Agent Carter S1 E5

“The Iron Ceiling”

Another boomer of an episode as Neal McDonough reprised his role at Dum Dum Dugan, member of the 107th aka The Howling Commandos.

After breaking a code from the mysterious message that came across the typewriter at the end of last episode, Peggy talked herself onto the team that was heading to Russian to try and find out what they could on Leviathan and the connection with Howard Stark. Although, technically, Peggy wasn’t going to be allowed to go even after breaking the code. It required her delivering the Howling Commandos to be the ground support to get her on the team.

As soon as the adventure began, it became clear that Peggy was in her element and that Thompson was not the leader that he seemed. This episode really dove into his background, giving him reason to reconsider his stance on Peggy.

One of the best parts of the show was how Dum Dum and the Howling Commandos just accepted Peggy into their ranks and listened to what she said. Peggy hasn’t had this kind of respect from anyone in the SSR and watching even Dum Dum Dugan ask for Peggy’s leadership was awesome.

The raiding party was able to find a psychiatrist in the Russian prison who was there trying to keep a scientist balanced so he could design a weapon from Stark blueprints. They also saw more of the Black Widow program, including a little girl who wound up killing Junior Juniper, of the Howling Commandos.

I love how this still feels as if it is in continuity of the MCU. Agents of SHIELD was initially in continuity but, as the years went on, it evolved into what had to be considered an alternate universe (perhaps somewhere in the multiverse), but Agent Carter fit right in with the MCU timeline.

We see more of Dottie and her search of Peggy’s place, as well as some flashbacks to her youthful training. She does not find the stash of Cap’s blood, thankfully, but she does find photos of Stark weapons Peggy had hidden.

Chief Dooley approached Jarvis again, with a bit of an olive branch, telling him that he just wanted the truth and that he would love to hear what Howard Stark had to say.

And Agent Sousa discovered a link between the blonde in the photograph they had from a few episodes ago and Agent Carter. Sousa was not sure where to go from here.

Agent Carter S1 E4

“The Blitzkrieg Button

As good as episodes 1-3 of Agent Carter were, “The Blitzkrieg Button” was easily the best of the series so far. One of the big reasons was the return of Howard Stark to the show’s canvas. Nothing like a dose of lies and manipulations to spice up a secret agent show.

We also got the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. It was unexpected, but there he was, sitting right next to Howard Stark, asking for the sports section. I miss Stan.

So many things happen, including the reveal that Stark had a vial of Steve Rogers’ blood among the weapons that the SSR currently had. He manipulated Peggy into stealing it back by saying that it was a bomb that would cause a massive blackout if activated. Peggy was too quick for Howard though as she picked up the tells from him and from Jarvis (scratches his ear when he lies) and she discovered the blood inside the weapon.

The confrontation between Peggy and Howard after that was fire and the right cross was well deserved. Peggy kicked Howard to the curb and kept the blood for herself.

We also discovered that new girl at the hotel, Dottie, turned out to be someone special. I remember from the first time that Dottie came from the Black Widow program, though they have not revealed that yet. The acrobatics Dottie executed on the unexpecting Russian was epic. And it was all over a cool gun he had that she wanted.

SR Chief Dooley went to Germany to find out information about this mysterious Battle of Finow from former Nazi colonel Ernst Mueller. Dooley offered Mueller a cyanide pill to avoid the scheduled hanging that he was headed for in exchange for info. Mueller told Dooley that there was no battle and that it was just a group of mutilated bodies.

Lots of excitement heading forward. Pieces are falling into place and we have four more episodes in season one.

Agent Carter S1 E3

“Time and Tide”

At the end of last episode, the guys at the SSR had found the bumper of the Stark car in the remains of the Roxxon plant. This set them on the trail of Howard Stark, indirectly through the path of Edwin Jarvis.

In this episode, we learn a little bit more of the past of Jarvis and the SSR attempted to have him and his wife deported. Thankfully, through some sneakiness of Peggy, Jarvis is set free.

Peggy consistently is shown as quick-thinking and intelligent. She is very much the opposite than what the others at the SSR seemed to think of her.

Peggy and Jarvis wind up finding the missing Stark tech and they report in anonymously. Peggy wanted to do it herself, but Jarvis correctly convinced her that the people she worked for would not see it as a positive. They would see it as a way of tying Peggy to Stark and questioning her motives. Still one of the best parts of this series was how Peggy, the most capable person in the room, was mistreated or disrespected by her colleagues.

