Media Review 2019 week 5

Mike Grist Reviews, Weekly Media Update Leave a Comment

It’s been a great week of media intake!! Well, except for Roma :(.


  • Sex Education – I watched Netflix’s new show Sex Education within the week, and think it is really fantastic. So good-hearted, so upbeat, but also not shying away from darker moments – a coming of age tale for the millennial generation, where sex, masturbation and even nascent stalking, bullying and shaming behaviours are not considered nasty or even evil, but rather accidents of fragile minds on unfortunate detours.

Essentially, nobody is beyond saving – at least at this stage. I love its bright palette, its redemptive tone, and its joyous plunge into moments normally considered taboo, icky or shameful. I swear, I’ve never seen so much masturbating – actually its a bit uncomfortable that we’re watching 16-year-old kids wank – but I’m reassured that surely the actors are older than their faces and makeup let on, so it’s not all that bad. Still, that is a lot of ‘O’ faces.

But that is the point. In this tale of 16-year-old neophyte ‘sex therapist’ Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his pals at a UK-based private school (how’s that for being UK-based!! – though with a clear American aesthetic), gender roles blur, helicopter parents pry, and a lot of people are having sex and wanking – all of which they need sex therapizing about.

What I love most is how it airs all this dirty, shameful laundry and says – what are you all freaking out about people? Let’s stop repressing this stuff. Repressing it and not talking about it is where all the bad shit comes from. Get it out. If everyone gets it out, where’s the down side?

Can’t wait for season 2.

  • Danny Dyer’s Royal Family, part 2 – We watched part 1 last week and found it unexpectedly charming and funny. Danny remains hilarious. Halfway through this one I found myself uncertain if I was enjoying it, even though I was laughing a lot as Danny capered. What’s that about? I don’t know. Maybe the surface-level at which al the gags land? Danny constantly automatically translating himself from Cockney rhyming slang? Danny uncomfortably hugging and kissing everyone (male or female) he meets? Danny calling everyone ‘young man/woman’, especially if they are older than him? Either way, I laughed a lot, and probably learned something too. Good on him. I’ll watch more.


  • Roma – I despised this movie. Not just disliked it. After watching – and bear in mind I watched 20 mins, then passively watched the next 40 while reading my phone, then fast-forwarded through the last hour just to see if anything happened – I reflected on some of the director’s choices.

Why did he make this movie? To subject us to the dreamy bullshit of his childhood, which wasn’t special or interesting in any way, as told through the perspective of his maid and cleaner – which is obviously not a perspective he shared. Already I’m angry. It’s like some white-washing bullshit. Don’t try to claim your maid’s story as your own. What the hell kind of appropriation is that? Tell it from your perspective, you sniveling shit, Alfonso Cuaron.

I read some reviews afterward that talk about how accurately and wonderfully it reproduces the period – 70s Mexico. What? It looks so similar to today it’s hardly worth doing. Make a documentary of a screen just looking at postcards from the period, if that’s your selling point. It’ll be over faster.

The story is non-existent, and the cinematograpy is preoccupied with dog shit and airplanes. What the hell, right? How is that Oscar-worthy? It’s bunkum BS. Most angering of all though is the opening few minutes as the credits pre-roll with agonizing slowness. We’re watching floor tiles as soapy water rolls toward us. Someone’s cleaning. We have nothing else to watch for minutes, so watch these suds looking for meaning. Oh, a plane whizzes by overhead in the water’s reflection. And what are those soapy blobs, do they mean something?

Only later on do we find out that this dirty water is from the maid, who is cleaning up dog shit. So Cuaron is pushing shit water at us for minutes, and we’re staring at it rapt, wondering what the ‘genius’ is trying to show us in the tea leaves. I’m angry about this. How is this anything but him shitting on us for minutes – at our hunger for something pretentiously arty we can pretend to enjoy? I feel like that woman in the movie The Help felt when she had to eat shit baked into a cake – except I didn’t do anything to deserve it.

