Netflix

When it comes to movies from bygone eras, we often say: "They'd never be allowed to make a movie like that nowadays."

TRIGGER WARNING: Sex crimes and discussion of sexual assault

Perhaps the phrase is cited in relation to the racial humor in Blazing Saddles. Or maybe it's about the "prank" scene in revenge of the nerds that's actually just rape. But no matter how hard any older movie may fail the litmus test of modern tastes (and oh boy, do a lot of them fail), at least we know that those movies were in the past.

The phrase is right. Society progresses, and it's great that in 2020 we've collectively decided that you really can't get away with glorifying rape in movies anymore.

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Film Lists

30 Ridiculous Movies That Received a 0% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes

To some extent, a 0% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes is an honor.

Vertical Entertainment

Even amongst trash cinema, the Rotten Tomatoes 0% are a special breed of stank.

For a movie to receive a 0% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it can't just be bad, and it can't even just be awful. No, a Rotten Tomatoes 0% movie needs to be so terrible that it convinces even the most contrarian film reviewers to unanimously agree that yes, the movie in question is objectively worthless. To put this into perspective, 21% of film critics gave Tom Hooper's Cats a Fresh rating even though, or perhaps because, it featured Dame Judy Dench licking her own crotch. For even starker perspective, one reviewer out of 80 even gave Daddy Day Camp a Fresh rating, and incredibly, it just so happened to be former Popdust reviewer Fred Topel:

Fred Topel


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Film Features

All the Plot Holes We Want Fixed in "A Quiet Place Part II"

The original A Quiet Place had a lot of plot holes.

Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place Part II, the sequel to John Krasinki's 2017 hit horror/thriller A Quiet Place, is coming out later this month.

But while the original put audiences on edge with its pervasive use of silence, the movie ultimately fell victim to a number of plot holes that made it hard to stay fully immersed. Since the concept of A Quiet Place (monsters that hunt through sound, resulting in the protagonists' need to stay quiet at all times) has so much potential, here are the biggest issues we hope get fixed in the sequel.

The Monsters' Sense of Hearing

A Quiet Place Monster Paramount Pictures

One of the biggest plot holes in the film revolves around the strength of the monsters' hearing. We catch a glimpse of a newspaper clipping explaining that the monsters' blindness enhances their super-hearing, but how powerful is their hearing, really? If the monsters are able to hear a branch being broken from miles away, shouldn't they also be able to hear the heartbeats of all of the human characters? Wouldn't it be especially hard for them not to hear the heartbeat of the mother, Evelyn, as she literally gives birth? Maybe they're able to selectively control their hearing. That would be interesting to explore in A Quiet Place Part II.

The Baby

A quiet place baby Paramount pictures

Speaking of the newborn, the extreme irresponsibility of having a child in the middle of an apocalyptic event almost goes beyond any notion of sense. Sure, it's reasonable to want to relieve some stress during a time of crisis, but they had to know that there might be consequences. Also, there's no way the baby would survive until the sequel, considering how much they cry. Crying is a baby's defense mechanism, so babies are basically natural prey for sound-hunting monsters. Including the baby might be a nice way to amp up the emotional weight of the film, but it weighs the family down beyond any point of realism.

Beating the Beast

A quiet place cochlear Paramount Pictures

In the climax of the film, Emily uses her deaf daughter, Regan's cochlear implant to stun the monster, giving her the opportunity to kill it. But if disarming the monster is as simple as making high-frequency noises, this begs the question: Why was no one able to figure out that loud noises harmed the monsters before? Shouldn't this be common knowledge? It's safe to assume that there were scientists in their world at one point, so were they all just killed before they could come to the correct conclusion? Hopefully in the sequel, they'll have perfected the use of high frequency weapons in creative capacities.

The Waterfall

A quiet place waterfall Paramount Pictures

If the family knew the location of a waterfall that drowned out sound so well that it made human screams inaudible, why didn't they just live near it in the first place? Even if the monsters used it as their watering hole, which we have no reason to believe they did, the humans could still just stay out of their way or maybe even sneak up and kill them if given the chance. That makes a lot more practical sense than living in an open field where any sound would almost definitely echo. No reason was ever given as to why that area might be uninhabitable, so it's insane to think that they could've been totally safe and hydrated but for some reason decided against it.

