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Yes, God, Yes – a Smart And Funny Exploration Of Teenage Sexuality.

Yes, God, Yes; Dir. -Karen Maine

Rating –  “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

Yes, God, Yes is the directorial debut Karen Maine, and stars Natalia Dyer from Stranger Things, in the lead role. Developed from a short film that Maine planned on directing but later adapted it to feature-length, this is an extremely small film, in terms of budget, story, and even the run-time. Clocking at only about one hour and fifteen minutes, the film is an almost semi-autobiographical retelling of Maine’s first-hand experience of spending four days at a Catholic retreat.

Alice, played by Natalia Dyer, has been brought up in a very small town by her conservative religious parents and attends Catholic school, where sex-ed classes are taken by a priest. Not only is sex before marriage a sin, but also masturbation, and Alice is made to believe that she will go to hell if she even gets turned on by sex scenes in movies or hot boys in the class. Alice, like most girls her age, is pretty gullible and believes that she is actually committing sins by feeling emotions normal to any teenager. Set in the early 2000s, Alice experiences her sexual interaction over an online AOL chatroom, where she responds to a random dude’s creepy messages just because of curiosity and discovers masturbation. But then she is ashamed of herself and never talks about it to anyone.

At school, someone has spread a rumor about how she performed a very particular sexual activity with a guy from her class at a party, a sexual activity she that she doesn’t even know the meaning of. She asks her friend, but she has no clue either, and Alice spends a chunk of the film trying to find out what people are talking about her. But whatever it is, in order o get these accusations of her and compensate for her supposed dirty mind, she goes to a Christian retreat for four days. And this place is a straight-up horror mansion imo. Right from the beginning, with the overly friendly and enthusiastic attitude of everyone, something is definitely off about this place. Maybe it’s just my socially awkward self, but everything in the retreat is almost Get Out level creepy.

Yes, God, Yes, is a movie about masturbation and sexual awakening, but what separates it from other films of this genre is its female protagonist and conservative setting. It is not a raunchy comedy about horny guys trying to lose virginity, it is just a realistic portrayal of a girl coming to terms with her own sexuality. Maine sure finds funny moments throughout the story, but she never loses sight of realism in the central story, she rather uses the comedic moments to further develop Alice’s character and illustrate her struggles.

The teachers and elders in the story are used for jokes, but they are not the butt of jokes, they are all very misguided people themselves. If anything is joke it is religion and a society that expects young to suppress all their sexual urges, even though they know it is unrealistic. The guilt of always feeling like she’s committed a sin fills Alice with self-doubt that almost drives her crazy as she slowly starts to find out that people are doing those same things in hiding. She feels conflicted and doesn’t understand what she wants to do anymore and then she meets an old lesbian biker lady in a pub, who was once in a Catholic school too, which gives Alice a new perspective on the world. She understands that human beings are complex creatures, and it makes no sense to define them entirely by the supposed “sins” they commit. She understands that High School isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t matter what people are talking about behind your back, because those same people are doing equally fucked up shit when nobody is watching. She learns to give herself a chance – to finally figure out who she is.

Natalia Dyer gives the best performance of her career as Alice. So much of the movie depends on her, and she sells every moment she’s in. The rest of the cast is equally good. Wolfgang Novogratz as the lovable hunk is very charming and Timothy Simon is perfect as the strict father, a role very similar to his role from Looking for Alaska on Hulu. Karen Maine does an amazing job directing the movie. It’s hard to believe this is her first movie and she almost pulls off a Greta Gerwig, ala Lady Bird. Yes, God, Yes, is a beautiful little film about growing up and one of the best films to release this quarantine. So, if you have an hour and an hour to spare, check out the movie, you might end up reliving some your worst High School memories.

Now available in virtual cinemas and select drive-ins; available on digital and VOD from July 28.

And Then The Bard Spoke

Hanging by the doors, into the windows of mist
That carry your arms to me, in a moment of bliss,
Carry them like the self loathing bastard you are,
Your words don't mean shit in here!
They'll grind you and tear you and make you adhere.

You are young and you're hopeful, you want to do something noble
You think you owe it to your life, like it'll get you your prize
But you don't know of the price that you have pay, to do something in this world your way.
Speak up to people who beat us down, you gotta be some kinda clown.
I know I was - believing in the lies of the world, that once made me a god,
I believed I stood for something, I thought I could change something,
But the world is a bottle factory, molding people into it's own slavery
It will drain your thoughts out of you, make you spill the words you brew
In your head with a meaning, and exploit them to fill their billing.
You can tell people all you want, they only listen to what they want,
Nobody's interested in the truth, just package sugar-dreams for the buoyant youth.
I used to believe I stood for something, I thought I'd help them questioning
But I was just another minion, instead helping them maintain their dominion.
They took her away from me, before I could even see,
And now I lay trapped in this dungeon, forgotten like someone redundant
Nobody will mourn when I die, like nobody mourned when you said goodbye.
Run Away ye Lad, run away somewhere far from here!
Take your pretty lass' hand, they're coming to get her.

