Quote from Sorry to Bother You by Steve Lift: “Cash, I’m gonna make you a proposal. I can see that you’d wanna say no, but I wouldn’t do that before you see what I’m offering you.”
More Thinking About This Movie
I waffled between reviewing this movie as I did with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I never did write one for that movie because there wasn’t enough in it for me to like, and the character of Steven Murphy did something too extreme given his setup near the end that it completely turned me off. Because Sorry to Bother You kept coming back to me long after I started writing the initial review and deleting it, here I go again. I watched it in December 2018. With that said, there were some redeeming qualities found spattered throughout it. It dove into many issues affecting most of us today: disproportionate economic classes, workers’ rights ad powers, racial conduct and appearance, and corporate greed and capitalism. This comedy is a gut punch because the choices made means you are either for something greedy and against another, which is mainly your principles. There is rarely a middle place you can stay because people will want you to pick a side these days. How far will a person go to have the best and fastest no matter what the cost? This movie is about what is right and wrong, and how the line can be blurred in some cases.
People On and Behind the Screen
Sorry to Bother You is written and directed by Boots Riley. It is produced by Significant Productions, MNM Creative, MACRO, Cinereach, and The Space Program, and is distributed by Annapurna Pictures. It’s running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes with a MPAA rating of R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use. The main cast of this comedy/fantasy drenched in satire is Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius “Cash” Green (David Cross as his white voice), Tessa Thompson as Detroit (Lily James as her white voice), Jermaine Fowler as Salvador, Terry Crews as Sergio Green, Danny Glover as Langston (Steve Buscemi as his white voice), Steven Yeun as Squeeze, Armie Hammer as Steve Lift, Kate Berlant as Diana DeBauchery, Michael X. Sommers as Johnny, Robert Longstreet as Anderson, Forest Whitaker as Demarius, and Rosario Dawson as Voice in Elevator. This movie is about a young man finding his way in a telemarketing job where greed, power, and influence can be the starting or stopping point to living a better life.
The movie begins with Cassius Green living in his uncle’s garage with little privacy. This doesn’t sit well with his girlfriend, Detroit, which gives him the needed kick in the butt to get a job and be responsible. Enter RegalView, a call center, that gives Cash a chance to make some money he desperately needs. It is here he meets others including an old-timer, Langston, who has two voices. His “white voice” is used while speaking to customers while his regular voice is used for everyone else. By adopting this technique, Cash becomes an asset to the company. While out for drinks with his co-workers, he learns about WorryFree which is a company that Left Eye is protesting against due to its labor practices. Squeeze and others protest against the connection between RegalView and WorryFree, but when Cash is promoted to Power Caller his loyalties are tested. Now that he is financially secure, he meets and attends a party hosted by WorryFree’s CEO, Steve Lift which leaves him a confused by the end. Not sure what he just saw, Cash finds Detroit and tells her what he witnessed. It all seems like a bad dream, but parts of it is very real, and now he has to make the decision be ridiculed in order to be taken seriously. By the end, Cash decides to protest again, but this time with much bigger and stronger protesters against RegalView and WorryFree.
What Did I Just See?
Initially when the credits rolled, I thought what the hell did I just see? I had to give it some time to digest it fully. The story was good, but because there were parts that were semi flushed out in the writing stage, it was lacking in those areas. One example was the WorryFree party that Cash was invited. I understand it served as a platform for the drug and alcohol scene, but the rap sequence Cash miserably failed was not necessary. The racially charged language is beside the point although some could see it being a major issue, but overall it didn’t serve a purpose. It seemed like filler and made an awkward situation even more awkward for the viewer. If the CEO was trying to destabilize Cash’s mental state, there are other ways to do that. If Cash felt self-conscious being in the limelight, there are other ways to do that too. “Kill your darlings” comes to mind. However, I did find the concept of the “white voice” unique as it references the utilization of telemarketing tricks. While not professional by any means, I’m sure it’s a reality for some and hints at other debates about language usage. I will say some of the characters needed a little more depth such as Detroit although a more pressing issue for me was her having a little more compassion. She came off as a pretty unlikable character, but maybe this was what was intended. I also wish there had been a little more with the bathroom stall discoveries. I think it could have been expanded before getting to point B. My initial review has changed because it was a knee jerk reaction. With time passing, I do see some value in it, but not enough to give it high accolades.
