Justin’s Random Pop Culture Thoughts: 6/5/15 – Mr. Robot & La Haine

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Welcome to the latest edition of Justin’s Random Thoughts, a weekly column in which I dump my random thoughts of pop culture on you every Friday. This week I offer some Random Points, do a Pilot Review of “Mr. Robot” and offer a Random Recommendation.

Random Thoughts is going to be a little shorter this week because I’m going to be give multiple reviews via writing and podcast.  Anyways, let’s make some…

Random Points

– How has Black Coal, Thin Ice, Diao Yi’nan amazing Golden Bear winning film which is opening Today in UK, not received an American release date yet? It’s brilliant. A neo-noir with the sense of humor of a Coen Brothers film, this film would get swallowed up by Film Geek Intelligentsia like so many other masterful Chinese films. Liao Fan is spectacular in it and took home the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 64th Berlin FIlm Festival. Trailer Here

– Noticeably absent from Last Week’s TV Summer Watchlist were two of the best shows on television, “The Knick” and “Fargo”, who lit up the summer last year. “The Knick” will be arriving to will be airing in October according to Steven Soderbergh’s Twitter account Bitchuation. Besides list of epic casting for “Fargo” Season 2, little is know about the exact particulars. Noah Hawley’s Twitter and Instagram accounts had set photos for the past few months and, on May 15, he tweeted out an Instagram photo titled “Last Day Fargo Year 2”. You figure with no “Sons of Anarchy” anymore, FX would slide “Fargo” into the fall slot. “The Strain” ends October 4th, so you imagine the next FX cycle begins shortly after. So October going to be a very good Television month with “The Leftovers” most likely sliding there with True Detectiv” ending August 9, and the David Simon/Paul Haggis Mini Series Show Me A Hero filling in for six weeks starting August 16.

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This image is a fan created fake but I’m all in. So dope. Now, only if they actually pick a director and get things going. I need to calm down, Marvel’s Spider-Man film got this film pushed to July 2018 and that’s a long ways off.

– “Game of Thrones” has finally reached that special place where I don’t have to hear people who read the books talk about what’s happening. Yes, your knowledge about this world is very helpful but you need to chill with “this is what’s going happen”. Season Five is already past the books so it’s most likely not going happen that way. Prediction: Jon Snow and Daenerys Stormborn. I know books have their theories about certain parts of this but I think show goes a different direction because I’ve always had the theory that Jon Snow was actually son of Robert Baratheon and Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister. This prediction could go bad quickly with this show, haha!

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I’m Terrible At Reviewing Television

I always seems to blur the line between recap and review. So I do not review television. But I can review a pilot and tell you if it’s worth watching, so I will. Last week, as I was writing my list of my Summer Watchlist, I mentioned “Mr. Robot”, the new television program from Sam Esmail. Well, unbeknowst me, USA released the “Mr. Robot” Pilot titled “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”on YouTube and VOD. I caught up with it a few days ago.

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In my Summer Watchlist, I described Mr. Robot looking like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo television show, and I was right. The pilot starts with Elliot (Rami Malek), a paranoid young man who is convinced he’s being followed. He stops into a local coffee chain to have a word with the owner and commend him for having a fast Wifi Network. He then confesses that he good network made him suspicious of the owner because it’s costliness and goes to detail’s the sins that he discovered. Elliot is distressed by inconvenience of his discoveries because he recognizes living outside of norms. But Elliot has a sense of duty and knows that although he doesn’t functionally correctly, there’s still a right and wrong.

