Finally Watched It: “Tower”

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Using a combination of rotoscope animation, real testimony, and historical footage, this documentary goes into harrowing detail about the day a gunman opened fire from a clocktower on the University of Texas campus on August 1st, 1966.

I don’t pretend to be a hard ass so I have no problem admitting I openly wept several times during this film. The parts that are reenactment are so well done, you would hardly know it wasn’t as real as the life video spliced into it. The narrative centers on Claire Wilson, who was 8 months pregnant when she was shot and the continuing barrage made it so nobody could get to her and she lay in the hot Texas sun for hours unable to move. We hear also about a child who was injured, a woman who did only watch from inside, the police officers who finally killed the shooter along with help from a civilian. This even ends with interviews from actual survivors.

Even how the news was relayed around town and summed up afterwards was just brilliant. Even though even to my 80’s baby mind, it was frustrating to see communication break down so quickly as opposed to now when every one has a phone in their pocket. Absolutely amazing. I highly recommend it.

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Finally Watched It: “House” (1977)

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Having seen this movie mentioned dozens of times on crazy movie lists, I finally had the chance to check it out.

We have our set up of a bunch of high school girls (I have nicknamed them The Sailor Scouts) all go to this old woman’s house and of course, shenanigans ensue. Typical right? Hoooooo boy, ladies and gentlemen, this movie I have to come right out and say is either the scariest funny movie I’ve seen or the funniest scary movie I’ve ever seen. Everything feels otherworldly and off kilter even when things are “normal.”

When it starts, all the main characters are so damn happy and go lucky all you can think is “well, hey there, Cannon Fodder. I’m sure nothing will go wrong here.” But even as old as this movie is, gods is it refreshing to have a cast we actually root for instead of a collection of unlikable assholes you WANT to die. You actually feel for the characters as they go through all this horrific shit; all done with effects that are creepy in some parts, and ‘pause the movie because you’re laughing so hard’ parts. If done with skill, I wouldn’t mind seeing this movie remade with updated effects! As it is, I’m half tempted to watch it a few times just because it was so much fun. This movie BEGS to be watched with a bunch of friends and booze if you got it.

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Finally Watched It: Ringu

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As if this even needs a summary, this is the original Japanese movie about a woman who is investigating a cursed videotape that kills you a week after you’ve watched it.

This movie is damn creepy. It may not have aged very well in some ways but, yikes. There were plenty of moments that freaked me out. And it certainly made me feel old because heck, who has video tapes anymore?

Now that I’ve seen the original, I actually find the remake to be on par with it. They’re both creepy, both have this great tone and lingering uneasiness. I can’t say definitively one is better than the other. I like them both. It’s a shame it took me so long to get to watch this one.

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Finally Watched It: Handmaid’s Tale Season One

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In a dystopian future, any fertile woman is trained to be a handmaid and bear children for the upper classes of America.

Before anyone asks, yes I have read the book. And like the book, this pissed me off more than I thought it would.

The show is good. I like the way the story is told by showing you the present and then how our characters came to be where they are. The acting is top notch; basically all the stuff the critics have been saying is spot on so it’s hard to find new things to talk about.

For me, I had a special connection to the music. I think the songs chosen are a great mix of genres and fit with the show. I can see myself buying the soundtrack.

I do have to say though, this is not something I think I can re-watch. What you’re seeing is so rage inducing or heart breaking; I don’t want to watch it more than once despite binging the season like an addict and immediately running to the internet after to find information about the next season. I love it but I hate it.

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Finally Watched It: “Class”

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I’m a fan of Dr. Who so obviously, this spinoff piqued my interest. Centering around a group of high school students dealing with some very Whovian misadventures, this series is fun to watch, well written, and decently acted. I like the characters and the stories are fun but there’s something about it that makes it cool but not as cool as Dr. Who.

Speaking as a fan, I say give this show a shot since I am glad I watched it. For me, I felt it was a better use of my time to wait till a few episodes had passed and watch a few all at once while I was working out or something. I didn’t feel that driving NEED to plunk down for the premiere of each one as it airs. Would I be down for a second season? Absolutely. I can see real potential in this show.

