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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ("The Kominsky Method," "Cruella," Oscar Lang)

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The Kominsky Method


We kept watching even though there was too much bathroom humor and too many stereotypical characters. This is a buddy comedy and there was special chemistry between Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) and Norman (Alan Arkin). They could be hilarious together and they were hard on each other. But you always knew one would do anything for the other (even leave a $10 million inheritance). We enjoyed season 1 and then, as the show jelled, we laughed out loud and flew through season 2. And then season 3 started with Norman's funeral. A buddy show without one of the buddies? Douglas received the Emmy and Globe nominations for his role as the failed actor turned coach but Arkin was what held the show together. Now the writers had to hope that Kominsky's ex-wife, played by Kathleen Turner, would work as his foil. Or some other member of the supporting cast would step up. Didn't happen. Season 3 couldn't end soon enough. Watch the first two, though.

— Tim Cotter



I thought this new take on Cruella de Vil would be more, well, fun. It’s busy and jam-packed with elaborate production design. It pulses with an insistent 1970s soundtrack and is framed by a perpetually swooping camera. But fun? Not so much. Here’s what’s good about it. The Emmas: Emma Stone has a gas as fashion designer and angry young woman Cruella, and Emma Thompson is deliciously condescending as her Devil-wears-Prada boss. The clothing: Cruella’s punk aesthetic, as designed by Jenny Beavan, means stunning and wildly dramatic costumes. But the script feels as though it was created by committee, and the caper sequences feel labored. If only director Craig Gillespie brought to the proceedings the sure dark-comic tone of his “I, Tonya.”

— Kristina Dorsey 


21st Century Hobby

Oscar Lang

Those worried about the possibility that rock bands will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs need to stay calm. Just because Billboard and corporate music biz types focus on a very narrow slice of what's happening — template-generated pop and rap — there are plenty of folks out there creating great rock music. Lang is a precocious and prodigious 20-year-old Brit who's insanely talented and part of a whole underground of similarly gifted Young Persons creating a hybrid of indie rock, bedroom pop, psychedelia and hooky songcraft. You'll read and hear a lot about (hugely promoted) "summer anthems" by all the current, gazillion-downloads stars — but I can't conceive that anyone will write a better summery pop song than "21st Century Hobby." It lopes, gazelle-like, with a wave-at-the-sun, chew-even-more-bubble-gum chorus and aninsanely wonderful synth line that sounds like something Rick Wakeman would have done if he'd played in the Looking Glass. And, just so you know, Lang has TONS of great songs.

— Rick Koster




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