Entertainment

Happiest Season

In a year where so much is so weird from all we ever knew, the same goes for the film industry. Most theaters are closed and major film releases have moved to digital releases or platforms. Because of this, I feel like I’ve seen a lot less new movies this year. There’s just something about paying for a movie to watch from home that I haven’t quite latched on to yet. Maybe because growing up, pay-per-view wasn’t something I did. My family had a Blockbuster membership which translated into a Netflix subscription once Blockbuster shuttered almost all of their stores nationwide (Yes, I still have a DVD subscription and I rarely use it these days. Probably should change that but oh well.) For a while that was it. Nowadays, Streaming subscriptions are plentiful. There’s Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Video/Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, Apple TV, etc. To have all of these, it costs just as much or more than cable though making it a battle of picking and choosing what’s worth it for you. Again I haven’t latched on, so for me, it’s just Netflix. Thankfully, I have a few a friends who have shared access to their streaming platforms with me making it easier to see some releases that went the digital route this year. One of those was the film Happiest Season which was released on Hulu on November 25th.

Happiest Season is a Christmas themed romantic comedy written by Clea DuVall and Mary Holland. DuVall also directed the film while Holland joined the cast as Jane Caldwell. Normally a Christmas romantic comedy isn’t something to write home about. There’s tons of them. What makes this Christmas rom-com unique is that it centers around a lesbian couple.

Kristen Stewart stars as Abby Holland and Mackenzie Davis plays her girlfriend Harper Caldwell. In the movie, Harper invites Abby to come home with her for Christmas after about a year of dating. Then on the way to her parents’ home, Harper explains she isn’t out to her family. When Abby argues how strange it is to be bringing a girl home for the holidays, she says that she told her family that Abby is just her roommate who didn’t have anywhere else to go for Christmas because her parents had passed away several years earlier, thus creating an interesting situation for Abby meeting her girlfriend’s family for the first time.

Obviously the movie is part coming out story, but the film doesn’t over-do it in a way that it’s the central issue. It overlaps the coming out story with the struggle of Abby and Harper’s relationship because Harper is partially closeted and some familial issues in Harper’s family indicated by both Harper and her sisters Jane, played by Holland, and Sloane, played by Alison Brie. Overall I think this layering creates something more than just another LGBTQ film about coming out.

The movie also stars Dan Levy as Abby’s friend John, Victor Garber as Harper’s dad Ted, Mary Steenburgen as Harper’s mom Tipper, Aubrey Plaza as Harper’s ex-girlfriend Riley, and Jake McDorman as Harper’s ex-boyfriend Connor which rounds out a solid cast for this modern holiday film. Tegan and Sara also contributed to the film’s soundtrack with the original song “Make You Mine This Season.” It’s such a bop too.

When I saw previews for this movie in early November I was stoked for its release. I’m usually not one to spend my days watching a ton of movies on Netflix or other services so I planned out a time I could create a movie experience where I made popcorn and watched the entirety of the film. Is this movie unreal, spectacular, and overall brilliant film-making? No. Not a chance, but it is good! It’s a super solid main stream Christmas themed rom-com with an LGBTQ storyline though, which hooked me from the get-go. There is also some great chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza’s characters. Spoiler alert though, it doesn’t amass to anything so don’t say I was creating some false hype.

I think for me this movie created a nice escape from the oddity that is 2020. It was just nice to feel a world of normalcy around Christmas time. It reminded me of the past few years that I went on vacations in December amongst the Christmas season. The movie was actually filmed in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas in early 2020 and finished right before lockdowns began so it really was a part of that last bout of normalcy. It’s refreshing to see and a hopeful reminder of what our future can hold.

So if you’re looking for a new holiday film to check out and escape the world with this year, I highly recommend Happiest Season. It’s a modern holiday rom-com that provides some funny moments and a bit of romance that doesn’t over-do the genre. It may put you in the holiday mood or it might make you a bit frustrated that Abby and Riley don’t end up together. In general though, it will definitely give you some relief from whatever negative feelings you have about this year and that’s something good that we all need.

