Saturday, April 27, 2019

What's Next On My List? The Last Man On Earth

I have a weird fascination with post-apocalyptic tales, in every medium: movies, TV shows, books or even fan-fictions to some extents. A few years back I spent a whole month reviewing movies of this sort, and entitled that #ApocalypticApril, and I released that I want to add to that anytime I can. I just like to wonder how we are going to go extinct and who, if anyone, will survive it. On that note, I finally got around to binge watching a wonderful series that dealt with the topic from different and all angles.

Phil Tandy Miller believes he is the last man on Earth to have survived a virus that wiped out the population. Just when he sets his mind on ending the pain of loneliness, he stumbles into Carol Pilbasian, who believes she is the last woman on Earth. Phil leaves signs behind as he travels the country for survivors, "Alive in Tucson", and as a result they manage to find couple more people who have survived the apocalypse. Together they try to avoid terrible people that they are bound to encounter while running for their lives.

"The only time you even came close to being special was when everybody died but you."

It was my sister who was watching this show, as it came out, and she suggested we watch it together, seeing my fascination with apocalyptic tales. I was scared shitless at times and I couldn't stop laughing at others. I have to say, right off the bat, that I was taken by this show from the first second. The main reason why I believe this to be exceptionally wonderful as far as the apocalypse is concerned, is that every time I would have come up with any criticism, it was followed by the show resolving that issue in a wonderful way. I really was scared and I felt that at times they acted against instincts, but I had to remind myself that we are all different went it comes to driving forces behind our acts.

"- Well, how was your trip? Did you find any people? 
- Hate to say it, Carebear, but we're all still fighting a raging case of HPV. 
Human people vanished."

Season 1, starts our main character off like an asshole, but it actually shows a mirror to how he was before the virus. Phil was not a very nice man, and it is actually his relationship with Carol that changes him. This apocalypse changed all of them, but what is hard to remember is that once you are surrounded by people, you are likely to fall back into your old ways. After all, it is our reactions to social situations that defines many of us. I do, however, believe in everyone's ability to change if they want to. That is exactly what happened with Phil, renamed Tandy, after they find another Phil Miller. You sort of hate the protagonist in the first season, but you need to keep going with the show, especially because I find it wonderful how just seven people represent every kind of stereotype on the planet right now and their interactions say a lot about us.

"Nobody knew Gordon the way I knew him. He was a friend, a companion, trusted advisor and a valued lover. Sure, he could be a real son of a bitch. He was so cranky in the mornings, and he cussed like a sailor. And he was a bad drunk. He was a mean drunk. Racially insensitive. Male chauvinist pig. Um, and there was the body odor, which was challenging for me, but now I look back and, you know, when somebody dies all that stuff just melts away and you're just left with the good memories. 
So, to Gordon. Easy come, easy go."

Season 2, Carol and Phil need to get back to their friends, and face the mess left behind. The others are reluctant to see how Phil has changed, and overall, just like to mess with him. But some open up, because they work much better together than apart. Tension is always present, and much larger problems come about. Among many, the problem of the team lacking medical knowledge. On top of that, the difficulty of finding proper food. Once the team uncovered a cow, which meant fresh milk after years of eating canned food. Gasoline goes bad and even if they find electricity that is solar panel based, it does not last long. Forced again to move to a safer location, the team heads out after the end of the second season to avoid the persecution of a mad man.

"I made you a very special collection of highly erotic images of women. But unlike the misogynistic, male-centric trash you read, these women are sexy because they're highly intelligent, accomplished, and as far as we know, unmolested. I call it 'female empornment'."

Season 3, I have to say, was my favorite. The team finds an office building that reuses rain water and solar panels and they face much bigger problems on a social scale. One of them, Melissa, starts to behave strangely, and they figure out that she needs medication she stopped using. They also try to teach life to a boy they have found, who will never know what life was prior to the virus. Not to mention, that the women of the group are with child, and the difficulties that might come about in childbirth scare the group, having lost others to complications. What I loved about this season, was the fact that Tandy always comes up with very silly things to do, but that is proof of the limitless amount of creativity a person possesses. See, the main characters never lose their humanity. Even when forced to end a life, they don't sleep easy afterwards. Every single story set in a post-apocalyptic setting details how people lose their humanity and chaos ensues: these characters seek in any way possible to regain that normality and I have found that to be a unique way to tell this tale.

