Russian Doll: Trying To Teach Us How To Live

I am back so soon to discuss the show Russian Doll. I have not watched any more oscar noms since my last post, but I cannot get Russian Doll out of my head so y’all know the drill: I have to write about it and all of its genius. This post contains spoilers so if you have not seen the show in its entirety, just check back when you have.

Russian Doll stars Orange Is The New Black‘s Natasha Lyonne as the head girl, Nadia. Natasha Lyonne has something special radiating from her at all times. Whether it seeps out through her gorgeous fire hair or it flows from her raspy voice, whenever she is on screen it is magic. Her facial expressions, mannerisms, the way she smokes her cigarettes, are all ICONIC. The show opens with her staring at her reflection in the mirror,russian-dolls-galaxy-bathroom.nocrop.w710.h2147483647
“gotta get up gotta get out gotta get up before the morning comes” plays over and over as she has to relive her birthday night. In the bathroom that she continues to “restart” in has a blue hole on it that resembles a portal to another dimension.

One of the best tools that we have in media is the use of color. Colors elicit different emotions and feelings based on which colors we see and associate with different moods. Breaking Bad is what comes to mind with the best example of use of color, as each character has a designated color that brings about their traits and sense of self. Russian Doll executes this perfectly, if not even better. Nadia’s color is red. Red for chaos, passion, intensity, and fun. The story gets really interesting when Nadia finds another person who, just like her, no longer fears death and it seems that he and her are both reliving a night of their lives. This guy’s name is Alan and his color is blue. Blue for tranquility, control, calm, and order. Alan is the complete polar opposite russian-dollof Nadia. He has everything in his apartment organized and in order, while Nada looks like she lives in an overcrowded shoe box. The two main colors of the show are red and blue. This is shown in the lighting of the different scenes, as reds and blues light up the streets of New York.

So whenever we see red we think of surrendering yourself to the universe and accepting the bad. With blue we think of having control in our lives and manifesting our own destiny. But the problem with both of these theories of living life is that no one is better, or even complete, without the other.  Ruth, Nadia’s basically adopted mother who professions as a therapist says that Nadia’s mother was a little unstable. She would get fixated on little things and think they meant the world. Ruth mentions one time that her mother was obsessed with the 7th crown chakra. This is the chakra that represents wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, and an overall understanding of the universe. Ruth says Nadia’s mother saw that the color purpleun42-896x580 represents the 7th chakra and she wore nothing but for a while. Purple. Red+Blue=Purple if I still have my primary color knowledge from first grade.

Another thing about the show that I loved was the fact that every single character, even the minor ones, seemed completely well-rounded. Nadia’s friends were intelligent and funny and they were able to be this while only being on screen for like 2 minutes an episode.  Nadia designs video games. Alan plays video games. Alan orders cake and the delivery girl shows up and asks if its a birthday or a break up, to which he responds “birthday”. His problem is the break up. Nadia broke up with her guy 6 months prior to the start of the show. She thinks the problem is the birthday but really its the break up too.

While Nadia is trying to figure out why she keeps reliving this night she goes to see the Rabbi. When she doesn’t get let in because she’s a woman who might be trying to seduce him (lol) she brings in a fake husband to go interrogate the Rabbi. The Rabbi tells John (Nadia’s ex that she brings in to play her fake husband) that places are not haunted, but that people are. This is a relatively new idea for me that I have been playing with since October. I believe in screen-shot-2019-02-04-at-12.43.27-pm-1024x576manifestation, and magic, and demons, and things like that, but I also believe that they only hold power if we think that they do. I believe in demons and ghosts to a certain extent in that I believe that if  person thinks they have some reason to be haunted, then they will be. Humans only know how to see what they want to see. Naturally I would think that everyone wants to be happy, therefore they would see themselves being happy and see things that would make them happy, but humans are not so simple. We don’t just want to be happy, we want to be whole. Being happy without being able to put a reasoning behind it does not feel whole. It even emphasizes the hole that is not filled. Sometimes, humans even like to make themselves sad or angry just because they don’t know how to be anything else. They float around like ghosts, bringing despair and “realism” to the parties they attend and they leave, having done more damage than helped anyone. These are the people who are haunted and continue to haunt others.

One of the days that Nadia makes it through the night, she goes to see Ruth and she tells her that the best any of us humans can do living on this earth is become as comfortable with two, equally compatible and paradoxical answers at the same time as possible. She talks about the good and the bad, the day and the night, the way that we humans are constantly pushing 9928935de774e835ad687fec94adf220forward while clinging to the past at the same time. We are ambiguous creatures that can only find peace through accepting the cognitive dissonance. She also says “without therapists, us humans are often unreliable narrators of our own stories.” It is so easy to tell yourself you are the hero. That you are good. But it makes even more sense to accept the fact that no one person is 100% good. We make mistakes, we fall into the pitfalls of society. We are selfish. We fuck up on a daily basis. But our fuck ups and good deeds do not a bad person/good person make. There are no good people and bad people, there are only people. Some making selfish decisions, some not, and then they all switch the next night. Russian Doll does such a good job of explaining the way that we make decisions.

Nadia goes through an entire character arc in what seems to be one night played over about 15 times. The audience can see what triggers her and what makes her make the decisions to be an asshole and when she decides to be an angel. We all are presented with these choices every single day and we write them off because “Oh I would never do that” or “I would have done something!” and the answer is that somewhere, in some other timeline, you would or you wouldn’t. We, as consciousnesses that grow and change every day based on our experiences, have the ability to make our decisions in a split second. We all have the ability to make the same exact choices, just in different parts of the globe. If I am walking down the sidewalk, I can throw
my spare change into a homeless man’s pan or I can keep my hands in my pockets and save it for some chipotle. The choice is mine, every single time I walk outside. Does me keeping my money every time for myself make me a bad person? As I have said before, I don’t think so because there are no good and bad, black and white people, only a mishmash of gray but I think that if we accepted those other outcomes as possible futures more often, then maybe we would perform some more random acts of kindness.

