Netflix surprises with the Love Death+Robots Vol 3 Trailer


I absolutely love Love Death + Robots! Since the first Volume aired, I’ve been hooked on this series, which is produced by David Fincher. It feels like a mix between The Animatrix and MTV’s Liquid Television (which spawned Aeon Flux). I’ve been a bit out of the mix, so I forgot this was in production. Nine new short animated pieces using various styles will air when Vol 3 drops May 20, exclusively on Netflix.

Film Review: The Bubble (dir by Judd Apatow)


Meh.

The Bubble is the latest film from Judd Apatow.  Taking place during the first year of the COVID pandemic, it follows a small group of actors as they attempt to make the sixth installment of the Cliff Beasts franchise.  The spoiled, pampered, and pretentious actors find themselves isolated, not allowed to go anywhere other than the set or the hotel.  The film becomes a disaster as the actors are driven mad by all the rules and the inconvenience that comes along with trying to make a film in the middle of the global pandemic.  When the studio hires a security team to keep anyone from escaping, things get only dumber.

Even by the standards of what we’ve come to expect from Judd Apatow, The Bubble is a notably messy and self-indulgent film.  It’s a bit of a shame really because there’s much about the Pandemic that not only deserves to be satirized but also needs to be satirized.  For much of society, satire will be an important step on the road back to sanity.  Unfortunately, the humor in The Bubble often falls flat because Apatow doesn’t seem to really be sure what his main target is.  Is he targeting COVID hysteria?  Is he targeting the pampered rich people who treated the pandemic like a two-year vacation while people who actually lived paycheck-to-paycheck were risking their health just so they could pay their bills?  Is he targeting bad action movies or pretentious indie directors or actors who think that the world revolves around them?  When Maude Apatow shows up as a TikTok star who has been given a role because she has 2,000,000 followers, is Apatow aiming at the shallowness of social media or is he poking fun at the older generation that can’t understand the kids and their wild and wacky ways?  Apatow seems to be going after everything and everyone but, at the same time, he also expects us to care about these characters when they start demanding to be allowed to leave the set.

The film’s action doesn’t really follow any sort of real storyline.  Instead, it feels like a collection of skits, all piled on top of each other and all dragging on for a bit too long.  Though The Bubble is shorter than the average Apatow film, it’s still over two hours long.  After the first hour, the film suddenly becomes obsessed with random dance scenes.  Usually, I love random dance scenes but, in this case, there’s really no humor or point to them beyond saying, “Wow, these people suck at dancing.”  It’s funny the first time but, by the fourth time, it starts to feel a bit lazy.  The film is like the improv student who, instead of building on the situation and working with his scene partners, just shouts out whatever pops into his head and begs the audience for a laugh.  The film does end on what would be a clever touch if not for the fact that it’s all pretty much lifted from the final scenes of Tropic Thunder.

Lest anyone think that I’m totally trashing the film, I did chuckle a few times.  There’s a recurring bit with Kate McKinnon’s studio exec constantly being at either the beach or on safari.  That made me laugh.  And Keegan-Michael Key, as an actor who has written a spiritual guide, delivers the majority of his lines with just the right amount of self-importance.  For the most part, though, The Bubble falls flat.  This is not the Netflix film to watch this weekend.

International Film Review: Don’t Kill Me (dir by Andrea De Sica)


Don’t Kill Me, an Italian film that is currently available on Netflix, opens with two teenagers in a car.  Robin (Rocca Fasano) is driving.  His girlfriend, Mirta (Alice Pagani), is in the passenger’s seat.  Robin is driving fast and erratically.  In fact, he nearly crashes the car more than a few times.  This is because Robin is driving with his eyes closed, forcing Mirta to shout directions at him.  It’s almost as if Robin wants Mirta to come to a violent end.

Eventually, they end up in a quarry.  Having taken a break from attempting to crash the car, Robin wants Mirta to take a drug with him.  Mirta’s never tried the drug before.  She’s nervous, even though Robin assures her that it will be a wonderful experience.  Mirta finally agrees but requests, “Please don’t kill me.”

Yeah, good luck with that.

Of course, Mirta dies.  Mirta’s body is sealed up in her family’s vault.  A few hours after the funeral, a very confused and angry Mirta smashs her way out of the vault.  Dazed, she wanders back to her old house.  She’s definitely not alive but she’s not completely dead either.  Instead, she is one of what the film calls “the Overdead.”  She’s nearly immortal.  At one point, she gets shot several times and, while it’s not a pleasant experience, it also doesn’t come anywhere close to killing her.  She still has her memories of what life was like before she died and, to judge from the other members of the Overdead who she meets, it appears that she won’t ever age.  Unfortunately, being one of the Overdead also means that if she doesn’t regularly drink the blood of the living, she’ll start to decay.  Starvation is the only way to destroy a member of the Overdead.  There’s a secret group of men who have spent centuries tracking down and starving the Overdead.  Those men are soon chasing after Mirta.

