Dearest TV viewers, please watch Dear White People

Netflix is continuing the trend of series with provocative content. Dear White People is a 2014 film which has now been adapted for television,  a format that would have been a good fit from the beginning. Justin Simien writer and director of the film has brought the same cast of characters to the small screen to tell a longer and more in depth tale.

Netflix creates an interesting platform for a series of this nature. A 10 episode binge where social and racial issues are the forefront are sure to begin a conversation and it most definitely should. Dear White People the film created much buzz with just the title as did the show. People were calling the title racist, provocative and challenging of what is to be accepted.  It is a show based on a movie that did push people to think which at times it seems people are afraid of doing. Being offended by a title of a series seems like the perfect distraction so we are not asking for social change but simply having to redirect the insensitive to the nearest wambulance.

It is at times funny and charming and at times it is deeply emotion when connecting the mostly black characters into racially charged situations where they dont have the same privilege as the white student body. It is mainly through the voces of Samantha White and Lionel Higgins that the show progresses. The reason is why is because within the plot these two have media outlets to tell their stories to the student body and therefore it seems to be the filler episodes leading to an episode following Sam or Lionel that hits the hardest and deals with the most controversial subject matter.

We have all heard of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and many others who have been victimized by police brutality. Its a damn shame we still live in a society where the color of a persons skin can determine how quickly the police are willing to pull their guns. Its a shame that in 2017 we still need to share a hashtag #BlackLivesMatter as if to wonder how many other races wouldn’t feel like the do unless there is a hashtag to spread around their social media and another reason to take selfies they would not see the importance of it. All lives everywhere matter the same amount. Period. Anyone who follows that with words like “Well, depending on….” or “After years of study one can see…. (insert random crime stat here)” Needs to have a reality check. Anyone who has been neglected for hundreds of years is going to lash out. Anyone who tells me that I dont have to be as afraid because I am a white male is probably correct in saying that. Reasonable people know that the importance of life is not determined by race, religion, sexuality and gender. Yet here we are in the midst of more tensions than ever in the good old US of A where racism is more prominent than ever as the leader of the country has shown blatant disrespect to minorities and women everywhere.

Dear White People like every series has some episodes that are most definitely better than others. Gabe and Reggie for example are two characters that are meant to fill the love interest roles from either race with Reggie serving as the weakest character leading up to the season finale and game changing final moments. This show definitely needs another season to continue the stories and tribulations of the black student body at Winchester University. Oh and who does not want to hear more of Giancarlo Esposito’s amazing voice as the narrator. I sure do. This provocative series has the intelligence, content and characters worth exploring for at least a few more seasons. Netflix you did the right thing with 13 Reasons Why and now please follow suit with Dear White People.

Netflix continues it’s dominance as the leader in edgy television. The format simply just works, whether that be the original content they create, the content they continue from other networks or the content they work closely with Marvel on.  The only poorly scripted original series from Netflix is The Ranch and even still from a fan perspective I understand the need to branch out. I prefer the content such as Thirteen Reasons Why and Dear White People when it comes to drama and realism. Of course the Marvel shows have drawn mostly critical acclaim same with the new seasons of Longmire and Arrested Development that were marketed directly for the streaming service. It works because you don’t have to feel obligated to watch and I generally feel that people are less willing to spoil a show when all the episodes are available in one shot. When it airs on a particular night and the audience needs to tune for that time slot it certainly feels like the rush of being the first to know means you are more likely to want to tell your friends who haven’t seen it and they are more likely to ask because they do not know when they themselves are going to be able to watch the episode. I’m on board for the future and Netflix has a lot upcoming that will hopefully continue to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and can hopefully generate enough conversation that we may actually begin to see somethings change. It’s never a bad thing to have a discussion, it’s how the discussion ends that we really need to be focused on.

 

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Big Screen Batgirl!

 Reports began to surface that Joss Whedon was heading over to the DCEU to bring one of the most fan appreciated characters to life. Barbara Gordon is a recognizable name to anyone who has been surrounded by Batman lore. She has and will always be a pivotal character within the universe. Whedon has the creative drive to give the film a little bit of sugar and spice to create a truly dynamic film.

 One of the biggest questions is who will be the actress tasked with bringing “The Oracle” to life. Here are five choicea of dream castings that I would love to see.

