Batman V. Superman

NOTE: If there is a movie, documentary, play, or book you’d like me to review please let me know. For a while I reviewed television shows but I’m way behind on all of the shows of mine I like, so I will wait to catch up on those before I seek new ones. 

I’m not entirely sure, but according to what my last blog post says I have not posted in well over a year. Whoops! I guess that is what happens when your life gets unexpectedly crazy for a few months. Luckily, I am not juggling quite as much as I was the past few months. So, that has given me more time to finally watch movies and write. So, here are my views on Batman V. Superman.

To make it perfectly clear: SPOILERS.

A few months ago I saw Man of Steel and I honestly didn’t mind it. Quite a few people I talked to said they were not a huge fan of either movie. The biggest thing the company needs to work on, from what I’ve been able to glean from these two movies, is the pacing of their films. Both movies seemed to drag, especially towards the beginning. While I love background information on characters, I felt like it spends too much time on exposition. The Marvel movie universe has seen more success with their franchise so far, and I think that it is due to the fact that they had several solo films to establish some of their characters before jumping into a shared movie. It probably would’ve benefited DC to have had a solo film with Batman before they threw him into a film with Superman. It felt like a good portion of the beginning of the film was just a lot of Batman exposition. Otherwise, the movie started to pick up once it reached the action. However, it did have one more slow point when all of the actions briefly stopped so Wonder Woman could do some investigation into other meta humans. Again, I loved being able to sneak peeks and a little background with each of the actors, but it felt a little forced. The earlier Flash cameo was sufficient enough to introduce him. Given how often news broadcasts introduced other elements, I think having Aquaman introduced that way as a background Easter egg would’ve been better. The random delay of action just felt out of place.

Overall, I thought that the casting of all of the characters was good. I enjoyed the casting for Man of Steel and I felt like Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck were welcome additions to the cast. Despite all of the exposition, Affleck did a great job of portraying an older Batman. Gal Gadot has the perfect composure to play Wonder Woman and it will be exciting to see what she can bring to her solo outing. One of the most polarizing performances was Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Other iterations of the character, that I have seen, typically show him more stoic and calculating and only over time does he appear more manic. One website likened his performance to a cheap imitation of Heath Ledger’s Joker. While I certainly don’t think that was his intent, I felt like his performance could’ve been more reserved and the way he portrayed his character seemed more like another DC villain, the Mad Hatter. Mad Hatter tends to be more crazed but not as volatile as the Joker. I feel like his acting wasn’t homicidal enough to play someone like Joker. His performance wasn’t serious enough for Lex Luthor but not manic/tactical enough for the Joker.

This movie made me dislike the name Martha for two reasons. My first reason is because I feel like a complete idiot for never realizing that both Batman and Superman’s mothers have the same name. Granted, I prefer Batman, but still I didn’t even pick up on it during Man of Steel where I’m sure it was said multiple times. Secondly, the shared name between the mothers led to an incredibly anti-climatic end to the fight between the two heroes. They were bound to stop fighting at some point, but it made everything seem too easy.

A superhero costume can really make or break a character. Despite a significantly darker tone than many earlier versions of the heroes, I feel like DC has done a good job costuming their characters in the DC cinematic universe. Gal Gadot looks stupendous in her Wonder Woman costume and Ben Affleck’s Batman suit based on the Dark Knight graphic novel was pretty spot on. However, the one costume I was not a fan of was Ezra Miller’s armored Flash suit. After doing a little research I discovered it is closer to the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game than the usual red spandex suit. It makes sense given Grant Gustin is wearing the traditional costume on The Flash and the company probably doesn’t want fans to confuse the two portrayals. Regardless, the brief cameo just made the suit look a little clunky and not as exciting as I would’ve hoped it to be (I might be biased because the Flash is one of my favorite heroes).

