payne’s picks

By Sarah Payne

Movie Releases

Joker – October 4 – Last month director Todd Phillips took home the Golden Lion award at the Venice film festival for Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Phillips is best known for directing The Hangover series and other raunchy comedies like Due Date and Starsky & Hutch. After winning the Golden Lion, some critics are predicting that it could be the first superhero movie to win an Oscar. Other critics aren’t so keen on the flick, however. Stephanie Zacharek from Time magazine says, “Joaquin Phoenix overacts so hard it’s not fun.” She continues, “The movie’s cracks — and it’s practically all cracks — are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom.” The trailer for the film is certainly stylish, but given Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker performance, Joker has some big (clown) shoes to fill.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – October 11 – If you’re a diehard Breaking Bad fan, how disappointing was it in July when Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston’s big project reveal turned out to be a tequila brand? Lucky for us, some actual news was released later the next month, when El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was announced. The Netflix project has been kept so secret that no one even knew it was being filmed. And as of publication, the only teaser that’s been released is a one-minute clip of Skinny Pete being questioned by authorities. “There’s no way I’m helping you people put Jesse Pinkman back inside a cage,” he says. Vince Gilligan, the show’s original creator, returns as the film’s writer and director.

TV Review

Workin’ Moms – Season 3 – I can’t help it – I’m a total Workin’ Moms addict. When the third season premiered on Netflix at the end of August, I binged it in two sittings. What I really like about this show is it’s snackable. Each episode in about 22 minutes long and somehow it manages to advance each of the four main storylines in that timeframe. This season hit especially close to home for me as a new mom, watching Anne’s character struggle to find balance between protecting her preteen daughter and giving her the freedom to experience the world around her. I also love where Workin’ Moms creator and star Catherine Reiman takes her character this season. At the end of season two it seems like she only has one choice to make in her marriage, but of course life isn’t black and white. So we get to the end of season three and she’s faced with another seemingly impossible choice. Shooting for season four just wrapped last month, so let’s hope it lands on Netflix soon!

Sticks and Stones – Dave Chappelle – From my estimation, there’s been a lot of fake outrage over Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special. “Critics” have panned the show for being offensive, while its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is 99%. I watched the one-hour special to decide for myself if Chappelle went too far. If you’ve watched Chappelle’s specials for the last two decades, nothing in Sticks and Stones would give you pause. The only difference is Sticks and Stones was released in 2019, the year anything, everything, and anyone can be “canceled” for one non-PC comment. Chappelle is brave for many of the jokes he pulls off, but only because of the hyper-sensitive and social climate in which we live. And it’s true what Chappelle says in the special – if you’re offended, remember you’re the one who saw his face on Netflix and chose to watch out of your own free will.

Music Review

Lover – Taylor Swift – I couldn’t sign off from my column without a brief love letter dedicated to Taylor Swift’s new album Lover. There are 18 tracks on the album, the most she’s ever put out at once. The best songs are raw and emotional – harkening back to her country days. My favorites are the title track (for which there’s an adorable music video) and “Cornelia Street.” My least favorites are “Paper Rings” and “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” which are just a bit too cheesy for my liking (though perhaps not for diehard Taylor fans). The last song, “Daylight,” shows a Taylor ready to move on from the drama of her past and focus on a happy future, while the first track, “I Forgot That You Existed,” seems like a thinly veiled Kanye dig. As Taylor said in a recent interview, she’ll stop singing to the haters when they stop coming after her.