Mary Neely in Quarantine

since I’m single in the quarantine I’ve decided to reenact moments from my favorite musicals so it feels like I’m in love — first is LES MISÉRABLES

Mary Neely

All of these are brilliant, some of the best acting, directing, and editing I’ve seen lately. But my favorite is Helpless from Hamilton. I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit.

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Jojo Rabbit

I went into Jojo Rabbit not knowing much about the film. I haven’t been paying much attention to movies lately and hadn’t seen a full trailer or read a single review (don’t worry Zach, I’ll be reading yours just as soon as I’m done writing this). And with all that apathy I managed to avoid any spoilers or any real knowledge of it. I don’t say this as a backward “I’m too cool for school” brag. I say it, because sometimes ignorance really is bliss. This just seemed like one I should go into blind and I think I’m happier for it.

If you’re on the fence about seeing Jojo Rabbit, but also think that you should go in knowing less about it rather than more, I’ll say this once: stop reading now and just go see it. You’ll be glad you did. 

For those that want to know more or are reading this because you’re rabid fans of mine (why do I hear crickets right now?), let’s dig in and see what all the fuss is about.

The Facts

Jojo Rabbit is about a ten year old boy living in Nazi Germany. He’s obsessed with Hitler and believes all the worst things about jews. So much so that the film starts with an ecstatic Jojo getting pumped about going to Nazi Youth Camp. Did I mention this is a comedy (albeit a dark one)? Celebratory book burnings and live fire training ensue.

It stars Roman Griffin Davis as Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, Scarlett Johansson as Rosie Betzler, his charismatic, take-no-shit mother, and Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa, a jew living in their walls. Oh, and it was written, directed, and also stars Taika Waititi (of Thor: Ragnarok) as none other than Adolf Hitler, or at least a proxy of Hitler. The story is based on Christine Leunens‘s book Caging Skies.

The film takes a turn when Jojo finds Elsa hidden away in their home, and that his mother has hidden her on purpose. Jojo then begins to questions his misguided beliefs. With the thoughtful prodding of Rosie and Elsa, Jojo eventually comes to terms with the fact that he has been mislead.

The Laughs

Almost every character in Jojo Rabbit is funny. Jojo: funny, Rosie:  funny, Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell): funny, Hitler: funny, Jojo’s friend Yorki (Archie Yates): hilarious. But the laughs aren’t at the death and destruction of war, but despite it. The characters, especially Jojo and Rosie are grasping for levity in a country and city that are surrounded and under attack, from inside and out.

The Heart

There’s no way I get into the heart of the matter without egregious spoilers, and this is no place for that. So I’m just going to say that this quirky, dark comedy is chalk full of heart. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is easily Scarlett Johansson’s best film. Or at least the best I’ve seen of hers. She exudes caring and compassion in an undercurrent beneath her rough guise of a faithful German citizen.

Couple Johansson’s performance with Sam Rockwell, who plays a gruff but funny and oddly caring Nazi captain who attempts to train Jojo and Yorki, and you’ve already got a film brooding with talent. But we’re not done yet. The young actors also all nail it. Elsa (McKenzie) is meek in her hideout, but fierce when it comes to Jojo’s blind Nazi loyalty. Meanwhile she’s clever enough to prod him into an empathetic direction without being too overt. Even Jojo’s hilarious friend Yorki, is as lovable as a character as I could hope for.

The Feels

After Jojo Rabbit finished, I walked out of the theater and went shopping at Trader Joes. It’s unrelated to the movie except that Joes shares a parking garage with the theater I went to and I was hungry. All of that is beside the point anyway. The point is, that the whole time walking around the store, doing something so trivial as buying groceries, driving home, and walking my dog, my mind was wandered. Much in the way minds tend to wander after something great and shocking and bewildering — clawing for meaning, scratching away the callused parts of my skull.

I was sad and laughing and smiling and crying, all at the same time. If the goal of art is to make you feel something, Jojo Rabbit unequivocally falls into the “art” category for me, and I bet it will make you sad-laugh-smile-cry too.

The Egg

For as long as I’ve known about the Kurzgesagt YouTube channel I’ve been a huge fan. They usually make great scientific videos, but in this team-up with Andy Weir (author of The Martian amongst other fine works) they’ve gone into a whole new, beautiful realm.

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Blade Runner 2049 – Movies with Mikey

Movies with Mikey is unequivocally my favorite movie review channel. His reviews are more like deep-dives than reviews, but that’s more of what I’m looking for anyway. I don’t suggest watching his videos until you’ve watched the movies as spoilers run very deep. That’s true for his review of Blade Runner 2049 as well. So, if for some reason you haven’t watched that already, go do that first, then come back to this review for greater understanding.

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xkcd: Voting Software

XKCD - web comic - Voting Software

Source: xkcd: Voting Software

CHVRCHES cover Kendrick Lamar 'LOVE.' for Like A Version

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Simone Giertz: Why you should make useless things

Simone Giertz makes a delightful YouTube channel wherein she designs and builds self-proclaimed “shitty robots.” Earlier today, TED Talks posted her talk from April of this year. It’s wonderful example of her work and enthusiasm, and explains why we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. As per the TED standard, it’s heartfelt, inspirational, and a lot of fun.

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Human, Dog, Crow

I’m very excited to announce that I’ve launched a fun, new project. It’s an all new web comic called Human, Dog, Crow. I should have written this article yesterday, since that’s when I launched it, but it turns out that launching a fun little web comic takes as much work as launching any other website, and I ran out of time.

Stay tuned there to see what kind of of antics Human, Dog, and Crow get up to.

I made the website from scratch (programmed in PHP for the curious coders out there). I will probably open source the site code eventually as it’s pretty simple system to use for making a web comic site. And I think it would be fun to see what other people can do with it. I still have some more work I want to do on the system before I open source it, stay tuned. I also need to come up with a good name for the comic system.

CHVRCHES – Live on the Honda Stage

Anyone who knows me has undoubtedly heard me go on and on about CHVRCHES at some point. They have long been one of my absolute favorite bands. They recently performed an acoustic set on the Honda Stage at Power Station and in short, they nailed it. From their breakout hit Mother We Share, to a cover of Beyoncé’s XO, to two tracks from their forthcoming album Love Is Dead (Get Out and Never Say Die), every one of them is perfect.
It’s always exciting for me to see a stripped down version of songs I know and love come from such a talented band like CHVRCHES. If you only enjoy these half as much as I do, you’ll still be enthralled.

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