"- What do you mean we're moving? 
- The house is filled with dead bodies sealed up in the walls. It's like a gingerbread house made of corpses, bud.
- And guns! All over the place. You'd swear we were still in America."

Season 4 was the scariest. Among many things, our team of heroes encountered a cannibal, and as such, they were forced to end a life. Before that, they find more people, some of whom - stranded on a deserted island - are completely unaware of what the virus did. And they also find the ghosts of lives past haunting them. Some of the characters behaved unlike themselves, but here I was reminded that what life is now, might have made them act differently in the beginning. See I find that unlike Tandy, the others returned to their older selves when life became manageable. Once settled down, and they have to because of the babies, one might squeeze back into old routines. It was so for Gail, in my opinion, who sold herself as drunken old woman, uninterested in survival, or at least blacking out throughout it. She for one stopped drinking from morning till the evening, at this change happened in the background. Some jokes referred to it, but it was no longer her character trait.
Same with Todd, who was very annoying in the last season, it seemed unlike him to be irritating and needy. But to me, it showed that him being a gentleman is connected to the happiness that came from knowing he is not alone anymore in this apocalypse. Once he too settled in, he might have shown what kind of person he really was before everything went bad. The strongest point of the story, aside from the cliffhanger that ended the season, was the realization that no place will ever be home. They come across a part of land that has goats and trees that bear fruits, and Tandy tells all of them, that they keep moving on hoping that the next place will be better, but there is a time limit on this kind of life, and being parents now, everything rotting around them, cans expiring, this is the only real place that guarantees survival for them. Again, the wish for normalcy overrides any sign of a possible chaos. Our main character, Carol, for one, wishes to adhere to the laws set by humans, even if Tandy sometimes does not. Even if breaking the rules is fun, they never do it in a way that sticks permanently.

"Ever since I was a kid, I've had a fear of being scared."

So what is my overall review? This story was unlike everything else I had the pleasure to see/read in a similar setting. Now, unfortunately the series got canceled before going into its fifth season, but creator Will Forte told in an interview that although our protagonists are survivors, they are also carriers of the virus. As a result, if they come into contact with someone who managed to escape it, they will kill them unknowingly (read the article here!). As far as the cancellation is concerned, I do partly blame the way it was aired: my sister watched it week to week and with cliffhangers here and there, never really knowing when it was back, it just made it frustrating. I am almost certain that views dropped for the same reason. Because, as far as the quality of the show is concerned, it was outstanding. The writing was exceptional, for one, Phil was renamed Tandy during the middle of the season, and he was never referred to as Phil again. I have never seen something like that in any other shows. Then, each season had a special episode, that brought as back to before the virus through the eyes of a guest actor in the show, and how while the virus developed they had to endure seeing their loved ones disappear, waiting to be the next in line to pass away. Chaos did ensue in many places of the country, understandable so. The virus did not take all the bad people away with it, and as a result, it shows that our main characters might still encounter some who mean harm to them. If I had to give an advice to future viewers, it is one of those shows, that is much better to binge watch. 

Watch it? Highly recommended. I wish there was more, because the show made it possible for the viewer to deduce actual conspiracy theories, and that simply survival is not the only thing that the story is about. With the infants surrounding them and having found an actual place to settle down, the story I find was coming near to an ending anyway, and to know what that ending was will always be a question mark. Nonetheless, the ruthless black humor of this show will stay with me for forever! I can only recommend it to everyone.