Album Review: Chromatica – Lady Gaga’s Lukewarm comeback is tamed escapism.

Chromatica; Lady Gaga

Rating – //meh..// (but do listen if you’re a fan)

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

Singer, songwriter, record producer, (and also an actress now) Lady Gaga is back with her sixth full-length studio album, a glittery glossy electronic pop record that has been promised to be this big Comeback of sorts for Gaga. While, the album does feel much more grandeur and elaborate in it’s scope, with loud stretched out dance pop routines and lengthy butt-thumping electro-beats, the end result is just a generic and underwhelming record that just feels like a repackaging of the old stuff.

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me

Gaga’s career over the last few years have been a little lackluster. Coming from the pop queen sensation that she became upon her debut, her recent albums have lacked that edge and also the popularity among her fans. The only big hit Gaga has delivered in recent years, is her ‘Star is Born’ soundtrack, a movie which she starred in and earned her multiple Grammy and Oscar nominations, along with her chart topping duet with Bradley Cooper -‘Shallows”. But that was all Ally from the movie singing, it isn’t a Lady Gaga record. So, when Gaga announced this project and with it, her comeback to her glamorous image that she made for herself, fans got excited. And while Lady Gaga sure blasts out all horns here (literally), the result is quite mixed.

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

The album was designed and remixed right till its release with even the corona-virus pandemic affecting the direction of the album somewhat, as Gaga revealed herself. But thematically, this album is so out there and it talk about so many different things that it was hard for me follow, and its not like that the things she’s trying to say are some profound new ideas but rather cliches sold as LSD. “Earth is cancelled. I live on Chromatica,” Lady Gaga told Zane Lowe. OK, cool, but what the hell is Chromatica? According to Gaga, it is neither a fantasy nor fictional planet, but a perspective, an opportunity to re-frame pain into positivity. That said, the imagery of Chromatica is undeniably futuristic. The video for “Stupid Love” begins with a post-apocalyptic prologue: “The world rots in conflict. Many tribes battle for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica.” Again, big ideas and probably something interesting to explore through music, but when the whole theme of the song is explained in an opening exposition, followed by Gaga dancing with her minions in a short bright-pink dress to uninteresting catchy tunes, it’s hard to take the message seriously. As per traditions, there are tons of Gaga-isms sprinkled around in the album. I don’t mind them, I know that they are purposefully cheesy and I do love me some weird Gaga-ism in between songs, but then again it makes it hard for me to take the ‘big theme’ that she’s trying to convey seriously.

Lady Gaga, Blackpink – Sour Candy

Chromatica is an album that takes Gaga back to her fun pop roots of her early work, and while nothing on here is quite a banger like those early albums, her experience and vulnerability gives this albums the extra edge needed. While Gaga has long represented empowerment in pop, she often acknowledges that healing can be an uphill battle, especially when faced with physical or emotional trauma. Several songs on Chromatica seem to address her ongoing struggles with depression and PTSD. “My biggest enemy is me, ever since day one,” she sings, almost robotically, in the chorus of “911.” “Every single day, I dig a grave/Then I sit inside it, wondering if I’ll behave,” she coos on the booming “Replay.” But Gaga loves a triumph-over-hardship narrative, which Chromatica offers on songs like “Rain on Me,” “Plastic Doll,” and “Free Woman.”

Lady Gaga and Blackpink

From a production standpoint, Gaga goes all out on this album – each song has this get-your-ass-on-the-floor beat to it that is very in Gaga’s style. But the production is just way too loud for my taste, with songs that feel like are trying to poke your heart with the bass-thumping choruses. Especially. in the song ‘Stupid Love’ – it was torture to my ears, I recommend you to not listen to that songs with your headphones on. The albums has some big features on it too from her contemporary Ariana Grande, popular South Korean group Blackpink and even Elton John – and for the most part the features are big highlight for this album. I don’t necessarily love the song with Ariana – ‘Rain with Me’ – but the songs with Blackpink and Elton John are two of my favorites here.

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

So, while it might not be the dreamy comeback Lady Gaga promised it is sure an improvement from her last few albums. There are good songs in there with decent beats to bob along, and considering the ties we are living – it is the perfect sugary escapism that you might need right. But if you’re a stan, you’re probably gonna like this album anyway, because it essentially takes Gaga back to her pop origins. But, what I’m more interested to see is, how Lady Gaga evolves from here in the future.

Fav Tracks: //Plastic Doll/ Sour Candy (with Blackpink)/ 911/ Sine from Above (with Elton John)//

Least Fav Track: /Stupid Love/