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TV Review: Euphoria Special Episode 2- Jules

Euphoria Jules

The second special episode of Euphoria that acts as a bridge between its first season and delayed (Due to Covid-19) second season focuses on Jules’ (Hunter Schafer) character, her relationship with Rue (Zendaya) and her parents as well as other things like her gender, the toughness of moving to East Highland, and how she feels like she builds stronger connections with folks online that in real life. The entire episode is framed in a therapy session that her dad, David (John Ales) wanted her to attend after she took a train and ran away from home in the final episode of season one. It blurs the lines between reality and fantasy quite a bit, and director/co-writer Sam Levinson brings a lot of Euphoria’s visual and musical trademarks into the episode with a synth-meets-sacred score from composer Labrinth and a pair of powerful needle drops from Lorde and Billie Eilish, who released a new track “Lo Vas A Olividar” with Rosalia just for this episode.

The colorful nature and the non-linear narrative that Levinson and Hunter Schafer, who is credited as a writer on “Jules” matches the titular character who wants to go to New York and study art and has amazing taste in fashion and makeup. One of the first shots of the episode is a colorful flashback montage of all of Jules’ major moments synced to “Liability” by Lorde with the poignant lyrics creating reminders of the hurt that she has been and has caused in the past year. It sets up Jules sidestepping talking about running away and instead talking about gender, and how she is tired of having it be defined by men and crafting her gender presentation to be desirable to them. She talks about going off puberty blockers and her previous fears of dysphoria and puberty’s “deepness” and “thickness” when now those things reminds her of the ocean.

Sure, the metaphor is a little cheesy, but a quick reminder that these are high school students, and it also is an opportunity for Levinson and Schafer to make a little magic in a flashback sequence. With Labrinth’s score soaring, they show us Jules at her freest frolicking in the waves at her grandmother’s house and letting them wash over her as she lies in the sand without a care in the world. This feeling is also connected to how she feels about Rue, who makes a few appearances in flashbacks, dream sequences, and one heartbreaking one in the present as she bikes over to her episode. The way that Jules talks about Rue is a real highlight of this episode as she talks about how Rue saw her real self beneath all the parts of different people that made up herself and compared to how a mother looked at a baby before that child can make any kind of memories. Levinson conveys this emotion visually through a recurring image of Rue and Jules staring into each other’s glittering eyes: Zendaya and Hunter Schafer get a lot of power out of one look. This episode is full of intimate moments between them, like Jules showing Rue how to inject her with estrogen in one scene where they’re sleeping over.

Euphoria Jules

Jules’ new therapist, Dr. Nichols (Lauren Weedman) tries to make connections out of this tangle of emotions and makes a painful, yet true one when she realizes that Jules’ fear and anger about Rue’s addiction is like her anger about her mother’s addiction. We don’t know where Amy (Pell James) is in the present, but there are some flashbacks like when Rue’s dad basically ambushes her by bringing her mom to make amends as part of an AA program. You can see the tension in John Ales’ face as he’s playing a character who wants to save the woman he loves, but doesn’t want to lose his only daughter. Amy overhears that Jules hates and doesn’t care about her so she leaves without saying goodbye, and later, we hear David on the phone about how she’s back at a psychiatric hospital after going on a bender. So, this is why Jules flinches, and Schafer’s lips quiver every time Dr. Nichols brings up her mother, especially when she’s trying to make a positive connection.

The other thread of conversation that Jules and her therapist have is about online relationships, especially her failed virtual relationship with Tyler, who turned out to be Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi), an abusive football player, who blackmailed Jules with her own nudes so he wouldn’t have to face consequences for assaulting his girlfriend in the previous season. Jules still dwells on the texts and sexts she sent to Tyler (Jayden Marcos) and talks to her therapist about the openness and vulnerability she feels in online relationships. This is shown visually during elaborate dream sequences where she fantasizes about having sex with Tyler in her fantasy New York apartment with sensual red lighting and Labrinth’s score building to a climax. But, instead, there’s a bass drop, the lights cut out, and Tyler’s face is replaced by Nate’s as she returns to reality. The relationship between Nate and Jules is one of the scariest parts of Euphoria, and his sweet, catfish texts as Tyler continue to haunt her as she thought she had a real connection with him.