A Quiet Place became a success due to its ability to build suspense based on the silence, but hopefully the sequel can include what worked in the original while ironing out some of the more glaring issues..

A Quiet Place Part II will be released March 20, 2020.
TV

BoJack Horseman, Joe from "You," And Sympathy for Damaged Men

The trailer for the final season of "BoJack Horseman" just dropped. Will BoJack finally receive redemption, and does he deserve it?

This article contains spoilers for Netflix's "You" Season 2 and BoJack Horseman seasons 1-6.

BoJack Horseman has mastered the art of the meta-commentary.

From start to finish, it has revolved around a horse-man who seems to embody everything wicked about celebrity culture. He constantly abuses his position of power, falls prey to countless addictions, and perpetually fails and harms the people around him.

Though the show criticizes and satirizes all the forgiveness that BoJack receives, its writers constantly humanize and sympathize with him, delving into his abusive upbringing and exploring all the reasons why he's unable to love himself and others. BoJack is constantly hitting rock bottom and then is given another chance, and though he inevitably disappoints those who forgive him, he is always the star of the show in the end. It's a loop, but is there a way out?

In the trailer for the show's final season, it appears that BoJack is making yet another effort to redeem himself. This time, it's not through rehab or through traveling to New Mexico—he's tried those before—it's through accepting a teaching position at Wesleyan. He's changed, he insists, sporting newly greyed hair, and he's seeking something real. It's hard not to believe him, even though at this point, we should know better.

BoJack Horseman | Season 6 Final Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com

Perhaps part of what makes us want to forgive BoJack is because of the way he speaks. His voice is extremely persuasive, and he sounds level-headed. He speaks like a powerful white dude, which is the demographic that has objectively occupied the majority of positions of power and influence in America, so perhaps that has something to do with why we keep believing what he has to say. When he attempts to persuade people (most frequently women) to forgive him, he is articulate, self-deprecating, and full of vast, limitless, beautiful promises. In other words, he is an expert at the "reconciliation" step on the cycle of abuse.

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BoJack's narration style is reminiscent of another show that relies on the unreliable narrative of another dangerous yet unnervingly persuasive man: Joe Goldberg from You. Though BoJack Horseman is far superior in almost every way to You on a technical level, their central characters bear certain similarities, and not only in terms of the slow, methodical, and almost hypnotic way in which they speak.

Lovable Demons: Parallels Between BoJack Horseman and Joe Goldberg

Just as BoJack moves to Wesleyan in order to escape his life in Los Angeles, the second season of You begins with Joe moving away from New York to LA in order to escape the trail of bloodshed he left behind. Joe from You is far more delusional than BoJack, and far more invested in his idealized self-perception. While BoJack tends to rely on self-awareness and self-deprecation to continue making his repetitive, cyclical mistakes, Joe, on the other hand, is obsessed with the idea that he is "good"—and has a level-headed way of explaining his own violent crimes (and persuading himself that they won't happen again) so effectively that sometimes it's easy to find yourself rooting for him, wishing his relationships will work out, that he'll succeed and heal and grow.

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Joe is also much more violent and psychotic than BoJack, as he actively traps and murders people. However, BoJack technically does have Sarah Lynn's death on his hands (as he was the one who persuaded her to abandon her sobriety). At one point he implied that what happened in New Mexico with 16-year-old Penny was not an isolated incident. In the last season, he nearly killed his girlfriend during a movie scene.

In short, both BoJack and Joe are completely out of control, but they remain convinced that they in some way deserve—and can achieve—absolution from their sins.

Why can't we look away? Perhaps both characters give viewers some sort of subconscious release. BoJack Horseman undoubtedly humanizes BoJack to help the audience feel better about their own bad behavior (as the show's satirical Philbert storyline clearly remarked), while Joe provides a vehicle for a largely female audience to entertain suppressed fantasies.

These two shows are far from the only media to do this; the list of examples goes on and on. Part of what makes these terrible-yet-sympathetic protagonist archetypes so fascinating is that though we should absolutely reject each of these three characters, it's hard to tear our eyes away from them. Instead, it's easy to become invested, especially as the shows delve into the reasons why each of them commit so much evil and treat others so badly.

