WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn

I always love it when I can watch a documentary that actually teaches me about something I knew nothing about. Not just one that reaffirms, or improves, or challenges my believes. So I am often looking for random documentaries that give me a topic to teach me something.

Which is why I wanted to see WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, also known colloquially, as WW:oTMaBoa47BU. Fuck that’s an acronym.

What is WeWork? A really profitable company that died? Recently? What the fuck? Do I only not know this because I am not hip and cool and know nothing about the financial concerns of the 2010’s? Yes. Yes likely.

So what is WeWork? I guess that is the main question.

wework
Oh, they are a strange billboard company. 

Adam Neumann, an entrepreneur, was the creator of WeWork. His initial, basic concept, was to get an office building in NYC, redo it, make it modern, and then fill it up. Not with large companies. With small, young companies. Companies that currently have 1-2 employees. Filling a floor with all these young, talented, determined mines, to all get rich, and get them cheap office space that is well furnished and awesome, was meant to build not his own empire, but to help others. It also had a sweet summer camp of fun and drinking too, everything pre-paid for. Party hard, work hard.

This expanded to more buildings/floors and more clients, and bigger summer festivals. Hell, they even had a WeLive thing, where they had a residency building, like a hotel, and just filled it with these same young tenants, fully furnished, full of like minded individuals, everything they could want in the building.

It was like building a cult.

They kept referring to themselves as a tech company, not a real estate company, which helped get investors and expanded their worth. And then? and then I don’t know. Maybe you can watch the documentary and tell, it definitely gets lost on me.

I really can’t describe what WeWork eventually became or what was promised, it is hard for me to tell. I don’t know if it is the documentaries fault, or if that is the point of the documentary, that WeWork is sketchy and hard to understand. Probably a little bit of Column A and B there.

The documentary was okay, but it never fully grasped me and I do think it had a problem tell the complete story. I also thought the makers behind it were being a bit misogynistic. There is a not disputed plot line in here that seems to blame their unraveling on Adam’s wife, and his inability to not ignore her ideas. Because he was cool at the beginning, but then became lame. But it sounds like overall, he was lame the whole time. I really don’t remember anything taking away those claims about his wife, and that is fucked up.

Fine, I won’t invest in this company, that still exists. I guess the documentary worked?

2 out of 4.

The Never List

Never have I ever….made a list.

Actually, now that I made that dumb first sentence, I will note that there has been a few horror films based on dumb drinking games. We’ve had Truth or Dare. Would You Rather. Has there been a strange horror movie made on Never Have I Ever? Someone needs to get on that if not.

The Never List is not a horror film, or based on a dumb teenage drinking game. But it is horrible, and it is dumb, but I will get more on that later.

kiss
Hey look, they cloned Olivia Munn and made her young again. 

Eva (Fivel Stewart) and Liz (Brenna D’Amico) are best friends. Known each other their whole lives. Eva is a bit of an overachiever and doer-, Liz is a bit more wild, but they hang out, pretend to be rock stars, draw and like the same things. It is a good relationship.

It was good. Until Liz had to go and die one night, presumably in a car crash (they don’t really explicitly say). Eva is now devastated. Her best friend. Gone. During her junior year of high school, which is usually one of the top 4 hardest years in high school. Eva has a lot going on. She agreed to run for class president for her senior year. She is trying to pick out a junior prom theme. She is trying to get good grades for colleges. Her parents (Keiko Agena, Matt Corboy), especially her mom, are making sure she is always doing things to make her life in the future better.

Well, Liz and Eva had made up cartoon characters that they drew in stories. They were actually more badass than either of them. And they would make up things for them to do, that neither of them would ever dream of doing. It made up their Never List, because they are good girls, damn it. In a moment of weakness, Eva decides to sexually assault someone running in the park, one of the items on the list! (Well, it was to pinch a stranger’s ass, and she did it, so I am not wrong with my description).

