Start With Seconds…

A REVIEW OF “THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY” SEASON 2 (SPOILER FREE)

Creator/Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

I question when I will hit the superhero movie fatigue that is always brought up in conversation when the likes of Marvel and DC throw out their beloved titles that the studios recognize as cash cows or when fanboys in a homicidal rage scream to the interwebz “Release *insert name”‘s Cut!”. All I have to say is, “Not Yet”. Also, I need to recognize the thought and effort put into television shows of the less well-known comic book entities. Of course one must mention “The Walking Dead” (even though that show should have ended around 4 seasons ago), HBO’s “Watchmen”, Amazon’s dark and entertaining superhero show “The Boys”, and of course Netflix and My Chemical Roman….I mean Gerard Way’s “The Umbrella Academy”. (Not to forget the now defunct and gone-too-soon shows of Netflix’s “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones”, “Iron Fist”, “The Punisher”, and “Luke Cage”). I plan to keep this review as spoiler free as I can, but it is technically “Season 2”, so there will be mentioning of sh*t that occurred in “Season 1”.

Let me first start off by saying that I feel like it’s been ages since we met “The Umbrella Academy” (even though the show premiered in February of 2019) and the Hargreeves children who make the X-Men look like model citizens in comparison. If you don’t want to know the ending of season 1, please stop reading HERE.

Vanya f*cked sh*t up.

To give more detail in an eloquent manner, Vanya murdered the moon in season 1 which caused a giant piece of it to careen into the earth; killing all life as we know it. Luckily for our heroes, Number 5 (does…does he even have a name?) managed to transport them out of there and back to 1960s Texas, which turned out to be not so bad for most of the group (Klaus even got his own cult)…except for Allison, whose vocal chords had been sliced and has now been deposited in a time where racists denied African Americans their rights, including even the right to sit and be served at a diner.

And this is where I think the second season really one-ups the first season.

As the first season was our introduction to this new comic book world with a new family of enhanced beings with abilities, the second season goes full tilt into showing how they are able to cope being stranded in an era that did not take kindly to what was seen as different, be it Luther’s size, Klaus and Vanya’s sexuality, or Allison’s race. Really, the main plot of this season is just like the entire premise of “Quantum Leap” (another fantastic sci-fi show). Just like Dr. Samuel Beckett, they’re hoping their next leap will be the leap home.

In 10 episodes, Netflix is able to make us feel and empathize with what is going on with each and every one of the main characters (including even Ben, whose character arc was one of the best this season) while weaving an intricate narrative that climaxes into quite the spectacle. I wish I could go into quite more detail on the on-goings (seriously, go watch this…like, right now), but you’ll just have to live with me saying there’s blood, psychotic rage, goldfish, Antonio Banderas lookalikes, daddy issues, and of course (as Dominic Toretto quips in every one of his movies) family. – YoungYoda

Y’ALL NEED JESUS

A REVIEW OF HBO’S “the righteous gemstones”

By the way…this one’s spoiler-free. Enjoy.

I love when comedies are smart. When they take taboo subjects that very rarely get discussed (as people either find them too ridiculous or too unnerving to talk about) and shine the brightest damn light possible on them. Growing up on the coast of Mississippi, being raised southern baptist, and attending christian schools, I can say that I have seen my fair share of religion and teachings. I’m still spiritual in my own way, but I choose not to attend church services as I’ve been given plenty of reasons to mistrust religious organizations, especially those of the mega churches where every Sunday seems to be a Pink Floyd concert with a sermon in the middle of it. So, of course, I found HBO’s new comedy series hilarious, riveting, and having one hell of a soul.

“The Righteous Gemstones” is a brilliant comedy series that pokes fun at religion and leaves no mega church unharmed in its wake. Starring John Goodman, Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, Adam DeVine, and Walton Goggins, we are taken into the lives of the Gemstone Family, a multi-generational media conglomerate with live Sunday sermons broadcast all over the world. Goodman plays the patriarch Eli Gemstone, who is battling depression due to the passing of his wife (even going so far as to erect a fountain with a statue of her head topping it), and dances between wanting to follow his wife’s final wishes and the power of the dollar all-the-while having to corral his misbegotten children. Jesse (McBride), Judy (Patterson), and Kelvin (DeVine), as they’re called, are truly the protagonists of this series.

Jesse sees himself as the perfect…well, everything. As a father, brother, husband, pastor, etc. From the first episode, this is shown to be very, very untrue and it only gets better from there. As they say, pride comes before the fall. Judy is the 40-something, unmarried sister who looks for attention, be it from her father, lover, brothers, uncle…really anyone, like a heat seeking missile and behind that smile is a rage monster. Kelvin, the youngest, has been set to task as being the youth pastor in his family’s business and given really no responsibilities, other than keeping his friend Keefe Chambers from returning to his past devil-worshiping ways. Their back and forth bickering, slap stick, and general immaturity are the comedic highlights of this first season.

