James Franco Wins At The Gothams!


Hi, everyone!

Well, as I sit here typing this, I am eagerly awaiting the announcement of the National Board of Review’s picks for the best of 2017!  I keep thinking about how, in 2015, nobody took Mad Max: Fury Road seriously as an Oscar contender until it was named best picture by the NBR.  What the NBR does today will go a long way to determining whether this is an exciting Oscar season or a boring Oscar season.

However, the National Board of Review are not the only people who have been tabulating votes over the past few days.  Last night, the Gotham Awards were handed out in New York City.  The Gothams, which honor independent films, have lately been a pretty good indicator of what will, at the very least, receive a nomination in January.  Based on last night’s results, it looks like it could be a good year for Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, Saoirse Ronan, and James Franco!

You can check out the nominees here.  And you can see the winners below!

Best Feature — Call Me By Your Name

Best Documentary Feature — Strong Island

Audience Award — Get Out

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Screenplay: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Actor: James Franco, The Disaster Artist

Best Actress: Saorise Ronan, Lady Bird

Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance: “Mudbound,” presented to Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, and Jonathan Banks

Made in NY Honoree: Michael K. Williams

Breakthrough Actor: Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”

Breakthrough Series — Long Form: Atlanta

Breakthrough Series — Short Form: The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes

 

Film Review: Mudbound (dir by Dee Rees)


In Mudbound, Jonathan Banks plays one of the most hateful characters to ever appear in a motion picture.

We never find out the character’s given name.  Everyone just calls him Pappy.  He’s the patriarch of an unimpressive family, a wannabe king who has no kingdom over which to rule.  Pappy never has a kind word to say to anyone.  He even tends to be brusque with his grandchildren.  When one of his sons returns from serving in World War II, Pappy only wants to know if he got laid in Europe and how many men he killed.  Pappy only killed one man in World War I but he did it face-to-face.  He’s proud of that.

As much as Pappy dislikes the members of his family, it’s nothing compared to how much Pappy hates people who aren’t white.  Pappy is the type to demand that, when he dies, he not buried anywhere near anyone black.  Pappy is also the type who takes it as a personal insult if a black man uses the same door that he uses.  When he sees Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) using the font door of the local grocery store, it doesn’t matter that Ronsel has just returned from serving his country and is still wearing his uniform.  It also doesn’t matter that Ronsel’s mother is helping to raise Pappy’s granddaughters.  What matters is that Ronsel is defying the social norms of 1940s Mississippi and Pappy takes that as a personal insult.

There are six narrators in Mudbound, all of whom tell us their story and share with us their thoughts.  Pappy is not one of those narrators and, for that, I was thankful.  I would have been frightened at the thought of entering his hate-fueled mind.  All we have to do is look into his hateful eyes or listen to his scornful voice and we know what’s going on in Pappy’s head.  He’s a man who has accomplished nothing in his long life, whose only happiness comes from making others miserable, and who fears the change that he secretly knows is coming.  It’s not just hate that makes Pappy demand an apology when Ronsel Jackson uses the front door.  It’s fear.

Mudbound tells the story of two families in Mississippi and the farmland on which they both live and work.  (Early on, when a skull with a bullet hole is discovered, we’re informed that an old slave cemetery is under plowed fields.)  Pappy’s oldest son, Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), owns the land.  Desperate for his father’s approval, Henry hopes to succeed as a farmer but he soon proves himself to be rather clueless.  Henry’s wife is Laura (Carey Mulligan).  Laura was a 31 year-old virgin when she met Henry.  She tells us that she married him because she didn’t want to be alone.  She stays with him because she loves their children.

The Jacksons live on Henry’s land.  They’re tenant farmers and Hap (Rob Morgan), the family patriarch, dreams of one day owning his own farm.  While Pappy openly hates the Jacksons, Henry treats them with a patronizing condescension.  (Whereas Pappy knows that he’s hated, Henry actually thinks that the Jacksons look up to him.  There’s not a lot of humor to be found in Mudbound but I couldn’t help but smile at Henry’s cluelessness about how little Hap thought of him.)  Henry and Laura even hire Hap’s wife, Florence (Mary J. Blige), to serve as a housekeeper.  Henry and Laura think they’re doing Florence a favor, never considering that they are essentially asking Florence to neglect her own family so that she can take care of their’s.