Liz has a lot going on, and she wants to just throw it all away to be an artist. She wants to raise money for a summer program with her favorite graphic novelist, because her parents would never agree to that. And sure, if she gets stuff done on the list, that would also be swell. Who cares if she throws away the rest of her life in the process. Grief is weird I guess?

Also starring Andrew Kai, Anna Grace Barlow, Jonathan Bennett, and Ryan Cargill.

consolting
Hey, you know what really helps with grief? Cocaine. 

Normally this sort of film, which plays out like a made for TV movie, would be the type of thing I still probably would have avoided and given a 1 out of 4 if I had to see it. It isn’t fun, or dramatic, not sure which way it really wants to go. It is pretty damn basic. The things on the list range from harmless, to sexual assault. Not just ass pinching. She needs to trick someone into taking Viagra to embarrass him in public. This leads to a bunch of homophobic slurs being used, and the movie does a really poor job of quelling that aspect. Like…really poor.

The acting was really low across the board. Especially when it came to the sad scenes about the characters death. Just absolutely unbelievable acting. It was also true in the extremely predictable pot brownie scene. And the extremely predictable lies to protect people scenes. Yeah, that is all this is.  Predictable garbage.

But what really put me over the hump to make this a 0 instead of a 1, was the bad audio in two music based scenes. There is a concert scene, and then later on during junior prom, a live singing scene. Both of them sounded so fake and clearly just audio being played it allowed for zero emersion. The club had no noise and chatter and rough sounds, and people talking or cheering or shouting. It was bizarre. And the ending fun scene went from regular talking to, oh, this singer is a superstar, different voice, music appears, background vocals, you name it.

I don’t think I am petty here. It was just already a bad movie. And just things like what I mentioned above, combined with the acting and assault stuff, in this year, just seems like a bad movie from the 90’s coming out 20 years too late. Shit, maybe that actually is a young Olivia Munn? Who knows.

0 out of 4.

Twist

I often post interesting stories on how I ended up finding about a movie if it ends up being a more obscure piece. The story for Twist is rather unique for me given the circumstances.

You see, the director of Twist is Martin Owen. Martin Owen also directed a film last year called Max Cloud that I was given a screener for. But, I also interviewed Martin Owen, which is a shame, because I disliked Max Cloud a lot. It made my worst of the year list.

But in preparing for the interview, I looked up his past and future work, and also briefly talked about his upcoming movie Twist which had some actual famous people in it and a bigger budget. I wasn’t looking forward to Twist, because I disliked Max Cloud so much, but I was still curious on how it would end up.

PARKOUR
It would end up in parkour-land, apparently. 

Oh boy oh boy, our young Oliver, who is going to just go by Twist (Rafferty Law) (that’s the movie name!), is a criminal! Well, he doesn’t have a family, so that might as well be illegal.

But no, he is also a graffiti artist. He likes to spray paint the sides of buildings or whatever, illegally, because he considers himself to be an artist. And he often has to run from the law due to this fact, but the good news is, is that he is really good at parkour. Climbing up and down walls. Jumping over roofs and alleys. Shimmying up ladders. Whatever.

This gets him discovered by a gang of thieves! And they want him to help with the heist of a century. It is going to involve parkour, a lot of parkour. Also it is an art heist, so that keeps the theme in tack. But he is a new guy on a team. Can they trust the little bastard?

Also starring Noel Clarke, Lena Headey, David Williams, Jason Maza, Sophie Simnett, Franz Drameh, Rita Ora, Jade Alleyne, and of course, Michael Caine.

Michael Caine is in this movie
There is no parkour here, there isn’t even parcheesi. 

You may be asking yourself, is Michael Caine actually in this movie? Or is that a thing where he has about two scenes and that is it, so highly billed and advertised but not really in it? Nah…he is actually in it many times, as the head of the orphan art thieves. Go figure. But Michael Caine has said for years he doesn’t mind being in shitty movies, as long as he gets his pay day. That quote is paraphrased.

