Rick and Mondays – S2E9 “Look Who’s Purging Now”

Rick and Morty end up on a planet in the middle of a Purge night. Hilarity ensues.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland, both) get hit by an interstellar insect in space, but it turns out Rick’s out of wiper fluid, so the insect just gets smeared over the windshield. They stop at a nearby planet to purchase cleaner, but it’s revealed that the society there is about to undergo its annual “festival” during which the citizens are encouraged to murder each other, similar to the movie The Purge and its sequels. Rick decides to stay and check it out, but a few minutes of witnessing the actual carnage end up disgusting Rick. He’s about to leave when Morty spots a girl named Arthricia (Chelsea Kane) who is being attacked and demands that Rick rescue her. Rick and Morty save her, but then Arthricia convinces Rick to save her Grandmother.

S2E9 - 1Arthricia.png
Rick is excited about how morally justified he is to commit murder.

Rick goes to save Arthricia’s grandmother, but Arthricia steals his gun, shoots him, and takes the car, abandoning Rick and Morty to the purgers. Rick manages to kill one using a one-shot weapon and intimidates the others into dropping their weapons, but more approach. Rick calls Summer (Spencer Grammer), who is fighting with Jerry (Chris Parnell) over Jerry’s new place in the family, on a space phone and has her send a package to Rick and Morty. The duo head towards a lighthouse so that Rick can assemble a beacon, and the lighthouse keeper (Ryan Ridley) agrees in exchange for Morty listening to his screenplay. Morty listens while eating a candy bar.

S2E9 - 2Screenplay.png
His screenplay includes the lines “hot, but doesn’t know it.” He deserves to die.

After the keeper finishes the story, Morty, upon being compelled by the keeper, gives a mild criticism, which the keeper treats as an attack upon his art and uses to justify kicking them out. In response, Morty points out that the script was actually crap and shoves him down the stairs, killing him. Rick and Morty head outside where the package sent by Summer arrives, revealed to be two sets of sophisticated armor that enable Rick, and later Morty, to go on a killing spree. Morty completely loses control and, after they track down Arthricia, Rick ends up having to knock him out. Arthricia begs for mercy, saying she only wanted Rick’s ship to end the “Festival” by killing the rich people that use it to manipulate the poor. Rick agrees to help her.

S2E9 - 3MortyRage.png
He’s got issues. – Freud.

Rick and Arthricia break into the headquarters of the planet’s wealthy and they both murder them while listening to “Feels Good” by Tony! Toni! Tone!. After the massacre, Rick tries to give the society ideas about how to rebuild while Arthricia tells Morty that she has a boyfriend. As they leave, it’s revealed that the society almost immediately decides to continue the “festival.”

S2E9 - 4Arthrageia.png
Ironically, she uses mostly male put-downs here. 

Back on Earth, Jerry begs Summer for money, but she leaves, letting him believe he’s now hit rock bottom. It’s revealed that Jerry has been spending money on “Dial-a-friend” services, leading Beth (Sarah Chalke) to tell him to get a job.

END SUMMARY

This episode was created in less than 24 hours by Dan Harmon as a last-ditch effort to make up for scheduling issues that were arising from the 2-part season finale, “The Wedding Squanchers.” Despite the fact that this was written as a quick filler episode, it doesn’t suffer from a large drop in quality. I’ll acknowledge that this episode isn’t as ambitious as many other episodes of Rick and Morty, lacks the usual great interplay between the A- and B-Stories, and contains way more filler than we usually see in the series, but it’s still a well-crafted narrative that has the traditional nihilistic ending that is expected from the show. Also, it’s got some great laughs in it.

S2E9 - 5TaddyMason.png
Like Jerry spending hundreds of dollars on Phone Friendship.

The main narrative is, explicitly, a parody of The Purge, but taking place in a pre-industrial society. It also contains elements of Philip Jose Farmer’s Venus on the Half-Shell, a story that Farmer expanded from a short excerpt by Kurt Vonnegut that ended up serving as the inspiration for elements of the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s the kind of pop-culture mash-up that this show loves. At the end of the episode, the purge elements are deconstructed, with the narrative pointing out that the “Festival” is not solely an act of the elite upon the poor, as Arthricia thinks, but is actually the fault of the society, which is why they immediately go back to it rather than fixing their problems.

