Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What's Next On My List? Over The Garden Wall

Over the years my sister and I have become fond of 'coming of age' stories, because we found that there is a lot to be learned about how each story is told. To me this one is just as wonderful as Labyrinth or Where The Wild Things Are, by taking us onto a journey into the unknown and making sure we never forget this adventure!

Two brothers, Wirt and Greg, get lost in the forest on Halloween night, and encounter a series of unlikely creatures and beings that inhabit these mystical lands. They are, however, also trying to flee a beast who tries everything he can to trick them into staying the woods forever. It is Wirt's wish to make sure Greg gets back home safe the thing that saves them in the end.

I was scared terribly when I watched this the first time around, although it was balanced out very well: some funny episodes followed others with significant depth to them. The beast itself is something I would hate to encounter ever in my life, which means that it truly embodies everything a child would be terrified about. Overall I was moved by the simplicity of the conflict between Wirt and Greg, and by that I mean, that most siblings need to arrive to the conclusion that their brothers and sisters are not to be blamed for the decisions of our parents. In the story we find out that the boys are only related through their mom, and Wirt's parents had gotten divorce previously. I have found it endearing that the one who already feels in some ways the weight of life finds it easy to blame the innocent boy who does everything out of sheer interest for the world. No fear, no crippling anxiety, just wonder. That is probably why this pair is perfect: as the audience you have the same questions as Wirt, the same worries over getting lost in an unknown place. At the same time, you'd like to wonder around and discover like Greg does. The two main characters are spectacularly written in my opinion, not just as opposites, but as two sides of the same coin.
There is of course an implication, that this adventure wasn't all in Wirt's head, despite it serving the purpose of him 'coming to age', and no longer misplacing his anger and taking responsibility for his brother; we are still introduced in great depth to all the people they encountered, and we begin to care, wishing to see if they find their happy ending as well.
Ultimately this story is about facing the beast within, and I find that this somewhat creepy but magical world that we are introduced to serves as a perfect metaphor for that moment in many of our lives when we decide to take back control from the voice in our heads. These two boys will do everything they can to take care of each other, and I think that is a great lesson. I do believe that blood doesn't bind us, meaning that even somebody within your family can be a toxic force, but it wasn't the case between these two. And the fact that it all occurred on the night of Halloween makes this story perfect for this year's review of mine.

Watch it? Definitely. You will laugh, cry, be scared and root like never before to have these little heroes reach their goal. It is only 10 episodes of ten minutes, think of it as a good movie, and trust me, it'll be your favorite too! I would like to thank the writers and creators Katie Krentz and Patrick McHale for giving us this lovely story.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Wirt - Elijah Wood
Greg - Collin Dean
Beatrice Melanie Lynskey
The Beast - Samuel Ramey
The Woodsman - Christopher Lloyd

Saturday, October 27, 2018

What's Next On My List? Catch Me If You Can

I still remember the day I saw this movie: we were at a little open cinema by lake Balaton, and I remember that I was in awe. I believe that was the day I kind of grew up, and by that I mean that I developed a new kind of appreciation for movies, and I wished to see stories that were more intriguing with real moral values.

Frank Abagnale Jr. runs away from home when his parents are getting a divorce, and he puts all he learned from his conman father to use in order to take care of himself. He cheats and lies his way into high end jobs that procure him enough money to run away from the FBI as long as he can, however, one agent, Carl Hanratty, decides that he will not stop until he is brought to justice.