5. Bryce Dallas Howard- Proven to be a talented actress and backed by the name, Dallas Howard crushed it in Jurassic World and this could be a huge opportunity for her to focus that talent and become a part of something much bigger and bring to life one of the most important characters in 30 years to Batman and fans.

4. Jessica Chastain- She continues to choose controversial scripts and really has yet to show there is nothing she cannot handle.  Given Whedons track record as a consumate professional and Chastains ability thus far to stay low key and always deliver this could very well be the low key yet highly praised casting the producers are looking for.

3. Alexandra Breckenridge- She has recently shown up on This is Us and Walking Dead and has shown why she has a bright future. This would be a huge opportunity for a young actress to hold down her own franchise for the next 7-10 years and she could easily be the face of that franchise for many years. Many people may challenge my choice to include her but sometimes straying away from the obvious choices makes the casting game way more intriguing. 

2. Dakota Fanning-  Young and extremely talented. Shameful in a sense that the last big movie we saw her in was Breaking Dawn. It would be a nice return for her to be a in a film that fans are looking forward too. Of course no film comes without some skepticism and casting rumours. I just believe Fanning is a young actress capable of leading a franchise given the right leader to flourish under.

1. Emma Watson- There has been a lot of talk about another Emma possibily being the number one suitor for the role but Emma Watson is in need of new franchise. Having watched her grow up while taking on one of the most adored series of all time Emma Watson proved she is willing to commit to something and see it through. Since Harry Potter ended she has done phenomenal things as a person and continued to act in very engaging and fun roles for a young actress. It would be amazing to see a person of Emma’s calibre work with a creative mind like Joss Whedon to create a strong and independent female prescense on the big screen. 

Whoever does inevitably get cast has some amazing source material to base their performance off and this definitely looks like the beginning of big things for the DCEU. With Wonder Woman and Justice League coming out later this year taking the time to get this right with Batgirl is a big must for the Executives over at DC. Whoever inevitably gets the part has a lot of preparation and source material to sift through and analyze. I am ready DCEU. This is your chance to wow me. So please do. 

Heartbreaking and tragic. 13 Reasons Why tackles youth bullying and suicide

Probably about once a decade we get a movie or show that completely stands a lone in terms of emotional content. Most series or movies have a few moments that are either gruesome or they leave in a seemingly impossible scenario. Most movies and TV over exaggerate death and even life itself. Very few even try and tackle some darker and deeper themes and when most do it is done incorrectly. One show has now changed the complete way in which stories can be told. Thirteen Reasons Why incorporated life, love, bullying, obession, secrets, lies, sex, partying, rape and even suicide into a little over 14 hours of story telling and it sure was an emotional rollercoaster as can be expected. 

Within minutes of the series starting we already knew the outcome for Hannah Baker and we knew it was not going to be a good one or an easy one to handle. That itself creates a very knowingly emotional season finale while creating a mystery cloud around why. Within minutes of the series we knew that Hannah Baker the main protagonist of a new series we were watching takes her own life and we know that 13 people helped cause that in various forms. Thirteen Reasons Why immediately made us feel sad and that was the purpose but quickly through the flashbacks we learn it was a series of events for Hannah Baker that would either be wrong place wrong time or purely an outsider creating a world of pain for Hannah. 

As we learn with Hannah taking your life is rarely ever a spur of the moment decision. It is a decision made over time when things begin to turn completely inversed to the point that the reality you once knew is now a dark place filling your head with the scenarios you wish you could take back. Suicide is devastaingly permanent and changes the life of everyone around you forever. Suicide is something we collectively need to start taking more seriously. Depression, bullying, secrets, lies, Rape and emotional manipulation are all things we as people need to begin to try and understand by speaking with those affected by it and not judge them. 

Thirteen Reasons Why spends a lot of the series detailing the people and scenarios that are leading to the heartbreaking season finale but even though we know the outcome we still hold onto the hope that somehow Hannah was not dead and the tapes were just a cry for attention. However just like life the show has a very intense way of reminding us that just when we are beginning to accept the things we cannot change we finally have the ability to fully comprehend why they are even happening in the first place. 

