So I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks because my life isn’t conforming to the schedule I need to do that. For reasons. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t care much for watching dramas because I feel life has enough drama that I don’t need to get invested in fictional drama to punch me in the feels. I understand the purpose of fictional drama is emotional catharsis; the audience gets emotionally invested in the story and whether or not there’s a happy ending, the audience gets to release all that emotion. I understand the theory but do not usually indulge in the practice, again, because life puts me in plenty of situations where my emotions are already wrapped up.
But I do occasionally make exceptions, and here are two. Option 1 is the darker option that doesn’t have a happy ending, although there is a conclusion. Option 2 is the lighter option with a happy ending and shorter.
Jessica Jones – this show is, in its way, more brutal than Daredevil ever was, and I had a hard enough time getting through that. Jessica is the survivor of a non-consensual, abusive in every way relationship and is trying to get her life back together and working as a private investigator. The only reason she escaped the relationship is because she believed her tormentor, Zebediah Kilgrave (a.k.a. the Purple Man [because in the comics his skin is actually purple; the show chose not to go this route, although if I were a villain and my actual last name was ‘Kilgrave’ that’s what I would go with]), was dead. Sadly, Jessica Jones is a comic book superhero, and death is seldom the end of supervillains.
The show is very stylized in film noir, down to Jessica narrating. I’d almost expect her to use the terms “broads” and “dames.” There’s no nudity, and no f-bombs, but those are pretty much the only limits of the format. The color scheme is dark but while Kilgrave is never called the Purple Man as far as I recall, the show makes use of the color purple as a way to show his influence. Jessica’s PTSD flashbacks, for example, are awash in violet. Jessica has superstrength, some extra durability, and can fly (kind of), but she’s no match for Kilgrave. His power is mind control, and it’s so strong he can (and does) tell people to jump off buildings and they fight every effort to keep them from fulfilling that command. He is a man who is used to literally never hearing the word “no.” When Jessica escapes him, he becomes obsessed with her. Unlike Kingpin, there is very little effort to humanize Kilgrave. In addition to his mind control power, he’s also exceptionally good at mundane manipulation, so the minute there’s any sympathy for him, it’s generally revealed to be a lie so he can get his way. And yet the look on his face when he sees Jessica again is one of genuine delight. He’s a creepy [expletive]. And like I said, the show doesn’t pull punches. He’ll either get Jessica back, or destroy her, and he has zero regard for anyone else’s life.
I know Netflix is set up for binging, but I don’t recommend more than two episodes at a time because of the way the show punches you in the feels. There is no sugar-coating what Jessica (and Kilgrave’s other victims) were put through. But the series is overall very good, but very, very dark.
Inside Out – Ah, Pixar, the little movie studio with big ambitions and some very daring work, especially for an animation studio. Pixar has put out actual kids’ movies, and I found those are generally not as good as the more ambitious movies. As the studio has gotten older, it has gotten better at punching the audience in the feels. The Incredibles is my favorite superhero movie and one of my favorite movies because the characters act like real people who have different emotions and points of view and flaws; both Bob and Helen had valid points about their marriage and both of them messed up as well. I saw Up in a movie theater and unabashedly bawled like a baby at the silent montage of Carl and Ellie’s life together, and that was a movie that featured talking dogs.
So here’s Inside Out, the charming story of an eleven-year old girl’s complete mental and emotional breakdown following a move from her small town life in Minnesota to big city life in San Francisco. Yeah, sounds cheerful, doesn’t it? The main characters are Riley’s personified emotions – Joy (who was created first), Sadness (who followed a mere 33 seconds later), Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Joy has always been the dominant emotion to the point all the emotions are shocked when a new core memory turns up to be a sad one. Joy thinks that isn’t right and ends up getting herself and Sadness pulled out of headquarters, leaving Riley without Joy or Sadness and with Fear, Anger, and Disgust at the helm. All this goes about as well as you might think.
Joy and Sadness go on a strange buddy field trip, and along the way learn valuable lessons about growing up and the need for emotional complexity. Unlike Up, I shed tears throughout this movie. Not quite bawling, but definitely in need of more tissues than I thought. This is Pixar just hitting those feels over and over again, although the ending is ultimately uplifting.
For those in the U.S., I hope your holiday is full of too much food and great deals (if you’re into that sort of thing) with a maximum of goodwill and a minimum of familial drama. For those not celebrating Turkey Day, I hope you have a nice weekend. And I’m going to hope like hell for an ultimately uplifting ending.