There was also a cool fight scene with a guy. Peggy needed the help of Jarvis or else she would have been killed. Then she was able to use one of the Stark toys against the guy, breaking his arm. With Peggy and Jarvis out of the way, the SSR arrived and found the witness. He was in the car with Krzeminski and about to blow Peggy’s cover when another car struck them from behind. That led to a person assassinating both Krzeminski and the witness.

This was the first death of a member of the SSR that we got to see and it was quite dramatic. Peggy was hit harder than she thought.

The series continues to build its central mystery and progress every episode. Carter and Jarvis continue to be an awesome pair and the stakes continue to rise.

Agent Carter S1 E2

“Bridge and Tunnel”

In episode two, Peggy Carter continued her attempts to prove the innocence of Howard Stark while trying to prevent her co-workers from discovering that she was working the case.

Peggy went to investigate the missing molecular nitramene bombs from the milk truck from last episode and trying to discover more about the mysterious Leviathan.

Running though the episode was clips from the “Captain America Adventure Program” which was a radio show detailing fictionalized adventures of the war hero Captain America. Poor Peggy was reduced in the show as a damsel in distress and the real Peggy kept hearing the show wherever she would go.

There was an exciting fight on the top of the milk truck that ended up off a cliff and imploding in a massive implosion. Again, it showed the relationship between Peggy and Jarvis. Not that there was ever going to be anything between the two besides friendship. It was not that sort of vibe. Jarvis is able to convince Peggy that she could not take everything on herself and that she needed to have help. He was meaning himself, but it also led Peggy to take an apartment that she turned down before because she was afraid that she brought danger to people around her.

Roxxon is included in the show as well. Roxxon has always been the evil corporation of the Marvel Universe and this would be no exception. It was awesome to see Ray Wise (Leland Palmer from Twin Peaks) make his appearance as one of the heads of Roxxon.

Agent Carter S1 E1

“Now is not the End”

After watching the Agent Carter Marvel One-Shot for this past Saturday Shorts day, I decided that I would begin a rewatch of Agent Carter’s ABC TV show that ran for two seasons after Captain America: The First Avenger. I remember that series being a lot of fun and ahead of its time.

Peggy Carter is working at the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) in New York City, but the other agents are anything but welcoming. One of the key sections of this series was the inclusion of how men treated women in the mid 40s and how Peggy Carter was not going to take such behavior.

Howard Stark, played in this series by Dominic Cooper, is believed to have sold some of his weapons to enemies of the USA and has become a fugitive, wanted as a traitor. Howard approached Peggy, along with his butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), and asked her to investigate this case. He needed her to prove him innocent. Peggy decided to help him, even though helping him might be seen as her turning traitor too.

Peggy is shown as remarkably capable and she is able to retrieve one Stark bomb and disable it. However, it led to the death of her roommate. This scene and the following one of Peggy with Jarvis at the restaurant was pretty strong. Hayley Atwell is an excellent actress and can take the material to another level with her performance.

There is a great chemistry between Peggy and Jarvis, and their bickering and interactions are funny and endear us to the characters immediately. Comic fans knew of Jarvis, since he was the comic book butler for the Avengers and in the MCU is the person whom Tony Stark originally named his AI in his armor.

The show started by highlighting Peggy’s co-worker, Daniel Sousa, who had been wounded in the war and needed a crutch to move around. I have a much more positive memory of Sousa from later when he joined Agents of SHIELD and was matched up with Quake.

This introduction does a great job setting up the series and what is to come.

The Outfit

As I was going through Peacock today looking to see if there was anything of interest that I could watch on a Sunday afternoon, I came across The Outfit, a film that I had heard good things about and that I had planned on, eventually, renting on Vudu. However, now I did not have to because the film was streaming for free on my Peacock subscription.

Mark Rylance starred as Leonard, a high brow English tailor (though he would argue that distinction. He said he was a cutter, and that a tailor only sewed on buttons) in a small shop in Chicago that was patronized by members of the Boyle crime family. Leonard would look the other way as gangster would use a drop off box in his back room as a message port and as a stash box for dirty money.