The Umbrella Academy

So it’s been a while since my last post. So much for spending this time at home writing more. Honestly since the craziness began, it’s been difficult at times and I haven’t felt as inspired to write as I normally do. I did plan on another album review a few weeks ago, but the album release was postponed until next month. Look for that in the coming weeks. However, I didn’t want another month to go by without making at least one post and the second season release of one of my favorite series on Netflix made for some perfect timing.

During my flight to Coachella last year, I began watching a Netflix series about a family of superheroes based on the comic book series of the same name created and written by My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way. The series is called The Umbrella Academy. Since watching the entire first season last spring, I’ve been anticipating season two. It filmed last year and was scheduled to debut this summer. Thankfully, even with the world wide crisis of 2020, it’s still coming out on time aka TOMORROW! You could actually say the second season of the series debuts at midnight tonight. I can’t wait to watch!

The story of The Umbrella Academy begins on October 1, 1989 when 43 women around the world gave birth simultaneously despite not showing any signs of pregnancy until labor. Seven of these children were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a very wealthy man, and turned into a team of superheroes called The Umbrella Academy. Each of the children are named as numbers by Hargreeves, but received regular names from their robot mother.

The series begins in present time and shows the current lives of the Hargreeves children, but routinely flashes backwards (and forwards because time travel is a part of the series) to tell the story of how the superheroes came to be. The story also develops to where the Hargreeves are headed, which seems to be certain doom. Without revealing any major spoilers, the first season ends with the apocalypse and the season that begins tonight should pick up with the Hargreeves going back in time to find out a way to stop the apocalypse from happening.

The Umbrella Academy is packed with an all-star cast of Tom Hopper as Number One/Luther, David Castañeda as Number Two/Diego, Emmy Raver-Lampman as Number Three/Allison, Robert Sheehan as Number Four/Klaus, Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, Justin H. Min as Number Six/Ben, and Ellen Page as Number Seven/Vanya. The cast also includes Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Kate Walsh, and Colm Feore among others. The series was created for Netflix by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater. Gerard Way is also one of the executive producers of the series.

I’ve always been a fan of Sci-Fi/Fantasy films and television series involving superheroes and super powers from Marvel films to Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers so when I saw this series on Netflix before I left for Coachella last year, it was a no-brainer to download the first few episodes to watch. I watched every episode I downloaded on my way to California and downloaded the rest for my trip home, again watching each one. It’s kind of a bummer that I don’t have a flight to be on to binge watch the new season this time around, but I’m glad to have the free time to do it anyway. I went in blindly to season one, not knowing anything about the series aside from the fact that it looked pretty cool. The same is true for season two. I haven’t read any previews nor do I know what to expect. I’m just overall excited to watch the Hargreeves in action again after becoming a huge fan of The Umbrella Academy. I feel like I haven’t been hyped on many Netflix/TV series in a while except this one so if that says anything to how much I think you should check this show out, then take my word for it right now and check this show out. If you’re still sitting around with not much to do like I am, it’s worth a watch. Even if you’re busy, make some time this month because it’s sure to be an action packed second season.

So again….tonight! Midnight! Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy! Catch you on the stream!

Legendary Venues: Radio City Music Hall

It’s been a while since I wrote about a legendary music venue, but there are still a few more I want to write about. One of them is another New York City venue. I already wrote about Madison Square Garden a when I first started this series, but now it’s time to talk about Radio City Music Hall. I’ve worked a few shows at Radio City Music Hall over the last two years, including two in September, and it’s always special when I get to be inside this legendary theatre.

Radio City Music Hall’s claim to fame is its annual Christmas Spectacular featuring the world famous dance troupe, The Rockettes, but the fame goes way beyond this annual show. The venue has hosted movie premieres, award shows, television shows, and even the NFL Draft. It’s also hosted plenty of concerts and continues to be a hot spot for bands and artists to this day. Some notable artists to play the venue are the Grateful Dead, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Adele, Sting, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Aretha Franklin, and Paul Simon.

Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932 thanks to the work of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and designers Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey. Through the 70’s the venue’s primary function was hosting stage shows. It faced financial decline in the 60’s and 70’s and ultimately was scheduled to close for good in April 1978. Fortunately a committee was formed to try to save Radio City and ended up being successful. On March 29, 1978 the interior of the building was named a city landmark and by May 12th Radio City Music Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The venue went through renovations over the next two years and reopened to the public in 1980, where it began primarily hosting concerts along with the annual holiday shows.

Radio City is also the largest indoor theatre in the world. It is 160 feet from the back of the theatre to the stage and the ceilings reach a height of 84 feet. There are also three mezzanines which are shallow in size and no pillars or columns that could obstruct views, which is usually a familiar setback in older theatres. Being inside Radio City Music Hall is definitely like stepping back in time. The lobby, foyers, and even bathrooms create a vintage atmosphere. The theatre itself is as grand as described, but also feels less aged than the rest of the venue. Maybe it’s because it just feels so timeless.

One of my favorite things about working shows at Radio City Music Hall is that any band, artist, or tour that comes to the venue needs to receive special credentials for the day. All Access tour laminates don’t fly at Radio City. Everyone that works on the show receives a unique credit card shaped credential with a picture of the artist, artist’s name, date, and “Radio City Music Hall” on it. For someone who usually keeps their working credentials, it’s definitely a solid collector’s item.

Although I’ve worked about 5 shows at Radio City, I’ve never attended a concert there. I’ve also never stuck around after working to watch the show that I worked, mostly because I had to travel home or elsewhere or because the venue is fully seated and if I sat somewhere I might be taking someone’s seat. I would love to catch a concert at Radio City Music Hall sometime and since the venue isn’t far from where I live, there’s a pretty good chance that I do. If you’re ever in New York, or live nearby, you should check out this legendary venue. It would be special to see a concert or show there, but you’re even able to tour the venue on a regular basis. One way or another this is a legendary venue that you need to check out.

Coachella Band Preview: Lizzo

I might be in Miami this week to work Ultra, but there’s no blog breaks during the Coachella countdown, especially when Weekend 1 is 2 weeks away! After I return from Miami, I have a full 5 days at home then I leave for what becomes my Coachella workcation. It’s about 3 1/2 weeks this year, but Coachella is worth it. I’ll also be working Stagecoach, hence the extra week away. We’ll see how that goes. Coachella is definitely what it’s all about. Enough about me though, I’m wasting valuable time that you could be listening to tunes. This week I’m previewing a Coachella artist full of female empowerment.

Melissa Jefferson, aka Lizzo, got involved with rap music in high school while growing up in Texas. As the years went on, she took it to the next level and joined two rap/R&B groups, Lizzo & the Larva Ink and The Chalice. She moved to Minnesota while in her 20’s which is when she started rapping as a career. She released her debut album on October 15, 2013. It received some local and national success earning her a spot opening for Har Mar Superstar. She was named the Twin Cities Best New Artist by Minneapolis-St. Paul alternative newspaper City Pages. She was also named to Time’s 2014 music artists to watch.

Her second album Big Grrrl Small World was released in December 2015. She eventually signed with Atlantic Records and released her first major label EP Coconut Oil in 2016. Through 2017 and 2018 Lizzo dropped a few more singles like “Water Me”, “Truth Hurts”, and “Fitness”. She also joined Haim and Florence and the Machine on tour in 2018 as an opener. Her third studio album and major label debut album Cuz I Love You will be released on April 19th, which is Friday of Weekend 2.

Lizzo has always been first and foremost a rap and R&B artist, but I feel like her latest album might sway towards a pop sound at times if her singles “Cuz I Love You” and “Juice”are any indication. I might be totally off, because the rap/R&B sound is there too. Her music also represents diversity with songs about positive body image, sexuality, and race.

I first found out about Lizzo last spring when I saw her open for Haim on their Sister Sister Sister Tour. She definitely made a statement as an opener. I wasn’t into her music when I saw her perform because rap music doesn’t usually appeal to me. Then I kept hearing about her from a lot of my friends, until finally I hopped on the Lizzo train this past winter after she was announced as a Coachella artist. “Good As Hell” became my “start the day” anthem for a while. In fact, it still is if I remember to ask Alexa to play it.

