Thunder Force: Good Idea, Terrible Execution – Netflix Review

This movie has some amazing parts, but mostly mediocrity.

SUMMARY

In 1983, a mysterious beam from outer space gave superpowers to random people, but only those who were genetically predisposed to sociopathy. These people are dubbed Miscreants. In the present, Lydia Berman (Melissa McCarthy) is the former best friend of billionaire geneticist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer). When meeting with Emily for their high-school reunion, Lydia accidentally gets injected with Emily’s newest creation, a serum that can give normal people super strength. Emily, meanwhile, has given herself invisibility. Together with their advisor Allie (Melissa Leo) and Emily’s daughter Tracy (Taylor Mosby), the two become the superhero duo Thunder Force. They’re out to fight against the forces of the Miscreants Crab (Jason Bateman) and Laser (Pom Klementieff), led by their boss The King (Bobby Cannavale). 

Surprisingly little is made of the fact that Octavia Spencer is a supergenius.

END SUMMARY

So, this marks the fifth movie in which Melissa McCarthy has been directed by her husband Ben Falcone. Almost all of those movies have been mediocre and relied too much on awkward humor, strange metaphor breaks, and hoping that McCarthy’s unbelievable charisma can power through the low periods (to her credit, she almost can). Unfortunately, the movies, while they often contain a number of very funny scenes, usually don’t seem to hold up when viewed as a whole. This is no exception to that. About 20 minutes of this movie is fall-down-laughing funny. The rest of it ranges from mildly amusing to a complete whiff. 

There’s a running gag about unwashed suits and it sucks.

The best parts of this movie, hands down, are the scenes with Jason Bateman. It’s not even because of Bateman himself as much as how well he and Melissa McCarthy play off of each other. They’re both doing the same kind of subdued awkward humor, really almost anti-humor, and they both do it so well that it becomes absolutely hilarious. The fact that one is a superhero and one is a supervillain only makes it that much better. Some other good scenes are when McCarthy and Spencer are really just being themselves and palling around as opposed to trying to be superheroes. The scenes of Melissa McCarthy fighting are actually pretty great, because they make her a physical powerhouse despite her not looking like a traditional superheroine (a thing that is already ridiculous because superpowers don’t require you to actually be ripped to be strong).

He’s half-crab, which makes him lethal to people with shellfish allergies.

The pacing in the film is not great, but the forced stupidity of the characters is probably its greatest weakness. The film exaggerates and drags out the “training” and origin story phases, but doesn’t do anything particularly original or entertaining with them, beyond a few small laughs. The villain is brought in and proceeds to be the absolute dumbest human being imaginable and somehow the heroes take almost no reasonable steps to stop him. Despite apparently being a secret mastermind at first (which would make his villainy a twist if the trailer didn’t feature it), The King actually walks in and tells the heroes his plan. AFTER THEY FOIL A SINGLE ROBBERY OF A MINI-MART. They don’t even have a reason to suspect that there IS a boss of supervillains. He then states that no one would believe them if they tried to go to the police. Except, they’re superheroes that don’t wear masks, make public appearances, and Emily is a billionaire and a public figure already. They have a LOT of credibility. Even if the police didn’t believe them, they should still have reported him and they could easily have just testified to the public that The King is a criminal. Instead, both sides just keep tossing the idiot ball back and forth so that the plot doesn’t get resolved until the end.

Also, Thunder Force is terrible at arresting people.

Overall, it’s almost worth watching for the 20 minutes of amazing comedy, but the rest of the film is hard to get through at points. 

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.

Them (Covenant): Racism is Still Bad, But Also Spooky – Amazon Prime Review

Amazon brings us a tale of a black family being tormented in the 1950s.