Twist, and let me remind you I really have no clue what the plot of the original is about, outside of an orphan wanting more food, tells a pretty dull tale. It is a heist film, and a secure painting must be found, stolen without anyone knowing, and brought back to the hideout. So a lot of shenanigans, and red hearings will be in the way, and probably some, oh what is that work, twists?  Ahh. Is that a pun technically? I hope not, because of course a heist movie will have some twists.

Twist is definitely better than the previous work, Max Cloud, and it might just be due to the budget. It looks nicer, there is some unique camera shots, and the acting isn’t as bad (although cheesy over the top acting was part of the point for Max Cloud). Twist is still overall a dull, and boring movie but at least it isn’t trash trash.

It is also quite forgettable. It took me almost two months to write this review, and who knows how long I will take to actually publish it as well.

1 out of 4.

Doors

You know what we need? More beautiful and glorious independent sci-fi film. I think Arrival counted as indie. Maybe it wasn’t. It felt indie at least.

And Doors, at least by cover art and plot, looks like something that could be confused with Arrival.

So I will go in expecting Arrival level quality, or else I riot and walk.

kids
Arrival had some kids in it, sure. 

Doors is actually a sci-fi movie with four related yet independent parts (the last one is very short). It involves suddenly these black alien entities that appear all around the world in random places. They get nicknamed as doors (even though they don’t look like doors), but you can walk into them and go somewhere. And they also talk to some people.

The first segment, Lockdown, is when they first arrive, and centers on some students taking a test. That one stars Kathy Khanh, Julianne Collins, Aric Floyd, Rory Anne Dahl, Christopher Black, and Saman Kesh.

Then a few weeks later, we have the Knockers segment, named after people who go into the doors to investigate. They have a limited amount of time to gather any intel to report back, before being trapped or losing their own minds. This one features Josh Peck and Lina Esco.

The third segment, 100 or so day after the doors, we focus on Jamal, a lone scientist who thinks he has figured out how to actual communicate with the doors. Hearing them and letting them hear him. Starring Kyp Malone, Kristina Lear, Bira Vanara, and Wilson Bethel.

The last segment is a quick zoom interview, with a conspiracy DJ and a famous alien scientist, featuring Darius Levanté.

knockers
Even got fun containment costumes. Will it make me cry? 

Doors was nothing like Arrival, of course, and I only have myself to blame for that. With four different stories though, unfortunately, it would require most of them to be good -awesome for the movie to be worth it. From my count we have two average stories, and two below average stories, which is a huge disappointment.

The first two were the okay ones. In the school, it had a couple nice moments, but that was about it. It kept up the mystery which is nice. The second story, with the knockers, had the potential to be fun. It had a lot of mind fuckery going on inside the doors. But mind fuckery for mind fuckery’s sake is not worth it if there is no real purpose behind it. I mean, maybe the purpose is evil aliens. It however still needs something to give it meaning or reason and it chooses not to.

What I am saying is, I can’t overall like it, if I don’t eventually find out a reason for what was going on. And they don’t give a good reason, besides Alien space magic tech and that is it, which is a sort of boring answer.

The last two stories? Well, one didn’t seem interesting. It had a guy be able to communicate back and forth with a door for others to hear. But we also already knew they could communicate in some way. Was that more interesting? Nope. More just silly door shenanigans. And the last one felt like it wanted to be a scene out of a Paranormal  Activity movie.

Doors could have been great. It could have tried to give any answers to it. It could have gone for some deep psychology. But it went for a couple of scares and a couple of snoozes instead. Yawn.

1 out of 4.

Secret Magic Control Agency

When I first found out about Secret Magic Control Agency, I figured I was definitely not going to watch that movie. Its poster/images just screamed a straight to DVD, low effort, low budget, animated film. I loathe those types. They always make me so angry. They are extremely basic on story, and hide behind the fact that they are a kids film in order to say they don’t have to stand up to the quality expectations of an adult.

