House of Cards – Season 4
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and House of Cards might be the best show I’ve ever seen. Obviously, that should be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven’t seen some widely considered classics like The Wire and The West Wing, but it’s still pretty damn high praise. Season 4 doesn’t quite reach the heights of the phenomenal first 2 seasons, but it definitely gets the show back on track after what was widely considered a disappointing season 3.
Season 4 begins right where season 3 left off, with Frank still fighting to win the Democratic primary while also dealing with the news that Claire wants to leave him. Things are a bit slow to start, as the two kind of hem and haw around their issues without ever facing anything. I’m going to go into some light spoiler territory here, so beware. For me, the season didn’t really find its full footing until around a third of the way through, when Frank and Claire put aside their differences and started tackling their problems as a team again. The two of them being completely at odds was better in concept than in practice, and I applaud the writers and showrunners for recognizing this and not stretching out the drama for too long.
Plenty of important characters from last season make their return, and there’s some huge drama that comes to light towards the end of the season. And holy shit, that final moment when Claire looks at the camera. I have to say it again: holy shit. As the camera was pulling out, I totally thought that’s what was going to happen, and I’ve never been more happy to be right.
I do have to be honest and say that a part of me still wishes the show would have ended after season 2. It was such a perfect ending, watching Frank finally achieve his goal. But the larger part of me is happy that this show is still going strong, and I definitely think they can keep the momentum going for at least 2 more seasons. Then it can firmly be in the conversation for the best show of all time, at least in my opinion.
Did you play Limbo? If yes, did you like it? Then you need to play Inside. If no, you should still probably play Inside. If you haven’t played Limbo, then go play Limbo and then play Inside. Inside is fantastic, it really is. It’s short enough that I got through it in one sitting, but the ending stayed with me for weeks as I mulled over the conclusion, or lack thereof. It has a completely unique visual and audio style that coalesce together into something truly wonderful, fascinating, and horrifying. The world of the game is stunning and scary, and you learn about it solely through the environment. Every new area either throws a completely new puzzle at you, or builds on a previous puzzle in a really interesting way. There’s almost no story to the game other than what you create yourself, and it really works. And the final 10 minutes of the game just might be my favorite moment in a video game from 2016. Maybe even better than the epilogue in Uncharted 4.
This is a super short review, because I don’t even have much else to say other than that you should play Inside. The only negative I can think of is that immediately upon completing the game, I found the ending to be unsatisfying. But after thinking about it for another few hours, I loved it. You will, too. Play Inside.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
I can’t believe how much I loved this movie. My wife and I rented it on a whim because we were bored on a Friday night and didn’t want to watch anything serious. I usually like Andy Samberg and the rest of the Lonely Island guys, and I knew a lot of other awesome people made appearances in this one, but I hadn’t really heard much about it online so I assumed it couldn’t be all that great. But it is. It’s great.
I’m the kind of person who laughs out loud at movies, and I do it a lot. Some people find that obnoxious, but if you know me at all, you know that I couldn’t care less. I say this to illustrate a point. I laughed out loud through basically the entirety of this movie. The story is pretty standard: dude gets famous and betrays his friends, new friends turn on him, he has to fix his personality to get his old friends back. But this movie is so much more than that. The parody concept of a famous singer isn’t highly unique, either. But it’s done so effectively and in such a consistently funny way that I didn’t care. Sure, there are some jokes that fall flat, but that’s comedy. It’s impossible for everything to hit with every person. And this one hits more often than it misses.