SUMMARY

Black couple Henry and Livia “Lucky” Emory (Ashley Thomas and Deborah Ayorinde) move with their daughters Ruby and Gracie (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Melody Hurd) to the white neighborhood of East Compton in Los Angeles. Immediately, they are set upon by their white neighbors, particularly the local queen bee Betty Wendell (Alison Pill). While at first the Emorys are just tormented by the racism, harassment, and degradation from their fellow East Compton residents, it soon becomes apparent that there is something more unnatural at play. Over ten days, the Emorys are slowly driven to the edge of madness and maybe even beyond.

The calm before the storm.

END SUMMARY

Does everyone remember Lovecraft Country? How about the movie US? I think before people condemn this show for being a rip-off version of those, it’s important to note that this show was actually put into production before those came out. It’s supposed to be an anthology by season, similar to American Horror Story. Unfortunately, due to the length of production (also Covid), this show came out after US (which it would probably not have been compared to directly aside from the title) and after Lovecraft Country (to which it cannot help but be directly compared due to the subject matter and the time period). Naturally, this show wouldn’t need to worry about that if it was better than either of those properties, but it decidedly is not. While Lovecraft Country ties racism directly into the origins of science-fiction and cosmic horror through the works of noted racist H.P. Lovecraft, this show instead just kind of throws out “people are racist here, so now magic?” ***SPOILER*** It doesn’t help that one of the final reveals kind of suggests that the racism in the neighborhood might be related to an unholy covenant from the 1800s, which means that some of the neighbors’ actions might not have been their fault? That kind of undercuts some of the events. ***SPOILER-END***

And, of course, the disturbing imagery abounds.

The main thing that seems to be mentioned repeatedly in reviews of this show is how over-the-top the violence gets and that’s a fair complaint. While I’m not against violence in television, particularly if it’s done to give the viewer an accurate image of historical violence, this show ends up taking it to a deeply uncomfortable level without it adding anything to the message. I did see some people commenting that the acts done to drive out the Emorys at the beginning of the show seemed too extreme to be believable, to which I would say that no, those are all things that were actually done to drive out black people from white neighborhoods and I think making sure people understand that is important. It’s the supernatural violence and the exploitative way the later episodes handled it that neither entertain nor keep the story going.

They have not had a nice week.

The performances in the show are well done, particularly Deborah Ayorinde as Lucky, a woman who has just lost one child and is now thrust into a situation that threatens her other children. She has to play a person who is constantly being pushed more than someone can handle and yet knows that if she shows it she’ll be condemned even more. Alison Pill, on the other hand, plays a character who doesn’t do most of the violent acts in the show but is still almost certainly the most despicable. 

She does a great job of soulless cheer.

Overall, the show was good at the beginning but really starts to get too much towards the end. 

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.

What Lies Below: Creepy and Not in a Good Way – Netflix Review

A teenage girl meets her mom’s new boyfriend and he’s not right.

SUMMARY

Liberty “Libby” Wells (Ema Horvath) returns home from Summer camp and learns that her mom, Michelle (Mena Suvari), has gotten a new boyfriend. The new guy, a biologist focused on marine life named John (Trey Tucker), seems to be nice at first, as well as extremely ripped. However, as Libby and John spend more time together, she slowly starts to notice that he is extremely unusual. Aside from his supposed “sleepwalking,” he also spends a lot of time in his secret lab and appears to be creepily stalking Libby. Also, the sex that he and Michelle have appear to be having negative effects on her… as well as featuring sounds that are extremely loud and strange, even for sex noises. What is John’s secret?

It’s not P90x, for the record.

END SUMMARY 

Here’s the non-spoiler review of this film: It’s creepy. Not in a “oh, this guy has something wrong with him and it might be a sign of evil” way, but in a “he sniffs clothes that get a teenage girl’s period blood on them” kind of way. Yes, that’s an actual thing that happens fairly early in the movie and it’s actually MORE unpleasant in context. The fact that Libby and John, who, again, is loudly having sex with her mother every night, keep seeming to be almost flirting has an (I assume intentional) pedophilic vibe that does not necessarily help the actual horror parts of the film. It doesn’t help that Libby is clearly so young she doesn’t have a learner’s permit and just took her PSATs so I think she’s either 15 or just turned 16. If that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, then I imagine the movie will be more effective as a horror movie on you, but it was something I could not get over while watching.