Things become more complicated one night when Richie (Dylan O’Brien), son of the crime boss Roy (Simon Russell Beale) and chief enforcer Francis (Johnny Flynn) came into the shop. Richie had been shot in the side and was bleeding. Francis forced Leonard at gunpoint to stitch Richie up with thread from the shop.

Francis told Leonard that they had been ambushed over a tape that everybody wanted, that had been recorded by a “rat” working for the FBI. Francis needed to find a device in which to play the tape, so he left Leonard to watch over the wounded Richie.

In an attempt to get out of this situation, Leonard started to play Richie and Francis against one another. This led to an evening of violence and lies.

I loved this movie. I was engrossed by the entire story and I was fascinated by the performance of Mark Rylance. He was just great as he manipulated each situation that happened next. You could feel how each second, Leonard felt on edge, but was continuing to do what he could to maintain events.

You could tell that there was more to Leonard’s story than what we were getting, but since he was showing himself to be a complex liar, you were never really sure what the truth of the moment was or how much of it was just fiction.

Leonard’s receptionist, Mable (Zoey Deutch), was involved in the story as well, bringing a new wrinkle to what Leonard was hoping to accomplish. Zoey Deutch does a great job creating a character that you care about and that you believe Leonard would go out of his way to help.

Graham Moore, who won an Oscar for Best Adaptation of The Imitation Game and was the author of one of my favorite books, The Sherlockians, had his directorial debut in this film as well as co-writing the screenplay. I found all of the shots to be very effective and all of the pieces of the story came together extremely well. This would be a solid debut in the director’s chair for anyone.

The Outfit was a tense and enthralling gangster tale, told in a different manner than most of the others. The single area of the tailor shop helped build the feeling of everything collapsing in at once and you can’t help but wonder how Leonard would get out of the situation.

4.5 stars

The Golden Compass (2007)

Do Over: EYG Sunday Morning Revisit Week 3

I just barely remember the first time I watched The Golden Compass. It was on DVD and my slight memory was that I was bored during it. So when I saw that this movie was leaving HBO Max at the end of the month of May, I decided this would be a good film to use for week three of the Do Over.

What I found amazing upon the second viewing was that a film with as many fantastical elements and magical creatures could be as dull as The Golden Compass was.

According to IMDB: “It was no ordinary life for a young girl: living among scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College and tearing unsupervised through Oxford’s motley streets on mad quests for adventure. But Lyra’s greatest adventure would begin closer to home, the day she heard hushed talk of an extraordinary particle. Microscopic in size, the magical dust–discovered in the vast Arctic expanse of the North–was rumored to possess profound properties that could unite whole universes. But there were those who feared the particle and would stop at nothing to destroy it. Catapulted into the heart of a terrible struggle, Lyra was forced to seek aid from clans, ‘gyptians, and formidable armored bears. And as she journeyed into unbelievable danger, she had not the faintest clue that she alone was destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

That synopsis from IMDB just scratches the surface of the convoluted story of The Golden Compass. What a mess the story of this film was. It seemed to change every ten minutes or so, much like the main antagonist (if that is who she was) Nicole Kidman. Kidman played Mrs. Coulter and her motives changed in every other scene. The movie also starred Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, although I could understand if you forgot that he was in the movie because the movie certainly forgot that. He appeared at the beginning and was not seen again until the very end, and that was not even in person.

The young protagonist Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) showed herself to be quite a strong little girl who was an accomplished liar or manipulator. She was thrown into several situations but I never once felt that she was in any jeopardy (except the one near the end in a lab, but it was resolved in such a unlikely manner that you could hardly count that one).

I did enjoy the inclusion of Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby, a character nearly identical to dozens of characters I have seen Sam Elliott play before, though he is such a likeable actor that you forgive the repetitive nature. The ever wonderful Ian McKellan voiced the polar bear Iorek Byrnison, who went from drunken servant to king in the space of about 30 minutes. He pledged his fealty to Lyra because she let him know where his armor was being held, despite it being a painfully apparent location.

The CGI and special effects were hit and miss. Sometimes the film looked good, but other times it looked as fake as you could imagine.

The the film just ended. It pulled a Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ending (which also had Ian McKellan in it) and the group had come together to head off on a quest. Let’s just say that this was nowhere near as satisfying as that movie was.

