Movie Review – Undergods

Undergods (2020)
Written and Directed by Chino Moya

Western society is in its twilight. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not; it is. All it takes is stepping back a bit, viewing this particular political hegemony from an intellectual distance, and seeing the decline in real time. I am 40. When I am 50, society will be worse than it is now. And so on and so on until I die. There is potential goodness in people, but there are also potent, influential institutions devoted to sowing division, agitation, and distraction. So what will that future world, that sprawling landscape of inhuman Hell, possibly look like? Filmmaker Chino Moya posits this blasted wasteland, populated with brutalist architecture. The irony here is that, like all good science fiction, Moya isn’t talking about the potential future but reflecting on what he sees in our present through a lens of fantasy.

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Comic Book Review – Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky Volume 1

Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky Volume 1 (2020)
Reprints Daredevil #1-10
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Marco Checcetto, Lalit Kumar Sharma, and Jorge Fornes

I can’t say Daredevil has ever been a character I was drawn to reading. I’ve mostly been a DC Comics fan since I was a kid but have certainly read a healthy amount of Marvel Comics in that time too. However, Daredevil just felt like someone I never really clicked with and would instead read X-Men or Spider-Man. Nevertheless, this run by acclaimed writer Chip Zdarsky has garnered much praise, which intrigued me. So, I sat down and read through the run’s first ‘deluxe’ volume. 

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Comic Book Review – Black Hammer ’45/Black Hammer-Justice League

Black Hammer ’45 (2019)
Written by Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes
Art by Matt Kindt

Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice (2020)
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Michael Walsh

Black Hammer has been a fascinating experiment in superhero fiction, helmed by the immensely talented Jeff Lemire. Starting in 2016, he created a narrative about superheroes trapped in a small town who have to hide their powers. From there, he expanded and created a larger universe that serves as his personal commentary on all sorts of subgenres and archetypes within American comics. There have been some comparisons to Watchmen, but I don’t really think there are many similarities other than one writer’s voice at the center. Lemire has much more reverence for the medium than Alan Moore did or does. With both of these mini-series, Lemire can play around with tropes and, in one instance, DC’s superhero stable of characters.

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Comic Book Review – The Terrifics Part 2

The Terrifics Part 2
Reviewing The Terrifics #15-30
Written by Gene Luen Yang (with Mark Russell & James Asmus)
Art by Stephen Segovia, Joe Bennett, Doc Shaner, Jose Luis, Dexter Vines, Ray McCarthy, Matt Santorelli, Scott Hanna, Richard Friend, Jordi Tarragona, Sergio Davila, Max Raynor, Dan Mora, Vincente Cifuentes, and Brent Peeple

The Terrifics’ second half builds on its first without a hitch, despite onboarding a new writer. Gene Luen Yang is a comics writer I don’t know too much about. He penned a run on Superman that was part of the curtain call for the New 52 reboot. I have enjoyed what I’ve read of his run on the follow-up The New Superman, a series where a Chinese citizen is imbued with the power of the Man of Steel. I wasn’t sure what Yang’s interpretation of The Terrifics would be, whether he would lean into the Fantastic Four pastiche or try to carve out something unique. But, it’s clear, that once word came that the series would be canceled, Yang decided to pull out all the stops and have fun with the whole thing.

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Movie Review – Psycho Goreman

Psycho Goreman (2020)
Written & Directed by Steven Kostanski

1980s/90s nostalgia is running rampant in popular culture. Whether its new streaming series that evoke the mood of the period or new versions of classic action figures released into the wild or reboots of franchises that are beloved, America just cannot get enough of crawling into a cocoon of childhood memories instead of confronting that ever-present horror of this moment in time. Psycho Goreman is a violent beating from the past, refusing to allow things to be so fuzzy and friendly. Instead, we get the bloody horrifying Saturday morning cartoon we all sort of really dreamt about, a hilarious and absurdist take on the Power Rangers, E.T., and many other corporate childhood darlings.

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Movie Review – Lapsis

Lapsis (2020)
Written & Directed by Noah Hutton

In recent years, the gig economy has sadly become more prevalent, starting in large urban centers and working its way out to rural environs. It is predicated on people unable to find steady, well-paying work, particularly those who are desperate. This desperation often comes out of unexpected tragedy, and for Americans, that is linked with medical debt. If you’ve spent time in honest conversation with someone who drives for Uber or does InstaCart, you’ll quickly learn how hard it is to stay above water even with these gigs. Their wages are often lower than expected, and the public they serve can be anything but kind. Lapsis uses the dregs of the gig economy as a jumping-off point for its science-fiction satire.

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Movie Review – The Killing of Two Lovers

The Killing of Two Lovers (2020)
Written & Directed by Robert Machoian

From the title, you likely have some expectations. This is going to be a film with violence centered around a relationship of some kind. And you would sort of be correct, but The Killing of Two Lovers is a much more complicated film than that. It’s a story told from a very particular perspective with a purpose. I came across a review from the British Film Institute publication Sight & Sound about this movie that completely shocked me. They read the picture as an obscured defense of the central character, and that baffled me. After watching the movie, Ariana and I had a totally different read than many others, immediately discussing how the ending left us feeling very unsettled. 

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TV Review – I May Destroy You

I May Destroy You (2020)
Written & Directed by Michaela Coel

I had a hard time finishing this series. It’s a heartbreaking mini-series written by Michaela Coel, who should’ve gotten all the praise but was snubbed for any Emmys when it was released in 2020.

The title of the show questions who it is that Arabella (Michaela Cole) might destroy. Will she destroy her friends? Her enemies? Her career? Herself?

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TV Review – Work in Progress Season 1

Work in Progress Season 1 (Showtime)
Written by Abby McEnany & Tim Mason & Lilly Wachowski
Directed by Tim Mason

Work in Progress is a show that is made with love and thought. At first glance, someone might assume it is the queer response to Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it isn’t.

Abby McEnany brings to us on screen a heavy, queer representation onto television that is much needed. Abby writes alongside her writing partner Tim Mason, and she stares in it too.

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Patron Pick – The Donut King

This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.

The Donut King (2020)
Written by Carol Martori
Directed by Alice Gu

When my patron Matt first picked The Donut King, I wasn’t sure what angle to take for the review. This was before I watched the film, but it became evident to me how to talk about the documentary during my viewing. The film centers around the “too good to be true” promise of “the American Dream” and the impact chasing this unattainable myth has, particularly on immigrants & refugees, desperate to make something of their lives and raise up their families. The cost of the pursuit is poison in the veins, a direct product of the ravenous inhumane Capitalism American specializes in fomenting. 

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