Father Knows Best on ‘Steven Universe’

Steven Universe

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Greg Universe, the most underrated dad in TV history? Here’s your reminder for the day: Greg Universe is everything. Got it? Good. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about “Gemcation.”

The episode starts off with Steven still not hearing back from Connie regarding the previous episode’s events. He’s sending her increasingly desperate texts until he hears his dad start hollering—he’s been caught in some hoses and needs Steven’s help getting out of it. Steven rips the hoses off of him and asks nervously “Are you good? Are you safe? Do you still love me?” An interesting Freudian slip, one that alarms Greg. Steven’s phone gets a text and Steven gets super excited, but it turns out to be just Ronaldo asking about the Princess Koala box set he lent him (an ongoing gag throughout the episode which is surprisingly hilarious). Watching Steven react to this, Greg asks him if he’s okay. Steven says he’s just suffering from “space lag” and walks away.

While Steven is washing dishes (and gets excited by another text, which just turns out to be Ronaldo inquiring about those DVDS) Greg, Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst surprise him with a spontaneous vacation, which is obviously meant to take his mind off of things. The gems even take his bed along with them, just so he can be “as comfortable as possible,” as Greg excitedly tells him. They all try to get him to relax and open up to them about his time in space, in their own awkward way, which doesn’t work; Steven is too preoccupied with texting Connie to notice.

Then he overhears them talking about him privately—Greg thinks something terrible might have happened to him in space and the trauma is why he’s been so withdrawn and distracted. Greg is convinced that something is truly wrong and begs the gems to help him find out what it might be. That makes Steven feel even worse, but he still can’t bring himself to vocalize what’s really bothering him, until (after being awkwardly approached by Pearl) he finally breaks down and cries out “Connie hates me!” After spitting out what happened between them, he runs off sobbing while they all stare at him in shock.

And this is where my guy Greg shines. As the rest of the gems stand there frozen, he springs into action, saying “I don’t know anything about Homeworld, but I know about this!” We don’t get many moments on this show where Greg gets to save the day, and it was great seeing him step in knowing that this was a situation he knew how to take care of. He calms Steven down and gently reminds him that that Homeworld adventure was a terrifying stressful time for everyone and Connie were going to deal with it in her own way and he had to respect that, no matter how long it took.

And at the end of the day, he wouldn’t be suffering alone, which Steven is reminded of as he lies on top of the van watching the night sky with Greg, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. We don’t get a lot of moments with just the original squad anymore, but this was a nice one, a reminder that Steven’s greatest strengths come from these people who raised him.

Favorite line:

Pearl: “So…Homeworld. I always hoped you’d see it someday. But I thought I’d be there with you. Being taken there. As a prisoner.”

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A surprisingly poignant episode that manages to be light and funny at just the right times. (Seriously that Ronaldo gag had me in hysterics.)

 

Archie Grimm spends her free time writing (smutty fanfiction) and watching tons of tv/movies/ anything with attractive superheroes. Catch her on Twitter at @NerdyMcHoodlum.

New Trailer for Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Is Here!

Here is the brand new trailer from Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” which just debuted on the “American Music Awards,” as well as four new film stills. “A Wrinkle in Time” opens nationwide on March 9, 2018.

From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.

Directed by Emmy(R) winner and Oscar(R) and Golden Globe(R) nominee Ava DuVernay from a screenplay by Oscar winner Jennifer Lee based upon the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time” stars: two-time Academy Award(R) nominee Oprah Winfrey, Oscar and Emmy winner Reese Witherspoon, Emmy nominee Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peňa and introducing Storm Reid, with two-time Emmy winner Zach Galifianakis and Emmy nominee Chris Pine.

Produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand with Doug Merrifield serving as executive producer, the film also boasts an impressive creative team featuring some of the most talented artisans working today, including: Tobias Schliessler, ASC as director of photography, Naomi Shohan as production designer, Oscar(R)-nominee Spencer Averick as film editor, two-time Academy Award(R)-nominee Paco Delgado as costume designer and four time Emmy(R) nominee Ramin Djawadi as composer.

