State of Dis-Union: What’ I’m Watching

I know this post doesn’t seem Halloween related, but I’m posting it here anyway, otherwise I’ll forget what I wanted to write. Besides, I can (and I most definitely will) post about scary movies all year round! I like to, from time to time, give my readers a heads up, on what I’m watching, but not currently talking about.

Lovecraft Country

Fire Hbo GIF by Lovecraft Country - Find & Share on GIPHY

As a general rule, I don’t really spend a lot of time talking about shows and movies that everyone else in America is talking about, which is the reason I have not discussed Lovecraft Country, which just aired it’s season finale last Sunday. I really enjoyed the entire season, and hope there will be more, but there are a bajillion critiques and reviews, all over Youtube, and in writing. If y’all want I can post some links to a lot of the themes and Historical plot points of the show, which was dense with meaning, and y’all know I love shows like that. As a librarian, I am a firm proponent of the idea, that sometimes, people don’t know enough to know what questions to ask.

https://www.insider.com/lovecraft-country-historical-references-details-you-missed-2020-8

https://www.newsweek.com/lovecraft-country-ending-explained-season-finale-episode-10-full-circle-s01e10-1×10-1540186

But I also read some really good critiques of the shows negative themes, like its abuse and mistreatment of gay, lesbian, and transgender characters, and its use of colorism, with the darker skinned characters being constantly associated with self hatred, and violence. The show needs some work, and if it gets a second season, I hope the show writers have learned from this criticism, and the mistakes they made this season. More importantly though, I want them to treat their lgbtq characters a lot better. Enlightenment for Black women does not need to come at their expense.

That said though, this show really spoke to Black women on a level that few shows bother to do in their attempts to be universal, but there’s enough density in it, that almost anyone can find something in it that resonated with them. My absolute favorite episode of the entire series is “I Am” , and in case none of the reviews mention it, because none of the ones I read did this, the title “I Am” isn’t just that the lead character in this episode, a woman named Hippolyta, is called to name herself, but its a callback to the words of God, to Moses, when he was speaking to Moses through the Burning Bush in the desert. I’m an atheist/ agnostic, but I do know my Bible stories, and there were a lot of these callbacks throughout the season. At some point, I’m going to write a review of this particular episode, so I can cover all the issues in it.

Star Trek Discovery

Speaking of shows that resonate with Black women (and most other women, too), I also watched the season three premiere of Star trek Discovery, and I greatly enjoyed it, but I had questions, like who had time to braid Michael’s hair, because its kinda weird seeing Box Braids in the future. In fact, its so unusual that I don’t know how to feel about that. For y’all who don’t know this, wearing your hair in its natural state, as I do, is a source of great discussion among Black women, especially the whole process of caring for it. For some of us, it can take as long as a whole day to just to wash our hair correctly, while for others, it can take only a few hours. It’s a very involved process just to braid it. I’ve worn box braids, and it took, at the shortest, eight or so hours, just to get it to look like that, although I’m sure the actress herself is probably just wearing a wig.

Anyway, I liked the episode a lot and I especially like the newest addition to the show, Cleveland Booker. He’s handsome, he’s got superpowers, and he is one of the few Black men featured on the show, and I like the chemistry I see between him and Michael. I love that the show has made her a well rounded character, we get to see her laugh more in this episode than we have in the previous two seasons, and that they have changed the venue of the show to some 1000 years into the future.

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Michael after travelling through the wormhole into the future, has lost track of the Discovery, and crashed into Booker’s ship, who was being chased by some smugglers. They both land on the same planet and Michael set out to check his status. Booker is a smuggler (for a very good reason) and initially wants nothing to do with Michael, but they have to team up, because he’s the only person she has met, and she has nowhere to go. She spends a not insignificant amount of time punching Booker in the face until they reach an understanding.

