Monday, September 17, 2018

The OA

Starring: Brit Martling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Phyllis Smith, Alice Krige, Patrick Gibson, Brendan Meyer, Brandon Perea, Ian Alexander, Jason Isaacs, Will Brill, Riz Ahmed, & Paz Vega

Seasons: 1 (2016 - ) - Network: Netflix - Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Netflix gives TV shows an unprecedented opportunity never before seen, and it has led to many unique and innovative shows making it on the air. The network governs itself, without any FCC oversight, it also isn't reliant on immediate ratings, and can give unique shows the time to evolve, grow, and gain a following. This is especially important for a show like The OA, which is perhaps the most unique show I've ever seen.

After missing for eight years, Prairie Johnson (Brit Martling) is finally found, only something is dramatically different. The once blind girl can now see, but that's not all, she has weird scars on her back, and seems completely out of touch with reality. Her family try to help her cope and re-integrate, but with only limited success, as Prairie seems to be obsessed with a mission that she must complete. Before she's able to do this, Prairie must recruit the help of five people and tell them her story, where she's been, how she got there, and what happened to her. As we get to know Prairie and discover why she's so weird, we also get to know the five people who will supposedly help her on her journey. All of them are unique in their own way and all of them have their own stories, which while not the main focus of the show, offer a nice interlude from the Prairie Johnson saga. 

The OA is a strange show which features multiple dimensions, near death experiences and experimentation, even interpretive dance. If you are not a fan of Science Fiction or desire your Sci-fi with a lot of action and strange beings, you probably aren't going to like this show too much. I found the OA to be very dark, sometimes intolerably slow, and it very frequently repeats itself. That being said it is also a incredible mystery that asks a lot of questions that some people may find hard to deal with. I found the show somewhat difficult to get into but once I did, it became very addicting. I needed to know the whole story and see what happened once the story ended. 

The show has been renewed for season two, but much is the case with many Netflix shows, that was a year an half ago. I really don't understand why it takes them so long to get addition seasons of their shows produced. It is very anti-climatic when you think about it, because people who got into it when it first debuted have probably forgotten all about it by now. Not to mention, how do you just start watching a show again that you haven't seen in two years? Many people are going to forget everything except the major plot lines and not wanting to re-watch the first season, aren't going to bother with season 2. With that in mind, a second season is supposedly on it's way, and hopefully it answers the biggest question of them all.


Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, & Lucy Fry
Director: David Ayer - Rating: NR - Score: 2 Stars

In the world of Bright, almost all fiction creatures exist and are integrated into modern society with man kind. In the city of Los Angeles, people are up in arms over the first Orc to join the LAPD. No one is happy about it, least of all his partner, Daryl Ward (Will Smith) who has already taken a bullet because of him. One night, while out on patrol the pair come across a unique threat, one that could change the world forever, but can human and Orc come together to put an end to it? Could somebody please tell me what all the hype surrounding this movie is about? It is the biggest Netflix film to date, a sequel was announced before it even debuted, and while critics universally panned it, fans have turned it into a cult classic, dedicating all kinds of things to it on the web. As for me, I was excited about it, but just like every other David Ayer film I've ever seen, I was sorely disappointed. People were saying how unique and innovative this film is, maybe, if you've never seen another science fiction film before in your entire life! Every aspect of this film, from the racism towards other species to the integration of man and creature has been done to death! Themes like this in Science Fiction are metaphors for racial inequality and have been done in film and on television since the civil rights movement! Will Smith stars and once again thinks it's 1992, he's a teen heartthrob, and everything he says people are going to find hilarious. Much like Hancock, Ward is completely out of touch with modern audiences and geared toward a much younger crowd. I really don't understand how Will Smith can be outstanding in things like the Men In Black series and then just step back into roles like this. The rest of the cast was equally laughable, as was much of the story, but similar to Ayer's last big budget film, Suicide Squad, the plot is outstanding. It's the kind of thing that could have gone right so many different ways, but instead was just so badly butchered by shotty directing, terrible storytelling, and immature humor, that after a while, Bright is pretty much unwatchable.

The Preppie Connection

Starring: Thomas Mann, Lucy Fry, Logan Huffman, & Sam Page
Director: Joseph Castelo - Rating: R - Score: 4 1/2 Stars

The Preppie Connection is a film based on the 1984 drug scandal at Choate Rosemary Hall, an elite private High School in Connecticut. Toby Hammel (Thomas Mann) is a good student who is awarded a scholarship to this elite private high school, but when he gets there, he discovers, as the poor kid, he doesn't quite fit in. In order to make friends, fit in with the popular kids, and get close to the girl his heart desires, Toby tells them that he can get them whatever drugs they desire. The truth is he has no idea how to do that, but someone as smart as he is was bound to figure it out. As with many of these films, some artistic license was taken, and not everything in the film is exactly what happened, however I find films like that make for the best dramas. Think about it for a second, some things in life happen that are just so strange and twisted that even the best writers couldn't make them up. These films play as more realistic, audiences tend to connect closer with the characters, and they even become invested in the story. I myself went searching Wikipedia afterwards to see what happened to everybody all these years later. The star of the film is Thomas Mann and other than his eerie resemblance to Sid in Lords of Dogtown, I knew nothing about him, but his performance was astonishing. Coming from a bunch of teen party movies to doing something like this was a huge step in the right direction and hopefully a big break for a talented young actor. V star Logan Huffman and newcomer Lucy Fry round out a stellar albeit unknown cast. IFC films are my favorite Independent films, stories based on real life events are my favorite kinds of drama, add to the mix a talented and relatively unknown young cast and you have the recipe for a film that does not disappoint. The Preppie Connection may not have the action or big name star that appeals to many fans, but by in large it is an unforgettable story of just what one person is capable of when properly motivated.

American Bully

Starring: Matthew O'Leary, Marshall Allman, & Jonathan Halyalkar
Director: Dave Rodriguez - Rating: R - Score: 1 Star

American Bully is one of those film that has a message to tell. What that message was is still a complete mystery to me. This entire film is based on a single act, which wouldn't be such a bad thing had they showed what led up to the act or what the results of the act were. The film is short to begin with, at just seventy-five minutes, but for the material presented, that was still too long. The entirety of this movie features a bunch of high school kids hanging out, getting drunk, and expressing racist views. After an hour of absolutely nothing going on, an opportunity presents itself, something finally happens, and the film is over. I thought with the subject material that this was a film that could have gone in a million different directions, but literally almost nothing happens! Matthew O'Leary stars, and while I consider him to be an underrated performer, it's roles like this one that are going to keep on the b-movie list. When actors are capable of so much more, why take a role like this? Clearly American Bully was a low budget, independent film, and without a payday or a strong leading role, there simply isn't a reason to take on a role of this nature. As I said the film has a message to tell and it seems pretty cut and dry until the end. The big left turn may have made the ending a bit more interesting, but calls into question the entire message the film had originally intended to portray. Overall I found the whole thing to be just a strange experience severely lacking in almost every category.