Despite what may seem like a largely negative review, I would still give this film a 6.5 out of 10. I do think it could’ve been greatly improved with some more editing and reworking of bits, but largely it is a nice start to the franchise. A lot of exposition was given to set up future movies, so hopefully the pacing in future installments will go a lot faster and smoother. We shall see. After watching this movie, I watched Suicide Squad and I’ll be posting a review of that movie shortly.

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Making a Murderer

It has been quite sometime since I have written a review or discussed my opinions on films, movies, shows, documentaries and other things. Primarily I was focusing on theatre for the majority of last year, then I was spending a lot of time working, and then I began work on several writing and editing projects. However, I have decided to start posting reviews again, and I feel like a great place to start is with Making a Murderer. There has been quite a bit of buzz around the show and I am going to discuss the merits of the documentary and my thoughts about the case itself. Please note, I have very minimal background knowledge about crime, laws, and procedures associated with trials, so if any information I provide is incorrect or flawed, I apologize. I am by no means a professional in this field and I am merely sharing my perspective about the whole situation.

With my reviews (as far back as I can remember) I would begin with discussing my perception of the overall merit of the piece (cinematography, pacing, overall story, etc.). Therefore, that is where I will begin with this my thoughts on Making a Murderer. For a production that was released in 2015, I was not overly impressed with the quality of the film itself. I needed to remind myself that most of the footage was shot around ten years ago, when the trials were going on, but about 90% of the footage was at a lower resolution and I think more current footage could have been spliced in. It was not a huge issue, but it felt like my eyes were not well adjusted to the screen.

I felt like the ten episode docuseries could have been condensed down a little bit. Quite a bit of the footage was repetitive and several segments could have been shortened with text like they did at other moments throughout the documentary. The benefit of the longer run time, in my opinion, was that it let the audience become more sympathetic for the Avery family and relatives. Personally, I felt quite awful for Steven Avery’s parents, and had they not included all of those moments with them, I may have never felt that way.

Now there are a few things I want to discuss about the show, so if you’re interested in whether I think Steven or Brendan are innocent or guilty, skip below to the bottom of my review for my specific thoughts on both of them (I will bold it).

One of the worst things that I think happens during any type of criminal case is that family of the accused are targeted by the press, media, and upset citizens. I personally do not care whether a person is found innocent or guilty, I think it is wrong to attack the families of accused or convicted felons. There have been plenty of cases of a terrible upbringing leading to someone becoming a criminal, but that doesn’t mean people should send nasty notes or death threats to the parents or siblings of the accused. It is despicable practice and if anyone does it, they should be ashamed.

A frustrating aspect of the entire case was that the state was not held accountable for the initial imprisonment. While I think the 36 million dollar settlement would have been a bit much, I do think that Avery and the others involved should have received more than the 400,000 dollars that they received and more action should have been taken against those that did not perform their respective duties in the manner that needed to be done. An innocent man spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, because of a faulty justice system that was more concerned with revenge over following the appropriate actions that were supposed to have been taken. As well, I think it is absolutely ludicrous that people involved with his rape case and the lawsuit against his wrongful imprisonment were allowed to be part of the homicide case. I do not know how much it holds up in courts, but there clearly would have been a conflict of interest no matter how unbiased the officers claimed to be.

I think most people who watch the series would say the four most despicable men involved are Mark, Fassbender, Len, and Ken Kratz. From the perspective of the docuseries, it seems that Mark and Fassbender coerced a confession out of Brendan. The two men kept telling him to “be honest” any time that he answered until he gave an answer that they deemed satisfactory. Len, who was meant to defend Brendan, essentially threw him under the bus and did very little to actually help him. Instead of trying to prove his innocence it seemed like he was more interested in Brendan accepting a guilty plea or finding him guilty. Either situation would have helped in the Steven Avery trial and would have added more evidence against him. My personal least favorite person during the trial was Ken Kratz. His unbearable voice made me want to switch on closed captioning and press mute whenever he appeared on screen. However, it seemed he approached the trial in an unprofessional manner and I feel he released details of the case before the trial, and that could have lead to a tainted jury.

