The Trial of the Chicago 7: Sorkin Cares Not for Truth – Oscar Netflix Review

A true story of one of the most insane trials, only not true.

SUMMARY

In August 1968, Vice President Hubert Humphrey was set to be nominated as the candidate for the Democratic Party. Eight activist leaders from various groups were in attendance when a riot broke out: Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), John Froines (Daniel Flaherty), and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). After Richard Nixon becomes president, Attorney General John N. Mitchell (John Doman) tells prosecutors Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Tom Foran (J.C. MacKenzie) to prosecute the eight as a way to punish their protests. Aside from Seale, who is the only black Defendant and the head of the Black Panthers, the defendants are represented by ACLU lawyer William Kunstler (Mark Rylance) and Leonard Weinglass (Ben Shenkman). When the trial begins before Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), what follows is one of the most bizarre trials in US History.

Oooh, Eddie Redmayne glare.

END SUMMARY

So, the story of the Chicago 7 (or 8, depending on if you count Seale) is one of those things that’s almost too crazy to be true. Much like the Scopes Monkey Trial, the trial of the Chicago 7 was never meant to be anything like actual prosecution. It was a political move by everyone involved except, perhaps, for the judge. Many of the witnesses, questions, and even actions by the lawyers were abnormal for any trial. Part of it, and something that the film does somewhat capture, was that the people on trial were largely doing this as a way to emphasize their message. Since this was 1970 and public perception was beginning to turn against the Vietnam War and almost all of them were part of anti-Vietnam groups, this publicized event was an easy soapbox and they mostly used it just to put on a spectacle, and, by court standards, it was a hell of a spectacle.

Strolling into your Federal Trial like it’s a fun day out.

Unfortunately, apparently Aaron Sorkin didn’t think it was interesting enough, because he decided to screw around with it massively. So much of this film heavily fictionalized the events to make them more palatable, but also to try and remove some of the ambiguity from the trial. After all, we have to be rooting for the Chicago 8, regardless of the fact that they were a group of very diverse people whose only common ground was their desire to end the Vietnam War. Some of them did advocate violence as part of their mission, even though the film tries to make them all appear to be completely peaceful. The timeline of many parts of the story is completely rewritten in order to keep certain characters around longer. The most notable one is that Bobby Seale, whose dismissal from the trial resulted in the Chicago 8 becoming the Chicago 7, is kept in the trial for an additional 2 months so that there can be a scene announcing the death of Fred Hampton. In the film, Hampton is constantly at Seale’s trial, whereas in reality Fred Hampton was working on other stuff the entire period before his murder. I do think it’s interesting that two films (the other being Judas and the Black Messiah) involving the murder of Fred Hampton are nominated for Best Picture, but this one forces it it.

That said, Yahya Abdul-Mateen is great in the movie.

My dislike of heavily fictionalizing stuff like this comes from the fact that it’s done to make a story easier on the audience. Hell, they even make Richard Schultz much more affable towards the defendants than he was in real life. It’s even more annoying in court films because there is a literal transcription of this entire trial that can be used as a source. Instead, Sorkin focused on trying to make it an easily consumable morality tale in which the good guys win and everyone is now united on that page. 

Pictured: A guy who would not have stood at the end of the movie.

The performances in the film are solid, particularly Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, who is both a stand-up comic narrating parts of the film and also one of the sassiest people to ever be put on trial. Frank Langella is great as the overly irritating and often infuriating Judge Hoffman, because he makes him easy to hate without falling into a stereotypical racist judge character. 

Not the worst Judge I’ve seen, though.

Overall, it’s not that it’s a bad movie, it’s that it personally irritates me by its choice to inaccurately portray these events just to make it easier to pick a side. History is complicated, and our obsession with making it more black-and-white just makes people think less when dealing with reality.

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.

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The Irregulars: Sherlock in Name Only, but Still Okay – Netflix Review

A show about a group of supernatural investigators working for a famous detective.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Bea (Thaddea Graham) and Jessie (Darci Shaw) are sisters who make their living on the streets of London along with their fellow poor youths Billy (Jojo Macari) and Spike (McKell David). The four get hired by a doctor named John Watson (Royce Pierreson) to investigate a series of child kidnappings. Along the way, they are joined by Leopold (Harrison Osterfield), who introduces himself as a fellow working-class person despite his wealth and nobility, and aided by the Linen Man (Clarke Peters), an American mystic who contacts Jessie. Together, the group investigates into the strange and paranormal occurrences that surround Baker Street. At the same time, they are asked to help track down a missing person, the elusive detective and drug addict Sherlock Holmes (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). 