It was not until the episode that was centered around Justin for the second time and then Clay Jensen that definitely sealed why Hannah did what she did. Justin held onto a secret to keep his friend safe and Clay was afraid to love someone who had a reputation. Which leads me to the cast. Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette have incredibly chemistry as Hannah and Clay. Minnnete’s Clay was quiet, reserved and introverted. Hannah was always mysterious, confident and definitely quirky. Clay and Hannah were just two people afraid of the world who could have been great together but just did not have the confidence to make it work. Langford and Minnette definitely helped propel the story forward and a long with the rest of the cast helped bring to life a story that perhaps is more culturally relevant than ever. 

As a father of a beautiful 1 year old girl who is my entire world this show was the first show ever in my days of watching TV that actually broke me. It had me balling my eyes out more than once and understandbly so. There were two scenes in particular that broke my heart as a father. Those two scenes were Hannah Bakers rape and suicide. Langford’s look of hopelesness and lonliness during the rape scene was too much. It was never quite clear what to expect from the episode where we see the final moments of Hannahs life. The scene where Hannah steals the razor blades from her parents pharmacy is hard enough but it does not stop there and the show does not shy away from showing it. Again Langfords frantic and lonely look are what create an emotion so overwhelming that the natural reaction is merely to react emotionally. However I knew the scene and the outcome of the season but seeing Katherine Langford act out that scene was too much. When she slips in the tub I still had my eyes on the screen but it is the moment when the blood starts gushing that I could no longer watch. Never in the time that I have been watching movies and shows has any show been so emotionally debilitating that I simply closes my eyes, paused the show and I simply wept uncontrollably at 145 am in my living room. Perhaps it was being a father that made me feel for Hannah Baker. Perhaps it was knowing that people can make others feel that horribly about themselves. Its a shame that women everywhere are made to feel the way Hannah felt in Thirteen Reasons Why. The show is about Hannah Baker and the people that lead her to make that choice but the show is meant to show us that there are people everywhere like Hannah who feel they have lost their mind, spirit and body and the only way out to is to take their own life.

 It’s a message to all of us watching to please be more perceptive of the people who are around us everyday and to acknowledge our feelings even when we are scared to do it. Its a message to all of us watching to be closer to the ones we love and embrace them when they are struggling. We should never shy away from telling someone we love them. We should never take someones soul from them. We are humans and built on emotions much stronger than any other life form can comprehend and yet we choose to use it to manipulate people. I just want to know the world is not capable of the things depicted in Thirteen Reasons Why but I already know they are because of the way the show made me feel.
Netflix you have created the most culturally relevant show in years. I definitely feel this needs to be shown and discussed within schools. This show is scripted but this stuff really happens and until it stops we cannot be afraid to discuss it and help those in need. We need to find a way to stop this in the real world and make sure our loved ones never feel a lone. Lonliness is a hard place to escape from. My daughter is my reason for life. Please find yours. In all seriousness to anyone feeling like taking their own life please reach out. Dont wait. 

It’s Morphin time! 

Improvement is something we all strive for. We never want to stay at the same level. Progression, change, challenge are three keys to making something that was once viewed as dull and boring exciting again. Most 90’s kids know of the Power Rangers. As I kid I had action figures, posters, pyjamas and everything imaginable. However as every kid does I began to notice the extreme cliches and the downward spiral of a once beloved classic. Power Rangers has not been relevant since the late 90’s and it really is about time that we are once again talking about this series. 

Power Rangers has always been a well designed story about team building and communication. It at times was bogged down by the one dimensional dialogue and absolute cheesefest that were so called action scenes. It became a joke of sorts as the series progressed and it was a damn shame. At the core of the Power Rangers was a sincere message that should have been heard and deserved to be heard. 

Before news of this film entering production the most relevant thing to Power Rangers since 1998 was a fan made film starring Katee Sackhoff. The word relevant is only used because at first it was a Power Rangers related film and then it wasnt because it was not approved by the big wigs. Whatever the final decision was on that it was still for a brief moment something that was cool and refreshing that carried the name of something so nostalgic to many. Flash foward (Still mad ABC) to mid 2016 and we begin seeing casting photos and set pieces and hope rises again that the Power Rangers can once again be household names. 

