Posts Tagged ‘Media Update’

Media Update 8/16/18

August 16, 2018


Ingrid Goes West

I had been meaning to watch this movie for some time. I have been a huge Aubrey Plaza fan since first seeing her in Parks and Recreation. I became a bigger fan when I watched her various interviews on all three incarnations of Conan O’Brien’s talk show. She is so wonderfully awkward that I wanted to see her in everything I could. I am still working on that. This movie is listed as a “dark comedy” but I saw it more as a kind of new take on the horror/thriller genre. It was kind of a smart and softer take on those genres. I felt really tense and uncomfortable throughout the whole movie in a good way. The movie is primarily about social media and how people can take ownership of the people they are fans of. What made it so scary is that I have seen it in YouTube comments, on Reddit, and I have heard of scary incidents that streamers/YouTubers have had to endure. Plaza is great as usual as she revels in being weird and crazy but extremely personable. Elizabeth Olsen plays opposite her and does a great job at playing a more nuanced character that explores the manufactured reality that celebrities exude. We also get the second role of O’Shea Jackson who made his debut in Straight Outta Compton. The movie takes a lot of the biggest romantic comedy tropes and plays them straight and makes them super creepy and it makes me realize how many bad rom coms are basically stalker films. The movie is also shot very well and it looks very LA from top to bottom. I definitely recommend this movie.


Better Off Dead

This movie was very much hyped on the Harmontown Podcast while Curtis Armstrong was visiting during an episode (he’s a regular). The making of the movie sounded fascinating and the more I heard about it, the more I wanted to see it. Finally, I got a hold of this week. The movie is directed and written by “Savage” Steve Holland whose background is in animation. The movie is semi-autobiographical apparently as Holland created the movie from a couple of short films he made after his girlfriend dumped him when he was younger. He was in a very dark place but when he showed the films to his friends they found them to be funny. In the movie, John Cusack is dumped by his girlfriend and he goes to a very dark place but then he learns to be a better person. Oh and he also enters a ski competition and has to deal with high school. His character is not very likable when he first shows up but he grew on me. Curtis Armstrong plays one of his few friends and he is delightfully weird in probably my favorite role I have seen him in. Diane Franklin was such a delight in this and I fell in love with her character instantly (although her early scenes are pretty dark). The movie kind of felt like a parody of eighties romance adventure movies in the vein of Wet Hot American Summer. It was the same kind of parody as Airplane where there are plenty of over the top gags that play with the tropes of these movies but they still use most of those tropes. The movie is downright weird and I was constantly trying to figure out how to feel about it. In the end, I decided I loved it based on how it ended. I definitely recommend this one.


Fatal Attraction

I felt like this was the perfect movie to finish this week’s theme and I happened to have not seen this one yet. Everyone pretty much knows what this movie is about but I will drop a synopsis anyway. A married man (Michael Douglas) has an affair with a woman (Glenn Close) who becomes obsessed and then unhinged, making his life a living hell. In today’s climate, I could definitely write this movie and make Glenn Close the hero. Michael Douglas is great at shades of gray here but I definitely spent most of the movie hating him. They went to great lengths to depict him as a really good guy but the ease he has when cheating is troubling. Glenn Close is good most of the time but she gets a little over the top at certain moments. Anne Archer plays Douglas’ wife and she does a great job playing the truly injured party. The movie is obviously a classic for a reason but I think my expectations were too high. I did not really like the pacing as things were drawn out. This kind of lessened the tension of “thriller” aspects through most of it. It could have been helped by another pass in the editing bay to shorten it a little bit more to ratchet up the energy throughout. Still, it is a pretty good movie but you can skip it if you want.

Music of the Week:
E. G. Daily – One Way Love

Groove Armada – Inside My Mind

Blackbriar – Until Eternity

Walk The Moon – Shut Up and Dance

Post Malone – Psycho ft. Ty Dolla $ign

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s themes are “Obsessive Behavior” and “Problematic Behavior”
– I watched more The Following Season 3
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube
– I watched more Luke Cage Season 2
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I watched more Supergirl Season 3
– I finished NCIS Season 15
– I want to see BlackkKlansman and Sorry For Bothering You so bad. Might do a double feature soon.

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Media Update 8/9/18

August 9, 2018


Upgrade

This movie is listed as a body horror action film and that was exactly what it was. What you see in the trailer is the gist of what the movie delivers. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. This movie is about a man who suffers a tragedy and he is given his life back through technology. The body horror comes in two ways, telling you about either does not spoil much of the movie. The first is that the movie deals with the surgical modification of the human body to combine it with mechanical parts. The other is the possession of a human’s body. On top of all of that, there are some impressive gore effects. The movie is a simple little story but the psychology of it is very effective and very chilling. Mixed in is a little dark comedy to keep it from getting too dark too fast. Logan Marshall-Green plays the lead character and he is the perfect actor for this role. His physical acting is especially great as he struggles with control issues. Simon Maiden plays the artificial intelligence and he is both creepy and funny at different times, almost a mix between Freddy Krueger, Rain Man, and a toddler. The movie makes some twists and turns that I did not expect and I was definitely left stunned at certain points. I definitely recommend this one.