Guess which one is wealthy?

END SUMMARY

So, I will start off by saying that I am a major Sherlock Holmes fan, something I’ve probably brought up multiple times on this blog. Literally the only tattoo I have, and the only one I ever plan on getting, is a profile of the detective. Admittedly, this makes me a little biased when I say the following: This is not a Sherlock Holmes show. It’s not just the supernatural elements, because I have seen some solid Sherlock adaptations that involved mysticism. I’ve even seen some decent mostly out-of-character versions of Holmes and Watson (though not the terrible film Holmes and Watson), but this was not that. The characters bear almost no resemblance to their literary counterparts. This is not the story of the irregulars which Holmes regularly employed in the books, either. That’s not to say the show wasn’t bad, but if you’re a major fan of Sherlock Holmes, it’ll take you a bit to adjust. They’re not the central figures in the show, but they have a lot of impact and more screen time than I might have thought at first. 

Admittedly, not the traditional image of Holmes and Watson, but that could have been interesting.

The actual characters that the show focuses on, though, are pretty well-crafted. Bea is the leader and the one who tends to actually put many of the clues together. Leopold tends to have the education and the background knowledge to identify some of the more obscure elements. Jessie is the one who is actually a bit supernatural, but is constantly judged as being weak or fragile by Bea. Billy and Spike kind of vary a bit as the show goes on, from comic relief to muscle to tragic figures. It’s not that they don’t make an impact, but they are much less developed than the other three. 

Sets are typical for the time period.

That’s actually the biggest flaw with the show, is that it sometimes feels like it’s focusing too much on the mystery of the week and frequently doesn’t add much to the characters in the process. Despite a number of solid scenes with Billy and Spike, I don’t think we ever really got a good look at their characters. We find out their fears at a few points, mostly because the show has a supernatural horror edge, but even those seem kind of generic. That’s not to say the series isn’t enjoyable. It definitely is. The supernatural elements are entertaining and usually creative, the villains are sufficiently villainous, and all of the performances are solid. Once I got past the lack of real Sherlock elements, I found myself having an okay.

There are some good makeup effects.

Overall, if you like supernatural period shows, you’ll probably like this. 

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The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity : Visually Brilliant, A Bit Too Long – Netflix Review

A great film from China that needed just a bit of editing.

SUMMARY

Many centuries ago, a serpent demon was going to destroy the Earth. Four masters came together to seal the snake within the body of the Empress, protected by four stone guardians. Since then, whenever the serpent threatens to be released, four masters must join together to stop them. This time, three of the masters are Longye (Jessie Li), Bo Ya (Deng Lun), and Qing Ming (Mark Chao). The fourth, Hongruo, was murdered by a hair demon. Yes, a hair demon. Under the guidance of Princess Zhang Ping (Olivia Wang), the three must investigate the death and, with the help of replacement priest He Shouye (Wang Duo), must release the four stone guardians and prevent the release of the Serpent. 

There will be some concentrated looks.

END SUMMARY

This movie is visually amazing. It’s largely CGI and green screen, much of it not particularly realistic, but the style of the film has a surreal quality that makes the imagery work really well. When nothing quite looks “real,” then nothing stands out as being fake, and this movie manages to use that to its advantage. Since they weren’t concerned about everything looking perfect like many American blockbusters, they instead put the effort into creative and interesting characters and settings. I particularly love the designs of the stone guardians and the demons that they encounter, which appear to be a combination of blockbuster effects and Chinese mythology. The costuming and makeup, likewise, are so stylized that they give the film an air of epic myth. The cinematography is done pretty much perfectly, in the sense of heightening all of these effects. Like I said, if you want a pretty film, this is it. 

Sometimes the art is less subtle.

