TV Reviews

TV Reviews: Umbrella Academy S1E1

The Umbrella Academy S1 E1

“We Only See Each Other At Weddings And Funerals”

Series Trailer via Netflix (YouTube)

I realize that the hot ticket Online is reviewing Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, Gerard Way’s comic-turned-television-event. To do this, however, I would have to watch Season 1. Let’s see if I end up running out of steam.

Before I start this review, I want to be clear about a few things-

  1. I know what’s going to happen plot-wise. Like, not the details, just the major beats. As someone who struggles with certain types of thematic imagery in media, I tend to need trigger warnings for specific content. I knew enough about the series (through friends, art, etc.) that I knew that I might be upset, and I took the time to read about certain characters and their narrative journeys. When Season 1 of the show released, I wasn’t in a place where I could engage with it. Which is okay! I’m glad that I waited, and that I get to enjoy this now.
  2. I haven’t read the comic. I might someday. We’ll see.

With that out of the way, I can now share that this is the first episodic TV review I’ve ever written, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. So… let’s talk about some kids.

I guess The Umbrella Academy is about a bunch of kids who got the short end of the stick of life. Their eccentric dad wanted them to be superheroes, they aren’t, everyone has feelings about it. Also some of them seem like they have superpowers?

Technically, I love a lot of the work to create the feeling of this series. I did see that iconic dollhouse-esque “we’re all dancing along together” sequence, and it was nice. There’s an intensely personal feeling to so many scenes in a derelict and terrifying house. I want to be clear: I hate the lighting. I am not a fan of low light being a mood (it isn’t). The music is everything I expected and then some, including a beautifully twisted fight sequence to They Might Be Giants in this episode.

All seven (or six) of these kids didn’t get names, just numbers, and wow that’s a potent metaphor. I also cannot be bothered to learn their names, as I didn’t adopt them, so I’ve been referring to them by the most loving nicknames I can come up with. I’ll do my best to write a semi-coherent description for this first summary, but then all bets are off.

Number One- Luther, also known as Moon Boy. He was being sad on the moon in the beginning, and I hope he becomes a little less sad. He’s very large. I enjoy how large he is. I keep staring at his back, but also all he does is lurk and stick his foot in his mouth.

Number Two- Diego, also known as Knife Boy. I don’t like him. Everyone on my timeline is so thirsty for him, and I respect it, but he’s so… angsty. He fought Moon Boy at their dead Dad’s funeral. I want him to be happy, but his vigilante superhero bit isn’t my thing.

Number Three- Allison, also known as Gossip Girl (xoxo, love gossip girl). Real talk, she’s wonderful. How cool is that power?? Rumor-mill factory. Paparazzi queen. She seems like a complex character and I am excited to see what happens and oh boy does she have some weird relationship with Moon Boy and nope.

Number Four- Klaus, also known as Drug Boy. That’s all he does. Drugs, and talking to the dead. And honestly… good for him. If I could talk to the dead and I were rich I’d be doing the same thing with all of my free time.

Number Five- Number Five, also known as Time Boy. He threw himself back in time somewhere and I don’t think he had a great time (sorry, I had to). He is, absolutely, my favorite part of this show so far. He’s awful and also very old but trapped in a teenage body. I think he got into a mess or whatever in the future?

Number Six- ??? Ben ?? Ghost Boy, buddies with Drug Boy. That’s all I have.

Number Seven- Vanya, also known as Best Girl. Have I been in love with Ellen Page since I saw her in Hard Candy years and years ago? Absolutely. I guess she wrote a book about how much everyone sucks (they do). I’m glad she did.

I’m planning to keep watching the series, and I really have enjoyed it so far. There’s such a neat sense of music as a place and time, and as a feeling in these characters’ lives. The narrative seems a little haphazard at times, but we’re all here for the cute kids and fights, right? It’s giving me what I signed up for, and I can’t complain.

Rating (Episode 1): 3/4 Stars


From The Vault

Birdman (2014)

Note: This review was originally posted on my film criticism Patreon, I Don’t Spoil The Movie, in December of 2014. I’m not editing the piece itself, even though my opinions on the film may have changed in the years since this was written.

