I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter

Sometimes a court case comes along that captures the attention of America, either because of how terrible it is, or how silly it is. OJ was the case of the century in the 1900’s. We had the Hot Coffee case that the media ran away with and influenced the public about, without going into the real details surrounding the case. We have courtroom drama shows, courtroom drama movies.

We love the law, but we we love it when people break the law and do bad things to have this drama.

I Love You, Now Die looks at a recent case of which you most definitely heard about and have a strong reaction to. Two teens, one dead boy. Suicide. And on his phone, dozens of text messages for him to kill himself from his girlfriend, including maybe telling him to get back into his truck which was how he eventually went out, when he was having second thoughts.

Have you heard it? I bet you have. And from that, we were all thinking the same thing. “That Bitch!”

However, media blurbs and unresearched news might be the real story here.

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That’s the woman who you are calling a bitch.

The 24/7 news media cycle is constantly going, constantly searching for clicks and ad revenue, because the newspaper is dying. So anything to get people to click your site is great, anything juicy or disturbing. And yes, the facts about this case are disturbing. The outcome of the death is disturbing.

But what about the history? What about the years before that July 12th, 2014 moment? What is the greater context?

This documentary is in 2 parts, overall over two hours long. The first part goes over the case against Michelle Carter, what was argued in court, the texts, and all of that. The second part focuses on the defense, using the same evidence, the same laws, to argue something very different. And of course the second part includes verdicts, reasoning, and the appeals.

And you know what? This documentary reminded me about Hot Coffee. I went into Hot Coffee thinking one thing, and left with a new opinion. Documentaries that can effectually change your opinions are a magical lamp of desire. Most of the time, I either watch because I agree, or disagree and hate it the whole time.

In attempts to remain unbiased, they didn’t have a voiceover reading texts, adding inflections or sarcasm or anything. So there is a lot of reading of the text messages between Carter and the boyfriend and other people involved.

The only reason I am not giving it a 4/4 is because in their attempts to stay unbiased, they got really biased at parts. During some of the text exchanges, they had somewhat scary background images. The faces of the couples distorted, with lots of distortion and strange background music. It made those aspects feel clearly a lot more “evil” versus the more generic backgrounds used throughout most of it.

This documentary does such an amazing job of showing both sides equally and fairly, it is a bit sad to see it mess up a few times on those details.

Either way, this is an important documentary, and one that reminds us to check things out and not just take a shitty news article for face value.

3 out of 4.

Maiden

When I was a young Maiden, my mother had spoken to me. When I was a young Maiden, She told me be weary of the sea.

None of that is true, but it is similar to the plot of Moana. But unlike Moana, Maiden is a documentary and a true story of women power and conquering the oceans like many men before them. More importantly, it is a story about Tracy Edwards, the most bad ass sailor lady you will have ever heard about.

You see, in virtually most sports and specialized professions, they were generally for men only for some time. War, soccer, football, baseball, sailing, being a CEO, being King, you name it. Women have had the short straw. And in every one of these events, one woman had to be the first to break the mold eventually.

The mold to be broken? The Whitbread Round the World yacht race that was held every three years. It would take over half a year to complete, broken into various legs with the groups on the water for over a month at a time. A very expensive voyage, with a lot of obvious peril as well. Tracy wanted to sail around the world and be on a crew! And these men crews weren’t having it, even if she was talented. Eventually she landed on a crew as the Cook, got some experience, but no respect.

So she said screw all these asshole men. I’m gonna make my own crew! And I’m gonna have only women on board to prove we can still be successful!

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And, you know, that’s why we have the documentary.

No one believed in the ladies of course. No, they aren’t strong enough, or experienced enough, or what have you. They were a media buzz for years before the race, in trying to secure funding, in repairing a boat, in finding a crew. But of course most people just made fun of them in the media and other teams.

But Tracy put together a team of ladies with various sailing experiences. They practiced as much as they could and they had a plan to work together. And most importantly, they had trust.