The Jackson and the McAllans do have one big thing in common.  They both have sons serving in the army.  Ronsel is a sergeant who is both surprised and happy to discover that white Europeans are not the same as white Americans.  Henry’s younger brother, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), is a captain in the Air Force.  When the war ends, both Ronsel and Jamie return to their families.  Jamie returns with a severe case of PTSD and a drinking problem.  Having experienced freedom in Europe, Ronsel is angered to return to a country where he is still expected to sit in the back of the bus and cheerfully accept being treated like a second class citizen.

When both of them are caught off guard by the sound of a car backfiring, Ronsel and Jamie immediately recognize each other as returning soldiers.  A friendship develops between them, one that goes against the racist norms of their society.  Violence and tragedy follows.

Mudbound is a Netflix film.  It’s currently getting a one-week theatrical release so that it’ll be Oscar-eligible.  (If it is nominated for best picture — and many think that it may be — it’ll be the first Netflix film to be so honored.)  That said, the majority of the people who see Mudbound will see it via Netflix.  That’s a shame because, visually, Mubound is a film that should be seen on a big screen.  The imagery — the farmland that seems to stretch on forever, the storms that always seem to roll in at the worst possible moment, the scenes of Ronsel and Jamie in Europe — is frequently beautiful and haunting.  (The comparisons to the work of Terrence Malick are justified.)  Even when viewed on a laptop, Mudbound still looks good but I fear that the small screen will rob the film of some of its epic scope.  Since Mudbound is a leisurely paced film, I fear that many members of the Netflix audience are going to be tempted to hit pause and then not return to the film for an hour or two, therefore robbing Mudbound of its cumulative power.

Over the time that I’ve spent writing this review, I’ve come to realize that I actually liked Mudbound a lot more than I originally thought I did.  As opposed to many of the films that I’ve seen this year, I have a feeling that Mudbound is actually going to stick with me.  Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige, Jason Clarke, and Rob Morgan all give wonderful performances, though the cast standout is Jason Mitchell, playing a man who, having tasted freedom, refuses to silently go back to the way things were.

Mudbound is a very good film.  I wouldn’t necessarily call it a great film, though many other critics and viewers are.  Director Dee Rees captures some beautiful images and some wonderful performances but the film itself has some pacing problems.  The first part of the film is occasionally too slow while a few of the final scenes felt rushed.  I haven’t always been a huge fan of Garrett Hedlund in the past and, when the movie started, I had my doubts about whether or not I’d be able to accept him as Jamie but, by the end of the movie, he had won me over.  In the past, I’ve found Hedlund to be a little stiff but, having now seen Mudbound, I have to say that he’s grown as an actor.  I’m looking forward to seeing where his talent takes him next.

Even if it does have flaws, Mudbound is a powerful film and one that I recommend taking the time to watch.

Here Are The 2017 IFP Gotham Award Nominees!


Hi, everyone!

Well, today is officially the start of Oscar season.  This morning, the Independent Filmmakers Project announced this year’s nominees for the Gotham Awards!  While the Gotham Awards may not be as well-known as some of the other precursors, their importance has grown over the past few years.  Though most of the major studio contenders are typically not eligible, a Gotham nomination can provide a definite boost for an independent film.

This year, Get Out received the most nominations.  Get Out has been mentioned as an outside possibility for an Oscar nomination.  It’s generally considered to be the best reviewed film of the year but horror is a genre that has traditionally struggled with the Academy.  For Get Out to receive a nomination, it’s going to need some help from the precursors (much as how Mad Max: Fury Road was legitimized by the critic groups in 2015).  With the announcement of the Gotham nominations, Get Out is off to a good start.

I’m also happy to see that James Franco received a nomination for playing Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist.