As far as the story goes, this… kind of lets me down. In most Chinese epics, the plot is kind of weak, but they make up for that with a lot of extensive action sequences. This movie tones down the action sequences (not that there aren’t any, they just seem shorter than similar films) and tries to make up for that with more plot and background scenes. Note that I used the word “tries.” Really, a lot of these scenes would probably be fine if they were a bit shorter. Instead, this movie clocks in at 2 hours and 12 minutes with a plot that could probably have been done in 90. As such, there were a bunch of shots in the film that made me go “wait, are we STILL here?” I realize part of the cause of this is probably that the director was really proud of the visuals and wanted to indulge a bit, but sometimes you have to let things go.

We don’t need to cut more Bo Ya, I can say that much.

The performances are pretty solid, particularly Mark Chao as Qing Ming, who has to deal with a number of conflicts between his principles and reality throughout the film. His performance has a little more subtlety than I might expect from this kind of film, and since he’s the main character, that pays off, particularly when he’s having scenes of contemplative dialogue exchanges with others. 

Or using a needle with his mouth.

Overall, while I would cut the movie down (or watch parts of it on 1.5 speed), I still enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of Chinese cinema, I’d say it’s a quality watch.

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.

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The One: What if You Could Calculate Love? – Netflix Review

A company figures out how to match soulmates, but it doesn’t make life much simpler.

SUMMARY

English scientist Rebecca Webb (Hannah Ware) is the CEO of The One, a company which uses someone’s DNA to find their perfect love match. The corporation is wildly successful, but everything gets put in jeopardy when a body turns up in the Thames. It turns out the body belongs to a former associate of Webb and her partner James Whiting (Dimitri Leonidas) named Ben Naser (Amir El-Masry). Det. Kate Saunders (Zoë Tapper) is assigned to investigate, but Kate is also using The One to find her match, Sophia (Jana Perez). At the same time, Webb is being investigated by journalist Mark Bailey (Eric Kofi-Abrefa), whose wife Hannah (Lois Chimimba) has secretly had him tested by The One, only to find out that she is not his perfect match.

Yes, there’s a TED talk, basically.

END SUMMARY

Years ago, there was a movie called Timer which was a British comedy about a world where almost everyone has a device implanted into them that tells them when they’re going to meet their soulmate. The movie did a good job of exploring how the world is changed by finding out that not only are soulmates real, but also that they can be found through science. However, where that film was mostly a funny character study of a person who doesn’t have a soulmate match in that world, this show tries to do a study of a number of characters but lets most of them get bogged down by the overarching mystery of Rebecca and Ben’s body. Too much time is spent trying to drag out what ultimately is not a super satisfying story. 

You can watch this in 90 minutes instead.

It’s even worse because most of the side stories actually could be super interesting. For example, Kate is bisexual but tends to date men, only to find out that her ideal match is a woman. That’s something that surprises even her. That would be a fun thing to explore, the idea that people might not even be able to guess the gender of the person who will be perfect for them. However, trying to play out any of these situations mostly falls to the wayside so that we can talk more about what Rebecca did to start the company and whether or not she committed a murder in the process. Each of the narratives that the show sets up could be interesting and bring up a number of points about how society could be changed when something that seems metaphysical, like love, can actually be conquered by science. But, no, instead we get a bunch of cliched drama. It’s really disappointing, because many of the performers in this show are great. 

They try to address the religious aspects, but mostly just gloss over it.

Overall, this show has a great concept, but the execution is not great. It’s even harder to deal with because apparently AMC has a show called Soulmates with a similar premise as an anthology. I’d probably recommend that one instead.

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.

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Behind Her Eyes: A New Kind of Love Triangle (Ending Explained) – Netflix Review

A woman’s affair with her new boss conflicts with her new friendship with his wife.

SUMMARY

Louise Barnsley (Simona Brown) is a single mom who works as a secretary for a psychiatric clinic. On a rare night out, she meets David (Tom Bateman), a sexy Scottish doctor whom she kisses for a moment before he runs off. The next day, Louise is shocked to find out that David is her new boss. Louise soon bumps into Adele (Eve Hewson), an aristocratic woman who is new in town. Louise and Adele quickly become friends, only for it to be revealed that Adele is David’s wife. Louise soon begins two affairs, being Adele’s friend without telling David, and being David’s lover without telling Adele. However, it seems like there’s something more to Adele and David’s relationship, since Adele seems borderline afraid of her husband, and always on edge. There may be something more sinister afoot. 

Which one is really doing bad things?…. all of them, kinda.