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I was one of the few people of my friend group who enjoyed watching Jurassic World and to this day I cannot understand why. The first movie in the new trilogy was similar to Star Wars: The Force Awakens in that it felt nostalgic but it also felt innovative. It started to explore new facets of the original’s themes on man’s genetic tinkering and its effect on the Earth. I had no idea where this sequel could go after the first one was so crazy. This one further explores the dangers of genetics and greed but also explores the theme of animal rights and conservation. It does all of this by somehow upping the stakes even higher and leaving me wanting even more. I cannot wait to see where this franchise goes next which is something I did not expect to say. Once again, Chris Pratt was awesome and charismatic. Bryce Dallas Howard got a lot more of a character arc in this one and I want to see her grow even more in the third one. Newcomers Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith were both funny and cool characters who I was glad to meet. The real shocker was Isabella Sermon who is one of the best child actors I have seen and I was actually excited to have her around. I definitely recommend this movie.


Dallas Buyer’s Club

I will be honest here and say that I actually tried to watch this movie twice in the past few weeks. The second time was this past weekend and I just could not finish the movie. I do not think it is a bad movie. I can see why the Academy Awards liked the movie and why it got so much press. The movie is about the AIDS crisis at its height in the eighties when the disease was ignored or mismanaged. It follows an oil worker who gets HIV and is highly troubled that he got a “gay disease”. While he seeks out different treatments, he is exposed to the LGBTQ community and he starts to change his ways. Matthew McConaughey is great as the irascible cowboy who sees a way to treat his disease and profit at the same time. Jared Leto is kind of fun but I wish they had cast an actual trans actor even though Leto is always dedicated to his craft. There is also Jennifer Garner but she does not really do much but she is good as a representative of the medical field. I just could not stand McConaughey’s character. He was too good at being an asshole. Also, it was uncomfortable sitting there and watching his body fall apart which is probably the point but I just did not want to do it. Also, the movie is irresponsible in its message of rejecting the opinions of medical professionals and the FDA to buy and try unapproved/untested medicines. I do not really recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

Kesha – Dinosaur

Drake – Nonstop

Rachel Platten – Fight Song

Yours Truly – High Hopes

Arch Enemy – Enemy Within

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Making Improvements”
– I finished Agents of Shield Season 5
– I finished NCIS Season 15
– I finished Blue Bloods Season 8
– I started watching Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I finished Arrow Season 6
– I finished The Flash Season 4
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube

Media Update 8/2/18

August 2, 2018


Being John Malkovich

I have been hearing about this movie since it came out as I am sure plenty of people who have not seen it experienced the same thing. If you have heard the premise and you think the movie has been spoiled, then you are wrong. This movie is absolutely insane. It has so many twists and turns and themes that is honestly overwhelming at times. At various times I found the movie to be funny, deep, and uncomfortable and sometimes the three feelings got mixed together. This is a surreal fantasy where nothing is quite real and everything is like a series of comedy routines but teetering on the edge of horror. The movie stars John Cusack and a barely recognizable Cameron Diaz as a couple. Cusack is incredibly nerdy and weird and strangely relatable but also easy to hate. Cameron Diaz is sympathetic but also just insane. There is also Catherine Keener as probably the most confident woman in the world. Of course, John Malkovich is in the movie. He is just so charming and ends up usually being the straight man to the madness around him. There are also great character actors like Orson Bean, Ned Bellamy, and Mary Kay Place. The movie is offbeat and weird in all the right ways. I definitely recommend this one as it is delightfully weird.


The Men Who Stare at Goats

We already know that the US Military is very good at wasting money. So the premise of a special PsyOps squad dealing with trying to find new, stupid ways to deal with our enemies. The team of Ewan MacGregor and George Clooney has so much chemistry that it is an obvious pairing. Ewan MacGregor’s journalist character is pathetic and gullible and charming. George Clooney is dashing and crazy, sort of like he was in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? mixed with a little Danny Ocean. Robert Patrick is here too and he is always a little scary with a lot of gravity. Jeff Bridges plays an army man who gets sucked into the hippie movement and comes out with his brain baked. We also have appearances from Stephen Root, Nick Offerman, and Stephen Lang. The movie is quirky and fun but it was not really as good as I thought it could be. Still, it is a fun romp through Iraq which is a phrase I never thought I would type. It is a fun enough movie to put on the background. I would recommend it for that.