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

Phil Tandy Miller - Will Forte
Carol Pilbasian - Kristen Schaal
Melissa Chartres - January Jones
Todd Rodriguez - Mel Rodriguez
Erica Dundee - Cleopatra Coleman
Gail Klosterman - Mary Steenburgen

Sunday, April 21, 2019

What's Next On My List? Hop

I don't usually write reviews for this holiday, but mostly because, it is not really a very typical "holiday episode" in TV shows, unlike Halloween and Christmas. But I do, however, look for it when I can, because my sister and I like to decorate eggs and it's fun to watch something in accordance. We are not religious, so the fact that this story in particular is about a bunny, and a bunny only, makes it the perfect holiday movie for me.

E.B. has to take on the role of the Easter Bunny, but he wants to be a drummer. On some level, he just needs reassurance, that he is good at what his heart aspires too. On his journey he makes a friend, Fred, who cannot find his place in the world. The unlikely pair team up to make both E.B.'s dreams come true, and save easter from an impostor.

Aside from the one very stupid and totally unnecessary toilet joke - as in - easter bunny poop is jelly beans... I really like this movie. Obviously, it's stupid. But in my opinion it wasn't meant to be an Oscar winning motion picture. It is a holiday movie for the family, and it is meant to entertain, which to me, it really does. First of all, the animation on the bunnies is simply adorable. I wanna hug them and pet them. Second, I have found both of the main characters very relatable. Even if sold in a story about the easter bunny, the motivations work: one is still finding themselves, and the other cannot do what they want because of family expectations. We have seen stories like it, of course, but at a certain point every single movie plot falls back on well known formulas.
Now, what is different is the actual setting: I loved that it's easter. I loved the silly montage scene of a human trying to become the Easter bunny! I loved that David Hasselhoff was in it and he was happy to play David Hasselhoff! I love the voice actors, the actors actors, and I find the movie silly in an adorable way. And it was meant to be that way! I am also fed up with people who judge movies by comparing them to works of arts... Citizen Kane this movie is not, but it did not intend to be. If we look at what it is: a family movie about a bunny wanting to be a drummer, then it is a pretty great at that! I just think it is entertaining and for anyone seeking a background movie even while they paint eggs with their family, they won't be disappointed. Yes, I do not care for toilet humor, but hey, a lot of people do and children laugh their asses of, so who am I to judge?

Watch? Yes. Let got of whatever comment you heard and just lay back. Look at the puns, and the egg jokes, and the clues about how someone so magical is hiding in our world, right under our eyes! I do not care for easter on a religious spectrum, but I just love bunnies! This movie is truly fun in a lot of ways.

Until the next item on my list.

_ _ _ _ _

Fred O'Hare - James Marsden
Carlos / Phil - Hank Azaria
E.B.'s Dad - Hugh Laurie
David Hasselhoff - David Hasselhoff

Monday, April 15, 2019

What's Next On My List? Meet the Robinsons

I decided to write about a couple of cartoons that I think are massively underrated, despite the wonderful world they presented us. Growing up, I fell blessed to have had these stories teaching me valuable lessons.

"Lewis is a brilliant inventor who meets mysterious stranger named Wilbur Robinson, whisking Lewis away in a time machine and together they team up to track down Bowler Hat Guy in a showdown that ends with an unexpected twist of fate" (imdb).

I did not know what to expect with this movie and I just loved every second of it. First, the characters are adorable. Our main character, Lewis, is a genius inventor who lives in an orphanage. His continuous work bothers his roommate's everyday routines, but he is adamant on inventing something wonderful. One day a young boy shows up and takes him to the future, because there is a threat to his family that only Lewis can help with. He is welcomed into a family and an amazing world, that makes him even more anxious to do good in his own time, but that means making sure that he is no longer blind to the people around him. That including his roommate, as well as his teachers and fellow children at the orphanage. I liked the simple lesson, that just being a genius does not mean that one is good at everything. Lewis is still a boy and he has to learn to enjoy life, even if there are hardships. The adventure itself is mind blowing, with making everyone hopeful that our future will look like something straight out of this movie.
I thought about telling you more, however, the movie has wonderful twists in it and I think people should see it. I do not know anyone among my close friends who know about this movie, which goes to show that many missed out on something that is purely genius. It takes dreams we all have and turns them into reality. Just as wonderful as other Disney classics, but completely under the radar, unfortunately. Perhaps this small post will be able to spread the word!