All three are spoiled to the point where reality has faded into the opulence of private jets, Mercedes G-Wagons, and even a flippin’ roller coaster on the family compound. However, mistakes are made that are liable to upend the family and cause irreversible damage to the image that Eli Gemstone has been cultivating for decades. How the family goes about reconciling these mistakes are truly hilarious and end in somewhat of the plucking of the good ol’ heartstrings. Also, another shining cast member is that of Walton Goggins who plays “Baby” Billy Freeman who is just electric in his role. I don’t want to get into too much detail as this is a must watch in my eyes and should be in yours too. – YoungYoda

If You Ain’t First, You’re Last

A Review of ESPN Films’ and Netflix’s 10-Part Documentary, “The Last Dance”.

I have personally never been a competitive person. Perhaps it’s my laissez-faire attitude due to my overwhelming french lineage. Maybe it was always because my dad made sure that having fun was the priority over actually winning. It could also have been my lack of physical prowess and in turn my focus on that which is more intellectual. Whatever the case may be, I am no Michael Jordan. “The Last Dance”, ESPN and Netflix’s co-produced documentary miniseries, focuses on what made “Air Jordan” the greatest of all time and how the dynasty of the Chicago Bulls came to an end with their sixth championship.

There are in fact, very few Michael Jordans whose competitiveness borders on obsession. When we think of the greatest who ever played in sports, the names Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Wayne Gretzky come to mind. Topping this list and overshadowing these names, is of course Michael Jordan. Jordan was and still is (thanks in part to Nike) an international sports hero. What “The Last Dance” does great is put a spotlight on how he came to be that, starting with his draft in 1984 and what he recalls as “a shitty team”. He had to overcome an environment where many of his teammates partied and phoned in their play, not caring if they won or lost. Jordan was the ultimate fire lit under the ass of the Bulls’ organization. He was there for one thing and one thing only, to win. He practiced, worked out, stayed in his hotel room, and focused on raising up that Larry O’Brien trophy (at the age of 21). To Jordan, nothing else mattered other than to win it all on the biggest stage in basketball.

It took him seven years to reach that pinnacle. And in that time, he endured multiple losses at the hands of one of the hardest hitting teams in the league, the Detroit Pistons. Battered and bruised, he willed himself to become better. He raised his teammates up and confronted them when he didn’t believe they were giving the same effort, which, let’s be real, was not possible. On the court, he was an asshole, but he was an asshole who was going to win and drag his teammates along for the ride. This spirit for the love, no, the respect of the game has made him a household name (along with the six championships he would ultimately bring to Chicago).

But, “The Last Dance” is not just a focus on Jordan’s basketball prowess and his championship rings. It goes deeper into his personal life, during this time, showing a man who couldn’t walk outside without the press hounding him; wanting to know if this was his last year or what he thought about Scottie Pippen. It showed his relationships with his teammates and coaches, most notably Pippen, Rodman, Steve Kerr (Go Wildcats!) and Phil Jackson. I personally recommend the Rodman episode as it shows just how much of a dominant presence he was on the basketball court and also Jordan’s respect for his toughness and defensive prowess.

Some of the harder and more touching moments in the series is when MJ’s father, James Jordan, is brought up. How much of an impact he had on his son’s life, even telling him not to balk at the Nike deal (Michael Jordan was an Adidas fan), and how he was there for every moment from the lowest, due to a foot injury, and one of his highest being right by his side during that ’91 championship. “The Last Dance” also touches on James Jordan’s murder and how that affected Michael to the point where he fell out of love with the game and subsequently turned to baseball for 18 months (and apparently given a few more at bats, would have made it into the majors in his 30’s). For being a basketball documentary, the audience gets to see a depth not usually shown in sports films.

“The Last Dance” is not just a look at Michael Jordan the phenom, but an intimate portrait of a man with a lot of talent, but whose hard work, passion, and drive made him into a superstar. It also shows the ugly side of fame, where every movement made is press fodder and where every action is put under a microscope (Funnily, all this was before the invent of social media) and the mental toil it has on an individual. Lastly, it shows something we don’t often see characterized about Michael Jordan, that he is human.

By the way, the infamous “Flu” game was actually food poisoning. If you’re a sports fan, particularly of 90’s basketball, then this a total recommend. Insert crying Jordan meme. YoungYoda Out.

