Written and directed by the great Ava DuVernay, When They See Us tells the story of the young Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk), Yusuf Salaam (Ethan Herisse), Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris) and Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome), five black and brown boys no older than sixteen-years old who were falsely accused of raping a female jogger in Central Park on April 19th, 1989. Criminally abused and coerced by police detectives led by Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman), and prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer (Vera Farmiga), we see these boys and their families stripped of everything for nothing.
Continue reading “DuVernay Introduces the Real Boys of the Central Park Five in “When They See Us””
Do you believe that perfection creates madness, or madness creates perfection? Time and time again, film explores the relationship between the artist and the pursuit of complete and total mastery of their craft. What will it take to be the best of the best? What will be sacrificed? In most cases, the artist pays a hefty price for the highest form of achievement, but is it all worth it in the end? All too often, the artist loses relationships, personal autonomy, and in some instances, even sanity. It’s a tightrope that many must walk for the sake of a perfect performance and the hearts of spectators. The latest film to explore this symbiotic relationship is Richard Shepherd’s The Perfection. The Perfection takes viewers in the dark recesses of the competitive world of music.
Continue reading “‘The Perfection’ Manipulates Audiences Into Rooting Against the Wrong Villain”
Let’s face it: we live in a terrifying world. Every piece of news seems to further illustrate our awful reality and it’s hard to feel like anything is ever going to get better. But, in times like this, a little imagination can work wonders in imagining what different versions of the future would look like, futures that contain wondrous machines, bloodthirsty monsters, and powerful figures that fight oppressive systems. Netflix’s animated series, Love, Death, and Robots works to harness the power of imagination in the creation of 18 different futures that are dark, terrifying, hopeful, and even queer. Sure, it is not perfect, but it is a beautiful example of how animation can provide us images of a previously unimaginable future, one that discusses queer representation, oppression, and bodily autonomy.
Controversy sprouted on Twitter when one user pointed out that the order in which the episodes were served up to viewers was potentially based on their sexuality, which is a terrifying prospect in itself. Even now sexuality is being used to judge what content to give us, even if Netflix so vehemently denies this is the case. This is only one small example of the terrifying digital future that is expanding exponentially by the minute, one that provides us with tools to educate, build community, spread hate, and harm. Even in the face of the irony of its distribution, Love, Death and Robots expands on these tools into previously unimaginable possibilities.
Continue reading “Using Animation to Imagine Terrifying, Glorious, and Queer Futures in ‘Love, Death, and Robots’”
When scrolling through Netflix’s recent catalogue, it’s gratifying to see a lot of content focusing on under-represented minorities, especially in genres that are commonly concentrated on white, straight stories of privilege. While some, such as Pose and Everything Sucks!, manage to establish effective narratives of inclusion, others, such as Insatiable, fail miserably and feed into dangerous prejudice. It’s a relief that Special – the world’s first dramedy series about a young gay man with cerebral palsy – is not only respectful towards its subject, but also conscious of other struggles surrounding him.
Continue reading “‘Special’ is a Delightful and Nuanced New Slam-Dunk by Netflix”
Whatever your stances towards the streaming service and its hyper-capitalist nature, it’s hard to deny that Netflix has given a platform to a specific group of high-quality serials. They share a firm grasp on the modern zeitgeist, push boundaries in terms of representation and bring original dramatic concepts to the table. It’s obviously a completely different story how the company treats their output —there is an easily comprehensible tactic of catering and extreme calculation. Netflix has understood that taking risks can pay off, but as soon as they don’t, any “misinvestments” are avoided —case in point are the recent cancellations of excellent, culturally significant shows such as Everything Sucks! and One Day at a Time due to insufficient viewers. That being said, it’s great to see some strong, original television being brought to the mainstream. One example particularly stands out in this context; co-created and written by regular collaborators and North-American indie darlings Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, The OA is a tightly plotted and character-focused genre mishmash that handles its concerns of trauma, belief, death and human relationships with a stunning amount of suspense, vigor and pathos.
The show’s premise is one that is hard to encapsulate. A hurricane of mysteries sets the ground for the events surrounding Prairie Johnson (played by Brit Marling), her mysterious disappearance—and return. Prairie used to be blind, but has her sight has been restored after reappearing on the radar. The incident draws a lot of attention to her and her adoptive parents, who particularly struggle to understand what happened. Instead of opening up to them or the authorities about the events and why she calls herself The Oa, Prairie contacts five people that couldn’t be more different, orders them to leave their front door open in the middle of the night and meets up with them in an abandoned house to tell her long, incredible story and the role they each play in it. The group, first plagued by skepticism and mistrust, slowly grows to be some sort of family and the fact that their only prior connection was being members of the same school, fades away.
Continue reading “‘The OA’ Season 2 is very different to its predecessor, but it just as gripping”
Ever since his role in The Big Sick in 2017, Ray Romano seems to have made a comeback and proven to audiences that he can play both comedy and drama in equal measure. Netflix’s Paddleton allows him to prove this yet again, cast alongside indie film veteran Mark Duplass.
This is the second film that director Alex Lehmann has worked on with Mark Duplass, having released Bluejay in 2016—which is also labeled as a Netflix original. Mark and Jay Duplass have been powerhouse producers of the independent cinema scene for years now, and it was announced just last year that Netflix would have the screening rights to their next four films, with Paddleton being the first of that contract.
Continue reading “The Mundane as Extraordinary in Alex Lehmann’s ‘Paddleton’”
Adaptations of graphic novels can either extremely hit or extremely miss. It’s difficult to capture their larger-than-life style, acts of violence, and over-the-top characters that are confined to the panels on the page. With Jonas Åkerlund adaptation of Victor Santos’ Polar for Netflix, he proves it is possible to translate a graphic novel’s gore and violence onto the screen with even more stylistic flair than its source material. Åkerlund took Santos’ minimalist illustrations and made something bright, oversaturated, and delicious.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen plays Duncan Vizla, or the Black Kaiser, who is days from retirement from his life as an assassin. He starts to settle into retired life in a small town in Montana, shopping at the local grocery store, frequenting the town’s diner, and striking up a quiet friendship with his neighbor, Camille, played by Vanessa Hudgens. But, just a few hundred miles for his snowy, idyllic set up, a hit is put on his head so his employer, the Damocles Corporation, won’t have to pay him his $8 million pension. So, a group of younger, showier, and somehow more violent hitmen set out to kill the Black Kaiser. What follows is a trail of blood, revenge, and Mads Mikkelsen’s beautiful bare ass.
Continue reading “‘Polar’ Is A Fun, Over-The-Top, Polarizing Action Romp”