Sorry To Bother You (2018)

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Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The name, And Views Are My Game.

In an alternate reality Oakland, Cash Green is a regular dude, struggling to get by. With no money, and few prospects, he takes a job in telemarketing, where he quickly learns that he’s far more likely to sell products if he uses his “white voice.” Doing so allows him to climb the corporate ladder, eventually getting promoted to the position of “power caller,” meaning he gets to sell weapons of mass destruction to dictators. All this success puts him into conflict with his girlfriend, Detroit, and co-workers, Sal and Squeeze, who want the telemarketers to unionize, and fear that Cash is selling out. Things only get worse when the head of WorryFree, a company that turns people into slaves by forcing them to sign life-long contracts, comes to Cash’s door with a frightening proposal.

Sorry To Bother You is a film I’ve been looking forward to seeing ever since the first trailers dropped. I love the cast–Tessa Thompson, LaKeith Stanfield and Steve Yeun are always fun to watch–and thhe premise seemed interesting–a Network-style satire about workers of color needing to adjust their behavior in order to get ahead in the world of telemarketing. Then the first reviews came out, and I just knew I had to see it. So when I sat down in the theater this week, I was super excited. And now, having actually watched the flick, I’m… something else.

Now, to just get this out of the way, this is actually a well-made movie. So don’t worry about that. The cast is superb, the pace never drags, and there’s some really good humor in here. There’s one moment in particular, where Cash and Sal are super mad at each other, but, rather than throw insults, they start trading fake compliments, like, “You smell great.” “You smell better.” “You wanna get drinks?” “Sure. It’s on me.” And something that I appreciate about this movie is the fact that it is truly original. I’ve never seen a film like this before, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that you have no idea where the story’s going. So, for all these reasons, I do think Sorry To Bother You is worth watching.

That said, the film isn’t perfect, and a large part of this has to do with the fact that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The trailers make you think it’ll be a satire of racism in the workplace, but that’s not really what it’s about. Oh, those elements are in the film, to be sure–there’s one uncomfortable scene where Cash’s boss forces him to rap, and talk about the “gansta” lifestyle–but the movie has at least 12 more things to say besides that. It wants to talk about worker’s rights. It wants to comment on arms dealing. It wants to satirize the power of social media to turn random people into celebrities, and make a statement about how we’re so used to seeing shocking things that we don’t even care anymore. And on top of that, it wants to be a dystopian sci-fi parable. Yeah. I’m not joking at all when I say that this movie is science fiction. A major twist that gets revealed about halfway through involves a company using advanced technology to create… things. I’ll just leave it at that. And while that twist is genuinely shocking, and took me off guard, I can definitely see it alienating a lot of people. There were members of my audience who got mad at the direction the film took. And, finally, the movie introduces a lot of elements that you think will be important, like Cash using a “white voice,’ and this radical leftist group called “The Left Eye,” which more or less get abandoned after that twist I was talking about. So if you’re expecting a light-hearted farce, which follows a clear narrative, go watch something else, because you won’t find that here.

In the end, though, I do think the film’s humor, it’s strong performances, and unabashed originality do make it worth watching. Just go in with tempered expectations.

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They Live (1988)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

When the cops destroy his shantytown, drifter John Nada decides to get out of LA. So he packs up his bindle, dons a pair of sunglasses he found, and sets off. As he walks, however, he starts to realize that something is wrong. Whenever he has the glasses on, he is able to see the world differently. Billboard advertisements become blank slates with simple commands like “obey” and “consume” written on them. And more disturbing than that, some people no longer look like people. They look like hideous alien monsters. Realizing that the Earth has been infiltrated, and that no one will believe him, Nada does what any sane, rational person would do; steal a shot gun and go on a killing spree. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with his alien overlords, who send hordes of minions after him. Can Nada evade them? Can he help others see the truth? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

They Live is a goofy, didactic mess, with huge plot holes, and some questionable acting. And I kind of love it. Not in a “so bad it’s good” sort of way. In a, “this is original, stylish and funny” sort of way. When I first watched it, I really didn’t know what to think. I certainly appreciated its creativity, and anti-consumerist message. But I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. The acting is subdued, the pace is slow, and the world the movie creates feels grounded and believable. And yet, there are tons of moments where characters will say ridiculous, campy lines, and the violence will get so over the top that you can’t help but laugh. But, after a while, even that odd dichotomy develops a certain charm, and it gets to a point where you just start thinking, “wow! This is nothing like I’ve ever seen before.” The movie is also really exciting. It’s got some great shootouts in it, like the final one in a TV studio, where Nada and Keith David are trying to disrupt the alien’s signal. This scene actually reminded me of another film; John Woo’s Hard Boiled. In that flick, Tony Leung and Chow Yun-Fat are trapped in a hospital, and they have to fight their way out. And so they just forge ahead, mowing down wave after wave of bad guys. They Live’s climax is almost identical in terms of its staging and cinematography, and the fact that it involves two guys moving between levels of a building. I wonder if Hard-Boiled, which was made four years after They Live came out, was in any way influenced by the latter. Either way, both films are awesome, and definitely worth watching.

