Sorry to bother you [2018]

“I just really need a job”

Wow it has been a really long time since I’ve been on my science fiction shit, watching and posting to my site. I’ve been recuperating from surgery but I’m much better now so let’s get back to it, eh!?

I watched this film months ago some time in my recovery so my memory is sketchy, but loosely, the film (directed by Boots RIley) follows Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield) and there are some other big names in the film as well like Danny Glover, Patton Oswalt, David Cross and more. From the offset, Cassius is struggling. He lives in his Uncle’s garage with his girlfriend. He gets a job as a telemarketer for a large corporation called RegalView – largely it seems to impress his girlfriend –  which progressively presents itself to be quite a morally corrupt company. The aim of the job is to call random people and sell shit and Cassius finds that he is not successful until he puts on his “white” voice at which point he starts to excel in the company. Meanwhile, his colleagues form a union to strike unfair working conditions at the company but Cassius sells out to get a higher paid position in the “elite” team. While working there he discovers that the company are selling military arms through cheap labour, that employees sign up for lifetime contracts and are living in conditions that could be likened to prison. Then, after being invited to the CEO’s house party, he makes an even more sordid discovery that he finds hard to ignore…

Didn’t want to give too much away, but I really enjoyed this film. 

On the face of it, it was a dark comedy but the deeper I went into the film, the more fantastical it became weaving themes around inequality throughout. From the start with Cassius’s living conditions which are ridiculous but totally normalised, to the working conditions that RegalView put their staff through, the clear tiered hierarchy between normal people and the “elite”… And there’s this moment at the house party where Cassius, who is a Black man, is made to rap to his fellow colleagues and on being asked to do that, he imploringly looks to the other Person Of Colour in the room, as if to say ‘is this for real’ who gives this blank look in response… it’s so sinister and illustrates this obvious hierarchy of power between white people and POC even among the “elite” tier in the company. It’s also a pretty typical racist microaggression in real life… Instead of getting to know Cassius, they’ve made assumptions about him based on his colour as if he belongs to a monoculture… It would be like approaching an Asian person and asking them to do some karate moves or to make sushi for you… 

I would be curious to know if someone who was racially all white (not mixed like myself or not a POC) picked up on the same tensions that I felt throughout; it felt like it was building for a long time to the point that the ending was a bit like a kick in the stomach. But then it also felt like despite hearing throughout the film through snippets of news and so on that something strange was happening at the company, the inequalities seemed so much like normal life that the ending really came out of leftfield. Damn I really wish I had written this post as soon as I had seen the film because my memory is a little hazy right now. I’ve read some other reviews of the film where people thought it was messy. If I was to be super critical I would say I didn’t really rate the girlfriend sub-plot in the film. Her character felt like just a device to illustrate how down-on-his-luck Cassius was and a yard stick to show us how morally deficient Cassius had become, but that was also pretty clear through the way he treated the union so I’m not sure that her plot really added anything. Though I love Tessa Thompson. She’s a total babe and an excellent actress. Let me know what you thought about it yourself in the comments. Would love to hear what people thought!

CN: sexual assault

One thing to note was that I found out afterwards that the actor who played the CEO, Armie Hammer, had allegedly sexually assaulted a number of women IRL which I of course believe. In retrospect, his inclusion in the film soured it for me (and has soured a number of other films Armie has been in which I loved like the beautiful ‘call me by your name’) but it’s not often you have films with such diversity, with such an unusual story. I’m just glad the film seems to have had a great critical response despite that. 

So, all in all, original story. Surprising, yet so familiar it could be set in the near future. Loved Lakeith’s performance as well as the performances of the peripheral characters. Really enjoyed it. Check it out on Netflix. 

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /

Behind her eyes [TV] [2021]

“Everyone has secrets…”

This show turned up on my Netflix account recently and not knowing anything about it, my partner and I thought we would give it a try. It seemed to really tick my partner’s box in terms of type of shows she tends to watch whereas for me, I prefer sci-fi (obvs) but we gave it a watch and the show was really surprising. There are big spoilers in this post so YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

