Once again we have a bit of a mixed bag although there were really no “bad” episodes this season. Some of the episodes were, for lack of a better term, uninteresting as far as story, but at least had interesting characters or interesting animation styles.
This season has gone global and I think this makes it better than last season. The styles of story and animation are very different from the first season, and many of them are reflections of the cultures of their creators. The episodes are large;y aimed at children since children are either the focal points of the stories and many of the animation styles are sort of aimed at kids with either soft colors and/or rounded non-threatening forms. There were similar themes throughout with hopeful (or cynical) adults inspiring children to be their best, or having to let them grow away from them, or children finding the strength to save themselves or their loved ones. The Sith and Jedi don’t feature in all of them, which is sort of what I was expecting, although most of the episodes take place during the Imperial era. Not all of the episodes are Force related as Westerners understand the use of The Force.
My all-around favorite episode was the first one called Sith (1) by a Spanish animation studio, and while the story was kind of lackluster, just a tidbit of a story that echoes other episodes, the animation style was spectacular and reminded me heavily of the Spiderverse film. My second favorite was Screecher’s Reach (2) because it had a bit more story attached to it, and is by the same Studio that did WoldTalkers and Secret of the Kells. My third favorite was the very culturally specific The Bandits of Golak ( 7) which has a distinctive Indian flavor. Plus, there was a lightsaber-wielding grandmother that I absolutely adored. She’s one of the characters I’d love to see more of in the Star Wars universe because I sensed a helluva backstory there.
These were my top three favorites but as I said none of them are truly bad, only less interesting than the others. I mostly checked out of the Korean-inspired, Journey to the Dark Head (5), although it asked some interesting questions and compared the Jedi’s use of The Force with the basic tenets of Buddhism. The story was mildly intriguing but the animation style was mediocre, and then there was the infinitesimal storyline of the 9th episode called Aau’s Song, which I really wanted to like because the characters looked like animated Teddy Bears, but it simply didn’t capture me the way the earlier episodes did, or maybe I was just tired.
Children will probably love the other 3d animated episode called In the Stars (3), or the 2D Spydancer (5) episode, both of which I thought had some lovely animation, but the story in Spydancer was a little too much like the Sith episode. While I found the idea of nightclubs for Stormtroopers kind of ridiculous, I understood the parallel the writers were trying to make between pre-WW2 Germany and the New Republic. In the Stars came very close to being a top favorite but just missed it, coming in as a fourth-place favorite because it had some good action scenes and a rah-rah moment towards the end.
One of the middle episodes titled I Am Your Mother (a play on Darth Vader’s statement to Luke Skywalker) was drolly funny but involved drag racing scenes and my brain automatically checks out when it comes to that subject. I wanted to like it, since it was created by Aardman Studios, the makers of Wallace and Gromit but it just didn’t capture me. My least favorite was titled The Pit. I’m just not ever in the mood to watch slavery-adjacent stories.
I do have to admit that watching this season was a little more frustrating than the first because all these episodes serve to do is show these tiny snippets of what Star Wars could be, the kinds of characters we could be having, and I’m sure there are some really interesting backstories for some of these characters like the woman from Sith, who has left both the Sith and Jedi Orders to become a painter on some backwater world. I liked her, and speaking as a former painter the animation style was inspired.
It would have been hard for any other episode to top that one for me but Screecher’s Reach came the closest, not because of the animation style but because of the story, which is about a little girl discovering her Force abilities by going toe to toe with an old Sith villain in a cave. I do wish some of the episodes hadn’t focused so much on fight scenes but the ones that didn’t do that didn’t offer much else to fully grab the attention though.
Overall, I liked this season marginally better than the first one. There’s still just a bit too much sameness between the stories and I’d like the stories to branch out a bit more and not be so much about fighting but it was a satisfying watch.
Okay, I admit it. I was the one who actually wanted these trailers and I can’t truthfully speak for the rest of America. At the top are a listing of the television shows and a couple of movies I’ll be filling my head with this Summer and Fall, and below that are the movies I definitely have no plans to watch. By “have no plans” to watch I mean I have no intention of spending money to see them. If one of my family members would like to treat me to a movie, I’ll watch just about anything that’s free. I know that sounds like I’m being sarcastic but no, I have no pressing need to see them.
Must Watch TV
American Born Chinese
Well, I see we’re getting the old band back together again. (Speaking of getting the band back together I think it’s time for my annual re-watch of The Blues Brothers!) Coming to Disney this Summer is this series, which I thought seemed rather hastily put together, although maybe it isn’t, starring most of the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once. Michele Yeoh plays the Goddess Guanyin, and one of my favorite Asian actors Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands is starring as Sun Wukong (The Monkey King). I’m always up for watching Monkey King movies, so why not a TV series? Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan also star, and I’m here for it. This looks like a lot of fun, the fight scenes look dope, and just I like a good Chinese Action series. I watch Chinese Action films at night for the same reason that most people watch reality TV. I don’t have to think too deeply about the plots and there’s always lots of movement and color, which is about all my brain can handle by 8pm on a work night. Sometimes I do some light reading or some knitting while something like this plays in the background.
I’m also gratified to see that Hollywood has stopped the bizarre hatred of Asian actors it was engaging in for several decades, (along with its bizarre erasure of Black women characters) because I absolutely hated that whole Hollywood trend of hiring famous Asian actors like Jet Li and Jackie Chan to star in vehicles with unknown white teenage boys as the stars, because reasons…and this series kinda feels like what Netflix’s Iron Fist should have been.
I’ve been rather enjoying Arnold’s career as a Senior actor. He’s a lot funnier than he was when he was younger and seems a lot more willing to laugh at himself and the ridiculousness of his career. Does anyone else think it’s weird that he was once Governor of California and is now acting in these odd little Action comedies again? I’ did watch the last couple of Movies he’s done like Terminator Dark Fate (where I thought he was hilarious), and Killing Gunther. Anyway, this is only about two hours of my time, so this is going on the list of movies I say I’m going to watch, and then I don’t watch them because I’m asleep!
I am happy and surprised to see how well Arnold does in dramatic roles, as I was one of ten people that seemed to like him in the zombie flick, Maggie. What is it about aging male actors that they all decide to become Action stars in their later years, and seem to be more or less succeeding at it? The man is in his 70s! I’ve never been attracted to Arnold, to be honest, although I think I’ve seen ALL of his movies, but now that he’s gotten older, I find myself drawn to his films for a different reason, and now I think he’s actually handsome/sexy. Maybe it’s the beard! Anyway, he seems to be aging gracefully with a minimum of horrible scandals (compared to some others for example). I can only hope he doesn’t turn into a loudmouth troll like Charlton Heston.
Star Trek Strange New Worlds
It’s almost time for me to sit my butt down in a seat and watch my future ex-husband, Anson Mount smirk and agonize his way through another season of Strange New Worlds. The first season was rather hit or miss for me. The real attraction for me was Mount and a couple of the cast regulars, not the plots, which I found somewhat mediocre. The episodes weren’t bad, but I can think of ways they could have been better, and a couple of them were actually stinkers that I didn’t finish, and I hope the writers have improved on the mistakes of that first season. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this new season! I mean…look at him! The man is gorgeous! I also want to see the new guy they’ve got to play Captain Kirk and check out his interactions, if any, with Spock and Una.
The Muppets Mayhem
I’ve been a long-time Muppets fan since I was a little kid watching the TV series which used to come on in the evenings in the 70s, and I’ve been here for every iteration of The Muppets this franchise has been through. I like that we’re finally getting an Animal-centric show because he’s one of my favorite characters. I’m a little less interested in the band led by the guy I call Dr. Teeth although I don’t know if that is actually his name. I laughed quite a few times during this trailer so I feel confident that this TV series will be fun and funny. I guess this is going to be one of those Disney-centric summers for me. I’m probably going to have to break up all this sweetness with some grit at some point.
Star Wars Visions 2
Here we have yet another Disney series I’m going to be checking out. I talked about this one in one of my previous posts but I didn’t have a full trailer. I think the animation looks awesome.
The Equalizer 3
Okay, here’s that grit I was talking about, but it isn’t released until Fall, and I’m going to need it after all the sweetness and light I consumed all Summer. I watched the previous Equalizer films and more or less enjoyed them, although I think the first one was better because of the novelty. Here we have yet another over-65-year-old man who has decided to become an Action hero, although I think Denzel is still doing dramatic roles from time to time. These Action roles are probably what pays for that other kind.
For some reason, I had the impression I was one of the few people who remember the original television series on which this movie is based. There is also a remake TV series starring, of all people, Queen Latifah! which I still have not watched, but I’ve been told I should check out because it’s really good and I’m a Latifah fan.
I think what we need to do is get all these geriatric men together and make a movie of them blowing up stuff, but maybe we already got that with that Stallone vehicle called The Expendables? I don’t know. I think if we added a few more women like Halle Berry and Helen Mirren, along with Danny Glover and Morgan Freeman, it would make a hilarious little franchise, and they could all crack jokes about being “too old for this shit!” while wielding mobility scooters as weapons.
Young Ip Man
I just finished watching the Donnie Yen franchise of Ip Man, so watching more Ip Man is not out of my wheelhouse. I already watched one version of a young Ip Man earlier this year.
I don’t know about y’all but I’m not getting tired of these Ip Man movies of which there appear to be about fifty a year. I don’t know how many movies they can make about one man’s life. I think at this point Chinese directors are just making up fantastical stories about enemies he defeated at this point, like the Wong Fei Hung movies. If anyone ever decides to get all of these different real-life characters together in one movie (Wong Fei Hung, Wong Kei Ying, Yip Man, Bruce Lee, Huo Yuanjia along with the fictional Chen Zen) we’d have a great movie if it was choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping.
Things I Ain’t Looking At
Not that this isn’t interesting, but I feel no urge to watch this.
White Men Can’t Jump
And its the big Nope-a-dope for me on this one. Quite frankly, I wasn’t all that hot about the original movie, which starred Wesley Snipes, and my brain keeps comparing this movie to that one, and coming up short.
And by America I pretty much just mean me! I want to watch these movies and shows because they look pretty interesting and/or fun. I’m all about sweetness, bright colors, and light, this Summer.
I’m looking for wholesome. I’m looking for people of color to do interesting things. I’m looking for some amount of novelty (but not too much). I’m looking for lovely and loving messages. Some of the darker stuff on this list isn’t released until August, which is when I start looking towards a more solemn Fall viewing list, in preparation for Halloween Month, of course.
But from May until then, “Don’t nobody bring me no bad news!” because Hot Girl Summer is out. Hot Movie Summer (all thirty minutes of it in the Midwest) is in!
Okay, this looks novel and deeply funny. I’ve never watched a Bollywood, martial arts movie, so I’m up for watching this. I will not be seeing this in any theaters though. This one is just for at-home viewing only. I’m here for Hindi Action Girls even though I have issues with watching dance routines breaking out in the middle of Action movies. This seems like the kind of movie where breaking into a dance simply makes sense though.
This actually turns out to be a kind of live-action documentary. It’s funny that this trailer showed up right after I read a mystery book that prominently featured the character, so I was somewhat informed about Cleopatra’s background before watching it. This is not a person that I’ve ever paid a whole lot of attention to really, so I don’t know much about her backstory, but this looks gorgeous, and hopefully, it will be informative and worth the watch.
I like that they cast a Black woman in this role although I kept hearing from historians that she was Greek and Iranian. I mean, that doesn’t rule out her being at least part Black nd here she looks like a woman of mixed ethnicity, but you know it’s just gonna bring out the racists and bigots who are sure to be mad about it, and while I do my best to ignore them (since their rantings have affected nothing in Popular entertainment), I’m still very tired of them.
Star Wars Visions Season 2
I have mixed feelings about the first season of this series. I liked maybe half of the animation in the first one. I hope that the ratio of good to bad cartoons is better this season, although the novelty has worn off. I hope it’s not all one style of animation. I like to see different types. I’m also hoping to see a lot more Old Republic-type stories, too. We got a little bit of that in the first season, but I hope to see more.
I love to see Latinas in Sci-Fi and love seeing them get the full hero treatment. I’ve been a huge fan of Rosario Dawson since she starred in Men in Black twenty years ago. Ahsoka has been a favorite character of mine for a while and I’m always happy to see her whenever she makes a cameo (The Mandolorian) but here she’s got an entire series that’s all about her and I’m here for it. What kind of adventures is she having? Where has she been? I’m looking forward to finding out.
This looks really colorful and fun, and I’m looking forward to hunkering down in the theater with this movie, some popcorn, and an Icee! It definitely looks more appealing than the first movie, which I thought was okay, but not great. The addition of Kamala Khan is going to be great for the movie since I enjoyed the sensibilities of the series. I just liked how bubbly she was and the series felt happy in general.
I liked Kamala’s family a lot. I liked that they are from the Islamic faith and that they’re mostly onboard about Kamala’s superpowers. The Peter Parker days of keeping it all a secret mostly appear to be over. Nowadays the hero’s parents and friends all seem to know about their status as heroes, and that’s kind of refreshing since I was never into the idea of superheroes leading these kinds of double lives. Daredevil I can understand but a lot of others just seemed to be pointlessly having a secret. Also, I haven’t seen Monica since Wandavision and I really like her. I’m glad to see Photon, the original Captain Marvel, is making a comeback, and wonder what she’s been up to. I also like Brie Larson’s cocky little Carol Danvers who is so much like that in the comics. This is a character who has POWER, knows it, and carries herself like it, and I’m good with that.
Also, I love it when my favorite characters team up.
I have mixed feelings about this series. I was never a fan of the Secret Wars and Invasions series in the comic books so I have no particular urge to run to my TV to watch this. But it is novel in that it’s the first time I will get to watch Samuel L Jackson star in his own TV series. The action scenes look really cool and it’s got a lot of cameos, so that looks like fun. It does look like it might be confusing though and my fried-up brain doesn’t want to go near that. I don’t hate it but I’m not loving it either. We’ll see how I feel when we get close to the release date. I mean some shows seem okay but you just don’t know if you want to make that kind of long-term commitment. A two or even three-hour movie is a fling, but a six or eight-hour TV series is a love affair!
I’m really looking forward to at least a couple of these this August and September.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
I was feeling mixed about this when I first heard about it. I was wondering why it was being made, but I like this trailer, hope the movie lives up to it, and by August I’m probably going to be looking forward to some grim and dark movies for Fall anyway. The title sounds appropriately dreadful and it’s been a minute since I’ve watched some good Horror/History.
I will not be taking my niece and nephew to see this unless they specifically ask, because I think it looks too scary for them. On the other hand, my nephew did watch all of the Halloween movies, so we’ll see if I will be watching this in the theater alone.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
This looks like an interesting take on the Frankenstein’s Monster movies of my youth. It’s not every day we get to see Black girl mad scientists. I don’t know that I’m enthusiastic to watch this, but I’m putting it here because it’s just different enough from the other Horror movies that it bears mentioning. You can see that the lead character is reading a copy of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. I read that book when I was somewhere near that character’s age and I was unimpressed, although I did like the Kenneth Branagh version from the 90s.
True Detective Night Country
I’ve been a True Detective fan since the first season, (with season 2 being the weakest of the three) even though I don’t normally make Detective series a regular part of my viewing habits. Most of the time it’s because I don’t care for the sometimes obnoxious personalities involved, although the series Psych is an exception to that. I don’t think you can get any more opposite of the Psych style of TV series than True Detective though. It looks very dark (literally in this case) and gritty, and about as close to Horror as a show can get without actually being classified as Horror. I’m also partial to shows and series set in snowy environments (I blame the excellence of 1982s The Thing remake for my rather odd taste.)