S2E9 - 6Summer.png
Summer even says that The Purge “sucked.”

One of the best elements of the episode is the progression of Morty’s attitude towards killing. In the beginning, Morty tells Rick that he doesn’t wish to even witness the Festival, but when confronted by the irrational response of the lighthouse keeper, we see Morty react with violence. Then, when the other purgers attack him, we finally see Morty completely snap and kill everyone, to the point that he’s eventually “shooting corpses.” Rick tries to play it off at the end to justify that Morty’s character really hasn’t changed, he’s just been drugged, only for the episode to reveal… well, let’s just go to…

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, does Rick know that Morty isn’t actually under the influence of Purgenol? Well, I actually think this is one of the rare occasions where Rick makes a mistake. What’s the basis for that? Well, it’s actually the premiere for Season 3, “The Rickshank Rickdemption.” In that episode, our Rick comes up with a plan to have Morty shoot him in the head in order to fool one of the other Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks in order to get Summer free. In that scene, both Ricks are arguing until Rick C-137, Riq IV, and Summer are all calling Morty stupid for pointing a gun at Rick and ruining Rick’s bluff. At that point, Morty shoots Rick, shouting “Who’s stupid now, b*tch?” This is revealed to have been part of the plan by Rick who kills Riq and shows Summer that he had written a note on the gun telling Morty to shoot him in the standoff. Morty then reveals to the audience that he didn’t actually see the note… the anger at being called stupid ACTUALLY MADE HIM TRY TO KILL RICK.

S2E9 - 7RickDead
Yeah, this is actually just straight-up attempted murder.

If Rick had known that Morty hadn’t been under the influence of Purgenol, Rick would have taken that into account in his plan and not bothered with the note. Also, Rick probably would have been more careful about ever allowing Morty to have a weapon in the first place. So why does Rick know about Purgenol, but doesn’t know that the candy Morty had was Purgenol free? Well, that’s because their presence on the Purge Planet wasn’t an accident. Think about it, Rick Sanchez, a guy who can make interstellar travel out of spare parts, a guy who powers his car with a smaller universe, somehow needs to stop at a planet composed of pseudo-Mennonite Cat People to clean his windshield? Bull. Rick already knew about the Festival (I imagine there’s probably a database of “planets that are purging” for tourism purposes) and found an excuse to go to the planet in order to watch it, then decided that was a mistake when he faced the realities of the gruesome event. That’s why he knew about Purgenol being used on the populace, but, relying on that information, didn’t notice that the candy bar Morty ate was Purgenol-free.

S2E9 - 8Purgenol.png
Dun dun DUUUUUUUUUN

LEAVING THE CORNER

Great episode, considering it was written in 24 hours as filler. It’s not the most memorable Rick and Morty episode, but it’s a solid half-hour of television. Impressive, Dan Harmon. Next week, the Season 2 Finale!

Overall, I give this episode a

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 19: Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate

NEXT – 21: The Wedding Squanchers

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

 

 

Advertisements

Oscar Review – Bohemian Rhapsody: The Secret is the Soundtrack

Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury in this musical biopic which covers for a lot of its sins by using the music of freakin’ Queen.

SUMMARY

It’s the early 70s and Farrokh Bulsara, AKA the future Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), goes out to see a band called Smile, whose lead singer quits that night. Mercury takes his place in the band, joining Guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), who are soon joined by Bassist John Deacon (Joe Mazzello). At the same time, Mercury begins dating Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton). Based on Mercury’s suggestion, they change the band name to Queen and record a debut album which garners attention, and their single “Killer Queen” gets them an appearance on Top of the Pops. The band goes on a tour of the USA where Freddie starts to begin sexual relations with men.

BohemianRhapsody - 1YoungFreddie.png
Someone write this into an episode of Mr. Robot. Please.

Queen records their hit album “A Night at the Opera” including the track “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which the record label insists can’t be played on the radio. Eventually, Freddie gets it on the air and it becomes a smash hit. He also begins an affair with Paul (Allen Leech), the band’s manager and Mary breaks up with him over it, though they remain in contact and on friendly terms.

BohemianRhapsody - 2Singers.jpg
This might be accurate, but it kind of lacks the grandeur of what you’d imagine created the song.

