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Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun | Review

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For years now, Adult Swim have been the kings of absurdist comedy. Producing shows like The Eric Andre Show and Rick and Morty whilst also uploading wacky short films to their YouTube channel like Too Many Cooks, they have undoubtedly been the comedic voice of this generation. But now it seems that Netflix is trying to fight Adult Swim for their crown, as recently they’ve been streaming some brilliant examples of absurdist comedy of their own.

A notable recent example of Netflix’s arsenal of crazy humour is I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. This completely bizarre show premiered on the streaming site in 2019, sadly to a rather quiet reception. It included sketches about a man in a hotdog costume pretending he didn’t crash his hotdog car into a shop window, a man who’s production of Bugsy Malone went bust so now he has to find a use for all of his fake tommy guns and gangster hats and Oscar Nominated Actor Steven Yeun being slightly ungrateful for a birthday present.

Now Netflix looks across the Pacific Ocean to find it’s new source of mad antic comedy with the Australian sketch group Aunty Donna. If you’re unfamiliar with the group, they started out on YouTube. This is where they make several web series and sketches which are filled to the brim with some of the funniest stuff you’ll see on the site. Since getting popular on YouTube, they’ve made a podcast and have performed live across all of the English speaking world. Now, with the help of Edd (or Egg) Helms, they’ve made a six episode sketch series for Netflix. And it’s probably the best new comedy show of 2020.

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun has slightly more of a plot than most sketch shows. This is simply in the sense that it follows the same characters in the same house, but that’s about it. Every episode follows a certain theme, whether that be trying to find a new roommate, dating or training for the “‘Lympics”. These themes as you can probably guess are very loose and the episodes can often go very wildly off topic in the most brilliant of fashions.

The show will leave you breathless every episode. It is filled to the brim with fantastic jokes that often take you completely by surprise. None of it makes any sense and that’s why it’s hilarious. In the first episode, it seems like everyone in the world has got a poster of at least one member of the trio featured in the show. Then in another episode there’s a watermelon that lists Christopher Nolan’s filmography.

The main trio of course is the main reason why this show is as brilliant as it is. Broden Kelly, Zachary Ruane and Mark Bonanno are three of the best comedic actors working and are such an absolute joy to watch. Most people have a favourite member of Monty Python (and that person is usually John Cleese or Graham Chapman), but you will be hard pressed to decide which member of this group is your favourite. They all bring a different talent to create a perfect cocktail of a comedy sketch show. This is not to mention the variety of cameos that make their way into the show which are all as funny as the last.

This review is joke light, because giving anything away would ruin the show. Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun demands to be watched blind. If you are already a fan of the group then some characters and sketches may be familiar to you. But if you don’t know the group then after watching this whole programme in a day, you’ll zoom through their YouTube and podcast content too, hoping that some day you’ll be able to watch them live.

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun is the ultimate cure for lockdowns. It’s pure comedic bliss and never fails to make you pass out with laughter, even on a fourth or fifth viewing. Please, go and support this show and binge it now to make sure it gets its well deserved second series. You will NOT regret it. To quote the show, it’s a “bwilliant (show) 5 stars”. 

Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House Of Fun is available to stream now on Netflix

FILM RATING

Freddie has a degree in Digital Film Production from Ravensbourne University London. He’s obsessive about many things but mostly Batman, Doctor Who and The Incredibles. To find out all of Freddie's film opinions go to his Letterboxd - TheDeightonator

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Afterlife of the Party: A Fake Movie (Review)

Stephen Herek and Victoria Justice fail to make legitimate cinema in Afterlife of the Party, an algorithmic-driven production.

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Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins made rather controversial comments on streaming releases, saying that “all of these films that streaming services are putting out” look like “fake movies to me.” It’s quite a hypocritical comment to say, especially when her last film was indeed released on streaming (for 31 days, but still) and looked like one of the fakest things to have ever come out during the new decade but ok, I guess. Of course, many critics have called out her elitism, with reason, as streaming services allow for more creative freedom, which seems to be the number reason that attracts filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee to work with studios like Netflix. Marriage Story wasn’t a fake movie (and played really well on the big screen). However, we can discuss the authenticity and ethics of The Irishman’s PS2 de-aging, which caricatures its main characters. There isn’t one person that clearly did not find a then 76-year old Joe Pesci saying to a then 76-year old Robert De Niro, “What’s the problem, kid?” as their de-aged faces did not match their older bodies.



But those aren’t fake movies—they’re legitimate pieces of film made by legitimate filmmakers who want to legitimize streaming services as a new and exciting place for creative content. When major studios churn out the same CGI-filed blockbusters one after another, many turn to streaming services to look for the best in new entertainment. And then there’s the other side of the spectrum: The Kissing Booth and Princess Switch series and He’s All That, for example, look and sound like total fake movies. It’s shameless content destined to feed an algorithm so they can attract gullible teens looking for pure escapism inside a protagonist’s totally improbable fake life. The latest addition of fake movies is Stephen Herek’s Afterlife of the Party, which looks and sounds like the fakest thing imaginable. This is only exacerbated by the fact that Victoria Justice plays the main lead, and her acting skills are about as convincing as my forever broken Winnie the Pooh lamp.

AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY. MIDORI FRANCIS as LISA, VICTORIA JUSTICE as CASSIE in AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY. Cr. GRAHAM BARTHOLOMEW/NETFLIX © 2021

Herek is an experienced filmmaker, having directed the first in The Mighty Ducks franchise, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Disney’s 1996 remake of 101 Dalmatians and the great 1993 adaptation of The Three Musketeers, and so to have him direct, this egregious piece of content feels like a travesty, as his talents are pitifully wasted for a fake movie on moving on and apologizing for their errors, as Justice plays Cassie, a 25-year old egotist who loves to party. She lives in her apartment with her best friend/roommate Lisa (Midori Francis), and they have a conflicting relationship together. Cassie wants to party her heart out, while Lisa thinks what she’s doing is irresponsible and dangerous. One morning, as Cassie suffers from a hangover, she slips and falls in the bathroom, hitting her head on the toilet seat in the process, and immediately dies. When she wakes up, she is welcomed into the “In-between,” a place set between Heaven and Hell, as Cassie still has amends to make up before she can go up (or down) and live the rest of her Eternal life. The rest of the film is as predictable as you’d think: Cassie will go back to Earth and make amends with her dad (Adam Garcia), mom (Sofia Garcia), and best friend in the hopes that she will become an Eternal angel and will finally rest in peace. But, of course, she finds ways to make amends, and everything ends the way it should, right?



Yes, everything ends the way it should, without an ounce of originality. Herek sets up fake drama as a pretext for Cassie and Lisa’s rift before the main character bites the dust, but we all know, deep down, that this fake drama will be resolved through one (or two) conversations. They’ll meet again, Lisa will be frightened, and then they’re going to have a good time until Cassie says something out of line, go back to fighting a bit and fully make amends before Cassie’s time is up. It’s written on the wall as soon as Cassie fights with Lisa during the film’s opening sequence. The same can be said when Lisa doesn’t have the courage to sign up for a job interview that could skyrocket her career…where do YOU think this will end up? None of it is original: everyone has seen it before. Heck, remember that 2008 rom-com with Eva Longoria, a freak accident caused her to die, and then she started to haunt her ex-boyfriend’s relationship? Neither do I, but Afterlife of the Party follows that same quasi-plot of a spirit-like presence coming back into the lives of the people she has not made amends with. It’s not the same structure, but these films both feel oddly familiar.

AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY. SPENCER SUTHERLAND as KOOP in AFTERLIFE OF THE PARTY. Cr. GRAHAM BARTHOLOMEW/NETFLIX © 2021

Though Afterlife of the Party does have something Over Her Dead Body did not have: an emotional core. And while Justice can’t act convincingly, she is boasted by decent supporting actors, including a scene-stealing Midori Francis as her best friend. Francis seems to be the only actress giving a damn here and with enough acting experience to make her role somewhat convincing and interesting. Hell, I didn’t care one bit about Cassie’s journey from egotist to a somewhat open and carefree friend, after the fact, as Justice didn’t give me one reason to root for her redemption actively. Instead, she goes through the same character beats most egotists do in situations like these and will ultimately get what she deserved after learning two or three facile elements that will provide some closure for the three holes in her life she did not get a chance to say how sorry she was.

There is nothing original and/or new Afterlife of the Party presents. All of its situations and fake drama the film creates are borrowed from infinitely better films (how Cassie teleports herself from one location to another, which has the same aesthetic traits as in the Wizarding World franchise), or, dare I say, real movies. Nothing seems real in Afterlife of the Party, save for some emotional depth with Midori Francis’ character, but nothing else. Algorithmic-driven films should be condemned as “Fake Movies,” as they’re only there to appease a certain demographic so they can consume the product while feeding the algorithm, so it can say to Ted Sarandos or the bigwigs at Netflix to make more of these products. At the same time, legitimate cinema, like Vivo or Army of the Dead, gets buried under a sea of Fake Movies. If you’ve complained about Patty Jenkins’ comments on the content streaming services releases, you haven’t seen Afterlife of the Party. I have spoken.

FILM RATING

FILM RATING
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Marvel’s What If…?- Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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What If…?  is the latest Marvel Studios project to arrive on our small screens on Disney +.

The animated anthology series, created by Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia writer A.C. Bradley and Marvel vet Bryan Andrews flips the script on the MCU as following the creation of the multiverse in Loki’s first season finale, What If…? reimagines famous events from the films in unexpected ways.



This weeks episode of Marvel’s What If…? truly changes key moments from the movie that started it all. Ever since Iron Man was released in 2008, Tony Stark has been a fan favourite for many, including myself. He’s gone from being a Playboy, billionaire, philanthropist to a hero who’s willing to sacrifice it all. Though my question is What If…?  you just stopped killing Tony Stark in nearly every episode. 