Evaluation Comes from the Heart
I would recommend Sorry to Bother You for its freshness in a sea of comic and remake movies. It satirizes on adult concepts so it’s not for children. I like to think of myself as open-minded to most any kind of language, but I warn you the swearing and racially charged language is rampant. There were some funny parts in it, mainly during the telemarketing scenes, and would have liked to have seen more of this instead of the other kind of humor. I understand the poking fun at certain things, but some of it fell flat. While I nod my head to the concept and some of the execution, the non-working areas were quite noticeable.
Quote from Blacklist by Raymond Reddington: “Every cause has more than one effect.”
Creator: Jon Bokenkamp
Major Cast: James Spader as Raymond “Red” Reddington, Megan Boone as Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler, Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen, Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper, Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai, Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi, and Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma, and Susan Blommaert as Mr. Kaplan
Completed Seasons: 5
Episodes in each Season: 22
Running Time of Each Episode: 43 minutes
When Blacklist came onto the airwaves, I was hooked. Here was a show about the FBI about a newly minted agent to become quite powerful in her own way and the opposition she faced regarding a fugitive. Throughout the five completed seasons and now the sixth already progressing with new faces and cases, the relationship between Raymond Reddington and Elizabeth Keen remains in the forefront.
So who is Raymond Reddington? He used to be a former U.S. Naval Intelligence officer who left his position and absorbed himself in areas of the world one can only dream of visiting world, which landed him a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. He makes a deal with the FBI where he will help them capture criminals that pose a danger to the country. This fulfills two other goals: getting closer to Elizabeth Keen and eradicating the individuals who risk his lifestyle in some way. In other words, Reddington uses his charming personality to persuade others to get what he wants and if that doesn’t work, he doesn’t think twice with using a deadlier option.
This leads to who is Elizabeth Keen and why Reddington has such a fascination with her. Keen is a FBI profiler who is married to a teacher, Tom Keen. As she gets more involved with Reddington and deeper into the cases he provides for the team, her initial loathing for him decreases. He may actually have a redeeming bone or two in his body. She’s the type of person to keep work and personal separate, but over time this proves to be difficult. People aren’t what they seem that leads to more questions with unsuitable answers. The deeper part of her wants to know who she is and the secrets Red seems willing to keep that way at all costs.
My favorite season so far has been the fourth because of the back story of Mr. Kaplan and further insight into her relationship with Reddington. The last season started slower than usual, but it picked up after the first few episodes. Through all the twists and turns, lives saved and lost, and still not knowing all the details about Reddington, Blacklist still keeps my attention. I’m patiently waiting for the next episode to air tonight because the character of Jennifer played by Fiona Dourif (yes, the daughter of Brad Dourif who is known for the voice of Chucky) hopefully proves to be more of a force for Reddington than the normal course of action usually taken. The other supporting actors and actresses are excellent as well with the characters of Mojtabi and Navabi being two of my current favorites.
Third Journal Entry Type: I’m a homebody. I usually don’t leave the apartment except to exercise and grocery shop. Otherwise than this, you can find me sitting on my futon reading or coloring. Or, if I’m being really lazy on my bed watching TV, Netflix, or Hulu. Or, maybe taking a short walk to get an ice tea. This year I have made a promise to myself to get out more. So far, a few strides have been made, but definitely not enough. Time has become a slimy creature to mess with me. It leaves me spinning around and when I stop I’m not sure what direction to follow: start fresh or continue on the current path. The dilemma that I feel day in and day out. There’s not enough time for every interest and action. In terms of space, I need to find a place to store my 3000 piece puzzle when I put it together. The good thing is I have a while as it won’t happen until I finish my 1000 piece puzzles.
