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Eighth Grade is a Triumph of Bad Skin and Baby Fat

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“Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school–the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year before she begins high school.” 

That IMDB quote above sums up the story of Eighth Grade, but captures none of the nuances of Bo Burnham’s clever directorial debut. And that’s fine, because putting a finer point on the story might limit the audience in the same way giving the film an R rating did. Yes, this is some heady stuff, some of the sexual references may seem a bit too adult for your average thirteen year old. Still, this isn’t 1977, where your only choice for seeing naked humans might be sneaking onto the bookmobile and leafing through old copies of National Geographic. This is 2018, where all things good and bad are a thumb swipe away.

I would guess that thirteen year olds today know way more than I ever did at thirteen, and maybe more than I did at twenty. We insult them by suggesting they can’t navigate the sexual subjects Mr. Burnham handles with aplomb in Eighth Grade.

Not to say that it’s a dark film, just a complex one.

In a true breakout performance, Elsie Fisher plays Kayla, whose YouTube channel gets as many hits as she has friends… which is to say none. She’s a square peg at school who never came out of the shell she was in when she made that shoebox time capsule three years ago.

Kayla makes a few last ditch efforts to fit in before the school year ends, even if that means pretending she’s something that she isn’t. Or at least isn’t yet. Does she make all the right choices? No. Did you?

I saw the film with parents of young children and wondered if it played out like a horror movie to them. One scene in particular of a high schooler forcing a game of truth or dare on Kayla in the dark backseat of his car is appropriately creepy and expertly directed. Not to say that it’s a dark film, just a complex one. Even the trope that social media masks the truth more than reveals it is handled with a light touch. There’s a ton of laughs even if some make you uncomfortable.

Like last years Lady Bird, Eighth Grade succeeds in balancing the notion of what we are supposed to be with what we are becoming – and while most of us are not in eighth grade anymore, we are always becoming.

The cast of Eighth Grade take questions at Alamo Draft House in Brooklyn.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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Review: Godzilla vs. Kong

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Godzilla vs. Kong reminds me that I was an idiot as a child. I allowed the 4:30 Movie too significant a piece of my brain pie. I existed in a headspace where The Planet of the Apes and Gamera were more science than fiction. I was certain skyscraper-sized monsters lived in the woods a few blocks away, and that ghosts were under my bed. Somewhere in possibility-land, a black and white Lon Chaney slowly becomes a werewolf in a handful of dissolving frames.

Cut to my final form, and I can’t help but think these movies are just a total waste of time and resources. Sure, the effects can be impressive but often they have as much weight as a video game. Buildings smash into dust, an actor says a line against a green screen, then Kong sits on a throne like a stereotypical king. Ah doi!

Sure, the hollow Earth with upside-down mountains in the sky is cool – but where’s that sun coming from? The MechaGodzilla fight has some great effects, but you can watch those on Youtube without having to sit through a bunch of lines like “Kong bows to no one.”

Maybe I just can’t enjoy normal human things anymore.

 

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) 113min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 31 March 2021 (USA) Summary: The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another - the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong - with humanity caught in the balance.
Countries: USA, Australia, Canada, IndiaLanguages: English, American Sign Language

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

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Now that Captain America is Black…

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Now that Captain America is Black

  1. Bucky Barnes will change his name to Summer Soldier Buckquan because “Nah son! we ain’t doing sh*t in the winter!”
  2. Fearing for their lives, Police officers will fire 751 shots at Cap in the 4th of many incidents to come.
  3. In a new altered timeline, Thanos will win due to Cap being detained by a routine traffic stop. “How can you afford Vibraniun on a government salary? Please step out of the vehicle sir.”
  4. Captain America will form a Rap group with Black Panther called “Black-America.” The group will not be received well but will eventually have all their intellectual property stolen for decades to come without any due repar… I mean royalties. #MESSAGE
  5. Racists will be utterly confused when they tell Captain America to “Go back to where you came from.” Equally confused, Cap will pack up all his belongings and stay put.
  6. Cap will be accused of stealing Thor’s hammer the next time he picks it up.
  7. Cap’s shield will be replaced with a Vibraniun PlayStation Controller since black men are more comfortable throwing that.
  8. The battle decree will officially be changed from “Avengers Assemble” to “Yerrrrr! It’s on sight!”
  9. After 40 years of service, Cap will travel back in time to 1998 to finally get that last dance with his true love, Laura Winslow. They will Cha Cha Slide to “Before I let Go” as the credits role.
  10. Upon retirement, those jaded with having an Af-Am do such an amazing job will appoint a failed real estate charlatan to take up the mantle. The New Cap will immediately try and grab Scarlet by her “Johansson” and declare himself the best Captain America that ever did it during his inauguration.

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

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Chadwick Boseman Forever!!

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It is clear that Chadwick Boseman chose iconic roles like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Black Panther with deliberate intent and for a specific purpose. In an age where positive roles for Black actors is often sparse, Chadwick managed to land and portray historical figures that made most respect his talents if not revel in his ability to transition effortlessly for one character to another. Even I had to give his African accent a solid B+ (It’s the highest grade the Nigerian Standards Bureau can give for an African accent to a non African FYI.)

Holding out and preparing for these dynamic roles came with both great frustration and incredible resolve I’m certain. Not to mention the taxing ordeal of battling Colon Cancer as the grueling scheduling of filming and increasing responsibility for positive representation loomed. Even under extreme duress, Chadwick’s commitment to others appeared to outweigh his own tribulations, unbeknownst to us all.

Black Panther may have been just a movie to some and that may be because some can easily rattle off 10 movies with a king of non Af-Am origin. It represented a lot more to others. Albeit imagined, imagery on cinema often accomplishes more to augment the social narrative and society itself than actual reality. If negative stereotypes influence perception then positive ones absolutely have the same converse effect.

Even in jest, the cultural misappropriation of raisins in potato salad on SNL skits directly spoke to the tampering of black culture to which T’challa championed, represented and aptly responded “Oh hell Nah Karen!”

If you don’t understand the relevance of representation, it’s probably because you are thoroughly represented. After all, no one is ever grateful for every breath they take until they are gasping for air.

R.I.P Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for breathing life into the possibility of Black excellence.

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

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