Horrifying, but not the horror I wanted.

Here’s the spoiler version: The final twist of this movie is pretty damned disturbing. It turns out that John is, in fact, an inhuman (possibly alien) amphibious creature (not really a merman). Also, there are a bunch of him and I think they’re each designed to be a different kind of “attractive.” His goal appears to be to impregnate human women in order to propagate his species which is likely to survive the new world created by global warming destroying natural habitats. He inseminates Michelle, who gives birth to a bunch of mutants, then, just as Michelle and Libby seem to be getting away, he catches up to them and captures them. Libby awakens in an underwater tank and appears to now be able to breathe underwater. The final shot shows that she is one of many women in tanks and she appears to smile before the camera cuts to black. I think it’s supposed to indicate she’s happy she’s not drowning, but maybe she’s looking forward to a life of birthing fish mutants for John. 

He’s completely dry like 2 minutes later. Fishman powers don’t explain that.

Seriously, this movie is not great. I get that Trey Tucker is hot and shirtless, but all of the sexuality in this film is deeply uncomfortable. The horror aspects aren’t particularly scary and the “twist” ending is foreshadowed so hard that they could have done a Romeo and Juliet-style Prologue and it wouldn’t have changed the level of surprise. The only thing that catches you off guard is that the bad guy wins, and that’s not super pleasant.

Spaceship? Underwater prison? I dunno.

Overall, I would say skip it, or stop it like 20 minutes in so that you get all of the ripped guy and Mina Suvari talking dirty but without the creepy kid obsession.

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.

Minari: The American Dream… in Korean – Oscar Amazon Review

A story of a family coming to rural Arkansas in the 80s trying to chase a dream.

SUMMARY

The Korean immigrant Yi family moves from California to a plot of land in Arkansas in order to let the patriarch, Jacob (Steven Yeun), fulfill his plans to get wealthy growing Korean vegetables. He’s assisted by an eccentric local man named Paul (Will Patton). Jacob’s wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri), is not particularly enthusiastic, but the pair take jobs as chicken sexers (people who sort chickens by gender) to make ends meet. In order to have someone to look over their young children David and Anne (Alan Kim and Noel Kate Cho), they bring Monica’s mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) from South Korea. She takes the children to plant some Minari (Japanese Parsley), but despite the extra help, Jacob and Monica’s marriage starts to pay the price for his actions. 

It’s set in Arkansas… but they filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

END SUMMARY

This movie’s plot is not particularly original, to say the least. It’s a story you’ve seen a thousand times, a family moving for a new opportunity and having to adjust to the surroundings and the stress that it puts on them, but the plot is not the point of the film. The movie is an intimate picture of a family that is going through this time and with the added alienation that comes from being immigrants (particularly Korean immigrants with a number of Korean War veterans still being active in the area). The reason why this one stands out is because it’s so well-performed and well-written that you almost completely lose yourself in their lives. None of these people seem like caricatures or stock characters and almost all of the dialogue feels natural (albeit most of it is in Korean). What’s amazing is that so many of the characters are so outlandish, particularly Soon-ja and Paul, but if you’ve lived in a rural community you will absolutely have met these people at some point. 

You’ve met this old lady if you lived in a farm town. She’s hilarious and doesn’t give a f*ck what you think.

I suppose there’s always going to be a discussion about what constitutes “the American Dream,” but I think most people agree that it’s generally considered to be moving yourself upwards socioeconomically through your own hard work. This film is a fairly accurate picture of the reality of trying to do something like that. While Jacob has definitely found a niche market that he can take advantage of, it’s not as easy as he envisioned it and it requires sacrifice not only on his part but also on the part of his loved ones, a sacrifice that they did not want to make to begin with. It is also pretty interesting that, in order to pursue his dream of no longer being a chicken sexer, he has to… be a chicken sexer for less money while also farming. That’s why this part often gets skipped over in the success stories.