I want to thank all of my patrons and fans again- not just for your financial support but also for your advice and encouragement. I’m still so proud of the work that I wrote for IDSTM for one reason: I wrote reviews for people I cared about to read. Thank you.

Birdman or The Unexpected Value of Metatext

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is a drama starring Michael Keaton as himself, poised to debut on Broadway after a disappointing string of films post-Batman

Wait, no, fuck

Birdman, or The Unambiguous Veiled Commentary on Celebrity Culture, is a comedy starring Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson, acting opposite A Bunch of Other Actors Playing Exaggerated Caricatures of Themselves. Birdman is more of a gratuitous emotional live-tweet than a feature film, and it works.

Birdman is a lot of genres and a lot of things, and some people will love it and other people will, inevitably, feel it was a waste of their time. Michael Keaton is the center of the film, but he isn’t the star- it’s a movie without a central focus, because it operates in a universe where everyone considers themselves the main character. The film is intercut with a subconscious tongue-in-cheek commentary of itself through music and atmosphere. It’s a heady, immersive trip through a bizarre universe of sensory overload.

Without Michael Keaton (playing a version of himself), however, the movie wouldn’t work. Birdman is a layer cake of metatext, slyly commenting on everything from superhero culture to “theater as the highest art”, and Keaton’s character is at once villainous yet sympathetic. You’re able to both love and hate him simultaneously as he fucks up everyone’s life, including his own.

Because that’s the biggest secret of Birdman, the virtuous ignorance of the parable: it isn’t about superheroes, careers, Hollywood. It’s about mental illness.
If you’ve ever felt unnerved by the voice in the back of your head, your “critic”, Birdman will probably scare the shit out of you. The dialogue is spot-on as Keaton argues with his own inner critic, “Birdman”, and wrestles with the physical manifestation of his demons. He knows he has an audience, because he’s always performing. It’s a sick, stream-of-consciousness lapse into insanity, and he plays with the film’s nonexistent fourth wall to no end: dictating the flow of diagetic versus non-diagetic music, changing plot elements to suit his whims. He’s the Director of his own Life, and he is unwilling to relinquish control of that, to anyone.

Ed Norton plays well opposite Keaton as a parody of himself (Norton is rumored to be hard to work with and demanding). Emma Stone is Keaton’s daughter, fresh out of rehab with a Manic Pixie Dream Girl perspective on life. Both actors embrace the stereotypes in their roles, creating some interesting (yet a little too) predictable encounters.

Birdman is a film that works to capture the realism of art, the truth behind the curtain of a documentary. It exists in one nearly-seamless take (shot in thirty days), moving at a frenetic pace to skim the surface of a handful of days in a few people’s lives. It is both charming and incredibly unnerving in the way that all black comedies are. It uses gimmicks and a twist that’s almost too predictable, but three other twists that catch you out of left field. While you sit, thinking to yourself that you’ve figured out the ending, the film is always a few steps ahead of you, waiting around for you to catch up.

Black Swan captured some of these themes of realism in performance more elegantly and effortlessly, but Birdman seeks to prove something else entirely. It takes your perception of art and twists it around insanity, until the two are almost indistinguishable. And, in doing so, it illuminates your very understanding of it all.

You’ll like this film if

You think that the uncut book ending of Fight Club was better than the film adaptation (trust me), you have a deep love for psychological mind-fuck film, or if you count Perfect Blue as one of the most innovative and thrilling movies you’ve ever seen. Also if you enjoy other things Ed Norton has been in, because wow he has quite the knack for picking these sorts of projects.

You will not like this film if

You have a strong attachment to superhero culture or the idea of high art and cannot stand to see it made fun of. The film delves into problematic themes a lot (rape, suicide), so if you have trouble with that and aren’t sure how you’ll react, I’d suggest watching it at home where you can pause. Point is: none of the people in this film are very great human beings. Keep that in mind.

I Didn't Finish This

I Didn’t Finish This

Friday, July 10th

Welcome to I Didn’t Finish This, a semi-regular column where I talk about media that I didn’t finish. I have a very, very short attention span. In fact,

Mannequin (1987 film)

Why did I watch this?