Sympathy for the Devil

an opinion on josh trank’s “capone”

This piece comes a little late, but so does everything for 2020 apparently. It has been a long time since I’ve come to sit in front of my keyboard and take up the mantle of “Cinema Reviewer,” but I felt the need to come to the defense of Josh Trank and his latest endeavor, “CAPONE” also known as “FONZO”. It seems other reviewers have not put 2015’s “Fantastic Four” behind them and still hold somewhat of a grudge when Trank’s name is brought up.

When movie audiences hear the name Al Capone, what they envision in their mind is the ruthless gangster; a criminal mastermind who ran the Chicago underworld in the 1920’s and 30’s. Maybe even Robert De Niro’s portrayal in “The Untouchables” where he wears a tuxedo and beats people to death with a baseball bat. Josh Trank’s “CAPONE” is no “The Untouchables”. It’s what happens after the glitz and glamour; where the violence and drama become silent; where old gangsters go to retire, to get old, and to fade away.

I think for many a person, they did not go in expecting what they saw in this movie. They went expecting an action movie where Capone puts his enemies down with a Thompson Submachine Gun and makes those who owe him debts eat through a straw. Those who already knew the story of Al Capone’s last years, I believe, had better expectations on what they were about to see on the screen. For those unaware, Al Capone’s last years were basically spent in what could be called medical retirement. Released from prison (his charges being that of tax evasion) early, at the age of 48, due to the complications of the late stages of syphilis which he apparently had since the age of 15. These complications included that of neurosyphilis which affects the nervous system, coordination, and can cause dementia.

So, instead of a tough talking villain, we have been shown the face of a man who is literally dying in front of us. Well, not just any man, but that of the legendary outlaw/criminal Al Capone who has been made a larger than life figure in our history and media thanks to multiple movies, books, and television shows (including that one where Geraldo Rivera’s career was destroyed and he can now only get a gig on Fox News of all places, but I will let you all research that one on your own time).

With this in mind, it is very easy to see just what Josh Trank and Tom Hardy (I can’t believe it took me this long to mention Tom Hardy in this) have accomplished. They took one of the most legendary historical figures and shone a light onto his last years and just how much of an ordinary human he was and how death is always the great equalizer. If “The Untouchables” was showcasing the climax of Capone’s legend, then “CAPONE” is it’s lowest depths, where he crawls slowly to that awaiting grave. Trank does not falter and does not shy away from showing the fragility of Capone, putting Tom Hardy in frame to drool over himself, smoke a carrot like Bugs Bunny, scream as his possessions are being sold off, and even shitting his silk drawers.

I personally think “CAPONE” is a marvelous insight into the final years of one of the most legendary and vile humans to walk the face of this earth. Al Capone doesn’t deserve our sympathy, but Josh Trank’s brilliance in storytelling and Tom Hardy’s gift of acting helps to rip it from us. ~ YoungYoda

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow

An Experience

Sometimes life works in mysterious ways to make sure you don’t fuck yourself over from experiencing some of those moments you will never forget. This is that story. (Skip the next two paragraphs if you want to only know about the show and not how I got there).

So, let’s take a journey back to about five months before December 6th where I come across a Kevin Smith (follow him you fools) twitter post decreeing that he and his heterosexual life mate, Jay Mewes, would be taking America (and possibly parts of Canada) by storm promoting their newest film “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. In my nerd hype state at that moment, I purchase one ticket (this will be a mistake, trust me) for $60 and message three of my best friends telling them about it. They seem hyped enough and I, expecting they would be prudent in their purchase to join me, leave the matter in their hands (second mistake). This, in turn, would come to bite me straight in the ass as I had forgotten a key element, that these group of friends are literally the worst at following up on anything (I moved into my house 3 years ago, and none of them have driven the hour and thirty minutes to come see me. Oh well.).

So, here I am holding a ticket to an event to see THE Kevin Smith, one of my personal favorite directors (and king nerd) and just a straight up cool dude. Having watched all his Q&A’s on DVD, I never thought that I would get this chance to see the man in the flesh. Unfortunately, anxiety has a funny way of fucking with you and I told my wife that I didn’t want to go by myself. Reluctantly, I post my ticket on StubHub for $100 (Figured I might as well get $40 for my trouble). Months go by and my ticket stays unsold, so I’ve sold my fate as to being fucked. But, there always appears a light at the end of the tunnel (sometimes it’s a bus, but whatever). Anyways, there had been another ticket that had went up about the same time as mine for the low, low price of $320. As I do not have Kevin Smith money, I said “No thank you”. However, 5 months later that ticket’s price dropped down to $120 (Yes, I know double the original) and luckily for the seller of that particular ticket I was stuck in a Phoenix hotel with nothing to keep me entertained. So, I de-listed my ticket, said “Fuck it” and purchased another ticket to bring my wife along for the ride.