My thoughts on the two of them:

Steven Avery – Inconclusive

Brendan Dassey – Innocent

Due to evidence provided in the documentary, I do not think there was enough evidence to convict Steven Avery of murder. The biggest thing that I think the prosecutors had against Avery was the blood in the Rav4. If the tests would have came back  having said that the chemical from the test tube was in that blood, I think that would be the proof I need to say he is completely innocent. Everything else, in my opinion, should not have held up in court. With the key, why would it have only his fingerprints on it and none of Teresa Halbach’s? The DNA from the bullet was tainted by the lab technician that was looking at it. The fact that very little of her blood was discovered on the site just seems incredibly unlikely. Nothing against Avery or Brendan, but neither man seemed intelligent enough to think to be that thorough when cleaning. In general, it seemed like the majority of the factors that comprised his conviction were based on circumstantial evidence. The main question remains, if he didn’t do it, then who did? That is where I think the police failed in both cases against Steven Avery. As mentioned in the film, the prosecutors had “tunnel vision” and seemingly went only after him. I just feel like there is not enough tangible evidence to necessarily say he did or did not commit the murder.

For Brendan, I think he was given a corrupt lawyer and at least deserves a retrial. As far as I remember only his testimony placed him at the crime scene. I could be wrong, but none of the physical evidence provided in the series tied him to being associated with the crime. Without seeing his entire interrogations, it appears that he was lead to make the confessions that he did and the investigators took advantage of a teenager who did not have the mental capacities to realize the gravity of the situation.

All in all, I think it is a good watch. It might be a bit boring to those who are not really interested in watching court cases. However, it shows the plight of an accused man, and more often than not, people don’t really get this perspective in this type of situation. If anyone reading this saw the original trial and then saw this show, I would love to hear if views have changed after watching this. Also, if anyone wants to comment, I would love to have a conversation about your thoughts on the case. I do think the docuseries is biased by focusing more on his innocence than showing a middle ground, but nonetheless it is a thought provoking show and had already engaged quite a huge number of people. Only the future will show whether more of this case will unravel and we will get more of a definitive answer of who the culprit was and if either man will get a second chance.

Why I Do What I Do

Warning: A LOT of rambling.

First off, this isn’t my typical type of review. Usually, I will talk about something I’ve seen lately, but I decided to make a personal post instead. I’ve had people from several different countries reading this, and plenty of Americans too, but not a lot of you probably know me. Even those who do know me, might not know some of what I’m about to say. So, here you go.

Currently I am working on a production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead at a community theatre in town. If someone would have told me two years after I graduated I would still be at home, living in this small town (granted, it is the third largest in the state, but it still seems small to me) I probably would’ve told them off and said I would be somewhere else doing “bigger and better things”. However, as I’ve been working on this play, it has given me a lot of time to reflect back on my life up until this point.

The title for this post is “Why I Do What I Do” and it is tied into the play I am working on, so I guess I’ll start there. Dog Sees God focuses on a combination of different elements from fear, rejection, love, loss, bullying and identity (among many other topics). The character I am is a teenage version of Schroeder from the Peanuts in this unlicensed parody of the comic strip. He’s an upperclassmen who has faced years of bullying due to being molested by his father several years before the beginning of the play. I am fortunate enough to have never gone through an experience like that, but the bullying is something that resonated deeply with me.

At some point when I was a child, I honestly don’t know when or why, I started getting picked on and bullied. Maybe due to being so naive when I was younger, I never realized the hurtful intent of the people that I was around. One instance I recall from when I was in elementary school was that I was playing with some other kids and they asked if I was gay, and my response was “of course I am! I’m having fun!”. When I was younger, I didn’t realize gay was a term also used to describe homosexual, nor did I realize it was meant to be an insult in that situation. As I started growing up, I slowly began to understand more of the intentions behind the things people said to me, and as the bullying continued, I began to catch on to it more and more. I was lucky enough to have it mostly just be verbal, but the few times it was physical, the harm was never anything too serious.