The Problem of Claire in ‘Outlander’ 03×09

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Outlander Claire

I am picking up the Outlander torch, Blerds, not in disagreement with anything the previous writer may have said. No, I am wasting my words on what we now know as a racist, misogynist show to continue the important conversations that must be had about this show.

With that said, let’s get into the episode.

Claire is problematic as a character and as a woman in this fantasy story world. She isn’t the only problematic piece of the Outlander story. You probably heard about the Outlander fandom fuming over the Buzzfeed piece “How Outlander Avoided the Stereotypes of Its Source Material” that exposed the racism in the books that thankfully did not translate onto the small screen. The piece “How Outlander’s Middle-Aged White Woman Fans Abandoned their Real-Life Claire” looks at the problems between the fantastic expectations versus the real actions of Claire’s Trump-supporting white fans. There are plenty of problems in Outlander, but today, we will hone in on just one, and that is Claire herself.

For someone who has studied up on the period enough to stock medications she may need and look up natural remedies for common ailments that had no cure in that time, Claire really fails at understanding the place of a woman in this time. And how could that be when she has fought similar battles in her own time. It seems that many of the scrapes that Claire gets into in episode nine are of her own making through her own arrogance.

Claire and Jamie are left to commission a ship and a crew to take them to Jamaica, where Ian, Jennie’s son, is probably headed. You’ll remember from last week that Claire’s meeting with Jamie’s current WIFE was met with hostility and gunfire. Jamie saw the only remedy as paying her off and setting aside that marriage. He would go back for the jewels he found while searching for the “White Witch” (another name for Claire) decades before. The jewels were well hidden. He got Ian to swim out to the island where the treasure was located, only to see Ian kidnapped by Portuguese sailors. They found out that the ship was bound for Jamaica.

Their mission was to go after Ian. Keep your head down, Claire and stay alive until they got to Jamaica. Well, Claire and her arrogance start to piss off the captain and the crew when she questions the reason everyone has to touch the good luck charm on the ship. They explain, but she laughs! Jamie has to remind this woman that SHE IS BAD LUCK just existing aboard the ship and she needs to slow her roll. She does not, later insulting the Captain’s need to follow superstitions later when they are dining below deck. The two of them. Alone. Where he could kill her and Jamie could not stop him.

Once again, Claire studied the era! Remember all that research she did when started the trip? She knows how women are treated and how she would need to act in order to remain alive for her mission. Yes, Jamie was there to protect her, but even he can only do so much with a busted arm for most of the trip. The woman’s arrogance seems to overcome her ability to remember where she is and what her mission is (find Ian), causing her to do things that not only derail the mission but puts everyone’s life in danger.

There is a tender moment when she and Jamie are post-coital on a pile of sails, and he says that he loves her gray hair. **Swoon** That moment is erased once the ship hits still waters and the luck question come up again. I thought for sure that Claire would put her foot in her mouth and get herself kicked off the ship. Instead, one of Jamie’s old friends thinks he is the jinx and he tries to commit suicide, which Jamie thwarts. The crew still wants blood until Mr. Willoughby (another problematic character) stands and makes cringe-worthy account of his journey to Europe. He later reveals that he knew rain was coming. He told his tale and put his story—in the form of written papers—into the sea. The wind picks up and rain comes. 

An English ship soon comes up and hails them. Jamie says they may take on men. I get scared that they are going to take Jamie! But no, the very young captain explains that most of the crew has died. He explains the disease. Claire instantly knows that it is typhoid fever, a disease that’s cured with antibiotics, cleanliness, and fluids. Claire has been vaccinated against it. She suddenly feels her doctor’s duty calling and feels she must board the other ship to help. Now, Jamie is fully aware of what the hell is going on. He knows that she is a woman who is in danger unsupervised around the macho Neanderthal-like behaviors sailors have—even if they are British army. He warns her to stay, but she goes anyway.

A little hilarity in this episode came from the side story of Fergus and Jamie’s stepdaughter. The girl took every chance she could get to call Claire “The WHORE” (pronounced WHO-OAR) as if it’s a second word for “stepmom”. Fergus, it turns out is the real WHO-OAR, having bed every young damsel from Lollybroch to Edingburgh. Watching the two of them in love, but with so much of an opinion of their elders was comical. I kept thinking, just wait lil’ girl, you got a playa on your hands. Fergus is going to show you a thing or two.