Neighbors

I have not seen many Seth Rogen films because most of them are Judd Apatow movies and I am not really a fan of those. However, what I have seen (Green Hornet, Zack and Miri) have proved to me that Seth Rogen is a lot of fun. Here, he plays the fun party animal who has grown up and has a family but is in denial about maybe missing a step. Rose Byrne plays his wife who also wishes she had not left the party behind. She is a lot of fun and I had not really seen her in a comedy role before (I had only seen her in X-Men: First Class). They are opposed by Zac Effron and Dave Franco. Effron is on top of his game here, alternately being very charming and then dropping into a darker, Pacino-esque persona. Dave Franco (who I like better than his sleazy brother) switches between fun frat bro and hyper-intelligent. The movie is full of fun cameos from people like Lisa Kudrow, Hannibal Burress, Lonely Island, the cast of Workaholics, Randall Park, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jason Mantzoukas. There are also relative newcomers like Jerrod Carmichael and Craig Roberts who are a lot of fun. I fully expected this movie to be dumb and it was but in all the best ways. It was way better than it should have been and I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:

Psychedelic Horseshit – Portals

Within Temptation – Paradise

Fort Minor – Remember the Name

GFRIEND – Time for the Moon Night

Antigone Rising – Everywhere is Home

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Down the Rabbit Hole”
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Luke Cage Season 2
– I watched more Supergirl Season 3
– I watched more NCIS Season 15
– I watched more Blue Bloods Season 8
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube

Media Update 7/26/2018

July 26, 2018

This week’s Media Update covers the five plays I saw at the Contemporary Arts Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV. The festival has a few days left so if you are in the area, you might want to swing by and see what tickets are left over. Find out at CATF.org.
#NotSponsored #HashtagsOutsideofTwitter

Ronald Reagan
A Late Morning [in America] with Ronald Reagan

I hate Ronald Reagan. I really do. He was President of the United States from the year before I was born until I was six. He was a joke of a president who had horrible policies that wounded this country and those wounds are still healing very slowly. He targeted black people, the gay community, and the middle and lower classes. He dumped money into the military and stupid programs that cost this country a lot. He also helped spread the paranoia that still pervades this country. Anyway, this show is about Ronald Reagan reflecting on his life as he nears the end. I was prepared to hate this show but I actually loved it. It is not a pro-Reagan show but it is also not an anti-Reagan show. Most of the show covers Reagan’s life outside of politics which included his college days, his radio career, his movie career, his military service, and his television career. The play succeeds in humanizing Reagan without excusing his crimes. It made me feel sorry for the Reagan at the end, a man whose memory was riddled with holes so that when he said “I do not recall” this time he actually meant it. It does dip into politics here and there and at the end, it dives headlong into his “achievements” in the Cold War. This was a very timely play to watch last week. If you get a chance, see this play.

Thirst

Thirst

The second show I saw at the festival was with my second cousins and my brother and I had no idea what I was in for. This show is set in a near future after nuclear bombs have dropped on New York City and Washington, DC. The obvious result is a destabilization of society and a return to a more tribal way of life. The play covers one such tribe built around a well with clean water that starts to come apart due to domestic conflicts. A painful memory has caused a clash within and now the tribe must deal with and move on or continue to suffer. Things are brought to a boiling point and there is a lot of action and great dialogue. I really loved the worldbuilding the playwright was able to develop. Although the play needs work, it was a real pleasure to watch a mystery unfold until that painful memory had been dug up and put on display. Part of that was the great acting on display in this one especially the physical acting. Everything felt so real and that kind of turned my stomach in a good way as the show continued. The show also really made think about how a story is constructed and how it is resolved. I definitely recommend this one too.

House on the Hill

The House on the Hill

Speaking of mysteries, this is another play driven by the slow and painful digging into the past. Two cousins meet at a lonely house on the hill years after they last saw each other. Together, they start to go through the memories that have kept a divide between them. Reluctantly, the two start to relive the memories on stage. They both see visions of their younger selves, dealing with the events as they happen. The show is very emotional as the tension lies heavy in the air. There is civility and politeness but the audience could pick up that something was very wrong right away. The question was: What was wrong? As the truth starts to come out, the show became a roller coaster of emotions and then it became a hurricane. The show gets very ugly but it was so powerful to watch. All four actresses did such a great job and I was left with a chill in my spine that had nothing to do with being damp from the earlier rain. All families have secrets and, although my family never had anything this bad, I could empathize with the trauma. Definitely check this one out too.

Berta Berta

Berta, Berta

This one was a little bit of a throwback to last year’s festival as we once again visited the black experience in America. Set in the southern US in the 1920s, it is about how the system is rigged against people of color. It, like all of these shows, was also about memory and exploring the memory of a love affair that never quite worked out. The chemistry between Berta and Leroy was absolutely magical. They go from fighting to joking to consoling to loving and back and forth between so many emotions. The play evokes a lot of tales that I have heard and read previously about how the legal system railroads black men into the system. This time, the story took on an almost supernatural element that made it all the more frightening and dark. The play is a long discussion between the two as they hash out their differences and reminisce about the good times. Ghosts of the past come up and we learn what exactly has gone down between the two. The set was also just a few feet away from me as the space was very intimate. Although this one was a little long (with no intermission), I recommend it as well.