The best and toughest scene in “Jules” is seeing and listening to the story of Jules and Rue’s first from her perspective. In the first season, the scene is shot from Rue’s perspective, and she initiates the kiss before backing off and running away because she didn’t know if Jules liked her like that. However, this episode reveals that Jules was already in love with Rue, and this was the first time she had ever kissed a girl so she was hesitant about making a move. The flashback drives home one of Jules’ key fears: that she will lose Rue. We see her frantically calling Rue and trying to express her feelings to her, which is mirrored in the present day by her missed calls and texts plus their quick, awkward encounter at the end of the episode. Through therapy, Jules can start to rebuild her sense of self and even have conversations about things like going off hormones and being a trans woman. However, she wonders without Rue if it’s all worth it, and the final shot of the episode with the rain pouring down on Jules’ window really captures the pain of losing a friend, and it being your fault while leaving things open ended for the upcoming season.

Although it sticks to one location just like “Rue”, “Jules” is far from lo-fi with Sam Levinson and Hunter Schafer unleashing a plethora of fantasy sequences, artsy flashbacks, and musical tracks to show Jules’ state of mind during a difficult time for her. From watching Euphoria Season One, I definitely knew why Rue loved Jules, but this episode nails how much Jules cares for her with Schafer covering her face in close-ups because she loves her so much and is afraid she is going to lose her. This episode also does a good job of finding a throughline between its Jules’ relationship with Rue and her mother and also talks about online relationships and being trans in a very nuanced way with smart writing from Levinson and Schafer.

These special episodes have shown that Euphoria has two of the most emotionally vulnerable actors on any TV show (Zendaya, Hunter Schafer) and have whetted my appetite for the upcoming season, which hopefully have the same level of insight to go with its visual and musical panache. Also, fingers crossed for a Lexi flashback!

Overall Verdict: 9.2

TV Review: “Euphoria Special Episode Part 1: Rue”

Euphoria Rue

Because of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, writer/director/creator Sam Levinson gets creative and crafts an episode of Emmy-Award winning show Euphoria that is stripped down of its usual visual, costuming/makeup, and musical flair. “Rue” begins with a dream sequence of Rue (Zendaya) living her ideal life with Jules (Hunter Schafer) complete with lots of kissing, cute conversations, and not having to sneak out of the window because Jules is in art college, and they share an apartment. However, reality floods in as Rue snorts pills and relapses. This leads to her meeting with her sponsor Ali (Colman Domingo) at a diner on Christmas Eve. They talk for the remaining 50 minutes of the episode about life, addiction, loss, their families, faith, and “real shit” until he gives her a ride home in the rain while Euphoria composer Labrinth sings a gorgeous cover of “Ave Maria” that is definitely going on the holiday playlist.

“Rue” reveals that Euphoria has a hell of a lot of substance underneath. Domingo is a veteran theatre actor, and he and Zendaya embody the old adage that “acting is reacting” in this episode. Because she is high, Zendaya plays Rue in a heightened way at the beginning of the dinner as she slurs her way through talking about how she’s a functioning addict. However, Ali is a great listener, asks good questions, and finds out that when Rue does drugs, she doesn’t want to kill herself. He responds to this with empathy about addiction is a disease, and that while some people want to keep folks like them out of sight and mind, that he knows what she’s been through. Ali even reveals to Rue that he has been clean for seven years, not 20 telling her that he had a relapse after being clean for 13 years.