Nadia has been through her whole life, she feels, alone. She could not rely on her mother or anyone else and she adopted this belief that all people are shitty and you have to do everything alone in this world. Obviously this is ridiculous. Just like how human people are the demons and evil in this world, they are also our angels and saints.  Nadia learns that she can help people because even though we want to think that we can do everything on our own, we can’t because we need other people no matter how hard we try. Someone needs her and she needs someone.  Actually, probably the harder you try to say you don’t need people probably just means you need them that much more.

Alan’s struggle is more about thinking that you’re a good person. Alan has his whole life together. He’s got the girlfriend, the job, the clean apartment, and he listens to affirmations every day to get himself PUMPED. But the problem is that his girlfriend is cheating on him with who he believes to be an asshole, and everyone around him thinks that he is so uptight and fragile that if anyone were to go against him he might hurt himself. Come to find out that everyone was right. He had kept up a facade to himself of control and order, but his girlfriend wasn’t happy. He has to understand that while it isn’t his fault that she was unhappy, that he russian-doll-sink-split.nocrop.w710.h2147483647also wasn’t totally off the hook for it. He has this air about him that says “I’m morally superior” but that all crumbles to the ground when you find out that his first death he killed himself to spite his cheating girlfriend. That’s not cool. We all have to take responsibility for the choices that we have made that have led us to these points in our lives. Once you acknowledge that you got yourself here, you realize that you can get yourself wherever you want to go next.

The final thing I really wanted to talk about in regards to Russian Doll was the little Poof Point reference I may have constructed for myself. Nadia and Alan both have fish tanks in the place that they keep waking up in. First Nadia sees a bunch of fish, then she sees 2, and then they disappear. Alan has 2 fish, and then they start to disappear as things disappear in their reality. I instantly thought of the Disney Channel Original Movie, The Poof Point starring Tahj Mowry. Tahj and his sister are the children of esteemed scientists who are working on an anti-aging3dhwo6ofenbslja5b8j9ntd30gc machine. They both try it out and they start mentally aging backwards until the hypothetical “poof point” where they disappear from existence. This is a fear of both Nadia and Alan when people start disappearing from their realities and as soon as I saw the two fish, I thought of the two fish from the poof point that they first used to test their machine. They realize that the poof point exists because  the fish eventually *poof* GONE.

Russian Doll has become one of my favorite shows of all time so quickly it pisses me off a little bit because I only have 1 season to base that on. I usually like to have a little more to go from, but Natasha Lyonne is a shining star, the soundtrack is phenomenal, and the cinematography is beautiful. The dialogue is hysterical and extremely helpful and I think that everyone needs to just watch this show and see for yourself.

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Oscar Nominations for 2019

Well folks it is officially Oscar season, which means it is time for me to emerge from my cave and see some nominated movies. I usually try every year to at least see all of the nominations for Best Picture. Last year I didn’t quite make it, but life happens and you2016-oscar-nominations move on. This year the nominations for Best Picture were Bohemian Rhapsody, BlackkKlansmen, Green Book, The Favorite, A Star Is Born, Black Panther, Vice, and Roma.

I had already seen The Favourite and Bohemian Rhapsody, so I sat down to watch Roma that first nomination day. Since it was already on Netflix, and a Netflix original as well, it seemed like a good, easy, first choice movie. Roma was absolutely breathtaking. 17roma-trailer1-articlelargeThe black and white lens they used was perfectly stunning and I absolutely loved the “long shot” feel of the entire movie. The camera would pan and come back to different places in the house and the sound was all natural sounds like birds, cars, people talking. There was no music overlay or fancy sound effects, it was just “here is this place in Mexico. This is what it looked like. This is what it felt like. Isn’t it breathtaking?” And it was. My guess right now is Roma is looking at Best cinematography and sound mixing.

Bohemian Rhapsody was amazing in that my experience in the theater was inspiring. I saw this film alone and after it ended I was so inspired that I went home and typed the first 5000 words of a story I had been meaning to write for a long time. Rami Malekbohemian-rhapsody-rami-malek-as-freddie-mercury-1064889 was phenomenal and the music was fantastic. It was a very run of the mill, formulaic historical, musical movie, but it accomplished what it set out to I think. I think if anything for this movie, I hope Rami can pull out the win for leading actor. But I know Bradley Cooper really put on a show in A Star is Born too.

I watched A Star Is Born the other day and within 10 minutes I was in love. All I had to do was hear Lady Gaga singing while she walked down the street and the title scene framed her. It was gorgeous. Lady Gaga was basically just playing herself but she’s so cute and charismatic and she has the voice of a literal angel. She and Bradley Cooper 44758-a_star_is_born_-_bradley_cooper__film_still___4_nailed it, no other way to put it. The movie as a whole was lovely and very sad. The cinematography was also impressive because the hue lighting was very prominent throughout the whole film. I think Lady Gaga could win for lead actress, Bradley cooper for lead actor, maybe sound editing.

When the nominations came out, I checked them right away and was shocked by only one nomination and that was Black Panther. I know that this movie was revolutionary when it came out. I am grateful for all it has given to the community that enjoys it. I do, however, believe that it was a “Blockbuster” movie and those are very different from Oscar Nominated movies. This is the first superhero movie to ever be nominated. This already angers me because I can think of a few superhero movies that should have been nominated first like Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman or The Dark Knight. I don’t watch Marvel movies except for Spiderman so I had to sit down and swallow my opinion to watch Black Panther. I tried, I really did, but you know when I knew this wasn’t going to win? When a girl said to a guy “what are those?”maxresdefault in reference to his shoes. Bruh. This is the academy awards. Best Picture. I’m sorry but Black Panther does not deserve to be on the same level as the rest of the movies in that category and I am a little disheartened that the academy nominated it. If we start to let the lay people of the  media world dictate what is good and what is not, we start to lose the artistry of film. Black Panther was a story about a superhero. However enjoyable it was, I am not going to learn new things about the message from the rewatch. I am going to notice the flashy costumes and the lame jokes. If this wins I will eat my own words somehow, I promise, but I am very confident in this prediction.