That brings me to April 2nd, 2017. With a new Power Rangers film in cinemas I decided it would be a cool film to check out for old times sake. The film begins and immediately as the action tone is set and the experience is beginning there is an immediate connection to one element that definitely has been missing from the Power Rangers and that is dimensional and realistic characters. We can always suspend belief and go on a journey with the characters as long as we care about them. Billy Cranston was immediately that character in this film. It was the bold new take on a Power Rangers character, creating him to be openly autistic. That made it seem so much more down to earth and realistic. A kid like Billy Cranston would be the one to come across a 65 million year old alien war ship that allows him to be a superhero. It never felt like a stretch at all and the amounts of humour from Billy are what kept the film moving forward. Jason Scott and Kimberly Hart were the worst characterized of the new Rangers. The golden boy turned bad boy and the mean girl need to find their inner beautiful and redeeming qualities to save the small town they hate so much but obviously love to hate. Its typical teenage character stereotypes and it almost sets the movie back. 

Rita Repulsa was a good villain. I am not sure chomping down on a gold necklace is how I choose to spend my lunch breaks but then again I dont really want to unleash hell on the world either so that makes us different. All jokes aside Elizabeth Banks did a great job. She was menacing especially during the fight scenes and the one v one with Trini in her home. She was creepy enough but not gives the heeby geebies for life creepy and that was because of the campy scenarios of her eating gold. Bryan Cranston as Zordon was a limited role but definitely cool. Bill Hader as Alpha 5 was the obvious comic relief that helped create a light hearted training montage. After all their training it was a mere suplex that can save the world. Who knew?

With all due respect Power Rangers was a fun movie that knew how to balance the books so it featured a little bit of everything. Morphin Time looked dope, as did the Mechs before and during the fight. It started off well and ended well with minor characterization and dialogue issues as mentioned above. However this had an X-Men vibe to it in many ways and hopefully when there is more the writers capitalize on the small issues that may have caused older audience members like myself to be wary of viewing.

That being said there is no doubt in my mind that this film is worth recommending and worth seeing in theatres for any nostalgic 90’s nerd looking for new versions of their beloved Power Rangers. 

Iboy Review

Netflix has launched 2017 in a big way with two big releases of A series of Unfortunate Events and now their latest film iBoy. We all know the streaming film revolution is at an all time high and it is pretty awesome to be able to see a film on its release day without having to see red in your bank account.

iBoy is an interesting film with a very intriguing central premise. 16 year old Tom is given the power to control electronics after a shooting leaves pieces of his smart phone embedded in his head.

This film was just released on Jan 27th but it certainly caught my attention immediately with the premise. Stories are what always draw me when it comes to cinema and streaming from home will not change that. I became skepitcal about the future of Netflix original films when they partnered with Adam Sandler and Kevin James but this has definitely been a step up from any film made by those two in the past five years.

Lead by Bill Milner and Maisie Williams iBoy is a film made for this generation. It deals with a set of dark themes and very little of this film is light in tone. It creates a surreal world after Tom learns of his new abilities but it certainly brings real world issues into this ficitional fantasy ability. Maisie Williams is the real standout in this film showing her complete range of talent while adding layers to her character of Lucy. It is her character’s brutal rape and assault that puts Tom in the posistion to be shot. 

The ability that Tom recieves is the least important part of the film and moreso simply serves as the device that drives the film forward from a writers stand point. Had he merely learned absolute hacking skills the film could have been the exact same. That is why this entire film works so well. The feelings, the characters, the situations are all real world problems that often go unadressed. The writers added Toms ability for a neat touch on modern technology and it just elevated the film from mediocre to the first great film of 2017.

Netflix has proven once again that it is here to be the means for up and coming film makers to reach a wider audience quicker. If iBoy is a sign of things to come then I am most definitely intrigued with the possibilities of what may come next. It really seems like an exciting time to be a writer. Thanks Netflix. We needed to feel rejuvenation within the film industry and you are providing that. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. What does it all mean? 

A long time ago…. More like early this morning instead of feeling the doom and despair of yet another work week film fans everywhere were treated to a reveal that has been hotly anticipated. We have the title for the new Star Wars film and boy it sure does come with some major implications.

Episode 8 will officially dawn the title Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We are still over 300 days away from release so at this point the only real plot point we have is now this name. It was the same way with The Force Awakens. I mean the original trilogy had names that were pretty straight forward and after the Phantom Menace we all stopped caring anyway so the newest two name reveals have generated a lot of buzz. Most the buzz is layer one at best, just fan theory and photo edits, but this is the first big drop from the studio and it comes fresh off of numerous uncertainties for the franchise. 

