Review-ish: Friends From College – Season 1

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWUBRto1WZQ

Dir. Nicholas Stoller

Streaming Platform: Netflix

Summary: Ethan and Lisa move to New York, which reunites them with their old friend group from college. College was twenty years ago, and they are all at different parts of their life and careers. The group consists of Ethan & Lisa, Sam & her husband, single-ish guy Nick, Max & Felix (until it’s just Max), and Marianne (and her boyfriend who is introduced later).  The people specifically from college are highlighted. Ethan is a writer; Max is his agent. Lisa is an attorney who works at a law firm with an extreme frat boy culture- she hates it. Sam sells furniture (I think). Nick doesn’t do much of anything besides date women half his age, and Marianne is an actress who recently starred in a reverse-sex production of A Streetcar Named Desire.  The catch is that despite being in marriages (Ethan & Lisa; Sam & her husband), Ethan and Sam have been hooking up since college, and consequently, they have been having a continued affair which continues to the current day.

Review:

It makes me want to watch a romantic comedy where the main characters begin single and find the loves of their lives and then go through a roller coaster with them but then end up together.

My review is definitely tainted by my own personal set of beliefs. So, I will do one part where I talk about that and then the other part will be technical things. Okay- let’s go!

So, story-wise and structure wise: no me gusta. As an audience member, I am uncertain of who I am supposed to really empathize with.  I feel as if the writers of the show would like the audience to empathize with Ethan and Sam, hence how their hooking up beginning before either of their relationships. Yet, I can’t do that. I just question why they never managed to enter into a real relationship of their own, and I wonder as to why they bothered to begin actual relationships but continue their own secret thing on the side. Watching, that doesn’t make sense to me. I empathize more with Lisa, and the only reason I actually watched each episode of the show was to see if Lisa would find out. If she found out, I wanted to see how the show would handle that discovery. Alas, they make it more complicated as Lisa cheats on Ethan too with Nick. It’s almost as if it is taking away the audience’s ability to be upset for her so that they empathize with Ethan and Sam again. Besides the cheating, which is the main thing of the show, I’m not sure where the story is supposed to go. It’s also about the reuniting of these friends who reminiscence a lot and are more or less wishing that their college days were continuous. I don’t know how long you can milk that certain storyline. I couldn’t empathize with Sam pining for the past and not wanting to have a fortieth birthday party because I was already annoyed by her and Ethan. And just her in general- especially when she gave Lisa a lecture about love after almost being caught cheating. OOOH and again, just to stress, they’re all supposed to be friends. Lisa is supposed to be Sam’s friends, and whenever I see her try to be her friend on screen, I just dislike it. AnywayAnyway, I don’t find the storyline endearing enough, in terms of the friends being reunited or in terms of all the cheating going on.

Alright, on to technical!

The cinematography was great. Which is also a reason I kept watching. I did like the way it was film and how it looked. There was something that was special about it, and if I wasn’t so distracted by being mad at the story, I could tell you exactly what shots I mean haha. Anyway, I liked how it was low key lighting in many of the scenes. I suppose that added to the more grown-up feel of the show. Also, the show is witty in some ways, which comes through in the editing as well. It’s kind of odd because it almost doesn’t fit, but it does. Even when they’re in a random Jekyll and Hyde restaurant, it fits. The acting is also fantastic. Each character does feel like a different character, and I actually care a lot about Max. Especially when he is going through his stuff with Felix. Marianne becomes most endearing in the last episode, when it’s clear that she cares about her friends. It’s interesting to see Keegan-Michael Key in a different type of role, and he did a good job. Everyone really did, but special s/o to Lisa (Cobie Smulders). She’s very believable. It’s nice too how they set up different aspects of the characters personalities and refer to them throughout. For example, Ethan with his weird voices thing or the noises he makes when he plays tennis. The tennis scene with Max was actually pretty funny.

Anyway, to wrap it up: Technical aspects were pretty good, but I can’t get down with the story.

There are eight episodes now streaming.

Much Love.