Freddie starts to descend into depression and hedonism, though he meets a very attractive waiter named Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker), who tells Freddie to call him when he learns to like himself. During a press conference for one of the albums, “Hot Space,” the press keeps asking Freddie about his sexuality, which makes him uncomfortable. Paul convinces one of the band managers, John Reid (Aidan Gillen), to offer Mercury a solo career, but Mercury responds by firing Reid. However, he does end up working on a solo album, “Mr. Bad Guy,” while Paul tries to isolate him from the world. Mary tells Freddie that he should rejoin the band to do Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. At the same time, Freddie is diagnosed with AIDS, leading him to decide to help people through Live Aid, and the band is given a last-minute spot. He reveals to the band that he has AIDS and they are supportive.

BohemianRhapsody - 3Crown
I fully believe Freddie wore this crown.

On the day of Live Aid, he comes out to his family with Jim, tells Mary she is the love of his life, and tries to reconcile with his father. The band performs at Live Aid, rocking the entire world for 21 minutes, resulting in a massive number of donations. Mercury died at age 45.

BohemianRhapsody - 4LiveAid
This was a big moment, admittedly.

END SUMMARY

Let’s get a few things out of the way: A lot of the events in the end of Freddie Mercury’s life were re-arranged so that the big climax of the film was the performance at Wembley. He didn’t likely know that he had AIDS at that point and he definitely hadn’t told the band about it. The band wasn’t broken up, they’d been touring for at least a year before this. Also, while Queen’s performance at Wembley is listed as one of, if not THE, greatest live shows in history, Queen was not the only major name at Live Aid. In fact, they took the stage after Sting, Phil Collins, U2, and Dire Straits and right before David Bowie, the Who, and Elton John. While they rocked the hell out of the stadium, they definitely weren’t the only stars. It’s a biopic, so I have to give them a little leeway, but I still thought that some of this stuff might have been going a bit far.

BohemianRhapsody - 5Bowie.jpg
Sure, no one was there to see Bowie in *checks notes* 1985, 2 years after “Let’s Dance.”

This movie is interesting to me because when I first saw it I was blown away by it. Then I rewatched it to do this review, and I was shocked at how little it was impressing me. That’s when it hit me: It was the soundtrack. When I was in the theater, with the soundtrack, which, naturally, is Queen’s greatest hits, everything was so pleasant and coated in a layer of awesome nostalgia that it was inherently more fun. Without the great speaker setup the effect was muted. I watched it again with the sound down to try and focus just on the dialogue and the effect was basically broken. And then, in the cold light of day, it hit me: This is an okay movie with one amazing performance and a fantastic soundtrack, though it’s not the first movie to use Queen well…

The dialogue in this movie is pretty bad, the structure consists of a lot of hurrying to try and capture the entire ~20 year career of Queen in one film, and the climax, while amazing, is rushed and disorganized, with a lot of “emotional” moments feeling unearned. That said, Rami Malek is a f*cking fantastic Freddie Mercury in this and since he’s the focus of the film, that means a lot. Every motion, every look, every note he sings, all of it convey a complex level of emotional depth. You see him as the boy who is worried about what his family thinks, the rocker who just wants to party, the artist who just wants the beautiful music inside of him to get out, the performer who wants to see everyone under his sway, and the broken man who just wants to avoid the loneliness within him. Often, you get scenes in which you can see all of them at once, which is a sign that you’ve truly captured a character. Malek nailed this hard.

BohemianRhapsody - 6SideBySide
I mean… come on. He did a great job.

The rest of the movie is sadly fairly mediocre, but it feels amazing because it has a soundtrack that consists of the best songs by Queen. That’s not really a small thing, to be sure, since music can be a powerful force on a scene, but the thing is that this movie is using it to do most of the heavy emotional lifting and to get people in a mindset more accepting of the mediocrity of the dialogue. That’s not great filmmaking, that’s just making a movie about great music with a great focal performance that keeps you from being able to realize it immediately.

Overall, I do still think this movie is worth seeing, if only for Rami Malek’s performance, but ultimately it just had so much potential that it failed to take advantage of.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Oscar/Netflix Review – Roma: An Intensely Personal Film About Someone Else

Alfonso Cuarón brings us the life of a maid in 1970s Mexico and the family that she is a part of.