END SUMMARY

This show is bound to cause some controversy, because the show takes a hard left turn about two episodes from the ending. Since it’s only six episodes in total and thus I didn’t have a huge investment before this started, this didn’t bother me much, but I know that it will probably upset some people a lot. *I just checked Twitter and apparently this drove some people batsh*t.* I feel bad about this spoiler-ish reveal, but I honestly think that people might handle it better if they’re aware that something is coming.

Spoiler: It’s not that David was dead all along like Bruce Willis.

As far as the show goes, Simona Brown gives one hell of a performance. She starts off with the very relatable desire to just have a night out, but clearly also loves her son dearly. When she meets David, we immediately see the spark between them and she sells that attraction perfectly. When she meets Adele, she sees a fellow damaged soul that she can bond with. In every interaction, Brown gives us much more than the script alone, and that’s pretty much the best you can ask for. Bateman and Hewson, however, are more than capable of keeping up. Hewson has to play a character who is clearly keeping much of herself in the shadows, while David plays a character whose morals are not obvious at any point. The three of them are the focus of the show, so if there had been a weak point, it would have likely stood out like a sore thumb, but instead, they build upon each other. 

It helps that Brown starts the show off by seeming like she needs to get laid.

The story is revealed at just the right pace for the first few episodes. We get enough time to really get a feel for the lead characters and how they interact before we start to get deeper into the love triangle formed by them. There’s humor and a decent amount of sexual tension to keep you enticed, but there are also some sweet moments that make you want to care about these people. Under all of it, there’s clearly some amount of mystery building as well as the risk of everything being revealed and collapsing. It’s well-done, to be sure.

And some fun lunch scenes.

Overall, as long as you are willing to deal with a bit of a weird ending, I recommend this show.

***ENDING EXPLAINED***

So, as the show goes on, we find out that Adele was previously in a psychiatric facility (hinted by her medication) with a gay man named Rob (Robert Aramayo). She and Rob get into lucid dreaming, but then move on to astral projection. They learn to project themselves into people’s waking bodies, then Rob suggests that the two swap bodies. He then murders Adele (who is in his body), because he’s in love with David. Naturally, because Rob is not Adele, their relationship is never really successful. After David starts sleeping with Louise, Rob (as Adele) switches bodies with HER then murders Louise before starting a new life with David. So throughout most of the series, we’ve never actually known Adele, only Rob posing as her. Naturally, this means that the new relationship is probably doomed, because regardless of the body, Rob is a monster and will never give David what he needs. 

Maybe don’t trust the guy in a facility for being insanely obsessed.

This is truly a mind-screw, because the show doesn’t hint at anything supernatural until episode 5. Lucid dreaming is, to my knowledge, a real thing that people can train themselves to do. Astral projection is not. Suddenly dropping magic into a show that’s been otherwise really grounded does feel like a bit of a cop-out, but the show is literally called “Behind Her Eyes” and the secret is that behind Adele’s eyes is a completely different person. Oh, and the poster shows Rob in the woods sending his soul into Louise’s eye. It’s still not a super satisfying ending, but at least it made all of the tension feel merited.

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.

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Tribes of Europa: Let’s Get Medieval… Again- Netflix Review

Another dystopia, but this one’s German and more brutal than most.

SUMMARY

The Earth sucks. It’s 2074 and it’s been decades since the catastrophe that destroyed the modern world. Pretty much all technology stopped working, like in all of those other shows with this same premise. All of the nations, unable to maintain order, fell apart into tribes. One tribe, the Origines, are strict isolationists, living as hunters in the woods of what was probably Germany. Three Origine siblings, Liv (Henriette Confurius), Elja (David Ali Rashed), and Kiano (Emilio Sakraya), are hunting when they see a futuristic plane crash in the woods. They find a dying pilot with a strange cube. Unfortunately, other tribes want the cube and are willing to attack the Origines for it. This leads to the three siblings being split up and having to fight for their lives, particularly against the bloodthirsty Crow tribe.

The kids are in the middle.