I gotta say, this is not really a review, as this is my absolutely favorite movie of all time and there is no criticism I can think of, and as such I will not even try to look for anything. This movie is a masterpiece in my opinion.
Up to today this is my favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movie as well. I have said this before, but I am not a fan of his... ever since he started acting with the same directors, he barely does anything new... I feel like I am just staring at the same person yelling and swearing in different outfits and times. I also feel like he has a baby face, and in this movie he plays a 16 year old boy who tries to appear older and it works for me. And on that note, this is also my favorite Tom Hanks movie (along with You've Got Mail), and it was the first time I did not see actors, I was just watching a great story unravel. I like the jumps in time, I like the colors, the set up, the little details, from the Pan Am airline all the way to the little town in France.
The script is based on the real life events of the man who managed to con his way into being a pilot, doctor and a prosecutor, only to end up being an agent himself, helping the FBI catch guys like him. And I don't know if I am happy that we were rooting for a con-man, but for the first time ever, the actual motivations make sense to me: he just didn't want to face the divorce of his parents. He didn't kill anyone, he tried to not hurt the ones he really cared for, and the love he had for his dad never stopped, not once. In the end, at least in the story told in the movie, he just spent money he did not have. What Frank was good at is reading people, something he learned from his father, and if he didn't become a conman, he would have been a great businessman in my opinion. Nonetheless, to me the fact a boy wishes to run away from his problems is very relatable.

Watch it? Oh my god, you haven't seen it yet? This movie came out sixteen years ago and won lots of awards, get it together man and watch it NOW! Every single actor you love today appears in this movie, so you'll love it for sure.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _

Frank Abagnale Jr. - Leonardo DiCaprio
Carl Hanratty - Tom Hanks
Frank Abagnale - Christopher Walken
Roger Strong - Martin Sheen
Paula Abagnale - Nathalie Baye
Brenda Strong - Amy Adams

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Blogger: I am a Game Grumps lovely

It has been six years since the Youtube let's play page of the Game Grumps launched and I have been a fan since the first video was posted ever. I have been putting off this entry for one very simple reason: I did not know how to begin it. The reason for that is that the more time passed the more history there was for me to cover in order for my readers to understand what and who am I talking about - and I just got lost. The reason I did manage to sit down now to write it is quite simple, the two hosts of the show, Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, decided to review their wikipedia pages and share information about their lives, which means that I do not have to write it down myself, but you can listen to it here: (If after reading my entry you have questions, you'll find the answers here.)

In that vain, I am only going to share what you need to know about in order to understand why I am writing about this to begin with. I linked every Youtube page you need (just click on the green names!), if you are interested. You need to know that they call their own fans lovelies, and being a huge fan myself, I decided to entitle this entry as such. And I have had other open letter style entries before, so that is what I am going for now too. Thank you for taking the time to read my review and checking out the work of these amazing guys. So here we go:

About eight years ago, not long after it was posted, my brother and sister found "The Decision", a song by Ninja Sex Party (composed of Dan Avidan and Brian Wecht), that was simply everything we look for in music and comedy. We became fans immediately and after that my brother showed us some animations by Egoraptor (Arin Hanson), and told us that another song of NSP was made by Arin, "Dinosaur Laser Fight".

When Game Grumps started, it was the first and up to today really the only Let's Play channel that I watch. When I moved in alone, every single night I would just listen to these guys being silly before going to bed and they got me smiling and made me just so happy to be alive. They had sort of spin-off shows, with Steam Train led by Ross O'Donovan (RubberNinja) and with their friends appearing on the show as well. Arin's wife Suzy Berhow has her own let's play channel (among many other awesome things she does), KittyKatGaming where most boys make appearances along with other Youtubers from various channels. They have another collective channel, GrumpOut which is used to post everything that is not game related, but belongs to them, from interviews to reviews and incredibly silly but well done trailers. (Everything else you need to know is in the wiki episodes linked above!)