The Myth, The Legend, The BOB

Fast forward this story to the night of the show. After an hour and a half drive, we arrive in the parking lot of The Loft Cinema (btw, I had never been to this movie house) which I doubt had been updated since the 70’s. Neon and the light from the marquee illuminated an old school, silver travel trailer that had been converted into a food and wine truck (We skipped this attraction as I just wanted to find two seats before we were left sitting in opposite ends of the theater. BTW, this show was also sold out. Tucson showed up.) We manage to find seats and patiently waited. I can honestly say, I have never felt more comfortable in a theater of people before. If you couldn’t find a nerd in Tucson, it was because they were all here to support a buddy movie featuring a mute in a trench coat and his blond, loud-mouthed co-star. I was so excited to even have made it this far. About 15 minutes later, our efforts to get to this point would be greeted with a much more trim Kevin Smith, from the one I had seen on those DVD’s, who would go on to express how this was his 53rd sold out show, how this movie was one big personal love fest for Kevin Smith by Kevin Smith as Kevin Smith was the biggest fan of Kevin Smith, and how he thanks everyone for showing up (and probably overpaying) to see him and his friend do the same thing they had been doing for 25 years. He would go on to introduce Mewes who had apparently been pulled from an update of Fortnite, but was ecstatic for this showing as he had family in the audience who had attended. They also went on to show us three, hilarious and creative, audible ads featuring Jay and Silent Bob before they started “Jay & Silent Bob Reboot”. S/O to audible for sponsoring this tour along with our own little podcast. Get a free trial by going to audibletrial.com/thenerdcorps.

I don’t want to be that guy who spoils, so I’ll try and keep my descriptions as simple as possible about the movie. If you’re a fan of any movies about or featuring Jay & Silent Bob (from Clerks to Dogma to Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) expect to laugh from the beginning to the end of this film. There’s no time for oxygen in some places. Expect for big, celebrity cameos as Smith guilt tripped anyone and everyone he knew to be in the film after his heart attack (he confirmed this himself in the Q&A). Jay Mewes’ performance will give you those nostalgic fits of laughter along with some pretty well formed scenes which will pull on the heart strings. The stand out star in this film is strangely neither of the characters whose name graces the title, but Kevin Smith’s own daughter Harley Quinn Smith. Though Jay and Silent Bob bring the laughs, it is Harley who drives the movie forward and gives Mewes the chance to flex some acting muscles we had rarely seen in previous works. She along with a great supporting cast and possibly the most celebrity cameos to ever be put on the big screen, help to create a feel good, fun time at the movies, where we can properly show our appreciation for Kevin Smith’s creation to honor Kevin Smith. (And yes, Ben Affleck is totally in this movie).

I will just say, if you are lucky enough to make it to the Roadshow, please stay for the Question and Answer segment after the show. Kevin Smith gives honest, heartfelt, and hilarious answers to random questions fans throw out there. I will tell one story from this because I think people need to know how caring these two guys are.

Yes, those are giant inflatable joints that they gave away to audience members.

One of the audience members went on to tell Kevin how thankful she was that he made movies and how she and her husband’s first date was to see “Jersey Girl”. But, she also expressed how her husband had passed away three years ago and she had come to the show to show Smith and Mewes support as she knew that’s what her husband would have wanted. She goes on to ask if this was the final movie for Jay and Silent Bob. Kevin Smith proceeds to bring her on stage and give her a hug (Mewes also gets a hug out of it) and then Smith holds her hand the whole time while answering her question. Which, by the way, both a Clerks 3 and Mall Rats 2 are currently going into production. I think this experience shows why Kevin Smith is one of the most beloved directors of our age. He is super appreciative that the “one magic trick” he was capable of with the creation of Clerks has paid off for the last 25 years because of the fans. (If you weren’t aware, Clerks was added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry about a week ago).

To give this movie a rating (as is The Nerd Corps way) would be difficult to say the least. I know the experience of this film would be far different if I had been alone on my couch instead of watching this film in a packed theater full of Jay and Silent Bob fans including the real life versions of Jay and Silent Bob (and honestly, I think this was one of the best dates my wife and I have ever gone on. So, thanks Kevin). So, in lieu of a rating, I will say just to go watch the movie when it drops on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Amazon Prime on January 31, 2020 or before hand if you can make it to one of the stops on the Reboot Roadshow and decide for yourself.

I can safely say that this night will be embedded into my memory until I cease to exist and I am damn glad I decided to go out of my comfort zone and see great people creating great things. YoungYoda out.