Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: THE GREAT SEASON 1 (Hulu)

HUZZAH!!! Get used to that word, you are going to be hearing a lot of it if you check out the great new television show on Hulu called…well…THE GREAT. If you are a constant reader of my reviews, you know I’m not too fond of period piece movies, any kind of that kind of content in general…I hated history class in school. But The Great, very much a period piece, is different in many, many ways, one of which is that when the title card comes up on each episode, it has an asterisk above the t, and then below it says “an occasionally true story.” Very much a fictionalized true story then, because this television show has all the characters almost talking, and especially cursing at each other, like we do today. There’s even loads of dick and fart jokes for me to enjoy! The Great stars Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning in what and Wikipedia describes as “A royal woman living in rural Prussia during the 18th century is forced to choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia, when she marries an Emperor. It is a satirical, comedic drama about the rise of the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. The series is fictionalized and portrays her youth and marriage with Emperor Peter and focus on the plot to kill her depraved and dangerous husband.” That woman is Catherine The Great (hadn’t heard of this historical figure until now), but whatever category it decides to enter when Emmy nominations come about (either drama or comedy) both Hoult and Fanning much deserve to be in the lead actor and actress categories. They have never been better, their performances alone worth checking out the show. I have a feeling though that it will enter the drama category, kind of like Better Call Saul does, even though I found myself laughing much more than being shocked or awed or sad at either of these two shows. If you are still in quarantine and not one of the fucking idiots heading out to un-social distancing like beaches and parties this past Memorial Day weekend, I highly suggest checking this one out, you will have a shit load of fun while also sort of semi-experiencing a nice, yet very fictional, history lesson.

This review is probably not going to be that long, as I don’t know much about the history of Catherine the Great to do a comparison, but then again, if something is as entertaining as this, you shouldn’t really care and just take in the overall jist of what happens as semi-true and about the other 90% with a grain of salt. If you are a stickler as a history buff, this might not be for you. While there is some drama, in this there is tons of sex, sex jokes, fart jokes, dick jokes, squabbles that will remind you of a lot of the bullshit millenials fight over these days, etc. etc. etc. That’s about 40% of why you should watch this, the overarching story of the attempted coup of Peter (Hoult) is 10% of why you should watch this, and then the last 50% are the performances, especially from leads Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult. They are hilarious and have never been better, and hopefully the Emmy’s recognize that come eventual award season. This series I think is what the film The Favourite tried to set out and accomplish but ultimately failed. I know that film was critically lauded, but I just didn’t care for it. When going to the theater, I was expecting a modern take on the period piece movie formula. I got some of that, but mostly weirdness and dread that I couldn’t explain the basis for that overshadowed it. This show, which coincidentally Nicholas Hoult has roles in both, succeeds 100% of the time and then some. And I just did some more research before finishing up this review, and come to find out that the screenplay writer Tony McNamara, who had a direct hand in all 10 episodes of the series, also co-wrote The Favourite. Maybe he did The Great because he was unsatisfied with how that turned out personally? Maybe the weirdness from The Favourite came from the other co-writer or director Yorgos Lanthimos? Who knows? It doesn’t matter, the fact of the matter is that I would watch period piece films every day if they were like this. However, I do know not to expect that, as most want an accurate depiction of the times. This was just set out to capture audiences’ attention with a fun and different take on it all. And in that regards, it is great. Huzzah!!!


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BANKER (Apple TV+)

Two Avengers & an X-Men walk into a bank…I can already guess right now that more than 80% of you that read my reviews probably don’t have Apple TV+. I see their streaming service being closed after another year or two of content that doesn’t peak any one’s interest. Eh…make that 95% of you that read my reviews probably don’t have it. Even Apple is freaking out because many people that have bought a new Apple product aren’t taking them up on signing up for the service for a year for free. The only reason I have Apple TV+ is because I got a new iPhone back in December. I bet some of you didn’t even know that and have bought a new Apple product. It has (I guess, I don’t watch it) The Morning Show that stars Jennifer Aniston, it has Mythic Quest Raven’s Banquet series that was created by the It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (which I did watch all of and its the best thing the streaming service has to offer) and now it has this new original movie THE BANKER, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, and Nicholas Hoult. It has other shit, like a Jason Mamoa TV series called…See…or something like that, but it all looks like drivel to me. Now while it took about 20 minutes to really get going (out of a two hour runtime), The Banker is really quite good. And where I was thinking I’d have nothing to review for awhile, thank the Movie God’s I was wrong.

THE BANKER has a very interesting true story premise, borrowing the simple tag line on IMDB: “In the 1960s two African-American entrepreneurs hire a working-class white man to pretend to be the head of their business empire while they pose as a janitor and chauffeur.” Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson are the two entrepreneurs and Nicholas Hoult plays the working-class white man. Their business empire consists of being two of the first African American bankers in the United States. They start off by buying and owning buildings that these banks are in, that won’t give them the time of day when they need it, and then eventually sliding directly into banking itself, all while having this white man, who is not racist and considers them friends, be the face of the company. Because no one would take them seriously in the first place…because look at what unfortunate time period they were stuck in. And they also do some of their main business in Texas at the time…yikes. Anyway, like I said earlier, the movie starts off a little slow with Anthony Mackie as a genius, but again, white people judge him by the color of his skin so won’t take him seriously, but about 20 minutes in, after Mackie has met Jackson’s character and they get Nicholas Hoult involved in their scheme and try to groom him so that he can walk the walk and talk the talk, the movie gets extremely entertaining and fun.

Do yourself a favor and don’t do any research on what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t and enjoyed the movie much more that I didn’t know what was going to happen in the end. The movie is funny, entertaining, smart, and moving at times. I liked that it didn’t treat the audience like they were morons and didn’t try to explain every single thing about the math in their business or what terms meant. You either know what they are talking about or you Google it if you want to understand. Tired of movies spoon feeding information to their audience, and it seems like writer/director George Nolfi (Ocean’s Twelve, Adjustment Bureau) knew that and decided we didn’t need hand holding. I’m glad he did, as I was looking up terms left and right, trying AND wanting to understand more of what these characters were doing math and money wise. The movie is of course superbly acted. Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson do a great job as they usually do, Nia Long has a good small part as Mackie’s wife, but the scene stealer here is Nicholas Hoult, especially the grooming and conning other white men (in a way) scenes. I think this is Apple TV+’s first original movie that they bought. If they were to keep bulking up the screening service with more films of the quality and many more interesting TV shows other than Mystic Quest, they might be able to survive. Hence the word might, you can take that to the bank.