Category Archives: Jez

Emotion (2015) & Emotion: Side B (2016) by Carly Rae Jepsen

emotionYou might not know any of Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs other than “Call Me Maybe,” but this girl is anything but a one-hit wonder. Jepsen is the Canadian Pop Queen and her 2015 album, E-MO-TION will have you bobbing your head and dancing in your seat to a mix of modern pop and 80s synth sounds. Some of the best songs to check out on this album are “Run Away with Me,” “Boy Problems,” and “L.A. Hallucinations.”

sidebIn 2016, Jepsen released Side B, which is an 8-track of songs that didn’t make it onto the original E-MO-TION collection. What counts as a B Side for Jepsen would be a smash hit on an A Side for anyone else. Even for a small collection of cut songs, Side B is creating a lot of buzz, both critically and among fans. My favorite songs here are “Higher,” “The One,” and “Body Language.”

Want to lift your mood a little? Watch the music video below for Jepsen’s “I Really Like You,” featuring special guest, Tom Hanks! Afterwards, you can check out E-MO-TION on CD or check out both albums instantly through Hoopla.

Whiplash (2014) R

whiplashAndrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a young student at the Schaffer Conservatory in NYC, the nation’s premiere music academy, and is trying to be the best drummer he can be. He feels like he’s finally gotten his break when one of the top instructors, Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) recruits him to play in a concert jazz band, but things quickly take a dark turn. Fletcher is a teacher who pushes his students through means of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. While this movie is a drama, Whiplash feels like a horror movie where the tension is palpable and you won’t be able to break away from the screen until the final credits roll.

Want another take on this movie? Read Joan’s review here.

Stranger Things (2016)

Stranger-Things-PosterSet in the 1980s in small town Indiana, this new Netflix series is everything you could want from a science fiction horror series. As the title suggests, strange things are happening in Hawkins, Indiana, a quiet town that rarely sees any kind of crime—that is, until 12-year-old Will Byers goes missing and a strange girl with special powers appears. The 8 episode season features multiple storylines with Will’s mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), and the town sheriff (David Harbour) uncovering government conspiracies, teens going monster hunting, and a group of kids looking for their lost friend and trying to protect their new one.

Drawing on popular culture of the 80s and infusing elements from E.T., Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Alien, and Stephen King, this show hits all the right notes when it comes to spooky nostalgia. Once you enter Hawkins, you’ll be glued to your screen and won’t be ready to leave at the end. Stranger Things is available as a full season through Netflix, which you can access for free by checking out one of our roku devices.

Already obsessed with Stranger Things? Check out Book Riot‘s list of recommended reading.

iZombie. Season 1 (2015)

izombieMedical resident Liv Moore (Rose McIver) has just had her life turned upside down when what starts out as a boat party turns into a zombie outbreak. Liv escapes with just a scratch, but that scratch makes her one of the undead, forcing her to break off her engagement, leave her residency program, and take a job in the city morgue. So long as she eats the brains of the bodies that come in, she’s able to maintain her own cognitive functions and pass as living, but the brains come with an unfortunate side effect: the memories of the deceased. Armed with these memories, Liv pretends to be a psychic and teams up with police officer Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) to help find justice for the murdered victims that get sent to her morgue. Meanwhile, her new boss and friend Ravi (Rahul Kohli) works to find a cure, one that could help Liv, but would interfere with the plans zombie Blaine (David Anders) has for infecting and exploiting Seattle’s wealthy community.

Despite its grisly premise, this unique crime procedural has a lot of humorous moments, loving relationships, and witty dialogue. This is a must-see for fans of Pushing Daisies and Veronica Mars. The first season of iZombie is available on DVD and is streaming on Netflix, which can be accessed by checking out one of our roku devices. To experience this story in a different medium, check out volume one of the iZombie comic series, the show’s source material.

Jane the Virgin. Season 1 (2014-2015)

janevirginJane Villanueva is in for an unfortunate surprise when her gynecologist mixes up the room numbers and accidentally inseminates Jane instead of giving her a pap smear. Soon enough, Jane is caught in a web of crisscrossing plot lines and interrelated characters, all told by a hilarious omniscient narrator.

Here’s what you need to know: Jane is accidentally inseminated by Luisa, whose brother, Rafael Solano, is the ultra-handsome, ultra-rich father of the baby. Rafael is married to Petra, whose mother, Magda, spells big trouble for Jane’s family, the Villanuevas. During Jane’s pregnancy, her mother, Xiomara reconnects with Jane’s father, the telenovela star, Rogelio de la Vega. To add yet another level of drama, Jane’s fiancée, Michael, is investigating the crime lord Sin Rostro, who has links to the Solanos, Jane’s new in-laws.