 

Memoirs

Memoirs of a Forgotten Man

In Russia under Stalin, enemies of the “Great Leader” were forced to perform in show trials. In these trials, the accused was forced to rehearse and deliver false confessions. These completely false admissions were an example of state-sponsored theater and the Russian people were supposed to nod their heads and move on. This show explores how difficult it is to hold the memories of what happened and what everybody says happened in your head. It explores how we deal with other people through our memories and also how we approach the world through that same memory. In a very dark, unstable time in Russia’s history, it is dangerous to hold onto the memories of what actually happened. Not towing the party line can be the difference between life and death. Lying and telling the truth to the right people is a way of life in a world of paranoia and a society obsessed with control. This was hands down my favorite play of the festival as it was big and left me with interesting questions and uneasy worries. This one also felt really timely considering the waves of misinformation that get thrown around in our more modern society. I highly recommend this one too.

 

Music of the Week:

Bryson Tiller – Sorry Not Sorry

Niall Horan – Slow Hands

Gorillaz – Sorcererz

Lindsey Sterling and Lzzy Hale – Shatter Me

Tone Trump – Thuggn

 

Weekly Update:
– This week has two themes: “Memory” and “Contemporary Arts Theater Festival 2018”
– I watched more NCIS Season 15
– I watched more Agents of SHIELD Season 5
– I watched more Supergirl Season 3
– I watched more Blue Bloods Season 8
– I watched more Luke Cage Season 2
– I watched more Glow Season 2
– I watched all of Joel McHale Show Season 2

Media Update 7/18/18

July 19, 2018


Bosch

I was always a fan of the hard-boiled detectives from film noir. Reading these stories about troubled yet dedicated gumshoes always caught my fancy. It is a little troublesome that a lot of these stories were written at a time when it was easier to be openly racist. Still, I do like the adventures of detectives trying to unravel a mystery. This is the feel of this show. Adapted from novels written by Michael Connelly, Bosch is a flawed but righteous character who really lives his job as an LA homicide detective, Hollywood division. Harry Bosch is played by Titus Welliver with a lot of intensity but also a little bit of humanizing, sarcastic humor. Jamie Hector plays his partner, J. Edgard, a more level head to balance the aggressive Harry. There is a great supporting cast including Lance Reddick, Amy Aquino, Troy Evans, and Gregory Scott Cummins. All of whom work for the police because that is pretty much every scene of the show since Harry does not have much of a personal life. He just has the job. The show is very driven toward solving the mystery but it also covers a lot of the politics and legal problems the police face. It has pretty good pacing and allows some slower scenes to let you breathe in and contemplate where the mystery might be going next. I was pleasantly surprised and I recommend it.


Serpico

I have never really watched any Al Pacino movies as they were really not a big thing in our household and I was a little too old for his heyday. The Al Pacino I saw was a belligerent parody who shouted and had wild eyes. I was interested to watch some of his earlier work to see what all the fuss was actually about. And so, I popped in a DVD of Serpico while I exercised. Of course, the movie is on the long side so it took me about three days to finish it. I was glad that I watched it in installments. The plot stretches out over years as Frank Serpico’s police career unfolds. The movie follows Serpico as he deals more with police corruption than any actual crime. He develops a methodology and philosophy where he becomes close to the community so that he can be an effective undercover agent. Pacino is very understated but strong in the role. He has such a quiet intensity that I found myself hanging on every word and studying every expression. He was also such a likable character that I felt for his every misfortune and anxiety. While there are plenty of great supporting actors, they flit in and out and there are too many to name. The real co-star was the city of New York where we see three of the five boroughs represented throughout the movie. It is also a real snapshot of the seventies and a time when police corruption was more blatant but just as brazen. It was an interesting movie to watch after following the Gun Trace Task Force trials in Baltimore. I definitely recommend it but strap in for a long, dark story.


Murder on the Orient Express

I have read a little bit of Agatha Christie but mostly Miss Marple and not many stories about Hercule Poirot. I think this is the only story that I have read of the Poirot stories which makes sense because it is probably the most iconic of Christie’s stories. Unfortunately, that also means that the ending is the one most often spoiled of all of her stories. Still, it is a good story and worth the journey for the ending. Of course, I will not spoil it here just in case you are lucky enough to have avoided spoilers for this long. The movie is star-studded. It begins with Kenneth Branagh as Poirot and he gives a quirky but shrewd performance. We also get great performances from Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, and Leslie Odom, Jr. All of whom weave a fairly intricate mystery that is fun to watch unfold. So many stories have been sourced from this one that it is impossible not to be somewhat impressed by it. The movie also has some beautiful cinematography and all of the costumes are definitely on point. The movie is nothing exciting but it is a pleasant indulgence of a now familiar story. I recommend it.

