The Big Three, Rebecca, and the whole gang bid farewell to season five with the wedding we’ve been anticipating since season four. But long-time This Is Us fans weren’t too surprised when the day of matrimony resulted in a bust. Context clues from the future timeline and Uncle Nicky’s read of Kevin laid the foundation for his and Madison’s demise. BUT what we didn’t see coming was what actually happened to another Pearson sibling. One seemingly missing from that flash forward.
The episode explored the perpetual ebb and flows of love and relationships, between husband and wife, and even parent and child. In the past, we examined a slight argument between young Rebecca and Jack, which eventually reinforced their love for each other. We also saw a glimpse at the dysfunction Madison endured as a child. The abandonment she received from her parents – both physical and emotional – left her falling deep and quick at the slightest sign of affection. Sadly, this resulted in many failed relationships.
Back in the present, Beth and Tess finally have a heart-to-heart when the teenager describes her discomfort with the bridesmaids dress. Feeling like no one is seeing her for who she is becoming, Beth agrees to alter the dress for her. Here the two reconcile the rift between them and promise for better days. At the other end of the household, Deja is overjoyed that boyfriend, Malik, was accepted to four Philly-based universities. But she’s taken aback when he reveals he also applied and was accepted to Harvard, which is in Boston.
Randall is perpetually avoiding his mother because he doesn’t want to discuss his trip to New Orleans. Afraid of hurting her feelings, he finally succumbs to her request in a beautiful scene with Mandy Moore acting her ass off. Becca confesses how selfish she was in not sharing the truth about his birth parents throughout his childhood, and apologized for robbing him of something he so desperately needed.
Toby and Kate are caught trying to balance their family’s finances. A new job in San Francisco is just what a depressed and jaded Toby needs to reaffirm his contribution as a husband and a father. Hesitant at first, Kate remembers her own vows and how a marriage is placing your partner’s needs above your own. She opts to resign from her new position as the musical teacher, but when her boss declines her resignation, she’s baffled. Eventually Toby agrees that the position isn’t a fit for the family of four, and promises that they will make it work.
Meanwhile, Madison examines the love she and Kevin have. On the day of their wedding, with Kevin preoccupied with making everything perfect, Madison takes a step back to see the fault in their stars. Kevin stayed so busy, so dedicated, to making the day error-free, he ignored the open wound: he isn’t in love with Madison. This truth, though hard to accept, freed them both from years of disappointment.
And this is where This Is Us continues to shock and awe every season. The opening scene of the episode placed us with Kevin rehearsing a speech in his tuxedo. We’re to assume he’s practicing his vows. By episode’s end, it’s revealed he’s practicing his brother-of-the-bride speech for *gasp* Kate’s marriage to *GASP* her music teaching boss! Just as the future predicted, Toby and Kate are no longer together.
While many of us assumed the worst for the daughter Pearson, she simply hasn’t made it to Rebecca’s home yet. All roads lead to that destination which we are to assume is Rebecca’s final resting place. See you and your tears in 2022.
I’m not sure a theme exists that’s used, critiqued, revolted against, loved, and debated more in film than sexuality. And to be fair, it’s just in films where these things happen. Sexuality in television, books and music bring out the same reactions. Sex is one of the most normal human activities. Everyone does it. Young and old. Short and tall. Thin or big. Having sex is something the majority of us are capable of doing. And yet, in film and in television, it’s often the most controversial topics. Too much of it and censors and producers will be at a director’s door telling them to turn it down it down a notch. Fans and critics will say that it’s being used as a substitute for plot and substance. If you show too little sex than you’re a prude. But when sex is displayed honestly and correctly, it can evoke the same emotions that the actually physical act does: excitement, pleasure, shame, laughter, fear, and even embarrassment. Below I’ve picked two movies that I think do a good job of displaying a wide range of how humans deal with sex, desire, and human connection. This topic had way too many options, so I made a list of others films that I like. There’s no way to pick them all.