It turns out that she is a true relic of the past, as Starfleet and the Federation no longer exist, because of something called The Burn, that happened about two hundred years before her arrival ,and involved the destruction of all the dilithium crystals that are used to power Starfleet’s ships. She ends up accompanying Booker on his adventures, though. I have to admit, this episode did bring the feels, by the end, and I loved the technology that I saw being used, but I get attached to characters first. If the characters don’t captivate or fascinate me, I’m probably not going to get invested in the show. I’m looking forward to getting to know all the new characters (and a few old ones), this coming season.

The show will be getting some non-binary and transgender characters this season, which I’m looking forward to. Star Trek has had non-binary characters before, but this will be a recurring character, which is a first for all of Trek. There’s also a spinoff show about Captain Pike, starring Anson Mount. For those who don’t know, Pike was Captain of the Enterprise before Kirk, and we sort of know some of his backstory, but he was the Captain for quite a while, so there’s plenty of stories left to tell about him, and I’m looking forward to that because, well… Anson is pretty hot, and there’s a new version of Spock which I like too.

Love and Monsters

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I just finished watching Love and Monsters starring Dylan somethin’ or other from Teen Wolf. I mean, I like the guy just fine, but for the life of me I can never remember his last name, and I want to keep calling him Dylan McDermott, but keep realizing that’s a whole notha actor!. The movie was enjoyable and funny, and not too deep. I liked the monsters, and wish I’d gotten to see more of them. There was also a surprise appearance from Michael Rooker, who is his usual hilarious self.

Dylan’s character gets separated from his girlfriend after aliens attack the planet, and his parents get stepped on by a giant bug, because for some reason, the alien attack mutated all the Earth’s invertebrates and reptiles. The largest ones end up being taken out by the world’s different militaries, but that still leaves plenty of midsize ones, like the giant frog-thing seen in the trailer, and some type of gigantic ant queen, that moves underground like a shark, and something called a Rambler which is pretty huge to me, but probably didn’t even register on the military’s radar, as they seemed more concerned with the Kaiju sized monsters. This is one of those found family stories, that I’m such a sucker for, with a pleasant little message in it about believing in oneself, and finding one’s place in the world.

Dylan’s character, ( I did not bother to learn his name at all), does find his girlfriend again, as she’s not very far away, maybe several days, so he decides to go to her. Along the way, he meets Rooker’s character, who is with a very funny and charming little girl who attaches herself to him, and teaches him how to use a crossbow, and a dog named Boy, (see, I learned the dog’s name, which shows you my priorities here),which is definitely a shout out to the nuclear, sci-fi horror movie, A Boy and His Dog. The movie is more comedy action than horror. Some of the monsters are a tiny bit scary, and yucky, but its a movie that’s chaste enough for kids to watch as there’s almost no gore. Its not a deep movie, but not every movie has to be deep, and I would watch it again, along with any sequels.

The Good Lord Bird

I watched the first episode of the Good Lord Bird, and it was okay. I expected it to be a bit zany, which is unusual for a series about slavery, Its about a white man who is crazy enough to think he can end slavery by simply shooting slave owners. Apparently, this was based on a real life person, who actually did do some of the things in the show, and did indeed have an interesting relationship with Frederick Douglas.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/9/21508420/the-good-lord-bird-tv-show-review-showtime

The series stars Ethan Hawke, looking unrecognizable, as John Brown, who was a virulent Abolitionist. Most of the episodes are narrated by a young Black ex-slave, named John Shackleford, who was then nicknamed Onion, after being mistaken for a girl. At first, I kind of bristled at the idea of yet another guy in a dress story, (and I’m pretty sure some Black male viewers will too), but at no point does John behave in a derogatorily feminine fashion, and he doesn’t tell people he’s not a girl, for what he thinks is a good reason. As a girl, he receives tokens of kindness and protections that a boy wouldn’t. At the very least, he would not be required to engage in violence, which he doesn’t seem to want to do.