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Stuff from the past week

*I am just rambling. These are not academic reviews or even really reviews at all. kk. much love**

Spiderman: Homecoming

Saw it once with Jacob and another time with Jp and my mom. I enjoyed the lightheartedness of it. Am wondering what’s up with Hollywood and multiracial families (diverse but not too diverse??), but the twist was actually really cool and fit in with the story. I love that it wasn’t a story about the world ending but just a nice, high-school story. Putting the fun back into the superhero world. It doesn’t always have to be apocalyptic. I tried to tell Jacob that’s why I liked it so much, but I don’t think he got what I meant haha. Also liked how Zendaya ended up being MJ and not just Michelle. Sidekick was fun too. He did a good job. Also good ending all around from Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

Okja

Took the cake. I want an Okja pig. Through all of the things that I have watched this summer, this is what I feel the most connection to. I normally dislike animal movies (read: dog), but this was so endearing, aghh. Like Mija seriously made sure she was going to get that pig back. Lovely. It’s cool that people believed in this movie enough to make it. Seems like one FT would have made.

Frances Ha

I think I started this like 3 years ago, and I finally actually went back to watch it after reading about it in a New York Times article. It was a gem. Also reminded me of Tuscany. Short, sweet, character-driven. In the article, they said it wasn’t a second longer than it needed to be. I agree. Great as is. Oh- and I was really pleased with how the reason for the title tied in to her getting her own mail box/apartment. She got it all together.

Great British Baking Show

Guilty pleasure, except without the guilt. It has a very precise way of editing that each episode follows, but I absolutely love seeing them create their bakes every week and introduce them. Idk how interesting I thought it would be really, but it’s cool to see all these different European/Eastern European desserts that I’ve never heard about. I like the personalities of the people as well. I’m on Episode 9, so I have that one and one more. Rooting for Chetna, but it might be Luis or Robert. Or maybe the lady who referred to Paul Hollywood as the male judge. Mary Berry is pretty intriguing too, and the British humor is nice.

Friends From College: Episode 1

so much cheating agh. I guessed that it was going to open with a sex scene and guess what? IT DID. props to ya girl for knowing the tropes now.

I might keep watching it just to know what happens, but I’m wondering how much I can really empathize with the characters considering the situation they placed themselves in. Like, I think the creators/show-writers want you to empathize with the affair people because they’ve been hooking up since college, before they ever met their spouses, but it’s like- if you were hooking up with someone else, why even bother to ask someone to marry you or date someone during that time? lame. anyway. I’m just being harsh, but that’s how it goes. I have to read too many stories that feature cheating people now lol. tired. Though, I think Inheritance handles that whole bit so beautifully. But the cheating thing also keeps me from blowing through GLOW, even though I think it’s so fresh and shot fantastically.

Wish Upon

almost, but not quite. As in- I almost made it to the theater with Jacob, but not quite. We had ten minutes left until start, and I threw up in our to-go bag in his car. And he took me home. Will be seen later though.

ooh oopsie- I knew I forgot some movies (just checked my Netflix activity so I could remember what they were)

Miss India America from July 5th and To The Bone from July 14th.

Those are obvi two different weeks, but it is what is.

I really enjoyed Miss India America. It was cool to…ya know, now I feel like I wrote about this already. did I write about it in my actual diary? hmm lemme check these drafts. nope, not in drafts. prob in the diary then. anyway.

It was cool that it centered an Indian story and that the majority of the people in the film were Indian, instead of being a side-joke, ya know? I liked it for the actors as well.

And To The Bone. I also liked. I don’t think it’s the style of movie that I hope to make it in the future, but I hope the people who made it are fond of it.

kk. much love. time for bed.

 

Andrea Gibson Poetry

This was re-shared through Xicanisma on Facebook from Andrea Gibson’s page. I love it.

On my death bed
I might not give much thought
to my pronouns,
or who got them wrong.
Who I am might not mean much then,
in the moment right before
I am about to be Everything.
But for now, I am so human,
and so easily soothed
by the sound of somebody
calling me home with a name
I can find myself in. For now
that porch light is a universe
where nothing that is tender
doubts I exist.

 

The end is my favorite part because it’s as tender as the last line says. The sound of your own name said with love is so sweet.

Reviews for the Week: June 24th – July 1st

Holaaaaaaa. Summer Film ’17 kicks into gearrr.

So, the person that takes the tickets at the movie theater told me “nice to see you again” because I have been to the movies four times within the past few days. And two of those times were in the same day.

All Eyez On Me. Baby Driver. Cars 3. Wonder Woman.

Yeah, I’m late to the game on some of these but early on others. Let’s start with the Biopic!

All Eyez On Me

…. 😦

Please watch this video to understand my sadness: 1:00-1:15

and look at this photograph:

well, actually nvm about the photograph. I could not find it, but it was of me dressed as Tupac for my school’s biography day freshmen year of high school.

