Film Review: When Today Ends

When Today Ends


Michael Leoni wrote and directed When Today Ends, a docu-style drama presented as found footage from four teens who turned to social media to combat their depression. As we follow them through their days, we start to see darkness under their smiley internet personas and rehearsed affirmations. The meaning behind the title begins to take shape. These are the faces of suicidal kids who won’t make it through the day. Leoni’s narrative feature debut is a powerful missive on a far-too-invisible mental health crisis. It’s the sort of film that should be shown in schools, if only the schools weren’t part of the problem. 

The one thing I wish Leoni had done was include a kid who really did seem to have everything but was still struggling internally. Suicidal depression can manifest even in kids who aren’t being beaten every day or berated at home. But the kids we do meet are fully formed, unique souls with fears, wants, and voices all their own. There’s Jenna (Jacqui Veni), a smart and kind college student whose persona of perfection is also her biggest stressor. There’s James (Derek Breezee), a hockey champ who doesn’t understand why the rest of his team has it in for him. Nicole (Gavin Leatherwood) is a trans girl trapped in a dangerously conservative community who must hide her true self from peers and family alike for her own safety. Megan (Angel Guadalupe) is a high school student who feels invisible until she takes drastic steps to be seen.

Leoni uses a “curated media” motif to legitimize a story shot entirely on cell phone. And it mostly works. Despite the low-budget feel of the production, the performances are all outstanding. The actors understand their characters in a very holistic way. They are fully-formed people who really feel like they’re only a comment away from interacting with you. Sometimes it gets so real that it’s almost voyeuristic but you’re so invested in their well-being that you are compelled to stick around. The bad news is that the kids aren’t alright. Not by a longshot. 

It’s about time we as a society started showing some goddamned empathy for teenagers. Even without the pressures the kids face in When Today Ends, there just isn’t a teen out there truly having a good time. The high school curriculum is challenging. They’re tired all the time because they’re hormonal and their bodies are still growing. Teens are basically expected to work a full-time job with extracurriculars and then do homework, all while deciding whether or not they want to go to college, and if so, where, and what will they study and can they even afford it? If they have crushes or best friend drama or bullies or siblings, that just adds to the pile. They’re so busy and under insane amounts of pressure and then grownups get mad at them for being sleepy. That’s the BEST base scenario for being a teenager. What if your parents are in the midst of a messy divorce or a close family member is sick, or your family can’t always afford food, or you’re being bullied and you don’t even understand why, or you’re trans and your parents are scary Christians? Suicide is never the answer, but you can start to see why it might seem appealing to many kids. Especially when their parents or teachers blame them for their problems or worse, ARE the problem. 

On a personal note, this movie made me realize how awful a punishment it is to take a teen’s phone away. Grounding them is one thing. But isolating them from their peers, when they already feel so painfully alone most of the time is a next level cruel. I like that When Today Ends doesn’t paint social media as the problem but rather as a tool to combat the problem. Yes, it can be misused but is mostly very positive and even a reason that some teens have lasted this long. 

When Today Ends is currently streaming on multiple platforms.

Really Weird Stuff E3: Zen or the Skill to Catch a Killer


Zen or the Skill to Catch a Killer” is also known for being the episode that really leans into the weird stuff. We have Sarah Palmer’s visions, Nadine’s super strength, Cooper’s unusual methods, Albert Rosenfield’s delightful diatribes, and a visit to the Red Room! It’s written by David Lynch and Mark Frost and directed by David Lynch, so you know it’s gotta be a juicy one. 

Special guest Chris Brugos joins us to explore mysteries such as:

WHY does Ben Horne eat his sandwich from the middle? 
HOW hard is it to talk backwards?
WHERE is Queer Street in relation to the police station? 

PLUS! An acapella version of Audrey’s Dance. 

Grab a double scotch on the rocks, and a double scotch ‘nother and join us!

Really Weird Stuff is available on all major podcast platforms and our website. You can also download this episode directly by clicking here

Really Weird Stuff E2: Traces to Nowhere


On RWS Ep 2, we’re discussing Twin Peaks Season 1, Episode 1 – Traces to Nowhere, directed by Duwayne Dunham, who also edited “Blue Velvet” and the Twin Peaks pilot. Dunham makes some dubious choices, but this episode is still a lot of fun. 

Mysteries include: 
HOW does Coop really want his bacon?
WHY is James so dumb?
WHAT is up with that silly dance from the picnic video?
WHERE did Bobby and Mike get those nicknames for each other?

Plus: Catherine and Ben’s perplexing sexy talk!

Really Weird Stuff Podcast is available on all major podcast apps and on our website. Or download the episode by clicking here!

Paid in Puke S6E5: Zola

On this episode, we’re on an emotional rollercoaster with Janicza Bravo’s 2021 crime drama/comedy, “Zola”, based on the viral Twitter thread by Detroit waitress A’Ziah “Zola” King in October 2015. It stars Taylour Paige as the titular protagonist, and Riley Keough as the shady lady who roped Zola into a nightmarish weekend in Florida. It’s possibly our shortest Hot Probs segment to date, as Bravo knocks this one out of the park.

This discussion inspires a new t-shirt (it’s always a good idea to MIND THE VIBES) and several P.S.A.’s.

You won’t wanna miss this Lunchtime Poll, as we tell stories of times we got in over our heads with some sketchy people. 

PS: Forget that Rolling Stone article. Allison P. Davis has the real scoop at Vulture. 

Paid in Puke is available on all major podcast platforms or you can download this episode directly by clicking here!

Paid in Puke S6E4: Carol

On today’s episode, we’re falling in love with Todd Haynes’ 2015 romantic period drama, Carol, starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson. We’re joined by special guest, Alicia Mullins of Gal Pals Watch Podcast, who gives us all the Superfan details about the film and the source material (Patricia Highsmith’s semi-autobiographical novel, “The Price of Salt”). 

There’s an awful lot of Harge hate and swooning over Cate Blanchett’s ethereal presence and silky voice, as well as marveling at Carol’s brass ovaries for standing up for herself in the 1950s, despite having so much to lose. Carol simply rules.  

Paid in Puke is available on all major podcast platforms or you can download this episode directly by clicking here!