“Without Tony’s fateful capture in Afghanistan the Age of Iron Man would never come to pass. Though the man was saved, a hero was lost, and a villain was given a new chance

the watcher

What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

Synopsis

An American soldier called Killmonger rescues Tony Stark when his Humvee is attacked in Afghanistan.

Review

This latest chapter lacked the emotional depth of the previous episodes and is probably one of the flattest out of the series so far. However it works by giving the viewers more of the charismatic Black Panther villain Killmonger. He’s a fascinating, eerily timed villain. What If…? used the character to tell a commentary on war, power, ambition and the extreme lengths he goes to in order to portray the hero. 

In this episode Tony (Mick Wingert) is never kidnapped, nor has his heart been pieced with shrapnel which was depicted in the first Iron Man film in 2008, Instead he’s saved and rescued by Killmonger in the desert. This unfortunate moment erases all that’s Iron Man as Stark never built his first Iron armoured suit in the cave and he unfortunately never learns his lesson as he continues to make weapons. Killmonger also reveals Obadiah Stane’s plan to have Tony assassinated, which earns Tony’s trust as a suspicious Pepper Potts watches from the sidelines. 

©Marvel

Stark promotes Killmonger to Stane’s old position and he invests in an idea of Killmongers to create vibranium mech-robots. This is where we start to see Killmongers true intentions as his kill count goes up. He’s essentially the puppet master who’s orchestrating an ambitious war between Wakanda and it’s real-world allies. 

The pacing during this episode was rather fast, in many ways it works for an exhilarating ride but when some of our favourite heroes die unfortunate deaths, we don’t get to catch a breath as it’s a race to the twisted ending. 

Episode 6 shows us how dangerous Erik Killmonger can be with his deceptive and mischievous ways. It’s dark and twisted with heavy consequences as little by little the villains starts to win. 

FILM RATING
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The Guilty – Review | TIFF 2021

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Despite having given some of the best performances of the past 20 years, Jake Gyllenhaal has only been recognized by the Oscars once after receiving a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2006 for Brokeback Mountain. His fantastic performances in Nightcrawler, Prisoners, Southpaw and so many other films went unnoticed by the Academy but now once again Jake Gyllenhaal is back in his latest film The Guilty. Whilst he’s quite unlikely to receive any awards recognition for his most recent role, Gyllenhaal is once againproving that he really is one of the greatest actors working today.

The Guilty is an American film directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and is a remake of the 2018 Danish film of the same name. The entire film takes place over the course of a single morning, and it follows Gyllenhaal’s call operator Joe Baylor in a 911 dispatch call centre. Joe receives a call from a woman named Emily who acts as if she’s talking to her young daughter and through asking her a series of yes or no questions, Joe determines that she’s been taken and is in danger.



Trapped at his desk in the call centre, Baylor must solve the issue and find the truths, rescuing Emily, all through a series of phone calls. Almost the entire film takes place from within the call centre and it’s a very interesting perspective to see in a film. I’ve not seen the original Danish film so I can’t compare the two and any differences they might have but it’s quite refreshing to see a crime thriller film confined to just one location.

Normally in a film like this the protagonist would be trying to solve the case by travelling to different places and talking to different people but instead Baylor can’t go anywhere and has to solve it all from his desk. There’s a point where he’s phoning up a police officer to go to Emily’s house to check on her kids and to search for any clues as to where she might be but instead of taking the audience to her house, we too are confined with Baylor in the call centre, feeling his frustration when he can’t get an officer to go.

The whole film is very tense and has you on the edge of your seat throughout. The direction from Fuqua is clear and he gets such a high level of suspense out of the situation. Not only with us fearing if Emily will make it out alive and if Baylor will save her in time but also through some of the subplots. Joe gets a couple of phone calls from journalists asking about his side of the story ahead of ‘tomorrow’. It’s not until near the end of the film where we find out what’s happening ‘tomorrow’ and what Baylor had done wrong and whilst perhaps it does add a bit of a dampener and it doesn’t entirely sit right with me, it creates another layer of tension and adds to the suspense.



Jake Gyllenhaal really is excellent and the standout in The Guilty. The film does have an impressive voice cast with Ethan Hawke, Riley Keough and Paul Dano all voicing characters over the phone, but Gyllenhaal really is outstanding. There are very few actors that can demand your full attention for 90 minutes like he does. The film is almost entirely just Gyllenhaal acting from his desk but you forget about this fairly quickly because of the way that Gyllenhaal takes control of every single scene. Seeing him react to both sides of the conversation over the phone rather than cutting backwards and forwards between the two ends is so enthralling to watch because of his excellent performance.

There are times when the film does begin to drag and when we do learn a bit more about the trouble Baylor got into at work, it needed to be developed a bit more to be wholly satisfying but nonetheless The Guilty is a riveting film propelled by Jake Gyllenhaal’s fantastic acting.

The Guilty premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and is released on Netflix on October 1st.

FILM RATING
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