Sam Levinson doesn’t really play any of the dinner between them for melodrama, but Zendaya’s delivery becomes a little less flat as they launch into a fascinating conversation about the role of faith and a higher power in Narcotics Anonymous. Levinson does a great job connecting both Ali and Rue’s current life situations to the larger world around them in a more organic way than, say, Euphoria’s pilot, which strung together Rue’s birth, the beginning of the universe, and 9/11 in a frenetic opening sequence. Ali is a devout Muslim, which Rue finds out when she wonders why he said his name used to be Martin in a quick bit of comic relief before she sarcastically defines “higher power” as something in nature or an Otis Redding. But the real reason that she doesn’t want to believe in God or a higher power is because of her father’s death because she’s tired of hearing survivors of tragic events say that God “saved them for a reason” when her dad had the purpose of raising her and her younger sister.

This scene hits a real emotional vein and also exhibits Ali’s emotional intelligence as he kiboshes the religious angle and gives a stirring, almost in character monologue about the life of Malcolm X and the Civil Rights movement. He wraps it up with a personal anecdote about Nike’s “Our Lives Matter”, and how they co-opted the Black Lives Matter movement and the work of activists like Colin Kaepernick to sell expensive shoes made by Chinese Muslim slaves. Domingo’s passion comes out in this dialogue, and Levinson crafts a study in contrasts between him and Rue, who is too busy dealing with the shit in her own life and how she can’t forgive herself, to pursue activism or revolution, which he says is “spiritual”.

Euphoria Rue

And this “busyness” flows nicely into their side conversation with Miss Marsha (Marsha Gambles), who shares Gambles’ own story of recovering from addiction and being clean from 17 years while telling Rue (Who got a “Miss you” text from Jules while Ali smoked and called his daughter, Imani) that she needs to focus on her sobriety before getting into a relationship. And speaking of relationships, the chat that Ali and Rue have about her relationship with Jules shows a tiny bit of a generation/communication gap as Rue thought she was exclusively dating Jules because they kissed a lot, said they loved each other, and wanted to get matching inside lip tattoos. However, they didn’t have an actual conversation about their relationship status and instead reveled in the messiness, which can be fun, but usually ends in heartbreak and drama like Jules getting on a train and leaving Rue behind at 1 AM. Storywise, it’s really satisfying to have Rue open up about how she feels about Jules and the connection to her addiction to a third party that is unaware of the utterly fucked up reality of her high school. (See everything about the whole Nate Jacobs situation.)

One of my favorite parts of “Rue” is the “interlude” I mentioned earlier where Rue listens to the thematically relevant “Me in 20 Years” by Moses Sumney and sees a text from Jules while Ali goes outside and tries to reconnect with his daughters (Who Rue asked about earlier) while taking a smoke break. This short scene does a good job of fleshing their characters as Rue retreats to the sanctuary of her music, and Ali tries to show his daughters that he’s a good person even though they witnessed him assaulting their mother when he was high in the past. Rue is at the stage of her life and addiction where she just wants to retreat and try to feel good for her last few years while Ali is trying to make amends. Colman Domingo really nails both sadness and emotional honesty in this scene, and this grief is why they have a strong connection and “like talking to each other” like they both say towards the end of the episode.

With clear shots of both Rue and Ali’s faces, Sam Levinson shows that this isn’t just a polite truism, but they actually like having someone that they can basically empty all their darkest thoughts, saddest feelings, and sometimes, brightest hopes around. They are both characters that are not into bullshit (Unless Rue is skirting a talk about her addiction.) and small talk, and this episode reveals this in a beautiful way with some lived-in performances from Domingo and Zendaya. Levinson also shows detractors that Euphoria isn’t just a flashbang show meant to scare mommy blogs and pearl clutchers, but is deeply invested in the emotional lives of its characters.

In “Rue”, Sam Levinson doesn’t lump Rue’s relapse with a dozen other plots, but he puts it into full, bloody focus. This allows viewers to understand the nature of her addiction, and how it personally affects her and her relationships with her family, Jules, and yes, Ali. Zendaya’s delivery and scrunched up facial expressions enhance this intense character study (Give her a second Emmy already!), and I’m intrigued to see how Euphoria Season 2 explores her addiction, depression, emotions, and relationships.

Overall Verdict: 8.9

The 2020 Harvey Award Winners Have Been Announced

The Harvey Awards

Ahead of the official ceremony later this week, the winners for the 2020 Harvey Awards have been announced. The award ceremony has gone virtual this year with the initial group of nominees announced in August and then the winners chosen by vote.