I guess we actually have two problematic women in this episode.

Back on the British Man of War, Claire does a lot to help, but I am seriously screaming at the television at this point. That woman needs to get herself back into Jamie’s shadow! You are not safe Claire! They are going to steal you!

As the show ends, guess what happens. Sigh.

I guess next week we get to Jamie’s half-kill his pretty self to save a chick who is too stupid to remember what era she is in. You did the research, girl! How are you this stupid? I can’t…

And then, a little voice in my head goes “You know what Claire’s problem is, don’t you? White privilege.”

Think about it folks.

Until next week, Outlander fans.

Jonita Davis loves, reads, studies, and writes about comics, books, TV, culture, and more. You can usually find her in a corner somewhere, dragging a pen across paper in an effort to make sense of the world. 

Finally, The Kevin Episode OF ‘This is Us’ We’ve Been Waiting For

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this is us

On this week’s episode of This is Us, present day Kevin goes back to Pittsburgh to be honored at his high school’s homecoming.  While in flashback, we experience the days leading up to his career-ending high school football injury.

The episode opens in flashback with Jack and Rebecca encouraging the Big Three to walk.  Kevin, who was first to be born, is also first on his feet.  This explains why Jack refers to him as his “Number One” (also the episode title) and later why he plays number one on his high school football team.  Later, we speed up a bit to high school as the Big Three prepare college applications.  Kevin, who is waiting to hear back from his top choice, Notre Dame, receives a full football scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh.  Jack and Rebecca scramble to prepare for a visit from the coach of Pitt as an obviously disinterested Kevin can’t be bothered.  He is rude to the coach and after the coach leaves, he is confronted by Jack who is disappointed in his behavior.  In a true dad way, Jack tells him to get out of his sight and then demands he return so he can yell at him.  Through a series of snarky comments, we learn Kevin feels some kind of way about Jack’s struggle with alcoholism.  He hints at being embarrassed by Jack’s vulnerability.  While Jack takes Randall to a college visit out of town, Kevin plays in the game that will ultimately be his last because he is catastrophically injured during the game.  After learning his injury will prevent him from playing again, Jack gives Kevin the chain around his neck that holds the Buddhist symbol for purpose.  The chain, he says, was given to him by someone who met a great deal and got him through tough times.  Through tears, he tells his son, “You will find your purpose.”

THIS IS US — “Number One” Episode 208 — Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

The present day portion of the episode opens with Kevin in a hotel room with heavy bags under his eyes popping pain medications like candy and washing it down with a steady stream of alcohol.  He looks bad and smells too, according to the hotel maid Martina.  Despite this, he agrees to attend his high school’s homecoming.

In the episode’s first tear-inducing moment, Kevin visits his childhood home imagining he and his siblings playing football in the front yard with his parents.  When he arrives at his high school, he stumbles around having flashbacks of Sophie and his glory days.  While waiting to give his speech to the student body, he sees his former classmate, now cosmetic surgeon, Charlotte, who almost immediately confesses to having the hugest crush on him in high school.  Thirsty Charlotte continues to shamelessly flirt with him throughout the night.  Kevin is surprised when his former football coach, The Duff, comes back to award him with his honor.  Kevin stands off stage imagining his father giving the heartfelt introduction and grows emotional as he walks on stage to embrace his coach.  Feeling overwhelmed, he tells the crowd he doesn’t deserve the award.  When they applaud and cheer in adoration anyway, he tries to stop them and in a heartbreaking moment, stares off into the crowd and says, “Don’t love me.”  Despite this, they continue to praise him for his “amazing” speech.

After the ceremony, Thirsty Charlotte asks disoriented Kevin to go for a walk.  As the two sit outside the school, Kevin confides in her that he feels like he could be standing completely naked and all anyone would ever see is him in his high school football jersey.  Charlotte, true to her thirst, and clearly only hearing the word “naked,” reaches out to touch his thigh and tells him that’s not all she would see.  Kevin is all of us as he stares at her disbelief and walks away. With a bottle of beer in hand, Kevin walks out on his high school football field reliving his high school injury and a series of life-shattering heartbreaks that followed from the death his father to losing Sophie. As he sits on the field feeling the weight of the moment, Kelly, the student homecoming coordinator, asks him is he wants to party.  Rather than sinking to a new low with the underage teen, he goes with Thirsty Charlotte back to her place and makes all of her teenage dreams come true (which she doesn’t hesitate to tell him).