A lot of the time what I see in fictionalized bullying, more often than not, is that the person being bullied tends to be more isolated or reserved with no friends. This wasn’t really my case growing up (note: I am not trying to discredit anyone who has been bullied in real life and didn’t have any friends, I am just speaking from my experience). I always had a tight knit group of friends. Some were also bullied like I was, but other friends were more popular. One of my biggest issues was that transitioning between each school, I lost a good chunk of my friends but the bullies tended to follow me.

For me, everything changed once I started doing theatre in high school. When I was a freshman, I signed up to be in the drama club, but for some reason I never went. Forward two years, and when they were looking for people to work in the haunted house, I was recruited by a few friends, and from that point on I decided to stick with the club. I had tried a few other clubs over my high school career, but nothing kept me motivated like drama club.

Over the course of my junior year, I ended up discovering a lot about who I was, and I went from being bullied to having a lot of friends and even a bunch of underclassmen who looked up to me. By the end of the year, I had made such an impact that I was even nominated for president (I ended up as treasurer, which was a pain, but that is another story). Surrounding myself with people who cared about me helped so much.

That year made me realize two things: I want to be there for people who need it and being creative is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Do I like everyone that I meet? Hell no. However, I try not to limit myself to the first impression of someone. I have found a lot of friends, especially in college, where we got off on the wrong foot or I felt annoyed by them, but when we actually sat down and got to know each other, I realized how amazing of a person they were. I discovered that the hand that was held out for me when I joined drama club in high school, is the exact same thing everyone else needs every now and then. Sure, some people can make friends with anyone. I’ve been told I am that type of person, but as you can tell from reading this, that wasn’t always the case. I just understand that everyone needs a friend and I am willing to be that friend. Even if we end up losing touch or rarely see each other, I made a lot of strong connections with people over the years that won’t ever completely fade away. Have I met people that I have lost as friends or people that don’t like me/can’t stand me? You betcha. However, that’s life.

The other rewarding thing about theatre was that it gave me an outlet to discover who I was, but it also allowed me to be creative. Trust me, as a child I would come up with some of the most imaginative ideas, and I am grateful that I never lost that. I’ve certainly reigned it in over the years, but that flame of creativity has never completely blown out.

I act. I design. I write. I draw. Am I the best at any of these things? Probably not. Do I care? Absolutely not. I do what I do because I find it fun and it makes me happy. My acting has made leaps and bounds since Claudius’s man-at-arms role in high school (fun fact: Hamlet is the first show I was ever in and I’ve worked on three different productions of it). I’ve even made significant strides since college. I’ve learned to be more grounded and I’ve been working on slowing down my rate.

I started writing this blog because I wanted a way to keep myself writing. I have a folder dedicated to all of my deceased ideas and projects that I gave up on. I love to write but can never keep a story going, so to help prevent me from getting rusty with my writing, I decided to maintain a blog I would edit a few times during the week. Little did I realize, this project would also help me to continue writing a book that I’ve been working on for a few months. I hope to have it finished by years end.

The reason I wrote all of this is because I’ve noticed a lot of people being down on themselves lately. Personally, I think I have made a tremendous journey the twenty something years I have been alive. I continue to grow and discover more of who I am and what I want. I didn’t write this as a need for an apology or sympathy for the rough patches I’ve been through. I just want to show everyone, tough things (including many things I didn’t add about my life) do happen and it may feel like the pain and suffering will never end, but always remember you are not alone. To anyone who reads through all of this, know that if you ever need someone to talk to, I am here for you. Old friend, new friend, someone really close or a complete stranger, it doesn’t matter. When you look back on your life (now or decades later) you will see how far you have come. All the good things and all the bad things have helped shape you into the person you are, and never forget how strong that person is. We define ourselves, nothing or no one else.