The part where digging a hole is hellish work, for example.

The actual minari in the story is probably the least subtle metaphor imaginable. Minari is strong, resilient, and prosperous, as long as you plant it in the right place. Fortunately, despite being the title, the film actually mercifully devotes very little time to it. This is an example of how well-crafted the movie is. Every element gets the attention it needs, but isn’t over saturated. It’s like farming: You need to water the crops and at the right time, but too much and everything dies. 

Behold a metaphor.

Overall, this movie is beautiful, touching, and deserves all of the acclaim it gets. It’s not a movie with a huge agenda other than to tell a story that feels true (because it’s based on the writer’s childhood), but it definitely gets some points across.

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 – Simpsons Crossover “Simpsorama”

Matt Groening brought back the crew for one last adventure.

SUMMARY

The episode begins like most Simpsons intros, but with the couch gag involving Hedonismbot (Maurice LaMarche), which is awesome. At Springfield Elementary School, Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) has forgotten to bring an item for a time capsule. Instead, he blows his nose on a sandwich and puts it inside. Later that night, the Simpsons hear something falling from the sky and a sound of someone drinking in the basement. Homer (Dan Castellaneta) goes down to investigate with Bart, only to find the person drinking their beer is none other than Bender B. Rodriguez (John DiMaggio). Homer takes Bender to meet the locals at Moe’s Tavern (Hank Azaria). Bender and Homer quickly bond over alcohol and bowling. Bart and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) try to figure out Bender’s purpose, only for him to reveal that he has forgotten. They take him to Professor Frink, who figures out that Bender was sent back in time to kill Homer Simpson. 

Bender’s compartment of murder mystery.

Bender refuses to kill Homer due to their friendship and receives a call from Leela (Katey Sagal) in the future. Bender lies and says Homer has been killed, but Leela, surrounded by mutant rabbit creatures, reveals that she knows he’s lying as the monsters would not exist otherwise. Fry and the Professor (Billy West) encourage Bender to kill Homer before journeying back with Leela to kill Homer, who survives thanks to Bender. The crew meet Marge (Julie Kavner) while Professor Farnsworth and Professor Frink figure out that the DNA that caused the rabbits was actually Bart’s. Bart reveals that his snot mixed with toxic waste and also touched a rabbit’s foot in the capsule. They try to dig up the capsule but are opposed by Groundskeeper Willie and sucked through the time portal to 3014, leaving Bender and Maggie in the past. 

Bart bunnies are destroying the future. God, what a weird phrase.

In the future, the creatures now resemble Bart, leading Homer to strangle some of them. Lisa and the Professor come up with a plan to shoot the creatures into space. They lure the Bart monsters into Madison Cube Garden by claiming it has Butterfinger bars, then flinging the cube into space. Fry and Homer somehow reactivate the portal and the Simpsons return home where Bender shuts himself down for 1000 years. In the future, the creatures land on Omicron Persei 8, where Lrrr and NdNd are joined by Kang and Kodos.

END SUMMARY

The phrase “this is so non-canon it hurts” comes to mind. In both The Simpsons and Futurama, each show has referred to the other as being fictional. Both shows’ creator Matt Groening even showed up in The Simpsons as the creator of Futurama and in Futurama as the creator of the Simpsons. In the first actual crossover in Futurama comics, the Simpsons were brought to life from a comic book, because they were firmly established as two universes. But, screw all that, we’re just here to have fun and that’s fine.

Bless you, kind sir.

This episode works best when it’s Homer and Bender goofing around and kind of realizing that they’re very very similar characters both in terms of personality and actually in character design. Matt Groening has admitted at a few points that he isn’t the greatest artist so when he finds a character design that he likes, he often just modifies that one rather than create a new one. When the two are together, they’re like two peas in a very odd pod. However, I’ll admit the effect starts to wear off a bit quickly, so it’s a good thing that they split them up during the third act to give us a number of scenes with other pairings. I also appreciate how many cameos the episode manages to cram in. 