After the deed is done, Kevin convinces Charlotte to make him a snack while he steals a page from her prescription pad to get himself more pain medication.  When he finds it, he leaves without saying goodbye and heads to the pharmacy only to realize he is no longer wearing his father’s necklace.  He returns to Charlotte’s house and, enraged that he left, she refuses to let him in to search for the necklace.  He pleads with her that it is the only thing he has left of his father and she slams her window leaving him on her grass admitting he is pain and he needs help.  Justin Hartley blew the lid off his performance, giving me goosebumps and he dissolved into tears on Charlotte’s lawn.  I cried with Kevin, ya’ll.  Someone needs to give that man a raise and all of the awards.

This episode made a subtle yet powerful commentary on how disconnected we can be to celebrities, even when they are in visible pain. From onlookers at the airport when Kevin landed in Pittsburgh to Thirsty Charlotte (who is a doctor) to all of the eager students and teachers at the ceremony, they all seem to have placed Kevin so high up on a pedestal, they forgot he was a human being.  They ignore his pain in favor of their own ideas on who he is and who they want him to be.  While I didn’t leave this episode thinking Kevin was any less of an asshole, revealing the depth of his pain made him much more sympathetic.  It also made him somewhat redeemable.  For that reason, I really, really wanted him to be okay. I found myself desperately wanting Kate or Randall show up.  So, when Kevin arrives at Randall’s house at the end clearly ready to ask his brother for help, I felt relieved. Of course, that relief was short-lived when, in the episode’s most shocking moment, Randall assumes Kevin is there for another reason: Kate lost the baby.  Yeah. I think I audibly made the “oof” sound as the news hit me like a sucker punch to the gut.

Next week, in what is sure to be another tear-jerker, This is Us will focus on Kate and her and Toby’s painful loss in the second of this three part episode trilogy, “Number Two.”

BGN Interview: Leo chats with Patricia Heaton one of stars of the new holiday film, “THE STAR”

BGN’s Leonardo Faierman talks with one of the stars of “The Star”, Patricia Heaton. Patricia is probably best known for her role as Debra opposite Ray Romano in the hit comedy” Everybody Loves Raymond”. Patricia voices the character of Edith the Cow in the new film.

THE STAR From the producers: In Sony Pictures Animation’s THE STAR, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas. https://youtu.be/9NjvYZtwk00 Follow Leo: Twitter: @LeonardoEff

BGN Interview: Jacqueline chats with Dan Gilroy, director of “Roman J. Israel, ESQ”

BGN’s Jacqueline sat down for a chat with writer/director Dan Gilroy about his new film “ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.” All rise. This November, Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington is Roman J. Israel, Esq.

https://youtu.be/CItEtnp3nPY

#RomanIsraelMovie

“Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a dramatic thriller set in the underbelly of the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system. Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is upended when a turbulent series of events challenge the activism that has defined his career. Colin Farrell costars as the ambitious, monied lawyer who recruits Roman to his firm.” Written & Directed By: Dan Gilroy Starring Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo

What’s Your Semblance? — ‘RWBY’ 5×04

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RWBY

In this episode of RWBY, we catch up with Yang and where she’s at on her journey to find the Branwen tribe. Professor Ozpin keeps his word and trains Ruby, who’s not doing as well as she should with hand to hand combat.

RUBY’S TRAINING

We first see Ruby in the midst of sparring with Oscar. Last episode, Ozpin said he would train her and the other students for the impending battle at Haven Academy. Ruby is great with her weapon, but she’s a novice at hand to hand combat. Oscar at this point is relying on muscle memory gained from Ozpin’s knowledge, but doesn’t have any skills acquired from his own knowledge. Ruby has a hard time beating Oscar, despite his lack of training. Oscar is also disappointed in his performance, but the students remind him that it’ll be easier when he discovers his semblance.

