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Weekly Roundup Episode 58: SOS Cuba

*Photo Credit to @Ismael_NPT via Twitter*

Welcome to another edition of Weekly Roundup! My thoughts and prayers go out to the people over in Cuba right now, if have no idea what is going on in Cuba as of now you can head over to @revolucioncuba on Instagram, as that source will give you all the information.

I believe Monday or Tuesday when I first heard about this situation, I searched a good half an hour trying to find a much more productive way in helping than just posting on Social Media. Unfortunately… Spreading awareness on Social Media really is the only option at the moment, which flat out sucks that you can’t reach out to a higher power or help give, in order to provide the necessities to these people whom are IMMENSELY struggling at this very moment and have been for quite sometime now.

I want to express appreciation to those out in Miami, whether it be regular locals peacefully protesting in the streets, groups whom are trying to figure out to get resources out to people over in Cuba as they’re trying to take on the challenge ahead. I want to express appreciation to recording artist Pitbull, using his platform for the great of good, delivering a powerful speech to spread awareness. I would like to express political leaders trying to establish a solution to this situation at hand, including the Governor of Florida Ron De Santis whom has been very vocal and supportive during this situation.

More importantly: Thank you to all the brave men and women in Cuba, whom are standing tall and fighting literally for their lives, for the sake of freedom. I hope they continue to fight the good fight and to never back down, God will reward you all in due time, continue to believe, never give up.

There is a great amount of emotions embattling inside of all of us, however it’s important we can not let those emotions get the best of us. Progression is not achieved by Negativity, Hatred, or Finger Pointing in a Never Ending Blame Game. Progression is achieved by being Hopeful, Practicing Peace, Patience, Positivity, and Love. It’s extremely important as the energy you put into this world matters, that’s why we must practice this mindset and to be truly hopeful through and through, as in due time we will see the light within this current situation of darkness.

Keep your minds positive consistently. It helps to read material that is motivational, it does help especially when you’re trying to lift your spirits. Giving yourself a reasonable amount of time for prayer extremely helps, not only to ask God for what you need, but to also give glory to God for the simple blessings God has given you. If you’re not a believer, which there no shame in not being one: Always bring out the best in you wherever you are. Express gratitude wherever you go, whenever gratitude can be made even for the simple things you have, and most importantly be a difference maker whenever there is an opportunity to do so. Don’t be feel guilt or shame if you’re not a difference maker all the time in every situation, we’re not all perfect and that’s ok only Jesus is, putting a slight bit of effort to help can impact the world around us in many ways, that you don’t even know.

I hope in some way this was at least helpful in some capacity. Always remember: Love Always Win No Matter. This situation will pass in due time, but remember to continue to stay positive and strong through and through. I wish better days for the people out in Cuba, God Bless all that are making an endeared effort to provide change. Let’s talk about movies!

Skater Girl Grade: C+

If you were hoping Skater Girl would be a documentary about Avril Lavigne’s music career, you surely are sadly mistaken… Only the real ones will understand that reference.

Anyhow Skater Girl can feel inspiring to some, especially for young women whom feel entirely controlled of how they operate their own lives, as they’re waiting for something to inspire them to break out and control their own destiny. My favorite scene in this entire film was when the children were in school, as they learned something about history, as people we’re able to grant India their independence by peacefully protesting. The kids went on and did the exact same thing, regarding the village being completely against the idea of skateboarding, it was such a cute and hilarious moment.

Skater Girl felt a bit hallmarky for my taste, as well as the predictability within the storyline was troublesome. You know exactly where things were heading almost the entire run time, where the conflict will take place, how the young girl will triumph into victory. One flaw that stood out like a sore thumb, was how our main character Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta) was given inspiration to take control of her own destiny. Won’t spoil, but the character in which gave Prerna inspiration honestly has no business in making that speech, given the fact she has no control of her own life in the first place. I would’ve suggest having Prerna on her way to the event, as the Queen of this village spots her down the road, as she would make the speech herself. If you’re going to create a scene in which Prerna is delivered some inspiration to take control of her own life, why not be one that is leader of this village and is a woman?! Would make much more sense as the scene itself would be more impactful.

The finale was bittersweet. I guess in a way it was cute, however the coverage within the sport itself just didn’t move me the way the film wanted me to. The closing shot actually can be confusing much, as this one character gives Prerna a special thing, however how does this character know about Prerna’s journey in the first place to give her such a thing?!

Overall, Skater Girl was perfectly fine. I recommend checking this one out, it’s a nice watch at home, can be found on Netflix.

Fatherhood Grade: B

Fatherhood was supposedly to be released in theaters fall of 2020, but due to that pain in the ass, it had itself delayed multiple times, causing the film to be sold off to Netflix.

I find it kind of a shame this film wasn’t released in theaters, this would’ve been a nice feel good film for fathers around Fathers Day Weekend. Comedian Kevin Hart whom also takes on the lead role in this film, has made a killing off of dad jokes from his standup comedy specials, as he takes being a dedicated passionate father seriously to his own little ones. For a comedic drama about a man going through the hardships of being a single father, Kevin Hart honestly was meant to play a role like this one, as it’s by far his best performance of his entire career. Kevin Hart delivers timely laughs when needed, but also delivers a striking emotional performance that’ll leave fathers and mothers hesitant to grab a tissue.