The Favourite was absolutely refreshing. I adore Olivia Colman and she did not disappoint in the slightest. If Lady Gaga does not win, I want Olivia Colman. She was absolutely hysterical and her timing is impeccable.Click here to have Olivia Colman make you laugh . The whole movie was shot with very high key, low contrast lighting and it made me feel clean and filthy at the same time. Effective. The movie was directed by the same guy as The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos, and it had a lot of the same cast. These movies are off-beat and very interesting to watch because they don’t follow a typical formula and they are weird for the sake of being different, but for some reason it works really well in The Favourite. If you haven’t seen this one yet, I would recommend it. It delves into the dynamics of female/female relationships whether they be platonic, romantic, or servant-like.the_favourite_lead_actress_oscars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were also nominated for best supporting actress and I think of the two of them Emma should get it, but I also won’t be heartbroken if she doesn’t win. Her performance was good, but I think that in order for Emma to be recognized by the academy again she is going to need to step it up in terms of a role that she hasn’t really done before. She has played the bitchy teen-esque girl many times over. She is very good at it, but let’s keep it fresh shall we?

I still need to watch Green Book, Vice, and BlackkKlansmen. I will post again when I do. Today is the super bowl, and as I am sure none of you know, I am a Saints fan so this day is particularly difficult for me. I will be wearing saints attire, not watching any game play, maybe I’ll watch the Pepsi commercial with Cardi b, but other than that I am tuning in for Maroon 5 and that is it. Geaux Saints!!

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PSA: Stop Buying Screens For Babies

So it’s been a long, busy summer as per usual when you work at a summer fun park. I had time to fit in a few trips to the cinema to see The Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia 2, and finally, the topic of today’s post: Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade.eighth_grade

Those were the movies that I saw in theaters, but of course being the movie fiend that I am, I watched a fair amount of new movies as well, one of them being Room. That movie was phenomenal. I was going to make a post about that one until I saw Eighth Grade and I knew a few days after when I couldn’t get it out of my head that I needed to make a post about it.

bo-k56d-621x414livemintSo I love Bo Burnham, let me start there. His standup, his vines, his self-depracating sense of humor. He wants to tell a true story of introverts through all of his comedy. I knew as soon as I heard about Eighth Grade that I needed to see it. I made plans with myself one day to make the trek over to Showplace 16 in Rockford, despite the fact that I live 2 minutes away from 14 in Machesney Park, because indie films get one showing a day. I got my candy, smoked a joint in the parking lot, and took my seat.

The movie was done very well. The sound and cinematography was very effective and Elsie Fischer did a great job. She did a great job of making me cringe and feel soooooo awkward, which was what she was supposed to do! But jeez Louise I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much second-hand awkwardness. There is a scene where she is sitting with people that she clearly doesn’t know well and she is so desperate to make friends that it breaks my heart, but she isn’t a part of the conversation. She is sitting and watching everyone talk and moving her face and mouth, in reaction as if she is saying things and no one can hear her. It was excruciating. But obviously effective because I can’t imagine what she must’ve been feeling herself in that situation if it affected me so much.

The movie’s message was basically that validation and self-acceptance can only come from yourself and it’s like yeah of course, we know that. But I truly don’t think kids these days are learning that at the age they are supposed to. I have never left a theater after seeing a film feeling so depressed about the children of this generation.

Being an eighth grader in 2017, this girl was glued to her iPhone. Every single one of them had an iPhone. They all had their own computers. Some high schoolers in the movie even make a point of asking Elsie’s character what grade she downloaded Snapchat to which she responds “5th grade” and my mouth dropped imagining that. I was going to be a Junior when I downloaded snapchat for the first time. I used it with my cousin for maybe a month, sparingly, and deleted it. It blew up maybe a year later? And I downloaded it again and of course, like everyone else I have it now but I cannot. Can. Not. imagine having access to something like that when I was in 5th Grade.

I did not get a cell phone until I was in 6th grade. It was the Virgin Mobile Oyster phone. I think I made a total of 3 calls on it? My second phone was just a regular flip phone. I went through a few of those before begging my parents for the Samsung Glyde. I didn’t get an iPhone until I was in high school. Now obviously, in this day and age, that can seem both young and old for all of those things depending on whom you ask.

Seeing the way that this girl in this movie was portrayed with her phone, computer, the making of her own youtube videos, the way that she had access to all of these things and that they clearly impeded her development of social skills made me feel like a dying breed. I don’t care what anyone says. Being hooked up to something like the internet from such a young age stops the development of the imagination and being able to be self-sustaining. Children are not learning how to entertain themselves. Parents are not trying to teach them either.

I see it every day at Volcano Falls, where I work. Parents not wanting to listen to their kids whine or cry because they didn’t have enough tickets for the prize they wanted. Well boo hoo!! That’s how it goes! You save up your tickets then, little jimmy, and maybe next time you’ll have enough for the gumball machine! But no. Little Jimmy has got mom and dad right there, ready to pull out their wallets and buy their kid’s silence. What????

That example is something I see on a daily basis, if not multiple times a day. And I hate it, but I mean hey if a parent wants to buy their kid a toy who am I to judge, I mean we have also had parents there leave their toddlers unattended while they disappeared in the car for 2 hours to come back completely out of it. The spectrum for parenthood is wiiiiiide as hell. The thing about the parenting style of this day and age that really bothers me though is the acceptance of technology so easily into their children’s lives.

We are sacrificing real life human interaction to raise a bunch of children who would rather sit at home, not talk to anyone, watch their iPad, and play some video games. Granted, my ideal night is a night to sit at my house, eat food, and watch movies, but I am an adult! I already did the kid thing. I know how to talk to people I know how to interact with the people around me because I was forced to do so. Kids these days are not learning that and it honestly scares the shit out of me. I can already see a decline in social skills in today’s youth. Who can blame them though? They are the victims of their parents and the society that they grow up in. Want to order a pizza? Cool! You no longer have to call or speak to anyone you can just click a few buttons and it is on its way. We don’t have to talk to anyone if we don’t want to.  Which for adults is cool because adults don’t like talking to other adults, but my God kids these days don’t even have to call their friend’s house phone and ask to speak to them! Because these kids already have their own phones! Not that anyone would actually make a phone call. Because I am regarded as weird and old fashioned by multiple people because I like to “talk” on the phone, not text.