A semblance is the innate ability that everyone has on the planet of Remnant. Everyone has a power they’re born with that’s specific to them.

  • Ruby’s semblance is speed.
  • Nora gains strength with electricity.
  • Ren can mask his presence from enemies.
  • Yang’s is channeling anger into physical strength.
  • Weiss has the ability to make glyphs, which are platforms she propels herself or ammo off of.

We’re reminded in this scene that Jaune still hasn’t found his semblance. In past seasons, he’s been an inferior fighter but proves to be an excellent battle strategist.

YANG AND THE BRANWEN TRIBE

Yang is with the guy she met last episode who agreed to guide her to the Branwen tribe. And of course, he tricks her and leads her into a trap. In the middle of the woods, he has a group of his comrades surround her. Unfortunately for them, Yang can handle herself; even with multiple foes. Quickly, she defeats the whole gang and heads to the Branwen village.

Being Yang, she doesn’t arrive at the village in a subtle manner. Instead, she marches in demanding to see her mother, Raven, leader of the Branwen tribe. (Yang’s mother had abandoned her when she was young to lead the tribe.) Raven downplays Yang’s visit and “grants” her the opportunity to ask any question she wishes. However, Yang’s true reason for visiting is because she wants help finding Ruby. Raven’s semblance allows her to teleport to anyone she bonds with. Raven is connected to Yang, Yang’s father, and Qrow (her brother and Yang’s uncle). Yang knows Ruby is in Mistral but doesn’t know exactly where. It would be useless for her to aimlessly wander Mistral until she runs into her. Yang figures since Qrow is with Ruby, if she can teleport to Qrow then obviously she’ll find Ruby.

Raven is reluctant to help; not because she’s being difficult but because she’s actually trying to protect her daughter. Raven stopped following Ozpin long ago but knows her brother still follows him. She tries to convince Yang not to go to Mistral by letting her know Ozpin is not the man she thinks he is. But Yang is stubborn and insists that Raven takes her to Ruby. Raven, who’s had enough, orders her men to take Yang prisoner, but Yang’s not going down without a fight.

With all of the commotion, Weiss, who’s in the cage nearby, recognizes Yang. Knowing she has back up, she breaks out and joins Yang. Before it gets too out of hand, Vernal (Spring Maiden) calls an end to the confusion. Raven gives in after seeing her daughter’s determination and agrees to take her to Ruby, but not until she first tells her the truth about Ozpin.

THOUGHTS ABOUT OZPIN:

When it was first revealed that Ozpin’s soul was inside of Oscar’s body; I figured maybe it was an accident, but on last week’s RWBY we learned Ozpin’s soul has been transferring from body to body. That was a red flag for me. I mean, it’s basically invasion of the body snatcher. But now that Raven says Ozpin is not the man we think he is, I’m convinced. It strikes me as odd that Ozpin didn’t reveal who he truly is. He vaguely explained his dilemma, and we have no idea who he was, what he did, and the specifics of why “he” was cursed. So, I have to side with Yang’s mom. At the moment, I don’t trust Ozpin. Who knows, he could be trying to locate the maidens and the relics for himself to conquer Remnant.

DY is an aspiring filmmaker and writer; she loves all genres but is increasingly becoming interested in writing fantasy and sci-fi. She spends all of her time watching anime and movies, and reading comic books. Follow her on twitter @dyprinzess.

Porg in Your Pocket! Taking a Look at Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Courtesy of Screen Rant
Courtesy of Jedi News

Topps and Star Wars have been successful partners for over 40 years. The company is returning to our favorite galaxy with a new set for The Last Jedi with basic inserts, base sets, premium boxes, and retail exclusives.

Basic Inserts

Basic inserts include stickers, character cards blueprints, and illustrated cards.

Courtesy of richscards.com

 

Base Set

The base set of card for this set has a classic blue star background. There are also parallel sets of cards that have the same images, but different color borders (green, black, silver, orange, gold, and red).

 

 

Courtesy of beckett.com

Premium Boxes

There are two types of premium boxes, the Value Box and the Hobby Box. If you purchase a Value Box, you are guaranteed one hit card. However, Hobby Boxes contain two hit cards per box and one guaranteed autograph, autograph relic, or autograph printing plate. These boxes also have premium insert cards you can’t get anywhere else. You can get a Value or Hobby Box from card shops, comic books stores, or online.