Note: the video is from 2011. It is 2017. I’m about to be a senior in college, but I have been a fan of Tupac since seventh grade. As a die-hard fan of his music and him as a person, I was really heartbroken to admit that All Eyez On Me was not a good movie. The only part that got me to feel an emotion was when Tupac died because it was a reminder that he is gone. And there’s obviously no coming back from that type of gone.

Anyway, on to why I did not like it.

It did not have a storyline. If I was someone who did not know Tupac at all, I doubt that I would have cared about all the events that they showed me. And that’s what they did. Event, after event, after event with some random scenery shots in the middle. A lot of fades. I have to give it to the editor though. From what was seen on screen, I don’t believe that Joel Cox had a lot to work with. There’s a quote from Walter Murdoch (I think) about how movies are actually made in the editing room. It might not have been from him tbh. It might have been someone else, so s/o to that someone else just in case. Anyway, the quote hints at how raw footage alone is not a movie. The story arises in the editing bay. But yo, if the screenplay and the resulting film footage isn’t telling you a movie, it’s definitely hard to make that story side with the end product.

The first half of the movie was full of intercuts between a prison interview and Tupac’s upbringing. After his release from prison, the intercut section was no more. The audience did not have enough time to get to know Tupac. I think it was assumed that they already did. And of course they do because it’s Tupac. Yet- this is a movie. There should have been time to really empathize with this character and get to know his dreams, his faults, and what hurts him. There should have been a way to really root for him and his success. It was basically like watching home movies and not being entirely interested in the outcome but hoping beyond hope that it was going to be something good. As is, this movie shouldn’t have been. It’s not even a movie that I would see again, and it’s one that I had been waiting for June 16th for because I wanted to see it so badly. And not really because I thought it looked good but solely because it was Tupac, and he may be dead and gone, but I still wanted to support his legacy. In fact, marketing-wise, I had never thought it looked good. From the first trailer I saw, I thought it looked cheap. I didn’t get the red cross. In the film, the audience also gets the sense that there was not a lot of money for this film, despite it having a 40 million dollar budget. Which I guess must have went towards licensing and re-creating fashion choices. Because it definitely wasn’t for marketing. Some of my friends who are very into hip-hop did not even know this film was coming out.

Anywayanyway, I want to concede. There are a lot of angles from which a Tupac story could have been told; a lot of different versions of the man to present. Personally, since I like poetry Tupac but understand the wildin’ out one, I would’ve probably wanted to see the poetry Tupac. But yes- since there are so many angles, it’s understandable that it would have been difficult to craft a story from what was available. Better luck next time.

My mom enjoyed it, however, and she was also a great fan of Tupac.

My brother didn’t,  but he’s pretty cynical in regards to movies starring POC. He didn’t see Straight Outta Compton, and we all know that film was amaziiiing. And if you need to have the approval of a body, it won an Oscar for its screenwriting.

So grain of salt, ya know? Regardless, I don’t understand why Jada Pink Smith was so upset.

As a side-note, my uncle Jim didn’t want to see this film because he was afraid it would tarnish ‘Pac’s legacy in his eyes. I think it would. I did enjoy when he got into a relationship with Quincy Jones’ daughter though.

———  (I meant to make these reviews a paragraph since there are four of them but aye go figure)

Baby Driver

There was something very fresh about this movie. It did feel like something special. I watched it with my friend Jacob, and he gushed about it afterwards on his Facebook. It’s certified fresh so other people are gushing about it as well. I totally get that. It really did have a super cool feel to it, and I like how it’s an original story. However, the last 1/4th of the movie felt chaotic to me. As an action movie, I guess that it’s fine. Jacob liked how unpredictable it became. I feel that. I get it. Makes sense. But story is tantamount to me and the chaotic-ness of it made me feel as if the screenwriters didn’t know how to wrap up the story of the baby driver. It does work for what it is, and it’s actually probably a movie that I would watch again with someone at their house, chilling on the couch. Popcorn and friends.

Beyond that: people need to go beyond their butt shots and just having women be eye-candy. I didn’t think the relationships were believable, and I didn’t feel it fit baby’s character to go gun happy when he was so resigned to non-violence beforehand. I also remember seeing a piece from Love Life of an Asian Guy about how the black characters usually get killed first in horror movies (baby driver is action) and how that illustrates the unimportance of those characters in the movie and in real life. This actually resonated with me, and I felt as if the succession in which the people died went along with that. Asian guy, black guy, girl, white guy. I really wanted the Asian guy to last longer haha, I thought he was cool.