The novelty is this will be my first time watching Jodie Foster star in her own series. The last time she was in a TV series was when she was a child in the 70s. I’ve been a big fan of hers since we were both kids and I wasn’t supposed to be up late watching her movies. I’m not “jazzed” about it, mostly because this doesn’t seem like the type of show one gets jazzed about, but I am looking forward to it. I don’t know who her co-tar is so I had to look her up. She is a boxer who is an Indigenous Rights activist and has won some award nominations for her acting debut in Catch the Fair One, which I have not seen (and not likely to see since I am not in the headspace to watch it right now. But it looks great and yall should check it out). I kinda like her already because of her “fuck around and find out” facial expression.
So far, there’s no release date for this, but I’m expecting it to show up in the middle of high Summer.
This series is not set to be released this year but I’m looking forward to it anyway. Apparently, that is indeed Colin Farrell, who I just don’t see in this character, no matter how many times I’m told that’s him. He is completely unrecognizable! (Although I think they’re doing the most on his makeup.) I did like the last Batman movie but I had a couple of misgivings about the villain. I liked the aesthetics and some of the messaging. I also liked the hyperrealistic gritty Gotham that was presented in the movie. This trailer sort of reminds me of a classic mob movie like The Godfather or The Untouchables, something that should be starring Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci.
This is a series a lot of people are eagerly anticipating. The world of John Wick is just a very intriguing sort of place and I’m interested to find out how it works, how it got that way, and how deep all of this goes. One of my friends pointed out to me that she couldn’t get into it because there is no law enforcement in this world, even though it looks very much like ours. I think I pointed out to her that there are quite a number of things that are NOT in the Wick-verse, (like McDonald’s and Soda) and that I liked it because it had some unique worldbuilding, which, in the best instances, is like getting a glimpse into an alternate universe where the police simply never evolved. These other organizations (the Assassins Guilds and the High Table) are the ones that keep order apparently.
Unfortunately, the addition of the racist and anti-Semitic Mel Gibson greatly reduces my enthusiasm for this series. I’m not boycotting the series or anything. I’m just saying that my enjoyment of it will be severely impacted by his presence, which I find deeply distasteful, and I really wish the creators had chosen another actor. I realize he’s got to work somewhere. I just wish he was starring in something I didn’t particularly care about, so I’m going to wait to see how much of him is in it before I commit to watching it.
Next up: Movies (and TV) I had no intention of watching but will probably end up looking at on some idle Saturday afternoon.
These are not smart films. I actually made a small list of those films a couple of years ago and I’m reasonably certain none of these movies were on there. What constitutes a “dumb” movie could be lots of things, but mostly it’s the plot and characters. I really hate dumb characters and by that, I mean characters that do very obviously stupid things, that no one in their right mind would do, but this character has to do it to move the plot forward. Sometimes it’s a plot that is entirely hinged on how stupid the characters are.
Sometimes it’s not the entire movie that’s dumb but one major plot point that takes me entirely out of the movie and makes me yell at my screen. Normally, I hate dumb movies, but sometimes a movie has at least one redeeming quality that allows me to sit through it with a minimum of fuss, while I just laugh at the dumb sections. And yeah, there’s a reason why all of these are action movies. It’s easy to compile a list of dumb action films, but harder to make a list of dumb action movies I will watch multiple times because I like the actors, or the action is really good, or just because of the lead-up to that one scene.
Sometimes the movies are stupid, but a great deal of fun, usually due to the strength of the personalities involved. The Rock and Nicholas Cage, for example, could star in just about anything, and I’ll watch it. It’s always great fun spending time with either of them, just don’t always expect an intelligent plot. In some cases, like Scorpion King, don’t even expect a coherent plot. Some movies are very well-made but are corny and/or silly, like Independence Day, although Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum manage to save it.
Cobra is a Sylvester Stallone joint from 1986. Now, Stallone is no stranger to making dumb films and the 80s are pretty much famous for dumb Action movies so this was bound to happen. I remember watching this movie late one night when I was probably supposed to be asleep and thinking, “This movie is deeply stupid.” Which was true but it was also deeply funny with lots of happy and mindless ultraviolent fun. It’s one of those dumb movies that gets repeated viewings on the strength of Stallone’s performance and the cinematography. The movie just looks cool.
The 80s was known as the golden age of what we now call Copaganda. Movies about cops and other law enforcement officers being rebels, breaking all the law enforcement rules, and pretty much acting like America was still in the Wild West stage of history, were all the rage back then. Just about every other Action movie starred a rebel cop or an FBI agent blowing stuff up, and frankly, I’m glad we’ve moved on from that to having other types of professionals blowing things up, like assassins, car valets, and insurance agents.
This movie has all the usual tropes. There’s the rebel cop with the cool name, Marion Cobretti, Cobra for short, a hot blonde played by Brigette Neilsen, who I kinda liked back in the day (I don’t know why). Brigette plays a business/model named Ingrid because what else are you going to name a six-foot-tall blonde white lady. Brian Thompson was your typical bad guy with a dubious philosophy and even more dubious plan for taking over the world by killing disabled people, I guess, because it was all very radically Dawrwinist, and he has a gang of followers and nameless henchmen.
When Neilsen’s character witnesses some malfeasance by the gang they need to hunt her down and kill her and she comes under the protection of Cobra who naturally falls in love with her. But that’s really not what makes the movie fun. What makes the movie fun is the action and the dialogue. Yes, the dialogue is stupid but it was really fun to watch these characters trying to emote while being too tough to show their emotions, and I actually liked Stallone’s character. Neither he nor the villain will be winning any Mensa awards so they’re about evenly matched. He and Cobretti get into a knockdown, drag-out fight at the end of the movie, which I enjoyed watching (I don’t know why.)
10/10 will most likely watch this again on some idle Saturday afternoon.
Nemesis is a cyberpunk action thriller from 1992 that contains all the well-worn tropes of a Copaganda/Robocop Ripoff. There is a burnt-out cyborg cop, a wayward former partner, a manhunt, a missing computer McGuffin, or bomb, or something, and several beautiful but deceitful cyborg/AI women. It also stars three of my favorite actors, Olivier Gruner, Tim Thomerson, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa ( I don’t know why.) And I don’t think it was a coincidence that Brion James was involved in this movie. I was not a fan of Brion James, but I guess I am now, because he was everywhere after his stint as a robot in Bladerunner, so I built up a tolerance. This movie is bad in all areas of badness. The acting is atrocious, the action scenes are well done but make no sense, and quite frankly I didn’t care enough about any of the characters to root for or against anyone, but I remember watching this blatant Robocop rip-off multiple times, and will probably do it again at some point in the future since it’s free on Youtube.
For some reason, I was really crushing on Olivier Gruner at the time and remember watching several movies just because he was the star. He could be described as a low-rent version of Jean-Claude Van Damme, and he does have actual martial skills. Here, he plays an ex-cop, who is also a cyborg, named Alex. He gets recruited by an old boss or something to hunt down his former partner who runs some kind of underground rebel group. The plot involves a lot of shooting and blowing up of things. Do not even try to make any sense of the plot because you’ll only hurt yourself. I, on the other hand, am a professional bad movie watcher. This is what I do and I couldn’t even make sense of it.
I think I just liked the idea that half the characters in this movie were cyborgs, and the dialogue was pretty funny, even if the delivery was horrible. Nowadays, I’d watch it because there is a considerable nostalgia factor involved. But I don’t think you should watch this movie just because I have no shame.
I wanna start off by saying that okay, Michael Bay is a horrible director, but I had to watch most of his 90s movies to figure that out, apparently. I did eventually learn my lesson and stop looking at them but not soon enough to miss seeing this. It also has the added benefit of starring both Nicholas Cage and James Bon- uh, I mean Sean Connery. Ed Harris is in this too and he’s worth about two and a half Connerys. Both William Forsythe and Michael Biehn (from The Terminator) also star in this movie, so Bay somehow managed to gather some of the hottest action stars of the 90s to take part in this novel, but still somehow mediocre plot.
This movie has everything. SEALS, the SAS, the Pentagon, ex-government prisoners, a rogue general, some rogue Marines, Alcatraz island, nerve gas, rockets, hostages, threatening an American city for ransom, and did I already say it? Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery hating to work together to accomplish their goals.
This is a movie where the plot actually makes sense in that it’s relatively easy to follow and keep track of people’s motivations, more or less. It did pretty well at the box office, a lot of people seemed to really like it, and it even won an Academy Award for Best Sound! But I’m going to argue that it’s the earnest and occasionally charming performances of the actors that make it so watchable.
Have no doubt, this is a dumb movie, that makes no pretense of trying to seem like it’s smart, but I love the hell out of this deeply stupid film. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) stars in this movie and while he is not known for making smart films, he is such a fun and charming character in all of his movies (even though he pretty much just plays different versions of himself) that I always enjoy watching anything in which he shows up.
The movie also stars two more of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken and Rosario Dawson (and Stifler from American Pie, but I am not a fan of him though). The Rock plays a bounty hunter who gets sent to Brazil to hunt down his employer’s son, who is in Brazil hunting an object called The Gato (a gold-plated cat. Why? Who cares!), which is also an object of seeming importance to both Rosario and Walken. The three of them juggle this McGuffin between them for most of the film while Dwyane tries to keep Stifler alive to get him back home.
There are jungle scenes, a political resistance camp of some kind, angry monkeys, toxic fruit, explosions galore, a herd of stampeding cattle, and a batty Scotsman who spouts biblical scripture, and is also a helicopter pilot! Frankly, this guy is my favorite character in the entire movie. You have to watch it just to see the last thirty minutes, which is how I stumbled across it on cable, one idle weekend.
This was my and my Mom’s favorite Jean Claude Van Damme movie. She was a huge fan of his (so was I) and she really loved this deeply goofy film which we watched and laughed through multiple times. Now the movie isn’t exactly dumb but it is a bit cheeky. It takes itself just seriously enough that the introduction of those cheeky little moments of humor don’t feel out of place. The plot is non-sensical (in the sense that the science behind it goes completely unexplained), but also surprisingly easy to follow. Oh, did I mention that Dolph Lundgren is in this movie? No. Well, I should have, because that man can chew scenery like nobody’s business, even though he’s only playing a low-rent Arnold Schwarzenneger.
Jean Claude and Dolph play a couple of soldiers who died during some kind of personal skirmish in Vietnam, but through the magic of science fiction movies, they get resurrected as Special Operations soldiers who decide to pick up where they left off. But the best character is Veronica, played by Ally Walker, as a television journalist trying to get the latest scoop about some dead soldiers, who is also a great audience stand-in, as she speaks our minds most of the time. She spends most of the movie not believing what’s happening to her, but never comes across as stupid, which was very refreshing. She also gets all the best lines and I love her!
Why this particular military team is committing war crimes in Vietnam, long after the war is over, is never explained. Why do these two US soldiers have clearly non-US accents is never explained (although the writers do try to sell us the idea that Van Damme’s character was from Louisiana, so there’s that)? Why these two characters have beef is also not explained (outside of one of them being crazy). They just do. But the writers do make sure to explain why Jean Claude needs to take his clothes off in one key scene, though. There’s a little bit of Robocop, a little bit of Apocalypse Now, and the action scenes are, of course, EXTRA. With butt cheeks!
My mom and I used to crack the hell up so hard at this movie, which we watched every single time it aired on TV, no matter how late it was.
The Fifth Element
I just want to make it very clear that Milla Jovovich is a horrible actress, yet for some reason, she keeps getting cast in Action movies even though she has all of the fighting grace, and emoting talent of a 2 x 4, and I blame this movie for starting her Action movie career. I just wanna let it be known that while I don’t like her very much I am willing to tolerate her when she’s surrounded by better actors like Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and of all people, Ian Holm!. Hell, even Chris Tucker, as an androgynous television presenter named Ruby Rod, while deeply annoying, is at least trying to be funny, and more or less succeeding.
But the standout character and the one which most moviegoers remember is Diva Plavalaguna, a blue-skinned, tentacle-headed, 7 ft. tall opera singer, who gets about five minutes of screen time, but still manages somehow to steal the whole damn movie (by twerking), despite the distracting hairstyles, fashion sensibilities, and atrocious accents of all the other characters. Ian Holm plays a space priest, and I don’t know what Bruce Willis is doing in this movie, other than being himself, but they are the two most normal characters in the entire movie, which is kinda saying something, but I’m not sure what.
Bruce Willis’ character has to escort Milla’s genetically perfect mutation to a special location so she can save the universe from the Darkness or some such nonsense. This involves lots of aliens, elemental stones, kung fu, Gary Oldman choking on a cherry pit, and shootouts with said aliens. Don’t bother to follow the plot. It’s essentially meaningless. On the other hand, the director somehow managed to get the French fashion designer, Gautier, to do the costumes, hair, and makeup for the film, so pay attention to that.
The movie is a visual treat and occasionally funny, with acceptable action scenes, but do not mistake any of that for greatness. This is very much a niche movie for Sci-Fi Action fans only.
I resisted putting this movie here but finally relented because although I enjoyed it immensely, it’s not a smart film. I liked the characters, but they are not especially bright and there are a number of things that remain unexplained. The pacing is off, the plot is easily followed but makes little sense, and the dialogue needs some serious help. That said, the movie just leans into its inherent goofiness, with no shame, and I kinda liked that. It’s a lot of fun, mostly funny, and bears almost no relation to the things going on in the comic books, outside of the characters’ names.
This film was popular mostly on the strength of Tom Hardy’s performance as a journalist that’s kinda like himself, and the alien symbiote who falls in love with him, named, of course, Venom. Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed are also starring in this but no one remembers that. This is strictly a Tom Hardy joint, where he plays a man possessed by an alien that takes over his body, falls in love with him, and decides it doesn’t want to join its murderous brethren in taking over the world and eating humanity, although it still wants to eat people.
The movie’s got some problems, which is everything in the movie that’s not Tom Hardy. But I am a huge Tom Hardy fan so I was able to tolerate all the other problems in this movie like the dialogue, the plot, the villain, and the special effects. Still, I was able to pull a handful of things that I really enjoyed besides Tom, like the relationship between Venom and his character is funny, and the relationships between him and most of the other characters are quite wholesome. Even the villains are suitably despicable.
I think most of this movie’s fans would never argue that this is a good movie. However, if you are a fan of Tom Hardy…it’s a great movie!
I tried to add other movies to this list but I kept coming back to this movie, which I have watched multiple times. Like the above-named films, the science and plot are just sort of hand-waved away, which gives me the nagging sensation that the movie is unfinished, but doesn’t otherwise hinder my enjoyment of this spectacularly goofy film. I think you can guess that I’m a big John Woo fan. He has made a number of these types of movies with some silly plots, starting with the very first one I ever watched, Hard Boiled. That movie was so wild that I had to backtrack and catch some of his previous movies. I didn’t love them all. John Woo is the kind of director that can just make you watch a plot that, if proposed by any other director, would get them laughed out of the studio, and I am here for it. It is the existence of John Woo that makes the John Wick franchise possible since he is the one who pioneered what we now call Gun-Fu!