Lizzo plays Sunday at Coachella. Lizzo’s live performance claim to fame is her flute solos with the legendary Sasha Flute (you can look at the instagram page for more info on this flute naming). You can be sure there will be one or more flute solos at Coachella, especially during “Coconut Oil”. This year will be Lizzo’s first Coachella and she’s definitely gonna bring it. I can’t see her playing a main stage this year, but regardless of where she plays her fanbase has grown and it’s sure to be crowded. This is a set you’re not gonna want to miss. Here’s what you need to know to be ready for it:

  1. Good as Hell
  2. Juice
  3. Water Me
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Cuz I Love You
  6. Fitness
  7. Truth Hurts
  8. Boys
  9. Phone
  10. Scuse Me

The Film Playlist: Bohemian Rhapsody

Obviously a film title that is also a song title would have no trouble making The Film Playlist. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to write about a film for the playlist. The latest Freddie Mercury biopic released on November 2nd in the U.S.  happens to be too good not to include.

The film stars Rami Malek as the late great Freddie Mercury, frontman for the legendary British rock and roll band Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen from their founding until their performance at Live Aid in 1985. It also stars Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor, Joe Mazzello as John Deacon and Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin. The screenplay was written by Anthony McCarten and was directed by Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher (Singer was fired half-way through production and was replaced by Fletcher, though Singer received full directing credit based on DGA guidelines. Fletcher is listed as an executive producer.)

The film begins with showing the formation of Queen and Freddie’s transformation into the group’s lead singer. It shows how much Freddie loved and was inspired by Mary Austin. It also shows how the band landed a record deal with EMI Records and makes reference to the many hit songs Queen is still famous for today. The film also touches on Freddie Mercury’s struggle with his family, his sexuality, and his battle with AIDS, the disease that ultimately lead to his death in 1991.

After researching the film, I learned that there were many historical inaccuracies depicted in the movie. I would start listing them, but there are more than enough that I would recommend reading this article after seeing the film. I’ve also heard about a few more beyond that article as well.

Regardless of the historical inaccuracy of the Bohemian Rhapsody, I thought it put Queen’s music first, which is what I loved about it. Any time a scene regarding Freddie’s life happened, it seemed like the next scene would circle back to music. There were scenes showing the band creating songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, “Love of My Life”, and many others. There were also scenes showing the band playing many of their songs live including the final scenes of the film at their Live Aid performance, which had me singing along to “We Are the Champions”.

The funny thing about Bohemian Rhapsody is that I never planned on seeing the film. I didn’t even realize it was actually a movie until it was already in theaters. In the first few weeks after its release though I heard a lot about it from many people. I decided I should see it after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my little cousin building Spotify playlists that had tons of Queen songs on them. I’m glad I did because the film was incredible. Malek kills it as Freddie Mercury and it made me appreciate how many Queen songs I knew and how many of their songs are still hits today.

I knew after I saw Bohemian Rhapsody that I needed to write about it and promptly add it to The Film Playlist. It’s focus on music is special and makes the audience appreciate just how legendary Queen and Freddie Mercury are to rock and roll history.

Queer Eye

It’s been a minute since I made a post that has to do with something other than music. For the last week I’ve been on a Netflix binge though so I figured it was the perfect time to change that up. Cue Queer Eye.

In the summer while at Electric Forest one of my suite-mates was in the midst of a Queer Eye binge. The second season had just come out. I decided to watch with her because I used to watch Queer Eye when the show was first on. The new Netflix series is a reboot of the show that first aired in 2003, if you didn’t already know. When I watched the new series, I liked the show but there was a lot going on at Electric Forest that took my attention away from a Netflix binge while I was there. Last week I decided it was finally time to watch the show and much like so many others my Queer Eye love grew.