King of Kong – Fistful of Quarters – Documentary

This documentary was filmed prior to and released in 2007. The documentary is about two men, Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, and a feud (of sorts) that arose between the two men who both held high scores on the 80’s arcade version of Donkey Kong. Billy Mitchell was the originally nationally recognized record holder for the highest score (back in the 80’s), up until the 2000’s when Steve Wiebe scored a higher score on his home arcade game and began receiving recognition for being the best player. From here the documentary dives into people discrediting Wiebe’s high score for alleged tampering of his game board and his attempts to reach a new high score in an official setting.

I will give King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters a 5 of 10, because I felt like the movie was less entertaining and more thought provoking. While I do like playing video games, I am not an avid player (especially not to the caliber of the people who are in the film), but I think people who are not “gamers” can still enjoy this film. Watching a movie, I like to be moved or come away feeling affected in someway, but I never felt an emotional connection to the documentary.

One of the things I appreciated the most is that the founder of the video game record company Twin Galaxies, Walter Day, brought up the fact that this rivalry is just as heated as any sports team rivalry. Personally, I feel like most competitions outside of sports are not recognized as much as they should be. I am not into sports, but I understand why other people like it and have an appreciation for it, even if I don’t. I wish people shared that type of mentality with things like this, because while it may not mean a lot to them, it means a lot to the people that are part of the competition.

The way that Billy Mitchell is portrayed reminded me of a conversation I had the other day with a few friends about people staying stagnant or evolving. Billy seems like the type of person who achieved a level of greatness early on in his life, and he was able to uphold that for nearly two decades, but never really grew much as a person after that initial success. The documentary shows he a successful businessman, but it still seems like the success he has in his business is rooted in the accomplishment he made with the video game. Instead of letting the high score define a moment in his life, he let that moment define him. Which raises the question: how many people in his position would do the same thing? If someone became a great success or famous overnight, how long would they let that single thing define who they are as an individual?

One of the issues that arises in the film is that Steve submitted a high score with a video tape, but it was dismissed because reviewers from Twin Galaxies (an official video game record keeping company) felt that his machine was not up to standard and may have been tampered with, but when Billy submitted a video tape with a high score, despite having unaccounted score jumps visible in the video, Billy’s high score was credited as the new high score and Steve’s was not. According to the Wikipedia page, this was recognized and an apologize was issued to Steve Wiebe, but it shows that the Twin Galaxies institution was flawed at the time. People were obsessed with Billy Mitchell to the point they allowed certain discrepancies to pass, partially because of who he was. I think this reflects heavily on a lot of different institutions that might not recognize the full effort or talent of certain people in favor of presenting someone else more recognizable or relatable. Instead of giving credit or a chance to a person deserving of it, they would prefer to stick with what people they are more comfortable with (the whole “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality). Whether it was dues to more consideration or the documentary coming out, it seems like the company has mended their policies and is taking a more impartial stance than it used to.

Overall, it was not my favorite film I have watched lately. I watched the entire thing because I wanted to see whether Steve would accomplish his goal of having the highest score or not. I feel like parts could have been cut out to make it shorter, certain segments seemed unnecessary, but it still had some entertainment value. As stated earlier, this film made me think and reflect more than it entertained me. You win some, you lose some.

The Slap

A few days ago I asked friends on Facebook to recommend things for me to watch to review on here, and if the rest of the list is like the television show I just watched, I am going to be excited for what I’ll be viewing the next couple of weeks. My friend Lynnette was one of the first to suggest something and she recommended The Slap, a miniseries that aired on NBC earlier this year. The show is an American version of the Australian show of the same name that was produced back in 2011 and both are based off the same book, also titled The Slap, which was written in 2008. The show is divided into eight episodes and follows eight different individuals connected through the main event that happened in the first episode.

