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SXSW Movie Review: Number 37

NUMBER 37 PosterA low-level criminal, Randall (Irshaad Ally), owes money to a loan shark. His legs broken and with a ticking clock to pay back his debt, his only connection to the outside world is his window facing out over his slum neighborhood of Cape Flats, South Africa and a pair of binoculars that let him see too much of what is going on.

A series of desperate and poor decisions suck in his girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman), his friend Warren (Ephraim Gordon), the local pastor, and the police as director and writer Nosipho Dumisa rachets up the tension. “Number 37 might look like a gritty, South African street gangster movie, but it’s a lot more than that… It’s about everything that could go wrong for a couple when ambition, curiosity, greed, fear and horrific bad decision-making collide,” said Dumisa.

The very obvious immediate comparison is to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but that almost does this film a disservice. Dumisa revealed that this was her sort-of love letter to Rear Window, which is one of her favorite films, but also her influences for the film were as based on David Fincher’s Se7en, as well as the more recent Green Room and Don’t Breathe– and that really feels more like the pedigree of the film despite the obvious homage to Rear Window. Hitchcock relied on a sense of voyeurism and mystery, but Number 37 straight up shows us the domestic abuse, threats, people being killed, and so on. We never wonder about the mystery, because there is none. What it does by showing us the action through Randall’s binoculars is contribute to the tension by making us feel as helpless as he does as events unfold.

Number 37 Film Still 2

The acting here is nuanced and powerful. Randall has to remain stoic despite his world collapsing around him. Meanwhile Pam is a voice of reason who is too often ignored, and they both face the consequences of their failures. She has to do so much more of the outward emoting, while Randall tries to fold everything together.

The filmmaking behind this is also spectacular, with excellent camerawork helping us feel the small, confined spaces the film takes place in. It has such a perfect sense of place by taking us into these slums, which become a metaphor for the tension of the film and feeling “trapped.” According to Dumisa, “These areas were constructed in the times of apartheid and people of different racial groups were forcibly removed from their homes to these areas, with the idea that the people in there would not be allowed to leave without permission. This was legal back then but over two decades after apartheid, these areas still exist, although nobody is “forced” to live there anymore…legally. Economically and psychologically these suburbs can often feel like a prison even now. Once you’re inside, it’s difficult to imagine the beautiful tourist Cape Town could exist.”

Dumisa also revealed she wrote the film originally in English, then working with her actors– most of whom were locals — and some translators, they translated the film into an Afrikaans dialect that is specific to the Cape Flats area she was trying to emulate.

This is a great film, especially for a first feature from a young 29-year old director. If Marvel is looking for someone to take the helm of a Shuri-centric spinoff of Black Panther, they should check out Number 37.

4 out of 5 stars

Number 37 had its premiere at SXSW March 10, 2018, and will have two additional showings:

Monday, March 12, 2:30pm, Alamo Lamar C
Wednesday, March 14, 7:30pm, Alamo Lamar C

For more information and for additional “buzz” screenings, check out their official schedule at SXSW here.

Review: Sandcastle

Early morning on a perfect summer’s day, people begin to descend on an idyllic, secluded beach. Among their number, a family, a young couple, a refugee, and some American tourists. Its fine white sand is fringed with rock pools filled with crystal clear water. The beach is sheltered from prying eyes by green-fringed cliffs that soar around the cove. But this utopia keeps a dark secret.

Sandcastle is the inspiration for M. Night Shyamalan’s major motion picture Old.

Story: Pierre Oscar Lévy
Art: Frederik Peeters

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

comiXology
Amazon
Kindle
Bookshop


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TV Review: Marvel’s The Punisher S2E2 Fight or Flight

Punisher S2E2 Fight or Flight

Frank and a reluctant Rachel go on the run as a menacing adversary gives chase. Meanwhile, Madani pays Russo an unwelcome visit.

On the run and being pursued by bad guys, the episode is a typical one that we’ve seen so many times before. The victim doesn’t want to cooperate with the hero thinking he’s a bad guy. The hero makes a stand in a hotel and uses a second room (we’ve seen this one multiple times alone). It’s a very paint by numbers episode but not necessarily bad.