Now surely you can just look up the 1989 race and find out how they did, but if you don’t know the results along the way then the documentary will be that much more thrilling. There is a surprising amount of footage, both before, earlier in her life, leading up the race, and during the race that has been put together for this documentary.

What the documentary struggles with is the finer details. I had to look up way too much about the Whitbread Race, and it is clearly a good documentary to give better explanations for it. They were inconsistent when giving details about the various legs of the race. The first few they showed global lines, talked distance and the struggles. And then suddenly one leg had none of that, and I had no idea where they were heading or how long they would be out on the ocean. It just seemed silly to almost have all of the details and exclude information later on.

This documentary is very powerful and inspirational however. It is great timing for it to come out, both 30 years after the fact, and in such a troubling time of vying for equal rights and me too movements. It was inspiring then, and it is inspiring now.

3 out of 4.

Stuber

I imagine that if you want people to enjoy your movie, if you think you have made a fine piece of art, that you realize you need to convince them to spend money and go to see it. So you need posters, advertisements, interviews, screeners, whatever.

And part of the equation just has to be a good movie name. Something long an exciting, something that is visually appealing, just anything, right?

Stuber does nothing for me as a title. Nothing positive.

It screams like a movie I’d want to actively avoid, if I was a normal consumer. Only reason this review exists is because I was invited to watch it. If it was up to me, I would have probably avoided it forever, just on the title alone. Clever joke potential or anything aside, I just hate hate hate this title.

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Sitting up front? That means they feel DTT. Down To Talk.
Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is an Uber driver and a clerk at a sporting goods store. Yeah, big player. He isn’t even a great Uber driver, which is just his side gig to make more money. He is going to start a woman’s only spin cycle class with his BFF, Becky (Betty Gilpin), whom he is of course in love with.

Vic (Dave Bautista) has spent many months, years even, trying to bring down a drug kingpin named Teijo (Iko Uwais) in LA, bringing in the hard stuff, that heroin. After tragic events, he escapes and he still has to spend all of his waking moments thinking about Teijo. This puts a strain on his relationship with his daughter (Natalie Morales), and everyone in his life really.

Also he is getting old, and losing his eyesight. So he wants to get LASIK, which is great, minus the being blind-ish a few hours after the surgery. And that is of course when Teijo is finally able to get caught again, doing a big drug bust. Aw shucks. Good thing his daughter just taught him about Uber to get to her art show.

Also starring Karen Gillan, Mira Sorvino, Jimmy Tatro, Scott Lawrence, and Steve Howey.

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I often contemplate teaching my driver sex moves because I assume their lifestyle.
Now that I have seen the movie and I am past the title, I have to admit, the movie itself also does nothing for me.

Excessive violence can be okay, but the amount of excessive violence in this film never felt believable. It could be partially because of the cop’s blindness for most of the film, but he never feels like he is a great cop, detective, anything. He is a big body that can look intimidating, but Bautista never seems to really match the role given.

On the other side of the coin, Nanjiani is also goddamn terrible. It’d be one thing if he was some sort of perfectionist character who needs that 5 star rating to keep it perfect. But holy shit, he is a bad uber driver and it makes the whole thing uncomfortable. Since he is playing such a passive character, it is hard to root for him throughout the film, just so he can show some growth by the end. But the character is just insufferable for most of it.

In Stuber, the twists are lazy, the violence is easy, and the message is missing. Don’t be a bitch? Go excessively towards your goals at all costs? I have no idea. I just know it was a waste.

1 out of 4.

Adolescence

I definitely feel as a movie reviewer I am more of a sell out. Where are all the weird movies? The straight to DVD films? The C class films? I used to review it all, now it is mostly theatrical releases, Netflix releases, and the occasional VOD. At least my documentaries tend to be less famous.

Well, heres a pledge. More VOD films! I will try to do one a week.

Starting with Adolescence! It is recently on VOD and has a few people you may have seen in other films and had a limited festival run. Remember, straight to video doesn’t mean bad.


Ah yes, youth, the future, old dude. Yes.