Here are the nominees:

Best Feature

Call Me by Your Name
Luca Guadagnino, director; Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, Rodrigo Teixeira, Marco Morabito, James Ivory, Howard Rosenman, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Florida Project
Sean Baker, director; Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Francesca Silvestri, Shih-Ching Tsou, producers (A24)

Get Out
Jordan Peele, director; Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm, Jr., Jordan Peele, producers (Universal Pictures)

Good Time

Josh and Benny Safdie, directors; Paris Kasidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, producers (A24)

I, Tonya
Craig Gillespie, director; Bryan Unkeless, Steven Rogers, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley, producers (NEON)

Best Documentary

Ex Libris – The New York Public Library
Frederick Wiseman, director and producer (Zipporah Films)

Rat Film
Theo Anthony, director; Riel Roch-Decter, Sebastian Pardo, producers (MEMORY and Cinema Guild)

Strong Island
Yance Ford, director; Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes, producers (Netflix)

The Work 
Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis, directors; Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis, Jennifer MacArthur, Flannery Miller, producers (Magnolia Pictures)

Whose Streets?

Jairus McLeary, director;  Alice Henty, Eon McLeary, Jairus McLeary, Miles McLeary, producers (The Orchard and First Look Media)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

Maggie Betts for Novitiate (Sony Pictures Classics)
Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird (A24)
Kogonada for Columbus (Superlative Films/Depth of Field)
Jordan Peele for Get Out (Universal Pictures)
Joshua Z Weinstein for Menashe (A24)

Best Screenplay

The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (Amazon Studios)
Brad’s Status, Mike White (Amazon Studios)
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory (Sony Pictures Classics)
Columbus, Kogonada (Superlative Films/Depth of Field)
Get Out, Jordan Peele (Universal Pictures)
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig (A24)


*
Best Actor*

Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project (A24)
James Franco in The Disaster Artist (A24)
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (Universal Pictures)
Robert Pattinson in Good Time (A24)
Adam Sandler in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Netflix)
Harry Dean Stanton in Lucky (Magnolia Pictures)

Best Actress

Melanie Lynskey in I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Netflix)
Haley Lu Richardson in Columbus (Superlative Films/Depth of Field)
Margot Robbie in I, Tonya (NEON)
Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird (A24)
Lois Smith in Marjorie Prime (FilmRise)

Breakthrough Actor

Mary J. Blige in Mudbound (Netflix)
Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
Harris Dickinson in Beach Rats (NEON)
Kelvin Harrison, Jr. in It Comes at Night (A24)
Brooklynn Prince in The Florida Project (A24)

* The 2017 Best Actor/Best Actress nominating committee also voted to award a special Gotham Jury Award for ensemble performance to Mudbound, The award will go to actors Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, and Jonathan Banks.

 

Stranger Things: Season 1, Episode 8: The Upside Down, ALT Title: Hop’s Redemption


stranger things titles

Cold Open:  Evil Modine’s Government Facility:  Joyce is screaming and Evil Modine enters.  He conveys with cold calm that six people were taken this week and tries to bully Joyce like he did Karen.  Joyce isn’t having it.  Henchwoman is having people taser Hop … A LOT!  He tells them that he knows everything about they did.  They propose to have him overdose.  He counters that they arm him and let him and Joyce go.  How does Hop fit into his pants with balls that big?!

High school:  The boys are at the school and restless.  They realize that Nancy and Creeper are gone.

Joyce’s House: They set up several booby traps and the xmas lights, which sets up an inconsistency in the storytelling.

Evil Modine comes to Hop.  Hop convinces Evil Modine to to arm him, release him AND Joyce, and allow him to pursue the monster.  He offers to forget about him and their project and he’ll tell him where El is, if he agrees to his terms.

Hop and Joyce get spacesuited up and enter into the belching gate to the Upside Down.

ROLL CREDITS:

The Upside Down: Hop and Joyce are looking for Will.  The respirator noise causes Hop to Flash to happier times.

Hop is in the past… clean-shaven, with his wife and daughter, and happy.  His daughter starts to wheeze.

The Upside Down:  Nancy and Creeper cut themselves to draw out the Postmodern Vampire.  She wonders how she will know when the monster will be coming, which brings us to the story hole: Why would she be screwing the lights back in before if she didn’t know that they had a purpose? Steve bangs at the door and forces himself into the house. They both try to get him to leave and Nancy even pulls a gun on him, but then the lights flicker, the monster appears, and Steve’s brain breaks a little.  They run to Will’s room.

The Upside Down:  Hop sees the destroyed Castle Byers and a teddy bear causes him to FLASH.