Director: Steven McQueen
Country: United Kingdom
With any Steve McQueen film, you’re going to get a raw and uncensored look into the way we live. There will be an honest depiction of the ways we exists in this world, but dare not speak about. In his 2011 film Shame, Michael Fassbender plays Brandon Sullivan, an executive with a sex addiction. He uses the façade of a man with his life in order and head on straight to hide who he truly is. Masturbation, sex toys, risky sexual encounters with men and women, and internet porn, fuel and fill his life. It’s an addiction, and he’s aware of it, but he has no plan to change his ways. He’s been careful the whole time. Things begin to change when his sister Sissy (Carrie Mulligan) arrives unannounced. His level of concentration and carefulness concerning his sexual proclivities begins to slip and he’s almost found out on multiple occasions.
I’ve picked Shame due to it’s honesty. It’s an unflinching look at addiction and self-destructive behavior. It’s not a happy film, and for some people, it won’t be a film they watch more than once. But once is all you need for it to open your yes. You’ll leave wondering how normal your own sexual activities are. And you’ll wonder about the sexual activities of the people around you. You never really know who anyone is on the inside. That’s terrifying and intriguing at the same time. McQueen has done an incredible of capture that volatile mix of emotions with this film. We’re all hiding something. But how much damage is that secret we’re hiding doing to us? That’s what I feel is being with this film.
If I had to list one downside of the film, It would have to be the fact that Fassbender’s actions seem empty. We don’t get a whole lot of why he’s at the point in his addiction that he is. It makes it seem like he’s doing it just because, which could be true, but it also seems like something else is just beneath the surface pushing further into the depths of his addiction. It would have been nice to have that explored more. But I love the film anyway. Check it out!
Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Also)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien, is one of the greatest coming-of-age tales. In it, friends Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are two 17-year-old boys from differing backgrounds. Tenoch comes from and upper-class family, and Julio is from a working-class family. And despite that difference, their appetite for sex is something they have in common. After their girlfriends leave for trip to italy, the two boys decide to live a carefree live. They are able to convince Luisa (Maribel Verdu), the wife of Tenoch’s cousin, to join in search of a secret beach. What comes next is a journey, both literally and figuratively, of sex and passion. The three pass the time talking about their sexual experiences, having sex with one another, and reveling in the act.
It may sound like this film is just one long hedonistic road trip, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cuaron does an incredible job of adding weight and substance to the intimate and sexy film. Tensions rise between the two boys as they begin to share truths about their lives at home, and as they fight for the affection and attention of Luisa. Luisa is dealing with the boys, a husband that has cheated on her, and what we come learn at the end of film, the fact that she knew she was in poor health.
What I like so much about this film is joy of sex that Cuaron was able to depict. The open and unabashed talking about their exploits and desires. It’s fun! It’ll even make the most open of people blush. But he was able to capture how lost a person can get in the throes of lust and desire. Now, in today’s world, there would definitely be pushback against the fact that a grown woman was riding around and having sex with two teenage boys. I’m almost certain that would be a huge problem. But there is something refreshing about watching this woman within reach of deaths grasp getting what she wants. She desires something and then goes and retrieves it. There’s no hesitation. She’s unapologetic. She always seems firmly in control.
9 1/2 Weeks
She’s Gotta Have It
Insecure (Not a film, but the sex scenes in this shown are always pretty honest and even clumsy sometimes)
and so many more!
I didn’t get to watch as many movies as I would have liked to last week, but the one I did watch was pretty good. Usually, at the end of the day, I’m not in the mod for anything that’s going to make me think too hard. I’m usually looking for something easy that will keep my mind entertained until I’m tired enough to fall asleep. That was the case this week. The film I watched, even though it was just a little over 90 minutes, had to be watched over two days because I fell asleep during it!
Blow The Man Down
Directors: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy
Starring: Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor, Margo Martindale
This movie has been in my Amazon Prime Video watchlist for a few months now. I finally felt up for watching it last week. And I’m glad that I did. The film takes place in a little fishing town in Maine. The film’s two main characters, sisters Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), are dealing with the recent death of their mother. We then learn at the funeral that the family’s fishing business is in trouble, and that before her death, their mother took out a loan against the house to save it. This causes a fight between the sisters. This leads to drinking for Mary Beth, which leads to her drinking and eventually driving around down with a strange man, who she kills after he starts giving off a creepy vibe. From there, the movie really takes off. Mixed up in all of this is Enid (Margo Martindale), a brothel owner who is looked down upon by the town, and has a bit of shadiness to her as well.