Retail Exclusives

Target, Walmart, and GameStop all have card sets exclusive to their stores. Target has a 10 card Choose Your Destiny set, Walmart has a Family Legacy set, and GameStop has five Allies cards in their packs.

However, collecting doesn’t stop at the physical cards! The Star Wars Digital Card Trader (SWCT) app has some really cool Last Jedi cards, including PORGS!

 

I’m obsessed with these little creatures. Not only does the SWCT have some pretty cards, they also have a digital interactive card that makes Porg sounds:

The app is available for Apple and Android devices. All you need to do is download the app and set up an account. Then you can start collecting coins to purchase sets. Although there are a lot more pay-to-play features in the app than when the app first appeared, don’t get discouraged. Focus on building up your base cards. Trading is a great way to build up your collection. The trade feed can be a rough place, so make sure you read all the info posts on the site. If you would like to trade with me send a trade to @yogikai.

Mention in the trade comment that you read this post on BGN and I’ll give you some extra cards!


About the Author: Kai Charles is a Medical Professional,  Jedi Hopeful, and Independent Book Reviewer at Fiction State of Mind. You can also find her on Twitter at @yogikai tweeting about all things relating to Books & Geek Culture

BGN TIFF 2017 REVIEW: ‘Mudbound’ Explores Race, Friendship, Womanhood and Sacrifice

Mudbound

At TIFF, I had the pleasure of screening what is sure to be an awards season contender, Mudbound, which is now streaming on Netflix. Mudbound is a dynamically raw and emotional film with exceptional performances from Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, and Mary J. Blige. The film, set in the Mississippi Delta during and immediately after World War Two, begins with the separate stories of the McAllan and Jackson families, we get a sense of how life and circumstances shape who these people are, especially when their lives begin to intertwine.

The McAllan brothers, Jamie and Henry, who we first see burying their father Pappy in a flash forward, are white males in the South who are accustomed to a certain level of privilege, and each has chosen different life paths. Henry (Jason Clarke) is the more traditional brother of the two, whereas Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) is more the dreamer. Henry meets Laura (Carey Mulligan), who at the time is more content being a working woman than a wife — while this is more than reasonable and acceptable for any woman who can forge their own path, it isn’t as accepted during this time period. Her family — her mother, in particular — pressures her to court Henry, get married, and have a family. They do, but Henry, who once valued her opinion and looked to her in all areas of his life, decides — without discussion — to uproot their kids and his racist, sexist father to the family farm in rural Mississippi, changing the course of their lives forever. When the initial deal of renting a house falls through, they are forced to live on the farm that Henry had solely planned to work on.

On the other hand, Jamie, the free spirit, gets drafted into the war. His time as a fighter pilot changes him, as most wars do, and when he comes back home, he grapples with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and night terrors that continue to haunt him. He finds a friend in Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell), who lives with his family on the farm. Their friendship is deeply rooted in their shared war experiences. But despite this kinship, Jamie struggles with finding a true place on the farm and continues to be seen as less than by his father.

The Jackson family are Black sharecroppers on the McAllan farm who work hard and keep their space and distance. Father Hap (Rob Morgan) and oldest son Ronsel take on most of the work. Ronsel is called to the war and it’s his mother, Florence (Mary J. Blige), who has the hardest time letting him go, knowing that this might be the last time she ever sees him and knowing that even with his service, his life and sacrifices will continue to be undervalued due to the color of his skin. While Ronsel is away, Florence is forced into serving as midwife for the McAllans when their daughters draw ill with an infection. She has to leave her home and risk her health for the well being of their family, as we’ve seen time after time with Black women, at the expense of hers.

During Florence’s time as midwife, she and Laura form an unexpected bond. Laura realizes that she can’t manage on her own and almost demands that Florence work for them on a more regular basis, outside of emergencies. Despite playing the extra money angle, Hap is less than thrilled about the additional time Florence will spend away from home. Laura is deep in her own cycle, falling out of love with Henry, but trying to please him. She also struggles with Pappy and his behaviors, all while cleaning up the messes that her husband creates, simply because he isn’t the strongest farmer, and has too much pride to admit that he needs more help than he lets on.