Music of the Week;

Death Grips – Eh

Twin Shadow – Patient

Imagine Dragons – Thunder

Galantis – Hunter

The Strypes – You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Detective Stories Adapted From Books”
– I watched more The Flash Season 4
– I watched more Arrow Season 6
– I watched more GLOW Season 2
– I started watching NCIS Season 15
– I started watching Blue Bloods Season 8
– I watched more Supergirl Season 3
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube

Media Update 7/12/18

July 12, 2018


Antman and the Wasp

I was a big fan of the first Antman movie as it was a great example of an adaptation taking parts of the source material and making something that felt new. They made Hank Pym and Scott Lang feel fresh again. Besides that, performances by Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Pena gave the movie a lot of heart. The formula for later Marvel movies is to take a superhero movie and mix a different genre into it to create a new subgenre. The first movie mixed in a heist movie to create a fun superhero romp. This movie mixes in a sort of “criminals on the run” thing and also a rescue mission. In addition to the first movie’s stars, we get a bigger performance from Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie Lang. We also see a great relationship between Laurence Fishburne and Hannah John-Kamen. Randall Park gets to be part of the comedy relief squad and is really great it. Finally, there is a small part for Michelle Pfeiffer but a promise of more to come. The movie felt like a natural extension of the first movie and brought back a lot of what was really good about it. At the same time, the movie allowed its characters to evolve and grow toward new places. In particular, Evangeline Lilly got a bigger part and finally got to be the hero she deserved to be in the first film. She was one of my favorite parts of both movies so it is great to see her flourish and hopefully that continues in the MCU. The other part I really liked was the three sort of Father-Daughter relationships that each have different dynamics but also how they reflect each other. I definitely recommend this one.


Kiki’s Delivery Service

I simply have not seen enough Hayao Miyazaki films. I first saw Princess Mononoke when it was released in theaters in the US and I fell in love with Miyazaki’s style instantly. I have since watched a few of his movies but I still need to watch more. This one came especially highly recommended and I was happy to finally get my hands on the newer dub. This came out the same year as The Little Mermaid so it was part of an animation revolution in both art and storytelling. The movie is about a thirteen-year-old witch who strikes out on her own and clashes with the modern culture of a city. It deals heavily with growing up, finding your place, depression, and how we deal with people among other things. Though it has supernatural elements, the movie focuses mostly on relationships between people and dialogue. It is a fairly simple movie but it involves very complex teenage emotions. It is one of the best representations that I have seen on what it feels like to move away from home and also what it feels like to be a teenager. The artwork is beautiful and especially the faces are so expressive and cute. The American voice work was really fun and special shout-outs to Tress MacNeille, Phil Hartman, Debbie Reynolds, Janeane Garofolo, and Kirsten Dunst. It really is a feel-good movie and it left me feeling a little lighter. I definitely recommend it.


Pacific Rim: Uprising

I was a big fan of the first Pacific Rim, as it was exactly what I expected it to be and exactly what I wanted it to be. It was basically the best live action anime that has ever been created and one of the jewels in Guillermo Del Toro’s crown as a king of digital effects. The movie was very Del Toro and was both thrilling and funny. Del Toro passed on directing the sequel so he could win an Academy Award with The Shape of Water. I expected more of the same but I was pleasantly surprised that they advanced time and did more world-building. The movie takes place at Jaeger pilot school filled with a ragtag band of international students. The stars of this one are John Boyega and Cailee Spaeny. Boyega once again proved that he is a great actor with tons of charisma and gravitas. Cailee Spaeny is really fun and it was really fun to see a fresh new face as a prodigy pilot, sort of a combo of Charlie Hunnam and Charlie Day in the original. Speaking of Charlie Day, he and Burn Gorman return as the goofy scientists, except less goofy and more fleshed-out characters. We also get the return of the stoic yet playful Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori. The visuals are just as fun and, if anything, there is even more action than the first film. There were also more unexpected twists and interesting moments than the first one as they built off the world that had already been created. I recommend this one as well.

Music of the Week:
Adam And The Ants – Ants Invasion

Dreamcatcher – Lucky Strike

The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name

Belly – Man Listen

Code Orange – Forever

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “The Next Generation”
– I watched more Glow Season 2
– I watched more Arrow Season 6
– I watched more Flash Season 4
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Luke Cage Season 2
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube

Media Update 7/5/18

July 5, 2018


The World Cup 2018

So I have been spending time at my mom’s house which is one of the few occasions that I watch sports. My jet-setting mother recently got back from a trip to Colombia where she saw Colombia take on Japan in the first round of the World Cup. She went alone to a bar at six in the morning and enjoyed it so much that she decided to cheer on Colombia for as long as they could stay in the tournament. So I have ended up watching a few of their games and a few others besides that. It is a hard game not to get excited by. The game rarely stops and it is thrilling to watch them try to score goal after goal. I watched two games that went into double overtime and both ended on thrilling shootouts. I did root for Colombia like my mother but I am also pulling for England and I rooted for Mexico before their elimination as well. The games I have watched so far have been pretty crazy and as of writing this, the tournament is starting to wind down. I am not much of a sports fan, I am a Baltimore fan and Baltimore has no professional football team. I have a lot of friends who are fans of the sport and I can see why. The sport is really exciting. I am looking forward to the rest of the tournament and hopefully Russia losing in the next round (go Croatia!). It is also fascinating to watch the fans as they seem to treat the sport like a religion, openly cheering and weeping in the stands. I definitely recommend watching it at least as a cultural experience.