The show begins with a man by the name of Hector. He is about to turn 40 and his entire family is invited to his house, along with friends of the family, the baby sitter, and her best friend. While at the party, everyone starts drinking and having a good time, and all of the young kids gather to play baseball. When an unruly child, Hugo, gets upset after striking out, he begins swinging a bat erratically and doesn’t want his turn to be over. Harry comes over to take the bat away “to protect his son (Rocco)”, who is also playing. After Harry takes the bat from Hugo, Hugo kicks him several times in the shin and Harry slaps the boy in the face. Everyone gets into a frenzy because of what happens and the next seven episodes revolve around the aftermath of the slap.

Personally, I loved the set up of the show. While the primarily plot focuses on all of the characters dealing with the repercussions of the slap, each episode delves into the lives of the eight different characters featured in their respective episodes. Nearly everyone has some type of demon and inner turmoil that they are dealing with, and it is interesting to see how much those elements tie into the main plot of the show and what extraneous things influence the psyches of the characters. On top of that, the pending possibility of a trial, brings to light a lot of dark things.

Two of my favorite episodes were “Anouk” and “Ritchie”. The episode “Anouk” features the character trying to figure out her relationships with her lover and her mother. Both individuals in her life are somewhat opposite of one another, because her lover seems somewhat more clingy and idealistic, whereas her mother seems more aloof and rational. In the short episode all of the characters go on a journey to discover what they mean to one another, and when Anouk discovers why her mother has been distant (even more so than usual), the revelation and subsequent scene between her mother and her is emotional and provides great dimension to the show. Although it doesn’t focus heavily on the slap issue (because she is only a friend of the family), it still is one of the best of the eight. Another great episode is the exciting conclusion of the series with the final episode, “Ritchie”. This episode does not focus as heavily on the character it is named after, but a great deal of information is provided about him, and while some of the news did not come as a surprise (the way he portrayed the character and the way his character was written was predictable), other stuff was still startling to learn. Without spoiling the ending or any surprises, the element I loved was that it showed how people can become so obsessed with a certain objective that they will stop at nothing to achieve victory, and they do not care who they have to hurt to reach it.

Not all of the episodes were quite as enticing as these two episodes. While every episode did successfully move along the story line revolving around the slap, there were a few that fell short in making the audience discover more about the character focused on that episode. Both “Manolis” and “Aisha” fell into this category. Those two episodes had touching moments, and the latter continued on elements from the “Hector” episode, but neither quite encompassed the life and tribulations of their respective characters as much as the other episodes. With a story, not every character is meant to be sympathetic or relatable, but compared to the lives discussed in the six other episodes, these two stuck out as episodes more concerned on pushing the slap story arc further along.

Another issue that I, and other critics noticed, was how stereotypical each of the characters were. Plenty of storytelling elements have been copied, revamped, or innovated over the years, because the same stories are bound to be repeated again, but the series did not seem to try escaping stereotypes. If you can think of a stereotype of a character, it is more than likely featured on this show. Angry, masculine male: check. Infidelity: check. Wild child seeking attention in all of the wrong places: check. Matriarch of the family not liking her son’s wife: check. Not having read the story the show is based on, I am not certain whether this was a flaw of the source material or the screen adaptation, but luckily most of the performers in the show brought life to each of the characters that they play and didn’t leave them to be one dimensional.

Who doesn’t love a good ensemble show? It is quite easy to accomplish when each of the episodes is focused on a different character, but part of the greatness of the ensemble of this show arose from none of the characters outshining anyone else. On some shows there are actors or actresses that demand the screen and draw all of the focus, but most of the people on this show were at the same consistent level as one another. A few characters may have been a bit dimmer and not as highlighted as the others, but they still were close to the same caliber as the others. As well, I love seeing individuals showing their versatility, and that is one of the reasons I love Zachary Quinto on this show.  He has gone from villain to gay best friend to serial killer to a baby crazed father, and now takes on a brutish, overly masculine father. He flows easily into all of these different roles that he plays. When it comes to the acting/characters of the youngest families members, I was not huge on how little the children were focused on. It makes sense that Hugo, the teens and the adults are the primary focus, but the rest of the children on the show could have provided another side of the story by how the incident affected them. Of course, their lack of perspective could represent how it did not really affect them as much as it did for the adults.