Adam (Mickey River) is an uncomfortable high school senior. He is good at writing, but he has a bad home life. His parents (Elisabeth Röhm, Michael Milford) argue a lot, over bills, jobs, fixing the bathroom for over a month, and so on. They are poor, but surviving, and this has made his life rather long and arduous. He is relatively smart though, a great writer and an artist as well. But he doesn’t apply himself for college.

He is also inexperienced with the ladies due to his shy and nervous nature. Somehow he has a really outgoing friend in Keith (Romeo Miller) who convinces him to skip school to go out and meet ladies. He is so smooth, he tries to feed him lines, and eventually a line works! Somehow, Alice (India Eisley) finds him enduring. She invites him and Keith to hang/party with friends.

One thing leads to another, and they are hanging out a lot more, and having sex. One thing leads to another, and they are doing hardcore drugs and skipping out on life, school, and friends! Oh no!

Also starring Jere Burns and Tommy Flanagan.


Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Maybe more just Manic Girl in this movie.

Adolescence tells a familiar story, youth has rough life and it becomes rougher thanks to drugs! And unfortunately, it also tells the familiar story in a familiar way.

The more tragic character in this movie is our girl, Alice, and she is used as a plot point for our male lead to realize that drugs are bad, and sometimes people you love need to be cut from your life. Sure. But again, it is nothing new.

The acting is done well from our two leads which is the main saving grace. A lot of nice yelling and shrieking and sad drug filled moments. It is awkward at times because River definitely doesn’t look like a high school senior, he looks damn near 30 and I have no idea his age now. He might just look really old and be closer to age appropriate, but he stands out for this reason.

This film also helped answer one other question. What happens to the artists who had kid rap names? Like Lil’ Romeo? Well, he is now just Romeo Miller, one of the actors in the movie, and doing his own adult movie thing. Aooarently they can just dop the lil part of their name and go on strong!

Also, bonus shout out to the toilet scene. It was really well framed and shot, best in the film.

2 out of 4.

Midsommar

When Midsommar was announced, it became one of my top anticipated films of 2019.

Sure sure, a big part of that has to do with the theme. A horror movie, set mostly in daylight, and in Sweden? That is unique in itself, even if the plot ends up being weak. Location can mean everything.

The other big reason is that the director, Ari Aster, was ready to follow up his smashing success of Hereditary. Not only was it on my top of the year list, but it was the best horror of last year and had some best acting performances in my book. Clearly I would run towards any second movie he had to offer after that glorious first picture.

And also, Swedish people!

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None of these people are Swedish. Well, one is. But can you tell he is Swedish?

Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Raynor) are having some problems with their relationship. They have been dating for awhile now, but they might be drifting. Dani’s family has been having a lot of personal drama, so Christian feels like it is never a good time for a breakup. And then, a bigger tragedy occurs, and sure, guess they need to keep this romance going.

Unrelated to their romance, Christian was invited to go to Sweden for a few weeks. Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a Swedish friend at their University, has invited his new friends to come see a festival in the commune where he grew up. They have yearly festivals around the middle of the summer, but this is the most special one that occurs only every 90 years. Also coming along are Josh (William Jackson Harper), who is working on a thesis about various cultures summer celebrations, Mark (Will Poulter), who is looking to score with some hot Swedish babes, and of course Dani, because she just needs something to distract her.

Now of course, this middle of nowhere, super northern, Swedish village far away from the main roads is going to be a bit weirder. And, given the time of year and location, they barely even have darkness. What a fun time to celebrate and frolic with the flowers. With this culture, their customs may seem strange to visitors. But they have done them for hundreds of years, so who is to say they are wrong?

Also starring a lot of Swedish people, including Liv Mjönes and Anna Åström.

scream
Ah yes, frolicking with the flowers.

Midsommar is definitely a movie, and one that took me awhile to be able to write about. Not weeks, just a few days. I wrote parts of the review right away, but I knew I needed to sit on my analysis.

First important note to point out is the film’s length. Very few horror films ever break 2 hours, and the ones that do end up being extremely successful or reach cult status. Midsommar is 2 hours and 20 minutes, almost unheard of for a horror (but not unheard of in terms of average movie length that seems to keep creeping upwards). Despite the length, I never once felt bored throughout the film, and mostly sat in awe of the beautiful cinematography, long shots, and colors.