Curiosity about the sources of evil is only natural, but the reason could be more deeply rooted in our own psychology. According to V. Reneé, "essentially, giving a villain a reason for being evil does two things: It allows the villain to be as evil as it wants without "villain decay," and it gives the villain enough depth to inspire empathy." This trope is also referred to as the "Freudian Excuse," an apt term as so many of these characters have issues that relate to their mothers.

Mother Wounds: The Roles of Women in BoJack Horseman and You

Each character's crimes undoubtedly stem from some form of deep-rooted inadequacy. For Walter White, his homicidal behavior is about his failure to live up to an ideal of masculine success. For BoJack and Joe from You, it has everything to do with their absent mothers.

BoJack Horseman's mother is a ghoulish, looming presence throughout the show's later seasons. She was cruel and cold to BoJack as a child, constantly criticizing him and leading him to find solace in performance because she (and then he) could not tolerate his real self. Joe's mother also left him with a gaping wound—though in her case, she continued to return to abusive relationships and eventually sent Joe to foster care.

In their adult lives, these characters seek solace and healing in their idealized visions of the female characters around them, constantly looking to remedy the damage that their mothers did. Fortunately, the writers of each of these shows slowly shatter their protagonists' visions of these women, creating strong, complex, damaged female characters that act as mirrors for the main characters' flaws. In BoJack Horseman, Diane—arguably one of the best-written characters on TV today—is initially viewed by BoJack as a smart and empathetic potential solution to his problems. Soon enough, it's revealed that Diane, like BoJack, is burdened by wounds of her own; she is unsatisfied, rejects love, and is burdened by nihilism and fears of her own hypocrisy.

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On You, Joe meets his match in Love Quinn. He initially sees her as the embodiment of care, kindness, and empathy, but soon enough it is revealed that she is far more damaged—and more similar to him—than he ever could have dreamed.

Though they are aware of the sins of their respective male counterparts, Diane and Love never come close to cutting off BoJack and Joe. Diane occasionally lashes out at BoJack, but the two remain joined at the hip. Her own low self-esteem and guilt allow her to sympathize with him, and the same goes for Love (though the circumstances are different, and Love winds up being just as insane as Joe, which is a whole other conversation in itself).

But for the most part, these women, like the show's viewers, provide theaters into which the men can broadcast their bullsh*t. That's not to say these women (or we) are inherently wrong, or significantly better than these men. In fact, we might be more similar to them than we think. Many people act wickedly, and most of the time it is because of some reason rooted in childhood or experiences out of their control. But the problem is that not all people are given equal opportunities to achieve redemption.

Bittersweet Sympathy: Race, Violence, and the Empathy Illusion

Even if it is understandable, the type of sympathy that BoJack and Joe receive is rarely, if ever, offered to marginalized people like black men and immigrants, who are often portrayed as monoliths and statistics rather than symptoms of their past and backgrounds. On the other hand, in portrayals of terrorists, young white males are frequently given the same kind of explanations that Joe and BoJack receive. While no neat line can be drawn, it's impossible to address these characters without referring to all the forces that allow them to continue making mistakes while coming out unscathed.

The problem here is not necessarily that we empathize with BoJack and Joe. It's that we empathize with them at the expense of others' lives, and our empathy can distract from other stories that deserve to be told.

Perhaps the point is not that we should suppress every ounce of empathy for BoJack and Joe. Humans need to believe that healing is possible and that forgiveness can be provided if someone actively changes their ways and works to rectify the problems they've created. But too often, some people are allowed to be endlessly forgiven, while others are demonized and written off for slight mishaps due to events outside of their control.

Knowing BoJack, the final season will remark on this in its typically self-aware fashion. It probably won't even offer its titular horse any form of redemption. Instead, it will probably end in shambles, leaving us with more questions than answers.

We'll miss BoJack, but maybe it's time to let him go.

In Andy Muschietti's new film, IT: Chapter Two, audiences are reintroduced to the band of nerdy, endearing children they met two years ago in the 2017 installment of IT.

Now, Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), and Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan) are all grown up—encumbered with old tensions, unresolved childhood trauma, and new secondary sex characteristics—and they're back in Derry, Maine to face Pennywise the dancing clown for the second and final time.

Before we go any further into the cinematic universe, it's important we get one thing out of the way. Now that both movies have come out and the onscreen saga of Pennywise is complete, one thing is abundantly clear: Andy Muschietti's films do not do the book justice. I know, I know, that's an inexcusably insufferable thing to say when asked about a movie. But if there's one thing you can count on every horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing, millennial journalist to spout as readily as climate change facts from a half-read The New Yorker article, it's the phrase, "The book was better." In this instance, I humbly count myself among them (my glasses are more of a Cynical Harry Potter shape, though) and ask you to trust me that it's a relevant observation.

In Stephen King's 1986 novel, IT, the group of children portrayed are so vividly real—in all of their terror and joy on the brink of puberty—that adult readers are forced to remember their own childhoods through an uncomfortably accurate lens, rather than the sunshiney, carefree one our culture falsely assigns in retrospect. King reminds us that childhood is, above all else, fraught with intensity of experience, both good and bad (scary clown or not). King brilliantly weaves together the parallel stories of the Loser's Club as children and adults, switching between the two narratives from chapter to chapter, subtly showing that childhood fears never really die and that life is often a series of patterns repeating themselves. Contrary to popular belief, IT isn't really a book about a murderous clown; it's a book about the horrors and complications of growing up.

Unfortunately, for all the ways Andy Muschietti's 2017 film is at least a semi-worthy tribute to these aspects of King's book, IT: Chapter Two is not. It's possible that the second installment was always set up to fail because—while the childhood portion of the book managed to stand alone in film—the story of the Loser's Club as adults is simply inextricable from the parallel story of their disrupted youth. Without the side-by-side view of their shared childhood, the story falls flat.

The Losers Club

Perhaps most strikingly, IT: Chapter Two manages to feel longer than the 1,100 page book. A nearly three-hour run-time for any movie is self-important, but a three-hour run-time for a horror movie is just exhausting. Sure, they had a lot of ground to cover, but they managed to pack about a half hour's worth of story into three badly-paced hours. There were plenty of funny and sentimental moments as the adults revisited their childhood haunts and dynamics, and it was an excellent choice to insert the child actors from the first film in gripping memory sequences, but the first movie seemed to do most of the work for the second.

Let's answer one of the first questions you ask a friend who's just seen a horror movie: "Was it scary?" In this case, the answer is complicated. Admittedly, the images that Muschietti and his team pulled from King's imagination were often inventive and terrifying...at first. But, perhaps because of the length of the film or because it lacked the guidance of someone experienced in crafting horror, each monster was left onscreen too long. Soon, familiarity took the edge off each grotesque spectacle, and eventually subsumed it all together until the monsters felt downright silly, something King never allows to happen in the mind's eye of his reader and something that should never be allowed to happen on screen.

Pennywise the Clown

This is a particularly blatant problem at the end of the movie, when the Loser's Club fight Pennywise (in all his various forms) in a lengthy, eventually tiresome battle sequence. Before the movie premiered, many diehard King fans doubted that the mysticism and nuance of the book's ending could be translated effectively onto screen, and they were right. While no one can blame the screenwriters for excluding the group sex scene between the children (yes, that really is in the book), the story's end is decidedly oversimplified and drawn out.

In the book, the theme of good vs. evil comes to a head when the Losers venture into the alternate dimension Pennywise is from and speak to his antithesis, a "turtle" who embodies the forces of good both within the children and in the world at large. It's a powerful, complicated ending worthy of the saga that precedes it. Unfortunately, Muschietti managed to turn it into a limp, anti-bullying PSA. In the film, the Losers shout at Pennywise, verbally belittling him and causing him to physically shrink until they easily rip out his heart, leaving the audience with questions like, "That's it? Why didn't they do that before?" and "So...Pennywise was just the Losers' insecurities…?" and "I paid $17 dollars for this?" It's a cheesy cop-out clearly designed by a movie-maker who's scared to delve into the ambiguities and complications of King's original ending.

Still, not all differences between the book and the movie are bad. In King's novel, a romantic connection between Eddie and Richie is only vaguely implied. In the film, Muschietti solidified the implication, showing Richie (Bill Hader) carving "R+E" into a bridge after Eddie's death. In fact, Hader offers many of the movie's best moments, giving the film's most fully-realized performance. Unfortunately, his cheeky one-liners often fall flat thanks to a cast that struggles to capture the same juxtaposition between lightheartedness and terror that the child actors in the first movie nailed.