Now... why am I writing about them? These guys feel like family to me. I have to say, of all things, this is the one channel that makes me happy that Youtube exists in the first place. I might never have enough money to go see them live, even if they come back to Europe, but no matter what happens, I know that I will have their videos all the time - even if they stop, I can rewatch from the beginning anytime I wish. I keep trying to explain to others why I like their videos, and I guess the answer is that I like them as people. On a few occasions I am lucky and they also play a game that I am interested in, but in reality, I just care for these guys, as rarely do I go and watch other let's plays (and by rarely, I mean never). I do care about why Arin would rather be a voice actor, then to make animation; I love the stories of Dan's family; I do want to know why they critique certain games that are considered classics; I love it when they die of laughter on the dumbest of jokes, and I also love when they get serious and share stories about depression and exhaustion and everything in between. Because of the personal nature of their talks I feel close to them, and based on the traffic on their channel, I am sure I am not the only one.

The reason I am writing this post is to say Thank You. I am sure the guys get this a lot, but I do feel like the saved me several times. The best thing I can say about them is that they are here for me always, figuratively, and the sense of knowing that helps me through small struggles in my everyday life. 

I comment very rarely on their page, so I want to do it here right now: first, the fact that a lot of viewers hated on Suzy f*cking drove me mad. She is super awesome and fun and there are some misogynistic assholes who clearly cannot handle smart women doing great. She is a goddamn treasure and I loved every single video she appeared on (and the Metal Gear V play-through with Arin was my favorite series of all time!). Second, people called Dan homophobic over disliking a disgusting character giving a blowjob... and just wow, how dare you call him that? There is a specific video where he says that they wrote "If We Were Gay" for a friend of theirs whom they cared for deeply, not to mention the hundreds of jokes and caring comments about loving everyone out there like... I do not want to be the kind of person who tries to define what a 'real fan' is, even if there is such a thing, but I will go as far as assuming those people do not know these two at all. Or at least refuse to listen, and I will open up about that in my update further down.

And if I were to comment more often, I would say that I am proud of them, I love the songs - both NSP and Starbomb -, I loved the different projects, from Guild Grumps to Good Game (read my review here!), with the podcasts and the 10 Minute Power Hour introduced this year. They put everything they have into their work and they inspire me in more ways than I can count. I would also ask them to have a guest grumps with the VlogBrothers and Shane, among many others.

And as I said, I would just like to thank them. So, here is the best chance for that! Thank you to both of you for what you do, it might have been a dream for you too, but I sure know that I am better for being able to be part of this adventure. Keep up the good work!

A quick update (2019 May 2nd):
I am very much fed up with that 5% of very loud pseudo-fans that keep hating on the boys. Recently I started getting more active in comment sections because I cannot listen anymore to people who do not hear people who are talking to them:

  • Beginning of the Detroit livestreams the Grumps talked about the fact that Youtube algorithms are changing. Not just them, but every single youtuber out there warned their viewers that there are great changes that not even content creators are warned about. I am fed up with people calling Arin names for caring about the 'business' ... if he didn't, we would not have GG anymore... 
  • People complaining that they are trying new things because the let's play genre is a dying is hilarious to me, because if after 6 years you are watching them because of the games, then you are not a GG fan. Being a fan means that you care for these boys, and that implies listening to them and seeing how much work they do and how hard they try to please the people that make it possible for them to be where they are in the first place. But I, for one, do not think that they owe me anything. I am happy until they post content and I will follow them after with any and all projects, because I genuinely care for them. Their platform allows me to think of them as friends of mine, even if they will never know who I am.
  • And I definitely do not want them to over-work themselves in the process of creating content. After six years they haven't missed a single post, and that is admirable. Another thing people like to overlook... 
  • As far as 'more money making' is concerned: not once did Arin or Danny ask any of their fans to give them money. Every single donation that comes in is out of our own volition. Yes, the livestreams help with that, but they did, at the very beginning of the year tell everyone that they want to keep the people at their office working. Another reason why I do not get how putting money in the front for somebody running a business is 'evil'? There are some awesome people working at that office, and if 10 bucks keeps them there, I am happy to give it to them. (Everything is also sold out in a couple of hours, so perhaps we all underestimate them.)
  • And speaking of streams: they have a 12-15 minute play-through and the donation readings. If somebody wants to consume it like daily episodes, they are more than welcome to do so without having to sh*t on the content creators. I for one love the longer posts: I often listen to them while working on something, that does require more than two hours at times. Not to mention, that I do not mind that they cannot fast-forward, because we always missed out on great interactions that way. 
  • Finally, on the streams, a lot of people show up that are in the background, since there is no SteamTrain or Grumpcade, this is a great way to hear from them. There are some special people there, as I have said before!
  • Yes, I am very emotional about this topic, but it hurts me personally when good people are put down. These two make sure to communicate everything to the fans and some refuse to listen. Quite frankly, f*ck those guys.