SUMMARY

Cleo Gutierrez (Yalitza Aparicio) is a maid for a moderately wealthy family in Colonia Roma, a neighborhood in Mexico City. The father of the family, Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), regularly leaves for conferences in other countries, leaving his wife, Sofia (Marina de Tavira), to raise their four children with the help of her mother Teresa (Veronica Garcia), Cleo, and another maid Adela (Nancy Garcia).

Roma - 1Cleo.jpg
It’s not the most glamorous life, but it’s amazing.

Adela and Cleo go to the movies with their boyfriends Ramon (José Manuel Guerrero Mendoza) and Fermin (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), respectively. Cleo tells Fermin that she’s possibly pregnant and he promptly abandons her. A doctor confirms Cleo’s pregnancy. Meanwhile, around the area, racial tensions are rising, as are tensions between students and the government, as part of the Mexican Dirty War.

Roma - 2NYE
This scene is bizarre, but so beautiful that you will become weepy.

Several months later, Cleo and the children see a movie, only to see Antonio leave the theater with a young woman. It’s revealed that Sofia is aware of her husband’s philandering, but she tries to hide it from her children. Cleo finally manages to track down Fermin at a massive outdoors martial arts class, but he responds by saying he isn’t sure the child is his and threatening to beat Cleo if she contacts him again.

Roma - 3Army.jpg
A Mexican army learning a Japanese martial art encouraged by the US. So very weird.

Teresa takes Cleo to buy a crib, but they are caught in the store during the Corpus Christi Massacre. They witness two people gunned down by angry young people, only to find out that one of the killers is Fermin. It’s then that Cleo’s water breaks, but her baby is stillborn. Back with the family, Sofia announces to the children that she’s going to be divorcing Antonio and takes the children to the beach. At the beach, two of the kids are nearly carried off by the current, but Cleo saves them. Sofia and the children all affirm that they love Cleo as a part of the family, but Cleo reveals that she never wanted the baby. They return home to find that Antonio has moved his belongings out of the house, and life goes on.

Roma - 4Beach
She can’t swim, but she doesn’t hesitate.

END SUMMARY

This movie is Oscar gold. Even though it wasn’t my favorite film nominated for Best Picture this year, it wouldn’t shock me at all if it won. The acting is great, despite the fact that the lead wasn’t a professional actress. The cinematography is as good as exists in film, with great, meaningful, match cuts and perfect control of the imagery. The characters are all interesting and very human. Hell, it’s in black and white, that’s like 10 points on the “is this artsy” scale right there.

Roma - 6Dong.png
And full frontal male nudity opposite this scene is another 10 points for “avant garde.”

The problem with analyzing a movie like this is that much of what makes it amazing is all of the little scenes that seem to have come straight from the memory of Alfonso Cuaron, because they’re so genuine and so unusual that they just don’t feel like they could have come from fiction. It’s not particularly a secret that the family in this is based on Cuaron’s, and the film is even dedicated to the memory of the inspiration for Cleo. One scene from the beginning of the movie that stands out is where one of the sons lies on the roof telling Cleo that he can’t move, because he’s dead. Cleo ends up laying next to him until he can’t resist talking to her, only for her to tell him that she’s dead. There are a number of these small, unusual scenes throughout the film that really seem to represent the tiny moments that bring a level of authenticity to the characters that most films don’t really achieve. It’s doubly impressive because the main character isn’t the surrogate for the author. 

Roma - 5Dead.jpg
This scene is amazing.

Cuaron’s skill in cinematography and editing shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, since it’s pretty much the thing that set the film Gravity apart from other space films, nor should we be surprised at his skill in characterization, given that he wrote Y Tu Mama Tambien and helped adapt Children of Men. However, those movies didn’t really get the level of parallel narrative that this film develops through the great use of the structure of the shots in the film. Themes of classism, of eradication of native cultures, of suppression of the masses, all are interwoven with the much tighter family themes. This all culminates with Cleo’s water breaking during the Corpus Christi Massacre. This was a brutal paramilitary (and military) attack on protesting students demanding greater educational freedom which was notable for ending at hospitals, where Los Halcones, a shock group trained partially by the US, would kill off the wounded, including in surgical suites. We see Fermin sew death directly at the massacre, and also symbolically, with his abandoned child being stillborn. While a lot of other symbols are more blatant (there’s a cut to three crosses that will make you hear the words “meaningful imagery” shout in your head), the film is still emotionally captivating even if you aren’t looking for something deeper. I think that’s probably the hallmark of a truly great film: It doesn’t require a ton of investment, but the more you give it, the more you get.

