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Weekly Roundup Episode 41: Happy BornDay Casey J

Welcome back to another edition of Weekly Roundup! As the story goes, a young man will come and save the universe from the forces of evil... In a way that's how my friendship with Casey Johnson has turned out to be, from 7th grade to now.

It all started back to when we both had 7th grade English Class in Mrs. Omera's class. Me and Casey had fond simple memories during an abnormal time period of our lives. Whether it be trying out for the basketball team, being on the same field day team over at Mrs. Lantrips as we watched Wall-E after, watching Austin beating me up in the corner as Mrs. Omera lost her mind, or Casey trying to hit me with a pitch TWICE on the baseball diamond against his team... Classic simple fond memories I do say. One memory stands out the most, as Casey needed comfort towards a disappointing time at a theme park. It was odd seeing the most popular kid feeling sad, as it didn't sit well with me as I figured... I should help the ole sport out, as that's what friends are for.

Our friendship remained fairly consistent carrying onto high school, as we would always greet each other with fair amount kindness and have random conversations. One of the most delightful moments of high school was certainly Casey sitting alongside with me, as we celebrated me graduating high school. That moment felt rather special to me, as I was celebrating with one that genuinely cared about me, that didn't mistreated me or treated me as a sideshow attraction.

Our friendship after high school truly sky rocketed, as we've enjoyed many grand memories together. Whether it be attending my first Bears game, UNLV Rebel basketball games, Big Papi's farewell tour, BrightBurn, Showing out in the batting cages or driving range, trips to In N Out, and my first UNLV football game in which he helped delivered me for my birthday... You can say it's been fun being Casey's friend. One redeemable quality Casey has always had, is he's most certainly reliable. When it came to remembering your birthday, keeping up with Christmas traditions, or being a friend when you need one the most... You can always count on Casey.

It's been an absolute honor, pleasure, and joy to have watched Casey grow as an individual, as I’m oh so proud of him, and a blessing being Casey Johnson's friend for over a decade now. Feels unreal honestly, if you would've told me I end up having one of the greatest friendships, with one of the most popular kids in school... I'd say that'll never happen. The impact Casey has made on my life truly speaks volumes, as he's one of the rare few that I can surely say that life was worth living after all... There are not many people in this world, who truly make me feel as if living could appear to be enjoyable and meaningful. Happy BornDay Casey Johnson, thank you for all you've done for me really, can't wait for many more years of friendship with you and I hope you have a blessed year. Whelp it's time to talk about movies!

Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart Grade: B

I remember back in 8th grade, a brief instrumental plays on a Bee Gees song was playing during our 8th grade tribute video, as I said, "Man that's corny." My pre algebra teacher Mr. Roser said, "Dude? It's the Bee Gees." As the video began playing and the song actually featured The Bee Gees vocals... I felt like a damn fool, as I've heard this song in the past and honestly loved The Bee Gees music... Ignorance happens.

I was honestly excited to see this Bee Gee's documentary film, as it twas simple and sweet. I've learned a great amount of history behind the group, whether it be humble beginnings, rise to triumph due to being apart of the one of the most high selling soundtracks of all time, or downfall due to the end of disco... T'was very informative, as the end of The Bee Gees reign honestly pissed me off.

Learning the discography of this groups work t'was astounding, as I didn't know how talented this group was. Creating so many classic hits is one thing, but to be such talented writers and even a diverse group that contributed to many genres of music was unheard of. When it came to sound and creating meaningful songs that hit you deeply by wordplay, really shows just how under appreciated this group is compared to the likes of The Beatles, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and so on. Though film making and substance value is pretty much by the numbers of a basic formulated documentary, it still is a good time as you learn and reminisce to the golden age of music.

Overall, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart was a good documentary film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on HBO.

Rent-A-Pal Grade: B

IFC Midnight has been an unsung hero for indie horror films, as they hit a swell line drive with Rent-A-Pal.

Rent-A-Pal could've easily been a supernatural thriller, where the one featured in the video tape comes to life as one presses play on the VHS. Instead a lonely man David (Brian Landis Folkins) whom needs some kind of comfort, forms an interactive weird friendship with Andy (Wil Wheaton) from the Rent-A-Pal videotape, as he becomes oddly obsessed with this person that's not real t'was different. The odd friendship works out aye ok, as David encounters a life of pure boredom, catering to taking care of his mother whom has dementia, as he doesn't have much of a social life because he's on the clock 24/7 with his mother... So you can understand someone like David, having to losing his mind from encountering a fictional figure like Andy.