I worry for the future generations and I worry for the generations we have now and I worry for everyone’s mental health, especially in a system that doesn’t want to help people fix themselves and instead only wants to medicate everyone so that they can make money but ugh I digress. Society is getting to me, guys. Our country is a mess. The world is a mess. But movies? Movies are still pretty fucking cool.

 

Ode to Netflix

We are in the golden age of television. This is a cold, hard fact of life, people. There are so many tv shows, too many for any one person to be able to consume entirely. One thing that has changed though is how we consume our shows. Netflix has revolutionized television.

Back in the day, my family had Netflix and would use it all of the time. We would pick 31525700949746
movies, watch them in a week, send them back, and receive 3 more. It was a pretty cool deal! And then they introduced the streaming aspect of Netflix. That’s when the revolution happened. For the first time, people had a widely-used service that allowed them to watch full seasons or even full series of tv shows at a time. Naturally, since none of us ever have any self-control, binge-watching was born.

I took advantage for sure. I watched whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and now I’m spoiled. The point I’m at right now is I have too many options. I could watch Netflix, Hulu, or anything I could possibly think of on my jailbroken Firestick. That’s right folks, I just put in writing that I have a jailbroken Firestick. If any coppers are reading this, come and get me.

I have too many viewing options though! It takes me forever to decide what to watch because there are simply too many choices. I usually end up starting something, getting bored with it, looking around for like 15 more minutes, and then end up just turning it off and going to bed because I can’t decide.

The thing that really sealed the deal for Netflix though is its original content. I could rant and rave all day about the exquisiteness of Netflix original content and that’s what I’m about to do so strap in, ladies and gents.

Netflix gives the people what they want. It has become another production option for shows and movies that were not picked up by networks.  It also gives discontinued shows a second chance. Fuller House (which was trash by the way) was the continuation of the IMG_0026widely-loved Full House. Like I stated above, it sucked, but it did something really cool and exciting by continuing a show that had ended years and years prior. People, myself included, were so excited and although the show was weak, that excitement was real. An example of a show being brought back and actually being good is Gilmore Girls: A year in the Life.  This was a 4 episode installment that takes place after the “final season” of Gilmore Girls that had IMG_0025aired years prior. That was a show that caused some hysteria when people found out about it, and I would say that it did not disappoint. It was beautifully done, written well, and executed perfectly. Netflix had successfully brought back a tv show with a legacy.

Not only does Netflix continue old shows, they also generate their own productions. Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Ozark, 6 Balloons. Their tv shows and movies are actually done well. And of course the fact that when any of their tv shows are released, it is with a season at a time. Perfect for bingeing. Because we love to binge. We love to be in control of our shows, its just so much power that our parents and grandparents could have never even dreamed of and now we can literally watch anything we could possibly want at any whim! It blows my mind in all honesty.

Netflix has become such a well-respected company and production service that I could see a Netflix movie winning Best Picture one day maybe. Or best directing or cinematography. They can compete and hold their own with the major directors and big studios in Hollywood.

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Netflix is the future! I am currently writing a tv show and if I could pick any production company it would be Netflix. I know that is where tv is headed. Pretty soon all networks will just be streaming. Well maybe not “pretty soon” but definitely within my lifetime I think cable is going to completely die out. We can finally add it to the list of things that millennials have killed. Sorry folks! Us millennials are just smart enough to figure out what works and what doesn’t and we stick to our guns so maybe all these baby boomers and geezers should just hop on board now or wait to get left behind.

Netflix makes me feel warm and cozy. It makes me feel at home. I could be in anyone’s house, a stranger’s even, and be watching netflix and not even notice that I’m not in my IMG_0023.JPGown room. It has this safe, comfortable feeling to it. A feeling that makes me want to snuggle up in a blanket, grab some food to scarf down while I watch, because you can never sit down and have a perfect Netflix experience without a meal in front of you, and just stay there all night watching WHATEVER I WANT! I’m sorry I don’t mean to yell, I just love the freedom. But hate the ‘too many options thing’ at the same time.

Streaming is a thing because of Netflix. Cable is dying because of Netflix. The Net Neutrality debate that arose last year could be argued to have been caused because of Netflix and other streaming services killing cable. Cable companies are becoming comcast-netflix-speed-datainternet service providers too. And without the rules of net neutrality, they can change the way we access the internet to become slower for their competition and add surges with extra fees. Netflix is what started that decline in profits for cable and it could very well be the thing that puts the last nail in their coffin. (Gunkel 2018). Of course, cable networks are still producing content and I’m sure they will for a little bit more, but probably not for long.

Netflix has also become one of the most influential names in media right now. The “Netflix and chill” meme when on for so long! And I have to give it its dues, it was pretty funny at the start. It had a good concept backing because I mean who doesn’t want to netflix-memes-for-you-to-binge-on-instead-of-being-productive-31-photos-2Netflix and chill?? I mean actually netflix and chill, not whatever you pervs like to pretend that phrase means. I love to Netflix and chill with people. I love to Netflix and chill with myself. Netflix has made it so that a poor college student can pay for internet and be able to watch television whenever, wherever, with whomever, and not have to pay through the nose to get it. Anyone can afford Netflix and I stand by that statement. You make time and money for the things that you love and I love Netflix, and media, and pop culture.

Get streaming, kids 🙂

Breaking Ozark

I should state this now that Breaking Bad is, in my honest (humble? maybe not) opinion, the best show I have ever seen because it is the best written show to come out of this golden age of television that we live in.  It is impeccable. Ozark is a Netflix show that got4b9291133dc9dcc87e092b69f65e8960f6d2a4d4
a lot of attention when it came out. I had been told my multiple people to watch it and as per usual I waited around until I wanted to hunker down and watch  it. I just finished the first season and I have to say that I enjoyed it enough. Enough to finish it. But my overall attitude on the show is this: It has its moments. It has the intelligence and the complexity needed to weave together a band of characters. But it lacks anything beyond those connections.  It lacks the suspense and the not-knowing of what is going to happen. It has no mystery.  Every problem is solved by Marty Bird buying his way out and laundering money. Anyone can launder money.  It isn’t rocket science.  You know what comes pretty damn close to rocket science? Making Meth!!