I’ve been looking back on my years and wondering what I have really accomplished that you can measure. Sure, I’ve grown up quite a bit. Sure, I went to college. Sure, I’ve gotten better keeping things in check. Sure, I’m not freaking out to so much. Sure, I’ve learned from my mistakes. It’s not a good thing to dwell on regrets, but it’s still there to deal with when they crop up. Have I finally hit my mid life crisis now that my 25th high school reunion is coming around the corner? All the things I wanted to do by this age but haven’t. I see people starting their lives whether in their 20s or even early 30s and wonder what they will think when they are my age. Will they have the similar views as mine regarding age? Will they be 95% happy with where they are in life or a lesser percentage which is where I’m at currently. I can’t help but wonder if I had made different prior decisions where I would be today. Should I have studied something different in college? Should I have stayed in the Midwest? Should I had kids? Okay, scrap the last one especially.
There are certain principles and codes I live by and know to be true regarding my life. These elements are the things I’m trying to capture in my writing, artwork, and elsewhere. This is the primary reason for my existence as I am today, but I feel I need to branch outward even more. I think it’s time to not shut the doors so quickly on things I’d rather not think about. I think it’s time to view myself in another way, and not in such a way that leaves little room for other growth. I think it’s time for me to lessen the grip on what I know about certain topics, and challenge myself on other viewpoints. This is the other part of me, the one where my measurements are not so much in dollars (although I would love to have more), but on the processes that occur when any change is made.
Here I am having to put my trust in things I sometimes have trouble completely trusting. This is where I am at life, being okay again with living a boring life and not giving a crap so much how I’m not living up to my own ideal standards. Do I ever get fearful of my future and where I’ll end up? Hell yes. Do I get down on myself for my lack of inaction at times? That is also a hell yes. But, I’ve also done things too that others haven’t done and experienced things that not many will ever go through. So on that note, I am getting out this weekend by eating on the strip and hopefully hiking as well so I guess there’s that. Cheers.
These drinks are really addicting. Mamma Chia drinks can be found in stores and online. I’m not affiliated with this company in any way. Just a simple blog entry. I found these caps on the counter and took a picture of them.
Quote from Bad Times at the El Royale by Laramie Seymour Sullivan: “I always wanted to stay in the honeymoon suite, even though I’m not currently on my honeymoon.”
Bad and Good Times
I had every intention of seeing this last year and in the theater. That did not happen, so I watched from my futon instead. Based on the movie title, you get the basic gist of the script. Things aren’t going to turn out well for the characters involved, but what happens to whom and why it happens is not so easy to guess. Bad Times at the El Royale definitely piqued my interest from the start. The movie began in such a strong fashion that it couldn’t get any better. I haven’t seen that strong opening of a movie in a while. Although many of the scenes are filled with intensity, whether understated or blatantly, there was just the right minimum dose of comedy. It’s primarily executed by Jeff Bridges because he’s that damn good, but the set of lungs on Cynthia Erivo is equally captivating. The characters involved continue to reveal their motives until the end, so yes it keeps your attention.
People Behind the Scenes
Bad Times as the El Royale is about strangers needing to protect their interests and secrets at the El Royale, which is a hotel on the California and Nevada border. This is a Goddard Textiles and TSG Entertainment production and is distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is directed and produced by Drew Goddard as well as written by Goddard and Jeremy Latcham. The main cast includes Jeff Bridges as Daniel Flynn, Cynthia Erivo as Darlene Sweet. Dakota Johnson as Emily Summerspring, Cailee Spaeny as Rose Summerspring, Jon Hamm as Laramie Seymour Sullivan, Lewis Pullman as Miles Miller, and Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee. It has a running time of 2 hours and 21 minutes. It has a R rating for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity.