Watch it? Obviously, at this point, you have no reason not to. If you like cartoons that are also for adults as well, you are in for a treat. Not to mention, that the time travel story line is enough to make all of our nerdy hearts melt with warmth.

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

Michael "Goob" Yagoobian - Matthew Josten
Bowler Hat Guy - Stephen J. Anderson
Lucille Krunklehorn - Laurie Metcalf
Cornelius - Tom Selleck

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What's Next On My List? The Princess and the Frog

I decided to write about a couple of cartoons that I think are massively underrated, despite the wonderful world they presented us. Growing up, I fell blessed to have had these stories teaching me valuable lessons. You might argue with me on this one, but so far I had to force this movie onto people, so just based on my immediate surrounding, it was not the success that I wish it was. But it one of my favorites, so here we are:

Tiana, whilst trying to help a frog break the curse he was put under, gets transformed herself. Together they venture into the night to try and find someone who can help them reverse the curse, to be able to buy her dream restaurant.

I just adored this story. First of all, I loved the Louisiana setting. Second, obviously the fact that we do not have the conventional princess: Tiana is a hardworking woman who won't stop until she reached her dream. She is an inspiration to me, the fact that she never stops, even when it seems hard, is something that cartoons rarely focus on. By that I mean that most mean characters have a helping hand pushing them, but until the events of this story, Tiana relied very much on herself. Now, fortunately, she wasn't a complete orphan, her father passed, but not when she was young, and her mom is very much around. I feel like she had great examples of a happy loving family, and although she isn't looking for a prince charming, the way her parents loved each other is something she surely would have wished for in her own life. I did not think that she had to give up anything of her personality when she fell in love with Naveen.
People complain about the way princesses are portrayed, and truly, I did not think that this story was forcing the female+male message down my throat like many others. This story was about self-discovery, about looking inside and finding out what really makes us who we are and what we should fight for in life. For Tiana it was enjoying her life and not just being always in rush to reach her goals, and for Naveen it was understanding what really makes him happy instead of avoiding responsibilities. As you might have gathered from my recent reviews, I do judge cartoons based on the message that they wish to impart on their audiences. And it this regard this one is a wonderful story that I believe needs to be recognized as an outstanding adaptation of a well known fairy tale as well.

Watch it? If I have to be honest, in the past couple of years, this is one of those few Disney movies that had an outstanding soundtrack. As far as I am concerned, I only have one or max two favorite songs from each Disney cartoon, and well, I loved all of them here. I think this could be a great musical if anyone ever were to re-adapt another Disney cartoon...

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

Tiana Anika Noni Rose
Naveen - Bruno Campos
Dr. Facilier - Keith David
Lawrence - Peter Bartlett

Thursday, April 4, 2019


As this is my favorite dog breed, I just had to see this cartoon. Was not disappointed!

It is the well known story of someone from fame and money falling down into the slumps and learning that giving out orders left and right is not the key to real happiness. Rex too learns that he has enjoyed perks of life without having earned them. And honestly, money does not help us find true friends.

I just adored this cartoon. For the first time in my life I was also uncomfortable, while watching a kids cartoon, and the reason for that was the continuous references to the real political and social problems. I was happy that they decided to do that, but still, it was unexpected. Let me list them quickly, because I find that this cartoon stands out for giving us very different moral levels in a story that is based on a well known formula. First off, we have the current President of the USA appear, who keeps running around and taking selfies with everything and everyone, like a dumb tourist. He arrives with his wife, who has a dog. Now, we know they don't have one, but the dog itself is an ugly irritating little thing that believes they can get anything with proper intimidation and aggression... and if we take into consideration that pets are likely to be like their owners, it made sense. The President also gets offended after being bit by an animal, so of course he leaves instead of, you know, being presidential...
Second, Rex shows the fellow dogs that there is strength in unity. All the dogs, his friends at least, get together in order to beat down the local bully. There is a funny montage scene, but it doesn't lead anywhere, because that is not the important thing about it. What is important is the moral strength that came with it: Rex stands up to the bully and the other dogs follow. It is a wonderful lesson, for some people it is impossible to beat their bullies, the tale of the underdog has been used over and over again... I think teaching children that they are not alone is a far more important message. So much so that Rex has to be saved in the end by his friends, instead of being the ultimate hero.
Third, the dog, who wants to dethrone Rex ( = king), is named Charlie. Like, you know, the Queen's actual first born son, in line to the throne. I looked it up, and the names of the corgis were actually fictional, the real corgis didn't have such realistic names (you can look up the wikipedia page on them, it's really cute!). And as a result, I cannot overlook the choice of names. I am not saying that Charles would push him mother into the frozen water of the St. James Park, but I am also not-not saying it. 