Meanwhile while overseas, Ronsel’s experience serving in the war is challenging but while he gets a taste of what it was like to be respected as a man of color. He even starts a relationship with a European woman and is living in bliss when the war ends and he returns home. He surprises his parents and his siblings and all is well until he walks to the store and encounters Pappy (Jonathan Banks). Pappy, being his usual privileged and rude self, not only demands that Ronsel apologizes, but that Henry handle him. Ronsel, at the advice of his father, apologizes, as so to not cause any additional trouble, in an attempt to restore harmony, in Hap’s eyes.

As Ronsel and Jamie’s friendship continues to grow, racial tensions and climate rise on the farm. Eventually, Pappy finds out about the friendship and in a scene that is beyond challenging to watch, decides to show Ronsel and Jamie what happens when they essentially cross his boundaries, and those of white America, by forging a friendship with someone of another race. He tortures Ronsel in attempt to humiliate and emasculate him. This breaks Jamie, and causes him to do something that quite frankly was more than warranted and definitely a long time coming.

While the movie ends on an unexpected note for me, the fullness of the story is engaging, raw, emotional and wildly complex. These characters all have something to lose and in a lot of ways are still trying to find themselves. Henry is always looking for Pappy’s approval, and so he does things that are beyond him, just to get it. Jamie is still, in a lot of ways, searching for his place in life, post-war. Laura is trying to adjust to a life that she never intended for herself. She admires Florence for all that she is and all that she can do, but even that is a fine line that cannot be crossed. Hap is just trying to build a stand-alone life for himself and his family, apart from the McAllans. Ronsel is trying to survive, physically, mentally and emotionally. Adjusting to from his wartime life of being highly regarded to his return to America and being virtually unseen. Florence represents the strong black wife and mom, literally adjusting to any and every scenario to survive. Putting the needs of everyone around her before her own.

Dee Rees created a remarkable piece of art that not only showcases a heartbreaking time in our history, but also causes you to question what pieces of this time still remain today. So if you want to watch a period piece that digs deeper into the humanity of deeply flawed and layered characters, all while exploring the impacts segregation has on friendship, the sacrifices of motherhood, and more, watch Mudbound out today on Netflix. 

Images: Imdb.com

“Future Man” Is Upon Us Has Hulu Backed A Hit Or A Miss?

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[Courtesy of hulu]

Future Man is an interesting prospect. It’s a half hour sci-fi dramedy that stars Josh Hutcherson in the role of leading man and comic relief even though he’s more known for the action-packed Hunger Games series. The female lead, Eliza Coupe plays a futuristic butt kicker even though she’s best known for her comedic acting in shows like the canceled-WAY-too-soon Happy Endings. Rounding out the main cast is Derek Wilson who we just saw playing Donnie on AMC’s Preacher.

The story of Future Man kicks off when a young janitor, Josh Futterman (Hutcherson) beats a notoriously difficult video game (think futuristic Dark Souls) and finds out that it’s actually a training simulation sent from the future to find soldiers for a war against mysterious invaders. Two warrior emissaries (Coupe and Wilson) show up at his house looking to recruit him, thus beginning their time jumping adventures. The pilot was shown during the Future Man NYCC panel and seemed to get a warm reception from the crowd. There will be more on that later, but first, let’s take a look at what the actors and producers have to say about their new show.

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Producers: (L-R) Ben Karlin, Ariel Shaffir,and Kyle Hunter:

Future Man Producers On Casting, Creative Freedom, & Playing To Their Strengths

Crystal Sparrow: The gaming community has a lot of politics going on within it with Gamergate and other things. The show seems to have a political element as well, with the resistance fighting. Will there be any discussion of the broader gaming culture coming into the show at all?

Kyle Hunter: Not really…

Ariel Shaffir: I wouldn’t say that the gaming culture comes in at all. The three of us aren’t familiar enough with gaming culture for us to have integrated that into the show in a responsible way. The video game is a jumping off point for the series, but once he beats the video game we don’t explore video game culture so much.