Fuck that noise. Kids deserve quality too. Should we only ever feed our kids hot dogs, and never let them try pork roasts, or steaks, or turkey? No. Kids can know good stuff exists too, even if it means coming to terms with the fact that a lot of basic stuff out there is, in fact, basic, and not worth their time.

So why did I watch it? Because it actually released on Netflix. A much bigger platform than expected, so I need to check it out quick to see if it is worth time before people get stuck wasting their own time potentially. Or you know. maybe it was great and I needed to spread the word.

kids
Corgis, by definition, are low effort as well. 

In this magical kingdom based on (checks notes), ugh, fairy tales, we have kings and queens and magic users and all of that. But because of shenanigans in the past, magic is now regulated by the Secret Magic Control Agency. I guess they are like the CIA force of this world. I don’t know what they actually do most of the time (make sure people doing magic have the appropriate bureaucratic paperwork? Capture people using magic like a villain?) but right now they have a very important job. The king was kidnapped!

Led astray by some mysterious food. Oh no. So the agency is going to get one of their top up and coming agents on it. Gretel (Courtney Shaw)! Why just one person? No, the powers that be think they need to get a thief as well to join her, someone who knows how to lie (something that the agency should be able to handle given their normal job functions…?) and they specifically search out Hansel (Nicholas Corda / Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld). Yes. Siblings.

But they are grown up, one is a charlatan, the other a law enforcer. And they want them to work together to get the king back before everyone realizes he is gone. So they have to put away their differences and you know, do that.

Also featuring the voice work of Erica Schroeder, Johanna Elmina Moise, Marc Thompson, Mike Pollock, and Tyler Bunch.

steal
Captured but unlimited dessert? There are worse places to be. 

Low. Effort. Films. That could be enough of my analysis and end, but I guess I will be specific.

This could have been a generic fantasy film about completely new entities. But they decided no, we NEED this to be Hansel and Gretel. Why? WHY? The fact that they are these characters doesn’t do really anything for this story. They make a bread crumb way back home reference. There is one line about the Grimm Brothers writing up their shenangians, but in charge of changing the details to make it sound like a story instead to…hide the truth? From who? Is this set in the past in this world? This has a lot of advanced stuff in here, and wouldn’t make sense to be set in our own world, let alone the past. That is a bad joke and they should feel bad.

The only thing they needed for the plot would be to have a brother and sister. Almost all of this is new material. Just because something is on the public domain, doesn’t mean it has to be used. No child is going to be picking movies and be iffy about this film, but see that it has H&G and go “Oh shit, hold on momma, this got my favorites in it lets get it!”. No one cares and it just makes an already lazy movie feel more lazy.

Honestly, if this was an original story that wasn’t relying on name recognition of aspects in order to tell a story, it would fall easily in the 1 out of 4 territory, because at least there was effort. But the lack of effort just pisses me off, especially when the makers would probably acknowledge that this film isn’t great themselves. They would just mark it off as a kids movie and say it works for that level, and that is unacceptable.

0 out of 4.

The Terrible Adventure

Along my travels as a movie reviewer, I have certainly seen some things. I have seen the best of movies, and I have seen the worst of movies. I have seen movies you haven’t heard about before, and those that destroyed the box office. I have seen movies in movie festivals that eventually saw the light of day, and those that stayed in the darkness forever.

I have seen many a good and bad movie. I have seen many a great and a terrible movie.

I have seen so much. I have seen a movie that filmed scenes inside of a house with the first battery alarm going off and no one thought to stop it, creating a disjointed mess, where one angle it was going off and the other it was not. I have seen a movie starring one person talking to others on the phone the entire time.

And yet despite everything, I was still not prepared for The Terrible Adventure.

kid
Nothing could prepare me for this child and the rest of the cast. 

Okay, here we go. Olivia Johnson (Olivia Thompson) and Jackson Johnson (Jackson Thompson) are two kids, in a nice part of Florida, being kids or whatever. Their dad, Brad (Brett Engle) is going through a divorce with their mom, Janet (Jillian Chiappone). And she is an outright horrible person for some reason, yelling, throwing stuff, whatever, Olivia finds it funny.

