 2 so far): Just amazing. It’s a clever thriller series about human cloning, but its greatest trick is making you forget that all the clones are played by the same actress. Tatiana Maslany inhabits them all perfectly, and the show is completely matter-of-fact about it. It is never (or at least, very rarely) self-indulgent about getting multiple clones in the same shot. They do it when it is necessary for the plot, but otherwise it’s NBD. The story has to be good in its own right, and it is.
- Archer, season 8: the first couple of episodes spent a lot of time establishing the new setting, and felt weak as a result of not being able to play on established relationships between the characters. It picked up after that, but was more restrained and less irreverent than earlier seasons.
- Mississippi Grind: Good film, but very hard to watch. I found it agonizing to see the characters induldge their self-destructive impulses, wanting them to stop, knowing that they wouldn’t or couldn’t.
- La La Land. Undoubtedly beautifully shot, but I found the characters bland, the story lacking in conflict and narrative drive, and the songs and dance routines weak. I hated the sound editing — some of the songs felt natural and embedded in the scene, whereas others were obviously lip-synced and jarringly artificial. Overall: disappointing. Bear in mind that Singing In The Rain is my all-time favourite film, and my standards for cinematic musicals might be unrealistically high.
- Wonder Woman: Good, but disappointing that it ended with such a conventional “two dudes punching” superhero boss battle climax. (Even though one of the dudes is a dame.) I had hoped they would find a more interesting way to resolve the conflict. Still by far the best DC film since Christopher Nolan’s Batman run.
- Burn After Reading: A perfect Fiasco scenario, and would probably have been more fun played that way. Watching it as a film: meh.
- xXx – The Return of Xander Cage: I have no idea what that was all about, but it looked amazing.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming: Much less angsty than the previous Spider-Men, partly because with this reboot we don’t have to go through the whole origin story and Uncle Ben thing again — that’s taken as read, and we can move on with a real story. Tom Holland captures the perfect amount of sassiness and immaturity I expect from Spider-Man. Just as importantly, Michael Keaton as the Vulture is one of the most relatable antagonists the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided so far, and he is rewarded with a suitable ending. The action is mostly low-key, rather than cosmic, which suits the characters. The only thing that didn’t work was the boat scene. I think that could have been much more effective if didn’t wrap up as cleanly as it did. Still: excellent.
- Runaways, vol 2 by Brian K. Vaughn, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa: Less impactful than the first collection, but still good. It has settled into more of an ongoing groove now.
- Mockingbird vol.2: My Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk et al.: After the extraordinary first volume, this was a disappointment. I knew that the series had been cancelled and that this volume only contains its last three issues, plus two issues of New Avengers filler, but the three-issue story arc on board the cruise ship was terribly weak. Not quite as weak as the last volume of Howard The Duck, but I don’t enjoy comic writers bringing themselves or their friends into the story with a knowing wink.
- Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom: OK/Good
- Maxïmo Park – Risk To Exist: OK/Good. Looking forward to seeing them live again in September.
- Imagine Dragons – Evolve: Good. For an album called “Evolve” it sounds awfully similar to their first two, though. That’s not a bad thing. I like this sound.
- Chairlift – Moth: Good. There’s something I like about a boy/girl duo. Chairlift remind me of all the things I enjoy in bands like the Ting Tings, Wye Oak, The Bird And The Bee.