Zoidberg only gets like one line, though. Bullsh*t.

Overall, this is a pretty solid crossover episode for the two properties. My one complaint is that this was in 2014, which was only a year after Futurama stopped airing. It wasn’t quite enough time for us to really be craving that return.

FAVORITE JOKE

Bender is at a racetrack and he picks a horse named “Bender’s Bounty.” However, he mentions that his memory banks say that the horse died during the race, something that Bender refuses to believe. He then shoots the horse when it starts running behind, thus fulfilling the record that the horse died during the race. I love when you have an internally consistent time-travel event and this is one of the funnier ones. 

Close second.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 128: Meanwhile

NEXT – Episode 130: Futurama Episode Rankings

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.

Dota: Dragon’s Blood: Just Enjoy the Stabbing – Netflix Review

We get an adaptation of the official sequel to the fan mod of Warcraft III.

SUMMARY

Davion (Yuri Lowenthal) is a Dragon Knight (a guy who kills dragons) who discovers that a demon named Terrorblade (JB Blanc) is apparently also killing dragons for a nefarious purpose. Unfortunately, while he might have been able to ignore that normally, Davion finds himself bound to an elderwyrm named Slyrack (Tony Todd). He also encounters the elf princess Mirana (Lara Pulver) and her companion Marci who are on a quest to recover the lotuses stolen from the moon goddess Selemene (Alex Wilton Regan) by roguish elf Fymryn (Freya Tingley). Now Davion must work to get the dragon out of his body while Mirana and Marci work to return the lotuses to their home.

Davion’s the one with the big sword.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so I played Warcraft III, but I didn’t play DotA (I’m not a big fan of things like “other humans” when I’m playing video games) or its sequel, which is what this show is actually adapting. Having watched people play it a few times, I’m aware that there really isn’t much in the way of story, instead just having a modest backstory for each of the characters. I think the problem with trying to adapt something like that is that when you write backstory, you don’t necessarily have to worry about how the characters interacted before or how their stories intertwined. You can just go with “this is Meepo, he likes rocks and can clone himself” or “this is Rattletrap, he has a robot suit.” When you actually have to set up the world these characters come from, it starts to lack cohesion, and I think that’s sort of what happened with this show. A lot of the plot seems to kind of drift around more than you want and has more seemingly disconnected points than it should.

This is a fake moon goddess, which is a more interesting story than what we get.

Not that there aren’t some great points to this series. The action sequences generally look pretty cool, as do most of the character designs. The writing isn’t bad, at least as far as dialogue goes. It’s not something I’m going to submit for an Emmy, but some of the lines do at least make me laugh when they’re supposed to. A few of the characters, like Luna (Kari Wahlgren), a genocidal leader of Selemene’s army, actually have some solid development despite relatively little screen time. Davion and Mirana, who are the focus of many of the scenes, have some great chemistry as well. On the whole, though, it just ended up being kind of messy. 

I’m sure the lotuses will be more important to people who played the games.

The biggest problem, though, is that nothing in this show really feels new. I imagine it’s because DotA characters really were mostly just archetypes, but almost all of them seem generic, as do the subplots. The concept of elves being discriminated against has been in a ton of series, the crapsack world take on the fantasy genre is a description of half of Netflix’s original shows, and, honestly, even the designs of the world seem like they were taken from a handful of sources (then again, so was Warcraft). 

Oh, there’s an old version of the main character who’s better than him? Never heard of that before…

Overall, it’s not a bad show and it definitely has room to grow, but I’m guessing if you didn’t play the games, this won’t give you the nostalgia rush that it needs to feel worthwhile. 

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.