Bend it Like Beckham

I had heard of this movie back in 2002 but I was kind of busy in college. Also, I was virulently opposed to sportsball at that time and I have since mellowed out a bit. I only have a passing knowledge of British culture but I have talked to people about things like assimilation and being a second-generation immigrant. Although, I have never experienced that world myself. The main character is a young woman raised by Orthodox Sikh parents who are very much in touch with their Indian heritage. She is played well by Parminder Nagra who was a relative newcomer but does a great job of showing hope, frustration, and desire for a better future. She is joined by a young Keira Knightley and both young women have a desire to play football professionally. Nagra’s character idolizes David Beckham who is probably more popular in the US for being handsome than he is for playing football. Both are working with their coach played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers with a big grumpy yet lovable streak in him. The extras are all professional football players so the action is pretty hot and heavy and accurate to the sport while the acting is both good and fun. I really felt the frustration in different ways from both female leads as they not only struggled in their chosen sport but they also struggled to live their lives on their own terms while still under their parents’ roofs. I definitely recommend it as a fun, insightful (if somewhat dated) movie.


Forever Pure

It is not a big deal in the United States but in much of the rest of the world, football is a cornerstone of life and an important part of a country’s cultural identity. Many watch the games and cry and scream for their team, for their nation or for their hometown. The point is, it is a very emotional sport that it is easy to get swept up by. This documentary is about Beitar Jerusalem Football Club. Their owner made a bid to be mayor of Jerusalem but that campaign failed and because of that and failed business deals, he was running short on money. Meanwhile, the team was not doing so great. In order to help out the team and to drum up publicity, the owner added two Muslim players from Chechnya to the team. There was a problem with that because Beitar fans were well known to be virulently nationalistic and racist. The worst group was a group of fans called La Familia who protested practices and games and made violent threats. In this world, we often rightfully call out anti-semitism but there are those in Israel (and our own nation) who are unfairly racist against those of Arab descent. It is definitely a tough documentary to watch, akin to watching stuff about apartheid or the American slave trade. The documentary is entirely in Hebrew (but English subtitles are available). I recommend it because it was eye-opening.

Music of the Week:
IU – Palette

Tres Coronas – Envidias

England – Three-Piece Suite

X – Kurenai

Leuz Diwane G – Early in the morning

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “World Cup 2018”
– I finished watching Legends of Tomorrow Season 3
– I watched more Arrow Season 6
– I watched more Supergirl Season 3
– I watched more The Flash Season 4
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Sleepy Hollow Season 2
– I started watching GLOW Season 2

Media Update 6/28/18

June 28, 2018


American Animals

The grind can be boring. Everybody knows this but we do it because the grind makes the rest of our lives work. If you are not into college while you are there, then things can be really boring. On top of that, people can become obsessed with ideas and then the lines between fantasy and reality blur. This movie is about a quartet of college kids in Kentucky who watch too many movies and get it into their head that they can pull off an actual heist. The movie covers the power of ideas and how once they get going and combine with peer pressure, it can be hard to stop them. It also is about the thresholds in our society and how once we pass through them, we can never go back to where we were. According to the movie, this is a true story and while we watch the story unfold, we also hear from the actual people involved. The setup reminded me a bit of I, Tonya in that they show you the story from multiple points of view and correct the story as they go. I was expecting kind of a happy-go-lucky comedy/action movie but this was a dark drama movie with some dark comedy elements. Evan Peters is definitely the star of the movie as the pot-smoking, slacker character who drives the group on. Everybody else is great, though. There was so much emotion in the movie that I had to pause after watching this. I definitely recommend this one.


Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I did not watch a lot of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood but what I did watch, I really do remember. I remember watching Mister Rogers walk in through the door singing that iconic song and putting on his sweater and changing to his casual shoes. I remember his kind, calm voice as he spoke directly to me. I remember the trolley going off to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and watching King Friday, Daniel the Tiger, and others teach lessons. I remember the sights and sounds more than I remember the stories which is weird for somebody who worships at the altar of story. I did not know how deep the show actually was. When Fred Rogers was a young man, he had planned to be a minister. When he left the seminary, instead of heading up a church, he decided to make his television show his ministry. He wanted a show that would be educational mentally and emotionally. He tackled difficult subjects like divorce, mental health, racism, and even death. He had a diverse cast long before that was even a thing. This documentary follows Fred Rogers’ career from beginning to end. It also explores his motivations and the probable psychological reasons he did things. It does this mostly through Fred Rogers’ own words as he recorded himself explaining a lot about his show. They also interviewed his children, his wife, his friends, and coworkers. I definitely recommend this one as well.