Blow The Man Down is a fun and quick movie. It’s not the greatest, but it is entertaining. There are plenty of fun and eclectic characters. It makes for a good watch to see the characters try to piece together what you the viewer already knows. But the number one reason to watch has to be the accents.
Blow The Man Down is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video
I love movies. You’re probably aware of that if you read the things that I write for this blog. I will complain about a 3 hour movie being way too long, and then I will sit there and watch all of it because I love the experience. Sometimes the most important part of a movie, or the part that tells more than the dialogue, is the music. It can set the tone, it can give the viewer a heads up of what’s about to happen, and it can fill space better than words or actions. With all that being said, this month’s playlists are focused on movies. I’m going to act like I’m creating my own movie, and then I’ll pick the sounds to go with the vibe of the movie. This first playlist is going to focus on the intro. These will be songs that I think would do a good job of setting the tone of my movie if I were to ever create one. Enjoy!
Alfa Mist – Breathe
Grouper – Living Room
Tim Hecker – No Drums
Kali Malone – Fifth Worship II
Tricky – Ghetto Youth
Danny Brown – Savage Nomad
Al-90 – Experienced Girl
Solange – Losing You
Tei Shi – Keep Running
Sharon Van Etten – Every Time the Sun Comes Up
This column is about themes in movies. I’m going to use this space to talk about three movies each week that I believe do a good job of capturing a certain theme. This theme this week is poverty.
City of God:
Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund
One of my favorite movies, and a movie loved by so many, City of God, shows the effects of poverty on those living in the Favelas of Rio De Jeneiro, Brazil. Drugs, violence, and corruption in the Cidade de Deus ( City of God) favela in which the characters lives. At the heart of the movie is the story of two young men going in opposite directions. One is on his way up the chain to become a hardened criminal and kingpin, the other is trying his best to become a photographer. Both are products of their environment. It’s a moving film, and it’s oftentimes extremely heavy, but its rawness and unflinching portrayal of the slums is hard to take your eyes off of. The cast is made up of mostly black actors, and through their eyes we get to see a bit of race relations in the city. We see how those in the favelas live in contrast with those with wealth and opportunities. The movie can be a bit hard to watch during some parts, but it’s worth it in the end. There’s a reason it’s a favorite for so many people.
The Florida Project:
Country: United States
Director: Sean Baker
The Florida Project is a film directed, produced, and written by Sean Baker. It’s set in Florida, just outside of Disney World. An out of work mother does what she can to make ends meet for her and her daughter. And it’s from her daughter’s, Moonee, point of view that we see most of the movie. We see her running around unsupervised with her friends. They have a lot of fun, and eventually cause a lot of trouble, too. Her mother loses her job as a dancer after not wanting to have sex with a client, and then can’t find work afterwards. She tries to sell perfume to tourists, but it doesn’t work. She eventually starts doing sex work as a way to make ends meet. This brings another list of problems. But all during this, Moonee is still running around, still having fun. The reality of what’s happening around her slowly sets in, and the movie takes on a different tone. Sean Baker is good at these slice of life films. He’s able to put you in an environment, with a cast of very different characters, and a problem that grows larger and larger over time. The Florida Project does an incredible job of showing the lengths people will go to in this life to provide for themselves and their family.
Country: South Korea
Director: Bong Joon-ho
There aren’t too many films that I can think of that do a better job at displaying class divide than Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. In it, a family living in poor conditions and scrapping for money try to figure out a way to stay afloat. They gradually start taking on random jobs for a wealthy family and conning their way to more money. I won’t give more away about the plot for those that haven’t seen it, but It’s a really good depiction of the haves and have-nots. You see what the two families value, how they’re treated, how they live, and how they think because of their two polar opposite positions in the world. Despite it being an elaborate plan that the family comes up with, you as a viewer could see it actually happening. And because of that, you start rooting for the family. This movie deserved every award it won last year.
Last week was odd. I’m usually able to watch a movie a night. I can do two if I’m really feeling it. But I only managed to watch two movies last week. And one of them was a movie that I had already seen. I think as things start to open up more, and the days get longer, I feel more inclined to go and do something else. Sitting around and watching films hasn’t been on the top of priority list, but I know I’ll get back to my regular schedule of watching five or so movies a week. But the films I did watch this week were really good and really different from one another. As always, these reviews are spoiler free. I’ve listed the streaming network of where you can find each film so that you can watch them for yourself!