There’s still a lot of amusing things here. For instance, Castle was hit by a bullet in the previous episode and that has to be dug out… of his ass. There’s some slight humor to that as Rachel must help. There’s also an emphasis that Frank is really banged up and hurting. He wasn’t exactly in the best shape to begin with but here he’s really jacked up. Unlike so many other heroes, we’re reminded that he’s human multiple times. He’s also an ass towards Rachel. Yes, we’ve seen that in other stories but again, it’s emphasized we’re not really supposed to like Frank.

There’s some bad as well and that mainly revolves around Russo who’s recovering from last season and may or may not be faking memory loss. With flashes of what happened in dreams, this entire plotline feels dragged out. It’d be so much easier and to the point to have him have nightmares of the Punisher and escape while pursuing revenge. We know it’s going to happen, speed things up, get to the point, and cut a few episodes.

Much like the first episode there’s a lot to like here and some things that are rather slow and dragged out. Much like other Marvel Netflix shows, Marvel’s The Punisher has issues getting to the point and find a steady pacing to really make it engaging. Two episodes in and it’s clear like so many of those shows before it, a shorter season would benefit it overall.

Overall Rating: 7.0

Recap/Review: Umbrella Academy S2E9 “743″

Diego, Klaus, and Allison walk into the FBI. There isn’t a joke in there it’s how this episode of Umbrella Academy starts, right where we left off, trying to save Vanya from the FBI because their torture has caused her to go full White Violin. Diego and Allison can’t get through so it’s up to Klaus, we’ll actually it’s up to Ben because he’s the only one who can get close enough to turn off the rage in Vanya’s head.

On the Fives: Old Man Five doesn’t trust Teenage Five and they both seem to have a case of Paradox Psychosis so, neither one trusts the other one and they both want to kill each other. Poor Luther is stuck playing babysitter because he thinks that Old Man Five has a better plan.

UMBRELLA ACADEMY S2E9 “743"

Best Line(s) : “I will beat you…and NOT the way you like it.” – Diego to Klaus on the Vanya rescue mission

“You fought in Vietnam.  You survived a family of seven. You went to a fraternity party in a sarong and came home with a bunch of numbers. You can do this!” – Klaus to himself in the world’s greatest pep talk.

Episode MVP: Ben. Save the Vanya and save the world. Ben has spent most of the season being the voice of reason to Klaus and whether or not they know it, he has solid advice for his other siblings as well. His longing to reconnect with them and with life itself is emotional to watch on its own but, the lengths that he goes to in order to save his siblings with no regard for his existence in one of the more emotional scenes this season is beautiful AF and, earns him this episodes MVP status.

Double Trouble: I’ve been feeling all kinds of sorry for Luther this season but, it’s actually kind of fun to watch him have to ping pong between being the caretaker of the older version and the younger version of Number Five. The two of them trade barbs with each other and make all kinds of digs at Luther for his appearance and his intellect but, with the Paradox Paranoia setting in on both of them it’s kind of funny to watch it all play out. Watching the two Fives try and off each other adds a  whole three stooges level hilarity to the situation giving much-needed levity to an otherwise heavy episode.

Side Stories: Carl is mediocre cis toxic white male little d*** masculinity at its finest so, watching Sissy stand up to him,  take her son back and go off to live her best life was nice to see. The fact that he didn’t care that she wasn’t happy because since he did the bare minimum and felt that she should be happy with that. It was a real-life glimpse into how lesbians and women were treated in the time and it was well done and clever AF.

There’s also the matter of Lila finding out that Five was the trigger man on her parent’s murder and why she was an orphan and there may be more to her story than we know. But, now we’ve got to worry about Five because he doesn’t know she’s coming.

But, Why Tho: Watching the Handler snatch AJ out of his fishbowl and swallow (yeah, I said SWALLOW) the fishy chairman of the Commission’s board in one gulp, with a painful swallow after her meeting with Lila was gross AF but, on-brand for her character and the show.

The Final Countdown: Diego still wants to save Kennedy now that Vanya is no longer a bomb that starts the apocalypse. The season could have ended right here but, adding one more episode after Daddy Hargreeves “Told you so…” note to Diego as he tackled a decoy version of him on the grassy knoll, that whole secret Cabal murder meet cute and reveal and, the Handler’s call to war at the commission, I’ve got questions!

Review: Dawn of X Vol. 3

Want to get into Marvel’s X-Men relaunch? They’ve made it easy with Dawn of X collections that package all of the comics of the same number!

Dawn of X Vol. 3 includes the third issue for X-Men, Marauders, Excalibur, New Mutants, X-Force, and Fallen Angels.

Story: Jonathan Hickman, Gerry Duggan, Tini Howard, Ed Brisson, Benjamin Percy, Bryan Edward Hill
Art: Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Michele Bandini, Elisabetta D’Amico, Marcus To, Flaviano, Joshua Cassara, Szymon Kudranski
Color: Sunny Gho, Federico Blee, Erick Arciniega, Carlos Lopez, Guru-eFX, Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Cory Petit, Travis Lanham, Joe Caramagna, Joe Sabino

Get your copy in comic shops now and bookstores on March 24! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW
Zeus Comics

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Discombobulated: The ‘Donald Trump Has COVID-19’ Comic Strip

DISCOMBOBYLATED: THE DONALD TRUMP HAS COVID-19 COMIC STRIP

As the news seems to be a revolving door of bad news, there is some news where we kind of saw it coming. The pandemic has taken away too many people from us and in record numbers. It also has given the insight to look at other’s situations. Which brings us to what recently happened to POTUS, that much more relevant.

The fact that he caught the virus is both ironic and dismal. His constant berating of experts and the science involved makes it all disheartening at the end of the day. You expect the best from your world leaders and to get someone as unintelligent as POTUS feels like the world is ending. In the latest story arc of the side-splitting and pertinent Discombobulated, David takes some time to talk about the current issues of the day.

We find David talking to his therapist about the issues currently affecting him which pushes her to suggest that he find someone else. He also tries to find out who is to blame for Trump getting COVID, as Systemic Racism, 2020, and COVID all try to take credit. He grapples with how death during the pandemic has only contributed to his anxiety. By the story’s end, David brings light to the fact that mental health is such a stigma when it comes to Black Men.

Overall, an excellent story arc that makes the webcomic series even more relevant. The story by David F. Walker is authentic. The art by Quinn McGowan is amazing. Altogether, a chapter which drills down to our new normal.

Story: David F Walker Art: Quinn McGowan
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Recap/Review: Umbrella Academy S2E8 “The Seven Stages”

Diego gets kidnapped by Lila and misses the jump, she also makes him an offer to join the commission. Klaus shows up just in time to help Ray and Allison bury a body. Luther and Five are pissed the other siblings going MIA made them miss the jump. Vanya is being held by the FBI because she has a Russian name, speaks Russian, and seems to have some special power. Daddy Hargreeves comes across Grace finding out that he’s not who he appears to be and, all of this goes down in the first five minutes and those are the least intense moments of “The Seven Stages.

Mission Statement: While Diego slips into his role at the commission, Luther and Five head out to meet Old Number Five and convince him to give up his briefcase so that they can return home since he doesn’t need it because he can jump forward by himself.

UMBRELLA ACADEMY S2E8 “THE SEVEN STAGES”

Poor Vanya: Vanya is being tortured by the FBI and Diego learns that once again Vanya is the bomb that goes off. Kennedy lives but, the country goes to war with Russia.

Go, Diego, Go: Knowing that Vanya is the cause of the apocalypse again he used Commission agent Herb and a rogue briefcase to get Klaus and Allison to go stop Vanya. Because he went to those two instead of Luther and Five, I believe that he’s going to try and help her this time instead of killing her, which makes me happy because that poor girl has been through enough.

Episode MVP: Diego. Someone is finally making a good call and the usually hot-headed, guns ablaze, ask questions later Diego is taking his time and trying to do the right thing by his sister. The character finally has the nuances that his siblings have had the opportunity to take advantage of for almost two whole seasons. This is the episode where Diego gets his layers and it’s wonderful and exhilarating to watch.