Hospital Room:  He is reading to his daughter who is bald from cancer.  When he’s done reading, he goes into the hospital stairwell and sobs.  Poor Hop.

Joyce’s House: Steve freaks out and runs to his car, but he sees the lights flickering and decides to become a hero.  The monster appears behind Nancy and Creeper.  Steve jumps in and starts hitting the monster with an upgraded baseball bat.  The monster gets trapped in the bear trap.  They set the monster on fire and it disappears.  There is smoldering monster blood in the trap.  My best guess of what smoldering Vampire Monster smells like is anything on the Arby’s menu.  

The Upside Down:  Hop and Joyce are in her home and they see the blood from the monster.  The lights start turning on in Joyce’s house.

High School: Dustin finds pudding. We get it; he’s the fat kid!  Mike talks to El about how his family will quasi-adopt her. Jibber Jabber Jibber Jabber, they kiss.  Then, Evil Modine and his Goons arrive to retrieve El.  The boys and El run.   They make it into a hallway and are cutoff with ….Goons to the Left and Goons to the Right and she’s the only El in town! [Sung]

El uses her mojo and melts/explodes the brains and eyes of the Henchwoman and several goons.  This brings us to bad ideas: New Coke, The Edsel, Qwikster, The Zune, Grease 2, and cornering a pissed off teenager with lethal mental Superpowers.  Hop and Joyce pursue the monster and follow its bloodtrail to the library where Hop has looked for love.

High school: The boys get grabbed by goons and El is passed out from mental exertion. Evil Modine hugs her and promises to make everything better to make her better.   The lights flash.  Mike sees the blood, the monster breaks through the wall, and envelops Evil Modine.  Once again, it’s a monster, who hunts at night, and searches for blood.   NOSFERATU!!!!!

The Library:  Joyce and Hop are in the public library.  They see skulls everywhere and viney gooeyness.  Lastly, they see Will with a monster snake attached to his mouth.

Flash to Hop’s daughter’s Hospital Room:  We see his daughter intubated and dying.  She flatlines.  The scene is intercut with Hop watching his daughter dying and him removing Will’s monster snake from him.

High school:  The goons are fighting the monster and losing.  The monster enters the room where the boys are hiding and Lucas tries to kill the monster with the slingshot for some reason.  The monster is flung and pinned against the wall.  El is awake with red eyes and is really pissed.  She looks back at the one boy she ever loved, says good bye, and then using her mind – she creates a bright LIGHT ….AHEM … A Bright Light like the Sun and destroys the monster by disintegrating both herself and it.

Hop and Joyce:  Hop is doing CPR on Will with Joyce’s help to revive Will.  In saving Will, he will have also released himself from the prison of his grief. We flash to the Hop’s dying daughter with doctors failing to save her and we see the beginning of his beard.  However, in the Upside Down, Hop is able to save Will and, in doing so, himself as well.

High school: Karen arrives and hugs her son.

The Hospital:  Will awakens to his family.

The Waiting Room:  Everyone is waiting for Will to wake up in the hospital.  The tragedy has brought them together as one community, one tribe.  When the boys hear that Will is awake, they run in and jibber jabber a bit.  Hop goes outside and is picked up by goons, but in a friendly way.

ONE MONTH LATER:

Snow has begun.  The boys are playing D&D again.  Creeper picks up Will and gets a present from Nancy, but we rapidly see that she isn’t his girlfriend.  It’s a camera. HMMMMM, not sure if that will improve Creeper’s prospects of staying out of handcuffs. 

Hop Goes to the station and gets some food and makes some wise cracks.  He drops off some eggos in a dead drop, which is presumably for El.

Joyce’s House: It’s all fixed up because the town must have pitched in together.  Will heads to the bathroom and barfs up a slug monster, flashes into the Upside Down, and doesn’t tell anyone because I guess mash potatoes were all he could think about at that time.

ROLL CREDITS

This has been so much fun!  Demand more with all your might!!!

