Mockingbird is a Flawed, Beloved Classic

I was flipping through the channels on my TV the other day and ultimately decided on a couple episodes of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Yes, I’m one of those weirdos who still pays for cable. I also love dad jokes, prefer a night in over a night out and often find myself wide awake by seven in the morning. In other words, I’m old.

The reason the Daily Show caught my attention that day was because of the guests who were on it. First up was Dwyane Wade, who was reflecting on playing his last season in the NBA and his plans for his post-playing career. This did nothing to make me feel any younger and I think I fell into a small but brief depression. The next guest was Andrew Gillum, the Democratic Candidate in the recent Florida Gubernatorial election.

Gillum wound up losing that race, but he inspired a lot of people during his campaign and something he said to Noah in the interview caught my attention: “My grandmother used to have this saying, ‘Never, ever, ever wrestle with pigs,’ she said, ‘because you both get dirty, but the pig actually likes it.’”

I was reminded of a key scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch is at Tom Robinson’s home to inform Tom’s wife of her husband’s death. As he is trying to console her, Bob Ewell arrives to confront Atticus. Mr. Ewell is just a bit peeved at Atticus for defending Tom after the latter was accused of raping Ewell’s daughter, Mayella, and he sure is hell is going to make it known. Even though Tom was clearly innocent and convicted anyway, it makes no difference. When Atticus comes outside, Ewell spits in his face. Instead of retaliating or simply objecting, as most people would’ve done, Atticus wipes off the spit, gets in his car where his son Jem is waiting and drives home.

If Gregory Peck ever faced that scenario in his real life, I’d imagine that he would’ve resolved it virtually the same way. As Harper Lee put it: “Atticus Finch gave him an opportunity to play himself.”

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Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You, the directorial debut of Boots Riley starring the infectious Lakeith Stanfield, is that strange reoccurring dream you have had your whole life. You know the one, maybe it starts with that darkly lit bathroom or those shadowy figures you never fully see or some room from your childhood that you have memorized by small detail. The one that has that feeling of something amiss despite everything around you seeming normal. That dream that you try to tell other people about but you can’t quite piece the details together. Actually you can. Because you’ve had the dream countless times. You know exactly what happened but it’s too weird to say out loud, in front of your coworkers or your loved ones. Lest you be judged for whatever your subconscious is capable of cooking up.

This is one of those movies that sticks. You walk into the theater, sit in your seat, silently observe for a few hours, stand up, leave. You say bye to your friends and maybe you get in your car, or maybe you start walking home. It’s dark out and you notice the silence. You feel the air and you sense something is different. You notice but you try not to. You want this feeling to wash over you and to never leave. It’s calming and spooky and freeing and all encompassing. Much like your reoccurring dream you feel desperate to wake up but oddly content with never leaving.

And the thing is, you aren’t thinking about the movie necessarily. Because you can’t. You are unable to, or maybe unwilling, because you hate it. No you actually love it. You try to just forget about it because the truth might reveal something about you to yourself. You also notice you can’t stop it from infecting what you’re feeling. You want to tell everyone about what you saw and you also want to lock it away like a secret, lest you be judged for admitting that your conscious self actually enjoyed something so…

That’s how the movie makes you feel. Nothing and everything. Depressed, happy, lonely, loved, contradictory. It unabashedly subverts what you think a movie should be or what you want it to be. It doesn’t say anything important. Or maybe it does, maybe it embodies the saying “the years are short but the days are long” and gives it a modern spin and turns it into, “the news cycle is quick but the effects are long”. Maybe it somehow takes the apathy of the modern world and makes you feel it. But you’re not quite sure because it’s a realistic unreal reality, it’s batshit crazy. And just when you’re in a dreamlike, depressed state of mind the movie completely…

The words don’t come. Not for days anyway. Because the film is stuck in your brain, marinating. It’s spinning around and around. You’re convinced it has all the makings of a cult classic. Then you realize it was all bullshit and you shouldn’t waste anyone’s time talking about it. But then you remember that scene where Cassius is starting to fall asleep after a long day of work but he is longing for a joint he just lit up while ignoring his artist girlfriend after the premiere of her art show.

The scene is innocuous and yet it’s stuck, no that’s not right, it’s jammed in your brain. It speaks to your exhaustion of balancing your job and your family and your friends. You feel the pressures of capitalism that force you to do things that you truly don’t want to. The force that drains you and distracts you and pulls you in even though you hate it and you want to escape.  Except maybe you love it because it empowers you and gives you more than you could ever dream. But it also takes from you, your time, your energy, your willpower, your motivation, your attention. It gives, it takes, you hate it and love it because you, like this movie, are an emotional pit of contradicting feelings.

You can’t prepare yourself for the experience that Sorry to Bother You is. It’s splendid and dumb. It’s beautiful and harrowing. It’s a cult classic or it’s stupid. Your experience will vary but it’s nothing you will soon forget.