The 2020 winners are:

Book of the Year: Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Digital Book of the Year: The Nib edited by Matt Bors (thenib.com)
Best Children or Young Adult Book: Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru (DC Comics)
Best Manga: Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama (Kodansha Comics)
Best International Book: Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated by Janet Hong (Drawn and Quarterly)
Best Adaptation from a Comic Book/Graphic Novel: Watchmen by HBO, based on Watchmen (DC Comics)

The Harveys will also be inducting Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother), and the founding members of Milestone Media which includes Denys Cowan, Derek T. Dingle, Michael Davis, and the late Dwayne McDuffie into this year’s Harvey Awards Hall of Fame.

The virtual ceremony will be broadcast on October 9 at 4:50 pm as part of New York Comic Con’s Metaverse. The ceremony will be hosted by Vivek Tiwary and will feature Gene Luen Yang, Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, and Damon Lindelof.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

Why Lovecraft Country’s ‘I AM’ episode is the beating heart of the HBO series

Lovecraft Country, episode 7 “I Am”

(Beware! SPOILERS abound for Lovecraft Country “I Am.”)

If you’ve stuck with Lovecraft Country up to episode 7 you might’ve already realized that this show is on a mission.

Each episode, almost self-contained in scope, puts the series’ heroes in situations more commonly found in storytelling genres dominated by white male narratives. War, horror, adventure, and science fiction each get the chance to be used as statements on the perils of narrowing the possibilities of story by not acknowledging the rich differences found in diversity.

The lead up to episode 7, thus far, has seen the show put its own racially-conscious spin on the haunted house story (ep. 3 “Holy Ghost”), the Indiana Jones-like adventure story (ep. 4 “A History of Violence”), the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like doppelganger story (ep. 5 “Strange Case”), and the classic war/romance story (ep. 6 “Meet me in Daegu”), each sharing in cosmic horror as the common thread. While Tic (played by Jonathan Mayors) is still the driving force behind the main story, this layered exploration of genre lets every character have their turn behind the wheel.

It’s with episode 7, though, where the show lays its heart and soul bare, with us looking in as if through an open wound that shows signs of healing. It’s aptly titled “I Am.” and it’s where science fiction comes in to drive the following point home: not only does black representation matter, it can create stories the likes of which we haven’t been allowed to see.

In this episode, Hippolyta (played by Aunjanue Ellis) takes to the road to find answers about her husband’s death and the secrets pertaining to an orrery she had previously found. Her search leads her to a mysterious observatory that can open a rift in reality to other dimensions and universes.

Hippolyta’s love for astronomy is played to great effect here. What was once an endearing character trait that made her more relatable and interesting turns her into a key character with access to information few others in Tic’s group can access. Hippolyta felt like a strong background character all the way up until this episode and not having her play a more central role in the unraveling of the main mystery after everything that just happened to her would be doing a disservice to the character.

Lovecraft Country, episode 7 “I Am.”

What makes “I Am.” the proverbial heart of the show lies in its approach to science fiction as a genre that feels tailor-made to portray the black experience. The specter of systemic-racism creeps into the episode as Hippolyta’s journey into the multiverse puts her into several potential realities her character could’ve perfectly fit into if given the chance to define herself within it, hence the episode’s title. The show takes the opportunity to celebrate possibilities rather than merely protesting the lack of representation, something it’s already established and done well in previous chapters.

Throughout her multiversal jumps we see Hippolyta become one of Josephine Baker’s dancers in 1920’s Paris, an Amazonian warrior from the all-female Mino or Dahomey military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey, and a space explorer cataloguing alien life in a fashion similar to how her husband researched new safe routes for his travel guides, an activity he didn’t allow her to participate in for fear she would get hurt on the road (an excuse Hippolyta challenges in the episode to great effect).

Lovecraft Country, episode 7 “I Am.”

Each version closes with Hippolyta declaring “I Am…,” which claims the character’s right to create her own self-identity within each genre, unencumbered by the expectations and prejudices of white male-dominated perspectives.

