Sound of Metal: You Have to Lose to Find – Amazon Prime Review

A drummer who starts to go deaf tries to move forward with his life.

SUMMARY

Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) is a drummer in a heavy metal duo, Blackgammon, with his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). They live in an RV and travel the country playing together, but Ruben suddenly seems to lose his hearing. When he’s diagnosed, it’s revealed that he can only hear 20-30% of the words that are spoken to him. He is told about cochlear implants, but they are prohibitively expensive and not covered by his insurance. Putting even more pressure on the situation, Ruben is a recovering heroin addict. Lou, upon finding out, helps Ruben get into a shelter which is run by a deaf recovering alcoholic named Joe (Paul Raci). Joe informs Lou that only Ruben will be allowed to stay there, and proceeds to start helping Ruben learn how to be deaf, including learning ASL under a teacher named Diane (Lauren Ridloff). However, it’s not so easy to get over the life you once had.

He’s very focused, as you might guess.

END SUMMARY

I honestly hesitated a little bit in reviewing this movie. Not that it isn’t a good film, in fact it’s fantastic, but this film features a controversy which I don’t seem to fully understand (mostly because I’m not deaf). This movie brings that conflict to the forefront, and it’s whether or not cochlear implants are an affront to deaf culture. In the film, much like in real life, cochlear implants are viewed by many deaf people as a way of destroying their culture and treating deafness as a handicap. I’m going to try to avoid weighing in on that too much beyond saying that it is an issue that the film addresses.

Pictured: Controversy.

There are really two central reasons that this film succeeds: Great sound editing and Riz Ahmed. As to the former, this is some of the best sound work that I’ve heard since A Quiet Place (which, notably, did NOT win the Oscar). The film has to convey what Ruben is going through, which is not quite deafness in the way that many movies portray it (where everything is just silent). If you’ve seen the horror movie Hush, for example, the film goes completely silent when scenes are portrayed from the protagonist’s P.O.V. Sound of Metal instead has to portray everything as muted, but not consistently so, because Ruben’s ears are not equally damaged. This would be an amazing film to watch in a theater, but, of course, this year is not the time for that. If you’ve got surround sound, though, this is the time to use it. As to Riz Ahmed, he just nails it. He has to play a person who is going through a massive life change which affects everything and, somehow, he always seems believable. He’s scared, he’s curious, he’s worried that he’s going to be tempted back into drugs, and he’s always feeling like he’s lost something. 

His scenes with the deaf kids are amazing.

The major supporting character of the movie is Paul Raci as Joe. Raci, who apparently was born to deaf parents and thus has about as much understanding for deaf culture as a hearing person can, constantly comes off as trying to touch Ruben’s heart in an attempt to make him feel whole. He’s not trying to tell him to get over it, nor even to accept it, he’s just trying to tell him to exist as he is. It’s amazing that he can do this while also appearing to be the kind of badass that would have punched his way through Vietnam if the Army hadn’t given him a gun. He takes no shit, but he gives a lot of affection and understanding.

The face kinda sums it up.

Overall, this is a great film and I really recommend 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.

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Amazon Prime Review – Modern Love: The Highs are Worth the Lows

Amazon gives us a series of interesting portraits of love in the modern world. 

SUMMARY

It’s an anthology, people. I can’t summarize every episode without kind of ruining the surprise. Just know that each of the stories focuses on something about love between people. Mostly romantic, but not always.

ModernLove - 1Cast.jpg
Such a cast. Much wow.

Eh, fine, here’s a 1 sentence summary of each episode:

WHEN THE DOORMAN IS YOUR MAIN MAN

A woman (Cristin Miloti) has a doorman (Laurentiu Possa) who’s a gatekeeper for more than just her building.

WHEN CUPID IS A PRYING JOURNALIST

A woman (Catherine Keener) interviewing a tech billionaire (Dev Patel) about his lost love (Caitlin McGee) reveals her own (Andy Garcia).

ModernLove - 2Dev
Journalism at its finest.

TAKE ME AS I AM, WHOEVER I AM

A bipolar (Anne Hathaway) woman tries to have a relationship with a guy (Gary Carr), despite her condition getting in the way.