Summary of Bad Times at the El Royale
Remember 1969? I don’t because I wasn’t even born yet. But, for those who were, the movie takes place in 1969 at the El Royale. The hotel is something of a sad-looking place, and the only person working there is a young man named Miles Miller. He looks to be in high school, but he’s not. We are first introduced to Laramie as he’s intent to have a specific room, and makes sure to greet the guests arriving after him with a swift nod and short statements. The sort of duo pair of Daniel, a priest, and Darlene, a singer, arrives for different reasons. They strike up a friendship until Daniel missteps with Darlene’s generosity. This leads to further development for the purpose for Laramie’s visit and insight into the reason why Emily and Cailee are there as the rain continues to pour down on Darlene. Miles now finds himself in a predicament as we are given a little more information when a previous scene is now viewed from a different angle. Things are picking up speed as back story of Billy Lee is shown, as well as the harsh reality of being a female singer in a man’s world. The El Royale gains a few more patrons when cult members show up. As more secrets are revealed, the more people have to prove their worthiness and skills.
Watch the Trailer
Which Side Do You Like Better?
The overall idea of Bad Times at the El Royale was what made this movie great. The location between California and Nevada including the higher cost if you rented a room on California’s side set the tone. The characters didn’t care what side they were on, but to one person it did and that was Miles. He was the center of the movie whether he liked it or not, and nine times out of ten, he wanted to be left alone. Hence why I found him to the be most secretive even until the end. I liked this movie in that there wasn’t overexplanation even with back story. Goddard unveiled just enough for you to understand where the characters were coming from and why they made the decisions they did. It didn’t pull you out of the present too much. It was basically necessary instead of posing as filler. Given the heavy subject matter, it was presented in such a way where it didn’t weigh you down either.
California or Nevada?
I recommend this movie, but my one complaint is the ending and some of the pacing. It opened in such a great way and kept its speed 3/4 of the way. It was at the last quarter where it got muddled. I understood Billy Lee’s need to control people, but his presence seemed a little underwhelming when he finally did appear. Call me crazy but I wanted Chris Hemsworth to do less dancing and more action. Then again, it did take place in 1969. His entrance did allow me to change my view of Emily and Rose. Given the relationship that formed between Daniel and Darlene, I think there could have been an alternative ending. I personally wanted it to be grittier, maybe setting up a possible danger, but not knowing how it would translate because there would no sequel. There you have it. My review of Bad Times at El Royale. Now onto the other question of California or Nevada? My answer is neither because if given a chance, I’d visit a state I’ve never been. And, sorry Nebraska, but you’re not one of them.
Pisaries Creator’s Rating
I give Bad Times at the El Royale Four Fingers at 90%.
Quote from Velvet Buzzsaw by Morf Vandewalt : “Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining.”
Essence of Jake Gyllenhaal
I’m not going to lie I watched this movie originally because of Jake Gyllenhaal. He has become the actor I like to watch whether it be a comedy or drama, light or dark, realistic or surreal. This is the one of the few times I had no solid basis of what this movie was about, other for the fact it had him in it. I had no idea it was a horror movie because let’s be honest, the red lettering could also be spray paint. In the opening scene of Velvet Buzzsaw, the viewer is brought into the life of art dealers, critics, and the artists they love to hate. The snobbish energy drips from the ceiling like invisible paint, and this is ultimately what captured my interest once it began. I entered another world, which I would probably not want to be a part of because as quickly as you are sucked in, even quicker can you be spit out. The question of what constitutes art is an itch that continues throughout the movie whether up and coming artists or established ones who have paid their dues. It took a fair amount of time to show the horror elements, but it only increased my interest to see how it would end.