END SUMMARY

Okay, as you might have guessed from the sarcastic tinge to the summary, this show’s premise is not exactly new. It’s the future, everything has fallen apart, technology broke somehow, and having any kind of working power source is basically the same as having the One Ring from Tolkien. The creator of Supernatural had a similar show called Revolution that was on almost a decade ago. However, while the premise may have been done before, this show does definitely benefit from a level of (occasionally disturbing) realism and well-done characterization. Also, this world isn’t the “there’s no technology ever” type of dystopia that many of these shows take, instead, it’s just that everything got reset. Some people with great technical skills have the ability to keep things running, meaning some places have modern tech, while the show’s MacGuffin is based around a civilization with futuristic technology. Gives it some uniqueness. The three siblings all go on very different journeys, which helps mitigate some of the monotony as well. 

And of course there’s a fighting pit.

The thing that this show definitely does right is that it has a point. It’s demonstrating how quickly people will devolve into the historical groups and point out that, unfortunately, when divided, the groups that thrive are usually the ones that are the most ruthless, not the most ethical. The show probably was inspired, at least in part, by Brexit. Being German, the show is probably largely in favor of the European Union and the stability it grants Europe. Groups like The Crows are determined to destroy all opposition and absorb all tribes into theirs by either forcing loyalty or imposing slavery. Opposing them are the Crimson, who also want to create a single nation out of Europe, but are trying to do it in a more peaceful way that allows the tribes that join them to retain some sovereignty, akin to the EU. It’s clear that the Crimson are the preferable choice at the moment, but they are also massively flawed.  

The Crimson also have some weird ideas about construction.

The supporting cast in this show are great and really elevate the setting. In Elja’s story, he meets Moses (Oliver Masucci), a traveling scavenger who is able to fix electronics. Moses is charming, despite openly being a rogue. Kiano’s contact is mostly with Lord Varvara (Melika Foroutan), who takes a liking to him, but expresses it by torturing him as much as she wants. Liv mostly interacts with the Crimson, and there are a number of good performances there, including Robert Finster as David, one of the commanders. 

Moses is the best part.

Overall, it’s a solid show, if not a massively original one.

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High-Rise Invasion: A Strange World of Kill or Be Killed – Netflix Review

A young girl wakes up in the opposite of wonderland.

SUMMARY 

Yuri Honjo (Haruka Shiraishi/Suzie Yeung) is a high school girl who finds herself suddenly in an alternate world populated by a number of skyscrapers which are connected by suspension bridges. She manages to call her brother, Rika (Junya Enoki/Zeno Robinson), who reveals that he is also trapped in this world. It turns out that the high-rises are populated by mask-wearing people who are compelled to try and drive other humans to suicide. Among them is the Sniper Mask (Yūichirō Umehara/Jonah Scott), a stylish killer with, as the name implies, a sniper rifle. Yuri manages to find a knife-wielding girl named Mayuko Nise (Shiki Aoki/Jennie Kwan) whom she befriends. Eventually, they find other humans, including a woman named Kuon Shinzaki (Akira Sekine/Stephanie Sheh) who is immune from the attacks of the masks. Yuri has to find out the truth behind this world and find a way out.

She’s not having a good time.

END SUMMARY

I’m sure there’s an actual term for this kind of show, but I don’t know it. It’s the genre where a group of people spontaneously are pulled into another world that is almost identical to the regular one and forced to play a game that is, in reality, part of a much bigger plot. The most famous example is probably GANTZ, although I’m sure that’s not the oldest one. The show Alice in Borderland is another one that has recently been on Netflix. The genre tends to be at its best when it focuses more on the characters and the worldbuilding than on the particular game that the participants are forced to play. This show does a good job of focusing mostly on the feelings and the relationships between the characters rather than just on delivering action sequences. Because of that, when you actually do get an action sequence, it’s more impactful. 

They can also come out of nowhere, because sniper.

That’s not to say that the worldbuilding isn’t solid. Even though this season only takes us about 12 episodes in, there are a lot of hints about what is really going on and it is clearly much larger than it seems. It seems to be building up to a more metaphysical second season, but not in a way that invalidates our characters’ actions during the past.

Also, perhaps more hammer.

Overall, pretty solid show. Just be aware that it’s pretty gory and a little rapey at times.

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.