The show is darkly humorous, mostly because of the misadventures Bird gets up to, and the things he says. On the other hand, I really do wish that white people would stop imagining Black people as slaves in historical narratives, because its getting more than a bit tired. We did other things than just be enslaved. There are a lot of other stroeis to tell about our past, although I noticed, (quite a few people noticed this), they never seem to want to tell the stories of actual slave uprisings, of which there were plenty, and you wonder why that is, exactly! I mean that there are a bunch of stories about slaves running away, or fighting one on one, but Hollywood can’t quite imagine a collection of Black people burning down the plantation, and killing the master, but will make, yet another, in a long line of movies about white people, apes, or robots, rebelling against some form of tyranny.

Helstrom

I tried watching Helstrom, a show based on a comic book, in the Marvel Universe, that’s now airing on Hulu. Its about two siblings who fight demons and deal with the paranormal. I’m not loving it. The show looks rather dark and murky, and I couldn’t get into the characters very much. The show is mostly relying on being scary, rather than having character. I’m going to give it another try though, because Supernatural will be coming to the end of its 15th season, in a few weeks, and I need a replacement.

Travels With My Father

I’ve been enjoying Jack Whitehall’s Travels with My Father, which is deeply hilarious. I like the relationship Jack has with his dad. He’s always trying to get his father out of his comfort zone, and sometimes his father resists and wins that fight, but at other times he gives in, and that’s when the show is at its funniest like when he talked his father into being a drag queen for a few hours and he dressed up as the Queen of England, and was perfect at it!

Also:

Things I still have not watched are the latest iteration of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, the School Nurse Files, which looks deeply, and I mean deeply, strange, about a school nurse who can see people emotions, in the forms of the various weird ectoplasmic creatures they leave behind. I tried watching Monsterland (Hulu) and couldn’t get into it, and Hulu’s Books of Blood, based on the book series, and short stories of Clive Barker, proved uninteresting to me.

There’s also a bunch of trailers that came out, and here are the most interesting ones, in my opinion:

Queen Sono

Queen Sono Still 1 - Netflix Publicity-h 2020

If y’all are looking for a black, female, James Bond, you loved the TV series Alias, can’t wait until the new 007 shows up in the next Bond film, and you’re still coming down after watching The Old Guard, then check out this title on Netflix, (out of Netflix Africa), about a Black female spy in Africa. I have not finished watching this, but I like what I’m seeing, the characters are cool enough, and the fight scenes aren’t bad. The production values are very good, (somebody spent some money on this), and the cinematography is lovely, (yeah I’ve seen a few of those laughably, but charmingly, bad Nigerian films), and its got a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, which I don’t normally pay much attention to, but this intrigued me. To assuage those most concerned, yes, a season two will be coming soon.

Hailing from creator Kagiso Lediga, Queen Sono stars Pearl Thusi as a field agent in South Africa’s secretive Special Operations Group. Queen — that’s her name, not a title — is the daughter of a legendary South African revolutionary figure whose assassination was a pivotal moment in the transitional period after apartheid. SOG, which itself has pre-apartheid roots and probably isn’t exactly what it appears to be, sends agents throughout Africa on missions overseen by Miri (Chi Mhende), who I think is Queen’s cousin, and Dr. Sid (Sechaba Morojele), but the organization is mysterious enough that Queen can’t even tell her nearest and dearest what she does for a living. That means pretending to be an art dealer in interactions with her grandmother, Mazet (Abigail Kubeka), and platonic best friend, Will (Khathu Ramabulana), and yes, the in-the-dark chum named Will is just one of many places fans will notice narrative overlap with Alias.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/queen-sono-review-1281706

Monster Hunter

I love monsters, but I am not a fan of the lead actress in this movie, Mila Jovovich, who I find deeply annoying, though some people seem to really like her. Actually, its complicated than that.The actress is an okay person, that I would love to have a beer with, but I just don’t like her acting. Unfortunately T.I. is also in this movie, he of the ignorance of female anatomy and the policing of his daughter’s virginity. Will I be able to enjoy the movie without thinking of that shit? Maybe if he gets killed off early…

That said, this looks like its right up my alley, as far as having monsters. I am vaguely familiar with the video game this is based on, from reading the game books, and the series, by Larry Correia, that the game is based on, (mostly because there were pictures of monsters in the game books.) I stopped reading the series after I found out that Larry Correia is a total asshole, because I couldn’t actually enjoy the books anymore, without thinking of the asshole who wrote them, not because of the series quality, which is okay. If you love the Monster Hunter series, good for you. I’m not asking you to stop enjoying them, because hey! its got some cool ass monsters, and that is to be appreciated, at least.

