’13th’ Review

Netflix’s documentary, 13th, about social injustice and the broken U.S. prison system is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. This genre can so easily be boring but there was not one instance that I checked to see how long was left in the film. Besides the interviews, pictures, and videos, there were breaks in the film for music and visual statistics, which keeps the viewer constantly engaged.

It opened up with President Obama presenting a statistic about the prison population in the United States. His voice set the tone for a thoughtful, emotional, but factual, documentary. The main topic is how the 13th amendment basically made African-Americans go from being slaves to being criminals. The movie explains how this was partly because of economic reasons (the Civil War left the south in financial trouble because they had about 4 million former slaves who weren’t working for free anymore). When the Union won the Civil War and the 13th amendment was put into place, slavery went away but segregation was just beginning.

This documentary also offered a different perspective on Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The 40th president of the US is often mythologized because of his great accomplishments. It exploited the “war on drugs” and what declaring that statement did to the African-American communities. Michelle Alexander states, “So many aspects of the old Jim Crow are suddenly legal again once you’ve been branded a felon. And so it seems that in America, we haven’t so much ended racial caste but simply redesigned it.”

Music also played a part in this film. There were some breaks in the story to play bits of songs (accompanied by the lyrics shown on screen) that describes and encapsulates the slaves’ and the criminals’ pain. One lyric that stood out to me was: “You treated like a criminal, crime is all you know.” It basically states that there are certain areas that have high crime rates where kids are treated like criminals. Most of those kids assume that they will end up in jail someday, and that is partly because of the way not only authorities treat them, but also the general public.

The film talks about the effect of The Birth of A Nation, the rebirth of the KKK, drug problems, and how the presidents negatively affected the criminalization of Black people.

Rengel says, “We have too many laws locking too many people up for too many things, giving them sentences that are too harsh, putting them in prison, and while they’re in prison, doing very little, if anything, to rehabilitate them so that they can reenter civil society when they get out. And then when they get out, we shun them.”

I highly encourage everyone to watch this movie (it’s on Netflix, it can’t get easier!) It’s educational and very interesting. Plus, the director is a woman, Ava DuVernay, which makes it even better!!!

“When black lives matter, everybody’s lives matter.”

‘La La Land’ Review!

[SPOILER ALERT!]

Let me start by saying I have been listening to the La La Land soundtrack non-stop ever since I saw it two weeks ago and I am obsessed. I absolutely LOVED the movie. With that being said, I cannot believe it got 14 Academy Award nominations! I do think they deserve it, but I just can’t imagine it up against the more serious films.

Set in the present day, the musical is about two people who are trying to make it in Hollywood, one pursuing an acting career, one pursuing a music career. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling each delivered heartfelt performances. They immersed themselves into their roles and really became Mia and Sebastian. I particularly enjoyed J.K. Simmons’ cameo because I think he is amazing in everything he does. I also loved the cinematography and the montages (I personally think there aren’t enough montages in modern day films). There is honestly nothing bad I can say about La La Land (yes, I was okay with the ending because I knew they were happy and got what they wanted. I mean, let’s be real, we knew they weren’t going to end up together because they each wanted very different things and they had to let go of each other in order to throw themselves into their work).

La La Land (2016)
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone)

I appreciated that there weren’t many characters to worry about. They didn’t inform us about some of the cast from the beginning but I didn’t find myself asking questions like, “did Mia move out of her apartment?” or “did the roommates get what they wanted?” because it was irrelevant. The writers and director did a great job of sticking to the two main storylines.

I think that they even got away with the planetarium scene because it is a musical and anything can happen in musical! The dance, music, and pure joy of the film was truly contagious and it made me wish it was real life.

Panic! In My Mind

When I want to address a song by Panic! At The Disco, but I don’t want to use their full name, I’m always addled by the question that comes to mind. Say I want to refer to a song on their new album, Death of a Bachelor; which of the following would be correct?

  1. Panic’s new song
  2. Panic!’s new song
  3. Panic’s! new song

Please help me out as this is a serious crisis.