Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Lazy Netflixer Review: Not Another Happy Ending

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

Netflix doesn’t always carry great or popular films and TV shows. Contracts and other legal mumbo-
jumbo practically guarantee that. However, you can find little-known gems if you’re willing to really look.

Not Another Happy Ending is an independent film largely shot in Glasgow, released in 2013. Jane Lockhart—played by Karen Gillan—has submitted her manuscript to another publisher. This time, she gets a meeting. The publisher agrees to publish Jane’s book, after it’s been fixed.

Tom Duvall—the editor—spends time with Jane, making suggestions to improve her story. When the final draft is submitted and all is said and done, Jane finds out he changed her title. She throws a bit of a fit, but her book is wildly successful and award-winning.

The contract between Tom’s publishing company and Jane is set for only one more book beyond the ironically titled Happy Ending. They’re okay with this because they can’t stand each other.

There’s one problem.

Jane can’t rid her writer’s block to finish the final chapter. Tom figures out that Jane does her best writing when she is sad. (“No misery, no poetry.”)  Now that her work’s been published, she’s reconnected with her dad, and she found a fellow-writer-boyfriend—Law and Order: SVU’s Henry Ian Cusick. She’s stuck.

Jane’s imagination materialized her writer’s block in the form of her spunky protagonist, Darsie. She shows up first at a shop as seemingly just a friendly passerby. When she shows up again at a local pub, though, Jane knows something is up.

Tom’s independent publishing company is floundering. Jane’s books keeps them “in the black.”

What to do?

Tom and his assistant-friend, Roddy, hatch a plan to make Jane miserable once more. The trouble is, as Roddy says, they’re both actually nice and decent people.

Roddy. He’s played by Iain de Caestecker—Fitz in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The character is quite adorable. In one scene, he re-reads Happy Ending for the third time, and sobs. Tom tells him to get his stuff together, and that “Jane says hi.” He starts sobbing again. Roddy is also a teacher, and his funniest moments are telling his students improbable and hilarious “facts.” Caestecker is the gem inside this gem of a movie, and it’s too bad he didn’t receive more screen time. Plus, he wasn’t even properly introduced until almost half-way through the film.

Not Another Happy Ending has some great qualities to it, namely the acting. But, it has its issues too.

In the beginning, when Jane edits her book, releases her book, and meets her boyfriend, it all goes by quickly. The moments seem purposeless outside of the fact that they’re probably meaningful to her. Near the middle, when Tom and Roddy decide to sabotage her happiness, they barely even completed two tasks, but somehow that’s malicious. The reason is sweet, though, especially since Tom is a huge asshole publisher—which is why Jane can’t stand him.

All in all, the movie is entertaining, with great comedic lines, mostly by Caestecker. Closed captioning is highly recommended, so you don’t miss any of them. Scottish accents are beautiful, but confusing at times. And, of course, the dialogue is much quieter than the music . . . . Enjoy, if you haven’t already.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Game of Thrones: The Gift

HBO
In Episode 213, Germar and Jessica deliver THE BEST GAME OF THRONES PODCAST EVER. But first, you'll learn exactly how Jessica really feels about Germar and also how she feels about men generally. Annnnnnnnd HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, this is the most adult episode of the podcast ever . . . thanks to Jessica.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fearless Flap with Erin McKelle--Episode 5


In episode five, Erin chats with Samm Newman--the fat teen that Instagram shutdown for being too . . . ? They discuss that entire ordeal, bullying, online harassment, and Josh Duggar. The technical issues here set a record, and because of that the podcast ends abruptly. Enjoy? Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Lazy Netflixer Review: "Grace and Frankie"

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

The Netflix original series, Grace and Frankie, started streaming on May 8th.  Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston—of Law and Order fame—comprise the main cast. Each star shines brilliantly.

The premise, on its surface, is somewhat amusing: two male law partners leave their wives and marry each other. (“We can do that now.”)

The two couples went in on a house and vacation home together.  The two soon-to-be ex-wives inevitably end up living together, despite effectively hating each other. They are polar opposites.
The show’s humor largely comes from these two older women re-learning how to navigate single life.

Grace and Frankie has its hilarious moments, but the best thing about it is its heart.
Expectantly, the quality comes largely from the characters. One of the husbands, Sol, has few boundaries with anyone--even, or maybe especially, with Frankie (his ex-wife). He can’t help but care. In one scene, about a week or so after the split, Sol visits the vacation home. After an event triggers his ex, he dedicates three hours to comforting her. Part of that comes from the enlightened, “hippie” lifestyle Sol and Frankie chose—in great contrast to Grace and Robert’s conservative lifestyle.

The secondary characters add to both aspects, and provide a few instantly recognizable familiar faces. Grace’s two daughters are portrayed by Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael—Palmer in Just Go With It and Maya in Year One, respectively. One of Frankie’s adopted sons is portrayed by Ethan Embry of National Lampoon and Can’t Hardly Wait.

