REVIEW: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

If you are looking to watch something equal parts entertaining, crazy, and just plain ridiculous, well Tiger King is absolutely for you. This show had me saying “What the…” probably every 5 minutes, and it kept me absolutely hooked until the very end. I could not believe these were real people, and that these were real problems that they had while running some of the most exotic and crazy private zoos in the US.

As I am sure you must have watched this show already, (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?? Seriously!), you know that the story has a totally unexpected ending, which you may or may not agree with. But here are some fun facts that I learned as a result of this show going viral. First, they are re-opening the case of the disappearance of Carol Baskin’s first husband. Second, the creators of this show actually meant to trace the underground world of the snake trade, but just stumbled upon the man in the first scene who had a tiger in a cage in the back of his truck and decided to change their show’s trajectory. And third, which I think is the most crazy, is that the filmmakers were actually filming as the whole story unfolded, and were following the trials and sueings in live time, so they could not have predicted how the show was going to end either!

My favorite part about this mini-series was definitely all of the crazy characters. I could not believe how ridiculous some of them were, from the girl who continued to work at the zoo after her arm was bitten off by a tiger (and went back after only 5 days in the hospital!) to the man who willingly admitted, on camera, that he had been asked and had agreed to assassinate one of the zoo owners’ rivals. I could not believe some of the side stories and anecdotes they were telling with an absolutely straight face, and I was aghast at some of the goings-on at these zoos that was not good for the animals or the people working there. However it is amazing the kind of power that several of the zoo owners seemed to hold over their employees that just kept them working there even though it sounded like an absolute madhouse or sounded like there was no way it could be enjoyable.

Despite all of the human drama, the tigers were absolutely beautiful and majestic. I especially loved the shots of the little ones, who were so cute just scampering around and being played with by the people on screen. I was amazed at how calm some of the zoo workers were around these giant beasts which sometimes were much larger than their handlers. I also loved all of the other animals featured, including lions, elephants, apes, and monkeys.

While I would not recommend this show to anyone who is an absolute animal lover, because there is some very sad animal abuse, I would say this was one of the most intriguing shows I have watched in a while. And now that the show has been released, even more fantastic and wild information is being uncovered about the people who star in it and their lives now. So its like the tv show never ends, which is both a little scary and very exciting to follow!

PREVIEW: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

If you haven’t heard of this show, or mentions of Carol Baskin and her dead husband, you must be sleeping under a rock! The mini-series on Netflix was released on March 20th, and is only 7 episodes long, which are each about 45 minutes. It follows several very eccentric exotic animal owners, especially big cat owners, and their interactions with each other and with other people in their communities. Every person filmed is a real person, and they all contribute to the wacky story that unfolds.

Watch now on Netflix!

REVIEW: Unorthodox

Wow. If you are looking for a show that you literally cannot turn off, then this is one you should watch. It is only 4 episodes, each an hour, and I watched all 4 of them in the same sitting (which I did not plan to do)! I even convinced my mom, who was watching with me, to stay up much later than she usually would and watch as well because we were both so fascinated with and invested in this show.

First off, the subject matter is interesting, as it is a society most do not get a glimpse at. The story follows a young ultra-orthodox woman who flees to Berlin after her unhappiness with her life in Williamsburg, New York in her secluded community. Although the story begins with her leaving, we get plenty of flashbacks to her old life, and get to watch some of the customs, choices, and frustrations of a group of people who tend to keep to themselves. The story focuses on her journey in Berlin, once she realizes that staying with her mother (who had also fled the community many years before) is not an option anymore.

One of the reasons I think I liked the show a lot was because the main character was so easy to empathize with, and so eager to learn about the world. She wanted to perform music, and she found such joy in both listening to it, watching it, and learning how herself. I am also a musically inclined person, and I really connected to that part of her. I also think she was appealing because of her fascination with everything she sees in the world, because she had lived in her small community her whole life and had never gone anywhere else, so everything was new to her. I loved her child-like fascination and joy at so much of what she saw in Berlin.

It was also very satisfying to watch her shed her old life and start new while literally and emotionally letting go of what had burdened her in her old life. You can see her becoming more happy and more her own person as the show goes on, with not only the way she dresses, but the way she interacts with those around her and her mannerisms. I loved watching her learn how to be unconstrained, and really have fun in the way that she wanted.

But what really kept me watching the show was the drama and thriller of the members of her community who went after her. This was not only her husband, who did a very good job of making me hate him, but a mysterious other member of the Orthodox community who seemed to have a shady past as well. As they followed her, we got to see sort of parallel stories where her and her husband learned some of the more ugly parts of life outside of their neighborhood. And the emotional scene when they finally found her was definitely one of my favorite parts of the mini-series, although there were a lot of really good, dramatic moments.

Overall, I would urge you to watch Unorthodox, and watch the “making of the show” after episode, which was an awesome compliment to the show. It caught my attention from the first episode until the end, and was full of drama, intrigue, and a unique perspective that is not often brought to light or discussed by the general public. Make sure you give yourself a 4 hour block though, because you will want to watch it all in one sitting as soon as you start!