It is interesting to see how much each different individual was affected by the situation, but it also shows how obsessed and how ridiculous that obsession is. I think The Slap is a quick watch that is a lot more emotional than it appears it would be for an eight episode run time. Despite using too many stereotypes, the show does make a great comment on society and how selfish people can be in pursuit of proving that their say is better than others. I give this show an 8 out of 10, one for each episode (just kidding, I just thought the show was that good and the eight is a happy coincidence). Underneath the selfishness and stereotypes, the great performances of the actors does draw the viewer in and will keep them entertained until the very end.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Over the past couple of years Netflix has come out with a slew of new television shows that have quickly become favorites of the streaming website’s fans. House of Cards came out earlier this year, entering its third season, but newcomer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt seems to have stolen the spotlight and drawn in quite a fan base. Originally slated to be a sitcom on NBC, it worked out better for the series to stream on Netflix, because I don’t think that it would have reached as many people had it been on that station.

The premise of the show deals with the “mole women” being discovered after having been trapped in a bunker by a mentally unstable preacher. Having thought the world ended fifteen years prior, the women are taken to New York after rescue to appear on the Today Show. When the interview ends, three of the women choose to return to Indiana, but the other woman, Kimmy Schmidt, decides to stay in New York to find her own life and go on her own path. While that sounds like it could be the premise of a drama, it actually is an incredibly ridiculous (mostly in a good way) television show.

If you love Tiny Fey, you are going to love this show. The comedy ranges from slapstick type of comedy to social/political issue jokes, and there is bound to be something in the show that will make the viewer laugh. It definitely is the type of show worth watching a second time through to pick up on all of the small details that might have been missed. One of my favorite, smaller details that people might not have picked up on was Titus and his Broadway nemesis (Coriolanus) are both names of Shakespearean tragedy characters. It are subtle jokes like these that give it more humor than your typical TGIF sitcom.

One of the standout characters from the show, and I believe most people would agree, definitely is Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess). A Broadway obsessed actor that wants to make his big break, will stop at practically nothing to make himself famous. Under his goofy, self-absorbed exterior, he does have a big heart and believes in the betterment of Kimmy’s life. Two words to sum up his fantastic impact on the show: Pinot Noir. If you do not like this song, I suggest you get a sense of humor.

While Titus is hilarious, it does seem like nearly every single character on the show has a larger than life personality, which definitely helps draw in laughs, but with nearly every character being ridiculous, it at times can be a little hard to associate with the outlandish behavior some of them exhibit. Yes, it is comedy show not based in realism, but I still like when a show has some roots in reality because as I mentioned, it makes the characters more relatable and exciting to watch. Hence, one of my favorite characters was Charles, a tutor to the family that Kimmy is a nanny for. He’s only in a handful of episodes in the beginning of the series, and unless I missed a conversation about him leaving, he just disappears from the show and isn’t really referenced later in the season. Compared to Kimmy’s eccentric and excited passion for life, his stoic and reserved nature helped provide a nice contrast.

As the show reaches the end of the season, it seems like all of the escapades reach higher and higher levels of absurdity, but it still maintains the light air that has become associated with Kimmy Schmidt and the people in her life. No matter what happens, it seems like everyone tries to keep a positive outlook. I mean the show is called “Unbreakable” Kimmy Schmidt for a reason. However, without providing any spoilers of the ending, it did seem like the show kind of ended on a less than optimistic note. I think the idea for the cliff hanger is great, but at the same time it just seemed odd compared to the happy nature of the rest of the series.