Prior to the abrupt ending the film pulled out about three Dues Ex Machinas in the final battle. This included the sudden appearance of Iorek Byrnison, who apparently can teleport (or else is a really sneaky gigantic armoured polar bear).

The Golden Compass was a disappointment and packed with ideas that are not executed or are so messy that you do not care by the time the film gets around to them.

Close Your Eyes (2022)

May 14, 2022, Short 20

This one was just 3 minutes and 44 seconds long, but it did a fantastic job of scaring me and making me feel uneasy.

When musician Vincent (Vinny Balbo) finds his roommate (David Illy Bennett) standing at the front door, eyes closed with his ear up against the door, and not saying anything, he was confused. When his roommate told him that he was listening for secrets from her, Vincent was even more confused, but he did the same to see what he could hear. He heard nothing, but that did not mean that there was nothing there.

This was really solid and creepy. I was very impressed with the story and the characterization for such a short film. And then, what we see, was nightmare inducing for sure.

I thought this was really well done and I would love to see more from it. This is also found on YouTube.

Don’t Look Away (2017)

May 14, 2022, Short 19

Boy, this was a tale of two halves.

Savannah (Sabrina Twyla) is putting up with her brother Jim (Danny Roy) while she waited for her father (Jim Marshall) to come home. When she happened to look out the window, she saw a strange hooded figure standing in her yard staring at her. Her father called and she told him about it and he began to panic, telling her to “Don’t look away.”

Jim came into the room and also started looking at the man. Savannah went to lock up but when she got back, she could not see the man any more despite Jim claiming that it was still there. Suddenly, the man was standing directly behind Savannah.

Okay, so this was where this short horror film had me. I was invested in the story, simple as it was, and I was curious what this man was. It looked creepy as heck so it was doing a great job of building my tension.

Then things derailed quickly. She tried to cover its face with tape. It tried to tear out her eyes and Jim had to help pull it off her. Oh, and by the way, in the room, the thing just stood there and did not attack her until she turned her back to call her dad. WHY WOULD SHE TURN HER BACK? I yelled that at the screen. It was the stupidest thing to do. Then the father returned and got rid of it easy-peasy.

However, the acting from this point on, especially from the father, was so wooden and difficult to believe, it really took me out of the film. I hated the way the last half of this short was written and how it was executed. It took a situation that I was engaged in and made it into a ridiculous one that I was rolling my eyes at.

Not sure how to rate this because I was really enjoying this at the start, but it just went completely into the ground. I guess…

Teddy (2019)

May 14, 2022, Short 18

We returned to the Amateur Hour Films YouTube page for another of the Wangers’ creative horror shorts. This time, the film is entitled Teddy.

We have Cody Hall once again as out lead character. He played Nate who was trying to get some kind of strange creature home. He was being followed by John (Brian Perez) who wanted to return the creature to wherever it was that they took it in the first place. It seemed as if John and Nate found the creature together and decided to turn it in, but Nate realized that the creature was more than just some monster.

Once again, the tone and mood of the piece are wonderfully built thanks to the spooky lighting (which had to be a challenge to film) and the mysterious creature inside the carrying case. The score worked again extremely well to help create that feeling of dread and anxiety. Marzona does a great job with the scores on these Amateur Hour Films.

The Wangers do a great job of not trying to explain too much. They give us what is needed and allow us to form the rest in our heads. That may be a function of budget but it works well for them.

The Good, The Bart and The Loki (2021)

May 14, 2022, Short 17

I was looking through the Simpsons shorts on Disney + and I came across the short with the Marvel characters involved and I knew that was the next Saturday Short.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is once again banished from Asgard, but this time, he is banished to Springfield. He meets up with Bart and they immediately begin bonding over their similar family issues. However, Lisa winds up with the power of Thor and she brings the Springfield Avengers to confront the Trickster God.

One of the best jokes in the short was a sign being held by one of the Springfield Avengers that read “This is what happens when Disney buys Marvel and Fox.” LOL.

There are also a couple of mid-credit scenes involving Loki and the Hulk and then Loki with the TVA. Both are funny.

The overall short was fine. It is about what you would expect from a team up between the Simpsons and Marvel.

The Gunfighter (2014)

May 14, 2022, Short 16

Okay, found another fantastic short.