For those who don’t know the basis of Queer Eye, it’s a reality tv show where 5 gay men makeover someone, typically a straight man. The original series used to be called Queer Eye For the Straight Guy but was eventually shortened to Queer Eye to broaden the makeover pool. The new show broadens that pool as well by making over a woman, a gay man, and a transgender man so far. The makeover involves more than just style and grooming. Usually there’s a home transformation and lifestyle changes involved as well. Each of the 5 gay men, known more affectionately as The Fab 5, specialize in their own areas of expertise.

Antoni Porowski stars as the Food and Wine Expert. He usually shows the makeover subject how to cook a simple meal and gives tips on food, cooking, and of course drinks. Tan France is the new Fashion Expert. He’s the one who goes through the subject’s wardrobe, takes them shopping, and creates he or she a personal style that reflects who they are. Karamo Brown plays the Culture Expert. He usually helps the subject in a motivational way to better their life. He also spends time getting to know the subject on a personal level. Bobby Berk is the Design Expert. He remodels the home or apartment of the subject into a modern and useful living space. Lastly, Jonathan Van Ness is the expert in Grooming. He gives each subject a hair cut and beard trim or shave as well as teaches he or she about personal care and grooming.

The first two seasons of Queer Eye are already out on Netflix. Season 1 premiered last February and Season 2 came in June. Both seasons are 8 episodes that were filmed in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The third season is slated for release in 2019 and will take place in the Kansas City area.

With all the hype Queer Eye has received in the last year, hopefully the show lasts for several more years/seasons. It recently won three Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Structured Reality Program, Outstanding Casting for a Structured Reality Program, and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality Program. The show really is more than just a reality TV series. It brings to light issues in today’s society through each transformation performed by The Fab 5. I don’t remember the original Queer Eye doing as much and I think that’s what makes this reboot really special.

If you’re looking for a show to binge on Netflix, you won’t be disappointed if you decide to watch Queer Eye. I think the show has a little something for everyone and it might even teach you some tips too. With this new Fab 5, all things definitely do just keep getting better.

“Call Me By Your Name and I’ll Call You By Mine”

Several months ago while watching movie previews before a picture I was seeing, I saw the preview for a film that really piqued my interest. When that movie, Call Me By Your Name, came out on November 24th, I anticipated the time when I’d finally be able to see it in theaters. It was only released in major cities initially before making its way to this armpit of a place that I live in. I saw it about two weeks ago and it was one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in a while.

Call Me By Your Name stars Timothée Chalamet as Elio, an artfully precocious 17 year old and Armie Hammer as Oliver, a 24 year old doctoral student who joins Elio’s family at their summer home in Italy for a 6 week period. The film was adapted from the novel of the same name by André Aciman. It depicts the love affair that develops that summer between Elio and Oliver. The screenplay was adapted by James Ivory and the film was directed by Luca Guadagnino.

The film begins at Elio’s family’s Italian countryside home in the summer of 1983 where Elio, his mother (Amira Casar), and father (Michael Stuhlbarg) anticipate the arrival of their summer guest, Oliver. Since Oliver is new in town, Elio takes Oliver on a tour of the area later that day. Elio also explains how he spends his summers. It’s not long before Oliver begins to partake in the summer activities of swimming in the river, hanging out with friends, and going out at night, and their love for each other begins to blossom.

Since being released in November, the film has received an assortment of critical acclaim and accolades. It was recently nominated for 4 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chalamet), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ivory), and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens). It received nominations at the British Academy Film Awards (4), the Critics’ Choice Awards (8), the Independent Spirit Awards (6), the Golden Globe Awards (3), and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (1). James Ivory received a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Chalamet received Breakout Actor Awards from the National Board of Review, the Gotham Independent Film Awards, and the Hollywood Film Awards.

Like I said, I saw the film two weeks ago after anticipating seeing it for about two months. I was captivated by its beauty. Being set and filmed in Italy definitely adds to that. The story itself is special though. It’s almost a coming of age type of love for Elio as a teenager. He has such a strong infatuated love for Oliver throughout the film. Oliver subtly shows his interest for Elio as well, when finally they take the next step. Plus I wasn’t sure how that peach scene would play out, but now I totally get it! Since seeing the film, I’ve also begun to read the novel. My friend told me that there are many parts in the novel that were cut out of the film so I’m eager to compare them.