A billionaire (Ron Beau Phillips) who owns an ice cream company, Huncha Muncha, which appears to just be ice cream sandwiches and that is it. He is holding a contest in various parts of the world. On his ice cream bars is different questions, and if you know one of them, you will get to move on to the next round. This is a scavenger hunt with “harder and harder” questions, with a big money prize at the end. And I guess it is meant to be region based the scavenger hunt, so many of these going around the world. Whatever.

Because of their parents divorce and job problems, Olivia gets a bar and solves the first problem because she likes science. She gets her brother involved and they go on an adventure on their own to try and get more and more clues to solve this stuff.

Oh, and for some reason along the way, there is a corrupt ice cream truck man (Santo Curatolo) who hires a homeless guy (Ciro Dobric) who is also corrupt, and they just keep following our kids trying to take the clues and continue on for the big prize.

Also starring Kristina Maria Day as a spy.

ice cream
“I don’t like cream on my face…not a drop!” 

It was only a few minutes in, maybe ten, when I realized I was watching something that may end up being one of the worst films created of all time. I will describe the scene.

A sports car drives up into the driveway and lawn of our main characters house. A blonde woman gets out and starts yelling at the dad. Just insulting him over what feels like nothing. he then starts throwing the last of his “things” at him, including art, and microwaves, and he just stands there being disheveled. This stuff gets get broken and destroyed! She continues to berate him, before driving off. All of the while, the main character Olivia sits there on her bike behind her dad, just smirking and giving the most “Oh you” face known to existence. Like this is humorous, her parents divorce and yelling and stuff being broken. Then they drive off.

That is when I realized this was not an ordinary bad movie, this was a top of the line bad movie. This is a movie that didn’t give a fuck about telling a good story, or acting, or dialogue. This was going for comedy, in a sense that no one would find it funny.

I also noticed it sounded really weird during this scene. I realized quickly that this dialogue was recorded not live during the scene, but at some other point. I realized it first when I noticed that the mouths didn’t always match up with the dialogue. I noticed it more when I realized it had absolutely no outside sounds, just complete perfect vocal track and that is all. This audio issue persisted throughout the movie. It wasn’t just one redone scene. (I cannot confirm the whole movie had to redo the audio), but it was certainly a lot of it.

And it was certainly true for every scene with the ice cream men, who started to feel completely fake, with the voices that came out of the men. They might have actually done the audio, but because it matched so badly, it was like watching a dubbed film except there was no reason for it to be dubbed.

This film lacked any amount of humor outside of slapstick. It had a basic story, that was also hard to follow due to its own implausibility. The contest didn’t even make sense, nor did it apparently have anyone actually trying to solve it.

This film was made to showcase Florida and to talk about Global Warming, but no one will give a fuck about a message if your film is a piece of shit.

The director and writer, Kel Thompson, is the literal dad of the two kid stars. They even have their actual real name as their character names. They have no acting talent and it shows. They tried to go out of their way to make them smart, but the only way to do that was to put them near two characters who had a -3 intelligence. The kid actors weren’t even given an IMDB page like the rest of the cast. How can you have an IMDB page where your two main characters aren’t even listed in the credits apparently?

And when they got dirty and went home and went to bed, why did they never clean? Why did they not change clothes? Why did it stay that way?

We even have at one point a very white male character playing someone Hispanic, doing a pretty racist accent reminiscent of Speedy Gonzalez.

I could go on and on about how terrible this film is, but there is no point. Statistically, zero people will watch this movie who see this review, and you likely would have never seen it out either. I can’t for the life of me figure out at what stage the people involved realized this was shit. But I hope that it did happen at some point. I can’t imagine them living a life this distorted from reality to think any of this was worth their time or ours.

0 out of 4.