Scare Me: An Awesome Anthology Without the Segments – Shudder Review

A great horror comedy about two writers in a cabin.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Fred (Josh Ruben) is an aspiring writer and struggling actor. He rents a cabin to focus on writing, being driven to the cabin by fellow aspiring writer Bettina (Rebecca Drysdale). Getting stuck with writer’s block, he goes for a run and meets injured jogger Fanny (Aya Cash). It turns out that Fanny is the author of a very popular horror novel. Initially dismissive of Fred, when the power goes out on the mountain, Fanny comes over and the two start to drink. Fanny challenges Fred to a contest of telling scary stories that the two come up with on the spot. They’re briefly joined by friendly pizza guy Carlo (Chris Redd), but the night may end up being scarier than anticipated.

Yes, her shirt has the “got ’em” game hand on it.

END SUMMARY

As I have said before (including last Sunday), I tend to really like horror anthologies. Horror stories are often best when they’re broken down into short segments and it often gives directors their first chance to be in a feature, since many anthologies are made up of multiple films stitched loosely together. One of the most common framing devices is that of people telling each other scary stories, because it allows for a lot of variety in the horror and is a thing that many people enjoy in real life. This film is not that, but is also almost exactly that. In a twist that would not work if writer-director (and Collegehumor alum) Josh Ruben and Aya Cash were not so damned talented, this film does not cut away from the main characters to help us visualize the tales. Instead, we actually watch two very gifted performers act out the stories as they, often collaboratively, come up with them. 

Josh Ruben is great at the exaggerated movements.

In order to make the scenario really work, the two are given some fairly decent character development. Much more than you’d expect from a horror film. Fred is instantly unhappy about Fanny deriding him about not being a real writer, but she constantly proves that she is much more talented than he is. She treats horror as a way to address real social issues through metaphor, while Fred is more focused on spectacle than substance. Throughout the movie, he’s caught up trying to impress her and get her approval, but also can’t take real criticism of his inherent biases and simple ideas. At the same time, when they’re adding to each others’ stories, they seem to really get into it and almost display a bond that goes beyond the fact that they’ve known each other for a day. They come off as genuine people. 

Aya Cash is the Worst, in the best way.

I will add that putting Chris Redd in the film for the end of the second act was brilliant. He’s a breath of fresh air just as the story is starting to get a little stagnant and it pays off. It helps that the characters also decide this is the perfect time to get high and that all of them are really, really good at playing coked out of their mind. It gives the comedy a big kick up which sets the stage for the darker third act. 

Chris Redd on cocaine is… very similar to Chris Redd on SNL

Overall, I really enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It’s such an interesting take on an old premise that showcases the versatility of some talented performers. I’m very impressed with Josh Ruben as a director and I look forward to his adaptation of Werewolves Within.

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.

Montero (Call Me By Your Name): Cool, Another Satanic Panic – YouTube Review

This video is a lot more than giving the Devil a lap dance.

SUMMARY

… It’s a music video. I’m not summarizing it. It’s right here:

END SUMMARY

So, if you’re like me, meaning you don’t listen to music much, you probably first heard of Lil Nas X when his song “Old Town Road” got big. I will go ahead and say that the song was a banger, which I’m told is a good thing, as it reminds people of British sausage. I don’t know if he created “country rap,” but he was at least one of the first people to use it to get mainstream success. I particularly liked the fact that he got Billy Ray Cyrus, a musician most famous for producing a much more talented daughter, to do the remix. I also admit that I loved that month on Facebook when the cowboy memes flowed like wine. Then there was the massive uproar when the song, which has apparently been fairly high on the top of the Billboard Country charts, was dropped for “not being country enough.” A song called “Old Town Road” about taking a horse and riding “‘til I can’t no more” which featured Billy Ray Cyrus somehow wasn’t COUNTRY enough. Moreover, it was pulled the week before it would have, by Billboard’s measures, been the number one song. The people making the decisions definitely emphasized that it had nothing to do with the fact that Lil Nas X is a gay black man and country is a genre that, historically, has been less than enthusiastic towards some of those adjectives. In any case, the song was great, the controversy less so.

If you think a cowboy wouldn’t wear that outfit… you’re probably right. But he’s pulling it off.