I highly recommend checking out this film. It’s such a great and powerful love story that isn’t a cliché romantic film or romantic comedy love story. It’s been in and out of theaters all over the country for the last 2 months. I’m sure it won’t be long before the film is released on streaming and DVD/Blu-ray too. If you wanted to see if before the Academy Awards airs though, I would make plans to see it as soon as possible because it seems to only stay in theaters for a few short weeks.

Lady Bird

“Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento.” -Joan Didion, Lady Bird

On Monday I had the pleasure of seeing a film that’s been generating a ton of hype, Greta Gerwig’s coming of age film, Lady Bird. Just the other day it broke the record for positive reviews with 100% positive on movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes. It’s also been receiving some Oscar buzz since award season predictions have begun.

The comedy-drama film is set in Sacramento, California in the early 00’s and explores the relationship between a mother (Laurie Metcalf) and her teenage daughter (Saoirse Ronan) who renames herself, Lady Bird. The movie spans a year through the ups and downs of Lady Bird’s senior year of high school at a Catholic high school into the beginning of her freshman year of college. It was both written and directed by Gerwig. Lady Bird also stars Tracy Letts as Lady Bird’s father Larry McPherson, Beanie Feldstein as Lady Bird’s best friend Julianne “Julie” Steffans, Lucas Hedges as one of Lady Bird’s love interests/friends Danny O’Neill, Timothée Chalamet as another one of Lady Bird’s love interests Kyle Scheible, and Lois Smith as Lady Bird’s teacher/principal Sister Sarah Joan.

After seeing the film on Monday, I thought it was such a great depiction of the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother, Marion. Both characters are so much alike that they constantly butt heads despite caring for each other tremendously. I also thought the movie was a great ode to the city of Sacramento. The city holds a special place in my hearty because I spent 6 days there for work this past June and they were some of my favorite of the year. So seeing this movie about 6 months later filled my heart with joy. I also thought it was cool to see the capital of California get some recognition in the entertainment industry because usually if a California city is the setting for a television show or a movie, it’s Los Angeles or San Francisco. The movie was also filmed on location in Sacramento which made for accurate visuals of the city.

I’m definitely a huge fan of coming of age films and this one was no different. The story was so raw and real as well which allows viewers to have a special connection with it. As award season approaches, there will be many films being talk about and many you’ll want to see. I feel like Lady Bird is one that can resonate with almost anyone though, making it a must-see this year. The acting and cinematography are just as brilliant as the story too. I’m not saying this movie will be the best picture of 2017 but it will definitely be high on the list.

 

 

The Film Playlist: We Are Your Friends

While at my cousin’s house over the weekend, we watched another movie that easily makes The Film Playlist. It’s been a while since I wrote about a movie for this series so let me explain. The Film Playlist is a blog series I started about movies that are about music. It’s been about a year since I added anything to it, but as soon as we started watching We Are Your Friends this past weekend, I knew I had to write about it this week.

The 2015 drama stars Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston. It was written by Max Joseph and Meaghan Oppenheimer based off a story by Richard Silverman. Joseph also directed the film which marked his directorial debut. The movie is about an electronic music DJ named Cole Carter (Efron) who is trying to work his way up in the music industry. It’s also partly a coming of age story because Cole and his friends are young adults trying to figure out their lives in the midst of partying at night clubs, selling drugs, and being part of the electronic music scene. While booked to play a gig at a club one night, Cole meets the headliner, who was once a hot commodity in the electronic music world, James Reed (Bentley). Reed in a way becomes a mentor for Cole once he realizes his talent and helps Cole to understand how to create music that doesn’t sound like every other electronic song.

As soon as we started watching this film Friday night, I knew I would love it. The plot is average though. It’s nothing out of the ordinary or exceptional. I strictly loved it for the fact that it was about music and electronic music in particular. I’ve never seen another film that surrounds the electronic music scene. It was cool to see scenes about creating electronic music and also scenes featuring EDC Vegas, which is an electronic music festival done by one of the leading electronic festival promoters Insomniac Events. The soundtrack for the film was excellent. Its feature track “We Are Your Friends” by Justice featuring Simian is where the film got its title from. It also features songs by Years and Years with Gryffin, AlunaGeorge with Tchami, Seinabo Sey with Kygo and Deorro ft. Erin McCarley.