People Behind the Scenes
Velvet Buzzsaw is a Netflix and Dease Pictures Inc. production with Dan Gilroy as writer and director. Gilroy was the one also responsible for Nightcrawler where Jake Gyllenhaal played a freelance photojournalist. Jennifer Fox was the producer and Robert Elswit was the cinematographer. The main cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Morf Vanderwalt Rene Russo as Rhodora Haza, Zawe Ashton as Josephina, Tom Surridge as Jon Dondon, Toni Collette as Gretchen, Natalia Dyer as Coco, Daveed Diggs as Damrish, and John Malkovich as Piers, Billy Magnussen as Bryson, and Alan Mandell as Vetril Dease. This one hour and 53 minutes long movie is about the fine line between art promotion and profit in terms of consumerism, greed, and artist relevance. It has a R rating for profanity, nudity, and frightening & intense scenes.
Summary of Velvet Buzzsaw
Here is the basic plot that doesn’t include minor or major spoilers. We start out in Florida, Miami Beach to be particular, where Morf (art critic) and Josephina (art agent) pretty much finishes each other’s sentences and has similar opinions. They have a strong relationship that only strengthens when Josephina travels back to her apartment in Los Angeles.
She stumbles upon a man in the hallway and when she realizes he is dead, she swallows her fears and enters his apartment. Once inside, she realizes the potential to make a name for herself especially with her hardened boss, Rhodora. When she finally attachs a name to the recently deceased, Josephina encourages Rhodora to show and sell Vetril Dease’s paintings. The subject matter isn’t necessarily dark, but they have a haunting quality to them as recognized by everyone who sees them. This includes art curator, Gretchen, and an artist, Piers.
To ensure the demand for Dease’s work, half of the paintings are put in storage at the request of Rhodora. In the cut throat art scene, people’s greed can get the better of them and results in consequences. But, people turn a blind eye like Rhodora and continue on like nothing happened unless your name is Coco. She is the only one who truly knows something is not right, but given her status as a failing assistant, no one listens to her. This doesn’t mean others aren’t doing their own research into Dease. He might not be the first painter to use body fluids in his pieces, but what he uses alarms Morf, and this secret must remain with him.
As Gretchen and Rhodora work to popularize Dease even further, a new artist comes onto the scene called Damrish. As he becomes the new “it guy,” Piers is having a hard time finding inspiration for creating new pieces, and Morf continues to suffer mentally from what he has learned and done. Josephina’s life isn’t faring well either as she is now alone. Gretchen and Rhodora hope to survive this colossal mess on their hands before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Piers finally finds some peace near a beach where he draws designs in the sand that disappear when the tide washes over them.
Watch the Trailer
Art Scene Snobbery
As I mentioned before, I enjoyed seeing the snobbery of being an art critic or art gallery owner because this does happen and does exist. It’s a culture that is fascinating because the decisions made are usually behind closed doors. The same goes for music and film. Who decides if a person gets paid thousands of dollars for something versus a few pennies. You can have two people with similar technique, vision, creativity, and skill, but one will hardly make any profit as an artist. This is part Velvet Buzzsaw’s strength because even critics are subjective in their criticism. They can be your worst nightmare or best friend. They can end your careers or push you to new limits. I also liked the part of a particular painting or any object for that matter being inherently bad. It begs the question of how much of the intention by the artist matters once it is finished. Besides people creating art as an emotional and energetic outlet, are there layers not seen by the human eye too? Long after the person has died, what is the full impact of the work?
More Buzzsaw or More Buzzkill?
I’d recommend this because it’s not only a satirical commentary of the art scene, basically the pretentiousness of its players and artists, but it had an interesting concept. This wasn’t so new for me because I’ve watched one too many shows concerning similar types of phenomenon, but Velvet Buzzsaw was more buzzsaw than buzzkill. I liked it for Jake Gyllenhaal, of course, but for the fact the ending was just that, without any gimmicks. Sometimes things are just what they are, and no matter what you do, life keeps going on with or without you in it. How much you think or obsess about it is totally up to you. Yet, I thought there could’ve been a little more screen time between Damrish and Dease. I think you’ll know what I mean if you watch it.