The show started out with a sexy liaison between Louise and David who meet by chance in a bar when Louise’s friend stands her up. Their chemistry is palpable and they share – DUN DUN DUHHH – a kiss before David calls it off and leaves abruptly. The next day Louise goes into work and realises that David is – DUN DUN DUAHHHHHH – her new boss! And he’s – DUN DUN DAHHHHHHHHHHHH – married! They agree to move past it but obviously it keeps happening over and over again and turns into a full blown affair. Meanwhile, there’s a parallel story about David’s wife Adele which paints David in this controlling light. Adele has no control over her own life which David sees to, calling her multiple times a day to check in on her and prescribing her heavy medication. Adele intentionally runs into Louise and befriends her, thus beginning a very weird love triangle where both Adele and David are hiding the fact they are friends with or seeing Louise, and Louise is also omitting this to both. Adele appears to be both vulnerable and mentally unstable and it’s hard to know what’s really happening. I feel like the story tries to force to you to question morality because of all these different scenarios that present themselves paint the main characters in this polarised way, but all the characters in this show are so flawed. The ex boyf, the best friend, David, Adele, Louise. The only pure character is Louise’s son who was the most adorable little boy <3

As the story unfolds, you see more and more pieces in this puzzle. We learn that Adele was in a mental institution, that her parents died in mysterious circumstances leaving her a massive mansion and grounds, that David was suspected of having something to do with their murder as he rescues her from this fire that has killed them. And then there’s this character Rob who you’re really not sure how he fits into it. He meets Adele in the mental institution and talks of Adele being like his escapism so when she is released from the hospital and invites him to the mansion, he jumps at the chance.

And then stuff starts getting REALLY REALLY weird out of the blue. It turns out that Adele has this supernatural ability to leave her body and go on adventures. She confides this in Rob who she has been coaching all along. Similarly in present day timeline, she clandestinely teaches Louise how to do this and gradually Louise pieces together that Adele knows about her and David because she has been watching them this whole time using her weird powers and that she might be dangerous.

We find out that David helped Adele cover up the death of Rob which David eventually owns up to Louise and goes to the police. Then right at the end, Louise realises that Adele is trying to take her life. Louise uses the paranormal abilities to jump into Adele’s body hoping to save her only to discover it’s a trap and Adele is definitely not who we think she is.

I really thought this was just going to be another sexy show about two cheating adults who can’t get enough of each other and the more I watched, the more it unfurled into this fantastical, paranormal thriller. I thought it was a pretty inventive storyline with a nice twisty ending, but then I didn’t like how polar the story was trying to paint the actions of the characters. Additionally, I really didn’t like how much they used old tropes in TV and film, like the ‘crazy wife’ or the ‘sexually promiscuous secretary’ or the ‘sexually promiscuous POC’ in fact! Even the cold and abusive way that David was acting in this, the storyline turned it around as if he was only acting that way because he was scared, poor him. He was only controlling his wife and cheating on her and cutting her off from the outside world because he was scared, which I don’t really buy. There’s this one scene where he’s like ‘thank you, you saved me, I’m going to march right to the police’ and he just walks off into Kings Cross station through open barriers and I half expected him to just disappear and never return. TBH I felt like they let him off really too easily given that he covered up what turned out to be a murder. He would have been an accessory if this were real, but instead he and ‘Louise’ lived happily ever after………

That said, I did enjoy watching the show. It was pretty entertaining and such a messy drama with such broken characters. The relationship between David and Louise is so sexy that it’s easy to get drawn into. I think more could have been done to develop the main characters so that they could be more nuanced, more colourful but I liked the Stepford wife gone wrong vibe and the twist. Additionally both performance from Louise and Adele were stellar. The paranormal aspect felt a bit tacked on; it hid under a nightmare remedy guise and I wish more had been made of it to show the impact of it on David and Adele’s relationship. For instance, David talks late in the series about how Adele appears to ‘know things she shouldn’t’ but earlier on when Louise and David are cheating, he doesn’t seem to mind or worry about that which seems inconsistent. In any case, enjoyable and spooky series and like Sharronda from ‘Pay or Wait’ says, Louise should have minded her own BIZNEZ! I’m glad I watched it.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / /

Star Trek Discovery S1 [TV series, 2017/18]

Emperor Georgiou: “What’s wrong? Are you scared, Number One? Where I’m from, there’s a saying,’Scared Kelpian makes for tough Kelpian.’ Have you gotten tough since we served together on the Shenzhou, Mr. Saru?”

Saru: “Affirmative, Captain. Very tough. So much so that many find me simply unpalatable.”