Taking the Fall

Would you go to prison for other people? Would I? Ehhh, I really doubt it. I don’t think I could last in prison. I’d freak out like that fresh fish in Shawshank probably.

I have seen people take the blame for others actions before, doing quite the noble thing. One kid in my high school got busted for weed, that belonged to him and his roommate. He said it all belonged to him, not the roommate, and so he got kicked out of school, while his roommate got to graduate. Crazy noble.

I’m not noble.

Taking The Fall is about a guy who was just so nice he did something just like that and what happened next.

prisoner
Being stuck in prison so young. Better hit the button labeled Turbo, kid

Tyler (Munro Chambers) is getting out of prison after six long years! Hooray! He has a felony charge, because of a whole lot of weed. This was in college, where they got to party all day. It wasn’t really his weed, and it wasn’t even his idea, but he took the fall (The movie name!) so his friends could graduate and make something of themselves.

So his best friend Justin (Roland Beck III) picks him up and takes him to a nice rented house for a small get together. It was supposed to just be him, and one more, but they invited a few others to have a bit bigger of a party.

One of his older friends Peter (Chris Sturgeon) with his new fiancé (Kristin Zimber), his ex (Katie Gill) and her boyfriend (Jonathan Dylan King), and another friend (Avalon Penrose) who is a mom now!

Now Tyler can uncomfortably, reconnect with everyone he was close with at the same time, and listen to complain about their lives, how they feel stuck, how little they have done since he went away, and all of the bad decisions they made and continue to make. But come on. Tyler went to prison. Get over it.

millenials
Ah yes college. Where people drank beers uhhh….beers!

The main reason I wanted to see this movie is to figure out the rest of the description. Guy comes back from prison but and is ready to be happy, but… “only to discover that they’ve nearly all veered off course under the pressure of millennial culture.” What’s this? Millennial culture? What does that mean? Are they going to eat Avocados with Toast? Is this something about crippling student loans?

I was ready to be angry at the presumed anger at the main character. And honestly, his backlash went at them a little over half way through the movie, and it was so totally not work it. Yes. He was in prison. And he is mad because his friends don’t have jobs that they like. That they are burdened with child. That they feel trapped in relationships and don’t want to make their lives better.

It isn’t even a good rant. It is disappointing.

And I am surprised there is so much movie left after that. It is a low budget flick, it is designed to be full of long takes and conversations, but they really needed a lot more to drive the point home. Which is I guess….follow your dream and take risks? What is some debt if you already have student loan debt. Or something like that.

But again, it was extremely tame in topics. I don’t know. They really needed something more to add to the pressure the main character felt. Maybe a couple more characters with some other issues to pile it on. But he got mad at like, three old friends and one new person he doesn’t like. Overall not worth the time or story.

2 out of 4.

Voyagers

I don’t know how I can take seriously someone with the last name of Burger. Talkin’ bout Neil Burger that is, director and writer of voyagers. He has been around the block once or twice in movie land. I have reviewed a few of his films before. He did The Upside, Divergent, Limitless, and even The Illusionist way back ago, which he also wrote unlike the previous few.

None of his films I have loved, some of them I have disliked, but at least one I did like overall. It just didn’t go as far as I had hoped (but it did launch a TV show eventually, so good on him).

Now going into Voyagers, I knew nothing about it. Some movie set in space. So what? That isn’t special. Earth is in space, so everything set on Earth is also set in space. But seriously, I heard about this movie two days before watching it, only seeing a single poster, so going in almost as blind as possible to this one, and I hope this one will not muddle about and get me into that “love” territory for one of his films.

kids
Picture of me teaching how to love movies during the pandemic.

In the future, our Earth is gonna be fucked. We know this, and all the movies know it, because it is a popular topic. So we have to get off this rock and find a new rock that could support our life, but this time, try not to screw the planet up. But we haven’t gotten that sweet cryosleep technology figured out yet, so any travel to the planet would have to be real time, with those at the start not going to likely see the planet in their lifetime, with over 80 years of journey time.