In comparison to Hereditary, this is not as scary as his first film. It is definitely still unnerving/creepy, but for pure horror it lacks. It builds up its shocks and goes to an expected place by the end, but it is still satisfying and makes sense to get to that point.

Above all else, this is a film about a couple going through hard times and eventually going to have a break up. We know it, they know it, their friends know it. It just so happens that this break up is done in a unique and gory way.

Aster’s second major film is another win for him in terms of creativity, gorgeousness, and great acting performances. I cannot confirm yet if this is the case for sure, but you get to see a lot of Jack Raynor’s penis for those who have a check off list. It is probably actually him and not some CGI dick.

4 out of 4.

Annabelle Comes Home

Fuck. I didn’t see Annabelle: Creation. That was the sequel to Annabelle. I didn’t like Annabelle. I haven’t liked any offshoot of The Conjuring, but I have liked the first and second of those a whole lot.

Anyways, I heard Annabelle: Creation was better than Annabelle? No idea. But I still went to see Annabelle Comes Home in theaters anyways, because film critics don’t always do homework.

The good news is I can say that you definitely don’t have to see either of those Annabelle movies to understand this one. I’d say, seeing The Conjuring movies helps fully grasp this one better.

reflectI also haven’t seen the La Llorona, and it probably affects this movie zero. Probably.

First of all, for context, this movie takes place…at the start and/or during and/or right after The Conjuring. We get to see the Warrens (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) collect the doll, place it in their home, bless it and all that. And then?

Rush off to a job! So close to Judy’s (Mckenna Grace) birthday, their daughter. And they cant take her on these scary things. So instead they leave her in a house with scary things. But it is okay for a few reasons. The room of artifacts is blessed weekly, has tons of protections, and many locks. And hey, they’ve had stuff for awhile and nothing bad has happened.

Plus they have a really swell babysitter in Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), who is kind, takes care of Judy, and knows where to stay out of. She is not new at this.

What IS new about this situation is that Mary’s friend, Daniela (Katie Sarife) decided to stop by intrigued by the creepiness of the house. Sure enough, Daniela goes where she shouldn’t, lets some things open that she shouldn’t, and now the night is about to be full of terror.

Also starring Michael Cimino as hunky neighbor kid.

da fuq
What’s this? A fear unrelated to the title of the movie?

In Captain America: Civil War, it featured over 10 superheroes and villains, introduced new characters, featured a lot of fan service and was still pretty good. It also felt like Avengers 2.5 in a way, but it also still maintained that it was a Captain America movie the whole time, despite the extended cast.

Yes this is relevant to the review.

Annabelle Comes Home seems to want to be the Captain America: Civil War of the Warren Investigative universe. It is clearly a Conjuring-esque film, besides also featuring the Warrens, but in terms of the various threats. In each Conjuring film there is one main threat, but also a couple of minor ones. However, unlike Civil War, this did not do enough to feel like an Annabelle film.

In the other two Annabelle films, she is the lead, the star, the threat. In this film, her “power” makes all these other artifacts come to life and haunt accordingly, so much that each individual artifact seems to harass their own kid. And then a couple more for fun. Annabelle herself doesn’t seem scary, she is just a doll sitting there “mentally” doing things. The Conjuring films have these extra mini-horrors now in order to find what the fans like for their spinoff movies. This felt like they were throwing a dozen things at the screen just to hope for more spinoffs.

Annabelle Comes Home had a good sense of dread around it. But at the same time, I knew how the fate of all the characters would be by the end. It feels like a waste. This big evil powerful spirit doesn’t seem to really have an endgame here. Eventually they are just able to win, and scary stuff just remains scary, and I don’t know at what point was she ever planning on “winning” and getting the things she needed.

It has good scares. The plot is wack and the villain is wack. Just give me The Conjuring 3 already, please.