The episode goes lengths to portray each version of the character as deserving of their own series. It continues the show’s mission of showing how black representation in these genres has been absent or downplayed for far too long, denied by a culture that systemically devalued non-white perspectives (and still does). We get a sense of the type of stories we’ve lost in the process.

While that sense of loss is present and palpable–as it is in every episode thus far–the storytelling realities the show has brought to the fore also come with an unrelenting sense of hope. Hippolyta’s science fiction voyage and its several stops provide new avenues of story that demand to be explored. It amounts to a resounding “it’s about damn time” for the masses.

Fans of HBO’s Watchmen can find certain converging ideas between Hippolyta and Dr. Manhattan, especially in that show’s eighth episode, “A God Walks into Abar.” Manhattan’s decision to give Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night, the choice of remaking him into a black man in that episode spoke to the importance of giving black creators the leading voice in the storytelling process so what we can see how new perspectives come to life. Something similar happens with Hippolyta, only she’s recreating herself under her own conditions with no need for anyone’s permission.

“I Am”/”A God Walks into Abar”

Lovecraft Country’s “I Am.” is yet another statement on the importance of self-identity and creative agency in fiction. The show has been successful in showing how fiction can respond to the needs of many, regardless of skin color, but it’s in this chapter that we see the argument come full circle. It’s a call for justice in representation with the guarantee that it has no intention of settling for anything less than creative control. Hippolyta is now the new face of that claim in Lovecraft Country, and it looks like “I Am” is the new rallying cry.

Lovecraft Country’s Debut Shows Tremendous Potential

Lovecraft Country

“This is a story of a boy and his dream…”

I’ll be honest, when they said that Jordan Peele was associated with Lovecraft Country, I was automatically interested. Since Get Out, I’ve loved this comedian-turned-visionary’s foray into the sci-fi and fantasy genre. A genre, I might add, that has rarely had any Black leads or Black characters of note. I always found it interesting that for a genre filled with so many variations of aliens, elves, etc. it was hard to spot any Black people. But now we don’t have to worry about that as Black speculative fiction, written and visual, is finally getting its due. And the opening shot of the first episode did just that!

I’ll try not to spoil the debut. I promise, but it may be a tad bit impossible.

The opening sequence is a visual feast; a smorgasbord of cinematic gold, throwbacks to the early days of sci-fi, and a homage to Black heroes without capes. I literally had to catch my breath when they panned out so we could see just what was going on. Trust me there was a lot! I was reminded of War of the Worlds and even Avengers: Endgame. And then for us to see him again, half-way between the dreaming and waking world, I found myself looking at a character that was sooo familiar. He was a blerd! Bespectacled and black. Passionate about storytelling. That’s me, y’all. That’s you.

But seeing him in the back of the bus for “coloreds only” rudely brought me back to his reality. A reality that makes up a great deal of this nation’s history. “Good riddance to old Jim Crow” indeed. Sobering still when the bus breaks down and he and another passenger had to walk to the next town. The visual coupled with hearing my elders saying “we have a long road ahead of us” was not lost on me.

But let’s discuss this enchanting cast:

Atticus Freeman played by Jonathan Majors:  Okay, I knew Majors was talented when I first saw him in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. I don’t know if it’s because he is a method actor (I’m just assuming) or what, but he brings this magnetic energy to Atticus. The nerdy “boy next door” who is back home, a soldier, but still very much a dreamer. He said “stories are like people. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect. You just try and cherish ‘em, overlook their flaws.” There is a profoundness to that quote. One might think it could be applied to America… I loved that he was fearless in time when fear was used to control African Americans.

Letitia Dandridge played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell: Like Jonathan, Jurnee always brings this light to whomever she portrays. There is this infectious quality she possesses. Her take on Letitia is spunky, free-spirited, and just what this heavy show needs. Whether it’s her dancing on the stage or looking over her shades at  the gawking white woman, Letitia steals every scene.