You’ll probably notice a pattern. If I really love a particular series, it usually takes me a long time to really finish it; I guess I like to savour things. Star Trek Discovery is no exception. I watched half the season on Netflix when it initially came out. The second half, I put off until now until I could re-watch it in one go. I said to myself I wasn’t going to write a long review, but I love Star Trek too much not to, so here goes…

Firstly, before I delve into the series itself, I just want to note that whoever thought of the name of the show and the eventual acronym it would become known for… I mean, Star Trek Discovery… Could you not have thought of literally any other word instead of Discovery? Some ideas: Star Trek Encounter / Star Trek Explore / Star Trek Vision / Star Trek Sporedrive… etc etc? STD is such an unfortunate acronym to be known as… I know that officially it is DSC, but Star Trek fans all laugh about the STD-ness of it all.

Back to the show itself. I was brought up on Star Trek TOS, TNG and VOY. I’ve not seen much of DS9, Enterprise or the more recent Picard series (I know… SHAME!) so I can’t really speak to the way their shows were shot or the character portrayal. That said, what I have loved about STD.. ahem I mean DSC, is that other offerings of the Star Trek universe I have watched generally follow a captain, the deck and some notable exceptions (being the medical doctor, transporter people and very occasionally a kickass and extremely knowledgeable bartender). Ultimately though, the focal point is the captain. In fact, when I talk about Star Trek to other fans, often we do away with referencing the actual name of the series and refer only to them through the name of the captain. Oh I loved Picard era Star Trek etc etc. With DSC, the focal point is actually on Michael Burnham who starts out as the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou and then events take quite a turn. She’s extremely complicated as a protagonist and exists in her a great moral ambiguity and sometimes unlikability – as you learn more about her, you just love her though (I do). So that was quite unusual to me, and I really loved the fresh sort of change in this direction.

There were a couple great ‘what the fuck’ moments in the series – without giving anything away – that I wasn’t expecting where I was totally surprised and I thought generally the first season offering was really well written.

The character progression also allowed us to see and be opened up to this warm tenderness, particularly through its LGBTQ characters. In fact, this is the first season of Star Trek that saw openly gay characters feature through Paul and Hugh (fun fact: Paul, played by Anthony Rapp was the original Mark from the musical RENT, which happens to be my absolute favourite musical of all time and I listen to the soundtrack ALL. THE. TIME… and he also has this really quirky single/music video called ‘Out Out Damn Spot’ which is one of my go-to songs when I want to dance about. Go check it out. You’re welcome). HALLELUJAH! It’s really about time. Like what? You can imagine a species of peoples that look like wood? You can imagine a room people can use to pretend they are Sherlock Holmes and then Moriarty accidentally gets out and somehow is self aware even though he is just a computer programme? You can imagine an android finally getting his emotion chip and losing his damn mind? You can imagine Sulu going crazy and trying to fence people to death while maniacally laughing? You can imagine a Captain and a Borg being Best Friends Forever? You can imagine Captain Kirk sleeping with all manner of lady-alien? But you can’t imagine gay characters until two thousand fricking seventeen?! I know I don’t sound grateful… I’m REALLY grateful, and even more grateful that I know season two introduces trans and non-binary characters, but good grief Star Trek writers! Buffy the Vampire Slayer was literally writing about LGBTQ characters in the 90s, and that was a children’s TV show… I feel like we all deserve better but I guess at least Star Trek are representing a real spectrum of characters, which is more than a lot of other shows are doing. I just hope that other shows will take note! So yay? And thankyou? And about time? And please don’t take this away from us? But please normalise this? We need this? Also please represent more prominent characters with disabilities? Indigenous characters liken to our own?!

Last thing to mention is that it felt like the season was very top heavy, in that there was a lot happening along a couple story arks and the final cherry felt rushed with regards to mentions/resolution of a Klingon war and seemed a little unlikely and tacked on but the outcome of that ending led the season to be in a nice place for season two so…

Anyways, I loved it. Great characters, yay LGBTQ, really cinematic and epic visuals. I would really have loved to have watched the season in a cinema. I bet it would be GLORIOUS. Story was great. There are some fricking kickass women in this season, curveballs and concepts in space travel that haven’t been explored before, Michael Burnham is a literal joy to watch. All in all, really enjoyable. Would watch again. I’m watching season two now which is even better. More on that soon.

Tagged : / / / / / /