CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH | BARRY (Season 3) | SPIDERHEAD
Pop Culture Weekly Round-Up 17/06/2022
Hello, everyone! This week’s newsletter almost never happened because I have to catch a very early train this morning. But somehow, I found some time to finish it Thursday night. Anyway, this week I have some thoughts on the lovely film CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH. The third Season of BARRY that just wrapped last Sunday and the Netflix Original movie, SPIDERHEAD. As always there is a playlist with five songs I enjoyed last week.
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BARRY (Season 3) made a triumphant comeback a couple of months ago. And it totally kept its status as one of the best and most disturbing shows on TV. I really love how it is both tragic and disturbing, as well as wickedly hilarious. As I have said many times in this newsletter, I really despise the weekly release schedule. I have no patience for this waiting for next week’s episode nonsense. So I waited until all episodes were released to watch them all in a sit. And oh boy, that was fun! This series has always been a dark comedy, but this season the focus on darkness was even stronger. This time around, Barry doesn't seem to be the same character. He is a lot less humorous and has a much darker vibe. And I liked it. I really enjoyed episodes 1-5, but it wasn't until episodes 6, 7, and 8 that I realized that this season was a masterpiece. These three last episodes were the bleakest, action-packed, and most ludicrous to date. The amazing car/bike chase and the entire last episode were my highlights of Season 3. I felt like this season was all about justice. It's as if all of the bad Karma from the previous two seasons has caught up with Barry in a single smashing tsunami. Only a few shows nowadays have the kind of standard BARRY has. In every season, Hader and Berg are able to deliver big surprises and amazing action scenes while sustaining their writing, performance, and plot top-notch.
SPIDERHEAD Is the new joint from filmmaker Joseph Kosinski Adapted from George Saunders' short story "Escape from Spiderhead”. Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller star in the film and Netflix is releasing it worldwide today. I was surprised when I heard Kosinski directed this movie given that his latest movie, TOP GUN: MAVERICK opened in theaters just three weeks ago. But anyway, SPIDERHEAD follows Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) a smug and arrogant scientist who loves to brag that he is making the world a better place. He is testing a mood-altering medicine on inmates in a penitentiary/research institution where they are used as test subjects. At first glance, the job appears to be very attractive for the inmates. They are imprisoned in a luxury jail on an isolated tropical island where the weather is always pleasant. However, things are much darker than they appear to be. SPIDERHEAD is an ok movie. Not good or bad, just ok. Hemsworth gives a diabolically good performance as the mad scientist who has no moral constraints, while Teller does the best he can with the material he has been handed. The movie looks really good and Joseph Kosinski's direction and the sleek cinematography were both solid. But, SPIDERHEAD loses steam as a result of its undeveloped concepts, and the second half devolves into a disjointed spectacle with an odd effort to teach us something about salvation. Overall I would say that SPIDERHEAD is not great but totally watchable.
CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH
CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH is a heartfelt, hilarious, and gentle film. Cooper Raiff co-wrote, directed, and acted in this story of unorthodox love. The film also stars Dakota Johnson, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann, and newcomer Vanessa Burghardt.
The film revolves around Andrew (Raiff). He is 22, fresh out of college, and stranded at home with his family in New Jersey, without a clear life path ahead of him. But if there's one thing that he has on his worthless résumé, it's how to get a party started. Which lands him the ideal job of motivational dancing at his younger brother's classmates' bar and bat mitzvahs. Andrew ultimately sees a future he desires when he befriends a local woman, Domino (Dakota Johnson), and her kid Lola (Vanessa Burghardt).
This is really a warm hug of a movie. It is heartfelt, hilarious, and gentle. A coming-of-age story that paints a compassionate, and hilarious characterization of Andrew capturing both the cringe-worthy calamities and the occasional pleasures of young manhood. Cooper Raiff shines with his graceful directing, clever writing, and great chemistry with Dakota Johnson (who gives an outstanding performance). Raiff has the ability to seamlessly weave many themes together, which is precisely what you want in a filmmaker working in this type of film. Domino is an intriguing character, and Johnson portrays her in such a way that you want to learn more about her. Her acts indicate something, but her thoughts are elsewhere. I also need to give Kudos to Vanessa Burghardt. She's a promising newcomer whose scenes in the film are always so compassionate, laid back, and generally pleasant.
CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH is never predictable, no matter how basic the story is you always find yourself wondering where it is going. The film is a very engaging crowd-pleaser with plenty of soul and comedy. Cooper Raiff is a very talented man and I can't wait to see what he does next.
CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH is premiering on Apple TV+ this Friday, June 17.