That said, I whole-heartedly acknowledge that They Live has flaws. Some of the acting, particularly of the female lead, is wooden, and there are quite a few plot holes, also with regards to her character. She undergoes several, unexplained changes in-between scenes, and the movie never tries to justify how or why she shows up at convenient times. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, looking to learn how to write good dialogue, and create stories that make sense, maybe go watch something else. But if you want to watch something campy, creative and politically subversive, give this flick a look. I guarantee you’ll have a good time.

Wheelchair Bound to the Puget Sound

Disclaimer: The following is a satirical essay in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” It is not meant to be taken seriously. If any of you are offended by what I have written, I can tell you now, that was not my intention when I penned this piece. I myself am disabled, and believe that this nation, along with the rest of the world, must take far more aggressive action in accommodating and including people like me.

It was a sad day for America indeed when, on December 5, 2012, liberal reporter Carol Costello got on her CNN soapbox and dared to suggest the unthinkable; that we, the Republicans, are against people with disabilities. This incendiary, libelous assertion came as the result of a Senatorial vote two days earlier. On that morning, December 3, thirty-eight Republican Senators blocked ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. This “treaty” was advertised as a major catalyst in the global movement towards viewing persons with disabilities as full and equal members of society. In reality, it is nothing more than a devious device, which, once ratified, will be used by the United Nations to undermine America’s sovereignty. Fortunately for us, our good, God-fearing, tax-paying, patriotic Republican Senators were too smart to be fooled by this thinly disguised takeover of our freedoms, and so blocked it. Then came Comrade Costello’s outrageous accusation. As much as it hurt to hear someone say things so demonstrably untrue, her remarks got me thinking. We aren’t doing enough for those 47 million citizens who are disabled. Or rather, we’re not doing enough of the right things for them. See, our great nation was founded upon the principles of limited government and self-reliance, and certain pieces of legislation, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, stand in stark contrast to both those beliefs. Not only that, but now, with our government more than $16 trillion in debt, they’re darn near impossible to maintain. Someone needs to come up with a cheap, effective and, most importantly, all American way to accommodate our most vulnerable citizens. Well, I’ve given it a great deal of thought, and I believe that I may now have the answer. The cheapest, most authentically American way to accommodate the disabled is to not. In order to save taxpayers money and to promote the true American ideals of hard work and self reliance, state legislators should be encouraged to round up their disabled citizens, send them up to Alaska with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and then release them into the wild to fend for themselves.

No one can argue that doing this would be a poor economic choice. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, the federal government currently spends over $260 billion on disability welfare each year. That’s more than it spends on Food Stamps and Medicaid combined. Worse still is the fact that current disability legislation encourages laziness and greed. Don’t believe me? Well then, consider this. In certain parts of the country, such as Hale County, Alabama, one and four working age adults collects a disability check, and since 2011, less than 1% of these individuals have rejoined the workforce. My proposal solves both the problem of our current legislation’s extraordinary cost, as well as the fact that many people exploit it. Disabled citizens will be required to personally pay for their transport to Alaska, and they will receive absolutely no financial or medical assistance when they get there. In this way, all federal spending on disability welfare will be cut, and the American people will get a whole extra $260 billion a year.

Releasing the disabled into the wild with no outside help is undoubtedly the most ethical solution as well. As we all know, this country was founded upon the belief in hard work and self-reliance.  Being able to say that you succeeded all on your own, that’s the American Dream in its purest form. What this proposal of mine does is allow for our disabled citizens to experience that dream to the fullest extent. Since they’ll be receiving absolutely no financial or medical assistance out on the tundra, they’ll be able to take full credit for everything they do there. They’ll be building themselves a better life from scratch, and what could possibly be more in align with American ethics than that?

Some might argue that my suggestion is unfeasible, that it is cruel and unrealistic of me to expect people who can’t walk or see to thrive in the wilderness. To such skeptics I say, you are bleeding heart liberals who have no faith in the disabled. You are unwilling to give them the benefit of the doubt and so force your overbearing “legislation” and unnecessary “accommodations” down their throats. If you would just try to let them take care of themselves, you might be surprised at what happens. Take my good friend, Jeff, as an example. While serving his country in Korea, a bullet ripped through his spinal cord, thus permanently binding him to a wheelchair. He could have easily become bitter or dependent on the government, but instead, he chose to go out and make something of himself. He made a fortune in manufacturing and was even awarded an honor by President Reagan for his outstanding achievements. Truly impressive! I’ll bet you anything that the liberals never told you about people like him. See, they don’t want you to know. They want you to think that all disabled people are incompetent so they can pass more of their dictatorial laws. Releasing the disabled into the wild is the best thing for them. They’ll finally be able to flourish into the people that they always wanted to, but never could be, because of the government. So America, have a little faith. Let the handicapped take care of themselves.

Sending the disabled up to Alaska is the right decision to make. Not only does it return an annual $260 billion to the American people, it reaffirms our fundamental beliefs in hard work and self-reliance, and empowers the mentally and physically disabled by allowing them to take care of themselves. It is, by far and way, and without a shadow of doubt, the cheapest, most effective, and unquestionably most patriotic way to deal with those 47 million citizens who are disabled. I challenge anyone to come up with a more humane and/or efficient method. In fact, in order to prove my suggestions merit, I intend to head up to Alaska after having both my legs amputated. Then, when people see all the things that I am able to do without any help from the government or the UN, they will take my proposal into serious consideration, and not long after, make it law.