Review: Wolverine #8

Wolverine #8

Wolverine #8 celebrates 350 issues of Wolverine in solo adventures and for such a big number, the issue is rather… normal. Marvel has apparently decided to play things a bit conservative with an issue that’s pretty much a normal issue. There’s not a bunch of guest creators doing short stories or celebrating creators of the past. Instead, Wolverine #8 is a solid jumping-on point for those who haven’t been reading the series and want to check it out.

Writer Benjamin Percy, artist Adam Kubert, and colorist Antonio Fabela kick things off with a story featuring Wolverine and CIA operative Jeff Bannister. “War Stories” features the two soldiers sharing some of the scars they carry with them. It’s a solid opening and sets up things down the road but an entire issue of just this could have been an amazing anniversary issue.

There’s some real emotion and pain danced around with the opening and a full issue could have really delivered an amazing end to the year. The idea of these two soldiers sharing their pain and haunted past could make for a very interesting read. Mix it in with the very real world issue of PTSD in our soldiers and there’s potential magic. This would have been a very interesting way to “celebrate” 350 issues.

Wolverine #8‘s main story, also written by Percy, is a bit more traditional as Wolverine is tasked to continue the battle against Xeno and others attacking various facilities. In this case, the path leads him back to his Team X partner Maverick, a character whose use over the years has been rather mixed. It’s a pretty standard story but it at least delivers a jumping-on point for new readers. Most is explained and done well enough that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

Percy is joined by artist Viktor Bogdanovic and colorist Matthew Wilson. Along with letterer Cory Petit, the art is solid though feels a bit reserved in some ways. This isn’t a story with flashy splash pages or really panel breaking layouts. The panels are mostly boxes and the images are kept within. It’s an odd artistic choice in that the art looks good but it’s also not splashy.

For an anniversary issue, Wolverine #8 feels pretty average as far as issues. It’s a good issue and a good starting point for readers but this isn’t one that really celebrates anything. It seems to do that by just telling a solid and entertaining story.

Story: Benjamin Percy Art: Adam Kubert, Viktor Bogdanovic
Color: Antonio Fabela, Matthew Wilson Letterer/Production: Cory Petit Design: Tom Muller
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Review: Henna Hanson Must Save Prom

Henna Hanson Must Save Prom

When it comes to genre mash-ups they’re usually considered fun ideas but not necessarily great ones. But, some of the best stories are mash-ups between different genres. Game Of Thrones is proof positive of this theory, as it borrows from zombies, murder mystery, time travel, and true history. That makes for an exciting story on multiple fronts, and a unique story all its own, one that enchanted thousands, especially since a number of them could never see themselves as fans of high fantasy.

The one mash-up from my childhood which holds a special place in my heart was BraveStarr. This had an indigenous hero and put together the western genre and science fiction genre, taking certain hints from Jonah Hex, but also forging a path of its own. On the same note, there is the easily forgotten Aliens Vs Cowboys, a movie that wasted its talent’s skills.  In Rashad Doucet’s one shot, Henna Hanson Must Save The Prom, we get another mash-up, one that makes uses of each genre’s best plot devices.

We are taken to 1975, where Henna sees her very first prom, one that only sees all the beauty of, and a tradition she becomes obsessed with for the next ten years. We fast forward to 1985, where Henna is of age and can attend her own prom, but recently broke up with her boyfriend, and must contend on how will she still go but without losing her status or going alone. The reader finds out she has a neighbor who has been hiding in plain sight as a Nazi, which prompts someone from 1995 to come back and stop him from ruling the world.

Overall, a story that feels like Buffy and Terminator went to the same high school. The story by Doucet is fun and unique. The art by Doucet is exhilarating. Altogether, a story which this reader wished would have continued.

Story: Rashad Doucet Art: Rashad Doucet
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Recap/Review: The Umbrella Academy S2E1 “Right Back Where We Started”

Right Back Where We Started: The Umbrella Academy‘s second season picks up after Number Five and the family bands epic time jump to save Vanya and the world from the apocalypse. We find our favorite super-powered siblings in 1963 Dallas and while the gang’s all there, they’re separated and have made do with the lives they were forced to settle into to stay alive.