The 355

You can watch Queen Sono while you’re waiting for this movie to be released. If you love the Jason Bourne Trilogy, and The Old Guard, then here are some more bad-ass women, with Lupita Nyongo, as a technician, for the British government, in Uma Thurman’s old movie group, Femme Force Five, if you remember her dinner date dialogue from Pulp Fiction…

Archenemy

I’m looking forward to this one, not just because I have a soft spot for this particular actor, and down on their luck superheroes, but because it reminds me of a cross between He Never Died, and Jason Bourne.

I could do without the drug dealer stuff though, because of the near constant association of blackness with crime, drug gangs, and/or street thugs. We’ve had enough of that. Black people come in other flavors, and Hollywood needs to start telling genre stories about Black people that don’t just involve street criminals. Also, some people might not be too comfortable with the ‘White Savior” angle to this story. They could have just given superpowers to the black kid, but we already got a movie like that, called Sleight.

Jiu Jitsu

I know this movie is going to be ridiculous fusion of half a dozen genres, probably, because it stars Nicholas Cage, and there’s martial arts, and aliens involved. Those are all really good reasons to watch it, as far as I’m concerned.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ma Rainey was a Blues musician during the 20s, and also an out lesbian, of which there were many, in the Blues genre. So any Black wlw looking for representation can check this out. Also, this is one of Chadwick Boseman’s final roles, so you Chadwick fans might want to see this too, and it has great music, so you Blues fans have something to look forward to. I’m not entirely sold on this, because I’m not a Blues fan, but I like Chadwick, and my mother loves both him and the Blues, so I will probably end up watching this with her, maybe. This would make a good double feature with Bessie.

The Spell

This movie is like a Black version of Misery. I probably will not watch this, because I don’t like the demonization, literally, of Voodoo, and Voudon, yet again, in Horror, but it looks intriguing enough for my Mom to watch it. White supremacy, and Christianity, has a nasty habit of villainizing most pagan religions, and treating them as if they were scary, and horrible ways to cause harm to people, when really a lot of them are just rather mundane, and so are the people practicing them.

But when we’re talking about religions practiced by primarily Black and Brown people, there are no good depictions of those. I mean European style pagan religions at least get heroic figures, in TV shows, as Hollywood moves a little bit away from demonized versions of Wiccan and Celtic religions, but that’s not the case with any of the religions practiced by Black people, and this just looks like one more.

For a more rounded and beneficial version of these types of religion check out Brown Girl Begins , on Hulu. This is loosely based on Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring, which is a futuristic tale of a young girl receiving special powers from her ancestral gods. I read everything else by Nalo Hopkinson, but for some reason, I didn’t get to this book.

His House

I haven’t seen this one yet. Its about an immigrant couple from the Sudan moving into a haunted council estate, and starring the actress who plays Ruby from Lovecraft Country, and will be coming to Netflix this week. This looks like a Black version of The Ring.

Bad Hair

The reviews for this movie are starting to come in. They’re a bit mixed, but overall, its been said the movie isn’t too bad, and worth a watch. I’m going to take a look at it, so we can talk about the influx of Black Horror movies we’ve been getting lately, which we owe to the success of movies like Get Out. Normally this isn’t the type of movie I would watch, but it stars a lot of actors I know, its set in the 90’s, and looks kind of fun, and I’m intrigued about just what exactly is happening in this trailer.