Regardless, I do get the case people are making for why they really loved this film. I did like it as well, but like I said, I had my issues. However, it did feel super fresh and as if there was something special about it. It was also cut together super well. Good stuff. I think I’ll read some other reviews to see if anyone else felt the way I did about the second half.

Maybe it felt so fresh because it isn’t a typical American movie as the director is British and apparently has a very distinct filmmaking style for his other films as well. (Edgar Wright)

Cars 3

I saw this with Kyleeee. It was v. cute. I liked it. I loved how Cruz ended up being Latina. And I thought the conclusion was wonderful with how McQueen is going to keep racing but he ended up training Cruz as well. They set the conclusion up well, as one could tell where it was going after he raced with her at the beach. At least, I could. Kyle couldn’t. I didn’t see Cars 2, so I’m unsure if there’s something I should have seen from that one, but I feel like I didn’t miss anything.

It almost felt as if this one was supposed to be speaking to an older audience, with all of the commentary about getting older and the new generation and all of that. I liked it though. Another movie that I would watch with friends on a couch.

Wonder Woman

We have made it to the end! yay! Also seen with Kyle.

My friend Yi Ning was the first person to gush to me about Wonder Woman. I actually had no interest in it. I don’t remember who showed me the original trailer way back when (maybe my brother?), but I remember that as being the reason why I was uninterested.

Buuuut. I’ll give it to Patty Jenkins. I really like her style of filmmaking. The blue and green colors that were present throughout gave it a nice feel and a cohesiveness to it. The large amount of clean close-ups was also an interesting choice that I really enjoyed. And the pacing too. It was different from the typical action/superhero movies. It took its time and moved along slowly.

Of course, in addition to the praise, I have also seen different criticisms of the film and of casting choices, and I actually do like reading over those and wondering about what they say as well. One thing that I think is important with any movie in regards to human relations outside of the movie is for people to ask themselves if they could see the white character as another race. Could Wonder Woman be Asian? Black? Latina? Sans comic aside, why not? I just think that’s important for people to ask themselves. It’s very easy to see white people in any role and to let them maintain their humanity, but POC don’t always have that going for them, and if we can’t picture POC in different roles, then I think we don’t see POC as fully human.

Anyway, mini diversion over.

My favorite part of the movie was simply the style of filmmaking. Yi Ning said that she thinks it’s great for the next generation growing up to see this and to feel empowered from it. And I agree. Gina Rodriguez just posted an Instagram of her acting like Wonder Woman, so hey. It is empowering. #RepresentationMatters and going off that, praise be that there were no butt shots. Yes. Thank you. And that’s probably because it was a woman director helming the seat. Not that woman can’t be equally as objectifying of other women as men (patriarchy runs deep), but overall, I think it makes a different. Women are three-dimensional and women like those in Baby Driver or all of the women splayed out in All Eyez On Me don’t get to showcase that. We smile all the time (which Wonder Woman did too, so it’s interesting to wonder if it would have resonated so deeply with people if she smiled less), we have any number of tropes you can name, but we don’t really get to be real people. So, that’s nice to see.

Kyle’s favorite part was when she was fighting the person she thought was Aries, and it ended up not being Aries. I enjoyed how there was actually an Aries after. Despite the other person telling her that there wasn’t one and thinking she was just kind of out there for that. I thought their relationship was unnecessary though. But it’s chill. I like romance. Would also re-watch on a couch with some snacks and a friend.

Peace out! Until later ❤

Paige P.

 

La Migra

by José Antonio Rodriguez

 

The grownups sat on their long chair called couch

And talked of the weather, the dew of the blossoms’ morning,

And what might happen to us, the children.

Mom said don’t leave the house, not without

Papers. Do I dare speak of the papers hoarded

In corners? How many more poems can you write

About a face spackled with fear before

It holds you? The reader aiming, too.

Let us find a charcoaled corner, you and I,

Where we will lay these words. Leave children

To sleep in windowless rooms. The mother

biting a prayer. The country weaving a tomb.

Short Film/Doc – Life Between Borders: Black Migrants in Mexico

Director: Ebony Bailey

Mitu did a write-up about this documentary: https://wearemitu.com/newsfeed/heres-what-its-like-to-be-a-black-migrant-in-mexico/.