I just love corgis and I was so happy when the trailer appeared for this movie. My love for this breed begun with a little evil actor corgi from the cartoon movie 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, one of my favorites. In it, Lightning (voiced by Jason Alexander), tries to become the new great superstar. I don't want to spoil it, but this corgi, despite being super evil, just looked so hug-able and soft and looking for cuddles (from me). Never before had I seen this type of dog and fell in love immediately.

Watch it? This is a great cartoon. As adults, my sister and I looked for a couple more scenes for the plot, but ultimately, if I look at the designated audience (that is not me), then I find that children are gonna learn a great deal from it. This is a re-used formula, but the lessons to be learned from it are very different and I think they are also better for it. It is a great animation!

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

Queen - Julie Walters
Charlie - Matt Lucas

Monday, April 1, 2019

Blogger: Don't Meet Your Idols

So the documentary on Michael Jackson just came out and I just lost it.

I believe that the problem with media today is no longer to make us think, but to make us say those thoughts out loud and then judge us for it.

I have the ability to differentiate between an artist and their art, there. Judge me.

The reason I felt the need to write about this is that I feel like people cannot win. First of all, look at Michael Jackson. This guy had surgery to change the color of his skin! If that didn't send off alarms in your head, then you were just deep in denial. This person had major issues, and frankly, most artists do. If you search for any paparazzi photos on how he dressed his children outside of the house, that was also a major warning to his mental stability! To come out and be surprised by the fact that artists are tortured people makes you an idiot.

I in no way condone his actions, but I am also fed up with being judged if I, for example, listen to his song. Yes, people should be educated from now on about what happened, to be able to make that decision on their own. But you cannot go back into my past and erase every memory I have connected to a Jackson song. You just cannot. 

I remember when I read the article about Ace of Base, stating that the song writers had Nazi ties, and there were messages about their political views embedded in the songs. I felt sick to my stomach, at the thought of singing those, if indeed they meant something other than my interpretation of it. Since then front member of the band Ulf Ekberg has come out and in an interview with E! stated: "I'm truly deeply sorry for any hurt and disappointment this has caused for our fans, and I really hope that we clearly have stated that Ace of Base never shared any of these opinions and strongly oppose all extremist opinions on both the right and left wing," he says. "My past is my own, and only I can own up to it" ("Ace of Base's Ulf Ekberg Speaks Out About Alleged Past Nazi Ties").

I know that I felt better after reading this, but I also know, that unconsciously, I have listened to their songs in the meantime, and not once did I think of them or the supposed agenda behind it. And as far as I can see the songs Jackson wrote do not really reflect his alleged pedophilia. (Correct me if I am wrong!)

And if you are caught singing one his songs, you shouldn't be judged for it either.

Two of my favorite Youtubers, the Game Grumps, (Sonic Adventure 2 Battle: Jichael Mackson - PART 8) discussed in one of their episodes how a song, once it is out there, is no longer the artists. Sure, they might own copyright to it, but to me they are always like poetry: it is my interpretation and feeling of it that will live on. I cannot go back and cancel Michael Jackson songs from movie soundtracks, or from my memories or from those remote radio stations that his music reached, while the controversy around him might not go that far.