Get this. Nicholas Cage and John Travolta play a cop and a criminal (it doesn’t matter which is which) who get their faces surgically altered in Travolta’s face-swapping plot to, pick one: blow up some shit, get revenge, or steal something. How about all three? Good! There’s all kinds of battiness going on in this movie, multiple Mexican standoffs, little children oblivious to shootouts happening just out of their fields of vision, nuclear bombs, boat chases, husband swapping, endangered daughters and wives…you name it, it’s probably in here, and all done with a style and swag that makes John Woo the Godfather of modern action cinema. The only thing this movie is missing is Chow Yun Fat, the star of Woo’s previous Hong Kong films.
As you can imagine both Cage and Travolta are chewing the scenery like it’s a BLT, but there are, as in all of Woo’s films moments of startling beauty and pathos that make it worth taking a look at. But if you’re going to start watching John Woo’s films, don’t start with this one. It’s best to ease into it with something like Hard Target or Mission Impossible 2, to prepare yourself for all his slow-motion, Mexican standoff finery.
I know a lot of people would pick Hard Target, which is pretty dumb but this is quite frankly one of the dumbest Jean Claude Van Damme movies ever made, and that is saying something when you consider some of the other films he’s famous for. This movie, like Universal Soldier kind of knows how silly it is, and JC more or less plays these twin characters completely straight, except every now and then he does or says something with that little mischievous twinkle in his eye that lets you know he knows this movie is deeply silly, and he looks like he’s having the time of his life.
Jean Claude plays some kind of yoga instructor who likes to show off his leg flexibility to the ladies in his class (seemingly the only reason they are there is to look at JC’s butt in tights, and I’m not gonna lie, that’s why I would attend such a class). Of course, back in the day, JC would take every opportunity to show off his naked leg muscles at even the slightest provocation. He is separated from his twin brother when they’re children after their parents get killed by some Hong Kong Triad gangsters or something. Anyway, they meet again as adults and have to team up to take down the people who killed their parents even though the two of them intensely dislike each other, which makes for some brotherly shenanigans as they show their love by punching and kicking each other. Eventually, they do get along long enough to blow things up.
To give you some idea of how silly this movie is, there is a completely unnecessary dance scene, with JC working it out with a couple of beautiful women in what appears to be a shed, and I enjoyed this scene immensely. It never fails to crack me up, mostly because it matches absolutely nothing else in the entire film, and yet is entirely in keeping with his character’s character! The brother, also played by Jean Claude, does not dance, hates black silk underwear, and is a grumpy, unlikable, stick-in-the-mud, who still somehow manages to make that look cool, and yet also appears to be living his best life.
You have to watch this movie just for the dance scene, because JC, unlike a lot of white guys I know, can actually stay on beat and appears to really be enjoying himself, as he should.
I don’t even know where to start with this movie. I have friends who like this film and I guess if you turn your brain off and only see this as a Horror/sci-fi/Action film, it’s okay, but my problem is I know far too much about how the scientific method works to ever enjoy this movie. I kept getting pulled out of the movie by the character’s actions.
These are quite possibly some of the stupidest scientists to ever grace a Science Fiction movie. And the non-scientists aren’t too bright either. These people are so stupid they had me screaming at my television screen and that’s not a good look for any movie.
There are a good half dozen dumb character moments in the movie, and if you’ve seen this movie, then you know which is the worst one, but if you haven’t let me illustrate this for you. Towards the end of the movie, two characters are running away from a massive rolling ship (do not ask why it is rolling, you will only hurt yourself). One of the characters manages to avoid being crushed by the ship by accident. She falls down (as is traditional in Horror movies even though she isn’t wearing heels), and the other woman (who is wearing heels) also manages to fall down but does not avoid being crushed. Both characters could have avoided the entire thing by just not being stupid, and running into the wide open spaces to either side of the rolling ship!
This is my whole feeling during the entire movie!
You have scientists getting lost who aren’t supposed to be getting lost, people afraid of things they’re not supposed to fear, and/or touching things they’re not supposed to touch.
Here is my watchlist for the Summer, yall! Every year, I plan my movie-watching well in advance. Unlike some people, I don’t just pay money to see everything that gets released. I don’t have that kind of throw-away money. I carefully pick and choose the movies I’m going to see and especially the ones my nieces and nephew like. I think this discernment accounts for my complete lack of burnout when it comes to watching Action movies. I make sure to choose the ones which are going to maximize my fun.
At home, I prefer to experiment more. I’ll try thoughtful, slow, and considerate movies like Women Talking or the new sound movie Last and First Men, martial arts movies, documentaries, and Horror and Classic films. In other words, I like some variety and I do discriminate. But when I go to the theater I go for fun, thrills, laughter, and adventure. I’m not spending money to cry and be upset because I can do that at home for free (and I no longer subject myself to Black trauma films).
So here is my Summer Blockbuster movie list. These are movies I’m sure I’ll be watching this Summer and feel very enthusiastic about seeing (more or less).
In The Theater
The Little Mermaid
I’m not especially enthusiastic about seeing this movie, but my niece wants to go see this and I don’t deny her stuff because I think she knows martial arts (I’m not sure about that last part but I don’t want to test it.) This looks like a pretty faithful adaptation of the original cartoon. It’s a beautiful colorful movie, especially the underwater scenes, though I am not a fan of Disney’s live-action remixes. But like I said, I guess I’ll be going to see this one.
After seeing the latest trailer, I’m actually excited to see this. I grew up with all the Barbie dolls, and her accessories, like the apartments, vehicles, and pets, so I love her. I even have a few of the Christmas, Designer, and Specialty Barbies, along with several Black ones, and that one Latina Barbie. My niece has expressed a great interest in seeing this, although my nephew has nixed the idea of going himself. This trailer is absolutely hilarious. I already love Simu Liu’s Ken, and Ryan Gosling is absolutely perfect!
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
This is one my nephew and I will be very excited to see. I remember the Beast Wars from books but I don’t remember watching the anime. I while I like the Transformers, I haven’t always liked the movies. This looks like a lot of fun. I’m noticing a trend here this Summer: Lots of Latino and Hispanic actors and lots of Black men and women are joining the Summer Blockbuster schedule. Well, I’m here for it. It’s very refreshing.
I did read the Blue Beetle comic books when I was a teen. These were the Ted Kord books when he was in the Justice Society and hanging out with Booster Gold. When the character was rebooted with this new kid I read a couple of those books too, so I’m more or less familiar with Jaime’s origin story. This movie looks cool as f***, and I also like the idea that his family already knows he’s a superhero and they encourage it.
Across the Spiderverse
I’m really excited about this, and so are a lot of other people it seems. I enjoyed the first movie immensely. My nephew and I are the biggest Spiderman fans ever. We are gonna have a ball, eat popcorn until we get sick, and then talk about this all the way home!
Guardians of the Galaxy
I’m a huge fan of the movies. I have never read a single comic about these characters. I’m not entirely sure that I wanna go see this because I know it’s gonna make me cry just like the last two. Apparently, this is a Rocket-centric story, as well.
I’m not sure I’m going to see this but I am excited about it. I put it on my schedule.
At Home Movies
This looks hilarious and hilariously accurate! OMG! The tagline! They can’t all die first! This movie is already hitting me in the feels. This is based on a short movie I remember watching on Youtube.
In the Fall I want to talk about the amount of diversity I watched in the movie selections this Summer.
They Cloned Tyrone
This is airing on Netflix. It looks like fun and stars John Boyega and another all-Black cast.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I’m not a huge TMNT fan but I’m familiar enough with the movies, books, and TV shows to find my way around a movie. This looks like fun and I’m told the turtles are being voiced by actual teenagers this time.
Fist of the Condor/Sakra/Once Upon Time in Ukraine
Here’s a trio of martial Arts movies I plan to watch this Spring and Summer. They all look novel and/or fun.
I’m gonna be honest, while I’m “mildly” excited to watch this, I don’t know that I’d shell out the money to go see this movie in a theater. Due to family issues beyond my control, I would have to watch this alone. Some movies are good for watching alone, but this one isn’t. It looks like a lot of weird fun that you share with your buddies.
I’m mostly interested in seeing Jonathan Majors’ giant screen breakthrough because I really really like him, I’ve heard that the character he’s portraying, Kang the Conqueror, is a huge Billy Bad Ass in the Marvel Universe, and because this movie kicks off one of the multiple plot threads of this new phase of the MCU, The MultiversalWar. Each movie after this one will be a piece of that story introducing us to alternate universes and other realms of consciousness and existence, like the Quantum universe in this movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2.5: Christmas Special
This movie looks like so much fun. Unlike the many fanboys who insist on complaining about the direction of the MCU, it seems that I actually do have a sense of humor. I love the MCU comedies, and I do not understand why all the MCU movies must be dark and deadly serious all the time in order to be taken seriously. I love the direction in which Thor was taken. I thought it was great fun and definitely better than the emotional slog that was Thor 2. Sometimes you don’t need or want great cinema, you just want the creators to lean into the craziness of whatever you’re watching.
Guardians of the Galaxy has been something of a comedy from the beginning, mostly because of the nature of the characters, and that last movie and this new one just sort of lean into it a little bit more. I’m looking forward to this one more than the Antman sequel because I really like spending time with all these deeply funny goofy people, and I’m glad that the creators and writers are just fearlessly leaning into the sheer batshittery of this part of the universe, because C’mon! Really!
I’m just coming off the finale of the Interview With the Vampire series which I’m going to have to talk about at some point because Wow! so, I’m really in a good place mentally to feel excited about seeing more Black men in wigs and stockings! It’s one thing to see Black and Indian women doing the whole ballgown movie thing, but we don’t often get to see Black men in these roles unless it involves Shakespeare or playing a servant.
I love the look of this film, and there’s the added attraction of it being based on a true story, that of a French Caribbean composer named Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Joseph Bologne. I’m a sucker for beautiful costumes, beautiful music, and sword fighting, and you throw in some Black people and I’m in, I guess!
John Wick 4
I just had the most interesting discussion about this movie with my co-worker, who said she had a real problem suspending her disbelief while watching these movies and kept getting pulled out of the film. I told her I didn’t have that problem because it never even occurred to me what I saw as taking place in a world like this one with the same political and systemic setup. I had always viewed this franchise as taking place in some kind of fantasy alternate universe, where you can just be riding through the streets of downtown New York with swords and guns and not one person would blink an eye at it.
This is what I mean when I say that whatever your mindset is when you start to watch a movie will probably determine how you’ll feel after having seen it. Anyway, this looks great and I’m eager to sit down in a theater with some popcorn and enjoy two hours of sheer Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada mayhem!
This looks like such wild and crazy fun that I just have to see this. This is definitely one of those movies that you can go see by yourself at the theater. I don’t know that I’ll do that but it’s an option. It looks like a Christmas version of a John Wick movie except it’s Santa Claus using magic and probably some guns which I know all of you must be excited about as well.
Still don’t know what to make of this but I will not have to go to the movie theater to see it. I can just watch this, whatever this is, at home on Netflix. I like most of the actors here and quite frankly I was going to watch any movie that starred Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig because these are not actors’ names that one tends to think of as being together. This also looks to be more comedic than the first film, which I didn’t think was especially funny, but apparently, that’s just a me thing.
For some reason, I’ve been watching a lot of comedy mysteries this year. I just came off the Hercule Poirot movies, The Orient Express, and Death on the Nile, and I will probably be watching See How They Run this weekend. I don’t normally gravitate to period mysteries. I’m not opposed to them or dislike them or anything. They’re just not the sort of movies I tend to gravitate to, so when I get the urge to do so, I flow with it.
Maybe I’ll Watch These
Bones and All
I’m not sure I’m in the mood to watch anything dealing with cannibals but I’m willing to watch this if it’s streaming. If it’s in the theater then it’s out of luck. I’m not spending a bunch of money to see this, although it seems intriguing.
Yeah, this is a movie that’s just going to be watched via streaming only. This is not the kind of movie I would ever watch in a theater. I mean, Kung Fu movies are meant to be watched in the house, with popcorn and a remote.
Warriors of the Future
Fortunately, this is a Netflix jam so I don’t have to spend money on my curiosity about it. Okay, it really doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of fun, in the sense that it’s intentionally funny, but it does look thrilling and action-packed, so I guess that’s a kind of fun.
And Movies I’m Not Watching
I didn’t care too much for the White Saviorism of the first movie. In fact, I found that movie infuriating in a way that I didn’t for movies like The Last Samurai, or Dances with Wolves. I’m not arguing about how beautiful it is but I think I’m gonna wait to watch this next year on some streaming service. Since my niece and nephew aren’t going to be with me, and this is really the kind of movie one watches with a group of people, I’m unlikely to see it in a theater anyway.
I do not have any particular need or desire to spend money to see this. Plus this looks like one of those movies where there’s going to be a lot of crying. I’m really glad Brendan Frasier has made this return to making movies. I missed him, and this actually looks alright, but I’ll catch this on streaming.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
I’m not going to sully my memories of Whitney Houston with a biopic. I just can’t do it.
This movie is probably going to blow up once it comes out becomes it looks unintentionally hilarious and there are already a bunch of memes about it! I’m not paying money to watch what is essentially a killer-doll movie, but I’ll go see it my sister pays for my ticket because this seems like the kind of thing she’d attach herself to.
I still do not understand after all these killer doll movies why anyone would ever build life-size killer robots that look virtually indistinguishable from an actual person. I don’t understand the plots of movies like Bladerunner and stuff where that kind of thing happens. Why would human beings still be doing that? Have we learned nothing?!!! On the other hand, this could just be an American thing because the Japanese build life-size robots all the time and they don’t ever seem to have this problem with the robots trying to merc people.
The reason I rushed to get that last post published so quickly was that I had just watched the film, and wanted to get it all down while the images were still fresh. I’m probably going to mention things in this post that I forgot to mention in the last one or not mention some stuff I simply forgot. I’m still in something of a rush to write this all down before I forget my impressions of these characters, (I have seen the movie a second time since the first post). I didn’t walk into the movie thinking about things to look for. I walked into it remembering an interview I saw with Peele where he mentioned that his inspiration for this movie was Jaws.
There Are Going to Be Spoilers!!! There Are Going to Be Spoilers!!
To make a movie this ambitious (it is more than 2 hours long) and in an effort to save time, Peele has engaged in a certain amount of film shorthand, namely archetypal characters. Archetypes are typical examples of a certain type of person often seen in movies. Archetypes are characters that the audience is meant to immediately recognize (mostly on a subconscious level), understand who they are, what their purpose is, and sometimes a broad concept of what actions they’re going to commit. There’s nothing wrong with archetypes (unless they’re badly used or written), most films use them, and they’re meant to save storytelling time. Peele has used at least three different archetypes here, and they mostly seem to map very well to the archetypes from the movie Jaws, which is on Peele’s recommended watchlist as inspiration for this film.
The Cowboy – Oj
Drawing on his depth of knowledge of genre films Peele has engaged the archetype of The Cowboy in the form of OJ. While the definition of the cowboy is a guy who rides a horse to herd cattle, the image of the cowboy in the US is anyone who exhibits the behavior and trappings of a cowboy, which Oj does. He’s heroic, strong, silent, and highly principled, and has mastered the understanding, training, and use of horses. But what he most reminds me of with his jeans and hoodie are the urban Black horseriders called the Compton Cowboys which tickles me to no end!