 

 

Stranger Things: The Bathtub Season 1, Episode 7; ALT Title: Modine, Evil Modine.


stranger things titles

Cold Open:  Mike cleans off El’s face.  She touches her head where the wig once was; the wig that made her a little normal and not a lab rat.  “Still pretty?” She asks.  Mike, “Really pretty.”  They are about to kiss when Dustin interrupts.  At least it wasn’t because he found a unopened box of Twinkies.  They hear shouting on the walkie talkie.  It’s Lucas.  Lucas has decided F-This.  How did I end up in this situation?! And, how come we never see my or Dustin’s parents? Did the monster eat them?  Lucas is peddling as fast as he can … If he’s smart, to Iowa and away from this horrible situation.  Lucas continues to shout into the walkie and finally warns his friends.  The boys see the Hawkins vans outside of Mike’s house and decide to flee.

El sees her “Papa” Evil Modine approach Mike’s home.  They bike in a hurry to escape and immediately run into Lucas.  They are together and cornered- vans in front, vans behind them.  Pro tip: Nobody puts El in a corner because she will f#cking kill you.  El’s response to being cornered is launching the Hawkings van into the air and hurling it toward the pursuers behind her.  They escape to the junkyard and everyone makes up.

Roll Credits:

Hop and Joyce arrive at the station. Joyce is hysterical.  The deputies tell Hop that they need to show him something.  They show Hop Creeper’s trunk. It is filled with monster hunting stuff.  Hop confronts Creeper and Creeper tries to give Hop some lip.  Really, Creeper?! Really?!  Chief Hopper makes Jason Bourne look like Rick Moranis.  

Mike’s House:  Karen is looking for Mike and finds what looks like a kid’s nest.  Then, she finds a tuft of long blonde hair, which must cause her to wonder- Are all of my kids having sex in my house?!  Doorbell rings.  It’s Modine, Evil Modine!  He proceeds to home invade Karen’s home without a warrant.  Henchlady tries to question Karen and fails.  Nebish Dad uses this time to call his son a wuss.  Evil Modine uses his eeeeeeevil powers of persuasion to get Karen cooperate.  When he says, “Will you trust me?” I got the heebie jeebies.  Shudders.

At the station, Hop learns from Nancy and Creeper that the creature is drawn by blood. The World Smallest Bully’s mom demands an apology.  Hop learns that El is with the boys and is all kinds of superpowered.

Convenience Store: Steve loses his shitty friends and we learn it was his awful guy friend who did the spray painting.

Nancy and Hop are overlooking her home.  She wants to confront Evil Modine.  Hop shows Nancy that the government hasn’t found the boys yet because helicopters are still circling. Creeper tells them that he might be able to communicate with the boys.  They go to Joyce’s house and Nancy is the first to look at the lights and say- WHOA!  Yep, we’re in Crazytown, Indiana.  Hop gets the boys to give up their location.

The Vandalized Movie Theater: Steve’s heart grows three sizes that day and he tries to make amends by cleaning off the marquee his friend defaced.

Junkyard:  Modine’s goons approach the bus that is hiding the boys and El.  Hop quickly dispatches them.

Joyce’s house: The Boys, El, Hop, Joyce, and Creeper are all together discussing their next move as one tribe.  El tries and fails to use her mojo to find Will.  They decide to make a bathtub deprivation tank.

Mr. Clark’s house: He is watching a cinematic masterpiece, The Thing, with a waaaay Hot Asian Lady.  Mr. Clark, I tip my hat to you Sir. You be you.  Dustin calls Mr. Clark- the most patient man alive- pumps him for DIY sensory deprivation tank information and then hangs up.  Dustin, you’re being a dick.

They get the bath ready and El goes into the black world of the Inbetween.  She finds a rotting Barb with monster slugs leaving her.  Dear Everyone in the World, stop asking about Barb.  She’s a rotting incubator for Vampire Monsters.  That is all.  El finds Castle Byers in the upside down.  She comforts Will.

Hop and Joyce go off to Evil Modine’s Government Facility and are rapidly captured.

The Upside Down: The Monster destroys Castle Byers and takes Will to turn him into an incubator for monsters.

ROLL CREDITS!!!!  If you enjoy these, please tell my Boss- Lisa Bowman! Also, suggest other shows or movies that you would like me to review. Cheers!