George Freeman played by Courtney Vance: I’ve always loved Courtney. He always seems so poised and educated that it is impossible not to be taken in by it. That and the cadence of his voice. I love love love how he loves on his wife Hippolyta! #BlackLoveGoals! Their relationship is full, full of good, wholesome things, and you see just how protective he is of her. He seems protective of as his family as a whole.  It’s also clear that he loves his nephew, but skeletons in the family closet caused for an unexpected, emotional scene. And in that split second before the scene ended, you saw the look on George’s face that made you feel for him. HE BETTER NOT DIE IN THIS SHOW.

Hippolyta Freeman played by Aunjanue L. Ellis: I liked her. Another great actress. You can tell she is a dedicated and loyal wife and a loving mother to her daughter Diana. Wait…Hippolyta AND Diana? Surely that is no coincidence. If so, that would be…wonderful. I definitely want to see more of her. Especially since we see that she is interested in astrology.

Diana Freeman by Jada Harris: I really enjoyed this character and her artistic ability! I love how she was drawing comics and seemed a tad bit tomboyish. I’m sure that set her apart from what was socially acceptable back then even in the black community. But seriously though we can I find the first issue of her comic?

Another thing I found intriguing was the importance of the “Green Book” or “The Negro Motorist Green Book”. For those who do not know it was a travel guide for African Americans to travel safely during the Jim Crow era. It was considered a bible for black travelers. This, of course, is an integral theme during the course of the pilot episode because Atticus is searching for his father in Lovecraft Country. And when you watch Atticus, Uncle George, and Letitia on those winding, lazy roads weaving through America’s heartland, you also see signs proudly announcing unapologetically racism and bigotry. One such sign presented as a billboard said for black people not to let the sun set on them in that particular town.

It also made me think about just how pervasive, far reaching, and, well, traumatizing that was for the black community as a whole. Especially in the Midwest and South. Fear is a weapon. Fear is a net. Fear is a poison. I remember as a child my mom telling us to come home at sunset. I never understood why the urgency. I’m having fun so why should I be home when it starts to get dark?  I think she was just saying because she heard it from her parents. Then I remembered: my grandparents are both from the Deep South. They were young adults during this horrible era. I even recall my grandfather telling me he saw a man lynched when he was a just a kid. Sundown towns are no joke. And they STILL exist!

The cinematography was breathtaking. The juxtaposition between a line of black people on what I assume was a bread line against the mural showing a happy white family traveling on the road was stark and unsettling. I did love when Atticus bought the flower from the struggling mother. Support Black-owned businesses!

But let’s get to the fun stuff, right? Or at least the part where sh*t really got real! The slow car chase in Devon County hit differently especially with Letitia’s almost foreboding “we can outrun blob” comment fresh in your mind. I think that in all my years watching car chases on the big and little screen, this was arguably one of the most intense but definitely the most original ones whether seen on movies or tv shows! You could almost taste the fear and desperation as they tried to leave the sundown town with literally minutes to spare with the racist sheriff behind them. And then that was amplified when the monsters came….and, man, were they terrifying! In truth, I don’t know who terrifying—the corrupt police or the ravenous sharp teethed creatures was more. I can assure you there was a difference.

In closing, I think this show has such tremendous potential.  I’m a sucker for a period piece so seeing a sci fi story set in the racist 1950’s was a visual and occasionally disturbing treat. The unseen monsters are a perfect metaphor for America’s own dark history. Trust me, they are still there in today’s age, emboldened by their orange king, but now they are out in the open. Brazen. Strong and wrong. And that’s fine. We are out in the open too. And we will fight this by any means necessary.

Oh, and one last thing: whatever happens in Denmark Vesey’s Bar stays in Denmark Vesey’s Bar! Cheers!

HBO Max Launches May 27 with Original Series

HBO Max said they’d be launching in May 2020 and they’re sticking to it. The latest digital streaming service will launch May 27 and bring with it original series as well as movies and older shows.

Among those original series will be new episodes of Doom Patrol. We’ll also be getting new Looney Tunes cartoons.

