First episode impressions: ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ (TV review)

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oey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (NBC) isn’t “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” … or “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” … or “Zoey 101.” Watching the pilot episode of the series (which will return Feb. 16, in its regular Sunday slot), I could never forget that it is trying to cash in on the current popularity of musicals and that it uses a title that evokes things people already like. That said, this series — whose producers include “Freaks and Geeks’ ” Paul Feig and “The Perfection’s” Richard Shepard (who directs the first episode) — is far from terrible.

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‘Blinded by the Light’s’ Pakistani family drama awkwardly mixes with Springsteen tunes (Movie review)

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love the way Javed (Viveik Kalra) loves Bruce Springsteen in “Blinded by the Light.” The Pakistani-British youth sings and dances in the street once he gets the Boss bug. He smiles when listening to the lyrics. He writes about the Boss for his school paper. He wins an essay contest and a trip to America by waxing poetic about Springsteen.

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Come for the Beatles tunes, stay for Lily James in ‘Yesterday’ (Movie review)

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esterday” isn’t the first movie to use Beatles songs as its foundation – see also 2001’s “I Am Sam” and 2007’s “Across the Universe” – but writers Jack Barth and Richard Curtis deserve credit for coming up with a killer hook. Struggling British singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) gets hit by a bus at the exact moment of a 30-second worldwide blackout and awakens to a planet that’s the same in every way except that the Beatles never existed.

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‘The Perfection’ isn’t what you think it is, but it’s still a clever little horror gem (Movie review)

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he Perfection” (Netflix) has one of those trailers that seems to give away the whole movie, so after making the mistake of watching the trailer, I let it fade from my mind a bit before watching the film. As it turns out, this horror thriller from director/co-writer Richard Shepard – who has a lot of credits but not many “wow” credits before this – is only partly like the trailer suggests. “The Perfection” so smoothly toys with and contradicts our narrative expectations that I wonder why more movies don’t use this tactic.

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The top 100 ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ songs, ranked (TV commentary)

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razy Ex-Girlfriend” recently wrapped an amazing four-season run with Rebecca Bunch (co-creator Rachel Bloom) deciding to pursue love – as in her love of writing songs, but now she’ll do it on paper instead of in her head. As fans know, not all of the 150 to 300 songs (depending on how you count them) from “CXG’s” run were in Rebecca’s head, meaning that Josh, Greg, Nathaniel, Paula, Heather, Darryl, etc. also did their share of internal songwriting.

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Malek, music are the stars of too-formulaic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Movie review)

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rior to seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018), I was hardly a Queen fan. The band’s popularity had faded before I was old enough to appreciate it, and growing up, their music was not something I was into.  My knowledge of Queen was limited to knowing they had a handful of decent songs and a few overplayed stadium anthems, and were led by one of the most eccentric frontmen of all time.  That said, I’m a huge music fan in general and had heard good things from friends about the film, so I was excited to learn about the legend of Queen.

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Cooper, Gaga beautifully update ‘A Star is Born’ for a new generation (Movie review)

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’m usually not a fan of remakes, but I make exceptions if the remake brings a fresh perspective to the material. I can also be won over if the remake is really f****** good. Such is the case with “A Star is Born” (2018), which was also made in 1937, 1954 and 1976, and which makes a solid case for its existence in dialog from Sam Elliott’s Bobby: “It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes. That’s it.”

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John’s top 10 movies of 2018

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he dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.

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