When it comes to comparisons to Jaws, Oj is the one most like Sheriff Brody. He is the person trying the hardest to hold things down, hold onto his father’s legacy, and he is dedicated to his job and devoted to his family. Like Brody, he has trouble making his voice heard even when he is right, and is the kind of man willing to make the sacrifice play to defend what he loves.
The Prodigal – Emerald Haywood
Em is the classic Prodigal Son archetype. The Prodigal in movies (this definition is outside the literary version) is often a younger brother who has left home because they couldn’t reconcile themselves with the wishes of their father and seek a better life for themselves. Em comes back home from Hollywood after her estrangement from her father, and reconciling her issues with her dad (and brother) achieves her final goal. There is no Prodigal character in the original Jaws so the addition of Emerald is wholly unique. Another wholly unique feature is that this Prodigal is a Black woman who, while working in tandem with her brother, turns out to be the hero of the movie and a Classic Final Girl.
The Wild Card– Jupe
Another archetypal character is the wild card. Jupe isn’t a wild card because he’s unpredictable to us. Like Quint in Jaws, he is a wild card to the other characters who don’t know enough about him to figure out what his goal is. The wild card character has their own agenda and their own motivations. As long as they can accomplish their goal they will work with anyone, on any side, they will switch sides, betray others, or form alliances based entirely on what they can get out of the arrangement. They are often arrogant and opportunistic. This perfectly describes both Ricky (Jupe) Park and Quint. I consider Jupe a wild card because his goals are not consistent with the goals of the other characters, although, on the surface, they may seem to be and he is willing to seem as if he is their ally. But his primary goal is to exploit the UFO and the circumstances for his own monetary gain and his motivation is based on the mistaken belief that he can.
The Common Man/Man in the Chair – Angel
The closest Jaws character to Angel is probably Hooper, who is there to study the shark, handles all the tech and equipment, and has no stake in the affair other than being friends with the protagonist. I talked before about how every genre story needs to have one character who can speak for or represent the members of the audience. This character’s job is to voice the audience’s concerns or do the things that audience members wish they could do like having a grand adventure, being friends with the primary characters, or just surviving the event. These characters are unlikely to be killed, because they have no real stake in the proceedings, so they are more like witnesses. Angel, like Hooper, isn’t someone who really furthers the plot in a big way, but he is the character that is most like us, finding himself in an incredible situation that he must now deal with in a way we hope we would.
Ricky (Jupe) Park
Jupe is one of the deepest characters in the story and the one about whom we get the most in-depth backstory. Like the Mayor from Jaws, he is also the closest thing we get to a villain, or antagonist, as it is the choices he makes that set the plot in motion. One thing viewers may not have gotten is that the alien/ufo has taken up residence in the valley where the Haywood Ranch exists because Jupe has been feeding it the horses he’s been buying from Oj. Oj has been selling him horses as a way to pay for the Ranch’s upkeep, with the full expectation that he can buy them back. When Oj tries to discuss buying back his horses, Jupe distracts him with his famous backstory. Even though we can see the pain in his eyes and that he has not, in fact, moved on from the trauma, he tells Em the story anyway.
That scene is also an echo of Quint from Jaws in the scene where he is telling Em his story of what happened on the set of Gordy’s rampage and is a callback to Quint’s recitation of his own trauma aboard the USS Indianapolis, and something which informs his motivations for hunting the shark. You have these two characters who have not moved beyond their trauma, which has led to the delusional belief that they can control/capture these wild animals, which subsequently, gets them killed. Jupe’s scene doesn’t have the same level of gravity as Quint’s scene because it happens fairly early in the film before we’ve really spent much time with the character, but it serves the same purpose as a “pivotal moment” that each character has in their backstory. It is the moment that made them who they are in this one.
Jupe has the idea that because he survived Gordy’s rampage on the set as a child, and because Gordy, who was trained to give him a fist bump, was in the process of doing so before he was killed, that he has some special connection with animals. He has entered into a kind of devil’s bargain with the alien, where he feeds the creature horses every weekend, and as a result, the alien has taken up residence near his theme park, and specifically, near the Haywood ranch, where it steals the occasional horse and dumps its “spoor” on their land. Jupe’s mistaken belief that he has mastered this alien creature is one of the larger themes of the movie.
Jupe has not dealt properly with the trauma of what happened to him as a child. He continues to dwell in the headspace of that event, and coupled with his need to hold onto the fame of his youth, this makes for the disastrous outcome we see in the movie, where he presses his luck, and for his trouble, he and his audience get eaten.
If you look closely, you’ll see that each character holds onto some object from their past that is representative of their personal trauma. For Jupe its the little gray shoe which he keeps on display in his memorial room.
Emerald Haywood (Em)
The scene that most completely encapsulates the type of person Emerald Haywood is is the scene in the tech store where she’s laying out her plan to capture photos of the ufo to her brother, and she briefly interrupts her spiel to compliment some lady about her clothes. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but when I saw it I burst out laughing because that’s just so HER. She does things like that where she just randomly compliments people. Em is a person who is constantly giving and looking for approval, not just because it helps her accomplish her goal of being a Hollywood star, but because she seemed to always be trying to win her father’s approval.
Em’s “pivotal” backstory is when she was about nine years old her father promised to teach her to train her first horse, which she named Jean Jacket, but she never got the chance because her father chose Oj in her stead. She says after that their father never seemed to see her. He only had eyes for the heir to his legacy, Oj. Subsequently, she has spent the rest of her life trying to be seen, trying to gain somebody’s, anybody’s, attention. That’s what all the hustling and charming, self-referential patter is all about. She left home to go to Hollywood for fame and fortune and spends her time trying to convince other people she is special, not understanding that she was always looking in the wrong place because her brother already knew she was special (for being able to do the thing he could not do which was break free of his father’s shadow) and he has always been able to see her.
The one thing that Em holds close to her that exemplifies her trauma is her father’s speech which he used to introduce himself to his clients. In her attempt to be seen by her father she has memorized every word and inflection (even his stammer) of that speech.
There are a number of callbacks in the film, like the scene where she watches her brother being trained on her horse, Jean Jacket, and he looks up at her and points to his eyes, and then to her. This is recalled at the end of the movie when he does it again and she returns the gesture. One of the primary themes of this movie is seeing and being seen. Capturing the alien’s photogragh is her Jean Jacket moment. He is giving her this chance to put her shit down and show the world what he always knew she was capable of.
And for that, we anime fans are gifted the extreme pleasure of seeing her do The Akira Slide!!!
Otis Haywood Jr. (Oj)
Each of the primary characters has a pivotal story in their background that informs their character, motivation, and actions at the end of the movie. Oj’s pivotal story is that his father chose him to be his successor rather than Emerald who seemed to want it more. When they were kids, she was set to train a horse she named Jean Jacket and his father changed his mind and chose him for the training instead, which led to Oj being his legal heir. Subsequently, he got all the training (and hence his father’s attention) with Em’s horse. The first job he went to with his father was on the set of The Mummy spinoff movie, The Scorpion King 2, (which is where the orange hoodie comes from) but he was deprived of his chance to show his skills when the creators decided they didn’t need horses and would use camels instead, and has spent the years since then as his father’s assistant, never getting the chance to build the confidence that comes from working on his own.
The representative object that Oj holds close to him is the orange hoodie with the Scorpion King logo. It’s emblematic of the pivotal childhood event where he never got a chance to use his newly trained skills on his first job, and was relegated to being nothing more than his father’s assistant.
One of the reasons Oj is so reticent/standoffish on the set at the beginning of the film is that is actually his first job alone, after his father’s death. Before that, his father did all the talking and handling on the set including that little speech memorized by Em. Oj didn’t have to try to hold everything down or talk to anyone on set because Dad had everything under control. (Up until one’s parents are gone you always think you’re ready for whatever, and then when they’re gone, you have to actually find out if you are.) The orange hoodie represents him finally picking up the reins from his father, and the corralling of the alien (and the protection of his family and legacy by doing so) is really his first job.
Oj, because of his understanding and connection with animals, is the first to recognize not just that the ufo is actually a territorial predator that must be respected as the animal it is, but the significance of the actions he and Em are about to perform. It’s Em’s first training job too, only she will be corralling an alien predator. It is Oj who names the alien Jean Jacket as a tribute to that moment.
While we’re here, let’s talk about how Oj survives multiple attempts by the alien to consume him, something that Jupe doesn’t. Oj is a very different character from Jupe and his sister. He doesn’t seek fame or attention, and the special connection with animals that Jupe only thought he had, and Em wishes she had, is something that Oj actually possesses. Due to his training with animals, he is the first to discern what they are dealing with, and unlike Jupe, he never forgets that an animal is an animal, and no matter how much training that animal has, it has a mind of its own, and it can still be triggered into violence. Em may be jealous of his skills but she is willing to recognize his expertise, listen to him when he tells her about the alien, and follow his directions in dealing with it.
As for Oj’s demeanor, some of the primary markers of autism are avoiding eye contact with others, anxiety in social situations, finding it hard to make friends or being a loner, noticing small details that others don’t, and difficulty discussing feelings. Oj displays many of these traits which is why some audiences like to read him as being autistic, an idea I support because I happen to be autistic. The first time we see Oj at work he is almost painfully withdrawn. He refuses to make eye contact, looks nervous/disinterested about being in the presence of so many strangers, and shows a reluctance to speak or draw any attention to himself. When he feels pinched he calls for Em to do what she does, and we feel almost as uncomfortable as he seems to be. (I winced through that entire scene, and it’s my least favorite one, not because it’s badly written, but because it’s such a great depiction of social anxiety/being the center of attention.)
Em and Oj‘ Relationship
I really enjoyed this movie because yeah, I’m attracted to spectacle, and it has plenty of it, but it also has great characters and great relationships. Otis Jr and Emerald really resonated with me because their relationship isn’t all that different from me and my oldest little brother, and the personality dynamics aren’t too far off either, except I’m the one who left home and came back, and he’s the more garrulous one. I’m one of those people who say about twenty words a year, and only under duress!) I’m an artist and dreamer, he’s a talker and fixer-of-things who thinks his big sister is an absent-minded nerd who needs to be carefully looked after. This is not unlike how Oj thinks of his little sister as a dreamer who is smart, but flighty. He’s willing to listen to her ideas because he respects her intelligence, and because of the force of her personality, which is how I often have to convince my know-it-all little brother to do what I want.
If you watch the movie carefully you realize that the only person Oj physically engages with is his sister. It’s not that he doesn’t interact with other people but recall the scene where he and Em are celebrating a victory, and slapping hands. Oj acts that way with no one else in the movie. He is almost always monosyllabic and averts his eyes from everyone else, even Angel, who he only warms up to slowly. Palmer and Kaluuya have such great chemistry that you actually believe they’re brother and sister. They both have issues surrounding their father but don’t let that get in the way of their own relationship or ability to work together. Em listens to her brother and trusts his expertise, especially when it comes to what he’s been trained to do. Oj listens to what his sister has to say, and goes along with her plan, recognizing her drive and intelligence.
I like to refer to Angel as the Common Man, or Everyman because, like Hooper from Jaws, he is an outsider, and of all the characters he seems most relatable to the average person. Like us, he doesn’t live, work, or have loved ones in danger at the Ranch, nor does he have any real stake in the proceedings other than being friends with Em and Oj. His life will not be greatly upheaved, outside of his interior sense of self, after this is all over. He is not there to save the Haywwod’s ranch or make any money off the alien.
Angel gets a tiny bit of backstory and I like him for that. Angel operates like the sibling’s “man in the chair”. He helps set up their equipment and then spies on their attempt to capture images of the ufo. He tells the siblings that he just broke up with his girlfriend and is searching for something greater than himself, and even though he doesn’t say it, he’s also looking for friends, and somewhere to be other than by himself. He meets Em and Oj at the tech store where he works and is immediately intrigued by them. Seeing their presence in his store as a call to adventure, he invites himself into their lives, and them into his, offering to let them stay at his home after an incident that causes them to flee their own (and offering them his clothes). Angel is that childlike part of us that seeks thrills and adventure (and new friends) with no consideration of the actual danger.
I’m a sucker for the Found Family trope, so Angel immediately endeared himself to me by inserting himself, totally uninvited, into an event that has nothing to do with him, and then holding his own, as if he totally belonged there. He is a quick and clever thinker and one of the few people actively pursued by the alien that saves himself by simply making himself taste bad – rolling himself in barbed wire! (He makes himself unattractive to the camera!) Although Angel spends most of the movie frightened out of his skin, he does make reasonably intelligent decisions, the kind we’d like to think we would make in such a situation. He’s out of his depth and he knows it, but he never backs down, or runs out on them, and manages to keep his sense of humor. His loyalty to Em and Oj is baffling to some people, but having been an introvert on the receiving end of being unexpectedly adopted by an extrovert, I get it.
One thing tied to my last post is about the scene where the mantis obscures the view of one of Angel’s cameras, and how in Christian mythology a praying mantis in the home is a sign that angels are watching over you. Some audience members pointed out that there actually is an “Angel” watching over the house during that scene.
*Okay, now this one is also getting a bit too long, and I can see that this is going to require a part 3 because I haven’t really talked about the monster, its significance, its depiction, what it represents, and one other character people always forget about when talking about a film, the landscape!
**Yeah, I did go back and see the movie a second time. I had not planned to do so, but when the opportunity presented itself for my sister to pay for it I jumped at the chance. There is a certain amount of glee involved in watching a Horror movie, with your easily frightened and already nervous sibling, that you have already seen and lording it over them just a little bit. That’s just one of several perks of being a sibling!
Hey, we got a bunch of exciting new trailers that recently dropped so let’s check them out! Which ones are you looking forward to, and why. Let me know in the comments!
Jurassic World: Dominion
This is such a great trailer for the movie. I would watch an entire season of short snippets of people coping with dinosaurs, so I’m really excited to watch this. I hope it’s a really good movie because this was the kind of stuff I used to imagine when I was a kid and I don’t want to walk out of the theater disappointed.
Wow! I mean just think about it! What if dinosaurs existed at the same time as modern humans? We’d have to take the good (incredible images and photos) with the bad (possibly being eaten). What if you lived in a place with a dinosaur infestation? What would your insurance be like? How would you explain being late for work because there were some triceratopsians blocking the freeway? What if the local pack of herbivores showed up in your backyard and ate your flower garden? And let’s be honest here, there is a part of me that thinks watching human beings be menaced by giant predators is just deeply entertaining.
Incidentally, if you like this video there’s a trilogy of books by James David called Footprints of Thunder that has this same plot, with dinosaurs having made it into the modern world through a time rift! Not sure if it’s still in print but if you can find some copies, check them out.
As I mentioned before, my youngest niece and nephew have already decided we’re going to see this film, and I believe in shamelessly indulging their interests. My Millennial sister likes dinosaurs too, so I hope to turn this into a full family affair, (although my oldest niece may miss out because of work).
Okay, I have no intention of watching this. I watched all 15 years of Supernatural and I have no more taste for their story. I stuck it out to the end, and have moved on. More than likely this is an appeal to a younger generation of supernatural fans who while they may have watched the old episodes, are probably more likely to watch this than those of us who sat through 15 seasons of the original series. The actors are all very pretty but I don’t know any of them and I don’t want to supplant any of my memories of the original with any images from this one, so I’m going to pass on it.
But I know there are some people who are greatly interested in this, so I’m giving y’all a heads up in case you hadn’t heard the news.