I think I saw bits and pieces of this film as a kid, and I wanted to revisit it. Huge portions of the movie were shot in St. Louis, at this gorgeous (now abandoned) department store. I love weird Art Deco architecture.

Plus I’m bisexual and everyone in this is unbelievably beautiful.

Why didn’t I finish this?

I tried, twice, to finish it. It’s a cute movie! I am sure I will finish watching it someday. But the plot was so predictable that I felt like it wasn’t even worth sticking it out. There’s a lot going on, visually, and the music is a lot of fun.

I got a little too hung up on the fact that Kim Cattrall can apparently time skip at will, without hesitation, but firmly decided she wanted to be in the 1980’s. Girl, what are you doing.

You will enjoy this if

It’s a goofy, joyous film if you can get past the weird lack of constructs or rules in this science fiction universe. I think I made it through 80% of this, but the chases started to feel a little too… campy. Do I get to say something feels too campy? Well, I can and I will.

Dynasty (2017, Netflix series)

Why did I watch this?

It’s Dynasty. Do I need a reason to watch Dynasty? No?

Why didn’t I finish this?

I’m going to finish this. I can’t explain in words how much I want to finish this series. But there is only so much I can take of a literal soap opera before my brain starts to turn into irreconcilable mush.

Elizabeth Gillies is a dream here (yes, I watched Victorious) and the kind of energy I needed for 2020. What I was not expecting was a bizarre and long-form dissection of wealth and class privilege, that sometimes really bombs. Is that a Dynasty thing? This is my first American soap opera I don’t have anything else to compare it to.

You will enjoy this if

Dynasty. It’s Dynasty. Just go for it.

The Liar & His Lover (2017, via Netflix)

Why did I watch this?

Because I love, love, love Korean dramas. Absolutely love them, and this show is about music production and way too romantic in the best way.

Why didn’t I finish this?

I want to be really clear, in this moment: I basically finished this. I watched like 13 hours of this show in the span of 3-4 days. Couldn’t stop watching it. There is a world of mystery encapsulated in this weird, beautiful k-drama. Also I needed to escape from my Actual Life.

That being said, I couldn’t finish it. There’s only an episode and a half left or something. There was this weird, bizarre out of nowhere suicide subplot and now I’m completely checked out. I may force myself to finish it, but I have a feeling I’m not going to get the ending I want and that’s just life.

You will enjoy this if

Do you like amazing Korean pop music? Do you enjoy emotional pain?? What about very attractive guys? There you go.

What To Watch

What To Watch: April 13

Welcome to the first entry of my semi-regular column, What to Watch, where I go on and on about the weird things I’m watching and how all of you might like to watch them too.

Here’s what’s been stuck in my brain for the week of Monday, April 13th:

Lucy, The Daughter Of The Devil (Adult Swim)

Lucy is, in fact, the daughter of the devil. The product of a one night stand between the aforementioned devil and her poor, normal human mother. She’s the Antichrist but also forced to work at her Dad’s chain restaurant and wants to date this DJ her Dad doesn’t like. It’s a whole thing.

I used to DVR this as a kid, way back in the day, but I’ve never had a chance to watch the entire show. I’ve found it so funny and easy to watch in short bursts, and I love Loren Bouchard’s style of humor. Bouchard is the iconic dude who made Home Movies and Bob’s Burgers. Also, yes, you’ve got your H. Jon Benjamin here in full form as the devil, and I am not sure how well this show would work with anyone else’s voice.

Lucy, Daughter of the Devil is available to watch on the Adult Swim app via Roku TV, with a participating cable provider subscription.

Bar Rescue (Paramount Network)

I kind of can’t believe this show exists. I was skipping channels and kept seeing the promos, and I absolutely love crap, so I decided to watch it. This guy, Jon Taffer, shows up at somebody’s bar “randomly”, screams at them and tells them they can’t run a business, and then brings in weird experts to make the bar over?