The plot may sound complicated—and it is—but the narrator makes it easy to follow along and keep track of the large cast of characters in this ridiculous dramatic comedy which plays on and pokes fun at many traditional telenovela tropes. Gina Rodriguez, who plays Jane, won the Golden Globe for best actress in 2015 and was nominated again in 2016. The first season of Jane the Virgin is available on DVD or on Netflix with our roku devices.

Sense8. Season 1 (2015)

sense8Netflix’s newest original show Sense8 is an intriguing and addicting sci-fi drama about eight different people from all over the globe who share a connection. “Sensates” are individuals who are all born at the same time and later become telepathically linked. Their powers begin to reveal themselves as the sensates enter their thirties, and the individuals start hearing, seeing, and feeling things happening to the others, even in different countries. The eight begin talking to each other, sharing experiences, falling in love, and doing their best to escape being captured by those who want to eliminate sensates.

This cast is one of the most diverse and fascinating group of characters I’ve seen on anything in a long time. Riley is Icelandic, living in London, and becoming a DJ. Sun is the daughter of a prominent businessman in Seoul who spends her time fighting in the ring. Capheus is a bus driver in Nairobi who will do whatever it takes to get his mother her medicine. Lito is a dramatic actor in Mexico trying to hide his relationship with his boyfriend. Kala is in Mumbai, about to marry a man she does not love. Wolfgang is a safecracker in Germany about to pull off a major heist. Will is a cop in Chicago and Nomi is a transwoman in San Francisco. All of the stories alone are engaging and well-written, but together they form an emotional, dramatic, and even romantic and hilarious sci-fi thriller.

Check out one of our rokus to watch this show’s first season on Netflix.

Pride (2014) R

prideBased on a true story, a small group of LGBT activists in 1984 London decide to collect funds to support the miners. Margaret Thatcher and the English government were closing down pits throughout Great Britain, leaving many miners without any income—but no mining group wants to receive support from the LGBT. Soon, the group finds a small mining town in Wales to give their money and the movie spends much of its time showing the two groups interacting in the face of adversity.

Starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Andrew Scott, Pride is a heartfelt look at a period of history about which some viewers may know little. The characters are lovable and complex, and the story is somewhat of a successful underdog story. Be prepared with tissues for the happy ending!

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015)

kimmyschmidtKimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) is a wide-eyed, enthusiastic young adult living in New York for the first time—but hers is not like all the other stories that begin this way. Kimmy was recently rescued from a doomsday cult in Indiana, where she was held against her will for most of her adolescent life. Unwilling to return home and be known forever as one of the “Mole Women,” Kimmy starts life fresh in the Big Apple by finding an apartment and a job.

From the team behind 30 Rock, this quirky comedy brings a lot of enthusiasm and good-natured humor to an otherwise dark backstory. Kimmy will have the audience laughing with her day-to-day life and her cluelessness to pop culture, and fans of comedy will notice more than a few familiar faces, including Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Amy Sedaris, and Jon Hamm. (Fair warning: the theme song will be stuck in your head for at least a week after.) Watch the first season on Netflix—now available on our roku devices!

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) PG

hundredfootWhen their restaurant in India is attacked and England didn’t work out for them, the Kadam family begins traveling Europe to find a new home for their restaurant. Fate intervenes by stranding the family in a small French village, where they find a perfect home, with one exception: it’s directly across the street from a high class French restaurant. Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), the owner of the restaurant opposite, and the Kadam patriarch (Om Puri) begin a feud, but Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), Madame Mallory’s beautiful young apprentice, and Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) begin building a close relationship.

Despite the constant setbacks from the feud, Hassan proves himself to be as adept with French cuisine as he is with Indian, occasionally blending the two, which could be the bridge between the two restaurants. Check out The Hundred-Foot Journey today.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) PG

httyd2In the sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, viewers are once again transported to Berk, but a much different version than we are used to. Now, instead of hunting dragons, all of the villagers live in harmony with the beasts, many keeping one or more dragons in their homes and using them in sports. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), master of the dragons and set to become chief, is still a bit of an outsider, choosing to skip the games and spend his time mapping the world with his nightfury, Toothless. On his adventures, he encounters a group of dragon hunters, a massive ice cave full of dragons, and the truth about what happened to his mother when he was a baby.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is everything you could want from a sequel. Beautifully balanced, this movie contains all of the drama and action of the first movie and raises the stakes, but doesn’t lose the heartfelt (and heartbreaking) moments, either. This Golden Globe winning movie is great for all ages and would be a fun addition to any family movie night.