Roma - 7Car.jpg
Even this car is massively meaningful. Damn, man, that’s awesome.

Overall, I can’t really do this movie that much justice in a review, since it’s so visual and subjective. It’s available on Netflix and I highly recommend watching it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2E17 “War is the H-Word”

The Planet Express crew is going to war… for a pack of gum.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) join the military reserves so they can get a 5% military discount on ham-flavored gum. They plan on quitting after buying the gum, but a second after they join, war is declared and they’re drafted. Leela (Katey Sagal) tries to enlist to keep them safe, but the army of the future is men-only, due to Zapp Brannigan’s (West) constant sexual harassment. She signs up anyway as a man named Lee Lemon, who Zapp crushes on.

S2EH - 1Poster.png
Well, there went the subtlety.

After getting through basic training, the three are dropped onto planet Spheron I, a planet which Zapp admits has no natural resources or strategic value. It turns out to be populated by living balls. During the first battle, Fry hides, resulting in other members of the platoon being injured, while Bender jumps on a bomb to save the others. Fry is punished by being made Kif’s (Maurice LaMarche) assistant, while Bender is fixed under orders of President Nixon (West).

S2EH - 2Balls.png
They’ve got a lot of Chutzpah.

Bender is sent along with Henry Kissinger’s Head (DiMaggio) to negotiate with the leaders of Spheron, the Brain Balls. However, Leela finds out that Nixon had a bomb put in Bender’s chest which will activate when he says the word “ass.” Leela and Fry steal a helicopter from Zapp, revealing that Lee Lemon is a woman in the process, to Zapp’s relief, and arrive in time to stop Bender from blowing up the planet. The Spherons surrender, revealing that this is their homeworld which Earth has invaded for no real reason, and Fry and Bender leave the military. Being unable to remove the bomb, the Professor changes the codeword, which Bender correctly guesses as “antiquing.” However, he survives the explosion.

S2EH - 3End.jpg
Yep, there goes the subtlety.

END SUMMARY

This is Futurama’s take on war, specifically the kind of asymmetrical warfare which had been waged during the 90s… and would mostly be waged after this episode aired. We see the Earth Army, composed of professionals with spaceships and laser weapons, attacking the Spherons, whose most sophisticated weapon is a cartoonish bomb. They mostly attack by bouncing on top of the humans, something that doesn’t seem to be lethal (until they’re sent to Zoidberg (West) for their injuries). This war is completely one-sided and, perhaps most depressingly, completely without any merit. In previous episodes, we’d seen Earth on the losing side of this (like “When Aliens Attack”), but now we see humans as the pointless aggressors, stealing another race’s planet for, again, literally no strategic reason.

S2EH - 4Zoidberg
He attacks more people than the balls do.

Much like in Blackadder Goes Forth, this episode also depicts the divide between the soldiers fighting the war and the people who make the decisions to wage it. Nixon is never in danger, nor, really, is Zapp, who at one point even is depicted more worried about his horse being spooked than the men around him being overrun by balls. Even Kif, who ostensibly is subordinate to Zapp, is still more concerned about the fact that his nut bowl isn’t sufficiently mixed than the fact that they’re fighting a war. It’s a common theme, but it’s well represented here.

S2EH - 5Scotch
The Pre-War Scotch is key.

The depiction of Fry in this episode seems fairly consistent with his development, when he’s a coward who eventually learns to overcome his fear to save his friends. Leela gets a little more development when she uses her disguise as Lee Lemon to find out if Fry has a crush on her, then seems flattered to find out that he does, hinting that she is realizing that she returns his feelings (something she’ll go back and forth on for the rest of the series).

S2EH - 6LeeLemon
Where she found a purple beard that quickly is still a mystery.

In contrast, we see one of the most out of character moments for Bender in the series, when he jumps on top of a bomb to save others. They do try to couch his self-sacrifice by having him say that he wants a young version of himself on a stamp, but it still seems weird that Bender, of all people/robots, would jump on the grenade. Still, it gave us an easy segue to the M*A*S*H parody that remains one of my favorite short references in the series.

S2EH - 7IHawk
The easiest way to understand M*A*S*H is this scene.