2 out of 4.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

First, Jake Gyllenhaal was announced to be Mysterio. Then they said it was only a rumor. Then they confirmed Gyllenhaal for Mysterio! Could it be? One of my favorite young-ish actors playing my favorite Spider-Man villain? Is this the best time line?

Well, real life tells me no, this is not. But Spider-Man: Far From Home is the end of Phase 3 of the MCU after the very big Avengers: Endgame. It knows it can’t be as big as that last movie, so it needs to something unique to close out the phase, to bring some aftermath closure.

But lets talk more about Gyllenhaal. First of all, this is not his first time playing a superhero! A lot of you have forgotten, but after Vincent Chase starred in the mega-hit Aquaman in the 2000’s, he decided to go against his contract and not film the sequel Gyllenhaal stepped in  and it was okay. But a lot of people don’t do good in their first superhero role. Just ask Ryan Reynolds!

Gyllenhaal
Oh my god, he is so dreamy.

Events after Endgame are wrecking with everyone’s lives. Some people grew for five years, others are in a changed world. A few of our heroes are now gone forever (really though?) and others need to step up. And Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is now still in high school. Can he be that hero? Can he be the new Iron Man?

Eh, life is hard, and the world is safe for now. So let’s go on vacation. It’s summer. He needs to grieve, he needs to be a kid, he needs to put Spider-Man for awhile. He wants to woo MJ (Zendaya) off of her feet in Paris. Paris?! Yeah, a school trip to visit science places in Europe, with his best friends and frenemies. Good, no villains in Italy.

What’s that? Weird large elementals, destroying parts of Europe? Apparently they came from some other dimension. Maybe some time warp after all the infinity nonsense? All we know is that Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) has fought these elementals before, seems to be able to defeat them, and came from an Earth that killed his entire planet. Sad times. Maybe he can be our new Iron Man?

Also starring Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, Tony Revolori, and of course, Jacob Batalon.

mysterio
Who was this movie about? Mysteriooooooooo.

Spidey, Spidey, Spidey. What cha gonna do? What cha gonna do when they rely on you?

Far From Home does not pull as close to as many punches as Endgame, and not even on an emotional level. I didn’t cry. It was a relatively safe movie, very local, and on its own doesn’t fully feel like a closure to Phase 3. It does help explain some of the post-snap snafu and that is nice. It moves Peter’s story on and that is nice.

What it does well is when it goes really full Mysterio. This master illusionist going off on illusions was really cool. That is something comics and cartoons can do with ease, but in a movie? Well, it worked well. I wish we got to see Bruce Campbell do it in the 2000’s, but that is okay. Gyllenhaal was great in what he needed to do, but it is not his best acting either.

Now I have a big gripe with the mid credits scene. No spoilers. It is probably the best mid or post credit scene in this films history. It is amazing. And it is important. It really should have ended the main film pre-credits and not be seen as an extra. I know all of the credit scenes count as the film, but for purists, really, give me that moment before the credits role. Let the closure be real. Don’t make it extra.

Spider-Man: Far From Home will do well, and honestly, probably should have come out a little bit later. People are still riding a post Endgame high. Their endorphins have not been superhero reset, and overall it is a decent superhero movie without reaching the better heights.

Sorry Gyllenhaal. Please do more hero work.

3 out of 4.

Rocketman

When it comes to musical biopics, I am really all for them. Give me the stories of these icons of our youth and our future. Give me their stories of overcoming the odds, of being famous, of maintaining any level of humbleness. Just give it to me if it is worth being a story.

And I was looking forward to Rocketman, despite the trailers making it seem very unrealistic, because it was going to for theatricality and style instead of just substance.

And no matter what, we have to compare Rocketman to Bohemian Rhapsody. Both about gay icons and music. And Bohemian Rhapsody is very controversial due to its treatment of the main character, who died twenty years ago. Were they respectful? Was it just a standard biopic? all of that? Well, Rocketman has to try and elevate past the noise of the controversy, ideally by not featuring any controversy. We shall see how that unfolds.

devil
Well aren’t you a handsome devil.
Elton Hercules John (Taron Egerton) was a musical icon once he got it big, hit after hit, known for his extravagance, stage shows and more. Sure, he wasn’t the first to do this, but he was unique in his own rights, and helped lead the way to plenty of performers going all out.