Other shows include Love Life with Anna Kendrick, Sesame Street Workshop’s The Not Too Late Show with Elmo, and more.

Along with original shows, HBO Max will also feature shows and movies from Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. It boasts over 10,000 hours of content.

Watchmen on HBO: Black Wall Street, “Trust In the Law”, masks & politics

Victor Luckerson is writing a book about Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, which was highlighted by HBO‘s Watchmen series. Felicia Perez is the Innovation Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy. We team up to look at the real history and current politics behind the most 2019 of HBO shows. Also, check out Victor’s essay in the New Yorker: “The Great Achievement of Watchmen is Showing How Black Americans Shape History

Discussed:

  • Lady Trieu is Batman
  • Why it took me so long to cover this show (partially Alan Moore)
  • The power and danger of Nostalgia
  • America’s messed-up relationship with history
  • The problem with conspiracies
  • Ohhhhhklahoma! (is not OK)
  • and of course, the actual comics. 

Victor Luckerson: Twitter and newsletter runitback.substack.com.

Felicia Perez Facebook and Twitter 

and me, send me feedback! Twitter

Joker Nominated for 4 Golden Globes, Watchmen Snubbed

Joker

Today, the nominees for the 77th Golden Globes were announced. Joker was nominated for four awards including “Best Motion Picture,” “Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Director – Motion Picture,” and “Best Original Score – Motion Picture.”

Joker crossed the billion-dollar mark in the last few weeks and the controversial film is one of the most profitable in history.

Watchmen, an expansion of the heralded comic, was snubbed in this year’s awards. The show which focuses on the generational trauma of an African-American family was one of the highest profile snubs, especially due to its praise.

Check out below for the full list of nominees.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

  • “The Irishman” (Netflix)
  • “Marriage Story” (Netflix)
  • “1917” (Universal)
  • “Joker” (Warner Bros.)
  • “The Two Popes” (Netflix)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”)
  • Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”)
  • Saoirse Ronan (“Little Women”)
  • Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”)
  • Renée Zellweger (“Judy”)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

  • Christian Bale (“Ford v Ferrari”)
  • Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”)
  • Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”)
  • Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”)

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • “Dolemite Is My Name” (Netflix)
  • “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight)
  • “Knives Out” (Lionsgate)
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony)
  • “Rocketman” (Paramount)

Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Ana de Armas (“Knives Out”)
  • Awkwafina (“The Farewell”)
  • Cate Blanchett (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette”)
  • Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart”)
  • Emma Thompson (“Late Night”)

Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Daniel Craig (“Knives Out”)
  • Roman Griffin Davis (“Jojo Rabbit”)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
  • Taron Egerton (“Rocketman”)
  • Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”)

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • “Frozen 2” (Disney)
  • “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” (Universal)
  • “The Lion King” (Disney)
  • “Missing Link” (United Artists Releasing)
  • “Toy Story 4” (Disney)

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

  • “The Farewell” (A24)
  • “Les Misérables” (Amazon)
  • “Pain and Glory” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • “Parasite” (Neon)
  • “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Neon)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Kathy Bates (“Richard Jewell”)
  • Annette Bening (“The Report”)
  • Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”)
  • Jennifer Lopez (“Hustlers”)
  • Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture

  • Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”)
  • Anthony Hopkins (“The Two Popes”)
  • Al Pacino (“The Irishman”)
  • Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)
  • Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Best Director – Motion Picture

  • Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite”)
  • Sam Mendes (“1917”)
  • Todd Phillips (“Joker”)
  • Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”)
  • Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

  • Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”)
  • Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won (“Parasite”)
  • Anthony McCarten (“The Two Popes”)
  • Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
  • Steven Zaillian (“The Irishman”)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • Alexandre Desplat (“Little Women”)
  • Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Joker”)
  • Randy Newman (“Marriage Story”)
  • Thomas Newman (“1917”)
  • Daniel Pemberton (“Motherless Brooklyn”)

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • “Beautiful Ghosts” (“Cats”)
  • “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” (“Rocketman”)
  • “Into the Unknown” (“Frozen 2”)
  • “Spirit” (“The Lion King”)
  • “Stand Up” (“Harriet”)

