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

‘The King of Staten Island’: A comforting but somber effort from Judd Apatow

Though the film has its flaws, this newest directorial effort from Judd Apatow is a great look into Pete Davidson’s life.

CREDIT: Universal Pictures

This newest film from Judd Apatow is a semi-autobiographical look into Pete Davidson (Saturday Night Live, Trainwreck) and the several struggles in his life. Whether it starts with his suicide attempt or his rocky relationship with his mother’s new boyfriend, according to Davidson this covers 75% of his life. The film also stars Marissa Tomei, Bill Burr, Maude Apatow, and Bel Powley who all do great jobs in their performances. The film is also co-written by Davidson so it adds a form of a personal touch when approaching this film.

As always Apatow does a great job at blending comedy and drama in this film that has truly created his style of writing and directing. What I appreciate the most from the film is the way that it commentators on how one can maneuver mental illness. The film is always vocal that Scott suffers from mental illness but he is always trying to find a way out of his mind. Even though the commentary is not subtle as some might hope, this is a movie that has to be loud about its subject matter to challenge the stigma of mental health. Now, this does not make the film perfect as I have noticed with a lot of Apatow’s work, the pacing is very off that the runtime could use some trimming. Other than that, there is a lot to appreciate from The King of Staten Island (2020) that could make it one of the best of this terrible year we know as 2020.

I am not sure if as of this moment this movie could boost Davidson’s career but I have a feeling it will. Judd Apatow is no stranger to putting comedic actors on the map with his films as seen with his work with Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill. Along with rich visuals that truly emphasize Staten Island and bring a sort of authenticity to the film, The King of Staten Island is one to watch this year. Do not sleep on this movie and share some laughs or some very caring moments as you consume this movie. Even though this is not a perfect movie it thoroughly gets its message across to its audience.

Watch The King of Staten Island on video on demand anywhere you can rent movies.

“It’s a good lie.”

A Review of the farewell

Photo Credit: businessinsider.com

This may be the most difficult review I will ever have to write for a movie.  Lulu Wang has created art which crosses all thresholds and is relatable to any audience. The Farewell is masterful in dredging up familiar moments.  Moments which include the happiness of family gatherings to the horrible, gut-churning acceptance of a reality where cancer may soon take your patriarch. 

Its portrayals of the ridiculousness of how families deal with both marriage and death are both different yet recognizable.  Even though this family is predominately of Chinese origins, any race or culture can understand and appreciate the events happening on the screen in their own lives.  Even the dinner scenes have those similar bickering moments between relatives we’ve all had to be witness to.  This is a film whose emotional connection to its audience may be unmatched by any film which has ever come before it (and I do not say this lightly). 

The superb casting works hand in hand with the script to create a family unit that comes across as being real and not one haphazardly thrown together to be portrayed on the big screen.  I would be very surprised and disappointed if Awkwafina does not garner a Best Actress Oscar Nomination for her portrayal of Billi, the somewhat somber and cynical grandchild of the bubbly and full of life (and also unfortunately cancer) Nai Nai, played by Zhao Shuzhen.  The supporting cast also help to carry the burden of Nai Nai’s cancer (as they refuse to tell her as to not scare her to an earlier grave) throughout the film.  Their interactions help show every side of a family trying to deal with the ever-looming presence of death including humor, guilt, and heartbreak. 

The vulnerability presented in The Farewell is as unnerving as it is beautiful.  This along with the ending scene, which is almost a guarantee to elicit the waterworks, is why I am calling this the best film of the year and it is only September. 10/10 long cries. YoungYoda out.

(P.S. This review is purposely short as words are difficult when it comes to the emotional intensity of this film.  My suggestion is to go watch it and understand where I’m coming from.  Much love.)