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I Care A Lot: Who Is the Real Villain? – Netflix Review

The answer is largely all of the people who do this in real life.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a con-artist who makes her living by convincing the law to give her guardianship over elderly people, allowing her to shove them in assisted-living facilities from which she cuts off all outside contact. She is assisted by her former police officer girlfriend Fran (Elza Gonzalez), assisted living manager Sam Rice (Damian Young), and Karen Amos (Alicia Witt), the doctor who fabricates many diagnoses in order to convince the court, specifically the aloof Judge Lomax (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), to permit Marla to take care of these people. After she runs her scam and commits a woman named Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) against her will, Marla discovers that Jennifer may not be who she seems. In fact, she may be connected to a former mob boss named Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) who does not like having her inside of the facility and is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get her out. Unfortunately, he may be underestimating Marla’s greed.

Don’t trust anyone who wears sunglasses indoors this much.

END SUMMARY

I would like to start off by saying that Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage are great in this film. So great that you genuinely find yourself wanting to see more of them, despite the fact that their characters are two of the worst people you could put on film without moving into gore porn. Roman is a mob boss whose reputation and behavior makes it pretty clear that he will murder almost anyone that gets in the way. However, in this particular situation, he is actually not in the wrong, since Marla has manipulated the legal system to essentially imprison Jennifer. Moreover, Marla keeps making Jennifer’s life miserable just to punish her for Roman’s actions, which makes getting her out seem more justified. It’s telling that in a movie where one of the characters is a murderer, that you would have difficulty determining which of the two is more ruthless and evil. After all, we see how horribly Marla treats Jennifer before she even finds out about Roman, and we can assume that she treats the dozens of people under her care exactly like that. If so, she is perhaps hurting people more than if she just shot them in the head. 

Even though Dinklage has that hair, he’s still threatening.

The key to this movie is that both sides keep pushing each other and refusing to back down, even when they’re each expecting the other two. Marla is offered several hundred thousand dollars to just let Jennifer go, but she stands firm with wanting millions, even when it’s clear that Roman will eventually move from the carrot to the stick in a very final way. Roman seems constantly surprised and upset over Marla’s complete lack of fear of him or his reputation. For both of these people, it’s obvious that the only thing that will ever stop them is if one of them gets a bullet through the heart. It doesn’t help that Marla often seems to try and justify her actions as being the only way to get ahead as a woman, or perhaps as a gay woman, which kind of fails as a feminist message.

You don’t have to torture the innocent because of “Feminism.”

It makes it even more tragic when you realize that, while people like Roman are hunted by most of society and forced to work in the shadows, Marla’s grift is completely legal and likely practiced by thousands of people across this country. Sure, there are likely a lot of people who do care for the elderly and treat them with respect and dignity, but a short search about nursing home bad practices indicates that there are a lot that don’t, too. Even when caught, they usually get fined less than the amount of money they made off of the mistreatment, so, much like this film, the only thing that might ever stop them is confronting someone who won’t let the legality get in the way of morality. Or legislation, if we weren’t governed by assholes (if you’re not from the US, apologies, maybe you’re not governed by assholes. But you probably are).

Jennifer has done bad things, but she probably doesn’t deserve this.

Overall, it’s a good movie, but it will probably not leave you with a great feeling at 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.

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Red Dot: An Icy Human Hunt – Netflix Review

This Swedish film tells the story of a couple chased across the snow by killers. 

SUMMARY

David (Anastasios Soulis) and Nadja (Nanna Blondell) are a married couple whose relationship has been souring for months. When Nadja discovers she’s pregnant, Nadja confides in their neighbor, Tomas (Thomas Hanzon), that they’ve been having problems. Ultimately, the pair decide to take a romantic ski vacation to try and rekindle their spark. They end up in a place called Bear Valley, where the locals don’t exactly take to them, seemingly due to their interracial marriage. Nadja even calls out a pair of locals who damage their vehicle. However, they soon see a red dot appear on their tent. While they don’t immediately know what it is, their dog is soon killed and they discover that someone out there is trying to hunt them down. The two are desperate to survive, but it turns out that there may be more to the story than it originally seemed. 

Also, it’s very cold.

END SUMMARY

This movie is going to require a spoiler discussion, so here’s the spoiler-free review: This movie is so close to being really good. The parts with the couple being hunted are very intense and, since almost anyone they meet is a stranger, filled with suspicions and twists. Since this isn’t like having a slasher stalk you, the real terror comes from the fact that the shot can come from almost anywhere at any time. It’s handled well within the film. 