So far, the series does a great job of balancing humor with the reality of the plot. A strong sense of mourning follow each woman in the show. Even conservative Grace can accept that Robert and Sol love each other. However, each marriage lasted for about 40 years—the affair for 20, before Robert and Sol came out.

It’s refreshing to see an “older” show so accepting of progress. It’s also, honestly, VERY refreshing to see an “older” show that is so open about sex, and vaginal dryness--the realities of old age, and the betrayal of a long-time secret. The last mainstream show to attempt it, Golden Girls, ended in 1992.

If you have not yet seen the show, do that--now. The first season of the show is only 13 episodes, at 30 minutes each. Even the laziest Netflixer can get through that in a day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Game of Thrones: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

In Episode 212, theStream.tv's #1 GoT expert Jessica Kinney is BACK on the podcast. Jessica and Germar cover stone men, sand snakes, snake snakes, incarcerated queens, and of course that ending scene.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Only Problem in the African-American Community

Photo: PA
Germar addresses race seriously on the podcast, for the first time in quite some time. If you listen, and you still don't get it, you might be stupid, or an awful person, or a racist (maybe all three). We haven't done one like this since Trayvon--no intros, no jokes, no music, and on the road. It's a shortie. Germar calls this "the only problem" because all other issues stem from it. Overstand.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Boston: is this justice?

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, received the death sentence. You know this already. You’ve read all those articles questioning the morality of the death penalty. “Killing to prove killing is wrong” and “X amount of innocent inmates” aside—though pretty dang valid on their own—people forget that money makes the world go round.

Some people support the death penalty because it costs less to put an inmate to death than
to support them in prison for the rest of their lives. But is that actually true? It seems to depend on which state you’re looking at. Even then, the answer appears ambiguous.
According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, a federal death penalty case typically costs over $620,000. When costs are less than $320,000, the probability of being sentenced to death increased roughly 25 percent. In California, these costs totaled $1.94 million, and incarceration as a whole totaled $1 billion. You could argue that these costs, while ridiculous, are just a one-time inconvenience. Fair.

Typically it costs anywhere from $20,000-$40,000 to house one inmate for one year, and sometimes more. TheLawDictionary.org estimates that housing one inmate in Guantanamo Bay costs taxpayers $900,000 a year. That’s one year. (If that ain’t enough justification to shut it down, what is.)

Prisoners have rights. They deserve health care. They deserve rehab. Some people “get” this. Largely, these and other essential needs account for the high costs taxpayers complain about and/or contribute to.

Here’s another horrifying statistic that you should already know: “the land of the free” has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In 2008, the US locked up 751 people per 100,000 people. “If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up,” wrote Adam Liptak for The New York Times. Can you imagine what that figure is, seven years later?
That seems like it just might be a whole heck of a lot of taxpayer money.

Dollars, sense, plus matters of morality—it may be time to rethink the death penalty. But these issues go WAY beyond that. To meaningfully reform the prison-industrial--the “penal system”--much, MUCH more has to change.

The increased costs of housing inmates are mainly due to an aging population’s healthcare costs. In California, an inmate costs about $50,000. KPBS Web Producer Wendy Fry found after an inmate hits 55, “you can basically calculate three times the cost.” California does have a high cost of living anyway, but spending on average $150,000 on just healthcare? That’s pretty steep. Healthcare reform anyone?

Drug policy changes might improve our incarceration travesty. Non-violent crimes do NOT deserve a years-long-to-life sentence. In the article mentioned above, Liptak wrote:

People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, (James) Whitman wrote. Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

(Note: James Whitman is a specialist in comparative law at Yale.)

It may be a bit much to ask our “great” country to learn from any other, or care about the impacts incarceration has on non-violent criminals’ lives long after they’re released, or understand that marijuana has very positive effects on otherwise hopeless patients. But one can hope, no matter how naively.

Tsarnaev, without question, deserves to pay for what he did. Taxpayers giving even one cent, however indirectly, to this low-life is unconscionable. If putting to death one horrible individual is the answer, can you sleep at night knowing you indirectly condone all of these other policies? The “penal system” needs a complete overhaul to serve the citizens of this country, instead of potentially ruining their lives on both sides of the fence.  Maybe then, the U.S. might truly be “great” again

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 2 Episode 21 Review and After Show "S.O.S. Part One and Two"


S.H.I.E.L.D puts everything on the line to survive a war that blurs the line between friend and foe. Coulson and his team will be forced to make shocking sacrifices that will leave their relationships and their world changed forever.


Supergirl, Legends, Agents, Flash, Arrow

In Episode 210, Germar critiques the new trailer/preview/teaser for both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. Then, he blah blah blahs about this week's episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, and Arrow.




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Game of Thrones: Kill the Boy

Photo: HBO
In Episode 209, the #1 GoT reviewer and recapper, and the only guest host to demand their own theme song, Jessica Kinney is BACK!  And she's so dedicated that she's hosting from a hospital bed. Jessica and Germar cover grays, blacks, Starks, Boltons, dragons, walkers, and hotties.  Additionally, Jessica is single and available for men that are not married, 5'2" and taller, and interesting.

 
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