The Umbrella Academy
I am very excited about this series and I’m really looking forward to the season three premiere. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, I implore you to check it out. There will be at least one character you will fall in love with. I thought the character I would love the most was Klaus, who acts like a free spirit but is mostly traumatized by his ability to speak to the dead, and so self medicates. To my surprise, my favorite character turned out to be Number Five, an old man in a child’s body (due to time mishap) and who is the smartest sibling along with being a complete badass.
But this series is notable for having Eliot Page. Eliot came out as non-binary transgender last year and everyone was wondering how the character he played on screen in seasons one and two would be treated in the story. It appears that the character has also come out as transgender since the writers changed the name of the character from Vanya to Victor. Hopefully, Victor won’t try to destroy the world again as they did in the first two seasons. See how new this is. This is something that so different from what we’re used to that I don’t even know how to talk about a fictional character. How do I talk about Vanya? Is it deadnaming to talk about her since the new character is named Victor? And is it okay because she’s fictional? Somebody help!
I was a huge fan of the Jim Byrne run of the She-Hulk comic series, and I love what they’re doing here with the character. They seem to have perfectly captured the sensibility and mood of the books and now I’m looking forward to this. It looks fun and funny. I love how they made her a sexual being with appetites who makes it clear that she wants what she wants. The comic book version was often sexy and sassy, with a lot of snark and attitude, and yeah, Bruce Banner is indeed her cousin.
All that aside, I do hate the CGI. It looks awful and cheap and simply not up to Disney standards. The face is just wrong, especially in her Hulked-out state, and her body looks too thin, and not very muscular, which is a real problem I have with female characters who are supposed to have super strength but whose arms look like twigs. I hope they correct all this by the time the series airs. (Note: Jane Thor and King Valkyrie have just the right amount of muscle for such characters).
Note: I read that the CGI has been upgraded to look a bit better, so I checked it out, and the trailer was improved a bit. She looks more muscular than before, but her face still looks a little bit off to me. It’s not as bad as in the original trailer though.
I have not read the Neil Gaiman comic books on which this series is based, something I plan to correct before the series airs in August. Since I am only passingly familiar with The Endless, I don’t know enough to be really excited about this, but so far, I like what I see, and I’m looking forward to reading the books, and watching the show.
But, whether or not I watch this also depends greatly on what else will be out at the time. Sometimes I have every intention of watching some show or movie, and then I don’t, or only watch some of it, not because it’s bad or anything, not because I’m bored, but because it’s sometimes hard for me to keep up the momentum, which has been stolen by another series. But even if I don’t watch the series, I intend to refresh myself with the books, which I haven’t even glanced at since I was a young’un.
New Thor 2 Trailer
Well, I already had plans to see this. Yeah, I’m an MCU fan and no shame in that, because I go to the movies to have fun and adventures, and MCU films deliver every single time. If I’m gonna spend that much money to be entertained I want it to be worth it. (Yeah, I’m not going to pay the cost of birthing a child in the US to watch a movie about pain and tragedy, unless it’s by Martin Scorcese.)
One of the primary reasons I love Taika Waititi (the director) is his ability, almost his compulsion, to take famous characters, sometimes famously evil ones, and deconstruct them, making them human and relatable, while never denying they’re not actually good people. He did this with vampires, Hitler, pirates, and superheroes, and he’s done the same thing for Thor, and I find it a really interesting habit. I’m gonna have to talk about that some more in another post.
So, yeah I’m looking forward to his interpretation of Jane Thor, King Valkyrie, and this new villain, Ghorr the Godslayer, who is played by Christian Bale.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning
Okay, these actors are starting to get up there in years, (except for Rebecca Ferguson, who I believe might be a vampire), but I don’t care. The Mission Impossible franchise consistently hits it out of the park in the Action genre, and you have the usual required scenes of Tom Cruise jumping onto something while clenching a woman, and running really fast somewhere. I’m probably not going to see this in the theater because it’s simply not on my list of movies to watch this Summer. My mom used to throw my whole watchlist into disarray every year, but fortunately, I can dictate to my sister’s kids, and they kinda have to go along with my tastes if they wanna eat free popcorn.
I don’t actually have much to say about this trailer except the Action doesn’t look as wild and crazy as it has in previous films, but maybe they’re just holding back on those images, and when you’re sitting in the theater you’ll get that familiar sensation of your stomach dropping down to your knees, and you’ll clench the arms of your seat in terror, and paying five thousand dollars to see it will have been worth it.
I don’t normally engage in a whole lot of nostalgia, but for this movie, I will make an exception! The original movie was released in the 80s, and when it was available for TV, I remember watching it multiple times. It’s been thirty+ years and we have a sequel television series. As soon as I heard there was a trailer for this, my mind started playing the John Williams theme from the original. Yep, I still fondly remember that.
The reason the movie was so special to me was because of Warwick Davis. He was my first exposure to a dwarf actor, and I thought he was very handsome and very charming. In the movie, he is tasked with the care of a tiny baby girl that is the “chosen one”, But the movie isn’t about her, because she’s, like, one year old and has no speaking parts, so much as the hero’s journey of Davis’ character, Willow. It’s a little bit of a remix of Snow White, and surprisingly progressive for its time, with a woman warrior character and an evil Queen.
This sequel happens many years later and the “baby” is an adult, and Willow and some companions have been called to save their world again. The original was also my first real exposure to High Fantasy that I actually liked, as I was mostly indifferent to these types of books and movies, and most of them made no impression on me. But Willow snuck in and got to me, and I’m obviously going to have to do a deep dive before this series release!
I’m looking forward to it because it looks like a lot of fun and the nostalgia factor really kicked my ass while watching this!
Despite that I’ve watched almost none of the movies, I do love a good horror series with lots of monsters, so I’m looking forward to this series. I’m not enthusiastic exactly, but anytime I’m watching a trailer, and I am sitting on the edge of my seat or just nope the fuck out (the giant spider scene), it’s definitely worth checking it out. so zombies, spiders, chainsaws, Black women being included in the story? I’m in!
I am glad to see more Black girls and women being involved in fantasy and horror movies and series. For the longest time, at least since the seventies, the existence of Black women as an audience that could be pandered to was not a thing. There’s nothing wrong with being pandered to in a narrative, despite the fact that straight white male audiences want to turn it into a dirty word, which is really ironic since for the past seventy years they have been the ones being pandered to by every form of entertainment media that existed.
Creators, almost all of whom were white men, literally didn’t think about other groups of people, in fact making it expressly clear that white men, between the ages of 15 and 35, was the ideal audience they were chasing after, and there is a contingent of online assholery that actually wants to go back to a time when we were considered nothing but maids, slaves, and servants to be abused in whatever stories we were in (hence the current online trolling of Black actresses who happen to find work in these genres). I’m glad to see these creators and writers remembering that WoC watch shit too, recognize that we also have money and choices, are willing to chase after PoC for their money, and that we want to see ourselves in these narratives as heroes and villains. Putting that message out into the world is one of the primary reasons I started this blog.
So yeah, I’m excited to see a Black girl in this series who is apparently being a total bad ass.
I am a really huge fan of Lost World type movies, and my personal favorite is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I just love watching movies about goopy aliens, monsters, and weird environments and this looks like hella fun, plus it’s got this retro-vibe that I find aesthetically appealing. I don’t normally watch a lot of the kid’s stuff on Disney, and I don’t go to those type of movies anymore (cuz I don’t have that kind of money), but I would pay money to go see this. I think it’s just going to be on the Disney+ app though which has more than shown it’s worth in the series Wandavision, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and a bunch of movies and documentaries.
I’m not sure how I feel about the characters, because as I said many times, it’s not just a plot or some imagery that pulls me into something. It’s got to have at least one or two characters I’m drawn to, although the characters do look really cute! I didn’t see much of their personalities in this trailer so I don’t know what to think of them yet, (and although the pilot looks appealing, it doesn’t mean I will like her) but the trailer looks like weird goopy fun, which is enough of an attraction for me, I guess. It’ll get a look-see.
And finally there’s this gem, starring Ralph, Fiennes, and one of my favorite new actresses, who I hope will be around for a good long while, Anya Taylor-Joy! I have the feeling this movie is about one of my favorite topics, cannibalism, and I’m always up for a good humans eating humans movie, especially if it’s an “eat the rich” story. I only just heard of this movie, so I don’t have a lot of knowledge beyond the visuals, but I will probably watch this when it streams.
There are few movies that feature the suburbs before the 1950s. Most movies, up to that point, were about city-living, because for most people, that was where the excitement was. All the action happened there, and the suburbs and small towns were places to escape from. You couldn’t have a life in those places. At least, not an interesting one. After the second world war, the suburban population exploded thanks to programs like the GI Bill, which allowed white people to buy homes away from the city, and the massive funding of the highway system, which allowed white people to flee the cities, and still be able to reach the places of work they left behind
While the GI Bill’s language did not specifically exclude African-American veterans from its benefits, it was structured in a way that ultimately shut doors for the 1.2 million black veterans who had bravely served their country during World War II, in segregated ranks.
If you want to discuss themes of conformity, existential angst, boredom, dullness, ennui, and escape from any of those issues, then you need to set your story in the suburbs, with its endless miles of strip malls, identical pastel housing, well kept patches of lawn, and daily rituals of pleasantness. The suburbs, in the movies, are used to represent stability, order, the status quo, and the mainstream. In other words, normalcy. In the ‘burbs, one day is much like the next, the unexpected doesn’t occur, and change is not encouraged.
The suburbs are often shown as unexciting places that are meant to be escaped from, or unexciting places into which some excitement falls, and the members of the community must deal with the repercussions, or the members of the community must fight off the encroachment of some thing, or someone, in order to keep the status quo, in order to return to “normal”. Many Horror movies set in suburbia followed the standard formula of something from the “outside” disrupting stability, and needed to be defeated.
The reason why Horror works so well in suburban settings, is because of the underlying sense of the suburbs as a safe space,. The suburbs were established as a place away from the “darkness” (i.e. PoC), and sins of the city, but in horror movies, the suburbs are invaded by something dangerous, that is either masquerading as a member of the community, like Fright Night. Sometimes the horror comes from within, when a disruption is caused by someone rebelling against a community which insists on controlling its members through authoritarianism, (The Stepford Wives), murder (Suburbia), or in one particular short story by Robert R. McCammon, He’ll Come Knocking At Your Door, being sacrificed to nameless gods, in exchange for good fortune. The theme is that the good fortune of living there comes at a price. It can cost the inhabitants their autonomy, their sense of individualism, or their lives.
The suburbs were created as a way to escape “the other”, (known as “White Flight”.) The suburbs themselves were supposed to be free from the encroachment of the violence, and incivility, and crime that white people were told, by the mainstream media, had overtaken the cities. What the residents did not take into account was that because of the inter-connectedness of American society, the decline of cities would eventually lead to the decline of the suburbs, as well. And, as PoC gained access to the suburbs, during the 80s, which was the height of the Slasher film era, those white people who could afford to leave, ran away to the ex-urbs, (a district outside a city, especially a prosperous area beyond the suburbs),leaving their poor white cousins behind. Since a system had already been set up, so that housing values declined with the “encroachment” of PoC, these white people were now trapped in these supposedly safe, but declining areas, being invaded by the poc they had been told they needed told to escape from, and unable to afford to leave.
In the early years of suburban movies and shows, the suburbs were a utopia, and saw the residents engaged in melodramas, or kids adventures, such as Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, and Peyton Place, but as television moved into the 60s, the movies, and shows, started hinting at the darker underbelly, as in the movies of Douglas Sirk, and shows about non-conformity, like The Addams Family. In these, the suburbs are shown to be a deceptive environment, where dark things could flourish behind its walls, like pedophilia, and domestic violence. It is not the actual environment of the suburbs that produce feelings of horror, and disquiet, but the people who live there. What kind of human beings could live in this boring, carefully arranged world, with its identical homes, and territorial picket fences? Apparently the kind who are hiding secrets.
This may seem obvious), but suburban horror is known for being made in spaces where people are, but a film’s tension comes from where people are not. Slasher movies, in suburban environments, focus attention on hidden, dark, out of the way spaces, like abandoned houses, empty schools, and even deserted streets at night. The 1978 Halloween, for example, took place largely at night, and the streets and neighborhoods are curiously empty. There is the sense that other people are around, but they are locked away in the well-lit houses, where they don’t answer their doors to people in distress. Several times, in the movie, Laurie Strode, the movie’s Final Girl, yells for help in the middle of the street, or hammers on doors, to no response. For most of the runtime of the movie, she appears to be entirely alone in this environment, as she frantically dashes from house to house.
And there are secrets here, too. Secrets that eventually come back to disrupt the lives of the inhabitants. This is the premise of The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, in which the sins of the parents are visited upon their children, in the form of a dead pedophile, on which they’d enacted vigilante justice, by burning him alive in a school basement. Their sons and daughters are systematically murdered by this angry ghost. Angry ghosts are also the motivation behind hauntings, in movies like the 1982 Poltergeist, in which the Freeling family are haunted by ghosts in their brand-spanking new, suburban development, which was built on a cemetery from which none of the bodies had been removed. The ghosts in the Amityville Horror from 1979, go back even further, as the movie posits that the house was built on Native American burial grounds. The metaphor here is that the suburbs are not as historically, or emotionally, sterile or pristine as its inhabitants are led to believe. This land has a backstory, and its foundation is built over a dark, and malignant, underbelly.
Sometimes, these stories are cautionary tales, about distrusting people, and usually follow a standard formula of something from “outside” infiltrating this peaceful space, and masquerading as one of its inhabitants, as in 1985’s Fright Night, in which a teenager becomes convinced that his new neighbor is a vampire, or that there is some form of corruption growing within it, like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, in which an ordinary looking menace is hiding in plain sight, or just living in the suburbs itself is the danger, in movies like The Stepford Wives from 1975, and 2007’s Disturbia.
A classic “the horror comes from outside” story is Steven Spielberg’s 1976 Jaws. Amity is a small New England suburban town, that is visited by an avatar of death, in the form of a mindless killing machine, a Great White shark. The town’s new Sheriff, Martin Brody, himself an outsider, along with a local boat captain, and a wealthy marine biologist, have to destroy the shark to restore order, because, according to the Mayor, no tourist will visit a Summer town where they can’t swim at the beach, and without tourists the town can’t survive. The presence of the shark threatens to throw the entire economic system into disorder, and destroy the town. Along with an intrusion from an indifferent outside force, such movies also included trash talkin’, about cities, as hellish landscapes, filled with crime and poverty. In one scene, Martin Brody explains to Richard Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper, the reasons why he left the city:
Brody : [Drunk] I’m tellin’ ya, the crime rate in New York’ll kill you. There’s so many problems, you never feel like you’re accomplishing anything. Violence, rip-offs, muggings… kids can’t leave the house — you gotta walk them to school. But in Amity one man can make a difference. In twenty-five years, there’s never been a shooting or a murder in this town.
The idea of the suburbs, as a safe haven from the death and disorder found in cities, didn’t get it’s start in horror films, but it was one of the reasons used to get White citizens to buy into the value of living so far from the it. That nothing ever happened there was part of the appeal. Brody’s postioning of Amity as an innocent, place that is free of danger, is thoroughly ironic, considering one of his kids is almost eaten by the shark.
Because Horror films, (and real life), have shown us that terror and death will come for us all, and cannot simply be escaped by driving further away, across some water, or in the movie, It Follows, in the water.