What’s in a Name?

Hi friends, we need to have a chat. Don’t worry this is a safe place. Why don’t you have a seat right over there, alright? Take it easy, this isn’t an intervention. Well actually it is, but not for you! It’s for our blog.

You see my good friend Jesse and I started Pegboards five years ago with the idea of creating a place for us (and our friends) to come and write about anything we wanted. The thought was that a real pegboard can hold a variety of tools, so we would provide a place that could hold a variety of voices. While the thought was nice, we soon realized our dream space turned into a dumping ground of unfocused themes with inconsistent posts. We wanted our sports fans to come to the same place as our movie fans. We wanted it to be all encompassing but it has turned into something confusing and without an identity.

Our attempt speaks to how we live our own lives. We both have many hobbies and interests and we both want to share them with as many people as possible. However in doing so we realize we are not being very effective. We feel scattered and without a purpose, which leads to little motivation to stick to a schedule. Hence why we are having this intervention. Something needs to change.

With that, I would like to announce a new focus, a new name, and a new identity for Pegboards. We are officially rebranding and will henceforth be known as the Flimsy Film Critics, where we will offer mostly bad reviews for mostly good movies. The name is an attempt at self-depreciating our own talents so that we can present reviews, analysis, lists, and discussions about truly talented film makers that we respect. It allows us to write in a manner that celebrates how the movies we love make us feel.

The best part of the rebrand is our renewed commitment to a regular posting schedule. To start off we are committing to posting at least one blog a week. We plan on visiting old movies that helped shape our personal tastes while also reviewing the newest releases. We also plan on launching a more official “Let’s Talk” series where Jesse and I have a conversation on the latest movie news or discuss a nerdy movie trope or argue about why Spider-Man will always be the best superhero.

And much like Spidey, we are peeling back our mask to reveal our true identity: amateur movie critics and professional movie lovers. Thank you for following us throughout the years and I hope you stick around. We believe our best years are still ahead of us.

12 Angry Men

I’ve been selected for jury duty once in my life. While I shan’t reveal any details here, mainly because most of them elude me at this point, I do remember feeling the weight of responsibility in making my decision. If the parties involved decided that they wanted me to sit in on their jury, I felt that I owed it to them to carefully consider all the arguments and ensure that I had my facts straight. Plus they gave me free food. What kind of monster would I be if I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain?

So imagine my surprise during my first viewing of 12 Angry Men when a young man will be sentenced to die if the jury reaches a guilty verdict, and yet some of the jurors just want to hurry up and vote so they can get out of there. If Henry Fonda’s juror was as shocked as I was, he hid it well, merely suggesting that it’s worth talking about the trial because he has “reasonable doubt.” A few of these other men are annoyed and don’t see the point in discussing anything. The kid is guilty and that’s that. Fonda remains steadfast in his belief and the jurors have no choice but to reluctantly oblige him. The seeds have been planted for 90+ plus minutes of required viewing for anyone curious about the filmmaking process, and the importance of dialogue, camerawork and body language.

And I suppose I should mention we’re going to get into some spoilers here, so if you are lucky enough to have the chance to see 12 Angry Men for the first time, do yourself a huge favor and go check it out before you read this. I promise you won’t regret it.

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The Dark Knight

Everyone remembers seeing The Dark Knight at the theater. Whether you were eagerly anticipating its release or aren’t the biggest fan of Batman or movies but got dragged to the premier with your friends anyway, you were there. It was one of those event films that transcended the typical movie-going experience. And while Christopher Nolan has made equally engaging films before and since, this is the one that he’s best known for. Fresh off of its 10th Anniversary, how has The Dark Knight continued to stand out in the ever-crowded field of superhero movies?

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Date Night with Deadpool and MoviePass

My previous experiences using MoviePass have been pretty Quiet because I’ve gone Solo (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!). Which, if you read my reviews, helped create fun and memorable experiences. It was also really easy to use MoviePass which helped justify me going alone. MoviePass is a great tool that encourages you to see as many movies as possible even alone. However, try using it on a date or with a group of people and you might run into issues.

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The Social Stigma of Seeing Solo, Solo with MoviePass

I vividly remember the first time I ever went to the movie theater to see a movie by myself. It was a rainy night in 2009. My girlfriend was out of town and I couldn’t convince any of my friends to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus with me. Which is not too surprising since this film had a relatively quiet release and had only really caught my interest because it featured Heath Ledger in his last role prior to his death. In fact he didn’t quite finish the film and it had to be reworked with a little bit of Johnny Depp, a dash of Colin Farrell and some Jude Law.

I recall being nervous to go to a movie by myself. I remember my girlfriend found it peculiar and at some point I was having second thoughts. I was paranoid that the strangers around me would see I was alone and they would wonder why I would do such a dumb thing. As the previews begun I felt my fear wash away. I felt myself eager to transition into a temporary bliss of distraction. And I realized how freeing it can be to do something alone.
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