This hits every mark for me, but especially since I quit my service work job in March. You ever just get into the mood where you want to watch some reality TV awful nonsense? This is for you.

Bar Rescue airs on Paramount Network, check your local listings for details.

Poyopoyo (Crunchyroll)

Poyopoyo is a slice of life anime about a rural girl, Moe, who gets drunk in Kabukicho (Shinjuku) and wakes up on top of a cat. She decides to keep the cat and brings it home to her family’s farm… except no one knows Poyo is a cat because he’s so incredibly large and round. It’s so sweet.

The show is composed of 4 minute episodes, each with a small central plot and lots of character development. It’s great background for playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons or just spending time with your own pets at home right now. The show also has a lot of clearly presented information about life in Japan and rural customs, if that’s something you find personally interesting.

Poyopoyo is available to watch for free, with advertisements, on Crunchyroll.


Moving Forward

“Context is everything in a fable, because every story has already been told. So the only variations I find are the voice of the storyteller and the context in which it’s told.” – Guillermo Del Toro [source]

Everything is bad, and it sucks, and I’m sorry.

If, by some wild, beautiful chance, you’re reading this post in the year 2025 and have no idea what I’m talking about, let me be a little clearer.

Everything is bad and it sucks and I don’t have a single good thing to say about it.

So, with that out of the way, I have some other things to say. Most of these things revolve around a single, central, selfish theme: I miss seeing movies in a movie theater.

I miss leaving my house for two hours, turning my phone off, and existing somewhere else. I also miss having an excuse to postulate on here in an utterly self-indulgent way about nothing.

And I have decided to get up off my butt and do something about it.

Starting tomorrow, on Monday April 12th, I will be posting on 1080MM at least twice a week. Given my low productivity level right now, this seems like a naive and silly thing to say. I am saying it anyway. I live without fear, just with endless regret.

Every Monday morning (central time zone), my new weekly column will go up. Each post will have news on what’s been added to streaming services, recommendations from me on what to watch, and a potpourri of things I’ve been digging into on my own end.

Additionally, I’m starting a new series every Friday called I Didn’t Finish This. I have been blessed with the profound attention span of a dizzy goldfish, and there are more than a few things I haven’t finished watching. Sometimes it’s for a good reason. I think.

I said at least two posts a week, and I meant it, because I’m also working on long-form exploratory pieces to share on here. These have a much higher word count, along with requiring a ton of research and outlining. So, yes, irregular posting. I am also a college student, and I enjoy having time to sprawl out and do nothing sometimes. Balance.

I will be sharing posts on my Twitter, @careykirijo, and I would also encourage you to subscribe to email updates for 1080MM using the list tool at the bottom of the homepage.

I hope all of you are able to stay healthy, get rest, and take care of your families and loved ones right now. See you tomorrow!

– Carey

Film Reviews

Cats (2019) 2/5

I saw Cats.

I really don’t know how else to start this, the inaugural review on 1080MM. Except that I saw Cats, ten days ago, and I still do not know what to make of it. I think I had some kind of profound metaphysical spiritual experience. I think I may have transcended a dimension. 

Let me start at the beginning. 

It’s been a rough and weird past couple of months, personally. I have a lot of Shit Going On. My day job, as some of you know, is a total thing. I’m in school. And I, in my infinite wisdom, make plans to see Star Wars: The Last One in theaters not once, but twice. I miss it both times. 

I am adrift in the all-too-familiar emotional dilemma for anyone who struggles with a severe illness: I would like to do a thing, and I cannot do it, and this exhausts me. I am emotionally paying penance for not seeing a Star War on a big screen opening day, even though this is irrational as hell. I am seeing lightsabers everywhere in my field of vision. I digress. 

Anyway Cats comes out. 

Suddenly everyone I know will not shut up about Cats. It is the absolute thing that we must all consume, quickly, because that is what the cool kids are doing. I refuse to argue with this form of peer pressure, as I have always considered it a survival tactic. Maybe my lizard brain would like to jump off this cliff because everyone else is doing it. You don’t know. You really don’t. 