Don’t Kill Me is at its strongest during its first half, when the film skips through time and the emphasis is on atmosphere and ennui.  The scene where Mirta breaks through the crypt carries hints of Jean Rollin’s Living Dead Girl and, much like Rollin’s best films, the first half of Don’t Kill Me often focuses on both the importance and the mystery of how we recall things.  Meanwhile, the scenes of Mirta wandering through the countryside and prowling the clubs for food are reminiscent of Jess Franco’s Female Vampire.  The first half of the film feels like a tribute to the wonderful Eurohorror of the past.  Unfortunately, the film starts to lose its way once Mirta is captured by the secret society that’s trying to destroy her.  In its second half, it just becomes another film about escaping from a military base.  Don’t Kill Me is based on a YA novel and it’s obviously meant to be the first in a series of films about Mirta’s life as one of the Overdead.  As a result, the film’s ending is a bit unsatisfactory.  For all the build-up, it sputters to a “to be continued” style conclusion.

That said, there was enough that worked about Don’t Kill Me that I’m willing to forgive what didn’t work.  I may be alone in that as most of the online reactions that I’ve seen towards this film have been overwhelmingly negative.  Well, so be it.  There was enough atmosphere to keep me interested.  Alice Pagani gave a pretty good and sympathetic performance as the conflicted Mirta and Fabrizio Ferracane, as the man determined to capture and starve her, was enjoyably villainous.  Don’t Kill Me may not be for everyone but it worked for me.

Film Review: My Best Friend Anne Frank (dir by Ben Sombogaart)


The year is 1944 and 16 year-old Hannah Goslar (Josephine Arendsen) and her younger sister, Gabi, are among the many Jews being held at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Death is all around.  At night, when Hannah is sent to empty out the buckets of waste that have been filled up in her barracks, she sees another prisoner being casually shot by the guards.  Whenever things get to be too much for her, Hannah closes her eyes and asks herself, “What would Anne do?”

As terrible as things are where Hannah is being held, it’s rumored that things are even worse behind the wall that runs through the center of the camp.  The less “privileged” prisoners are kept there.  The wall is thin enough that Hannah can talk to the people on the other side, even if she can’t see them.  Hannah asks them if her best friend, Anne, is among them.  “She has beautiful hair,” Hannah says.  The voice on the other side of the wall explains that no one in the other half of the camp has hair.  Everyone on the other side of the wall is being starved and worked to death.

Occasionally, Hannah remembers what life was like before she and her family were arrested by the Nazis.  Two years earlier, she was a student in Amsterdam and her best friend was Anne Frank (Aiko Beemsterboer).  Hannah was shy but Anne definitely wasn’t.  Hannah was often naïve and fearful but Anne was always intellectually curious and up to try almost anything.  Occasionally, they fought as friends sometimes do.  But Hannah always considered Anne to be her best friend.

The Amsterdam scenes do a good job of contrasting Hannah and Anne acting like ordinary teenagers with the evil that’s always lurking in the background.  Haughty soldiers in German military uniforms stroll the streets of Amsterdam, moving with the arrogance of men who know that no one can defy them.  Because Hannah and Anne wear gold stars on their clothing, they have to sneak into the movies and, when they do, they find themselves watching a propaganda newsreel about how much better life is in the Netherlands now that the Germans are in charge.  Hannah often sees her father having hushed conversations with other nervous-looking adults.

Of course, those of us watching at home know what is going to happen.  We know who Anne Frank was.  Or, I should say, I hope we know who Anne Frank was.  I tend to assume that everyone knows about the horror of the Holocaust and that everyone knows about the anti-Semitism that fueled the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.  Unfortunately, over the past year or so, my faith has been shaken.  Anti-Semitism has never gone away but, in recent years, it seems as if it’s become socially acceptable within certain parts of mainstream society and that really should scare the Hell out of anyone who has any knowledge of history.  I have seen reportedly intelligent people either playing down the horrors of the Holocaust or trying to act as if the Holocaust was not about the Third Reich’s obsession with wiping out a race of people.  Whoopi Goldberg may have been the most famous person to have recently gotten the facts of the Holocaust wrong but she’s hardly the only one.

To me, that’s why a film like My Best Friend Anne Frank is important because it reminds us of not only what happened at camps like Bergen-Belsen but also what happened beforehand.  The camps and the ideology that fueled them didn’t just spring up out of nowhere.  Instead, they were built while the rest of the world tried to deny what was happening right before their eyes.  The concentration camp scenes in this film are harrowing but even more disturbing are the Amsterdam scenes where people casually walk by signs that declare that no Jews allowed and almost everyone merely averts their eyes.  When Anne and Hannah walk through Amsterdam, they are insulted not just by the Nazis but also by the Dutch citizens who don’t wear gold stars, many of who seem to take an attitude of, “At least it’s not me being othered.”

My Best Friend Anne Frank is currently on Netflix.  Josephine Arendsen and Aiko Beemsterboer both give good and heart-breaking performances as Hannah and Anne.  The film is not just a story of survival under the worst of circumstances but it’s also a tribute to the power of friendship.  Though Anne did not survive the camps, Hannah was liberated after 14 months at Bergen-Belsen and now lives in Jerusalem.  She is now 93 years old.

Here’s The Trailer For True Story


The Wesley Snipes comeback continues in the upcoming series True Story. This series will also feature Kevin Hart in a serious role. To be honest, I think Kevin Hart can handle a serious role. It’ll be interesting to see if I’m right.

True Story drops on November 24th, on Netflix. Here’s the trailer: