Tag Archives: Netflix Instant

Indians on TV- Aziz Ansari’s Master of None (2015)

10 Nov

master of none posterHas Netflix been hounding you to add it to your queue already? Well, you should.

Aziz Ansari’s Master of None has that Louie vibe that I love, mixed in with some High Maintenance; it combines a sarcastic and deadpan sense of humor with musings on relevant and often complex issues. Four episodes in, and I am already loving how Ansari tackles race issues with couth (in episode 4, “Indians on TV”), sex issues with realism (in episode 1, “Plan B”), and the ever-pressing question that society pushes on 30-somethings like me, “am I a kid person?” (also from “Plan B”).

Plot: Aziz Ansari is an actor, making his way through auditions and life. The episodes tell a continuous story, but not in such a strict way that you need to necessarily watch them in order. A main theme is tackled in each episode, societal woes are solved, drinks are drank, dates are gone upon.

Each opening scene, accompanied by credits, is straight up cinematic; each episode title is teased in at the beginning with vintage font that gets you guessing where the episode is going to go; and the cameos don’t disappoint, either (Busta Rhymes, H. Jon Benjamin, Ansari’s parents, Orange is the New Black‘s Taystee?!). Some of the acting is not so great, but you have probably noticed that I love Da vid LynchHarmony Korrine, and mumblecore so…yeah, that doesn’t bother me so much.

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Ansari as Dez, with on-again off-again love interest Rachel, played by Noël Wells Photo: K.C. Bailey/Netflix

Master of None definitely earned at least another hour of my attention simply by using Aphex Twins’s “Come to Daddy” in episode 1. And don’t stop episode 3 before the tititular track comes on- Beach House’s “Master of None.” And don’t you love it when you realize about a celebrity, “aww he’s just like me?” because thats kinda how I felt when Aziz refers to Mark Morrison’s hit 90’s classic, “Return of the Mack” by saying, “well, this is maybe the most amazing song that has ever been created. Would you be opposed to dancing?”

Master of None gets a solid A in my book so far. As far as I’m concerned, if you laugh out loud at least once an episode (and you are watching it by yourself) it is a clear winner. I couldn’t wait any longer to write a review because I hope that this can convince at least another person or two to watch it too.

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Cult of Personality- The Source Family (2012)

13 Sep

SourceFamily_2000x2841_1shtWhat started as a lucrative, hip vegetarian restaurant in late-1960’s LA, led to a religious way of life for over one hundred followers in the 70’s. The Source Family documentary tells the tale of Ya Ho Wha, or Father Yod, and his transformation from a straight-laced and allegedly violent businessman to a polygamous cult leader. A unique perspective emerges as past followers are interviewed in present-day, with many seeing no harm in the crazy life they used to lead under this cult leader. What started out with seemingly reasonable life habits- healthy and organic eating, commitment to above all else do no harm, communal living and positive thinking- devolves into power-hunger, community backlash, withdrawal from society, and as Father Yod’s ex-wife, Robin, so aptly put it, “a dirty old man on a lust trip.”

And despite the obvious manipulation at play within the Source Family, it is incredible to see how former members still speak so highly of the cult and its missions- many retaining their cult-given names (Sunflower, Isis, Electricity, all with the last name Aquarian) even more than 40 years after the Family’s dissipation.

Oh the fashion!

Oh the fashion!

The incredibly raw, archival footage maintained by photographer, official Source Family member, and appointed documentarian, Isis Aquarian, gives a first-hand look into the ceremonies, rituals, daily life, and philosophies of this group. It is quite surprising that documentation was even allowed, considering how it doesn’t always cast the group or its leader in a positive light. There is also some unique insight into why exactly someone would fall for cult mentality, as well as the societal pushes and pulls in the climate of the 1960’s and 70’s family. Most notably, during a time in which fatherly love and warmth was not the customary order of the day (think Mad Men), followers with daddy issues flocked to Father Yod’s side for love and guidance.

Plus, they formed a pretty interesting psychedelic rock band, that for some reason was allowed to play California high schools during their heyday. Nowadays, their records are a coveted find for serious collectors.

Check out this far out trailer for the doc, man:

Lunarcy! (2012) Moon Dreamers Gotta Dream

11 Aug

lunarcyLunarcy! is a quirky documentary that zooms in on the lives of a handful of individuals whose lives revolve around the moon in different ways. These men run the gamut from Alan Bean, an astronaut-turned-artist, to Dennis Hope, a man who claims ownership to the moon (and makes a living off of selling plots on it). But by far the most interesting “character” of the documentary- for me- is Christopher Carson. This young, nerdy hopeful wants to start the first colony on the moon. He seeks to travel to that giant, grey, orbiting rock never to return to earth again. Check out his organization dedicated to this dream, called The Luna Project. After several testimonial-style interviews with Carson and his mother, you start to paint a small picture of why he is so obsessed with this dream. As she says, “He needs  a society where people like him are valued…He needs a society that accepts him. It may be that he feels that one of the ways to do that is to gather like-minded individuals and…isn’t that what we all wanna do?”

Former astronaut, Alan Bean, paints images such as this one, First Men, using actual moon dust he collected from his NASA uniform.

Former astronaut, Alan Bean, paints images such as this one, First Men, using actual moon dust he collected from his NASA uniform.

While this film is reminiscent of docs such as King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters because of its voyeurism into a sort of “nerd culture,” it doesn’t poke as much fun at its subjects. Well….maybe a little. But this movie also shows a certain amount of respect for those who have dedicated their every moment to the moon in some way or another.

Emily Kell

Emily Kell’s painting, Flowering, evokes the divine feminine at play with the moon. http://emilykell.com/

The one thing that puzzles me after watching this documentary is that it only focuses on men who are so focused on the moon. It makes me wonder where the women are who are just as fascinated in the moon; they must exist, right?  This is especially interesting to me because of the feminine associations that many cultures make with the moon. Perhaps it is the feminine allure of la luna that is subliminally driving these men to their obsession. Just a thought. It would have been an interesting reflection for the movie to make considering it also touches upon issues of autism, the defunding of the NASA space program, and the commodification of space.

And for good measure: We’re earthlings! Let’s blow up Earth things!

John Dies at the End (2012)

15 May

John DiesSpace and time are fluid, our lives are constantly filled with existential crises, it might be the slightly-clueless-yet-lovable-20-something who saves the day or the world, zombies are a thing, and so on. Does this sound familiar? Have you noticed a trend in this type of movie lately?  John Dies at the End fits this 2010’s indie/alternative  formula to a T. It evoked recollections of movies such as Enter the Void (2009), The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009), maybe even a little I Heart Huckabees (2004). It’s a Kevin Smith movie that read a Kurt Vonnegut bestseller and got knocked up by a zombie movie while watching Alien, thus producing a nerdy, somewhat disturbed film baby.

John Dies at the End takes us on a non-linear journey through Dave’s experiences with a strange drug that leads him to explore the definitions of  life and death, waking and sleeping reality, space and time, other dimensions. No, John-who-dies-at-the-end is not even the main character. And although the description above may render it as a serious movie, I assure you that it is as serious as its goofy title. Although it is based on a novel -written by David Wong, same name as the protagonist- it felt more like it was based on a comic book.

Dave (left) and John...who dies at the end.

Dave (left) and John…who dies at the end.

This movie brought with it a somewhat bi-polar movie experience. I would become engrossed in the plot, and think that the movie was genius and I couldn’t wait to see where they would go with it. Within five minutes my opinion would shift drastically as I realized how tacky it was getting. The “Jamaican” in the movie was a particularly hard character to swallow. Poorly-acted and grossly stereotyped, I tried not to dwell on his shortcomings too much. Before I could commit to shutting it off, it would take back off like a roller coaster, and I would become engaged once again.

So why not give it a shot? It’s a short, one and a half hour, weird space-time-continuum romp; it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither should you; and for real, John does die at the “end.” I hope I didn’t ruin it for you.