My beloved partner’s Mother gives us a Fandango gift card for Hanukkah, which to our destitute selves means that we can see a movie any time of the day. Not just on a tuesday for $5. A whole world is suddenly available to us, and it is in surround sound and someone’s kicking the back of my seat.

I have a day where I am in a good place, for a brief moment, and we decide to pick up my hilarious co-worker and see Cats. 

I would like to clarify, at this point in the review: I was not in any way sober when we saw this film. Thank you. 

Cats is, without a doubt, one of the most simultaneously uncomfortable and enjoyable film-viewing experiences I’ve ever had. I could not tell you what even literally happened in 75% of that film. I felt like I was joyously along for the ride, except the ride was a mine-cart spiralling through the circles of Hell. 

Everything was bad, and I consider that a particularly remarkable achievement because a lot of films, even technically, just have a handful of bad things. Whether it’s bad direction, performances, writing, cinematography, or what have you. But all of it was terrible, and I do not blame the actors, crew, and cast one bit. 

Here’s the thing about Cats, as an entity- Cats is really fucking weird. Just as a musical by itself, even as a book of poems, it’s bizarre. It is also incredibly British, cat-centric (as you would assume), and horny. Oh boy, is it horny. 

So you consider all of this, and then you ask yourself: is a big-budget musical a la The Greatest Showman involving horny, British cats really what should be the holiday blockbuster of 2019? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. 

I cannot even dream up a universe where that makes sense, especially because, as we all know, Starlight Express would be the unequivocally right choice for a holiday film (thank you I will not be taking questions about Starlight Express at this time). 

I’ve just spent 600 words spitballing and barely even said anything about the film, so I hope you’re here to be entertained. I’ll make the rest of this as painlessly quick as possible, featuring an itemized list:

  • Taylor Swift’s British accent. Whoever signed off on that is no longer legally allowed to own a cat. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
  • Funhouse camera angles can eat shit and die.
  • I have seen a lot of discourse about this online, but I am still not sure what a jellicle cat is. I know that it says, in the song, what a jellicle cat is and what they do. I understand. But I also have no earthly idea what any of that means.
  • I would bet $5 that Rebel Wilson ate a child in the film, except I think the child was… a cockroach? The perspective was incredibly messed up. She also zips her own skin off. 
  • One of the most enjoyable parts, to me, was watching everyone’s hands morph from cat hands to zombie-esque human hands with every shot change. It was mesmerizing. 
  • Dear God, the VFX.

I loved it, I did. Can I do my utterly infuriating thing here where I give an arguably terrible film a high rating? So kind of- I don’t have it in me to give it a higher rating than a 2. If I did a fun only rating system for this one, yes, it’s a 5. If you have the opportunity to see this in theaters, I would very much recommend it, as the larger screen gives you ample opportunity to criticize the hell out of it. Or just sit back, and enjoy the jellicle ride to the heavyside god I am so sorry that was awful I promise I won’t make a joke about that again

Rating: 2/5

Film Reviews

Captain Marvel (2019) 5/5

There’s always been something pretty incredible to me about movies, as a medium. Compared to some other forms of media, films are a multi-sensory experience that can just transport you to another place in time, like… instantly. My life was kind of an inescapable hell for a long time, as a kid, but my parents did take me to the movies pretty often. It was this utterly captivating form of escapism to be able to sit in a dark room for two hours and visit another complete, fully-fledged world.

There’s also something to be said for seeing a film at the right time in your life. I don’t know if it’s a case of the universe feeling that you need to see something, or your own unconscious pulling you towards a specific movie, but I’ve always been an advocate for the restorative power of cinema. The right movie can make you think about your life, contextually, for hours, if not days afterwards. I can’t think of many other forms of media that have had the same effect on me.

Truthfully, I didn’t think I’d be seeing Captain Marvel last night. I left it up to my Twitter followers (in a poll) and I figured I’d end up seeing Shazam. The response was, overwhelmingly, in favor of Captain Marvel. I thought in the back of my mind that people just wanted to see how I’d react to a film that was just alright, in a lot of ways, and coming from Patreon as a film critic I’m pretty used to that. My partner didn’t think I’d like Captain Marvel all too much, for good reason, as they’d already seen it and just didn’t have it pegged as my sort of thing. I’d seen a couple trailers but, overall, it just wasn’t a compelling prospect.