So what is the human race going to do? Well, the plan is to send a big group of kids, slightly genetically picked to be smart and efficient. They will be test tube babies. They will under go schooling and training together. And then they will be sent in the rocket. And one adult (Colin Farrell) as a guide, so they can go earlier than planned, and he can help out, knowing he definitely won’t see the new planet.

And sure, things go well for a bit. But once a student discovers one of their supplements was a lie, and actually used to suppress their hormones to keep their emotions and sex drives very low, things start to get bad. Distrust begins to happen. And a death. And now with no trust, and factions, and SO MANY EMOTIONS, they are going to have to see if they even want to continue this mission at all.

Starring so many young actors and actresses! Like Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp, Fionn Whitehead, Archie Madekwe, Archie Renaux, Chante Adams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Madison Hu, Quintessa Swindell, Viveik Kalra, and Wern Lee.

bad touch
This is not a good touch, get your puberty off of her! 

Sure enough, this ended up being one of those movies where I really got into the story and dug it, and found myself along for the ride at several points. The beginning had a good chance of dragging on too long with the set up, but it zoomed through everything pretty quickly. Before and after sexy puberty time, the aura of the ship was noticeable and getting darker.

Is this movie saying sex emotions are bad?! Nah, it is just telling a story with some thrills (and just a little little bit of sex, it is just a PG-13 flick), on a very unique ride through space. I will say the movie got really close to making a really good point about growing up, or “society” or whatever, but never seemed to land that point just right, which is probably why a lot of people left this movie annoyed.

Basically, it feels like Lord of the Flies, in space. And honestly, I had to pause it multiple times just because I was getting  stressed out for some of the characters who couldn’t get out of their situation. They were literally trapped on the same ship, and I didn’t know if the movie would end on a good or a bad note.

And hey, maybe this movie is just an allegory for pandemics. A few selfish people who don’t want to listen to the rules can ruin things for everyone. Literally the future of our species too.

Oh yeah, come on director. Gonna have a lot of test tube babies and can’t get more diversity in this film? It has like the bare minimum, but we are talking about a future colony going to settle all the humans. I’d expect a bit more of an effort.

3 out of 4.

Sensation

I got a feeling, inside my bones. It goes electric when I turn it…on? (Wait, it should be electric before being turned on. To be turn onable one would assume you have electric capabilities already, but what do I know).

Sorry, I am not here to criticize Mr. Timberlake, that was a different review. I am here to talk about different feelings a person might have, or at least, different sensations.

The movie Sensation is made in not-America (this time Canada!)  and it is an independent film that deals with themes of superhero potential and potential virtual worlds. What is real? What is not? It can be the next mind explosion or it can be a drop in the water and no one care for it. Which will it be…which will it be…which will it be…

bench
Ah yes, time to get on roofs, look out on the city, and think about feelings. 

Andrew Cooper (Eugene Simon), no relationship to Anderson Cooper (probably), does have some questions about his genetics. He submitted his DNA to a testing facility, to find out about his medical history and real history, all of that, and apparently things have gone awry since then.

Long story short, he is special. More special than the other special people. He might even have some super powers. He might be able to see that his reality isn’t a reality, and be able to distort things because shit isn’t real anyways. Can he get powers from emotions? We shall see!

But what even is reality? Maybe everything is a lie and this shit is fake.

These mind fucks also feature Emily Wyatt, Jennifer Martin, Marybeth Havens, Alastair G. Cumming, Anil Desai, Kai Francis Lewis, Alex Reid, and Lorraine Tai.

bus
Is this bus real? If it is a real bus, where did the roof go? Hmm?!

If that plot description sounded vague, that is because 98% of this film went in my brain and out the other. It never once made me care about the people in it, or what they were saying. I remember only a few scenes, just days later, and the ending, but it is not like it is an ending I want to remember.