People just want and want and take and take, and do not wish to give in return. And that is fine, but at least do not complain about the way they go about their business. I hate how loud they are, because they DO NOT represent my views. Or that of many others. There are some awesome people that truly care for the projects they start and to me they are truly inspirational. And the 95% of the lovelies, the true fans, are just the greatest. I am proud to be a lovely myself, but I a sure you all knew that by now.

As a final note, here is me with my favorite grumps shirt. My brother got one for me and my girlfriend and it genuinely makes me happy every time I can wear it! It's sooo soft...

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _

Follow the video game boys here:

And for even more, I suggest you read this article by The Washington Post, written about Ninja Sex Party's appearance on Conan. You can also watch it here!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What's Next On My List? Closer

I am still torn when it comes to this movie. I have now seen it three times at very different stages of my life and I think for the first time I get it, or, to be more exact, it made me understand what lesson I can take away from it.

It is the story of four people whose life keeps intertwining over the span of a couple of years, as lies keep them tangled together.

I paid special attention to the men in this story this time around. They are shown as the two sides of the same coin, really, one being over sensitive and the other a brute force that comes in an smashes everything in its way. There was one sentence in particular that stayed with me, when Larry tells Anna that she is pushing him away because she thinks "she doesn't deserve happiness". When I first saw the movie I was perhaps even too young to understand why people cheat, or even try to understand that there is usually an emotional and a psychological reason behind it. I resented these characters, and I was not specifically looking for the romantic comedy ending, I just simply hated the fact that these people defined their feelings as 'love'. Because to me this wasn't and still isn't love. What it really was is, I believe, at least when looking at Dan and Anna: self-sabotage. They both did manage to find someone who complimented all their little stupid things, and still refused it, still fought for what they cannot have. Now, for the first time since I ever saw the movie I liked Larry, the brutish, supposedly evil man who manipulates Anna into getting back together with him. I liked him because he acted out of pain: he did not cause Dan harm until he did it to him. And even after that he decided to put Anna's well being in front of everything, because even if she is getting back with him out of pity, or something like that, he just knew that the one who would make her happy isn't the weak romantic Dan, but he is. And I honestly believed that after seeing this movie so many times, that Anna will learn to be happy with Larry and he will treat her right, in a sense, the end justified the means.
And now let us turn to Dan. I do not wish to further analyze the girls for one simple reason: I do not think the story was really about them. I find that Dan tried to be so much more than Larry, to be romantic, and caring, a dreamer, he is someone who Alice never had in her life, but ultimately he isn't that person. This is shown on different levels. First, he doesn't smoke but picks it up again, then he starts wearing contact lenses, he cares about his appearance in a way that he did no before. Third, he continuously compares himself to Larry, he wants everyone to know how much better he is just because of his sensitive side. And in the end, he hits Alice, he becomes worse than he was to start off with. He had lost the fight to be the more caring person when he became physical with Alice. Larry might have been rude and brutish indeed, but he never said something and then acted differently, as opposed to Dan, nor did he ever lay hands on the girls, even if he did not hide his intention of it. However, but taking action that way, Dan lost the battle of who is truly 'better' in his sense of the word.