This episode is also crammed with references, from M*A*S*H to Starship Troopers to Star Wars to, well, real life. I’m always on the fence about how they depict Henry Kissinger here, but I suppose that’s because Kissinger is a tough figure. On the one hand, he encouraged the US to commit numerous acts (like carpet-bombing Cambodia, supporting the Bangladeshi genocide, the use of Agent Orange and Napalm in Vietnam) which don’t look great in retrospect. However, he also literally stopped a Nuclear War once by claiming Nixon was too drunk to make any decisions, masterminded the opening of trade between China and the US, and repeatedly lowered tensions between the USSR and the US to avoid the big boom that would end the world. That’s why it’s interesting to see him here, presumably ending a war through diplomacy that he also helped start. Tom Lehrer once said political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but this episode actually uses him to keep it alive. Well done.

S2EH - 8Kissinger
Is the episode comparing these two morally? Maybe…

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s not even a close contest. The funniest line in this episode is this exchange:

Leela: You know, Zapp, someone ought to teach you a lesson.

Zapp: If it’s a lesson in love, watch out; I suffer from a very sexy learning disability. What do I call it, Kif?

Kif: “Sex-lexia”.

S2EH - 9Sexlexia.gif

Only a character as absolutely amazingly crafted as Zapp Brannigan could even hope to make this work. This is like a guy bragging that the fact that he has a lot of STDs is a sign that he’s had sex and therefore you should sleep with him. He’s so confident that what he’s being seductive that it’s almost overwhelming. If Kif didn’t sound so despondent when answering, it might even work as a somewhat legitimate pick-up line. Hell, if I can find someone to do it with me, I might even try to figure out a way to use it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 29: Anthology of Interest I

NEXT – Episode 31: The Honking

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Greatest Valentine’s Day Episodes

The Joker On The Sofa

Okay, so, I’m going to die alone, but for those of you who aren’t, here’s a list of some of the best Valentine’s Day episodes of TV. Or, really, just the first 5 episodes I could think of that were good. I didn’t think of this until Monday, so cut me a break.

Runner Up: Galentine’s Day (Parks and Rec)

Why is this a runner up? Because it’s not a V-day episode…  and although most of it takes place at a Valentine’s Dance, it’s mostly about breakups.

ValentinesParksAndRec

Galentine’s Day is the 13th of February, and it’s a holiday made up by Pawnee, Indiana resident Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) to celebrate strong, independent women. Leslie’s widowed mother, Marlene (Pamela Reed), a guest at the Galentine’s celebration, tells the story of her first love, a lifeguard she met years before she met Leslie’s father, with whom she had a passionate affair…

View original post 1,711 more words

Oscar Review – The Favourite: Or The Wonderful Cycle of Suffering

Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) brings us a historical fiction about a rivalry for the ages.

SUMMARY

It’s the early 1700s and Queen Anne’s War (or, in Europe, the War of Spanish Succession) has been going for nearly a decade. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is not in good health and most of the ruling decisions are made by her friend and secret lover Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz). While Sarah favors taxing the landowners to continue the war, the head of the Tories, Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult), opposes taxation and seeks to convince the Queen to end the war.

Favourite - 1Blindfold
Oddly, this scene’s not sexual.

Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), Sarah’s cousin, arrives to seek employment, her father having squandered her family’s wealth (and having lost Abigail previously in a card game to a German). Abigail becomes a maid, but after she puts some healing herbs on the Queen’s gout-ridden leg, she is promoted to Lady-in-Waiting. Abigail soon discovers that Sarah and the Queen have sex, but does not tell Harley, even after he threatens her to be his spy.

Favourite - 2Harley
America needs more big fluffy wigs and fake moles in our legislature.

Abigail and Sarah develop a friendship, but as Abigail becomes closer to the Queen, it becomes a rivalry. Abigail first talks to the Queen about her rabbits, which she discovers represent each of Anne’s 17 unsuccessful pregnancies, something Sarah clearly never cared to ask about. Eventually, Abigail uses her position to sleep with the Queen, which Sarah finds out immediately and dismisses her. However, Queen Anne hires her back. With Sarah now actively trying to curry back the Queen’s favour to get rid of Abigail, Abigail poisons Sarah’s tea, resulting in her being dragged for days on a horse and nearly forced into sex slavery. While she’s gone, Abigail convinces the Queen to allow her to marry Baron Samuel Masham (Joe Alwyn), regaining her title and wealth. When Sarah returns, she threatens the Queen to either send Abigail away or have their sexual relationship revealed. Sarah eventually destroys the evidence of their relationship, but this has ended her friendship with the Queen. Sarah is sent away and then framed for theft by Abigail, resulting in her exile from Britain.