I got a snapchat from  a good friend of mine from Major Directors last year and he was breaking-bad-s5-400x600-compressedv1telling me that he was rewatching Breaking Bad for the fourth time (Ha! I’m at 5) and that he thought of me. I mean everything in that shows ties up. Every single thing in that show fits together in a story that does not get old. It only makes sense that people would want to do it their own way, and that is what Ozark seems to be to me.

I am definitely impressed with Jason Bateman. His directing is effective, but could definitely flow better. There are a lot of characters and plot lines, but they all lack actual conflict because the only looming problem is possible death of Marty or his family and obviously this is season 1, so that can’t happen. This isn’t Game of Thrones. And that is part of the problem in my eyes. In GOT, you never know what the hell is going to happen. As soon as you do- BAM, THE RED WEDDING BITCHES! Breaking Bad was revolutionary because it was able to further the story with the (empty) threat of death as well as other conflicts that took the center stage.

A good show can have multiple plot lines and it should, but the story weaving them together should seem effortless. Ozark works hard for it and it shows. That effort distracts from the story, which is not compelling because the glue holding it together is 961afe3a8b506bf44839e7ca633d10add26b8bd4weak. They tried to pack too much into the first season. They got over-ambitious.

The two shows are too similar and relevant around the same time for there not to be sides.  And I am and will always be Team Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan hit the nail on the head and I don’t think another story like it will be able to measure up until it is in a new context. Breaking Bad has set and broken their own mold.

The one redeeming thing that I really liked about Ozark was the existentialist ideals it portrays.  The show is teeming with existentialist philosophies and I think that world view is one of the best ones to have. It allows for choice, freedom, responsibility, and the butterfly effect. The show’s philosophy is an admirable one.

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The only testament to a message is how well it can be heard. The way a message is heard is the story and characters. And the way that the story and characters are portrayed is up to the director. Jason Bateman did an honorable job, but let’s be real…if he wasn’t involved would anyone watch? His name got my own attention and I’m sure a lot of others. Breaking Bad built it’s own legacy based on the show itself, not that it had any sparkly names on it. Just saying 🙂

But I still think that Ozark is a testament to the age that we live in. Netflix original content is the future of production. They rarely disappoint, unless its Fuller House.  That shit was rough.

Todd Haynes and Gay Cinema

This was one of those times where I had no idea what to write my blog post about for class.  I liked Todd Haynes but none of his stuff really shook me to my core.  It wasn’ttodd-624-1355438178 until we had a guest lecturer give a lecture about “loving Todd Haynes” that I was able to appreciate him fully.  Our guest lecturer was another communications NIU professor who happens to be gay, and he gave the entire lecture through the lens of his love for Todd Haynes and the revolutionary way that he made being gay ok.

Growing up a straight, white, middle-class girl I didn’t experience much discrimination other than people judging my school uniform and thinking I was a rich preppy kid. Which was the furthest thing from accurate, but that was what  my uniform seemed to  communicate to the rest of the world.  I didn’t have trouble being introduced to and loving cinema because there were so many characters and movies that I could pretend were me.  I mean Ariel was a major one, along with the other Disney princesses. Harry Potter. I mean I was surrounded by straight, mostly white media! I fit right in.

54dd0d99a8d6884651e66a14_sparks-toutIt wasn’t until I grew up and started college that I really understood the importance of representation, simply because it was something that I never had to work hard at.  I was able to cast myself into many many molds, but I didn’t even think about anyone other than myself. Randy, our guest lecturer, really hit the nail on the head for me by talking about how Todd Haynes was someone that he could look up to in the industry.  He told the gay story. He told the stories about the people who felt alienated and cast aside by society. He made being gay something to be recognized and celebrated in the film industry because he told the true stories behind the real people.

Film is all about creating a world. Whether it be an ideal world, a nightmare world, or somewhere in the middle, film is the medium through which artists can fabricate their worlds and share them with the actual one.  For the longest time, the mass media and the film industry really like to depict one world.  The white, straight, beautiful, size 0 world980x that alienates and excludes 90 percent of the population. I read something that 85 percent of statistics are made up and I think that 85 percent might be made up as a joke, but that 90 percent is definitely made up, so don’t quote me! I’m speaking hyperbolically.  I’m trying to make the point that the world’s population was depicted by such a small fraction of what it actually is that these innovative and controversial ideals that Todd Haynes focuses on in his worlds changed the lives of the people who got to experience them.

There is a Todd Haynes for everyone.  There is a person that wants to tell your story.  There is someone else out there going through exactly what you are.  And what I am.  And that is why movies are so special.  Because they tell those stories and they tell them beautifully and tragically and most importantly, they remind people that they aren’t alone.

I think that Todd Haynes has done the film industry a service by telling his story.  He has done a service to all of the students that Randy teaches because Randy probably got some of his flare and fire for the industry from Todd Haynes. Inspiration strikes people in different and crazy ways.  It could be derived from something disturbing like the 2834-originalspitting scene from Poison, as Randy told us that he finds that scene to be beautiful in some way.

Watching that scene was hard enough because I always hate when people spit on other people.  To me, it is seriously one of the most disrespectful things I think a person can do to another person.  It’s gross and personal and dirty and uhhhhh I just hate it in movies.  Even in scenes where character #1 says something disrespectful to character #2 and then character #2 spits on character #1 and thats the end of the conflict.  I hate it and I always have. So watching that scene was something.  But I definitely understood so many things about the gay experience from that singular scene. Things like the tension, pining, anguish, curiosity, and seduction.

(This is where I was going to include that specific scene, but WordPress has just informed me that if I want to embed videos now I have to upgrade my plan and I can’t even afford water right now so that’s a no-go.)

So shoutout to Todd Haynes from giving Randy someone to love.  And for allowing a wider variety of stories to be told.  Because we will  never run out of stories if we accept all of the ones that we have. The only way to save the film industry is to keep telling those stories and to tell them in ways that people might not like. Controversy, camaraderie, and conflict make film so powerful and as long as we continue to tell our story truth, we will never lose ourselves.