In It Follows from 2016, several teens living in the declining suburbs of Chicago, are hunted by an avatar of death that is transmitted via sexual activity. The beautiful, but listless, Jay has already experienced tragedy with her father’s death, but after a sexual encounter with a young man who is not who he claims to be, she finds she is being stalked by an invisible, powerful entity, whose only purpose is to kill her. She can stave off death by having sex with someone else, thereby passing it on, but she will never escape it entirely, because just as in the real world, one cannot pass off death to another to save oneself, nor know the hour of one’s death. The film’s theme is based on the existential angst, that comes to the young, only after they begin to realize their own mortality.
…and you have no suspicion that death, which has been making its way towards you along another plane, shrouded in an impenetrable darkness, has chosen precisely this day of all days to make its appearance, in a few minutes’ time, more or less…
— — — Marcel Proust — The Guermantes Way
In Suburban Horror, the suburbs can be infiltrated by something dangerous, that may be masquerading as a member of the community, as in the movie Fright Night, from 1985. Jerry Dandridge is a vampire, able to successfully blend into the suburban environment, by simply conforming to the manner of dress, rituals, and behavior of its inhabitants. He is handsome, polite, charming, and friendly, introducing himself to his neighbors and accepting, and extending, invitations. His house is well taken care of and he causes no disruptions. He fits right in, thereby not arousing suspicion, except from a single teenage boy, that no one believes. Not because no one believes in vampires, but because Jerry laughs at people’s jokes, and wears turtleneck sweaters. Witness the scene when Charlie calls the police to investigate Jerry. The detective visits Jerry’s home and finds no signs of disorder. The lawn and hedges are nicely kept, the garbage is taken out, and the “gardener” says Jerry is away on a business trip. The horror comes from the idea that this “safe” place is harboring a creature that is only pretending to be human. It is especially telling that this movie was released in the 80’s, at the height of the AIDs crisis, as Jerry Dandridge is also a metaphor for another hidden monstrosity, the “predatory gay man” with his pretty face, loyal male hangers-on, and effete European mannerisms, who moves to the suburbs, so he can “infect” the children.
The suburbs are a stand in for conformity and authoritarianism. Sometimes suburbia doesn’t just produce, or expose, darkness, but actually IS the horror. Homeowners Associations, with their stifling and authoritarian rules about the length of the grass on one’s lawn, the color of one’s home, how many Christmas lights can be used, and/or the number of cars that can be parked in one’s driveway, eliminate any forms of individual expression, in favor of suffocating monotony. Obedient wives, toxic masculinity, and forced camaraderie are the norms illustrated in the film, The Stepford Wives. Based on the satire by Ira Levin, the movie takes place during 70’s First Wave feminism, as Joanna, a successful photographer, moves to the well to do town of Stepford Connecticut, with her husband and children. She grows increasingly frightened of her neighbors, and her gaslighting husband, who tells her there is nothing for her to fear. The horror in Stepford Wives is not the death of Joanna’s body, (although that’s part of it), but that she can see the death of her sense of self, through the deliberate destruction of her individuality. By the mid-70’s, the suburbs had received a reputation as the place where a woman’s dreams go to die.
As more PoC could afford to move into suburban areas in the 80’s, a siege mentality set in, as the residents believed their territory was being encroached upon, which partially accounts for the glut of slasher films released between 1980, and 1989, and all of the other suburban invasion films released along the same timeline, which pictured the suburbs being invaded by violent beings of all kinds, from aliens (Critters), to serial killers (Freddie Krueger), to creatures of folklore (Gremlins), that came there to kill, rape, or create disorder.
What the residents failed to take into account, and still do, was in fleeing the cities, they simply carried all of their pathologies with them, engaging in the same activities, from which, they were attempting to flee. After all, you cannot run away from yourself.
It’s a cheesy old adage, but it’s true. Wherever you go, there you are. What does it mean? It means that if you don’t like yourself, or you haven’t made peace with yourself for things you’ve done in the past, you will be dealing with that baggage forever.
You may even be cursed to make endless movies about it.
The DCEU just had this thing online in August, that was sort of like ComicCon, but only for DC and its properties, called the FanDome. Basically they showcased all their shows, movies, and trailers online, for a week. So here are the relevant trailers, and a couple of random trailers, and videos, I threw into the mix, just because I liked them!
This is a new series on Netflix, based on the Enola Holmes Mystery books, which I have heard about, but never read. Enola is Sherlock and Mycroft’s little sister, and Since I like her brothers, and I like this actress, I’m looking forward to the first episode, which looks like lighthearted fun.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
For the record, I cared not one whit for the Zack Snyder cut to be released, let alone that it even existed. I’m also not exactly a Zack Snyder fan, even though I’ve probably seen all his films. Its more that Zack Snyder keeps directing movies that have actors in it that I like, and so I end up seeing his movies.
All that said, I actually am looking forward to this and will definitely watch this mini-series, which I understand will take place over four days. Frankly, that’s how it should’ve been approached in the first place, rather than a 2+ hour movie, that seemed to displease everyone.
The Suicide Squad
Now, I must state up front, that I am a fan of the first Suicide Squad, which is differentiated from this one by not having the word ‘The” in front. I know people hate that first movie, but I found a lot of things to like about it, (as well as hate), and it’s more likely that I was looking at that film through a very different lens, than the white fanboys who hated it, and one day I’m going to have to write about why that is.
Anywho, I am a big fan of James Gunn, whose career got canceled briefly, but who has since been reinstated, in his role as the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, which I personally love. Those are two of my absolute favorite MCU films ,so I’m very much looking forward to his version of the Suicide Squad.
This movie actually looks okay. Yeah, I was more than a little dubious about Robert Pattinson playing this role, but I never liked Ben Affleck, and I’ve since watched Pattinson in other roles, and I feel confident that he is gonna bring it as The Batman.
Now this is a much younger Batman than we’re used to. I’d say year one or two, in his role as Gotham’s protector, and you can see that he is not as controlled in his manner, as we’ve seen the older Batmans, and that there is a little more hand to hand combat, rather than the reliance on gadgets, that a lot of the movies fall into. Hopefully, this movie will also focus on Batman being a detective, because that was the part of his role that made him interesting in the comic books, and which hasn’t really been depicted onscreen yet.
You guys all know I’m a dedicated Stephen King fan despite some of my issues with some of his characters, but I will admit that I disliked the original mini-series of this book intensely, because the acting was so spotty, and it was trying just a little too hard to be faithful to the book, without actually being faithful to the book. But I’m kind of looking forward to this version. For one thing, it stars much better actors ,and it looks like its going to remain faithful to the spirit in which the book was written, and it happens to be timely.
Now, I don’t know how many of you want to sign on to see a pandemic destroy the Earth, considering what we’re all going through. I tried reading the book back in May, and just couldn’t get through it, and I also believe the money spent on this would have been better served filming The Talisman, but I’m gonna watch this in December, even though it ain’t got nan but two black people in it, and let you guys know what I think.
Taika Waititi continues to be comedy gold! I just love this man’s humor ,and of course the Thriller dance would be a Haka!
Raised by Wolves
Not sure what to think about this one, but I’m going to check it out because its SciFi, and based on my blog name, I am required by law to watch this, I think.
I am definitely going to watch this, and then we’re going to talk about my love of Christopher Nolan films
I think this is an American remake of the French movie, The Night Eats The World, a zombie type movie, in which people act insane, but are not actually zombies, right? It stars that guy from Teen Wolf. There’s also a bunch of other movies out right now called Alone, but with 0009949443528
a different type of horror, so try not to get confused. This looks intriguing, but I’m not sure I want to binge on too many end of the world flicks right now, because I’m just not feeling it.
*Hopefully, my review of Lovecraft Country’s first episode, will be ready by this Friday!
There are two different stories in horror: internal and external. In external horror films, the evil comes from the outside, the other tribe, this thing in the darkness that we don’t understand. Internal is the human heart.
When I was a child, the very first city related Horror movies I remember, were Godzilla, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, two stories about larger than life monsters destroying the biggest things humans have ever built — cities. These movies made an indelible impression on a little girl who lived in the city, and loved dinosaurs. It explains my love of Kaiju stories, from Godzilla, to Cloverfield, to Pacific Rim, and how movies about the destruction of cities have often moved me the most.
I grew up watching these films during the Cold War, between Russia and America, under the constant threat of mutual nuclear annihilation. I remember having nightmares about that, and avoiding movies and shows where it was depicted.
The underlying tone of most of these films is apocalyptic, with many of them indirectly referencing atomic energy. The destruction of entire cities, by some ravaging creature that was caused by atomic bombs, was often a stand-in for nuclear holocaust, natural disasters, or mankind’s hubris. These movies were terrifying, but still invoked awe and wonder, for something greater, whether that was a giant ape, a massive venom spewing dinosaur, or a fifty foot tall woman. They also provided a sense of comfort, as order, and the status quo, were restored at the end.
The stories are all about scale. The monsters are larger than life, meant to distract our attention from the city, and have the side effect of making us realize the more important things in our lives, like our loved ones, or unaccomplished personal goals. The monsters are often huge and unknowable things, that are impossible for any one individual to overcome, much like the city itself.
The monster must rival the size of the city. In 1953, New York got destroyed by a rampaging beast, awakened in the Arctic, by an atomic bomb. It was one of the first atomic age horror movies, and it set the stage for the destruction of New York, by similar beasts, like King Kong, the Cloverfield monster, and Godzilla, for the next fifty years, albeit with different motives.
After Godzilla in 1998, New York was destroyed again in 2008’s Cloverfield, where the lead character, who has planned to move out of the city, realizes what’s most important to him is his ex-girlfriend, when the city is invaded by some giant creature, of unknowable origin. He sets out to rescue her, in an effort to let her know how much he values her. The live action scenes of the two of them trying to escape the destruction of the city, by the rampaging creature, are juxtaposed against the live action footage of their lives during happier times. Here, the horror comes from the contrast of their human connection, with the disruption of order represented by the monster.
In 1954, long before he reached New York, Godzilla (Gojira) trampled Tokyo for the first time, and that film is an example of true urban horror, tragic, and awful, channeling the real citizen’s pain and bewilderment, after the nuclear bombing of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly ten years before. None of the many Godzilla films that followed captured that level of intensity. Godzilla even became an endearing and protective father figure, in a series of zany comedies, which featured other monsters. It was almost like the Japanese were healing themselves of their trauma, through film.
That is until the Fukushima disaster of 2011, a real life horror, in which a massive, earthquake-driven, tsunami, caused a meltdown of the nuclear facility in Fukushima on the same day. Nearly 16,000 people lost their lives, and the entire city of Fukushima had to be evacuated. Five years later, Shin Godzilla was released, and successfully captured all the horror and tragedy of those two events , becoming yet another example of Japan reliving its worst nightmares, through the medium of film.
As in suburban settings, there are three types of Horror stories about the city. someone or something invades the city, which brings about the city’s destruction (external), something insidious is growing within the city or its people, (internal), and destroys its citizens, or it’s the setting itself that is the horror. Movies like Dracula, Blade, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Train to Busan, are examples of these, although they have different goals. One is about the xenophobic fear of disease and contagion from outside the city, or growing within it, one is about the dehumanization of city life, and the loss of individual selfhood, and another is about human connections during its destruction.
Francis Ford Coppola’s version of the Dracula myth was released in 1992, and by that time, most of its original xenophobic themes had been papered over with themes of sexually transmitted disease, and romance, but there are still remnants left behind. Dracula is an outsider, from the Middle East, who brings the plague of vampirism to the busy streets of London, which, in the Victorian 1880s, was in the midst of an industrial revolution. In the real world, talk of outsiders bringing disease, has once again reared it’s ugly head, as the British government threatens to separate from the European Union, while its members speak out against illegal immigrants from places like Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq. So it’s quite a coincidence that there happens to be a yet another version of Dracula, this time set in modern day London, airing on Netflix right now.
Contagion is also one of the themes present in the movie Blade, and its sequel, Blade 2, as New York threatens to be overtaken by a plague of vampires growing within the city of New York, and is also the theme of several alien invasion films, where “sentient diseases” are passed on to unsuspecting human beings through non-consenting fluid exchange, in movies The Invasion, a remake of the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, a movie which is not as effective a story, without the sounds and images of the city of San Francisco as the backdrop. The setting is contrasted against the funny, quirky, Dr. Matthew Bennell, and his close friends. One of the other messages of the movie is how the city encourages social isolation, and dehumanizes the inhabitants, as much as the alien invasion.
In fact, the nature of city life, makes it nearly impossible to tell who has been reborn as an alien, and who has not, and that is the point. The people of San Francisco are so separated from one another, that no one really knows any of the people around them, so it’s impossible to notice if anyone has changed, even after multiple people tell the lead characters that their friends, lovers, and spouses, are not who they say they are.
The individual stories of the invasion victims are tiny, compared to the size of the city, and only heightens the pointlessness of their struggle to tell the world that an alien invasion has occurred. City people are so good at not minding the business of others, that by the time Dr. Matthew Bennell has noticed that people are losing their humanity, it’s too late to do anything about it. The city and the invasion are too huge and implacable for one person to make a difference.
The theme of dehumanization is also captured in movies like Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and Train to Busan, where a select group of individuals run a gauntlet of ravenous, once human, creatures, while trying desperately to hold onto the last shreds of their own humanity, both literally and figuratively, as civilization collapses around them. The focus of these types of stories are on the humans attempting to survive a chaotic environment, rather than the inhumanity of the monsters. The audience is drawn into the story through the kinds of decisions they make, which determine what kind of people they are. The audience is meant to identify with them, and place themselves in their shoes, thereby illuminating their own character.
Zombie movies are a way to tell an intimate story in an oversized location. Many horror movies set in cities tend to focus on small dramas that happen during its destruction. In Train to Busan, the lead character, a callous business man, who cares more about his job than his family, learns to reconnect with his neglected young daughter, the people around him, and his own conscience, as he tries to protect her, during a zombie apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse is used as a backdrop to tell the story of a man regaining his humanity in the face of everyone losing theirs.
Sometimes, city dwellers themselves are monsters, and the the city is shown as a darkly cynical place, a cutthroat “urban jungle”, where people prey on one another, and no one can be trusted. City living is badmouthed in other movies. There are people who will rape or kill you at a moment’s notice, something which was not entirely an incorrect observation, especially during the 60’s and 70’s, when New York city was a much seedier, and more pornographic place, and Times Square in particular, before its gentrification and cleanup. Now, Times Square is clean and neat, but in the 70s, it was rife with strip clubs, open prostitution, porn theaters, and drug use. The frantic sights and sounds, river of traffic lights, buzzing of neon signs, sleek fashions, inclement weather, and constant chatter of people, are the hallmark tropes of city living. Cities are shown as cold, fast, sleek environments, often at night, using cool blues, and hot reds, which serve as visual shorthand for lusts, and desires, but also the emotional disconnect of the characters.
The movie Candyman was loosely based on a combination of African American urban legends, and the lives of the Black citizens of the Cabrini-Green housing projects of North Chicago. In the years since its creation in 1957, crime, gangs, and administrative neglect, created horrifying living conditions for its residents. Now add an immortal monster, that preys on their pain and sorrow, and what is depicted is an insidious horror, The Candyman, who was created out of Black anguish, and white racist hysteria.
Much of Cabrini Green was eventually torn down in the 90s, and the last few buildings were destroyed in 2011. In 2020 Jordan Peele will release the spiritual sequel to the 1992 original film, which will tackle themes of displacement, and gentrification by affluent white residents, who of course, are not immune to the horrors of the city, no matter how much they tell themselves that they are improving it with their return.