If you want to skip the mini-article, here’s the video: https://vimeo.com/203384382 (there’s another one with Spanish subtitles)

Anyway! I really appreciated this documentary. It follows some recent Haitian immigrants and speaks about their stories, but it also has an interview with an immigrant from African named Amadou who arrived in the 1970s. It was cool to see the different perspectives among the black diaspora there and how they perceive their treatment in Mexico. Also, I didn’t know that Africa had had any influence in Mexican cuisine, but apparently it has had a bunch. Which would actually be a really cool thing for me to look up later. One of girls, who seemed more frustrated with how Mexico treats her, mentioned that the government covered up African contributions a lot. That reminded me of America and the contributions of every ethnic group that is not white.

I don’t have much I really want to say about the documentary, except that it introduced me to a new topic and inspired me to learn more. I mainly write these so I can remember how I feel about certain things that I’ve viewed.

Anyway, off to re-watch Get Out. Toodaloooo.

 

Summer Film ’17 – Kira’s Reason: A Love Story

Film Movement: Dogme 95

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVNpVbMU5HQ

Director: Ole Christian Madsen (but per Dogme 95, his name doesn’t appear in the actual credits)

The first Dogme 95 movie that I watched was Breaking the Waves by Lars Von Trier. Because of that movie, I thought that I looooved Dogme 95. I guess I just loved the movie instead.

For this film, I really did not like it. The found footage technique is my least favorite camera technique in film- maybe because it’s been popularized so much recently. It probably wasn’t as prevalent back then, so maybe this film really stood out. Anyway, the found footage style of filming took me around twenty minutes to get into.  Once I got over it, then I could pay attention to the story.

Here’s the story:

The wife of the film has just been released from a mental hospital. However, it is clear that she is still very, very depressed. She is not able to effectively face large groups of people without wanting to cry or feeling anxious about it. She also suspects her husband of cheating on her while she was away (which does end up being correct, despite his initial denial). For a while, it seems as if husband cares quite a bit for his wife. He seems patient, and when he says, “I love you”, it comes across as believable. During one of her episodes, the wife ends up cheating on the husband with a random man from a bar. In the morning, she even calls him to come and pick her up from the location that she is in. He does, but this represents a spiraling of their relationship.  He hits her, for the first time that we see on screen. He also rapes her and admits that he cheated on her with her sister. Yet, they continue to try and be together. However, the sweet element from earlier is now removed thanks to the violence. The film ends with the wife having planned a business party for her husband and his colleagues. The party seemed to be going well, but no one wanted to dance with the wife. When the husband’s boss does dance with her, it is to tell her that she should leave the party before she spoils it. She does and goes to write a letter to her husband letting him know that she is leaving him. He comes back during the writing of the letter, and after listening to her read it to him, he kicks her out of the room and throws her belongings out into the hall. She calls her father to come and pick her up. Apparently, while she does that, her husband also calls the sister to come with the children. Both of them show up- but when the sister arrives, she sees that husband and wife have reconciled and she cries. The father consoles  her, and the film ends.

I can recognize that there is a message to this film, maybe about how difficult it is for the wife to leave her abusive husband, especially in her current depressive state. Also, it explores how the wife’s depression really effects each aspect of her life and tends to make her unreliable to those around her. She can’t deal with other people and also deal with herself. Despite recognizing a message, I couldn’t stand how abusive the husband was. It was obvious when he was about to explode for the first time and hit her. There was just too much of it. It was actually one of my male professors who pointed out to me how much violence there is against women in films. It makes you wonder. So, anyway, the film also seemed to attempt to humanize the husband, but I despised that considering everything he had done beforehand, especially the rape.

What I did like about the film was the relationship between the wife and her father. It was very sweet, and it was clear that the father cares about her deeply as his daughter. Also, the actress is fantastic. Her facial expressions usually look quite reserved when she is trying to smile, and the audience gets the feeling that it would be a long journey for her smile to be able to reach her eyes.

I watched this on FilmStruck as part of their Dogme 95 collection. Before it, there was an introduction to what that movement was, and it also talked about how sometimes, the manifesto did not always benefit the films. They came to the conclusion that this film is one that did happen to execute it correctly. I disagree. I hated it so much haha. I guess it’s just not my type of film.

But Breaking the Waves will always have my heart.

RT score: 67%.