Ready Player One

My favorite thing about movies are references and homages to other films and film influencers.  Movies are filled with Easter eggs just like video games, except people aren’t really looking for them in the movies.  Last night I went and saw Ready Player One and I have to say that it was one of the most fun movies I’ve watched in a long time.  I saw it inREADY PLAYER ONE IMAX 3D, which is probably the best way to watch a movie like this since it mainly takes place in a virtual reality game world.  I sat down with my snacks, that I did indeed purchase from the concession stand because I was a sucker last night, and waited for the movie to start and was taken to a pop culture/easter egg obsessed world and it was a fantastic trip.

The movie was about a teenager growing up in year 2045 where a virtual game world called The Oasis is the hottest place to be because the world is overridden with trash and clutter.  Everyone wakes up, signs into The Oasis, and lives from there.  The idea was both enticing and freaky to me.  I wanted to go in there and play, but I also knew that I would end up just like these people who never want to leave. Because science fiction movies are not about the future, as one of my professors readyplayerone1always says.  They are about the present.  Same goes for Black Mirror.  The topics and commentaries that show touches on are all things that we have the technology to implement now.  Freaky right?

Technology is one of those dangerous things that doesn’t seem so dangerous at all.  It can take the form of The Oasis or a robot that runs all of your errands for you.  The end result is the same.  A loss of touch with reality.  People can become complacent in their mundane lives and they start to expect all the little things that technology can help them with.  They stop trying to remember appointments and dates and instead let their phones do it for them.  I am guilty of this too! No one is safe from these convenient little bastards.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my phone.  I’m a millennial, people.  Good luck trying to take my phone away from me.  But just because I love my phone doesn’t mean I love where we as a society are headed with technology.

The movie’s thesis was basically that reality is the only thing that is real and even if everyone tries to pretend that something else is reality it never will be.  Reality and consciousness are only existent because they are.  They are the only things that give life to the world we live in.  By constructing The Oasis, the creator paved the way for the world to decide that they would rather live in a fantasy land and by doing so, they forsake the real world which is the one that we will always and forever live in. It reminded me of the worlds that we see and interact with in social media and no matteroisnacgjtmzrf883azrz how much we pretend that we live in those worlds, they are still just an illusion that has been carefully crafted by everyone on there. I thought it was a great thesis and that it was supported well throughout the film, all while being a thrill to watch.

John Hughes, Citizen Kane, The Shining, The Iron fucking Giant!, I mean every kind of movie pop culture reference you could stick in there, they had it covered.  All of the little easter eggs for the viewer to hunt for, perfect to be viewed this Easter. Loooooooved it. The Shining scene was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while.  The characters were inside the movie the shining and interacting with all of the obstacles that the movie goes through. They made the shiningkubrickmovie into a living video game! That is how I would spend all my time if The Oasis existed.  I’d be darting in and out of movies, being able to actually live and spend time in those universes. But at what cost? Would I never want to spend another second in reality?

Dangerous times, people. Beware of the technology! Let us not regress in things like common sense and competency because we’ve simply invented a way around them. Sometimes life moves too fast, and I don’t mean that we should take a look around because we might miss it, I mean that we as living beings want to go go go. We want instant gratification for anything we do, and it has spoiled us a little bit. Slow it down people. We don’t need interactive bathroom appliances. We don’t need all of our devices to talk to us. We have enough people in our ear every day, I’m not sure why we seem to want more.

Gilmore Girls: A David Lynch Tribute

About a month ago, my dad had some health problems and I went to New Orleans to see him.  I was there for about 2 weeks and I was bingeing Gilmore Girls the entire time.  I had never watched any of it, as when it was on tv I opted  to watch Smallville instead. I fell in love!  The amount of references and witty repartee was enough to make my head spin.  It is basically a Utopian society and everyone lives a perfect life and all the problems that arise are relational.  While on this binge journey, in Major Directors we were studying the stylings of David Lynch.  I happened to notice a lot of Lynch references and similarities within Stars Hollow!9347334583_f244e4d15a_b

David Lynch has such a unique style.  His stuff is a little bit (a lot of bit actually) crazy.  He likes surrealism, dream worlds, archetypal character structures, and pushing the boundaries of traditional film.  Twin Peaks is a perfect example of his work, both stylistically and contextually. It is colorful and weird and I made the decision that I would not be finishing the show without a care, that’s how weird it is. I like some weird stuff, but David Lynch is weird for the sake of being weird! He 7288284524_81b8400d0d_bmanaged to establish this universe for a show that has become idolized and emulated in so many popular tv shows today.  Gilmore Girls is David Lynch-obsessed, and with good reason to be.

The first thing I noticed that tipped me off to the Lynch-ness was a screening the town of Stars Hollow did of Eraserhead.  I immediately sat upright because I knew we would be watching that in class. That movie is a strange telling of a scared and frustrated dad’s story in black and white (yuck). But Lorelai and Luke are fighting and they go to the screening and it’s awkward and uncomfortable. Very David Lynch.

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Then I noticed all of Lynch’s women.  And men! There were a lot of repeat actors from Lynch’s work that appeared in Gilmore Girls.

Then I really started to put 2 and 2 together.  Both GG and Lynch establish mood and tone CONSISTENTLY throughout. There is always a music track with a little ooh oohhh ohhh to set the tone by either making it upbeat or forlorn.  Always always always with the musical transitions. Lynch loves to have tone-setting music in the background to let everyone know how to feel.

30095123685_0b3e198d86_n Both Lorelai and Dale Cooper basically live in diners.  Lorelai injects coffee into her veins, and was in love with Luke the whole time so how could she stay away? Dale seemed to be obsessed with cherry pie for some reason, but to each his own I guess. Many important scenes take place in their diners of choice

The towns people and their quirkiness was also a common theme! Kirk and the log lady would’ve gotten along, I’m sure.  Not to mention the fact that everyone in both towns know everyone.  Stars Hollow never had to investigate a murder, but Twin Peaks is obviously much more dark.  I think the darkest thing to happen in GG was Rory didn’t say thank you after someone passed her the 8575169355_1338242eff_nbutter.

Then there’s the Blue Velvet Americana feels in Stars Hollow.  Everything is scenic and beautiful and brings about feelings of “simpler times”.