If you’re expecting an award winning film, that’s not what We Are Your Friends is. It’s really just a fictional coming of age film that surrounds the electronic music industry. If you’re at all into electronic music, I suggest you check it out. It’s a film you don’t have to think much about and can purely enjoy, especially if you have a love for music, especially electronic music.

She’s Our Friend And She’s Crazy

Last summer, Netflix released a series that transported viewers back to the 1980’s as part of a sci-fi drama set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The series, Stranger Things, was an immediate hit and rightfully so. The attention to cinematic detail and inspired story line is an ode to 80’s horror and science fiction films. Today Netflix released the second season of the Emmy-winning series.

The setting of Stranger Things begins when a young boy, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), disappears through supernatural means to another dimension, “The Upside Down”, and follows the journey of the Will’s friends’ and mother Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) quest to find him again. Will’s friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), also receive help in finding him from a mysterious girl they encounter with psychokinetic abilities who goes by the name, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The cast also includes David Harbour as police chief Jim Hopper, Cara Buono as Mike’s mother Karen Wheeler, Natalia Dyer as Mike’s sister Nancy Wheeler, Charlie Heaton as Will’s brother Jonathan Byers, Joe Keery as Nancy’s boyfriend Steve Harrington, Shannon Purser as Nancy’s best friend Barbara “Barb” Holland, and Matthew Modine as scientist Martin Brenner. The series was created by twin brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer, known professionally as “The Duffer Brothers”.

When creating the series, The Duffers used influences from other science fiction and horror films as well as from Stephen King novels. In fact the name “Stranger Things” was similar to the name of King’s novel “Needful Things”. The brothers also used influence from King’s novel “Firestarter” for the name as well. While filming the series, it was the Duffers’ intention to pay homage to as many 1980’s films as they could by creating similarities to the films like using every day objects and turning them into supernatural means of communication (the Christmas lights), using similar film shots, and using a Leica lens and 6K Red Scarlet Dragon (80’s film equipment) to shoot. The head of props also used eBay, flea markets, and estate sales to find as many 1980’s artifacts as possible to use for props for the series. Almost all of the props were authentic, aside from some pieces, like the Dungeons & Dragons books, that needed to be replicated for the show.

I began hearing about the show some time in late August-September of 2016, but I didn’t watch it for another 3 months. I started watching it in mid-December. I wasn’t sure if I’d be into it, but I decided to give it a chance because there was a lot of hype surrounding the series. It definitely hooked me, although I wouldn’t claim to be a super fan. I still don’t understand the hype over, “Barb” (to be honest, not even The Duffer Brothers anticipated that). The series is entertaining though and highly reminiscent of 80’s films. Honestly, it really isn’t something I’d normally watch, but I like the fact that the kids in the series play leading roles. I think that’s what attracted me to it, if anything. I like a good coming of age story. This definitely isn’t coming of age, but I attributed the kids as leads to that.

As I mentioned, the second season of Stranger Things, titled Stranger Things 2, released today on Netflix. The second season begins close to a year after the first season began as it approaches the anniversary of Will’s disappearance. The characters are still dealing with the aftermath of what went down a year ago. The new season also sees some new faces join the cast with Sadie Sink as new girl Max, Dacre Montgomery as Max’s older stepbrother Billy, Sean Astin as Joyce’s new boyfriend Bob Newby, and Paul Reiser as Department of Energy executive Owens. I began watching it this morning. I’ve already watched the first two episodes. I love a good binge, but I’m going to try to savor these 9 episodes as much as I can, which is why I took a break to write this blog post. If you’re reading this, I guess you’re probably taking a break too, but if you’re not and you’re now interested in the series, log on to your Netflix account and give the acclaimed series Stranger Things a chance, mouth-breather.