In 1995s Se7en, Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Pitt, she a schoolteacher, and he a cop, move back to the nameless every-city featured in the film. Unused to the grit, and callousness, she tells Morgan Freeman’s William Somerset, “I hate this city…the conditions here, are horrible.” And she is right. In Se7en, it is always raining, everything is gray, and littered with garbage, and the only warmth to be found is in Gwyneth’s character, and the home she has made for her and her husband. Throughout the movie, Somerset gives several speeches about the apathy of the people who live there, and how easy it is for human beings to not care about each other. The two people who claim to care the most about the city’s plight, are on opposite sides of the law. One is a serial killer, whose only solution seems to be causing more misery, by killing its weakest inhabitants, and the latter is Somerset’s hotheaded partner, who is eventually broken by his interaction with the former.
Cities can be a visual shorthand that represents the dehumanizing future that comes with technological progress. Got a horror story involving robots (The Terminator), or virtual reality, (The Matrix), then the best way to tackle so many sub-themes at once, is to set it in a city. Movies that question humanity, (The Fly), and reality (The 13th Floor), through technology, are almost always set in cities.
Just the name of the movie, Dark City (1998), invokes images of tall buildings, trash strewn alleys, crime, and permanent darkness, all of the shorthand that’s been used in Film Noir to indicate the horror of city living. Film Noir comes out of the German Expressionist cinema of 1920’s Berlin, and the American movies released in the 40’s, are based on that concept, while also referencing the crime and pulp fiction novels of the 30’s. In Film Noir, a person’s fortunes can turn on a dime, and human beings are the monsters, and with their suspect motivations, and weaknesses of character, they often bring about their own demise.
Dark City contains several monsters, including the actual city itself, as it grows and transforms, at the whim of its alien masters. This is a literal parallel to real life cities, where, unlike the country with its bland stability, sites and markers come and go, the city grows and changes, and no where is there a fixed position.
In Dark City, a nameless man is pursued by strange men in black, for a series of murders he doesn’t remember committing. He spends most of the movie in pursuit of his memories, while discovering that the city itself is a lie. As the story progresses, we are introduced to alien possession, superpowers, and multiple themes about identity, alienation, and existential dread, which would be more difficult to impart, if the movie were set, for example, in the desert, which is representative of a different type of isolation.
It is said that there are a million stories in the naked city, and whether they are small and intimate (Rear Window, American Psycho, 1408), or huge and bombastic, (War of the Worlds, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman), that’s a promise for many more lives and cities to be destroyed, and more themes to be explored, in the foreseeable future.
The Old Guard has totally blown up on Tumblr. The movie, which aired on Netflix last month was a real treat for women who love action movies, so much so, that there has been a lot of great meta writing and fanworks on the site.The movie is based on the Graphic Novel, by Greg Rucka, about a team of four immortal warriors, Andromache of Scythia,(Charlize Theron), Nicky, Joe, and Booker, living in the modern world, fighting a pharmecutical CEO ,who wants to use them for medical experiments. In the meantime, they need to find and recruit a brand new immortal, named Nile Freeman, and deal with a betrayal within, and outside of, their group.
Its one of those big idea movies, where the rules are all laid out beforehand, and doesn’t stint on the development of its characters. It has some truly lovely scenes between Nicky and Joe, and Nile and Andy. I thought the movie was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the characters and their interactions. I think its really worth a watch if you like action movies, with strong, ass kicking, smart women, who interact realistically with one another, along with a well illustrated, found family dynamic. There’s also a strong philosophical thread that runs through the movie, which asks questions about the purpose of living, and what its like to be alive for hundreds of years.
The Old Guard is a fairly predictable film as far as the plot. What makes it groundbreaking however is its Black female director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, the well executed action scenes, its racial diversity, its Black female co-lead, and the presence of a canon gay inter-racial couple, who both survive to the end of the movie.
I read a lot of meta on this movie and was moved by how much fans seemed to really embrace this movie, especially Nile, since fandom hasn’t always been any good about its approach to black female characters. Its true that some fans tend to infantilize her, but that’s somewhat understandable, since the character of Nile is a brand new, baby-immortal, just learning about her powers, and the actress who plays her, Kiki Layne does have a kind of sweet baby face.
The story makes an effort to set up the knowledge that the characters are immortal, but that their survival is not a guarantee, so the tension about who will survive, remains really high, no matter how many fights we see them get into in the film
One of the things I loved about this movie is that the stakes never were less than. You would think, because the characters are unable to die, that there’d be nothing for them to lose in the several firefights, but there are many intangible things they can lose. They can lose their freedom, they can lose their trust, or their friendship, for Nikki and Joe, they could lose each other, or even their sense of purpose, or self, the way Andy did.
Another love of this film was the character arcs. We find out at the beginning of the movie that Andy has been retired from fighting for over a year. She’s given up, she’s cynical, and has no hope that she has done anything useful for the world, and we watch as her character gets back her reason for fighting and Nile is the key to that. Andy doesn’t just go out and save Nile. Nile saves her too.
Even their treatment of Booker’s betrayal comes from a place of compassion. Yes, they’re very angry with him, but they don’t permanently exile him either. They think a hundred years of being separated from his family is punishment enough. They’re not out to physically harm him, or cause him emotional damage, but there have to be consequences for what he did. They know being alone however is horrible for him (it’s the reason he betrayed them in the first place) but it’s the only consequence they have available.
For male directors character development and emotions, may be a 3 or 4 on the scale of priority in a movie, and I normally don’t have a problem with that manner of filmmaking. I’ve watched enough action movies to be able to glean the emotions in them, but usually that’s not a male director’s focus. I’m mostly thinking of movies like Winter Soldier, Inception, and Fury Road, (and quite a large number of Asian action films,) where the focus is on the plot and action, with character development as more of an afterthought.
I think there are a number of male action directors who do bring emotionalism into their work, and manage to be successful at it, but I think the difference is for male directors their priorities are simply different than female directors. For women directors though, the priority on relationships, character interaction, and character development, may be at a one or a two, thereby making the plot much more character driven than in male directed films, where the plot is more situational, but that’s just an observation I’ve made with my limited sample size.
There really aren’t a wealth of action movies out there directed by female directors ,and the ones that do get made, are either always being trashed as the worst movies ever, or lauded as the second coming of Jesus. There seems to be no in between, reasonably thought out, reviews or critiques. Everything is either the best of times or the worst of times.
And yes, I am geeking out over the addition of a Black female character as an action heroine. There really are not enough female action heroes, but there are almost no Black or Asian ones. This is why I’ve become a lot more discerning about the kinds of shows and movies I watch now. I’m thoroughly spoiled for diverse content, that has depth and at least some meaning, and very dubious about sitting through any more all white, all male productions of shows and movies. I’m definitely not willing to sit through any of the lazy, sorry, excuses PoC have gotten in the past for not having diversity both in front of, and behind, the camera.
The Old Guard is a lot of fun, with just a touch of melancholy. Its just deep enough to be satisfying without getting too heavy. The plot isn’t really all that remarkable, and very predictable, but what the characters and director do with the plot is worth watching. It’s got some great action sequences, and although there are a couple of moments of cringey dialogue, and the music is sometimes overwhelmingly blase, its not too bad, and doesn’t stray very far from its comic book origins, as the script was written by Rucka. Theron carries most of the emotional heavy lifting in the story. In fact, she almost overpowers the story, but that gets nicely weighed by the other characterizations, and action scenes.
Fans are clamoring for a second season ,especially since there was a ice set up for it, in the last 30 seconds, but the word isn’t out yet on whether or not there will be one.
As for what Tumblr thinks:
This was a beautifully written examination of the movie’s characters. Please visit their Tumblr site for more insightful observations of their newest obseesion.
the old guard: loneliness, connection and immortality
APPARENTLY I am writing a thing about The Old Guard today.
(Bear in mind that I haven’t read the graphic novel, although I’m eager to now, so this is solely based on the movie and some things I’ve read about the comic in articles about the movie.)
Under the cut for spoilers, although the discussion is fairly general.
One of the things I love the most about The Old Guard, which I haven’t seen discussed much, is that there is no why to their powers. There’s no origin story, either via destiny or accident. There’s no prophecy, no curse, no ancient god, no super-serum, no lab accident, no mutant spider bite. If there is a reason why these people, in particular, are like this, we don’t know it and they don’t either. Where their immortality comes from, and why it fades when it does, is a complete unknown.
In other contexts I could see this coming off as a frustrating lack of clarity in worldbuilding. In The Old Guard I think it works as an essential piece of the philosophical landscape in which the story operates.
A parallel and interlocking component of this landscape is the fact that the immortals exist in a world where there are very few, if any, other superpowered beings. There are no pre-ordained forces of darkness, no aliens to fight, no neatly-arranged supervillains that only they can defeat. There are only humans.
This means they have to create their own framework of meaning for their actions, the way the rest of us mortals do. The mythology of their world doesn’t provide any built-in delineation of good guys and bad guys and What We’re Fighting For. There’s no easy certainty of purpose or moral clarity to be had.
Let’s talk for a minute about how The Old Guard shows Nile as a character who’s worthy of protection and caretaking without infantilizing her or minimizing her agency.
I’m thinking particularly of the scene when Nile wakes up from the nightmare about Quynh, which honestly might be one of my favorite moments in the whole movie. The three guys are all sleeping in the same room as her and they all immediately wake up and reach for their weapons, ready to throw down. Like, at least a couple of them look like they’re sleeping on cots. They could have spread out around the space, but all three of them are sleeping in the same room as her, armed. Only Andy has chosen to separate herself and is not-sleeping in the next room.
And their reaction isn’t just an ingrained response from a very long life of combat. They’re all very clearly focused on Nile and whether she’s safe, and once it’s clear that there’s no physical threat, they want to make sure she’s okay emotionally and help her understand what she saw in the nightmare.
This is one of those moments where context sensitivity matters a lot. Because we can easily imagine a scenario where the exact same scene would play as overprotective, condescending or downright creepy. But when the focus of the scene is a Black woman, a moment that says this character is worthy of both physical, bodily protection and emotional support reads very differently.
We already know Nile is a tough and self-sufficient character. She’s an elite soldier who grew up in the inner city, raised by a single mom who pushed her to succeed. She has excelled in a dangerous, physically demanding, male-dominated career. She is, in many ways, the template of the Strong Black Woman, and a lot of movies would have left it there. But with this scene, and all the other little moments of care and attention she receives, the other characters are saying, hey, we know you are tough and self-sufficient, but you don’t always have to be.
grizvser is writing some very nice meta about this show, especially the two lovers, Joe and Nicky. Please check out their Tumblr site for more astute observations about the show and characters.
Okay, so I’ve seen a lot of people say that Joe and Nicky were way too hard on Booker and that it’s out of character for them to have reacted so harshly to his betrayal, but y’all gotta remember (and I say this as someone who loves Booker): Joe and Nicky paid the heaviest price for Booker’s betrayal.
They were the ones who were kidnapped and tied up. Nicky had to watch Joe get stabbed repeatedly by Merrick. The two of them were the only ones who got experimented on, poked and prodded at and sliced into, and who knows what could have happened to them if they hadn’t been saved so soon. They had to deal with the trauma of possibly being kept there for god knows how long. When Booker and Andy were captured, they were only trapped for a little while before Nile came and rescued everyone. They never had to deal with any of that trauma.
Not only did they suffer the torture themselves, but they had to watch the person they love suffer too. If Booker hadn’t betrayed them, none of the events of the movie would’ve happened. Joe had to watch Nicky not only get tortured, but get shot in the damn head. All of this is because Booker sold them out.
Combine that with the fact that the two of them are clearly very loyal, honourable men, who are undoubtedly devestated that someone they trusted and thought of as their family would sell them out just because HE didn’t want to live anymore? Joe and Nicky are happy to be alive because they have each other, but Booker put that at risk because of his own feelings of grief. Even though I understand Booker wasn’t motivated by any malice and I’m empathetic to his struggles and feelings, it’s understandable why Joe calls him selfish. Joe is willing to live for eternity because he has Nicky (and the whole guard too, of course), and Booker’s actions could have taken that away from him.
Nile forgives him quickly because she’s new and doesn’t fully understand the weight of his actions, meanwhile Andy is more sympathetic because she, too, is a little bit tired of living, yet Joe and Nicky, the ones who want to live, bear the brunt of a lot of the suffering that came along with Booker’s choice.
Now, I do think they will get over it sooner than 100 years, but right now, the betrayal was so raw and the impact of what happened so fresh in their mind, I understand their reasoning.
One of the best things about Joe and Nicky in The Old Guard is their sexuality/relationship is a very important traits of both of their characters, but it’s not their only trait.
So many times when I hear people talk about gay/queer characters in media, I hear, “their sexuality isn’t an important part of their character” or “they just happen to be gay,” and I’ve always thought that was bullshit and a cop-out. Sexuality and romance plays a HUGE part in people’s lives. People spend a lot of their time looking for “the one”, looking for romance, looking for a relationship or sex or both. Think about classical male heroes and how often they bed women (think James Bond, James Kirk in Star Trek, etc.) Wouldn’t you say sexuality is a huge part of their characters? Yet with gay characters it’s said to be “not important.” It’s just a cop-out.
Joe and Nicky’s sexualities are very important because their relationship is so incredibly important to both of them. It’s portrayed to be the reason they’re both still happy to be living while Andy and Booker have grown jaded and suicidal due to loneliness. They are the most important thing in the world to each other. They aren’t “badass but just happen to be gay.” They are badass AND gay.
They’re incredibly competent fighters who can brutalize an entire army but when they go home they flirt, they wink at each other, they snuggle, they kiss, they talk about their love for one another. They’re no less masculine when they’re expressing their love for one another than they are when they’re massacring an army of soldiers.
Yet still, their characters are not reduced to just the token gay guys who are also tough. They have their own distinct personalities. Joe is impassioned, quick to anger, protective, playful, romantic, vengeful, but with a soft heart full of deep love. Nicky is quiet, reserved, compassionate, loving, and sweet, but also calculating and sarcastic and a force to be reckoned with in a fight.
They’re both such distinct, powerful personalities and it’s portrayed through their individual actions as well as through their love for each other. It fills me with so much joy that these characters were allowed to be so unapologetically, textually gay without it being an afterthought and also without it becoming the centerpiece of the story.
And these aren’t all. Visit Tumblr and type in The Old Guard to find whole blogs devoted to the topic, fanart, and various headcanon, and fictions.
In an earlier post, I talked about setting horror movies in suburban towns, and how the foundation of the horror stems from the setting being invaded from outside, or possessed of horror from within. I used Halloween as an example of the horror coming from outside the town of Haddonfield, in the form of Michael Myers, (actually this is a little more complicated, because Michael was born in Haddonfield, and is essentially haunting, and hunting, his birthplace), but Jaws is also a good example of this. Jaws also makes the interesting point, that the town of Amity, in which the film is set, is so inert, that its salvation can’t come from any of its own inhabitants, but must also, like the threat, come from Outside.
The very first thing we learn when watching the movie is that the waters surrounding the island of Amity are are invaded by an external force, the shark, who takes its first victim, a young woman named Chrissie. The shark is not evil, but it doesn’t have to be, to be the focus of the horror. In fact, that the shark is indifferent to humanity is what gives the horror so much depth. The shark only has to upset the status quo, and the status quo, is that nothing happens in Amity that is worthy of note. The mayor of the town makes this point several times, and the new Sheriff has a short monologue in which he makes this point as well. Nothing exciting happens in Amity.