RALLYING TO KEEP THE GAME ALIVE

A married couple (Tina Fey and John Slattery) start to realize that they might not be meant to last, but don’t want to quit. 

AT THE HOSPITAL, AN INTERLUDE OF CLARITY

Two people on their second date (Sofia Boutella and John Gallagher, Jr.) get a crash course in each other after an injury derails their evening.

SO HE LOOKED LIKE A DAD. IT WAS JUST DINNER, RIGHT?

A young woman (Julia Garner) tries to replace her father with an older co-worker (Shea Wigham), but he misunderstands her attention.

HERS WAS A WORLD OF ONE

A couple (Andrew Scott and Brandon Kyle Goodman) tries to adopt a baby from a homeless woman (Olivia Cooke).

ModernLove - 3Couple
They’re so cute together.

THE RACE GROWS SWEETER NEAR ITS FINAL LAP

A woman (Jane Alexander) who found a new love (James Saito) late in life takes a run around the rest of the series in his memory.

END SUMMARY

The upside of the show is that it’s an anthology, so if you don’t like an episode, you can still try the next one and it’ll be different. The downside is that it’s an anthology and if you really like the way an episode is done, the next one is probably going to go a different way. The episodes, though they all focus on love, are varied in style and also in their focal interpretation of love. Since love comes in all different colors, flavors, shapes, sizes, sexes, Tex-Mexes, and Shrekses (guess what I’m drinking? Hint: Whisky), that also means that a creator is pretty much allowed to justify whatever interpretation they want to put into their story. Apparently, each of these stories were taken from a column published in The New York Times every week, but I have to confess that I don’t think I ever read it, even when I read the paper. Not that I don’t enjoy a good love story, I just never did.

ModernLove - 4Column

The quality of the episodes also varies a lot, although, on balance, I thought the series was pretty good. I do admit the finale montage is weird to me. Since there were only eight episodes, it seems kind of unnecessary to spend a bunch of time recapping the series, particularly since the clips don’t really interact, so they don’t give us a ton more perspective on the characters. They could just as easily have added the post-credits epilogues to the actual episodes and maybe spent ten more minutes on the narrative of the last story.

So, since I don’t want to spoil the show too badly, I’m going to do a 1-2 sentence review of each episode, in ascending order of quality. 

8) SO HE LOOKED LIKE A DAD. IT WAS JUST DINNER, RIGHT?

This story is super creepy and includes a girl trying to force herself to sexually fantasize about her fake father figure, which is double creepy. Emmy Rossum directed this, and it’s only a slight step up from Dragonball Evolution

ModernLove - 5Goat
Seriously, it’s awful.

7) AT THE HOSPITAL, AN INTERLUDE OF CLARITY

Two good actors are absolutely ruined by stilted dialogue and pacing taken from a silent film. The ending feels forced, as do a lot of the moments of supposed clarity.

6) THE RACE GROWS SWEETER NEAR ITS FINAL LAP

The story of finding a second love late in life is adorable, but too much is wasted on the series recap. Still, it was cute.

5) RALLYING TO KEEP THE GAME ALIVE

Tina Fey and John Slattery are great, but honestly it has a melancholy that never feels either closed or cemented as unending to me. 

ModernLove - 6Movies
Also, how did these two meet? I mean, that’s a real story.

4) WHEN CUPID IS A PRYING JOURNALIST

A cute story, but even with the epilogue, the story just doesn’t feel like it’s that significant. 

3) TAKE ME AS I AM, WHOEVER I AM

By far the most artistic episode, the representation of Bipolar may not be accurate, but it does make the condition more relatable. Also, Anne Hathaway’s breakdown is just damned heartbreaking.

ModernLove - 7Market.png
It’s a musical.

2) HERS WAS A WORLD OF ONE

This one is the most complex story in terms of characterization and Andrew Scott’s performance is just damned perfect.

1) WHEN THE DOORMAN IS YOUR MAIN MAN

The person who requested I review this series said that if I don’t end my review of this episode with “I cried like a tiny child,” then I have no soul. Well, I may have no soul, but I definitely cried like a tiny child.

ModernLove - 8Museum.png
Like. A. Tiny. Child.

I hope they keep this show going. Even though some of the episodes weren’t great, I think they’ve got a lot of stuff left that they could cover. 

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.