RBG

When I was a younger and awakening to the ways to the world, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a name I heard often. As I got older and learned more about law and politics, I learned more about Justice Ginsberg. I even read some of her opinions in my recent law classes. As a liberal, she was always an inspiration. This documentary taught me even more about her. The movie takes us from her beginnings as part of the first class with female law students at Harvard Law. She then became an attorney, crusading for equal rights on the basis of gender which in the fifties was strangely a novel concept. She subscribed to the philosophy of “step by step” and so she won case after case and slowly inched closer to true equality for women. She helped the ACLU work lots of cases where people were discriminated against. Her hard work earned her a spot as a federal judge in Washington, DC. Her hard work on the bench earned her a nomination from President Clinton to the Supreme Court. During her time there, she gained popularity for her dissenting opinions during the Bush Jr. years. Even now she remains a voice of sanity on the Supreme Court in an increasingly unstable time. The documentary also covers how the Notorious RBG movement started and Justice Bader Ginsberg has become an inspiration for young people everywhere. This is something I definitely recommend as the Justice is one of my heroes.

Music of the Week:
Gang Starr – Full Clip

Wolf Alice – Beautifully Unconventional

Sunflower Bean – I Was a Fool

Cold Crush Brothers – The Weekend

ZZ Ward – The Deep

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “True and Powerful Stories”
– I started watching Luke Cage Season 2
– I started watching Supergirl Season 3
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I finished Riverdale Season 2
– I watched more Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube

Media Update 6/21/18

June 21, 2018


Hearts Beat Loud

I have been a big fan of Nick Offerman since I first saw him on Parks and Recreation. I subsequently became a bigger fan watching his stand up and his appearances on talk shows. He is a highly intelligent performer and very charismatic. When I found out that he was starring in a feel-good independent movie, I was excited. I heard right away that it was getting good buzz but I stopped checking up on it because I did not want to spoil myself. The movie is about a single father who is on the cusp of changes in his life just as his daughter is about to go off to college. During that last summer, they write a song together. Offerman is great in the movie. There were parts where he did so much with his face and his eyes without even saying a word that made me laugh or made me feel for him. He played a less grumpy character than on Parks and Rec and he was really sweet. The other star of the movie is played by Kiersey Clemons, who plays the daughter. She is so amazing and fun and the soul of the movie is her interactions with her father. Also, her singing (and it really was her singing) is really great. I had not really known about her before this movie but I will be on the lookout now. She reminded me a little of Tessa Thompson in Creed. There were also great supporting roles from Toni Colette, Sasha Lane, and Ted Danson. The movie was really sweet and funny and the soundtrack is one of the best I have ever heard. A lot of the original songs were a mix of electronica and live instruments and the rest is an eclectic mix of more obscure artists. I definitely recommend it as I could not stop smiling all the way through.


Queen of Katwe

This movie is based on a real story of a young woman from a slum in Kampala, Uganda who tried to escape poverty by playing chess in tournaments. Her name was Phiona Mutesi and she was apparently a brilliant mind in chess. That is one of the things that I have always loved about chess is that as long as you dedicate yourself to it, it is a game that poor and rich people alike can succeed at. That is the main message of this movie. Phiona is an inspiration and a great role model for kids. The movie is also about what happens when you find the greater world beyond what you have known. Those in poverty and those in wealth live in entirely different worlds and, although my life has never been of great wealth, I have not wanted like Phiona must have wanted. When you move between two worlds, all sorts of identity problems start cropping up as you wonder where your worldview may take you and how it might change. The kids in the movie have great performances and Phiona herself is played unknown Madina Nalwanga. David Oyelowo is so amazing and warm as their coach who sees something in Phiona and the other children and does his best to shepherd them educationally and emotionally. The always great Lupita Nyong’o plays Phiona’s mother with both warmth and ferocity. I definitely recommend this one as well.


Paddington

I vaguely remember reading a Paddington Bear book when I was little but I realized that I have it confused with another famous British bear, Winnie the Pooh. I thought Paddington was a teddy bear as well but I was mistaken. He is an actual bear from Darkest Peru and speaks proper Queen’s English. I was a little worried about this one despite the good reviews because live-action adaptations of older properties have not been so kind lately. I worried that it would end up like bad adaptations like the recent Peter Rabbit. This was not the case. This movie was absolutely charming and the acting was top notch. Every joke came from a place of plot and character and there are no random, non-sensical gags that do not fit the source material. And yet, the movie updated the story to fit modern London instead of the fifties when the first book was written. The heart of the movie is in Ben Whishaw’s performance of Paddington but also Hugh Bonneville’s performance as the father of the Brown family. Their relationship felt so natural. Paddington was so warm and his fish-out-of-water story felt so genuine and heartfelt. Nicole Kidman was great as the villain. She was so over the top but oddly charming while doing it. There were also great character actor performances from Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, and Sally Hawkins. Apparently, a good deal of credit should also be given to Emma Thompson who gave the script an uncredited polish. Also, of course, Director Paul King who was also the director of the brilliant The Mighty Boosh. I definitely recommend this.