Montero, on the other hand, has generated the best controversy since The Life of Brian, by which I mean it’s pissing off people that likely didn’t watch it and, if they did, watched it with such a prejudiced eye that they definitely didn’t try to give it any form of critical analysis. For example, condemning the Satanic imagery without recognizing that most of the video is about unfair condemnation and, moreover, that at the end of the video Lil Nas X actually kills the devil, a thing most of those groups should be in favor of. It’s almost as if the Satanic imagery is not the thing that they’re really angry about. But I’m sure nothing bad ever happened because people used Satanic imagery and the claims of its influence on children as a way to suppress things they didn’t like. Definitely not, for example, the single longest and most expensive trial in US history, the McMartin Preschool Trial, which ruined multiple lives despite resulting in no convictions and uncovering essentially no evidence. 

The devil saves a lot of money by not wearing much fabric.

But, I’m not really here to go over that as much as to sort through the absolutely brilliant imagery contained in the video. It starts in a valley which is dotted with architecture from a number of different societies, but mostly Greek and Roman. LNX is seen underneath a tree being approached by a snake which ends up turning into a snakeman with a third eye, who proceeds to lay on top of Nas in a sexual nature. Like all of the characters in the video aside from the Devil and one other figure, the snakeman is played by Lil Nas X. This figure, combined with a passage from Plato that’s on the tree that LNX is found under, appear to be references to two different, but intertwining mythologies. The first is the origin of man ascribed to Aristophanes by Plato, which depicts all people being born as two bodies stuck together (some man-man, some man-woman, some woman-woman) that were split, which is why people naturally seek out their “other half.” The other is that of Lilith, the first wife of Adam in Hebrew Mythology. Lilith was made at the same time as Adam and, in some versions, shared the same body as him before they were separated. Lilith was sent away from Adam for having sex on top of him, like the figure in the video. She is often depicted as half-snake and is occasionally depicted as the actual snake that tempted Eve (because Eve eating the apple put women above men, which is what Lilith wants).  I believe that the dual reference is because it connects the Greek origin of humanity, which explicitly indicated homosexuality was natural, with the Christian one via Hebrew.  The third eye in the snakeman’s head is either a reference to the Ajna Chakra in many Eastern religions or is because LNX likes YuYu Hakusho.

HOW DOES A SNAKE HAVE SUCH A NAIL BUDGET?

LNX is then sent to a coliseum where, like Christians supposedly were, he is stoned to death for heresy. He begins to ascend to heaven where he sees an angelic figure. I think this is another dual myth reference, as the figure is the only one that doesn’t directly appear to be played by LNX aside from Satan. In fact, you cannot see its gender definitely. I think that the figure, while evoking Angelic imagery, is also a reference to Nike, the Greek goddess who is usually depicted as winged and whose name depicts some shoes that LNX definitely knows about.

Just do it.

After LNX descends to hell while inverting (something that happens in Dante’s Inferno), he views a hell that is definitely inspired by the industrial hell presented by films like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. There’s even a large demon resembling Chernabog from Fantasia at the top of the central building, which was inspired by the demon furnace from Metropolis. Passing through the gates of Hell, which are made of people (a reference to both the Inferno and to Rodin’s sculpture of the Gates of Hell), LNX walks past the Latin words for “they condemn that which they don’t understand,” which is not subtle, before giving Satan a lapdance and snapping his neck. Multiple people suggested that the Devil presented here is Miltonian, but I disagree as Milton’s devil is depicted almost exclusively as winged and mostly humanoid, even beautiful. What IS Miltonian is that, after taking his horns, Lil Nas X sprouts wings and now, himself, resembles the figure from Paradise Lost. Perhaps it’s a statement that he would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven, which some readers and scholars have interpreted as a statement that it’s better to live one’s own true self than to bend your truth to someone else’s image of “right.” 

Hell appears to have been designed by the same person as Gotham City in Batman Forever.