"- Why did you leave?
- Problems with a male.
- Boyfriend?
- Kind of.
- And you left him, just like that?
- It's the only way to leave. 'I don't love you anymore. Goodbye.'
- Supposing you do still love them?
- You don't leave.
- You've never left somebody you still love?
- No."

I do not know what exactly the moral of the story was, what I do know that having grown quite a bit since I first ever saw this movie, I just know that there is a very complicated psychology behind someone who is able to cheat on someone, and those who desire it as well. That is probably one of the reasons why Dan is not such a good guy after all, see, Larry cheated too, but he did not try and hide behind a mask of caring and love, but admitted that what he had done was wrong. Dan essentially went around and hurt everyone and still felt like he was the one who was victimized. One can argue with me all they want, but Larry was a simple man, who is sometimes driven by what is in his pants, it is just that easy. As sad as it is, for some people cheating comes as second nature, as they are able to differentiate sex and love. Dan's character wasn't like that, that is why it was a much larger betrayal on his part, at least in my opinion. Nonetheless, re-watching the movie showed me some new aspects of the story, and I think I got away from it a much different lesson then I did the first two times I watched and will the next time I do again.

Watch it? I just don't know how to answer that question. I waited a long time for it and I know I just didn't get it the first time. But it remained with me: I have read other reviews that showcased that it is almost impossible to pinpoint what is good about the movie, but it stays with you, you think about it, you reanalyze it, and to me the fact that I want to re-watch it every now and then is proof that perhaps the good elements are just so f*cking good that it shadows anything that might not questionable. If you haven't seen it yet, I would give it a go, if you'll like or not, I cannot say.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Dan - Jude Law
Larry - Clive Owen

Sunday, October 7, 2018

What's Next On My List? Political Animals

I have reviewed a couple of TV shows before, and it was mostly things that have already ended or got canceled for various reasons. This show has already appeared on one of my lists, 20 TV Shows I Wish Had One More Season, but I thought I would talk about it in detail because I a still not over it.

It is the story of the secretary of state, former First Lady, who decides to run against her own party in two years, and the problems this causes in the life of her two sons and her ex husband.

I remember that after The West Wing ended I was empty, but I'm sure I wasn't alone, most of us have that one show that defines us, that makes all other shows in comparison just blend and uninteresting. For me this show was the first, and up to this point, the only one that compared to that Washington feeling that The West Wing gave me when I saw its seven seasons. Now, I was very sad when it got canceled, there was a cliffhanger of course, but it also wrapped up in many ways, so the six episodes alone are still wonderful to watch and re-watch. It is essentially a long movie, mini-series, but I do wish there was more. This was the show where I fell in love with Sigourney Weaver, and her character portrays how politics is still very much a male driven game, even when clearly there are far more qualified people out there. While seeing the show, or reading my review, you will have noticed the similarities in the life of the Clinton's and the show... But, it is a great story, isn't it?
I'm sure more people would have been interested in the life of the Clinton's, and from experience I can say that having a parent who is a workaholic, no matter how good they are at what they do, it will always come back on the children. I loved how the children in this show were already grown ups and we got to see how being the first family is not always as glorious as one might assume it is... being the children of the president bears a lot of responsibility too. I enjoyed very much how it was not just about the politics. The story set up the base very well and it built on it: Washington is not the only place in the world, and every character, in just the span of six episodes, comes to face their own worst fears and come out on the other side of it.

I highly recommend it to anyone who: is a Weaver fan; likes political shows; enjoys historical fiction; likes drama :D and finally, to anyone who wants to enjoy a quality TV show that has a beginning, a middle and an end. This is one of the good ones!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _

Elaine Barrish - Sigourney Weaver
Susan Berg - Carla Gugino
Douglas Hammond - James Wolk
T.J. Hammond - Sebastian Stan
Anne Ogami - Brittany Ishibashi
Margaret Barrish - Ellen Burstyn
Bud Hammond - Ciarán Hinds
President Paul Garcetti - Adrian Pasdar