Well: Twitter was right, I was wrong, and I love being wrong. It’s hard to even put into words how much I utterly adored this film, in every way.

Around six years ago, something unspeakably bad happened to me. Even in the context of the rest of my life, this was past that in terms of severity and trauma. While I was already diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, my mind chose to repress what had happened, along with the majority of the rest of my life. Most people I know don’t realize that, every day, I go through the world with little to no memory of my life or who I am. I get that this is a protective measure, and I’ve been working hard in therapy (since I escaped to safety two years ago) to unearth what I can… but I still feel like an empty husk of a person the majority of the time. People bring up past memories of spending time with me- a joke I made or a gift I gave them- and I have absolutely no recollection of it. I feel empty, and broken, and less than human. On top of this, my body remembers, emotionally, the pain that I experienced and I’ve been irrevocably scarred by it.

I cried for roughly a third of Captain Marvel.

There’s something to be said for experiencing someone’s story, in a multi-sensory perspective, and having it feel so intensely familiar to your own experiences. The sense of loss Carol (Brie Larson) feels as she navigates the world, uncovering the person she used to be and dissecting the trauma that created her as she is now, was incredibly relatable to me. I was able to empathize with her as a character in a much more fulfilling and emotionally real way than I have with even people I’ve gotten to know in person over the past handful of years. Brie’s acting really hits this home, and she captures the character’s humor with a serious level of skill.

I’m also regularly disappointed with the way in which most films approach memory loss as a topic. It’s always shown as a character being triggered by something and then It All Comes Back and that isn’t how it works. Carol sees things incrementally, processes them, and then uses those realizations to re-contextualize her identity and experiences. Memory isn’t some lock-box you just figure out and then it’s all there. It’s this messy, dysfunctional stream of things that are hard to hold onto. The sequence with Carol being shown past photographs (and her old belongings) was seriously emotionally liberating for me.

I haven’t kept up regularly with watching the films in the MCU, and I’m also not a fan of superhero comic books (they generally just aren’t my kind of thing). I realize that, on some level, a lot of this is the “male power fantasy” that these stories tend to express, and it is incredibly liberating to see a story that acts as a female power fantasy in the same way. Carol’s power, and how it relates to her femininity, reminds me of some of my favorite magical girls growing up (Sailor Moon) and how they used aspects of their lives as abject strength. On top of this, the elements of Carol’s experience that awakened her powers involve traits traditionally associated with women, such as self-sacrifice, emotional awareness, and communication. Although Carol’s emotional response is framed throughout the film as a sign of her weakness, she channels this into her portrayal of her identity as a human being and shows that it makes her special, just as she is. I am overwhelmingly pleased this film exists, and so excited that a new generation of young women get to grow up experiencing it.

Additional Notes:

– God, Brie Larson, you are just everything to me. Perfectly cast here, I wish they’d made her more overtly gay but also… y’all know she’s gay. You just know.


– Every time Goose was on screen I started screaming and I’m not even sorry. That last end credits scene had me absolutely dead. Someone make an edit cut of this film with just Goose and Samuel L. Jackson having moments.

– Also damn did they do a good job de-aging Samuel L. Jackson.

– YO, THE 90’S VIBE IS A BIG MOOD. Setting a climactic fight scene to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” is high key inspired. Plus I got to stare at Brie Larson wearing a Nine Inch Nails shirt for like twenty minutes and I am incredibly bisexual.

– If I had to criticize this, I’d say that it falls victim to the same general pitfalls I have re: the MCU in general- they try to cram way too many in-jokes and comic hints in here. This is a movie. Let it be a movie. You don’t need to wink wink nudge nudge at me about the parallels you’re making with existing media, because I promise the majority of the audience seeing this aren’t acquainted with Captain Marvel as a property anyway.

I was going to take off 0.5 of a star for pacing and then as I wrote this, I just… decided against it. I can’t wait to see this movie again.