Overall, this is an amazing video. I enjoyed watching it like ten times to write this review. I actually don’t know if the song is that distinct, but this video is a masterpiece and LNX uses controversy perfectly. 

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.

Made for Love: Technology is an Abusive Relationship – HBO Max Review

Cristin Milioti stars in this great show about a woman trying to escape her marriage.

SUMMARY

Hazel Green-Gogol (Cristin Milioti) is the wife of tech billionaire Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), the owner of Gogol, a company that does not in any way, shape, or form resemble the name of any actual tech company. When developing his passion project “Made for Love” with its project leader Fiffany (Noma Dumezweni), Byron volunteers himself and Hazel to be the new test subjects. Made for Love is a chip which allows the users to sense each others’ feelings, to see through their eyes, and to hear through their ears. However, Hazel, already uncomfortable with how her husband monitors her life, escapes from their home, only to find out that Byron already put the chip in her head (and only her head), allowing him to track her every movement and see through her eyes. She goes to her estranged father, Herbert (Ray Romano) for help while she is pursued by Byron’s agent Herringbone (Dan Bakkedahl).

If you’re doing this to get away from your husband, do NOT go back.

END SUMMARY

Okay, so Cristin Milioti was in a Black Mirror episode where she was escaping from a virtual reality created by an obsessive tech billionaire, so this is the weirdest case of near-typecasting that I’ve seen. Add in her having to escape from a time-loop in Palm Springs and she’s quickly becoming the new “escape from the Sci-Fi plot” go-to casting. I’m not against that if it means that Cristin Milioti gets more work, because I think she’s a hell of an actress, but it’s just an odd thing that struck me when watching this. 

Your head is filled with anger and some technology.

The show is interesting in that it both shows her life as pampered and also insanely controlled. She spends her days living in a beautiful and ideal location doing pretty much whatever she wants, except that everything she does is monitored, she has a number of scheduled things throughout the day, and that she is required to give feedback on her experiences. Yes, that explicitly includes sex. There’s literally a survey and a follow-up about her orgasms. And yes, the follow-up is in person and no, it’s not with her husband. If you think Apple is a pain, this is now that in your genitals. At the same time, she still appears to be doing crazy awesome stuff like full-wall gaming, being able to walk in VR cubes, and swimming with a dolphin. It’s a nice adaptation of the gilded cage.

Apparently dolphins are important in the book, too.

The humor in the show is pretty solid, as you’d expect from Cristin Milioti and Ray Romano. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Everybody Loves Raymond, Romano is still a solid comic performer. In this, his character is depicted as being an outsider in his town because he “dates” a sex doll. Interestingly, his relationship with the doll is contrasted with most other people’s relationship with their electronics, but so far the electronics actually seem to be more harmful, since it’s giving other people all of your innermost thoughts. It’s almost like this show is a revelation that “Gogol” already knows everyone’s secrets, but still wants to find something deeper to mine for revenue.

Meanwhile, Diane doesn’t tell anyone anything.

Overall, it’s a fun show so far. It’s got the majority of the season left, but if you are a fan of the Cristin Milioti (and you should be), maybe check it out.

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 5 Greatest Easter Episodes

The Joker On The Sofa

Happy Easter, everyone! Eat some candy in the shape of a bunny or a chick, eat some jelly beans, paint some eggs, go to church for the first time since Christmas, and blow up a cart in front of the Duomo. In honor of this most oddly-celebrated of holidays, I present to you the 5 best TV Easter episodes of all time:

Runner up: The Turtles and the Hare (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle)

EasterTurtles

It’s Easter, and Krang and Shredder are trying to use their “Docilizer” ray to turn everyone as docile as rabbits (because they haven’t seen Watership Down). A Bunny-Suited Bebop and Rocksteady even manage to get April O’Neil just as she’s calling the Turtles for help. To counteract the ray, the Turtles need a crystal from a “fairy tale dimension.” When they go there, they encounter Hokum Hare, the rabbit from “The Tortoise and the Hare,”…

View original post 1,464 more words