Rocketman tells the story of Elton John’s life, from Elton John’s point of view. And more importantly, it is being told during an AA meeting about his past, when his drug and alcohol consumption has reached his breaking point and he realizes he needs help.

Most of the film, besides his rise to fame and increased levels of flamboyance, is his relationship with his mom (Bryce Dallas Howard) which seems to start out somewhat positive while also maintaining a huge level of shame, and his relationship with his best friend/songwriter Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), who helped create all of his hits, because apparently lyrics are John’s weak point.

And you know, eventually his rise after he kicked all the bad influences out of his life! And if you are hoping to hear some Lion King songs, you have to wait a month for a different film.

Also featuring Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor as little Elton Johns, and Tom Bennett, Gemma Jones, Richard Madden, and Steven Mackintosh.

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These are terrible sunglasses, not for the design, but for not blocking any sun.
It is very important to note that Elton John is very much alive right now at the time of this writing and involved in this movie being made, so it is all from his point of view. It isn’t a strict biography of factual events, but more a fun retelling of his life, with important points that he wanted to highlight to define who he is as a person and why he went certain places in his life.

And at the same time, this is a “musical” and biopic, where the focus on around half of the stories are more there for story purposes and less performance pieces. That means we get singing, dancing, choreography, great sets, basically a lot of sweet music videos.  When the first song hit and it was like a standard musical, I was ready to be floored.

I will say that the first half felt overall more exciting than the second. Although some bigger songs are in the second half, they are a lot more standard and less elaborate so that was a bit disappointing. I probably most enjoyed Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting which was probably the second or third song. I will also say they went with very unique choices when it came to song choices, because there were plenty of songs I didn’t know that made the cut with ones I was hoping for barely mentioned. But what do I know, I am not a John fanatic or anything.

More importantly, when compared to Bohemian Rhapsody, I definitely prefer Rocketman. One of my biggest problems with BR was how they treated his sexuality, coming across as filmmakers as very homophobic and anti-Mercury’s lifestyle. And despite this entire movie taking place in some sort of AA meeting with flashbacks, clearly noting problems in John’s lifestyle, it wasn’t blamed on his sexuality. Just good old fashioned poor upbringing and a lack of support structure from those who claimed to be loved ones.

John’s sexuality is important for this movie to exist, as is his non-sexual relationships. And all of them are treated with respect and not a disdain.

Now, I did wish it was a little bit better overall, but it was still a good step in the right direction. Hopefully the next film we get is for David Bowie, and then maybe finish it up with George Michael. Let’s get all alternative sexually up in these theaters.

3 out of 4.

Toy Story 4

Controversially, I did not love Toy Story 3. I thought it was average. I did like it more than Toy Story 2 though, but the first Toy Story was still my favorite.

Oh sure, it made me cry like a sane person, but I didn’t like its main arc with Lotso Bear and it put a damper on the whole thing. But also like everyone else, it felt like a natural end to the series and was happy to see their ending.

Now, then they announced a Toy Story 4. This was terrible news. Not just because of the ending of three, but because Pixar has been splurting out sequels to everything the last few years, very few OC, and they have been average to poor. Toy Story 4 meant the end to their sequels for awhile, but it also felt like it shouldn’t even exist.

The plot had to overcome quite a few hurdles, and couldn’t just be a regular good movie, in order to justify its existence.

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Telling a spork about the birds and the bees can take awhile.

The first thing TS4 did was give us a flashback as to what happened to Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Now, in real life, between TS2 and TS3, they just decided to drop Bo Peep because Barbie was on board to lend its brand and that is more powerful. They wanted Barbie for the first movie, and they said no, because why would they give their stuff to an first movie studio?

Anyways, that becomes a very relevant plot to the movie now. Because of course, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and gang are with Bonnie, a young girl, who might have different interests than a cowboy. In fact, in her first day of Kindergarten orientation, she makes a new friend out of trash named Forky (Tony Hale). Surprisingly, this trash creation is somehow able to come alive, but he doesn’t identify as a toy, and this causes a lot of conflict.