This time it is a Western entitled The Gunfighter.

It is a story of a mysterious stranger who comes into an old Western saloon for a drink and trouble starts to happen. Sounds pretty unoriginal right? You’ve seen that a million times. Well, there is one major thing that changes this around.

There is a narrator. It is the voice of Mick Offerman, actually, and he is narrating everything that is happening. Again, not uncommon, right?

Except, everyone in the saloon can hear what the narrator is saying.

The narrator is all-knowing and is telling everyone in the saloon the inner thoughts and the deepest secrets of everyone.

This was an absolute hoot. The reactions of each character to the voice’s revelations of their inner monologue was hilarious and worked so well. It gave us some great character moments in a film that lasted under nine minutes.

Nick Offerman was perfect as the omniscient voice and the cast of the other characters played their roles to a tee. Others in the cast included Shawn Parsons, Eileen O’Connell, Jordan Black, Brace Harris, Timothy Brennan, Scott Beehner, Circus-Szalewski and Keith Biondi.

Totally clever, remarkably funny and strikingly original. The Gunfighter was a ton of fun. You can watch it on YouTube.

Audible (2021)

May 14, 2022, Short 15

Audible was one of the nominated films this year at the Academy Awards in the category of Best Documentary Short. Although it did not win, the doc was extremely well done and brought attention to a world that I know I knew little about.

The film followed football player Amaree McKenstry-Hall, who played his high school football at the Maryland School for the Deaf. What a fascinating position this film placed the audience in. There were nearly no speaking within the film, and the film used sign language to show how the students and staff at the school would communicate. The captions on the film provided the information to the audience, but it still felt isolating, which I think was the purpose.

The story included the tale of one of Amaree’s best friends who had committed suicide after moving away to attend a hearing school.

The challenges faced as Amaree and his classmates reached their senior season, dealing with the loss of a friend and the first defeat at a football game that the high school had suffered were all very difficult and the movie showed how strong of a person Amaree was.

Some of the football scenes were disjointed and did not tell the story of the games (especially the Homecoming one, which was the final game of Amaree’s career) very effectively.

Still, much of the story is inspirational and shows how you can overcome just about anything life throws at you if you approach it with the proper mental toughness.

This documentary short can be viewed on Netflix.

If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)

May 14, 2022, Short 14

This one was a kick in the gut. How come animation can hit those emotions in such an effective manner because it always seems as if the most powerful moments come from animation.

If Anything Happens I Love You tells the story of a husband and wife who have lost their daughter in a school shooting and are struggling to come to grips with their grief. The husband and wife are pulling apart with their anguish and they are slowly separating. They have their shadows that are revealing their true thoughts and feelings as well as those of their lost daughter.

It is a sad truth that many couple who have lost a child wind up tearing apart instead of grieving together. Why that is the case is hard to say, but clearly the human being need something to make sense out of a tragedy such as this and maybe it is too easy to blame another.

However, there are those that can overcome the anger and hard feelings to the point where they are able to face their grief together, much like what happened in this beautiful animated film.

The animation was exquisite, perfectly illustrating the process of grief and the ways memories can either bring together or pull apart.

If Anything Happens I Love You is powerful and beautiful. It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short and it was well deserved. You can catch it on Netflix.

Ghosts of Sugar Land (2019)

May 14, 2022, Short 13

Ghosts of Sugar Land is the first documentary short watched during the Saturday Short binge and it was found on Netflix. It was a story of betrayal. A story of religious persecution and radicalization of certain individuals.

The doc was about a man named “Mark” who was a black man hanging out with a group of Muslims until he disappeared into Syria. His friends, wearing superhero masks to hide their identities, speculate about their friend and about what may have been going on with him.

Truthfully, that is about all this doc does. It has this group of people try to guess what Mark did and why he did it. Some speculation had Mark as an FBI spy/informant undercover. Other speculation indicated that he became radicalized some time after his college graduation.

There is not a ton of real facts available in the doc. The final black screen tells us info on what happened to Mark but we never do find out anything about why he did what he did. I’m also not sure of the reason for the masks because the film does give us the real name of Mark at the end so if anyone wanted to figure out who they were, I would think it would be an easy job.

Some of the stories were interesting, but Ghosts of Sugar Land does not seem to go anywhere and come to any real conclusions about its topic.