Hart’s chemistry along co-star Melody Hurd playing the daughter was rock solid, making this a believable father daughter duo. On screen together you can feel the pure joy, frustration, and sadness along this bond, that’ll leave you on a emotional roller coaster ride. The comedy material in this film was surprisingly solid all around by not just Hart, but also other characters along the way. The jokes felt genuine and matured for not only parents, but also adults as well that can understand the magnitude of the situations occurring in the story.

The story itself kept it simple and was straight forward within the meaning of the struggles and triumph of being a single father. I do believe there is kind of a set back within moving time forward, as Maddy does become an older child very quickly from once being a toddler. It can feel as if it rushed itself a bit, as some parents believe more should’ve been explored in that area. You can also say if they were to rush in terms of age within the child, why didn’t they just go through the entire process of Fatherhood, as we can go through the stages of teenage years and adult life with Maddy?! In my opinion I think I rather have the toddler stuff more explored, there is more to cover within the hardship of that time period of being a father.

The film wraps up with such an adorable finale, delivering a thoughtful heartwarming message. I also found the whole flashback sequence in which I thought was an issue in the beginning, coming back in the finale to be such a neat trick. Fatherhood may not be the greatest film in the world, but it’s a definitely a feel good film worth watching and may help inspire young parents along the way, while also acknowledging the value in singles fathers in which don’t get enough credit or get looked down upon.

Overall, Fatherhood was a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, it’s on Netflix.

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal Grade: B

From documentary film maker Chris Smith, whom has been involved in past Netflix original projects such as Fyre and Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, comes his newest creation with Operation Varsity Blues.

As Chris Smith takes on a new subject matter within the documentary, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact he attempted a new style. Still following a documentary format, he however has actors portraying the real people following along within this story. We’ve this method done before in the past, however from the likes of Chris Smith we haven’t seen it yet from him as I do appreciate him trying something new to the table. Within this method I believe it helps carry on within the story I’m watching, as it’s much easier to understand the scenario at hand instead of speakers talking about the situation, between moments of photographs or footage taken place.

The substance at hand… Fascinating indeed, surrounding the corruption of such a horrific scandal that rewards young adults that have no business getting into these high end schools, than the kids that literally bust their but off day in and day out. Greed is one hell of a drug man… The things these people do for that piece of paper can really sicken you. Especially from the likes of these college heads, whom are supposed to be honored by pride and dignity by the idea of granting a high end education for those wanting to accomplish a career for the future, as they sell out for a little extra cash from those who don’t deserve it… I mean I’m still sick by the idea. I love how this film genuinely cares about the kids. Some segments featured talked about the mental toll these kids go through, to feel like a success for themselves and their parents if they get into the school of their desire, while also displaying the toxic social media factor which brings on more insecurity onto these kids felt very meaningful.

My flaws come from the likes of the last thirty minutes as it kind of died down for me, as the interest level was slowly declining. I thought Matthew Modine portraying Rick Singer had an awful performance, just the way the actor performs in many scenes felt entirely fake and amateurish it was bad. The film making I didn’t care for too much to give it any praise, felt like a standard documentary film from a visual perspective.

This is yet another effective interesting documentary from Chris Smith, as he continues on his solid track record with Netflix original documentary films.

Overall, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal was a solid documentary film. I recommend checking this one out, it’s on Netflix. I agree with that speaker, how he thinks kids need to stop applying to the same schools and try to look else where, as there are tons of school that can offer a great education and there are lovely places to go to school. Honestly in the U.S. there are TONS of great schools and just beautiful campuses that offer a grand variety, that are just as good as the ones that everyone applies to. Heck even community colleges are over looked, for the reasonable price to get the exact same education and some of these campuses?! It may not be flashy or popular, but who cares if it’s cost effective and it’s just as good as the big names… Settle in why don’t ya.

The Vigil Grade: B

$400 to watch over a dead body over night, equaling to $80 a night... That's not a bad gig, with the exception you may encounter a demon known as trauma.

From a story standpoint: The Vigil is simply straight forward, as we fully understand our lead character and what is bound to be accomplished from this situation. Yakov (Dave Davis) is a troubled soul, whom has to take medications to feel better, whom is also financially unstable as well as this is why he took on this gig of a Shomer. The story does a solid job within the character development of Yakov, as through this haunting experience teaches Yakov an important lesson to overcome trauma within his past, as it was effectively done well.

I guess my major complaint within this film is that the horror element is extremely weak, as the horror images displayed and the situations unfolding didn't do much for me at all, other than Yakov's past with regards to what happens to his younger brother. Thankfully there wasn't a whole lot of jump scare sequences, but when they appeared it was just unnecessary. If you can get past the weak horror element of this film and shift to the moral point of the story, this can be a fair watch.

Overall, The Vigil was a good film. I recommend checking this one out, it's on HULU. - Mitch Smietana

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