Updates

Wakey, wakey! We’ve got some new items of interest for you!

  • A new excursion down the rabbit hole with a two-part interview about the good and the not-so-good in ourselves.
  • Are you dream happy (think, trigger happy)? Our culture tells us relationships will make us happy, but that’s obviously not always true.
  • A review of the horror movie XX. It’s a unique and thought-provoking anthology that puts a new twist on what’s really scary.

 

We make life scary.

Women are often praised for their emotional complexity. We keep a lot of balls in the air, seemingly effortlessly moving from work to friends to family. It’s a double-edged sword. Tending to multiple needs at once can be a strength. It’s gratifying to feel accomplished and can benefit others. But when we overlook our own needs, we suffer. We’re stretched too thin, taken for granted, neglected.

The horror anthology XX illustrates what happens when women are in the latter. Four short films show women who have lost their power in dynamics like motherhood, friends, and family. Even if you haven’t directly experienced these, you’ve probably been affected by the aftermath. The stealth of secrecy can steal your identity and strength.

Each was written and/or directed by a woman–Roxanne Benjamin, Sofia Carrillo, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), and Jovanka Vuckovic. The styles are distinct, as different as women themselves.

Sofia Carrillo, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic
Image via the Toronto Star.

Continue reading “We make life scary.”

Sometimes, I don’t do anything.

Sometimes you just want to sit on your butt and watch TV. Here are some lazy-Sunday shows that are not only entertaining, but will engage your brain and keep you from verging into couch potato territory! 😴 💤

DRAMA

When We Rise – A new show about the decades-long fight for gay rights. It address a lot of factors outside of sexuality like race, gender, family, and agism. It’s extremely well crafted and informative, probably because it’s based on the real life journey of several of its main characters who advised the storytelling. Watch it on ABC or Hulu.

This is Us – It’s made me cry twice and tear up over and over again. Not because it’s necessarily sad, but because of it’s seamless hopefulness. The Pearson family draws you in to its blended reality and reflects gently on all the different ways our lives intertwine. It’s precious; I save it for quiet weekend mornings. Watch it on NBC or Hulu.

The West Wing – A political drama is probably the last thing you want to bother with right now, but in a backward way, it actually gave me hope. It follows the administration of  Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen), Democratic president. He wrestles believably with all the political matters presidents are faced with on a minute-to-minute basis. I avoided it for a long time because I thought it’d be dry, but I found myself rooting for all the members of his cabinet and their individual stories. It uses creator Aaron Sorkin’s tell-tale “walk and talk” style of dialogue where a lot goes on in one drawn out camera take, but I didn’t find it overbearing. Watch all seven seasons on Netflix.

The Path – Aaron Paul (the kid from Breaking Bad who called everyone a bitch) produces and acts in this introspective drama on cults and the subtle damage they inflict on their followers. It’s soft and quiet–don’t expect anything wild. But the way they are able to act that delicate power structure and control without slapping you in the face is really stunning. It’s very human. Aaron Paul has got chops! A Hulu Original.

Wentworth – The Australian “Orange is the New Black.” I don’t know which one aired first, but I actually prefer Wentworth because it doesn’t try to force points on race or women. I don’t know what the culture of Australia is like, but I’m willing to bet because it’s more naturally integrated, Wentworth is more believably able to add women of color, age, background, and sexual-orientation without preaching. It’s gripping and feels about as realistic as I’d imagine it would feel since I’ve never been in prison. Watch it on Netflix.

The Fosters – It’s cute! It’s a teen-oriented family drama about a colorful blended family with two moms (Teri Polo and Sheri Saum). It deals with a range of coming-of-age topics like sex, race, friends, and family with love and reflection, always returning to the unbreakable bond of family that holds everything together. Watch it on Netflix.

COMEDY

Speechless – Stars Minnie Driver as Maya DiMeo, along with her family, specifically her son JJ who has cerebral palsy.  Speechless walks right up to stereotypes of all kinds and and karate chops them to the ground. It’s full of dialogue that whips both insight and humor, poking fun at itself but in the same turn making the viewer look at physical disability in a new way. Watch it on ABC or Hulu.

Mike Birbiglia – Thank God for Jokes. A Netflix comedy special with comedian Mike Birbiglia (This American Life, Trainwreck, Don’t Think Twice). I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. His humor is one big clumsy body movement, like tripping over your own feet. He’s highly self-aware of his awkwardness and ties overarching points together while still moving jauntily through an absurd life. Watch it on Netflix.

THRILLER

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Black Mirror – A modern Twilight Zone. It deals with a world in which technology has advanced to such a precise level that it’s integrated into, sometimes, our very flesh. You won’t even have to suspend you disbelief. Black Mirror zeroes in on the razor’s edge we are on when technology and humanity merge. In a series of cautionary stand-alone episodes, you’re reminded of what could happen when we trade our privacy and safety for the immediacy of tech. Watch it on Netflix.

Nora McInerny

“Terrible, Thanks for Asking” is hosted by “notable widow” Nora McInerny. It’s a title she’s dubbed herself, given the bizarre number of tragedies that have surrounded in a short period of time. Spurred by the death of her father, then her husband from brain cancer six weeks after that, and the later miscarriage of her second child, Nora tackles grief with an honesty and irony you don’t often hear. She notes that as a culture we’re not really  allowed to give grieving a space. “We’re good at hiding it. Compartmentalizing it. Experiencing in private.”

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Read more at Podcast Roundup!

(And she’s Minnesotan, which I genuinely did not know until I started researching her and realized I knew who she was. Smash Up is not a Minnesota shill! 😉 )

Food for thought.

If you aren’t already a documentary junkie, there’s no time like the present to get into them! Documentaries are a great snapshot of current events, history, psychology, and almost any other topic you can think of. No matter the subject matter, the idea is the same–to give the viewer a nonfiction film that instructs or educates, though directors and producers can have varying takes on how they show you this information. Vox.com just published “a field guide to 2017’s diverse slate of Oscar-nominated documentaries.

We encourage you to check out any kind of documentary to get your feet wet, but if you’re a docu-veteran (or a new to the scene and game to dive in head first) and looking for something fresh to challenge your perspective, these titles are worth it. The list includes: Life, Animated; 13th; Fire at Sea; O.J.: Made in America; and I Am Not Your Negro.

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Images via IMDB.com

TV imitating podcast.

A podcast becoming a TV series. Has this happened before? I’m not sure, but it looks like Zach Braff will be starring in a pilot for the Gimlet Media podcast Start Up!

The Cast Of "Bullets Over Broadway" Performs Live On NBC's "Today"
He looks like someone who would quit his job to follow misadventure. Image via TheIndependent.co.uk

We coincidentally (seriously) covered it here on Smash Up on our Podcast Roundup. Braff will play Alex Schuman, likely modeled after Alex Blumberg, who “who quits his job as a journalist to become an entrepreneur.” Read our review of the podcast and stream Start Up, so you can be prepared to compare each televised plot twist to the original source.  😉

Read the write up on vulture.com!