Favourite - 3OneEye.jpg
She also looks like a Victorian Supervillain.

At the end of the film, Abigail has now become cruel and egotistical, and the Queen dislikes her because of how she forced Sarah out. After going one step too far and hurting one of the Queen’s rabbits, the Queen forces Abigail to rub her legs like a common servant.

Favourite - 4Constipated.png
It’s tough to stare someone down while looking up, Abigail.

END SUMMARY

The general story behind this movie isn’t exactly original (whether in fiction or history). It’s the powerful being corrupted and overthrown by the downtrodden… only for the downtrodden to now become the powerful and corrupted. When we see Sarah in the film, she mostly takes Queen Anne for granted and talking to her like a child, despite the fact that Anne, being, you know, QUEEN is actually much more powerful. She also antagonizes almost everyone, from the Tories to Abigail (who she pretends to shoot as a threat when Abigail learns her secret love life). The only advantage she really has is that she’s the Queen’s only lover and confidant. She also risks her husband’s (Mark Gatiss) life, seemingly with only a moderate amount of concern, by continuing a war that he is fighting. Despite that, she is trying to do what she thinks is best for the country, not necessarily just herself.

Favourite - 5Sarah.png
She also knows how to work a room.

When we first see Abigail, she is ostensibly fairly honorable, but has dealt with a lot of hardship because of her father, including having to be the sex slave of a German man to honor her father’s wager. She’s basically a classic tragic figure. While she sees the merit in gaining the Queen’s favor, she does also seem to be genuinely interested in helping her and being friendly towards her and Sarah. However, as the movie progresses, we see her scheme more and more and with less and less concern for the morality of her actions. She even says at one point that her honor won’t be much comfort if she’s forced to become a prostitute to survive. Eventually, she stops caring about anyone besides herself, becoming even more antagonizing to everyone than Sarah was.

Favourite - 6Crying.png
Sarah would never have resorted to the fake cry.

Anne is the most sympathetic character, because she’s constantly in a position that she doesn’t want, is in physical pain, is dealing with a number of traumas, and her closest friends are constantly taking vengeance upon each other. However, she also is someone who could have prevented many of the issues in the movie had she just been more assertive. That’s part of why it’s satisfying in the end to see her take control over Abigail and diminish her feeling of invincibility.

Favourite - 7Comparison
It’s tough to be the queen. 

Neither Sarah nor Abigail ever chooses to end the cycle of escalating attacks between them, even though either one could end it. Abigail even points this out to Sarah after she becomes a Baroness again, but neither can stand the other one having the last strike at them. Sarah does finally try to stop, choosing to burn the letters between her and the Queen for Anne’s sake, but by this time it’s too late, and Abigail realizes that she has to remove Sarah forever to ensure her power, which cements her as truly corrupted.

Favourite - 8Blood
It gets really rough.

The costuming and sets in the movie are excellent, as expected for a period piece like this. They’re not exactly accurate (I’m told), but the outfits do a good job of conveying how the characters are trying to present themselves in a scene, particularly the more masculine shooting outfits that Sarah adopts to try and show dominance over Abigail.

Favourite - 9Outfit
I don’t know period accuracy, but I know what Queen Anne likes.

The cinematography is interesting, with a lot of the film using wide-angle fisheye lenses. From a practical standpoint, this shot shows the entirety of a room, something that shows off the setting rather than just the character, but from a narrative standpoint it tends to isolate the characters, showing how they are trapped within the rooms because of their choices. It’s definitely the easiest Yorgos Lanthimos film to watch, but it will still throw some people off.

Favourite - AParty
It also serves to give distance between the characters… and create this neat mirror effect.

The performances are all amazing, and I think Olivia Colman’s performance as a stroke-ravaged Anne is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. Given how much of the communication between characters relies on what is being intended rather than what is being said, anything less from the actors might have wrecked the film.