The Last Jedi has a lot of implications. Is Rey set to become the last Jedi after Luke dies? Are Rey and Luke combining to be the last resisting force known as the Jedi. It seems bold to kill Luke but it seems the recent aim of the Star Wars franchise is to be bolder and darker all around. The shift in tone was much more apparent in Rogue One but certainly evident in The Force Awakens. 

A lot of people have said Force Awakens was too much of a scene for scene reenactment of A New Hope and there was one very valid reason for it appearing this way. Nostalgia. The Last Jedi does not carry the same weight as The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens or even Revenge of the Sith if you need to hold onto hope that prequels didnt almost destroy the franchise. The Last Jedi almost seems like a mute plot point being raised. Almost reminding everyone of something we already know that the Jedi are a scarce bunch now. 

Overall I am still excited for the film. It comes with a heavy heart and anticipating a film almost seems hard knowing Carrie Fisher is gone. Its never an easy time when the world loses a generational icon as passionate and friendly as Carrie was. As a writer this film brings some intriguing story lines that now will need to be readdressed. Can we even consider a recast? That seems unlikely. Can we use CGI like they did in Rogue One? Sure of course, but clearly last time they tried to CGI Fishers face whoever did it failed miserably and should consider taking employment elswhere.

It is hard to say where the Star Wars saga will go in the next few years but I really hope that we get a respectable dose of Carrie Fisher with all of her cast mates, including her on screen brother Mark Hamill who shared a scene with Daisy Ridley last time out and that was it. I believe this was intended to be Mark Hamills last Star Wars film and quite possibly still could be. The Last Jedi if taken in the literal sense means final one so that has huge implications on a series that now has many more answers to give the fans. 

Patriots Day Review

Moments that define a painful point of time through out history usually become the next big screen movie with an American hero at the center. Mark Wahlberg is slowly becoming that man. Patriots Day is so far the best film where Wahlberg is starring in a film which has a core American moment at its center.

It’s not the type of film that shocks you. It’s not the type of film where what happens is full of plot twists and mind tricks. It is a film purely designed to make you feel things. It makes you think about the pain, shock and terror that the people of Boston felt while these two men were on the streets. Beyond how you feel about politics, Hollywood, actors and all of the media hoopla this film really displayed the tension and fear in a manner that made you feel like there has to be a way to end all this violence.

There has been violence and mass panic spread out in this world in alll locations way too much since I have started blogging. There are stories we don’t get to see about how much violence is a big part of certain parts of the world. This was the American perspective told through a medium that Americans love to pass their time engaging in. I’m taking a step back from looking at from a film perspective and looking at it from the perspective of a human being who wishes violence would end. I am sure we all wish this but as we have all laid witness to violence is all to close to home sometimes. The people of Boston felt this, the people of Brussels, Paris, Orlando and Aleppo have all also felt this pain and fear. I am not sure where the wheels fell off of Society and killing became something that we have become numb too. Violence is something we need to work on ending as a society and should never be something that we anticipate or wait for.

Films, television, books and music remind of us of the pain and they can also shed new light on a situation we may have known little about. However it is hard to spread a message with film that resonates world wide as already myself just by reading reviews of this film people even have a negative response to a film that has too much American heroism as the foundation. There are always going to be moments in time when nations come together and unify and usually it is after a moment like what happened in New York in 2001, Boston in 2013 and even now Orlando in 2016. American patrotism despite how you feel about the current state of politics in their country is a huge rallying point. The cities of Boston and New York banded together after moments of tragedy and showed the world how strong you can be together. All I am saying is that we need more of this but not just in moments of violence.

Peter Bergs film made us look at a moment in time and realize there was a lot going on during the near 100 hours it took to catch these two. The film had incredible pacing, character development and of course the acting was amazing. Wahlberg is the films top bill of course but it is the likes of JK Simmons, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Michael Beech and others that helped solidify this as more than just another film about America. What definitely made me feel the most and elevate this film above Bergs other American heroism films is the element of humour that was present. It made the film feel entirely more real and it made everything have that much more impact as a visual story.

One of the best scenes in the movie is the opening scene because it sets the tone for the entire fim and allows you to immediately connect with Tommy Saunders and Ed Davis as characters and integral parts of the film. The rest of the cast followed suit their own scenes of introduction and thus began a weaving narrative of how 100 hours changed everyones lives through out the city.

Patriots Day is most definitely a film worth seeing on the big screen. The films powerful message about love and unity is enough to give just about anyone the chills. A fine film.