Gilmore Girls played a beautiful tribute to the artistic stylings of  David Lynch.  She establishes a universe worthy of getting lost in, all while paying homage to the masters of film and media that came before.   Amy Sherman-Palladino is a wizard and I know that she is aware of everything she does in her shows.  Her appreciation for such a wide variety of media is admirable and I think that GG should definitely get some more credit, if not for having exquisite taste. Real recognize real, am I right? If only the media industry worked that way, then all the rain drops were lemon drops and gum drops of what a world it would be.

Get Out

So I’ve been trying to watch all of the oscar nominees for Best Picture this week, and with school and everything else going on I managed to watch 2 of the 8 I had not seen. Not too bad, and I still have a few days so whatever. Maybe I’ll make my goal, maybe I won’t.  One of the movies I watched was Get Out, written and directed by Mr. Jordan Peele. I had heard all of the hype and decided it was time. People had been talking about this movie since the day it was released. movieposter

The final push I needed to actually sit down and watch it, other than the goal I set for myself about the nominee thing, was my mom telling me she watched it and thought it was ridiculous.  I could guess why she would say this.  My mom grew up in New Orleans in the ’60s with housekeepers and The Help culture. I knew Get Out tackled a a lot of racial tension and stuff like that and knew that I had to watch the movie to figure out why my mom wasn’t a fan.

While watching it, I noticed that the screenplay was great.  The dialogue was witty, funny, creepy, and it told the story really well.  There was a part of me that was thinking that the movie was going to end with the cops showing up and finding all the dead white people and arresting the protagonist.  I thought ‘Wow. That would really appeal to some shock factor and make people pay attention to the legal system’. And then I was talking to a friend and she told me that was the first draft of the ending, and I think it would have been just as effective of an ending to get people riled up.

The main theme and message I took away from the film was that it was a social satire, poking fun at the way that white people seek to admire, then copy, then appropriate other people’s culture at the expense of the dignity of those people.  I think that for a lot of reasons, this is a true assertion for Peele to make when looking at white culture throughout the years.

703beb57d9c9918f39db192358a7165182732999The part that I knew my mom would’ve been bothered by was the family’s portrayal of how their housekeeper and groundskeeper were “part of the family”.  We obviously know that they were, literally, members of their family inside other people’s bodies, but that ideology is consistent throughout.  I have heard my mom say “Iona was a member of our family” so many times and I really do believe her and I believe that a lot of families who had housekeepers truly felt this way.  It’s a sore subject and one that I know very little about, growing up during the time that I did.

My mom didn’t like the movie. I think she felt attacked by it or she told me that it was ridiculous in order to trivialize it and not take offense. Either way, the movie drove head first into the racial elephant in the room that people have spent so long barricading with fancy ropes and signs that say “all lives matter” and “please ignore this elephant”. I think it has an important message, wrapped up in satire and The Twilight Zone. Seriously this movie was creepy! But I don’t think all white people are racist. I don’t think that all white people want to steal other people’s culture. I do think that white people can act entitled and ignorant when it comes to other people’s cultures, but for the most part I think it really is just out of ignorance, but that is a different problem.  That problem can be fixed with knowledge, information, and patience.  And an open mind.  That is definitely the most important part.  And the part that  white people seem to have a problem with.

Did I like the movie? Yes. Do I think it will win Best Picture? No. I do think that it has a shot at Best Original Screenplay though.  I salute Jordan Peele for putting this movie out get-out-lede-nocrop-w1600-h2147483647into the world.  It is something that needed to happen in order to start a conversation, although I’m starting to realize now that maybe that conversation still isn’t strong enough to change anything.  No, words and ideas can only do so much.  It’s the people behind those words and ideas that actually have the ability to get something done.

Yoga Hosers-My JDepp Journey Continues

Before

One thing that I did during a time of boredom in my life was I watched every movie that Johnny Depp has ever been in.  All 52 movies he had starred in up through that point, which was circa Feb. 2016.  I watched movies like  Jack and Jill for a 2 minute JDeppjohnnydepp
appearance.  That one was a struggle and a half- Adam Sandler, my God how the mighty have fallen. Anyway you get the idea. I watched them all. All of them, except for one that was released, but it had only been released in select theaters for select film festivals.  This movie was none other than….drum roll please- Yoga Hosers, directed by Kevin Smith!!! And the crowd goes wild!!
More likely there isn’t even a crowd because Kevin Smith is not well-revered by critics or, more likely, most people. He has made films that he enjoys and I admire that about him.  Yoga Hosers stars both his own daughter as well as Johnny mv5bmtu0mjuzmdc3ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjg5njywote-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Depp’s daughter as the leads, so that makes it a pretty fun family experience I would say.  This movie is also the second of what was supposed to be a trilogy movie series.  The first installment was Tusk. Yes, those who know me know that Tusk is something not to get me started on because I won’t stop. Basically, its a horror/comedy/drama/philosophical movie that makes fun of itself while asking the important question: “What makes a human different from an animal?” and “Under what mv5bnmqymmuzmmytmta4os00zmrjlwe0nwytnjc0zgm0n2e4yzq5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqxnzmzndi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_conditions, if any, would a human break humanity and become an ‘animal’?”.

So Kevin Smith delves into some heavy shit right? Right.

The second film, Yoga Hosers, has eluded me for some time.  Then when it stopped eluding me (months ago when it was put on netflix), I eluded it because I wasn’t ready to face the reality of whether or not I would like it as much as Tusk.  I mean, how can you follow that masterpiece?? Once again, I digress as I’m here to discuss Yoga Hosers.  

It is currently 7:41pm on Thursday, February 22nd. I am excited and nervous to watch the film and I hope it keeps the artistic quality that Smith set up in the first movie.  I will be paying close attention to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Guy LaPointe. I plan to type the rest of this post while I watch the movie, sort of give it a “live-tweet” type feel, then edit out any ramblings, which there will be. And here. We. Go. giphy

After

So it is 10:43 and I just exited out of the Netflix app on my TV. I decided to post my After thoughts before my During thoughts, because the During thoughts are all over the place, and will probably mean very little to anyone, myself included, who might read this post.