Question: What role was the most challenging to cast?

Kyle: They all had their challenges, but we lucked out with the three leads. Josh. isn’t necessarily known for comedy but he came in and really surprised us with his physical comedy and his timing.

Ariel: Since we’re jumping around in time, the challenging roles to cast were the younger versions of actors we’ve established so you have to find someone who has the look of a character and can kind of do the voice. So, that was challenging but probably the most fun roles to cast as well.

Question: Can you talk about the freedom you have with a streaming show when compared to a network show?

Ben Karlin: Coming from the world of network television especially network developments you’re really used to being told, “We like these kinds of shows. These are the kinds of things that have to happen. They have to be really good at their jobs.” We were allowed to create the rules of our reality.

Future Man‘s Derek Wilson On The Joys Of Being a Child-like Badass

Crystal: Future Man is a different production than Preacher but you’re working with some of the same producers. How has the change been?

Derek Wilson: Actually, I flew out to LA and we shot this pilot while I was shooting Preacher, then I went back. So, it was a pretty abrupt change but there’s a lot of the same people, and everyone on this show is so awesome. It was a relatively smooth transition. It’s super fun. Eliza and I look at each other all the time and we’re like, we can’t believe we get to do this.

Question: As you continue to delve into the character of Wolf, are there things you learned about yourself?

Derek: He opens himself up to learning certain aspects of the world, and that’s kind of encouraged me to do the same. He’s a pretty awesome character. He’s like a child. The more I can get back to that childlike innocence, the more fun life can be, so that’s something.

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The Future Man Himself Discusses His Character’s Strengths

In the pilot, Josh’s character has some stunning, heroic moments, but they’re all within the confines of his video game avatar. The ‘real’ Josh Futterman is a bit physically hapless.

Crystal: I know Josh takes on the pacifist role but, later on in the season do you get to be a little bit more physical.

Josh Hutcherson: There are some scenarios where he kind of has to be. He doesn’t do a very good job with it. But what’s cool about the story is that while we play a lot with the classic sci-fi hero’s journey tale, this is very much a new take. What ends up being Josh’s strength is his empathy and intellect as opposed to the physicality. He does some cool shit though.

Crystal: Were you at all daunted about the comedic part of the job?

Josh: Yes and no. I’ve never done it before and I was nervous I had to be funny, but the truth is it’s just in the writing. We have great writers and they really got the characters and world.

The Verdict

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Is it funny? With only the pilot to go on, yes. I definitely laughed at parts and was impressed by the production values overall. Mass Effect‘s space dad, Keith David comes in as an easy going scientist with a nasty herpes blister on his lip whose life’s work is to find a cure for herpes. This is a season-long plot point for Future Man that actually leads to a pretty interesting plot twist toward the end of the first episode. Derek’s character, Wolf really shines.

Is it interesting? Not particularly, but if you’re a fan of fratty, bodily fluid and herpes blister tinged humor you’ll like this. My issue is that with such a dense and fairly unique premise it would be cool to see Future Man in the hands of people who have something to say instead of a team that prides themselves on their ability to push the envelope on crude humor and violence.  I like that stuff too, but Future Man‘s protagonists are fighting an oppressive force and bouncing around in American history. This could be so much more.

Still, I applaud the makers of Future Man for knowing their range. I’d rather them keep it shallow than dig deep and come up with a mockery of true introspection. As was reported by W Magazine, there are no Black writers currently working on any Hulu shows. A whites-only take on American history already has a high probability of being completely insufferable. But even giving them the benefit of the doubt, the line between harmless puerile humor and something more sinister can be razor thin. For instance, the moderator at the Future Man NYCC panel mentioned that Josh does a “terrifying Bill Cosby impression” in the second episode and invites him to do it then. Through some embarrassed laughter and self admonishment, Josh asks Eliza about her water and pretends to put something in it. The crowd eats it up.

At a time where everyone’s news feeds are clogged with Hollywood’s sexual abuse and impropriety, I don’t think Future Man going to fly for lots of folks. But given the popularity of this brand, and the laughs that their Mamoa moment generated, they probably won’t find it too difficult to find their audience.

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Future Man is available on Hulu now.

 

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