Surprising enough the performances were honestly top notch. I thought Brian Landis Folkins did a pretty damn good job as David, as I believe there could perhaps be a bright future in this actors hand, as he was superb in intense emotional scenes of frustration and sadness. Wil Wheaton though displaying a simple performance, I thought had a solid performance as he fit the bright personality of this fictional television character quite well. This film has solid usage of horror, drama, and comedy. The horror is mostly catered to the Psychological side of David's mind, as loneliness and obsession leads to creating a monster. The comedy in this works extremely well, had a lot of good laughs out of this. Also found the dramatic side surprisingly effective, as you can honestly feel really bad for a character like David, who just needs proper care, love, and support but unfortunately is hit with a difficult situation.

I felt the finale could've been done better, as I found it rather corny and poorly shot in a few sequences, as it didn't look believable. Some things dealing with David's mind didn't quite add up, especially his intentions of harming others, which I didn't get how he got any motivation as Andy never talked about harming others. I think those that are a fan of horror or would like to see more variety out of horror, will surely like Rent-A-Pal.

Overall, Rent-A-Pal t'was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on HULU.

Alabama Snake Grade: C

Alabama Snake felt extremely similar to last years Them That Follow from subject matter, only this time around it's a documentary centered around attempted murder.

Like Them That Follow: The subject matter can be found interesting, as it has potential be extremely fascinating. Unfortunately Alabama Snake can be found on the same level of mediocrity like Them That Follow. Alabama Snake starts off rather strong, as we watch this woman encounter a serious snake bite on her hand. However as time went along with this documentary... It became repetitive and dull, as there is barely much interest involved. I also found the fictional sequences, where actors are playing out the moments rather disappointing... Felt corny and extremely cheap. In fact I'm surprised this is a HBO documentary, as the quality level upon the film making and the fictional acting sequences on the same level of one of those FBI Investigation shows. At least Alabama Snake gave us one great moment, where a random man said "This isn't a cruel world, the people in it make it cruel." .... I see no lies in that statement.

Overall, Alabama Snake t'was ok. I don't recommend this documentary.

Scare Me Grade: C+

Scare Me comes from the horror streaming service Shudder.

Scare Me threw me off guard, as I was expecting a horror film... Which I didn't get until the last ten minutes. If you're familiar with improv, then Scare Me is basically that... We watch characters try to create scary stories of their own, as they act them out to try to scare the other. I enjoyed Josh Ruben and Aya Cash in this film, felt both actors are giving strong performances as it looked like they were having an extremely enjoyable time, having the freedom to just display a fun performance. I enjoyed the finale, t'was a nice pay off from everything earlier as it was a nice switch up. Some of the scary storytelling sequences were nice, especially the possessed Big Talent Show one.

Major problem with Scare Me t'was length, as I think it's way too long. Since there is no plot as we are encountering actors doing an improv style, I think the sequences go on way too long, as I was beginning to lose much interest since there really is no plot to this film, till our pay off in the very end. I think if this was cut by twenty minutes: Could be a much better film. Still Scare Me t'was a nice treat and a fine surprise, as I think those that enjoy improv will get a kick out of this one.

Overall, Scare Me t'was a perfectly fine film. I recommend checking this one out on Shudder, I will say if you're not a fan of improv then don't bother.

Howard Grade: B

The life of Music Department head/lyricist Howard Ashman, whom contribute music to classic Disney films such The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast. Howard Ashman would also go on to win 2 Oscars. Unfortunately Howard's life would be cut short at 40, as this short lived iconic figure could've contribute to so much more in music and in film.

I've never heard of Howard Ashman till this film, although I am familiar with this mans work as his songs truly hit me deeply when it comes to my childhood. Learning about this mans life t'was nice, he was a passionate hard working man who stood tall behind his work and didn't let anyone come between his vision. Artists like Howard Ashman are much NEEDED at Disney, where they stand behind their vision and don't let executives control their vision... It's one of the reasons why Disney isn't succeeding in originality and creativity for some time now.

Howard Ashman was truly a courageous man as he kept his love life a secret and battling aids a secret. It was heartbreaking watching a man as kind, passionate, and talented suffer immensely, as he barely had much stadium to keep up. But in the end: Ashman left a legacy to be never forgotten, even if short live people still find themselves gaining great memories out of his work. Film Making, Style, and Substance stand from the basics of any documentary, still this was a good watch as I enjoyed myself learning about this figure in Disney history.

Overall, Howard was a solid documentary film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Disney Plus. -Mitch Smietana

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