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Finally Watched It: “13 Reasons Why”

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Everyone and their mother was telling me to watch this so I took a deep breath and dove in.

This series is about teenager Clay Jensen, who receives 13 audiotapes from his friend and not so secret crush, Hannah Baker, after she killed herself. I have read reviews before writing this – good and bad – and here’s my take on it. I found this series intensely compelling and triggering for me in the same turn. Having grappled with depression, suicide, and bullying in the past; I could identify with a lot of what Hannah was going through. I have heard that this series glorifies suicide and makes Hannah out to be some tortured special princess because she killed herself and selfish for taking out so much time and effort to make those tapes in the first place. To that I say; you missed the point.

To write her off as selfish for making the tapes is on the same level of dismissive as the people who disrespected and ignored her feelings to put her in this situation in the first place. “Oh, she just wants attention.” Well, DUH she wants attention! She wanted help and people failed her! And how many people sadly take Hannah’s path and leave people asking why? The whole point of the show is to SHOW WHY. It’s like Juno: if she doesn’t do this, there is no show.

As for glorifying suicide? To me, the entire show just ached with the loss of this girl. The gnawing sadness of Hannah’s death doesn’t seem beautiful to me. It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen plenty of manga and anime that have the same kind of thing (Suicide Island, for one) and tackling this subject is never going to be pretty or easy. It’s like movies about rape; you’re not going to make any one comfortable or happy and they shouldn’t be (take Irreversible for example… But I refuse to watch it for the graphic scene because I can’t take it). I will freely admit, I flinched at Hannah’s final scene and turned away. I just couldn’t…

That being said, I do have a couple complaints. How many fucking adults with no brain cells are around this girl!? Kids are kids; sometimes they just don’t wanna say or can’t say what they feel may be going on but if all of a sudden my kid lopped off all her hair, I would have some damn questions! Along that same vein, what gypsy did Hannah piss off to have so many terrible things to go wrong so fast!? (That’s a Thinner reference for those who don’t get it…) It may sound insensitive of me but WOW. It’s like they used the character of Hannah to bullet point every single bad thing that could possibly happen to a Caucasian teenage girl in America. What I would have liked to see is SOME of these things addressed and if the show got another season, have ANOTHER girl (or boy) have other things addressed. There don’t always have to be 13 tapes, there could be journal entries, blog posts, paintings, songs; all sorts of ways a kid could express their reasons why. Hell, I say throw an adult in there, too. If there will be multiple seasons of this, there are so many ways this concept can be explored.

All in all, I’m not sorry I watched it but it took an entire Thomas Sanders playlist to cheer me up in order to sleep well. It’s the kind of thing that, as a parent, all I wanted to do was hug my baby close to me. But to say I wasn’t triggered would be a lie. It touched off feelings I battle with every day but I guess it’s best to face those feelings head on and deal with them. And if the show can do that? It must be doing something right.

And if you disagree with me? Remember, this is my OPINION. If you feel motivated to reply, try to do so with some tact and politeness.

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Finally Watched It: American Pop

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If I were to describe this movie, it would be a sad but loving send up to music and musicians. This movie uses music to tell the story of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family in order to show how American music changed and grew in the 20th century.

I can’t believe I missed this one but it did come out the year I was born and is NOT intended for children. There is rampant drug use, war, sex, murder, and hell, even the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire! I was able to pick out some of the rock stars Bakshi was inspired by to create some of these characters; the most obvious to me being Janis Joplin. Between the music and the gorgeous animation (which holds up fairly well, in my opinion) I was absolute awe. It’s one of those movies that really leaves its mark and I am SO glad I made time for it. Heck, I may buy it so I can watch it whenever I want. If you’re a fan of animation, great storytelling, and awesome music and you haven’t seen this? Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

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Finally Watched It: “Attack on Titan” Season One

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Because after the happy fun of Yuri!! On Ice, who wouldn’t want to watch something that makes you want to jump off a bridge?