I give this show an 8 out of 10. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes to laugh. There are plenty of jokes that tackle different styles of comedy and you are bound to find something to laugh at. Underneath all of the comedy is a somewhat heartwarming story about someone learning to fit in. Other than a teenager (acting like teenagers do), none of the other characters really make fun of her for her quirky, essentially childlike, disposition of the world. I am excited to see what shenanigans unfold next season.

Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America – Documentary

*****Note: I don’t go into any graphic details in this post, but it is a sensitive topic for some, so if you are not comfortable with this type of topic do not continue to read this article or view this documentary.*****

For a while when I would scroll through documentaries to watch on Netflix, the cover for this documentary would stick out to me. The cover is blue with a drawing of a swing set on it, nothing special, but the simplicity of the cover is what grabbed my eye. At first I was a bit weary about watching this documentary, because in my eyes one of the worst things that can happen are crimes committed against children. Whether it is sexual, physical, emotional, mental or any other form, it is disturbing and wrong and I usually cannot bear to read or watch something that talks about it. However, this film did not bother me as much as I expected.

The film begins with discussion about the sex trade in Asian countries, but then it shifts to focus on America. I felt like there was not a good enough of a transition between talking about the underage sex trade in both countries and the focus shift came abruptly. Obviously, there is a connection, but it was handled poorly and Asia was never revisited again later in the movie. From time to time statistics popped up, but it was a comparison of the entire world instead of comparing it to Asia. In my opinion, there was no need to discuss anything about the Asian sex trade.

One thing I learned that I thought that was really interesting in the movie was that children and teenagers under the age of eighteen can still be considered sex offenders. It isn’t a thought that had really crossed my mind before, because when I hear the term “sex offender” I tend to think it applies to pedophiles or people who are rapists, which tends to be older individuals. According to the film, the spectrum of sex offenders can go anywhere from intense sexual deviant acts down to public urination or publicly exposing genitalia. While those lesser acts are still wrong, it shouldn’t hold the same weight as someone who did actual physical or sexual abuse. This brought up a good point in the film that America focuses more on catching and jailing criminals than it does to help prevent or rehabilitate offenders so continual behavior doesn’t happen.

There were drawings in the film…I have no clue why. They were pretty good drawings of simple little scenes that would unfold using drawings of a variety of different kids. I was glad that they drawings pretty much just showed the kids doing mundane activities and were not used as reenactments. However, I don’t really understand the point of them. Occasionally, when a woman would be talking, a drawing would pop up and do something, but I felt like they were distracting. Maybe that was their purpose and it was better than having to stare at a blurred out face for a few minutes, but I would find myself getting lost watching the animation instead of listening to the story. I just felt like there was a more effective way to use the drawings.

The “plot” (and I use that term pretty loosely) focuses on the narrator and various people trying to find a girl by the name of Michelle. She was sexually abused very early on in her life, was essentially sold into prostitution, and then went missing for nearly fifteen years (I could be wrong with that amount, but I think it had been a considerable amount of time since she was last seen.) Past foster parents and an old social worker wanted to make sure she was okay, and through a variety of ways, the filmmakers were finally able to get a hold of her. Much like the drawings, I don’t understand why there was such a heavy focus on her.

I will give this documentary a 5 out of 10. It was informational, but did not offer many things that were new or exciting. The film just lacked much of a direction or aim. It went from focusing on the Asian sex trade, to the American sex trade, then it focused on Michelle and her journey, resulting in a sloppy outcome. If one element would have been focused on, it would have been much better. A few former child prostitutes shared their stories, and I found their discussions a lot more interesting than most of what was discussed about Michelle. Don’t get me wrong, I am sorry she went through what she did and has had to lead a hard life, but her personality didn’t allow for a great viewing experience. I can only imagine how incredibly painful it would be to relive and discuss certain things like that, but her tone came across as bored and it left me feeling bored afterwards too.