Best Television Series – Drama

  • “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
  • “The Crown” (Netflix)
  • “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
  • “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)
  • “Succession” (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

  • Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”)
  • Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)
  • Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”)
  • Nicole Kidman (“Big Little Lies”)
  • Reese Witherspoon (“The Morning Show”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

  • Brian Cox (“Succession”)
  • Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”)
  • Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”)
  • Tobias Menzies (“The Crown”)
  • Billy Porter (“Pose”)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • “Barry” (HBO)
  • “Fleabag” (Amazon)
  • “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
  • “The Politician” (Netflix)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”)
  • Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
  • Kirsten Dunst (“On Becoming a God in Central Florida”)
  • Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”)
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
  • Bill Hader (“Barry”)
  • Ben Platt (“The Politician”)
  • Paul Rudd (“Living with Yourself”)
  • Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • “Catch-22″ (Hulu)
  • “Chernobyl” (HBO)
  • “Fosse/Verdon” (FX)
  • The Loudest Voice (Showtime)
  • “Unbelievable” (Netflix)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Kaitlyn Dever (“Unbelievable”)
  • Joey King (“The Act”)
  • Helen Mirren (“Catherine the Great”)
  • Merritt Wever (“Unbelievable”)
  • Michelle Williams (“Fosse/Verdon”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Christopher Abbott (“Catch-22”)
  • Sacha Baron Cohen (“The Spy”)
  • Russell Crowe (“The Loudest Voice”)
  • Jared Harris (“Chernobyl”)
  • Sam Rockwell (“Fosse/Verdon”)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Patricia Arquette (“The Act”)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
  • Toni Collette (“Unbelievable”)
  • Meryl Streep (“Big Little Lies”)
  • Emily Watson (“Chernobyl”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

  • Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
  • Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
  • Andrew Scott (“Fleabag”)
  • Stellan Skarsgård (“Chernobyl”)
  • Henry Winkler (“Barry”)

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ Watchmen Soundtrack Comes to Spotify

HBO‘s Watchmen has been amazing in not just the story and acting but the soundtrack as well.

Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have brought their unmistakable sound to the television show creating a haunting melody to go with the mystery. The two are award-winning composers who have created music for well over a hundred television and film productions and the two won an Oscar for their score to The Social Network.

You can now listen to the first volume of music on Spotify.

TV Review: Watchmen S1E2 Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship

Watchmen

Watchmen‘s second episode focuses on the fallout of the murder of the police captain Judd Crawford played by Don Johnson. The episode goes beyond that but also builds on its history of Tulsa as well as Angela Abar’s.

We learn about Angela’s history with Judd and her history with Judd. That history becomes closer due to the White Night, a coordinated attack by the 7th Cavalry murdering police officers. Through that we also find out about Abar’s children, who are the children of her former partner who was killed during the attack. It’s an interesting scene as it explains why an officer would be so close to her superior and also why the police now hide their identities.

The series continues to entwine itself into the history of the Tulsa Race Riot. It becomes clear as to why Judd was murdered as Angela discovers what looks like a KKK outfit in Crawford’s closet. We also discover Louis Gossett, Jr.’s Will Reeves is indeed the young boy from Tulsa as well as his connection to Angela.

What makes Reeves interesting is his talking in riddles which has the viewer parsing everything he has to say. It forces you to listen to the dialogue and question everything said. It puts the viewer in a similar position with Angela as she attempts to discover the truth.

We also learn more about Veidt and his servants. It’s now much clearer as to what’s going on and the oddness of them. It shows Veidt is up to his old tricks and has lost his mind even more than before. Is he still the villain?

The episode has a lot of revelations and adds depth to each of its characters in small moments and big ones as well. It also deepens the mystery as we, like Angela Abar, discover each new piece of information. For each answer, there’s so many more questions presented.

Watchmen is proving itself to be every bit the worthy successor of the original comic material delivering a layered story and fleshed out history. This is much watch television. One that deserves multiple viewings.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Almost American
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