I know singers who are Catholic, scientologists, fascists, homophobes. I am unlikely to listen to their music, but I still come across it - and the reason for that is that I am not responsible for the playlist of any store or café in the world. And I might end up liking that song and only later find out things about the artist. Am I held accountable? I don't think I should be. I get to decide what their songs mean to me, and not the other way around. There is a Hungarian singer who is very much a misogynist in the asshole of the dictator-ish prime minister of my country right now, but guess what, he is also a talented song-writer. He has wonderful and meaningful songs too, but I have been made fun of for listening to him. I will not call him my favorite, because he is not, but I also don't feel like I should keep apologizing for liking a f*cking song.

I for one blame Hungarian education: every time we read poems or short stories from great writers we always had to know who they are and the inspiration behind each story. I was conditioned all my life to NOT be able to differentiate between the artist and their art. 

There is, however, a double-standard. Today, especially in Hollywood, there is no clear line between what counts as an offense for life, and what is something we can get over. We also expect everyone to apologize, and well, to be fair here, you can't have a dead person apologize for his actions... That is the main reason I find that this whole documentary to be stupid. It doesn't matter if it is true or not, the accused cannot literally defend himself, so why are we allowed to pass judgment?

The #metoo movement also died out when it turned to people that we want to like. Artist just clear out said that it doesn't matter if the allegation is true or not, we do not have a clear rule for how we condone these acts (read the article here). James Gunn was rehired to direct for Disney/Marvel, to me his apology was enough, clearly for the producers too, and I don't really see Johnny Depp suffering for the claims about him and yet I feel terrible about seeing him in movies now. I feel like it works the same way it does with politicians: if the disappear for a while, they can come back and we will have forgotten by then, which is both scary and very sad.

I do not wish to know about the personal life of these people.

My biggest problem with social media too is that we are soooo close to celebrities and I do not think we should be. Just a year ago somebody looked down on me for listening to songs from Madonna, because in a debate between her and Lady Gaga, for them she was the bitch. I do not want to apologize for dancing like a lunatic every time 'Like a Virgin' comes on! I want to be left alone and enjoy what I want to enjoy, specifically because all of these issues are based on personal preferences. I am at a point where I am scared to see interviews with people...

Some might disagree with me, and I am mostly just scared as to why they would disagree, because that is the reason we do not have a simple understanding, and we should: you are bad? Learn from your mistakes. You regret your actions? Better. Should I know about it? Not really. Are you an influential person? If yes, let us take your influence away. There shouldn't be a debate about these things to begin with! But the double-standard is there. I want to go back to the time when I could adore the poster of an actor/singer and not have to worry about whether or not they are a secretly part of the KKK or worship inequality.

In Hungary our most famous and beloved writers had relationships with married women, committed suicide, never finished school, were addicts and tortured souls. Not only do we glorify them, but we even teach our students in detail about their private lives as a justification for understanding their poems better. There. 

Now go wonder why we like to worship falls Gods. (Sarcasm.)

I am left asking myself, going back to the source that made me share my thoughts in the first place, what was the point of Leaving Neverland?

Did somebody just see a paycheck? Did somebody really feel like we should stop worshiping Michael Jackson? Is it about the disgust of how we overlook the actions of people with money? Is it supposed to point out that we shouldn't worship celebrities? That there is an impossible standard we put people to? Is it a story of how easy we judge if the other party cannot defend themselves? Are we too close to the people we look up to? Is there a necessity for distance? Are we all just human? Was it revenge? How does the Jackson family feel about it? WHAT WAS IT? Am I just seeing too much into it and pointed out how there was probably no actually moral lesson to it, but I think there should be, if it is going to be released with the intent of causing turmoil? GIVE ME ANSWERS.

And if there are no answers, at least, let's stop judging those who can differentiate between the artist and their art. It does not define if you are a good or a bad person, trust me.

I can only imagine what some will think of me after this entry, but I would like to end with a quote, as it reflects my views on how I feel about all of those celebrities who were brave enough to speak out in this matter, and the matter itself:

"What you did was very spiteful, but it was also very brave and very honest and I respect you for doing that. But the content of what you said has made me hate you. So there's a layer of respect, admittedly, for your truthfulness, but it's peppered with hate. Hateful respect."
- Get Him To The Greek (2010)