 

 

Stranger Things- Season 1, Episode 6 – The Monster; ALT Title: Are you there God? It’s me, El.


stranger things titles

Cold Open: Creeper is calling for Nancy. She is lost in the Shadow World.  In her haste, Nancy is has passed the exit and his alone in the with the monster.  Creeper sees the tree portal, then Nancy’s outstretched arm, and pulls the love of his life back into the Light World like a forceps baby.  The tree’s portal closes.

Roll Credits.

Steve is driving with his crew all worried about Nancy.  He uses his much improved Ninja Skills to go up to Nancy’s bedroom, but is frozen with shock and rage at the sight of Creeper comforting Nancy on her bed.

Joyce’s House:  Hop is mentally exhausted, but pushes through it.  He explains that he saw Will’s room because there was a kid’s bed and kid’s drawing on the wall.  However, when Joyce asks, “Was [the drawing] good?”  Hop describes it as a kid’s drawing.  She shows Hop an example of Will’s very good artwork.  Hop realizes that all this time that he’s been looking for another kid.  David Harbour plays this scene with a mix of realization and rage that they did this to yet another kid.  I haven’t seen acting this good since the Robert Mitchum or Gary Cooper.  In five years, he’ll be holding an Oscar.  

Mike’s house:  Nancy showers off her evil goo.  She has Creeper sleep in her bed.  Maybe, he’ll take some photos of her when she sleeps? You two deserve each other. 

Hop and Joyce:  They go on a quest to find El’s mom, using his library research.  Given that was a trolling ground for Hop, I didn’t mean to have that previous sentence to read vaguely dirty.

Nancy’s Room:  Nancy Nancy Drews (sorry had to go there) a theory that the monster is a predator, who hunts at night, and detects blood.  HMMMMMMM, whatever could it be????  They decide to set a trap.

Mr. Clark’s house:  He is visited by Evil Modine’s Blonde Henchwoman and is duped into revealing the boys’ identities with promises of nerdy tech programs for promising youths.

Flash to El: Evil Modine brings El a one-dollar Target store plant because he wants to her to make contact and he’s obviously cheap.

El wakes in the woods.  She puts her wig on to become a normal girl again.  She looks into the water seeing herself as a freak, a monster, an ersatz girl.  El tosses the wig and screams her energy into the lake.

Mike’s House:  Karen uses her bobby pin to gain access to Nancy’s room, expecting to find a sleeping kid.  Instead, she sees an empty bed and the indications that a boy spent the night.

Lucas’ House:  The boys try to make up. It’s a bit corny, but in a good way.  Lucas is determined to find Will on his own and he’s convinced that El is a traitor.  Dustin insists that it was pretty awesome; she threw him  into the air with her mind.  Lucas’ face says it all- that’s why she sucks, SHE’S NOT HUMAN!

El decides to go shopping for some Eggos.  She’s dirty, she’s weird, and the villagers are scared.  FLASH to the Evil Bathtub:  El is being submerged into the dark world -the in between space that separates our world and the Shadow World a membrane that acts a terrible bridge.  Back to the store where once again, we find a dickish manager.  She calls the manager a Mouth Breather; it’s pretty awesome.  He tries to stop El because she’s leaving the store without paying and El’s like – LEGGO MY EGGO! BOOM- The sliding glass doors explode.

Hop and Joyce:  They arrive at Terry Ives’ home to ask her about her daughter.  She is catatonic.

Lucas: We see him leaving to find Will.  He sees a white Hawkins Power and Light van. Dustin and Mike, separated from Lucas, discuss why Lucas is upset.  Dustin explains that Lucas is jealous because he’s being replaced by El.

We learn from Terry’s sister that she got into MK Ultra in college.  They gave Terry loads of LSD, put her in the salt water tank, but she was pregnant.   This gave her baby enhanced superpowers.  This is an obvious nod to Dean Herbert’s Dune, when Lady Jessica takes the Water of Life when she was pregnant; thereby, giving her daughter Alia superpowers. Yep, I just laid some nerd knowledge on you! Boom!  Terry’s sister explains that Terry believed she would have telekinetic and other badass powers; we flash to El’s mojo badassery throughout the series.  All the while she describes this, there is baby music playing in the background that is extra creepy.

Lucas uses his compass and arrives at Evil Modine’s Government Facility.