This movie takes ideas from other films, crams a few of them together, and leaves nothing desirable at the same time. I wouldn’t say the ending is predictable in that I knew how it would end. But it was predictable in that I knew it wouldn’t feel satisfying or justify the time spent watching Sensation.

Fuck. I went in a little excited based on the plot line of this one. No one made me know of this films existence, I found out about it on my own from a VOD release site. I didn’t go in wanting it to be bad. But it was just so full of drivel and rehashed other plots that it had no chance of keeping my interest.

You all probably won’t see it, because you probably didn’t know it even existed, so this warning won’t mean much. But definitely do not waste your time.

0 out of 4.

Shiva Baby

There is a chance that this movie might have snuck on by me, and that would have been a travesty. It came out last weekend, both in theaters and on VOD. Shiva Baby is based on a short film of the same name with the same lead from a couple of years prior. People liked the concept, and hey, it was expanded, with some bigger names added to the cast overall. It went from 8 minutes to 77 minutes. Definitely a full length movie now, but shorter than most movies that are released, meaning it will still feel short in some aspects.

So how did I hear about Shiva Baby?

Just word of mouth. Another friend said they heard it was “More Stressful than Uncut Gems.”

Whoa. Calm on down now. Uncut Gems was by far one of the most stressful movie experiences I have ever had in my life. It involved guns and death, gambling and high stakes, women and jewelry, athletes and bookies.

Just by comparing the two, you have my attention.

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The face you make when you don’t inherit your parent’s height.

Danielle (Rachel Sennott) was just trying to get her sex on, when she gets a voice mail from her mom reminding her of a funeral that day. Fuck. Okay. She missed that, but she is expected to show up for the Shiva, and be there for hours, talking with all of her relatives, and old friends. But everyone there is so nosy. They pry. They want to know if she has a job lined up. How is college. What her major is. Who is she dating if anyone. And she has to answer these questions, with her parents (Polly Draper, Fred Melamed) there who know some of the truths too, so she can’t just lie.

But you know who also shows up? The guy (Danny Deferrari), she was sleeping with, who gives her money for things. Her “job” that she says she has for her parents and friends to get off her back. Turns out she was lying to him. He was lying to her too. Turns out he has a wife (Dianna Agron), and a kid.

And to top all of this off, her best friend Maya (Molly Gordon) is here, and she is seemingly being a complete bitch to her in all of her moments of woe.

Cramped spaces. Relatives. Family friends. Food. Old people. Babies. Who wants to be trapped in this situation when your entire reality is crumbling?

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It is hard to see someone looking more miserable than our lead here.

To start with the comparison, no, it is not more stressful than Uncut Gems. That was an unreasonable bar to start at for any movie, so I quickly adjusted my expectation on stress levels early on and it was a wise decision.

Because Shiva Baby was still quite stressful. The run time being under 80 minutes was perfect for the situation we were in at the Shiva. The level of claustrophobia felt very real and very high. The viewer will feel stuck in that house with all these people that you also, do not want to talk to. Not just because of Covid, or your own levels of social anxiety, because you know you also won’t have any answers to their damn questions. Each one making our lead character, and us, feeling uncomfortable. Their disappointment in their tone and eyes.

And that is only one aspect. All of the drama about the job, college, the relationship, just really adds up. The main reason this all works so well has to be the score used throughout the film, full of quick violin bursts, almost feeling like a horror film at times from the sound alone. The acting across the leads as well is great. Timing and realistic conversation is what makes this thing work, and they put their skills together to make it work great.

Emma Seligman, the director, showcased a strong film for her first feature length project. I don’t know how much of the movie drew on her own experiences growing up, but you can tell this story was handled by someone who wanted to make sure that various messages were given care. That grief is strange. That sex work is not only okay, but not a big deal. That sexuality in general can be a spectrum and that relationships aren’t always straightforward and need time to work out for some.

Shiva Baby is an overall great film to add to the “Stressful Jewish Cinema” collection. Not above Uncut Gems. But slightly beside it. Let’s get some more in this genre, please?

4 out of 4.