The movie was pretty wild.  Wilder than I thought it would be. The surface of it is enough to scare anyone off.  I mean the antagonists are humanized German sausages, operating a golem suit made to look like a freakish yoga-hosersJason monster made out of skin, bones, and a hockey mask. The protagonists are millennials who have been taught to idolize America by the media, do yoga, and play on their phones all day while not working. Everything from their movies to their music to their magazines is based on American pop culture.  They’re all Entertainment Now! and “celebrities are just like you”: their favorite part of a magazine, complete with pictures to even prove it. The best one, not even just in my own opinion but the yoga hosers’ too, was Harry Styles (but he’s British?). “One time they showed Harry Styles buying bacon…it was so hot”. Because obviously, we, Americans, all secretly wish that we were celebrities. Not even real American ones, but rather British ones who can emulate the glamour and fabulousness of being famous.  They are clearly the epitome of the American Dream. (not not not!!)

Yoga Hosers was clearly a symbolic telling of how to beat fascism, with pop culture fluff to distract the “haters”.  Germany (bratwurst thumb-thumbs) needs to be taken down.  The American influence is putting out beacon calls for dumb, psychopathic, satanists (the 2 rly cool 12th graders, omg).  France (Guy LaPointe) is high, but in the long run is able to help Canada (the yoga hosers) defeat Germany through positivity.  Then they rock out to the Canadian national anthem, whichyoga-hosers-640x640 absolutely oozed patriotism. It even had Guy LaPointe wailing on the guitar and doing The Hollywood Vampires proud.

It was also a commentary on how older generations will continue to look down on the younger ones and think that since some aspects of their lives are easier now than their own used to be, that would mean that they “have it so easy”.

Umm yeah, maybe in the ways of always being able to look something up or having a camera.  Not in the way that passive aggressiveness has taken over human interaction through texts, emojis, and gifs- Oh my.  Navigating the rivers of relationships, both platonic and romantic, in this day and age is absolutely batshit. No one says what they mean, but everyone means what they say. Everything has multiple layers of being interpreted, for the sake of ambiguity or completely out of ignorance. Good luck guessing which one!  It’s a nightmare. Key and Peele already did a sketch about it. 501057be5aee30b20686ab0d4cc142ae

This technology increase has the potential to allow humans to regress in their forms of expression. This movie aimed to prove that millennials and Generation Z kids, granted the gift of technology, know how to use it and make it personal just like any other invention that is relevant to the generation at large at its invention.  I’m sure when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, some a-hole with a nazi bug up his or her butt was probably like “Oh my goodness, no one is paying attention to anyone anymore, they just read the paper all the time, it’s SO impersonal”.  I’d bet on it.

The only way to beat fascism is for old and young to unite! duh.

The movie was cute. It acknowledged the bad criticism that Tusk got and turned the other cheek, while flipping the critics the bird. I respect the artistic integrity of the movie in all its glory.  Did I enjoy it as much as I did Tusk? No. Will I ever watch it again? Maybe.  Would I say that I was happy with Johnny Depp’s performance? Absolutely.  I yoga-hosers-poster-3mean the Guy is a literal acting genius.  So the movie itself was interesting, funny, and it was a solid taste of hollywood, political, and spiritual satire.  Everyone is made fun of and no one is safe. I also respect the hell out of Kevin Smith for making whatever he wants,  because he clearly is not making these crazy movies for anyone else. Plus it’s all a big joke anyway.

During

Right off the bat, the opening scene is nice. Definitely establishing a tone of adolescence and angst with the music combining with the fluorescent neon lights provided by the convenience store. d55f1202c76d891873b029665b97f260-series-movies-tv-seriesNice to see Adam Brody banging on the drums, although it is evident he still belongs in Stars Hollow with Lane on drums and Adam on guitar, playing Korean Christian music.

Two “dreamy” boys walk in, Austin Butler and Teen Wolf, Tyler Posey himself.  The dialogue is already making fun of itself.

“We close in 20 minutes, so if he pukes, you’re cleaning it up” #relatable.  Tee shirt with “red, white, but never blue” written on it can be seen to the left of the girls. To the left.  3f4e3418e543f507df47aec713a48a74-strange-movies-blue-t-shirtBackdrop of the scene is shelves and shelves of Canada’s staple, maple syrup which runs through all of Canada’s water supply probably and that’s why Canadians are so nice.

I am already loving the women’s body health positivity.  This is a subject that boys, and even most men hate discussing because its gross or funny or unappealing or whatever.  This movie has already talked about UTIs, menstrual cycles, and ovulation and I’m not even 10 minutes in.  “Just the thought of going a grade 12 party has you lying to me about your menstrual cycle.  and you know a woman’s menstrual cycle is a sacred, Colleen. I’m talkin’ a-boot the Period Blood of Women.”

The nemesis of the story appears to be some weird chicken-looking monster that whispers and creeps up and goes in people’s “bums”.  A monster that goes up someone’s butthole….I must say Kevin Smith, you always keep it interesting.  Just figured out its an evil butt plug. Even. Better. The tiny little butt plug things are apparently bratwurst people filled with sauerkraut. A sausage party.

Lots of “beaver” word play. Classic Canadian Vagina joke.

“this isn’t yoga-this is like a parody of yoga” could that be said for “this isn’t ‘a movie’-this is like a parody of ‘a movie'”.  The class bell rings after the teacher’s dramatic telling of the tale of Canada’s nazi history and she says “ah perfect timing”. An acknowledgment of the “movieness” of the movie.

A customer at the store told the girls that they weren’t being “very Canadian” when they were rude to him, which leads to the question: What was it? Probably American.

One of the girls had an idea and it wasn’t a light bulb above her head, it was the sound of  an Apple text tone. Great touch.

Stan Lee.  Wow. Now it has everything it needs to be a Blockbuster movie right?? lee-shh

Orange is the New Black reference with Nikki from OITNB starring in the movie. Meta.yoga-hosers-depp-smith

Guy LaPointe’s moles move throughout the film.

“You need to find some inner peace so why don’t you shove your head up your anus and look for it.” Advice to the masses.