The next thing we learn is that there’s a new Sheriff in town, Sheriff Martin Brody. We learn, in the first real dialogue of the film, that he and his wife just moved to Amity a few months ago, Brody is often reminded ,by the citizens, or the mayor, that he is new at the job, that he is an outsider, or that he doesn’t belong, and Spielberg often shoots scenes with Brody separate from, or in isolation, against the other characters on screen.
Both Brody and the shark are framed as dangerous to the inhabitants of the island. The shark is a physical danger, but Brody represents a more direct danger to the livelihoods of the islanders, as he attempts do his job of protecting them from the shark. He wants to close the beaches, something which the citizens don’t want, as that would directly impact their ability to make a living off the Summer tourists. The citizens of Amity have to choose between two external threats, but the shark is a danger the islanders do not wish to acknowledge, and Brody is something they can control.
Throughout the movie, Brody is constantly reminded, by the town’s mayor, that he is an outsider who doesn’t understand the needs of the people of Amity. Later, Brody calls in another outsider, Matt Hooper of the Oceanographic Institute, and the two of them team up with a resident of Amity named Quinn, but it is on Brody to save the town. Only another outside force for good can restore the order to which Amity had become accustomed.
Quint is a fisherman who lives in Amity, but he cannot save the town, as he is one of those anti-social town residents that doesn’t like his neighbors, and who probably don’t much like him. Quint is first introduced by one of the most annoying sounds in the world, as he drags his fingernails along a blackboard during the town meeting to discuss the shark attacks. That one moment, that sound, is all you need to know about Quint’s character, and how the people of the town view him. Like the town itself, (as represented by the Mayor), he is too beset by his weaknesses of character. He has inner demons of his own, that motivate his hunt for the shark, many of them stemming from his short stint on the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which is actually a true story.
“There were a lot of sharks,” he says, his voice nearly a whisper. “So many. I’d see them swimming below me.”
Quint’s reason for wanting to hunt the shark are mercenary. He wants to get paid, and wants the glory of being seen as the town’s hero, so all his motivations are entirely self-serving. Although its his home, Quint feels no real responsibility to the town of Amity, and is willing to exploit his neighbors fear of the shark, or monetary disaster by closing the beaches, for his own ends.
Mayor Larry Vaughn is ineligible, because he is a deeply fearful man, who is too scared of the townsfolk’s anger, and his fears of re-election, to go against their desires. Several times he reminds Brody that he is not from Amity, and that he doesn’t know what the town needs, citing himself as the only person who knows what’s best for the town. He constantly undermines Brody’s authority, refuses to take the shark attacks seriously, and even encourages beachgoers to get in the water, despite the danger of shark attack. He saddles Brody with the impossible task of protecting the town, within the parameters that he sets, where Brody is not allowed to make the townspeople angry, but cannot protect them by closing the beaches. The only time he makes a correct decision is when he orders the beaches closed, after yet another shark attack, and only because his children were on the beach, too. He only makes the correct decision out of fear, after it hits too close to him.
Hooper is also ineligible for destroying the shark, as he has no interest in Amity, at all. He doesn’t live there, and can also be seen as sympathetic to the shark. He is interested in the shark for science. He is not interested in killing it, but he comes along on the hunt, because he empathizes with Martin Brody, with whom he has formed a close attachment. Hooper is also the polar opposite of Quint, who both hates and fears the shark, and whose agenda is to kill it to assuage his inner demons.
Of the three shark hunters, Brody is the only one who doesn’t approach the hunt from a selfish perspective. What Brody wants is to do his job and protect the town, with tremendous guilt as a secondary motivating factor. His failure to save the lives of several inhabitants of the town, including a young boy, who died because he was not firm enough in putting his foot down about closing the beaches, weighs heavily on him. Earlier in the film, while talking with Hooper, he mentions why he left New York, saying that he felt helpless there, and that in Amity he could make a difference and save lives. Except, he didn’t, and he accepts the full blame for the deaths that occurred under his watch.
In the end, it makes perfect sense that Brody would be the one to kill the shark, and to do so alone. From the beginning of the film, Brody and the shark are set up as parallels, and adversaries. We are reminded, so often, that Brody is not from Amity, that it takes on a level of importance.The opening scene is the arrival of the shark to Amity’s waters, and its subsequent attack on a female swimmer. The scene just after the shark’s attack on her, is between Brody and his wife, about moving to Amity from New York, and the second conversation that Brody has, about not being an islander, is on the beach with the young man who reported the shark’s first victim as missing. In most of his conversations with Mayor Vaughn, Brody is reminded that he is new in town, and doesn’t know how things work there.
Jaws is an example of the Man vs. Nature conflict narrative, in which some of the tension is provided by the main protagonist having to overcome challenges to achieve his goals. The primary conflict is between Brody and the shark, and Brody’s goal is to destroy the shark, thereby saving the town. Three of the challenges he must overcome, before he can accomplish this goal, are external, the Mayor who undermines his authority ,and ability to do his job, and the townsfolk who look to him to save them from the shark, without it affecting their livelihoods, and one internal challenge, his fear of water.
Several times, Brody’s fear of the water is referenced by the other characters in the film. One of the beachgoers mentions that everyone in town has noticed his fear of the water, and his wife discusses it with Hooper, when they’re having dinner.
The thing that makes Jaws an immensely satisfying movie, is that most of Brody’s challenges get resolved by the end. He has stood up to Mayor Vaughn, forcing him to take his side in closing the beaches, and defying the will of the townspeople. He has destroyed the shark, protecting the citizens of Amity, and done so by overcoming his fear of water.
It is made clear to the audience, several times in the movie, that Brody is an Outsider, which is the one challenge left unresolved. In an earlier beach scene, Brody’s wife is told that she and her husband will never be considered islanders, because they weren’t born on Amity. They will never belong, no matter what they do, or how long they live there, and that will not change by the end of the movie. This is also one of the primary themes, and the shark’s arrival is narratively equated with Brody’s earlier move to the island.
After Hooper is believed to have been killed by the shark, and Quint is eaten, it is down to Brody, alone, using equipment brought aboard the boat by Hooper, to dispatch this external menace.
Killing the shark, and protecting the town, doesn’t make Brody an islander, but by eliminating the threat to the town, Brody, who was treated as an Outside threat by the town, as much as the shark, will be seen as less of one. By killing the shark, he proves he can be trusted with Amity’s welfare, and eliminates, in one action, both of the town’s perceived external threats
Okay, I was initially just going to post only those shows I was invested in watching, but decided to add at least a couple of shows that, while I might not be especially enthused about them, I’m sure someone reading this, is.
So, here’s a thoroughly incomplete list of new Fall shows that someone, who is not necessarily me, might be interested in watching in October.
Walking Dead: World Beyond
This is one of the shows I’m not terribly enthused about, because I’m not really in much of a mood for apocalyptic fiction, right now, it’s based off The Walking Dead series, which is now in its 1,000th season, and I refuse to get attached to any of the characters I see here, just in case they die horribly in the first two episodes.
Pretty much the only thing I got out of The Walking Dead, was not to care about any of the characters, because they’re all just gonna be horribly killed at some point, and since characters are how I get invested in a show, well…
On the other hand, it does look intriguing, because it answers some questions about those helicopter people who approached Rick that one time, and what happened to Rick after his supposed death.
One theme in zombie fiction, that I am seriously tired of, is the travelogue narrative ,where, as soon as the world goes into lockdown mode, someone decides to take a road trip to find some lost loved ones, sometimes with neighbors, or a dog in tow, and they have harrowing adventures, and this seems like more of that. *Sigh*
I want to like this but I’m just not feeling it. I will look at the pilot though, and maybe I will want to see more of it. yeah, I have no idea what it’s actually about ,and I don’t even care, which is how I know I probably won’t be jumping on this.
I have mixed feelings about this show. On the one hand it is directed by a Black woman, and I’m just now coming off The Old Guard, which was also directed by a Black woman, and I’m feeling confident. Its also produced by Jordan Peele, and the original story was written by Matt Ruff, and I read and liked the book okay. It also has monsters in it, and I like to think the racistly racist Lovecraft is rolling over in his grave at having his universe adapted to serve Black characters. Its about a Black family that take a road trip and encounter a mystery and some Lovecraft style monsters.
But…I’m not at all in the mood to watch any more oppression narratives that are rooted in Black pain and trauma. I don’t want to watch any more shows, or movies, set in the Slave era, or Jim Crow South, where we get to watch the characters suffer, and I’m strongly inclined to pretend this doesn’t exist, and will not exist any time in the future.
Unlike a lot of other whiners on Youtube (and other media), I’m not yet tired of the superhero genre, especially if they keep putting interesting versions of it onscreen, but then, I’m a person who much more carefully chooses these movies and shows, rather than rushing to watch every single thing with a superhero in it, and I also tend to like non-superhero, superhero movies like Unbreakable, The Old Guard, and this vehicle here.
I really like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Jamie Foxx ,and I’ve never seen the two of them in a movie together, and it looks like fun, I guess. I think I read a book that had something of the same premise waaay back in the 90s, and I think there’s been a least a couple of comic book stories, where gaining superpowers through drugs, was an idea.
I really like Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Ive seen most of their movies together, and I loathe the paranormal investigation reality show genre, so I’m actually looking forward to this parody.
The Good Lord Bird
That thing I said about Slave era narratives is still true, but I find myself greatly intrigued by this movie, because its a comedy that stars Orlando Jones, an actor I love, and Ethan Hawke, who, as John Brown, looks unrecognizable in this movie, and who was great in The Magnificent Seven remake, and Daveed Diggs, who plays Frederick Douglas. I also like it because it is a comedy where the plot isn’t rooted in the consumption of Black trauma.
It actually looks really, really, funny ,and the young girl we see in the trailer is actually a young boy who has disguised himself as a young girl because he found his life easier that way, and he sort of accidentally falls under Brown’s care.
You guys have got to read the book on which this movie is based, because Brown is a real hoot. Brown himself is a trigger happy abolitionist, who guns down any slave owners, and slave patrols he happens to encounter, making no effort to protect himself from harm, because he believes he is doing God’s will and that he is already protected.
Star Trek: Lower Decks
I’m not sure this is the best use of the money we gave these people for those last couple of Star Trek movies, so I’m just gonna leave this here.
I mean, I’m not opposed to an animated version of Star Trek, but I am opposed to an animated version of Star Trek. Heck, I didn’t even watch the original animated Trek, from the 70s. But you know what, I’m not gonna act like one of those fanboy purists who refuse to watch something just because its radically different from whatever came before, and I loved that Spiderverse movie. Not that this is, in any way, Spiderverse level entertainment, but I might be surprised.
An American Pickle
At first glance, this doesn’t seem much like something I’d watch, but I Seth Rogan okay, I like time travel movies, it looks funny, and I like the initial setting of Victorian New York.
This was posted on Medium.com. , and I have the author’s permission to post some of this here. I want this to start trending. I am sick and tired of watching videos of people arguing with Karens and Chads on my social media.
Stop doing that shit!
I’m tired of it, and it needs to stop. It has long ceased to be funny by simply calling these people by new funny nicknames.
I do not understand why anyone would stand there, and argue, word for word, with anyone who just started asking them random personal questions. I don’t even accept this kind of questioning of my behavior from my own family, I sure as hell ain’t gonna accept it from some random nosy white person. The policing of Black bodies from white people with absolutely no authority, whatsoever, to do so, has got to stop, and whenever possible, y’all need to tell these busybodies to step the fuck off and get out your face!
There is always a crescendo of emotions when a new video of a Karen or Chad questioning a Black person pops into my twitter feed. First, I’m empathetic towards the victim. Then I’m depressed that in 2020, these things keep happening. Followed by frustration. Until finally I’m pissed. It doesn’t matter how long the video is my emotions go from 0–10 every single time.
But after this latest video, where some random white guy, stops a Black woman in her car because he was wondering what she was doing in his neighborhood, I felt something else, exhaustion. I am literally sick and tired of being sick and tired. And it’s time we start a new movement, #STOPARUGINGWITHWYPIPO.
Police are investigating after Black woman says she was followed by a man accusing her of…
Police in a Massachusetts town have opened a criminal investigation into a report that a Black woman was followed by a…
Look, I know this is nothing new. I’ve written before that racism hasn’t increased it’s just being filmed. And I know that the policing of Black folks didn’t start with Trump. But clearly, the Trump era has emboldened white people. They really do feel that they have the right to demand to know what we are doing in spaces they have decided we don’t belong in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pool where a Black woman was swimming with her kids or a bird watcher in a park, white people expect for us to explain ourselves to them. It’s the ‘let me see your papers’ game on steroids. But we don’t have to play anymore. This game isn’t any fun for Black folks, so let’s take a ball and go home. We can actually
Sure, I enjoy watching the Twitter detectives find the name and employment records of the White people harassing Black folks. I get some satisfaction in waiting for the tweets to post to their places of employment and counting down until they are fired and shunned. Ok, I get a lot of satisfaction. I’m all about holding these idiots accountable and exacting whatever vengeance can be had for the sheer stupidity they exhibit in this moment in time. But the amount of work invested in outing these folks is not worth it anymore. Forget the vengeance. Just stop explaining yourself, period.
It’s not like you can ever actually provide an explanation that will be acceptable. Let’s face it, these White people have already made up their minds that you don’t belong. There is literally nothing you can do to prove to them that you do. How many hotel keys, house keys, car keys, hell piano keys, can we produce to make them say ‘I’m sorry for bothering you. Of course, you belong here’? And if you think talking calmly will stop them from calling the police, go back and look at the birdwatcher in the park video. This guy seems to be the nicest guy in New York. He’s a freaking Harvard graduate, bird watcher. And Amy Cooper still called the police then put on an academy award performance Meryl Streep would be envious of while lying that she was the one being harassed.
White folks will call the police because there are no repercussions for wasting the police time and they know the police will 10 times out of 10 believe their story. And again, let’s face it. They enjoy the power they have over us at that moment. Think of the caucasity it took for that White man in Boston to pull his car up beside a random stranger and ask her why is she driving in her neighborhood. Then arrogantly tell her after he followed her around that he doesn’t feel safe with HER there. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, he actually said out loud he didn’t believe the explanation she gave him. And I’m not victim blaming here. I’m sure this poor woman was scared that a creepy man was following her around the neighborhood especially after the Ahmad Aubrey murder, but if there was ever a time for the inner angry Black woman to come out, that was the time. Just tell these folks to mind their own damn business and keep it moving.
The bottom line, you know why you are on that street, in that pool, in that lobby, at that Starbucks, or in that park. You know that you have the right to be wherever you are in these United States. You do not have to explain yourself to anyone, especially not to random White people. So stop trying. Don’t waste your time and your energy arguing with these White people. Right now, Black folks have to deal with a virus that affects us at an alarming rate. We got a white supremacist in the White House telling us our black lives don’t matter. We have double the unemployment rates of White people where a Black man with a college degree has fewer opportunities than a White man with no high school diploma. And we have police officers who would rather call in sick then for one of them to be held accountable for killing an unarmed man. We are already living in a tinderbox of stress. Don’t be the one to strike the match. #STOPARUGINGWITHWYPIPO.