Pisaries Creator’s Rating
I was so excited to post this that I forgot to rate it. Therefore, I rate Velvet Buzzsaw NEAR PERFECT at 95%.
All three of these were given to me as gifts and while I haven’t digested every page word for word and picture by picture, the topics continue to be captivating. North Korea is basically the same country, Circus Life still has its major flaws, and Earth still tries to regenerate and heal itself.
The first picture book covers of North Korea as a nation under its dictators, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-il. We all know about the current viciousness and power of Kim Jong-un today. The book is divided by its major cities and focusing on Panmunjom as well.
The only time I’ve ever been out of the United States was in 1995 when I went back to South Korea. I had little interest in North Korea at the time, and was unaware it was in the second year of their famine. By the end of it in 1998, between 240,000 to 3.5 million people had died.
It wasn’t only the North that had poverty. During one of my outings, I walked by this man with rubber tubes tied where his knees should have been. He was getting around Seoul on a wooden board with small wheels attached underneath. You could tell he had been like that for a while as his hands were dirty and he moved as if it was just another day.
Back to North Korea, the country continues to be repressive as ever as the government places citizens into camps for the slightest infraction and Kim Jong-un has no issue killing family members he views as rivals to his authority. While this is a country that piques the interest of many, there’s a good reason to have a noticeable military force along the DMZ. It’s basically not the ideal country to live in for people who don’t like to be brainwashed and controlled on every level. The Arirang Mass Games is a great example where this massive celebration is basically only for one person. If it’s any indication how miserable it can be and is to live there, look to the soldiers who risk their lives defecting to South Korea, and they are one of the groups who are given the best rations of food.
This book was published by Chronicle Books (March 2007) and is 192 pages in length.
The second picture book is the shorter version of a much longer page turner of circus life between 1870s and 1950s. While I don’t advocate attending any circus including live animals especially those with tigers, elephants, and bears, they continue to be used in various circuses around the world. Hopefully the Circus Roncalli in Austria has paved the way to the next generation of what a circus is and means by using holographic images of animals instead. Hailed as the “Greatest Show on Earth” by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the company no longer is in existence due to controversies that piled up over the years. This shouldn’t diminish their 146 year longevity because no matter how you view it, they are a part of American history.
I would hope that current performers and workers are paid what they are due, but I’m sure some are not. It’s because of this and for other reasons I was given this book because I plan to write a fiction story about circus life from the “oddities” you find on the stages, the greed of managers and owners, and what I view as the improper use of animals. Whether it be the silliness of bears dressed up in cute costumes or blatant misrepresentation of the perceived inferior people, there were performers and workers who truly loved what they did and believed in it as well. This can be a bitter pill to swallow because to them it was what they drank, ate, and breathed. It also makes the book even more fascinating.
It was published by Taschen (2012) and is 384 pages in length.
The third picture book is longest one I own. Most of us agree the Earth is round, not flat, and that global warming does exist. It’s the third planet from the Sun and was formed approximately 4.54 billion years ago. The Earth is the only planet not named after a god. How did that happen? Beyond these facts you can find most anywhere, this book is a simple one stop shop for facts and theories about the Earth. It includes information about geology, paleontology, meteorology, and geography.
I admit I haven’t browsed through this book in a while, but my interest and fascination of Planet Earth started in high school. It was the one constant I could go to and not be disappointed. There’s a lot you can learn from this book and in regards to today, being aware of human consumption and waste as we continue to inhabit this planet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the connection between A (high consumption) and B (lack of sustainability). Yet, here we are at C (human misunderstanding) of what D (preservation) actually means for us all. And of course, the photographs are good too.
It was published by Gallery Books (January 1990) and is 257 pages in length.