Overall, it’s a great movie and practically screams “Oscar Bait.” I don’t know that it’ll win, but it’s definitely worth seeing and Olivia Colman is the only person who might take the Oscar from Glenn Close this year.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

 

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Everything’s Still Awesome (Spoiler-Free)

The Lego Movie, the movie that should have been crap but instead was a masterful meta-commentary, got a sequel which should have been crap, but instead was a masterful meta-commentary. I wonder if they actually help sales.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s been five years since the events of “Taco Tuesday” depicted in the first movie. Duplo/Mini-Doll aliens from the Systar System have repeatedly invaded and destroyed Bricksburg, occasionally taking people and things away with them. In response, the citizens now live in “Apocalypseburg,” a Mad Max-esque desert wasteland. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is the only person who has maintained a positive attitude about their circumstances, something that annoys Wyldstyle/Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), who wants Emmet to be more gritty and dark. Emmet, however, is troubled by a dream of “Ourmomageddon,” which has all of the Lego citizens sucked into a void.

Lego2 - 2Apocalypseburg.jpg
Apocalypseburg does have some solid architecture going on.

One day, the town is attacked by the General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), who abducts Lucy, Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), Batman (Will Forte), Benny the Spaceman (Charlie Day), and Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie) and takes them to the Systar System to meet the ruler of Systar, Queen Whatevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). Emmet takes off to rescue them, with the help of Rex Dangervest, a raptor-training space cowboy archeologist who has chiseled features under his baby fat (Also Chris Pratt).

Lego2 - 3Defending.png
Saying “Galaxy Guarding” would be too much, clearly.

Also, the whole thing is actually a metaphor for the imagination of some kids.

END SUMMARY

So, up front, you have to see the first movie for this one to really work well. This movie goes straight into the meta-narrative that was sort of the big “twist” of the last movie: Everything that’s happening is both part of the narrative (i.e. the Lego World) and also a representation of the meta-narrative (i.e. what’s happening in the Real World). Stuff that happens in each one actually impacts the other, however, which almost makes this a pataphysical movie… something that is really unbelievably complex for a children’s film and impressively done so well that this movie is actually really easy to follow.

Lego2 - 4Queen
The Queen, Whatevra Wa-Nabi is pretty straightforward, admittedly.

Unlike the last movie where the revelation is pretty late, this movie makes it pretty explicit up front that the “Systar System” is a representation of Finn’s (Jadon Sand) sister, Bianca (Brooklynn Prince). In fact, if you don’t get that pretty quickly, I’d actually say that the first few scenes don’t really make sense. For example, in the opening battle against the Duplos, the Duplo monsters respond to being shot with lasers with “okay, I eat lasers” and to being hit with batarangs with “you missed.” Anyone who has ever tried to play an imaginary game with a small child will immediately recognize this interaction. What’s great is that you could analyze almost every scene from both the normal and meta levels and both work perfectly. I’m not sure how Lord and Miller keep doing it, but I’m damned glad they are.

Lego2 - 5LordAndMiller
These guys do good work. Weird, good work.

The messages of the movie, and yes there are several, similarly work on a bunch of levels, both as the lessons learned by the characters and also the lessons learned by the kids through the characters. Everything is a pretty wholesome moral, ranging from the value of family to the nature of maturity to the fact that it’s easier to be a judgmental dick than it is to genuinely keep opening yourself up to people and hope for better. No matter who you are, there’s something to get out of this movie.

Lego2 - 1Mayhem
Sweet Mayhem provides great commentary on gender roles in film.

The music is just as fun as the last movie, particularly the movie’s signature song “Catchy Song” which is such an earworm while also being a song about how the song is an earworm. I also would give credit to all of Tiffany Haddish’s songs, which are hilarious and awesome, as well as Lonely Island’s song with Beck and Robyn.

Last, I have to complement how well the movie handles references, much like its predecessor. Unlike the last one, where most of the characters that pop up are just there because Finn’s dad (Will Ferrell) owned the kits, in this one, you can actually figure out why Finn and Bianca themselves would have these figures and the reasons range from funny to borderline profound. My personal favorite is ***MINOR SPOILER ALERT*** the fact that Finn keeps seeing Bruce Willis in ducts… because his dad showed him Die Hard and, as a teenager trying to be “mature,” that’s a movie that you tend to focus on ***SPOILER OVER***.

Overall, I loved this film. It definitely has a few slow scenes which tend to make more sense from the meta-level, but most of the movie is just so clever you’ll forget about it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.