Rami Malek is fantastic as Elliot, a computer programmer with myriad of psychological issues, mainly social anxiety disorder and chronic depression. Malek plays Elliot in a way that is aside from many of the broken geniuses that have recently graced our television screens. Rami Malek has this face that is broken and disturbing at the same time because he simultaneously does and doesn’t understand the world. But there’s a sympathy when you look at him because you tell he wants to understand and wants be like the rest in some ways, but he can’t. He works at Allsafe as a Cyber Security Engineer during day and at a firm that specialize in Big Corporation Security. He works with his childhood friend Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday), who helps him navigate the world and he secretly watches over by hacking her credit cards and boyfriend’s social media. He does the same for his Psychologist Kristia Gordon(Gloria Reuben). He knows she’s a good person but her fault is always seeing the best in people, making her bad at her job and worse in social life. Elliot is opposite; his social life is terrible because he’s good at reading people due to always assuming the worst. His rant about why he hates society plays like combination of Holden Caufield meets Patrick Bateman. Normally such a thing would be extremely distasteful but things he says are the type of logic you get from android or some other type of being that is watching the world from the sidelines. It’s cold but it’s true. Elliot is consumed by the falseness of the world as opposed to everyone else who accept it as part of the status quo.

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Things changed for Elliot when attacks continue to escalate on E Corp, Allsafe’s big client and largest conglomerate in the world.  E Corp stops in for a visit. Though they’re mostly innocuous, he does meet Tyrell Wellac (Martin Wallström), the Senior VP of Technology, an executive with preculier tech knowledge. After massive DDoS attack (That’s Distributed Denial of Service, kiddies) on E Corp, Elliot meets Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), a homeless man that he kept seeing. Mr. Robot reveals that he heads a Hacker Collective, F Society, that specialize is bring down corporations and that he needs Elliots help with E Corp. From here, things spiral as Elliot walks the line of wanting to bring down E Corp is loyal to Angela and Allsafe. He’s conflicted and not entirely certain that his delusions haven’t finally got him.

Mr. Robot is really promising. This is maybe the best pilot I have seen USA put out and looks like a show that finally get USA over the label of your parents favorite network when CBS is off. I will be looking for to“Mr. Robot when it airs June 24 and will keep updated on my thoughts.

Mr. Robot Episode 1: “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov” is 8.8 out of 10.

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Random Recommendation: La Haine

La-Haine

This isn’t exactly a random recommendation, on Screen Bites Episode 51 “Best Films vs Favorite Films”, I extolled the virtues of La Haine, Mathieu Kassovitz’s masterpiece and one of my five favorite films of all time. But the reason I’m writing about this film now is that it’s story is just as relevant now as it was when it was released in France 20 years ago from Last Sunday. Much like Do The Right Thing, La Haine speaks to a social issues that haven’t disappeared in between  it’s release and now. In fact, like Do The Right Thing, La Haine ‘s central idea is in the spotlight once again unfortunately.

The story of three friends from a ZUP outside of Paris (For all intensive purpose, you could describe a ZUP as a Housing Project). The ZUP the friends live is a multi ethnic project, you have Vinz (Vincent Cassel) a young Jewish man who’s angry, Hubert (Hubert Koundé) an Afro-French Boxer who deals drugs but is calm and reserved, and you have Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) a Arab Maghrebis who is the middle of  Vinz and Hubert. The area they live is tense right now because riots broke out after a march about police brutality lead to one of their friends Abdel (Abdel Ahmed Ghili) binge hospitialized after being beaten in police custody. Vinz wants revenge, Hubert wants the violence to just end, and Saïd is trying his hardest to just about life in these troubled times. Watch as these friends make they’re way through the project and eventually Paris itself and we see the world they have to live in. This film is like looking into a mirror as the life these young live thousands of miles away from America and yet their story is so entirely familiar.

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This film excels because the combination of performance of Cassel, Taghmaoi, and Koundé. They represent three different version of the same story and the film is at its best when they are attempting to reconcile their viewpoints with one another. I’m going to be writing some more about this film so I’ll going to keep it brief, this is one of the best films I have seen and one that has been essential to my understanding of what cinema can do. I highly recommend you check it out and hope you return to find out my further thoughts on this landmark piece of film history.

La Haine is available on the Hulu Plus’ Criterion Channel, Amazon Instant, iTunes, and available on Criterion Blu-Ray & DVD.

-Justin

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