In the end, perhaps it's unfair to blame Muschietti or the cast for Chapter Two's failure. Maybe there are just some books that don't translate to film, and maybe that's okay. God knows that won't stop studios from continuing to try, and it will continue to give insufferable nerds like me the opportunity to say, "The book was better" every chance we get.

TV

Yes, “Fleabag” Deserves All the Emmys​

We watch the star for entertainment purposes and perhaps to learn about ourselves; she uses us as escapism, to break the tension in her life and hide from those she's afraid to let in.

Steve Schofield/Amazon

If a perfect season of television exists, that unicorn would be Phoebe Waller-Bridge's second season of Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge, the series' writer and creator, stars as a young woman we know only as "Fleabag," a volatile Londoner with an insatiable sex drive and an immensely combative nature. The series (an easy 12-episode binge) is just as complex as its lead character, serving a cocktail of cringeworthy humor and dramatic conflict that pulls hilarity out of its heavy themes of grief and sex addiction. The best part: Fleabag's direct line to us, her viewers.


From its very first moments, Fleabag breaks the fourth wall to give us the explicit play-by-play of a sexual encounter as it's happening. While it's a plot device that's been used from Ancient Greek theatre to House of Cards, having unfiltered access to Fleabag's innermost thoughts lets us diagnose her far before she's ready to confront herself. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. We watch her for entertainment purposes and perhaps to learn about ourselves; she uses us as escapism, to break the tension in her life and hide from those she's afraid to let in.

Fleabag Season 2 - Official Trailer | Prime Video www.youtube.com

Watching Fleabag is like being a fly on the wall, but to Fleabag, we're a key component to her survival. We become willing participants in her life as she struggles to connect with her remarried father (Bill Paterson), godmother-turned-stepmom (the radiant Olivia Colman), and uptight sister, Claire (Sian Clifford). While Fleabag lets us ride shotgun through her zany existence, those around her—particularly her family—tip-toe around a traumatic experience that shocked Fleabag's universe and inadvertently excuse her overly erratic and selfish behavior. Claire is resentful (and maybe jealous) of Fleabag's uninhibited self-indulgence, while her godmother treats her like a toxin. We did nothing to deserve such unique perspective into Fleabag's psyche, but it draws us closer to her than any other character is allowed to get. She fears intimacy, yet provides us with VIP privileges to peek behind the curtain. Are we more real to her than her family, or just a safer option?

Thanks to the constant feeding of her addiction, she's a pro at pretending she's not tormented by grief. But we see her hurt. We intuit that there's something she's not telling us until all is revealed in the season one finale. Even the truth about the death of her BFF, Boo, with whom she owned and operated a guinea pig-themed café, is hidden until a shocking plot element is revealed. Fleabag not only hides from a dark past but actively represses it. Her attempts to convince us that everything's OK are largely unsuccessful, because we're able to see through her charade.

In season two, Fleabag is on the path toward recovery until a charming Catholic priest puts her progress in jeopardy of relapse. Fleabag is used to getting what she wants with minimal effort, but once the mutual attraction is both acknowledged and refuted, she looks at us and says, "We'll last a week." Only when she actually has sex with the priest does she point the camera to the floor, shutting us out for the very first time. The priest challenges her in a way we can't. He calls her out on her fourth-wall dissociation, asking, "Where did you just go? You just went somewhere!" While others make allowances for her behavior and distance, the priest holds her accountable, tethering her to the moment. Once that relationship reaches its inevitable, amicable end, Fleabag walks away from him and us in one fell swoop. As a once unstable woman, she's no longer titillated by private confessions and airs; she decidedly leaves her baggage—and us—behind.

A relationship between viewers and TV screens is typically a one-sided affair, but Fleabag's perpetually shattered wall changes the dynamic and offers sharp insight into a complicated character. The show's 11 Emmy nominations should help shine a brighter light on Waller-Bridge's deserving brand of quirky dysfunction. It's not often that an outpouring of hype and praise is justified, but Fleabag is one of those unique cases. It's a gem that traverses a tightrope between learning to accept and better yourself and doing what it takes to survive. Fleabag is incredibly human, and in a way, we are all Fleabag.