The fifth annual Sun Valley Film Festival runs March 2-March …
There is nothing quite like a good art heist adventure, and Agents of SHIELD tries its hand at it in “I Will Face My Enemy.” Coulson and May attend a gala in order to steal a painting with valuable information written on the back. Before they can recover the painting, however, their cover is compromised by General Glenn Talbot, and someone else snatches up the painting first. The resulting episode is a loving tribute to the art heist sub-genre in the vein of James Bond and The Thomas Crown Affair with a big party, sexy ballroom dancing, and tricky laser alarms.
To quote Bill Hader’s beloved SNL character Stefon, “Making Friends and Influencing People” is an episode of Agents of SHIELD that has everything: Double-agents! Hypnotism! Nazis making The Sound of Music jokes! A male version of Queen Elsa from Frozen (minus the singing) freezing a ship! Underneath all of these borderline silly moments, however, is one of the best episodes of Agents of SHIELD yet, not just for season two but season one as well.
“Beginning of the End” picks up minutes after “Ragtag” left off: Fitz and Simmons are stuck in a metal box on the bottom of the ocean; Coulson, Triplett, and Skye are being held at gunpoint in the secret Hydra base under the barber shop; Garrett has been revived by the formula that saved Coulson and Skye. All seems lost for Coulson’s team, and the season one finale of Agents of SHIELD has just begun.
The most consistently frustrating thing about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is its absolute refusal to be anything other than a vanilla, middle-of-the-road piece of disposable entertainment. It’s not a show that’s necessarily terrible enough to hate (although some will try) and it’s not anywhere near good enough to like it. The most common response to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has to be a shrug of the shoulders and moving on from there. There’s nothing particularly memorable about anything that it has to work with. Here’s a question for the ages: if this show didn’t have the association with the Marvel universe, would people even be tuning in to watch it? You can ponder that amongst yourselves.
When you go back and watch Marvel’s “Phase One” films (Iron Man to The Avengers), these are all films that excel in being particularly goofy and silly. That’s just Marvel’s schtick. They’re good at it. Their golden boy, Joss Whedon, has always had a talent for the same thing. A Whedon film or TV show can be picked out of a line up for that very reason. There’s simply a certain feel to his (and Marvel’s) work. It’s only logical that the jump from movies to TV on Marvel’s part would mirror that same aspect. What doesn’t work for Marvel, however, is the melodrama created by Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) character.
The amount of time it takes to exhaust the goodwill one has accrued towards an overqualified and bursting ensemble cast is roughly 70 minutes, if The To Do List is any indication. The film’s high concept and its performers, from Aubrey Plaza to Connie Britton to Alia Shawkat to Clark Gregg, are enough to engender some interest for a while, but eventually, The To Do List peters out, squandering away its likability on a strange, ballsy-for-being-irresponsible message and a muddled third act.
Spending two hours in the world of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing inspires envy in his seemingly palatial abode, as well as delight at his effortless, carefree adaptation of an equally effortless and carefree Shakespearean comedy. There’s mistaken identity, slapstick, swooning romance, and giddy farce, as you would expect from any revival, modern or otherwise.
From the first shot of Trust Me, Clark Gregg makes it obvious that his satirical picture owes a huge debt to Sunset Boulevard. Both are film noirs set in Hollywood that concern themselves with female actors clawing desperately at fame, but each is told from an opposite end of the spectrum. Billy Wilder’s classic memorably depicts an aging has-been desperate to reclaim her former glory, and Trust Me follows an up-and-coming starlet willing to go to any lengths to obtain celebrity. And the allusions just pile on after that.
The Avengers Written and directed by Joss Whedon USA, 2011 …