Fuck Cuaron. The man who made Gravity made this? I don’t get it. What a waste of 1 hour 10 minutes. Should have fast-forwarded from the opening credits, or better yet, not watched it at all.

  • Polar – Watched 10 minutes of this crappy assassin story, then bailed to Roma. At least it had Mads Mikkelsen in it, of The Hunt. Should have stayed with this.
  • Animal World – A bizarre Chinese movie about the mathematics of a large-scale, life-and-death Rock-Scissors-Paper tournament mixed in with game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, a bit of Deadpool in the slaughtering antics of a live-action anime clown (irrelevant to the main story), and some Antman-esque tiny-flying. Pretty fun, actually, as the protagonist somehow gets a huge debt, is forced into this gambling tournament on a ship in international waters, then has to outhink like a hundred other players to come out alive at the end.

I didn’t like the basic message that if you’re just smart enough, you can win at gambling. I realize this is not only a problem of Chinese culture, though they do love gambling. We have plenty of movies lionizing gamblers. Still, the way we’re walked through all our players gambits made me somewhat uncomfortable.

Gambling is not good, and you can’t win if you’re smart. It’s not a good message to put out there. Also, at the end our ‘hero’ pours blood into the sink while his ever-suffering girlfriend is washing her hair. WTF? She freaks out. That’s beyond a prank- it’s disgusting! A kind of domestic abuse. If I was her, I’d kick him to the curb immediately. Unless this is some aspect of acceptable Chinese culture I’m missing, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Interesting, for sure.


  • Becoming – I finished Michelle Obama’s autobiography, and enjoyed it immensely. What a great lady. I love how honest she is about her interest in politics – ie, she will never run for office in her life, no matter how may times she’s asked. Just a great woman who cares about people and wants to make things better for everyone. A tonic for these divided times.
  • Dead Snow – Started reading this Sweden-set thriller because the author will be at First Monday Crime tomorrow, and maybe it’ll give me something to talk to him about, if the moment arises. It seems OK, about a deaf reporter who’s early on the scene to a murder in the wintry woods.


Nothing so specific, but generally I am loving AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and others who are boldly saying – “There should not be billionnaires.” I completely agree with this. Why should there be billionnaires? In what world does their hard work so enormously eclipse the hard work of almost everyone in the world? They worked hard, they had good ideas, I accept that – I’d never advocate for communism. Capitalism harnesses important human desires to acquire and succeed. But billions is a joke. Take it off them through tax.

Oh but they’ll leave the country. They’ll take all their precious capital with them. So hunt them down and take it! Don’t let them ever make money from this country, or any civilized country, again. Let them live in tax exile in a dwindling few countries well outside the global mainstream. This is also why we need global laws, and a global police force and government to enforce them. Let’s start with something easy – like murder. A global law against murder. And then move onto tax fraud. Hunt these billionnaires down and drag them out of their ivory towers and guillotine them in the street, if they won’t cough up some reasonable portion of their immense wealth.

But what if I’m a billionnaire? Won’t I resist being hunted down and guillotined in the street too? Ha – who cares what I resist? Chop my damn head off, if I can’t see the suffering my billions of fellow humans are in. It’s a goddamned crime that they’re hoarding that wealth for themselves, passing it down to their children to have better opportunities.

But they’re billionnaires because they’re smart. They know how to better spend this money through charitable donations. Ha! Charity! Take it off them and give it to the people through taxation, who get to vote how it’s spent. Re-align the priorities so that when they say – oh, sorry, we can’t give you a wage increase because we need to increase corporate profits (happened to me recently), we’ll shove it in their faces. No. You decrease your profits. That’s just how it’s gonna be. Bend the curve. Yes, you get profits. Yes, your expertise is rewarded. But not extortionately.

Oh. I forgot to mention I’m reading a book about this – Can Democracy Survive Capitaism? I’ve ranted enough now though. More about that book later.

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