Music of the Week:
Ash – Annabel

Dilated Peoples – Worst Comes To Worst

Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Ratatat – Breaking Away

We’re Not a Band – Hearts Beat Loud

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “The Start of Something New”
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I finished Supernatural Season 13
– I watched more Riverdale Season 2
– I watched more Gurren Lagann
– I watched more Hemlock Grove Season 1
– I started Agents of Shield Season 5
– I watched more Barry Kramer on YouTube
– I am psyched for some other movies this weekend

Media Update 6/14/18

June 14, 2018


The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Last year, for Pride, I watched Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and noted that I could not get a hold of a copy of Priscilla at the time. I also noted that most people say that the movies are somewhat similar. In Too Wong Foo, three drag queens travel across the US and break down in a small town and cultures clash. In Priscilla, two drag queens and a transgender woman travel across Australia and they break down and cultures class. The thing is, in Too Wong Foo there is a moment where they win over small-town America but that is not what Priscilla is about. The strength of the movie comes from the interplay between the characters played by Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce. The three of them are constantly joking with each other, sniping at each other, and sharing deep, heartfelt moments together. The three of them are each struggling with different parts of gay culture and the way it clashes with more conservative parts of the world. They are a transgender woman, a bisexual man, and a gay man respectively and they clash with the world and with each other but ultimately hanging together. The movie is fun, sad, and even dark in places but it shows that there is hope at least on a personal level. I definitely recommend it and I would actually suggest watching both movies as they are kind of two sides of the same coin.


Milk

In the late seventies, Harvey Milk was elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and when that happened he was the first openly gay person to be elected to office in the state of California. He was the third openly gay person elected to public office in the United States. At the time, San Francisco was already becoming a bastion of gay civil rights and gay culture and Harvey decided to harness that and fight for gay rights. The movie follows his several failed campaigns until his rise to office and his crusade to oppose an anti-gay referendum. Along the way, he is opposed by Anita Bryant, Senator John Briggs, and fellow Supervisor Dan White. Milk is portrayed as a brilliant strategist who never wanted to be a candidate but instead insists “the movement” is the candidate. Sean Penn is magnetic as Milk and his successes are something I wanted to cheer on. Bryant is portrayed in actual archival footage as the misguided, brainwashed evangelical Christian she was. John Briggs is portrayed in much the same way. Dan White (played by Josh Brolin) is a more sympathetic character as he is a flawed man who clings to his Christian values and falls farther and farther behind the times and into the wrong side of history with the rest. The rise of Milk is a great inspiration and his tragedy is such a dark moment in civil rights history. I definitely recommend this one too.


But I’m a Cheerleader

I wanted something a little lighter for the final film of the week (I watched all three in one day) so I started searching lists of movies aired at pride festivals. I saw this movie and looked it up and saw that it had a horrible Rotten Tomatoes score and then I saw that the movie was compared to John Waters films. That sealed it. The critics never “got” John Waters but he was always one of my hometown heroes. So a campy take on gay and gender issues sounded like exactly what I wanted to watch. I was not disappointed. Immediately, the movie is over the top and funny and too true. The movie is indeed campy but in the way that John Waters and early Tim Burton was to really drive home a point. The art direction has very bright colors and high contrast to also prove a point (much like Crybaby or Edward Scissorhands). The movie (correctly) treats homophobia in a kind of horror movie creepy behavior. The characters treat a “gay rehab” as normal but it hilariously comes off as scary and paranoid. Natasha Lyonne stars as the titular cheerleader who is sent to a camp to get straight. She is joined by a lot of perfectly normal misfits who are also told they are wrong. One of the counselors is played by RuPaul, a big name in the gay community. However, the main villain is played brilliantly by Cathy Moriarty. The movie takes heteronormative and “normal” gender roles and makes them seem weird while making gay culture seem more natural. I definitely recommend it as it was both funny and strangely scary.

Music of the Week:
Gorillaz – Humility

Jen Ledger – Warrior

Janelle Monae – PYNK

Mykki Blanco – I´m In A Mood

Brother Ali – Tight Rope

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Pride 2018”
– I watched more Supernatural Season 13
– I started watching Wynonna Earp Season 2
– I finished Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 1
– I watched more Flash Season 4
– I watched more Arrow Season 6
– I finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4
– I watched more Barry Kramer and GTLive on YouTube
– I watched more PBG Hardcore


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