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Best Episode So Far
This might be the best of of season, if not the entire series so far. The dynamic between Mando and Bill Burr's character was incredible. They are perfect foils to each other and play off each other so well. And the way Rick Famuyiwa wrote them so that they were able to help each other grow as characters in spite of their differences was brilliant storytelling. On top of that, the episode is just fun to watch. The action scenes are masterfully directed, in particular the chase sequence in the middle of the episode (seriously, I would have been fine if that sequence had been most of the episode, it was that good). The episode is a cinematic feast (seriously, never have I said "That's a beautiful shot" this many times while watching a TV episode), and every design detail was on point (seriously, Boba Fett has NEVER looked this good). And that ending. I have no words. That ending brought me so much joy and got me pumped for the season finale. This episode really is a work of art, and Famuyiwa deserves to spend more time working on this show.
As I am sure most people did, I went into this rather skeptical. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was actually a solid first episode. The task of a pilot episode is to establish who the main characters are, the situation they are in, and the plot of the show as a whole. And it has to do all of this while telling an interesting mini-plot for that one episode. This episode does all of that, and does it fantastically. Sure, there is a pacing problem for about three minutes in the second half of the episode (hence the nine stars), but otherwise this was a solid start that promises a show that explores a part of the Star Wars galaxy that we haven't seen before. Whether or not they will squander this opportunity remains to be seen, but for now this episode gives hope that we have yet another solid entry in the Star Wars mythos from Dave Filoni and co.
A (mostly) well-made documentary
The information presented in this film was clearly and accurately presented. For the most part, the presentation of said information was easy to follow and memorable. As an added bonus, the film is aesthetically pleasing to look at. My only complaint is with the last twenty minutes or so of the film. I'm not sure if it was the cinematography used, the editing, the musical choices, or some combination of all of these, but it felt like the documentary ended five times. There were seriously five distinct points in the last twenty minutes of the film where I was getting ready to get up from my seat because I thought the film was almost over. This left me feeling like the filmmakers had several different possible endings in mind and just decided to use them all. The information in these last minutes is still good, but it could have been packaged better. All in all, quite informative, and would definitely show this to anyone who is curious about Calvinism's history and teachings.
The Promise (2016)
Well-made, moving film
I wasn't originally planning to go see this movie, but my roommate told me he was going and after watching the trailer I thought I'd give it a shot. And I'm glad I did. While this isn't a perfect film (the opening feels a little rushed, for example), the qualities of this film far outweigh any flaws in it. It's well-acted, beautifully shot, has a haunting score, and quite emotional. Seriously, you would have to have a heart of stone to not be moved at all by this movie.
I won't go into much detail because I don't want to detract from the experience of watching this movie for the first time, but I must say that the surprising standout is not Oscar Isaac or Christian Bale (although they are both great in this movie), but rather Charlotte Le Bon, who is the leading lady in this film. Her performance just immediately endears you to her character. She is just so great in this movie. Could not do a review of this movie without giving her a shout-out.
Finally, don't pay attention to the negative opinions on this movie. Most of them are coming from people over in Turkey who didn't even want this film to be made in the first place, so they are automatically biased. This is a well-made film, with great performances and a lot of heart. And to top it all off, every cent spent on this film at the box office goes to charity. So go see this movie. You'll get a great experience, and you'll be helping some folks out while you're at it.