The Painted Bird
Sometimes you watch a film and wonder how it got made. Sometimes you watch a film and you have to take a break from it to gather yourself. That was the case with me while watching The Painted Bird. Produced, written, and directed by Czech director Vaclav Marhoul, The Painted Bird is a harrowing and hard to watch film. Based on the novel of the same name, written by Jerzy Kosinski in 1965, The Painted Bird follows a young boy who is sent to live with his aunt during WW2. Through his eyes, we see him travel across Eastern Europe and witness and experience the poverty, illness, destruction, death, and depravity that war causes. There are few happy moments in this film, if any. And the macabre feeling is made only more intense by the film being shot in black and white. I won’t give much away, but I will say if you are looking for a war film with a hero and some positive message, this isn’t it. This is not for the lighthearted. And I think because of the fact that the movie is so raw, honest, and unflinching, I respect it a bit more. It shouldn’t be easy to get through. War is awful. It changes and destroys people. This film does a good job of showing that.
Director: Vaclav Marhoul
Where To Watch: Hulu
I haven’t seen a film in a long time that’s reiterated the saying that less is more, more than 2019’s The Assistant. Set over the course of a single day, the film follows Julia Garner as Jane, a junior assistant at a production company. We see her do her daily tasks of making copies, filing, and answering phones. As the movie progresses, we start to learn that the office where she works is a toxic place. Her boss has created a place where harassment and abuse go unchecked. He’s also having sex with many of the young women that work there.
It’s a claustrophobic film. We’re close to Jane, and we’re moving through her world right next to her. It’s a tense watch. It feels like you’re holding your breath the whole film; trouble always seems to be around the corner. It’s impossible not to draw comparisons to the stories of Harvey Weinstein and other high-level men in Hollywood. Director Kitty Green does an amazing of drawing attention to the small details of an abusive and toxic workplace. The difference between how men and women exists within the build is made obvious as well. Julia Garner is incredible in this film. Her emotions, restraint, apprehension, it all shows in her face and body language. So much is said without the use of words. The film manages to drop a huge payload in under 90 minutes. You’ll be thinking about this film for a while.
Director: Kitty Green
Where To Stream: Hulu
Trapper keepers. Mall photo booths. Video stores. The Cranberries. If any of the aforementioned items have you reminiscing of simpler times, then you, my friend, were a kid or teen in the 90s. I can also ascertain you experienced the peak of the made-for-TV movie. A low-budget melodrama that explored a fictional or fact-based story involving love, lust, crime and/or all three.
What if I told you a brand new show casts a nostalgic-fueled spell on viewers, sending them back – waaay back, back into time – when the only care in the world was remembering to record ABC’s T.G.I.F. because you were catching a new film at the dollar cinema. Such a show exists in Freeform’s Cruel Summer, the 90s teen mystery guilty pleasure I didn’t know I needed.
So…earlier this year, or at the end of last year, I made a post detailing what I was going to try to accomplish this year. I was hopeful! I was determined! I ended up failing a couple weeks in! Things got a bit boring and stale. But I think I’ve worked things out. I’m going to get back to posting three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), and I’m going to switch things up just a bit. It’ll keep things exciting for me, and hopefully for you as well.
I’m retiring “Meh?” for the month. This may go longer. We’ll see. But I plan on posting short movie reviews on Mondays. They’ll be from movies that I watch the previous week. There will be the review, where you can find the movie, and a rating from me. The one post will have anywhere from 3-5 movie reviews.
I started the year doing posts where I took an actor and one of their biggest roles and tried to find someone who could play that same role, just better. It was called “What if”. That was fun, but it got boring easily. So, what I’m going to do now, is focus on themes of movies. Race, poverty, sex, etc. And with those themes, I’m going to talk about three movies that I personally feel hit the nail on the head when it comes to talking about those themes. These posts will be longer usual, but not too long.
I’m not changing a thing with Friday Tunes. But look out for May’s theme of Movies. I’m going to make a playlist of songs each week that I feel would be good in movie scenes. Intro, rising action, climax, and the come down are the four subthemes for the playlists.