Nancy and Creeper find supplies to set their trap.  When they go outside, she sees the movie theater marquee – All The Right Moves Starring – Spray Painted – Nancy the Slut Wheeler.  She’s mortified.  She hears spray paint cans being used and finds Steve and his cohorts.  She slaps him.  Steve starts insulting Creeper and Creeper kicks Steve’s ass.  The cops arrive and in a funny accidental assault on a police officer, Creeper is arrested.

Hop and Joyce: She’s devastated that it’s been 12 years since Terry saw her daughter, meaning she may never see Will again. Hop explains that there’s still a chance.  He explains that he’s been through what she’s going through, but his daughter was taken permanently, but he will get Will back to her.  People in pain will sometimes lash out because a person tries to share their pain, thinking that the sharer is trying to make it about themselves.  WRONG! Don’t be that way! Pain is not unique.  There’s sympathy and empathy.  Sympathy- wow, that sucks.  Empathy- I felt your kind of pain because this happened to me.  This is a vulnerable act of sharing, creating intimacy and intimacy is the bedrock of any relationship. 

Hop gets a call that Creeper was arrested.

Back at the Police Station, Nancy brings Creeper some ice for his candid photo taking hands.

Lucas:   He sees a bunch of Hawkins Power and Light vans.  Lucas realizes that the government is on to them.

The Bullies find Dustin and Mike at the Quarry.  The World’s Smallest Bully (WSB) catches Dustin and threatens to cut out Dustin’s baby teeth, if Mike doesn’t jump into the quarry. The tension builds and he jumps.  The boys run to see a likely dead Mike; instead, Mike is suspended in mid-air and hoisted back to the top of the cliff.  We cut to El who has her signature bloody nose.  She shoves one bully into the air and breaks the WSB’s arm.  El says, GO!  The bullies do.

Flash to In between dark room: She sees the monster and approaches.  She reaches out to it’s scaly skin and touches the creature.  It shrieks at her with a head full of teeth.  El’s terror is so great that she releases a huge energy burst that tears a hole in our dimension, linking our world to the shadow world and the Monster.

Back to the quarry, El confesses she opened the gate; therefore, she is the monster.  Mike eschews that notion- You saved me El. They all hug.

Dustin, Mike, and El have return to Mike’s house and the Hawkins Power and Light Van is waiting for them.

 

Stranger Things- Season 1 Episode 5- The Flea and The Acrobat; ALT Title: Hop is my Spirit Animal.


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Cold Open:

Evil Modine’s Government Facility: Hop is being a total badass and sneaks into the facility. He sneaks around the facility and hides in rooms as evil scientists go by in the halls.  He goes through biohazard plastic and is about to head to the entrance to find Will.  Hop runs into the shittiest security chief ever and kicks his ass and the ass of a Military Policeman. Hop – you win the badass award of 1983.

Joyce’s house: Lonnie is getting Joyce liquored up and generally trying to take over her life. Lonnie – who might be one of the earliest Mansplainers – tries to convince Joyce that all of this in her head.  This show is really good at showing people’s reaction to grief and potential mental illness. The people are marginalized, ignored, and bossed around. It’s especially poignant because the show is postmodern gothic horror and the way “normal characters” deal with the people they can’t understand is truly medieval.  

Evil Modine’s Government Facility:  Hop continues to search for Will.  He finds a room with a kid-sized bed and a drawing of two stick figures and a cat- a call back to where Evil Modine tried to harness El’s powers to diminish the local feline population.  Hop’s face is cool rage.  He’s certain that they have Will.

The director intercuts the boys’ discussion and Hop’s search for Will. The intercut between the boys’ discussion and Hop’s search is truly gooseflesh inducing. El is completely drained.  The boys are going over what was said on the AV equipment.  Lucas emotes that he is really tired of this shit.  Hop has his pistol drawn and is being pursued by Evil Modine’s goons.  The boy’s describe the World of the veil of shadows.  Hop finds the elevator that leads down to the gate to the shadow world.  Hop enters a hallway that the boys describe as – out of phase.  There is evil snow coming down around Hop.  Hop enters the room with the main portal to the shadow world and is grabbed and drugged.  This story really grabs at the ancient themes of storytelling- Hop is the sullied knight on Crusade looking for redemption and he plays it perfectly!  Fade to Black.