Be Warned: The Dog does not make it, which is very sad.

The performances are all pretty solid, particularly Nanna Blondell, who plays Nadja as much more devious and ruthless than you would originally suspect. It adds a couple of layers to the film as it builds towards a fairly major climax which reveals more about Nadja and David than you’d expect from this kind of movie. The ending does require you to pay attention in order to make sense, but it works pretty well if you pay attention.

There are some rough moments.

Overall, it’s a decent film, although I’ll warn you that the ending might leave you a little upset.

****SPOILERS****

So, it’s revealed that David and Nadja, right after getting engaged, were driving in the car when Nadja decided to give David a handjob (or possibly the beginnings of road head). While distracted, David ran over a small child, who turns out to be Tomas’s son. Nadja wanted to stop, but David decided to just keep driving. Tomas then stalked them for months, moved in next to them, befriended them, recommended the trip to David, had his brother-in-law plan their trip, and planned to force David to drill into Nadja’s stomach to kill their baby. Nadja manages to escape, but when she returns to rescue him, she’s shot dead by Tomas’s wife. They leave David to suffer with his loss, with David saying “I understand now.”

I mean, it does make sense that the sniper wasn’t trying to kill them, I guess.

This ending pisses me off a bit, because it almost tries to justify the vengeance that Tomas inflicted on them, despite the fact that it was overly complicated and batshit crazy. He could easily have taken his revenge while they were living next to them, but instead waits until they’re pregnant, trying to equate aborting the pregnancy to child murder. The problem is that those things are in no way equal for the parents. Nadja losing a baby that they don’t really seem to have planned on is not the same as having two strangers murder your child that you loved, named, and have years of memories with. Even at the end, when they murder Nadja, that’s still not the same and it never will be. I dunno, just left a sour taste in my mouth.

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The Crew: A Netflix Algorithm Sitcom – Netflix Review

Kevin James, Gary Anthony Williams, and Sarah Stiles get thrown into a NASCAR pit.

SUMMARY

Kevin Gibson (Kevin James) is the crew chief for Bobby Spencer (Bruce McGill) Racing, a low-ranked NASCAR team. He oversees chief mechanic Chuck Stubbs (Gary Anthony Williams), chief engineer Amir Lajani (Dan Ahdoot), and office manager Beth Paige (Sarah Stiles), as well as idiot driver Jake Martin (Freddie Stroma). The owner, Bobby, retires and puts his daughter, Catherine (Jillian Mueller), in charge of the program. An Ivy-leaguer, Catherine’s more sophisticated and by-the-books management quickly gets on the nerves of the more traditional pit crew, but when Jake and the crew start winning, it turns out that maybe this was just what they needed.

Busch: Because you don’t want to watch this sober.

END SUMMARY

A while back, Netflix announced that it was using various computer algorithms to try and generate ideas for new shows.  Some of those shows, like House of Cards, ended up being fairly successful.  Some, like The Ranch, did fairly well with a targeted demographic, but didn’t receive critical acclaim.  This show will probably end up in the latter category.  It’s not particularly well written, nor is it very original, but it has just enough talents on camera to keep it going at just the right speed to be bingeable.  It’s like a slow drip of morphine.  You are not getting high off of it, you’re just getting numb for a little while.

Admittedly, there are some fun scenes, usually when Kevin’s mad.

This is not to say that it doesn’t have its moments.  Kevin James, despite some of his career decisions in the past, does tend to make me laugh.  Gary Anthony Williams, who I have always found to be pretty entertaining, makes a decent foil for many of the aspects of NASCAR that tend to give it a whitewashed reputation.  The rest of the characters are mostly stock.  Amir is the neurotic character who is often the butt of many of the jokes, Catherine is the elitist who tries to steamroll everything into her own image, Bobby is the old Southern boy, Jake is the moron who gets by on his looks and natural talent, and Beth is the only woman inside a boy’s club.  I will admit that my natural fondness for Sarah Stiles, especially since she played Spinel in Steven Universe, made me enjoy the scenes with her character more than I might have otherwise, since I felt she was massively underwritten.

Sure, the NASCAR parts are sponsored by Busch, but the beer is unlabled.

Overall, though, this show just felt so generic that it genuinely seemed to have been written by a computer designed to churn out mediocrity and inoffensive jokes.  Skip it.