Web Series: Brothers With No Game brings its A-game

If you think you’ve had a bad date recently, you haven’t seen anything yet. Brothers With No Game follows four hopeless romantics navigating through exaggerated everyday occurrences, all to hilarious effect. Once you’re in a better mood after watching the movie, be sure to tune into Free Like a Bird, a short film that follows the inspirational story of an immigrant family whose young daughter has become an unlikely activist. For full reviews, read on:

Web series: Brothers With No Game (season 1): The main characters themselves may have zero game, but that doesn’t speak for the show itself. Brothers With No Game is a YouTube series following a quartet of 20-somethings navigating professional, social and (most importantly) romantic lives in modern day London. The series first premiered on YouTube in 2012 and its first two seasons are currently available on YouTube and London Live TV Channel.

The series follows the lives of four eternal bachelors;  each with their own unique and endearingly embarrassing love lives. The series opens with Theo (Jay Marsh) on a date in which he was persuaded to drive over two hours so she could hang out with another guy. Things don’t get more promising after that.

Filmed with a single camera setup, the show is told through watching scenes in the present interspersed with the characters giving information speaking directly to the camera. Through this format, we learn that Dorian (Zephryn Taitte) thinks he knows everything there is about dating because he’s read a lot of books, but that doesn’t seem to help him confess his feelings for his childhood friend Lisa (Natalie Duvall). Junior (Isaac Sosanya) embarks on a series of embarrassing dates after he can’t get over breaking up with the love of his life, and Marcus (David Avery) spends as much time flirting with girls at his workplace as he does hiding the fact that he’s just the intern there.

With a simple setup and limited resources (it’s not a network show, after all), all pressure is on the cast to keep the show lively and entertaining, which they do in abundance. Junior finds himself on a date with Remy (Ashley Bannerman), a scathing romantic blogger who demands they go to an expensive restaurant that Junior, currently an unsuccessful IT freelancer, can’t afford. Throughout the date, Theo calls his friends for lifeline advice and/or money while trying not to become the subject of Remy’s next blog. The result is a date we all fear we will one day be part of.

Due to its medium, the show does have limitations. The audio fluctuates unexpectedly; one scene there’s pounding dance music in the background and the next there’s hushed conversations, which causing me to constantly click my laptop’s volume up and down buttons. The camera’s tends to film solely in close ups, which makes it hard to figure out where the character is spatially.

Still, these drawbacks serve as a reminder that the production is honest and raw, just like the content itself. The first season accumulates in a breakup that, after eight short episodes, felt as heart-wrenching as if I’d spent an entire season watching the relationship grow on network television. That takes serious game.

Short film: Free Like the Birds: When the Pope visited America in 2015 and toured Washington D.C., a little girl somehow broke through the extensive security measures during a parade. She ran forward and was almost immediately caught by a guard however, the Pope beckoned for the guard to bring her over and gave her a hug.  She was holding a yellow flyer that told her and her family’s story.

That girl is Sophia Cruz, the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, Raul and Zoyla Jorge. Director Paola Mendoza tells their story in Free Like the Birds, a short film which delves into the family’s greatest joys and deepest fears.

Raul and Zoyla came to America in search of better employment opportunities and lived with the possibility that they could be sent back to Mexico and separated from their kids every day. At first, they were anxious to tell Sophie the truth, the young girl became an unlikely advocate for immigration law reforms after her fearlessness, which is made very evident in the film, brought her face to face with the Pope. Though nothing can be proven, one of the people riding alongside the Pope can be seen accepting Sophie’s yellow flyer she was carrying during the encounter.

To truly humanize the story, Mendoza offers glimpses into the Cruz’s daily lives, such as cooking and coloring together and Sophie’s karate lessons (she was able to start taking lessons at the age of three, a year early, due to knowing her right from her left). Mendoza’s clean filming style sits back and lets the subject tell the story. The film doesn’t need anything extra to leave an impact.