Woody takes it on his own to make sure that Forky doesn’t try to kill himself, for the betterment of Bonnie. Because damn it, Woody just wants to make his child happy, even if he isn’t actively played with.

This leads them on an adventure, leads us surprisingly back to Bo Peep, and through a lot of weirder places.

Also featuring the returnees of Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles (but barely because he died), Joan Cusack, and Kristen Schaal. But it also features the voices of new toys and people played by Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Kay, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Bonnie Hunt, Carl Weathers, and Madeleine McGraw.


Porcelain dolls have really gained their mobility.

Did Toy Story 4 make me cry? Of course it did. Twice! And that surprised me, because reports from friends had them not crying, but I’ve always been an emotional wreck. But remember, just because I cried does not make it a good movie.

Thankfully, Toy Story 4 is a good movie. It “fixed” the issue that I had with the last installment, in that good and bad characters are able to experience growth and change based on their circumstances. Relatively early in the movie you can sort of tell a few things that will happen by the end, and that is totally okay. You can accept the foregone conclusions early enough about a few of them and go on the ride and brace yourself before the end. Knowing where you will end up is fine, if you don’t know how you will get there. And on the journey to the end, it went plenty of unexpected places with surprises along the way.

And honestly, it feels like a great ending. Most people said after 3 that it was the perfect ending and not to mess with it. And a lot of people are saying that after 4. But I disagree, really it feels like the start of a lot of potential adventures on multiple fronts. Because lets face it, in this franchise with a large ensemble cast (that just gets more and more ensemble-y), many many characters were reduced to just a few lines. In fact, some arguably main tier characters had a few moments, but clearly the focus was on Woody and Bo Peep only. Buzz was humorous side character and Jessie had maybe only a few more lines than Slinky Dog.

I will put that there will be money on a Toy Story 5 in the future. Not just side short films for TV like the Toy Story of Terror event. And this time I will look forward to that. Just give me more original movies first Pixar.

3 out of 4.

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal

I want my youngest daughter to go into gymnastics soon in her life. One reason? It looks fun. Who doesn’t want to be able to do flips like a goddamn wizard? And two, I wanted to be in gymnastics when I was a kid and didn’t get to, so you know, living through your kids and all not.

And knowing all of this, I definitely was aware of the USA Gymnastics scandal by the end of the trial. The ending moments (which if you didn’t hear, I won’t spoil and tell you right now) made really big news. It felt just, it felt like closure for dozens of women, and it was a powerful moment.

But for this documentary, At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, it goes over the whole story. From the beginning in the 80’s and 90’s, to how many people must have turned a blind eye. Into how Larry Nassar even got to a point where he could be around kids.

Evidence
Yeah, tell him he is a fuckface!
Unfortunately for the world, Nassar was apparently good at his job as a sports scientist/doctor. He did know stretches and ways to prevent injuries. He was always seen as the good cop at practice. The main coach would yell at the players, make them try harder, fight through the pain. Nassar would be the savior, who would take the kids into the room to fix their bruises, sprains, and pride.

He got so sure of himself and his methods, he was able to sexually assualt girls in his medical room with parents also in the room. Sure this would be behind a sheet or cloth or something, but this helped normalize it for his victims and make them less likely to speak out.

It is fantastic that eventually he got what he deserved, although he probably deserved a lot more. I am happy that over 200 people were able to speak out against him, and that hopefully those who heard reports and did nothing can also be looked at. I am happy he had to sit there and hear the stories against him.

What I am not happy at is how goddamn long it took to happen. How many reports he was able to skip by, meaning dozens and dozens more girls had to have their lives ruined and innocence destroyed.

I still want my youngest daughter to go to gymnastics. This sort of documentary should be a light of hope. “They got the bad guy!” while also unfortunately making me weary of the fact that predators exist in the most and least likely of places. This is a story of good eventually winning, but at such a cost it should make even a regular law abiding citizen question if they are doing what they can to protect those around them.

4 out of 4.

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