The Gang’s All Here: Klaus and Ben managed to land together in an alley in Dallas and realize that they’re in 1960. Allison shows up in the same alley in 1961 and walks to a dinner that’s whites only. Luther lands on a mattress in 1962 screaming for his siblings and Allison. Diego superhero lands in 1963 and hears a cry help so he does what he does best. Vanya arrives a month after Diego in all white and gets hit by a car stumbling out of the alley. Number Five shows up a month after Vanya to the Soviets attacking the US and the middle of a war zone.

The New Guys: With ten days til the apocalypse, Five notices a fancy roof set up and traces it to the source, a conspiracy theorist who has been tracking the blue lights and the “aliens” who arrived. He has pics of the siblings and knows what happened to Diego. The conspiracy buffs name is Elliot and I feel like he’s going to be a big part of the season.

What They’ve Been Up To: Diego is in a mental hospital because no one believes that he has to be a hero and that he’s from the future and he has a hero complex. He knows that Kennedy is alive and he wants to stop the assassination so he sets out to kill Lee Harvey Oswald but, no one believes him and it’s making him crazy. Oh, yeah and he really wants to kill Hitler after he saves Kennedy. Vanya has a job as a nanny for the couple that hit her with the car and she doesn’t have any of her memories. Klaus and Ben are headed back to Dallas after spending time in San Francisco where Klaus was a cult leader, they end up at a bar where Klaus steals a pickup truck after losing a poker game. Allison is married to a civil rights activist and knowing what she knows about the future. She’s still lamenting the loss of Luther and her other siblings and stares at the moon every night. Luther is using his super strength as an underground fighter for a very shady individual and he’s jaded AF, to the point where he doesn’t care that the world is ending in ten days.

Season Two Mission Statement: Old Hazel takes Five back to ten days before the current version of the nuclear apocalypse happens in an attempt to stop it and correct the timeline.

The Villains: While Hazel sits at the bus stop with Five three blonde dudes get off a bus and open fire with machine guns, killing Hazel and sending Five on the run to the top of a building. (Side Note, I totally called it when I saw the blue light in the season finale, he did get to time travel with them. His wife died of cancer after they got to spend 20 beautiful years together.) The Commission is gone.

Episode MVP: Allison because, that racist Mr. Mason deserved every bit of pain that she caused and I know that that momentary satisfaction is going to lead to severe consequences because of the time that they are living in but, I’m always down with racists getting some sense knocked into them.

Best Scene: I am all the way here for the scene after their landings where we see how they fight together in Dallas during the war that never was. There was something truly awesome about watching Vanya blowing up nukes with her power, clearly now under control, Klaus in his finest Russell Brand form, commanding an army of ghost soldiers, Luther leaping small buildings on Main Street in a single bound to defect fire, Allison rumoring the enemies into blowing their minds, Diego channeling the Winter Soldier and kicking all the ass before a mysterious man tells him to “if you want to live, come with me.” and after asking about what’ll happen to his family, goes with him somewhere in the timeline because a Mystery Man (aka a super old and gray Hazel) “You can’t save them if you’re dead.” as nukes head straight for them, is the kind of logic even stubborn Number Five can’t argue with.

Overall: The second season of Umbrella Academy starts off with a somber tone, there are still moments of levity and it’s still super fun but, it’s very heavy. Since it’s set in the past and we all know how crazy the 60s were we watch with the knowledge of all of the other wrongs they could help correct and of how they know all the bad that’s coming. I was a little sad that Klaus didn’t bump into Dave before the war and warn him but, there are still nine episodes to go and I have all the hope for true love. Since Allison is married now, I wonder how that’ll go over when she and Luther finally meet back up or if they’re going to fridge the husband to move the story along and give Allison a larger purpose. The new villains are scary AF and they’re after all of the Academy members except they don’t know they’re in danger. The music that they play with the scenes is still perfect and just as memorable as the scenes themselves. I like that they mix in the reality of the time people are nostalgic about the racism, homophobia, and sexism that were in full effect during the time. As usual, the creative team behind Umbrella Academy created another banger of an episode and it’s a super tough act to follow and I hope that means that it only goes uphill from here.

Personal Recommendation: Watch it! Why are you still reading this? Get to a TV, log into Netflix, and get your binge on!

Rating: 9.8

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