PREVIEW: Unorthodox

Unorthodox follows the story of a young woman who tries to escape from her Orthodox community in Williamsburg, New York. The story follows her to Berlin, where her mother lives (who also fled the Orthodox community), and the adventure that she experiences as she wrestles to find her real place outside of the only place she’s ever lived. The Netflix miniseries is loosely based on the book Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, an autobiography written by Deborah Feldman.

Each episode is only an hour long, and there are 4 of them, so it is a quick watch. However it already has high ratings, so I am excited to see it and tell you all what I think!

REVIEW: Childish Gambino Album: 3.15.20

The newest album by an artist who is ever-changing his style was released earlier this month. And it was certainly out there, even for Childish Gambino.

First, the album cover is absolutely blank. Just a white square. This is different for him, as most of Gambino’s album covers are rich, dark colors with some sort of tribal or naturalistic art on them. This album title is also unlike his others, with only a date written. That is just the album at first glance, without even listening.

Moving on to the songs, they are all marked by their time stamp in the album, much like a symphony might mark itself by its movements. I think this was a bold statement to make, as many of the songs do not quite flow into each other as one might expect in a symphonic piece. Two songs are marked by words: “Algorhythm”, and “Time”, the second and third songs, respectively. These did not stand out to me as being particularly different than the other pieces, so I am unsure of the meaning of that. Other than those two, the pieces are each titled by their song-ending time slot, through the whole album which ends with “53.49”.

I cannot say I really disliked almost any of the songs, but the biggest turn-off for me was when the songs transitioned into their endings, which were jarring and not always musical. I kept getting into the groove of each piece and then as the piece ended deciding I did not like it as the final 30 seconds or so were at odds with the rest of the song. Most of the songs did not contain full verses or  choruses, or many words at all, for that matter.  Most of the words included were just small phrases repeated in different chords. However, the songs were all very musical, unique and interesting, which is something that Childish Gambino excels at. While I did have some difficulty finding meaning in all of the songs, I certainly could enjoy the vibe of each one and its overall mood.

One thing I did particularly like about this album is its overall mood. I could see myself listening to this in several situations. It is definitely chill enough for just hanging out and talking over the album, in a group situation. But the songs were definitely interesting enough to keep my attention enough that I could see myself listening to it by myself in the car as well.

My favorites on the album had to be 19.10, 42.26, and 47.48. Time and 12.38 are the songs that have been the most popular overall in the album and are currently his number 4 and 5 songs on Spotify. If you are a fan of Childish Gambino, I would definitely give this album a listen. It has some of his classic aggressive rapping, along with some more relaxed tunes, and it is all certainly as engaging as his music always his, surprising me with each song.

REVIEW: Dark Waters

If you decide to watch this movie, settle in for a long film and make sure you know your lawyer jargon before watching! Maybe grab some popcorn as well.

The film is based on a New York Times article about a top lawyer for chemical companies who ends up working against his own clients. When he is faced with an ethical dilemma about people and animals being harmed by a mystery chemical in their town’s water supply and rivers, he must make the decision to help the common people and possibly ruin his own career, or to keep on the trodden path and look the other way. This movie hit particularly hard, I think, because of what is still ongoing in Flint, Michigan and their struggles with the contaminated water there.

To begin, this movie certainly has a lot of famous actors, some of whom I had to look up where I knew them from because they were just tip-of-the-tongue familiar. Anne Hathaway played a significant role, as the wife of the main character. She didn’t have a ton of screen time, but when  there were scenes where she was a focus, she certainly shined. She played her very emotional role well, and was also a major badass, as we have seen her do before in previous movies. Mark Ruffalo also conveyed his emotional turmoil and increasing stress well, as the movie followed his character into an unending court case that is still going on today. I was also excited to see some smaller roles with actors I really like, including Bill Pullman, William Jackson Harper and Victor Garber.

One thing I thought was difficult to follow was a lot of the lawyer jargon and information that I did not know, not being someone who works in law or business. My parents (who both work in business) definitely had to answer some of my questions about what was going on. I don’t think that it pulled away too much from my understanding of the film overall, but it was certainly helpful to know a lot of the more professional terms and subject matter that were going on during the movie. I think that they brushed over a lot of these important topics, assuming that people watching the movie would know, when in fact this makes the film less accessible to a wider audience who may want to watch it and be able to follow along with all of the plot points.

At the end of the movie, before the credits, the film included information about the real case that is still being fought, and about the real people involved. Some of them even had cameos in the movie, which was really cool to see. It also made the case all the more real, and made me continue to think about a few of the more standout themes that were outlined in the movie. The fact that major companies are really not working for us, but for their own gain, and will do anything to keep their cash flowing is quite scary, and this movie certainly brought that to light in a very stark and obvious way. It also made me think about what harmful chemicals could be still allowed into our food and everyday household items, that we could be ingesting every day. This movie was certainly thought provoking, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of social advocacy and fighting for the people.