That being said, yeah this show is great! I like the story, I LOVE the animation, and the pacing had me trying to watch it all at once. But this old broad does need her beauty sleep and I do have a day job.

If you don’t know the story, one of the last strongholds of humanity is under attack by these giant monsters called Titans. When the outer ring of the city falls, humanity’s last hope is the Scout Regiment; who fight titans at great cost. The story follows Eren Yeager, who joins the regiment to take revenge after he loses his mother to a titan attack.

This is also a great anime for well-written female characters. If any fellow otaku out there get the eye roll and whining speech about all anime being hentai or full of brainless, big breasted, fanservice fodder; have them take a gander at this. I’m sure Mikasa would have a few things to say to them.

Also, the music is AMAZING in this series.

If I had one ‘complaint’ it would be the faces of the titans sometimes. They can come off a little goofy but, like in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, even goofy looking things can eat your head. A very minor gripe, to be sure.

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I hear season 2 is on the way and I am really looking forward to it. Of course, I’ll talk about that one as well.

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Finally Watched It: Yuri!! On Ice

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After everyone and their mother as talked about this, I have finally plunked my ass down and watched it. If you haven’t heard, this anime is about an ice skater named Yuuri Katsuki who returns to the sport after bending under the pressure at a competition and feeling he let everyone down. He goes home and his friend’s kids record Yuri doing a routine his idol, Victor Nikiforov, made famous. The video ends up going viral and Victor decides to become Yuuri’s coach to get him back into skating.

Following Yuuri’s journey in the world of competitive men’s skating not only is engaging, but educational; as I had NO clue about the ins and outs of the sport before I watched this. When I went to the panel, people said they had become so interested in the sport after watching this show, they started taking lessons! That’s pretty cool!

But to stay on point, one of my favorite parts of this show is with all those men in the cast of characters, they don’t fall into the trope of trying to destroy each other in trying to succeed. They all just try to do their absolute best to win by working hard. Hell, they even hang out together! And since this is as yaoi as a show can get without being overt with it, I am also glad that the female characters are not all bitches for absolutely no reason than the fact it’s a trope. If anything, a good chunk of this cast is almost too kind for their own good.

The animation is fucking glorious! The motion capture for the skating is perfection and the voice acting is on point. If I had any real complaint, it’s that there isn’t more of this for me to binge since I just want to spend more time with these characters. This anime is just fun and I look forward to the next season.

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Finally Watched It: “Over The Garden Wall”

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Since the episodes are so short and I had some time, I decided to just binge the rest of this show.

My favorite types of shows are the type where you can tell the creators had real love for what they’re making and the freedom to explore their creation. It’s also another show where even though I wish it was longer, I wonder if it’s better off being short and sweet the way it is. You gotta give props to any story that can hook you quickly and leave you wanting more. But anyone who follows a story in any medium –  be it movie franchises, tv shows or book series – know how a series can go sour as it goes on.

Also, this is another show that can be enjoyed by adults and children. I think those types of cartoons are the best these days; especially speaking as a parent who it frequently trapped by horrid media that has me fleeing the room (I’m looking at you, Teen Titans Go). I would rank this show right up there in quality and storytelling with Avatar, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls. Even Star vs The Forces of Evil. At first you think you’re watching something bright, colorful, and silly but then all of a sudden you’re dealing with some really mature, scary, and intricate situations. And seeing all these different styles of art is very inspiring and I will freely admit the songs have me tapping my toes.

Allow me to take a short mental minute to rant at why most mainstream movies these days can’t make me care about a character in an over 2-hour movie and yet a 20-minute cartoon can make me tear up aaaannnd, I’m done.

To sum up, I think if you like darker fairy tale stories like Secret of NIHM, or if you’re into the above-mentioned cartoons, I think you would enjoy this show. In fact, I think I’m gonna give it another watch just to make sure.

For research purposes, of course.

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