Roll Credits:

Joyce’s House:  Creeper arrives home to see his Mom drinking and generally hanging out with Lonnie.  Poor Creeper.

Funeral:  Lonnie holds Court and shakes a lot of hands as if he is the man of the family and not a human-turd.

Hop’s Home:  Hop wakes with sweat stains and surrounded by pills and booze.  Hop tears his place apart like he’s looking for Rebel Plans of the Death Star.  After much destruction, Hop finds what he’s been looking for- a listening device in his light fixture.

Evil Modine’s Government Facility:  Evil Modine has decided that the monster is hanging around Will’s home.

Post Funeral:  Nancy and Creeper are making plans to hunt down and kill the Monster.  He gets a pistol out of his father’s glove box.

High school: A fake AV Club Repairman investigates the equipment that was fried by El.

The Wake:  The boys go up to Mr. Clark and they have him lay some science down on them.  Are there alternative universes? You bet! Does Mr. Clark know about Dungeons and Dragons? Right again!  Does he explain that someone would have to create immense power to create a tear into another dimension much like the plot of Bioshock Infinite? OH YEAH!!!  BTW, this tear could destroy us all and wonks up compasses as well.

Hop’s House:  The deputies arrive and talk to Hop.  They think he’s a bit nutty and we find out that Barb’s car was found at a bus station.

Joyce’s House:  Lonnie talks about the Statler Corporation and how they need to be held accountable as he does some pretty shitty home repair.  This gives Joyce a moment of clarity that perhaps Lonnie is infact a dirtbag.

Mike’s House:  Dustin is experimenting with the compasses.  He explains to his friends that the compass is not facing True North; instead, they must be pointing to the Evil Gate.

Joyce’s House:  While Lonnie is showering, Joyce snoops in Lonnie’s stuff and discovers a personal injury attorney’s flyer.

Mike’s House: Nancy talks to Steve.  It’s boring.

Joyce’s House:  Joyce fights with Lonnie and tosses his ass out of her house.

Hop’s House: Hop is exhausted and calls his estranged wife.  We learn that after their child’s death, she left, and now has a new family.  Poor Hop.

The boys are trying to get to the portal via the local railroad tracks.  El flashes to Evil Modine.  He has her focus on a Commie.  To accomplish this task, she must get into a scary bathtub with a helmet on her.  Huh? The boys notice that El is acting stranger.

 Nancy and Creeper are walking through the woods hunting for the Monster.  They argue about her and Steve. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Joyce’s House:  Joyce hears banging at her door and thinks it’s Lonnie.  In fact, it’s Hop holding up a sign for her to be quiet.  He looks at all of the lights that are up in her home that he must now check for listening devices and says, “Oh Jesus”.  I have had to inspect Christmas Lights a time or two and it is a pain in the ass!

Junkyard:  Dustin realizes the compasses are not leading them to the gate.  Lucas discerns that it was El misleading them using her powers, discovering fresh nose-blood on her sleeve.  She explains that [the gate] is not safe.

Joyce’s House:  Hop’s finished checking the lights.  He explains to Joyce that they bugged his place, they took Will, Will’s body was a fake, and she was right all along.

Lucas emotes that El likely opened the gate and that she might be the monster!  Lucas and Mike fight and El launches Lucas into the air.  El flashes to the evil bathtub.  She goes to a totally black room with water in it that looks identical to the kill room in “Under the Skin”.  Under the Skin is a must watch!  She hears the commie talking and goes up to him.  He can’t see her.  While she is broadcasting the commie’s speech, she hears something horrible.  A monster using sonar.  She flees.  We return to the Junkyard and Lucas comes to and storms off.  El has also disappeared.

The Woods:  Nancy and Creeper come upon a dying deer.  They decide to put it down.  In an act of knight-like chivalry (AHEM), Creeper attempts to shoot the deer.  It is pulled into the darkness.  Creeper and Nancy split up to look for the deer.  Nancy sees a hole in a tree that is covered with evil slime and decides to go inside it alone and without any weapons because she’s really really smart.  Nancy enters the shadow world and sees the Monster crouched and feeding on the deer.  She attempts to back away and crushes a branch. The Monster turns and it’s face opens in four quadrants to reveal nothing but teeth and rage!

Roll Credits!

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